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A 2019 Downstairs Tour (With a Side of 2018 Christmas Decor)

Hey guys!

Who would like a 2018 Christmas tour of my downstairs…in 2019? Oh, hey. I see you with your hand raised in the back row. One lonely interested person. I’ll take it.

But seriously. Christmas was less than two weeks ago (say whaa?), and it’s only January 7th, so in my current very pregnant state of doing everything 3 weeks late (not to mention having been the world’s most remiss house-blogger for the past year), this post is practically 1 week early! (Don’t argue with hugely pregnant women’s logic; you’ll get hurt).

Mostly, this is an excuse to give you the most updated version of what our downstairs looks like. So, if all of the Christmas decor bothers you, just squint really hard, and you may not notice it. You may not be able to see anything else either, but that’s the only solution I’ve got for you (see: pregnant logic), so I’m going with it.

First up, can we talk about this tree?LRM_EXPORT_3112918742040_20181212_205526339

(And how I now want to reach into this picture and straighten that basket? See? Now, you do too).

It’s a 9 foot cashmere…something-or-other–can’t remember the exact description (I tried to dig it up, but it’s sold out), but it was fancy–that was originally reeeeeaaallly expensive but which I scored for a steal on Wayfair clearance on an after Christmas special last year. It sure beats the faux pine needles off of the sad little Big Lots hand-me-down we’d been using for the last 13 years. Don’t get me wrong. Big Lots hand-me-downs are awesome. And 9 foot trees can be problematic (ask Ezra, who just about got flattened by it when it fell over as we were moving it around because his Mama’s cray and waited til AFTER we’d decorated the whole darn thing to decide that she didn’t like its location). But it was a nice change of pace. I think we’ll keep it for at least another 13 years.

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And here we have a sighting as rare as the Christmas Dodo Bird: my kitchen in pristine condition. Approximately 28 minutes after I snapped this shot, Honor and Theo woke up, and I started cutting them some apple slices, which is like some of sort of siren’s call at our house because the rest of their siblings magically materialized within seconds. And 3 giant Honeycrisp apples + 7 cups of milks, 47 Legos and 3 dolls later…my kitchen was no longer pristine. Which is fine. Because it would be awfully sad to have a 12 foot island that no one ever used. LRM_EXPORT_3418942429215_20181212_210032363

Want to know my solution for a festive feel without the alluring sparkle of shiny breakable things? (hashtag toddlers, hashtag puppy) Felt. Almost all of the ornaments on our tree are felt. Same with the pom pom garland. The Merry Christmas banner on the mantel (from West Elm after Christmas sale last year) is felt. The stockings are felt. Felt. It’s magic, yo.

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Now, how to keep your crispy, dried-up, gnarly garland (that you bought/hung the day after Thanksgiving in a fit of nesting insanity) from shedding e v e r y w h e r e ? No clue. Felt is the only stroke of Christmas genius I can claim. LRM_EXPORT_3761410803407_20181212_210614831

This is just about the only view in the house that hasn’t changed. The kids and I took down Christmas on New Year’s Eve, but I declared this a “winter scene” and forbade any touching of it. Which, of course, only made them want to touch it all the more. But my point is, it’s still there.LRM_EXPORT_3917224792879_20181212_210850645

Are you wondering how anyone manages to sit on this couch with all of those pillows there? Anyone who tries to sit on it wonders the same thing. (And then, they throw all of my pillows on the ground where Ruby attempts to rip them to shreds).LRM_EXPORT_4114113570773_20181212_211207534

Anybody remember Fiona the Doe? I think she’s had those same jingle bells on her ears for 3 years straight, so she’s pretty much straight Christmas cheer 24/7. And I still love her. LRM_EXPORT_4403643561027_20181212_211657064

Because I always get asked by somebody no matter how many times I say it…the leather ottoman is from Restoration Hardware…originally. But I scored it secondhand for $200 (so 90% off). It’s pretty much a boat and is the best possible living room solution for our big, rambunctious family. Gorgeous, durable leather + no hard edges is a major win for us.

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And again with the giant tree. Not pictured here are the presents that I actually managed to get wrapped well BEFORE Christmas Eve this year, thankyouverymuch.

