Thursday, December 29, 2011

Starting fresh in the New Year

2012, a new year, time to make those resolutions that we will hopefully keep. Mine should be the same every year and that is to get organized! Declutter, throw out and clean up! This year will be even more challenging as we are going to be be putting our house on the market! But what a better time to start organizing for the new year. Here are some great ways to help even the hopeless, like me, get organized in a stylish way.

My Home Ideas
OK, well this one is not your everyday simple organizing solution, but I love this so much I had to share it!  What a cool idea to disguise your things in your kitchen but by also making it look so different and unique .

 Great way to get the kids organized and learn a little geography at the same time.

 These labeled buckets are a simple solution to your clutter.

My Home Ideas
 I love the whimsical feel of this space.

My Home Ideas

This would be a dream for me, no excuses to get organized here!
My Home Ideas

Great utilization of space that creates 2 working areas that look great side by side.
My Home Ideas
I love the ladder and all the book shelves created in this boy's room, it's useful and fun.

My Home Ideas
Even if you don't have much space, try turning a closet into a small computer space, you can shut the doors and no one will know its there.

My Home Ideas
 The magnetized closet doors are a great way to create a message board and gives everyone there own spot.


These baskets are a quick fix for all your shoes.

This is such a classic great way to get everything organized. 

Even if you don't have too much space you can create the same idea under some steps.
My Home Ideas

The cork board looks great in this space and blends in with the natural look and green shade.
I hope those ideas will give you some motivation to start getting organized in the New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

 As we are winding down from the hustle and bustle of all our preparations and the madness that comes along with Christmas, it is just so exhausting when its all said and done! (I still haven't wrapped a single gift) I am trying to relax and enjoy my day at home with my family, my daughter has been tracking Santa all day on the computer, there's football in the background and food baking, I love it! But as promised here are a few pictures of my house decorated for the season. Starting with my front door - I love my Nantucket door knocker in the picture above, it's a great spot to hold some greens.

My Lemon Cypress tree. I keep it all year round, they are the prettiest green color.

Old antique ornaments and greens under glass dome.

My paper whites in full bloom- I love them

Red stocking under a glass dome

One of my favorite old ornaments.

Mercury glass candle holder

Those were just a few pictures that I thought I would share. And here is a last minute idea that I saw that's so pretty and easy to do.  I love the mason jar and how colorful the cranberries and greens look in the water floating around with the candle.
I actually love Christmas Eve more then Christmas day, maybe its the anticipation of the day to come and how excited the kids are and just being home as a family. So I will be wrapping gifts all night and hoping my kids will stay in bed, but enjoying every minute of it. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Snowmen Cupcakes

My daughter turned 8 today! I can't believe it, seems like it was just yesterday she was just born, sounds so cliche, but so true.  With that being said, for those of you who have kids born right around this time of year, you can probably attest to the fact that it is a little challenging celebrating a birthday so close to Christmas. It's hard to separate them out sometimes and try to make it extra special with so much going on. So I thought I would go a little beyond the regular iced cupcake and do something a little more creative for her to take into school to celebrate her birthday.

Someone had shared this snowman cupcake idea with me last week and I thought it would be so fun to make them.(although be prepared - they are a little time-consuming, and getting them to school was a feat in and of itself!) The kids loved them! I used the frosting as paste between the two marshmallows, and secured them with toothpicks that I stuck into the marshmallows and left some sticking down to put into the top of the cupcake. The hat is a Rolo, and the nose is a gummy orange slice cut smaller to look like a nose. The scarf is a licorice twist, the arms are pretzel sticks and then I used some black icing that comes in the smaller tubes, for the buttons and eyes. they look so cute. Abbie was very happy and I figure its a nice way to go a little above and beyond to make her day special because she is so special to me!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bright Idea of the Day

While I was browsing around yesterday shopping, or just window shopping I should say, I came across these amazing unique lighting options.

How great are these mason jar pendants? There are 3 jars hanging from a single circular plate. I do have a very skilled lighting guy, wonder if he would be able to do them for a lot less then the $398 price of these!!

These filigree lights are just beautiful, the picture doesn't show how amazing they really are, they are truly  stunning. Even though some are big in size, they are so intricate and delicate looking at the same time. In the right spot these would be such a focal point.

They look like giant Christmas ornaments,so pretty!

This one wins for the most creative. It is a live chandelier- there are amaryllis bulbs placed around that are actually growing, replacing a spot where you would see candles or lights. The bulbs are mixed in with some cotton and greens all held up on a chandelier. You could put some twinkle lights around it to show off the flowers.

These were my bright ideas of the day, have any fun lighting ideas?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

shopping local, only 11 more days to go!

