happy golden days of yore

ONE WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!! I've actually reached the point in Christmas-gift-spending that makes me want to start giving everyone gifts "from the earth", accompanied by a lecture in consumerism. It's only because Jared & I both enjoy giving gifts way too much. & because I haven't made the time or used the brain power to make crafty presents. Where has December gone? & WHY ISN'T THERE SNOW YET.

So, I teased these ornaments on ye ol' Instagram, & am finally getting around to sharing them with you. (Pardon the finger smudges, btw.) These giant glass ornaments were on sale at Michael's during our first married December, & I may have bought like, mmm... 16. During the annual Bethune holiday beach trip, Jared's sisters & I collected some beach goodies over the course of  our several walks down the shoreline.

I would be lying if I said that I put the dried vine in the First Year Ornament as some romantic "Our First Christmas" gesture. But last year I pulled it out & was really happy that I had done that, so I saved some of the magnolia leaves that I had used on our wreath to commemorate our second Christmas. (Perhaps a little too eagerly, I noted earlier this month, as I scrunched my nose up at the silver spray paint smears on the inside of the glass.) This year, I'd cut some greenery from around my parents backyard for the little friendsgiving party we had at the end of November, & dried some of it for Christmas decorating this year. & THUS... The Third Year Ornament was born.

Now that this little tradition of bottling up annual Christmas keepsakes has (accidentally) begun, I'm pretty excited about it. Granted - We will someday need a tree just for these nostalgic baubles. But there are worse things in life than multiple Christmas trees under one roof & glass ornaments filled with Christmas memories. Plus, I figure we have until about 2030 before we need to worry about all that.

Happy one week till Christmas!


frosted window panes

Some bits & pieces of what Christmas looks like around our little apartment. Also, the first glimpses I've given of our new place. We really are quite settled in around here, but for someone like me who sweats the smell of candy canes & evergreen for the month of December (ew?), making Christmas in a new home is like the final touch. The deal sealer. The star on the tree. Maybe it's taking the same decorations out of their boxes that makes each room seem familiar. Maybe it's sweeping needles from our wreaths & garlands & tree out from corners that I didn't know we had, being greeted with a cheery "HULLO!" by foreign dust bunnies. But by gum, with a Christmas tree as our flag, we hereby declare this land HOME.


be merry!

A happy Christmas card from us to you! Now, let's all join in a glorious chorus of begging Jared to let me add a puppy to next year's card! Hark, the herald Jared see - Kelsey needs a puppy, pleeease...


october married march

Sometimes... & when I say sometimes, I mean frequently... There are moments around this Bethune household that would merit having hidden cameras around to capture. I imagine a sitcom titled something kinda cheesy like, "October Married March" that would capture the (what I consider to be) amazing ways in which Jared & I so often balance each other out. Not Lucy & Ricky style, because my dear, sweet husband is just as cray as I am, so don't you go believing that I'm the only silly one in this relationship. No, more like proof that being born 7 months apart was just the right chemistry. Just enough sanity to make sense of absurdity. We take turns. It's great.

Like tonight. When I was making stuffing for the holiday party at work tomorrow, after laying on the couch with a headache all afternoon. The kind of headache that makes you close the blinds & laugh at the idea of opening your eyes wide enough to put contacts in. Only you don't laugh, because that would hurt. Our new place has little, teeny counter tops, which means a doubled recipe's worth of vegetables & fruits & bread were getting tossed all over the kitchen as I tried to mix it all into what I thought was a large enough bowl on a much-too-small counter. Turns out, the largest bowl we own was not quite big enough, so the bowl's contents were just going... everywhere. Our oven is gas, & cranks the room's temperature up by about, mmm, 25 degrees, so I was getting cranky & sweaty as I attempted to "cook this daggone stuffing that I probably won't even like because there's celery in it & I'm not mature enough to like celery." Then I got even more annoyed by our upstairs neighbor's bad 90's techno blaring through the ceiling. It wasn't a pleasant evening in the Bethune kitchen. In summary: Sausage & apples flying through the air as a sweaty Kelsey ferociously chops onions to the smooth beat of Eiffel 65's "Blue (Da Ba Dee)."

Enter Jared, that guy I live that I hadn't really seen for the last two days, who is catching me up on his past 48 hours. As he talks, the onions begin to seriously affect my unprotected eyes, as I'm wearing my glasses, not my contacts. Jared, seeing my eyes beginning to water, offers to take over. We try to keep our normal conversation going, but the onions (there were 6) were apparently especially potent, & are hitting us so horribly that we both have tears streaming down our faces. (Remember: sweaty/sausage flying/techno bumpin'). Eventually, Jared just starts saying everything as if he were having an emotional breakdown, & I began responding as if it was all the most distressing news in the world.

"Then I got out of *sniff sniff* class early & got extra creee-heee-diiiit."
"Reaaa-llyyyy? That's so saaaad!!!"

& so our conversation continued for the next 5 minutes, as we tried to out-dramatize each other with the most mundane facts presented in the most sorrowful manner. The onions finally faded once we got them on the stove (YAY, MORE HEAT) & we drowned out the totally radical! beat from upstairs with some NSYNC Christmas (SO THERE). The floor got cleaned & I realized that hey! Maybe taking my boots off would cool me down! & it did.

Maybe other couples stand in their kitchen purposefully sobbing over onions. Maybe we're not as ridiculous as I sometimes feel as I rinse mascara off my face/neck/forearms. & maybe you think I'm ridiculous for thinking this was worth sharing... But just you wait till we have kids. I'm gonna think they're HILARIOUS.


introducing BANGS

As my hair gradually lightens back to it's natural blonde state, I've once again given in to the bangs bug that seems to bite every other year.  I committed to growing them out for an entire year & LO! Got so sick of my forehead. But I love them. & the shape that they take overnight that gives me a little laugh every morning when I look in the mirror.

Other than bangs, December in Virginia is in full swing. & I mean that in a 72-degrees-&-sunny sort of way. Which means that I've had a mother of a headache since 7 a.m., since my brain hates pressure changes. I feel awfully silly about these pictures, even though my baby sistah did a wonderful job taking them. But I'm going to skip the HOLY THIGHS rant & bid you goodnight. Tonight, it's me, Netflix, our bed & a box of Excedrin to cuddle with. Ohhhh, baby.


the earth stood still

A teenage girl and her soon-to-be.
A simple trip far as they could see.
The sky was clear and the hour serene.
But did they know what the night would bring.

Lonely hearts strung across the land
They've been waiting long for a healing hand.
My heart was there and I felt the chill
Love came down and the earth stood still
Love came down and the earth stood still

Shepherds stirred under starry skies
Tasting grace that would change their lives
The angels trembled and the demons did too
For they knew very well what Pure Grace would do.

The hope of the world and a baby boy.
I remember Him well like I was there that night.
My heart was there and I felt the chill.
Love came down and the earth stood still
Love came down and the earth stood still

I've heard it a hundred times, but this song is just making my heart flip flop tonight.


christmas card - runners up!

It should not surprise me that I opened my computer to pull up the address list that I've been breaking my back to compile this past week so that I could FINALLY finish addressing our Christmas cards, & instead ended up blogging. I figured the least I could do is post about our Christmas cards if I'm not actually going to work on them. A FOR EFFORT.

Big, fat, giant thanks to Amelia for taking 6,987 of us, even though I make it really hard by tossing leaves in to the air & TALKING SO MUCH the entire time. Seriously, I don't realize how much I talk until I go through pictures from a weekend & see my mouth gaping open in a perpetual, "& then SHE SAAAAAID..." shape in 90% of them. Womp. God bless the Jared Bethune that lives with me. He is a good man, people.

Okay, I'd love to chat more, but the Kelsey in the super secret photo that is gracing the front of our final card is glaring at me from the box. xo!


my mother's daughter

My mom started us young with craft shows. She was sneaky, too. Her favorite craft show during my childhood took place in a rec center, & there was a BARBIE DOLL DRESS MAKER who was always located on the 4th floor of the whole dang place. Me & my sister would dutifully march behind her through the endless maze of craft vendors, knowing that at the end of this dark tunnel filled with twinkling lights & wreaths was the Mecca of Barbie outfits. (Then we’d get home & realize that there was a reason Mattel was making Barbie’s outfits. Year after year, Barbie was swallowed in her new crushed velvet & faux fur "ballgown", which were maybe the world's first miniature snuggies?) It was during this phase of my life that I started becoming my mother’s daughter. I see this in small ways, like when I get twitchy because I haven’t rearranged furniture in the last month. Or when I get really excited about slippers being on sale at Target.

