general information and events

holiday house tour + i test-drive my #honeybakedholiday goodies.

honeybaked holiday

Sponsored post experiment time! Round one, as it were: in this one, I’m testing out all the gifts HoneyBaked Ham sent me as part of the “stress-free holiday” package (we’ll see about that!) and giving you my (very honest) opinion of each thing. We don’t eat our ham until Christmas night, so I’ll probably be doing something fun with the leftovers and posting that as well, après-ham feast. Let’s get right to it:

all my stress-free things!

Ordering/Retrieval of HoneyBaked Ham: So when I called the HoneyBaked store to order my holiday ham, I was convinced it was actually Santa Claus: sooooo jolly. Not to mention ridiculously helpful in letting me know what size ham I needed based on the amount of people I was having, etc. When I told him this was going to be on a gift card that his company sent me, and that this was going to be permanently filed on the blog, whoa: I mean, super excited. If this dude is any indication of how my #stressfreeholiday is going to go…prognosis: excellent. Where was this guy when I was freaking out about early december deadlines? I wonder if he does personal assistant work on the side.

Going to pick it up was more difficult, only because I forgot my gift card the first time. As for the staff, they were way more than prepared to assist me – twice – in obtaining my ham. We were offered samples of everything from roast turkey to red velvet cake (yes, thank you), and they got me in and out without a hitch. As for the ham itself, it’s a stunning tribute to hams everywhere: beautiful, with a crunchy crust on the outside, and super flavorful inside. I told you this in an earlier post, but we get a HoneyBaked ham every year, and we always love both the actual meal with it, as well as the leftovers. They really do take the stress out of holidays: honestly, I like to cook as much as all of you, but I’m trying to wrap presents, create the last of the food gifts, and dress a Wee One for parties. The last thing I need to do is  triumphantly ruin the main course, and that’s where HoneyBaked seems to really fit in to our celebration. Plus, Christmas day for us is pretty lazy: maybe some cinnamon buns, one of us may roll in to the kitchen every so often to grab a cookie, but other than that, not much goes on. We like it that way.

By the way, did you see that enormous ham up there? Did you see the crust on it? The best way I can describe it is a honey-clove crispy exterior that could easily be picked off an eaten by itself, if behavior like that were allowed.

christmas house tour.

Hot Cocoa + Rum Cakes: Speaking of, my mom and sister came in yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, just before the airports started to get pretty ugly. We had a happy hour that evening of the four (yes, four) miniature rum cakes HoneyBaked sent me, along with the Williams Sonoma hot chocolate kept warm in my very lovely WS hot cocoa pot.

christmas house tour.

And happy it was: what a ridiculously cute piece of kitchenware I never knew I needed! They had these when I worked at Williams Sonoma one holiday, and I didn’t get the point. Well, friends, the point is this: no more cold, sediment-on-the-bottom hot cocoa for you, no no: you just warm the ingredients in the microwave, pour them into the pot, and then push the button on the lid: instant whippy cocoa for everyone. My mom has likes it so much she’s threatened to steal it. And did I mention how incredible these rum cakes are? They’re all nicely balanced (not too much rum, which is gross) and perfectly dense and delicious. I highly recommend both the chocolate and cinnamon streusel versions; our clear favorites of the bunch.

christmas house tour.

Even the ‘Bubs was impressed by the rum cakes.

Anthropologie Apron/Michael Buble CD: of course I wore my Anthro apron the entire time: it’s an Anthropologie apron, and it’s adorable. It’s like I’m dressed up for cooking, which is wonderful, and when paired with a Michael Buble CD you just feel fancier somehow. I will say that although I think any music from the ‘Bubs automatically knocks your blood pressure down a few notches, I like a good christmas CD this time of year. This wasn’t holiday music, but rather him doing mostly covers of other artists’ songs. Which we enjoyed, and technically this was also stress-reducing.

We’ll be eating our glorious ham (which is taking up a good amount of space in my refrigerator at the moment) in a few days, sitting amidst piles of presents from each other, and we will be happy. If you want a better visual of what we’ll be looking at, here comes a wee christmas house tour:

christmas house tour.

