Monday, December 5, 2016

Coming up for air!

OH my goodness people! It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks! I'm finally coming up for air. :) I don't think I've had a busier two weeks in my life, and it's all been amazing stuff, so I'm not complaining.  I am thrilled to be home though!

I'm a homebody who loves to travel -- it's an odd combination. I love visiting new places and those we already love, but man, I ache to get back home at the same time. I mentioned that we took our annual trip to Disney World a couple weeks ago:
Disney castle at Christmas

We like to go around Thanksgiving but this time we stayed a day later than usual -- and it kind of threw me off! I'm joining in on a blog Christmas tour later this week so I was trying to get the whole house decorated in just a few days but got sick while at it. 
Epcot ball at night

So I didn't get much done last week because of sickness and then I was off for another amazing (but quick!) trip to Georgia. Last month Delta Faucets asked if I'd like to join in on their trip to tour the 2017 HGTV Dream Home, and of course I said yes! Even though it just happened to be the day before another trip I've had planned. 

I went down to St. Simons Island for less than 24 hours and had an amazing time. I cannot wait to show you more of this beautiful home!:
2017 HGTV dream home

I'll share a ton of pics soon and I have a fun giveaway for you too. It was such an honor to get to be one of the first to walk through this gorgeous house (that will be on TV in January!). 

The backyard has a small dock on an inlet -- it was so incredibly peaceful back there: 
2017 HGTV Dream Home
I didn't get to stay long but I loved that little island and the homes there were stunning. 

I flew home that night, got home at 11:30, got three hours of sleep and then woke up early to take a weekend trip to my favorite city that we've had planned for awhile:
NYC view
Christmastime is my favorite time to visit NYC! 

Three friends and I took one kid each and I dragged them all around the city for a whirlwind tour: 
Little Italy Christmas

We checked out Rockefeller Center, saw a Rockettes show (always amazing!), did some shopping for both the kids and the moms, Empire State Building, Ground Zero, Little Italy, Grand Central, saw Aladdin (it has turned into one of our favorite Broadway shows) and walked around Central Park. 

The kids (and moms) were total troupers and we made some wonderful memories.
NYC Christmas

We've talked about this trip for at least a year now and a few months ago finally made it happen. I'm so glad we did. I LOVE to share this city with friends and love watching them fall in love with it even more. 

We had seven ladies and one man -- my little guy. He loved being the tour guide too. :) 
NYC at Christmas9/11 memorial

Christmas windows New York City

The store windows in NYC this time of year are reason enough to visit. :) 

I thank God for these women every day -- they make life so fun. It's funny how people come into your life just when you need them. 😊
Friends fountain NYC

If you're a Friends fan you may recognize this one! It's the Cherry Hill fountain in Central Park -- but little known fact (that's kind of sad for Friends fans), this isn't the fountain they actually dance around. They built a replica for the opening credits of the show. ;) It's still cool a cool spot to visit though!

I totally wore everyone out -- we are all struggling a little bit today. I'm resting up (trying not to get sick again so I'm taking a ton of Vitamin C!) and then finishing up our Christmas decor -- I'm so inspired now! I'm also finishing up some small details on the basement fireplace -- we LOVE it! I'll share both that and our Christmas tour this week!

Hope your start to your holiday season has been wonderful. I always say I'm not going to make many commitments this time of year and that NEVER happens. ;) I'm so happy to be home now nesting for the holidays and have so many things I can't wait to show you this month!

Have you been busy already? Any fun trips scheduled during the holidays? Or do you love to stay home the whole season?

P.S.  If you are considering a trip to New York City, you can see all of my posts about the city here, and my tips on how to do NYC in two days here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The great tree debate: real or faux?

Hello there! Thanks so much for the suggestions to get rid of this cold faster! I've been downing Vitamin C and trying the Zicam stuff. It's not completely gone but close. I was trying to get rid of it fast because I'm heading out to Georgia today to tour the HGTV Dream Home...and I'm SO stinking excited! I can't wait to share photos with you soon! 

Because I've put up a few trees over the past few days, they're on my brain. Up till about six years ago we always had a real tree as our main one. For literally all of my life! Then one year the cats knocked over the tree...twice. And soon after that we got hardwood floors. I didn't want to chance them getting wet so we got a huge faux tree from Lowe's that year. 

