Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas 2016 in Pictures

Nope, no snow yet for us. But a girl can dream! Here are a few snapshots and memories from our little Christmas celebrations. This week I'm enjoying a super self-indulgent week off from work, watching movies, doing my nails, running errands. 

For the 10+ years of the "ugly Christmas sweater" trend, I never had an excuse to buy one! No one I knew actually threw an ugly sweater party, but this year, our work party had the theme and I was ready. A local antique mall has a booth that sells only vintage ugly Christmas sweaters and I scooped this Cats x Stranger Things homage sweater for just 16 bucks. On the back, it has a cat wearing its own ugly sweater. It's magical.

A parting shot of the wrapped gifts before we packed them up for our journey!

We started our Christmas trip in my hometown, where we always get together with my friends for "Ludichristmas."

We all majored in group photography in college. Here's a classic prom shot...

And a CW teen drama cast shot. We spoiled each other with magical gifts; I received a triceratacos holder and life is 100% better.

The next day we had a fun breakfast with my BFF Jamie. We're always ready for a goofy shot.

From there, we ventured to my dad's house, where I played Dr. Dolittle with their two dogs and cat. What can I say? Animals dig me (or my scratching skillz). We had a fun day of noshing, talking about the news biz and watching "It's a Wonderful Life" (a family tradition).

 We spent Christmas Day with my mom, where she and I giggled nonstop while trying out Snapchat filters.

 We also opened Christmas crackers and tried to keep up with the boundless energy of my nephew, who was basically going strong past all our bedtimes. That Christmas mojo is no joke!

Finally, on Monday we ventured to see my grandma, who is still knocking us out with her wit and humor, even when she isn't quite sure what we're saying or which blurry blob is talking to her. She embodies good spirits!

I came home with a big stack of great reading material, plenty of lip gloss and a glass link necklace I've been eyeing for years! Another successful holiday of family and friends in the books.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Wine Club Sparkling Christmas 2016

This week was our annual Wine Club Christmas and it was just as sparkly and fun as ever! We scoped out the fun courtyards at Erica's new place and probably made just a little bit too much noise, so all in all, good party.

Erica had a beautiful real tree — her first!!

Super Wine Club fail: Only picture of wine I even took! Spoiler: we drank all sparkling wines and all were good.

 Erica made two types of pork, one stuffed with feta and spinach and the other stuffed with cranberries and pecans. We also munched on delicious roasted multicolor potatoes and green beans.

Cracking our British crackers open to prepare for our wind-up reindeer race.

Paper crown selfie!!

Spoiler alert: they basically spun in all different directions and had to be forced to move toward the finish line. The winner got a box of truffles!

Just a lovely bunch of fake British lasses!

We did our classic White Elephant and NOT A SINGLE GIFT WAS STOLEN. Either we know each other too well or we've become sadly nonaggressive.

2016 was a shit year in so many ways, but it was a fabulous year for Wine Club! Looking forward to kicking ass and taking names like the lady bosses we are in 2017. Merry Christmas to the gal pals out there!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mermaid Masters

Did you know a group of mermaids is called a shimmer? Well this shimmer of mermaids-in-spirit had such a great day customizing our own mermaid statues at Mermaid Factory in Norfolk. 

Part of the reason people love these social crafting venues is that, for many, we rarely experience the peace and fulfillment that comes from engaging in "flow" — the state of focused creativity that eradicates time and eliminates consciousness of simple needs, like going to the bathroom or drinking water. When you're in the zone, you're in it, and we spent a solid two hours in the zone.

It's also fun to consult with your friends, and see how everyone's creativity manifests. For $25 and two hours, it was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.

Mermaids come standard with access to paint and glitter, and for an additional cost, you can add all sorts of embellishments, from tulle tutus to shell bras.

Our final products! Amy created a musical mermaid, I made a classic scaled version, Ashleigh made a mermaid version of herself, Lauren created a chic gold statuette and Kristen's mermaid wore an embellished rope skirt covered in shells.

A close-up of my finished product! 

Mermaids are the symbol of Norfolk, so it's really fun and special to do something different than your average wine and paint or painted pottery activity. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holidays Round Our House

From Dec. 1, I've been in full-steam-ahead holiday mode. I'm thisclose to done shopping (with lots of stepfamilies and in-laws, my list is long) and in the past couple weeks, we've decorated inside and out. I thought I'd share a few snapshots. We grabbed a tree nearly too tall for our ceiling, which is both intimidating and grand. It's the first time I can remember feeling so short next to my Christmas tree. 

Last year's wreath was a complete debacle that I don't think I remembered to share here. I bought a boxwood wreath that I thought was fake and figured I'd use for years and years to come. Well, after a couple weeks, I noticed this strange odor coming from it and realized that dang thing was real and not only that, it was basically baking in the sun. By the end of the season, it was completely dried out and losing leaves if you looked at it. Lesson: Don't put real boxwood wreathes in direct sun outdoors. You won't keep them very long.

SO, all this is to say that I scooped up this moss "JOY" wreath at A. Dodson's, and I love how it is perfectly framed by the glass in our door. I hope passersby see it and smile.

My mantel decorations are basically the same formula as last year, except I added a wreath I made a few years ago and I think it's a nice halo around my lady sculpture (I just pretend she's the Virgin Mary this time of year....the rest of the year, she can be a greek goddess or an English woman of letters).

