Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Semi-Wordless Wednesday: Our Christmas Card

After capturing this shot of Sweet Bean, I knew instantly we'd found the one for this year's card.

Simply said, this card reflects, quite literally, the light of our lives.

With Gillian Grace, all our days are MERRY & BRIGHT!

Wishing you all the joy your heart can hold, at Christmas time and always.

Merry Christmas!

{I'm linking up with my friend, Daphne for Semi Wordless Wednesday!}
Semi Wordless Wednesday Hosted by Flip Flops and Pearls

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Home Tour Tuesday---All Wrapped Up

I'm not sure where December went, but here we are the week of Christmas and the final Holiday Home Tour Tuesday post. What a whirlwind! 

To be honest, as of eight o'clock yesterday evening, I had not a single present wrapped. Luckily, thanks to my ever-helpful hubby, we were able to pull off a Christmas miracle of our own, and complete most of the wrapping before calling it a night.

In our home, wrapping is a two person job---Bret is the wrapper, and I'm the bow maker. We've had this particular system since we were first married, and it just seems to work for us. {Or should I say works for "me", I'm sure Bret has a million other things he'd rather be doing that playing Elf to my Santa!}

Over the years, I've learned to be patient with Bret's wrapping, but it's probably not for the reason you think. You see, Hubs is an engineer by trade and is quite meticulous about most things, including his gift wrapping technique. His presents are always impeccable, so much so that the edges where the paper has been cut align seamlessly with no visible signs of tape, leaving you questioning if perhaps the Hubs has magical powers.

And though it takes us a while to get through our mountain of gifts, I've learned to bite my tongue and never rush perfection! So don't be mad friends if your hubby isn't quite as willing to chip in, Bret is one of a kind. And as I've told you before---I'm quite lucky!

And that my friends, is how we roll!

Bow How-To
Thanks to so many wonderful comments and emails about the bows on my trees in a previous Home Tour Tuesday post, I wanted to include a quick bow-making tutorial. And once you know how to make them, you'll find yourself placing your signature bows on all your gifts, not only at Christmas time, but throughout the year!

Oh and I can't begin without a quick shoutout to my mom, the reigning bow-making queen. She's responsible for teaching me all the tricks for making a present look like something out of a magazine.

What you'll need:
  • scissors
  • wired ribbon
  • curly ribbon

{one} Purchase ribbon in a large roll. I bought mine from Hobby Lobby, but Sam's also carries a large assortment of wired ribbon at the Holidays. Decide how wide you'd like your bow to be by looping the ribbon over on itself until you've reached your desired width.

{two and three} Loop ribbon over on itself at least 16 times. The more loops, the fuller the ribbon will be. Smaller bows are an exception. Because the bow is small (in width), you will not need nearly as many loops to achieve a full look.

{four} As you loop, be sure to keep the ribbon lined up as best as possible. This will help when cutting the ribbon.

{five and six} Fold ribbon in half to determine the center.

{seven} Cut a small slit in one side of the ribbon. Be careful not to cut to the center of the ribbon. Repeat same process on the opposite side, again being very careful not to cut to the center of the ribbon. 

{eight} Check your slits. If your slits are cut properly, the ribbon should twist in your hands without breaking apart. If the slits have been cut too close to the center, the ribbon will pull apart. If this happens, (and Lawdy knows it's happened plenty of times to me)  remove loose loops or, in a worst case scenario, simply start over.

{nine and ten} Cut a long strand of curly ribbon. Use matching curly ribbon to anchor ribbon by threading it through the two side slits. Tie the curly ribbon in a knot on the underside of the bow.

{eleven and twelve} Starting with the bottom (inner) loops, alternate sides, pulling the ribbon apart. I like to twist as I pull each loop. Continue until all loops have been separated.

{thirteen} As an optional finishing touch cut small inverted v's at the bottom of any remaining unlooped strand of ribbon.

{fourteen} Congratulations, you're almost done!

Securing Bow

{fifteen} Cut another strand of ribbon from your original roll long enough to tie around your package.

{sixteen} Use the curly ribbon hanging from the underside of your bow to secure the bow to the ribbon on your package. (Be sure to tie a knot.)

{seventeen} Viola! Now you're done!

*Note-If using the bow for another decorative purpose other than gift wrapping, use the long curly ribbon strands the same way you did on your package to secure bow in place. 

