christmas recap

Friday, December 28, 2012

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what a wonderful holiday it was (and still is)! i have been having such a lovely time home with my family. i don't go back to work until january 2nd, so i have been having a long, extended holiday vacation. no complaints here.

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on christmas eve, as part of a fairly new tradition put into place a few years back, my stepdad donned his santa costume, and off we went on a holiday drive. santa delivered chocolates to the hard workers at chick-fil-a (where my little brother was working. haaaaa), visited one of our shopping plazas in town to wave at every passerby and shout merry christmas, and even made a personal stop at the home of one of our family friends. i think i should be embarrassed by this whole shenanigan, but i think it's the greatest thing ever. the looks on peoples' faces as they see santa driving a trailblazer makes my heart crazy happy. my stepdad is such a good sport about it, and really gives it his all when he yells ho ho ho out the window.

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that evening, my family and i went to candlelight service at church and then home to eat traditional irish stew for dinner. i don't know why we eat irish stew. we've been doing it for as long as i can remember, and i just go with it because it's delicious. after dinner, my brother and i went on a late night hot cocoa run. the only place we could find that was still open late on christmas eve was our local mcdonald's. i kind of hated myself for going there, but it turns out they know how to do hot cocoa riiight.

{photo credit: me and motha}

on christmas morning, our living room always looks like santa's gift bag exploded upon arrival. our tree is buried under a mountain of things. it's quite a sight. we always open stockings first where we are usually guaranteed to find a toothbrush and an orange. this year i found a toothbrush, an orange, and a potato. a red skinned potato. nice.

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we took breaks in between presents to eat coffee cake, hashbrown casserole, and refill our coffee mugs, but then we were right back in the game. santa likes to get creative with his presents. for every good gift we receive (like a gift we actually asked for), he likes to throw in three or four wild cards. for example, i got a gift card to anthropologie (!!) and then proceeded to open a jar of pickles, a ceramic rubber ducky planter, and a bottle of lotion that smelled like a grandma.

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we went over to my dad's house later in the afternoon to open gifts and eat more junk food. it was glorious! my dad makes the best fruitcake and fudge of anyone i know. he showered us with gifts and then gave us eggnog and lots of food. in turn, he received a replica of the christmas story leg lamp.

christmas 2012 was a yet another wonderful holiday with loved ones. i'm trying not to be depressed that it's over. how many more days until we get to do it again?

how was your christmas?? tell me, tell me. 

christmas day

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

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happy christmas! having a great day with my family. both of my brothers are in town, and i am loving the fun and laughter they always bring. 

i pray that the love of Christ surrounds you and yours on this wonderful day.

christmas eve

Monday, December 24, 2012

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merry christmas eve! hold your loved ones close. 

red like taylor swift

Thursday, December 20, 2012

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why in the world have i not been wearing red lipstick until now? i just bought my first tube at the wal*mart, and i'm digging the way it makes me look like a grown up. at least until i blow bubbles in my milk and completely blow my cover. 

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thank you, tay swift, for inspiring me to branch out from unscented chapstick.

*linking up here!*


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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it seems like this holiday season has been filled with a lot of incredibly painful moments for as happy as it usually is around this time of the year. i feel such sadness for the families of the children and teachers in newtown. one of my close friends recently experienced her own loss of a loved one and even more friends have coworkers who have lost a child or a parent in the past couple weeks. 

each passing is tremendously sad on its own but seems to be compounded by the fact that Christmas is literally right around the corner. christmas. such a wonderful holiday but also a deeply heartbreaking holiday for those missing loved ones. 

to those who are filled with grief, i am deeply sorry. i know words of sympathy don't even scratch the surface of how you are feeling. i pray that peace and comfort find you this holiday season. you are cared for, being thought about, being prayed for. 


"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

2 corinthians 1:4

oh, deer (head)

Friday, December 14, 2012

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this is the story of how cast iron deer head and i met, went home together, became best friends. 

we met a goodwill. he was sitting on the bottom shelf of the knick knack section. i came up and introduced myself. he didn't say much, or anything really. just stared at me with his big, white deer eyes.

i took him home where he sat propped up against my wall. i tried to include him in some fun reindeer games, but he was having none of it. kind of wallflower, turns out.

after a year of passive aggressive notes back and forth, i finally realized he wasn't happy sitting on the floor in my room. he needed a place to call his own.

i called my stepdad and explained the situation. he gave me a list of supplies i'd need and told me he'd be over to help as soon as he could.

