Category Archives: Holidays

Christmas Tour

We ordered a pair of new loveseats as our anniversary gift this year.  These finally replace a sofa and loveseat set we got as hand-me-downs years ago.  I was very grateful to have them for free for many years, but ultimately they were oversized for our room and the wrong color.  I wanted something more petite, not deep and more tailored looking.  I also did not want oversized or tall arms.  Bradley liked this loveseat with it’s touch of mid-century style.  I liked that it was shallow and not oversized.  We were able to pick out the fabric and have them made by Craftmaster. I thought the button-tufting on these were less formal than deep tufts and complimented the button tufts on the chairs that I had recovered earlier this year as well.  I did not like the 7″ tapered round legs that came on the loveseats, so I found some 5″ tapered square legs online that better matched the style of the chairs.  At only 5’3″, it is so hard to find furniture that allows my feet to sit on the floor without having to slouch or perch on the edge.

We had an issue getting the correct loveseats in, so after ordering them in September and expecting them around our anniversary at the end of October, we finally got the right ones in time for Christmas decorating.  I also picked up a new pair of mid-century-inspired side tables at Target for one of the loveseats.  I really like the marble tops to kind of shake up all the wood pieces in the room.

On to the dining room.  I finally bit the bullet and got all of the curtain panels in here and the living room hemmed.  I also added simple roman shades to both rooms for added privacy and light control when needed.  My Christmas decorations are minimal this year – table runner, a poinsettia from my neighbor, and some vintage ornaments in a lantern.

On the mantle, I didn’t feel like pulling out the Willow Tree nativity from Bradley’s grandparents, so a simple garland, banner and metallic trees with deer are it.

The red and black buffalo check monogram letter is new this year, but otherwise, just my normal nativity set ups.

The bulldog treat jar always gets dressed up this time of year and of course I have out the light bulb ornament I made years ago.

We have a couple of new travel ornaments this year on the tree.  We went to Nashville for a weekend to see Our Lady Peace in concert.  We also visited Bradley’s brother and his family in Portland this fall.

I will end the post with our early Christmas gift from mother nature – 6-8″ of snow!  We survived without losing power, but the Japanese maple tree in front of our garage couldn’t handle it and we had two very large limbs come down.  Luckily, I hadn’t gotten around to wrapping it in Christmas lights yet, and it might not be salvageable so it may never get decorated again.

Merry Christmas!

I only made a few changes to our Christmas decorations this year.  I think the biggest impact change was to the exterior of our house.  I purchased some bows for our window wreaths and it really made them pop on the house this year.

2016-christmas-exterior 2016-christmas-wreath

I also added a few new porch decorations.  There was a vintage sled that we got from Bradley’s grandparents and a bucket with “snowballs” in it.  I added two golden resin deer next to the door as well.

2016-christmas-porch-1 2016-christmas-porch-2

On our dining table, I added a simple red and white table runner that I had picked up at the end of the season last year.  My thanksgiving cactus is blooming like crazy for me this year.

2016-christmas-dining-2 2016-christmas-centerpiece 2016-christmas-buffet

On the mantle, I used the Willow Tree nativity from Bradley’s grandparents again, but to help everything feel less washed out, I added a cute Merry Christmas banner that Target was carrying this year.


Our biggest change inside was moving the tree from the foyer to the front window in the living room.  I bought new floral picks to use as the tree topper this year.


I got to go to the aquarium this month and do the penguin and sea otter experiences, so I picked up this ornament while I was there.

Countdown to Christmas: Amish Friendship Bread

Friendship Bread

Every year, I start a batch of Amish Friendship bread before Christmas.  When it is time to make the bread, instead of giving away part of the starter, I go ahead and make all five batches of bread.  It yields 30 small loaves.  I cut nesting tags using my Silhouette Cameo and tie each loaf with baker’s string.  We give them to co-workers, neighbors and other friends.

I thought I would share the starter/bread recipe that I use here.

Amish Friendship Bread


1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar

*Do not use metal bowls or spoons.  Do not refrigerate*

Dissolve yeast in small amount of warm water.  Mix all ingredients together in ample size bowl (it will grow).  Transfer starter to a 1-gallon ziplock bag.  This is day 1 of the recipe.

