During this time of year, I relish certain small treasures, I truly try to stop and soak up the little sparks of joy in my life.
My slow morning ritual… Halen is the first up in our house and I often get up with her. I start coffee, turn on the Christmas tree lights, snuggle up on the couch with cozy blankets and turn on a Christmas movie (How the Grinch Stole Ch
ristmas has played 20 times in our house so far) thank you Netflix for only having four mainstream Christmas movies available for our viewing pleasure this year… J
Cooking and baking…now this one has changed a bit as I have given up sugar and grains… but I have discovered some lovely recipes and I get excited to share these scrumptious, yet healthy recipes with my girls. During Christmas season making cookies is a must, so I didn’t want to miss out on that.
Cold weather…you never quite know what weather you are going to get in Austin, TX during December. It can be 70 and sunny then the next day turn to 35 and sleet. It is quite unpredictable, but when it is consistently cold I get excited. My whole family is from Michigan and many family members live in Colorado. I didn’t spend many Christmases at home in Texas, we always ventured to see snow. When I am home for Christmas my heart yearns for cold, scarf and hat weather (Check out these adorable hats on Headbands of Hope.)
Christmas Traditions… I love the traditions our family has gathered over the years including:
Christmas with Santa at Halen’s school (Bethany Methodist) where the kids make crafts, we have a homemade breakfast by sweet volunteers, and we visit with Santa Clause.
Spirit 105.9 night of the Trail of Lights, we love how uncrowded it is. The lights are fantastic and a night where we are not rushed is perfect for littles to wander the wonder of Christmas light displays.
Build a gingerbread house, I love watching the creativity come alive in my daughter’s eyes. She usually partners up with daddy and they two create a special memory of building this iconic Christmas display.
Christmas High Tea at The Driskill Hotel, this was our third year to do our mother/daughter tea and it gets better every year…just a chance to slow down, soak up the festivity in the air, gaze at the gorgeous Christmas décor and bring some culture back into our lives. My mom and I go with some treasured friends every year and we have a few hours to truly spend quality time together. The teas are all lovely, the scones are so yummy, sandwiches are almost too pretty to eat, and the desserts look like they are from an Italian bakery. All of these can be made gluten-free (our choice this year). Then my mom and I usually meander over to the Four Seasons Hotel, to see their Christmas decorations, their famous gingerbread village display and have a holiday cocktail.
The Nutcracker Ballet has been a tradition in my family since I was two years old, we finally took Halen this year and watching the magic in her eyes as the ballerinas twirled on stage is a vision I hope always stays fresh in my mind.
We have added a few new traditions this year, like the North Pole Flyer train ride with the girls, this was a really fun way to spend a foggy Saturday morning in December. Not only did our girls have the thrill of being on a train, but we sang Christmas Carols, were visited by Mrs. Clause, given a Christmas cookie, a balloon creation (lady bug and flower) was made for them, Santa came by and passed out old fashioned train whistles, the big man took pictures with the kiddos and a Christmas book was read, accompanied by hot chocolate, of course. There’s something so romantic about trains, hubby and I were inspired to look up traveling by train from this excursion.
My handsome hubs and I were also able to have a Christmas date, where we could go out do some relaxed Christmas shopping, have dinner, and enjoy the season together. (Thank you, Yaya!)
Christmas Cookie Exchange Party, every year my mom and I host this party with our girlfriends. It is a time to chef up a famous (or new) cookie recipe and share it with friends. It is a time to enjoy time together with yummy food and good conversation. This year I am making grain free, sugar free cookies! (They will be edible, I promise. J )
Gift giving… I am growing to be more and more of a minimalist as I age. My way of showing love is by giving back to others, whether that is through cooking a meal, baking a special treat, or finding the perfect gift for the recipient. For Christmas, I love searching for gifts that will truly light up a person’s heart. I have learned that oftentimes, the best gift to give is time, an experience, a consumable or a timeless piece.
I am all about comfort and I have recently discovered, Matilda Jane clothing. I feel they provide super soft, stylish clothes that my daughters and I adore. “It’s all about keeping a little girl…a little girl. Keeping her youthful. Keeping her spinning and twirling and carefree. And most important bringing her happiness,” says the owner, Denise. Halen lit up with her new Matilda Jane dress, she felt like a “pretty princess" and had to wear the new outfit for her school pictures (shown above). Henley was cute as a bug in her adorable outfit too (shown below). I was excited to finally enjoy this darling brand as I know the outfits will change from dresses for the girls to tunics as they grow. I love the dress and leggings I picked out for myself, they are dressy, yet casual and comfortable (shown below). I was impressed to hear how philanthropic heavy Matilda Jane was as a company, they often “spread the love” to those, like myself, who needed a pick me up in life. Matilda Jane partners with Changing the Face of Beauty, which focuses on inclusive imagery in the media and advertising agencies (which I think all us mamas can appreciate). Matilda Jane allows their trunk holders to choose a charity or non-profit organization to donate a percentage of sales to. Denise, the owner, started the Mighty Acorn Foundation, which funds an orphanage in Africa and coordinates sponsors for children in that orphanage. If anyone has been interested in becoming a Matilda Jane Trunk Keeper, or hosting a Trunk Show, or placing an order please seek out my lovely new friend, Amanda Bailey, she has been wonderful to my girls and I.
Christmas is a season when rituals take place, memories are shared, and it can become pretty hectic. My advice, is to slow down and truly find what brings you joy. What are your favorite things this time of year?
*This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Matilda Jane Clothing, all opinions are 100% mine.