Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back & Looking Forward

Happy {almost} New Years everyone! I'm sure everyone has some amazing plans for ringing in 2012 tomorrow evening. The hubby and I are going to a friend's house for their annual bonfire. It has been a few years since we've both gone, so we're definitely looking forward to it. But, I wanted to look back and reflect on some of the amazing things that have happened this past year as well as make some predictions and resolutions for the year ahead of us. And what better way to do that than to compile two lists?

  • Started off the spring semester of my first year of teaching. To make matters more stressful, I was beginning an AP U.S. History course and had to teach these kids over 400 years of history in only 4 months. I was nervous and scared and felt like I was the wrong person for the job. They really expected me to do this on my first go around? And get students to pass the national exam? But my administration had faith in me. So, I flubbed worked my way through the semester the best I could. And you know what? I felt like I did a darn good job. And in the summer I discovered that 6 of my students passed the exam!

  • Finished my first year of teaching. Very grateful that they asked me to come back for another year (in Florida, as a first year teacher you are on an annual contract which means they can let you go after the first year without any sort of explanation).
  • Introduced a friend of mine to a friend of the hubby's (both were in our wedding). We had been trying to hook the two of them up for a while, but the timing never seemed right. Then, by pure chance, they met and hit it off almost immediately. The amazing part: we will be in their wedding in the next couple of months! I guess saying that they hit it off is a little bit of an understatement. :)
  • Watched my best friend bring her first little boy into the world. Well, sort of. She ended up having a c-section, but you get the picture. It has been so much fun to watch that little guy grow up and develop his own little personality.
  • Moved into a new apartment. In 2010 I took the big leap and moved out of my parents home for the first time. By this move, all the nervous jitters of living on my own in a new city had pretty much worn off. What made it even better was knowing that this apartment would be our first home together.
  • Got married! We seriously couldn't have asked for a prettier day. I can't wait for our photos to come back so we can share them with you. After our wedding we went on our honeymoon cruise and celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time as a married couple.

  • Bought a mattress. This might seem like a silly milestone, but to me it was major. It was the first major purchase that I had made that was paid for up front (well, besides the wedding). And, it was the first major purchase that the hubby and I made together.


  • Help friend (mentioned above) plan her wedding. I thought planning a wedding in 11 months was insane - she's doing it in a matter of 5 months!
  • Learn to live with a roommate. Yep, the hubby and I are taking in a roommate. Some might think we're crazy - we're still newlyweds and need our space. But, it'll only be a temporary thing. My friend, the one who is getting married, will be moving in with us in a couple months. One reason is to save money for her wedding. The other is that her future hubby is active military and it's going to take a little bit for them to get things situated for off-base living and get her {hopefully} enrolled in nursing school. But considering I've only ever lived with my parents, by myself, or with the hubby, this will be interesting. :)
  • Purchase a new car for hubby. He's been driving my car since he moved in and I've been driving his. His car is more than a little roughed up and we're not sure how much longer it will stay running. We're hoping to save enough money so that we can purchase the new car outright with his current car as a trade-in, but we might have to take out a small loan. Hopefully not though. If we do, it'll be an extremely small loan which would be paid off before the end of the year.
  • Work our debt snowball. We're hoping to have the smallest of the hubby's student loans paid off before the end of the year. Once that is gone, my car loan will be next on the chopping block. We are both looking forward to the day that we no longer have debt payments and can put every bit of our hard earned money towards buying a home. First step will be setting up our new budget now that our finances are combined. Hopefully I'll get around to posting details as we work through this process.

  • Have another successful year of teaching AP. School starts back up on January 9th, and I'll have a new batch of kiddos. Again, I'll have 4 months to teach over 400 years of history. Only this year I know that it can be done! I'm hoping to have a higher pass rate this year. I'm also hoping to grow more professionally by going to more workshops over the summer.
  • Get into better shape. I know people say this all the time when making New Year Resolutions. However, I'm hoping this little blog will keep me accountable. Plus, having a husband who likes going to the gym will make it easier. And I'm hoping that, like the debt snowball, once a little weight starts coming off I'll get more motivated to keep going. Besides, I need to work towards one of my bucket list goals of running a 5k. So, I'm going to go beyond the basic goal of getting into better shape. My specific goals: lose a minimum of 25 pounds and be able to run/jog 1 mile without stopping before the end of the year. Will post more on weight loss goals, how I plan to get there, and starting pictures soon.