The foyer tree…

christmas house tour.

the smallest of the trees…

christmas house tour.

 the main tree…

christmas house tour.

and the blue tree, which the Wee One decorates and un-decorates, depending on her mood. And those are just the trees in the main area of the house.

christmas house tour.

This is the tree in the Wee’s room, although it’s difficult to capture its’ majesty on film, it seems.

christmas house tour.

This is the tree in my room, a ceramic number from my collection of them. A rare white albino, and one of my favorites.

christmas house tour.

My other white albino is in the kitchen, along with some vintage marching band musicians. And the ever-present owls, and my favorite green ceramic (snow-tipped!)

christmas house tour.

Trees everywhere. I love them.

christmas house tour.

We also have some random crackle glass ornament gatherings going on. I collect them because I think they’re beautiful.

christmas house tour.

I made the Wee a quickie advent calendar this year, which basically amounts to double-sided scrapbook paper stapled into pockets, stamped with numbers, and strung on some yarn. She loves it. Meanwhile, I’ve been drawing each day of the advent for her on her easel.

christmas house tour.

It’s going well. I can draw better on flat surfaces: my cows look less like spotted pig-horses, and I have a better sense of horizon lines. Before you ask, I have no idea why my shepherds are dancing a jig.

christmas house tour.

It snowed! It’s melted now, but it was a nice, thick pre-Christmas snow that really got us in the mood to celebrate. This was the Wee One’s first legit snowman. Oh, and in between making him and drinking hot chocolate? This happened.

christmas house tour.

See those random people walking up our street? They were carolers. We got straight-up caroled as we made our child’s first snowman. They saw her and started laughing and pre-sang their way up the cul-de-sac for her. Then they sang the song they planned on singing (“Joy to the World”) to everyone else, and then? Then came back down the street, stopped in front of her and her snowman, and sang, you guessed it, “Frosty the Snowman.” All the verses.

And that concludes the house tour. I’ll talk more about my experience with sponsored posts, start to finish, later this week, when we’re all actually paying attention again. For now, the happiest of Happy Holidays to you all. I hope wherever you are, it’s snowing or appropriately chilly, you have tons of gifts, friends and family, and an absurd amount of delicious things to eat. I hope also that some of you are getting carol-bombed like we did; that’s the best.

Happy Holidays!



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  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog December 23, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I love all of your trees. I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one with multiple trees. I think the white tree with the candy-striped scarf is my favorite, but the wee one’s blue tree is pretty awesome, too. If you find a few crispy bits missing, it wasn’t me 😉 Heavenly Ham sure does sound, um, heavenly. Now you’ve convinced me that I need a hot cocoa press. Have a wonderful Christmas, Shannon, Mr. Table, and Wee One.

  • Reply Wendy December 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Beautiful trees and decorations….collections with stories behind them are the best…..adorable snowman builder (Wee One’s snowman looks a lot like the dancing shepherds)….wonderful memories in the making. 🙂 Happiest of holidays, Shannon!

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 11:18 am

      The happiest of holidays to you too, Wendy! (even though, at January 9, the holidays are officially over, so i’m including my best wishes for the new year.) 😉

  • Reply Emma December 23, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Aw, a little Ernie ornament! Cute!

    Happy Christmas!!

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 11:16 am

      those Sesame Street ornaments are vintage: mine from childhood, so late seventies and early eighties. I can’t believe we managed to keep them so nice over the years, but we did, AND NOW THEY ARE ALL MINE.

  • Reply Dana Staves December 23, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Aw, my grandmother had one of those ceramic trees (the green ones), and it now sits in my brother’s house atop her old record player. Sweet memories from that. And what a wonderful holiday you’re having! I am going to need a hot cocoa pot. For real.

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 11:15 am

      hot cocoa pots are EVERYTHING when it’s cold. I’m breaking mine out today; proof that you don’t just need it for over the holidays. In fact, it may get more use now that we’re living in a temporary tundra of cold here.

  • Reply Abbe@This is How I Cook December 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Everything looks so festive and gorgeous and fun! Have a great Christmas, Shannon! And terribly, terribly clean!

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Thanks, Abbe! 🙂

  • Reply Jen @JuanitasCocina December 23, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Have we talked about the fact that I have that same white ceramic tree? Only my lights are colored.

