Monday, December 31, 2012

December Favorite Things

December is always a such a treat.  Between vacations, Christmas, and time with family...December is probably my favorite month.  If only it would snow.  Being in the south, snow in December is so rare. ....Sigh...I guess even December can't reach perfection.

Some of my favorite things this December was...

1. iTunes U

So I started a new job this month and although I love it, I don't love driving in all of the traffic in and out of Raleigh.  Wesley told me about this new app, iTunes U where you can listen to pod-casts and lectures that are free and uploaded from major universities.  I know, totally nerdy, but I have loved listening to art history pod-casts from the University of Utah called Arts and Facts.  So great!   

2. Date night at the Nutcracker

I still can't believe Wesley took me to this.  Yes, I had to outright ask him, and tell him where to go to get tickets, but I fully expected him to say no.  He's so great.  We went to PF Chang's for dinner after work and then headed over.  My favorite dance is and has always been the Snowflake dance.  I think I saw Wesley laugh out of the corner of my eye when the Rat King died.  Boys.

3. Million dollar house light display

My parents live near a ton of million dollar neighborhoods.  While we were down for Christmas, we all piled in the car and my sister took us to see this.  No one else in this neighborhood had more than a few white lights around their door frames or bushes.  Then you turn the corner and see THIS.  And this picture is only 1/3 of it.  They have a corner lot and every inch of they yard is like this.  Crazy!!

Linking up with Ashley

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Merry Little Christmas

Is it just me, or do the Holidays seem to go faster each year?  Then again, time flies when you are having fun, right!  

We kicked off our Christmas vacation with a trip to the mountains.  Instead of exchanging gifts, Wesley and I plan a weekend getaway.  This year, we chose Asheville.  We were hoping to go hiking Saturday morning ... (I know, a crazy activity to plan in the winter)... but due to "torrential wind warnings," Chimney Rock was closed.  I have a feeling a few people just wanted the day off....the wind was hardly torrential...

We had a romantic dinner on the Sunset Terrace at the Grove Park Inn. And then took a candlelight tour of the Biltmore House. (It's such a shame they won't let you take pictures inside!!)

We spent Christmas Eve with Wesley's parents, and Christmas Day with mine.  So convenient that they only live 10 minutes apart!

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gifts of Christmas {Printable}

Remember that part at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas where he has his epiphany? It is such a poetic answer for the true meaning of Christmas:

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

I love this quote and I can still hear Boris Karloff's voice when I read it....our family loves watching the cartoon special every year.

However, I think I love this quote even more:

This is a great quote from Howard W. Hunter that we talked about in church on Sunday. That little bit more is the things that we say and do.  The best gifts we can give definitely don't come from a store!

Get my free printable here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gift Wrapping

I love the look of neutral wrapping with pretty ribbon underneath our tree.  I also shamelessly pull out restaurant take home bags that match and use them for gift bags too! By doing this, I haven't had to purchase gift wrap in 3 years...the roll of brown wrapping has lasted me that long and I use the ribbon extras from other projects.

How do I wrap the tiny gifts you ask?  Here's how!

And speaking of wrapping, I used the same materials to wrap the bottles from Biltmore that I love and display on my kitchen shelves: 

They fit right in for Christmas, don't they?

The directions to  make the Noel letters are here.

Happy wrapping!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Weekend

This marked the first weekend that Wesley and I have had in a long time where we were on the same schedule, and I wasn't a zombie from working night shift.  Can I tell you how much I have missed sleeping at night? I promise, it is way better than sleeping during the day. If that is on your bucket list for some reason, go ahead, save yourself time....and erase it.

We kicked the weekend off by going to see The Hobbit.  It is fantastic! Peter Jackson is going to turn the book into a trilogy, so this is the first of three films.  As much as I missed seeing Viggo Mortenson and Orlando Bloom, I actually like this story line better than The Lord of the Rings.  It is not as dark.

Saturday night, we went to Wesley's company Christmas party. We actually had a really good time and stayed longer than we expected.  It was at The Matthews House.  Of course, as we were going through the tour I thought, "surely there will be great pics online of these beautiful decorations, I don't need to take any."  Sorry....I was wrong.  Trust me, it was beautiful.

After church on Sunday, Wesley and I watched Elf and made this. Yum!

I hope all of you had a great weekend!! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Brown Eyed Susans {remix}

 Ever had one of these cookies before?

They were no stranger in my house growing up.  They are shortbread cookies with chocolate frosting and pecans.  My mom made them recently for a cookie walk (like literally 12 dozen of them), which gave me the idea to make some for one of our holiday parties.  However, this year we changed them up a bit and they turned out like this:

Beautiful right?
Now try it for yourself!

