Category: Holiday

Christmas Card Fail

It has rained every weekend since Thanksgiving so we haven’t been able to get a Christmas tree yet. We wanted to get it last weekend — rain. Tried again this weekend — even more rain. Ugh!

Last year, it happened to snow early in the season. We already had our colorful Christmas lights up along the fence so we ran outside, grabbed them and snapped this cute photo for our card. It’s one of my favorite shots of us. Can you believe we took this ourselves — selfie style?

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So this year the pressure is on to snap an even better photo. Ideally I’d like to get a shot of us at the garden center picking out our Christmas tree. The evergreens would make an awesome background on a holiday card.

I’m anxious to get our cards ordered so I decided to try and take a photo inside before we ventured out into the rain (and humidity struck) on Saturday.

It didn’t work. First the olive print was half in the background. And it just looked too busy.

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I took the print down to snap a shot with our plain tan wall in the background, but I didn’t like how these photos were clearly a poor attempt at a selfie.

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Then things just got silly…

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Wish us luck on snapping a more charming photo for our Christmas card this year. 🙂

Fa la la la Living Room

I’m continuing this week’s tour of Christmas decor in my house with a peek at the living room where I’ve decked the halls with red, green and silver accents.
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I mixed some of my old favorites with a few new pieces this year to make the room feel extra festive.
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I splurged on a pair of green and white houndstooth pillows that coordinate with my table runner in the dining room. The couch is the first thing that draws your eye in when you walk through the front door so I focused my attention there this year. A trio of new pillows, glittery garland and DIY holiday-themed art transformed this spot for Christmas. My couch and rug are so neutral that it’s easy to change the look of the room by switching up a few accent pieces and swapping out the yellow pillows for green. My strategy for decorating the living room was to take away yellow and replace it with green which complemented my existing red accents nicely.

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A few silver accents go a long way to make this space feel Christmas-y, too. I found this wreath made of silver, vintage-looking ornaments that I placed on a tray on the coffee table as a statement piece. When we put the tree up it will make my large silver ornaments really pop.

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Silver also makes a statement atop my entertainment center where a bevy of glass Christmas trees in a variety of sizes add interest to this side of the room. I treat my entertainment center as if it were my fireplace mantel (because I’ve always wanted one). It’s one of my favorite decorations in the whole house and I love how it turned out.

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Last but certainly not least is the stairway where I draped the same glittery garland down the banister and secured it with some red and green striped ribbon. I like the fact that you can see the ribbon holding up the garland and I think it gives the banister added character.

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And with that, the tour of our indoor Christmas decorations is complete. Next up I’ll share with you my Christmas tree and our display of lights outside. Also, look out for a new vlog with a video tour of our Christmas decorations which will give you a better feel for the layout of the space!

Red, green and… Copper?

When it comes to Christmas decor I don’t play favorites. Red, green, white, silver and gold all have a place in my home for the holidays. This year I added a small splash of a new metallic tone to the mix — copper.
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My husband’s favorite holiday drink is the Moscow Mule which is traditionally served in frigid copper mugs. The bright hue was the inspiration for my dining room sideboard this Christmas season. It makes a bold statement and a little goes a long way so I paired it with some rose gold pieces, deep reds and classic greens for a playful holiday look.

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Take a closer look at my DIY Noel sign.

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I used the cover art from another pretty notebook as the background with a metal “Noel” ornament (both from Target) on top for a custom piece that goes perfectly with my color scheme. I nabbed that rose gold Nicole Miller frame and Earth & Vine cocktail mixer at Marshall’s a few weeks ago.

Here’s a closer look at the rest of the dining room:

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I’m really excited about how the dining room turned out this year. Have I mentioned how much I love that preserved boxwood wreath? Vern Yip’s go-to decoration for December in HGTV Magazine was preserved boxwoods because they look like real/living plants and are maintenance free. I got the wreath from Target last year but I spotted it in the store again this season along with a smaller version.

More photos of my living room are in the works and I still have to trim the tree, so more to come!

Here Comes Cupid

I decorated the house for Valentine’s Day! What a cheery task. I had so much fun framing a few love-themed art prints, digging out my heart-shaped plates and gathering all the pink and red decor I could muster from around the house to create cute little nooks.

Here’s what I came up with for the kitchen. Notice the poinsettia leftover from Christmas? It matches my kitchen so well I figured I’d keep it for a while longer and I love how cute it looks in this Valentine’s Day vignette.

