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Saturday, December 29, 2012

// please excuse the hot mess design! givin' the blog a facelift for 2013, so bear with me :)// 


Hi sweet friends.

I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas! 2012 is nearly over. For us all, I know this year was filled with lows and highs, joys and sorrows, happiness and heartache. I am reminded of a quote I love, 
"Hurt is something to measure happiness by.
It's like valleys and mountain peaks: 
without them both the world would be flat and uninteresting." 
Little House on the Prairie 

One of the sweetest and most freeing things I learned this year is something one of my favorite writers/bloggers scribbled in the cover of her book for me: 

"If you look for the good,
you will find it."
Kelle Hampton 

I'd like to share a few snapshots of the good I looked for, and found, in 2012. This has been a growing, unexpected, and wonderful year here at Sweetness Itself. I am thankful. and I love love love you all - you sweet ones whom God has brought into my life this year. I am incredibly awed and overwhelmed by your love, friendship, and readership. Thank you for this year -I'm so excited for 2013! XO. Love.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, sweet friends!

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you are full to the brim with God's peace, joy, and love. That you are surrounded by those you love. And that your heart is reminded and renewed by the truth of Jesus' birth - the reason we celebrate, the reason we have hope, the reason our sins are forgiven, the reason we can smile. 


So... a while ago, I told you I had a little pressie for you for Christmas. From my heart to yours, may you be encouraged by this song - by the truth of it. I recorded this several years ago with my sister who sang harmony, and our mama who played the piano - along with our old church's worship team. Music and singing has always been such a huge part of my life, something that I haven't shared much here on my blog. So I thought it would be fun and hopefully encouraging for you to have a listen! 

 In all honesty, this song was never one of my favorite Christmas carols. When I was asked to sing it on my worship team the year we recorded it, I did it happily but asked the Lord to reveal to my heart the meaning behind the song, to give me a passion for singing it. He did. If you really listen and pay attention to the lyrics, they are so beautiful and profound. I created this little lyric video so that you can see the lyrics printed out, hopefully realizing afresh how amazing the birth of Christ is for the world. I love how it talks about those who under "life's crushing load" - like you and I, who may be weary of this life "with painful steps and slow." And how the song proclaims for us to look for the "glad and golden hours" coming swiftly, the hope in Christ - the hope of eternity and heaven. 

Friend, may you find time this Christmas to "rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing" to remember the wonder of salvation through Jesus, and the fullness of joy in His presence! 

My little gift, from my heart to yours: 




Love you all so much! 

Have a very merry little Christmas.


XO

Erin


linking up here & here 
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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Christmas Eve eve, sweet friends! ;) 

I hope your getting ready for Christmas is going well! Amid all our stress shopping, baking, cooking, relaxing, family time, and preparations, may we remember the meaning of the season. That Christmas is not about the presents but His presence. The holidays can be hard, let's be honest. But that reminder calms me down whenever I struggle, start to feel anxious or overwhelmed. As you take a quick break from rolling out that cookie dough or wrapping those gifts, I'd like to introduce you to this sweet girl - Josi from That Suburban Momma! I recently met her and she is just the sweetest. Her blog is so fun and inspiring. I chatted with her about her heart, blog, and all about Christmas - listen in and be sure to visit her blog and follow her links - you'll love getting to know her :) 
Check out her link over here -------> 



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I'll be back one more time before Christmas. 
Remember the little surprise I mentioned last week?

XO

Erin

comments disabled so that you can go show Josi some love!
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy almost-Christmas friends!! 

I'm so excited about December's Girl Behind The Blog, as we share our favorite holiday traditions! I shared some of mine below, so enjoy! Be warned, this is my first take, unedited - I was totally tired after Christmas shopping all day. Or rather, trying to Christmas shop. I got really overwhelmed at the mall this year for some reason. For instance, at one point this afternoon, I found myself aimlessly wandering through Macy's Christmas clearance section, mindlessly walking through aisles of Nutcracker statues and haphazardly falling down fake trees for a good ten minutes before I got it together and started looking for real gifts. So excuse my hot-mess-ness here (and my not knowing when movies first started being made ;) 
and... by the way, I am convinced that YouTube purposefully chooses the worst screen shot ever. Whatevs.) Enjoy!!




Girls, if you haven't linked up yet and made your video, you gotta do it!! Find the link below. It's such a fun way to share a vlog and get to know an amazing community of women bloggers! 


What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Love and hugs, friends. 

Happy Friday!

