It's Christmas week! The time of year where you are either dressed to the nines for a holiday party or else slummin' it in your jams the entire day, eating oranges and marathoning Christmas movies and paint-by-numbering like your life depends on it.  :)

I come from a family of girls, where learning to put as little effort into your appearance as possible while still feeling pretty and mildly put together is a rite of passage. The day a girl figures out how to get ready to leave the house in under 5 minutes? That's the day that girl becomes a woman! 

A huge proponent of this not-schlumpy comfort look is in the hair. Messy, not sloppy. Having an arsenal of hairdos you know you can pull off super fast, that look even better a little lived-in, that work well with jams, ugly Christmas sweaters, little black dresses, AND last minute panicked runs to the mall, that's your secret weapon.

As someone who travels for Christmas most years, I've got my on-the-road hair care to-go on lock down. I need one hair elastic, two bobby pins, and a can of hairspray, and I am ready to roll. 

And now, in partnership with Living Proof, I shall share unto you all that I know about around-the-house hairdos! Don't worry it isn't much, it shouldn't take long. :)  

What you'll need: 

1. One (1) hair elastic and two (2) bobby pins 

2. Hairspray/. I've been using + loving Living Proof's Control Hairspray

3. Optional, but helpful: Styling creme! Good for hair that is naturally fine, or for when you just washed your hair and can't do a thing with it. I've loved using the Amp Instant Texture Volumizer from Living Proof. Bonus! You get a few samples whenever you make a purchase at Living Proof, Smear a small amount on your palm, then run your hands all through the middle and ends of your hair. Avoid the roots until the end. (I find a little near-dried texture volumizer at the root helps achieve volume, though soft, still-fresh volumizer, not so much.) 

4. And yourself! This is me. Hi!

Okay, are you ready? Are you taking notes? You probably don't need to, just relax. Here we go! My favorite around-the-house hairdos, plus a few tips or explanations here and there. 

I grew up with my mom doing this to my hair every morning before school as a kid. This hairstyle is a true Lovin institution.

Tip! I always start each new hairdo with a hefty dose of hairspray up front. My friend Rubi taught me this trick. The hairspray helps those little baby hairs know what they're doing and gives you better control. Spray your whole head! I've been really happy with Living Proof's Control Hairspray. It has a really even spray, is not at all wet or sticky, doesn't flake when you brush it out, and it holds on really well. And it smells amazing. 

1. Separate your hair into pigtails.
2. Starting with one side, at your crown near your part, grab the two upper most bits of hair at your crown and then twist them back and away from your face, picking up more hair and adding to the twist as you go. (If you know how to french braid, this will come super naturally to you.)
3. Once you reach the base of your neck, use an elastic or bobby to secure the twist.
4. Repeat on the other side.
5. Once completed, pull both sides together, secure in place with your elastic, then loosen and pull hair out along the twist for a fuller and softer look.

The traditional french braid doesn't get enough credit! I always feel like Annie Reed from Sleepless in Seattle in a good french braid, and that kind of feeling's not nothing! 

I think the trick to a good french braid lies in where you begin it. I like to start at the back of my head, not the top. Is there a name for that part of your head? The beehive area? I don't mean Utah? (har har)

I believe in ending a french braid higher than you'd expect, because I like to loosen it up a lot, but if you want a tight braid you should continue pulling more hair in until you the braid has reached the top of your neck. Otherwise, I always end the french before it reaches my neck, and then braid down the rest of the hair.

Tight braid? You're finished. Loose? Here we go. Start at the bottom of your braid, and work your way up, pulling on the braid as you go up. Special attention to the area at the base of the braid, which has now been loosened to about mid-neck level.

It's pretty kicky! The braid provides volume and something fun and different from a usual pony. This style is also a lifesaver for when you're growing your bangs out.

Starting at the very front, very top of the crown, and only utilizing the center of your hair, tightly french braid for three or so inches. Imagine you are braiding a mohawk? Secure braid with bobby pins and pull remainder of hair into a high pony. Secure with an elastic. Taduh! 

Here's a tip from me to you: if you tighten your pony by pulling horizontally, you'll get extra volume at the top. Don't tighten vertically! A horizontal tug gives you tight sides and a puffier top, vertical gives you just the opposite.


For this one I prefer to grab all the hair near my ears except the top front-most near my forehead. I pull those thin bits straight to the back of my head and pin! And then repeat on the other side.

A fun variation is to skip the pins and use an elastic. You're tying together just the loose fronts of your hair and then the bulk of it comes the back of the crown, leaving plenty of hair near your ears for zhushing in case you also suffer from sticky-outy ears.

(I saw this one a lot when I was in France this spring, in case that matters anything at all to you. :)


Self-explanatory? I like to use as little hair as possible. It lessens headache incidents :). 

