Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry Christmas To Me

I just used some of my Christmas Money (doesn't that make me sound like I am 7 years old? Christmas Money - ha!) and I had to share my purchase with ya'll. I am beyond excited, not only that in a few short days will I get my paws on this magical machine, but that it was such a steal...check it out.
Amazon.com
A laminator, and it will be mine all mine in just 5-8 business days. (free shipping time) I can hardly stand it. I already have a list a mile long of labels that could use a little extra protection, but first up on my list is my Erin Condren Life Planner, the month tabs are starting to "fray" a bit and I would be just beside myself if that beauty didn't make it through all of 2012...so I have to do my part to protect those tabs so it goes the distance. I had been reading about the value a laminator brings to an organized home for the last several months, specifically from one of my favorite blogs IHeart Organizing, and I finally bit the bullet and caved. I hope that it brings me as much joy in real life as it does in Organization Envy (I have serious organization envy of other gals homes, its insane how goo-goo I go over organization tools). I can't wait to show you how it works just as soon as I have it in my excited little mitts.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Five on Friday: Memories & Moments of 2011

2011...good gracious the year flew by. I can't even begin to capture the year in a single blog post the way several of the blogs I read have done, I am royally impressed they are able to pull it all together.  I thought it would be helpful (for myself and the girls, when they are 45 and reading this) if I pulled together my Five Favorite Memories/Moments of 2011...this is stretching me out of my comfort zone, because I am going to do my best to make them MY Five Favorite, not OUR Five Favorite, which is going to also be a theme for 2012...not forgetting about ME, and while OUR/US/Family will always be #1, ME shouldn't be #4 or #5...

Halloween 2010

1) Losing Weight - this was a "big" one for me, no pun intended. But really focusing on eating right, and being healthy was a big focus for me for the better part of the year. It is no secret that the last few months of the year I threw the rule book out and ate my face off, but we are back on track now and 2012 is going to help me get closer to my goal weight.  A lot of people focus on the # on the scale, and frankly when I say "goal weight", I don't have a specific number in mind, I want to get to a place where I am comfortable in my skin and my clothes and that when I look in the mirror I can smile and not want to cut my love handles off with the super duper sharp medical scissors we have in the bathroom drawer. I am utterly embarrassed by the photo above, but come on people, its no secret, I was not photo worthy a year ago and while I am not jumping in front of the camera, I am in a spot where I can stand to look at a photo of myself without throwing up in my mouth...just got a ways to go, but I am looking forward to the journey.

May 2011

December 2011

2) Finding a Hobby - I have been searching for a hobby for as long as I have known myself.  I have always wanted a hobby, I have envied those with hobbies, and it wasn't until this year that I found a hobby that I can call my own.  Being crafty and taking on home projects is my hobby and there are several things I love about it. I love that its about the hunt, that its about finding a great deal and turning a 2 into a 10.  I love that I don't have to be married to it. If I need a break, I can take a break and nothing is going to fall apart, sure I might get a little anxious that I haven't knocked out a project in quite some time, but all in all, a break from this hobby isn't going to kill me, its easy to take a break from and I need a low pressure hobby like that, one that doesn't take over my life, one that just enriches it, and gives me something for me, something that I enjoy.

Wall Art for Olivia's Room
Bulletin Board for the Home Office

3) My Birthday Away - I love that my husband FINALLY planned something, and surprised me with a night away.  I am the worlds biggest planner, and I happen to love traveling more than your average Joe, and for him to put two of my favorite loves together - planning & traveling, I could have just married him all over again - and I happen to love that we got to spend almost 2 days together focused on us, on us as a couple and us as two individuals, not just us as Parents.  We have come to realize that if we are happy as a couple and as individuals, we are much happier as Parents, so for 2012 that is also going to be on our radar.

Room at the B&B
4)  St. Jude Trike-a-Thon - this one just melts my heart. I love that Olivia got involved in something so great and I love that Brad and I took the day to support her while she rode her little pedal-free bike for the St. Jude's Family.  Olivia still talks about St. Jude all the time, she sees the emblem in store windows and asks about the doctors and the kids at St. Jude, and she saw an ornament on the tree at her school from St. Jude and quickly pointed it out to me. I just hope that exposing her to the gift of giving at such a young age sets her up for many years to come of thinking of others and finding a way to give to those in need...we couldn't have been more proud of her. And we also couldn't have been more grateful to all our friends and family who supported her, I think that really cemented this as a special memory for me, I was floored by the support and encouragement our friends and family gave Olivia.