This was a Farm to Fork event at Terrain they had outside, I happen to be there while they were setting up

If you follow my blog you will not be surprised that my pick for the day, on shopping local is, The Terrain at Styer's. This is one of my most favorite places to go - not only to find great garden inspired things, gifts, and eat an occasional delicious scone from their cafe while browsing around, but it's incredible to just soak it in. It's almost therapeutic - there is so much to see and take in and be inspired by. If  you saw my previous posting on "Mad about Plaid" those pictures were all taken on my last visit there. I know that I have said this before but if you happen to be local you have to go in and see for yourself, you will find yourself going back over and over again. If not, sorry, but you can visit them online and find many of the wonderful things that they have in their location at Styer's.

As you can tell they have something for everyone on your list. It's such a great time of year to go in and see all of their holiday inspired greens and decorations. I hope to make it in one more time before Christmas  just to relax (I know, seems strange, shopping this time of the year is anything but relaxing but there you do find a little bit of peace) and get inspired by the surroundings. They have lots to fill your stockings!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

A few of my favorite things

When I say that I could eat this whole thing, I really mean that I could eat this whole thing! I could seriously survive off of cheese, bread and fruit, but I know that that isn't the most healthiest of diets so all in moderation right? But when it comes to cheese this is one of my most favorite things, I love baked brie and love to make it any chance I get for company or to take to a party. There are so many variations of baked brie, but my favorite way is to wrap the cheese with puff pastry and top wit with raspberry jam, while it bakes it all melts and oozes out when you cut into it. Another way is to top it with nuts and brown sugar, or for more of a savory kind, pesto and sun dried tomatoes. Below is a beautiful picture of brie without the puff pastry which still is so good.
Real Simple
Here are two other of my most favorite holiday yummies. They are good to have if you are having company, to take to a party or to give as a holiday gift. Believe me your recipient will be thoroughly impressed with these delicious treats.
Curried Walnuts, these are so good, I've given them as gifts many times and everyone always wants the recipe. They are so good by themselves or sprinkled on salads!
Recipe for Curried Walnuts:
1lb. of walnut halves
1/2 cup of sugar
2 1/2 t. corn oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 1/4 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. each of, ground ginger and coriander
1/4 t. each of, chili powder, ground cloves and cardamon
Preheat oven to 325
Blanch walnuts in boiling water for 1 minute, drain, while still warm transfer to a bowl, add sugar and oil, combine and let stand for 15 minutes. Arrange the nuts in a layer on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, stir every 8 minutes. In another bowl combine all the spices, remove the nuts from the oven and sprinkle with the spices while the nuts are still warm. Toss well and cool completely.

This one is a staple for me during the holidays, it is Almond Butter Crunch, it's toffee, and so good!
This recipe was given to me by someone I knew, I make it every year and always think of her.
This is a little more involved and takes a little more patience but it is worth it.
Recipe for Almond Butter Crunch:
1lb. butter
5 ounces of sliced almonds
2 1/2 cups sugar
package of semi -sweet chocolate chips
Melt butter in a large sauce pan, stir in almonds and sugar,  bring to boil, stirring constantly. Using a candy thermometer while stirring constantly wait til you reach the hard crack stage. When you reach the hard crack stage, pour out onto a baking sheet with sides, and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, wait a few minutes and then use a spatula to spread out the melted chocolate. After the toffee has cooled completely, turn over and break into pieces.

Hope you enjoy these recipes, if you have any great recipes to share that would also make great gifts, would love to have you share them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hustle and Bustle

Why does this feel like the most stressful time of the year! I found myself getting caught in a whirlwind the other day getting really stressed because I hadn't done my Christmas cards yet, haven't really done any shopping (still haven't). We did manage to get our tree up and decorated this past weekend but we came home that same night from an event only to find it laying on the ground! So now I had to decorate it all over again. Really? Although in my house, because of our dog, the tree really only has ornaments half way up the tree!
In any event, after a few days of almost freaking out, I have decided that I am just going to try and relax and realize that it will all get done somehow, someway, even if my cards all arrive after Christmas, so what! I was starting to show my stressful self to my kids and husband, which really made me think. I realized if I get so caught up in all the holiday stress and my kids see me so nutty and crazy how am I going to keep the real meaning of Christmas first and foremost? So I am making that my goal from here on out, although there is still so much that has to get done, I am going to be taking deep breathes while I do it, and know there are more important things that surround the Christmas season.
So in all of my hustle and bustle I had wanted to get my house ready for the house tours going on over at Jennifer Rizzo's blog, I did not, but you should go over and check out the daily Holiday House tours series she is doing. They are really fun to see and gets you inspired for the holiday season.

I am going to try and do a few holiday inspired pictures of my house to share this week, a little late for the tour, but that's ok.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Family Traditions

 Do you ever come across something and think to yourself- why didn't I ever do that? I know I have many times, especially when I saw this. How great is this! I love this idea that this couple started on their first Christmas together. They cut off an 1" or so of the bottom of their tree and wrote the year and their names and have done so every year since. Now they  use them as a beautiful display on what looks like on their mantle, signifying all of their years together. What a great tradition, I guess it's not too late to start!  What are some of your special holiday traditions that you have kept through out the years?

