Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg

Ah, the holidays. Ready or not, here they come....and I'm trying to get into the Christmas spirit while remembering to breathe. The last month has been a whirlwind of general busyness. If I don't slow down and step back from the chaos, the holidays will be over before I catch my breath.

So I'm taking it SLOWLY this year. No, our tree isn't up yet nor are any decorations. In the meantime.....

Homemade hot chocolate: Mmmmmmm! I forgot that we got cocoa powder in our fabulous Penzey Spices wedding gift, but now I'm hooked. A little milk, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla with mini marshmallows? Pure heaven. And way better than the instant powdery stuff.

Thoughtful packages: What is this huge box?
The sweetest gift ever, sent my mom. This note accompanied the box and I promptly developed a large lump in my throat while reading it:

I'll summarize for you: my mom has been collecting ornaments for every year of my life with the intentions of passing them onto me as I cross into adulthood, and have a family of my own. She decided that now was the time to give me these little treasures with so many memories attached to each year we've spent together. I'm a big girl now, I suppose, and it's time for me to make my own memories with my husband. And so, she sent every single ornament of mine.....individually gift wrapped, which just adds to the suspense.
Can you imagine how long it took her to create these little works of art?Oh, and we counted 30 packages [and I'm only 27] so there might be a few surprise non-yearly ornaments in there, too. We decided to open them as we decorate our tree and mom made me promise to tell Nate a story about each ornament. What a sentimental and amazing gift, right?

Also, look at the adorableness Keri sent me. It's pink and green, folks:)
And another package that arrived? My Old Navy paraphernalia! Here are a few of my favorite new lounge outfits. I had to cut off my head in these pictures because I cannot make a serious face while posing and I ended up looking rather deranged.
These pajama pants are SO LONG they even puddle on the ground. And my freakishly long arms? Completely covered by the extended length sleeves on my new hoodie. It's a regular miracle for my 5'10" self.
Then there is the pimp hot pink velour hoodie combined with my new yoga pants. Again, notice the length.

And the fleece lounge pants with cotton tee shirt? Comfy and without holes. I've turned over a new leaf, my friends. It's like a mini Christmas provided to myself by myself. And it feels so good to be selfish:)

Decor inspiration: Martha has done it again. My newest issue of Martha Stewart Living fired up the old creativity flame. Of course I have no idea when I'll make these crafts but it never hurts to dream.

Button ornaments. Completely adorable and seemingly easy to make.

Pimped out wrapping jobs:

Damask? Yes, please.
Candy Cane stripes? Done.

Monogrammed tags? Why didn't I think of that?

And not that we are hosting any fancy dinners, but isn't this the cutest place setting ever?I could spend hours on Martha's site because her ideas are drool-worthy. Bravo, Ms. Stewart. You rule.

Thankful indeed.

I was feeling a little down yesterday, sulking around, being generally grumpy and unpleasant. Mostly because I don't get to see my family for Thanksgiving [and it feels like I NEVER get to see them]. And also because I have to work on both Friday and Saturday. You could say I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed and burnt out with everything lately. I'm sure the depressing cold and darkness doesn't help either. Seasonal depression, what?

And then....Andrea sent me our first round of pictures for our little photography session we did on Sunday. Um, I'm slightly obsessed. Okay, majorly obsessed. I'm so glad Nate consented to getting these pictures taken and now I have a plethora of options for our Christmas cards! The creative juices are flowing already and I might even have the time to assemble the cards before the holidays.

Things are looking better around here, no? Take a peek and let me know your favorites. Click on the pics to make them bigger, as always:


3. [yes, that is Henry in a Santa costume. I couldn't resist and I think he secretly loves it.]
This was the day before our first snow. Too bad it didn't come just a wee bit earlier and we could've had some gorgeous blankets of white in the background. Isn't Andrea incredibly talented for someone who is 'just practicing?' She rules, end of story. Can't wait to see the rest from our little shoot.

