img_6499

But Mary Treasured…

There is a simple verse that I love; one that is quietly tucked into the Christmas story. The shepherds have just visited the holy family, and are now travelling to spread the news.

And then there it is, Luke 2:19:

“But Mary treasured up these things, and  pondered them in her heart.” 

 Her day had been full, and exhausting. But she knew these were moments to cherish.

I feel like in our rushed, broken, busy lives, this verse can speak more to us than all the descriptions of wise men and singing angels. 

Yes, the Christmas story is, at its core, a telling the miracle of the birth of Jesus. But I like the story this verse tells.

Mary treasured her memories of that day, and would think over them often.

 How often are life’s moments missed when we can’t Instagram them, or sum them up in a 140 character Tweet? Often the moments that go unshared are the most meaningful or heart wrenching. 

For me, it was when my brother pulled my hand close to him after his heart surgery; when my nephew closed his eyes and leaned in for extra kisses; when one of my best friends hugged me tight and cried with me when I had just been layed off. These were huge, emotional moments in my year. But they didn’t earn a spot on my Facebook “year in review.”

These are moments that are purely based on emotion, love and closeness. Moments that can only be captured by the heart. 

What are these moments for you this year? These are the moments that matter. These are the moments that Christmas is all about.

Treasure up all these things…

Merry Christmas

XOXO Aubrey

Rustic Glam Christmas Cards Tutorial

I have been busy over the last week or so, getting Christmas cards made to ship off to family and friends. Usually I buy my cards, and last year I sent off photo cards, but this year I had extra time on my hands so I decided to make my own.

  
I have made a few different designs, trying to improve on my first attempts as I went along. The six I am sharing with you are my favourites. I will give the breakdown of 3 today, and 3 more on Wednesday.

 
I love the rustic look that is so popular lately, with neutral shades and twine and burlap. But it is Christmas after all, so most of them got jazzed up with the most Christmassy craft item of them all – GLITTER!!!

The nice thing about most of these is the ability to use whatever holiday stamps and die cuts that you have, and use the templates as a jumping off point. I will include sources for as many items as I can, so that you can recreate them exactly if you would like.

 
#1 – Rudolph the Golden Reindeer

  

IMG_6341

The Best Etsy Shops for a Handmade Holiday 

Some of my favourite Christmas gifts were handmade. My Mom knitted me a blanket for my bed in all my favourite colours; my brother and sister sewed me a bean bag turtle; I made my Mom a salt dough nativity. 

That nativity set made her cry – CHRISTMAS BONUS POINTS!!!

Suffice it to say, a handmade gift is a gift from the heart. Those little lumps of dough were hidden under my bed for weeks as I waited for Mom to be away, so I could bake them. Then I painted in the details in my room with a “PLEASE KNOCK, ELVES AT WORK!” sign on my door. 

My mom knitted me a twin size blanket. If you knit, you know how long it can take to make big projects like that.

Love, you guys – handmade gifts show love. You just don’t spend that kind of time for someone who you don’t hold dear. 

But the brutally honest fact is sometimes we want to gift someone with that kind of heartfelt gift, but we just don’t get it done. Like the year my sister got a bag full of quilt squares that I had printed photos of us on, but never assembled it. Yeah. Not cool grade 12 Aubrey. 

Sister quilt idea…A+

Sister quilt execution…D-

So for those kinds of years, I love Etsy. There are so many handmade options, but someone else has all the talent. Here are my favourite Etsy shops.

1. PebbleShackGoods

Yup, nepotism at its finest. But seriously, my sis-in-law churns out the cutest stuff for PebbleShackGoods. And she is majorly A-type, so the quality is top notch and she isn’t late getting items delivered. 

Her shop is mostly Mom and Baby, with a few knitted items for everyone. Those little wallets? SO CUTE. And the bandana bibs kill me – every stylish baby needs one!

Check her out – she will be adding even more items as her shop grows!   


2. Bookity 

Bookity is from London, and they do the greatest items made from book pages. After your momentary shock about cut up books, you will want all the delicious accessories from your favourite authors.

Earrings from Pride and Prejudice? Elizabeth and Darcy close to me all day; I ardently admire and love that idea.