5) Irene & The Earthquake - while the damage we suffered pales in comparison to most, there was a split second during Irene from the time Brad yelled "She's going" (meaning the tree) to the time it hit the ground that I felt my world stop, I rushed for the girls, but it felt like I was moving in slow motion, I was rushing to ensure that if it came down on my house that it didn't come down on our precious beauties.  I was frightened and then so very thankful in a wave of about 3 seconds, it is hard to explain those emotions.  I felt similar ones during the Earthquake, once I realized what was going on, of course, but there was more fear because I wasn't with the girls, I couldn't reach them and confirm their safety, and then all the what if's started to play through my head, what if it didn't stop shaking? What if their school building came down on them? What if MY building came down on me? What if Brad was driving over a bridge when it started to shake and the bridge snapped in half...all of those what ifs went through my head, not immediately, but they did. Natural Disasters scare the ba-jeezes out of me, and I can't really classify either moment as a favorite, but the pure relief I felt when I realized the tree didn't hit our house, and simply just took out our fence. I didn't once complain about the clean up or the hassle of dealing with insurance, I was so incredibly thankful that we were all safe, that is all that mattered. P.S. Why don't they name Earthquakes the way they do with Hurricanes? And are hurricanes the only disasters that they do name? Odd, huh?



Next Friday - 5 Goals for 2012, not to be confused with New Years Resolutions, which will be shared hopefully this weekend. Feel free to join in the fun and post along with me...once I figure out this whole linky thing, I will set it up, if you have tips, let me know.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jolly Ol' St. Nick Came...

Cookies, Milk and the "Secret No Fireplace Santa Key"...
And he brought the thunder and the rain...these two girls sure must have been little angels all year long to have received so many wonderful presents from the Jolly Ol' Fella...


We had quite a hectic Christmas Eve, so our traditions got brushed to the side, and in the chaos called bedtime, we forgot to have the girls leave the cookies & milk out for Santa, but of course I couldn't let a tradition go all together, so I put the cookies out and snapped a few shots so I could show the girls the next morning...


And of course the next morning the cookies had been nibbled on and the milk was gone, and Santa had left the girls a letter...and the letter even included a report from Cameron the Elf, and Cameron had mentioned to the big guy just how loud and fussy bedtime is around here, but of course the girls didn't really get the hint...



This was the scene on Christmas Morning just before the girls came downstairs...I was chomping at the bit, I couldn't wait to see their reactions...



Olivia making her way down the stairs with my Mom, Avery and Brad on her heels...


Her reaction when she saw her new bike was priceless, I think Brad might have patted himself on the back for that one, her reaction was great.I have to admit, I was a little nervous. Our niece got a bike when she was about Olivia's age, and she didn't touch the thing for a few days, barely even glanced in its direction, I was so worried Olivia would have the same reaction and I was worried I would have to repair Brad's heart, but thankfully that didn't happen.




Avery loved her Daisy Duck, who now sleeps with her and accompanies her around the house...and she also seemed to be a big fan of her new doll bed (Huge Shout Out to my Dad on this one, I had every intention of finishing it myself, but ran out of time, so he sprayed it for me, and I finished it off with the vinyl)



We broke another tradition this year and skipped the breakfast casserole and just heated up some beyond delicious cinnamon rolls from Costco, but never fear, we didn't skip the Mimosa Tradition...


My Mom and I enjoyed our first sips around 8am - not too shabby eh?We didn't rush through presents this year, while the girls really enjoyed ripping into them, we took breaks to just enjoy each other and the day, we lounged around, played with toys and just enjoyed each others company...



We even took a break for a test "ride"...and Avery got in on the action too, she got to ride her "new" bike as well...

 

I have to give Brad some props...he wrapped my present and made the bow himself. When I spotted it, I immediately said "oh did your Mom make the bow?", and he was quick to point out that he did it all by himself - he was so proud! And you will note from the previous Five on Friday post that we don't exchange gifts...well, we both broke that a bit this year, the girls got him a new iPad cover-thingy and he bought me cowboy boots...YEE-HAW!!!


