Around Here

 presents wrapped and ready to go under the tree | Christmas magic | Virginia's new needlepoint ornament, gifted from her great-grandparents | Virginia testing out her new (old) rocking chair | Saturday night charcuterie | more Christmas magic | presents under the tree | Sausage ragu over polenta mmm....
Happy Monday guys!  Hope everyone had a good weekend!  Did everyone do something Christmasy?  We celebrated Christmas with "my side" of the family this weekend, and everything was so fun and perfect, it put me in the best Christmas mood.  It's going to be hard to get anything work related done this week!  And it left me wanting another few days of Christmas celebrations with my family!
Heath & Andy, my parents and my grandparents came up for the day on Saturday.  We had a yummy brunch and opened presents.  My grandparents spoiled Virginia with a beautiful needlepoint ornament, one of the 12 days of Christmas ornaments.  It's so beautiful and I know Virginia will keep it forever.  They also gave her my grandmother's old rocking chair from when she was a child.  Virginia LOVES it.  She "rock rock"ed (her words) the rest of the day and got so relaxed in the chair she was practically in a trance.  My parents gave Virginia a sweet little silver baby spoon with a curved handle (similar here).  Over Thanksgiving weekend as we were setting the table, we found a spoon like this in my mom's silver, and Virginia LOVED it.  She ate off of that spoon that entire weekend, so my parents gifted her her own.  (Why aren't the curved handled spoons still popular?  They're so much easier for kids to handle.  Virginia seriously gobbled up her entire sausage ragu and polenta later that evening with her new curved spoon.  She's not coordinated enough to use the other type.)  anyway....
Hope everyone has a wonderful week whatever your plans may include!  We're wrapping up a few work things and then ready for the holiday!!
~Mary Keller
P.S. This was my first time testing The Yellow Table's Sausage Ragu over Polenta.  Heath and Andy had recommended it and it was SO good.  Very comforting and homey, and super has just a few ingredients for how delicious it is if you're looking for recipe ideas over the holidays.

Friday Findings

Happy Friday guys!  So happy we made it!  We have a fun weekend planned. My parents and grandparents are coming to Charlotte tomorrow for brunch celebrate Christmas since we won't be with them on the actual holiday. I really can't wait to see everyone!

And before we start the weekend, a few findings...

ONE - Chassity's cactus wrapped up with holiday lights has to be the cutest gift ever!  Love everything about this! If you're looking for a last minute hostess gift, this would be so cute and any plant from your local nursery would work.

TWO - Have you guys ever had mulled wine? I tried it for the first time last year and loved it! I've been so excited to make some for Christmas. It's the perfect combination of a warm hot toddy and comforting red wine, yum!

THREE - Do you have a go to Christmas breakfast? MK and I were both just talking about how we'd like to come up with something to start a holiday tradition. Breakfast is my favorite so I've taken over this job next week and I currently have flagged this and this.

FOUR - I loved this post by Victoria. I think she makes some really good points. In particular how it's so important to only "follow" and interact with those that truly make you happy, encourage or inspire you. I think the same goes for real life friendships and it's so easy to get lost and dragged down by the "perfection" that you may see around you.

Happy weekend guys, I hope it's a good one for you!
- Heath

PS loved this little guide to spice up your hot chocolate game too! (via Emily)

Holiday Traditions

I don't know about you guys but the holidays make me super sentimental!  It brings to mind so many memories.  It really is my favorite time of the year.  The traditions of the holiday season have to be the best part.  Way better than gifts and the rest, traditions really are the best whether they're big or small.  We got together with our book club this past weekend for brunch at Cast Iron Waffles and asked everyone to share their favorite holiday tradition.  So here they are...

