Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014 Home Tour: Christmas decorations

I love looking back through the past years of our Christmas decorations, and I love looking at others decorations and getting ideas for the future!  Here's a little 2014 Home Tour of our Christmas decor.  If your wondering where I purchased any of our decor items its 50% chance Potterybarn and 50% chance Target.

Bowl Target / Balls Misc  


Stockings Potterybarn 

 Poinsettia Trader Joes

 Bowl Target

Vase Potterybarn / Filler Target 

 Pillows Potterybarn

 Sorry to disrupt your nap time Jake!

 I love the simplicity of these mini trees.  They were in the 3 dollar bin at Target!  Now will someone with pretty hand writing please come over and write something festive on my chalkboard?

 Potterybarn (ignore the un-fluffed tree in the background, thanks)

 Saw this little idea of displaying Christmas books in a basket on pinterest.  I give you one guess where the basket is from....   yep.  Target!

Oh wait, hey...this bowl is from Tiffanys!! heck yeah. (wedding gift) Bells are from Potterybarn though...don't worry. 
PB (I'm honestly tired of typing it out)

Sleight PB / Candles PB / Deer Target

Ok, somebody please come kid nap me and take me to home goods or west elm.  I officially have a problem not to mention am incredibly predictable and boring!  

Show me your decor you DIDN'T get from PB or Target...PLEASE! xoxo

Monday, December 15, 2014

Guest Post by my witty husband: The ULTIMATE Man's Man Gift Guide

So Kristen, I guess was posting some Christmas gift ideas for girls and wanted to throw in some ideas for guys too.  Her constant questions became bothersome so I foolishly offered to write up a few things if it meant we could stop talking and I could go back to whatever it was I was doing that was way more important [football, likely].  Not that I’m complaining b/c I think this will actually be fun.  I have most of these things so it’s not really my wish list, its more a chance to share some stuff I’ve purchased that I’ve come to appreciate.  I guess I should write this from the girls perspective, because I wouldn’t be friends with any dudes that follow my wife’s blog.  So here we go…

Wurkin Stiff Magnetic Collar Stays ($40) - I can’t imagine living without them.  Nobody likes the guy wearing the straight collar shirt with his collar either sticking out up like he’s about to take flight, or laying down completely flat, like, well, a loser.  The collar is the most important part of a shirt – it frames the face.   You don’t wear straight collar shirts without a tie – unless you have these stays.  Pop these little guys in his shirt and he’s good to go.  I had a lot of nice straight collar shirts just collecting dust from back when I used to wear ties more often.  When I came across these at Nordstrom it instantly added about 12 shirts into my “biz casual” rotation.  James Bond wears these.  That guy in your compliance department with the coke bottle glasses and comb over hair – does not.

Garden and Gun Magazine ($20) – This is a great magazine that has something for everyone.  Food, Music, Home and Garden, Sporting, Travel – just really great articles covering all the best parts of the South. 

Gap V neck Sweater ($30) - I picked one of these up randomly in Charleston last time we were down there because it was on sale and why not.  Have bought 2 more since then in different colors.  Inexpensive, can be dressed up over a collared shirt and slacks or dressed down with jeans and a tee shirt.  Very versatile and I like that the v-neck opening is on the smaller side.  If your guy is cool enough and doesn’t have a permanent sweater on his chest (I am 0 for 2 here) you can even wear it with nothing under it, because as I mentioned, the v doesn’t cut down too far.

CFF Olympic Rings ($80) – I don’t have these, but a buddy of mine does and they are awesome.  Definitely on my list.  These things are for guys who want to get stronger and have an awesome workout but don’t care so much about how big their stupid muscles are. (People who know me are laughing right now)  No seriously, exercising with rings provides benefits beyond what you can get with dumbbells and pulley machines.  They setup and take down easy, require very little space and the inherent instability of rings makes for seriously intense training.  Makes workouts more efficient as well, since it only requires a few movements to equal the impact of dozens of regular exercises you would do in the gym.  Muscleheads throw iron around in the gym.  Navy SEALs and Army Rangers work out with these. 

