Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year (Part 2)

I have a constant list on my phone of ways to better myself, and most of the time I don't do it.  I did floss my teeth most days this year, so that's a success!  A lot of people don't do New Year's resolutions because only 8% of people stick to them, but I think it's at least nice to try.

I keep a list on my phone as a reminder, but my phone fell out of my pocket and into the toilet this evening, so it is sitting in a bag of rice hopefully to be resuscitated tomorrow.  It won't be a big deal if it doesn't since my contract ended a year and a half ago, but I love my old phone and hope it comes back.

My list is pretty generic:
  • eat healthy
  • exercise more
  • cut back on alcohol
  • improve posture
  • save money and spend less
  • read more
  • less screen time
  • do more for others
I guess I am really going to say "Be better."  

Well, be better and stick to my accountablilty chart and budget.  Notice there was no budget post this month?  I quit keeping track...but hopefully I am now on track for 2014!

Here is my edited accountability chart.  I list places to write when we eat out in an attempt to reduce it, trying to get at least 3 times exercising per week (even if it's just a walk or 20 minutes of yoga), reducing alcohol consumption, and trying to plan more healthy dinners.



Most of my hopes for our culture for 2014 are for people to get along and compromise more, less crap TV shows (and celebs...), and for people to interact more face-to-face than on their phones all the time (especially at restaurants).  I know none of those things will happen, but a girl can hope!  Let's try to focus on positive things and ignore the "celebs behaving badly" (as I just saw "highlights" on NBC's New Year's Eve...).

Happy New Year (Part 1)!

I've been away for a week or so.  Why?  I have been traveling, visiting, unpacking, organizing and cleaning!    I am going to write two parts to my New Year's post; one post looking back on 2013, and one looking forward to 2014.

Tonight I am wearing a sparkly shirt, drinking champagne, and watching NYE television specials by myself since Hubby is sleeping (he has to get up at 4:45 a.m., but I am going to wake him up just before midnight so at least I won't be alone for that).

Part 1:  Highlights from 2013


We got a puppy.

She is much bigger than this now, of course.  This was the day Hubby brought her home.

Hubby graduated from med school!


We moved to North Carolina and bought our first home!


I quit teaching, Hubby became an intern, and I became a nanny for a wonderful family!

I began my blog!

2013 was definitely an eventful year!  So many more smaller things happened, like a great group vacation and discovering vineyards.

And who can forget the Harlem Shake or The Fox (one of my favorite viral videos ever!)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Favorite Things 2013

I am linking up at 320*Sycamore for a "Favorite Things" post.

This sounds like a fun idea! I am so new at following\writing blogs that I haven't been around for these, but apparently this is Melissa's fifth year doing this series.

When I began making my list, I kept wanting to put activities on the list. Maybe I will do another post of intangible favorite things.

My Favorite Things 2013

Fashion Favorites

Bandolino Coureous Nude Pumps:  I can wear these shoes for 8 hours and still be comfortable, they go with nearly anything, and are very classy.


J.C. Penney Dresses:  Most of the recent dresses I have bought are from J.C. Penney.  They are generally affordable (especially if you can find them on sale), and I can find them in my size (which can be rare at department stores if I don't want to spend more than $100).  My dresses for Hubby's match day, med school graduation, and department holiday party, as well as a couple more of my favorite dresses, all came from there.


Thrift and Consignment Shopping:  If you go back through my outfit posts, you will find lots of pieces that came from a secondhand store.  My favorite thrift stores are the ones that sort their clothes by size (and bonus if the clothing is sorted by size and then by color!).  The purse that I am using now is black and has a "Sonoma Life+Style" la bel so I assume it came from Kohl's originally.  It was in perfect condition and I bought it for only $3!

Food Favorites

Dove Dark Chocolate Pieces:  In the past couple of years, I have begun to enjoy dark chocolate so much more than milk chocolate.  Milk chocolate is just so sweet.  And dark chocolate is "healthy!"

Rex Goliath Wines:  Especially their red wines.  They are cheap and delicious (probably nothing compared with expensive wines, but good enough for me!)

Garlic Roasted Green Beans: You can find my recipe on this post.  SOOOO delicious.

