O Christmas Tree

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Through the moves over the years, the apartment living and being single neither Chris or I had a very nice Christmas tree option.  Since we moved into the new house at the beginning of December we thought it would be nice to buy a new tree for the new house and start our own holiday traditions.  To that end, one cold dark Black Friday morning my sister and I headed to Home Depot to purchase new trees.  Our mom had seen the special on this Martha Stewart Living Tree and that it would be more than $100 off!  Since every little bit helps when you’re moving into a new home we agreed this would be the perfect tree for our new place.  My sister needed a new tree too and ended up getting the same one!  I love that.

There were several attractive features about the tree right away.  First, it comes in 3 sections.  No color-coded branches to align; no cords to plug in.  You literally stack the parts together in order, fluff the branches and plug it in.  Nice, right?!

The second cool and completely unnecessary feature was that the lights are remote controlled.  I have a few tree sensors that can time the lights to come on or help turn them on quickly but we get quite a kick out of having a remote controlled tree.

Thirdly, the lights are LED and come in white or multi-colored.  The tree itself has 3 settings:  alternating white & multicolored with flashing, all white or all multi-colored.  We have tried all three options.  I’m beginning to prefer the white lights during the day and the multicolored at night.  As you can see from the pictures the multicolored lights add so much saturated color to the room at night.  There’s even a Northern Lights affect on the ceiling!

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I slowed my shutter speed on my camera, turned the tree on the white & multicolored flashing setting and captured what the tree would look like if you could turn both the white and multicolored on at the same time.

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At the end of the day we are in love with the new tree.  We can’t wait to have our families over on Christmas to enjoy it with us.

I thought it would be fun to include a few of our favorite Christmas tree ornaments in this post as well.  We have more, of course, but these are just a few that we love.

 

 

 

 

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We took a vacation to Maui in October 2013.  Last Christmas we bought this ornament to remember that trip.

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Chris and I love going to concerts and were able to attend several in 2013.  He also plays the drums so we thought this would be fitting to remember both of those fun life events.

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When Chris returned to our hometown his mom purchased this ornament for him and his little apartment tree.

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When we first started dating he fell in love with my Keurig.  (You thought I was going to stay me, didn’t you?!?) 😉  One of our favorite things to do is have morning coffee and start the day together.  Since we were long distance I bought him a Keurig machine for his apartment and at the end of the year we both ended up buying this same ornament for each other.  Yes, we have two of them.  His and Hers Keurigs.   I think its adorable.

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This is one of Chris’ favorite ornaments and reminds him of some times he’s spent in Vegas.

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My wonderful friend Judy gave me this White House Historical Society ornament one year for Christmas.  It is such an intricate piece.  I love the history it represents.  I would like to start collecting these and have a tree full of them each year.  The create a new ornament every year and only so many are made.  Now that I think about it…maybe I shouldn’t advertise this and encourage other’s to buy a limited amount of what I want too!  Haha.

xo,

Christi

  • I can clearly see the Rocky Mountains from my office window today.  I LOVE THIS VIEW!
  • I am going shopping with my mom tonight for one last Christmas present and then I’ll be ready!  🙂
  • Christmas cards are starting to roll in. I love seeing friends and family’s special moments throughout the year!

 

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Mr. & Mrs. Ninja Decorate for Christmas

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Yesterday I put together our Ninjabread House.  Yes…Ninja…Bread.  As those who know me know, I’m a bit quirky and I love a spin on just about anything if it makes me giggle.  A few years ago I purchased Ninja cookie cutters from Think Geek to make this lovely type of creation each year.  I imagined it being more fun to decorate and plan a house around a ninja family.  And low and behold, it was!

I’ve been more sore these last few weeks and I’ve been waking up with some numbness in my hands.  I am certain I can attribute it to all of the extra activities we’ve been doing this month (moving, making treats, decorating, wrapping presents, etc.) but I was worried about my ability to decorate our Ninjabread House and still make it look nice.  I mention all of this to encourage you to not stop doing the things you love to do around the holiday season.  It is important for people with a chronic illness to prioritize their activities and make sure that you don’t overdo anything.  Also, there are usually ways to tweak your favorite activities so they’ll be more comfortable and enjoyable for you.  I’ll give you a few examples as we build this house.

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The first thing you will need to build a Ninjabread House is a house and some ninjas.  I found a kit at a local craft store after Christmas last year with a pre-assembled house.  It came without the door and window frosted (I forgot to take a picture before I drew those on) and on it’s own little cardboard platform.  Buying the house pre-built took away several steps of frosting and holding until the structure was secure and thus, saved some wear on my hands for this project.

