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All the Holiday Glitter: Pear Tree Greetings

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This post is sponsored by Pear Tree Greetings. We like the way they make holidays festive and pretty. 

Prepare your mailboxes! Hang tiny twinkly lights inside them, pipe in Nat King Cole from itty bitty speakers and dangle some spruce sprigs from the door. Mailboxes are the venue, after all, for the best Christmas party of the year–the place where all your friends and family from near and far will soon gather, their faces and celebrations and all their love from 2014 tucked into envelopes and sealed with pretty stamps and curly penmanship and address labels handpicked for this very occasion.

My mail lady is my best friend this time of year. I wait for her arrival and run to the mailbox to see what holiday cards (we call them “holiday mailers”–and we say it in a British accent) have arrived. Sometimes I save them to open late at night, when the kids are asleep and I’ve found a cozy spot on the couch with a glass of wine, a candle and the Carpenters streaming from the kitchen. Sometimes I open them right away, eager to see new pictures of friends. I’m a bit of a card junkie, I admit–enthused by all the silly details–the pictures, the colors, the font, the simplicity, the glitter, the curved edges, the way the paper feels in my hand. Most certainly what’s most important isn’t the product but the love in it–the heartfelt “Merry Christmas, We Miss You. Love Brent and Joann.” But I do love a good card, and after years of photographing families and designing that very special gift that often serves as the only opportunity in one year to get the family together for a photo, I have a little extra appreciation for a beautiful holiday card.

With work, three kids, school drop off and dinner plans, I also appreciate any opportunity to make holiday tasks simpler, easier, more streamlined. Pear Tree Greetings does just that. You bring your family, your photos and your wish to create something beautiful to Pear Tree’s site, and they finish the job for you, giving you an incredible selection of beautiful Christmas cards to customize in a matter of minutes. Cards are printed on heavy premium paper with a variety of envelope colors and styles to choose from. Their award-winning designs are unique and offer you exactly what you want from simple and classic to funky and modern. Flat, folded, tri-fold, laser cut, foil, rounded edge–you name it, they have it.

I love this colorful modern collage style that gives you the opportunity to use several different photos.

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And this book style card is a stunner–definitely one I’d call Heidi with a, “Dude, did you get the Dashners’ card yet? So cute!”
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This peek-through laser-cut card is another favorite, simple yet unique.
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And if you want to have fun and go a little out of the box, how about New Year’s cards? This resolution card made me smile. I want to print 100 different resolutions and make a collage from them.

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Our holiday cards aren’t just to mail out. They’ve become an important part of our family memories with all of our cards from past years preserved in albums that will be passed down to the kids. I love the artful way we can express love for our family and friends through a simple card, and Pear Tree does a beautiful job of capturing that in their products.

We have yet to wrangle up the family for our annual Christmas card photo this year, but I did play around with some of last year’s photos.
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Pear Tree Greetings is giving one of our readers a $100 gift code (expires 12/31/14) to use toward their holiday cards with free shipping. Click over to Pear Tree Greetings, pick a favorite card design and share your favorite card design in a comment on this post. Winner will be randomly selected and announced in next Monday’s post (11/24/14). See terms and conditions HERE.

*Note: This giveaway is completed and comments have been closed.

All this talk of Christmas cards has me excited now. Time to order stamps and pick out what Christmas movie we’ll watch while I address envelopes (last year was Family Stone).

Thank you Pear Tree Greetings for sponsoring this post and for all the holiday glitter.

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I’ll take Holiday Craftastic for $400, Alex

Hear ye, hear ye: Holiday love shall now be proclaimed from this day forward. Thanksgiving’s only two-plus weeks away, putting Christmas at six–give or take–and by my calculations, that makes today Raise the Freak Flag Day (cue cartwheel, cartwheel, interpretive dance move, cartwheel).

Let there be crafts. And smiling. And high-on-life reflection.

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In case you wondered, shadow pictures make me happy and no, I’m not wearing elf boots.

Oh, I had something good to say, but let’s just do this stream-of-consciousness, shall we? Because deciding to do a blog post stream-of-consciousness is like showing up for a job interview in an expensive borrowed blazer with a prepared stage-crap, sell-yourself speech only to find your soon-to-be boss in a kaftan, with his feet on his desk, holding a popsicle with your name on it. “Sit down,” he says. “Let’s talk about our kids and how we’re going to change the world. Over popsicles, of course.” And we sit, laughing, licking Bomb Pop juice off our fingers and tapping our popsicle sticks in a toast to Coldplay or aged cheese or, maybe, to Mary Oliver’s poetry, if I’m lucky. We both cry, trade friendship bracelets, and then he gives me the job.

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*****

Weekend Delivered. Or perhaps, weekend delivers every single time it arrives, but it’s our job to accept delivery and sign for the package.

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So, Friday night, I signed. In a moment of “I take thee, Life, to be my lawfully wedded whathaveyou,” I called my friend to arrange something grand at the beach. Last minute parties? Oh, they are the best.

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Really, truly, I heard word that temperatures were shifting again in our parts, and if you take it to the beach at night in November, there’s a good chance you will encounter a sweet sliver of the north. Cold winds, cool water, the opportunity to bust out some ear-flap hats and sweaters. Hollah.

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Top it with a bottle of “kid wine,” some grapes and cheese, and a line-up of jam jars full of candles as the sun is setting? Take me away. A secret place. A freaking pocketful of sunshine, at twilight, on the beach.

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My friend, Andrea, actually said once we got to the beach, “I know you. You just did this for the sweaters and hats, right?” This is true. This is true. She knows me well. You can take the girl out of Michigan, but you can’t take Michigan out of the girl. Pink-flecked skies and Mason jar glow was just a bonus.

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I interrupt this blog post to gush about what I love right now.

