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    A Mother-Daughter Christmas

    Sunday, December 21, 2014

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    One of the things I continue to be thankful for are my daughter's friends. Even though they're a pretty diverse group, they're all very focused, hard-working, and incredibly sweet. Yesterday, one of the girls and her mother hosted a wonderful Mother-Daughter Christmas party. It was a what everyone needed after the end of the year craziness: good friends, delicious treats, and Christmas fun. While the mothers chatted over mimosa's, delicious hot apple cider, and oogled the hot chocolate bar, the girls personalized hot chocolate mugs and were given the most adorable hot chocolate snowmen to go with them. Then they played with holiday accessories.

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    But the best part, in my opinion, happened when we all sat down in the great room. We had our food, we had our girls, and we had each brought a gift or two so we could play White Elephant. This will sounds crazy, but we'd never played before. My husband has, my friends have, but Madeline and I were total novices. Thankfully, we had no trouble finding a silly item (a desktop drum set covered in red glitter). The laughs were plenty and though we had to encourage the girls to take items from one another, eventually they got over it and began grabbing like pros. It was hilarious! Madeline ended up with a tea pot and caddy, which was just perfect for her, and everyone seemed happy with their White Elephant loot.

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    The afternoon was over far too soon, but it really filled us with the spirit of the season. When surrounded by good friends in the comfort of a warm, welcoming home, how could we not? Thank you Karen and Anna for being such wonderful hostesses. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and wish all of you the best during Christmastime and beyond. Madeline and I are thankful for the gift of your friendship! Merry Christmas and thanks again for a lovely afternoon.

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    Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum

    Sunday, December 14, 2014

    Good evening, lovelies! I'm reblogging this post from last year as it's always requested. This family recipe deviates from the Hot Buttered Rum you may be familiar with. It's commonly a dark amber drink with a shot of extra warmth from the rum. My mother always liked to finagle with things, though, and created a much tastier drink that was creamy, smooth, and perfect for both children and adults.

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    Much like the Christmas tree and crèche, the season isn't in full swing until I've made a batch of my mother's famous Hot Buttered Rum. This is a warm concoction she has been preparing since I was small, and is a tradition I've continued in my family. When the days are nippy, carols are playing, lights are twinkling, and someone walks into the room bearing mugs filled to the brim with creamy HBR's, we know the holidays are here.

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    First, I feel I should issue a warning: if you are looking for a low-cal, low-fat, low-sugar, low-anything warm beverage-this is not that drink. Do not read any further unless you intend to imbibe a most delicious creamy and buttery drink certain to warm you from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. It is sugary, it is simple, and above all it is a wonderous cup of winter indulgence. Still here? Then please read ahead for the recipe and carry this tradition into your home this Chirstmas season.

    Mimi Doiron's Hot Buttered Rum

    One container for hot buttered rum storage
    1 lb. melted, unsalted butter
    1 16 oz. light brown sugar
    1 16 oz. powdered sugar
    1 tbsp. cinnamon
    1 tsp. nutmeg
    1/2 gallon of your best vanilla ice cream (if you're gong to do this, you may as well go all the way, friends. Indulge!)
    *Optional nip of rum can be added to the drink.

    Directions:Let the ice cream soften, but careful not to let it melt. You should be able to scoop it easily without it being watery. In a large bowl combine butter, sugars, spices. Beat until fluffy~about 2 minutes. It will resemble the color of dark caramel when you're done, and smell just as sweet! Add the ice cream and beat once more. The color is much lighter now and you can see specks of nutmeg, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the mixture. And boy does it smell good! Once you're done, pour the HBR mixture into your chosen container and freeze. I'd suggest overnight for the best results. The mixture should not actually freeze, but become taffy-like and cold and kept inside the freezer until it is gone or you're done with the hot buttered rum mixture.

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    To Prepare and Serve:Take one to two generous scoops of mixture and place inside a festive cup, pour hot water over the mixture and stir very well, until completely melted. It should be frothy and will smell heavenly! You can choose to add a little rum to your drink at this time. To add sin atop of sin, feel free to add homemade whipped cream with chocolate shavings or cinnamon and nutmeg.

    Y'all, I know you're going to love it. Cozying up some chilly night with a roaring fire while sipping away at this drink, truly, it's pretty darn amazing. It's so good.

    But what makes it better? It's having someone to share it with.

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    Happy Sunday, y'all!

    Our Christmas Card

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

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    Every year I make a pledge that our Christmas pictures will be taken before Thanksgiving and the cards out the by the first week of December. Every. Single. Year. Has it ever happened? No, but it hasn't prevented us from taking some really great pictures or having fun while doing it. Maybe it's true what they say: if it's not broken, don't try and fix it. Our mad dash to get our cards out seems to work! This year the children and I went to a local park to get some candids and they made my heart melt. I love these two so much! Take a look below at some of my favorites, then see what we'll be using on the front od our cards this year. Enjoy!

