Tag Archives: Christmas

Finding Joy this Holiday Season

Finding Joy this Holiday SeasonThe 2016 holiday season is now in full swing. (I say “now” in full swing so some of you don’t burn me at the stake for “skipping Thanksgiving.” You know who you are.) Now, we can all go full on Christmas mode and not be shamed for maybe or maybe not having our trees up early. Personally, I’m feeling quite ready for the holiday season. 75% of our gifts are in route to my house, my calendar is laid out in pretty colors, and Christmas cards are on their way. And most importantly, I have a certain peace about this season that I haven’t had in a very long time.

I’m not sure if my calmness over the holiday madness comes from the life-changing events of this year or from my age. I wouldn’t say that I’m more prepared than usual, maybe even the direct opposite. However, I’m simply not feeling the anxiety that I’d normally feel as the happiest time of the year approaches. Let’s look at the facts.

Reasons why I should be worried:

  • As of noon last Wednesday, we had 0 gifts purchased.
  • I ordered Christmas cards later than planned and could have throat punched that stupid website.
  • This past weekend was our last weekend without something planned until January. January!
  • We’re testing out some new holiday traditions this year.
  • I’m heavily involved in the success of a plethora of holiday events coming in the next several weeks.
  • We’ll be hosting family in our home a few times and some things still aren’t finished or “ready.”
  • I know, with certainty, that we’re about to be exhausted for the next 30+ days.
  • My decorations aren’t ready.

Reasons why I should NOT be worried:

  • Matthew and I got a heavy dose of perspective on life in 2016. I’m simply not as bothered by things that used to cause me stress.
  • My new home is lovely and I’m happy to host people here!
  • We made a huge dent in holiday shopping (online) over the weekend.
  • We know exactly where we’ll be and when over the holidays. There will be no obsessing over who we’re visiting when and who’s going to be upset if we don’t show. Plans are set and that’s that.
  • I’m transitioning into a better place of making decisions that are best for Matthew and I – without so much emphasis on what others want or expect. This is a GREAT place to be, by the way.
  • We’ve had a fantastic year. We’ve not only survived, we have thrived. And basically, no one or nothing can steal that joy from me right now.

I could likely keep listing reasons for both sides of this argument. I’m just too excited to get bogged down in the minutia this year. Matthew and I have so much to celebrate, and I simply won’t allow the madness or chaos of this busy season distract from that. My #1 intention for this season is to truly enjoy spending time together and with those that we care about. The details might not be perfect and we might be outrageously tired after the first week of events. Nonetheless, I’m not concerned. We will attend each event that we’ve selected and we will enjoy ourselves with those people in that moment. We will have gifts for those we’re buying gifts for and even if they’re not the most perfect gift possible, they’ll have been selected with care and love. I will not live this season in guilt over not doing everything that everyone wants. Instead, we will enjoy this holiday season and celebrate the close of this life-changing year.

My new perspective could come from having faced one of the most trying obstacles we’ve encountered thus far and making it. Last Christmas, we would have never imagined the heartache 2016 would hold for us. I think experiencing something like that is sort of like a near death experience or severe illness – when you’re faced with something of that magnitude, and then get another shot to do better, those tiny details and expectations of others that drain the life right out of you, suddenly seem trivial. You’re forced to take stock of your life and how you’re living it and when you see things you’re not happy with, you make unrestrained adjustments. If this fresh perspective on the holiday season is a result of the flood, this will be another seemingly unrelated area of our lives that has been altered by the events of this past spring. On the surface one would think we simply had to remodel a house, fight insurance battles, buy new stuff (That’s fun right? Not really.), and be homeless for a bit. Quite the contrary. There’s really not an aspect of our lives, our business, or our relationships that wasn’t altered somehow because of this experience. If my take on the holiday season is another one of them, I really wouldn’t be too surprised.