Day1:   Do nothing to starter
Day 2:   Squeeze bag.
Day 3:   Squeeze bag.
Day 4:   Squeeze bag.
Day 5:   Squeeze bag.
Day 6:   (In bag) add 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 cup milk, and 1 cup sugar.  Seal bag. Squeeze bag to mix.
Day 7:   Squeeze bag.
Day 8:   Squeeze bag.
Day 9:   Squeeze bag.
Day 10:   In a plastic bowl, combine the bag of mix with 1 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup self-rising flour.  Mix well with spoon.  Pour 1 cup of starter in a 1-gallon ziplock bag.  Make 3 more bags with 1 cup starter each.  Total of 4 bags.  Keep 1 bag and give the other 3 bags with this recipe to friends.  You will be left with 1 cup of starter in the bowl.

(Bread may be made on day 8, 9, or 10)


2 c. self-rising flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. sugar
1 large box instant vanilla pudding
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
1 c. oil
1/2 c. milk
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix by hand.  Grease 6 small loaf pans.  Mix 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 3 Tbsp. sugar.  Coat bottom and sides of pans with mixture.  Fill each pan 1/2 full with batter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Bake for 45 minutes at 325° (I use the convection oven at 300°)

Countdown to Christmas: Inside


This year, I was able to plug our tree up in the foyer without running extension cords into the living room, thanks to the new outlet the electricians installed earlier this year.  As always our tree is filled with ornaments we pick up on vacations and for important life events.  This year we added a few more:

Jovie OrnamentIn April, we adopted our second dog, Jovie.  Her ornament is almost identical to Buddy’s but I couldn’t find anything else I liked any better.  The Personalized tags I added to the top were from a necklace I ordered through Groopdealz.
Seattle OrnamentIn August, I picked up two ornaments during the road trip from Seattle to San Francisco with my mom and sister.  The first was from the Space Needle, and the second is from the National Redwood Forest.
Redwood Ornament Dianne OrnamentIn May my mom’s only sister passed away from cancer.  She was like a second mother to my sister and me – we took most of our vacations with her as we grew up.  She has given me quite a few ornaments over the years, but each niece and nephew got these this year.  She had cross-stitched them in 1990.  She is so missed by all of us.

To check out our other ornaments and trees from years past, go here.Card HolderI moved my card holders into the foyer this year now that I’ve added the botanical prints on the dining room wall.

Table SettingOn the breakfast table, I added my one-piece nativity under a cloche and slipped an old beaded wreath around it. I use simple snowflake dishes from Target and pair them with my everyday china and some silver glass chargers that I picked up at Goodwill several years ago.  I added the red plaid napkins this year to pick up on the red wreath in the center.DSC02592In the dry bar area where I keep my stand mixer, I filled the bowl with contemporary Shiny Brite ornaments I found on clearance after last Christmas.

Christmas Centerpiece

My dining room table is almost bare this year.  I end up using the table a lot so this is what happens.  I’ve been looking for a table runner that can at least fill it out a little more – I just haven’t found one I love yet.  I filled my large lantern with vintage ornaments I started collecting a few years ago.  I buy a couple more each year.

In the background, I’ve added a couple of red pillows to my normal green ones in the living room.  I also use a red metal tray on the coffee table to add a little more color.
I put all of my nativity sets in the den.  I used the Willow Tree set from Bradley’s grandparents on the mantle.  I added magnolia branches and some electric candles my mom gave me for my birthday to fill out the sides of the mantle.

Christmas Mantle

This nativity was a wedding shower gift from my aunt.  She knew that I prefer nativities with abstract faces.  It means even more now that she’s gone.Dianne Nativity

Bradley’s dad brought this nativity back from Africa several years ago.  Africa Nativity As always, one our favorite Christmas tchotchkes is the big bulb ornament I made several years ago.  I also put out some brass deer I got from Goodwill with a gold mercury glass tree.Bulb Ornament

And the bulldog treat jar can’t be left out, so he got a santa hat this year.  The tiny nativity ornament next to him was a gift from my best friend.  Her husband picked it up on a mission trip to Peru.Christmas Bulldog

To check out our outdoor decor, go here.

Countdown to Christmas: Outside

House ChristmasFor Christmas this year, I broke down and bought wreaths for each window, because with so much symmetry to our house I really like the look of the wreaths.  I was able to get them hung, but bows will have to wait until next year.  I just have too much going on to get 11 wreath bows made before Christmas this year!

I kept the UGA wreath on the front door, because I still love it.

Front Door

Front Door2

For my birthday, my mom and sister made and bought cheery pillows for the chairs on our front porch.  I love them!  I should probably change out the seat cushions this time of year as well…

Front Porch2

Front Porch1

The only other outdoor decor we do is white string lights wrapped around the trunk of the Japanese Maple tree in front of the garage.