...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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Want in on a little secret? I decorated for Christmas before Halloween this year. Cue the record scratch.

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For two days in October I pretended it was December. Well, sort of. We normally do a live garland on the mantel and a live tree but those were nowhere to be found pre-Halloween. Mr. Fig was a somewhat believable stand-in. I rummaged through red and green totes in the attic. I saved empty boxes and wrapped fake presents pressies. (My apologies for misspelling the Aussie short form in my previous post. Google can’t be trusted.) I crafted paper dot garlands from glitter paper, a circle punch, hot glue and jute string. I found the cutest little cardboard Christmas tree at JoAnn’s. I rigged two of these paper star lights and one of these in the front window along with a few cheap & easy embroidery hoops turned 90º. Hint: Use fishing line. It’s strong and nearly invisible.

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I was simultaneously working on the kids’ Halloween costumes. My kids were baffled by my Christmas in October antics.

So why all the fuss? In short, Joss & Main asked me to be a part of their holiday campaign and I said yes. Deadlines were involved.

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The long answer? I’m only one of four bloggers participating in the #HolidayHostess campaign now through the end of the year. Each week a different blogger will be featured and you can shop their look via a flash sale. You also get an inside scoop on each blogger’s holiday traditions. Today is the first day of the campaign and I happen to be this week’s hostess. If you’re interested, you can check out the sale here and read about my holiday traditions here. There are some great pieces up for grabs. Act soon! The sale ends 12/9/14.

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In other news, we’re sticking with tradition and buying a live tree again this year. But I’m nervous! How does one go about keeping cute kitties out of Christmas trees?! You all were so helpful when we adopted Cheetah a few months ago. I’d love to hear your tips for surviving the holidays with a tree and kitty intact.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

12.01.14 / Holiday Card Idea

3-in-1 holiday card

We love our candid family photo books from Artifact Uprising so much I knew I would turn to them for our holiday cards, too. (The kids flip through the photo books on a regular basis…still!) What I wasn’t expecting was the clever 3-in-1 card design that the company introduced a few weeks ago.

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The 100% recycled 3-in-1 photo card comes as a single flat card with a photo of your choice. You can choose from more than a dozen unique designs. Each card includes a kraft envelope. I went with the “May Joy” design in red watercolor and added a photo of the kids from our recent vacation.

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Each card is perforated and can be used as a greeting card, photo print and / or gift tag. Recipients can tear off the photo square and display it on their fridge. Likewise, the watercolor font can be torn off and repurposed as a gift tag. It’s the greeting card that keeps on giving! If you have extras, use the photos and tags on gifts you’re giving this season.

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I’m keeping the gift wrap pretty simple this year. The plaid and black kraft papers are leftover from last year but I saw them at JoAnn’s a few weeks ago so they should still be available. The burlap ribbon is from JoAnn’s, too. I always have jute string on hand. I use it for everything. I can’t tie a bow to save my life so I usually resort to bow alternatives. Last year it was DIY poms; this year it’s rosemary. I had to empty the planter at the front door due to the frost but salvaged the rosemary and added fragrant sprigs to the presents for a natural touch.

Also, I really want the Australian word “pressies” (meaning presents) to catch on here in the U.S. It’s adorable. PRESSIES. You can’t say it without smiling.

*BONUS* - Enter below to win a 25-pack of Artifact Uprising’s 3-in-1 photo cards. Giveaway ends 12/8/14. Best of luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Last month we vacationed in Rosemary Beach, Florida. We had heard so many good things about the area so we were excited to experience it for ourselves. It did not disappoint!

drive to Rosemary Beach

We made the trip by car. It was about an eleven hour car ride from southwest Ohio. To save time and money, I packed our lunches and a bag full of snacks so the only stops we made were for restroom breaks. Don’t let the picture fool you. My kids are not car sleepers. Fifteen minutes later everyone was awake and asking if we were there yet.


We arrived after dark and didn’t get a good view of the area until the next morning. This was the sunrise view from the third floor balcony (!) of our vacation rental. (More on that later.) The day long car ride was totally worth it.

lattes on the porch

The boys and I were up early every morning. We’d eat breakfast, hang out on the front porch swing, then go for a bike ride or a walk on the beach while Steve and Mabrey slept.