Although I am far away from my parents, grandparents, extended family and most of my friends, I am truly blessed to have my own little family with Nate and Henry. My boys will always be there for me comforting me when I feel blue. It helps that they are so freaking handsome, too:)

My in-laws are some of the finest people around and I'm one lucky girl to have married into this family. Their generosity and love for us never ceases to amaze me. They have always made me feel like a part of their family and on a day like today, when my own family seems so far away, I am blessed to be with Nate's family. They are my family, too, and I'm proud to share their last name.

Trying to look at the bright side of working ALL THE FREAKING TIME: at least I have job security out the wazoo. There will always be a need for my career. Always. The recruiters who call me and send me obnoxious information in the mail ["Come work for us, we need PTs!] remind me that in a time of economical uncertainty, I can rest assured that I am needed. And being needed is a nice feeling, I suppose.

Have a great Turkey Day and remember to hug your families extra tight today.

Now I've really done it.

My open letter to Mother Nature did NOT go over well. Apparently she wanted to show me who is boss, and it's not me.

As I stumbled around our place this morning as I got ready for work, and literally stopped in my tracks when I saw this out our window:
I had to blink, rub my sleepy eyes and take another look. Yep, it just snowed enough to cover the whole freaking road and yard. I was completely caught off guard. Why didn't anyone tell me it was supposed to really snow during the night? We've had a few flurries and one rather crappy ice storm so far this year, but a REAL snow? I suppose it's almost December...

The first 'real' snow of the season snuck up on me, alright. And I knew I'd have to scramble around even faster if I wanted to make it to work on time. Yet, I managed to snap many-a-picture for documentation's sake. After all, the first real snow of the season is always the prettiest and least annoying. After about 5 more months of this stuff it's going to get really old, but for now pictures are in order:
If I had my automatic car starter I could have warmed my cave-of-a-car slightly before scraping it off with haste. At least it was really wet and sticky....not so icey and hard. It would have been the perfect snow for a big fat snowball fight, but instead it made for a nice commute to work.
I thought this was pretty, even though the nasty black street slush is already out in full force. I hate that ugly stuff.

Remember the pretty cemetery boasts gorgeous Autumn colored trees? Yeah, check out the trees now. No more stunning oranges and red....just white. Lots of white. It just looks cold, right? But this untouched patch of snow was begging for a snow angel. I resisted, since I was already walking up to work. But still.....it's pretty, right?
Macro shots of snow on trees = my fave.
The berries and snow make me yearn for Christmas. But then I will be completely finished with winter, thanks.
So yeah, we only got about 2 inches of snow which is no biggie compared to some of the mamoth blizzards up here, but it's such a shock to see blankets of white everywhere. It wasn't even THAT cold today, topping out at 36 degrees [the low of 28 is pretty rough, though]. Heck, I even went for a run on Saturday when it was 32 degrees outside! Aren't I such a pimp? Sure, my sweat literally turned to frost on my earwarmers but still--I did it.

You'd think I was adapting to this crazy climate or something. And it only took me 1.5 years:)

Making a list, checking it twice...

So, remember how I'm ridiculously tight with money? As in, I convulse just thinking about making a purchase? Well, that hasn't really helped my wardrobe much in the past year. Every night I throw on the same old pair of flannel pajama pants and crusty old sweatshirt....both acquired in approximately 2003. 

And I have to draw the line somewhere [and apparently holey lounge pants dating back to Henry's puppy days are my bottom line. I just love them so much!] I decided it's time for me to take the plunge and spend some dinero on myself for once. What else is my little J.Lorene fund for if it's not for fun? 

I now present to you the mother load:

Apparently Old Navy carries talls! In pants AND in shirts! It's like I've died and gone to wardrobe heaven....especially since O.N. doesn't exactly boast couture prices. New comfy clothes, with long enough arms and legs for my freakish self, with a decent price tag? I'm sold.

As you can see, I went a bit overboard with four pairs of pants and five tops. Yet, I only spent $140. All is well in my world, dear readers.

