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New you? Has everyone made their resolutions for 2012? I’m afraid I’m not much of a resolution gal, but I am planning to make a few “to-do” lists. Books to read, crafts to make, clutter to organize, recipes to try. Of course I’m sure I’ll edit those lists numerous times between now and December 31st 2012, but at least they’re a jumping off point. To start? Plowing through the thousand some pages of 11/22/63 by Stephen King.

Also? Spend good time with these two crazies.

May all your battles through 2012 by as fun (and funny) as this.

Alright kids, it’s that time again! Time for the Holiday Homes Tour. Thanks again, Jen, for hosting. Also, thanks for giving me no excuse not to post at least something in the last quarter of 2011. Yeesh. What happened there? (A whole lotta life is the answer. Hopefully more later. Hopefully.)

This is the fourth year I’ve participated in the tour. You can find the other posts here (that’s the old house), here, and here. Typically, I’m a traditionalist (and a cheapskate); I don’t change up my holiday decor. But this year something was eating my brain. Or maybe my subconscious was looking to clear the cobwebs after the Grinch I was last year. I tried, but I just could not get into the holiday last year. Not so this year! In fact, I’ve tried to do so much that I’m afraid a whole bunch of stuff is getting done late.

To start…we have two beautiful blue spruce gracing our home with their wonderful scent and beautiful branches. We trek out into the wilds of the Black Hills every year to cut our own trees. This year we brought home two especially full trees. So full, that I ended up needing to buy more lights. I swear I buy lights every darn year. My husband says one day I’m going to stumble across a whole box of them somewhere ridiculous like in with 4th of July stuff. Any who. A few years ago, they logged the area where we find our trees for the Ponderosa Pine. This left the spruce to grow straight, tall, and full. And it’s shown the last few Christmases.

The tree in our foyer is about 12 feet tall and is decorated the same as always, featuring my Marshall Field’s Santa Bear collection. It looks pretty much the same as it did here.

However, the tree in our living room received a make-over this year.

For the two previous years we’ve been in the house, this tree has been decked out in red and green. This year I wanted something new and fresh, so I picked up a pack of blue and silver shatterproof bulbs from Tar-zhay with an awesome coupon they were offering. (50 ornaments for less than $10? Yes please!) Good thing I chose the shatterproof ones. Because shortly after we finished decorating this beauty, this happened:

Oops. A larger tree stand and a few well placed cords/boxes so our robot vacuum wouldn’t yank on it and she’s tall and steady once again. She’s also giving me all the opportunites to play with fun holiday bokeh.

Moving on…

There are two other new additions to our main first floor living space:

The first is the new card wreath I made. It’s simply one of those foam wreath forms that I covered in some pretty holiday ribbon. As the cards roll in I just use my stash of straight pins to tack them to the wreath. The second are the little bells you see hanging there in the windows with the snowflakes. Those are pretty ceramic bells my mom made way way way back in the day. (I can say that because it was that long ago. I was about the Boy’s age I think.)

They have long been one of my mom’s favorite holiday decorations. So this year I asked if I could borrow them. (We’ll see if she gets them back. Ever.) There are 6 bells, each one featuring two of the twelve days from the classic Christmas carol. I hung them from our windows where they can catch a bit of sun and twist and turn.

Here’s the last bit of switcheroo I pulled this year. For the previous two years I decked out the railings in our foyer with fake greenery and numerous red/green/silver ornaments. This year I simplified a bit, skipping the greenery to start. Then I hung these fun ornaments from the ceiling over the railing running along the hall at the top. Normally they hang in a nice straight line. But I let the kids play a bit here so they’re swinging. The kids especially love the glittery blue reindeer on each end. My favorite is that big ball in the middle:

Oh! And look! There’s a wreath back there (all blurry)!  My mom gave that to us this year. It’s beautiful and hangs outside in the middle of our second story picture window in they foyer. But that’s really the only photo I took of it. Oops.