And the Winner is...

Stephanie K. is the winner of the Holiday give away! I will email you for your address! Congrats!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Winter Warmer Give Away

I'm so excited to be doing my first give away! I thought it would be a nice way to give a little something to one lucky winner as a small gift just in time for the holidays and your holiday entertaining. I will be giving away 2 holiday frames that I made using ASCP(Annie Sloan Chalk Paint) - they are great because you can write on them and use them through out the year to write different things. With the black frame, I thought it would be fun to leave a small spot in the corner to write your initials. Also in the give away are 6 little velvet acorns (if you go back to see my previous posting on, The Cutest Acorns Ever, you can see where the idea came from). And I have also teamed up with a very creative friend of mine, Alison Young. Alison very kindly made these 4 festive felt napkin rings, 4 cute snowflake wine charms, 4 glass bead wine charms, and 6 larger ornament charms. They are all so cute and would be great to use for a holiday party.

velvet acorns

felt napkin rings and 4 glass bead charms

snowflake charms and ornament charms
 In order to join in on the fun you need become a follower or like me on face book, if you do both I will give you a bonus entry. Then you just have to leave a comment on this post and include your name. I will choose a winner at random and I will email the winner to get your address. Please enter only once. The give away will end on Tuesday, December 6th, at 8pm. Thanks for joining in on the fun! Good luck!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fun frames with ASCP

I thought that I would do something fun and festive, tis the season, so I got a few frames and used some of my ASCP(Annie Sloan Chalk Paint) to paint them. The best part about the paint is, as you can see, you can also write on them with chalk, how fun is that? That way you can change the saying from Merry Christmas to Happy New Year etc. On the one frame with the larger pink and green dot, I painted a small square where I thought it would be cute to put an initial. I am going to pick one, or maybe two of these frames to add in my Winter Warmer give away that starts this Sunday the 4th, so stayed tuned to see what other goodies will be in the give away!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shopping Local continued

The shopping continues, this time I am going to share with you one of my local favorites that has great gifts as well as furniture and home decor. The store is called, Simply Home, they have found a great niche in Wilmington Delaware.

photo via Simply Home

At Simply Home, you can always find unique gifts and lots of home decor.  Terri Sisson Truono, the owner, has established a great reputation over the last 13 years at Simply Home. She has a great design sense and a beautiful inviting store with tasteful upholstered furniture and great wood furniture pieces as well. They always make you feel welcomed, which makes you want to go back for more.

I was browsing through there the other day and found this cute button shell garland, how pretty is that?

Below they have it wrapped around a lush moss wreath.

How fun is this to put on your table?

photo via Simply Home
(and did you notice the antlers? They have become a new favorite of mine, see my previous posting on antlers called, Open Season, to find out more)

These owls are so cute and are also very popular right now.

photo via Simply Home
Below is a festive display they have set up in the front part of the store. They have also just launched a new website where you can find lots of their items for purchase(like the candle pool ball set and owls above) and they are offering free shipping($50 min.) in their gift boutique and holiday shop. And if you are lucky enough to be in the area, stop by on December 6th for a Holiday party from 4-7, where they are offering a variety of specials throughout the store.

photo via Simply Home
I promise, you will find many things that you are for sure going to want to add to your Christmas list this year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

shopping local

I like to stay as far away from stores this time of the year, especially on Black Friday! I do not like crowded stores, the pushing and shoving, long lines, tear gas!!(saw that on the news at some store). I remember as a kid all those big fights over Cabbage Patch Dolls. Can you imagine! I love the Christmas season but find more and more that I don't like all the shopping - trying to find the right thing, making sure the kids are happy. But maybe if I wasn't such a procrastinator it wouldn't seem so bad. I do love holiday decorating (the lights, the tree, the music), although I am really not fond of my neighbors giant blow up Santa riding a polar bear. Last year I don't think they took it down until March!
Instead of all those big stores with tons and tons of people I like to go to all my favorite stores(then do the rest online). You know, the stores that feel like they are just your own, smaller local stores where they may know who you are and you can talk to someone for a few minutes. I have my favorites for this and that, where I can find unique new holiday treasures or those that I know are great for buying gifts. This holiday season, make a point to support your smaller local stores.

photo via Talking Chester County

photo via Talking Chester County
This is one of my favorite stores in West Chester, PA called, A Taste of Olive, it is the most amazing specialty olive oil and vinegar shop. They have these great silver vats of all the oils and vinegars for you to sample before you buy, everything from, 18 year aged Balsamic vinegar(my favorite), to fig, chocolate, hot serranno chile honey, and blood orange just to name a few. They are also available online but if you live nearby it is totally worth the experience to go in and try them, they are amazing.
As I shop my favorites stores this holiday season I will share them with you- would love for you all to share your local stores so I can check them out online!  Happy shopping!