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I like to call this the: I had way more sparkly trees than I realized and needed somewhere to put them all look. Also, the: that faux fur fabric has seen better days look.LRM_EXPORT_5171823726359_20181212_212945244

That basket on the floor holds all of our piano books, and it is usually overflowing with them. I’ll have you know that I leaned aaaalll the way down, and stuffed them all back in for you guys. You’re welcome.LRM_EXPORT_5320104511823_20181212_213213525

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Are you tired of tree shots yet?LRM_EXPORT_5967427987305_20181212_214300849

Clearly, I do not subscribe to the clutter-free counter-top philosophy. In fact, I think I just used Christmas as an excuse to shove even more detritus atop them. LRM_EXPORT_6081168300022_20181212_214454589

Speaking of counter-tops…a lot of people have asked how I like the concrete that we went with. The answer is: I love it! Wiiiiiittthhh some qualifiers. Despite Shaun’s having applied numerous thin coats of sealer as per manufacturing standards, it isn’t stain-free. In fact, the longer we have it, the more it stains. And I never have been able to figure out what the main culprits are. Strawberry juice? Not a problem. Mystery yellow substance that I never even saw the origin of? Refuses to come out. Oily things seem to cause the biggest problems.

And it’s not scratch-proof either. Even though we use chopping boards, there are still some little knife marks here and there, and there are some chips (thanks, in one particular instance, to a collision between a GIANT cast-iron pan and the counter edge, which never had a chance).

Still, I love that the island doesn’t have a seam and that it’s thick and sturdy and cool-to-the-touch. And I really REALLY love that, since we DIY-ed it, it was a mere fraction of the cost of any other option.

So. Yeah. I would do it again. LRM_EXPORT_6215066521742_20181212_214708487

First time to have two full-sized Christmas trees in the house (that one was also a Wayfair after Christmas special). Watch out. Before you know it, I’ll be the lady with 12 Christmas trees in her house (no, no I won’t). LRM_EXPORT_6372793052047_20181212_214946214

Oh! And before you ask (because someone will), I got those tablecloths for $10 (TEN!) from Anthropologie online. They were mislabeled as napkins, and I kept expecting the wrong thing to show up, but nope. $150 tablecloths (I know, ridiculous) appeared on my doorstep for 10 smackeroos.LRM_EXPORT_6490876076793_20181212_215144297

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Ruby pretty much thought that I set this tree + cozy blanket situation up just for her. Not that I complained. She made a pretty cute pictures all snuggled up underneath.

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I just have to take a second to crow about my two fiddles there, NEITHER of which I have managed to kill and which are, in fact, thriving and producing new leaves on the regular (It’s been 9 months since I got them; this is a big deal). My secret? Water them with ice cubes once a week. Tada! I’m an instant plant lady, right? (Joanna would be so proud).

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Hope is the word I am carrying into the new year with me. Not in a this-is-my-word-for-2019 kind of way. Just as a reminder in my heart that, regardless of some hard stuff we dealt with/are dealing with as the year closed/began or how I know that life is about to get just a tick crazier with a new baby thrown into the homeschooling/life mix, my hope is in Christ alone. He is able to use the hard and the crazy to shape and grow and work in me in ways that may not always be fun at that exact moment (although, new babies are fun, as far as I’m concerned) but will ultimately be for my good and for his glory.

Do you have a “theme” for 2019? I’d love to hear it!

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The Ultimate Amazon Gift Guide {$15-$50}

Even though the gifts in this lineup aren’t quite as affordable as my under $15 guide, there’s still a lot to love (the polish package is pretty sweet!), so I hope you manage to score something awesome for yourself  your loved ones.

under $50 gift guide

Another organizer? But it’s so pretty! And practical…especially with all of those New Year’s get-it-together resolutions just around the corner.

Speaking of organization…as someone who has owned several Rifle Paper Co. planners in my time, I can personally attest to the quality, beauty, and usability of the designs.

Got a makeup lover in your life? Then, chances are, she’ll also loved this lighted make-up mirror. Great reviews plus a pretty rose gold finish! Ooh-la-la!