Sometimes I'll still get a smaller, real tree for another room, but not as often as I'd like. This year I was determined to go back to a real one for our main tree and hubby was on board. But I soon realized with all of the traveling we've had and have coming up, it just wasn't a good idea. That thing would be crispy within days. 

Since I consider myself an expert on both real and faux, I thought I'd share the good and bad about both, in case you're considering one or the other this year. First up...the real beauties! 

Man, I LOVE a real tree. I have many friends that make picking out their tree (and cutting it down) a family tradition. We've never done that but I think it's a fun idea. We always went BIG for our real trees so we went to a local nursery to get them:
pros and cons to real and fake trees

PROS for a real tree:

The scent! It's amazing. (I've been using these Scentsicle things the past few years on our fake trees and they do help add some of the pine scent.) But nothing beats the real thing! 

The natural shape is what I miss -- it's a natural look that is hard to replicate in a fake tree. I've seen some that are hard to tell but they are usually expensive. 😊 Real trees are truly beautiful. 

CONS for a real tree: 

The MESS. It's a mess when it's fresh and it's a huge mess when it's not. You will vacuum up needles all. day. long. the day you take it out -- no matter how much you water it. It will only last so long. There are additives you can add to the water (and always get a fresh cut on your tree) that help. 

You can only have it up for a certain time. For those of us who like to decorate early (well, I always say I'm going to and don't), or who like to keep it up till past the new year, real won't work as well. It will not last that long (and not become a fire hazard). 

You have to string the lights every year. I think the key to a beautiful tree is a ton of that took me forever. Easily a couple hours to get them all on there. 

You MUST water it well and keep up with it. If you let it go dry you're kind of screwed. It won't take up much water after that and will start dying a quick death. 

The cost. Even if you don't go big like we always did, it's an added cost every year. And you definitely need to invest in a good stand -- especially if you have cats. I know this. 

These outweigh the pros for us now, hence our move to fake. I've always had one or two smaller fake trees in the house over the years, but as I said, we've moved to all of them. 

Our big one is 12 FEET tall and it is a beast. It's hard to even get it all in a photo: 
12 foot fake tree

My husband is not picky about decor in our home but the tree...the tree is his thing. He LOVES a ginormous tree at Christmas. So I go with it...even though I would not have gone this tall. I love that he loves it. 

PROS to a fake tree: 

The lights are on it! I mean, if you buy it that way. And you should. :) I do have a couple trees that don't have lights on them and I string them when I put them up and keep the lights on when I store them. It helps cut down time tremendously!

Minimal mess. You will still get some needles on the floor when you put it up, but it's nothing compared to a real tree. You'll also see some needles on the floor when your cats scale to the top of it every. single. day. 

tree with photos

It's sturdier. At least in our opinion. If you want a TALL tree I recommend going fake. The taller your real tree, the harder it is to keep up. I know this as well. ;) 

You can have a bunch and there's no upkeep after you get them up -- I can't imagine trying to keep up with a few real trees. 

There are also so many styles to pick from -- we have a flocked tree in our basement that I LOVE: 
flocked tree

It was the first one I put up this year -- it's beautiful! I've seen gorgeous real flocked trees but they are a lot more expensive. 

dollar store ornaments

CONS to a fake tree: 

You have to fluff! You'll need to spread the branches apart to make the tree full after being in storage. This takes time, but not nearly as much time as putting on lights. 

You'll need a place to store them. Thankfully we've added shelving to our garage to hold all of ours but it's definitely something to consider. And I feel like we risk our lives trying to hoist the big one up  into it's storage, so we may be moving where we keep it. 
tall fake tree

And pine scent. :( This one is hard to get used to when you've had real for so long. But I add the pine scented jobbies to the tree and burn pine candles and it helps.

What do you think? Do you go faux or real at Christmas? Or both? My heart tugs for a real one every year...I always want to do it but the convenience of a fake one usually wins out. 

Someday...we'll have a completely stress and travel free holiday season and I'll do it then! Ha! Never gonna happen. :) 

Is there anything, good or bad, that I left out for either one? Bottom line is both are beautiful and you can't go wrong for what your family loves!

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