But all of this online shopping got me thinking about my Christmas wish list. Would you like a glimpse into my ultimate list?

#1 New makeup. Old stuff is shattered all over my pathetic bag and is generally gross. So I wandered over to Sephora.com for a little day dreaming...

I heart eye shadows, and I also heart Kat Von D. So did you know she has a line of makeup out now? This one would suit me just fine:

Any of the Bliss products:And any type of fun shower gels/scrubs/etc. These are the Sephora brand:
Um, literally anything by Philosophy but I'm loving this cookie theme!
#2 Automatic car starter: did I ever mention that I hate being cold? Driving to work in the mornings while my teeth are chattering, hands shivering, and breath creating a fog within my own car = misery. Now that we have a private driveway instead of a public lot I think it's time I get one of these babies.
Can you just imagine? A car that is already warm and toasty, like a chariot waiting to whisk me away to my destination [ahem, work.....it's not that glamorous, is it?]. Seriously though, what a fab idea. 

#3 A cute, short coat. Preferably warm [functional] and yet adorable [I'm digging the belted styles]. Hello, Overstock.com!

#4 Sporty/comfy flats. A girl can only wear a pair of beat up ballet flats for so long. Endless.com is my new best friend. Are these too hideous?

#4.5: More flats. Maybe I could just get the pair of driving mocs from J.Crew that I've lusted over for so long?

Or I could settle on this inexpensive version from Endless.com
#5 Boots. Every girl should own a pair of nice boots, right? Well this girl has a pair of Uggs that are multi-dimensional [hurling myself through feet of snow, running around after Henry while it's raining, etc]. But I would like a pair of 'dressy' boots for the days I'm not a total slob. 

Ah, J.Crew. Why must you taunt me with these beauts? The Long Glenbrae Leather flat boots are my dream. But for $325? That makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
I suppose these would be just as nice, and almost $200 less than JC's version. Again, from Endless.com.

But even Endless has some pricey kicks....here are a pair that caught my eye for $347.95. Hmmmm, I think I like the J.Crew style better anyway.

#6 Winter defense attire. I need as much of this crap as I can get.  You can't own too many fleeces, right?

For instance, Patagonia's R2 vest for $100. 

For North Face's version for $60. So furry. So warm. Sigh.

I might own a couple fleeces just like this one from North Face but something about the pink just gets me:) It's called the Denali Thermal jacket and I heart it. It's $179 in case you were wondering.

And I realize these are probably the most unflattering pair of pants known to woman but I need me some long running tights, for the days I brave the cold. These are from Athleta [seriously my mecca] and are $69. Doesn't that seem like a lot for a pair of skin tight spandex drawers?

Ah, Athleta. Why are you the best store invented? I could easily spend thousands here because I want to BE these girls. All sporty, happy, and warm. Not to mention cute. Maybe if I bought these outfits then I wouldn't be such a miserable hag in the winter time? [Their marketing strategies TOTALLY work on me]. 
[that's me, with a trendy little dress and a pimp hat...just warming myself before being all outdoorsy again.]

[oh, and here I am snow shoeing. It sounds like my own personal hell, but if I looked this cute doing it I just might try].

[um, another furry fleece? Sold. Does anyone else think this model looks like Lindsay Lohan?]

[Gasp! A skort AND capris? Brilliant for my days spent jump-roping and being generally athletic.]

[if I had this jacket I would totally run outside more often. If nothing else but to be cute.]

#7 Normal [non-athletic/lounge] clothing. I own no cashmere. Isn't that sad? I think I deserve a nice cashmere turtleneck like this one from The Crew. 

And that's all I can think of right now. What? That's not too much to ask for, is it? 

Oh, and I'm still dreaming of a dSLR camera but I'm not even going to bother listing it here. If and when I ever purchase one of those babies it's going to be a VERY big deal. And I need to have control over that buy. Basically, I need to marinade the thought of it in my brain a little while longer. Perhaps someday...

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