You might also consider this ColourPop shadow palette. Since she’ll need something to apply while using her snazzy new lighted mirror.

You guys! It has gotten harder and harder to find polish packages for great prices (from reputable brands) on Amazon. So I was pretty stoked when I found this 12 piece full-sized bottle polish set from China Glaze (great quality). The colors are a surprise, but at approximately $3 a pop, it’s hard to complain. Would make an awesome addition to any stocking or teacher gift!

I get a lot of traffic on my “How I Style My Curly Hair” posts, but I really should do an updated post now that I’ve switched to “no-poo” (I know…sounds gross) products from DevaCurl. I can honestly say that the experiment (I’ve been using them for about 5 months) is going well and that I can see an improvement in the shape of my curl + texture (much softer). But! The real kicker is how long I can go between washes. I’ve never been a frequent hair-washer, but to be able to go 8 days with nary a greasy strand is LEGIT.

Anyhoo, if you’ve got a curly girl in your life, you might consider this DevaCurl starter kit. Great reviews, plus it comes in cute little bottles that are perfectly gift-sized.

I love these posters from Cavallini. I have several framed throughout my house for high-impact, low-budget art. The funny part? They’re actually pieces of wrapping paper (although I doubt anyone uses them for that). P.S. Ikea has a simple, inexpensive white frame that fits their dimensions perfectly. These would make a great gift for an art-lover in your life.

Had to include this because I’m a Texan, and, well, it’s cute!

Man, do I love me a good (and pretty) woven storage basket. I have various sizes and styles in corners around my house for easy toy clean-up or to store extra blankets/throw pillows. (They also make stylish containers for house plants).

Over the years, I have slowly amassed a small collection (probably 6) of cake stands. And they come in surprisingly handy–at parties or dinners or to hold decor when you need to vary the height of a display. This one would be awfully cute layered with mini-cupcakes at a little girls’ party.

Again with the rose gold. Apparently, I have a thing. As I always say, if it can be pretty and functional, ALLLLL the better!

And then, there’s this cute pie server set (which is another thing I’m always grateful to hvae at leasst one of, even though it might seem like something that wouldn’t get used often).

Here’s the big sister version of the mini latte bowls that I posted in the under $15 guide. Love the ombre pink and white!

I mentioned in the last guide that I was having trouble finding mugs I really loved this year. But I’m digging the bright, funky floral vibe of these. Plus! Since there are three, you can always split them up among friends!

Again with the floral cups, but I’ve found that something my girls love to do is have impromptu tea parties. Even if all they have is PB&J’s cut into squares plus a cup of milk, they get so excited to use my fancy china. Which I get because I like to drink out of pretty things too.

Cute, quirky cutting boards are my favorite. I currently have a rabbit-shaped one + a hedge hog version in my kitchen. But I think my favorite combo ever might be marble + gold + lettering. In which case…tada!

Oh! And this Christmas tree version is super fun too!

Another classic and classy addition to anyone’s kitchen: these gorgeous copper canisters. Endless uses and just the right touch of bling.

I don’t remember how I stumbled on the R. Vivimos brand on Amazon, but they’ve got some pretty great (and comparatively affordable) alternatives to popular Free People pieces. The focus is on flowy, boho, embroidery (which I love), and I’ve bought at least two items that were well worth the $20 I spent.

I get lots of questions about these cute, slouchy overalls when I wear them on Instagram. I have them in both blue and black, and they work great for maternity and beyond. Sadly, when I bought them, there were less than $20, and it looks like they’ve jumped $10 for most size/color options. Still a cute alternative to jeans when you’re not feeling the love for a waistband.

And this floral sweatshirt is just adorable. Not to mention reasonably priced and well-reviewed! Several designs available.

These floral p.j. pants get great reviews for comfort, durability, and style and come in so many color/pattern combos.

If you’re tired of the sweatshirt look or know someone who likes a little quirk with their outerwear, maybe try this pom pom poncho. Excellent reviews + multiple color options!

As much as I love embroidery and florals, I love simple pieces with little details just as much. Two words: elbow patches.

