Deck the Halls

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Putting up Christmas decorations is always a favorite tradition of mine, and decking the halls of our little home is so fun and festive! This is my sixth Christmas in this house, so I definitely have a little decorating routine down… though that doesn’t stop me from dreaming of decorating a different home of my own one day! I love that my Christmas decorations are a mix of fun finds within the last couples years, trinkets and treasures I’ve picked up locally or on my travels, statement pieces that I adore (like this incredible surprise!), or family heirlooms and treasures. Pulling each decoration and ornament out of the boxes is a trip down memory lane; something I absolutely adore.

Our fireplace and mantel (and famed navy wall!) is the focal point of the living room – one that I love! My Lindsay Letters O Holy Night canvas is the star, alongside the tiny porcelain nativity scene from my grandparents. And, of course, I love all of the Christmas cards that arrive in the mail every day from loved one! Our petite, sweet Christmas tree is another favorite, despite its somewhat diminutive size. I just love it (and its mix of white and colored lights)!  Christmashouse3

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Thoughts on Joy

My friend (and fellow blogger!) Emily reached out to me a couple weeks ago about being interviewed for her “Conversations about Joy” series on her blog. I was honored to be asked to share a little about myself & my thoughts on joy/actions I take to pursue joy in my life/ways in which I try to spread joy. Clearly this is a topic I’m passionate about! Here are the questions Emily asked me, along with my responses, if you’re interested…
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1.Are you naturally a joyful person?
I am definitely a naturally joyful person, for which I’m grateful! Happiness and joy have both always come quite naturally to me, and I’m known for having a (generally!) positive, joyful attitude.
 
2.What brings you the most joy?
Oh goodness, I could name so, so many things, people, experiences, and activities that bring me joy! I’ll try to limit myself here, but quality, genuine relationships with those I love bring me so much joy. Life in general brings me joy – from fresh flowers to traveling to stunning sunsets to a great book to laughter to front porches to faith to weddings. Being surrounded by the ones I love the most is definitely up there! I’m eternally grateful for the amazing relationships that I have with my family and friends, and I simply adore being with them & just soaking up time together (preferably with good food, drinks, and conversation!).
 
3.What is something “little” that regularly brings you joy?
I love when people recognize the little things that bring them joy, such as those little moments or little things really contribute to your overall outlook. Being continually grateful and thankful for the big and little things that bring you joy is absolutely crucial! Some little things that repeatedly bring me joy are practicing calligraphy and handwritten notes, acts of kindness, fresh flowers, celebrating holidays, reading books I can’t put down, Chick-fil-a, planning weddings for others, dinner parties, great conversations. I could definitely write hundreds of little things that bring me joy (I practice I love doing anyway!), but those are some favorites at the moment.

 

4. What is currently your greatest obstacle to joy?

I think my greatest obstacle joy is when I feel like I’m in a hurry or in a rush. I don’t take the time to treat others quite as kindly, I walk too quickly by things or people, and I feel too frenzied to stop and appreciate the little things. Living in Washington, DC – a very fast-paced city – and commuting every day has given me time to try to work on this obstacle and to practice patience and kindness (in turn, attempting to bring joy into my life) in the hustle and bustle of life. I hate when I feel like I’ve been rude, curt, or blind to others. I often feel like there’s not enough time to do everything that I want to do in a day (working full time, running a side wedding planning business, blogging, time with the Lord, exercise, seeing friends, and all of the other commitments and activities going on!), and I’m trying not to let my hurry diminish my joy – or the joy or anyone around me.

 

5.How are you pursuing joy right now?

Over the last several years, I’ve been quite passionate about the subject of joy and ways to cultivate joy and a joyful attitude in my life! I’ve long been intentional about big and little ways to increase joy and an attitude of thanksgiving in every facet of my life, and I love talking about this subject! Gratitude and joy go hand in hand, I firmly believe. One of my favorite ways to actively pursue joy is to keep a gratitude journal. Every single night for the last several years, I have written down things that I am thankful for.

I try to list 5-15 big and little things each and every day (which definitely adds up over the years!). Reflecting on those things that I’m grateful for brings so much joy into my life. Taking the time to reflect back on your day, turn the mundane things in praise, recognize all of the blessings in your life, and to stop and be truly grateful for the life that you have been given is paramount to living a life filled with joy.

6.What is the key to a joyful day?

The key to a joyful day is to look for opportunities to see the good in others, to seek out ways in which you can spread joy to everyone you come into contact with, and to be grateful and filled with joy for your life and everything that makes up your day. There is no better way to feel happiness yourself than to spread happiness to others – strangers, coworkers, family, friends, everyone! It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or an expensive gift by any means. The little things and the little details are often the best and most meaningful.

