Christmas Decor at the Todd Nest : Staircase Edition

I really love our house. 

Maybe that's a little vain sounding, but I feel like it should be a good thing too, right? We should be happy and content with what we have -- and we really could not be happier. This house is perfect for us. 

Decorating for Christmas has only made me more excited about this house, the house in which God has graciously made our home. We'll start out posting about our decor with the entrance to our home, which we have yet to reveal on our blog. Our house is a split level, so as soon as you walk in, you have the choice of either going up or going down. This was one of the "negative" features of the house, according to our real estate agent but we haven't found any fault in it. 

JD and I finished putting up the barnwood wall Tuesday night. This project has been on our list for a while. I hate bare walls, especially this one above the lower staircase. I realize there is a potential beauty in bare walls - and some people can really make them work - but that just won't do in the Todd Nest. Our plan is to put up a few large photos and interchange handwritten signs that correlate to the seasons. My vision for it is totally there, now it's just a matter of making it happen.


Color inspiration for this season: golds and browns


As soon as you walk in, you're greeted by this lovely arrangement. Basically, I went to Hobby Lobby's floral section, started piecing things together that appealed to my eye and topped it off with a neutral peacock feather. That's the main statement piece when you walk into the tiny foyer. 


We draped the handrail with garland and put a burlap bow at each break. Three ornaments are draped from each bow. One of the ornaments is a rustic jingle bell. You may recognize the larger white "ornament"from our Thanksgiving table centerpiece jar. It's actually a larger decor ball I found sitting beside the smaller box of decor balls in the home decor section at HL. I made it into an ornament by twisting in a metal hook (I had to hot glue the hook into the other two balls because they are a little different from this one) and then hanging it from string. Super easy homemade ornament. ;)


How amazing is this glass block wall? It's one of those statement pieces in the house that you decide to either hate or embrace. Surprisingly, I have very-much-so embraced it. As Mama E says, "This house will have no style (categorically) because it will be made up of sooo many different styles, which will then be created into a style of its own." With the barnwood wall perpendicular to this glass wall, we're combining modern and cottage chic. Hopefully my vision will turn out as great as I'm thinking.... 

Anyway, we draped garland from this wall as well and hung a burlap bow with three smaller ornaments hanging from the bows. 


What is your color / material(s) inspiration for this season?

PS: We'll try to post about the barnwood wall steps after Christmas. :) 

DIY : Exhilarating Bath Salt Soak


Need a quick last-minute gift idea? 

This bath salt recipe is easier than spreading peanut butter on crackers. 

Grab a carton of Epsom Salt, some food coloring and your favorite essential oils (use the ones from your sugar scrub or try a new scent).


I'll be using my go-to essential oils: Lavender and Eucalyptus.


These gel food colors from Wilton have lovely colors. I used the green (left box), and teal and purple (right box). You can use whichever colors you'd like though! Get creative. :)


Step 1: Measure out how much Epsom salt you will need in correlation to the jar you will be putting the bath salts into. I used these half pint jelly jars, so I filled one up to the lid and poured it into a big bowl. (I used three jars for the green food coloring, so I did this three times.)


Step 2: Add the food coloring. I started out with a few drops but thought it was too light green.... so then I added a few many more drops.


Step 3: Add a few drops of the essential oil...


Step 4: Mix the salts, food coloring and essential oil together.

Step 5: I decided the eucalyptus smelled too "VapoRubbish" for my liking, so I added some lavender to even out the aroma. 


Step 6: Smellin' awesome and lookin' good... but still too light green. So then I added some teal food coloring to the lime green salts to add depth. 


Step 7: Wipe out your bowl and repeat the steps with the lavender and purple food coloring. 



Step 8: Perfection. :) Put a lid on it and tie a pretty bow around the lid. 
Sprinkle a tablespoon of bath salts in a warm bath. Inhale. Exhale. Soak. :)

Turquoise and Bison Hide : Moleskine Leather Journal Cover


Over the last few years, I have wanted so badly to make my own leather journal.

Fortunately, my brother's brother-in-law taught him how to make one. Ergo, for our Christmas present, Chase (my brother) helped us make my first leather journal.

We're all spending Christmas at my parents' this year. Chase and Jackie flew in from Las Vegas Wednesday and we drove in from Huntsville that night.

Mom, Jackie and I had glitter and cardstock scattered everywhere with our projects while Chase and JD took up the other side of the basement with bison hide and leather-working tools.