Chris suggested I place the platform & house on top of our white cutting mat so I could build a larger yard.  These are the times I know he’s a keeper.  😉

Also, The previous Saturday I baked holiday treats to make trays for family and friends.  One of the things I made were these ninjabread men.  I saved 4-5 for myself since I knew I was going to be building this masterpiece.

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The larger bag in this picture with the white icing was included in the kit.  The other icing bag is mine and filled with black icing and a small tip for decorating.  While decorating I found the white icing to be very tough for my weakened hands to push out of the bag and frost with any kind of control.  Again, in his brilliance, Chris recommended I microwave the bag to soften the icing.  It worked like a charm!  Just remember to microwave the icing for 10 seconds or less at a time.  It heats up very quickly.  You’ll see in later pictures where the icing was a bit too soft to achieve very straight lines.

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I knew I would also need black icing for the ninja’s and some additional candies as well.  The gumdrops, round red & white striped balls, little tiny green & red balls as well as the green & red peppermints came with the kit.  I had the ribbon candy, red hots and sprinkles in my pantry already.  I knew I wanted to incorporate black licorice somehow and I also thought that Junior Mints could function well for something on a ninjabread house.

 

 

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I wondered what kind of shenanigans ninja kids might get into at home that would be different than non-ninja children.  I finally decided that they probably go through a lot of windows while the entire family practices their kicking skills.  So, I made sure that their front and back windows looked broken.  I don’t claim to be an artist of any kind so you might have to stretch your imagination with me but that is what the dark black jaded portions of window are supposed to be.

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I decided to outline major junctions of the house with the black licorice.  I love how the roof line turned out with my icing squiggly under it.

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I thought about making an elaborate yard complete with a ribbon candy fence (also Chris’ idea) but to be honest I was selfish.  I want all of the ribbon candy to myself.  I think it’s my favorite holiday candy.  So, instead I put a squiggly frame around the cardboard base of the house and made pretend (as I often do in my own mind) that the cutting board was just a lawn covered in snow.

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Since I had the Junior Mints I decided to use them to make a cobblestone walkway to the front door.  I figured a ninja family would like something nice leading them home after a hard day’s work of kicking butt and taking names.

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To add more detail I added a peppermint candy to the front and back roofline peak and red hot candies around the base of the house.  I didn’t intend to make the house white, black and red primarily but this is where the color design started to take shape.

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This is the picture I mentioned a few paragraphs above.  My icing was too soft for me to draw straight lines on the roofline.  I didn’t want to re-do it so I just left it as “personal flair”.  Haha.  I love gingerbread houses that have a cushion effect on the roof and that was what I tried to recreate here.

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After the lines were drawn on I used my black icing to place a small dot in each diamond-shaped void and placed red small candy on each one.  I really like the roof and I think it adds something special to the entire house.  Ninjas like to decorate for Christmas too!

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I started thinking that I needed a tree or lawn decoration for the front yard so I decided to make some lawn art with the candy cane balls that came with the kit.  I like the way they turned out.  Next year, however, I think I’ll try to come up with a better idea for a tree or something similar for the front yard.

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I decided to pose my ninja family as if they were taking a Christmas card picture in front of their house.  (I also obviously understand that they’re not exactly to scale.)  To help prop the ninja kids up in the front yard I used a chunk of my beloved ribbon candy as a stand behind their bodies.  I sunk both the ribbon candy and ninja kid into a glob of white icing to help hold them both in place.  This might be my most genius moment of this entire project….pat … pat… Excuse me while I pat myself on the back a bit more.

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I ended up painting more clothes on Mrs. Ninjabread in an attempt to make her look more like a lady.  Although, to help continue concealing her identity I had to leave her mask on.  I used the house as a base to prop Mr. & Mrs. Ninja upright.

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I hope you enjoyed my 2014 version of a Ninjabread House.  I had a lot of fun with this project.  I truly believe a few simple “cheats” make a project like this so much more enjoyable when you’re hands or body is hurting.  The only part I had trouble with was placing the little red balls on the roof.  Those little suckers are tiny and hard to hold on to.  Microwaving the icing and using larger candies helped relieve my hands of additional stress.

Let me know if you try one of your own!  I’d love to see your creative versions!

xoxo,

Christi

  • I’m going to finish this post and head to the gym.  I love getting back into a routine with working out.  It helps my mind and body feel so much better each day.
  • My office in the new house truly has the best view.  I keep waking up excited to work, blog and read in there because I’m loving the space so much!
  • I changed my nail polish last night to OPI’s Crimson Carol.  This is my absolute favorite color for the Christmas season!
  • I’m going to submit this post to the online Pretty Preppy Party Blog share.  It’s worth checking out!  There are some amazingly gorgeous designs from fabulous women.
    11 Magnolia Lane
  • Be sure to check out some of the contributors for this month’s Pretty Preppy Party collaboration.
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Home Sweet Home

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Hello again!  My apologies for being gone for several weeks.  I am finally settled into our new home, decorated for Christmas and ready to get back to full-time work.  In the meantime I thought I’d share with you some quick snapshots of the house decor at this point.  I’ll get more posts up now through the end of the year and continue to show more and more of the house.

The picture above is of the decorations on my dinning room table.  For some reason every single berry ornament/decor I have for Christmas has been sheered off during their storage this past year.  I suspect its due to a severely disgusting infestation of mice at my last rental house.  All I’ll say is I’m so incredibly thankful I moved!
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I like to recycle my 3-wick Bath & Body Works candle containers and use them for cactus or succulent planters.  It’s a quick and easy way to up-cycle while adding some greenery to your space.  This view is looking out onto the creek from our kitchen window.

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This adorable tree is still holding its berries which provides a beautiful contrast during the snow.  This view is looking down on the tree from our upper balcony.
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I love how this palm plant that we graciously accepted from Chris’ grandma’s funeral plays into the wood blinds and Christmas greenery that we used on top of the curtain rods.  We haven’t decided on decor for each room as of this post so we chose to not put up many curtains or wall decor until after the holidays.

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My moment of panic during the unpacking process came when I could not find my beloved Crosley Record Player that Chris gave me for my birthday this year.  I finally remembered our decision I discussed above to not put up regular decor in the living room until after Christmas was taken down.  This gem was at the bottom of the living room decor box I stored away.  I was so incredibly relieved to find it and get it set up.  Having several Christmas albums has made this season even more special.  (Please excuse my Wii cords in the background.)

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And finally for today I’ll share with you the first glance out my office/craft room window upstairs.  It snowed a little last night and re-froze the creek behind the house.  Our property looks over the creek and the empty un-developed land between our Recreation Center and the college in our town.  With the two complexes owning the land behind us the chance of anyone developing immediately behind our house is very remote.  For now we are enjoying the different view on town and watching the deer and antelope walk along the creekside.

Stay tuned for more posts coming soon.  Thank you for your patience during the move!

xoxo,

Christi

  • If you haven’t heard of it already be sure to check out Darling Magazine.  It is my new obsession and is completely ad-free.
  • My mom gave me the Starbucks advent calendar this year for our annual Thanksgiving/Trim The Tree present.  I love this magnetic set.  I can refill it each year!
  • The puppies are LOVING the new house.  They had the usual amount of anxiety about the move but they are enjoying the larger space and view from the back yard.
  • 9 more days until Christmas!  I love this season so much but I’m always sad to see the countdown get smaller.
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To Keep or Not to Keep

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Excitingly I’ll be moving in less than a week.  My house is filled with chaos, dust and packing materials.  I have always believed that it makes absolutely no sense to pack and move items that you no longer want, use or need.  Each time I move I go through parallel acts with packing and de-cluttering.

For furniture that I’m unsure will fit or be effectively used in my new place I mark it with a sticky note to think about where I might place that item in the new space.  This helps me keep track of the items I’m still unclear about.

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As I go through the entire house prior to packing I start to decide what I am going to keep and what I’m not going to keep.  These items happened to fall onto my kitchen table while going through the process.  Also pictured are the remaining harvest decorations and living room decorations that need to find their way to the appropriate containers prior to moving.

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I take everything off the walls and put them in a safe place to be wrapped up later.  Even items in containers in their “live” state such as these movie baskets I have will be packed in a box to make less items to physically pick up and move and help protect the movie jackets themselves.

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The other thing I do is start to empty my pantry and fridge.  I eat everything I possibly can prior to moving so that I don’t end up hauling groceries twice (once from the store and once from house to house).  I don’t go shopping for anything except essentials leading up to the move.  For example, I have only shopped for dog food, toilet paper and paper towels in the last 3 weeks.  Everything else I’m eating for meals is coming from items I already had in the fridge and pantry.

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Although moving and de-cluttering is my main priority when preparing to move I’m also thinking about the next house as well.  What do I need to wash before I get there?  Do I need to protect the carpets if the weather is bad?  Included in this picture are the rolls of adhesive (sticky) carpet protection.  I’m sure you’ve seen it before if you’ve visited a model home or a newly constructed home.  These rolls were under $30 for the two and will protect the carpet in the new house as we move in the snow or melting snow.

