Friday, December 23, 2011


I always like to give my co-workers a nice Christmas gift, especially since they work so hard all year long. Many of them are Pinterest addicts, like me, so I thought it would be appropriate to get some inspiration from there for this year's gift.

As you know from when all our visitors came, I love thoughtful gift baskets, so I thought I would make a mini basket for all the girls at work. 
First, I started off by making a homemade Vanilla Brown Sugar Scrub. I found the recipe on Stephanie Lynn's blog, Under the Table and Dreaming. It is super easy and only requires a few ingredients: brown sugar, sugar, vanilla and sunflower oil. The last may be the hardest to find. I discovered it at Whole Foods, so I would suggest looking there or a similar "natural" food store for it. Check out Stephanie's blog for the full recipe.

I mixed up the scrub and bought some simple mason jars to put it in. 

While the scrub can be used all over, I decided to pair it with gifts that would allow each lady to pamper their feet. So, I bought a few things to go with it.

I found the socks at Ross, bought some foot lotion from Avon (which was also on sale) and found some mini nail polishes in a gift pack also at Ross. 

Plus, I found these cute baskets at Target in the dollar section. They weren't Christmas colors, but they went perfectly with all my other fillers.

I loved the end product and so did all the ladies at work!

Not sure how I'm going to top this one for next year. Hopefully Pinterest will give some good inspiration!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homemade Christmas Goodies

I always feel really guilty when I haven't blogged for a while. The thing is, you would think I didn't realize Christmas came each year on December 25th, because I waited until the last minute to do everything this year.

Last weekend I was busy. Including making some Christmas goodies for Landon's co-workers -- chocolate covered pretzel rods. 

These have become my signature Christmas gift. Not only do they taste good but they are so easy to make look good. I'm not sure if the recipients like them as much as Landon. It is always his requested gift for co-workers, mostly because he knows I'll make extras that he'll get to eat. 

So, here's what you need to make these: pretzel rods and two types of chocolate (I use almond bark because it melts so easily, though I have also used chocolate chips in the past).

Next, melt the chocolate in two separate pans. Here is one step that I wish was a little easier. Not that melting chocolate is hard, because it's very easy, but it's choosing the right pan that is the problem. See, I think someone needs to invent a tall, skinny sauce pan in which I can actually dip the pretzels. Instead, I usually just use a regular sauce pan and spoon the chocolate over. Not nearly as easy, though it's still not hard.

There is a very important step after you spoon the chocolate over. Once you do that, you need to spin the pretzel in small circles to make sure to get rid of all the excess chocolate. Otherwise, when you lay it down to dry, all the excess runs off in a puddle. It takes a bit away from the beauty of them.

After you have done this, place the pretzel rod on wax paper and let them dry.

Once dry, here's where the fun part come in. Grab a fork and dip it in your other chocolate. Feel free to dip generously. You want your fork to be covered with a good layer.

Then, take the fork and fling it over the dipped pretzel rods. Now, this process doesn't have to be perfect but you will want to be somewhat careful not to fling too hard. The first time I did this, I ended up with strands of chocolate all over my kitchen. 

The end result should be a beautiful pretzel rod.

You'll want to let this layer of chocolate dry as well, but then you can bag them up. I usually buy the tall, cellophane gift bags at Wal-mart or Target and use those. It's the perfect size.

I dip my pretzels in both the chocolate and white chocolate and simply decorate with the other color. You can also decorate with white on white or so forth. It makes for a nice sophisticated look. In the past, I've also gotten creative with my flavors, using dark chocolate and even mint. You can really do whatever you like. 

What "staple" Christmas goodies do you make every year?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

'Tis the Season

You would think that with all the wonderful Christmas crafts being pinned on Pinterest, I would be staying very busy, but it's actually just the opposite. 

Over Thanksgiving, Landon and I stayed home and were very lazy. Then, it took us a full week to recuperate from being lazy! Now, it's gotten cold and my house is so frigid that all I want to do is sit under a blanket by the fire. So, needless to say, I have not gotten an abundant of wonderful things done. Hopefully that will change soon.

But, the one thing I did do over the past week was get our home ready for Christmas. I love pulling out decorations. I think they multiply every year. I never realize how much I have until Landon keeps bringing boxes out!

When we moved into the house in Nashville, we inherited a Christmas tree that the previous owners didn't want to move. It's actually a better tree than the little one we bought right after we got married. The only negative is that it is not pre-lit, but that's a minor luxury I can go without.

So I decided to make this our "fancy" tree. The first year we had it I bought a few red and silver ornaments. Then, apparently, right after Christmas I bought a bunch more on clearance. And, I may have not remembered that and bought a few more the next year. Needless to say, we have lots now.

