Let the Prep Begin!

Hello everyone!  Today is a bit of a reprieve from the cold snap we’ve been having here in Texas.  I want to continue with the Thanksgiving series that we’ve been discussing and show y’all a couple of my inspiration ideas for my guest room/office project that I’m working on finishing before my family visits at Christmas.

Prepping the dinnerware and decor

One of the biggest time consumers that I’ve run into every year is locating and washing all of the dinnerware and all of those beverage dispensers, table linens, glasses, holiday plates, serving pieces and holiday decor pieces that make an appearance this time of year.  Since I moved recently, most of my items are still in boxes and definitely in need of a good wash! This year isn’t going to be a big event as it has been, but I still want to use my favorite pieces to set a classy table.  I pulled out many of my pieces today and plan to wash everything so that it’s all ready to go and I don’t need to waste time on Thanksgiving doing so.  I also pulled out a few more decor items so that I can create a lovely centerpiece.  This year, I’m planning to use what I have on hand so that I can save money and reduce the accumulation of clutter.  I have been on a kick lately using eBay to sell items that aren’t my style anymore, but that’s for a different post.

By now, you should have your holiday plan, menu, grocery list, clean fridge and pantry, and dinnerware and decor that is clean and ready to go. With about a week left before Thanksgiving, you should be feeling pretty dang organized and ready this year!

Guest Room / Office Inspiration

Changing gears…since I’m not having guests this year until Christmas, I have been actively budgeting and coming up with inspiration ideas.  I’m really into the feminine/modern rooms with pink and gold accents. I’m renting the house I’m in now and downsized a bit from my Virginia house so that I could live in the city, so I need my guest room to serve several functions.  I need some clothing/jewelry storage, craft storage and an office/guest room space.  Here are a few of the spaces that I’ve taken some inspiration from:

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Sources:

http://www.ivyclad.com/2012/06/ikea-snafu-hacks.html

http://home-styling.blogspot.com/p/my-work.html

http://www.casaandcompany.com/home/dress-up-your-desk/

http://emilyaclark.com/2014/02/updating-our-master-bedroom-bedding.html

http://theeverygirl.com/how-to-style-a-desk-3-ways-for-the-student-the-post-grad-the-career-woman

What a Year!

Wow!  I can’t believe that a year has gone by since I started this blog!  It’s been a great year and full of adventure and change!  I made a big move to Texas this year, travelled to Spain (I plan to do a post soon), and got to take a road trip with my mom (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!) & Muddy to most of the Southern states!  It really is amazing how fast time flies!  It seems like it was just yesterday when I wrote my first post!  I know, I dropped off there for a bit, but I’m glad to be back and sharing with you all now!  Here’s to another wonderful year in blogland!

So now that we are 10 days out before Thanksgiving and you all have a solid plan in place, we are going to spend this week discussing cleaning and prepping for the big day.

Cleaning the Fridge and Pantry

Cleaning and organizing the fridge and pantry are probably two of the most important steps you can take this week to get ready for Thanksgiving.  I start by taking everything out of both and then tossing anything that has expired.  I use an all-natural cleaner such as Simple Green to scrub the fridge and then take all of the bins out and give them a good wash too.  I swear by these bins:

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I picked my bins up as a set from Costco.  I’ve seen them at HomeGoods for a good price too.  Once I have everything cleaned, I pop the bins back in the fridge and I’m all set for all the yummy dishes next week.  The bins make it super easy to pull out ingredients for meals and to make room as necessary.

I also use plastic bins in my pantry to sort dry goods and cans.  I prefer the clear bins so that I can see what I have quickly.  As you can see below, I even have a bin for breakfast!  I can quickly pull it out and have everything for pancakes and waffles in one spot!

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Hope y’all are having a great weekend!

Where Did My Warm Sun Go?

Brrrrrrr….. It ‘s REALLY cold in Texas tonight!! Who knew that’d be the case?! Muddy loves this weather though…he was getting all pumped up for our run tonight ! I just bought a new Fitbit to track my daily activity and I’ve found that it actually takes a lot of work to reach those 10K steps everyday!! So sad…At any rate, we (I) bundled up and hit the pavement tonight on my quest to eat better and get in better shape…

What have you done today to get healthier? I’d love to hear about your daily strides towards fitness!

