My Christmasy Recommendations

The Best of Christmas

I’m in a festive mood today. I pulled out the holiday decor boxes and the tree we chopped down this weekend will finally get some trimmings tonight. The laundry I plan/hope to do later will most certainly be accomplished with Christmas music playing in the background.

Since I’m feeling so festive (and North Idaho is finally looking festive – aka, white), I thought I’d share a little Christmas recommendations round-up of my favorite holiday books, music, movies, and decor!

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Books for Advent

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping The Full Love Story Of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

A beautifully designed Advent devotional with daily readings, meditations, and reflection questions to turn your heart and mind towards our Savior during this crowded season. I was not familiar with the Jesse Tree concept before beginning this book, but I love how it focuses on the family tree of Jesus. My favorite part of each day’s devotional is the “Unwrapping More Of His Love In The World” section where Ann gives a simple and practical action step to be an extension of God’s love that day.

The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna by Liz Curtis Higgs 

I love Liz Curtis Higgs’ Christian fiction but had yet to read any of her non-fiction before this Advent themed one. I’m enjoying her easy to digest thoughts about the different female perspectives of the Christmas narrative (though I haven’t quite finished it yet). There’s tons of Scripture throughout so it reads like a conversational commentary.

Books for Children (and Adults)

Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I absolutely adore Amy’s first book, Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons, and the Christmas edition is more of the same, with a holiday twist: beautiful illustrations accompanying an ABC dictionary of sweet life lessons. I love keeping this on the coffee table during the Christmas season and will enjoy reading it to James next year (though he’ll probably just enjoy the pictures at that point…).

I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Holly Hobbie

I’m pretty much enamored by Toot and Puddle, two adventurous pigs who happen to be best friends. They are cute and thoughtful and utterly endearing. Toot is a traveler, Puddle is more the anxious sort. This story will have you rooting for both as they try to spend the holidays together. Let It Snow is also a charming Toot and Puddle Christmas story.

The Greatest Shepherd of All: A Really Woolly Christmas Story by Holly Gerth

I must have a thing for children’s books with cute creatures because I’m a huge fan of the Really Woolly sheep. The combination of the Biblical Christmas story and the facial expressions on these chubby sheep make me cry every time I read this book.

Christmas With Anne by L.M. Montgomery

If you find a copy of this, snatch it up. A friend sent one to me a couple years ago and I love to reread the compilation of holiday stories every Christmas. Though not technically for children, this would be a great read aloud for older kids. There are new and old stories, all told with the same innocence and heart that Montgomery infused into all her Anne books.

Music

  • How Many Kings is my favorite modern, Christ-centered Christmas song. The rest of downhere’s album is stellar too.
  • I’m semi-ashamed to recommend Justin Bieber (I blame youth ministry), but I do really enjoy his holiday album, Under The Mistletoe. It’s fun and danceable – perfect for your December workouts.
  • I got Wrapped In Red, the new Christmas album from Kelly Clarkson, this year and was not disappointed. Her original songs are catchy and her covers are well-done.

Movies

  • For some people, it’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. For me, it’s A Garfield Christmas. My Gramma taped it one year when I was in elementary school and my brother and I have watched it every year since. I think we have the whole thing memorized. I now have it on DVD and make my husband watch it with me.
  • Who doesn’t get weepy when the General walks in on his Christmas surprise? White Christmas is a classic in every sense of the word.
  • I realize Frozen isn’t a Christmas movie, however, the icy landscape makes it feel festive and holiday appropriate. Disney scored with this one – great values, loveable characters, wonderful story and animation. My favorite line comes from Olaf, the snowman: “It’s so cute. It’s like a little baby unicorn!”. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to 1. go see it and 2. stay for the ALL the credits.

Fun Christmasy Extras

I love simple gift wrap, especially when the base is kraft paper or something else natural looking – like this and this. It’s even better when the natural substance is cheap – like a paper bag.

Card Collage

Paper bags aren’t just good wrapping paper. They make awesome Christmas cards. When you make them like this, they have a built-in little pocket. Perfect for a gift card or cash.

Since frames are a dime a dozen at thrift stores, I love this idea for an inexpensive and unique wreath that could be customized so many different ways (think spay painted white with snowflakes, or gold with book page ornaments).

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One of my favorite decorations to put up is the simple garland my mom and I made last year out of fabric scraps.

For other festive ideas, check out my Christmas and Celebrate boards on Pinterest.