Or give your lawyer husband some To Kill a Mockingbird cuff links – the wisdom of Atticus Finch will come to him “off the cuff.” Ok, that was a stretch. But the cuff links are gorgeous!

  And if you didn’t get my Pride and Prejudice joke, do yourself a favour and watch the 8 hour BBC movie. Colin Firth at his finest.

3. StaticeJewellery

This page is another Canadian gem. StaticeJewellery is out of Vancouver, BC and this shop is full of all that glitters. Definitely the kind of handmade the average person isn’t whipping up on their own. So many gorgeous items, I drool all over the computer screen. 

And the best part is, these aren’t going to break the bank…unless you want them to. That oval druzy necklace is less than $35.

Delicious stuff.

 
  

4. Looiko 

I have been looking for a phone case that stills allows my iPhone’s gorgeous gold colour show through. Looiko has so many of this style, and they are just beautiful and simple.

 

5. LaMoreDesign

Proposing this Christmas? Head over to LaMoreDesign. The jewellery is to die for, is certified, and is so reasonable in cost. So many of the pieces are vintage inspired and delicate.

Also, there are some anniversary bands in there that I need to show Colin. So he can start saving.   

Do you have any Etsy shops I need to know about? 

Happy (online, handmade) shopping!

xoxo Aubrey

IMG_6335-0

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls – A Christmas Staple

Every Christmas, my mother-in-law’s peanut butter balls are a baking staple.

Each year my father-in-law sneaks them from the downstairs freezer and my husband does the same…leading him to enjoy these even more when they are in a near-frozen state. The first year I got this recipe from Mom Lively, I misunderstood the instructions and thought I had to melt the peanut butter, butter and other wet ingredients in a pot. Since you hand roll them, I remarked to my sister-in-law “that they are so hard to roll – I kept burning my hands!!!” 

She glanced at me sideways, and laughed hysterically. I have since gotten used to my in-laws laughing at me.

The ingredients are all mixed cold.

*sigh*

 Now that I have all the instructions right, here is the easiest Christmas treat you will make this season! Not to mention, one that will never be left over after a holiday party or a bake sale.

Jan’s Peanut Butter Balls

Filling:

1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

2 cups Rice Krispies (I find Kellog’s makes them nice and crispy. I have been disappointed when I use no-name cereal)

1 cup icing sugar

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup shredded coconut

Chocolate coating:

2 cups milk or dark chocolate chips

1 tablespoon food-grade paraffin wax (optional)  

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together on low in a mixer. Set in the fridge to chill for one hour.

Once chilled, roll by the tablespoon into balls. This is easiest if you use your hands! HAHA!

Melt chocolate and wax in a double boiler on low heat.

Dip balls into the melted chocolate, coating completely. Place on wax paper lined baking sheets. Chill until set. 

Store in the fridge or freezer…if they last that long.

Happy Baking!

XOXO Aubrey

IMG_6288-0

L&L Greatest Hits: My Favourite Christmas Movies

OK OK OK…I feel like a 90’s pop artist by posting a “greatest hit” on such a baby blog…but really. This list is gold. In case you missed it in good old 2014, here it is. Also improved with more pictures and less typos. Haha!

I love Christmas. The music, the lights, the food! One of my favourite holiday traditions is Christmas movies. I love to watch great Christmas movies to get me in the mood for the season, and they are usually feel-good movies that beg you to curl up on the couch with hot chocolate or a glass of wine, and just enjoy. No high stress action scenes with everyone getting shot (unless you count Die Hard, I guess). Just warm and cozy scenes that, hopefully, remind you what Christmas is all about.

So without further ado…here are my 10 favourite Christmas movies…my “must watch” picks for the cold nights ahead. In no particular order…

1. The Holiday
  Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Jude Law and Cameron Diaz tell such a sweet and heartfelt love story. I am a sucker for a RomCom and this is one I watch pretty much every year. It is funny and has a true, Christmas, happy ending.

2. Love Actually

 
With a huge A-list cast, this is one of the few of this genre that actually succeeded, in my opinion. I actually laugh out loud, and this movie is often bittersweet, but in the end warms the heart. And who doesn’t love a cheesy Christmas version of an 80’s pop hit?

