Holiday daze

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Yesterday was officially the last day of Christmas vacation (we extended it a bit because of Finley’s bday yesterday). I’m not sure I’m ready to take on a schedule again, have Kev back at work or get back into the grind of homeschooling. Once we start it will be fine- we will be back in the groove by Thursday. Although today was pretty good, maybe we will bounce back quicker than I think. Christmas already seems like a distant memory. Doesn’t it? We had a pretty low key Christmas break. It snuck up really quick and then slooowed down the few days we spent out in Massachusetts with family. The girls were at a super fun age this year for Christmas. Besides Rowan’s singed hair during Christmas Eve service there weren’t too many bumps along the way. One thing I really love about Rowan is that she is very grateful, she very genuinely says thank you for everything. She was very sweet opening all her gifts. Finley was also really into it as well. Tearing little tiny pieces of wrapping paper- it took her forever to open each gift. Every time she would get one unwrapped she would yell “OP, OP! (Open). She could have dragged on Christmas morning all day if we let her.

Being home with our parents was awesome. We are lucky to have both our parents live about 20 mins away from each other. We were able to get a few dates while we were visiting (free babysitting!!) which was a rare treat for us. Kev was also able to play hockey a few times with his friend Adam and I got to visit Amy at her beautiful shop in Worcester. We celebrated Kev’s Dads retirement, got to go swinging on the rope swing, ice skating with the girls, had a lovely NYE with friends and just enjoy time together as a family. I would do over these last 2 weeks in a heart beat.

Just stopping in to share a few random pictures from our Christmas today. Hope you all had a relaxing and wonderful time.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Card

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I take Christmas cards pretty seriously. I’m actually super nerdy about them. I think about them months in advance- always trying to come up with something extra special. This year got away from me though. I thought it was going to be a wash but then one day as I was looking on Minted, I realized I had forgotten about the idea of a New Year card! Boom! Minted has such a great selection of New Years cards to chose from. I am pretty obsessed with all the foil stamped ones they have. Did any of you get Christmas cards from friends with the foil? We did and they were instantly my favorites. Anyway, we decided to go with one of their Booklette cards. We have so many friends and family members scattered across the country and Canada, we figured it was a great way to catch everyone up to speed really quick on our year. The quality of the cards can’t be beat (love the gold staples they used in the binding)! I am pretty smitten with how they came out! Plus! Don’t get me started on how excited I am that all the envelopes came addressed already!

If you didn’t get around to getting out a Christmas card- try sending a New Year card instead!! Best part about it? I would say any time in January is still an appropriate time to send one out! No rush needed. If you are interested in winning a $300 gift certificate to use on New Year cards from Minted, head over to Instagram and tag your favorite photo you posted this past year with #newyearswithminted to be entered. One person will be randomly selected from entries.

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Here are a few more photos from our photoshoot for the card…

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*This post was sponsored by Minted.

Christmas Around Our House…

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As much as I would love to have decorations for each season or holiday, I usually don’t do much other than hang the few kids decorations we make during that season. Christmas on the other hand is the one holiday I do try to put out some extra little things here and there. This year a made a few popcorn and cranberry garlands which ended up looking super cute but oooh I hated making them. Why is it so hard to get the popcorn not to break when you stick the needle in it? Is it just me? I tried to keep things simple but festive. I loved using the Naptime Diaries Advent calendar prints around the house to decorate. I totally just used cute washi tape and taped the prints over existing pictures in frames. Well… Rowan and Kev have banned me from the upstairs to wrap presents, Finley is down for a nap, bags are packed for the weekend and the excitement is beginning to build. Yippie! It’s starting to feel super Christmasy around here.

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The Hustle and the Bustle

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Do you ever make so many plans for the Christmas season to make sure you “made the most of it”, that you end up feeling like to missed it all? Whew! I am burnt out man. We’ve had a super busy month. It was filled with wonderful parties, fun outings, activities, to do lists, stressfulness, big decision, etc… I am tired. I missed the quiet this season and the slowness of night. I regret not making more time for reading and reflection on what this season is for. I feel like I woke up yesterday morning and was in shock that it was already Christmas week. How do you balance between doing and stillness? When I look back on our last few weeks, we definitely tipped on the “doing” side of things. Which has been wonderful but a little much if I am honest with myself. I just struggle with wanting to do it all- there is just so much to enjoy in such a few amount of weeks. I haven’t made any plans for today or tomorrow and I’m really, really looking forward to getting out to my parents house on Christmas Eve for a few days together as a family. I can’t wait to have Kev home from work. I want movies, and pjs, and big breakfasts, reading time (I am dying to binge read The Greatest Gift) and tower building and lots of coloring. I want to be with just my family but I also want deep, true rest for my soul. Rest that only Christ can give. I kind of blew it this month by sweeping Him to the side. I let everything else get in the way (whether good or bad). I really hope to keep this learned perspective fresh for next year. I need to be a little better about balancing the Christmas season. Did this season sweep you by? How do you handle all the busyness that is inevitable?

