deck the halls

It’s December and the halls of the Hayes house have been fully decked for Christmas… so let’s talk decorations!

I’ve had this wreath made from red glass ornaments for a couple years now, and I love the contrast with the navy door… and how light and bright the entryway is with some garland/lights strung around it. I wish the garland was more full, but such is life… maybe I’ll remember to get something better next year. Not pictured are cute little wreaths hung on each of the 5 front windows with a red ribbon, as well as the front bushes covered in white lights. Yay for Christmas lights! It makes me so happy to pull onto our street this time of year… so many festive houses all aglow!

I wanted to update our dining room decorations without having to buy a bunch of new pieces, and when I found these feathery white balls at West Elm, I knew I could do something fun involving a couple of them. I bought 2 and decided they needed to be strung from the light fixture above the dining room table. Instead of the usual colorful decor I’ve had the past several years, I went more neutral and sparkly with white, gold, and silver. I strung a couple unused ornaments from the remaining arms of the chandelier for a fun, flowy effect.


Every Christmas, my grandmother Nana has given a Nutcracker to all of her children’s families. Once her grandchildren have a home of their own, she gives them one as well. Here’s my little collection of three — the new guy with the sparkly red and green jacket is my favorite. I have them displayed in the dining room on the buffet that Craig’s grandfather built. It’s a fun tradition to look forward to each year!


I love having a big, tall fireplace to decorate for the holidays. This giant wreath  is from the Martha Stewart Collection at Home Depot, and these great metal reindeer stocking hangers (and decorative reindeer on the left) are from Pottery Barn. They look like they’re made of silver sticks, and the bases are heavy and deep enough to hold really full stockings — the more goodies, the better! Except that Craig swears our adorable stockings are only big enough to hold a dollar bill… apparently they don’t stretch enough for his liking.


I grew up having live Christmas trees every year and just loved them — the smell, the feel, the fullness. But that was probably partly because I wasn’t responsible for buying/hauling/setting up/decorating/watering it. Now that it’s our turn, we opted for a fake, pre-lit tree from Home Depot. This is our 4th Christmas with our fancy tree, and it’s still going strong. One of my favorite parts is that all we have to do it set it up and plug it in, and it’s all shiny and bright! No unwrapping what seems like miles of tangled lights that we threw in the box the year before. No bristles to clean up, no tree-watering duties. However, I am a little jealous of all those instagram photos I’m seeing of friends at Christmas tree farms lately… so maybe next year, we can add a real tree somewhere in the house for a little extra festiveness.

Last year, I got a little crafty and made a big bow for the tree topper. I went with a shimmery gold ribbon that has wire through the sides to I could shape it nicely. As for how it came together…. staples. Lots of staples. But nobody coming to our house is tall enough to see that, so I’m ok with it.

I always ooh and ahh over those grand, immaculate trees covered with lots of colored glass balls and ribbon, but my favorites are the ones with personalized ornaments that have been made out of popsicle sticks, painted by hand, or filled with a photo of family. For years, I have been collecting special ornaments from all of our travels…. Austria (where I studied abroad), Charleston (where we got engaged), Peter Island (where we honeymooned)… you get the idea. Those ornaments fill much of our tree, and I love looking at them year after year and remembering those special events, people, and trips. Several childhood ornaments have also been handed down to us by our moms – Craig’s favorite is the one featuring Ninja Turtles riding a sled. And my mom just gave us the cutest personalized Coco replica, which is now front and center on the tree.

After a couple years of searching, I finally found a nativity scene that I really like. I got this at an antique market in Jacksonville last weekend. It’s more abstract than the typical nativity scene — each piece is made of rusted metal and secured to a little wooden base. Aren’t they fun?

I think this recipe is from the December issue of Food Network Magazine, and I’ll definitely be breaking out the crock pot for this one. I just need to find ‘Home Alone’ on TV and I’m set! I hope y’all have fun decking your halls, too!


happy halloweenie festivities

How is Halloween already over?? Here’s what we were up to on the spookiest day of the year!

One of my favorite things we do at work (Center for Puppetry Arts) is the Halloween Potluck. It’s one of the very few times each year when most of our staff can gather all in one place. The assortment of food is always interesting with so many people attending…. this year, some of the dishes included “Tape Worm” pasta salad, “Band-Aid” graham cracker treats, mini sloppy joes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin floats, and some really yummy bread inspired by a couple of our coworkers’ trip to Bahrain earlier this year for a cultural arts festival.

The two Melissas at the Center (also known as Martha, according to some people we talk with on the phone)::
(and thanks to Jeff Domke for the fun photo!)

I love our neighborhood – there are so many kids and fun friends, and it’s the best on Halloween. The streets turn into a block party of sorts, and this year, all the kiddies did a loop around the neighborhood in a little parade to show off their costumes. Lots of super heroes and princesses, as to be expected. We hung out on Craig’s tailgate to watch the festivities and hand out candy until it got dark… I’m amazed at how much earlier everyone trick-or-treats these days! After the flow of trick-or-treaters slowed, we enjoyed some chili and witches brew with our neighbors until it was way too cold to be outside anymore. I can’t say the same for poor Coco — she was a little too excited for all the action taking place, so she had to settle for watching from the window inside.

Had to share this funny photo of Coco hiding under one of the guest beds — it’s her favorite spot in the house::

Coco’s ready to pass out candy::

Little Miss Elephant dropped her candy::

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween! Now onto the most festive time of the year!

DIY project:: sparkly pumpkins

It’s officially fall!!! I don’t know about everyone else, but I can feel it in the air in Georgia, and it’s glorious! I am quite enjoying the cooler weather, especially in the morning, and not getting sweaty walking 20 or 30 feet to my car after work. To help get into the fall spirit, I decided pumpkins needed to be purchased. Not real ones just yet since it is still September…. so plastic ones would have to do the trick. But I wanted something a bit less “pumpkiny” than these guys below. So, enter the spray paint.

I had the hardest time deciding on colors…. I must have spent 15 minutes staring at different bottles and color combinations at Michael’s. I ended up deciding on some super glittery spray in both gold and silver and got the “sparkling canyon” in satin to round out the metallics.

Craig was sweet and set out a big drop cloth for me to work on in the garage. I set them all out in groups so that I could divide them up among my 3 color choices. The large pumpkins were fairly easy to spray, but it was a bit difficult to control clumping where the spray rolled around to the bottom side of each pumpkin. The little mini pumpkins were almost impossible to cover! Every time I sprayed one, it would go flying across the drop cloth. I don’t know the best way to remedy that problem…. buy heavier pumpkins, I guess.

After a couple light coats on each  pumpkin, it was clear that the awesome glittery spray paint was just not cutting it for this job. The silver spray bottle got stuck in the “on” position and proceeded to just spray tons and tons of glitter everywhere…. everywhere except for the pumpkins. The gold did something similar. So it was on to Plan B with those sets…. this time, I went to Home Depot — and was AMAZED at the assortment of spray paint they have!! I chose non-glittery metallics in gold and silver to cover up the crazy, half-glittered pumpkins. These cans are great — easy to spray and they don’t stick like the others did.

And here’s the finished product! Lots of sparkly pumplins in various shapes and sizes… some a little more glittery than others, thanks to the first round of painting-gone-wrong. I tossed them (meaning I actually very carefully placed them so you can’t see the dried clumps of paint here and there) in a big glass bowl on our dining room table.

And then I accented them on each side with two of these guys!! Our family friend Leslie had gotten several of these gems at the local Dollar Tree in Arcadia, and I just loved them, so I had to get some of my own. Next time, I’ll stick to the pre-made glittery items. Happy Fall, y’all!