Another possible factor in this newfound peace could be my age. Someone once told me that as you get older, you’ll slowly (and then suddenly) stop caring about what other people think. Whereas at one point you might live and make decisions based on the feedback you’d get from those around you, you suddenly stop doing that and do whatever in the hell you want to. For me, I’ve always lived in the mindset of guilt. I made decisions or did things to avoid the guilt I’d feel if I didn’t do them. What was best for Matthew and I might have been a different plan entirely, and yet we’d go with the flow and oblige so that I didn’t let anyone down. Even people that would let me down in a heartbeat if something was inconvenient for them. Lucky for me (not), guilt has controlled me for much of my life. Therefore, we’d get up, dress the part, and attend every single event possible. We’d show up boasting food or gifts, regardless of whether we wanted to be there or not. Suddenly, I no longer feel the need to do this. And I won’t feel guilty for letting that obligation go. If this is indeed some coming-of-age moment for me, I cannot wait to see what other areas of my life in which I’ll get some relief.

So much of life is about making choices. We choose what we’re going to do and not going to do. And more importantly, we choose what our attitude will be surrounding these experiences. We can be positive or we can be negative. It’s a choice, and I’ll be the first to admit that my anxiety-ridden self was the first to buckle under the pressure of the holidays in the past. I let the minutia of this detail and that one steal my joy. I think my anxiety and exhaustion (and sometimes dread) often stemmed from feeling like I didn’t have a choice in the affairs of the holidays. I sometimes felt like I was one “Merry Christmas” away from losing my mind. However, deciding to choose our schedule for December brought with it a fresh perspective and a sigh of relief. We’ve chosen our plans for the holidays, and I’m choosing to experience them all with joy. It’s a Christmas miracle!

If you find yourself getting drug along by the hustle and bustle, take a little break and remind yourself what this season is truly about for you. Remember that it’s an opportunity to share in a wonderful season with the people that you love. Remember that there are many wonderful things about this season and if we focus on those, it might lift our anxiety and frustration just a bit. And most importantly, remember that no matter what, nothing about this season must be perfect. We don’t have to give the best gifts in the entire world (and we certainly don’t have to go into debt for them). The Christmas treats don’t have to be perfectly made, and our halls don’t have to be perfectly decked. As a matter of fact, if we look with an adjusted mindset, we can probably see beauty in the imperfection. Furthermore, if the season brings with it some sadness over loves ones lost or misfortune of the past year, we can still work to see the best even in the unfortunate situations. Over time, we can condition our minds to find something good in almost every situation, especially if you’re looking for it. Truth be told, you will always find whatever it is you’re looking for. If you’re looking for joy, you will eventually find it. And if you’re looking for despair, it’s certainly there.

During this holiday season, and in the upcoming year, I encourage you to choose your perspective. Choose your path and celebrate those decisions you make, even if things don’t go as planned. I wish you the happiest holiday season, no matter your circumstances, and I truly hope you can find joy amidst the seemingly unavoidable chaos. This life, and this season, are what you make of it!

Merry Christmas

Christmas Card. pamelapetrus.comChristmas Card. pamelapetrus.comThis year has been a busy one! Lots of amazing things happened in 2015, and I’m super excited to look back on those. Matthew and I have sent out a “year in review” card every year except our first, and I think it’s slowly becoming what we’re known for. This year, I ordered my card from the talented/sweet/professional Becky at Pineapple Princess Design Co on Etsy. I’ve ordered from several designers on Etsy and this was by far the best experiences…even including a mix up with the printer where my cards ended up in New Jersey.

