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Dec 21, 2014 HTB Happenings

well, i'm a day late on my weekly recap, but better late than never!  as christmas gets closer, i feel like my life is getting crazier!  i'm officially on christmas break from teaching (woohoo!) and we had an adorable little sing along with my preschoolers and their parents. they sang jingle bells and the first verse of away in a manger and they were so proud of themselves!

+ i designed our family's christmas cards this year and included a little hand lettering!
+ aj's mom and i drove to boston on thursday and brought aj and my cousin zac (who also goes to berklee) home for the holiday!  it's going to be so great to have him home for a month!
+ i spent lots of late nights knitting this week...i think i knit 10 or 11 scarves in the past 6 days!
+ our christmas cards arrived friday.  i love them!  but also disappointed because we ordered 25 and they only sent!

in case you missed it:
+ in what ways is god calling you to be generous right where you are?
+ here are my five tips for having the prettiest presents under the tree this year!
+ i talked about dressing down and featured a beautiful necklace from pink lemonade!
+ two exciting giveaways are open right now for you!  (but hurry!)
+ a quick little grateful list!

don't miss these:
+ if you're obsessed with washi tape like i am, then you need to check out this super simple diy washi tape jar from meg!
+ love love love this handmade holiday gift guide from farm pretty!
+ these fun diy cards from melissa!
+ summer's thoughts on advent.
+ these yummy granola & yogurt parfaits from madison!  

have a fantastic sunday!

Dec 19, 2014 Giveaway Day!

i try really hard to never center a post around a giveaway.  i like to add giveaways into posts with more content, and i don't think i've ever offered more than one in any post.  but i'm traveling today and i wanted to give you all the opportunity to enter both of these giveaways that i've partnered with other bloggers to be a part of, so, today, we're going for it.... #hatersgonnahate.

emily ley simplified planner

the christmas season is such a spirit filled, cozy time of the year, but there is nothing quite as refreshing as a new year and new plans. there's so much hope & eagerness to see what the new year will hold.

to get you on the right track & ready for all that 2015 has to offer, i've teamed up with jenni from frankly my dear & several other ladies to give away one lucky a reader a sold out 2015 Daily edition of emily ley's simplified planner in happy stripes!

 the williams journey // blonde freedom // joyfully organized // new home, new name, new adventure // simply complex mom // park avenue // rachel rewritten // heavens to betsy // frankly my dear // oak + oats 

one simplified planner will be given away in happy stripes. open to those with a valid us address for shipping. all entries will be verified. no purchase is necessary to win. giveaway will run until 12/21 at 11:59pm. winner will be emailed and have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen. 
good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

brighter day

i've also partnered with some other wonderful bloggers to offer one reader this clutch and these silver foil earrings from brighter day!  these are so cute and would make a great addition to any wardrobe/accessories collection for the new year!

have fun and good luck!

Dec 18, 2014 Dress Down and Pink Lemonade

sometimes my job requires me to do some hands-on work like painting.  this week at work has been particularly busy with preparations for our christmas eve, so i needed to dress comfortably.  that meant my favorite pair of jeans, a soft long-sleeve tee, a drapey cardigan, and some sneakers.  but because i also like to accessorize, i added this cute pink lemonade necklace to the mix!  you already know my affinity for wearing scarves, but they can get in the way, so choosing a cute necklace is always a good option as well!

i can't tell you the number of compliments that i got from this necklace.  not only does it pair well with neutrals, it is also handmade and was really comfortable to wear!  with a simple fabric tie in the back, it's easy to customize the length of the necklace and it was soft around my neck as i went about my work all day.

paige, the owner of pink lemonade  started her shop when she was just 14.  her work is absolutely gorgeous and unique, and what i love even more about her shop is that her desire is to glorify god with the work of her hands.  i can't encourage you enough to go over to her shop and check out her stuff!

and exclusively for heavens to betsy readers, you can take 30% off your next pink lemonade purchase with the code "betsy"!  don't miss out on that awesome offer!

and follow along with paige and pink lemonade here:  

Dec 17, 2014 Community Brew // Be Generous Right Where You Are

today i'm joining in with madison over at wetherills say i do and rachel of oh, simple thoughts for their community brew link-up!  community brew is a monthly link-up that is designed for bloggers to be "open, honest, and vulnerable, and to build community with others."  december's prompt is generosity, so join in and tell us a little bit about what season of life you're in!