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pretty soon the plan was in motion. all it took was a little spray paint, a wooden plaque, and a long talk with deer head. we both apologized.

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he now hangs triumphantly in my room as my guard deer, keeping watch over me as i sleep. he has found his place in this world.

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he's getting a little frisky, too. looking for a good doe to kiss. if you know of any...

pumpkin pie bars

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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it's december 12th, and i feel weird posting a recipe for pumpkin bars. i feel like once thanksgiving is over, only recipes involving crushed candy canes and cupcakes in the shape of santa's face are allowed in blog land. not that i have anything against eating a miniature cake shaped like jolly old saint nick. i'd eat that cupcake like it was my job. i have a feeling i'd be really good at it, too. probably would get promoted by the end of my first day. 

it's still technically fall until the 21st or something, so i'm going to push aside my weird, irrational thoughts about pumpkin recipes and just go for it. i'm making it into a big deal, and it is not. what would be a big deal is if i talked about santa cupcakes for another paragraph. 

pumpkin pie bars


cake dough crust:
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine (melted)
1 egg

pumpkin filling ingredients:
1 16 oz. can of libby's pumpkin pie mix (i accidentally bought the honking 32 oz. can for my recipe, and it still turned out delicious). 
2 eggs
2/3 cup of milk

cookie topping
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup soft margarine


mix cake mix, melted butter, and egg together. reserve 1 cup for topping.

spread remainder on the bottom of 9 x13 dish.

blend the pumpkin filling ingredients together and pour on top of the cake dough crust.

mix sugar, cinnamon, and soft butter. add this mixture to the 1 cup of reserved topping.

spoon or sprinkle this mixture over the pumpkin filling. bake 350° for 50-60 minutes until filling is cooked through but crust is not burned. 

ok. enough words. time to eat. 

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max wanger prints

Monday, December 10, 2012

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i have been a longtime admirer of photographer max wanger.* i don't remember how i first came upon his site, but it was a pretty incredible experience. i heard angels singing the hallelujah chorus. 

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his images are always incredibly dreamy like he put everyone inside a colorful snow globe and then shook it around. simple, perfect, wistful.

fortunately, some of his delightful images are now available as prints! he has recently launched an online shop where you can purchase a selection of his images and have a little piece of max to hang in your home. this is good news for people like me who could never afford to hire him personally. (you can even pretend it's an original).

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some of his prints are as low as $15 which is a steal for such fine photography. anyone left one your christmas gift who appreciates beautiful images/art? how about your favorite blogger who, on charm and wittiness alone, makes your day every time you read a new post by her? there's still time! and look, i've made it even easier for you by including three active links below. {wow! so easy!}

find max here:

print shop

wedding and portrait site


*this is not a sponsored post. all thoughts and opinions are my own. i am not being compensated for this blog post. max wanger does not know that i exist nor that i have a crush on him.

the lovely list. part thirteen.

Friday, December 7, 2012

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does everybody know what time it is? it's blog time! (name that tv show and win yourself a mention in an upcoming post. we're talking major media publicity here).

here is my latest irregular and unpredictable installment of the lovely list. this list is one of my favorite posts because not only does it require little word prep and lots of big pictures, but it helps me remember the small things. afterall, most of life is comprised of a lot of small things stacked on top of each other, yeah? the good, the bad, the mundane. this list gives me a chance to reflect on the good.

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morning coffee at swank with friends chelsea and sarah. swank is stocked with pretty christmas decorations. i want it alllll.

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burgers, thick cut fries, and bourbon milkshakes at chuck's with my friend micah. it's a killer trifecta.

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this tree.

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one of the perks of a rainy day is a chance to get to wear these babies. i feel a little bit like little red riding hood in reverse.