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Our vacation rental came with four adult bikes. We brought Everett’s bike and a bike stroller for Mabrey. The entire area is extremely bike-friendly which we loved. We went on a family bike ride at least once a day, if not more.

The first morning there, the boys and I hit up the farmer’s market in downtown Rosemary. We stocked up on fresh produce for juice. (We brought our juicer from home.) We also bought the most amazing crab cake mix which we cooked for dinner later in the week. Soooo goooood.

There was a Flutterby Festival (basically a butterfly-themed festival) on the lawn in Rosemary the first day. We rode our bikes down and spent a few hours there. There was a bounce house and games, and a magician performed on a small stage. The kids loved it. Steve and I liked that it wasn’t too crowded. At lunchtime, we hopped on our bikes and pedaled back to the house which took all of five minutes.

Rosemary Beach

Rosemary Beach

Rosemary Beach

The beach was ~7 minute bike ride from the house. Steve and I have never considered ourselves “beach people.” (I was stung by a stingray in my teens which has pretty much turned me off from any ocean.) The gritty sand, the scorching sun, the crowds, nothankyou. HOWEVER, I think we’ve just been visiting the wrong beaches at the wrong times. Rosemary Beach has powdery sand, crystal clear water and the most indescribable atmosphere. Have you seen The Truman Show? It was filmed just a few miles from Rosemary Beach. That dome-like, living-in-a-bubble effect?… it’s real! Between the picture perfect sky and lapping waves, you seriously feel like you are insulated from the rest of the world. It’s kinda surreal.

We loved being at the beach in the off-season. The weather wasn’t just tolerable; it was comfortable (at least for us Midwesterners). And there were no crowds to speak of. It was so peaceful. Maybe we’re just October / November beach people. Is that a thing?

Rosemary Beach

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We found ourselves skipping Mabrey’s nap in favor of afternoons at the beach. I didn’t pack any beach toys but it didn’t matter. The kids were content for hours playing in the sand and wading in the water. Nature really is the best toy. Mabrey kept referring to the salt water as “spicy water.” It was hilarious.

Seacrest pool

For fun (mostly to appease the kids’ begging) we hit up the neighborhood pool on the warmest day. We had the entire 12,000 square foot pool to ourselves. Ha! It was SO COLD. That was maybe our only regret of the entire trip. We had this amazing pool but didn’t get to fully enjoy it.

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This is the only proof I have that Steve and I were on vacation, too ;)

kids on the vacation house porch

My kids don’t do normal.

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All in all, it was THE BEST family vacation. We have never been so sad to leave a place. It was the first vacation where we didn’t feel like we needed a vacation from our vacation when we returned home. We’ll definitely be back!

I’d like to share a little more about our vacation but this post is already lengthy. I still have a slew of pictures from my walks around Rosemary Beach and nearby Alys Beach. And I managed to snap a few shots of our vacation rental with my real camera. Look for those in future posts if you’re interested.

Have you ever been to Rosemary Beach or the surrounding 30A area? Where is your favorite place to vacation? Have you ever been on a true vacation where you felt relaxed and recharged afterwards? Steve and I have never really considered vacations important, but this trip changed our minds!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

A few gift ideas for those of us who live, work and feel better in a tidy environment…

the tidy house gift guide


1 – heritage catchall – Perfect in an entryway or laundry room for emptying pockets.

2 – pinwheel geo box – Use it on a coffee table or bookshelf for stashing playing or flash cards. Gift it with a deck of cards!

3 – angled heirloom pencil holder – Corrals pens for grab-n-go list-making. Don’t forget the pens!

4 – easy clean corded hand-held vacuum – Great for households with pets and / or kids.

5 – hairpin magazine rack – Clever and stylish reading material storage for small spaces. Throw in a few favorite magazines to get ‘em started.

6 – steel and walnut coat rack – Practical and fun near a door or on the back of one.

7 – kraft and gold polka dot planner – For old school folk like myself. If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen.

8 – power squeegee – For streak-free windows, mirrors and showers every time. No paper towels needed.

9 – printed woven storage – “I have too many baskets,” said no one ever. *BONUS* – It doubles as a gift box.

And a complete splurge for those who have been extra nice this year ;)

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking