This was my first year with my very own full-sized tree! We bought it last year on New Year's Day, and left it in the box. Putting up the tree was extra fun because I had forgotten how nice it would be! I was also happily surprised to find that I own enough ornaments to cover it. (We made room for a few whimsical additions too. Like a fish. Kate made that. Rad, huh?) Kate also crocheted a gorgeous ivory garland for it, but I don't seem to have any good close-ups to show you. No topper this year, but I plan to make one for next year.
Kate's cats loved sitting under the tree. Mercifully, they did not climb it or break the ornaments. (Though we did worry for the ribbons on the gifts a few times.) I found the tree skirt at Goodwill last fall for $3! I love the random vintage-y mushrooms. We had a really happy number of presents too. Check out the homemade wrappings on the middle-right. Kira drew all of hers, and Beth made hers from an old Van Gogh poster.
Here's a close-up of one of Kira's drawings. I got a bit creative myself, and made a Firefly card for the ear-buds Shane got for Kate. I don't know who had more fun with it: me making it, or Kate receiving it.
Here are some other decorations. The poster is one my husband found online. I admit, at first it confused me. But it really grew on me after a while. The shutter is where we kept our cards. I put the ribbon on last year. It used to hang on the wall next to the stockings, but we put up the clock for our Halloween party and liked it too much to take it down. The stockings hold paper gnome friends that Kira made for us. The elaborate cross-stitched ones were done by my Mom. She did mine when I was a baby, and Shane's last year to match. I'm proud to say I did some rudimentary embroidery for the girls' stockings myself this year. The windowsills will probably look very different next year since Shane's mom brought over his childhood box of decorations. It is HUGE!
We opened gifts as a house the week before real Christmas because the girls all had family to visit. I can't imagine a more perfect way for us to celebrate. Everyone was cheerful, all the gifts were awesome and thoughtful, and afterward we went out to dinner at Gullifty's.
Speaking of food: Christmas isn't Christmas for me without chocolate covered cherries. Kate was the last to leave for family times. The night before she did, she and I had white wine and filo-baked brie with strawberry jam for dinner! (Shane doesn't like either, so he had to fend for himself. More cheese for us!) After the husband and I had the house to ourselves, we went on a cookie making spree.
Aside from cookie making, we spent most of our Christmas relaxing and bonding with the cats. The cats didn't give us much choice. In the middle picture, they are enjoying their Christmas present: catnip. I put a video of Isabella's indulgence on YouTube. (We must have been pretty lonely.)
Pittsburgh kept its decorations up long enough for me to catch pictures of them with a good dusting of snow. Now, even these are gone and it's just winter. Sigh... oh well. It's time to look to 2013.