holidays

The Simple List: Holiday Hygge Edition + Mini-Gift Guide

Hello dear ones! I feel like I blinked the week before Thanksgiving, and now we're galloping towards Christmas. What happened?

Well one thing that happened was I won NaNoWriMo! It was my first time making it to the finish line, and I feel so good about completing a (very) rough draft of a fictional work for the first time. The plot holes are a mile wide, but that's what revision is for, right!?

Christmas at the Biltmore

I just rounded up some hygge holiday links and a mini-gift guide for my newsletter subscribers (are you on the list?), but since I haven’t had a chance to post here in a while, I thought I would share it in this space as well. First up is a short list of 5 cozy holiday favorites, including cookie baking tips, gorgeous Christmas lights, cozy bookish art freebies and a very hygge Pinterest board. Scroll a bit further down & I’ve also shared an assortment of highly giftable goodies for all of the people on your list. Enjoy!

1. The Biltmore at Christmas looks magical.

2. My recent writings on Houzz: 15 essentials for bakers24 simple pleasures + treats for your holiday countdown10 times to hire an architect.

3. The secrets to easier cookie baking. (Smitten Kitchen)

4. Freebie alert! Super cozy bookish art + bookmark printable. (The House That Lars Built)

5. Latest Pinterest board: Winter Hygge, oh yessss....

Pinecone Necklace

Mini-Gift Guide 2018

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed sharing it! 
xo Laura

Slow the Season: A Month-long Free Course this December

Slow the Season is a FREE month-long course running during December. The course will include lessons delivered directly to your inbox three times each week, with inspiring podcasts, meditations, a mindful gifting planner, juicy journaling prompts, and more goodies (coloring pages, anyone?).

Finding Calm in the Holiday Season

Around my house there is gingerbread to be baked, beeswax candles and big batches of granola to be made, and gifts to be wrapped - but just for a moment, I want to step away from all of that. In the rush to "get through" the holidays, it's so easy to stop noticing the beauty and magic, don't you agree? Everyone in my house is either coming down with a cold, or getting over one, and so my thoughts are turning to ways to slow down and take care of ourselves right in the middle of this very busy season. We don't have to do it all, or even do much! I've been repeating "simple is best" like a mantra lately, and it seems to be working :-)

I want to have a party (I love parties!) but with "simple is best" firmly in mind, I am asking friends (who are more than happy to help) to bring a few dishes to round out a simple meal, and instead of rushing to bake cookies in advance, I plan to turn it into a party activity and enlist the little ones to help: win, win! 

In the evenings (or even on dark mornings) I find candlelight to be extremely soothing, even healing, especially in midwinter. Turning the lights down low, and lighting candles (and twinkle lights) all around the house is a wonderful way to slow down and simply enjoy the moment ... and during a holiday gathering, glowing light can do wonders for a less-than-pristine house! Getting outdoors in the fresh air is also so important - even when I have a cold, I like to get outside for a bit each day, because I find the crisp air refreshing. And perhaps most importantly, I keep trying to remind myself that the season does not end at Christmas - we have abundant time to bake, craft, and gather with friends. There's no need to push to fit one more thing into an already-full schedule.

Let it go.

Keep it simple.

Relax. 

Illustrated Gift Guide 2015

It's that time of December - the time when the highly organized among us have finished wrapping and mailing gifts, and the rest of us (myself included) are frantically shopping and making up a storm. I used to berate myself for not getting all of the shopping done earlier, but I've come to realize that I sort of enjoy the frenzy of picking out gifts close to the holidays. Mind you, I avoid big box stores and malls entirely after Thanksgiving (too stressful!), but I love checking out the holiday displays at local shops and online, and crafting things in my own home.

As I make my own Christmas gift list, I like to sketch the present ideas right in my journal. So, for something a little different this year, I decided to share a different sort of gift guide with you ... an illustrated gift guide! I am not a professional artist, but I hope you will enjoy it as a heartfelt addition to your seasonal gifting.

Most items in the Guide can be made in many different ways, or purchased from many different sources ... that was my idea, anyway, so you don't feel you have to track down exact items that may sell out, or are in the wrong price range. As far as DIY gifts go, with experience I have learned that simple is often best, and anything you can make in a big batch (I'm looking at you, granola!) is even better. I thought it would be helpful to include some further details, so here you go!

GIFTS TO DIY:

  • Gingerbread mittens, hand-dipped candles, felt ornaments, and forcing bulbs all come from the Winter issue of Sweet Paul Magazine
  • Instructions for teacup (or any vessel you like) candles can be found in Issue 8 of Taproot Magazine - but if you don't have the issue, there are also instruction on Amanda's blog Soule Mama
  • Recipes for homemade cocktail bitters - the Kitchn
  • Potato printing on fabric instructions on Childerhouse blog

GIFTS TO BUY:

  • Recently App (gift subscriptions should be available soon) that turns your phone's camera roll into a monthly print magazine - genius!
  • Heirloom cherry salad bowl from the Taproot Holiday Pop-up 
  • Anything by potter Frances Palmer is to-die-for gorgeous and perfect for a really splurgy gift for someone special

Well, I think that about covers it! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the Comments.

Happy gifting!

xo Laura

A Mindful Thanksgiving Podcast

Hello friends! I am hosting Thanksgiving at my own home for the first time this year, so I wanted to take a few extra steps to ensure we have a calm and stress-free experience ... and so far, so good! And because I thought that some of you could perhaps use a bit of calming as well, I recorded a short (under 5 minutes) podcast to share some of my favorite tips. Have a listen below as you cook, and have a relaxed Thanksgiving!