Looking back over this year’s list, I think there’s a blog post for almost each event! In case you’d like more info, here are the links:

  1. Alaska! Oh, Alaska. It was such an awesome trip and I promise to get around to sharing the rest of the photos soon!
  2. Nursing School! Matthew started nursing school just a couple of months after we were married, so it was a huge accomplishment (and relief) for him to finish this year. I am still very proud of him for going after and dominating this goal.
  3. I sold over 50 houses! This 50 includes houses nationwide. I didn’t blog much about my real estate business this year and it was a busy one! In 2016, don’t forget that I can help with ANY real estate transaction ANYWHERE in the world. Email me: pamela at pamelapetrus dot com.
  4. Renovating our home! This one will probably be on our 2032 Christmas card too! If you haven’t been keeping up with the progress, you can see bits and pieces here.
  5. A new car! There’s a chance that this car is going to go down in history as my most prized possession. I am so happy that I pushed past the guilt/worry and bought it anyway. I love, love driving around the country in this beauty.
  6. Matthew does chemo treatments! Matthew began his nursing career at the hospital and being offered this job at the clinic was a game changer for our family. The regular work hours and no nights/holidays/weekends gave us much more time to spend together. After nursing school and still working full time, it felt like we were finally able to enjoy each other’s company. It was a very welcomed change.
  7. Top 10% of Keller Williams! This email popped into my inbox on a day when I was feeling particularly beat down. I’d been working nonstop and just couldn’t seem to get caught up. Seeing that I had moved into the top 10% of realtors under 40 in the ENTIRE COUNTRY was just the motivation I needed to keep going. Side note: Thank you to everyone who has played a part in this! I’d be jobless without you guys!
  8. Matthew as the Easter Bunny! This really happened. You should have seen how adorable/funny it was.
  9. Tennis! Another one of the life-changing moments came when I took up tennis this year. Not only does it serve as amazing exercise, I’m spending time with a new friend AND finally reserving time to do something for myself. The transition in my mind was difficult, yet I’m finally learning how important this time is for me. Wimbledon, here I come! Just kidding, of course.
  10. Thanksgiving! We’ve had family over for various holidays before. I have not, however, ever agreed to prepare and an entire Thanksgiving meal by myself before. Somehow, Matthew and I pulled it off!

It’s amazing to look back on these ten events, knowing that there were hundreds more that took place this year too. Sometimes if feels like the years pass by so quickly, yet each year when I make this list, I’m amazed that all of these things went down in just one year. It’s a lovely reminder that we have so much time with which to do amazing things. The trick is though, we have to MAKE them happen. If we don’t make a conscious effort to go after big dreams, life will simply slip by. Speaking of dreams, my 2016 goals will be up on the blog next week, so be sure to pop back in for that.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas holiday and get to do all of the things you enjoy. Much love, The Petruses.

P.S. Our card in 2013 & 2014.

2015 Christmas Decor

Christmas decor at pamelapetrus.comI learned a few things about Christmas this year.

  1. If my decorations aren’t up by mid-November, there’s a chance that they might not go up at all, and I’ll be super stressed. The longer I can enjoy my holiday décor, the better. Sitting in a room filled with cozy lights could be my favorite part of the year.
  2. I should invite people over early in the season. The sooner I have people over, the sooner I’ll get all of those lingering Christmas tubs put away! The weekend after all of the extra items were put away felt simply magical. I want to reach that point earlier in the season.
  3. Photos of Christmas décor are much better when taken in the early evening/afternoon hours. The photos of my big tree in the living room are much better than the one of Matthew and I by the tree, which was taken a few hours later. Speaking of, I’m not sure what those random specks of light/dust/glitter are on us. Something tells me that my lens was dirty. Next year, I’ll make a point to take all photos while there’s still a bit of daylight left…and to clean my lens before our little photo session.

Christmas decor at pamelapetrus.comChristmas decor at pamelapetrus.comChristmas decor at pamelapetrus.comIf you remember the post about my inspiration for the year, you’ll quickly notice that my actual décor looks nothing like my plans. Literally. Nothing like it. This fact is what brings me to realization #1. As time passed by quickly, I ran out of time to plan for new décor. Instead, I used items that I already had to get things decorated ASAP. There just simply wasn’t time to search out new items. Next year, I hope to start a little earlier so that I have more time to plan.