Mini Cree LED Torch Flashlight ($4) – Guys like flashlights, and these little guys are awesome.  I have them stashed all over my house, in cars, on boats, everywhere.  Powerful light in a tiny package and they cost nothing.  Great stocking stuffer.

Merkur 34C Safety Razor ($40) – This is a bit of a fad, with The Art of Shaving and all the other websites and stores that have popped up over the past 5 years dedicated to men’s grooming.  I’m a convert however.  I used the old gillete mach 3 or 5 or 7 or whatever we are up to now for my whole life prior to switching to a singe blade safety razor.  I love it.  Makes shaving enjoyable, rather than a chore.  The blades cost next to nothing and last a long time (Admittedly, I first looked into this because I was tired of spending a million dollars a year for the stupid cartridges).  Even if you don’t think the razor is gonna be his thing, in my opinion it’s the products that go with it that make all the difference.  I haven’t had razor burn or an ingrown hair in years.  I think using a good shave cream with a nice badger or boar brush would make your guy and his razor want to spend more time together.  Taylor of Old Bond Street (TOBS) makes great creams that smell awesome, and a good brush can be had for 20-40 bucks (Don’t go much cheaper on the brush or the thing will shed hairs like crazy.  These products make shaving a hobby, it’s good stuff.  Advice – forget The Art of Shaving, their stuff is junk and overpriced. is a good place to find most anything you need here.  My picks:
(alternatively, Proraso Menthol Eucalyptus is a good everyday cream you can find in stores)

Leatherman Multi-tool ($40- $80) –Every man’s man need a good multi-tool.  Leatherman is the standard, but I saw some cheaper options from Gerber and Kobalt at Lowes the other day.  A good leatherman will run $40-$60 bucks, others can be had closer to $20.  If he sticks it in his pocket when he’s knocking out your honey-do list on Saturday, I guarantee it will get pulled out a hundred times.  Or just keep it in the car.  Kristen will tell you I have some mild “prepper” tendencies.  She calls it weird, I call it being responsible.  You should see the stacks of water in my basement.  Folks in West Virginia aren’t laughing at me right now…

Sorel Snow/Rain Boots ($120) - Every guy needs a good pair of rubber boots.  I like these, but there are some good offerings from Cabellas and of course, LL Bean as well.  The pull-ons are so much better than dealing with laces.

BMW M Driving School (several thousand) – Spartansburg, South Carolina – So they are going to let you come to SC, rag the hell out of some M3 and M5s, teach you how to downshift, take corners and drift like a pro, maybe put you up for a round of golf and a couple nice dinners with professional drivers to teach you how to drive it like you stole it??  This is a gift straight out of the Neiman Marcus catalogue, only it isn’t. 

Stihl BR 500 Backpack Blower ($450) - My yard has trees, and those trees have leaves.  Sound like the trees in your yard?  If so, he needs a blower.  To say that my yard has trees is a horrible understatement.  It has tons of trees, with tons of leaves.… x 1,000.  The Lunsford estate is under constant attack in the fall and even year round thanks to the beautiful but horrible birches I have hanging over the driveway.  Taking my handheld out there to battle the elements is like taking a knife to a gunfight.  This idea probably applies to no one, because it’s expensive and you have to really need it, but yard tools are great gifts and the reviews say that wearing this is akin to wearing a jetpack, and jetpacks are awesome.  Good rule of thumb – if your guy has any yard tool that is either electric or battery powered – then he should be ridiculed until it’s replaced with the version that actually has a motor. 

Haviannas Flops ($25) - I know it’s wintertime, but throw his rainbows or reefs or whatever he may have in the closet right now in the trash and snag a pair of these.  It’s like walking on marshmallows, and oh, you can get them wet without turning them into puddles of goo that paint the bottom of your feet brown for the next 2 weeks.
New Balance kicks ($50-$75) - as far as I am concerned these are the only tennis shoes  (“sneakers” for you weirdoes) that exist.  Gray is classic and goes with everything, but there are some color combos out there now that are pretty darn cool, if less versatile.  They cost nothing…

Red Jacket vintage hoodie ($90) - One of the items that bring me joy in this cold world is my Cardinals hoodie from this site.  I’ve also picked off a few of their vintage t-shirts that are softer than that that shirt made of kittens in the Michael Jordan commercial.  Seriously, kittens.  Never mind, just trust me and take a peek at the website.
**Note: looks like they don’t rock the MLB hoodie anymore.  Sucks b/c that was their best offer.  The tee shirts are still awesome.  If you are set on a hoodie, check, they have a lot.

