a merry little christmas

It was a fun little Christmas Eve & Christmas morning, spent with my family & grandparents. Between teaching my mom the ways of the iPad, my mimosa bar that may be a Christmas requirement from now on & my niece experiencing opening presents for the first time, there's was a lot of laughing & good times. It's really quite pleasant to see kids added back in to our holiday celebrations with our families now that both of our youngest sisters aren't really babies anymore (as much as we like to pretend they are... & as much as my parents' golden doodle likes to believe that she's the forever-baby). We're definitely niece & nephew fans.

We've spent that past couple of days squeezing in time with our Coulomb besties & celebrating family birthdays (there's four post-Christmas birthdays between both of our families). Today's agenda includes popping down to NC with some of Jared's family for the New Year's celebration, which I should actually be packing for right now. I can't even believe that it's New Year's Eve! (& that once again, I've somehow managed to not finish my year in review post before the year ended but oh wellz.) Can I just say that I am thrilled to say goodbye to 2013 with salute & a kick out the door? I'm so very ready for a new year. Have a wonderful & safe New Year's Eve! See ya in 2014!


christmas eve, with some friendsgiving on the side!

Happy Christmas Eve to everyone! We're spending the next couple of days at my parents, with a house full of babies & dogs & grandparents & really good food... The most wonderful time of the year! I'm in charge of Christmas morning breakfast, so I'm off to prep some frittata ingredients & make labels for the mimosa bar (oh yes). Not to mention the oodles of presents that have to be wrapped to day, as per Essmann family tradition, but I leave you with the holiday video I finaaaaally managed to put together from our Friendsgiving gathering last month. Pretend that the leaves are snow, because that's what I'm doing. (& once again, sorry for the spot on our lens that might make you twitch.)

Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!


'tis the weekend before Christmas

& we're going on a mini weekend getaway! I was informed last night that Jared had made some magic happen & we are taking a little overnight trip to Raleigh. I have never been, but I hear great things about the place & people, & the best part is that we get to see his brother perform in The Nutcracker... Something we have wanted to do since, ohhhh, we started dating? but have never been able to make it happen.

I am blissfully ignoring the presents that need to be wrapped & the rest of the house that needs to be cleaned (which, let's be honest, would probably look a lot more like me looking up holiday nail art & attempting to paint snow flakes on my fingernails while waiting for the muddy buddies that I really shouldn't eat to set properly before I inhale them) to soak up some time away with my favorite man. Today marks four years since the night Jared proposed, which was on a different  weekend getaway up to DC, so this all seems very fitting. Although, I do think that engagement trip made us swear off trips the weekend before Christmas because traffic was so horrible but HEY! It's important to keep refreshing life lessons, right?

May this weekend not find you in any malls & bring you aaaaaaall the Christmas cookies.


the hustle & bustle

This picture was a front-facing-camera commemoration of my successful 4 mile shopping trip through the city yesterday, in which I managed to not smear red lipstick all over my face... It, of course, was terrible quality, & so I moved on to bigger & better selfie taking techniques, but this one still cracked me up. My mitten totally photobombed my selfie. TOUCHÈ, MITTEN.

I'm really not a shopper, so much as I am a buyer. I like to wait until I can't stop thinking about one item (last week, for instance, it was new leggings) & then just buzz in & out of the store that I have researched online, checked their in-store inventory (online) & then make my purchase hopefully within 15 minutes flat. I'll look, sure. But browsing usually just makes me grumpy & guys... These holiday crowds. They almost ruined Christmas for me last year. In a horrible lapse in judgement, I found myself in the mall on December 22nd, searching for a last minute add-on gift, & by the end of the trip, I was like... sweaty & stomping & I would almost bet you money that I growled at least once. It was terrible. & I need to stop because I sound like such a bratty first-worlder, complaining about the crowds while I spend money on presents. *gulp*

In other news, still no snow. This is a joke, because of course there's no snow. I saw a graph the other day showing that only 5% of of the Christmas Days in Hampton Roads have had snow since 1890. EIGHTEEN NINETY. Obviously, we live in the wrong state. That's all there is to it. Snowwww for daaaaays, please.

Just a reminder that you made it to Wednesday! Christmas week is almost here! (HOW??)


the things we do for Christmas

These cards were too much work to not share more pictures of them. Sorry/not sorry? Since I failed in my quest to add a puppy to this year's card, we figured we'd add a little extra love to this year's Christmas greeting. Unfortunately, I'm about to spill all the behind-the-scenes guts that may take away some of the magic. Or add to it... I suppose that depends on the type of person you are.