Home Favorites

So many of my home favorites are things that I purchased a long time ago (such as my canisters, matching wine rack and utensil holder, big bookcase, etc.) are things that I have had a few years and am not sure you can find any more.

My House:  I am so happy with my house!



LG Sound Bar:  The HD flat screen TVs are fantastic, but come with very crappy speakers.  I got Trey (us) a sound bar for his graduation, and it sounds pretty good for an inexpensive sound system.

Tuscan Garden Canisters:  My entire kitchen is based around these canisters.



Curtains and Tie Backs:  I searched for a few months before I found inexpensive curtains that I liked for the living room.  I found the curtains at Ross and some interesting clips at Wal-Mart.



Simply Calphalon Nonstick Cookware: Inexpensive and easy.  I love it!



Beauty Favorites

Revlon Rose Velvet Lipstick:   I haven't worn lipstick in a long time, and finally decided to start wearing some.  I found a pretty neutral shade that I really like.


Mary Kay Eye Cream:  I haven't tried any other eye creams; this was the first one that I bought.  I like it pretty well.  I don't have anything to compare it with, though.

Nexxus Thermal Volume Mousse:  


Fun Favorites

The Hunger Games:  The books, the movies, the Pinterest pictures...I love them all!


Catchphrase:  This game is fun and can be vicious (when you hand off the game as the timer goes off...noooooooo!)

Picnic Basket:  I haven't technically used this yet...I am getting it for Christmas "from" my grandmother-in-law. I am soooo excited to use it, though. It has the look of a traditional picnic basket but the lining is insulated. I also used the money she gave me to get a waterproof blanket (after wet butts on the Fourth of July) and some picnic wine glass holders. I couldn't find a picture because I think it has been discontinued. It was always out of stock online when I was looking for it and I finally found it at a vineyard. If it wasn't wrapped up I would take a picture of it.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Cocktail Attire: Holiday Party Outfit!

We had Hubby's work party on Saturday.  I love dressing up and don't get to do it as often as I would like.  I bought two dresses at J.C. Penney on Black Friday (in the hour I actually went shopping), and decided on the navy one.

The party itself was a lot of fun.


Sorry Hubby cut off the shoes.  

You can still buy the dress here.


I also bought a sparkly bracelet at J.C. Penney.  It is hard for me to find bracelets to fit my 5 1/2 inch wrist, but I tried on so many at Penney's that fit.  This bracelet was very pretty and petite, but added just enough sparkle.

I also wore some sparkly rhinestone earrings that dangled in a diamond shape.  My hair was so big you can't see them, haha.  My mother-in-law gave them to me as hand-me-downs and I have no idea where she bought them or how long ago.

I also wore my trusty nude pumps.

I use hot rollers to curl my hair.  I have neither the patience nor the skill for a curling iron.


The real shocker is that my hair was still curly at the end of the night!!!  I think I am finally learning how to do my hair so it holds.  LOTS and lots of hairspray and no Georgia humidity...

Outtake:

"Hubby, will you take my picture real quick for my blog?"


He is a silly one, that Hubby...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Party Favors or Gifts

One of my favorite things to make are "Cinnamon Toasty Pecans."  At least that's what I call them!  They are so easy to make and are a crowd favorite.

This year I decided to make them as favors for my Christmas party.  I will give away the rest as gifts.



Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Beat together one egg white with one tablespoon of water.

Fold in 2 1/2 cups (one package) of pecan halves.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.

Dust the cinnamon sugar mixture of the pecans until evenly coated.

Spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 225 degree oven for one hour, stirring every fifteen minutes.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Party Menu

When I plan a menu for a party, I try to plan a variety of appetizers and desserts, hot and cold food, meat and vegetarian dishes, etc. I am finding I kind of have an unintentional formula: something in a phyllo cup, something on a cracker, something that you dip, and a meat or two. For dessert I bake a cake and have some other dessert.




Appetizers:
*A note about the meatballs:  they were yummy but got cold really quickly and the sauce thickened too much.  I had to keep putting them in the microwave.  In the future I might use a crock pot or something to keep them warm (but my crock pot, as much as I love it, is not pretty).

Desserts:



Drinks:

  • Spiked Christmas Punch
  • Non-alcoholic cranberry punch (made with cranberry juice, Sprite, and a little white grape juice).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Casual Outfit: Holiday Shopping!

