Christmas Playlist

By popular demand, and just in time for some winter weather, I bring you my ginormous Christmas playlist. Full of new favorites like “Twinkle” by J.D. McPherson and “A Christmas Song” by Shawn Phillips and old standbys like Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Elvis, Harry Connick, Jr., Natalie Cole, Rosemary Clooney, and Andy Williams. It also features some of my guilty pleasure holiday pop songs by Hanson (don’t judge), Mariah Carey, Wham!, and The Waitresses.

Oh! And “Dominick the Donkey” and “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” ūüôā

It’s sure to please everyone. From me to you, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Advertisements

Christmas Eve Pajamas

I’ve written previously about the traditions¬†my family had during the Holidays and also about the unfortunate turn of events that has surrounded some of them, like the fiery Advent wreath.¬†So it wouldn’t be Christmas without yet another story to add to the family history, right?

Every Christmas Eve, my family has a routine. We play games or work a ¬†puzzle (or both if you’re really lucky) and fill up on Christmas goodies like Hairy Eyeballs, Cookies, Buckeyes, and any other sweet you could imagine. Then, we gather in the living room around the Christmas tree and open one gift each.

Meg38a

Every year we expect this and we don’t pack this because we know it will be supplied to us shortly.

CHRIS2001-20

We open Christmas Pajamas on Christmas Eve.

christmas 2006 (2)

And this year, I even bought a similar present for the pups of the family, my sister’s dog Lilah and our faithful pup, Senna.

Well, we usually do.

This year my mom asked my dad to keep the gifts separate from the others so they would be easier to find on Christmas Eve and he kept them so separate that he forgot where he put them. So instead of opening a pre-determined gift on Christmas Eve, we got to pick one gift from under the tree to open and if we got lucky they’d be pajamas. None of us chose correctly, so instead of this awesome picture I had in my mind of my sister and me in our pajamas with our dogs, we got this:

View this post on Instagram

Taylor's Twinkies!

A post shared by Megan Taylor (@megtay) on

This picture is equally awesome because my sister and I had on our matching¬†Canadian¬†tuxedos, but it’s not the same as all of us in pajamas.

On Christmas morning, after all the gifts were unwrapped and none of us ever opened up pajamas, my dad went on a house search for the missing packages. They were found in an upstairs hall closet on the top shelf and had “Christmas Eve” written on each box.

Guess we’ll have 2 pajama pictures to take next year!

Our First Cookie Exchange

Santa Senna

Santa Senna helped us get ready

I’ve always wanted to host a holiday party, one that might become a tradition, and since we bought a house now’s as good a time as any to give it a go, right?

We brainstormed and decided since Adam and I both have a sweet tooth, we’d host a cookie exchange and that’s where this story begins.

About 3 weeks earlier, we sent out Paperless Post invites and started planning. I researched exchanges and swaps online and defined our “guidelines” based on what I read.

Several blogs I read recommended having each guest/family bring 7 – 11 DOZEN cookies each. We thought that was a bit extreme and went with an even 4 dozen per couple/family/friend. As guests arrived we had them grab a number off the table to label their cookies. These numbers would be used in the competition later – yes, we competed. Isn’t that what life’s about?

Guests ate, drank, and were exceedingly merry before we busted into the cookie sampling.

DSC_7761

B is for…

We had sugar cookies, chocolate chip varieties, bars, brownies, and more to sample before judging our favorites. The most festive and best tasting cookies were given prizes and bragging rights until next year.

DSC_7736

Most Festive

DSC_7742

Best Tasting

After everyone got their cookie induced sugar coma on, we had them fill boxes with their favorite cookies to take home and enjoy throughout the holiday season!

It was a wonderfully festive evening but since it was our first exchange we’ve made note of a few things we’d change for next year:

  • 4 dozen cookies per family/guest is waay too many, our house looked like Cookie Monster threw up in it, not that that’s a bad thing. (I can’t even begin to imagine the leftovers if everyone brought 10 dozen each) Next year we’ll have guests bring 2 dozen each.
  • Full size cookies were a bit too much for guests to sample everything everyone brought. Next year we’ll ask guests to bring bite size cookies or provide utensils for them to cut cookies into smaller pieces.

See? Cookie Monster.

Ultimately, our first cookie exchange was a success – we had a blast hosting it and learned that our house is PERFECT for entertaining. Which is great because we hope to host many more parties in the future.