Christmas decor at pamelapetrus.comChristmas decor at pamelapetrus.comHopefully these few photos give you an idea of what our home looks like this holiday season. Imagine Christmas music, lots of twinkling lights, and hot chocolate galore. That about sums it up. We’re only a few days away from the bulk of the holiday festivities, so I hope you’re well rested, full of the holiday spirit, and eager to mark off another holiday season with those you love. Remember, don’t get too caught up in the hustle and bustle. Be sure to make time to truly enjoy this magical season.

P.S. If you’d like to look back, here’s last year’s Christmas decor.

Quick & Easy DIY Holiday Gift

for your mistle toes at pamelapetrus.comI saw this idea on Pinterest back in the early days and I’ve filed it away in memory, hoping that I’d have a chance to use it someday. Yesterday (and today) I attended the ALC Retreat with a few of my peers and since it was so close to Christmas, I decided to bring along a little prize for everyone. (The Associate Leadership Council is similar to a board of directors at our local Keller Williams office in which you can be invited to join if you’re in the top 20% of the company. Yay me!) Of course, I didn’t have the idea until the last minute, so I needed something I could throw together quickly. As I was wrapping up the gifts, I decided to share it here with you guys because this little idea could come in handy if you need a quick and relatively inexpensive gift for upcoming holiday festivities.for your mistle toes at pamelapetrus.comfor your mistle toes at pamelapetrus.comAt first, I woke up and started designing my own tag and then I reminded myself, “Don’t recreate the wheel, Pamela.” With a quick google search, I stumbled upon this adorable printable for free! I printed two sheets of the tags on cardstock, and I was in business. I love the turquoise and red and that the designer left a spot for a hole punch at the top…good design gets me every time. Next, I simply purchased a few bottles of red nail polish and attached the tags with string!for your mistle toes at pamelapetrus.comfor your mistle toes at pamelapetrus.comVoila! You have a quick, adorable gift that doesn’t take much time or money. This idea would make a great stocking stuffer, teacher’s gift, or a happy for someone that you don’t know very well. Adding the customized and cheeky tag takes a simple gift up a notch and proves that you put some thought in to it.

Have you seen any other fun and simple gift ideas floating around lately? I’d love to have some other ideas to store away for later!

P.S. My apologies for the poorly lit photos. The lighting in my office is awful!

The happiest (and busiest) time of the year.

Resting at Christmas at pamelapetrus.comI sat on my couch on Saturday afternoon, literally too exhausted to get up and do any of the things that I’d previously intended to do that day. I suppose it was a bit ambitious to consider that I’d do anything productive after the whirlwind of a week we’d experienced. Matthew and I both worked long, hard days each day last week and then had some sort of event to attend in the evening hours, each putting us getting home well after our usual bed time. Literally, we had an event every single night last week. Each day as we talked about being simply exhausted, we’d continue on to the next event with a smile. Each day, as we rushed off to the next engagement, we discussed how we wanted to attend each and every event, yet we were so tired from the hustle and bustle of the week. This week, I’m hoping for a bit more time to rest and be at home.

As I sat there almost motionless on Saturday, I thought about just how much I need down time…how much I’ve come to love my simple routine. Once upon a time I was superwoman…a mover and a shaker that did absolutely everything for everyone, taking very little time for myself. I’d go and go until I eventually crashed and burned. I’d recuperate and then do it all again until I came crashing back down again. I even used this approach with my real estate business. In the first year, I often worked from 7:00 am until 9:00 or 10:00 at night with very little help. Then I crashed. Actually, I crashed so hard that I almost locked up the doors and quit selling real estate altogether. True story.

Instead, I finally realized that I had to change my approach. I needed quite time. I needed days with no makeup. I needed time to sit and regroup quietly in the comfort of my own home. I needed days where I didn’t change from my pajamas until well past the normal hours. Actually, when I began drinking coffee, is when I first started giving myself little breaks and taking things more slowly. Now, after almost a year of carving out time to rest and relax, I feel like a new person. I also feel completely out of whack if I don’t get that time. I am emotional and short-fused. Sometimes I feel physically ill and my headaches come more often. I’m not a master of resting just yet, and my body is the first to show signs when I’ve skipped down time more than I should.

