5 Must-Haves for A NYE Date Night at Home

Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays with little ones. It is so magical seeing Christmas through the eyes of your tots. But, let's be honest, it is also so exhausting. We just finished up a round of twelve Christmas parties/functions over the last ten days. Twelve! Needless to say, now that New Years Eve is rolling around, the only thing I want to do is veg. Low-key is the idea.

A couple of years ago, David and I concocted up a new tradition: New Years Eve date night at home! Like any other night, we put the kids to bed around 7 PM. But instead of having a normal night crashing in front of the TV or doing chores around the house or passing out immediately (guilty as charged), we rang in the new year with an an at-home date night! It was easy, it was fun and, best of all... it was relaxing.

Here's my list for five things I think you need for the perfect New Years Eve date night at home.

1. A great menu.

This is definitely the number one priority. In 2014, David and I fed the kids an easy dinner (chicken sausage + avocado + apple slices always does the trick) and then, once we got them to bed, we started crafting a grand meal for ourselves. In the photo above, you can see our appetizer from last year- a prosciutto arugula and goat cheese wrap. So delish. Not sure what to cook? I've got a ton of fun food ideas pinned on my Pinterest food board or grab a good cookbook to get you inspired. I absolutely love Annette Joseph's Picture Perfect Parties. I was lucky enough to be gifted this book in person by Annette herself, a fellow Atlanta gal, but this book is definitely worth a trip to the bookstore or a place in your Amazon cart! She's got many different romantic Italian inspired party themes with complete menu ideas and even ideas to help make entertaining easy. I used her book to cook a big anniversary dinner at home for David and I this year- it would be perfect to create a New Years Eve feast at home, too! 

If you're not up to cooking, David and I have also rang in the new year by ordering in from our favorite fancy restaurant. While it's be fun to go out and eat, you don't have much choice if the kiddos are asleep and babysitters are scarce on NYE! To be honest, after all of the Christmas cooking hullabaloo, we may end up ordering a sushi feast from our favorite Japanese restaurant this year!

2. A fun cocktail or nice bottle of wine.

A close second to the must-have good food is a must-have good beverage. Splurge on that fancy bottle of wine you've been eyeing or mix up a fun cocktail like these. If you're not a drinker, make a mocktail! Either way, treat yourself with a festive beverage.

3. A cute but comfy outfit.

You're at home. But it's still New Years Eve. So what do you wear? Comfy but cute. Think, skinny sweatpants and a festive glitter t-shirt. I have these weekend skinny sweats and lovvvvve them. Pair those with this sparkle elbow patch top and you've got an adorable but cozy outfit.

4. A fun board game.

Instead of camping out in front of the TV and watching lame NYE shows, keep the TV off and cuddle up with a warm blanket and your favorite board game. Our family favorites? The classics: Monopoly, Life and Taboo. I would love some other suggestions, though- what are your favorite adult board games?! You could also use the downtime to share New Years resolutions or even fun date night questions with your spouse. My friend Courtney has a great date night series where she lists all kinds of thoughtful questions and talking points to bring up both fun and serious topics.

5. A festive ambiance. 

No, you don't have to go over the top with balloons or glitter confetti. But definitely put the kids to bed, crank up some slow jams and light a fire in the fireplace (assuming our weather ever turns cold!). A date night at home is only special if you make it special, otherwise it's just a regular night at home! Light some candles, put away the toys. Create a space that's just perfect for you and your partner to celebrate ringing in the new year.

Those are just a few ideas that David and I have used in the past to ensure an excellent New Years Eve date night at home. I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions, especially on new board games to try! And a very happy New Years to you! 2016 is going to be a good one, people!

The Dream House: A Black + White Powder Bath

Okay, so now that the cat is out of the bag that we're building a farm house, my little "Dream House" series isn't exactly a total dream! In fact, these design boards are definite and true reflections of some of the rooms we want to create in our new house. Very exciting, right?! 

