Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Is Not About Gifts...

Christmas is definitely NOT about the gifts.

That being said, the truth-teller in me must admit that I squeal like a five year old at the sight of a prettily-wrapped package. And this year, I think some people must have read my mind to find the perfect gifts.

Like these lovelies from my sweet Hubby:

1-year subscriptions to 3 of my favorite magazines. I am already picturing myself in a cutting/pasting frenzy creating my very own inspiration file for decorating purposes. Be still my heart.

Also, my beloved got me this (and very slyly opened it to the page with the delicious cinnamon rolls, hint hint):

All of my well-laid healthy-eating plans just crumbled at the sight of this cookbook. Seriously, I would totally sign up to be a sweaty, chaps-wearing, dirt-smothered ranch hand if I could eat this kind of food every day. Sigh.

My aunt and uncle took me to Paris a while back and we have really fond memories of that vacation together, so for Christmas they got me...

I already tried a couple of things, and let me tell you, I felt like I had been transported back to Paris all over again! My sweet uncle (who is a wine connoisseur, unlike me) also gave me a bottle of Cote Rotie (red wine) to pair with the delicious French food. Isn't that a thoughtful gift?

So, what fun things did you get for Christmas this year? I would love to hear some of your favorites!

Note: I was not compensated in any way for mentioning these products. I just talk about stuff that I like here, and these are things that get a definite stamp of "Me Likey!"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Starting Over

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you felt you had the chance to start over? I've been feeling that way a lot lately (mostly because of a new career direction). This morning, I am sitting at my computer with a steamy cup of coffee and watching the sun rise. Instead of writing my blog posts the night before and setting them to go up in the morning, I am actually blogging right now. It feels amazing. Less rushed, more creative and inspiring.

In honor of a New Year and a new direction, I wanted to share some of my hopes for this wee little blog of mine. Here are some of the topics that I'm really excited to delve into:

~Food/Nutrition. I LOVE to cook/bake/microwave (just kidding' bout the last one! hehe), and this year I'm really trying to steer our menus towards healthier choices. To help keep us on track and share the knowledge, I'm hoping to share about a lot of those things right here on the blog!

~Exercise/balanced life. Yup, I am also going to delve into a world that quite honestly freaks me out. I have been an anti-exerciser for the longest time, solemnly swearing that walking to and fro in the skyway is just as good as a workout. But, the few pounds that have been gathering around my waistline beg to differ, so I'm thinking it's time to dig out the exercise tapes and my legwarmers (can you guess what decade I was born in?).

~Organization. I feel like the Clutter Monster has been taking over our house inch by inch lately, and I'm prepared to fight back with all I can muster. Of course, I will chronicle the epic battle right here so you too can taste the victory!

These are just a few things that I'm excited to talk about. Of course, there will still be posts about decorating and crafting and random posts about life as it happens! As always, I'm so glad to have you all along for the journey.

What are some of your hopes for this bright New Year?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Christmas to Remember...

Christmas this year was... Memorable. It was at times wonderful, fun, horrifying, and even ridiculous. I thought about just ending it with that, but really, I must give you the play-by-play so you can understand just HOW memorable it was!

It all started a week ago from last Sunday... I woke up in excruciating pain and had to go to urgent care. Turns out it was a bladder infection (gah, those are horrible), and they put me on antibiotics straight away. All was fine until... I had a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotic. I had a migraine for 2 days straight and started getting fever symptoms so they had to switch me to a new medication. Ah, sweet relief!

Then Wednesday, I walked out the door of my job never to return. That was a memorable experience in and of itself!

On Thursday, my aunt and uncle were driving up here from Texas to spend Christmas with us. It's the first time in 3 years that they have been home for Christmas! However, Thursday evening we got word that my little cousin Faith was brought to the hospital with severe dehydration and my uncle had a fever pushing 102. Faith was in the hospital overnight, and once she was hydrated she was doing much better, thankfully.

Then on Christmas day, my mom came down with something and had to stay home all day. It was really strange to celebrate Christmas at my grandparent's house without her there! We were able to see her for a little while in the evening and have a family Christmas of sorts, thankfully.

Then, the day after Christmas we were all going to get together with my mom's side of the family (including my aunt and uncle from Texas) at my Aunt Faye and Uncle Dave's house. But, as soon as we got there we found out that my Grandma had been taken to the hospital because she had fainted 3 times that morning.