I've been on an accidentally destructive streak and managed to break a glass ornament, a set of fairie lights, a ceramic pear and who knows what else. This is version 2 after I removed the smashed set of fairie lights. Pray for me.

I also picked up this elegant mistletoe and crystal ornament from A.Dodson's and it hung perfectly from the light fixture in our entryway. I stand under it hoping Sean will notice. Good luck to my're getting snuggies whether you want them or not.

I was inspired by Katy Elliott's Instagram to whip out my IKEA lanterns and create sparkly winter centerpieces. I picked up some fuzzy felt and bottle brushes at a craft store and voila, winter wonderland in my house.

That's it for us at the Kennedy casa. Lord knows I could get way more crazy with the decor, but I'm trying to keep it to a manageable level since I did not manage to marry a Griswold.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Wrapping 2016

I started out the season a little uninspired. Name a color combo and it seemed like I'd done it at some point. Green and gold. Blue and gold. Red and purple. Red and white and black. White and black and pink. Plaid! I'd even done silver and gold! But I've had this nagging desire for a couple years to do something really crazy for Christmas: orange.

If you're anything like my mom, you just recoiled in horror. Sure, it's basically a UVA theme. Yes, it's essentially a tribute to Dutch people everywhere. But I just couldn't shake how classic those Hermes boxes are! And I had found myself really drawn to the navy-and-orange signage of this antique store every time I passed. Plus, finding a way to do classy orange seemed like the ultimate challenge.

I trusted that orange and blue are complementary colors and went for it, and I'm pretty happy with the results! Sean searched for a long time for the word to capture his feelings about it and he landed on "sophisticated." I'll take it!

You can't really buy orange wrapping paper in your average chain store, so I popped into Paper Source and picked up three really pretty sheets to use for smaller gifts: a gold floral print, a Rifle Paper Design floral, and an orange-and-turquoise caning print.

The gorgeous blue caning print paper and the mint polka dot came from Home Goods, while the dusty navy polka dot paper came from Target.

The ribbons all came from craft stores and Target. I'm obsessed with that gold-and-mint ribbon!

What do you think? Success or am I still completely tripping? Now that I've tackled this most challenging of combos, I'm already feeling invigorated about next year! All neons perhaps? (Just kidding...I think that might be too far even for me. But, as the great Justin Bieber opines, "Never say never.")

Take a journey into the past by checking out the previous schemes:  2006-200920102011201220132014 and 2015.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thanksgiving Snapshots 2016

Thanksgiving...remember that? It feels like forever ago! We had such a fantastic time visiting and then I jumped head-first into Christmas cards and completely failed to memorialize this most fantastic of holidays. 

This year, we trekked to Sean's Uncle and Aunt's house, where we feasted on turkey with AMAZING gravy (I'll have to get the recipe from Emily!), brussels sprouts, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes with bourbon and orange juice, mashed potatoes and more. After dinner, we busted out our new favorite board game, Telestrations, and laughed until we cried as we passed around each other's terrible drawings and guesses. So much fun!

On Saturday, I dragged Sean to Old Town Alexandria for some Black Friday small business shopping and as usual, spent all my money at my favorite spot, Red Barn Mercantile. We had delicious burgers for lunch at BurgerFi (a big city chain). My burger — the CEO — blended wagyu beef and brisket topped with candied bacon-tomato jam, truffle aioli and aged Swiss cheese. Every single bite was delicious. 

I was loving being able to embrace sweater and boot weather to its fullest!

The feast continued when we got together for a girls' night to watch Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life! In an homage to the adventurous cuisine of Al's Pancake World, we ordered sliders, flatbread pizza, jambalaya pasta, truffle fries and caesar salad from Adega. It just felt right.

We finished the weekend with a lovely long visit with this little nugget, Sean's honorary nephew, and a surprise birthday party at an Irish pub! What a fun Thanksgiving, but we came home after four hours in traffic and didn't get to tackle Christmas decorating at all. I'm champing at the bit to get started and can't wait to share my traditional wrapping scheme here!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Winesgiving 2016

This past weekend was one of my very favorite annual events for Wine Club: Winesgiving! On the weekend before Thanksgiving, we hit the road and drive to the nearby country vineyards for a day of picnicking, imbibing and laughing our heads off. We've decided our annual trek will be to Saude Creek Winery for the foreseeable future, with its lovely views, music, winery cat and of course, wines.

We started our journey at The Cheese Shop and Wythe Candy, where we stocked up on bougie provisions for my ideal Thanksgiving feast, full of cheese and chocolate. Here I am devouring my smoked turkey and edam sandwich while fending off the winery cat.

A snapshot of our insane amount of cheese, meats, crackers, chips and chocolate.

And of course, the ever-important centerpiece supplied by Lauren.

Missing one, unfortunately. Someday all six of us will make it!

Heads up: These are the most delicious chips from Spain and we were all raving.

The wines we sampled! I especially loved the Vidal Blanc, which the staff likened to "champagne without the bubbles."

It was a dreamy day, and it's not an understatement to say I couldn't be more thankful to be blessed with a sisterhood like ours. Friendship in adulthood is hard, and to have a constant and reliable sounding board of support makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the land.