    Also, the blue tree is my favorite. Good job, Wee One!

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 11:14 am

      i’ve always sort of wanted to go renegade and throw the colored lights on the white trees; but i’m a chicken. next year.

      i love that blue tree: so garish! but in a lovely way, i think.

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs December 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Your house is decorated so nicely! And the ham looks great! The rest of the swag? Not my taste, alas. Best part of the post is your wee one and the snowman. 😉 Really fun – thanks. And Merry Christmas!

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Thanks John! You mean to tell me you don’t want to own a ruffly hot pink apron? *gasp* 😉 My swag wasn’t for everyone, i can totally get that. And i agree: the Wee and the Snowman was the best part of the holiday. Merry christmas and happy new year to you!

  • Reply Deb December 23, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    A marvelous post Shannon! I felt the holiday spirt in your words and photos and especially adore that the wee one has her own tree to decorate, what fun! Merry Christmas!

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 11:12 am

      thanks, Deb! Merry Christmas (and happy new year, by now) to you as well!

  • Reply Stacy @ Every Little Thing December 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Love all your trees! We had one ceramic tree growing up…a massive green one with multi-colored lights. Hopefully I’ll inherit it!

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 11:11 am

      Ceramic trees are so much fun, right? it seems like everyone has a memory from childhood revolving around one. I’m crossing my fingers that you get it someday: so much fun to see them gracing the tables of our generation now.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats December 23, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    CAROLERS?!? I dragged Aaron on a walk the other night and joked that we should go up to peoples doors and sing christmas carols, then we joked about how nobody does that… BUT THERE THEY ARE! THEY DO EXIST!!!

    color me shocked.

    you’d think of all the places to go caroling phoenix would be an excellent location, right? guess not.


    My mom always had a bajillion trees when we were growing up – well, like for real 6 or 7 any given year – only one “real” one though. the rest were fakes.

    It took me like 30 min to get my ham this year, but you’re right – at least they are good at keeping people fed! and those samples are DARN tasty if i do say so myself!

    can’t wait to hear about your experience with a sponsored post – this one was PERFECT – but was lacking in pictures of you frolicking in your apron (which i imagine is hard to get pictures of when you’re the one taking the pictures) 😉

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 11:10 am

      I was just thinking that about carolers in phoenix: what nice weather that would be to carol your heart out in! And i’m sure in the evenings there are just as many christmas lights, so it would be fun!

      I think when you’e a tree-hoarder at christmas, there’s always a “real/main” one that’s the *actual* tree versus the other supporting actor trees. Like you can’t put presents under the supporters…just the main. I think on a different day, we would have waited longer, but we went sort of later in the evening and on maybe what was an “off” day for people picking up their hams? worth it, for sure, because they will give you ALL THE SAMPLES. and not dinky ones either…you could easily eat what amounts to two full pieces of cake depending on how long the line is.

      oh hmmm whoops did i forget to include photos of my aproned self? i can’t believe it… 😉

  • Reply Ashley December 24, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Such awesome Christmas spirit in your home!!!! And a first snowman!!! WITH carolers! Amazing!
    Merry Christmas to you and the family!!!!!

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 11:06 am

      SO much, i know! We had a fun time this year. I was less productive maybe than usual, and we were sort of sick-ish some of the time, but all in all, a fun holiday. happy holidays and a happy new year to you too, ashley.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats December 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I love your houses’ Christmas decorations!!! Thank you for showing us around…obviously that was my favorite part of this post 😉 That’s so cute that the Wee One decorates and undecorated the tree, haha. Giving her one of her own is such a good way to keep her away from the big, tempting tree. Seriously, that Honey Baked Ham gift basket you got sounds freaking amazing and I’m extremely jealous. I’m glad to hear everything was as tasty as one would hope. And I really want one of those hot cocoa pitchers now, haha. My mother-in-law has this hot cocoa mixer thing that I think must be from Williams-Sonoma too. It mixes, warms, and froths the hot cocoa and is pretty amazing.