And here is the variation mom and I did this year:

Instead of putting a small amount of frosting in the center of each cookie, scoop some up with a spoon and put some of those finely ground pecans (or toffee pieces {pictured above}) on a plate and run the frosted section over it.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Wreath {DIY}

Here's a look at my Christmas Wreath! I went simple and rustic this year, with a few red berries, pine cones and these great snowflakes that I found on clearance at Michaels.

Also, just to do something different to my wreath holder, I wrapped it in ribbon.  Here is a picture how to:

The great thing about this is that the only part that you see is the stem of the don't stress about getting any other part remotely perfect.

How did your wreath turn out??

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Letters

Dear Penny, you maybe wouldn't be so spoiled rotten if you weren't so good to snuggle with on the couch.  Dear Wesley, you are the best friend and husband a girl could have. Even though I know the last thing you want to do is go to the Nutcracker, you are still taking me next week.  You're the best.  Dear creme brulee, I am craving you like no body's business. I hope I can eat you soon. Maybe we should start a "Christmas brulee" trend ... or maybe not...flaming Christmas trees are coming to mind now and I'm re-thinking it. Dear Kenra Volume Spray 25, remember that time last week when I went without you for three days because I just couldn't get to the store...let's never do that again, ok? Dear watercolor castle painting, though it seems like I have, I really haven't forgotten you, and I promise I will finish you soon. Dear Sean Lowe, I am so excited that you are the next Bachelor and I can't wait to watch you in January. For your sake, I hope there won't be too many crazies vying for your affections.  Dear night shift, after tonight I am done with you and we are never ever ever ever getting back togetherDear hope, thanks for always being there to be the light when everything seems dark and grey. I hope I never forget to paint my world with you.

Happy Friday!

Linking up here

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Noel Letters {DIY}

I love this Noel display on my open kitchen shelves! 
Here is how I made it:

You will need (clockwise from the top left corner):
a couple paintbrushes and plastic basins for mixing, 2 paint colors (I used a chocolate brown acrylic and the off white that I used to paint the shelves with), a small grapevine wreath and red berries to make your "O", snader or sand paper, and wooden letters (the best selection I found was a Jo'Ann's but you can also order different fonts online here).

Give the letters a quick sand to make sure the paint will adhere nicely.

To paint my letters I did the "E" in the light color (1), the "L" in the dark color (2) and the "N" as a mixture of the two (3).  If you wait and paint the medium letter last, you will only need 2 brushes instead of 3! 
Note: If you are going for a darker medium color, then add the lighter color little by little to the darker color.  If you are going for a lighter medium then do the opposite - otherwise you will be wasting too much of your paint!!

I made sure that my brush strokes were visible and pointing all of the same way.  You can see in the "E" above that the brush strokes are diagonal and all pointing up.  A simple way to add interest!

Here's how the letters turned out! For the light "E" I only needed 1 good coat (1).  I did 2 coats for the medium "N" (2), and I really liked how the "L" looked after just 2 coats (3), so I left it that way.  I also picked up the sander again and did a light sanding around the edge to shabby them up a bit.

Ok, so about this "O".
grapvine wreath (Dollar Tree) + berry garland (Michaels) = "O"

And there you have it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

10 Holiday Dates

Wesley and I are always looking for great date ideas to do.  Here are 10 "holiday themed" dates we are thinking about trying out this December in the greater Raleigh area.  The first two listed are coming up this week!!

1. The Holiday Sleigh Ride in Historic Downtown Fuquay Varina  - Who doesn't love a free sleigh ride?!? If you choose to do this, get there early and be prepared to wait.

2. Apex Christmas Nativity Celebration  - This is a great tradition our church does that we started doing last year.  I love hearing all of the Christmas music while seeing the hundreds of beautiful nativities!

3. Starry Nights at Morehead Planetarium at Chapel Hill - Even though this is only offered on a Wednesday it sounds like fun!

4.  Holiday Show at the Progress Energy Center for the Preforming Arts - Take your pick of the many great shows going on in December!  Reserve your tickets ASAP to get good seats.

5.  Light Show in Historic Downtown Wendell  - I really want to do this this year!

6. Christmas Movie Night  - We love Movie Night dates.  I think we are going with Elf this year, although I love The Holiday and The Santa Clause (classic!!).

7. Christmas Photo-shoot - Grab a family member or friend and do a fun photo-shoot, just the two of you.

8.  Christmas Tree Choosing Date - I'll admit, we did this at the end of November.  I love picking out our tree and trimming it up together!!