  • Another goal is to try more foods. I'm a pretty picky eater, so this one will be challenging for me. But I figure the least I can do is try out a couple new recipes - even if they include foods I know I already like. So, I'm hoping to cook/try one new recipe per month. It may be something that only the hubby will eat, but I promise to try everything I make at least once. I'm hoping Pinterest will come to my rescue as well as some of the cookbooks that have been collecting dust on my bookshelf.
  • And last, but not least, I'm hoping to not let the stresses of school get the best of me this year. Especially when it comes to the spring semester and AP, I tend to get overwhelmed. My goal is to not let grading carry over into the next week. To try and stay after school until all the tasks for that day is done. Also, I hope to get my lesson planning done on Fridays, rather than the morning they are due. This is the one goal I predict I will fail at, but that's not to say that I'm not going to give it my best shot.
So there you have it. Some of my favorite moments of 2011 and some of my goals and predictions for 2012. What about you? Have you made any resolutions this year? Or do you think that's a silly tradition? How do you plan on ringing in the New Year?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Apartment Updates & A Big Purchase

Two posts in one day - I'm on a roll! This post is going to be super quick. Basically I wanted to fill you in on a couple of updates we made around the apartment as well as give you some details about a recent purchase.

The first update we made was to change out the slip cover on the love seat that was given to us by my hubby's brother and sister-in-law. Previously it had a worn out brown slip cover on it. You can kinda see a picture of it in this post from when we first moved in (it's the couch in the back corner next to the sliding glass door). Granted it did its purpose, but it was apparent that pets had been sleeping on it, and I was ready to find a new slip cover. Let me just tell you, I was shocked at how expensive slip covers are! But, I came across this guy one night and just had to bring it home.

For twenty-five bucks, I figured it was worth a shot. So, the old slipcover came off and the new one went on in its place. Its really hard to tell in the pictures (sorry, they were cell phone pics taken late at night), but its a dark grey color. I love that this slipcover is more fitting than the last one. And from the back it still looks good - the other one had some ties in the back which made it impossible to rearrange our living room like this (which we did to make room for our Christmas tree).

But onto our big purchase! Going into our wedding, we had budgeted like crazy to make sure that we could afford everything up front and not go into debt paying for a wedding. Because of that, a lot of things got put on the back burner until after the wedding. One of those things was purchasing a new mattress set. The one we had been using was my old mattress that I bought back in high school. So we're talking about 8 years ago. Let's just say that that thing creaked whenever you moved and it was sunken in the middle.

So our plan was to use whatever money we got as wedding gifts and put that towards buying a new mattress. We figured we'd have to save for a month or two after the wedding to have enough money to make the purchase. However, our family & friends were more than generous (many of them knew what our plan was after the wedding) and we had enough money to buy the mattress set out right that same weekend!

We already had done a little shopping around for mattresses prior to the wedding so that we had a ball park figure in mind of how much we would need to save. And we fell in love with the Sleep Number beds. We loved the fact that the hubby and I could customized our sides of the bed in terms of firmness. him and I can never agree on what is too firm and what is too soft in terms of a mattress. Another point our salesperson made (let me tell you, she was good!) was eventually we were going to want kids, and having the ability to adjust the bed during pregnancy was a big plus. No, we're not pregnant nor are kids in our immediate future, but considering a mattress is a long-term purchase, it was a good selling point.

