Christmas in Mocksville

The day after Christmas is when we travel to visit extended family.  This year our travels took us to Mocksville, NC, which is a quaint town outside of Winston Salem.

This is how we spent the first  part of the day:

Yes, that is me shooting an AK-47.

I did well but my zebra heels kept sinking in the ground.

We're always cautious -- gear to protect your ears and caution when handling guns.

Dad with a vintage handgun

Husband and future brother-in-law

All of the guys

And then we made a trip to the nearby stables to see my cousin Katie's horse.

Katie and her horse, Bubbs

Me trying to be the Horse Whisperer

That night we opened presents and stockings.  Stockings in this family are a BIG DEAL.  My Aunt Karen made us all hugely oversized and personalized stockings to hold lots of goodies.  And they are always busting at the seams, some with an "overspill bag" next to them.  Ian got his own stocking this year, and it was presented to him at our rehearsal dinner by my aunt.  It has so many pieces of significance on it -- even the very tartan from his family's Scottish clan, shipped from the UK -- but my favorite part is the fact that he is holding a diamond ring that is made to look like mine.  :)

You can see it even won a ribbon in this year's state fair!

Blingy blingy blingy

The next day we girls went shopping, most of our time spent at a great antiques store, where we all got some goodies.

Incredible vintage hats!  They didn't come home with us, though.

Mom did surprise us with getting us each a gift.  This was my choice - an artichoke vase.

Oh, and my sister got a black purse for $10 -- a vintage Tiffany & Co. purse, that is!  We think the shop owner couldn't read the gold inscription inside and just thought it was a regular evening purse.  You just can't beat antique shopping.

I always love spending time in quaint towns like Mocksville.

Christmas In Columbia

Would you believe me if I told you I've never opened up Christmas gifts in pajamas?

It's true!

In our family, we all had to be ready for the day: dressed up (with a strict no jeans rule!), hair combed and teeth brushed before we could make our way downstairs to see what Santa brought.  Oh, and Mom and Dad had to be ready for us to make our way down too -- huge video camera propped on Dad's shoulder, of course.

Nowadays, we've relaxed on the jeans rule, and since Santa is busier with families now with small children, all of our gifts are wrapped so we can make our way downstairs when we're ready.  We have Mom's traditional breakfast of wassail and bacon cheddar muffins (I posted the recipe in this guest post with Amanda) and we take turns opening gifts.

The biggest change this year is that there was a BOY joining in the festivities ... Ian!  Our first married Christmas together was really wonderful.

As we got ready to start opening presents, our family dog Tipsy assumed the position.  I think she has a new boyyyyyyfriennnnd.

The baby of the family, a 23 year old baby in this case, starts opening the gifts first.  Here are the Kate Spade dessert plates I got her this year.  They have this pretty gold band around the rim ... I can just see her having the girls over for macarons and champagne!  (Laura can make a mean macaron.)

Next comes the middle sister.  Here Sarah is opening up her Kindle from my parents.  I got Sarah a fun gift for her home from my recent trip to Furbish Studio in Raleigh, NC.

And then I open a gift, then Ian, then Mom, then Dad -- and we go around in that order until all gifts are gone!  I was seriously spoiled this year.  Ian got me the tortoise shell Michael Kors watch I've been coveting as well as an ivory down vest with faux fur collar and a gift certificate for a massage.  Jewelry, fur, and R&R ... he nailed it.  :)

Sarah gifted me a Coach tunic and I received a faux fur neck scarf/warmer from Laura.  Mom and Dad gave me a lot of fun goodies like Lululemon pants, a Real Simple subscription, a gift card to Williams Sonoma, the newest Swarovski holiday ornament, and several kitchen desires from our registry.  I also got some fun antique pieces.

One of the most beloved gifts, however, was from my sister's fiance to our Dad (a raging conservative, if you couldn't tell):

Yep, Obama toilet paper.  Sorry, Pres.

And don't think the dogs were left out!  Ian loosely wrapped pig's ears for Tipsy and for Drake so that they would also have something to unwrap.

Did I mention my mom is a Christmas baby?  I bet you can hardly even tell which one she is in the below picture.  We've been mistaken for four sisters before.