Let me just pause for a moment here to say OH.MY.FREAKING.GOODNESS.

Grandma was also in the hospital overnight so they could monitor her and find out what was going on. Thankfully, she is doing much better. The doctors think it was an issue with her medication, combined with not eating enough and the excitement of the holidays.

My aunt and uncle from Texas spent about 2/3 of their "vacation" here in the hospital, poor folks! I just hope that they aren't forever scarred by that experience and never want to come back!

So, that was my Christmas this year. I wish I could say that despite the circumstances it was completely amazing and wonderful and filled with laughter and smiles, but it wasn't. To be honest, it just felt weird. But I'm still thankful that everyone is okay, and that we got to see some family members that we haven't seen in a long time.

Also- I left my camera at my in-laws house, so my blog may be a little boring for a while... Hopefully I will get it back soon! I hope that you all had wonderful, non-weird Christmases!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Something Better

(Last night- eating Pho soup with my Hubs and celebrating a new career direction!)

Yesterday was my working for the Federal Government. As I gathered up my meager belongings, turned in my badges, and giggled at the email I got (exactly 3 hours before leaving) that said my background investigation was finally finished, I felt no regret.

3 years of staying in a job that I (to put it lightly) really didn't enjoy has made for an interesting transition. I had prayed in vain for soooo long, it kind of felt surreal to finally be walking out the door. I said my goodbyes, grabbed my bags and began the walk out to my car, accompanied by my dear friend and co-worker Andrea.

Then, suddenly and completely without warning, the tears started coming. If not for this dear friend of mine, I could have skipped out the door without a second glance. But suddenly the memories of all that we had gone through together came flooding back, along with the knowledge of how significant her friendship has been over the past few years. We have seen each other almost every day, spent countless lunch hours roaming the skyways of Minneapolis, sharing details of our lives and helping each other through challenging times.

(A and I at my wedding, circa 2009)

How can you just walk away and not acknowledge that kind of friendship? So, even though I was wearing mascara and had sworn to myself I would not cry, I let the tears come. Even though I won't miss working at that job, I will miss seeing my friend every day. I know that our friendship will stay strong, but there's no denying the fact that it's a huge change. Especially since she also has a little one on the way (literally any day now!), and the next time I see her she will be a Mom.

Life is full of changes. Some are good, some are bad, and some are just bittersweet. I thought back to my college days and remembered the C.S. Lewis quote that my graduating class chose for our motto, "There are better things ahead than any we've left behind."

There are better things ahead than any we've left behind.

It's true for my friendship with Andrea, the career path I've chosen, the very knowledge of "growing up" and changing from a child into an adult. Change is always difficult, especially when you can't see what is ahead. But it's a thread that is continually woven through our lives and the lives of those around us.

So as you celebrate the Christmas season, maybe you are experiencing changes too. Perhaps there are some people who are absent from your lives, perhaps you are juggling a new marriage and how to split up your celebrations so that everyone around you is happy, perhaps you have welcomed a new child into your life or watched as your adult child is making a life of their own.

I hope you will remember with me this season the goodness that God has laced through our lives, and rest secure in the knowledge that He is still working and no matter what we leave behind, there is always something better that lies ahead.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Inspiration to Share

I can't believe that Christmas is almost here! We have SO much snow up in MN, so let me know if you need any and I'm sure we can arrange something! Everyone should be able to have a White Christmas this year.

So, as I've been browsing around all of the GORGEOUS home tours and Christmas-themed crafts that are all over Blogland, I decided that I wanted to round up some of my favorites and share them here!

So without further ado, here's a bunch of things that have been inspiring me this Christmas season...

First up, the incredible "Winter Berries on Canvas" done by none other than Centsational Girl. Seriously, how does she come up with this kind of stuff? SO beautiful.

Next, Jane from The Borrowed Abode is always Wow-ing her faithful readers with awesome projects. I love the yarn trees that she has worked into her Christmas decor- so fun and vintage looking!

Ashley from The Beautiful Details is so talented with her camera, she really knows how to capture the majesty of the tiniest details. This picture from outside their house just looks so Christmas-y! I love the crisp white snow against the red door.

Sarah from Hennessey House pulled together a striking black and white vignette that features a gorgeous vase that she designed herself! With a Sharpie!