20ish years later, there is a now a craft show hosted down by the beach every year on Black Friday. & when I say craft show, I mean CRAFT EXPO. Because what better way to work off the gravy-covered carbs from the day before than to power walk your way through row after row of homespun goodies? It’s become a bit of a tradition around the Essmann home, & even Papa E. has begun to look forward to it. (We've gotten good at using BBQ dives as a means of positive reinforcement with the menfolk.) We are absolutely addicted to this vat of hot glue, glitter & hand dipped candles.

& it’s wonderful. There is absolutely not one thing in this place that we need. But it’s all so fantastic, & the atmosphere is buzzing with ladies wearing Christmas sweaters FOR REAL who are not kidding when they thumb through tie-dyed scarves, bedazzled belts or the 19th pillow in a 20 ft. radius with “God Bless This Mess” cross stitched into it. It's infectious! A giant wire turtle for my garden? Why, yes. I do want that. I don’t even have a garden, but if I did, I’D WANT THAT IN IT.

We find ourselves drawn into each & every booth, & after awhile, you start picking up the least offensive piece in the shop & declaring it SO CUTE. It’s not. But the scent of potpourri & dried rosehips gets to you, & before you know it, you’re leaving with a figurine of two snowflakes kissing. (To be fair – They’re very darling snowflakes.) Suddenly, you’re walking around, blessing everyone’s hearts & wishing you had more time to scrapbook. It’s like a spell. A dangerous, wonderful spell. ("GLITTERMENTI!")

But there are a select few vendors that I’d pay big money for, wherever I happened upon them. Our favorite is a wood craftsmen’s booth that I don’t think even has a name. We have a “partridge in a pear tree” trivet (pictured above) that I’m sure you’re supposed to use in the kitchen, but I end up hanging it somewhere every year, going all sorts of MacGyver with some ribbon/our peephole this year. He’s provided our nativity scene, the cutest Christmas tree you ever did see (also pictures above) & many a Christmas gift over the years. Then there’s the wool vendor – OHHH, THE WOOL VENDOR. They have these bears that legitimately make you wish you were 4 so you could walk around snuggling with it. There’s real maple syrup, & some guys that make pretty mediocre salsa, but they put on such a show that you buy it anyway. There’s beautiful jewelry that’s way too expensive & more spoon rings than any girl could ever need... But definitely wants.

This year, as we passed by a bookshelf full of mugs featuring different names for grandparents, complete with definitions, (Memaw – A piece of heaven, created for snuggles, cookies & angel kisses), the fire alarm started going off in the building. The vendor in front of us muttered something about “Just like last year…” & there was nary a break in concentration on the faces of the attendees walking down the aisle. When the voice came over the loudspeaker, asking everyone to please proceed to the nearest exit, it was like Christmas was cancelled. Or the power went out during the Superbowl. Or Taylor Swift was playing on both Christmas radio stations. One unanimous groan that sounded an awful lot like, “I WAITED ALL YEAR FOR THIS.” We shuffled outside & watched the fire department arrive – In no hurry, reassuring everyone that there was, in fact, NOT going to be incinerated Elvis Presley Nutcrackers. Not today. NOT ON OUR WATCH.

People started getting a little grumpy, especially after a staffer came out to tell everyone that they still had to have the building checked out before allowing everyone back in. As an event planner, I wanted to run forward & hug her, over-zealously reassuring her that I understand & it’s not her fault & we’ll be fine. But it was immediately after her announcement, when the crowd started grumbling, that my mom turned to us & said, “WELL! The best way to spread Christmas cheer is…

“SINGING LOUD FOR ALL TO HEAR!!!” I shouted, probably a little too loudly. I maybe jumped around a little, too.

& so we sang. You better not pout, you better not cry… Nobody joined us. A couple of people turned around with their eyebrows raised before resuming their disgruntled stance. The 6 year old on his ipad didn’t even look up. But we sang it. The whole thing. & I was reminded once again that I am so totally my mother’s daughter.

Bless her heart.