The Count Down Begins!

The Count Down Begins!

Happy Friday, friends! What a glorious day! Is it just me, are are you really starting to feel the Christmas spirit? Maybe all this cold weather is what's doing it, but I'm feeling all sorts of merry and cheery and bright. Which is helpful, because I've definitely fought some moments of stress and anxiety about the holidays. Taking some time away really helped. But I'm reeeeeeeally excited to share some fun content with you over the next twelve days, aka my 12 Days of Christmas posts. I've got some fun recipes, family activities and gift guides - along with a few of my personal favorite traditions and remembrances :)

Join me tomorrow, when I will be kicking off the 12 day count down to Christmas!

Noel: This is Christmas

Oh What Fun.

Welp, it's upon us. Christmas Adam has faded into the yesterday and today - Christmas Eve! I can't believe how FAST this holiday season has whipped by. I'm thankful to be in Georgia with my family for this sweet holiday celebration. Coming home for Christmas means all things gooey and righteous - Mom making me berry tea, Dad sharing his latest Lord of the Rings revelations, my sister showing me up with her ridiculously stylish self. My parents' household is pure fun; big laughter and excessive movie quoting and silly teasing. Debates about who would make a better man - Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley? I vote Knightley. Oh, and lots of eating. And lots of present hiding and hushed conversations about what Mom's getting from Dad and Christmassy secrets behind each closet door. It's just who we are. I'm reminded of that when I'm home. Especially while staring at their pretty evergreen and silver tree. Christmas means my family. It just does.

// The whole Spencer tribe. //

// Sheesh, perfect little fam. Can't handle the cute. //

// Our family's favorite little Christmas package. //

// The light seriously just did that. //

// These girls. Mmm the love is fierce. //

// Could we look more different. //

// Best grandparents in the world. //

Very Merry.

I hope you are able to experience Christmas with your favorite people this season. There has been a lot of transition since last Christmas (in my life, and I'm sure in yours, too!), and this holiday season may find you thinking about old times, both good and bad. I encourage you to embrace this year for what it is, perhaps unperfect, perhaps hopes were dashed, and perhaps things will never be the same. But it is the hope of things unseen - the belief in something greater - that can lift our human-ish minds out of the concrete parking spot our thoughts have been idling in. Christmas is the time to hope against hopes, dreams big again, and embrace that funny little kid inside your heart. We don't have to be mature on Christmas. We can rip open the gifts we've been given, we are allowed to marvel at them and laugh and cry a little. It's okay. It's OKAY! Christmas is a striking and gorgeous mess.

I wish you the happiest Christmas eve, filled with movie marathons, baking madness, present-wrapping and an excessive amount of hot beverages :-) You go get that Christmas spirit. It's all yours.

Noel: For the Laughing Littles

Christmas Gift Guide: For the Laughing Littles

Christmas Gift Guide: For the Laughing Littles by knhale on Polyvore // 1. Anthropologie The Secret Garden // 2. Anthropologie Paris Puzzle // 3. Anthropologie USA Wooden Blocks // 4. Land of Nod Animal Stack Growth Chart // 5. Anthropologie Louis the Lion // 6. The Highline Park in the Sky Onesie // 7. Minnetonka Moccasin Fringe Bootie // 8. Land of Nod Monaco Mach 2 Racer // 9. Abe's Market Zoe B Organic Sleepy Hat // 10. Anthropologie Maps Book // 11. Amazon "This is New York" Book  // 12. Anthropologie The Complete Peter Rabbit Collection // 13. Anthropologie All Aboard Train Puzzle //

For the Laughing Littles.

I am ridiculously blessed with nieces and nephews aplenty. They're so much fun to shop for at Christmas time! I love seeing their reactions as they awkwardly tear open the wrapping paper and discover the colorful new addition to their toy family. Their faces cannot tell a lie - they either love a gift or are immediately bored with it. Makes my heart laugh. I do my best to gift books and puzzles, because for some reason I want to be that aunt. This year I came across so many sweet gifts that I couldn't not share some of them. I hope this helps as you hunt for some last-minute kiddo presents. Kids have the magical power of containing MUCH of the Christmas spirit without even realizing it - we should all honor that joy on Christmas morning!