Special thanks to my lil' stinker helper! Don't know what I'd do without Sweet Bean to show me how it's done!

With all the holiday festivities, HTT will not be posted next week, but Daphne and I look forward to seeing you back for the link up on January 4th for the first Home Tour Tuesday post of the New Year.

January 4th theme: Out with the Old, In with the New---Show us your one room remodel, reno, or makeover!

Now as always, Daphne and I hope that you'll join us in a little Home Tour Tuesday fun.  Link up, don't wait! Grab our badge and show us how you wrap!

{Congratulations to all three giveaway winners!

Stella & Dot: Joni
Friedasophie: Mama K (That makes 2 giveaway wins in one week! Girl go to Vegas!)
LOL Designs: Laura S

Yay, y'all! Email me as soon as you can!}

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Musings

We all have them---those no-good, very bad, horrible, why did I even get out of bed, days.

And, Saturday was mine.

Between ripping a hole in the knee of my favorite jeans, struggling to get anything accomplished, cleaning up after a ridiculously ginormous blowout during naptime, and the downstairs furnace going completely kaput, Saturday just wasn't my day.

And after the serviceman's estimate of an $800 replacement part or a completely new unit to the tune of a couple grand, I was just about to settle in for a good ol' fashioned pity party for one, when Bret shared news of a call that quickly gave me a change of heart. On his way out to the truck, our serviceman received a call about the stroke of his 96 year old grandmother, followed by the devastating news that she was not expected to live through the weekend.

Jeans can be stitched. Chores can be tackled another day. Blowouts will be cleaned and soon forgotten. Even a worn out furnace can be given new life with a few parts and a little attention.

I suppose that even in the most perceived of rough patches, there's a lesson to be learned. God works in mysterious ways and Saturday night He placed Repairman Carlos in my path to remind me just how blessed I am, ripped jeans and all.

Not only did Carlos leave me with a working furnace, but a fresh perspective as well.

Life is fleeting, and irreplaceable. Let go of life's little inconveniences and focus instead on the bigger picture.

'Tis the be grateful!

Hallelujah, indeed!

{Don't forget tomorrow's Home Tour Tuesday topic: All Wrapped Up---Show us how you wrap and share a favorite gift you've received as well as one you've given. And this is your FINAL chance to enter all three giveaways! Head to my sidebar to find out more!}

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fa La La Friday

Crazy post title for a crazy time of year! With only 8 days left until the big day, it's go time, friends!

I was so excited to arrive home today and find a box awaiting me in the mailbox---my ornament from my exchange partner had arrived!

Since I've read Katie's blog for a while, I was beyond excited when randomly pairing names, my name matched up with hers! Her daughter is just the sweetest and I know if we weren't separated by a couple hundred miles, EK and GG would be the best of friends!

Katie sent along this fun Happy Holidays ornament that she mentioned could hang on my tree or just about anywhere in our home! I love it!

And if the amazing ornament wasn't enough, Katie sent along an extra surprise just for Sweet Bean! Won't these Christmas socks look adorable on Sweet Bean's little piggies?!

Thanks again, Katie!

Fun Phone Photo Friday

When we're visiting my parents, my dad always likes to say his favorite time of day with Bean is just after her bath, when in his words, "She's all shiny and new!"

Sweet Bean is not only all cleaned up and spiffy, but she's also at her most snuggliest surrounded by an intoxicating aroma of lavender and chamomile that clings to your clothes long after she's left your arms. It's no wonder my dad loves this time with his grandaughter, I'm quite fond of it myself!

But before GG can be all "shiny and new", we wash the day away with a mixture of bubbles, music, and laughter!
And of course...

an occasional drink from the faucet!

With Christmas Eve just one week away,  and all the holiday festivities kicking into high gear, I'm planning to take a little time off, so Fun Phone Friday will return, linky and all, at the first of the year! And though I won't name names (Jennifer B.), I hope to have even more of y'all linking up today, and sharing some great phone photos! I know you've got 'em, now share 'em!

With only 8 shopping days left, I've just got to know, are you done? If you're looking for me this weekend, I'll be one of those impatient, over stressed, and under-medicated shoppers searching for a spot in the mall's packed parking lot! And if someone in a black SUV takes your parking spot or honks at you for taking your sweet time crossing the street, it wasn't me---just sayin'!

