Thursday, December 31, 2009

Framed Series

So, I mentioned that my sister recently moved into a new place, and she hinted that she'd like to frame some photos for the walls. Enter Christmas and a modest budget we mutually agreed to, and framing photos became an attractive option as her gift.

I began looking through my photos from the last year, and a lot of my favorites were either trees or leaves. Not sure what that tells me, but I put these six together for her and framed them in some frames I got for $1.99 this summer at the Christmas Tree Shoppe in New Hampshire.

I was happy with the result and I think she liked them, too. Or she hung them up anyway, so I think that's a good sign. Makes me want to print some for myself - which reminds me of the wall of frames I posted about here....eek, that was over a year ago and I still haven't done it. Oh well, it's a new year and maybe with that will come some new motivation!

Picnik collage IMG_9786

I also did this print for my dad and father-in-law. This was a picture of Mount Washington we took when we were in New Hampshire this summer. I liked this as well, but the mountains turned out a little dark in the actual print.

Mount Washington


We are having a warm, cozy New Year's Eve at home this year. No special plans, just hanging out, eating good food and relaxing. I can never help but feel reflective at the end of the year, and this year is no exception. I am so very grateful for my family, my friends and for God's provision and blessings in our lives.

I'm looking forward to a New Year and thankful as I reflect on the one that has just passed.

I hope you have a very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas

IMG_9769 I hope you had a Merry one! I know we did. And my house is still recovering! I'm doing some catching up around here the next few days, but will be back with some new posts in the near future! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Easy {Delicious} Gift


A couple of years ago I posted here about a great hot cocoa recipe, and I've pulled it out again this year as simple Christmas gift.

It's from the 2008 America's Test Kitchen cookbook, and is super simle to make (and even better to drink). I did a double batch that filled 12 jelly jars perfectly. It'd be cute to pair it with a mug or two and maybe some marshmallows?

Anyway, just thought I'd share. Hope you are enjoying the holiday season!

Best Ever Hot Cocoa Mix

3 cups nonfat dry milk

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 1/2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa (the best we could find was Hershey's "blend" of regular and dutched cocoa)

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix the ingredients in a food processor or blender (may need to split it into two batches). Mix 1/3 cup mix with 1 cup hot milk (that's supposed to be key to it's deliciousness...vs. water). It's really rich, so we've done it with 1/4 cup mix and it's just as good.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fun Giveaway

I have to introduce you to another of my favorite reads: High-Heeled Foot in the Door. Camilla always has lovely taste and practical ideas...and fun giveaways! Which leads me to today's post, and another something to faun over....La Plates! I will take one of each, please! You can enter to win a set from Camilla today! And keep reading; there are lots of fun giveaways in progress....

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year....


Now that Thanksgiving has passed, I am definitely in the Christmas spririt! I like to give Thanksgiving a fair shake, and not get too crazy about Christmas too early. But, it almost seems like you're being left in the dust if you don't! Here it is, November 30, and I already feel like I'm "behind" in my Christmas preparations. It's madness.

So, my goal this year is to keep it simple and not spin myself into a frenzy of busyness and anxiety as this holiday approaches. The truth is, I love Christmas. I really do. I want it to be an enjoyable season, especially now that I have kids of my own. A season full of warmth, fun decorations, delicious treats and time spent with family watching the Grinch or Rudolph or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Not nervous thoughts about whether I've picked the most perfect, most generous (but cost effective), most thoughtful, most meaningful gifts for everyone and whether or not I should pick up more, maybe just a couple more, things...I might need more stocking stuffers...what if my distant relative comes for Christmas and they bring me a gift.....what if someone gives me baked goods and I don't have something for them in return....maybe a couple more batches of cookies or carmels....what if our Christmas cards aren't cute....

See? I'm getting crazy already. I don't want my boys growing up thinking Christmas is a stressful season! It's a time, first and foremost, to celebrate the birth of Christ. I do also think it's a wonderful time to show love to others by giving. It doesn't matter if our house if perfectly decorated or if our cards aren't the cutest on the block.

I am working on getting organized tonight in hopes that I can achieve this goal of a laid back holiday season (are you laughing at me?). For the past several years, I've liked some of the tools provided on Organized Christmas, particularly the printables. Last year I made the binder and printed some of the worksheets to keep me organized.

I also came across the want, need, wear, read idea on another blog today (sorry, can't remember where), but then I gooogled it and found the original post here. I like the idea of keeping things modest for Christmas. My kids truly don't NEED much, if anything. But, it's fun to give (and receive!), and I want to keep it reasonable. I think something in each of these categories would be a good mix.