3. White Christmas

 Seriously. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. If you don’t watch this, you must be a Scrooge! Bing Crosby is my #1 Christmas music crush, and he is gorgeous in this movie. It is such a classic and the scenes and songs hold a special place in my heart.


4. Elf

 Will Ferrell kills me. I can no longer get in an elevator without something inside me wanting to press every button and say “It looks like a Christmas tree!” This movie is one that my husband will actually sit down and watch with me without a serious guilt trip required.

5. The Year Without Santa Claus
  A lesser known puppet movie. I love the crazy songs, and the out there storyline. So much disjointed puppet dancing!

Along with this puppet movie is another called Here Comes Santa Claus…the back story of Kris Kringle. Because Santa is a ginger…and there is a character called Burgermeistermeisterburger. Yeah.


6. Sound of Music
  Not technically a Christmas movie, but one so many families watch at Christmas. We used to watch this every year with my Grandparents on Christmas Eve, unless we watched White Christmas. It really holds sweet memories for me!

7. The Night They Saved Christmas
  Ok, this is a really random 80’s Christmas movie about a family whose father works in oil drilling. The kids try to keep the drilling from destroying Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. My parents recorded this off the TV, and I can honestly say the trip to the North Pole made me believe in Santa so much more as a kid. Be prepared for 80’s cheese and matching snowsuits. I love it best when the sound is garbled in spots from my Mom starting and stopping the recording during commercial breaks.

8. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
  No Christmas movie list is complete without this puppetry favourite. Quirky, cute, and with songs you will have stuck in your head until July, this one is fun for grown ups and kids!


9. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

 
 Colin’s favourite Christmas movie, hands down. This isn’t one for the kids, but it is off-colour enough for adults to enjoy. I think it really captures the insanity of family Christmas…if your family was over-the-top crazy.

Put your Christmas dickie on and get ready to laugh…even if you feel bad about it.


10. Jingle All the Way
  This is actually another one of Colin’s favourites, but with classic Arnold Schwarzenegger lines like “PUT DA COOOKIE DOWWWN! NOW!” this 80’s Classic is good fun! Deep down, I hate this movie, but I have so many friends who love it, I had to include it.

Happy watching! Are any of these your favourite? Which Christmas movies do you watch every year?

XOXO Aubrey

(All photo credits on this post go to IMDB.com)

Have Yourself a High Needs Holiday

This Christmas, we are doing things a little differently. We are foregoing traditional gifts, and instead letting everyone know how their gift money was lovingly spent on Kiely, the high needs wiener dog.

Merry Christmas Mom! 

This Christmas your gift budget went towards Kiely’s bloodwork. This made sure she has the right levels of all her medication in her system, and also checked her liver to be sure her medication isn’t, in fact, slowly killing her.  

Merry Christmas Paul!

My wonderful big brother – I know you love my little doggie as much as me, so your Christmas budget went towards her seizure medication. Thanks to you, Kiely has been seizure free for MONTHS! Granted, this is me being cheap; she was on these meds last Christmas too.   

Merry Christmas Dad!

You know how much Kiely’s insane barking makes you crazy? Well…she is now on anxiety meds ever since we moved. She just doesn’t like our new digs and all the new sounds (does anyone even say “new digs” anymore?). So we wrapped up an empty pill bottle so you would at least have something to open.

 
Merry Christmas Shep!

Sweet little nephew – we love you so. But let’s face it, at 15 months you don’t have a clue who gave you what for the holidays. So your budget bought Kiely a pile of homeopathic remedies that we tried, to ease her anxiety, before finally going the medication route. What are the chances you would fit her Thunder Shirt?

ps – she wore a hat at your birthday party. That should count for something.  

Bloodwork $150 per round

Seizure meds $35/month

Anxiety meds $40/month

Thundershirt $50

Oils and tinctures and pheromones and calming treats $50+

KIELY THE WIENER DOG?

  

PRICELESS!

On the upside, I didn’t have to pay for shipping! 

Merry Christmas!

XOXO Aubrey

If you love Kiely, check us out on Instagram @LusciousandLively. Pretty much 50% of my posts are of her.