Things About Our Christmas Cards That Are Going To Make You Think I'm A Crazy Person:
- 28 websites visited before settling on an envelope/liner combination
- 500 pieces of confetti cut while Holiday Inn played in the background
- 1 closed bridge causing traffic, setting us back nearly an hour on the trip to my parents house to use their patio for a photo backdrop
- 15 minutes of sunlight left to take our pictures before the sun completely set
- 2 sisters + 1 sister's boyfriend needed for picture taking & backdrop holding
- 30 minutes of confetti clean-up
- 2 trips to Michael's for necessary crafting supplies
- 56 tries at writing "Wishing you a very" on my wacom tablet before I could bring myself to hit print
- 5 pieces of a cut eraser used for gold confetti embossing
- 3 different greens used to create the perfect hunter green watercolor for the envelopes
- 6 envelopes wadded up on the floor due to various mistakes
- 42 collective minutes of held-breath as I proofread the names & addresses
- 9 practiced J's before Jared was finally satisfied with his signature & ready to start signing
- 4 holiday stamp options that I just couldn't bring myself to buy before settling on floral stamps
- 7 people who have actually confirmed that their cards made it to them, so that's good!

Honestly? YES. So much work. But really, truly worth it. Really! It was! 


oh, what fun!

Merry Christmas from us to you! 2013's Christmas Card definitely wins the Most Clean-Up After the Photo award - But we're happy about it. See those smiles? Confetti does that to people. Click the "read more" below to see some the runners up from this year's Christmas card photo shoot.

p.s. Cards of Christmas past:
(We didn't do a Christmas card in 2010 because I was so overwhelmed with thank-you notes from our October wedding, ha.)


it's christmas time in the city

Sharing our annual peek at Christmas in our little home because our Christmas cards are finally in the mail, & I'm free to move on with my life. I made our cards this year, rather than ordering them, & well... I'll just say that I'm really glad I have another 12 months before it's time to do that again.

We decided to take a more thrifty approach to our Christmas decor this year, & when I say we, I mean that I had to bottle my inner-Christmas elf while Jared talked me through it. & when I say a more thrifty approach, I mean that we didn't buy any new decorations & for the very first time in either of our lives, we didn't get a real Christmas tree. *GASP* It seems like the universe divides pretty evenly into real vs. artificial tree lovers, & we both fall on the real tree side of Christmas. I specifically remember when we first met & it dawned on me that I didn't know where this new beau stood on the Christmas tree spectrum. Spoiler: He answered correctly.

HOWEVER. We have this totally beautiful and completely evil flokati rug in our family room that makes me feel like we live in a magazine, & yet also makes me want to set it on fire. Last year was our first year with a tree & the flokati, & we are still picking pine needles out of the rug. EVIL, I tell you. So, when a white Christmas tree came our way this year (thanks, Amelia!), we both jumped at the opportunity. We totally miss the Christmas tree smell, but there's like garlands & candles for that.

So, we broke our real Christmas tree tradition, but! We're in our third year of the Christmas Movie Stack, which I think officially qualifies it as a tradition. The first week of December, we pull out all of the Christmas movie "must sees" that we own, shuffle them into a stack (although Elf & the Jim Carrey's Grinch are always the first two) & watch whatever movie is on top whenever we are both at home for a cold evening in. We don't own a few of our other favorites, like A Christmas Story, It's A Wonderful Life (Jared's favorite) & Home Alone... But our collection steadily grows every year. We're getting there. & before anyone questions what When Harry Met Sally is doing in this stack, know that I just simply adore this movie & it's New Years-Eve-y, so it stays.

It's day three of freezing temperatures & yet, rain instead of snow here in Norfolk. I'm currently avoiding Instagram because my heart can't take all the pictures people are posting of their snow. I WANT SNOW. WHY NOT ME. So enjoy it, friends. Send some snowy thoughts our direction!

p.s. See our Christmas' past!


a very bethune christmas mix | 2013

This past week involved a lot of meetings & editing & Christmas card creating & Jared working, so I was depending pretty heavily on Christmas music to put me in the holiday spirit until we were able to get our tree & decorations up. In a moment of procrastination, or maybe just needing a break in concentration?, I spent waaaaaay too long on iTunes & Spotify, following indie(ish) Christmas music rabbit trails, & we've been enjoying the resulting playlist all weekend. To disclaimer, this is indie(ish) because what is a Christmas playlist without some Mariah, Beyonce & NSYNC? Also to disclaimer, some of our favorite Christmas songs are not included because Spotify is kinda dumb & didn't have them all. Enjoy!

