Friday, December 30, 2011


Bryan and I have spent the past week back and forth all over the place. I have some wonderful pictures and stories to share, but they will all have to wait until next Tuesday. Bryan should be leaving the ducks alone soon and then we will be headed out of town, once again. I am beyond excited to be spending the day with my oldest best friend shopping and doing whatever our little hearts please. We never get to spend time together alone, so I can hardly wait!

I have not written any posts for this weekend, nor do I intend to, so be sure to come back next Tuesday for a jam-packed post. In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys another fun-filled holiday weekend. We will be having a relaxing New Years Eve dinner with friends, but I can hardly wait to see a lot of you all dressed up in your sparkly outfits. I helped baby sister get her sequined dress all set to go, with matching nails and earrings. Love!!

Maybe I won't be wearing a shimmering dress, but I do plan on sipping on a little bubbly. You cannot celebrate New Years without a little of that, right?

I may be secretly taking shots of espresso in the back room to stay awake, but you had better believe I will be getting a sweet kiss from my hubby. Keep your eye on the clock, girls!

Be sure to be safe and have a fantastic time!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tasty Treats

I have recently found so many yummy things to eat this holiday season from a variety of sources. (Most of these are super easy to whip up.) You just might find a new blog to follow, too!

Garden and Gun emailed these fantastic Bacon Crackers.

Sparrows and Sparkle shared a yummy Southern Prize Shrimp dip a few weeks ago.

Yummy Mummy is my most recent favorite food blog. Love. This Holiday Granola is amazing, you've gotta try it.

My mouth started watering when I saw these Mini Butterfinger Cheesecakes.

I am never disappointed when Natalie posts a recipe. Doesn't this Baked Potato Soup sound perfect for a cold winter's night?

Baklava. Need I say more?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dot It

polka dots + red pumps = killer combo

This picture had me scouring Pinterest to find it's original source. Of course, it would be a super expensive killer combo from Shopbop. These fantastic pumps are Kate Spade and my closet is calling them to find a new home inside of it.

I could not find the exact shirt used in this picture, but found a couple of other options from their website.

Yes, please! I have already thought of countless ways to wear these babies.

Even though my husband jokingly tells me that the skinny trend is over, I continue to wear them every day. In my opinion, a girl can never have too many skinny jeans or leggings. These from Joe's Jeans are very versatile. Roll them up to resemble the jeans in the picture.

A little out of your price budget? Not to worry, I looked to my trusty friend, Zara, to come up with some other adorable polka dot options that are more budget-friendly.
Untitled #19

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sweet Day

Thirty-two years ago today my sweet Mama walked down the aisle to marry my handsome Daddy. They are every bit as in love now, if not more, than they were on that special day. I could not ask for two better role models as parents and as a couple. Happy Anniversary to very special people! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Story

Merry Christmas! Before stocking are taken down from the chimney, and before any presents are stolen from under the tree, we always sit down as a family to read the Christmas story.

Luke 2: 1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas to All

by Clement Clarke Moore - Published in 1822

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tuscan White Bean and Sausage Stew

If you are looking for a hearty, yet easy recipe to throw together while company is in town, look no further. I think I might have posted this stew recipe a long time ago, but want to share it again. This was our girls' night meal on this past Monday. (See Mollye, I am remembering to post what we eat--sorta.)

Tuscan White Bean and Sausage Stew

3/4 pound hot Italian sausage links (I use pre-cooked smoked sausage links, sliced)
2 medium carrots
1 medium bulb fresh fennel (I use an onion)
1 can (14.5-ounce) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, pressed
2 cans (15-ounce) cannellini beans
1 package of fresh basil

1. Remove casings from sausage. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch nuggets.

2. Place sausage into 4 quart (or 4 liter) casserole and cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
3. As sausage cooks, peel carrots.

4. Chop carrots and fennel; add to casserole and cook an additional 3-5 minutes, or until sausage is no longer pink and vegetables begin to brown.

5. Stir tomatoes, broth and garlic into sausage mixture.

6. Drain and rinse beans using small colander; add to casserole.

7. Simmer stew, uncovered, 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

8. As stew simmers, chop basil. Remove casserole from heat; stir in basil. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thank-You Notes

The art of writing thank-you notes is very sadly being forgotten by many, yet it is still a polite and courteous gesture that should never me eliminated in my book. My mother taught me to always write a thank-you note whenever a gift was received. Not only that, but any time you are invited and attend a party or visit someone in their home, it is a polite way to show your appreciation. Here are a few tips:

*Always handwrite your thank-you note.