Eddie Bauer (generally) – not going to go into detail here but the Eddie Bauer catalog is loaded with stuff I’d like to add to the wardrobe right now.  Some nice outerwear, as well as handsome sweaters and some thermals that look pretty darn cozy.  And please god someone get me a pair of those flannel-lined khakis.

The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch ($60ish) - A nice bottle is the classic holiday gift for the man who enjoys his spirits.  A few guys will have their go-to, like a Dewar’s, or Chivas or John Walker, so this being a gift, try to get off the beaten path.  This is a bottle I really enjoy that is not too pricey and your guy may not have had the chance to try it – The Balvenie Double Wood 12 year – single malt that gains its distinctive character from being aged in two wood types, a traditional oak whisky cask, and then a European oak sherry cask.  Nom Nom Nom…

Drink Rocks ($10) - To go along with the above, this is a great stocking stuffer.  You like your drink neat?  You also like it cool?  These wishes are mutually exclusive no longer – forget the ice cubes and toss a couple of these in your glass.

Pick your Streaming Stick ($30-$100) - I don’t have this yet but I plan on picking up one or even 2 for the TVs in my house that aren’t smart, i.e., connected to the interwebs.  Especially with kids, we often do the Netflix thing, the YouTube thing, the Disney thing, the Pandora thing, yada, yada.  These little gems are $30 to $100 bucks and allow you to access a myriad of content from any tube within range of your wifi router.  Daddy is happy when Daniel Tiger can be seen from the playroom and football does not have to be interrupted.   Google chrome is the cheapest and probably most well known, but there is also the Amazon Fire stick (utilize your Prime membership), and Roku has a couple options.  Here is a link to help you pick which is best for you:

Mont Bell Down Vest ($135) - a staple in any guy’s winter wardrobe should be a navy or black down vest.  I have this one and love it, but plenty of others to choose from.  Most important quality is the fill (go for something 800-fill)
(good luck finding navy, btw…try pantagonia…crap chinese stuff but lets be real, it all is.)

Kershaw Folding Knife ($20-$30) - This is that little afterthought gift that will end up being his favorite thing.  Guys like sharp knives, and whether we need to quickly show that cardboard how to fit in the recycling bin, or protect you from the hobo trying to snatch your purse, a pocket folding knife will come in handy.  You can spend as little as 20 bucks or 100+.  For practical purposes, look for something with a 3-4 inch blade, partially serrated, made by Kershaw, Cold Steel, or even Gerber. 

Cookbooks (varies) - More appropriate if your guy likes to cook, as I do, but even if he doesn’t cook, he at least grills, right?  (I mean, right?)  If he doesn’t at least man the grill you need to reconsider the nature of your relationship.  Every recipe in the world is now at your fingertips on the internet, but there is something fun, old-school, even romantic about pulling out a cookbook and tossing your smartphone.  I’m not going to suggest one in particular because it really depends on what your guy likes to do.  I’m on a vegetable kick lately and have acquired a couple cookbooks dedicated to this alone.  If your guy is purely a grill guy, well there you go.  Cookbooks these days aren’t just pages and pages of recipes; they are full of interesting information, useful techniques and even great backstories.   They can and should be read cover to cover like any other book.  Maybe next Friday doesn’t have to be “Spaghetti Night” for the 13th week in a row.  Pop these names into Amazon, it will get you on the right track:

Wusthof Chef’s Knife ($100+) - Staying with the cooking theme, even if your guy isn’t a cook he likes sharp knives, trust me, it’s a guy thing.  At worst you can put him to work doing the prep, chopping carrots or peppers or whatever else.  A good quality chef’s knife is incredibly versatile and should be considered an investment, as it will last forever if properly cared for.  Doesn’t have to be a $300 Shun, something from Wustoff or Global in the $75-$125 range is great gift that both of you will appreciate.  One grade down is Henkel, which I think is the brand Macy’s carries.  The link below is for an 8 inch, which is totally adequate compared to the more expensive 10 inch model.  I keep telling Kristen that she’ll never miss those extra 2 inches…

Golf Balls/Golf Glove ($15-20) - If your guy plays golf then he loves golf stuff and golf involves a lot of stuff, some of it being very expensive.  Bigger items like clubs and bags and whatever are very much about personal preference, so lets keep it small – balls and gloves.  Two things I’ve learned – expensive balls are not worth the money, but a good glove is.  Break it gently to your guy, but he’s not good enough to benefit from a premium ball.  Neither am I.  That Titleist Pro V1 is likely to spin more off of his driver (bad) than it is off of his wedges (good).  A very solid 3 piece ball that I hit a lot now is the Top Flight Gamer.  Good quality (Top Flight is owned by Callaway, if you didn’t know that), and they go on sale all the time at Dicks or Golf Galaxy.  If your guy isn’t throwing as much money away on golf balls, then theoretically he has more to spend on you.  This is theoretical, of course.  I don’t know of any research done to prove this and there are fundamental flaws in the logic.  I digress…

On the glove side, I’ve found that a glove that costs $20 instead of $10 will last 3 or 4 times longer and will feel like you’re putting your hand in tub of soft butter from the first wear to the last.  The slightly cheaper glove will have holes and will feel like you’re putting your hand in bag full of scissors after about 4 wears.  This is a nice offering from Titleist:

Didn’t really end on a high note there, but that’s it. Of course there are a million other gifts out there and any one might be better than the crap I mentioned here, but that’s the thing, the only real way to end up with a non-generic gift is to lean on what you really know about your guy.  Kristen knows I’d be happy as a clam if someone gave me a big bag of beef jerky.  My buddy (lets call him John), on the other hand, isn’t going to be happy unless he gets some sterling silver cufflinks or the new Taylor Swift album.  To each his own I say, but the ideas I left you above should get you started. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gifts for Kids (Ages 1-5)

I'm pretty proud to say we've been done with Christmas shopping for the kids for a couple weeks now.  One Sunday night my husband and I sat down with the laptop and in one fast swoop added items I'd been saving in our wish list to our amazon cart and hit purchase.  I'm hitting up the grandparents for some of the items (ah-hem Potterybarn chairs) and have picked up a couple good sales at Target but for the most part Amazon is where it's at for us. I learned from last year though you have to order early because the closer you get to Christmas you'll see the price of toys increase as well as shipping cost...stuff that used to be prime won't be anymore. 

So bearing our 3 year old remains on the nice list the next three's some items that Santa may bring for our boys.  James Penn is 9 months old and Hunter V is 3 years so I'd say our gift ideas fit kids ranging from 1 to 5.  Don't even think of asking me what an 8 year old wants! :) 

My husband and I work hard for what we have, but regardless I feel very blessed to be able to provide a nice Christmas for our kids and also extremely thankful for all four of their healthy, supportive and generous grandparents we have as well!  Thanks be to god! xo

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Family Christmas Pictures

We had the pleasure of having our family Christmas pictures taken by the insanely talented Terra Bailey Photography at her "Merry Lot" this year.  The Merry Lot is Terra's signature set to shoot mini sessions for families during the holidays.  Every year she puts together a magical Christmas scene and its just so much fun to frolic in the snow (fake or not :)) while she captures the sparkle in my children's eyes.  And how she does that while they are in reality crying and running away from set I have NO IDEA!  Thank you Terra, we will Cherish these pictures forever!

Thank you to Lindsey Regan Thorne with "Be Pretty" for my beautiful hair and makeup!  That girl is a miracle worker in herself and sure knows how to make a tired Mama feel put together.  Thanks you girl! 

Without further ado.... 

Christmas Card from Minted

Merry Christmas from our Family to Yours! xo
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