XO

Erin 


5ohwifey
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas is a mere 6 days away (six days, people) and I'll just be honest here and tell you that I am so far behind in being ready, it's not even funny. Like, I have 3 gifts total for people I love. But no fear! Tomorrow is the day I'm gonna get 'er done when it comes to shopping (big goals..) and I know it will all come together. But today, I have a little gift for you  - some of my sponsors are sharing the most meaningful gift they've ever received. 
For me, I've received so many sweet and special gifts over the years, the ultimate gift of course being my salvation - the reason we celebrate Christmas at all - the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope He brings. But I think the best gift ever was from my sister, and it wasn't even at Christmastime. She turned 5 and got a baby doll for her birthday that looked like a real baby, and she also got some birthday money. She so badly wanted me to have a baby doll too that she requested to go to Toys R Us and spend her birthday money to buy me a doll too! It was seriously the sweetest thing ever. We had so much fun playing with those babies, we brought them everywhere. She was so unselfish and sweet, at such a young age! And she is still that way :) (Sister love!!) 
Listen in as these gorgeous ladies share their most meaningful gift! Be sure to visit their blogs too (links below!) because they are lovely and wonderful in so many unique ways! 



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If you want to join in on next month's fun group feature questions, click here

Love to you this week before Christmas.
And here's hoping you're further ahead in your prep than I am! ;)

XO

Erin

via teatime thoughts 

{linking up here and here 
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sweet friends.
Today I am observing a blogger day of silence for those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week. May we continue to remember and pray. Click below to learn how you can donate in honor of the families of the victims.

Covered in Grace
We will never forget.
If you would like to do something tangible to send your love to those in Newtown, join this blogger's project. 

Hug the ones you love today.

XO

Erin
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Monday, December 17, 2012

You guys, I know things have been a little heavy around here lately but honestly that is just where my heart is at. We always have God's peace and for that I am thankful. Yet, I need to ask you a favor today.

I don't usually do this here on the blog, but I just must share and ask you all to pray along with me for someone really special. 






Her name is Daisy Merrick. And the Lord placed her on my heart a few years ago. You may have seen the button on my sidebar this year:"Pray for Daisy." Maybe some of you know who she is, maybe you've visited the link to her website. I have never met her or her family. But her father, Britt Merrick, is a pastor/founder of Reality Church in California. Several years ago, I found his sermons and writing on his website when I was walking through a difficult life season, and the Lord ministered to me so very much through His heart for Jesus and words of truth and faith.

His little daughter Daisy Love is such a gem.I began praying for her when I read her story on her dad's website. She has bravely battled cancer for several years. She is such a beautiful little girl and she loves Jesus so much. 


Daisy & her beautiful family, the Merricks 

This was shared on Daisy's website today: 

"Daisy was admitted to Cottage Hospital on Thursday, December 13, where her doctors discovered 2 new cancerous tumors in her abdominal region. One is at least the size of a large grapefruit and is connected to major arteries and organs. The other is smaller and on her liver. Both are considered inoperable.

The tumors are so large they are impacting blood flow to m
ajor organs. The doctors feel they must begin chemotherapy immediately (tomorrow) to reduce their size.

The options for additional treatment at this time are very limited and not promising. The Merrick family is currently evaluating all of them and pursuing every viable possibility. They desperately need your prayers for wisdom, strength, peace and God’s leading and nearness.

Most importantly, Daisy needs your prayers for healing. Apart from merciful, supernatural intervention from God, Daisy’s prognosis is bleak.

In all these things, God’s grace is abundant and sufficient...." 


Friends, please pray. Pray for peace for Daisy and the Merrick family, and pray for healing for this little gem. There is hope and power in prayer, friends. 

And visit her website (link below) to learn more about her story and to learn how to help.
Pray For Daisy
I know so many of our hearts are heavy for those who are hurting in this world, especially children. May we remember that though this world is dark and confusing at times, Jesus wins in the end. Love wins. And in Christ there is hope and a future for us all. In that may we rest as we all walk through the pain and suffering of this life, knowing it is temporary and there are better, beautiful days ahead for us all. 

Remember, in God's Word He said "Do not fear" 365 times. We can place our trust in Jesus. 

Love you all so much! 

XO

Erin

photos via google images and Pray For Daisy Facebook page 

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hi sweet friends!

Happy weekend. Hope and pray your hearts are at peace as you prepare for Christmas and embrace those you love. I know it's been a difficult few days for our country and I know so many of our hearts are hurting for those in Newtown (read some words of comfort here

My friend Nadine blogs over at A Secondary Heartbeat, and I am sharing her beautiful heart with you all today. I love this blogging world and sisterhood, and she is an encouraging friend to have. So if you're looking for another amazing blog sister - she is someone you should follow and get to know! 