It's true December day here in Norfolk, where the temperature is right at cold-but-not-freezing, so that the pouring rain is icy-but-not-snow. Sounds like cuddles & hot chocolate to meeeee...

Happy Sunday, everyone!


June Jars Giveaway - WINNER!

Emily Phillips, you were randomly selected as our June Jars giveaway winner! 
June Jars will be contacting you via Facebook to get your June Jar + 3 straws sent your way!
Thank-you to all who entered our very first giveaway!
We hope to be providing more giveaway opportunities in the future, so stay tuned.

In the mean time, I got home from my South Carolina wedding this afternoon & brought back a stuffy nose with me. At this point, I'm considering just carrying a neti pot around in my purse. Ridiculous. However, now that the wedding is over, CHRISTMAS CAN BEGIN! I can't even believe it's December 1st but hey! Whatevs! We're kicking off December by watching Elf this evening & while I'd love to stay & chat... "Not now, Arctic Puffin!"

Happy December to all!


Some Things We Are Thankful For (A List Composed While Making Breakfast)

Central air
Car rides together
Down comforters
Norfolk, VA
Knit socks
IPA's & Star Wars
Goat Cheese
The sense of smell
BBC America
Feist & Beirut
Bow ties
Lightroom & f/1.4
The most giving friends
Wonderful families
Dr. Niles Crane
Blessings upon heapings full of blessings


By all means, guess away at which were mine & which were Jared's. 
Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Giveaway : June Jars

 I am so very excited to present you with our very first giveaway!
It only makes sense that our inaugural giveaway is in partnership with June Jars, owned by our besties, Amelia & Andrew. They launched the June Jars shop this past year as a local alternative to what is found on seemingly affordable online shops that are suddenly unaffordable when you calculate shipping. Amelia found herself in this exact position earlier this spring, & decided to make one for herself, instead. As she carried it around town, she was constantly being asked if she took orders, because as it turned out - Richmond, VA loved June Jars. It actually loved them a lot, & soon June Jars were flying off the shelves of many local shops. It has been an absolute joy to watch this shop take off, even expanding into Hampton Roads & NOVA. 

To be honest, carrying my June Jar around is one of the ONLY ways that I stay hydrated throughout the day. I'm always pretty aware of staying hydrated, especially after working in the outdoor event industry for going on 5 years. But after reading THIS ARTICLE, I have been especially motivated to keep the water flowing. For whatever reason, I find that I absentmindedly drink nonstop if there's a straw in front of me. It's totally great! Each June Jar is 24 oz., which means I need to drink AT LEAST 4 jars a day, although I shoot for about 6. In summary, they're super affordable, from a local shop & are a major help in the hydration department. What is there not to love?
AND WE WANT TO SHARE THAT LOVE! One lucky reader will win a June Jar, plus 3 straws to commemorate Thanksgiving week around these parts. (Can you believe it's the end of November? Because I've pretty much been writing November 8th as the date for the past two weeks. However, I've also been adding 2014 as the year, sooo... I'm just a mess.) Entry details below!
TO BE ELIGIBLE: "Like" Sitting in Our Tree & June Jars on Facebook! (This is important, so we can contact you if you win!)
TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this entry by Saturday, November 30th (appropriately, Small Business Saturday!) telling us what you are thankful for this year. Winner will be selected at random from eligible entries!
WHAT YOU'RE WINNING: One 24 oz. June Jar + your choice of three (3) straw colors.

Winner will be announced at 9:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, December 1st, via the Sitting in Our Tree Facebook page.

Bonne chance, everyone!


adjusting to life in a home office

Still car-less! Jared, in his husbandly wisdom, took me to my parents' house today before he went to work so I could partake in some socializing after two days of non-stop alone time in my office. We are heading to Richmond for a Friendsgiving celebration this weekend, & I was able to prep some of the dishes we're making in my mom's significantly more glorious kitchen. Guys... I've been actually making the recipes that I've pinned & it's sort of been a game changer. As someone who is mediocre in the kitchen, & finds it to frequently be a hostile environment, it's been encouraging to make food & then actually have it be a tasty success. I feel like, skilled. Or at least like I'm learning skills. Progress!

We live about 200 ft. from a coffee shop, & I'm always tempted to go down there to work... But I love my new office so much (although it still has some final touches that I need to complete - Thus, no reveal yet. Oops.) & I know that a coffee shop = spending money on coffee that I should be saving. & let's be honest, I'm probably going to skip the coffee & go straight for hot chocolate, which my thighs do not need. Working from home has already been a tremendous lesson in self-control & time management. It's really tempting to stop halfway through the day & just stare at the clock, counting minutes until Jared gets home & I have another human to interact with. It is so very rude that our apartment doesn't allow dogs. That's all I'm asking for - Just another heartbeat in the apartment! Mais non. Not yet, anyway.