A Holiday Survey!

I came across this survey over on PB Fingers and thought I’d share my responses with you.

Enjoy and feel free to play along in the comments or post to your own blog!

  1. Eggnog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate. With peppermint.
  2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? We always have at least one Santa gift wrapped under the tree, but most were unwrapped and sitting around the tree.
  3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White is preferred, though I also have an appreciation for the vintage colored bulb strands.
  4. Do you hang mistletoe? Growing up, my parents always hung mistletoe in the hall of their home.
  5. When do you hang your decorations up? Typically, we decorate our home the weekend of Thanksgiving.
  6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Christmas morning my mom makes a breakfast casserole and an amazing bread dish she calls “Tutti Bread” – it’s smothered in a poppy seed mustard mixture, cheese and topped with bacon. Deeeelish!
  7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? My family gathering at my grandmother’s house on Christmas night and singing Christmas carols. A family favorite was “Twelve Days of Christmas” and we’d break into groups for each “day”. My uncle had the 5 golden rings part down! A close second would be The Advent Wreath mishap.
  8. What is on your Christmas wish list? Anything from my holiday gift guide!
  9. Do you open a gifts on Christmas Eve? Yep! We get to open one pre-designated gift on Christmas Eve and it’s almost always a new pair of PJs.
  10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? With random ornaments that have either been given to us or bought by us over the years. I much prefer a mismatch of ornaments that have meaning!
  11. Snow? Love it or dread it? Love it!! Too bad we were more likely to get ice than snow at Christmas in Arkansas.
  12. Real tree or fake tree? Real!
  13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Probably the Playmobil Victorian Dollhouse. My sister and I spent countless hours playing with it growing up. I loved making up stories for the dolls and tucking them in to their beds. I think it’s still stored in my parents’ attic and I¬†occasionally¬†dream about playing with it as an adult. It was seriously a gorgeous dollhouse.
  14. What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you? The memories made with family.
  15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? I am always up for a large serving of my mom’s dishpan cookies.
  16. What is your favorite tradition? I love going to the 11 o’clock Christmas Eve Candlelight service with my family. It’s a wonderful and peaceful service that reminds me every year what the season is truly about.
  17. What tops your tree? An angel always topped my parents’ tree, but this year Adam and I have a star topping our tree.
  18. Do you prefer giving or receiving? I love giving gifts, but I also equally love snooping to find out my gifts.
  19. What is your favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night
  20. Candy canes, yuck or yum? YUM!!!!
  21. Favorite Christmas movie? Elf!
  22. What do you leave for Santa? Dishpan cookies and milk.
  23. Do you have a Christmas morning tradition? My sister and I always had to wait and come down the stairs together before we could open our presents. We always wear our new Christmas PJs.
  24. Do you prefer to shop on-line or at the mall? Lately, I’ve enjoyed shopping online, but there are some gifts that are just easier to find in-person at the mall or local shops around town.
  25. Christmas letter or Christmas card? Christmas card.

Holiday Gift Guide

It’s time again for my annual¬†Holiday Gift Guide!¬†In an effort to minimize confusion for anyone buying me gifts, here’s just a few hints of what I’d love to receive under my Christmas tree this year.

These are a few of my favorite things for 2011…


1.¬†Ceramic Pig Speaker¬†from West Elm¬†($49), 2. Orysia shoe in Natural Fabric¬†from Nine West ($89), 3. Design Sponge at Home¬†by Grace Bonney¬†from Amazon¬†($23.10), 4. ¬†Small Square¬†Farmer’s Market Basket¬†from Anthropologie ($14), 5. Vintage Station Wagon and Christmas Tree Flour Sack Tea Towel from Etsy ($8), 6. Blu Bijoux Silver Pyramid Stud Earrings from Max&Chloe ($28), 7. Women’s SmartWool Frilly Knee Highs from Sahalie ($23.95)

A Redneck Corkscrew…

…and other Christmas shenanigans.

I’m baaaaaack!! After a 2 week holiday blogging hiatus I’m back at it and ready to see what’s to come in 2011!¬† Let’s start 2011 with a recap of my holidays, shall we?