I asked her a few questions to share her heart with us: 

1 // Tell us all about your beautiful blog and why you chose the name?? I really see my blog as my attempt to share the Gospel. I love love love Jesus so much and I sin so so much and His grace and mercy still cover me so what else could I do but share all He has done!
The way I see it as I read through the scriptures (and experience life) is that there is a battle between our flesh and our spirit. Our flesh desires sin and our spirit desires to serve God. I've taken that idea and turned it into heartbeats. So my blog is a Secondary Heartbeat because I choose to give in to the spirit seeking Jesus. I make the choice to serve Him. I mess up and sin all the time, but my heart, the heart that is redeemed by Christ, desires to serve Christ.

I just recently have had the blog redesigned. I've written for a few years and in a few different blog spaces, and it's been over the past few months that I've really worked to make my blog welcoming to more people than just friends and family. I want anyone to stop in, delight in the beauty of the design, and settle in to the words, all the while seeing Jesus in what I write. I see it as me sitting with a dear friend over coffee, sharing the wisdom I hear from God with her.
2 // What is the Lord teaching you right now? I feel like I'm in a long season of pruning. God is so good. He doesn't let me sit and rest in my sins. He constantly stretches me to pursue righteousness. I was really struggling with trusting God and trusting His timing and will for my life. I felt like God had me envision a trust fall - remember those? You fall back into the arms of someone who is going to catch you because you trust them. You don't gain trust by wanting to trust. You can trust by trusting. It's crazy how simple it is. As I've let go of my control and let myself fall into the Lord, I've realized that everything seems to work a lot easier.

3 // If your life was made into a movie, which actress would you choose to portray you and why? I would choose Anna Kendrick. That girl is hilarious, beautiful, and seems like she'd make a great friend!


4 // If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only have 3 items, what would you bring?  Probably a good camera (with a magically long-lasting battery and super huge memory card), an endless coffee supply, and a good friend to make things fun!

5 // What is your favorite thing about blogging? What is one tip you can share to help other bloggers? My favourite thing about blogging is the opportunity it is for me to share the Gospel. My biggest tip would be to engage in community with other bloggers. I started doing that this year. I joined Twitter and started really actively commenting on blogs and initiating community with bloggers I respect. And those comments, I got convicted initially because at first I was just writing them to gain readers so I made a rule that if I comment somewhere, I have to mean what I'm writing. I guess this is kinda more than one tip but my real tip is: check your heart ALL the time and give all the glory to God because that is when things will happen.


comments disabled so you can go visit her blog & show her some love!! 
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Saturday, December 15, 2012

My heart is very, very heavy tonight. 
I know yours is too.

And I really have few words. How can words adequately describe, comfort or lend any kind of meaning to the horrors we witnessed in a small Connecticut town today. To those who've been touched by the tragedy, I am so so sorry. We are here for you.

You are in our hearts. Our prayers. Our thoughts. Our tears.

Tonight I leafed through a book I've had for years, written by a precious old friend - I saw it sitting in the back of my dusty bookshelf, and I had to pick it up. Just to look at the cover. And I was reminded that my Jesus knows the pain and confusion and numbness of loss. He feels it with those who grieve. With those who cry. And he weeps with them. When Jesus walked this very earth, He too tasted the bitterness of death. And he cried. Just like you and I do. When his dear friend Lazarus died, 


"Jesus wept." -John 11:35 

I know He weeps again tonight.
And every moment, every day - when every kind of pain, death and disappointed loss is suffered. 

I dearly recommend reading this book if you desire perspective in grappling with the loss, pain, and suffering we face in this very broken place we live. Find it here

Sweet friend, run to Him in pain. In the pain all around us, and in your own personal secret heart's pain. We all experience it. Take it to Him. He loves you. And He weeps with and for you.

I love the last lines from the book: 


"He loves you. He loves you so, so much. And the day will come when you will look Him in the eye, and all the things that don't make sense will simply disappear in His overwhelming and undeniable goodness. He'll wipe away every tear that day. He'll take you by the hand and replace all of your mourning with a dance of extraordinary joy." -Bruce Marchiano


Resting between His shoulders,

Erin


"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." 
//Psalm 34:18

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." 
//Psalm 73:26

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." 
//John 14:27

"Cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 
//1 Peter 5:7

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight." 
//Proverbs 3:5-6

"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 
//Matthew 11:28 

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." 
//Psalm 18:2 

"I have told you these things so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 
//John 16:33 


linking up here
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

I think nearly very little girl dreams of prince charming. 
He is tall, dark, and handsome. He rides up on a white horse. He rescues you from danger. He is faithful to you alone. He is always kind and gentlemanly. He is so amazing (not to mention handsome), he takes your breath away. He is perfect. And he fulfills all your dreams. 