Whereas the elbow patches were a subtle touch, the leopard print on this cardigan is not so much. But it’s still fun and trendy (and comfy!) for not much money.

The next several options would be great for the fitness girl in your life. I have this armband for my phone, and–while I’m not doing much running these days #hellobelly–it sure comes in handy when I do go for a run or walk. Honestly, it’s nice to have available if I’m doing projects or chores while listening to an audio book too.

I also have this muscle tee and am a fan of the quality/softness of the fabric.

Ditto for these compression leggings of which I own two pair. They’re not see-through at ALL and hold everything in and provide true compression (aka: varicose vein relief, in my case) better than many pricier name brands.

After doing all of that exercise in your cute new gear, chances are you’ll need to hydrate. Why not do it stylishly with this pretty stainless steel thermos (more colors available).

There’s a variety of prices listed for particular sizes/designs of these Joules ankle high rain boots, but most are under $50 (my fave are the bees).

I ordered these because I wanted something stylish, close-toed, and comfy to wear during the winter (and was seriously lacking in the goes-with-most things casual shoe department). I haven’t gotten them yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed I won’t have to utilize the free return option.

Another fun tennis shoe option is this retro style New Balance sneaker. I just ordered these subtle neutral + gold accents with some Amazon gift cards and got them yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to take them for a full spin, but they seem well made, cushy after a quick test drive around my bedroom. Definitely my usual 1/2 size up for tennis shoes, and they would have been too short if I hadn’t. There are lots of other fun color combos, and most are right around $50, which, while not cheap, is actually pretty reasonable for New Balance (I saw some similar ones the other day at Marshall’s, and they were $49.99).

I love meaningful jewelry. And not just the kind with your kids’ initials or birthstones in it. I like it when my jewelry says something. Literally. Which is why I think these “inspirational” bracelets would make a fabulously encouraging gift for someone special in your life.

This watch may not say anything deeper than: I like pretty + functional. But…maybe that’s enough? (Love the scalloped edges of the leather band).

In other jewelry news, I think that quirky is always a good thing. Cue: this gold honeybee necklace. I mean.

Stylish bags are also always fun to get and gift. Like this embroidered wristlet.

Or this clutch option.

OR this (genuine) leather fringe ditty with a crossbody strap.

The bold florals of this backpack are fun, and so is the fact that it comes with a matching pouch.

And then there’s this toiletry bag option in a classic stripe + leather look.

And if stripes are your thing…well, you might as well go for this preppy weekender bag, which combines style, durability, and function. Woot!

I don’t actually own one of these cute cross body saddle bags because they just aren’t super practical for a mama who’s pretty much always toting a big bag full of all. the. things. (see striped bag above for that category). But this one sure is sweet (real leather!).

This one too, which, I’m not going to lie, is my fave.

This chunky knit pom pom blanket sure is cozy and stylish–with great reviews for only $20! And there are only a few left in stock. Run, don’t walk! (That rhymed).

Speaking of cozy, these Minnetonka (I’ve heard great things about the brand) slippers are cute and crafted from genuine leather. And! They’re supposed to be super comfy (plus, they come in tons of colors).

These Capri Blue candles (famously sold at Anthropologie) are sooooo yummy-smelling…if a bit (okay, a lot) on the pricey side. $25 is about as cheap you’re going to find them, though, for the real deal.

Are you a fan of Call the Midwife? Know someone else who might be? Then, a season (or two) of this engrossing show might be just the ticket for a movie-lover in your life.

If you recall those calligraphy pens that I recommended in the under $15 guide, then you’ll understand why I think this would be the perfect complement. I have this book and have been fun working on my lettering craft. I find it informative and easy-to-use.

A friend turned me on to the idea of these snazzy inverted umbrellas (when you close them, rather than getting a cascade of water down your arm, it flips the other direction, sending the water away). They have great reviews for function and form, which is always a plus!

And there you have it! I could honestly keep going and going. But I’m hustling to finish up a book guide and a kids’ guide for you, so I’d better cap it here. As always, be sure to check out previous gift guides in the price range (or scroll back for the under $15 + Men’s guide) if you need more ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

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