Just a few final things…When we moved into this house, I wanted to create our own spin on a tradition from both our childhoods. Growing up, every year (as in many families) Josh and I received a new ornament. I started the same when the Boy was born. But once the Girl joined us and we were in our new house, I wanted something that tied them all together. And so I chose monogram ornaments. The first year was a simple silver letter I picked up at Hobby Lobby for each of us.

Last year I stitched up some cute felt ornaments with our initials.  (Inspiration from Dana.)

This year, I’m following the glitter theme:

They’re simple cardboard letters I’m covering in glitter glue. Mostly green, with 2011 in blue on the back. When I finish them…

And you may have noticed our advent calendar way way way back up there in the card-wreath photo. Yes, we’re still doing our activity based advent. The kids love it…to the point of arguing over whose turn it is to open the door each day. We’re repeating many of the activities from past years, and throwing a few new ones in to. And since no post is complete without a bit of cuteness, here’s the kids and I enjoying a new Christmas story (Curious George’s Christmas).

Thanks so much for stopping by! May your holidays be warm and filled with the joy of friends and family.

One of my favorite blogs posted a video the other day that has had me thinking. Here’s the video:

First of all, the setting in Chicago alone makes me melancholy. I could never live full time in Chicago.  But I still think of it as “home”. I’m not one of those who has one single place that is THE home. Here is home. Chicago is home. The town I grew up in is home. The town I went to school in is home. Each in a different way. And I think this video maybe led me to the reason – they each hold dear memories for me.

So what is your most wonderful memory? I’m afraid I just couldn’t come up with one single memory. So please, bear with me…

Riding big wheels, catching fireflies and playing hide and go seek with all the neighborhood kids. (This happens to be one of my birthdays. But all my favorite people are there.)

My  Aunt Rose & Uncle Chub’s house in Rolling Meadows (and the ever present Jelly Bellys). This is my brother and I skating on the pond just across the street from their house. I apparently have not scanned a better photo yet.

The box of leaves Aunt Rose and Uncle Chub sent us when we couldn’t make it to their house one fall. (This photo was taken at their house. I think. Based on the background.)

Christmas at Grandma’s every year. And especially the year Karen and I were snowed in there. (I’m front right in this photo. In case you couldn’t tell. My brother is the cool kid rockin’ the blue denim suit.)

Swimming at Uncle Martin & Aunt Marge’s. Who can see the green roof first?!

Running through the pigeons in Chicago. (Um, yeah. Obvs not Chicago; St. Mark’s in Venice. But I don’t have a photo of me and the pigeons in Chicago. When we went to Italy I HAD to do this.)

Nights babysitting in Sheridan

…although yeah, probably not for the babysitting part. (Ah, the joys and heartbreaks of first love.)

Is that a Crown on Your Head (Or have you been eating imperial margarine again), Improv, 47th Street. (These were summer acting groups I was a part of. So glad I could reconnect with these friends via FB! Hi, Amy! Hi, Eric! Hi, Jason!)

Snowball (See comment above about reconnecting via FB.)

Copper Country Cruisin’ and waterfalls in da UP, eh.

Summer nights at the ball photos. (What? This was before the digital age!)

My wedding day. Times 100.

Strolling the streets of Rome, Venice, and Tuscany with my husband.

The Boy’s arrival. x1000. (Can you say perma-grin?)

The Girl’s arrival. Also x1000.

Putting my kids to bed – when they most want to snuggle. No photos….yet.

Taking the kids to Chicago. (Really want to go back for the holidays. Christmas in Chicago is my favoritist.)

Our trip to California.

Our trip to Glacier.

And so many more…It seems my favorite memories are those that bring me closer to my friends and family.

While that video has me looking back mostly, it also has me looking forward, to the memories I know are to come. Growing old with my hubby. Watching our kids grow. The trips we’ll take. The adventures, big and small. The everyday traditions that I know I’ll look back on and smile about.

So how about you? What’s your favorite memory?