Tuesday, December 30, 2014

'Tis The Season! Our 2014 Holiday Recap

Oh hi there! Basil was hoping to lead the tour, kicking off our 2014 holiday recap, if you care to see...

It's been a busy few weeks leading into the holidays — filled with everything from projects and decorating to attending and hosting holiday gatherings. We'll start things out with our house decorations this year, which you may begin to recognize from our past holiday posts:

Indoors we kept things fairly simple this year since we started so late in the month. So late in fact, there were no real Christmas trees left when we finally decided to go get one...

We set out the Sunday before Christmas to get a real tree. The rest of the month seemed to breeze by and we were out of town in NYC and FL for a good portion of it. We actually thought the trees might be on a closeout sale that Sunday, but it turned out that all our favorite places were either completely out of stock or had just moved out for the season. We were pretty surprised, but made a mental note for next year, then got our creative juices flowing trying to think of what we'd do for a tree this year...

As you can see, we ended up staging one of our faux topiary trees as our Christmas tree by propping it up on a kitchen stool and decorating it with all of our favorite ornaments instead of the full shebang. It's definitely not as grand or fresh smelling as a real tree, but it did the job nicely in a pinch and will save us cleanup in the end.

Notice the little Weimaraner ornament up there? Tim's parents gave it to us this year and it's one of our new favorites! How have we not gotten a weim ornament until this year? The shame...

Here's another old favorite — the elf atop the mistletoe:

This decoration is one Tim grew up with. Two years ago, his mom gifted it to Brandon with the history and stories written down along with it. We now enjoy pulling it out each year and can't believe that Brandon is tall enough to hang this guy along our 9ft door trim without the help of a ladder.

We enjoyed the light-wrapped stair rail so much last year we decided to give it a go again this year:

Outside we kept things pretty simple. We had the tomato cage topiaries to light up the front stoop:

And this was the first year we assembled and hung our giant wreath outside on the Romeo & Juliet balcony. We'd gotten the wreath two seasons ago, but hadn't actually brought it out to decorate with until this year:

Brandon mastered the job of piecing it together and testing the lights. To give a little context for scale, Brandon is 6'3" — this is no small wreath:

In other holiday related events, we had a blast helping to host and attend this year's RVA Etsy Home for the Holidays event. Each year Etsy staff host hometown events over the holidays and this year's Richmond event went down at The Cask Cafe:

It was so amazing getting a chance to spend time with and chat with old friends, familiar faces and so many new shop owners all from this area. It never ceases to amaze us how much talent is rooted across the River City.

Every other year my sister's family travels down to Texas to spend Christmas with her husband's relatives, but we did get a chance to sneak in some time with them and the kids before they left. We'll also plan to do Christmas gifts with the kids this week when they return home, which will hopefully help extend the fun for everyone.

One of our favorite events with the kids was Virginia's school holiday program. She's in kindergarten and the entirety of the kindergarten classes got together to put on a program of holiday songs. They all came in down the aisles and her face lit up when she recognized all of us there to see her. One of the most exciting moments was her special solo — that's right, our 6-year old niece stood up and rocked a solo in front of everyone. We loved every last second of it:

On Christmas morning Tim and I had a quiet morning together with Basil before everyone started to arrive. We opened gifts, which I hope to post a mini-roundup of here on the blog later if it's something you'd be interested in seeing.

We also snagged this shot of Basil in his tacky Christmas sweatshirt, which he surprisingly sat patiently and perfectly for until we got this adorable card-worthy shot:

We admired all FOUR of the stockings hung over the mantle, which had been lovingly stuffed to the gills by Santa — we must have been good this year:

Thanks for all the kind words and comments on the addition of my very own matching Christmas stocking from yesterday's post — it truly was my Christmas wish come true:

Christmas Day we hosted our families, like we've done over the past 3 years, here at the house for a big holiday feast. Tim and his mother work tirelessly for about 2 weeks prepping for the meal, which is always over-the-top and legend-like quality. All of the prep prior to the big day paid off this year, as they both agreed they felt this Christmas was the easiest and most organized they've felt since we made the switch to hosting dinner here.

I worked with Carol (Tim's mom) to get the table ready and cherish pulling out our fancy china and silver for a 12 person spread. It's once a year we're able to do it, and the china pattern was left to me by my grandmother (Nanny). It's special for me, but I also relish in watching my mom's face light up when she sees all these "old friends" set up on the table. It was her mom's china, so she grew up with it too. It's one of the ways we keep the memories alive and our relatives here with us.

While getting everything set up, we took a chance to snag a couple photos in front of the "tree" this year. I joked that Tim and my's outfits were the swapped opposite of his parents':

And who could forget Basil!?

Basil pretty much stole the show this Christmas, as he does all the time. Caitlyn (our niece), donned his head with a Christmas bow, which he happily wore the rest of the afternoon:

He helped Gran open a peace-offering gift to her cat, a steak shaped cat toy from The Spotted Kitty:

Then enjoyed opening up his very own Christmas stocking, which was filled with a variety of treats and chews. It's always so funny to us that he knows exactly which one is his:

The kids (Stephanie & Brandon) came mid-day to stay and that evening after the rest of our family members had left to head back home, we ventured out to walk around the neighborhood, taking in all the holiday lights along Monument Avenue and trying to work off some of the tremendous feast we'd just indulged in. There is one house in particular we like to see — it has a vintage Cadillac set up on the street lit up with lights and decked out with 8 flying reindeer:

The next evening, we opened the house to host a holiday gathering for several of our friends that I grew up and went to school with:

It was one of those amazing nights where time seemed to fly by, filled with laughter, catching up and the best kind of reminiscing. This was definitely one of those gatherings we hope to make an annual tradition that continues to grow.

That concludes the highlights from our holidays this year! We have plans for a New Year's Eve dinner with some of our dearest friends tomorrow night to round out all the events and welcome in the new year. As always, we thank you for taking the time to stop in and share in our holiday fun.

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