9. Christmas Baking and Door Drop! - Spread some Christmas cheer, bake something together and drop some off at your neighbor's or friends.  If you decide to ring the bell and run, make sure you leave a note with the goods so they know where they came from. 

10. Weekend Getaways - We are planning on doing this at the end of December.  Instead of getting each other gifts for Christmas, we plan a getaway for the two of us.  Last year we went to Charleston for New Years.  This year we considered Colonial Willimasburg, but chose to see Biltmore's Candlelight Christmas instead.  I don't think we will be disappointed!

Linking up with Just A Small Town Girl

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Favorites

I don't know what it was about November, but it seemed to move so slow. Am I the only one?? I guess it's just the anticipation of so many great things that will happen in December for us!

Thanksgiving goes without saying as a highlight of November, so for the sake of origionality here are six other of my favorite things from this month:


1. My sister Kelsey lives a half hour away and we were able to get together for lunch this month.  It was so great catching up just the two of us!  We ate at Two Guys Pizza near NC State.  It was delicious and they run daily lunch specials!

2. Bumble&Bumble Styling Creme.  This stuff is magic in a bottle. My hair is thick, but fine....and somewhere in between naturally curly and wavy.  I can use this creme to style it curly, straight, and is a great primer product to have in your hair to style it with a flat iron or curling iron.  Seriously, magic in a bottle.  And early on in the month I found out they now sell it at Target.  It is kinda pricey, but worth every penny!

3. Once Upon a Time.  After 1 season, this has jumped to the top of my "favorite shows" list!  This show is a great interweaving of fairy tail characters and the modern world, full of twists and turns.  Season 2 is premering now on ABC Sunday nights at 8PM.  If you havn't seen it, you should check it out.  Our family is hooked!!

4. My friend Maria posted this tutorial on her new blog.  I am notorious for waiting until the last minute to throw dinner together, which more often than not means we end up just going out.  I am such a visual person and even just having a list of go to meals would be great for me. I can't wait to make one of my own!

5. Due to my crazy work schedule, there was only online Black Friday shopping for us.  I've been wanting a higher quality camera for a while and now was the perfect time to finally make the purchase.  We have always had a Canon, so it's been a pretty easy transition so far. But, there still might be a photography class or two in my future!

6. In the spirit of family tradition, we got our tree and put it up the day after Thanksgiving.  My other Christmas decorations are steadily being put up now...needless to say, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around our homestead!

Linking up with Dancing with Ashley

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Subway Art

I finally completed my first art project in a long time!!  This subway art is a great way to display our bucket list of  places we want to travel to.

If you want to make one of your own, here's how:

Start with a wooden board, any size you like and paint it in the background color. (My board was on the bigger side... 12" x 41")

Create your template (Microsoft publisher is my favorite program to use right now), print, and set it up on the board. Mixing fonts is great, but keep it at 5 or less...too many is too busy

Next I used a screwdriver to trace the letters.  That leaves a slight outline in the wood that makes painting a breeze and will give you perfect letters.  The lighter the background, the easier it is to see the outlines made by the screwdriver.  Obviously, I went for more of a challenge with the chocolate brown.

Then comes the fun part...painting!

In case you like mine, here is a template for a smaller version... 3.5" x 10.5":  

Friday, November 16, 2012

A life, still

Last Friday night, Wesley took me to the North Carolina Museum of Art.  We went to see the new exhibition "Still Life Masterpieces" that is running now through January 2013.

It can be easy to rush through a still life exhibit (as Wesley wanted to do), but when you take the time to stop and ponder the paintings that catch your eye, you can find a story even in something as seemingly simple as a still-life.

Here is a peek at some of my favorites that we saw in the gallery visiting from Boston:

1. Renoir is one of my favorite Impressionists.  He has an amazing skill of personifying beauty with movement and color.  This particular piece made me think of all of the charming (ok....eclectic) bouquets that Wesley has put together for me over the years.  And how when I am admiring the surprise he put together for me, I wish time would stop and be still for a while. (I confess I will often tote the bouquet around the house with is so great that flowers can be so portable, especially when you want to enjoy them in every room!)
Renoir, Mixed Flowers in an Earthenware Pot, 1869

2. The Dutch put together some striking still life subjects called the "Vanitas" (Latin for vanity) that will tell you a story of how fleeting and vain human life is. By doing this, they are pointing out how important it is to turn to the eternal: "to lay our treasures in heaven."