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homemade salted caramel chocolate pie tort shortbread crust thing. the longer the title, the better it tastes. this dessert was nine letters long good.

in other news, my parents came up on sunday and helped me with some things around the apartment including hanging a string of handmade mason jar lights out on our deck and helping me hang my deer head that i mentioned literally a year ago in this post. he is taking to his new wall quite well. i'm a proud mama. (pictures soon!)

what's lovely, ya'll? (this is not a rhetorical question. i really want to know).

**linking up here!**

asheville weekend

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

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a few weekends ago, some friends and i went to the mountains for a mini getaway. when you can't afford a week long vacation to anywhere, you make do with a weekend trip and stay in the cheapest hotel you can find. you split the hotel room with four people, eat the hotel's free breakfast every morning, and order soup for lunch (a cup, not a bowl). magically, you're on vacation and affording it.

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i can't function without morning coffee. obvi, the dripolator coffee bar was our first stop.

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we spent the afternoon walking around downtown asheville, blowing cash monies on whatever struck our fancy. this meant i bought three bottles of nail polish at $1.50 a pop. what i really wanted to buy were all of those bright, shiny packages tied up with string. santa?

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also, the chocolate fetish? just stop. stop with your delicious truffles (all 750 varieties) and your kind employees and your cute bags and sitting tables. i hate you. i love you. get out of my life. come closer.

{photo credit: me and nice friends}

perhaps my favorite part of our trip was happy hour at the battery park book exchange and champagne bar. it's like this place came straight out of my dreams into reality. you take a seat in one of their comfy chairs or outside on their patio area with a good book and nice people bring you glasses of wine and cheese and crackers. they'd probably feed you if you asked them to, but i'm not that high maintenance so i stuck with just a foot rub.

we had a great time on our mini getaway! it's awesome to be able to drive a few hours and spend a weekend away from home. where we going this weekend, guys?

decembrrr mix

Monday, December 3, 2012

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welcome to the best mix of the year, trick. it's christmastime. hit it. 

*decembrrr mix*

it's christmas : the polyphonic spree

raise the tree : trent dabbs

mele kalikimaka : bing crosby

christmas (baby please come home) : slow club

toy jackpot : blackalicious

come thou fount of every blessing : sufjan stevens

please come home for christmas : the eagles

get down for the holidays : jenny o.

marshmallow world : zach williams & the bellow

angels we have heard on high : future of forestry

merry christmas tonight : drew holcomb and the neighbors

drummer boy : justin bieber

christmas in the city : matt wertz

silver bells : sleeping at last

have yourself a merry little christmas : drew holcomb and the neighbors

the eagles' cover of please come home for christmas is my all-time favorite christmas song even though it starts off with the sad and lonely lines, "bells will be ringing the sad, sad news. oh, what a christmas to have the blues. my baby's gone, i have no friends to wish me greetings once again."

yes, that very depressing song about being alone at christmas is my top pick. i'm not sure what this says about me. i promise i'm not a scrooge.

what are some of your favorite christmas songs?

merry christmas season! WOOOHOOO. candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.

dress your tech

Saturday, December 1, 2012

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the awesome design blog, designlovefest, has a regular column called dress your tech that features cutie pie backgrounds for your computer (ipad, iphone, etc.) designed by the weaver house. they are always very graphically interesting whether using text, striking color palates, or just images/shapes. here are a few of my favorites. 

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the "chill" one was my background for a long time. maybe because i needed the reminder? download one today, and spice up your desktop!

because i couldn't say it better myself

Thursday, November 29, 2012

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i just read this post on thoughts by natalie, and i had to share with you all. i would botch it up big time if i tried to paraphrase it, so here it is straight from her blog.

. . .

Though for the majority of my life I've been a sunrise kind of girl, lately I've come to appreciate what I like to refer to as the transcendent hour. Every afternoon when I take Maggie out for her second outing of the day, I aim to time it just right so that I catch the miraculous moments when heaven feels just that much closer. The sun seems to be on fire in every shade of red, orange and yellow imaginable. The clouds take on new life, painted with purples and pinks.

In these moments, I feel alive in a way that I've never experienced. In that setting sun, peeking through trees and glistening over the Pacific, and dusting everything it touches with deep golden light, I see beauty deeper than I've ever been able to attain or understand. When I see this breathtaking sight, I feel the way Ann Voskamp describes in these excerpts from "One Thousand Gifts"...