On Saturday, as I finally had a day to rest, I pulled up my blog reader to find 111 unread blog posts on Bloglovin’. I don’t follow tons of blogs, so 111 unread posts is nonsensical. My usual routine is to catch up on the week’s posts on Saturday or Sunday morning. Most of the time, I wake up before Matthew and sip my coffee while catching up on my favorite writers from the week before. Clearly, I haven’t been able to do that for quite some time. Actually, I as scrolled back, I realized that that last posts I’d seen were from Thanksgiving. This means, my usual routine has been upset for several weeks, which helps explain why I feel so off kilter.

In the past as I’ve struggled to carve out time for resting, I’ve posting things like this and this in the past. Both of these were written after somewhat of a “crash.” It’s been a daily struggle for some time to actually relax. When things get tough and I feel burdened with responsibility, my personal time is the first to go. I quickly forfeit my time to rejuvenate as soon as I feel obligated to complete some other task.

As the busyness of the holiday season comes in full force, I know that it’s even more important than usual to be sure I’m resting. I need to be sure I save some time for myself to do nothing. To sit. To read or relax. Why does it feel so hard to do?? How can I be sure that I don’t continually hit the burn out stage before resting? I don’t have that answer just yet. However, I know that I must continue to be diligent in saving some time for myself. I must fight for rest, even if the person I’m fighting is myself and my own insecurities. As we embark on another busy holiday season, I hope that you, too, make time to rest. I hope you sit quietly and sip slowly. We all deserve that right, after all.

2015 Christmas Decor Inspiration

Christmas inspiration at pamelapetrus.comBlack and White Christmas Inspiration at pamelapetrus.comBlack and White Christmas Inspiration at pamelapetrus.comOh, how I love Christmas! It’s no secret that I am SO ready for the holidays this year. Honestly, I wanted to put my tree up on Halloween. I showed some self-restraint and did not. However, it will happen very soon. I have a few home improvement projects that I want to get done and then it’ll be full-fledged Christmas City in the Petrus household. Since I’m making myself wait a bit longer to decorate, I thought I’d share some of my ideas/plans for this year with you. (Basically, this is my excuse to dive into Christmas without actually diving in just yet.)

I’m working on a bit of a black and white theme in my living room, and I’m thinking that I’ll have my Christmas décor play off of that this year. I first got the idea looking through the Michaels Makers Christmas Tree reveals (or on Instragram…which was my favorite), and I’ve been stuck on the idea of black and white ever since. The first tree above is what set all of my ideas into motion. Isn’t it lovely??! Rather than sticking with an entire black and white theme though, I’m planning to incorporate big, multi-colored lights and some classic Christmas elements. Basically, I’m thinking black and white stripes and all of the buffalo plaid with bright, Christmas colors sprinkled in. I think it’ll be a blend of classic, retro, and candy colored Christmas. All of my favorites!Christmas decor inspiration at pamelapetrus.comFor the mantel, I plan to add some black and white (maybe these DIY trees) and I might leave my “hello” sign with lights done like this one. I think I’m going to do a fun color scheme like the photos above and sprinkle in my black and white favorites. I might also include some brown fur because I saw some fur stockings that made my heart go pitter-patter. In a nutshell, I’ll probably combine a variety of looks that *hopefully* all come together nicely.

How about you? Do you have a specific theme in mind this year or are you all about the hodge podge? Either way, I’m sure it’ll look lovely!

Photo sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6…and I want all of those modern trees in #6.  And while we’re at it, my decor last year.

Christmas 2014 Recap

Team Christmas Party

I simply can’t believe that the Christmas season has already come and gone. They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and that’s totally a reality here in my neck of the woods. The holiday season is always a blur for Matthew and I. I thought I’d take a moment to recap what our Christmas season was like this year.