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    And here is this year's card. Merry Merry, y'all!

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    Tips & Tricks: The Christmas Tree

    Wednesday, December 3, 2014

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    With our living room tree completed, we're turning our attention to other decorations around the home. But I thought I'd take a little time to talk about the tree itself. I've had several questions about my pictures on Facebook and Instagram regarding how we decorated it, and there are a few tricks we use each year to make our artificial tree look its very best.

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    Tip: One of my first suggestions is to save your money on the small packs of basic ball/decorative ornaments and get them in bulk at places like Home Goods or TJ Maxx. We have two large cylindrical containers that we picked up at Home Goods three years ago for $20 each, and each one holds about 75 ball ornaments. Not only was it a good deal, but the colors they came in~gold, copper, silver, and white~are easily interchangable with every Christmas.Trick: Ornaments with reflective surfaces help your tree to glow even more warmly and almost act as a secondary light source.

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    Tip: Artificial or real, your tree may need a little filling in around certain areas. Go to your local craft store like Michael's and Joann's and grab a few of the large leaf or floral sprays. Whatever your taste may be: flocked with snow, glittery, simple pine, they have everything you could possibly need as a filler~and they're usually priced pretty well and on sale during the holidays. Be sure to bring your coupons or use your app for additional discounts.Trick: Cut the branches off of the large spray to make smaller, individual ones and stick them into the open spaces in your tree. The shimmery branches my mother was sticking into the tree came in a huge bundle from Michael's. Trying to make the most out of a limited amount, we trimmed them from the larger bunch. As you can tell, it really fills in the empty spaces and gives the tree a fuller look.

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    Tip: If you want to really make your tree pop and you don't mind spending a some money, invest in some beautiful ribbons. I don't mean the kind you wrap around gifts. I'm talking about wide, wire-edged bedazzled ribbons that come on the big spools. It isn't for everyone, so you can use deco mesh, which is easily found at craft stores. It's very inexpensive but gives you a similar look. But if you want a fancier touch and don't mind the investment (because if you're like us, you will use it year after year), then go to your local holiday or decor store and start shopping. Chances are most of you have one in your area. You have to hit them when the decorations are first put out, in August/September, or directly after the holidays for the best selection on ribbons and other decoartions, otherwise it will be slim pickings. For us, our store of choice is in Van Nuys. Aldik Floral is neither convenient or in the best area, but it has the most magnificient holiday decorations. Just be sure to purchase double what you think you need in regards to your ribbons/deco mesh. Because they need to go in an out of branches, you use a lot more than you anticipate.Trick: To keep your ribbons in prime shape and reusable, save the spool it was wrapped on for when you repack your Christmas decorations. It makes for easier re-packing and prevents damage.

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    These are tips and tricks anyone can use on any budget~both high and low end, but here is my biggest, and last, piece of advice: let everyone help out. My children, but especially my son, Jackson, get so excited when we begin dragging in the boxes containing our tree goodies. He can barely stand still. It's hilarious. Let them see what you have, let them decide where to put things (with a few gentle suggestions if you think it's needed). The best part of putting up your tree is doing it as a family. Much like Thanksgiving, Christmas is a season about lending a hand, being with your loved ones, and celebrations. And I can't think of a better way to usher in this holly jolly time than putting our tree together with those nearest and dearest.

    Happy December everyone! Do you have any tips or tricks you use when decorating?

    Tree Trimming

    Sunday, November 30, 2014

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    One of my friends was talking with me about traditions, and it made me think. Being Southern or otherwise we all have them. Maybe it's because I grew up with holidays steeped in them, but they do seem to make holidays so much richer and enjoyable. Wouldn't you agree? No matter how big or small, it's the rituals we hold dear to us that make our celebrations special.

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    My childhood was one magical season after the other, and because of that, I made a promise to myself that as a parent I would create similar moments for my own children. So far, so good. We love to celebrate. There is no holiday too big or too small: we embrace them all. The day after Thanksgiving we enter into the Christmas season with great excitement. There is something electric in the air when the tree is pulled out. Due to allergies it's an artificial one, but we love it. Pre-lit, easy management, no pine-needles or water to worry about...it's pretty nice. And each year as we begin to decorate, I follow my mother around as she places ribbon here, glittery branches there. The end result~with everyone's involvement~is a beautiful symbol of the season that positively glows! Enjoy pictures from this year's tree trimming and Happy Christmas to you all!

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    These two are snug as little bugs by the glow of our tree. They love participating in our yearly tradition, and are anticipating one of the others I'm working on as I type: the making of the hot-buttered rum. I'll be back next week with this creamy and delicious wintry treat. But before that, I'll share my tips and tricks for decorating the tree on a budget. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, all.

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