Send those handwritten birthday cards! Don’t forget major life events! Show up on time! Send little texts to tell people how thankful you are for them! Think of how you can serve others selflessly – and you will also be filled with joy. Filling your life with people who bring you joy, being deeply grateful for the blessings in your day & thanking the Lord for them, attempting to lift others up, recognizing little ways to lift up your attitude are all keys to making your day more joyful. And if you are a joyful person, I hope it’s contagious to those around you!

And here’s a direct link to the original post, Conversations about Joy! Thanks so much for including me, Emily!

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O Christmas Tree

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The Willard Hotel

I’ve always loved Christmas trees with a child-like adoration! I’ve had fun this December stumbling across Christmas trees throughout Washington, DC – and returning to check out my favorites year after year! They’re all so grand; decked to the nines. It’s a treat to be able to stop and stare and take in the beauty of Christmas trees, and it’s the perfect little moment to pause, slow down, and enjoy the Christmas season.

Here are a few of my favorite trees I’ve visited around the city this year… which is your favorite?

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City Center DC

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City Center DC

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Norwegian Christmas tree at Union Station

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Christmas wreaths are the best! As you can tell from these inspiration photos that I’ve gathered here, I love wreaths that lean on the natural side. Most of these favorite wreaths are boxwood, greenery, or some combination of beautiful, seasonal, natural materials. But to keep a wreath from being boring, a statement bow or ribbon is required, right?!

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Make a Long-Lasting Eucalyptus Holiday Wreath | by Rikki Snyder

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and a bonus wreath, just for fun – I love how simple and Southern this one is with the magnolia leaves!

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Linking up for Five on Friday!

Christmas Cards 2014

Christmascard6Creating handmade Christmas cards is one of my favorite traditions each and every year! Sending snail mail is always a good idea, and I always look forward to seeing what new cards come in the mail every day during the Christmas season. It’s such a festive and fun way to spread a little joy and love throughout the holidays. Throughout the last many years, I’ve crafted and created various cards; always beginning early in November so that I’m not rushed or stressed by the Christmas card process. Finishing them up by Thanksgiving is always my goal, since I love sending them out by December 1st to my family and friends around the country and around the world.

This year, I pulled out my calligraphy skills to design and write a couple different Christmas cards. I always try to make mine more religious/faith-based than a typical “happy holidays” greeting, and this year, I incorporated several of my favorite Christ-based Christmas carols: “joy to the world,” “glory to the newborn king,” and “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.” Writing is gold calligraphy ink is always fun and sparkly! And, of course, I had to make the envelope match the card with another dose of gold calligraphy!

As much as receiving Christmas cards from my loved ones scattered about the world, I hope my Christmas greeting brought them at least a small dose of love, joy, and Christmas cheer from me!

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Do you send Christmas cards each year? My favorite mail days always involve Christmas cards (or wedding invitations, of course)!

The Best Christmas Movies

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Who doesn’t love Christmas movies?! I love the traditions and memories surrounding so many of my favorite Christmas movies, and it’s such a treat to watch them year after year. My all-time favorite Christmas movie is, hand’s down, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the classic animated one, of course)! I am pretty positive I can quote every word from this movie, and I’ve seen it at least fifty times. To me, the Christmas season doesn’t really kick off until I’ve viewed (and sung along to) this perennial classic.

I also adore both Miracle on 34th Street movies (both versions are equally amazing and heartwarming!), the old claymation Rudolph movie, and the fact that TBS plays A Christmas Story for twenty-four straight hours. Seeing these classics, most of them favorites from my childhood, makes me feel that Christmas spirit and feeling of home.

Christmasmovie2And who doesn’t love a good Christmas laugh with Christmas Vacation and Home Alone? Again, I’ve watched these two movies time and time again since I was a little girl, and they’re staples in my Christmas movie lineup. My favorite Christmas romantic comedies are, not surprisingly, The Holiday and Love Actually. I don’t think any girl my age doesn’t love these two, and they always get me in the Christmas spirit, too!

Christmasmovie3I know this can be a controversial holiday subject (ha!), and I want you to weigh in! What are the Christmas movies you can’t live without, and which ones do you avoid at all costs? I must admit, I’ve only seen It’s a Wonderful Life once, and I was so bored… I’ve never seen White Christmas. My roommate, though, thinks Home Alone is one of the worst movies ever, while I adore it!