Gijsbrechts, Vanitas Still Life, 1668

3. This piece is of apples that instead of being in the standard bowl on a table, are painted as a bushel on a sheet on the floor.  It looked to me like they had been wrapped in the sheet and in a mishap, or perhaps mistake of someone in the house, got knocked to the floor and began spilling out.  How many times after making mistakes in our own life do we stop, be still, and think about a lesson or two to learn from what just happened? In the rush and bustle of our lives, perhaps not often enough.
Sterne, Green Apples, 1924
Take a few moments to be still this weekend. Who knows what you could learn, appreciate, or discover?!?

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Treats

Nothing says Halloween more than Jack O'Lantern Cookies that my mom used to make.  I was also inspired on our Orlando vacation to make Cauldron Cakes that we saw at Zonkos. They are a chocoholics treat, which makes Wesley very happy.  I was inspired by this recipe, but left off the chocolate butter-cream frosting to better enjoy the fantastic chocolate mouse filling and swapped the base from a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate chip muffin to make it more authentic.  

Here's the recipe for Jack O'Lantern Cookies:


2 eggs
2 c sugar
3/4 c butter, melted
3 1/2 c flour
2T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cinnamon
2 T water
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c finely chopped pecans (optional)

Cream the eggs, sugar, and butter.  Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, and cinnamon in a separate bowl and gradually add to the egg mixture on low speed.  Stir in the water, vanilla and pecans (optional).  Divide the dough into fourths and wrap in foil.  Chill for at least 2 hours.  Once chilled, roll the dough into 1/8 thickness (use powdered sugar instead of flour!!) and cut into 3 inch circles with a biscuit cutter.  Place on lightly greased pan and bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes until lightly browned.  


3T butter, softened
1/4 c + 1 1/2 t whipping cream
1/8 t salt
3 3/4 c powdered sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
orange paste food coloring

10oz semisweet chocolate, melted

Cream the butter, cream and salt.  Gradually add powdered sugar.  Stir in vanilla and use small amounts of the orange coloring to get the icing to the depth you want.  Spread onto cookies and pipe the melted chocolate to make faces.


Friday, October 26, 2012

October Favorites

I can't believe its almost November!  October has been great - loved the change in the weather and visiting with family and friends.  My favorite things, however, have been our date nights this month.  They seem extra special since we are working on opposite schedules right now.  (Can't wait for that to end!!) 

1. Melting Pot

Who doesn't love the Melting Pot??  Even though it is far and a little pricey, it is so worth it and a great date we treat ourselves to every once in a while!  When we go, we go all out and split the cheese, salad, meat, and chocolate.  YUM!

2. Dinner and a Movie

Dinner and a movie is our go to date.  It was the first date Wesley took me on, and it never gets old for us.  This month we had Mexican and saw Taken 2.  Obviously Wesley's favorite part was that everyone good was ok at the end.  Oh, and by agreeing I won next month's pick: Anna Karenina.  I get excited about it every time I see the poster for it hanging on the wall in my sister's room!

3. Late Lunch Out

Working every other weekend, when your spouse doesn't,  We try and do our best to do something fun for the few hours we are awake together on Saturday before I have to go in.  Last week Wesley treated me to a late lunch/early dinner at our favorite restaurant in Fuquay: Tacos Mexico.  

4. Pizza and Planning

So one night this month we were trying to figure out where to go eat and I suggested pizza.  To me, this meant trying a new place downtown that had New York style pizza.  To Wesley, this obviously meant "Pizza Hut."  Since it was closer, we went with his choice, even though I secretly hated it.  It ended up being so much fun! We had the place to ourselves, and we came up with the brilliant idea of going to Belgium and France for our anniversary next year.  So all in all, best date night of the month!

Linking up here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DIY Infinity Scarves

I think my favorite thing to wear when it turns cold is a great scarf.  I like them warm, cozy, and eye catching.  They are also so easy to fact I can't remember the last time I bought one.  Here is a great YouTube tutorial to make the one that I am wearing.  I also have a small stockpile of crochet/knit scarves that I will be transforming to infinity ones using this tutorial.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

DIY Wall Art

This stunning piece of inspiration was one of my first pins (so of course, the link no longer works...bummer!). So when it was time to put it into action for the house, I had to make it up as I went.  Here's a peak at the finished product:

To make it, you can either buy frames, or make them.  I opted to make them with the extra amount of shoe molding  and spray paint we happened to have in the garage.

Once they were painted, I just grabbed scrapbook paper that fit the color scheme of the loft (I admit not as elegant as the original picture), cut it down to size, and applied it to the frames with hot glue.

The only upgrade I made was a monogram in the center.  Because everything is just better monogrammed...

The best part is that it is so easy to interchange the I have a feeling it will look very different come Christmas!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...