Ernest's ( Black Velvet Dress Outfit )Ernest's Group Picture
We began the month with our annual trip to Ernest’s in Shreveport with Matthew’s grandmother and cousins. This is a tradition that she’s held for several years and everyone always looks forward to the event. We dress up, ride over, and eat lots (Seriously….lots.) of fantastic food. This year, I wore a black, velvet dress and a gold, vintage belt that I hadn’t had a chance to wear yet. Velvet is one of my favs, so I was pumped about the outfit. We were missing a few cousins this year, but we definitely had a blast catching up with the ones who were able to make it. (Holly, I’m still laughing at Tanner’s plunger stories…too funny!)

Next up on the Christmas agenda was Amanda‘s birthday. We went to Cotton for her birthday dinner and ate all of the duck wraps. Then, that weekend we had a small game night/marshmallow roasting party at our house for her. I was blown away that Amanda and I have been friends since 2006 and I had no idea that she has a SERIOUS love for toasted marshmallows. You learn something new every day!

Christmas Recap (3)
The weekend before Christmas turned out to be quite a busy one for the Petruses. (Side note: I just learned that this is the correct way to spell our last name in this context. Maybe December was the month for learning new things!) Friday night we attended the Keller Williams Parishwide Partners Christmas party at a new downtown venue that I hadn’t been to yet. I’m now considering it for possible location for my 30th birthday party…more on that later. Matthew and I enjoyed the party. It’s always great to get together with colleagues in a non-work environment. I also starting working on some of my 2015 work goals while at the party, which made me happy.

Saturday night, we had our real estate team Christmas party at the new Doe’s Steakhouse in downtown Monroe. I work closely with 9 or so agents at Keller Williams through the Shane Wooten team (plus several assistants), so this was our chance to celebrate a successful year together. I prepped centerpieces and little bags of peppermints for each guest. My mom is great with flower arrangements, but it’s never been a prominent skill of mine. I think these turned out pretty well for how quickly I threw them together though! It was a lot of fun getting together with everyone and recapping memories from the past year. Plus, the food was outstanding!

Sunday brought along two more Christmas events for Matthew and I. For lunch, we gathered at our house with Matthew’s mom, step-dad, little brothers, and grandparents. Matthew made a delicious roast and the most amazing mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. We enjoyed catching up with family that we don’t see often. Then, we took a quick (and much needed) nap, and headed over to my father-in-law’s for dinner. We had a great dinner there and then watched the kids open a few gifts. (Jordan and Roxie, you were missed!) I just realized that we didn’t get any pictures from dinner here, which is a bummer. By this time next year, this side of our family will have grown and that’s exciting! Our newest niece or nephew will be making his/her debut next month!

After a fun-filled and crazy weekend, Matthew and I spent Tuesday night opening a few gifts for each other and looking at Christmas lights. I’m excited to see what next year will be like without Matthew working retail AND being in nursing school. We both worked retail our first Christmas together, and it was exhausting. I’m excited to see what next year looks like for us, even though I’m quite nervous about our daily routine changing completely.

Christmas Eve we hosted my side of the family at our house. Hosting gatherings is one of my favorite things to do, so I was excited to have everyone at our new home for Christmas. I also baked my first turkey, and it turned out edible…I’ll take that as a win! Basically, the night was filled with lots of jokes and candy-eating. What more could you want??

Christmas Pup
After my family left, we headed out for Texas. We arrived a little after midnight and spent Christmas Day opening presents there and playing board games. We got to spend some time with Matthew’s step-sister, Jenna, that we don’t see often. We had a blast learning to play Killer Bunnies (Such an appropriate game for Christmas, right?!) and having an easy day with family.

All in all, this Christmas season was a success. Matthew and I were really busy towards the end of the season, but I think we still enjoyed the hustle and bustle and made some great holidays memories. (I also got lots of pictures of us in front of our Christmas tree, which makes me happy!) In case you missed it, you can see some of our Christmas decor here  and details about our Christmas card here.