And my Parents got the girls LeapPads, which Olivia refers to as a "Kids iPad"...they haven't played with them too much just yet, so the jury is still out, but I just know they are going to love them, once they get the hang of them...they are so used to my iPhone and the iPad, but once we figure this bad boy out I imagine we will be cooking with gas!!! My Parents had a blast watching the girls open their presents, and the girls were kind enough to offer up their unwrapping talents to anyone that was willing to take them up on it...as you can see from the photo below. Avery is helping me unwrap a new dress from Boden (Thanks Mom!)


Normally we head to Brad's Parents house around nap time on Christmas, but Shannon (Brad's Sister)'s kiddos were sick, fevers and all, so I didn't want to chance it, so we are still here, in Richmond, hoping that Brad's Parents can join us for a day or two later in the week. We missed being able to visit with them, but are thankful that we got to spend time with Shannon & Family over Thanksgiving.

PS: My favorite gift the girls got, was their new craft table - it makes a world of difference in the morning room - I can't wait to do a home tour of the morning room...maybe in a week or two, we have a project going on right now that will reside in there.

Home Tour Tuesday: Dining Room...

Here is our Dining Room in 2005 when we moved in...contractor white on the walls, but new furniture and a new area rug.


I love our China Hutch, but I so badly wanted the larger one, but the room just wouldn't allow it

The photograph on the far wall is one of Raleigh, North Carolina, Brad took it when he was living there, I had it blow up and framed for him for an Anniversary Present - he has even sold a few, its a great shot.

And then we had the room painted in 2006, it was actually one of the first rooms that we had painted. I fell in love with the color after visiting my SIL in Georgia, they have this color in their home and I just loved it.  While I still very much like the color, my taste is going more towards gray, and less towards the warm colors, but this color now makes up about 85% of our house, so I am going to learn to live with it for many more years to come.  Once we finally bit the bullet and had the 2 story foyer painted, that was the nail in the coffin, this color isn't going anywhere, anytime soon, but since the dining room is fairly contained now, thanks to the new all, we could mix it up in there just a bit....


And then Brad added picture frame molding while I was in Manila in 2010...and then in December 2010 we put a wall up to close off the former formal living room, which is now our home office.


And last but not least, we painted below the chair rail and added a gallery wall...


I wish the room was a little larger, we have a fantastic, beautiful table but it rarely gets a chance to breath, and heck, who am I kidding, it rarely gets any company, outside of Birthday Cake Cutting ceremonies.

I plan to recover the chairs and add some new window treatments at some point in 2012, but other than that, this room is basically complete, unless of course, we decide to change the paint color, but I am fairly certain that won't be anytime soon, there are several other projects I would prioritize over changing the paint color in the dining room. I can't decide if the fabric will be soft and subtle, with just a touch of color, maybe a pale teal or blue, or whether I will attempt to work in some other colors, or heck, maybe even just go white? Would you really put white on your dining room chairs? I guess I could protect the fabric? Thoughts? I am slightly obsessed with white these days, so that is in the running for sure.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Menu Monday: Nutter Butter Balls

Growing up one of my favorite activities was sneaking downstairs at Pattie Jo's house to grab a few extra peanut butter balls, holy smokes, those delectable balls of peanut butter, covered in chocolate were heaven sent, and try as I might, I haven't been able to reproduce quite the same taste, despite using the trusty recipe, so you could say that I gave up, and went in search of another peanut butter - chocolate recipe that would satisfy my taste buds...and while I didn't knock it out of the park on the first try, these little beauties have a lot of potential...and most importantly, they are EASY!

Similar to the Mint Oreo Cookie Balls...you need:

1 Package (8oz) of Cream Cheese, softened
24 Nutter Butter Cookies, finely crushed, about 3 cups (I used the whole package, whoops)
2 Package (6 sqs each) Bakers Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted (microwave)
Peanut Butter - I used JIF

What to do: 

1) Crush the Nutter Butter Cookies, I used the food processor, and it basically gave me cookie dust...a little chunkier might have been better.


2) Mix Cream Cheese with Cookie Dust, finely crushed Cookies. I ended up throwing in several spoon fulls of peanut butter because there was so way the cream cheese was going to get the job done, next time I plan to use less cookies and even more peanut butter.