"making Christmas cookies with my grandmother and cousins every year (while our parents shopped and wrapped parents :)" - Amanda

"singing Christmas carols in the car driving home from my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve." - Missy

"midnight Mass, drinks/snacks and frantically wrapping the new tradition of going shopping on 12/26 to get Christmas decorations for the next's so fun the next Christmas to open up the decorations box and you've forgotten about a lot of the stuff you bought." - Elizabeth

"Christmas morning we still all wait to walk down the stairs together in order of age, oldest to youngest, including dogs." - Kelsey and Sara

"J.D. and I go on a Christmas date every year to a favorite restaurant for wine and charcuterie after a day of shopping for last minute stocking stuffers and small fun gifts." - Mary Keller

"Christmas morning we opened presents from Santa and then baked biscuits with my grandmother as part of Christmas breakfast.  She would let me knead them and knead them to my heart's content and mine were always little hard rocks of dough that everyone kindly gnawed on with good humor....current traditions include drinking mulled wine and singing two Christmas carols to the boys every night before bed." - Meredith  (this is our friend who last year welcomed her second son on Christmas Day.  We love him, but she doesn't want this to become a tradition! :)

"my annual Christmas date with Andy - we shop for an Angel tree child and have homemade Pasta & Provisions pasta at home by the, my other Christmas favorite is my grandfather's mini ham sandwiches.  They make a delicious appearance every holiday." - Heath

And we all decided on our favorite least favorite tradition - the toss up between stringing lights and negotiating holiday travel with family. :)

I loved hearing all of these and got a few new ideas that I may just steal in the future too!  We'd also love to hear any of your traditions so feel free to share!  Hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful time of the year.

- Heath and Mary Keller

PS thanks to our sweet friends for agreeing to share (and pose!), love you guys!

Southern Stocking Stuffers | North Carolina Made

Andy and I have never exchanged Christmas gifts so when we got married we started doing stockings.  For us, it's a fun way to exchange gifts but keeps things within reason.  Occasionally each of us throws in something fun, for me a cute coffee mug, for Andy a fancy bourbon but otherwise most of our stuffers come from the grocery store and are super simple and cheap. This year I thought it would be fun to change things a bit and keep Andy's entire stocking locally made. I found all Charlotte and North Carolina made products that I'm so excited about!

We've teamed up with a few other bloggers to bring you all Southern Stocking Stuffers made locally in a handful of Southern states.  I'm sharing details of my locally sourced stocking, plus be sure to check out more ideas from these bloggers below..

Julia of Pawleys Island Posh - Virginia
Natasha of Hello Happiness - Tennessee
Jess of The Love List - Georgia
MK & Heath of Southland Avenue - North Carolina

North Carolina Made -

ONE:  I try to include a small bottle of nice bourbon in Andy's stocking every year.  Mostly because we're frugal and don't buy nice things for ourselves but also because it's fun to try new brands, Lewis Redmond bourbon is currently on the list!  If you're a rum drinker I hear good things about Queen Charlotte and this sweet potato vodka sounds so cool!  And if you're into gin I can personally vouch for Cardinal gin.

TWO: We include an ornament in our stockings each year and this beautiful tree from Caroline's Ceramics would be so pretty! And if you're not doing a stocking her vases are gorgeous!

THREE:  We're big coffee drinkers in our household (more me but still...) so a lot stocking stuffers revolve around this. We can always count on a new brand of beans and maybe even a new mug if we're lucky!  So many different roasters in and around Charlotte but Central, Not Just Coffee and Dilworth are my favorites.

FOUR:  We've talked about White Whale before but no stocking would be complete without the perfect little cocktail mixer. Tiny Tim is the perfect holiday mixer or any of your favorites would be delicious!

FIVE:  Charlotte's beer scene has completely taken off lately!  We haven't been to every local brewery just yet but we sure love tasting our way through them all.  Our current favorite is actually nothing new but I know Andy would love opening this Jam Session on Christmas!

SIX: I love the addition of this leather key fob. Practical but pretty, anyone would be pleased to have this in their stocking and on their keychain! Colsen and Keane were a finalist in the Garden and Gun Made in the South Awards so be sure to check out their other items.

SEVEN: I just recently learned that Moravian cookies were produced in NC.  As a big sweets fan this made me so happy! I remember how fancy the thin Moravian cookies felt when I was little, I made a mental note to pick some up this holiday season after seeing that.  Is there anything more festive than a sleeve of spiced cookies?!