it's hard to believe that christmas is a week away.  i'm sitting in my room, looking at a pile of wrapped gifts and receipts stacked on my desk.  i can't wait to give those gifts out next week.  i love picking out something great for someone i love and i'm looking forward to handing out these carefully-picked and wrapped gifts on christmas day.

generosity is a buzz-word this time of year.  in fact, it was our theme for the month as the character-education assemblies that i help to organize through our church.  we spent a few days teaching kids that generosity is "making someone's day by giving something away", and i can't think of a better way to put it!  everywhere you look right now, you'll see examples of people being generous.  generosity in giving gifts to friends and family; supporting charities; sponsoring families in need....opportunities to be generous are all around us every day.

i love practicing generosity year round, and i'm learning to be more generous with my money so that i can be a blessing to others in that way.  you see, being generous with my time has always been easy for me.  but money, well, that's been harder to release control over.  i'm in my mid-twenties, with two degrees under my belt, which also means a decent amount of student debt.  so i've always made it a point to be as frugal as possible.

but i've learned that not only does god call us to be generous (and that being faithful in our giving to him through our tithes will return more blessings than we can imagine), but he delights in it when we show generosity!

no matter what your financial situation, there are ways to be generous with a little or with a lot.  i'm a fan of making small commitments when i can.  for example, the mocha club is an awesome organization to support...they back a myriad of different projects in africa and you can support them for just the price of two starbucks drinks a month.  i also love supporting businesses that give back or are small.  as a shop owner, i know i'm blessed by every order, and i consider each order an act of generosity!

of course, generosity isn't only about money.  there are so many other ways to be generous with your time and resources.  offer to babysit for that single mom at church; spend some time wrapping your grandmother's gifts for her; if you can make something, do it and send it to someone as a snail mail surprise!  be creative with your generosity and i bet you that you'll find it really fun.

so, how are you showing generosity this christmas season?

Dec 16, 2014 5 Tips to Have the Prettiest Presents Under the Tree

my friends courtney and britney are some of the most creative people i know.  they have a talent for creating lovely things, and i love everything they touch!  their mom, sherry, is also so incredibly talented and creative.  each year, these dear friends open their home and invite a group of women to come over and wrap all of their christmas gifts.  we call it the wrapping party and we all show up, bags full of unwrapped gifts, rolls of wrapping paper, scissors, and tape, and after a few hours, leave with tummies full of good food and beautifully wrapped packages.

because it's not just about wrapping your gifts in paper at the wrapping party, it's about adorning your packages.  sherry feels her kitchen table with ribbons and trims of all sorts, and after you wrap up a box, you head over to the table to pick out some unique toppings to take your packages to the next level!

friends, this party has totally taken my christmas gift game to the next level.  like, for real.  i'm ruined for all of wrapping ever to come.  and i bet it would do the same to you too.  but you don't need a wrapping party to put the prettiest packages under your tree this year!  here are my five tips for wrapping your prettiest gifts ever:

1.  keep your paper simple and streamlined // just like julie andrews, i'm a huge fan of brown paper packages tied up with string.  brown paper is plain and easy to adorn, but you don't have to go that route!  this year, i've incorporated some variations on the theme...all of my paper has a brown base, with different patterns (white chevrons, gold polka dots) and they go well together.  whatever papers you choose, keep a common theme...for example:  chalkboard, gold, long as the papers work together, you're good!

2.  look around you // you don't have to spend a ton of money on trimmings at a craft store to have pretty packages.  look around you have twigs, trimmings from your christmas tree, extra yarn or twine lying around?  things like pinecones, berries, bark, old sweaters or fabric all make great options!

3.  never underestimate the power of the glue gun // until three years ago, i had never even considered using a hot glue gun on my christmas gifts.  use tape to wrap your packages, but then break out the glue gun.  it is the best way to get your embellishments and ribbons to stick where you want them on your packages!  plus, it will make you look super dedicated to the cause when you're not just using tape anymore.

4.  wrap in unique ways // utilize things like mason jars, flower pots, and other interesting containers instead of just boxes...they will give your gifts interesting shapes and textures and will help them to stand out in the crowd.

5.  plan ahead // you can do this in a few different ways.  try to give yourself at least a week or two to wrap before christmas.  you want to be able to take your time with this and really get creative!  i love the wrapping party because it gives me a goal.  once it's on my calendar, i know i want to have most of my shopping done by that date!  after christmas this year, stop by your local craft store and stock up for next year.  things like ribbons and trims and embellishments will be dirt cheap and on sale in the days following christmas!

what about you?  do you get creative with your wrapping?  will you try your hand at it this year?
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