 

Tips to Avoid Losing Your Mind During Your Move

Last time I updated the blog, we had our house for sale, and I was impatiently waiting for it to sell. The market was a buyer’s market and it seemed to take forever! I’m pretty sure our realtor was sick of hearing from me and I was sick of keeping my house neat as a pin 24/7. It seemed like any time I thought I could go out for the day and leave the dishes in the sink and my bed unmade, I would get a text that we had a buyer that wanted to come by in 4 hours. I would rush home to scrub and clean and throw the excess laundry in the washer to hide it! I’m sure any of you that have sold your home feels my pain. It is a long and frustrating process!  

We had the house listed for nearly 4 months. That might seem short in other markets,but in Southern Alberta that is an eternity. Then suddenly, we had an offer with a 3 week closing date – and I had a husband out of town for work during the weekdays. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the sale of our house. We are blessed that it sold when it did, but it was the worst move I have been through! Thank goodness for family and friends that helped me box stuff up and clean up our empty home; I lost count on the number of nightmares I had that it was 12 noon on the closing date and I still had half of the house to pack!

With the quick closing date, we had to move everything into a storage unit and we are temporarily living with family. Bless them.

In hindsight, I made a lot of moving mistakes, and some great choices too! So here are my tips and tricks for a move like ours (tight timeline, no spouse 5 out of 7 days, no new house to move into…).

1. Pre-pack as much as possible

We got our storage unit before we even listed the house. We pre-packed items that we wouldn’t be needing during the move. It made the house look more spacious, and got us started on the packing process. This is the perfect time to really assess which items you want to be taking with you to your next home. I sold off a huge chunk of unnecessary belongings that we just didn’t use or enjoy as much as we thought we would. Extra cash in our pocket and extra room in our storage unit!

2. Pack room by room

Nothing feels better than an entire empty room to check off the list. A box here and there really feels like nothing is being accomplished.

3. Recruit the troops

Bribe your besties with wine and snacks and your undying devotion. My kitchen was packed in 3 hours. And I had a huge kitchen. 

4. Get quality boxes in consistent sizes

I tried to do this, but my inner cheapskate led me to buy boxes from kijiji that had been used. Some were a great score and some were ripped and crappy. The 2 batches of identical boxes from U-Haul were worth their weight in gold. They also proved my husband right about the ability to fit them better into the storage unit than the previous hodgepodge. He loves being right…when it happens.

5. Have a plan for storage

When you are moving a whole household into a storage unit, you need a plan. We started with boxes in the back, and progressed into the big furniture pieces, and then piled random stuff on top of that. Not a complex plan, and one that could have been better executed – but it was better than just chucking it all in and hoping for the best. This is another great time to purge the stuff that isn’t worth storing.   

6. Colour code and track contents

I used coloured labels for each room of the house, and numbered each box. The contents of each box was then catalogued in a binder. It seems OCD, but will be essential if we have to find “that one thing” in the unit. Unless #10 applied, in which case…good luck!

7. Don’t allow yourself too many lazy days

This will come back to bite you in the rear. Sure, that Real Housewives of Orange County on the PVR seems high priority, but force yourself to pack up at least one cupboard or closet each night. The last minute scramble is far more stressful than missing Heather cracking open that bottle of champs (high five to anyone who gets that reference).  

8. Get yourself some strong men or women

My husband is blessed. I am so freakishly strong he takes it for granted. He passed me a couch over the edge of the balcony and I didn’t drop it or snap my spine. I would have far preferred a strong man take over while I played Site Foreman and told them what to do. In a pinch my neighbour’s teenagers proved invaluable in carrying patio furniture and my BBQ. And the king-sized mattress. Love thy neighbour you guys. 

9. Keep the corkscrew accessible 

Pretty self explanatory. Together with tape and scissors and a screwdriver, a ew bottles of red are an essential tool in a move. To bribe your friends and to keep your sanity.  

10. SCREW IT.

You are going to reach a point where all the labels and tracking and organization goes out the window. Screw it. Throw what is left in boxes, label it as “Random Crap” and call it a day (Good girl confession – some of my boxes are labelled with strong language. There were some bad days in there).

Have fun packing!

XOXO Aubrey