Every year, I travel to my tiny hometown of 3606 people in Southwest Arkansas to spend Christmas in my childhood home.¬†This year¬†I spent 3 days having lots of cable and internet free¬†family time around roaring fires. We baked, attended my church’s “candlight” service on Christmas Eve, and exchanged Snoop Dogg jokes while driving around looking at Christmas lights.

On Christmas morning we awoke to the sound of Ottie’s electronic bird noisemaker, which chirps constantly until unplugged. I found it soothing and nostalgic, my sister – on the other hand – described it as cruel and unusual punishment. In either case, I knew that Ottie was looking over us smiling. Eventually, we got out of our warm beds and bounded down the stairs to unwrap our gifts while¬†wearing our traditional Christmas Eve gift of new pajamas.¬†Once we finished unwrapping¬†gifts, my sister asked for three gift bags. Why? So she could wrap our gifts from her – she’s always prepared.

Next was Christmas breakfast, to which my parents thought mimosas would be a nice addition. Being the heavy drinkers they are, mom asked my sister and I to Google mimosas on our phones. Ha! A Google search? My sister and I could mix a mimosa in our sleep.

By the time dinner came around we had spent the day vegging on the couch reading, texting friends, and watching movies. But there was an unopened bottle of Riesling in the fridge that we (ok, my sister and I) wanted to open. Then we realized we had no corkscrew in the house. Being the scrappy folk we are, my dad picked through my mom’s craft cabinet for screws and pliers and my sister grabbed a knife and an ice pick.

We quickly realized that the ice pick wouldn’t work and resorted to screws and pliers for the most effective method of cork removal. The first try revealed that a longer screw would be needed, and after tightening the screw into the cork using a knife…

…my dad used the pliers to pull the cork out. Success!!

Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures, and I guess it’s only fitting since we started the Christmas season drinking. ūüôā

Deck the Halls

I love everything about the Holidays. The music, the food, and the family time. The decor.

Every year, my family begins decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving.

We deck our old Victorian home’s halls with mistletoe balls.

We hang our needlepoint stockings on the mantle with care.

We set up the Christmas Village which my mom collected over several years.

We hang the tatted and crocheted snowflakes our Great-Aunt Lila and Great-Grandmother Ruth made for us for every birthday, anniversary, and holiday until they passed away.

We give the Baby Jesus his first sip of wine.

Oh wait, that’s so my sister and I can make it through decorating with our parents. [I kid, I kid.]

Every year, memories of decorating for Christmases past flood my mind.¬†In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is from this treasured time and involves the song,¬†It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams.

I was probably 2 or 3 and wearing a navy peacoat and saddle oxfords. My hair was probably in braided pigtails tied with red ribbon (courtesy of my mom), and we were decorating the house for Christmas just as we always have.

We keep the majority of our Christmas decorations in a closet under the stairs and my dad was in charge of getting out all of the boxes. Being Daddy’s Little Girl, I decided he needed help taking the decorations out of their boxes and putting them in their appropriate location.

God help him – my dad’s 6’8″ frame has had to contort to fit into a less than 3 ft tall space, in order to get all of our decorations out, for as long as I can remember. Well, until this year, when my sister took over this chore.

First was the box of Christmas lights for the front of our house. I pushed that big box down the hallway and out the door to the porch. Then came the garland box, which also got pushed outside. Next,¬†was our stuffed animal head of Rudolph¬†[I swear it’s not as brutal looking as it sounds]¬†that we normally hang on the wall by the kitchen, but that year, I decided it should be displayed prominently on the front porch. The same went for the¬†fabric Santa wall hanging, as it also got taken to the front porch.

Eventually, almost every item from every Christmas decor box and almost every item from that downstairs closet got taken to the front porch – including an old wooden tennis racket that was lying near the boxes by the closet door.

Apparently, I thought the Baby Jesus and Santa would enjoy playing tennis together.

Happy Holidays!

I sort of have a reputation when it comes to the Christmas/Holiday cards I send out every year.

Or so I’m told.

You see, I’m a huge fan of paper pretties. I’m one of those people who can stand in the card aisle for hours looking for the perfect birthday card for a friend. So it should come as no surprise that, every year, I scour the Internet for unique cards.

Starting in October, I make it a point to find a card with a little something extra – an added sparkle here or a spinning ornament there. But this year I decided to try my hand at designing my own and I’m so happy I did!