I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep. Isn’t beauty what we yearn to burn with before we die? What else so ignites, hot flame? Beauty is all that is glory and God is Beauty embodied, glory manifested. This is what I crave: I hunger for Beauty. Is that why I must keep up the hunt? When I cease the beauty hunt, is that why I begin to starve, waste away?
Like an addiction, a compulsion that can’t stop its seeking, do I always want to see more beauty—more of the glory of God? Because that is what I am made for—to give Him more glory.

Beauty requires no justification, no explanation; it simply is and transcends. See beauty and we know it in the marrow, even if we have no words for it: Someone is behind it, in it. Beauty Himself completes.

What is this that I feel sitting here, coursing through me relentless, hot, ardent? I have to seek God beauty. Because isn’t my internal circuitry wired to seek out something worthy of worship? Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don’t see God, I’ll bow down before something else.

Is worship why I’ve run for the moon? Not for lunar worship, but for True Beauty worship, worship of Creator Beauty Himself. God is present in all the moments, but I do not deify the wind in the pines, the snow falling on hemlocks, the moon over harvested wheat. Pantheism, seeing the natural world as divine, is a very different thing than seeing divine God present in all things. I know it here kneeling, the twilight so still: nature is not God but God revealing the weight of Himself, all His glory, through the looking glass of nature.

Wow. Writing out her words, I am just hit to the core. When I read them over, again and again as I do, I can't help but think, "YES! I'm with you, sister!" I crave beauty, hunt for it, yearn for it. It literally consumes my mind sometimes—though admittedly not always for good. I can sometimes let my desire for God Beauty be falsely satisfied through my pursuit of self-beauty. It never fulfills the way God's real beauty does—the way that sunset gives me the teensiest glimpse of the beauty I'll see one day when I meet my Maker.

. . . 

anyone else relate? this is my favorite part: 

"Beauty requires no justification, no explanation; it simply is and transcends. See beauty and we know it in the marrow, even if we have no words for it: Someone is behind it, in it. Beauty Himself completes."

God created some things for no practical purpose except to be beautiful, to show off His creativity. i look at the ocean and daybreak and am wowed. i drive down a tree lined street in the autumn season, and the golds and oranges and reds create and covering above me. i walk past a honeysuckle bush, and the sweet scent makes me take a moment to smell in deeply. the beauty stops me to say thank you. 

sometimes i feel silly by my fascination with the beautiful, the pretty. i feel like i should not be so moved by the way sunlight enters through the window and hits the floor like gold. i feel like i should be sitting somewhere with my head in a book reading about religion and society. but that's not really what motivates me to worship. i am moved to worship the Creator when i appreciate his creation. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

oh, i don't like to be very sentimental if i don't have to be. 
oh, but i think that i just may have glued my hands to yours if you had asked me 
-andrew belle

the aftermath

Saturday, November 24, 2012

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the turkey has been demolished, the cranberry sauce is only a few berries left, the mashed potatoes have seen their shining moment come and go, and now my jeans don't want to zip up. what's wrong with you, jeans? i consume 4,000 calories in one day, and you can't manage to work with my new, enlarged waistline? useless.

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thanksgiving was a pretty wonderful day for the ostoj clan. i spent time with all of my favorite people (james bond included-go skyfall, go skyfall, go), oohed and ached over my dad's new harley, watched the bad lip synching during the macy's parade, drank lots of black coffee, helped decorate the family christmas tree that was literally put up before all of the thanksgiving dinner dishes were clean and dry, and just enjoyed being safe and warm and cozy at home.

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now that thanksgiving is over, it is socially acceptable to listen to christmas music and quote lines from elf, and that excites me. but let's be real. i do these things throughout the year (and so do you?). the next 30 days are some of my most favorite days of the year what with all the cookie baking and christmas parties and general goodwill and cheer. 

but first and foremost, for me christmas celebrates the birth of my Savior. i don't think i can ever give enough thanks for that. i tend to gloss over the details of God's ultimate gift to us and say my thanks without thinking about what a sacrifice it truly was, but i am truly grateful. 

here's to the start of a very merry christmas season and for remembering the meaning behind it all.
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