For the Littles (and their sparkling Christmas morning faces),

Ladies in the Snow

Ladies Weekend.

You can't deny the power of a girls weekend. It's the circled dates on the calendar that you look forward to for months. It's the light at the end of a frazzled holiday season. It's the relief, due in part to that glass of wine, but mostly due to just having those heartfelt girls near to you. You can see the warmth in their eyes, hear the music in their laughter, feel their sweet empathy and let go of all worries. You don't have to talk about work. Who wants to talk about that? You can just laugh. Let loose. Be free. For those 48 hours, it's all about fun... probably with a few tears thrown in there for good measure. I mean, we are women, right??

I had some of my best girl friends in town this past weekend, and... well, they just wowed my socks off. Mostly with their wit. But also with their humility, perspective, grace and vulnerability. These girls. They are the lifeline, the lively, the lifers. Isn't it wonderful to know who will be by your side forever? These treasured women flew in from all corners of the earth - Mobile, Al., West Palm, Fl. and NICARAGUA - all to stay in my tiny abode here in New York. What blessed souls. I'm sure they returned home with a new-found appreciation for space. Though I already miss them, I am most thankful for our times together. It's the best Christmas gift. I hope everyone has friends like these.

We traipsed all over this town, even in the midst of the heavy snow that fell upon us all day on Saturday. Hence the wet socks and the necessary trip into Urban Outfitters to buy more. All photos are taken by these sweet ladies: Natalie at Fresh Life Findings, Alex at The Wonder List and Erica at This Side Photo.

// It was Santacon in West Village // The big tree in Midtown //

// Cafe Lalo (remember this from You Got Mail?) //

// Cafe Lalo treats //

// Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (really tricky to capture) // Radio City Music Hall //

// On the stoop of Kathleen Kelly's apartment (We might have a slight You Got Mail obsession, yes.) //

// Art on my windowsill. //

These girls just made this cold weather a little bit sunnier. I hope you're having a wonderful week, counting down to Christmas!

Noel: Gift Guide For the Dapper Lad

Christmas Gift Guide: For the Dapper Light

Christmas Gift Guide: For the Dapper Light by knhale // 1. Allen Edmonds Shaker Heights Plain-toe Butcher Lace-up Men's Dress Boot // 2. Leatherman Juice C2 Tool // 3. Terrain Buffalo Plaid Trapper Hat // 4. Sundance Sojourner Socks // 5. Sundance Magnetic BBQ Tool Light // 6. Banana Republic Slim-Fit Checkered Luxe-brushed Twill Shirt // 7. Stanley Flask // 8. Terrain Boulder Mug // 9. Steinbeck Centennial Boxed Set  // 10. Williams Sonoma Agate Rimmed Coasters // 11. Terrain Popcorn Popper //

For the Dapper Lad.

He's your guy. And you want to get him something spectacular, but... he's a guy. Which means you can hardly read his mind and you're sure that he cannot read yours. So how to surprise him with something truly wonderful?

In my experience, gift shopping for men at Christmastime is the greatest challenge. Inheriting about a zillion brothers made me acutely aware of how little I actually know about the hobbies of the opposite sex. Over the years, I've learned a bit of bro talk (okay, not really), and had a bit more insight into the dude world. It's extremely different from the fluffy feminine gifts I like to buy. However, I've come to love gift shopping for my dad(s), brothers, and of course my husband. The above items could outfit and impress a range of different kinds of men, and I know that they would be a smashing success. How? Trial and error, my friends. Trial and error. So go ahead, reap from the benefits of some tried-and-true surefire GRAND Christmas gifts that your strong, funny, manly man will absolutely love.

Happy Gifting!