my favorite (christmas) things.

I set out to make a list of some of my favorite things, to participate in the blog party at 320 * Sycamore, then realized that a large number of these things are Christmas-related.

Which actually shouldn't surprise me at all.

Here's the list, in no particular order:

  1. Andrew Peterson's Behold The Lamb of God

  2. Hands down, my favorite Christmas CD (and I like a lot of Christmas CDs). Last year, I saw the show live in Richmond - amazing.

  3. The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

  4. This is a beautiful story for kids, and a great lesson for the rest of us.

  5. Peppermint White Mochas at Starbucks

  6. The guy at my local Starbucks just told me that they can actually make this all year round, but I think I'll be saving it for November & December as a holiday treat.

  7. Fruit Chocolates from Harry & David

  8. I blame Heather for getting me hooked on this stuff. It's fruit, right, so it's still healthy?

  9. The Jesus Storybook Bible

  10. Besides being beautifully written and illustrated, this does a better job than anything I've ever seen at teaching kids that every story in the Bible really just points to one great Hero.

veterans day.

To all of our troops,

to those who have served and to those who are serving,

and to their families here at home...

Thank you.

you alone can rescue.

One of my favorite songs from last night's Casting Crowns/Matt Redman concert:

the lettered cottage.

I've mentioned before that I read a lot of blogs. One of my favorites is The Lettered Cottage.

Layla and Kevin are totally redoing their cottage, top to bottom, and I love so many of the things they've done. Their kitchen is gorgeous, and their reading room makes me actually wish for a small room so I can do the same thing. And when I read about her idea for a transom window, I quite literally got up and walked into my hallway (i.e. the hallway of many doors) to see it would make sense in my house (I don't think it will).

But my absolute favorite thing about them is that they hadn't even used power tools until a couple of years ago. I love stories like that, because it gives me courage to try bold things with my house. (And not just mine - wait until you see how Heather and I are busting out the girl power in her dining room next weekend).

Anyway, so here's what I'm really excited about...

A few weeks ago, Heather (a producer for the 700 Club) and I were talking about a segment she wanted to do. She wanted to have a home renovation bloggers come in and completely redo a room, on a budget. I suggested the Lettered Cottage. She checked them out and was hooked (just like me). So she booked them, and they're coming in December!

I'm so excited - I can't wait!

buying gifts.

Today one of my friend's Facebook status read, "Is it time to start Christmas shopping?" Which made me smile because I'm about 25% done with Christmas gifts already.

I love buying gifts, and thinking about gifts, and making gifts, and taking time to find the perfect gift. I know that for some people it can be stressful, but I enjoy the whole process (most of the time, anyway - everyone has someone on their list that's difficult!).

So, here are the things I do to keep it fun:

  1. Pay attention.

  2. Most people drop hints all the time about great gift ideas, without even realizing they're doing it. Listen to what people like to do, and pay attention to what they need.

    One day, while walking in a store with my sister, she pointed out a sign with a quote that she loved, but she didn't like the style of the sign. That year for her birthday, I ordered a custom art piece from Sara's Art - now she has the quote she wanted, but in a style that she likes.

  3. Write it down.

  4. The problem is with #1 is, you've got to capture inspiration when you get it. I have a note in my Blackberry for each person in my family, and when I get an idea for them, I add it to the list. When their birthday or Christmas rolls around, that's the first place I go when I need to buy a gift.

    If you buy gifts ahead of time, you'll also need to make a note when you purchase something, so you don't buy a second gift later.

  5. Talk about it.

  6. I'm lucky in that my sister Katie also likes to buy gifts early, especially for Christmas, and our mom and other sister Kelli have learned to tolerate it. Katie and I talk all the time about gift ideas. Sometimes I'll have more ideas for a person than I need, so I'll share them with her, or vice versa. Just talking about ideas can spark new ones. And sometimes you discover great ideas that are out of your budget, but make great team gifts.

  7. Relax.

  8. Gift-giving, and the occasions surrounding them, should be fun and not stressful. Pick something you think the recipient will like, then let it go.

    For example, I decided a long time ago that if I needed to find the one perfect gift for my nephew, the one that would be his favorite gift on Christmas morning from among all the others, I was just setting myself up for disappointment. Instead, I pick something that may not be the most flashy gift, but I know its one he'll enjoy later.