So, after going back to the store and looking at the different options that were in our price range, we settled on the special that they were running at the time. I don't know what the exact model number is, but it was in between the C4 and P5 beds in terms of thickness of the foam and the pumps. The only downside is that by purchasing the special, we didn't have the 30-day money back guarantee that typically comes with their beds. Instead we had a 45-day exchange only guarantee. But, so far we are happy with the bed and don't have plans to return it. Here it is in what I like to call it's naked state shortly after it was delivered (by the way, it only took the guys maybe 10-15 minutes to take away our old mattress and set up this one - we were impressed!):

We had used gift cards to buy a new bedding set that we had registered for as well as a couple new pillows and a mattress protector. We also bought a new shower curtain  and some matching bath mats to go with the new color scheme of our master bedroom.

(can you spot Cruz?)

We've had our new bed for almost a month now, and we love it! Some of the negative aspects of the bed include only coming with one remote (we could always purchase another if we felt like spending the money) and the air pump which is used to fill the chambers within the mattress is a little on the noisy side. It also took a little while to used to sleeping on air instead of a spring mattress - you can kinda compare it to sleeping on a typical air mattress when you go camping, but its still totally different in the sense that you're not bothered by the person sharing the mattress with you and there is a ton of foam that you sleep on to cushion the space between you and the air chambers.  But all in all, I'd say that we are both very happy that we splurged and got this mattress. If our opinion changes, I'll be sure to update you later, but so far, it doesn't look like that will happen anytime in the near future.

Disclaimer: We were not paid or perked by Sleep Number to write this post. Honestly, they have no idea who I am or that this little blog exists. My opinions are totally my own and I felt like sharing them in the hopes that it might help someone else making the big decision to purchase a mattress. Yes, I could potentially get reward points or possibly even cash back for each referral I send to Sleep Number. But, considering you don't know my full name (and I don't plan on giving it out) or my customer number, I would not benefit from you purchasing a Sleep Number bed or any of their products in the future.

Holiday Wrap Up

Hello all! I hope all of you enjoyed spending the Christmas holidays with your family and friends! Wanted to stop in and share our holiday festivities with everyone. I started out by wanting to do a "Day in the Life" post (inspired by Jenna over at That Wife), but I had a really hard time keeping up with what we were doing at what times of the day. Plus, my irritability due to lack of sleep (more on that later) didn't help at all. Despite all of that, the hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed our first Christmas as husband and wife. So, without further ado...


The night before we had gone out to eat and then went over to a friends house to visit and drop off their Christmas gift. By the time we got back home, the hubby was really tired and went straight to bed. I on the other hand, wasn't so tired. I had had a migraine earlier in the day, and thanks to my medication, had taken a nice long nap in the middle of the afternoon. So, I laid down, but brought the laptop to bed with me to catch up on some blog reading and try to put my mind to sleep. Cruz thought this would be the perfect time to lay on my chest (this is his form of snuggling which likes to do at bed time). So I pawned him off on the hubby and continued playing on the computer.

I soon realized that I wasn't falling asleep. So, I asked myself, what do you do at 1 a.m. on Christmas Eve? Why, clean the living room, of course! So I got out of bed, closed the door so as not to wake the hubby with all my noise, and started cleaning the living room. I also wrapped the last two presents for our family members and put them under the tree. The box on the couch is a present from the hubby to me - I didn't wrap it because (1) I didn't know what was in there and if it was something that could be flipped around while being wrapped and (2) I didn't want to accidentally ruin the surprise of what it was.

After cleaning the living room, I climbed back in bed and starting playing games on my cell phone to put me to sleep. Usually when I do this it works like a charm and I'm out in 10 minutes or so. However, this night it wasn't working. I probably didn't get to sleep until 6 a.m. or so.

When the hubby woke up, he wanted breakfast right away, but I convinced him to open presents first. We started with the cats - I had put a couple of cat nip mice in their stockings (yes, my cats get stockings - you can see them here along with the rest of our Christmas decor). I was surprised at how excited they got when I started shaking the stockings and leading them to the coffee table. I wonder if they thought there were treats inside...?

Then it was time for our gifts. This year we set a limit on the amount of money we could spend on gifts. As much as we had agreed to stop being as tight with our budget during the holidays, we also didn't want to go over board. I'll let you figure out whose presents are whose.

