Gift Giving 101: Friends, Coworkers & Neighbors

image found on Mibo
I intentionally waited until after Christmas to post this one. Right about now you are probably in your kitchen deciding which treats you really want to eat and which to pitch in the trash. You'll probably throw away at least half of the goodies you are given. So next year instead of slaving in the hot kitchen baking items that could eventually be thrown in the trash (no matter how good you think they are) think of something else, something useful that you can pass along. For the past couple of years I have purchased a printable PDF Calendar off Etsy that you can print multiple times. The one above I got this year for $4.35 from the shop Mibo. I print them off on cardstock, tied them up with Bakers twine and attached a pen. I think it's a great gift to give that can be useful all year. I know there are all kinds of other ideas too, but I'm on vacation. Therefore my brain is just not working to think up any more creative, useful things. This is just what I like to do & I think people appreciate the break from sugar! See you all next year!


Ok... One more before I go!

Trees at the Electric Plant Johnson City TX.
Last night we did my favorite Christmas Tradition. Even if this was just the second year we did it. We went out to the Texas Hill Country Christmas Lighting Trail. We just stopped in Johnson City this year (last year we did Llano, Marble Falls & Johnson City) but even still it was down right magical. It is so much fun to see these small Texas Towns all decked out for the Holidays. If you live in Austin or San Antonio (or anywhere in between) you should make this a family tradition as well. It requires a little driving for a whole lot of fun. Miss. S was seriously in heaven!


Signing Off

Christmas Card Photo 2010
We are heading to Utah for Christmas. So posts will be sparse... if there are any at all. I hope that everyone has a lovely and safe Christmas and New Years. We return home January 3rd. Until then enjoy your holiday season!


Gift Recieving 101: On-Line Wish Lists

That's right I said receiving. There is something to be said about being a good receiver too. I've been told I am hard to shop for. Now of coarse I find no truth to that, but in order to help my Husband with his shopping around this time of year I always put together an email complete with links. Per his request of coarse. Sometimes he uses it sometimes he doesn't, but it always gives him some ideas. Amazon has made this really easy with their Wish List feature. I know a lot of people are using this feature more and more, and I would just like to offer up a little advice in regards to using this handy tool. Whenever I create my Christmas List for Denny I make sure to put things on it in all different categories and price points. This year it contained things from a book to a sweater to photography classes. There was such a variety of things that no matter what his budget he could figure out something that would work. Don't I repeat don't put only expensive items on your list. Some people may not have the budget to drop $50 or $100 on you. So include items that are $10 $15 and $20 as well. That way you won't be disappointed when they don't get you something from your list. Better yet just don't be disappointed if someone gets you something that's not on your list. Some people will use it and some people won't, and you know what? That's ok. Receive all gifts with a smile!

Gift Giving 101: Thinking Outside the Box

Our Christmas Gifts last year. I have a serious thing for Hounds-tooth.
I've thought about this a lot lately. As Miss. S is starting to get older there's a lot more I want her to participate in. I would love for her to take dance, swimming lessons in the summer and preschool is right around the corner. I know a lot of people are in the same boat, and thinking about the cost of these things makes it a little overwhelming. Instead of another toy or sweater or book consider something that doesn't fit in a box. Think about your grandchildren, nieces and nephews or even your spouse. Is there something this person is really interested in learning or doing? Grandparents you might want to consider donating to a season of soccer. Husbands treat your wife to a couples cooking class. Get your boyfriend a lift ticket instead of the usual hoodie. Let me be clear I'm truly not throwing down hints for Denny. He has already shopped for me and I am positive I will love whatever he gets me. I'm just giving ideas of things you could do that are different. Something that you can't put into a box. Help them learn a new skill or develop their talents. I'm sure they would love it.


Technical Difficulties

Our internet has been down all day. So please excuse the lack of posts today. I may or may not have one up by the end of the night. Thanks for understanding!



I didn't blog yesterday because I spent all day working on these. So I deeply apologize. In my family we have a tradition of drawing names instead of giving to every person every year. Now that we are all grown and have families we draw families. This year I have my sister Stacy. She has three boys. The first two are twins. To be honest I don't know them really really well. I live in Texas and they live in Utah. I adore them and we always have a lot of fun when we do see them. Not to mention they are great with Miss. S. I had a hard time figuring out what to do for them though. So I decided to tap into their love of video games and make them Mario Brothers T-Shirts. Mario and Luigi for the twins (naturally) and Toadie for the youngest (of coarse). I used the tutorial on MADE for Freezer Paper Stencils. It was really fun to make and pretty easy. You can kinda tell that Toadie was my first one though and Luigi was the last, but all in all I love how they turned out. Don't be surprised if I do more with this technique later on. I think this baby in my belly needs some cute onsies or something.