*Use a black or blue pen, never a colored pen or pencil. (Unless you are a child drawing a picture with a crayon.)

*Do not include fewer than three sentences in your note.

*It is never to early to start your child writing his or her own note. If they cannot write, simply let them draw a picture or their name one that you have written for them.

*Upon receiving money or a gift card, treat is like any other gift. If you have something specific in mind you will be purchasing with it, be sure to include that in your note. Do not indicate the specific amount you received.

*Not just when you receive money, but with any gift feel free to explain how you plan on using it. "The picture frame looks perfect on our fireplace mantle."

*Be sure to personalize your note by making it descriptive. Say more than, "Thank you for the gift." Say, "I was thrilled to find a sweater in the exact shade of pink that I love!"

*Reiterate your gratitude again at the end of your note. 

*Even if you do not like your gift, remember that is the thought that counts.

*Get your note into the mail as soon as possible.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waffles + Eggnog Butter

I am starting to go into freak-out mode. One of my favorite drinks to make during the holiday season is eggnog. A couple of weeks ago I had to miss my normal Monday girls' night, and I was appalled to hear that the girls had eggnog out of a container. Dr. Ash had never had eggnog before and I think she might be scared for life. Why am I freaking out? Well, I have the most amazing eggnog's recipe that calls for separating egg yolks from egg whites, a blender or mixer...I cannot find it anywhere!!! I'm thinking that I will probably just wing it and come up with my own little concoction from memory. So, since I haven't perfected it yet to share it, I will share another one of my eggnog flavored holiday treats. Eggnog butter adds such a simple holiday twist to your normal waffles. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Belgian Waffles with Eggnog Butter and Orange Syrup

Belgian Waffles
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs

Stir together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.
Combine milk, water and butter in a 4-cup glass measuring cup; microwave on high for a minute and a half.
Add milk mixture to dry ingredients alternately with eggs, beating at medium speed with an electric mixer just until dry ingredients are blended. Cover and chill batter 8 hours.
Pour batter, 1 cup at a time, into a preheated, oiled waffle iron; cook until golden. Yields 16 (4") waffles.

Eggnog Butter
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. rum extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat butter at high speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Stir in nutmeg and extracts. Cover and chill. Yields 1 1/4 cups.

Orange Syrup
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup orange marmalade

Combine syrup and marmalade in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until mixture comes to a simmer and marmalade melts, about 5 minutes. Yields 1 1/2 cups.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Colorful Christmas

When I think tons of color and fun cheer, I think of the one and only Kate Spade. She makes every color a Christmas color. Prepare yourself for some beautiful eye candy. Have a very merry and colorful day!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wrapping Gifts

I'm willing to bet that a lot of you spent the weekend purchasing Christmas gifts. It is extremely fun for me to run around by myself and pick out things for others, but I might like wrapping the gifts even more than picking them out in the store. To me, wrapping gifts can be a beautiful form of art. It adds a lot to your holiday decor under the tree, but I like to add them mantles or the tops of furniture to add depth, dimension and a little extra holiday flare in other areas in the house, too.

The sky is the limit when it comes to wrapping gifts. One year I used brown Kraft paper with different red, gold and green ribbons on each package. This year my wrapping paper matches our Christmas decor. In case you haven't started wrapping yet, I've found a few different creative ideas to share.  

Using stamps to spell out names or messages on a package adds a nice personal touch. All you need is a package of letter stamps and an ink pad.

This option is a little more time consuming, but adds a personal touch to each gift, too.

I think this confetti idea is pure genius! How cute would it be with red and green for Christmas?!?

Another natural looking option is to use twine or ribbon and buttons.

I do not have any extra maps just lying around, but you sure might. Talk about a good way to recycle.

Another great old-fashioned way to recycle is by using newspaper. I know we all have those lying around. Add candy cane colors and a monogram or letter for an extra personal touch.

Add any festive holiday object that you might not normally thing to use on a gift. 

Who wouldn't like a tasty treat on top?

Making your own tags are so simple. There are stickers and pre-made stamps that are specifically for tags on Christmas gifts at your local craft store.

Who says you have to use the traditional red and green for Christmas gifts? I think these colors are beautiful together.

Any extra sprigs from your wreath or mantle? Tie them on the top for beautiful presentation.

Alright folks, get busy wrapping!