Every time a bell rings, I burn myself with a glue gun.

I don't know what my deal is, but this year, I have been ALL ABOUT Christmas. It's like my holiday spirit had been quashed in previous years by a 70-hour work week and crippling anxiety over the billable quotient of those 70 hours. Now that that particular stress has been lifted, it's like I have been infected with Christmas cheer. (What? I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite!) Believe me, it's as painful as it sounds. Anyway, poor Mark has had to bear the brunt of my "cheer." The poor thing has been force fed Christmas carols and made to participate in decorating the crap out of the house. He mostly finds me amusing (thank GOD), but I fear he is reaching his limit. Luckily the rest of my plans are of the baking variety. Whew!

Just so you can feel bad for my poor, sweet husband, though, here's a peek at what we've been up to:
I saw this on Suburban Bliss years ago and have been shamelessly copying ever since. So cute, right?

I actually stuffed clear glass ornaments with fake snow and then strung them up with ribbons. This was when Mark began seriously questioning my sanity, in case you were wondering.

Hey, you know what's a BAD idea? Covering your entire house in pine garland about an hour before company is due.

God bless the Dyson.

This is the main tree. I love the look of all of the fancy themed trees I've been seeing online, but am staunchly opposed to them in my own home. This one is covered in old, mismatched, keepsake ornaments, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My mom even made that tree skirt when I was little. LOVE IT.

I hot glued bead garland to a candle. Back away from the Pinterest, woman.

I cannot begin to describe how annoyed I am by that votive on the left that is not equally spaced. I'm too lazy to go take another picture, but don't worry, I fixed it.

I even bought sparkly crap to shove into the pine garland. WHO AM I?

I take no credit -- this one is all Mark.

It's a Red Sox themed village. See Fenway in the back there?
See that circle-y thing on the red ribbon? I hot glued tiny clothespins to an embroidery hoop, then spray painted it all silver and hung it up there to display Christmas cards. To date, we have received exactly ONE CARD. What the hell, people?

This is my favorite. I have been lobbying hard for a real tree for years, and Mark (rightly) refuses, because we travel for the holidays and it would be a pain to de-tree before leaving. However, when he spotted this little guy at the garden center, he snagged it for me. How cute is that?

I hosted a holiday brunch for a few friends last weekend, and we're having a bunch of Mark's college friends for dinner on Sunday. Because it is Christmas season, I am totally using it as an excuse to bust out the fancy china and crystal. Ordinarily I fear making people feel uncomfortable with fussy dishes, but whatever. It's the HOLIDAYS. I am ALLOWED.

Ok, on tap for next week:
  • Recap of the weekend entertaining festivities
  • The beginning of the kitchen mini-makeover
Have a good weekend!

Long time, no see!