Now go forth and watch Elf again! At least make sure your stretchy pants are clean!

This post was sponsored by Living Proof. #YourBestHair



It's been a quiet, low-key December over here at Camp Holbrook. 

I think this is going to go down in my life as the time where all I could do was exist. And not terribly gracefully, either. But I'm getting through it. That's all this is over here. Take the day as it comes and try to remind myself hourly that this isn't forever, my motivation will come back, that this is just me on hormone treatments, and once it ends I'll be back to my real me again, unless of course the hormones end successfully, in which case I'll be back to me, but only me pregnant. 

That would be rad.

("This is your brain on Pregnant. Any questions?")

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of limbo. I ain't never been Catholic but I think I might be limbo's champion subscriber just the same. At this point I am a full-on bubble of waiting. W-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-aiting. Every decision that pops up before me has two separate answers, each of which depends on something happening--or not happening--inside my uterus. 

Does this make my reproductive system Purgatory?!!?

Come January Something-or-other I'll know definitively what the rest of my year will look like but until then, I'm just a grab bag of maybes right now. I don't know. Maybe? Maybe this, maybe that? 

Ooh, and ifs!

Don't you love ifs??

If / then scenarios are totally my jam right now. 

Huck the Great and Terrible continues to be both great AND terrible, in somewhat equal measures.

His favorite thing to hear around the house these days is, "I'm your mom, I'm not supposed to be nice." 

My favorite is, "The more you say 'yes, mom,' the more *I* can say 'yes, Huck.'"

Another of Huck's favorites is, "Do it now. NOW. Right now. NOW." It ranks right up there with "because," which I like to sing at him a la Wizard of Oz when he's really asking for it (because because because because becaaaaaaaaaaause!). It makes him CRAZY.

You can use that one for free! And for that my friends you are welcome!

This is my question: Does your husband like to have the radio on inside the house AT ALL HOURS? 

My husband is super into the radio. I don't even know if he likes to listen to the radio or if he just likes to have the background noise, but it's on. IT IS ALWAYS ON. Most times when it's on, he'll run upstairs for something, get distracted and stay a while, and then frown at me if, while he has been away, I happen to turn it off.

So that is what Brandon is up to lately.

What is wrong with me but having the radio on makes me feel all jangly in my brain! It's really fine during Christmas when the stations all play jingly Christmas songs and stuff (the same ones OVER AND OVER), but once we're back to easy listening and Santana collaborations imma have to get drastic over here. I mean it!

I want to have words with you about the John Tesh show though. Lord help me but I can't help myself. I love it. I am telling you I can feeeeeeel myself getting smarter. Intelligence for LIFE!! 

Also. John Tesh > Delilah. 

Have we ever talked about Delilah?

Anyway, I have opinions.

We like to make giant excursions out of any time we need to drive down to Lewiston or Clarkston for something. That drive down the grade is just the most beautiful thing when the sun is setting over the Snake River. Most recently our excuse was picking up the Jeep once her repairs were finished. (On our way out Huck said, "Oh man! I was hoping they were gonna paint it green!") We celebrated Suzie Q 2's return to the Holbrook Land of the Living with Fazzari's pizza and a Costco trip. 

Fazzari's pizza is a little bit weird, BUT THE HOLIDAY ATMOSPHERE CANNOT BE BEAT. 

Get the shotzi--it's got mustard and sauerkraut on it. It's weird. Pass on the taco one.  

You know, if ever you find yourself in my neck of the woods. Hah! Hah. #wompwomp

We went to a holiday party with some of Brandon's coworkers and once again, my macaroons. It always surprises me the amount of compliments I get. The recipe came from the back of the bag! You should make them. Here is the recipe:

One package shredded coconut
Four egg whites
1/2 tsp almond extract
6 tbsp flour
2/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt

Mix, plop on a baking sheet, bake at 325 for 15 minutes.

I'm not kidding you, they FLY off the plate. We like to drizzle melted chocolate on top.

But what you've REALLY come here for is an update on my girlies! I know! I know what you're after!


We had a situation a bit ago wherein we thought one of our twins* had gotten lost. Or eaten. My money was on eaten. 

Here's how this happened. 

Well, soooo, these days the girlies get themselves situated in the coop all cozy for bedtime on their own. I just run up after dark to make sure they're all accounted for and to tell them how proud I am to be their mommy. 

(Sometimes I impart words of wisdom, like, "BE NICE TO THE BABIES, CUDDLES." or "STAY OFF THE FENCE, LINDA.") 

So the other night when I went up the hill I counted one-two-three-four, four Ladies, good girls! Cuddles by the window because she's the boss, Toots and Tiny Tim like to assume the submissive position around me so I give them lots of snuggles, and then I counted the babies, who like to sleep all four all on top of each other in one tiny nesting box which they also happen to like to poop in. 