I did some holiday shopping on Sunday.  The weather was nasty, which kept the crowds at bay.  It was awesome!  I still have a few more gifts to buy, but I am nearly finished.



I wore a simple white turtleneck, jeans, my black boots, and a sparkly sweater.  I also wore pearl earrings with this outfit.

I like to add a snowflake pin to the middle of my scarf, but I also have a pin on the white coat I wore and didn't want pin overload.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Chocolate Crescent Roll-Ups











A couple of weeks ago I made some ham and cheese roll-ups for dinner, but I didn't want to use all eight crescent rolls on them because they don't reheat well and Hubby and I certainly wouldn't eat eight of them!  I was trying to figure out what I had and what I could use the remaining rolls for, and I remembered the dark chocolate morsels I had in the pantry.




Chocolate Crescent Roll-Ups

Ingredients:


Rub on the butter!


Rub on the brown sugar!


Pile the chocolate morsels on the wide end.


Roll them up, trim the sides, and place on a baking sheet.


Follow package directions for baking temperature and time.


Top with whipped cream and/or chocolate syrup and ENJOY!


Chocolate Crescent Roll Ups

Ingredients:
  • Package of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Chocolate Morsels (I prefer dark chocolate, but it is your preference).
Directions:

Unroll and separate the crescent rolls.

Rub butter on the top, followed by brown sugar.

Pour some chocolate morsels on the wide side and roll them up in the dough.  I trimmed the excess dough from the sides.

Follow the package for cooking temperature and time.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Plan

I have been working on and even using this plan for a few weeks, but I have been so busy that I haven't had time to post about it!

Instead of having lists upon lists everywhere, I made a Christmas Plan to go along with my Thanksgiving Plan.  It includes a list of gifts to buy, plans for my Christmas party, crafts to do, traditions to think about doing, ways to give to the community, and my Christmas card list (complete with addresses!).

Page One:

  • Gift list
  • Crafts to make (for children and decorations)
  • Baking list
  • Events to attend
Page Two:
  • Christmas party plan (food, drinks, guests, activities)
Page Three:
  • Christmas traditions
  • Ways to donate
Page Four:
  • Christmas card list and addresses


I would show you my personal one, but there is too much personal information on it (I don't think my family members want their addresses on the world wide web, and I don't want them to know their presents!).


This is my plan for my party this year.  I decided not to do any activities this year, but I used to do a white elephant.



Here is the template:



You can download the template here!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Decoration Reveal

It took a few days, but my house is finally all decorated for Christmas!  Christmas exploded in here!

Naturally I have a Pandora Christmas station (Smooth Jazz today just to be different) playing on my TV and a glass of eggnog to drink.  The only thing missing is the fire in the fireplace, but I am waiting on new gas logs to arrive and be installed.

The Tour:

Outside





Living Room:

This is my absolutely favorite.  I am SO proud of how it turned out; I just wish I could photograph it better.



I made the garland.  You can find a tutorial here.
The vases on the ends are filled with small gold balls from Dollar Tree.
The small vases just have a leftover pick from the garland.


I love using poinsettias on my tree!


The little figurines in front of the TV spell "Christmas."  It was one of the first decorations I bought and it is still one of my favorites.

I didn't photograph a wreath I have hanging above the other couch.  I didn't make it.


Dining Room:

The wick in the left candle wouldn't light, and it had gotten so late that I didn't feel like rustling up another candle for it. 

Kitchen:

I don't have as many decorations in the kitchen this year as I did last year.  Although I have a larger kitchen, it is not as conducive to decorating for Christmas as my other rooms.  

I also made the ornament wreaths using this tutorial I found on Pinterest.
I also made the card display using another Pinterest idea to cover foam rectangles with fabric.  They look terrible on the back and don't hang quite right, but they look decent and do the job.



I also laid a garland above the cabinet.  I could have displayed some of my holiday platters, but then I would have to deal with getting them down for my party.



 Entry:


I also made the "Joy" sign using an idea I found on Pinterest.


Powder Room:




There are a few more things I want, especially for outside, but I am happy for this year (I think).  I already bought way too many new things!  Maybe I can find some of the things I want on clearance like I did those fall and Halloween decorations.