We didn't decorate our current home last year because we were traveling over Christmas, so it has been fun to figure out where things should "go" in this new home. We decided to put the "fancy" tree in our living room. We had to move the couch over a bit so you could walk by, but it's the grandeur of the tree is perfect for the over-sized room.

The smaller tree is used for all our Christmas ornaments from childhood and the ones we've bought since getting married nearly seven years ago (yes, for those of you who attended our wedding, it has been that long!).

As much as I love the "fancy" tree, because it makes me feel all grown up for having a color coordinated tree (silly, right?), I really cherish the "memories" tree. It has some of my favorite ornaments on it.

Like the Barbie bride and Ken groom, which was used as our cake topper on March 5, 2005.

And the Cinderella and Prince Charming we bought at Disney World on our honeymoon.

And the ornaments we've bought along the way. We try to buy one any time we go on vacation or even special trips. I have a few from business trips (an NYC ornament and White House Christmas Tree), a couple from Disney World (we buy one every time we go) and some that special people have given us (a Billy Graham Library ornament from Landon's grandmother and a few Florida ornaments from the Coles). Plus, some of my most favorites are ones, which I have been hanging on a tree for as long as I can remember.

And while ornaments are my thing, Nutcrackers are Landon's. This is a tradition started by Landon's grandmother. She would get him one every year. Now we have lots to decorate with!

And, of course, we set up our nativity.

We also decided to let our "guard" lion take a break and replaced him with this little guy.

I'm working on decorating the dining room but am not quite done, so I'll have to show you that later.

Have you gotten your decorations up yet? What is your favorite?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

29 Years Young

Today I woke up one year older. 

I was born 29 years ago today. As I was thinking about what turning 29 meant to me, a lot of things ran through my mind. I am now officially the age that most women jokingly claim the rest of their lives. I also only have one year left to be a young 20-something.

For many, turning 30 is dreaded, but I'm excited about what my 30s will bring. Still, before I get ahead of myself, I'm ready to cherish one more year in my 20s and and celebrate the many things I've accomplished in just 29 short years.

So, since it's my birthday, I'm giving you each a task to eat a piece of cake in my honor! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! 

This is a monumental Thanksgiving for Landon and I because it is the first time we are not celebrating with any family members. Because our family all came to visit us a few weeks ago, they are obviously not coming back, and due to a lack of vacation time and expensive flights, we decided not to travel this year.

I am a little saddened that I am not sitting around the table and enjoying good food and great company with my family, especially since my older sister, who I haven't seen in a year, is in Nashville with her kids. Plus, my Mema makes the best Thanksgiving feast you've ever had in your life. No, really. It's the best. I definitely wish I could be with them.

So, you ask, what are we doing today for Thanksgiving? Well, while everyone is stuffing their face with turkey, Landon and I are taking a less traditional route. We decided to buy some nice, juicy steaks, asparagus and potatoes and have a complete steak dinner. Plus, we plan to hit up a few Thanksgiving Day sales. I figure if the stores are going to have them, someone needs to go shop them!

But don't worry. On Friday, we are celebrating the traditional way with our friends the Johnsons, for whom we are very grateful. I'm providing the green beans and turnip greens, which are always a staple at my family's Thanksgiving (though they won't be fresh from the garden). And, since I'm not a pumpkin pie fan, I decided to try out this Praline Pumpkin Dessert.

Source: via Kristin on Pinterest

Also, I should mention, we had a few offers from some very gracious people who invited us over to join their family celebrations today, which we were very grateful for, but decided to stick with our unconventional plans and enjoy each other's company instead.

Regardless of the celebration, I have many things to be thankful for this year, including:
  • A God who loves and provides for me more than I deserve
  • A husband who is my best friend and is still the person I want to spend every day with after nearly seven years of marriage
  • Parents who love me so much and continue to offer me guidance, even though I am grown
  • In-laws who love me like their own daughter
  • Sisters with whom I can laugh and cry
  • Friends who care about me and brighten my day (I won't list you all ... you know who you are!)
  • A roof over my head, which also happens to be a beautiful house
  • A pantry and fridge full of food
  • Good jobs that allow us to provide for our family
  • A job that I love and enjoy getting up for everyday
  • Coworkers who are like family
  • A church where Landon and I can serve
  • A church family who loves and supports us
  • My health
  • And the list could go on ...
What are you giving thanks for this year? Perhaps it's been a difficult year for you, but I challenge you to take the time and write out what you are most thankful for this year. I guarantee you will discover many things for which to be grateful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not So Extreme Couponing

Last week I traveled to Chicago for work. While I don't necessarily love traveling, I do enjoy staying in hotels for a few reasons. 

First, I am absolutely obsessed with hotel shampoos, conditioners, soaps, etc. I have an entire drawer full of these from various trips. I know which hotels have the best and which ones don't work with my hair or which lotions are a bit thin. Seriously, I can't get enough. 

