{Where the Heart IS}

Christmas was a a whirlwind of family, fun, and reflections!  Hubby and I travelled up North to spend the weekend with my family.  Unfortunately, Christmas was on a Saturday, meaning Scott didn’t get much time off.  This was the first year that I have not gone home for at least a week! (Being a teacher has its benefits).
We had a great time playing games, eating, attending church, and exchanging gifts. My mom is a decorator extraordinaire, so it is impossible to not be in the Christmas spirit in her home.  I added a few touches and waalaa!

 We are truly so blessed!  Rather than deciding we get less gifts when we’re married, my parents continue to give great gifts to both my husband and I, as they do with my brother and his wife.  One of my favorite gifts was my sewing machine, which mom helped me practice on.  I definitely feel like a wife now that I have a kitchenaid and a sewing machine!!  My sis-in-law received the same machine, so we are excited to begin learning together! I also loved the grey Uggs my honey got me.  My old ones were . . . well decrepit!  He know that gray is one of my fave colors; what a sweetie!!  I got him mad Ugg slippers too, so it was a perfect gift swap!
All in all a great Christmas!  It was, however, hard to leave and I definitely cried for a good 30 minutes on the way home.  I feel so torn sometimes: I love SLO, our church and our friends.  But, I miss my family in Santa Rosa so much.  I wish I could see my mom all the time!  There really is no solution to this problem, so I am praying for contentment and patience and the Lord’s will.
My youngest bro!!

On another note. I said I would post a gift guide.  I had to wait until post-Christmas, but these ideas can help with gifts for any occasion!  I love giving gifts and as cocky as it may sound, I am pretty darn good at it!!  So here are some ways to give great gifts and not spend a lot!!
TOP TEN GIFTING TIPS!
1. Start early with a list.  Write each person’s name and anything that initially comes to mind. This way as new ideas come to mind, you can add them to your list.
2. Window Shop. Great for getting ideas.  You might see something and then think of a person who would love it!  EXAMPLE:  Saw hospitality plates at THE Nest and remembered that my mom loved the ones that were used at my shower.  I bought her a set of 7! 
3. Shop online!  I realized you could get hospitality sets online super cheap!  I bought the punch glasses on etsy.  This is great for books or games too (got Jenga for my hubby at Amazon).
4.  Think of things they would love, even if they don’t ask for them. EXAMPLE:  My brother is a HS B-ball coach, so I bought him a really nice top and tie from Banana to wear at games (on sale too!).
5. Coordinate:  Buying multiple small things that go together is always very fun.  I bought a girlfriend some travel related items since she is always on the go for work (travel make-up case, travel-calendar, journal from anthropologie).  She often does this for me as they have kitchen, garden, and office items.
6. Give consumable gifts: Gave my brother and his wife a movie gift card and a night of babysitting.  Last year we gave my parents a gift card for Yosemite!
7. Give gifts that keep on giving:  I gave my sis-in-law some crochet hooks and yarn.  I always buy my friend and her hubby a new movie and something to go with it. Last year it was Kettle Corn and her favoirte candies.  This year it was a Whirley Pop Machine.
8. Make something:  My cousin has been asking for a crocheted hat forever and said she only wanted handmade gifts.  I made her three hats and sewed a flower for one.  Then I bought her a flower to add to the others from The Pleated Poppy ( so it is technically handmade).  I embellished a plain frame and then put a pic of her and I in it from the wedding.  I love her a ton, so I also bought her a sweater from Forever 21. (See hats below).  Shutterfly items are also great.  Last year my mom got a photobook of her grandson and this year one from our wedding.  Last year my parents received a calendar from our trip to Glacier and this year, one of Luke.  THEY LOVE THESE GIFTS!
9.  Think outside the box!  My nephew luke receives toys and clothes galore, so I decided he wouldn’t go without if I got him something a little different.  I was at The Nest and saw a vintage rocking chair.  Loved. Bought. Wrapped. Gifted.  I included an Eric Carle book on shapes as well.
10.Upgrade the List:  Look at what people have asked for and then add to it!  My brother wanted a stereo for his car, so I went online and found a coupon and got him a better version that the one he wanted, but for the SAME price!!
HATS
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