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Bee mine art print

And the dining room. Ready to serve a Valentine’s Day cocktail fit for Cupid himself at a moments notice.

Love, Love, Love art print

And finally the living room. Spotted: another squatting poinsettia. I had to let him stay, too.

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Happy Valentine's Day art print

I also love how a few pieces of existing decor ties so well into my Valentine’s Day pieces making the house feel festive and sweet without being overkill or corny.

Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it. But first up, the Super Bowl! Are you excited? I can’t say that I am, but it’s usually a fun day nonetheless. Go team!

Salt, Moonshine and Cupcakes

That pretty much sums up my New Year’s Eve. Our friends Tasha and Steve were gracious enough to invite us with Joe and Laura to their new home to ring in 2014. Dinner was served, drinks flowed, salt was thrown and we watched the ball drop. Wait, one of these things is not like the other.

Cupcake countdown

We exchanged gifts with Steve and Tasha on New Year’s Eve and they got Joe and Mike each a Bug-A-Salt gun. And, since boys will be boys, they turned the fancy fly swatter on each other and shot salt across the room. Awesome gift, guys! Sorry for the mess, Tash…

It was a very fun, relaxed New Year’s Eve and we all had a great time. If you saw the holiday fête I put together you know I appreciate even the smallest details when it comes to throwing a party, and I loved how much thought Tasha put into the evening, like the countdown cupcakes shown above. She had also just attended a whiskey tasting with Steve in the city and they served special moonshine champagne cocktails that were different than anything I’ve ever tasted.

Moonshine Champagne Cocktail

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try:

Ingredients

  • 1 shot Moonshine Whiskey
  • 1/2 shot lemon juice
  • 1/2 shot simple syrup
  • Champagne

Process

Pour whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Mix until chilled and well combined. Pour mixture into glass and top with champagne. Serve immediately.

As you can see in the photo above I drank my champagne with a festive gold-striped paper straw. They always add a fun touch to a special drink without breaking the bank.

I didn’t get a ton of pictures throughout the night, but here’s a snapshot of our celebration. Cheers to 2014!

Laura and I before we headed out for the night.
Laura and I before we headed out for the night.
Our last selfie of 2013!
Our last selfie of 2013!
Girlfriends!
Girlfriends!

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Enjoying that Moonshine Champagne Cocktail!
Enjoying that Moonshine Champagne Cocktail!
Bug-A-Salt = Bug Assault, get it?!
Bug-A-Salt = Bug Assault, get it?!
Midnight champagne toast!
Midnight champagne toast!

So, I ate a fish eye…

I know, totally gross, right? It actually wasn’t that bad, and Mike was proud of me for fulfilling a family tradition in his great grandfather’s footsteps to eat the eye of a fish when it’s served whole. The flavor tasted kind of salty like an oyster, but the texture wasn’t as benign. Think jell-o meets a contact. Not that I’ve eaten a contact lens, but that’s what I imagine it would feel like. Check out Mike’s vlog of our Christmas Eve celebration to see the deed go down. I take the fateful bite at around 6:30.

The fish eye was actually my second food adventure of 2013, preceded by my first taste of veal tongue about a month earlier. A true foodie takes risks, right? Hey, Anthony Bourdain espoused the deliciousness of the veal tongue at the EXACT SAME RESTAURANT where I tried it. I walked, er, ate in Bourdain’s footsteps. You have to give me some sort of foodie props for that, people!

Though I don’t think I’ll be trying fish eye again anytime soon, I do want to keep up my adventurous foodie momentum in 2014. What do you recommend I try next? What’s your most adventurous food risk?

Bye Bye, Christmas

Our Christmas decorations are finally down, and our house feels so empty. The end of the holiday season comes with both a feeling of sadness and a feeling of relief. Sadness because weeks worth of planning, organizing, shopping, cooking and cleaning has culminated in a few short-lived days of revelry. And relief because all those weeks of planning, organizing, shopping, cooking and cleaning are over, for now.

Goodbye Christmas

The hectic pace of the holidays kept me from blogging (sorry about that). As a brand new blogger I’m still trying to find my groove, and I was enjoying a holiday break where I could be more unplugged than I usually am. I’m blessed to work for an agency that closes between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and though I was checked into email throughout that time it was nice to come out from behind my computer screen for some much needed R&R.