EIGHT: I usually include a bag of dark chocolates in Andy's stocking. It's kind of an ongoing joke because one small bag of individually wrapped dark chocolates will last him almost an entire year in his desk drawer and well that's just crazy to me! I'm thinking this peppermint bark may not last quite as long this year though!

NINE: These earrings obviously won't be in Andy's stocking but if it were reversed I'd certainly love to see them in mine! Geoflora is a local Charlotte based sister duo I just discovered and their stuff is really really cool.

TEN: I'm going to sound like a total nerd here but we have lots of honey in our pantry, like a weird amount! We have truffle honey, NC Mountain honey and so many others. We use them all the time so this local Cloister whipped honey with cinnamon sounds so good!

Any other locally made favorites I should know about and include?  Be sure to visit Julia from Virginia, Jess from Georgia, and Natasha from Tennessee to check out their local stockings and get ideas too!

- Heath

Collections | Napkin Rings

I know we mentioned that we don't really "collect" anything, but I realized while I was home over Thanksgiving that we do have a collection.  When I was little, my great-grandmother gifted me and Heath a sterling napkin ring for Christmas or special occasions every year.  They always were different, one of a kind napkin rings that she picked up in different places over the years.  After she passed away, my grandmother continued on with the tradition.

We have home videos of me as a three or four year old excitingly opening my napkin ring, and J.D. thinks they're so hilarious.  All of these years later, this collection of napkin rings is one of my favorite things.  They all sit stacked in one bowl at my parent's house.  I love setting the table at my parent's house for holidays every year looking through them.  Some of the napkin rings are thick, some are thin with tiny patterns, some are rounded, others more rectangular, and they're all engraved with our initials and the year that she gifted them.  She found a few of them at estate sales and they technically belonged to someone else before belonging to us.  Those are some of my favorites - they have a strangers initials and date "SVR 1931" on one side, and then my initials and year "MKW 1985" on the other side of the napkin ring.  It's really cool to see. 

Sure enough, when Virginia was born, her great grandmother had a beautiful silver napkin ring for her on her first Christmas and her baptism and I know she'll treasure these when she's older.  I think it's kind of cool.  Very random but really super special to us.  What about you guys?  Do you have everything you collect or a gift you receive annually?  I'd love to come up with something different but clever like this to put in Virginia's stocking every year.  Any ideas??!

~Mary Keller

Around Here

Friday night tacos at Bakersfield | Virginia and her Grumpy looking at doggies | old fashioneds by the tree | Christmas dinner date | Panthers game | Roosters | Cappuccino at brunch | sweet girl in her Christmas dress 

Happy Monday guys!  We had such a wonderful weekend.  MK and I had brunch with our book club on Saturday morning and it was so fun and so great to catch up with friends around the holidays. We stayed in on Saturday, cooked a yummy dinner and had old fashioneds while we finished our wrapping.  Andy and I went to the Panthers game on Sunday (yay for a win!) and then snuck in a quick visit with Virginia too.  No weekend is complete without a sweet little kiss from our favorite girl!

Virginia spent the weekend with her Cookie and Grumpy (my parents) in Columbia and went to the zoo and got to play with doggies, her favorite.  She was in heaven!  MK and JD managed to finish all their Christmas shopping and wrapping, went on their annual Christmas date and had a yummy brunch too.  On Sunday, Virginia went to meet Santa but wasn't thrilled - there's always next year :). It really was a really wonderful weekend!

Hope everyone else had a great weekend!

- Heath

PS. 10 days until Christmas, can you believe it?!

Brand Love | Need Supply

I'm loving this new to me brand Need Supply that I found through Note to Self.  A lot of these pieces really remind me of the pieces that Steven Alan carries and a few other favorites that we've mentioned before, but they're a fraction of the price.  I tend to dress more conservative, a little pretty, so I like that these pieces add a little more of an polished edge.  I'm eyeing these V earrings - so much less expensive than the original pair I fell in love with.  A few pieces are even 20% off now if you're looking for a few last minute gifts.

~Mary Keller