Totally praying through this verse today…
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28)

Here are a few snapshots from one quietly enjoyed evening at home a few weeks ago.
I’ll take more nights like this please!

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A New TxSC Conference

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I’ve had the opportunity to speak at a handful of difference blog conferences over the years. One of my most favorite being the Texas Style Council. Indiana has always done such a great job setting up a wonderful weekend full of amazing speakers. Each one more fun than the last! Over the last year or so there’s been a big shift in blogging though. One that’s been growing slowly but really took shape more recently. It’s left lots of us feeling burnt out. Not really knowing where we fit into this whole blogging world. Some of the blogging greats have even stopped blogging this past year. I know for myself I feel it, blogging is differnt. I told myself I was done speaking at conferences that were just going to be talking about the same ol’ things. I really can’t stomach another panel on “growing your blog” or “how to monitize your blog”. They’re great questions and ones we’ve all asked at one point but they’ve been talked about hundreds of times. There are already great resources out there if you just google those questions. For me, my priorities have shifted and so has my blog. I want something more from a conference. I want to feel refreshed & recharged, not stressed and bogged down. I just really want to connect with women who will encourage and build each other up.

So when Indiana came to me a few months ago about a new idea for TxSC, I was all ears. I trust her 100% and I could tell she felt so passionate about her plans. I wanted to share a little bit about her vision…

“Blogging has changed A LOT since we started TxSC in 2010 and so many of us feel stuck in a weird place of being inspirational / adding value to the web vs. being real and authentic and not deemed a sell-out because we work with brands. I’ve felt stuck and stagnant for years and I’m just now coming out of that fog. I think some of you feel the same way, too.

I think the best way to get wind behind our sails and the best way to remember why we started blogging in the first place is because at our core, we’re story tellers. We have stories to share and we want to hear the stories of others.

So… that’s the theme this year. Story telling. How can we do that as best we can, via photos, social media, branding, writing. We’re really taking a step back and focusing on content. It’s an event for any woman who has a presence online, be it a blog or simply social media as part of their brand. We’re a little biased, but we really think TxSC15 (or whatever we rename it) is going to be awesome.”

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Oh man! Are you excited or what? Come and join us this upcoming March. I truly think it’s going to be one the best conferences around this year. How can it not though? We are staying and hanging out at a girl scout camp all weekend? It’s going to be hands on, laid back and the real deal. I am so pumped!! The line up is pretty killer as well! I am super excited to hear Erin from Design for Mankind!!

Head over to the website to read more and to register.
What story are you going to tell this year?

Here are a few favorite photos from previous Txsc Conferences (2013, 2012 and 2011)
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My Everyday Style | 12.19.14

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You’ll have to get use to seeing outfit pictures in front of my dining room wall for the next 3 months. So over the cold already! Are you ready for Christmas? Shopping done? I had my usually love affair with Amazon Prime the other day and then called it a day. Of course with the exception of a few local goodies from Fort Orange General and some beauties from Moorea Seal. How do you feel about colored tights? I used to LOOOVE them. Looking back through old outfit posts I wore A LOT of colored tights. I am kind of over them now. Feels a little too whimsical to me. However, I figured out I don’t mind wearing them when it makes my whole bottom half the same monochromatic tone. What do you think? Do you still wear colored tights? How do you like to wear them?

Hope everyone is having a great day.
IT’S FRIDAY!!!

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OUTFIT DETAILS:

Plaid button down: J.Crew (hello 40% off!!)
Corduroy skirt: LOFT (all LOU & GREY stuff is 50% off!!)
Tights: We Love Colors
Clogs: c/o Lotta from Stockholm
Crossbody purse: Thrifted (similar)
Necklace: c/o Tiny Tags

Crafts With Kids | Christmas Watercolor Cards

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This is the simplest trick in the book, but it makes the cutest Christmas cards your kiddo can send to their friends and family. I remember watercoloring with rubber cement all the time when I was little but I totally forgot about it till the other day. Anyway, you can create a ton of cards quite quickly. All with their own unique look. Perfect even for small kids- let them just have at it!! Whatever you painted underneath will show through no matter how crazy their paint job is. Older kids could of course paint with the rubber cement themselves. I painted the scenes first for Rowan because it’s little tricky to see what you’re painting.

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Materials:

watercolors (exact ones here)
paint brushes
rubber cement
glitter (optional)
Watercolor paper (we used this brand)

Directions:

1. Think of simple, christmasy designs to paint on the paper. You really are painting with invisible ink (so to speak) so the more detailed you get, the harder it will be to remember where or what you painted last. Apply a thick coat to the front side of the watercolor paper. Watercolors absorb differently to the front and back of the paper. The front is where it’s at. The overall outcome will not work as well if you use the wrong side of the paper (in our experience).

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2. Let the rubber cement dry.

3. I explained and tried to show Rowan the pictures that I painted. Then I just let her go to town with her own ideas of how to paint the cards. You can also let your kid sprinkle glitter on the cards while the paint is wet. Glitter and I have a love hate relationship. It comes out only on special occasions. hahahaha.

4. Done! Let your kids write special notes on the inside and deliver before Christmas.

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Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev
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