Gift Giving 101: Get Personal

Image found on CocoShack
The last tip was to be thoughtful. What's more thoughtful than a personalized gift (such as the silhouette)? Either handmade or purchased it's always special to get something with your name, initials, or another special element on it. It only takes a few minutes browsing through Etsy to see how many fun options are out there. You could do art work like the picture above. A keepsake ornament like this one from Lisa Leonard. For kids you could do plates or cups like the adorable ones from Sarah & Abraham. You can do a DIY project such as this really cute custom banner, initial pillows, or wall letters. The possibilities are really endless. I'm pretty sure anything can be personalized these days. Giving your gifts a personal touch elevates them into something the receiver can have as a keepsake. Your gifts will be the stars under any tree. So get personal and the people on your list will love it!


Working Hard

Sorry it's a slow day around here. I'm busy working on snowflakes for our Christmas Stockings. I'm not going to lie I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this one. They may not get done before Christmas. Good thing we have stockings at both Grandparents houses right? I'm going to try really hard, but I don't know. I can see how I want them to look in my mind & knowing me I won't settle for anything else. So we'll see how it works out.


Go Treat Yourself

I thought the last post was maybe a little bit of a downer. I definitely got on my soap box a little. So I thought I needed to follow up with something fun. Since I'm on the topic of soap boxes I thought this would be appropriate. I've blogged about my love for Mrs. Meyer's before but it was a couple years ago. So I don't feel bad bringing it up again. For those of you who saw this last time I apologize. Around this time of year one thing I get really excited about is getting to use my favorite hand soap and lotion. Mrs. Meyer's Holiday Peppermint Duo. It is a little bit of Heaven. I don't even know if they carry it any more but if you see it sitting on a shelf at your grocery store you should definitely treat yourself. It's worth it!

Gift Giving 101: It's the Thought that Counts

This may be obvious but I feel like it's an important rule. I've heard a couple stories through friends recently that goes to show not everyone thinks this way. I think this is important as a gift giver and a receiver. I don't care if a gift cost $5 or $50 the best gifts are the ones you could tell a lot of thought went into it. Some years I'm better at this than others. I think this year I really thought about each gift a lot. This was my gift from my sister Aubrey last year...
So cute right? And something that spoke right to my heart. My sister-in-law Jody gives really thoughtful gifts every year single year also. I'd much rather get a hand made silhouette of my daughter than a DVD player or jewelry. And most likely it will save you some money. In this economy that is really important right? As a receiver if someone gives you something that obviously didn't cost an arm and a leg but you can tell a lot of time and thought went into it then appreciate it! I once heard someone say "If your not going to spend at least $20 on me then don't get me anything at all." All I have to say to that is rude! Now I understand some people are harder than others. My Father-in-Law is tough, but I know he is a sucker for his Grand Children so I think anything that involves them he will love. I just encourage people to really think about each person on your list and thoughtfully pick something out for them. Don't just throw something in a box at the last minute and call it good. It's the thought that counts in the end, and everyone loves to feel thought of.


The Cookies of My Dreams

Yes they are really that fantastic. I found a cookie recipe some time ago that was good NOT great. I've done a lot of tweaking to this recipe to make them just right. After much deliberation as to whether or not to keep this recipe a guarded secret I've decided that it is much nicer to pass it along. So with no further delays here you are. Happy Holidays!

Glorified White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
3/4 cup butter softened
2/3 cup Firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Large egg
1 3/4 cup All-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
3/4 cup Coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup Shredded coconut divided
3/4 of a bag of White chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
3. Beat in egg and vanilla
4. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Blend into creamed mixture.
5. Blend in nuts and 1/2 cup coconut.
6. Stir in white chocolate chips.
7. Take heaping spoonfuls and roll into balls. Slightly flatten out like a pancake. Take rest of coconut and put on a small plate. Roll the top of you cookie in coconut. This part is essential as it gets toasted and crispy while baking.
8. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 min or until set. They should be slightly brown with coconut toasted.
9. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets then cool completely on wire racks.
10. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk.

*Disclaimer* These cookies are very sweet and very rich. A glass of milk may be necessary.

I am not a huge fan of white chocolate, and I'm very picky about coconut. I assure you that these cookies will not disappoint. If you make them please let me know what you think!

*Update* Last night Denny told me that this last batch may have been TOO sweet. If this is the case you can use 3/4 of a bag of white chocolate chips. They will taste just as wonderful.

My DIY Christmas

It seems like every year around this time my Husband says to me "We're on a really tight budget. Don't spend too much". So I buy my Christmas presents, send Christmas Cards and maybe get 1 or 2 things to decorate around the house and that's it. This year I was looking at my stash of Christmas Decorations and thinking how sparse it looked. However we're on that tight budget again so I can't go out and spend like crazy. So I've turned to the internet and my craft closet to see if I can spruce up the place. My first project was this paper garland. The tutorial says to use a 2 inch punch, paper glue, 2 yards of string, and coordinating paper. I had on hand a 1.5 inch punch, double stick tape and yarn. The only thing I really had to buy was coordinating paper. I found a winter/snowflake themed mat pack at Joann's on sale for $5. We have a lot of snowflake decorations in blues, whites and silver so I immediately thought it would be perfect.
I really like the way it turned out. I will admit that it would have looked a little better (a little fuller) with a two inch punch and obviously it would have been more sturdy with glue and not tape. What can I say I had to make it work. Despite these things it still turned out pretty good! It is a really easy project too. This week I'm mostly working on our stockings and maybe some ornaments. Hopefully I'll have something to show soon!