Downstairs, we hope to have a half/powder bathroom for daily and guest use. Just a toilet and a sink, nothing fancy. Okay, and maybe some retro black and white hexagon tiles, a killer vintage rug and some inky black walls. That will do, don't you think? I want this to be a space that feels homey and classic, but has a somewhat unexpected and funky vibe. I think an acrylic shelf and a wooden leg plat stand would add a modern touch and the black moody walls will give it that wow factor.

Source list:

Stocking Stuffer Holiday Gift Guide for All Ages

I know, right. One more gift guide? Really? But, this is a good one. You've bought all the gifts, checked everyone off of your list. But did you remember the stocking stuffers?! I've got a few ideas for you that might be better than the dollar bin at Target. Although, I'm not knocking the dollar bin at Target. Love me some Dollar Spot. But these stocking stuffer ideas are original, unique and, well, uncommon.

I'm all about endorsing companies that I truly love, value and use and Uncommon Goods is certainly one of those. Straight out of Brooklyn, New York, this company has some really great creds like they employee workers who make 50% more than the minimum wage. Or half of their goods are made by hand. Or even better, over a third of their products are made from recycled products. Amazing right? And oh, by the way, their products are all pretty amazing and I can speak from personal experience. I've been using Uncommon Goods products for years- one of my kids favorite toys to this day is the cone crayons they can put on their fingers! Well-made, quality, innovative products.

So who wouldn't want such great, unique products in their stocking this year?! Thanks to UG's Christmas gift list, which you can check out here, there are a ton of options. A few of my favorites are the avocado tree starter kit found here, the wooden kitchen utensils found here and the unicorn headband found here. By the way, everything I snapped in my board above (with the exception of the super cool beard kit, $40) is less than $25. That's amazing, people! The perfect list of stocking stuffers. For more ideas, head here for women's gifts and here for men's gifts.

So, what's Santa putting in your stocking this year?!

*Thanks to Uncommon Goods for partnering up with me for this post.

Our No-Fuss, Kid Inspired Colorful Christmas Mantel

Christmas mantels are kind of my jam. Every year, I use our fireplace mantel as sort of the piece de resistance for our Christmas decor. It's just my thing. One year, Better Homes and Gardens even featured this mantel on their website! I'm sort of a big deal. Kidding, kidding.

But this year, I decided to retire my self-proclaimed talents and give this season's mantel decor to the kids. Our downstairs here in our rental house has very little wall space to display art and even less surface space to set up little vignettes. The fireplace mantel is just about the prime spot in the house. So, instead of making a fuss this year, I decided to use the mantel to display the kids' adorable Christmas art from this year and years past. And that inspired our absolutely colorful Christmas tree- it's sort of a little random rainbow of fun. Which works because the kids are constantly decorating and undecorating and then decorating and undecorating again... a random theme is just what we need. Speaking of, I promise I'll do a step-by-step tutorial soon on how to hang your ornaments like HDawg- ie. 47 ornaments on one branch. The cluster effect, yeah?  (ps. there is a star on our tree, it's white lights got covered by the bright sunshine!)

This year's mantel is so low-fuss that I almost didn't share it with you guys here on the blog. I mean, anyone can stack a couple of pieces of kiddo art on a mantel and call it decorated, right? But then you guys had so much love earlier this week for this post and my proclamation to love the ordinary this season that I thought hey, why not share. Maybe someone will be inspired to feel less pressure to decorate perfectly and more pressure to decorate for your family. I'm sure next year I'll be inspired to create a beautiful Christmas mantel (especially if we're in our new house by then!) but for this year, I'm enjoying our no-fuss, kid inspired Christmas decor. 

Source list: stockings, reindeer (similar), felt garland, wreath, snow globe

Feel free to check out my previous years' Christmas mantels if you are in the mood for something pretty!

Do-it-Yourself Easy Christmas Project Round Up

I'm so glad you guys loved my Elf Yourself advent calendar! Our kiddos love it and I think it's pretty hilarious to see them dressed as tiny elves, so be sure to get one started this year or bookmark it for next year.