Say it with me, ladies - "Awwwww." 



Perhaps you are still waiting for your "prince charming" and saving your heart for him.
Maybe you're dating or engaged to your prince and he is just wonderful.
Or possibly, you're happily married to the man of your dreams. 

Ladies, regardless of where you are in your girlish heart's quest for "the prince", I want to remind us all of something I've been thinking about - while real life love stories are beautiful, God-written romances are ever so worth waiting for, and while marriage is a precious blessing - 


no man can ever fill the place in your hearts 
that longs for that perfect prince to come and rescue you.

I love these words...


"Even a beautiful God-scripted love story can never satisfy the way Jesus does. Even the most heroic and Christlike man on earth can never fulfill the longings of our heart like the true Prince and lover of our soul (Jesus Christ). And until we are able to truly make Him our first love, until we are willing to give up our dream of an earthly love story for His sake, we will never know the fullness of Him who fills us all in all. We will always be looking to a mere man to meet the desires of our heart, rather than to the One who created us, who knows us better than we know ourselves, and who gave His very life's blood to rescue us."
-Leslie Ludy


Ladies, 

May you and I remember this.
Your husband may be wonderful and dreamy.
Your boyfriend may make you swoon.
The future husband you hope for and pray for will truly be a man among men! 

But.... no human can ever take the place of Jesus in our hearts.
We cannot be the perfect wife or girlfriend or woman. 
And no man can be the perfect husband or boyfriend.
Only God can fill that void in our hearts.
And when that void is filled with His unconditional love?
Why, there's lots of room for giving and receiving
 romantic love from the one He has chosen for us.

And how beautiful is that?

Embrace your Prince Charming, Jesus, today.
He loves you like no one else can!!


Love your sister on this journey of chasing Him,

XO

Erin

linking up here 
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hi sweet friends!

I hope & pray your week is going wonderfully. So...this is long overdue. But, the other day I was sitting at Starbucks working on my laptop, trying my best to ignore the high school student who sat next to me and kept trying to strike up a conversation (yes, when he hit on me I had to tell him no... as I was 10 years older than him - do I really look that young?) Anyway, I suddenly began to hear dear old Frank Sinatra (my favorite) belting out "Chicago, Chicago.. my kinda town...." and it hit me - I haven't yet shared with you, my dear readers, my Chicago pictures and experience!

I'm not a huge city girl. I love the country and small towns best. But Chicago really surprised me and I fell for it. Not in a "I could move there" type of way. But definitely in a "I have a major crush on the city" type of way. It was charming, beautiful, so sparkling clean, and the food was amazing. Especially my favorite night of the trip - our visit to RPM Italian (For those of you who don't know, Bill and Giuliana Rancic's very own restaraunt!!) And since I am such a fan, my thoughtful friends willingly tried it out - it was amazefest USA. Delicious and classy - you gotta try it if you ever visit Chicago.

I made a fun little video instead of sharing all my pictures here - thought it would be a fun and inspiring way of showing you Chicago, through the lens of my perspective.




Song: "I've Got This Friend" by The Civil Wars 

Love.

XO

Erin


PS - 

I promise I am still working on my little surprise for you! It's coming in a few days. And since it's been way long than I said, here's a teaser: the goal is to encourage you... and it may or may not include me singing! ;) 


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Saturday, December 8, 2012

As the sun began setting late this afternoon and I drove home, my car overheated and broke down. Hey, it happens when you drive an old car, and as I sat praying, waiting for it to cool off, I noticed the sunset. Up above the parking lot, the sky was a cloudy canvas of pink and purple, like brushstrokes of watercolor. Thankfully, the car was fine and as I made my way home, looking up at the sky - I saw a flock of birds flying together in patterns (By the way, I totes just Googled "What is a group of birds called," and I'll have you know, we could've used "fleet", "flight", or "congregation"...... moving on.) And they just looked so peaceful, so graceful. 
Like they didn't have a care in the world. 
Free and happy, just floating above in a pattern, flying off to wherever they chose. 