I’m sort of sad to wrap up the 2014 holiday season, but I’m definitely excited about 2015. I have a gigantic list of goals and plans for the year, and I’m expecting big things to happen. I hope you’re wrapping up 2014 with lots of great memories and equally great plans for this next year. Here’s to 2015 being a fantastic one!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Card Front



Christmas Card Back



Matthew and I wish you the merriest of Christmases! We hope that this holiday season has been splendid and that you’re looking forward to a spectacular new year!

A word on this year’s Christmas card:
I mentioned that this card wasn’t “perfect” but that I was on a time crunch. I had big plans for this year, but time got away from me, so I had to settle for the quick and easy route….Walgreens.com. I ordered both versions of my Christmas cards (business and personal) from Walgreens this year, and was rather pleased. I chose this “year in review” card from their website for our personal card and plugged in some photos. Then, I created this graphic with an app on my phone and put in on the back of the card to update everyone on the biggest events of our year.

The photos are from (in order):
1. Matthew’s Birthday at Landry’s Vineyard
2. The Color Run in Ruston (my first 5k)
3. Our mountain hike in Gatlingburg
4. Halloween as Little Red Riding Hood and the woodsmen
5. Our last trip to Nashville
6. When we bought a house!
7. At Puckett’s Grocery in Nashville
8. At Ernest’s in Shreveport with family
9. Getting out the Christmas decor this year!

Again, I hope you’ve all thoroughly enjoyed this magical season. Best wishes from my family to yours!

Deck the Halls

Deck the HallsChristmas is in full swing at the Petrus household, and I only barely got the Christmas decor up before the madness of the season arrived. Christmas tends to be a little hectic for us with so many places to be and things to do, but I love every minute of it.

Themed TreeHodgepodge Christmas Tree Hodgepodge Christmas Tree Vintage Santa PRESENTS!For the past couple of years, I’ve put up two Christmas trees and since the new house has more space, it was even easier to do this year! The big tree is my “themed” tree. Everything matches, and it’s more decorative. (Shout out to my sister for making me that “P.”) The second tree is more of a hodgepodge of old, sentimental ornaments…most of which were made by my mother. I also put my retro Santa with this tree that I’ve had since I was a little girl and used my Grandmother’s quilt as the tree skirt.

Vase with Mini OrnamentsI snagged those Southern Living books at the Nashville Flea Market. Long live the 80s! The jar sitting on top was given to me by my mother-in-law and is filled with mini ornaments that were my grandmothers. I loved finding a way to incorporate those into the decor this year. That vase was something Matthew and I picked up on our trip to Memphis, and he surprised me with those flowers (and strawberry shortcake!) when I got home from a work trip recently. Using the vase here gives me a good excuse to keep fresh flowers through the season!

Deck the Halls (9) MantleIt took me what feels like forever to decide on mantle decor that I was somewhat happy with. I just couldn’t quite get it right. Those stars are from the same flea market as the books. Thanks to my sister (again) for the “Noel.” I really do hate that my sweet niece got the flu, but I certainly don’t mind all of the handmade decor I ended up with from my sister being trapped at home. Let’s call that a silver lining.

Our Christmas Cards Christmas Cards Galore I wish I would have had a little more time to decorate this year because I would have loved to go “all out” for our first Christmas here. No worries though…I’m still happy with the decor that I was able to do and it’s plenty to enjoy while I drink all of the hot chocolate. (Seriously, check out my Instagram feed. I’m literally drinking all of the hot chocolate.)

Chalkboard TreeI hope your Christmas season is off to a wonderful start! And remember, be sure that you don’t get too caught up in the hustle and bustle…it’s time to enjoy this magical season!

P. S. If you’re looking for fun Christmas things to do around the Monroe-West Monroe area, be sure to check out the Christmas on the River website.There’s still a ton of fun Christmas events on the agenda. Oh, and shop local when you can!