Today, I thought I'd share some of my favorite do-it-yourself Christmas and holiday projects I've done over the years. My theme? Fun, festive, easy. Think you can sign up for that?!

Even though HDawg is officially able to eat dairy now, I'm sure we'll recreate this dairy-free gingerbread man experience from last year.

If you're in to sharing small gifts for advent, check out my rustic paper bag + chalkboard tag advent calendar. You can fill each bag with small goodies throughout December.

My Santa Hat Bugle and sugar cookie chex mix recipe is a big hit at Christmas parties and so easy to make!

On the decorating side of things, another simple craft is this holiday pinwheel garland.

Pinterest loves this super easy (I mean, really easy) Christmas decorating idea: fill a shadowbox with tiny ornaments like I did in this vignette.

Hosting a Christmas cookie party this year? Here are a few ideas from when I hosted mine!

Another favorite decorating holiday project I did was these DIY glitter candles. These could be used for Christmas, New Years or really any special occasion!

For something a little more different and rustic, try this floating pinecone mobile.

Finally, the queen of easy projects- my DIY poinsettia wreath.

Hope that inspires you to get crafting this holiday season!

Last-Minute + Easy Elf Yourself DIY Advent Calendar

I know we're already a couple of days into the advent season (let's be honest, it took me a good few days to get my couch and coffee table cleaned up enough to take this photos, although please note the adorable Little People manger scene which Lu so dearly replaced Snow White for the angel, ha!), but if you're running a bit behind and need a last-minute and easy DIY advent calendar, I've got a good idea for you!

I simply printed this free printable advent calendar (I printed it at my local print shop so it would be high quality color, laminated and cut all for $11!) and then punched holes along the top of each card and strung with red and white bakers twine. Then you've got to create the elf clothespins! To elf yourself, print a photo of you or your kids and cut out the head. Use glitter card stock to create the rest of the elf- funny shoes, hat and silly outfit. Then hot glue the elf pieces to a clothespin. Each day, the kids get to move their elf closer to the end. When the kids get a little older, I plan to write out an advent service each day (donate old toys, bake cookies for a neighbor, sing a carol to a friend, etc.) and simply tape the service note to the back of each calendar square. This little project is so versatile! Our kids have already had so much fun with the elf yoself advent calendar and, now, counting backwards from 24 is our new daily hobby. Yesterday we even counted in Spanish. Veintidos! Not bad for such a last-minute and easy DIY advent!

That One Time We Bought A Farm....

No, but really. We bought a farm. Well, kind of. A vacant farm. Is that a thing? A wannabe farm. A soon-to-be farm. We're going to build a farm, people! 

Let's rewind. Ever since we put our old house on the market four years ago, David and I have been dreaming and scheming about buying again. As you guys know from here, we didn't exactly have the luxury of selling the old house and immediately buying. It took us four years to get that sale wrapped up, which meant four years of changing our minds about where we wanted to buy. Or, more importantly, where we wanted to set roots. Where we wanted to grow our family. Let me just tell you that I'm pretty sure David and I are Zillow's number one and two users- we have been obsessively house hunting for years! And not even just in one area- we pretty much followed searches all across metro Atlanta, just to cover our bases. At one point, we decided we definitely wanted to be in the city. Then we definitely wanted to be in the suburbs. Then we thought we'd buy an old house and renovate. Then we wanted to build a new house in the suburbs. Then we wanted to live in the city again. We were all over the place, but a lot can happen in four years! While it was hard to be patient, we had faith that God was leading us in the right direction and would put us on the right path in terms of where to settle.

Fast forward to October of this year, when we finally closed on the sale of our old house. One October Saturday, our little family was at our (rental house's) neighborhood fall festival. While I was waiting in line with HDawg and Little Lady June to get balloon animals, I noticed David was on the phone. After we got our butterfly and dog balloons, the kids and I rambled over to David and he said, "I found some land I think we should go look at!" I was a little confused- we had been mostly looking at subdivision lots with an acre or two of land, but this was 17.5 acres. But, it was a beautiful day and the kids wanted to play outside, so I said "okay, let's take a walk through the woods, honey." And the rest was history.