And if I were to be honest with you tonight, I would tell you I've been thinking about how scary life can be lately. I don't really know why. Maybe it's because I see cancer taking far too many young lives around me; far too many dreams dashed; far too many good people treated badly, misunderstood; far too many financial losses; far too many "what if's" and worries that threaten to creep into our minds late at night, stealing our joy.
But this afternoon, I was reminded ... all the way home and the rest of the night, I've had an old song stuck in my head. I finally YouTubed it, and my eyes welled with tears as I listened to it's passionate proclaimers belting out the truth - 

"When Jesus is my portion, a constant friend is He.

His eye is on the sparrow 

and I know He watches me." 

Remember that old hymn? I will never forget when I heard it belted out in the movie "Sister Act II"  - my sister and I borrowed the VHS from the local Blockbuster (remember those??) when I was about 11. When that scene played and those gals sang that song, it was the first time in my life I ever got emotional while watching a movie.

Friend - if you need a little dose of hope today, you should click here & have a listen(I know it's a kinda corny video, Whoopi G in all her nun garb glory on the cover. But it's truly such a beautiful rendition!) 

My absolute favorite line of the hymn is this: 


"I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free - 

His eye is on the sparrow. 

And I know He watches me." 

I am so thankful I can sing - out of a heart of happiness and a spirit of freedom - 
for no other reason that His watching eyes, 
guarding and protecting me. 

No matter what happens, we can sing.

And that's a beautiful freedom to have. 

As I researched a little online, I found that Civilla Martin, writer of the lyrics, said this of her inspiration for writing the song. Moving, y'all: 
Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheel chair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle's reply was simple: "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" was the outcome of that experience. —Civilla Martin

Wow. 
We can all access that peace, that hope, that joy. 

But do we???


Love, my friends - 

Me.


"Look at the birds of the air, 
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, 
and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. 
Are you not much more valuable than they?"
-Matthew 6:26 


"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? 
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. 
And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 
So do not be afraid;
you are worth more than many sparrows." 
-Matthew 10:29-31 


PS - I promise, my Christmas surprise is totally coming, to a blog post near you!! SOON.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm in the middle of preparing a special little Christmas surprise for you all! But, since it's not quite finished yet, I want to share a few Christmasy inspirations with you, in photos and in blog posts that have touched my heart or inspired me! 

Inspiring posts I loved this week, if you have a few minutes.. you should read them. 

--> That Suburban Momma shares about making time for simple things. 

--> Rae writes about the artist's never-ending battle to conform versus create.

--> Nadine talks about leaving a legacy

--> Silver shows us how to be fashionably "boho" 

--> Amber reminds us to turn our eyes away from worthless things & idols

--> Whole Magazine discusses the gift of singleness. 

--> Danise shares words to live by

--> Have you gotten your Christmas cards yet? Design beautiful ones here! 





A little Christmas present comin' your way from me to you this weekend :) 

Be blessed!

XO

Erin


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linking up here 
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Two Things.

 A reminder for your mid-week thoughts.


The big announcement - who won the giveaway?? :)

1 // A reminder of truth.





"As far as sunrise is from sunset, 

He has separated us from our sins." 

-Psalm 103:12

//The Message Version// 

This is such a hard one. Mulling over in our minds those things we've done wrong, the mistakes we've made, the sin we've committed. But friend, please remember this truth - after you've laid those things at His feet, His blood covers over all sin with the sweetest grace. And you must then let those things go. He has removed those things from you. Your past has been wiped clean! He has separated us from our sins... I love that word. They don't have a place in our minds and hearts anymore. So let them go. He has.


2 // And the announcement you've been waiting for!!!!  

The huge birthday/Thanksgiving celebration giveaway goes to..............................



Yayy, congratulations! Email me, girl! 

And thank you to all who participated :)

Love you all.

XO

Erin
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Monday, December 3, 2012

I love Southern California in the winter. It's not your typical "winter scene" but I love it. And who wouldn't? Bright Christmas bulbs shine in the warm sunlight. Palm trees and Christmas trees live side by side. And when the Santa Ana winds blow, tradition has it that "anything can happen" :) (Remember that quote from "The Holiday"?) I wish you could join me for a scroll around LA in all it's Christmas cheer, but since you can't, I will share some of my favorite views of it from this past weekend.

One of my favorites houses in LA - designed by the creator of the Barbie Doll. (I may or may not secretly want to live there someday. Although the pink and purple color scheme maaaay get old fast. Nevermind, I'll just take the "Father of the Bride" house in Pasadena.) 

Love to you from California!

Have a beautiful week, friends.

XO

Erin
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