3) Shape into 1 inch balls, place on wax paper and freeze for 10 minutes, or if you live where its cold enough, just set them outside for a bit. (I actually skipped this step since it was 70 degrees the day I did it and you bet your bottom dollar I didn't have a lick of space in the freezer to cool these pups off)

4) Melt Chocolate & mix in 1/4 cup peanut butter, dip balls in mixture and return to wax paper. Refrigerate for an hour. Keep in the fridge

These beauties were delicious, and I just know next time they will be even better. We enjoyed sampling them while we went in search of Tacky Christmas Lights on Friday December 23rd.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011


We had to wake Olivia this morning...might be the last time that happens, but judging by some FB posts from some friends several little ones had to be woken up this morning.  My Parents were parked outside our house for 30 minutes, didn't want to call for fear they would wake us, now who was more excited? The Grandparents or the Grandkids? Judging by the time everyone woke up, my guess is, the Grandparents! Which I happen to think is adorable!  Our plans to travel to Bassett this afternoon were cancelled due to some sick Jones kiddos, we just couldn't risk exposing our little ones to their high fevers and coughs. We hope to see Brad's Parents later this week, I know the girls are in need of some Bina & PawPaw lovin'. 

We hope that ya'll had a wonderful day with your family & friends. I always get a little sad/homesick this time of year, missing "home" and all my friends in the 413 (area code for those not familiar).  The Holiday Season just reminds me of being at home, but more and more Richmond is feeling like "home", so I can imagine that sadness will fade as the years go by, but it doesn't mean I don't miss all my family and friends at home, I've got nothing but love for them and their beautiful families. Merry Christmas from ours to yours...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cookies for Santa...Wine for Me

Friday, December 23, 2011

Five on Friday: Santa Lists

I thought I would share with you the top Five Things on all of our lists this year...

Olivia's List from School...
 Olivia:
1) A Piano/Keyboard
2) Some Shirts
3) A kids iPad (aka LeapPad)
4) A present for Mommy
5) Coloring Paper

Olivia's Letter to Santa

Avery's List from School
Avery:
1) A doll
2) A doll house
3) A hat
4) Shoes
5) Stuffed Animals

Avery's Letter to Santa


Brad:
1) A new Mountain Bike
2) A coffee bean grinder
3) A new Mountain Bike
4) A new Mountain Bike
5) A new Mountain Bike

Leigh: 

1) Red Flannel Shirt - this one is from Lands End (one of my favorite stores on the planet), but I have seen several cute ones on Pinterest, but can't seem to find the right pattern in the stores.

2) Hunter Rain Boots

3) North Face Rain Jacket  - all I care about is that it isn't black or brown, I want a color.


4) Coach - Poppy - this perfume is just lovely (I have a hard time using the word lovely, it just doesn't fit my personality, but it seemed to fit in this instant). 

5) Leopard Print Flats -  I have seen a few on people that I really like, but haven't seen any in person while shopping that have jumped there way into my closet, so for now I will just think about these precious JCrew flats...

I am fairly certain I will go 0 for 5 on my list since I didn't really tell anyone about these wants, this is likely the first my family is hearing about them, and since Brad and I don't exchange gifts for Christmas, I am thinking these will be helpful hints for him for my Birthday which is in March. (hint, hint, hint).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Teacher Gifts 2011

Lemon Sugar Scrub

With gift tags made from a template found on Pinterest

The recipe is easy-peasy. You just take white sugar, non-smelly oil (I used a combination of canola and olive) and extract or essential oils, mix it all together and there you have it. You can mix the sugar and oil together and divide it out and then add the scent of your choice. I made a batch for some of the gals I work with and I used peppermint extract and for the girls teachers I used lemon.

I have a few little things to put with these, like an ornament the girls picked out, etc but for the most part this is the crux of their gift and it was super easy, not to mention affordable. 

From Ours to Yours...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordy Wednesday: ELF

If you haven't seen this movie, holy smokes, you are missing out. There are some hilarious quotes in this movie that regardless of how many times I watch it, I end up keeled over laughing my face off. Here are a few of my favorites: 

"I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite"

"He's an angry elf" 

"I thought maybe we could make ginger bread houses, and eat cookie dough, and go ice skating, and maybe even hold hands" 

I could go on and on, it is a FUNNY movie, if you haven't seen it, plunk yourself down on the couch with a bowl of popcorn (or Doritos if they are your thing) and be prepared to laugh.