That said, the Christmas decorations are put away and I’m excited to be actively blogging again. How was your holiday? Are you sad to see the holidays go or are you looking forward to a slower pace this month? I have a hunch my winter hibernation will include some fun projects around the house. Who’s with me?!

Christmas Greetings

Choosing a Christmas card totally snuck up on me this year. December had already arrived when I stopped to realize I hadn’t even given it a thought yet. I spent some time scrolling through dozens of designs and sifted through photos to find one that was card worthy, but I just couldn’t get excited about it.

Then, we woke up on Sunday, December 8 to our town transforming into a winter wonderland thanks to a storm that unexpectedly dumped nine inches of snow on South Jersey. I’m not kidding, they were calling for a dusting to one inch – and this is what we were left with.

Snow Storm

Let me also specify that this was ONE HOUR after the flakes started falling. I’m not kidding. The snow started around 11:00 am and by 12:00 pm it looked like this. As soon as I saw how beautiful the snow looked outside a light bulb went off in my head. I had an opportunity to get REAL SNOW FLAKES in our Christmas card! How perfect is that?! So we got all gussied up and headed outdoors (in some not-quite-warm-enough clothing, might I add). Our first attempt at a picture was the one above which our sweet neighbor Lou snapped for us in the middle of the storm. How many people can say their neighbors are willing to don snow boots and a scarf to take a picture for you? Yeah, we’re pretty lucky. I liked the way the colorful Christmas balls popped against the snow white background, but it wasn’t quite working for me, so we moved on to plan B.

As I mentioned in my post about our outdoor decorations, we had hung colorful C9 light bulbs on our fence in the back yard. I thought it’d be playful to add them into our shot so we wrapped a few strands of bulbs around us and snapped a few pictures before we were so frozen that we had to head back inside. The snow was falling so fast that my hair was totally covered in less than 10 minutes – but it was SO worth it! Here’s what we ended up with.

Christmas Card Photo

It’s kind of a miracle that we ended up with such an awesome shot, especially since Mike took it himself and we didn’t have a third person behind the camera. I love the glow of the C9 light bulbs and the snowflakes in our hair. As soon as we came inside I plugged the photo into the template I had picked out on Tinyprints and ordered them right away! This is what I chose.

Christmas CardCan you believe I found a Christmas card with gold glitter AND chevron? I know, right? SO BRIE! And luckily Mike liked it, too.

When the cards were ordered we decided to run to the grocery store since we didn’t have any food in the house. We were planning to be out all day at Longwood Gardens with my mom and we weren’t expecting the large snow fall at all, so I definitely wasn’t prepared. The grocery store is 10 minutes away from our house. 45 minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot. This is what we were dealing with.

Snow Road

Again, this was NOT in the forecast! Can you believe that? We kept getting stuck and having to back up and gain traction before moving forward again. This is Mike’s worried driver face.

Mike Concentration

And this is the shameless selfie  I took while waiting for us to get to the store. Can you tell we had been in the car for a while?

Snow Selfie

Two hours after we had left the house we were home, pantry and fridge fully stocked. I ended up working from home the next two days because another snow storm rolled through on Tuesday, though we didn’t get hit quite as hard that day. We’ve had four snow storms since December 8, so I’m a little nervous that this winter is going to be VERY snowy. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, did you send holiday cards this year? Did you take a photo for the occasion or did you have a great one from earlier in the year that you deemed card worthy?

Holiday Fête

Mike and I had the pleasure of hosting a little holiday fete last weekend with a few close friends and family. I was excited to have another chance to entertain since it’s been a few months since our housewarming party back in September. I wanted to avoid spending the entire party in the kitchen, so I kept the appetizers, entree and dessert super simple yet festive and gave our home an extra special feel with some DIY decorations I made just for the occasion.

Christmas Tree Cheese Platter

I placed a few easy to eat finger foods on the dining room table to greet guests as I finished our main course in the kitchen. This cheese platter in the shape of a Christmas tree was Mike’s idea and I think it turned out to be super cute, and even easier to make. I layered a variety of cubed cheese, rosemary springs, crisp green grapes and cherry tomatoes on an extra large solid-wood carving board that we got at Target on clearance.

Appetizers

An easy homemade spinach dip, pita chips, and gourmet Italian breadsticks rounded out my appetizer offering. I combined some of our vintage green glassware and candle holders with a faux ranunculus arrangement for a centerpiece that felt casually collected.