Please ignore how bad I look in this picture. Remember, its morning, no shower has been taken yet, and I have had little to no sleep. There are no excuses for the hubby though (Love you hun!).

After presents, we made up a quick breakfast of waffles. The hubby enjoyed some sausage with his and I had some sliced apples with cinnamon sprinkled over it. We typically watch the news while eating breakfast. And yes, it felt like 80 degrees outside on Christmas Eve! Let me just say that it didn't exactly feel like Christmas outside.

Once breakfast was over we started packing our bags since we were staying at our parents house for the weekend. The hubby also did a few things around the house (laundry, dishes, etc.) while I started in on writing some thank you cards (one of the many things on my winter break to-do list). Then we loaded up the car, checked the mail, took the trash to the compactor, and headed to Orlando.

On the way we listened to my new CD and I read the Christmas cards from family & friends to the hubby.

Before we went to Orlando we stopped at BJ's Wholesale to price a new computer. We've been looking and saving for a new desktop computer, and we thought that maybe they would have a good deal. Although we didn't find a computer we liked (though we eventually did at CompUSA and brought it home with us this weekend), we did find an amazing deal (only $20!) on tupperware! I know, its sad to get excited about tupperware, but this stuff is so much easier to store than what we are currently using. So it's a bit of an understatement to say I was happy to put this guy in our cart and bring him home.

When we got to Orlando we dropped off Christmas gifts at my parents house and then went over to my in-laws for Christmas Eve dinner and presents with that side of the family.

Periwinkle loved the gift from Grandma & Grandpa. :) 

We stayed the night at his parents house. It was another sleepless night for me. And because I was so tired from not getting any sleep the night before, I was really frustrated that I wasn't sleeping for a second night. I've never had problems with insomnia before, but I guess my body felt like this was the perfect time to start.


We got up the next morning and had breakfast with the in-laws. Mom had made up some biscuits & gravy - one of hubby's favorites. Afterwards, the hubby and I got ready and headed over to my parents house to car pool over to my aunt's house for lunch. I failed to capture any pictures at lunch because I was beyond tired. By this point in the day I wasn't really in the Christmas spirit. Plus, it was another warm day in sunny Florida - I had an outfit picked out for Christmas, but had to nix it in favor of a tank top and shorts instead. Once lunch was over, we headed out early and went back to my parents house to wait for the rest of the family to show up. My nieces & nephews had a ball opening up all of their gifts!

The kiddos favorite gift had to have been the Disney game. I forget now what it was called, but basically you place Mickey ears on your head and attach a card to it without looking at the card. Then you ask yes or no questions to try and figure out who or what you are before time runs out. The kids didn't really catch on to the whole question thing. For instance, if you aren't a person, then more than likely you don't wear clothing. But, they had fun asking and answering questions anyways.

Although we had plans to go home that night, I really wanted to go shopping the next morning. There isn't a whole lot of places to go shopping where we live, and I wanted to go do something with my mom. Originally we talked about going home and coming back the next day, but we decided to save time and gas and just stay the night at my parents house. Thank god we packed an extra pair of clothes!


That morning we woke up and headed out shopping. I was a little disappointed because the deals weren't really deals and most of the stores had been picked over by the time we got there. I was mainly shopping for gift bags since my supply had run down to practically nothing. But I didn't realize how expensive gift bags had gotten. I did manage to find one deal though.

These puppies were on clearance at Wal-Mart. All of their Christmas stuff had been marked down to 50% off. The sign above them said they were $9.98 each. But we weren't sure if that was the clearance price or if we took 50% off of that. Still, $30 for a 12 piece setting isn't that bad. The hubby wasn't entirely convinced that it was a good price. But when I explained to him that you usually get a 4 piece setting (which includes cups) for $25, he started to come around. We placed them in our cart and I had decided to buy them even if they were nearly ten bucks each. As we walked around we came across one of those price scanners. And wouldn't you know? Each box was just under $5 a pop! Add that up, and we got a 12 piece place setting for only $15! I was beyond excited! I've been looking for a set of plain white dishes. We have a 12 piece setting now, but it includes 3 different types of designs, and I wanted a set where everything matched. But everything I've looked at was either too expensive, or came with the matching coffee mugs, which we never use. These plates have turned out to be the perfect solution.