    • Reply shannon January 9, 2014 at 10:53 am

      You’re so welcome, Amy: you can pay me back with continual updates this year on your home remodel and i’ll consider us even. 🙂 The Wee had so much fun being an active part of the festivities this year: she really helped with organizing, and she loves to assist and pitch in where she can, so we all were able to find things she could do that made her feel good, like a big girl.
      seriously, we polished off that entire ham over the holiday: obviously it lasted awhile, but we were diligent about eating it. I’m not a ham (or much of a meat) eater, and i probably won’t have it again until next christmas, but a good ham is just that: a good ham. 🙂 the cocoa mixer was superfun and actually practical in terms of it keeping everything frothy and mixed: i’ll say that after using it a few times, you start to wonder if some minor improvements would make it more practical, but overall, it’s a fun little gadget to own for the winter, because it makes you feel fancy and it makes hot chocolate even more delicious. thumbs up.

  • Reply Monica December 28, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    What a beautiful home you have and what a great decorating touch you’ve put on everything. There’s a lot to admire but I particularly love the little one’s tree. : ) I just got one of those cocoa pots at W-S but have yet to take it for a spin. Looks great. All the best for a delicious as well as joyful and healthy 2014!

    • Reply shannon January 8, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Why thank you, Monica, that’s very sweet. I used to do way more in the way of decorating, but i’ve noticed that paring it down seems to make it prettier in here: less clutter or something. She loved her tree, too: try explaining to a three year old girl why the sparkly tree needs to go back into storage. 🙂 no fun. I loved my cocoa pot! We all agreed that it makes for a really creamy cup of hot chocolate, for sure. Have you used yours? Especially when you have actual chocolate, it seems to dissolve all those little bits and keep them from settling. All in all, a fun thing to have on hand.
      All the best to you, and as i slowly catch up here, just know that it’s always nice to have you around. and thanks for sticking with me through the holidays (as it seems i’ve been absent from this blog for weeks now, yikes.) 🙂

  • Reply Willow @ Will Cook For Friends January 1, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Oh my gosh, that is so awesome! And by “that” I mean, all of it. I love that the carolers sang just for the Wee one, and I love love love all the little Christmas trees you have. My mom has a few of those ceramic ones, and they bring back many fond memories for me! In fact, a honey baked ham brings back fond memories, too… I don’t think I’ve had one in my adult life, but the moment you mentioned that crispy crust I instantly remembered sneaking into the fridge as a kid to pick that stuff off. So. Good. Oh man, I think I need to go find me a ham, now…

    In other news, I totally need to put on an apron and cook to Michael Buble, now. I could use some de-stressing!

    And, I know it’s a little late now, but Happy Holidays, and THANK YOU SO MUCH for the card you sent! T-Hubs and I were in Chicago for Christmas, so I didn’t get the card until I got home… and it seriously made me grin from ear-to-ear. It’s been so great getting to know you more over the past year or so, if only via the interwebs. We so need to meet in person, some day! Anyway, thank you again. Seriously, ear-to-ear smiling. 🙂

    • Reply shannon January 8, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Willow, it was awesome. And hilarious, because it was SO norman rockwell that i started dying laughing and i hope they didn’t think i was laughing *at* them, because it was just the whole like, “family together/hot chocolate/snowman/omg carolers are you kidding me right now” aspect of the moment. It was joyous. Those ceramic trees are a thing for me: my grandma always had a little one (still does) that she sits on her buffet during the holidays, so it’s a nostalgia thing for me too. I have an embarrassing amount.

      you are welcome! i love handwritten things, and i love handWRITING things as well, so thank you for allowing me (via the card) into your home. It’s been awesome getting to know you better this year, and i count this an “in real life” friendship; just because we met through the blogs doesn’t make it less so, you know? I’d love to meet someday…i still say at some point we all need to just make and attend our own “blog conference.”

  • Reply movita beaucoup January 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    The house! The trees! The snowman! THE HAM!! I’ve only just started liking ham recently. I don’t know why – IT’S AWESOME! I just went over to the HoneyBaked site, and yah: it looks like the most delicious memories DO start there. Did the ham come wrapped in gold? Cuz it looks like it did in that photo up there. DO THEY WRAP THEIR HAMS IN GOLD?

    I need to rest now.

    • Reply shannon January 8, 2014 at 10:53 am

      They do actually wrap their hams in gold. They are THAT important. Like the Liberace of ham.

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