In an effort to keep my party decor simple and warm I opted to use real cranberries, snippings from our big jade plant and floating candles to make a variety of accents for the powder room, kitchen, dining room and living room.

Cranberry Christmas Centerpiece

 How cute are they? Not to be outdone by the cranberry and candy cane vase I threw together to adorn one of my living room side tables. Swoon.

Side Table Peppermints

Peppermint Candy Cane

 And I was lucky to have an adorable elf helping me set up for the party. Hello free entertainment. Well, we did pay for his dinner. Ha!

Elf Cody

 I used a free Christmas printable and some chevron burlap to create a cheery sign for my display of wine glasses with the hope of inviting guests to help themselves – which they did. I used a standing photo frame from Ikea that is very easy to switch up for any party. I originally got a set of to use for our wedding and they’ve come in handy ever since.

Cheers Christmas Sign

 I didn’t snap any photos of our dinner buffet, but I kept it simple by using crock pots to keep my hot side dishes warm throughout the night. Our menu included holiday baked ham, cheerful mac and cheese, Santa’s seasoned veggies, Rudolph’s arugula salad and ho! ho! ho! rolls. I gave each of the dishes a holiday name for a playful touch since the dishes were so simple. My work week leading up to the weekend of the party was very busy, so I was thanking my lucky stars that I chose to keep the menu very manageable.

Last, but certainly not least, was the dessert table. This was my favorite set up of the night! The morning of the party I pulled some of my pre-mixed Christmas cookie dough out of the freezer (post on the pre-mixing and freezing ahead process to come) and baked four different kinds of cookies – peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal scotchies and Christmas spritz. They’re all recipes I got from Laura and they turned out great (surprise, surprise). I arranged them on a simple white platter and got two decanters out to serve milk (and later egg nog).

Christmas Cookie Dessert Table

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Decanters

 I set up egg nog in a punch bowl across from the dessert table on my small island in the kitchen. The punch bowl was an amazing vintage thrift store find that my mom purchased for my bridal shower last summer with 10 adorable matching cups. I filled the bottom of the punch bowl with ice, placed a metal bowl on top and poured the egg nog into it so the ice would keep it nice and frosty throughout the night. It was a hit!

Egg Nog Punch Bowl

 I’m so glad we had a chance to hang with some friends before the craziness of the holidays really ramps up in the coming week. Are you attending or hosting any holiday parties? What are you favorite tips for holiday entertaining?

A Vote of Holiday Confidence

Christmas is in nine days. How is that possible? How has December flown by so quickly? The months fly by faster and faster the older I get, but this December surely holds some sort of record for slipping through the hourglass faster than ever before.

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December is like one long race to the finish line that culminates in Christmas. Each year trying to beat your fastest time baking cookies, planning holiday menus, addressing Christmas greetings and wrapping each gift to perfection.

My Christmas cookies are ready and waiting in the freezer to be baked at a moment’s notice. At least half of the gifts on our Christmas list are purchased and neatly placed beneath the tree, and our Christmas cards went out with the mail this morning. I’m more ‘with it’ this year than I ever have been before – but I still feel like I’ve got a marathon ahead of me. It doesn’t help that this time of year is one of the busiest at my agency. It’s like one big ‘let’s see if she can hack it’ test to round out the year. Am I right?

My biggest source of inspiration during the holidays is Mike. Christmas truly brings out the big, lovable, wide-eyed kid in him that still wants to believe in Santa and the magic of Christmas Eve. Attend one Christmas Eve vigil with him and you might just become a believer. Trust me. His excitement for holiday traditions make every last minute spent icing his favorite ricotta zuccarini cookies (just like his Italian grandmom did) worth it. Every. Last. One.

This post is my vote of holiday confidence to all you super women out there keeping the magic alive, and letting some guy in a red suit take credit for it. It’s cheesy, I know, but don’t forget to stop and savor the moment. Remember what it is that makes this all worth it. Remember that the best memories rarely come from ‘perfect’ moments. And for goodness sake, let’s remember that Facebook posts and Instagram photos share just a glimpse at someone’s life. What’s that pin that’s been making its way around Pinterest? Don’t compare your entire life to someone else’s highlight reel.

Here’s to savoring your own highlight reel this holiday season and letting go of the stress. Go get ’em!