All the heart eyes, all the soil tests, all the meetings with builders, lots of time in the woods, more heart eyes, many many prayers, plenty of chats with our architect, lots of conversations with county officials about zoning and flood plain and taxes and rural development, a few more heart eyes and then one official closing with my new law office and I am proud to report that we're officially the owners of 17.5 acres in a country suburb outside of Atlanta.

The land is beautiful. There are two cleared pastures of about four acres each, a perfect home site, lots of pretty woods and even a gorgeous meandering creek along the back of the property. In the best school districts, about 20-25 minutes from our offices. The kids love it. David loves it. I love it. There's a perfect spot for a huge garden that we plan on starting this spring. Possibly even some small animals (chickens? goats?) in our future. And, the best part? I get to build my dream house. Hello, people! My dream house! I can't even begin to tell you how excited that makes us. And don't you worry, I plan to report it all here on the ol' blog. It's been awhile since Ten June has seen some great home projects outside of our four years of renting, so hopefully you guys are still around and ready to see some of our house building and farm growing process!

We officially bought the land a few weeks ago, but we're still in the very beginning processes of the build. I would like to say that we will break ground in February or so and then have a 6-8 month build timeline after that, but that's still all up in the air as we wait for our plans to be finished and the process to continue. After four years of waiting to see where life was going to take us, a few months ain't no thang. So exciting though, right? While we wait, David and I will just pretend to be Chip and Joanna Gaines and basically pin anything "farm house" or "ship lap" to our inspiration boards until then. Hellooooo dream farm house, here we come.


Little Lady June's Pink + Blue Nursery Room Updates

It's been awhile since you guys have seen Little Lady June's nursery, so I thought I'd check in with an update! She's 21 months old and still happily sleeping in her crib, so not much has changed in terms of the main pieces in the room. I moved the DIY stuffed animal heads to HDawg's bedroom and replaced them with a blank, empty wall. I thought the wall needed to breathe a little, do you ever feel that way? No? Just me. Okay, Michelle, stop talking about walls breathing before you freak everybody out. To the left of the dresser, I created a DIY hair bow holder by gluing a sparkly sheet of card stock to the front of a wooden letter I found in the craft aisle at Target. Then I hot glued a ribbon to the back of the letter and bam, a hair bow holder. I also used some simple washi tape to add a vintage photo of my grandmother and her four sisters. LLJ was named for these five ladies, so it's important for her to have their photo in her room!

On the other side of the room, I did what every interior design loving blogger momma promises to never do: I added a character to the room. The horrors! But seriously, my little girl loves her some Minnie Mouse, so it's Minnie Mouse she gets. We go through many, many books a day, so I pulled some of her favorites off of our main bookshelf and put them in a book basket next to her side table. For awhile, I'd walk in her room and find her tucked in the corner, sitting on the floor next to her book basket reading. I knew it was high time I create this gal a comfy reading space, so when the folks I'm teamed up with at Savvy Sassy Scouts asked if I... I mean, LLJ... wanted to try out the Minnie Mouse chair by Delta, I knew exactly where it should go. And seriously, she loves it- I find her in there reading all the time. The chair is super cute without being too themey, if you know what I mean. At 21 months and about 26 pounds, she's a little tiny for the chair and sometimes has a problem getting her balance to sit down, but I'm sure she'll grow into it (the chair is recommended for ages 3-9). 

When you ask her if she likes the chair, this is the look you get:

See? It's a winner!

For more information about items in this room and a lots of other photos, check out my original nursery room reveal post and full little girl's nursery source list post.

*I received this product as part of my affiliation with Savvy Sassy Scouts.

$125 Minted Giveaway for Holiday Cards!