Here's another paper garland that is super cute and would be really easy.


2011 Color of the Year...


I like pink a lot. It's not my very favorite color, but it's up there. This is a nice shade that makes me endlessly happy. Honeysuckle holds a very special place in my heart. It is one of my favorite fragrances. It reminds me of my childhood growing up in Alexandria VA. Taking walks in the spring through my Granny and Papa's neighborhood and along the Potomac River. Smelling the Honeysuckle blooms on the breeze. I remember vividly the very first time I picked a Honeysuckle flower pulled out the nectar and tasted it's sweetness on my tongue. Oh how I adore Honeysuckle. I would love nothing more than to have Honeysuckle bushes surrounding my future home. Thank you Pantone for taking me on a trip down memory lane today and giving me a chance to look forward to Spring. I think you nailed the 2011 color of the year.


Getting Crafty

Here are just a few of the projects I would love to do for the Holiday's. I'm actually working on the garland as we speak. So I'll post pictures when I get it all done!

1. I'm dying over the above wreath found on Design Sponge last year.
2. Darling felt Christmas trees found on All Sorts.
3. The paper garland that I am currently taking on found on Hambly Screen Prints.
4. I would love to make a tree skirt out of a vintage table cloth like this one found on Missen Pieces Etsy Shop.
6. Last but not least felt stockings inspired by Jessica Jones at How About Orange.

Can you tell I'm all about felt right now. Anyway if you try any of these ideas out let me know how they turn out!


Gift Giving 101: The Rhyme/Something to Read

Around this time of year it's hard not to think about gift giving. That's a huge part of Christmas right? As I've gotten older I've thought a lot about what makes a good gift giver. I can think of a couple people in my life who I think have it down. My oldest sister (well all of my sisters actually) is one of those people. My other sister just posted on this same thing on her family blog today and I also saw this very rhyme the other day on Bloom. I hate to repeat things but I kinda wanted to add my two cents. Anyway I've come up with some rules for myself that I think help make gift giving a little easier. I like to start with my sister's rhyme

Something they Want
Something they Need
Something to Wear
Something to Read

I love this. It covers everything! I especially love the Something to read. Now that Miss. S is a little older she can sit through longer books and she really enjoys them. I've been thinking a lot about books that every little girl should have in their collection. Here are my top three.
What do you think? What are some essential books to have in your little girl's collection? Or in any child's collection?

Over the next couple weeks I'm going to be sharing some of my favorite gift giving tips in a series I'm calling Gift Giving 101. I hope it helps some of you who stress about Christmas Shopping every year.


The Great Debate: Real or Fake

I think this year is the first year I've ever looked at a fake tree and wished I had one. I've always been a firm believer of going to pick out the perfect REAL Christmas Tree. I would even love to go out to one of the Christmas Tree Farms not too far from where we live to get one (Here and Here). I would do it every year just for the fresh scent it brings to my home. This year though I didn't exactly get to pick out my own tree. My wonderful husband picked one up on his way home from work. And although it is a beautiful tree, even a grand tree, it has it's flaws. Mainly it's dryness. Our house is riddled with needles right now. I'm kind of envying the cleanliness and symmetry of a fake tree. So what do you do in your family? Real? Fake? Every other year you switch it up? And why do you do what you do? Above is my favorite Christmas Tree we have ever had. It felt a little Charlie Brownish to me. Little and scrawny, but perfect.


Gift Wrap

I am not the best gift wrapper. I do like my presents to stand out though. I'm kinda obsessed with my choice of gift wrap this year. I'm not going to lie. This is a horrible picture (I just couldn't get a good one at all), but here are the first few presents headed for under the tree.
I decided to go with a solid silver paper then tie it up with torn fabric in lieu of ribbon. I love the rustic feeling it gives the look. It's super easy too. Sometimes a more simple approach to things is what makes them stand out. The only complaint I have is the paper I bought is rather flimsy and doesn't lay very flat. Hence you can see every wrinkle. Oh well! At least they look cute under the tree!


Baby Boys.

When I was pregnant with Miss. S I could have sworn that I was having a boy. I had a name picked out, bedding, artwork, everything. All for this little babe who I was sure to be a boy. It came as somewhat of a shock when the ultra sound came back saying I was having a sweet little girl. This time around I could have sworn I was having a girl. My instincts are way off.

Well now that I'm finally having the boy I thought I was having before all the things I had picked out are no longer available (Except the name). I really wanted this fantastic white ceramic owl lamp from Urban Outfitters. Gone. Great Japanese import fabric from Repro Depot. Gone. So I'm trying to figure out all that I want for this little guy's soon to be nursery. I have found one thing that I have to have.
My Husband has a real thing for Red Dragons. Always has. I think it will be a good jumping off point. I'm not big on theme rooms. In fact I can't stand them. So the whole room will not be a dragon theme but this little guy will have to be incorporated some how.