So, November kind of vanished into thin air. Does that ever happen to you? You're chugging along, and look up to realize that you're on the wrong calendar page? Yikes. Here's a quick recap:
  • The last time I checked in over here, we were about to head to Arizona for a visit to the in-laws. We did, and it was great (By sheer luck, I happen to snag some pretty awesome in-laws.) It was FIL's birthday, so MIL and I spent quite a bit of time cooking and party prepping, which was fun and kind of a master class. Honestly, if I could bottle and sell that woman's energy, my customers and I would rule the world. 
  • We went to homecoming at Mark's school and saw all of his college friends, and left planning a sweet ski trip for next spring.
  • We spent our anniversary weekend at home, just hanging out, which is kind of a luxury these days. I made a really nice dinner, set the dining room table with the fancy linens, china and crystal, opened a nice bottle of wine we had been saving, and even broke out some champagne and our fancy tasting flutes that we used at the wedding. Mark walked through the dining room twice without noticing that it was not in anything close to its normal state, though he thought it was great once I pointed it out to him. Ah, engineer brain. Good thing I love every last hair on his oblivious little head.
  • We headed up to Boston for Thanksgiving to spend time with my family. We left on Thanksgiving morning, arriving in time to cook a side dish (oh my lands, To. DIE.) before dashing off to dinner with 30 of our nearest and dearest. There was pumpkin pie and a lot of wine. Amen.
  • The next morning, we drove north for a birthday lunch for Mark's grandmother, who is very sweet and was thrilled with everyone surprising her by dropping in for lunch to celebrate her day. The differences in families, though, is so funny. I grew up in a house where my mom cooked primarily Italian food, despite growing up in a meat and potatoes Irish family (though her mother was a great cook -- she could recreate restaurant dishes really well). My dad's family is Italian, and his mother is an excellent, though very traditional, Italian cook. She is horrified by the concept of jarred tomato sauce, but on the rare occasion she made made mashed potatoes, they generally came from a box. Go figure. Anyway, over time, both sides of my family have gone full-on foodie. Holidays are an awesome collaboration, with everyone trying out new twists on certain dishes, respecting tradition sparingly (HANDS OFF THE MASHED POTATOES, BITCHES). However, Mark comes from a far less foodie-oriented extended family (his mom is the exception; she and my mom are totally cut from the same cloth). The lunch was great, but much more traditional than my family's holiday meals. There was ham, a Velveeta-d potato, steamed green beans, and jello salad. I am explaining this SO POORLY. I'm not comparing in order to establish that one way is superior, but rather, I just find it so sociologically, observationally interesting how family traditions develop. How one family's mashed potato (my mom's) is another family's roasted potato (my dad's) and yet another family's cheesy potato casserole with cornflake topping (Mark's). Does that make sense? Just me then? Ok.
  • On Saturday, we drove out to the town we're investigating moving to in the next couple of years and toured a couple of houses with our realtor. One was my beloved house that Mark hates (although he liked it more in person! hooray! but it still needs a CRAPLOAD of work, so we are not considering it! boo!), and the other was a hot mess. It was chock full of DIY done without forethought. Or proper permits. Yikes. Seriously, these people added a random room over the garage, but in order to get to it, you have to climb a tiny and super steep circular staircase that is in an alcove created by enclosing half of one of the garage stalls, so now it has a 1 1/2 car garage. I'm glad we went though, because the comparison between houses was very helpful for illustrating to Mark what I like and dislike. The realtor also suggested another neighborhood for us to drive through, and we absolutely loved it. Thankfully we have the luxury of just watching the market and waiting. We'll see what, if anything, happens there.
  • Saturday night we spent with one of my best college friends. We got to hang out with her awesome 13 month old before bedtime (seriously, I want to tuck that kid in my purse every time I see him), then had a fantastic dinner in Providence.
  • By Sunday, we were ready to collapse. We went to breakfast at my dad's favorite diner, then went home for some quality time with the couches. Mark met up with a friend of his, but I was SPENT. The whole weekend was full of so much extroversion with so little down time; I just could not handle another social outing. I read a book and took a nap and it was DELICIOUS.
  • My house has exploded in Christmas. It is, without exaggeration, leaking out of every orifice. I am going to be cleaning up pine needles until the end of time, and I am unabashedly loving it. This is so unlike my normal humbuggery. I ... yeah, no explanation. I'll show you pictures tomorrow.
Best of all, I finally have a new project! I am updating my kitchen, but in a less drastic (read: paint-free) way. There were these curtains at World Market that I love love loved, and of course, they have since sold out. However! In all of my holiday stalking over there, I found the exact same fabric in tablecloth form. See? I bought 4, which essentially equals 12 yards. I'm planning to line them a la Janell's tutorial, though I'm debating whether to use curtain rings or tabs on the back of the header like this. I'm also planning to snag a cheap white slipcover at Ikea for the loveseat we have in the kitchen sitting room (only $39!) and dye it a pretty taupe/tan color. I can't wait to get started!

Ok, shutting up now...