Very few moments are as special as seeing family gathered together, especially when it's your husband and brother (dad joined in later after he came home early from work to be with us).


In all fairness to JD, he made 98% of my journal while I was working on other Christmas presents and drinking coffee. 

Have I mentioned that my husband is rockin'??

Look at this beautiful bison hide journal they put together for me:

front on the right, back on the left


It took us a while to figure out what kind of clasp we wanted to do in the front. My only non-negotiable was the turquoise closure. Brown and turquoise are the Jitney signature colors.


Instead of making an actual journal with the super rugged and gorgeous paper, we ended up making a leather journal cover so that I can interchange all of my Moleskine journals. 



I stitched the flap for decorative purposes and styled the closure. Besides that, my sweet husband worked for several hours on making it perfect. 

There was so much selflessness poured into this creation (JD was pages-deep into a new zombie novel when I asked him to help me).

I am deeply thankful for priceless moments spent with my amazingly creative family. I could not ask for more this Christmas. 

What do you think of the journal cover?

Germany : Heidelberg Christmas Markets

It's cold in Germany.

Many of you may not think it's cold, but for a couple of newlywed kiddos from the Deep South like us... it was cold. 

But Germany has Christmas Markets.

So the cold was easy to overlook.

Each town hosts at least one Christmas Market in Germany. "Amazing" cannot even describe it. Most people are cheerful, friendly and inviting. "Merry Christmas" banners hang on sides of the buildings, and guess what? People don't protest them or rip them down. In America, people try to protest nativity scenes and anything that says the word Christmas; but not in Germany. They believe in Christmas and they celebrate it like no country we've ever seen.

This particular Christmas Market was in Heidelberg, Germany. Five different markets lined the main street of the town: Kornmarkt, Markplatz, Universitatplatz, Anatomiegarten, and the Bismarckplatz. 

See the line of lights in the photo below? Those are the walkways between the Christmas markets....

Before we shopped, we had to make one crucial stop. 

Food.

Check out the Fuerwurst that I grabbed at the Christmas Market booth above.

Delish.

JD got the steak with onions.

Are you a Nutella fan?

If so, go to Germany. Everything is Nutella there, including the special crepes.

Ok - so we realize that kissing pictures are cheesy and a lot of people don't think they're very cool... but how can you resist when there is a store right in front of you called Coffee & Kiss? 

I mean, you really have no other choice, right?!

Below you will see a gigantic Christmas Pyramid - life size, at that. 

I could've stood and stared at this thing until it got dark. 

And maybe we did...

(Haha - kidding, we walked back to it after we finished touring the markets and it just so happened to be all lit up.)

How beautiful is that!?

When we realized how big of a deal Christmas Pyramids were in Germany, we just had to get one for our own Todd Nest. Each tier displays a piece of the Christmas story - except Baby Jesus isn't on there. We like to think that the candles display who He is - the Light.

Have you ever seen one of these in person? It's super cool. The heat from the candles rise and spin the propellers at the top, which in turn spins each tier. It's one of our favorite Christmas decorations.

What is your favorite Christmas decoration?

Life Skills : The Lovely Ladies Luncheon


Get it?

Like - You can't touch this (oh-oh oh oh oh-oh)
Break it down (more oh's)
STOP - manner time.

Ok. Well, I thought it was witty.

Anyway, most of you know that I taught life skills to a group of twelve amazing young ladies this semester. Since I have been out 7 of the 14 classes because of travel, I wanted to do something super special for them while still teaching them a super crucial life skill. 

So we had a luncheon.

THE Lovely Ladies Luncheon, that is.


This is the formal invite I sent out, with a glimpse of the image on the envelope to the right.


Rhinestones, glitter, textured cardstock - you know, the works. 

The assistant teacher for the class (who is amazingly awesome) hosted the luncheon at her abode.


Each girl brought food (potluck style is probably not the fanciest, but we worked with what we had).


And I pulled out every nice dish JD and I had at our house (not to mention $1 chargers I found at Michael's that morning - oh yeah!!). 


Annnd... I may have pulled most of my Christmas decorations down to create cute centerpieces for each table. 

Did you notice that we put the bread rolls in Santa's sleigh?... That was a collaboration effort between a couple of my students. ;)


The girls learned how to create a centerpiece using vases, old bottles and antiques I've collected over the years for next-to-nothing at antique / thrift stores. 

