DIY Holiday Centerpiece | Tree Branch Leftovers

You're on track, and your Christmas tree is up! If you want to bless your home with a little extra holiday cheer, snip some of those straggling branches from your tree. Adding those leftover branches to bottles or vases is a great way to scatter the amazing smell throughout the house, needless to say that it gives your space a cute, rustic feel.

Christmas tree branch vase, holiday centerpiece

And a little greenery for the bathroom.... 

christmas tree branch vase, holiday centerpiece

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Outfit Ideas

I had no luck at the thrift store while shopping last minute for an ugly Christmas sweater to wear for an upcoming party. Instead, I stumbled upon a festive potholder. With a simple sewing job on a plain average sweatshirt, my attire was complete!

If you can’t find that perfect ugly sweater at the thrift store or a relative’s closet, here are some other speedy solutions that will make you fit right in with the holiday festivities!

  • Sew small felt stockings to a solid sweater, or sweatshirt (find at local craft store)
  • Make a glammy necklace made out garland
  • Wrap yourself in xmas lights.. Be careful you don’t sit on any!
  • Make a headband made from gift-wrapping bows
  • Tie a large bow under a collared shirt
  • Tie a large, festive bow around your waist (multi-purpose belt!)
  • Go classic with a Santa hat 

Workout Inspiration Needed

It's monday, it's raining and a cold front is coming. I was tempted to go home, make hot tea, and play with the pup next to the christmas tree, until Pitbull started playing on Pandora.

The Hot Cocoa 15K is Jan 13, so with only a few weeks away, Pitbull and I will head to the track after work today. Were you thinking of slacking on this cold rainy monday? Don't do it. There will be plenty of time for lounging and sipping egg nog later.

Speaking of eating sweets, Lululemon posted this today on Facebook. I am only one holiday party down on a long list of cookie swaps and pot lucks. Mr. Gingerbread man - I will keep you in mind.

Here's to starting new year's resolutions early. Enjoy your workout today.

5 Reasons to Have a Workout Buddy

workout buddy

We've all been there. You just got back from your fabulous vacation, and you haven't exercised all week. Whoops!... you didn't really mean to eat that chocolate fudge a la mode last night, but you were toasting to the end of your glorious getaway before it's back to the real world. You still haven't hit the gym a week later, and you just find yourself in a workout slump. FIND YOURSELF A WORKOUT BUDDY! Here's why..

1. Consistency - Having a workout buddy forces you to rely on each other. You don't want to let your friend down, so are more likely to make the effort to be at the gym. Getting there is the hardest part!

2. You'll get stronger - You can challenge yourself by increasing your weight, and you'll always have a spotter nearby. If you're struggling, your partner can give you assistance and that extra boost to get you through all of your reps. 

3. Support system - You and your partner should always be pushing each other just a little bit harder. Mental hurdles can hold you back and it simply takes someone saying, "you can do it," to overcome it. It sounds like a simple concept because it is.

4. Shorter workouts (not literally) - When you have extra company, your mind isn't constantly concentrating on what you're doing, and how you wish you were back in bed. Before you know it, you've gossiped, vented, caught up from the weekend, and it's time to hit the showers!

5. Extra cardio boost - A lot of people hate to run, but dogs love it! Who says your workout buddy needs to be human? Do it for your adorable four-legged friend. You'll be done with your mile (or 2!) in no time!

Taco Soup for Supper

When calendars are crammed and weather is wintery, nothing soothes the soul better than a hot bowl of soup, especially when all you need to do is heat it up. I often double my soup recipes so I can do just that. Here is one of my all time favorites - Taco Soup.

2 lbs grassfed beef
1 diced onion
1 15oz. can pinto beans
1 15oz. can kidney beans
1 15oz. can black beans
1 15oz. can niblet corn or frozen corn
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro (or any mexican tomatoes)
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion
1 4.6oz can sliced black olives
1 large packet ranch seasoning
1 taco seasoning packet
additions: sour cream, shredded cheese, corn chips

Brown beef with onions. Drain excess fat. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for several hours. Top with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream.  Also goes well with blue corn chips. 

Speaking of soup, I am planning a souper christmas party for my family at my house before Christmas - the perfect meal after long hours of travel. So more soup recipes to come!

Holiday Mantel Decor

Broken legged reindeer, tacky scarf angel and bronze angel from my estate sale finds, are all making their debut appearance in this week's holiday mantel post.
I don't like making excuses, but I must say that this photo does not capture the coziness of my holiday mantel. When it's dark and cold outside, the lights from the garland bring a warm glow to the room. The fireplace crackles with the smell of real wood. Wrapped up in plush blankets, we watch holiday classics on screen. The Christmas tree glows from across the room  and only then do you feel Christmas all around you.

But any photographer knows that daylight brings the best photos and man made lights don't photograph well, especially when you have a $100 camera, so here is my mantel in all her daylight glory.
The mantel we built is over 10 feet long with a large television smack in the middle, so I wanted to keep things simple and attempt to blend the decor with the electronics.
Garland: borrowed from a friend
Glass Covered Jar: Home Goods $15 -  filled with perfectly prepped pine cones from my front yard. I added a simple crystal to a jute rope to give more character for $2. 
Birch Planters: Whole Foods $15 to match my $1 birch reindeer from an estate sale. I love using real plants in my decorations, as they can be planted outside once the holidays are over. 
Pottery: Pottery Barn $10 with coupon plus red berries from Michael's for $1 a stick. 
Mirrors: Home Goods $25. They look very similar to the Ballard Design mirrors but are 1/3 the price. I also use these in my foyer year round. 

I made our stockings for our first christmas in our first house. Can you tell which is Siler's? I loved the black and red corduroy fabric and also used it for the holiday pillows by the fireplace. Look for both the stocking and holiday pillow tutorials this month. 

Holiday Stockings in Plaid Corduroy
Estate Sale Re-Do Angels
My estate sale angels turned out perfect. I removed the tensile scarf from the larger angel. I added the same crystal I used on the glass jar to give her some glamour. With silver and pearl spray paint, my angels are brand new. 

I attempted chalk board art with no success. I think I will save this project for next year when I have more time to practice and perfect. 

I hope your holiday projects and decor are turning out as planned. We would love to see them so send us a message or comment below! 

The Lettered Cottage