And for packaging of baked goods, I picked up a case of glass mason jars and some red ribbon this year (though I realized I didn't get the wide-mouth jars, so I need to make sure whatever I bake will fit through the opening!). Again, trying to keep it simple (trying being the operative word there).

Do you have any traditions related to holiday preparations that help make the season less stressful for you? I'd love to hear about them!

I leave you with some pretty Christmas decor from my mom's and mother-in-law's this past weekend. Now, off to scour the cyber Monday deals....


Edited: Linking up to the Inspired Room's Holiday Linky Friday! Go take a look at other holiday ideas!

IMG_8787 IMG_8851 IMG_8897 IMG_8908

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


“The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.”
―Frank Lloyd Wright

I loved this image and quote from the Real Simple Daily Thought feed this morning. I'm feeling thankful for my life, my family, my faith, my home - the list could go on. But I think there is some truth in this quote from our friend Frank (whose studio is just a mile away from here :-)); the older I get, the more perspective I have on my life and the beauty in it.

Here's to finding beauty in your life, no matter what the circumstances may be. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

{image via Real Simple}

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rotary Phone


My grandma still has a wall-mounted rotary phone in her hallway, and I've always loved it for some reason. Maybe just reminds me of being a kid at her house, the LOUD ring, the time-consuming dialing....

Anyway, I came across this beauty at a garage sale on Friday. It was $12, which is more than I would usually pay for anything at a garage sale, but I couldn't pass it up. Well, I actually did pass it up, but went back later for it! I think it was the color. I kept imagining how well it would match the new office area. :-) Just a fun, authentic, vintage find.

I don't even know if it works (she said it did), but I'm going to give it a try! I'm sort of wishing I would have picked up the red one she had, too!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Am I the last to know...

...about Polyvore? I tend to be the last one to learn about things, and I feel like this is probably one of those things. I first came across Polyvore on C Lo's blog, but have seen it a couple times since and just now tried it for myself. Oh. My. That's all I can say. You can basically clip things from online stores and import them to make your own little inspiration board / collage / etc. SO MUCH FUN. Not that I needed something else to be addicted to. :-) So, my sister just moved in to a new place, and it is a totally blank slate. The wheels are turning, and I can't help but put together some (unsolicited) plans. Sometimes I like to decorate vicariously through others. This is barely even a start, but I just wanted to try my hand and then see if I could figure out posting it here. Try it for yourself! More to come on my sister's place, btw. :-)
Items in this set: sofa, $699 lamp, $130 rug, $70, $13, $80

Friday, October 30, 2009

Beautiful Life Friday

I love this idea. Taking a minute to reflect on something beautiful from your week. This week was a little tough. Nothing major; just the day-to-day wearing on me. Feeling a little bit like I am going in too many directions sometimes. I work part-time (which is really full-time) in corporate america and I think I'm good at my job, but it can be a little consuming mentally sometimes. My husband's uncle e-mailed him a quote this week that said this:

"My greatest fear is not failure; it is succeeding at something that does not matter."-Author Unknown

That hits home with me lately. I want to be good at the things that really matter. Like a good wife, mom, daughter, friend, sister....I worry about failing in these areas.

But, in the midst of my stress, I found beauty in the picture below of my oldest son taking in the colors of the season. Looking at it just makes me step back from everything else and appreciate the things I've been rushing past. The things God has blessed me with.

What you can't see in this picture (which was taken in my bedroom) are the unmade bed and piles of clothes that also fill this room. But, sometimes it's all about perspective. Looking past the things that don't matter and focusing on the ones that do.

IMG_8143 Ok, that might have been a little heavy for a Friday night! Check out some other "beautiful" posts over at the Inspired Room's Beautiful Life Friday.

Fall Recipe Series: Chicken Enchiladas

My husband and I came across this recipe when we were first married. We were looking for something festive to cook for Cinco de Mayo, and these enchiladas did not disappoint. We found it on the Food Network website, and it's still posted here. Doubling and freezing it works well also; I've even quadrupled it before (couple for us, couple for friends). Just make sure you have a huge bowl for all the mixing! (Pics below are from a quad batch.) I have also used canned, shredded chicken and that works great as well.

If you're feeling really adventurous, try Fried Ice Cream for dessert. We also made that along with this recipe originally. It's a little bit of work, but fun and tasty.