 

What are your favorite Christmas books, movies, music, and decor ideas?

Primitive Pleasures {June}

A day late, but here are some good things from around the interwebs that I found in June!

JuneI have yet to develop a green thumb, so this is only possible in my dreams, but I love Natasha’s guide to growing a backyard herbal tea garden.

Despite my inability to keep my plants alive, I do love flowers! I stumbled on Sarah von Pollaro’s video tutorial on transforming a $10 supermarket bouquet into four beautiful arrangements and then got sucked into the vortex of all her awesome video tutorials. She makes flower arranging seem accessible.

Throwing a dinner party can be stressful, but so also can being a dinner party guest. Shauna Niequist (one of my favorite authors) wrote a superb post about how to be a great dinner guest.

I’ve worked several retail jobs and by far my favorite was my stint at Anthropologie. This is a phenomenal list of DIY Anthropolgie products. However, don’t ever pass up an opportunity to roam an Anthropologie store – they are truly inspirational.

Unfortunately, decisions about motherhood and everything that goes along with it have divisive tendencies in the Christian subculture. Instead of coming alongside women and families, we tend to judge and snub. I deeply appreciate this perspective and call for grace. If you don’t read the whole article, please read the last section!

It’s no secret that I love book lists. The Gospel Coalition has a great column called On My Shelf, “designed to help you get to know various people through providing a behind-the-scences glimpse into their lives as readers.” Kathy Keller, Tim Keller’s wife, had wonderful thoughts on finding Christ in fiction (which is why she’s not likely to have the latests Christian title on her nightstand).

Along the same line, this is a great article on finding God’s truth is literature.

And because this made me smile…

Book Exchange Inspiration

Earlier this week I shared some how-tos for hosting a book exchange. Here’s some more inspiration for book exchange themes, invites, favors, and decor!

Theme

Book Exchange Ideas

Casual Evening Event || Birthday Party || Afternoon Tea || Back To School

INVITES

Invite IdeasHollowed out book || Letterpress || Vintage Library Card || Library Card Sleeve

Faux Book Covers || Book Page Pinwheel

FAVORS

Book Exchange FavorsBook Page Ornament || Book Cover Coasters

Book Page Covered Mason Jar || Paint Chip Bookmark

DECOR

decorBook Page Flowers || Table Runner || Wreath || Book Centerpiece

Christmas Garland

DSC_0323I inherited my Gramma’s sewing skills.  In other words, I can sew straight lines and that’s about it.  I look up the directions for threading my little, purple sewing machine every time I sew something.

I saw some adorable fabric scrap bunting on Pinterest a couple months ago and immediately saw visions of this Christmas garland in my head.  Even my basic sewing skills wouldn’t keep me from making this vision a reality.  Heck, even hand-stitching would be an acceptable, albeit slower, option for those who are completely allergic to sewing machines.

DSC_0317Twine seemed like a sturdy stringing option and I always have a spool on hand.  My mom, creator of my beautiful wedding ornaments, brought her stash of Christmas fabric when she visited last month.  We ended up making three garlands.

The process is simple.

  • Create a template with the size flag (for lack of a better descriptor) you’d like.  Mine are 4″ wide and 6″ tall (with the triangle point coming up about 1 1/2″ from the bottom).
  • Cut, cut, cut! Fold your fabric to cut out more than one at a time. Vary the fabric to your taste.
  • Fold down the top edge to create a 1/4″ opening.  Iron the flags and the fold.

DSC_0308Now, the sewing part.  I’ll admit it.  My mom did all the sewing, which turned out great because my sewing machine had some needle issue that would have made me throw it all out the window before I got even one hem sewn on these cute flags.

  • Sew along the raw edge of your fold.
  • Keep feeding your flags through the sewing machine, until all of the hems are closed. You’ll end up with a string of flags connected by thread.
  • Cut each flag from the thread string.
  • Arrange the flags in a fabric pattern you find aesthetically pleasing.
  • Use a paper clip or safety pin  to pull twine through each flag.

DSC_0313Spread the flags out along the twine and hang the garland.  Stand back and admire your handiwork!

I draped mine behind the couch to give our normal display some Christmas cheer.  I sent one to my sis and bro (in-law) and they hung it on a mirror in their dining room.

I love the folky aspects of this garland – no need to have clean edges or cookie-cutter flags.  The imperfections add to it’s primitive charm.

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