My next trick in this new at-home chapter is figuring out the whole fitness thing. I've certainly cut down on my bad eating habits by not being in an office environment, which has also helped with our budget. But! I'm less active without having four events to work every weekend, & said budget doesn't really allow for yoga classes or a gym membership. This saga to be continued... But also, leave me any tips or tricks in the comments, please. I'm accepting aaaaaall the advice.

Tomorrow is Friday! How's that for a happy thought?? xo


two weeks later...

Oh man. Two weeks later... 

What a long, unexpected blogging break! I have such high hopes of someday adding sponsors to this blog & doing some bigger things, but when a month like this pops up & quickly snowballs into mild chaos & brief catastrophe - Well, it's awfully nice to be able to just take a step back & be present away from the computer screen. Beyond nice, it was necessary!

As you may know, I quit my job of three years as an event coordinator & have been pursuing some of my dreams of becoming an entrepreneur/small business owner. I keep promising more details on all of this, but I'm still (STILL!) getting ducks in rows & aligning stars. In the mean time, I've been using my time to also pursuit some of my artistic passions - hand lettering, photography, crafting - to continue contributing to that whole "affording to live" thing ;) It's been awesome, & I've been learning SO, so much. A lot of these types of projects all landed in my lap this month, & I have been BUSY. Which is amazing, since as a work-from-home-wife, downtime is sort of terrifying & causes deep moments of self-doubt & decision regret ;)

So, that's part of it. However, last week, in the midst of the busy-ness & deadlines, I also wrecked our car on the way home from my sister's birthday dinner. & when I say wrecked, I mean totaled. & when I say our car, I mean our sparkly, new (to us) car - The one that didn't need repairs once a month, or a jump-start once a week & was made in this century/decade. Not Jared's nearly-20-year-old Civic. No, no. I am positively fine, & no one else was involved, & I am so blessed to have been wrapped in God's arms for protection during the accident, because it could have been so much worse. It has been a long past few days of phone calls with the insurance company & car shopping & sore bones... So, that's the other part of it.

It has been a long, long month. The overwhelming message through all of it is that our God provides. Providing projects & clients, protection & solutions, peace & stability.

& so! I'm feeling refreshed - & just in time for a Friendsgiving weekend in Richmond, the wonderful Thanksgiving holiday & a South Carolina wedding weekend shortly after. I even have our first ever giveaway on the radar, so don't give up on this little blog! WE HAVE SWAG, SWAG I TELL YOU!

Thanks for hanging in there. I'm planning to frequent these parts more often.


some things about recently

Hullo, friends. I've been absent around these parts, which seems to be a trend about this time of year for me. Sometimes, real life calls & then keeps you on the line foreverrrr & once you finally hang up, you don't feel like talking for a bit because you're just simply talked out. & that's precisely what's happened. The brief synopsis of where I've been is:

// I've been blissfully busy with a few newborn photoshoots recently, & let me tell you. Babies are just the best.

\\ My date for Halloween was unable to attend the festivities at the last minute, so our Grease costumes were scrapped (because what is a Sandy without her Danny Zuko?) & I made a makeshift Fashion Blogger Cinderella costume. It was pretty ridiculous...ly awesome. Apologies for the shoddy photos. Danny Zuko is also my photographer so...

// Then Halloween was over & the world (aka ME) rejoiced, for the holiday season is now upon us. I'm a firm believer in not overlooking Thanksgiving to get to Christmas, but it was pretty exhilarating to be in Target as they took down the orange/purple/black & replaced it with red/green & that one sad little row of orange things that are supposed to represent Thanksgiving. Our tree goes up the weekend after Thanksgiving, & I avoid the Christmas radio station until then. REGARDLESS OF THESE BELIEFS! My friend Emily (you know, the bff from IN that got married this summer?) cannot help herself but to jump right into the Christmas spirit on November 1st every year, & I got a text message bright and early the morning after Halloween saying, "Happy Christmastime starting day!" I responded with this:

\\ My next trick is to get rid of the head cold/sinus infection that I somehow picked up over my weekend in Richmond. I guess that was my karma for bringing my sickness there over my birthday weekend. Merp. I'm hoping to kick it QUICK because I have wreaths to make, menus to plan & trips to finalize. Constantly popping my ears & wanting nothing more than watching Frasier on Netflix with a glass of grapefruit juice nearby is just slightly counterproductive.

So, that's a little bit of where I've been. How's your November so far?