Chicken Enchiladas

(recipe taken from the Food Network website)


4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sour cream

2 cups prepared salsa

2 cups grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Salt and pepper

4 scallions, thinly sliced

12 to 14 soft round 6 to 8-inch flour or corn tortillas


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Directions In a medium bowl cream together the cream cheese and the sour cream. Stir in 1/2 cup of the salsa. Stir in 1 cup of the grated cheese. In a second bowl toss together the chicken, the corn, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, and 1/2 of the scallions. Add the chicken mixture to the cheese mixture and stir to combine.

In a baking dish spread a 1/2 cup of the salsa over the bottom. Place about a 1/3 cup of the filling on a corn tortilla, roll up and transfer to the baking dish with the seam side down. Repeat process for remaining tortillas. Pour remaining salsa over enchiladas, spreading to coat all of them. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese over the top. Enchiladas may be prepared up to this point 12 hours in advance. Transfer to preheated oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until hot and bubbly. Enchiladas may be reheated, covered with aluminum foil, before service. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions and serve warm.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cute Chore Chart

I've been wanting to create a chore cart for my oldest son, so this post from ModEco Kids via ohdeedoh caught my eye. But what I love more than the chart is the sentiment expressed in her post, talking about the importance of kids feeling that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.

Just thought I'd share this in case you were looking for something as well! There's a free printable so you can make your own - how nice!

And check out the rest of ModEco while you are there - great stuff. She also has an adorable etsy shop!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fear of Orchids

I know it seems wierd to be afraid of something so pretty. I've always loved orchids...from a distance. A couple weeks ago my husband was kind enough to bring one home for me, and I love it. But, I'm afraid I'm going to kill it. The just seem too delicate and exotic.

Anyway, so far so good. Seems to be hanging in there, but I'd appreciate any tips you may have on orchid care! :-)

IMG_7726 IMG_7719 IMG_7730

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Procrastinator's Party: The Reveal

Well, today was the deadline for the Procrastinator's Party. I will say this: having this deadline definitely gave me some motivation! I'm pretty happy with what I got done. Still some thing to finish up, but it's pretty darn close.

To refresh your memory:


And.....drumroll please.........

{sorry again about the lighting....had to use the flash for these since I was taking them tonight} IMG_7882

Better? This project was like therapy for me. It's something I've really been wanting (NEEDING) to do for a while, so it felt good to get it accomplished, but it also really got the creative juices flowing. I had a lot of fun choosing the fabrics, spending WAY too much time at Joann's and then doing the actual sewing, etc. These were my inspirations:

IMG_7763 IMG_7776

I think my favorite part is the chair cover. I fell in love with this fabric when I saw it at Joann's. It's not fancy, just cotton fabric, but I loved the colors and I knew I needed to get out of the yellow-blue rut in the kitchen. We got this chair at IKEA for cheap, but the cover was totally trashed (mostly from my 4-year old who loves to play at the computer).

Picnik collage IMG_7876

Making the cover was actually pretty simple. I had tried (and failed) one other time to cover it. This time it turned out decent. I just sewed the two rectangles together (after hemming the bottom edge first) and then added the ribbon on the bottom to close it. The seat was easy - staple gun! :-)

Picnik collage

I also loved the fabric I used for the memo board. It was upholstery fabric that was half-off and it helped me accomplish my goal of getting away from floral a little bit (it's a problem for me). :-) It was easy to cover the old one I had - again, staple gun! And some leftover ribbon from the chair.

Picnik collage

The storage boxes were from IKEA and I found some vinyl stickers for embellishment (though taking me back to flowers!). The file folders / hanger I already had, and I used one of my favorite flea market tins to hold a rescued-from-the-cold impatien fomr the backyard. We got a brand new in-the-box keyboard tray on craigslist for $35 - score.

AND, I did tackle that cabinet and the drawers as well. Now, some of that stuff is in a bag and a box and still need to be sorted, but it's progress. All but the bottom drawer are empty; I'm thinking of putting the boys' craft supplies, etc. in there. My best helper for this project was my trusty label maker. I got it a couple years ago and am addicted. :-)

Picnik collage

This has been great fun! Melissa, thanks for throwing the "party," let's do it again soon! Visit the post at The Inspired Room to check out more "afters!"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flea Marketeer Party

One more "invite" I can't pass up...

The folks over at Flea Market Style are having a little party! The invitation is to post your favorite flea market find, and, as you'll recall from this post, I come from a long line of flea marketers, thrifters...whatever you want to call it, it's in my genes (and my home!)

Below are a few of my favorites. Everything pictured below was $1 or less (i.e. free!). Can't beat that!

Share yours! Head on over to the party and check out the rest of the blog while you're there. I'm looking forward to picking up a copy of their magazine!