Side note: One of the girls put up a pic on Instagram the next day of vintage vases they found at an antique store. I was beyond-words proud. :)



We put all of the plates and silverware in the kitchen and left the chargers empty so that the girls could set their own place settings. (Hands-on experience is the best tool, right?)

Each girl set her place place setting:
Dinner plate on bottom, salad plate on top.
Forks on your left.
Remember: F-O-R-K has four letters and L-E-F-T has four letters.
Spoons and knives on your right.
Remember: S-P-O-O-N and K-N-I-F-E have five letters and R-I-G-H-T has five letters.
Size of the silverware goes from smallest on the outside to the largest on the inside. 
Follow the sizes with each course (i.e. furthest fork from you is for your salad, largest fork beside your plate is your dinner fork).
Tea glasses always go to the top right of the plate.
Napkin goes in the lap. 


After we went over a list of table etiquette pointers, we passed a box of cards around the table called Table Topics. My favorite question was, "At what age is someone old and how does a person stay young?"

There were a variety of answers from 17-years-old is "old" to 40-years-old to 80-years-old. My favorite answer is, 
"You're only old when you begin thinking that you're old." 

That's wisdom -- from a teenager. 
I love it.


We finished up the afternoon with a present-wrapping and bow-making lesson where the girls dominated. I'm pretty sure they'll be giving out packages this year with stellar packaging! 


What do you think about being old...
At what age is someone old and how does a person stay young?


**Thanks to Shelby for taking some of these fantastic photos!





Christmas Flash Mob

You may have already seen this video, but we just had to share it. The co-op group watched it yesterday during worship and I admittedly shed a number of tears.


Maybe it was the amazing voices of the carolers...

Maybe it was the onlookers who stopped to take in the essence of the flash mob...

Maybe it was the location of the main carolers - right beside Santa Clause...

Maybe it was because people dressed up as Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus...

Maybe it was the 100 kids sitting in front of me at homeschool co-op closing their eyes and praising Jesus through song...

Maybe it was the ease of spreading the Gospel to hundreds of people just by singing carols only about Christ...

Or maybe it was the visual of onlookers literally falling on their knees during O Holy Night...


Tears were shed and our hearts were rocked. 


Whether one-by-one or in the masses, let's spread the Gospel as we are consistently called to do. Lives will be touched and seeds planted. And may the Lord claim every ounce of glory received by it.



In other news, we're having some issues with blogspot (i.e. we've ran out of storage for our photo sharing via blog). So, we're working on it but it may take a couple of days before we figure out how to get back on track with it all. :) 

THIS is what a Todd Family Christmas looks like...

On this last day of January... we are posting Part 1 of the Todd Family Christmas. We know. That's terrible. It's like leaving your Christmas decorations up after midnight on December 31st (for all you superstitious men and women out there). Well, hopefully us posting these videos will not bring bad luck but rather tickle your hypothalamus and maybe inspire your thoughts in decorating for next Christmas.

We hope you enjoy seeing our first Christmas tree (that almost didn't fit because of the holly
adornment on top), a few of our family traditions, gifts we received (i.e. this book), and finally a delicious and beautiful Christmas recipe that I listed below.






Prep Time: 45 Minutes Start to Finish: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

Servings: 40 appetizers


2 cups finely shredded Swiss cheese (8 oz)

11/2 cups chopped cooked ham (8 oz)

1/4 cup sliced green onions

2 tablespoons honey mustard

2 cans (12 oz each) Pillsbury® Golden Layers® refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon sesame seed or poppy seed

2 tablespoons diced red and green bell pepper, if desired

1 green onion fan, if desired


1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix cheese, ham, onions and mustard.

2. Separate 1 can of dough into 10 biscuits; leave second can in refrigerator. Separate each biscuit into 2 layers. Press each biscuit layer to form 31/2-inch round.

3. Place 1 rounded tablespoon cheese mixture on each dough round. Wrap dough around cheese mixture, pinching edges to seal. Repeat with

remaining can of dough and cheese mixture.

4. Arrange 8 balls, seam side down and sides almost touching, to form ring on cookie sheet, leaving 3-inch hole in center. Arrange 14 balls, sides almost touching, around outside of first ring. Arrange remaining 18 balls around outside of second ring. Brush wreath with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seed.

5. Bake at 18 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully slide wreath from cookie sheet onto 14-inch serving platter. Sprinkle with bell pepper.

Place onion fan in center of wreath. Serve warm.