Seriously, you have to see the vase up close. And yes, you heard me right, she made that design with a Sharpie. Are you swooning? Yup, me too.

Well, I guess I should stop now before this post gets even longer. I love being able to show off some work that my fellow bloggers are up to. Isn't it fun to spread a little inspiration this Season?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Tour of Homes- 2010

Hello, and welcome to our little casa! We are the Marx family, although there's only 2 of us right now (unless you count the little porcelain pig that this blog is named after). Josh and Mikalah are our names, and we LOVE Christmas. Well, maybe Mikalah is a little crazier about Christmas (at least the decorating part), but we both love celebrating the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

To start off our little tour, we're taking you through our dining area. Here we have a couple of thrifted candlesticks with gorgeous white tapered candles "borrowed" from a wonderful Grandmother. I went all-out with the green this year!

I made some fun, sparkly, mirrored ribbon ornaments to hang from the ceiling. It's hard to see in this pic, but they really do shimmer and send light all over, which helps brighten up our rather den-like townhome quite well!

Next comes the living room! Our tree is right in the center of it all, decorated with white, cream, silver, and blue ornaments.

Want some yummy raspberry filled candies? Help yourself! The mint ones are pretty yummy too...

We don't really have a "mantle" per se, but this little shelf above the couch has served as a mantle of sorts for quite some time. Now it's all decked out for the holidays with some tulle-wrapped trees, a Star of David ornament, and a crafted super-sparkly mirror.

Another "mantle" is above the bookshelf/china cabinet in the living room. The cute little trees were also crafted especially for this holiday season!

Who can resist sparkly things this time of year? I know I can't.

I realized as I pulled this post together how simple our decorations are this year. And really, I don't mind one bit! It's been fun decorating, but it hasn't taken up so much time that we're forgetting to focus on the true joys of the season.

From our house to yours, we wish you a truly blessed Christmas season, filled with the joy and wonder that came to earth in the form of a small child so many years ago. Merry Christmas!

The Great Snownami of 2010

These pics were taken outside my Grandma's house, just 3 miles from where we live. We were officially "snowed in" on Saturday and most of Sunday as a huge snowstorm rolled over the Twin Cities. No more dreaming of a White Christmas for us, it's right outside the window!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Project #3: Moss-Covered Christmas Trees

Another fun project I took on this year was finding a way to use 2 foam tree forms that I have had lying around for the past year. I had tried covering them in fabric, tulle, ribbon, and several other things but just wasn't happy with the results. But this year, I decided to try a new approach.

I decided I wanted them to look simple, natural, and un-fussy. So, I used the moss that has been sitting in this jar since last Spring to cover the forms.

I started by pulling out strands and winding them together to wrap around the foam tree, but that ended up being really time-consuming and was using a ton of the moss. So, I switched gears and used hot glue to affix the moss onto the foam in small patches.

Here's a couple tips, if you decide to tackle this project on your own!

1) Paint the tree form green (if the one you have is already green, obviously you wouldn't have to do that!). This helps to make them look more polished since there are no other colors peeking through the moss!

2) Moss can be kind of messy to work with, so I would recommend doing this on a surface that can be easily cleaned! I ended up with green powdery stuff all over myself and my white carpet, which vacuumed up fine but was still a bit of a pain.

3) Finally, hot glue was not the best choice of adhesive because it leaves tiny strands of glue that are nearly impossible to get out of the moss! But I would recommend using a clear glue (or something that dries clear) that dries quickly.

Happy Holiday Decorating!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Project #2: Hanging Mirrors

I actually made something similar to these for Josh and I's wedding last year. It was a really easy, cheap project and I thought it would be fun to replicate for some of our Christmas decor!

You will need:

Small, round mirrors (I bought mine at a craft store near the section where they have mosaic tiles!)

Craft glue/hot glue gun

Ribbon of your choice

I just laid the ribbon flat on the ground, cutting 3 strands at differing lengths. Then, placing on mirror in the back, I glued a mirror over the top (with the ribbon running between both mirrors). Voila! I just used white thumb-tacks to secure the ribbons to our ceiling.

I love these little mirrors- it's hard to get a good picture of them but they catch the light and bounce it all over the place! These could definitely be used year-round. I am already thinking of new ways to use them! You could hang them over a headboard, from a chandelier, in front of a window (ooh lala!). The possibilities are endless!