After we finished up shopping, we met up with friends and played photographers. One of my bridesmaids is getting married to one of the hubby's groomsmen in a couple months, and they wanted pictures taken to incorporate into their wedding invitation. So, we borrowed my mother-in-laws camera (my battery was dying and we forgot to bring the charger) and headed over to the Winter Park Farmer's Market where we got married and had a mini photo session. I don't claim to be a photographer by any means, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have fun.

As the afternoon went on though, this started happening:

Isn't it lovely? Even though the picture is really blurry I'm sure you can get the idea. Yep, I had pink eye....for the second time. I had already battled pink eye a week earlier and thought it was gone. (One of my students came to school with pink eye and I guess I must have touched something they touched and then rubbed my eye, so I ended up with it too.) So, as soon as we got home I started the antibiotic eye drops all over again. And for the last two days I've been walking around without contacts. Wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact that I don't have a pair of back up glasses anymore (hubby broke them a couple years ago while we were wrestling). I know, its stupid not to have back up glasses, but it is what it is now. Let me just say that as I'm typing this the desktop screen is pulled all the way to the edge of the desk and my face is literally inches from it - I'm not lying when I say I'm blind. The hubby laughs at me when I have to get really close to something to read it. Hopefully my eyes will be back to normal by Friday, cause I have a lot of things I need to get done before I go back to school!

So how did your Christmas weekend go? Did everything happen the way you wanted it to? Get any good gifts? Or maybe you gave a gift that you were really excited about? Anyone travel and have to stay with family? I look forward to hearing your stories!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Break 2011

Everyone out there is probably counting down the days until Christmas when they get to open all of the presents under the tree and spend time with family and friends. I, on the other hand, am counting down the days until winter break, where I get a whole 2 weeks to myself. Most of the surrounding counties let out last Friday, but we have to hang in there until Thursday before we can officially take our mind off of school work. Well, sort of... we all know a teacher's job is never "done" just because the bell rings. And, even though it is considered "vacation," I don't have any plans to do anything spectacular over break. Here is a little breakdown of what I have on my agenda:
  • Health
    • Go to the radiology facility and have my ultrasounds done (no, I'm not pregnant - they are for another long-standing health problem that I might share one day...we'll see)
    • Have my blood drawn
    • Make a follow-up appointment with my doctor once all of the results come back
  • Wedding Stuff
    • Write all the thank you cards for our wedding gifts (is it bad that the wedding was over a month ago and we still haven't sent out one card yet??)
  • Name Change
    • Go to the Social Security office and get my name changed on my card
    • If that comes in, make a trip to the DMV to have my license changed
    • If that happens, then go to my bank to change my name on that account
    • Call around to the different utilities that we are subscribed to and figure out how to change my name with all of them (this whole name change thing is becoming a bigger pain than I anticipated...)
  • Christmas Eve & Christmas Day
    • Celebrate our first married Christmas together Christmas Eve morning
    • Spend Christmas Eve Night with the in-laws and stay the night at their house
    • Spend Christmas morning with the in-laws
    • Go to my parents house for a late morning Christmas celebration
    • Go to my aunt's house to see the rest of my family for Christmas
  • Figure out what we're doing for New Year's
  • School Stuff
    • Finalize some stuff for my AP course (lecture notes, powerpoints, all that fun stuff...)
    • Finish updating the website for the AP course
    • Finalize my lesson plans for the first couple weeks back
    • Get prepared for my first formal observation of the year
  • Around the Apartment
    • Clean the apartment & try to organize our guest bedroom closet
    • Set aside stuff for a yard sale (we're hoping to have one sometime in January)
  • Blog Maintenance
    • Try to empty out my blog draft box
    • Write a post about our recent weekend trip to St. Augustine
    • Write posts about Christmas & New Years as well as anything else that comes to mind
So far those are my plans. Not really a whole lot of time left over for relaxing, though I'm sure I will make the time. But, if you don't hear from me for a while, you can bet I'm probably working on something mentioned above.