I hope some of these tips help if you’re moving.  Remember to lift with your legs and if you’re dealing with an autoimmune disease take your time.  I’m packing an average of 2 rooms per day to keep from overdoing things with my body.

xoxo,

Christi

  • I don’t know why I ever paid for cable.  I love my Netflix and Apple TV.
  • My dogs are super stinky tonight.  They’re quite gassy.  Pew!
  • I’m excited to go to the Nutcracker performance in my hometown tomorrow night!  🙂
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Anniversary Gift Idea



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Christmas Eve this year will mark my mom & stepdad’s 30th wedding anniversary!  30 years is a long time but even longer when living in close proximity to the other person.  Ha!  Earlier this fall they took themselves to Hawaii for their 30th anniversary trip.  The kids all went in together and bought them a new luggage set complete with the 360 degree wheels that make traveling a lot nicer on your towing body.

Although we already bought and gave their present I want to do something special for them on their actual anniversary day.  A few months back I saw the cutest idea on Pinterest and decided to replicate it.  It counts the years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds that are in 30 years.  The one I saw was a digital printed version.  My version includes some scrapbook material to make it have more layers and textures.

I started with a background page/design that I liked.  Since the 30 year anniversary gift that is customary is opal or diamonds I chose the page and details that either looked like opal or sparkly diamonds.

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I also found a ribbon that would coordinate with the paper detail.

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I always try to layout the materials and samples of what I’d like the end product to look like before I tape or glue anything together.  This helps me visualize the design and make sure it will turn out the way I intended.

 

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I designed and printed out the wording that I wanted to be sure the sizing would fit on the design I had created.  I used my 12″ paper cutter to cut it into smaller pieces.  Then I used a design scissor to cut around the edges of the paper and add a special touch.

 

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I also used my 12″ cutter to trim the barcode bottom border off of my background page.  I love how you can line up the page exactly and get the most precise cut regardless of the detail design of the paper.

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The first thing I assembled was the ribbon on top of the accent diamond cut of paper.  I used a paper adhesive and cut the ribbon long enough to wrap it around the side edges of the diamond-shaped paper.  This gave it the appearance that the ribbon carries all the way around the page.

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I then glued the diamond-shaped paper to the background paper and centered it.  Next I worked on adding the lettering of their names to the bottom.  My favorite tool to use for placing stickers or small items is my Creative Memories lift and placing tool.  I don’t think you can buy these from Creative Memories any longer but there are similar types of tools at any craft store.  I find this tool to be the easiest to use for small pieces when my fingers aren’t cooperating or when placement needs to be exact.  
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I really hope they like the final version.  I thought it was such a sweet decoration to commemorate this big anniversary!

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xoxo,

Christi

  • The weather is finally above zero!  It’s around 38 degrees out there right now and melting some of the snow.
  • I have White Christmas playing on the TV while I write this and take care of a few other details of the day.  I love this movie!
  • The wedding planning is coming along nicely.  Chris booked the ceremony and reception venue today!  🙂
  • I feel string cheese in my very near future!
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He loves me. He loves me not.

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Like many others I would pick wildflowers as a girl (mostly dandelions) and take one petal off the flower at a time reciting the old “He loves me.  He loves me not.” chant.   As a lover of data to prove trends and conduct trend analysis I wish I would have taken notes on how many times I ended on “He loves me.” and how many times I ended on “He loves me not.”  It would have helped so much along the way.  I kid…I kid…

I typically include up to $20 in my grocery budget to buy fresh flowers for my house.  I like almost all flowers that are available at my local supermarket so it’s not hard for me to find something beautiful when I shop.  I find that having something living and freshly changed in my environment really helps my mood.  Every time I wake to a beautiful arrangement on my nightstand or walk by a vase filled with amazing flowers I find myself smiling.

You would think that having fresh flowers all of the time is an expensive thing.  For some $20 might be steep.  You can get a bundle of flowers at my local supermarket for as low as $4 or $5 and it’s completely worth it.  The trick is to start playing with bundles of flowers on your own from a  cheap supplier (supermarket, flower vendor, farmer’s market vendor) and create your own beautiful arrangements for your home or even gifts for others.

I am not a florist by trade, chance or by any other means.  I just keep playing with colors and arrangements until I come up with something that I love.  I keep vases that flower deliveries come in so that I have vases for my weekly/bi-weekly fresh flowers.  Think of other vessels that will work too:  mason jars, cute coffee mugs, old planters, cleaned out old candle containers  (my favorites are the Bath & Body Works containers), glasses from your kitchen…the possibilities are endless and not expensive at all.

