Thursday, December 31, 2009

So Long 2009, Hello 2010!

If I'm being completely honest, I was {very} blessed in 2009.  However, I hope 2010 is far more exciting, life changing and memorable.  Here are some highlights from 2009 and what I hope to accomplish in 2010.

2009 Highlights:
- Celebrated our 3rd year of wedding bliss
- Witnessed several good friends tie the knot
- My sis got engaged (wedding in September 2010!)
- Chaired the St. Jude Give Thanks walk on November 21st and we doubled our goal, raising $61,000 for the hospital!!
- Served on the Friends of St. Jude DC committee and helped plan Blues Ball 2009, which was another success, raising $45,000!!
- Spent many Saturdays w. the hubs and niece which made for some fun memories
- Week in Duck at the beach w. the
- Reintroduced myself to the gym, hoping this trend continues in the new year!
- Got a new job, that I LOVE!

2009 didn't bring me a pooch.  I've been begging the hubs for almost a year now with no luck.  Hopefully this will happen in 2010. 

Wishes for 2010:
- FOSJ committee and another successful Blues Ball
- Turn into a gym rat and get healthy
- Learn how to sew (thanks to my mama I will be one step ahead w. my sewing classes that start on Monday!)
- Be more crafty
- Expand my cooking and baking skills
- More auntie/uncle days w. the niece
- Get back to volunteering at the homeless shelter w. the hubs
- Move.  South.
- Sell our condo and make a profit (even if its only a little)
- Bake cookies (from scratch) that are e.d.i.b.l.e.
- Be a better Christian (attend church more regularly, join a small group, pray more, read more)
- Be at work everyday by 8:30 (I have quite the relationship w. the snooze button!)

And now since I'm really dreaming...
- Run another 1/2 marathon (this time w. the hubs).  Please don't hold me to this, the chances of this happening are beyond slim to none.

We're heading to our favorite ski resort to ring in the new year w. my sister and her fiance for the weekend.  How are you ringing in 2010?!?!

Thank you for reading, your comments and friendships.  I wish y'all a fabulous and blessed 2010!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Swooning and Feeling Blessed!

I hope everyone's holiday was fabulous! Mine was amazing! I stumbled upon this and I'm swooning...

and of course they wouldn't be complete w. out the matching earrings!  Just in time for spring, Lilly dresses & Jack Rogers!

And I'm feeling my first, e.v.e.r. giveaway is in order.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mama, I'm coming home...

for a southern, country Christmas with the entire fam!

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My After Christmas Shopping List

I decided to venture out, against my better judgement, and head to the mall for a "quick" trip yesterday for a few last minute things.  Boy was that a big mistake.  What normally is a 15 minute drive took me 1 hour and 35 minutes to get parked, yikes!  At one point, once in the mall's drive I sat in p.a.r.k. for what was clocked at a whole 14 minutes!! Lesson learned, I will revert back to my old way of handling my Christmas shopping, finish all shopping by Thanksgiving!  Thank God I had some Starbucks and good tunes to belt out.

For post-Christmas shopping I normally just show up and shop. But this year I've got my eye on some particular things that must become mine as soon as 1:00:01am strikes on December 26th.  Some of these are needs, not just wants, like a Christmas tree skirt.  Can you believe I've managed to go 3 entire Christmases without one?!?!  Not sure how anyone does that, let alone me.  This is all thanks to an oh-so-adorable tree skirt I found 2 years ago at Homegoods that I questioned buying and when I returned to buy it it was gone!  Since then, nothings compared!

Here are just some of the things I'm eyeing...

PB Wreath Hanger - been eyeing this for months, $29 isn't even bad but I'm determined to get a steal!  So far it's $12.99 w. free shipping.  (the best part, I can use it all year long!)

Gift wrap from the Container Store and Papyrus.  Usually I splurge and just buy it now, but this year I'm in competition w. myself to see how low I can go.

Kate Spade holiday thank you cards.  I found some adorable navy ones last year that were 75% off! 

Some sort of tree skirt but I'm clueless on what color, style, etc.

 Cute, but not $99 cute!

L.O.V.E but not the $190 price tag.

This however is calling my name, $78 or not.  It's the perfect blend of all things me!

Lastly, I'll be on the lookout for some super cute ornaments to add to the tree next year.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'm dreaming of...