IMG_0696 IMG_0690 IMG_0689 IMG_2660 IMG_7738 IMG_7748

You-Can-Do-It-If-You-Try Window Treatments

It's no secret how much I love ideas from Jenny over at the Little Green Notebook. If SHE knew, she'd likely issue some type of cyber restraining order. Truly.

But, I couldn't pass up the chance to participate in her most recent post on pelmet boxes. She made these adorable pink ones for her girls' room using foam board, badding, L brackets and a little tape to hold it all together! How cute is this:

{image via Little Green Notebook}

And her tutorial is here. She's asked folks to share their own DIY pelmet box ideas, and I happened to have done some a couple of years ago with none other than.........foam board and tape! Worked like a charm. The fabric was an upholstery-type fabric I picked up at IKEA maybe 3 years ago? I was going to use it to recover some dining room chairs, but changed my mind. I LOVE this fabric and still have a whole bunch of it...what to do...what to do...

(excuse these photos; I took them tonight and the lighting was not great!)

Picnik collage IMG_7870 IMG_7871

And I can't help but share another of her tutorials on these DIY roman shades; I'll definitely be trying this one. Thanks, Jenny!

{image via Little Green Notebook}

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Fall!

IMG_7683 I'm enjoying fall so far; it could be little warmer and less rainy, but enjoying it nonetheless. I'm definitely a cool weather girl; just wish we could keep it at cool and skip the bitter cold of Chicago winter. Hope you're having a good fall. I am planning on spending today working on the office area (no, I haven't started yet, but if I had I wouldn't be a true procrastinator, right?). Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Procrastinator's Party

I must say that today's post at The Inspired Room caught my attention; you know how often I talk about my procrastination. That's what made this post right up my alley! The challenge is to conquer one project that has been delayed by procrastination using the following steps: posting about it, linking back to the original post and then coming back in two weeks to share your results. As a procrastinator, I work best under a deadline, so this is perfect.

And I don't even need to tell you which project I'm tackling. :-) Yes, it still looks the same (other than I threw out the dead plant). I need to seriously organize and spruce up the office area in the kitchen.

Care to join? Check out the post here.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall Recipe Series: Heather's Pizza Soup

The weather has changed and I thought maybe I'd post some of my favorite cool weather recipes. My friend Heather gave me this soup recipe a while back; it's REALLY good and very easy to put together. I'm thinking this is on our menu for this cool fall day!

Here's the recipe (lifted from her blog - thanks, Feather! :-)).

Pizza Soup:

2 – 14 ½ oz. cans crushed tomatoes

2 - 10 ¾ oz. cans condensed tomato soup, undiluted

2 ½ C. water

3 ½ oz. sliced pepperoni, quartered

1 med. Sweet red pepper, chopped

1 med. Green pepper, chopped

1 C. sliced fresh mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp. rubbed sage

½ tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic Bread

Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Simmer together until veggies are tender. Serve with garlic bread and cheese. You can also prepare like French onion soup with bread on top, topped with cheese and broiled. This cooks up great in a crock pot. Also, you can substitute V-8 for the amount of liquid in the tomato soup and water – about 40 oz. of V-8, and it doesn't taste any different. (Those are Heather's words / recommendations.)

Happy fall! I love this time of year.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pretty Bird

I have been stalking these dishes at Target for quite some time now. Every time I'm there I swing by and take a them. I actually think they look better in person; the colors are a little brighter.
The problem is, I don't really NEED new dishes. My Pfaltzgraff Summer Breeze dishes (that we got for our wedding) are doing just fine. But, tastes change over time, right? I'm also very sentimental and I think I would feel badly about abandoning our "wedding" dishes. But, we do have the china from our wedding as well, so maybe I wouldn't feel that bad. :-)
But, as I said, I don't NEED new dishes. Just want them.

Look what I found...

I was at L'Occitane this week picking up Jamie's prize and of course had to ask about the special edition lavender shea butter from a few years ago. She told me they stopped making it because the process wasn't 100% organic, but that they were acquiring a company call Melvita and the products would be avalable in the US in November. And guess what they have? Lavender Shea Butter! :-) Organic certified shea butter with wild lavender essential oil - Melvita USA Shared via AddThis

Friday, September 25, 2009

And the winner is....

Thanks to all for participating in the giveaway! It was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to trying some new things! So, after a random drawing involving slips of paper (one per person), a hat and my husband as the drawer, I'm happy to announce that the winner is....
Jamie at The4Bells!
Jamie, I know where to find you and will either get it in the mail or get it to you in person soon. :-) Thanks again all and happy weekend to you!