{And don't shoot me, but I've extended the Stella & Dot and Friedasophie jewelry giveaways through Monday night! And for a bonus entry (if you've already entered), just go to the giveaway posts by clicking the logo on the top of the sidebar and name one of Santa's reindeer! Winners for all 3 giveaways will be announced on Home Tour Tuesday!}

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ornament Link Up & Recipe

When my dear bloggy friend, Karen, and I teamed up to host our first ever Ornament Exchange, I have to be honest---I wasn't sure how it would ultimately turn out.

Would people participate? Will it be fun? Those questions plus about a gazillion more ran through my head!

Luckily both Karen and I have tremendously supportive and fabulous readers, willing to share their Christmas spirit and give something new a try!

There's certainly no Ebenezer Scrooge in this bunch, that's for sure!

With the exception of a few ornaments still trying to make their way to their intended recipients through the ice and snow, most packages have been delivered and, from what I'm hearing, have now found a home on the family tree.

Let's Share!

My sweet partner Katie has sent my ornament, which I'm sure will arrive any minute, no thanks in part to the postal delays caused by some seriously frigid and hazardous conditions down here in the South. So though I won't be posting a picture today, thank you, Katie, a little ahead of time! I'm so excited to see what you've chosen just for me!

And since I know I'm not the only one with a delayed package, today's Ornament Exchange Linky will be open for a week. Once your gift arrives, please be sure to snap a few pictures, and swing back by to link up! After all, we want to see what sweet goody your partner has sent your way!

But being the lucky girl that I am, my mom has asked me to share the ornament she received from her partner, and my across-the-bay neighbor,  Daphne!

Mom and Me

Mom was elated to discover that Daphne had chosen for her a Merry Christmas, Y'all ornament, very similar to the one on my tree that she's coveted for years!

What can I say? Daphne and I have very similar good taste! Lucky, lucky Mom!

Cute, right?! Good job, Daphne! Thanks for hooking my Mom up with an adorable ornament! If I didn't already have one, I might just have to steal borrow it!

Now it's your turn! Show us what you got!


No one should know better the details and requirements of a weekly theme link up,  than the co-host herself---or more specifically, me!  It wasn't long after my Home Tour Tuesday hit the bloggy airwaves last week that I began receiving comments asking about my missing recipe! Whoops, my bad, y'all!

So as is my philosophy for many things in life---better late than never! But believe-u-me, this one is well worth the wait!

Chocolate Covered Oreo Cake

What You Need:

1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil's food chocolate cake mix
4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
12 OREO Cookies, coarsely crushed

Make It:

HEAT oven to 350ºF.

PREPARE cake batter and bake in 2 (9-inch) round pans as directed on package. Cool cakes in pans 10 min. Invert cakes onto wire racks; gently remove pans. Cool cakes completely.

MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool 5 min.

MEANWHILE, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until blended. Gently stir in Cool Whip and crushed cookies. Stack cake layers on plate, spreading cream cheese mixture between layers. Spread top with chocolate glaze; let stand until firm. Keep refrigerated.

Nutritional Info:

Noooo way,  I'm posting that! Just enjoy, life's short. Eat plenty of dessert!

Want proof that this cake is downright delish? Check out this face!

{Stay tuned tomorrow for the Stella & Dot and Friedasophie winners!}

Happy almost Friday, friends!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Semi Wordless Wednesday---Santa's Little Helper

Don't let the candy cane leggings and velour jumpsuit fool you, being an elf is hard work.

You've got to always be on the lookout for the Big Guy and his reindeer. 

You can never be intimidated by a box bigger than you.

But instead must show that box who's boss!

You never know when Rudolph will text with news of a weather delay---check your phone often!

Always take time to stretch!

Elf yoga is best!

And, I highly recommend the downward facing Christmas tree pose!

Remember to lift with your knees!

Carefully inspect all packages.

As a safety precaution, always sample any baked goods left for Santa.

Don't forget to stop and smell the greenery! And if possible, take a second to rock around the Christmas tree.

When the going gets rough, don't forget a little elf humor goes a long way!

And for goodness sakes, never get caught sitting down on the job!

Above all else, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

{I'm linking up with my friend, Daphne for Semi Wordless Wednesday!}
Semi Wordless Wednesday Hosted by Flip Flops and Pearls