I also wanted to share some photos from my weekend in Seattle. I lucked out and had sunny weather (minus Sunday during the Seahawks game). I got a chance to catch up with friends and family and do some antique shopping in Snohomish with my mom and go to my first Hawks game at Century Link Stadium! It really was awesome & such a beautiful stadium! Plus, I had all my favorite Seattle foods…Dick’s burger, authentic chicken teriyaki and Ivar’s famous fish & chips and clam chowder….YUM, YUM & YUM!!!

 

Turkey Tom & All the Fixin’s

We’ve all been there before when we haven’t planned well and are pulling our hair out trying to figure out what to make for company that is coming for dinner.  Thanksgiving is a little easier to plan for since the usual suspects are to be expected on the menu, but if you’re like me and like to cook then it can be overwhelming to figure out exactly what to make.  Fortunately, I’ve spent this holiday with friends in Virginia over the past several years and we all shared the cooking responsibility and perfected our system.  Everyone made what they loved and it worked out great! This year since I’ll be on my own, I’m going to use it as an excuse to experiment with some more adventurous Thanksgiving recipes.

Planning for Turkey Day

My best tip for Thanksgiving dinner planning is to do what I used to in Virginia…get your friends to make their favorites and share!  But if you’re handling the whole meal then I’d start with your favorite dishes and family traditions that you’d like to share with your guests!  I tend to stick to a rather traditional non-fussy menu, but this year in honor of being in Texas, I’m going to aim for a more Southern menu.  Get your notebooks out and favorite cookbooks and magazines and start there.  Some of my favorites are Rachel Ray, Bon Appetit, Southern Living and Better Homes & Garden magazines. Write down each dish and then evaluate whether you need/want all of those dishes. I typically plan to make the following dishes every holiday:

Turkey (I make an apple cider brined Rachel Ray recipe)

Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole (Cooking Light recipe)

Stuffing (chorizo cornbread stuffing)

Deviled eggs (family recipe)

Cranberry Sauce (my fav!)

Pumpkin Pie

Usually we split up appetizers for different people to make, but generally there is a cheese appetizer or my new favorite, dates stuffed with goat cheese and crumbled pecans then broiled.  YUM!!  There have also been mac n’ cheese, spicy crab dip, green bean casserole and honey baked ham appearances.  Depending on the number of dishes, I plan for 1-3 appetizers and 2-4 bottles of wine for 4-5 people.   Some years I even have a specialty cocktail on hand such as a fall sangria.  Then in addition to the dishes I know I’m making for sure, I always try to include a veggie side and bread (although the bread is optional to me).  As for dessert, I’ve found that most of my friends only want pumpkin pie and are generally too stuffed for anything else, but again, make your traditional sweet dish! And if you’re running low on time, don’t beat yourself up if you pick up a pie from the store!!

Last but not least, make sure you have appetizer picks, any necessary condiments, plates/napkins, plenty of water, guest hand towels and a scented candle in the powder room, aluminum foil, Tupperware, plastic storage bags, takeout containers and the football and TV movie times on hand!

Since I have a pet, I also make Muddy “Thank Your Dog Casserole,” which is from Rachel Ray’s magazine a couple years ago.  He sure loves it year after year!

The final step after you decide on your menu is to organize any recipes you’ll need and make a grocery list that includes EVERY item you need.  If needed, I even type and color code my grocery list to include items I have on hand, items I’m low on and items I need.  This way you can cross items off as you purchase them since many of you do so over several days.  Doing this will save you so much time and make shopping a breeze!!

I hope this helps you prep!!  Now….what to make this year??…..

Holiday Season is Upon Us

Well I don’t know about you all, but I cannot believe that it’s already November!!  This is the busiest time of year for most people, so I decided that this month I’m going to focus on a series of topics and tips that I use to get prepared for the chaos.  I also decided that I’m going to use the next few weeks before Thanksgiving and again between Thanksgiving and Christmas to focus on being healthier and eating better.