Project #1: Glitter-Framed Mirror

I decided a while back that I just HAD to do something with glitter this year for Christmas decorations! Then, last week I spied this old mirror hanging out in the back of my closet.

OH NO you say? Oh yes. Yes, I did glitterize this poor white mirror. In my defense, it's just a cheap-o plastic mirror that I was thinking about giving to the thrift store anyway.

Mirror, meet my friend Glitter.

The process, albeit rather messy, was really quite simple. I used a clear craft glue with a sponge applicator and smeared it all over the frame, then gently poured glitter over the glue until it was completely coated.

And, I love it. I kept the rest of the decorations surrounding the mirror as simple as possible, so the mirror stands out a little more but isn't too overwhelming.

So what do you think? Do you love the glitz and glam that glitter brings, or do you have mixed feelings? I would love to hear, so type away! (Yikes- that mirror needs to meet my friend Windex too!).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Simplicity for Christmas (Thoughts on Faith)

Lately, one word has been running through my head a lot. Maybe it's because I'm on the verge of quitting my job and pursuing a healthier, happier lifestyle. Maybe it's the fact that my salary will soon diminish quite considerably. Or perhaps it's just an aversion to the rampant consumerism that is all around us, especially during this time of the year.


We've all heard it before, maybe so many times that the meaning has started to fade away. But as I look through holiday magazines, walk through shopping malls, and talk to the other people in my life I am noticing the overwhelming drive to buy stuff.

Black Friday sales, ads in the newspaper, emails from countless shops offering discounts and free shipping, billboards, TV commercials, etc. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if marketers someday figured out a way to make products speak for themselves. "You know you want me. Come on, you deserve a nice sweater for the holidays. Don't you love my sparkly beaded trim? Just try me on. I will make you feel SO SPECIAL!"

Ok, so maybe that won't ever happen (I hope not, I'm already a little creeped out). But the truth is, the reason I am celebrating the Christmas season is because of a tiny baby that was born in the lowliest, most simple of circumstances. His parents were not wealthy or well known, and they didn't have fancy, expensive gifts to celebrate his coming. All they had was each other and the knowledge of Who this child really was. And for them, it was so much more than enough.

Simplicity isn't a new concept. In fact, if anyone knew how to live a simple life, it was Jesus Christ himself. So I'm trying to follow His example this year, and move away from the idea that Christmas is something that can be bought in a store and wrapped up in fancy packaging.

He grew up ... like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:2-5)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas in the Casa- a Little Preview!

Here's a little preview of the decorating that is happening at our little Casa. I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves for now- but please stay tuned for several tutorials for homemade Christmas decor. I kinda went crazy this year with projects, and I can't wait to share them with you!

Hope you are having a fabulous week!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Making Room for Dreams

For as long as I can remember, I have loved music.

I made musicals with my barbie dolls when I was little, started taking piano lessons at age 6, sang in the church choir and did everything remotely related to music that I could.

When I went to college, I had music on the brain. I was a voice performance major, and while it was extremely challenging I absolutely loved every single minute of it!

After graduating, I started working full-time. It was nice to finally have money to be able to pay off those student loans. I told myself that it was only for a time, that music was only on the back burner for a little while.

A little while turned into 3 excruciatingly long years.

Well, they weren't that bad. Maybe I was a little distracted by the handsome man I met and fell in love with and married during that period of time... (giggle). That's part of the reason why the time flew by so fast, I think!

But friends, it's finally time to rearrange and bring music to the forefront again. I am SO excited.

I am quitting my day job.

Yup, you heard me right. This is me, saying goodbye to my 401k, my 5 weeks of paid vacation, my swanky cubicle (haha), and all those other "perks" that come along with working a full-time job.

Yes, it's a risk. It's a big, scary, ohmywordwhattheheckamidoing kind of move. But I know it's the right thing to do. I have a job as a private voice teacher, and I will be working on a lot of other little music-related things. I don't know exactly what I want to do, or what God wants to do in my life. I just know that it's time to make room for those dreams, because I don't want to find myself looking back in 30 years and regretting that I never gave those dreams a chance to breathe.
(In case you are wondering, this is why I have been an absentee-blogger as of late. High stress work environment/big career and life change = way less time on my hands. But hopefully with a new schedule I will be able to devote more time to this!)


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