What about you? How much time do you get off for the holidays? The hubby only gets the day after Christmas off from work. Do you have any big plans for the holidays? Traveling to see family? Or maybe everyone is coming over to your place. Or maybe you could just give me some encouragement about this whole "name change" thing - sometimes I really feel like I'm losing a part of my identity.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Choosing Where to Go

So, I was going through some of the posts that I had started before the wedding, but never got around to finishing. Even though I've already shared some pictures and stories from our honeymoon already, I came across this one about how & why we chose our honeymoon destination, and I thought I'd go ahead and share that with you guys.
So, after the engagement, setting a budget, and picking a wedding date, the next thing on our agenda was to decide on where we wanted to go for our honeymoon. Let’s just say that this was probably Dan’s favorite part of the entire wedding planning process.
The first thing we decided on was what type of honeymoon we wanted, and we knew we wanted go somewhere tropical near water & sand. I wanted to be able to relax and maybe do a little shopping, and Dan wanted to be able to do little adventurous things throughout the trip. Also, whatever it is that we decided on, it needed to fit into our budget.

My dream honeymoon location was Bora Bora (isn't it gorgeous?!). I did a project on it once in school and fell in love with the place almost instantly. I always dreamed of staying in one of those over-the-water huts with the glass-bottom floor & the private staircase into the water. But, once we priced the cost of the flight out there, plus the nightly rate of a decent hotel, not to mention all the food & activities we wanted to try while we were there... to put it simply, it was WAY out of our humble budget.
After the Bora Bora research, we started to realize that the ideal honeymoon we wanted wasn't going to be cheap. We talked with some friends who had gotten married a couple years before us, and their honeymoon to the Caribbean cost half of what our entire wedding & honeymoon budget was. I don't know about Dan, but at this point I was starting to get a little discouraged and beginning to think that we were going to have to settle for something a little closer to home. But as we mulled over it a little longer, Dan finally came up with the perfect solution to our problems: a cruise!
Some cruising pros:
  • You can travel to more than one location and still sleep in the same bed every night
  • You don’t have to worry about connection flights/trains/travel between each location
  • You don’t have to keep packing your bags for each new location
  • Food is already done for you & paid for within your tickets
  • Entertainment is already on board
  • They worry about all of the logistics for your activities (a.k.a excursions), all you have to do is sign up for a particular time & pay them
  • You get to meet a lot of interesting people. As much as it was our honeymoon and we wanted to spend as much time together enjoying being married, we're also what you might call "people watchers." We like to find somewhere to sit and just watch the people going by. Plus, as much as I'd love to say that I'd love an entire week where the only person I ever talked to was my husband, I'd be lying.
  • If you're hungry in the middle of the night, its really easy to find a place to eat on board.

So, with that decision made, we now had to choose where we wanted to go. I wanted to go to the southern Caribbean islands, but that required us to fly into San Juan, PR to get to the departure port. And, since we already live in Florida, we obviously wanted to depart from a Florida port. I knew that I didn’t want to go on a cruise that either one of us had already been on (I’d gone to Mexico & Key West in the past, and Dan had gone to the Bahamas). We found a cruise that left from Port Canaveral, FL and travelled to the Bahamas, St. Thomas, & St. Martin. We were sold! Then of course we had to pick our stateroom  (we ended up choosing a balcony stateroom on the 9th deck) – let me tell you, that process took an entire night. But, once we decided on one, we paid our down payment & we started our “days until our honeymoon” countdown on our cell phones & computers.
What about you? Where did you choose to go on your honeymoon? Or maybe it wasn't your honeymoon, but a family vacation or an anniversary trip? Did you have a hard time narrowing down where you wanted to go? And how did you get there? I love hearing the travel stories of other people!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Decor 2011

Everyone has been chatting away about their holiday decorations, and I feel like I'm a little behind. Then again, I've felt like I was behind on the whole Christmas thing since we got off the boat after our honeymoon cruise. See, the tree at my parents house went up Thanksgiving night after the rest of the family left. And then we'd spend the day after Thanksgiving putting on the lights and decorating it with ornaments. So, considering we got back from our cruise on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we were a couple days behind already. And I didn't exactly have the energy to put up the tree right away when we got home. But eventually it did get done.