My weekend was busy in Dallas, so I didn’t get a chance to prepare for my week as much as normal, but I’ve used tonight to try to do just that.  I got back into my healthy mindset with a short 30 minute run/walk with Muddy.  The weather has just been fabulous here in Houston!  I’ve also been cleaning out the garage since it became a dumping ground after my move.  I promised myself that I’d spend at least 30 minutes  each night cleaning out all my junk, so I did my time in there tonight too.

Holiday Preparedness

Make a Plan

I think it’s so important to get your ducks in a row, so the first step that I’m going to talk about is making a plan.  The holidays are a time of joy but they can also be quite stressful if you don’t get organized and don’t have a plan.  What I do at the beginning of November is sit down with a big pot of coffee and just write down ideas, important dates/events that I’m already aware of and a list of things that I need to accomplish or purchase.  I update my calendar with any dates that I need to save and any self-imposed deadlines.  This is also the time of year when I schedule the last of my health appointments and my holiday haircut since dates quickly fill up and many people take leave.

This year the holidays are very exciting for me because it is my first Texas holiday season.  I can’t wait to check out all the things going on in the city during this time!  Since I’ll have family visiting this year, my plan includes designing and finishing the guest room’s decor and organization.  As of now, it’s a disaster!  Don’t worry…I plan to have lots of before and after photos once I finish it all!  Since it hasn’t been that long since I moved in, my plan also consists of finishing my living room gallery wall, styling up the deck for the mild winter evenings (love it) and finishing cleaning out the garage.  This winter, I’ll be focusing on organization but more on that after the holidays!  I listed out a few items that I need to purchase for the guest room such as holiday bedding and new pillows.  As I organize everything, I’m also setting aside a donation box and eBay sale box. This is a great time to add in a reminder for any charitable donations you may want to make.

Once you have your overall plan in place, you can tweak it as necessary, but it’ll make for a great basis to keep you sane!  Good luck on those plans!  You’ll feel so much more organized once you have it done…trust me!

Keep reading this week for my next tip on how to plan for Thanksgiving dinner.

Boo….Halloween is Here!

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Happy Halloween everyone!  I can’t believe that it is already the end of October!  Now that I am getting back on track and settling in, I wanted to share a few of my Fall & Halloween decor photos.  Once I get my house here in Texas put together, I will be sharing more photos.

I have to dig my costume out for this weekend…I’m going as the Statue of Liberty again since I dressed up about 3 years ago in it and Muddy was Uncle Sam and we won the costume contest!  Let’s go 2 for 2!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with lots of laughs in your fun costumes!  Be safe and don’t egg too many houses!

Howdy Y’all!!!

Well everyone….it’s been a long, hard year, but I am back!!  I’ve really missed working on the blog this year, but I have had a lot of changes happening on my end.  The biggest and most time consuming change has been a move from Virginia to Texas!  That’s right…I now live in the Lone Star State and am absolutely loving it!  I can’t wait to start sharing new projects & decor with you all.  Now that I’ve settled in some, I’m ready to get back to sharing my ideas & travel photos with everyone!  Stay tuned friends….

 

All that Sparkles…

My holiday theme this year is “Let it Snow” and I’ve been working to get all of my outdoor decor up over the past few days while dodging ice and snow outside.  My color scheme this year is teal, navy and silver with white lights.  I wanted my house to sparkle when the white lights shine on all of the fun final touches.  One of those details is the wreath below.  I have been in love with the Pottery Barn ornament wreath for the past couple years, but I just have not been able to bring myself to pay $80 for it.  This year I decided I’d tried my hand at my own version and I absolutely LOVE how it turned out!

Supplies

  • 1 wreath form (I used a large styrofoam one with a flat back because to me it resembled snow)
  • Shatterproof ornaments (I bought a large box from Target that were on sale)
  • Glue gun / glue
  • Optional – Bow (I bought my glitter bow at Michael’s 50% off)

Step 1

I laid the wreath form flat while I worked and decided that I wanted a somewhat random look to my ornament layout.