Second, I love hotel bedding. It's so comfy and fluffy. Plus, King size beds are great. I may have to get one, one day. 

Lastly, there's cable. When Landon and I first got married, we decided cable wasn't in our budget. So for years, we used the bunny ears. Then, we decided to splurge and get the "basic" package. Many people are not aware this even exists. It's simply the same channels you get with an antenna but without having to move around the bunny ears to find the signal. So, we still only get the basic channels. It's just a small way we've decided to save money. Plus, we still get to see plenty of various TV shows through Netflix. 

All that to say, last week, I was flipping through the plethora of channels in the hotel when I stumbled upon TLC's "Extreme Couponing." I had heard about the show from many but had never seen it myself. 

I love a good deal as much as the next person, but I couldn't believe the things some of the things these people go through to save money. Sorry, but I'm not into dumpster diving. Still, there was something inspiring about the show. 

Source: via on Pinterest

So, over the weekend, I tried to take my couponing to the next level. I do clip coupons and I do try and use them with the sales, but I have never had any true couponing victories. Saturday I sat down, looked through all my coupons and sale papers and tried to match things accordingly. I also used to help. I decided I didn't want to go to every store, but I chose three to hit up. 

I'm pleased to say that though it took a while, my efforts paid off because I saved over $30 at Target on my $70 bill. That included soap, razors, moisturizer and face wash, which I think can be expensive. While some of you are probably thinking that's not that great, I figure it's the small steps.

 I don't ever expect to get $4,000 worth of groceries for $13, like on "Extreme Coponing," but if I can save money each week, I'll be happy. 

So, what tips and tricks have you found when couponing? Are there websites you have found are helpful? Certain stores you have found that give better deals? Let me know! I'd love to hear from some of you pros!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin + Pinterest

When Landon's mom was in town a few weeks ago, we made Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Streusel topping. Of course, this was a Pinterest recipe and it is definitely one I will be using again. They were oh, so scrumptious!

Half of the batch was made with my new cute little IKEA muffin tins ... I love them!

These muffins are the wonderful creation of Laine at It's Just Laine. The full recipe can be found here:

I highly recommend them. Not only were they absolutely scrumptious, but they were also easy to make, unlike some of the recipes found on Pinterest. So, add these to your list to make this "pumpkin" season.

Oh, and please check out Laine's blog! You won't be disappointed!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Do

Recently, my co-worker Lauren got married. So, recognizing a good occasion to put Pinterest to good use, I decided to make a little DIY wedding gift for her.

I had my other co-worker Monica do a little investigating a few weeks before the big day to find out what song Lauren and Max would dance to first. Monica was able to help me figure out their first dance would be to "I Do (Cherish You)" by 98 Degrees.

Next, I bought a frame with a large mat.

I removed the mat and used a thin sharpie to write the words of the song. Honestly, I was very nervous about this. I didn't want to mess up and have it say something wrong. So, I took my time writing out each line. 

I started by using painter's tape to keep my lines straight, but when I pulled it off the first time, I discovered it was sticking too much and pulling some of the mat with it. So I just grabbed a piece of paper to help me.

I also started writing small, only to realize the song was not that long. 

So, I decided to start to write it out again from the beginning. When it was all said and done, I had the full song almost twice.

This was such an easy gift, but hopefully one that they can use to remember their special day many years to come. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Whitemyer!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My New Favorite Way to Hang Pictures

I am not the best at hanging pictures, especially when trying to hang them in a straight line or in a pattern. But, thanks to my new technique, I no longer have any issues.

This is a modified idea of one you may have seen on Pinterest. All you need is your nails, hammer and a roll of painter's tape.

First, lay out your pictures on the ground how you want them to appear on the wall.

Next, cut a strip of painter's tape the same length as the pictures and line it up over the hangers.

Then, take your nail and poke a small hole right where it would hang. Once, done, place the painter's tape on the wall where you want the pictures to hang. 

Using the holes in the painter's tape, hammer the nails into the wall.

Remove the tape and viola! Straight pictures!

These pics were hung when I was getting my guest room completely ready for our marathon of guests.

These particular pictures are very special, because they were a gift from Landon's sister, Allison, and her husband, Adam, the Christmas before we moved from Nashville. They are actually pressed leaves taken from the backyard of our Nashville house. They are absolutely gorgeous, and even though we no longer live in that house, they are a very sweet memory.

I also took the "Nashville" pictures and hung them up beside the bed.

And last but not least, I hung up my DIY Tennessee and Texas art.

I also added in a few "Texas" books for visitors to peruse.

I actually feel like, minus a bit of paint and some curtains, this room is almost complete.

What do you think?