The babies are disgusting. 

But seriously, they toilet trained themselves. They poop in two nesting boxes that they've designated as pooping boxes, aaaaaaas well as on my welcome mat. 


I'm counting babies, stay with me here, ". . . wait, where's four? Guys! Where's the **other twin baby?"   

I hunted for her around the yard in the dark for a while. Nowhere! What happened? Neighbor's cat? Hawk? Definitely she got eaten. I was grateful it wasn't Hillary Clinton, because I love that Hillary Clinton, and then I felt guilty for having a favorite baby, and then I figured I just counted wrong? So I went back in. 

Guys I went back in twice for a recount. I lifted babies out of poop and set them down back into poop, I searched all the nooks and crannies and corners and straw lumps, I even asked Linda if she'd seen where she went (not helpful), but no dice. She was gone. I am telling you, she was gone.

The following day I kept them locked in the coop just in case whatever'd nabbed the baby was going to come back for seconds, and then the day after THAT I went back into the coop, and suddenly there were just four babies again? What, did she sneak in through the window!?

Soooooo that's my story. 

*The twins are named Venus and Mars, and I can't tell which is which.
**Though it was most likely Mars. Back when Mars had freckles and I could tell her apart from Venus, she was always busting out of the brooder, and I usually had to scoot her out from behind the washing machine using the back of a broom handle. She's our troublemaker. I expect eye-liner and angsty poetry here any day now.

But look at all those pretty eggs! I can't wait until Ice Cream starts laying. She's an Ameraucana and is supposed to churn out blue-green eggs. Maybe even pink! 

Oh shoot what else . . . 

Well, we've had sun . . . 

. . . we've had rain . . . 

. . . we've had snow.

Oh! AND I made the world's first perfect pancake ever to come from my house! (It was exciting.)

And now I'm about to do the dishes.

Holbrook status report, over and out.



It's tree time it's tree time!

Per tradition, we set out the Friday after Thanksgiving to get ourselves a tree. 

This time, because we do not live in a cement wonderland anymore, we went out to the source to find our tree and chop her down off the side of Moscow Mountain.

Moscow actually has a mountain in it that is called Moscow Mountain. It's hysterical.

Looking for a tree is a spiritual affair, I've said that before, so we'll leave it at that, BUT! Spiritual affair or no, hunting for a tree in 25-degree weather is not for the faint of heart. Huck was a pile of kid holiday misery. It made our experience feel quite authentic.  (You know that mom singing "Deck The Halls" at the top of her lungs while her kid covers his ears in mortification and can't wait to get out of there? It is a terribly satisfying experience once you're on the other side of that situation, it turns out.)

And then, we found her.

(We kind of wanted something sparse and needly to show off our homemade ornaments. She is definitely sparse and needly.)

Husbands playing lumberjack. NOT BAD.


Oh lights. Every year I'm stuck finishing the Christmas lights.

It's okay. 

Presenting a brief history of The Lovin-Holbrook lineage of trees:

Brandon grew up with colored Christmas lights, and a tree filled with ornaments collected over the years to represent each of the Holbrook kids' interests and activities. Brandon's collection are mostly made up of soccer and Garfield ornaments. There you have it.

Natalie grew up with white Christmas lights, and a tree YOU DIDN'T TOUCH. Because it was a glorious masterpiece of Juliemom craft and to touch it was to disrespect a whole matriarchal line of perfection in the form of yuletide tree, and so you just didn't do it.

My Juliemom grew up with Miss Shirley Jean, who is famous for never getting her tree to her liking until nearly January, and then leaving it up until February, so all can properly enjoy its majesty.

My dad grew up with a big, fat Christmas tree, with silky needles and those red string Christmas balls, with colored lights meant for the outdoors drooping behind a generous waterfall of tinsel. A gloriously puffy white angel presiding on top.

Huck is growing up with some funny kind of middle ground, where THE RIGHT OF TREE IS MINE, but it never looks the same from year to year, and Huck is always involved in the planning of ornament placement, and here and there I'll throw a marshmallow garland on it that Huck can eat as much of as he likes. Nice of me, huh?

I also believe in naming Christmas trees, because our trees are like our Power Ranger spirit animals, and it's important you honor the spiritual nature of such a choice. Huck can tell you that much. So this one's name is Amy Grant. Because she is thin and spindly. Just like Amy Grant's voice. 

(No no I love Amy Grant stop for a minute baby I'm so glad you're mine!) 

(But her voice IS a little bit needly.)

She's also our first Holbrook Christmas tree with colored lights. 

Here she is! 

She's rather squinky. I kind of like her.