Step 2

Once I had a good visual idea, I used the end of the ornament ball (where you would normally hang it from) and pushed it into the styrofoam.  Then I hot glued each one into place.  A word of advice is that you have to be patient with the ornaments because some took a little extra glue to get them to hold well.  I worked my way around the wreath form and I left a space at the bottom of the wreath where the bow would cover it.

Step 3

After letting the glued ornaments set overnight, I added the glitter bow as my finishing touch.

Step 4

Hang on the door & enjoy!

This wreath took me about 30 minutes to make and the best part is that it cost me about $20 to complete!  Be sure to use Michael’s weekly coupons and check out the holiday sales for good deals on ornaments.

 

Ice..Ice…Baby

Hi everyone…I woke up this morning to a winter wonderland!  Everything had a nice sheen of ice coating it and the roads were very dangerous!  I am so glad that I put my Christmas lights up last night!  Here are a couple pictures of how beautiful my neighborhood was this morning:

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Even Muddy was in awe!  Hopefully tomorrow will be back to normal but more snow is forecast.  Stay tuned this week for some Christmas decorating ideas…

 

 

Colonial Williamsburg

Hope y’all had a nice weekend!  I decided to head down to Colonial Williamsburg, VA for a couple days with some friends.  I haven’t spent much time down there before, so I thought it might be fun and I was on the hunt for Christmas treasures.  We spent most of the day at the Colonial Williamsburg living history museum.  Now, I’ve lived in Virginia for over a decade and I found this quite interesting but also very fun!  Plus, the Christmas decorations added extra charm!  The actors are extremely knowledgable and in each building that you enter you hear quite a bit about what life was like in the colony.  Basically the entire colony has been reconstructed; often on the original building foundations that have been discovered.  You can walk around the colony and enter buildings at your leisure.  My favorite was the governor’s palace, but it was getting dark and since there are no lights inside the buildings it was very hard to see.  I also thought that a lot of very interesting information was provided during the tour of the capitol building.  There were even several young children who marched through town as part of a fife & drum band!

I would recommend Colonial Williamsburg to young and old alike, however I would definitely be sure to pack snacks and appropriate clothing. We were hungry and froze, but after dark here are a few bonfires that you can warm yourself by. There are a few restaurants in Merchant Square that are good, however there were very long waits.  If you like to shop like I do then you will love milling around in the shops where many of the wares that are produced by the colony workers are also sold.  Colonial Williamsburg is an interesting historical peek into life during this time period in Virginia and the experience will be sure to leave you with a greater appreciation for how our country began.

After touring the colony, we headed to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens.  This was pretty cool and if you have small kids, they would absolutely love it!  The park is decorated with over 6 million lights and most sections of the park have a different country for its theme.  One section was called “Holiday Hills,” which ended up being my favorite because it was decorated with retro Christmas decorations and reminded me of my childhood.  Does that mean I’m old if it was supposedly the “retro” section?  Oh no…….!  Just as with Colonial Williamsburg, I’d recommend making sure you have enough warm clothing with you as it does get very cold after the sun goes down.  The park has several heated eating and entertainment areas, so it’s not hard to get warm if you need to.  The rides that are open can be very chilly too.  We took the train around part of the park and just about froze, but it was really fun because everyone was singing Christmas carols together!

Williamsburg is also home to The College of William & Mary and as such, you will find it to be a quaint college town where people stroll the square with their morning coffee while they walk their dogs and explore the farmer’s market.  The city is fairly close to Virginia Beach and there is also a settlement at Jamestown to explore.  I haven’t done that part yet, but hopefully once it warms up some I’ll get a chance to come back down to check it out and let y’all know how it is.  In the summertime, I’ve heard that the water park Great Country U.S.A. and Busch Gardens are a blast!  There is also a Great Wolf Lodge that many people stay at if they have children…I’ve heard there is an indoor water park there too.

Whether you’re from Virginia or not you will find Williamsburg relaxing and very interesting.  I’ve been to a few living history museums around the area, but Williamsburg is the largest and most well done that I’ve been to so far.  Hopefully this post will give you a few ideas if you were also planning on heading down this way.