KitchenAid's Artisan Mixer in Pistachio!! Ahh, what a beauty! Yeah, it's an investment but worth e.v.e.r.y penny.  My mom still has her KitchenAid mixer from when she was married 30 some years ago (she's one hell of a busy baker) and it's still kicking. My hubby would just laugh at me but if I could have anything in the entire world for Christmas it'd be this piece of awesomeness.  This past year I've been a bit more adventurous in the kitchen and tried my hands at some new recipes.  What I'd really love to do is master the art of baking.  I can cook, but baking is a whole nother story.  I've mentioned to hubby that I really want to be more "Paula Deen" in the kitchen and he just laughs, never taking me seriously.  Guess I'll just have to show him with the goods, baked, that is. 
So Santa, if you want to spoil me this year with a gift I will love for a lifetime, this would be it!  And I'd spoil you forever by baking you some delish goodies for many Christmas Eves to come! 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!!  I'm off to finish up the last of my wrapping, packing and prep to head to my parents to spend Christmas with the fam and wonderful hubby.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and happy new year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

There's always one...

Are you stressing and racking your brain trying to come up with a present for that one person on your list that is i.m.p.o.s.s.i.b.l.e to shop for?!?!  If so, check out Wordle, a unique site that allows you to create one-of-a-kind art for that special someone that has everything.  These word clouds make great gifts for all ages from baby to grandparent.  Create your word cloud and print it off on some photo paper, buy a frame to frame it in and top it with some ribbon.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Crazy Christmas Weekend

Our weekend started last night with the first of five Christmas parties over the next 72 hours. Yes, 5! And they're not all in the same state, so it should be interesting. To add to the craziness, Virginia is "supposedly" getting hit with the winter storm that is coming up the coast. Since meteorologists can never get their stuff straight I'm sticking to my "I'll believe it when I see it" theory, although they're predicting somewhere between 5 and 15 inches (!). Sunday is going to be relaxation and reward day. I'm dragging the hubs to see ICE! at the Gaylord Hotel. I've heard rave reviews and can't wait!!

Have a fabulous weekend!


To my good friend Court who's little bundle of joy is "supposed" to make her grand entrance today, you're in my thoughts and prayers! Can't wait to hear the good news!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Easy, Yummy Recipe

Last week I was feeling a bit adventurous and decided to try out a new recipe I found from Cooking Light. It turned out better than I expected, in fact, the hubs is still talking about it and asking when I'm going to make it again. The only thing I might do differently next time is instead of using spaghetti use linguine and add some sauteed tomatoes (yum!). Shrimp and Pine Nut Spaghetti
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti (we use whole grain pasta)
12 ounces peeled and deveined medium shrimp
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 cup 1% low-fat milk, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add pasta; cook 7 minutes. Add shrimp to pan; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done and pasta is al dente. Drain; keep warm.
2. While pasta cooks, heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add nuts to pan; cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. Combine 1/2 cup milk and flour in a large saucepan, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Place pan over medium heat; gradually stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk. Stir in mustard and nutmeg. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Stir in salt and pepper; cook 1 minute. Add drained pasta mixture, cheese, and chopped basil, tossing gently to combine. Sprinkle with nuts and torn basil.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 421
Fat: 9.7g (sat 3.4g,mono 2.4g,poly 2.5g)
Protein: 32.7g
Carbohydrate: 49.1g
Fiber: 2.3g
Cholesterol: 141mg
Iron: 4.6mg
Sodium: 550mg
Calcium: 310mg

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Birthday to My Beautiful, Amazing Sister!

Today is my sister, Ashley's, 23rd birthday! I can't believe where the time has gone. It seems like yesterday we were living at home playing with dolls, fighting over clothes and just being girls. Fast forward to 2009 and my sister is a bright and free spirited, energetic woman, engaged to marry her soulmate in September and begin her career as a Physical Therapist and more importantly as a military wife. Although my sister did her fair share of tattling, pestering and being the annoying little sister growing up, there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not incredibly blessed to have her in my life and to share the special bond of sisterhood that we have. I'm so incredibly proud of Ash and all that she has accomplished already in her 23 years! She has remained strong in her beliefs and morals throughout high school and college and made many smart decisions because she stood true to her values thus leading her down the path of success and to where she is today. We've made so many memories over the years and although we're miles apart our bond is just as strong. I can't wait to be standing next to her on her big day when she says "I Do". Thank you for being such an amazing sister and best friend! Happy Birthday Ashley!