I had bought several yards of canvas to make these lovely calendars as gifts, but grad school got in the way. I was sad and stuck with yards of canvas that I didn’t know if I’d ever use.

Then it hit me: Christmas Cards! Yep, I printed my cards on canvas this year. But not just that, I took it one step further and made the envelopes, too.

As one friend said after she received it in the mail: the card “did its job of making me feel inferior.” I guess operation make-my-own-cards was a success? ūüôā

PS: Can you still call them cards if they aren’t printed on paper?

Holiday Gift Guide

Still wondering what to buy that certain someone on your list? I thought so. Hopefully my Gift Guide below gives you some inspiration!

These are a few of my favorite things…

1. Tivoli Audio Model One AM/FM Radio from Anthropologie ($178), 2. Bag Vase from CB2 ($4), 3. Glass Piggy Bank from VivaTerra ($39), 4. Aquamarine Cushion Ring in 14k Rose Gold from Garnet Girl Designs on Etsy ($438), 5. Lost Empire Loungers from Anthropologie ($48), 6. Turquoise Fabric Flower Rosebud Earrings from cardinalhouse on Etsy ($16), 7. Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste from Amazon ($10)

My Christmas Playlist

It should come as no surprise that I’m a music junkie and the Holidays are no different. Many songs make me nostalgic (go figure), while others simply provide yet another great beat to which I can bop my head. I’ve got classics from when my parents were kids and instrumental standards, holiday inspired rap and 80’s-style pop. Every. single. song. fills me with the spirit of Christmas.

It’s taken me a while to build up a Christmas music selection that I’m never sick of listening to, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite tunes with you. Happy Holidays!

Click the record below to listen to the playlist whenever you want to feel festive! 

The Advent Wreath

The season of Advent is upon us.

It’s the time of year when families around the globe, who¬†observe the liturgical calendar, gather in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

A time where families gather in church fellowship halls to build their own Wreath, which they will place prominently in their homes and light as a family throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas.

A time for Joy, Peace, Love and Hope.

A time when parents are full of joy because their children are able to light the candles of the Wreath in an environment of love and peace. Or, in the case of my parents, hopeful that their daughters would light the candles in an environment of love and peace.

You see, one year my sister and I weren’t so, um, loving or peaceful during the lighting of the candles. In fact, we had a bit of a tiff over whose turn it was to read the devotional and whose turn it was to light the candles.

And this tiff?

Well, let’s just say that in ended in a – ahem – well lit Advent Wreath.

As in, we set our family’s Advent Wreath on fire.
image via Jer86 on Flickr

White Elephant

One of my old teams at work held a gift exchange at Christmas. The idea was that half of us would bring white elephant gifts and the other half would bring nice gifts – while staying within a budget of $20. I was tasked with bringing a white elephant gift and decided it would be best to look at local “junk stores” and flea markets to find the perfect gift. I spent hours looking before hitting the white elephant jackpot.

High on a shelf hidden amongst lots’o’junk, I saw it. The PERFECT white elephant gift. A HUGE figurine of a carousel horse, I’m talking at least 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It was painted in pastel shades of pink and purple, had fake pearls stuck all over, glitter accents, tulle wrapped around the base and neck, and a fantastically shiny gold pole going up the middle, along with a gold horn on its head.

It. Was. Ugly.

And, because it was so huge, finding a way to wrap it that made it look like a nice gift proved difficult, I had to creatively tape boxes together before gingerly wrapping it up and topping it with the prettiest bow I could make.

The next day, I hauled it to the party, and placed it in the gift pile. I was beside myself with excitement to see who would be the lucky recipient. We drew numbers to see in what order we would pick (or steal) our gifts and the fun began. About mid-way through, someone finally picked my gift, opened it carefully, and looked shell-shocked when they realized what they had just received.

It. Was. Classic.

Then they wanted to know who in tarnation brought the gift and why.

I explained, through fits of giggles, that I spent hours at all the various junk stores and flea markets in town looking for the perfect white elephant gift, and when I saw the unicorn I had to have it – because it was just so ugly and no one would possibly want it. Just as I finish my explanation another co-worker excitedly pipes up and says, “My sister loves unicorns. She collects those figurines!! She’ll love it!” Inevitably she steals the white elephant gift to regift to her sister.

And me? 2 years later, I’m still working on pulling my foot out of my mouth…