Billie Holliday is breakin’ it down on Pandora, and the great loves of my life have collided…late night writing, candle light glow, and my sweet baby, asleep on couch cushions next to my desk.

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This makes me insanely happy.

So, I’ll keep it simple.

My happies, this weekend:

T-Soup with Parm
Tomato soup, doused with parmesan cheese and garnished with easy Jiffy buttermilk biscuits (smeared with butter and honey). Holiday magazine, optional yet imperative.

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Twirl-a-whirl

Lainey put on a 12-18 months size dress this weekend and decided to give us a show. Cue Gustav Mahler CD and Nella in a chair watching, entranced.

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And I had an “I am blessed to have two beautiful daughters” moment.

Car Wash
Daddy’s car first.

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But, most importantly, the kid car. No airbags, but seriously, the workout that Flinstone pedaling gives ya?

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Sister Rides
Late afternoon, when our feet hit the driveway pavement and the sun is slowly bowing out, you can hear this staccato giggle from Nella. Most likely, it’s induced from the thrill of Big Sister thrusting the little car forward on a fast ride along the sidewalk. And, in the exhileration of a fast ride, Nella stands in the back of that car and smiles while Brett and I holler “Nella, sit!” from the sidelines.

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Sometimes, she listens and sits. Sometimes, she keeps on smiling while she stands and proclaims “I’m doin’ it my way!” And though I appropriately react with attention to safety and obedience, somewhere within, I’m fine with her defiance. I freaking love her spirit.

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*****

And this is the part in that imaginary job interview where my kaftan-wearing soon-to-be-boss finishes his popsicle and says “Break it down, now.” As in, bring it. High on life? Show me. Like holidays? Prove it.

Oh, I’ll prove it. It’s November 7th, Dude. I see your kaftan and I raise you a 20-minute Christmas Craft, okay?

Here’s the deal. The word “Christmas Craft” alone makes me perk up much like a text announcing a new baby.

The first presence of the holidays in our home? A quick, homemade wreath. I wanted to add a bow or buttons or something more, but I loved it for its simplicity. Simplicity is good for me. Sometimes I peter out. And this craft easily welcomed a four-year-old’s assistance.

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It’s as simple as a styrofoam wreath form from a craft store, some fabric scraps and a bottle of Tacky glue.

Voila. It’s a little grandma-ish and, being that I’m thirty-two and now appreciate the beauty, wisdom and experience of that generation, I dig grandma-ish.

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Of course, Wreath is begging for some friends, and he will soon be joined by some other freak-flag-waving decor cousins.

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Meanwhile, we are brainstorming special gift ideas for friends and family. And I am loving watching my girl beam from the satisfaction of creating things to give away.

An easy, inexpensive gift for friends?
Embellished chalkboard.

Seriously, it’s a five dollar gift, and it took maybe fifteen minutes to create.
Materials: Wood frame, assorted felt, embroidery floss, embroidery needle, Tacky glue, primer, chalkboard paint.

Prime frame, paint with chalkboard paint, adorn with felt bunting.

Keep for yourself or decorate with twine and chalk to give away for a holiday gift.

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*****

Remember cool artist chick, Casey Leigh?
Well, congratulations to Comment #202, Talia: Love the photo of the girls sharing. Just lovely. Like you, we are practical and when the opportunity presents itself for me to take my girls to dinner – we go and cherish each moment!

Talia, your home is about to be graced by Casey’s love of art. Please e-mail your contact info to kellehamptonblog@comcast.net, and your wall will be soon be happy!

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I’ve gone through far more pony tail holders and barrettes for my girls than I’d like to admit. I’ve proclaimed new methods for organzing trinkets many times, but I’ve never found the right fit for us. So, naturally, I’m excited to lauch our our new sponsor, The Adorned Abode, which provided the perfect fix for our hair accessory storing problem.

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Kelly, of The Adorned Abode, does custom decoupage work to all her trinket and jewelry boxes, and her husband custom creates all the wood recipe boxes.

We love our new accessory box. And Lainey likes the whole idea of opening drawers and choosing accesories from a tiny dresser, just her size.

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You can enjoy a 10% discount from The Adorned Abode, using code ENJOYING10, and two commenters will be randomly chosen from this post to receive a $25 gift certificate, courtesy of The Adorned Abode shop.

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And tomorrow is a special day. Gary turns 50. Happy Birthday to a very special part of our family…thank you, Gary, for everything you do. We love you. 50–that’s a big year, Dude. Celebrate that life.

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(and sleep it off later)

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Have a great week.

Brett has proclaimed his holiday love by promising only to use the snowman mug for his coffee from now until the New Year. If only I could think of such a badass way to declare my holiday love.

Holiday Gifts and Style: Shop Ruche

If you want to swoon over an eclectic collection of holiday goodies, Shop Ruche has some fabulous gift ideas, including some sweet toys and treats from Shop Ruche Children’s Shop.
My favorite gift picks from Shop Ruche for this holiday:
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For Her: (from left) Sweet Miss Clara Dress, Hellenic Grace One Shoulder Maxi Dress (love!), Carraway Tassle Purse, Navy Luba Heels, Bond Tortoise Shell Glasses, Ruby Maharani Bangle Set, Patisserie Date Necktie Blouse
For Home: (from left) Shoegazing Note Card Set, The Bear Indie Print, Retro Cherries Apron, Rise & Shine Alarm Clock, Sweet Splendor Ceramic Bowl Set
For Child: (from left) Zebi Swaddle Blanket (just picked up this same one for baby boy), Plush Elephant, Organic Knit Shoes, Olivia Crayon Caddy, Me Without You Book

Check out Shop Ruche’s new Holiday Look Book, their helpful gift guide and their holiday DIY guide full of fabulous ideas for homemade crafts and recipes.