I had this cake made for her birthday.  Now, if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I had a minor freak-out moment when I picked it up on Friday to realize that instead of reading "60 and Fabulous" it read "Go and Fabulous."  The word "Go" had a cursive "G" so there was no way of passing it off.  Thank goodness for a great grocery store that remade the cake in under an hour and hand-delivered it to my door!

I'm sad Christmas is over, but today I bought my first stocking stuffer for 2012!  Never too early to start preparing.  :)


Pre-Christmas Festivities

Some of my favorite days of the year are those leading up to Christmas.  I think it's a mixture of the traditions and also the anticipation of the big day.  Last-minute rushing for gifts, time spent wrapping gifts, and -- of course -- time spent in the kitchen baking goodies and putting together meals ... I live for it!

Last week I took of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from work.  I thought I would spend a lot of time lounging on the couch and watching Christmas movies, not so much!  My day planner was busting at the seams with tasks to complete before leaving town.  I did manage to sneak in a mani/pedi date with a girlfriend who is newly pregnant, so we had a great time catching up.  I went for sparkly red on my nails and a jade green on my toenails.

When Ian got off of work, we packed the car with our suitcases, tons of gifts, and Drake, and we made our way down to Columbia, South Carolina to visit my family.

Friday night's plans consisted of sushi at Sakitumi (where we introduced my family to the joys of sake) and dancing afterwards at Woody's.

The next day was Christmas Eve and the guys spent the day playing 18 holes and spending a little time at Dad's favorite cigar bar.

We girls took the dogs on a walk around the neighborhood and started preparing for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day lunch and dinner.

Our Christmas Eve dinner is always seafood.  Mom calls the meal "The Feast of the Two Fishes" because we have shrimp and crab legs.

Later that evening I helped my sister wrap gifts and we all started watching The Hangover.  It was the edited-for-TV version so it didn't give my father a heart attack.

Christmas recap coming soon!


O Christmas Tree

Hooray for the first year of a REAL Christmas tree for us!  In past years, we've celebrated with a tiny 4-ft artificial tree that was boosted up on boot shoeboxes and Fed Ex packages.  Ian and I always looked forward to the day when we would be in a permanent home with a live tree.

We purchased the tree not long after Thanksgiving at our local farmer's market.  It was a very fun day -- chatting with the mountainman who sold it to us, stopping at other vendors to buy apple cider, tangerines, and kale. 

The night we decorated it was also our 6 month anniversary - 11/28.  Ian had a hot mug of apple cider and I had a glass of champagne with a little splash of cider in it!

After it was completely decorated, we stepped back to admire it.  The first thing Ian said was, "Our tree is flamboyant." 

My response?  "Mission accomplished."

I made the gold glittery bow for the top using my Bowdabra.  I'm honestly in love with that thing. 

I know there are plenty of really elegant and classy "Our 1st Christmas" ornaments out there, but these weird gingerbread lovebirds were the perfect kitschy addition to our tree.

Following in the footsteps of my grandmother, I love to have birds on my tree.  Especially the kind with large, fussy, feather tails.  Now, Nana had me beat: she actually had a noise machine hidden in her tree that made bird noises.  Seriously.  I can't make that up, people.

During my wreath party earlier this month, my friend Kim made me this ornament, and I just love it.  The ornament is filled with purple and green moss and some snowflakes.  Twine holds it on our tree. 

A glittery leopard print makes me happy.

This sweet gold metal pinecone came from one of Charlotte's best gift shops, Paper Skyscraper.

One of my mercury glass ornaments -- I can't get enough!

A shadowbox ornament made to look vintage.

Love this opalescent starfish ornament that I got at a friend's gift swap a few years ago.

My glass mermaid is a new favorite -- I purchased her last year at the best Christmas shop in the world located in the sweet coastal town of Southport, NC.  If you want to see me standing smack dab in the middle of the shop's killer candy aisle, hop over to this post.

I took classical ballet until I was 16 and danced in many performances of The Nutcracker.  This little guy is a new addition to my tree this year and takes me back to the days of the heavy red curtains, tight buns, false eyelashes, and performance butterflies in my stomach.

Glittery birdcage ... standard.

Yellow is my favorite color, so of course I have to have a few ornaments in this sunshiny shade.

My Anthropologie fish.

And the presents all wrapped under the tree! 

Know which ones I'm most excited about?


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