The arrangement pictured here is made from a bundle of $10 roses and $4 daisies.  I arranged them in a square vase I received with birthday or Valentine’s Day flowers this last year.  I trimmed all of the rose stems to the same length and I trimmed the ends on an angle.  I have always heard that trimming flowers on an angle helps them last longer.  I have no idea if that is true but I do it because it can’t hurt, right?  Since the roses didn’t fill the entire vessel I used a small bundle of dyed daisies (I originally purchased them to be in their own vase) and used them to fill the middle of my arrangement.  Most bundles of flowers come with a plant food mixture. I use this food for my arrangements and find my flowers lasting a week or more.

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These beautiful little treats around the house can make such a difference.  If you can’t afford bundles of flowers to make your own arrangements consider picking wildflowers for your house.  If you want something year round consider asking someone for an indoor flowering plant for your Christmas or birthday present this year.  Outdoor plants are a great option as well if you have a long growing season.  If you’re allergic to most flowers or plants consider silk flower arrangements.  Silk flowers have come along way in the last few decades and some are simply beautiful.  Try to keep them dusted and tidy.  Nothing says old silk flowers like, well…old silk dusty flowers.

Just remember to think creatively and give yourself little gifts of life, beauty and hope in any way you can.

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xoxo,

Christi

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Music is to the Soul as Food is to the Body

Music has always been a feature in my life since I was a little kid.  My dad loves music and I truly believe it speaks directly to his soul when he finds the right song at the right moment.  I was in band, choir and was fortunate enough to have piano lessons as a kid.  Even today  I find myself searching for the music on my radio, iPhone or record player that suits my current mood.

Isn’t it funny how music can so accurately reflect our current feelings?  To that end I enjoy music as a source of therapy and cherish the connection it gives me to myself and how I’m truly feeling.  It is so important to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling and not try to squash it down or ignore it.  Therapeutically speaking music helps me work through my emotions.  If I don’t deal with them now they will surely present themselves at the worst possible time.

For my July birthday my boyfriend gave me a Crosley record player that I had eyed on a trip through Minnesota.  We stopped at the Mall of America and as I entered the Urban Outfitters (UO) store my eyes quickly found these darling record players.  They are built like little suitcases with a latch front and removable top.  The handle is functional but to avoid shifting the balance of the table inside I admire it solely as a decorative feature.

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Urban Outfitters Crosley Record Player

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Months prior to that my boyfriend inherited a vinyl record player piece of furniture from his parents.  We started shopping for records and we both fell in love with the music format and sound.

Here is the link for the UO online store that shows all of the various styles they have: http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/search.jsp?q=crosley&cm_mmc=SEM-_-Google-_-Crosley-_-crosley_turntable&device=c&network=g&matchtype=b&gclid=CjwKEAjw5NihBRCZmdLkuuTHyWYSJACtCY0JWzyzG-pfcBoi56149-e_GXiV7SdupwcG46Qt7D7BNxoC28jw_wcB#/

 

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The case is so simple in design but really packs a punch for sound quality.  The speakers are on both sides of the bottom part of the box.  I can turn it up almost to full volume and hear music throughout my entire house.  This makes it extremely convenient for helping me clean the house.

I’m still building my record collection.  My boyfriend and I have made a point to search record stores when we go on trips to bring something fun back as a souvenir.  Since I don’t have many records yet I opted to create my own little record storage crate.  I purchased a crate from Joann’s Fabric Store for around $14 and a very tiny can of wood stain for around $5.  I chose a dark stain for the crate because, well…that’s what I like.  I think it came out very cute and it looks great with my record player on display.

Urban Outfitters Crosley Record Player

Record Crate

Some might say records are a pain to listen to because you have to get up and switch them to the other side after just a few songs.  I appreciate the chance to move and change the record to the other side or another album frequently.  I work from home and in the past I have found myself sitting and working until I’m dancing in my chair.  I’m not dancing because I feel like it, but rather because I didn’t even realize I needed to use the restroom.  Listening to the record player reminds me to get up from my desk, stretch and move around.  What might be annoying for some is a relief to my body that is in need of frequent movement and stretching.

What’s missing from your life as a reminder to slow down and give your body, mind and soul what it needs?  I’m so thankful for this little machine because it’s brought so many reminders for me to take the time I need and to slow down and enjoy what is truly great about this life.

xoxo,

Christi

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