I went really simple this year - a lot of my decorations are still sitting in their boxes. I've had so much on my plate already that I knew I wasn't going to want to put it all away later. So only the basic and sentimental stuff came out - things that make it really feel like Christmas.

To start, I hung up our stockings along our entry hallway. There's a stocking for the hubby and I, as well as one for each cat. I purchased these (plus one more that's still in a box) a few years ago at an after Christmas sale. They probably came from Wal-Mart or Target.

We used 4 silver command hooks to hang them up. And there's a gold letter on each stocking to identify it's owner. We're considering leaving the command hooks up after Christmas and utilize them for our coats and my cardigans. We'll see how that goes.

We went really simple on our balcony. Just strung a single strand of white lights around the railing.

Beside our bedroom door I placed one of our two nativity scenes. In my opinion, your home isn't officially decorated for Christmas unless you have at least one nativity. Doesn't have to be big, as you can see below. But Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth, so it's only fitting that you recognize that somewhere in your home.

On top of the entertainment center we took down candle holders and replaced them with some blue & silver cone trees. I bought these from Jo-Ann Fabrics about 3-4 years ago. I worked at Jo-Anns for a couple months my senior year in high school, so I learned quickly what was considered a good sale, and when to look out for them. So when these beauties went on sale, they were mine! These pretty much solidified in my mind the idea of decorating in the blue/silver scheme. Last year I stuck to that theme throughout the house, but like I said earlier, I'm not that focused on how things look this year. (Please ignore the doctor's face on the tv... I didn't think to turn off the tv before snapping the photo)

The in-laws gave us an ornament this year that is gorgeous! I was eyeing this one at Macy's a few weeks ago, but the hubby and I decided that we were going to pass. It was a little on the expensive side, and it's a Lennox, which means fragile. And with a rambunctious cat in our house, we were afraid of it getting knocked off the tree and shattering. But once we received this, we decided we'd place it on top of our entertainment center where it would be safe from the cats.

And now, time for the tree! We moved the love seats around in the living room to make room for it in the corner. If you couldn't tell, it's a fake tree. Personally, I'm a fan of real trees. The hubby grew up with a fake tree, so he doesn't mind this guy. But there is just something about the smell of a fresh tree that I miss. Plus, it's really obvious when you look at the tree that it's fake. I've been searching for a fake tree that doesn't look fake but also doesn't break the bank. This is a mission I have failed. But I've not stopped looking - it's got to be out there somewhere!

As you can see, there aren't a lot of ornaments on it this year. And there isn't a single traditional bulb on the tree either this year. I decided the only ornaments I was putting up were ornaments that meant something to me or the hubby. Ok, ok... mainly me. But that's only because the hubby didn't really bring ornaments with him when he moved in. But there's a handmade ornament with UCF colors, ornaments from places I or we have travelled to, and ornaments that were given as gifts from friends.

I got some close ups of some of the more special ones. The first one is a photo ornament from 2006. I wanted to start buying a silver photo ornament every year and put our picture in it. But in 2008 I couldn't find one, so I sorta just stopped pursuing it. Anyways, this picture was taken shortly after Christmas 2006 in Pennsylvania on my Grandpa's property. It was the the hubby's first time flying on a plane and his first time seeing snow (that he could remember).

Then it's our "First Christmas" ornament from Hallmark. We got this as a wedding gift.

And here she is all lit up. Yes, there's a part of the top lights that are out. I swear they were working fine when I first strung them around the tree. But I haven't felt like fixing them quite yet.

So there you have it. Our Christmas decorations and tree. Nothing fancy. Nothing crazy. Just plain and simple. And this year, that's just perfect for us! Now if only I could get all of our gift buying done...

Anyone else feel like they are behind in Christmas decorating? Did you use a color scheme or just whatever felt right?


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