As you guys know from here, here and here, I'm a big fan of Minted, especially when it comes to their Christmas cards! This year will be our third year using Minted cards and I don't think I could ever use another brand. The quality is unbeatable (the card paper is so thick!) and I adore their collection of card options designed by independent artists. It makes every card feel unique. This year, Minted is even offering free recipient addressing which is kind of the best thing since sliced fruitcake. 

It's officially the season to order your Christmas cards, so to help one of you out, Minted is giving away a $125 credit to use at Minted for your holiday cards. Talk about a little ho, ho, ho!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Dream House: A Cozy Farmhouse Keeping Room

Today's another installation of my dream house series. If I could plan my absolute dream home, what would it look like? One thing is for sure, I'd have a cozy keeping room nook located right off of our kitchen. It doesn't have to be a big space- just a little space with enough room for a couple of overstuffed armchairs and a fireplace. And while we're dreaming, how about vaulted ceilings with rustic exposed wooden beams? Yes, please! My goals for this room would be to create a warm, cozy space that I could curl up in to do my morning Bible readings or a place the kids could later work on some homework while I'm cooking dinner. A nice, quiet place of relaxation. With that said, I think I'd focus less on color and more on textures in the space- a neutral palette with the introduction of a soft wool rug, white shiplap walls, rustic wooden beams, leather furniture and a brick herringbone fireplace. I think I could spend some nice, cozy time in there, don't you?!

Source list:

chandelier (one of my all time favorites!)
fireplace image (unknown source)
knit blanket (I also have this one and have gifted this one! and eyeing this faux fur throw... Santa?)
not pictured, but you can imagine all kinds of pillows in this room like these, these or these

I realized when I was making this board that I don't really have any go-to sources for quality vintage-looking leather furniture. Do you have any recommendations? Do share!

For more from my dream house series, check out:

Or follow me on Pinterest for more inspiration!

A Look Back: Favorite Spaces in Our Renovated Ranch

As you guys know, we finally sold our home (after an agonizing almost four year long process which you can read all about here) in October. Today, I want to hop back in time and share some of my favorite projects, rooms and spaces from the first home that David and I owned together. I figured a little blog tribute was appropriate because this blog wouldn't be in existence without this house! So, one last time, here's our renovated ranch. I won't cry, I promise. Okay, maybe a little. Grab me a tissue, will you?

While we focused mainly on the interior, I love what we did to the outside of the house. We brought some curb appeal to the outside of the casa with a paint job, reincarnating the house's old black shutters (which the previous owners ripped off, for some reason?!), a bright red painted front door and lots, and lots, and lots of yard work. Remember that one time I found a dead gopher in the yard (butIdidntreallybecauseimanidiot)? Yeah, we worked hard in that yard!

Speaking of the outside of that house, we can't neglect to mention the pool. Hands down, this was the best place to entertain. We had so many great parties, gatherings and memories made at this pool and in the adjacent screened in porch!

Inside, there's a three way tie for my favorite room. Is that allowed? I'm doing it anyways!

Favorite room part one: our navy blue dining room. The blue walls, the DIY bamboo sunburst mirror,  the stenciled wine rack. Man, I loved that room. So much so that I plan to recreate in our next house, for sure!

My favorite room part two: HDawg's nursery. To be quite honest, I think this is still one of my favorite rooms that I've ever designed. And I love that I've basically recreated it at both rental houses that we've lived in since moving from this house, so it's like his nursery has always been the same for him. Now that he's three, the room is still such a timeless, classic space that is growing with him. I love it!

Favorite room part three: our DIY labor of love, the renovated master bathroom. I still can't believe we did so much of that work ourselves. So tough! But in the end, that amazing double shower and beautiful tile was worth it!

So those are some of my favorite projects and spaces from that house. If you want to see more spaces in that house (including an updated guest bathroom, office update, two living room makeovers, a sunroom makeover and a kitchen revamp), check out the full house tour right here!

Please tell me you think wistfully about your old houses? We are certainly ready to move on from this house (and on to bigger and better things... stay tuned!) but it's still so special to us!
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