I love you!
Your proud big sister!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gotta love Oprah & Banana!

Remember those $5 magazine subscriptions on Amazon?!?! Well check out the latest addition to the $5 subscriptions - O Magazine! Talk about a great stocking stuffer! Get it quick!And today only enjoy 40% off any one regular priced item online at Banana Republic! Enter promo code L1B77V3NDGF6. Standard Christmas delivery guaranteed. Happy Shopping!

Stay tuned tomorrow for a very special post!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas is for Giving, Not Getting

I was in the midst of a post featuring some of my favorite hostess gifts when I stumbled upon this adorable little girl, Kate, and her story. This pulls rank.
Kate is a beautiful and vibrant 5 1/2 year old. In June her mother noticed a tremor in her hand. After a visit to the hospital, a CT scan revealed a brain tumor. She was immediately admitted to the PICU and so began a family battle for Kate's life. Kate is currently being treated at Phoenix Children's Hospital. In the midst of great strife and grief, her parents contemplated what would come for the holidays, if Kate would be home for Christmas, and what it must be like for other families on the oncology unit to be dealing with the same worries. Separation from loved ones at Christmas, siblings separated from each other due to a hospitalization, financial struggles that come with mounting medical bills, and parents' desires to bring their families together to share the holiday. Out of their grief and selflessness grew "Kate's Crazy Cool Christmas." The Mcrae's were determined to give to the other families on the oncology unit. Their hope is to ensure that all children hospitalized on Christmas still have a special Christmas that included gifts, toys, and holiday cheer.
As the Mcrae's and many other families struggle to find hope and joy in a hospital room over Christmas, their request is for others to bring happiness to other sick children by donating toys, gift cards, clothes and craft supplies to make their Christmases special.


Everything sent has to be brand new (for infection control purposes). Please send the gifts unwrapped, so we can sort everything accordingly. Things that can be wiped down or washed are best, not things of cloth that cannot be washed. We will be collecting for kids of all ages. There will be mostly english and spanish speaking families. We are hoping to receive all of the donations by December 15th.

Suggested Donations:
Toys: Hotwheels, barbies, action figures, legos, etc
Games: Videogames, board games, game stations (playstation, WII, game cubes, etc)
Music: Ipods, cd players, cds, headphones, etc
Craft Items: Paints, beading kits, markers, drawing pads, window paints, wood art, etc
Clothing: hats, Pjs, slippers, etc
Personal Care: Nail polish, body lotion, chap stick, etc

Ship To:
Cornerstone Christian Fellowship
Attn: Kate's Crazy Cool Christmas
2211 E Pecos Road, Suite 2
Chandler, AZ 85225

As you're out shopping this weekend for your loved ones, remember the true meaning of Christmas, to give not to receive. Pay it forward by picking up a few things to ship to help make Kate's Crazy Cool Christmas a joyous success for all those innocent, precious kids that aren't as forunate to as you to be home for Christmas. Count your blessings and keep them in your prayers!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sales, Sales, Sales!

Here's the line up for savings and steals this weekend.

Free Shipping

White House Black Market
20% off using code 8044

Banana Republic
All sweaters are 30% (in store only)
Ends December 13th

$15 off a $30 purchase or $30 off a $75 purchase using code 4493
Ends December 13th

Extra 20% off using promo code "Joy"
Ends December 14th

Swoozie's - if you haven't checked them out do so stat!!
20% off all holiday merchandise + FREE Shipping + Earn $10 holiday dollars for every $50 you spend!
Ends December 14th

Old Navy
20% off using code "ONSAVE20"
Ends December 15th

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fashionably Flat

It's no secret that bright, beautiful, bejeweled flats are a girl's best friend. As they should be, since they're super comfy and can make any outfit go from dull to delish. Most men, however, feel the complete opposite, claiming they don't accentuate show off our sexy legs. And apparently style icon Victoria Beckham is siding with the boys on this one claiming "I just can't concentrate in flats", oh give me a break! Enjoy the eye candy of some fabulous flats that I just might need to add to my wardrobe collection. (The hubs will so appreciate another pair!)

Jessica Simpson's Belta Flat. I'm determined to get my hands on a pair of these in Blush!

Jeffrey Campbell. On sale at Nordy's for under $50!

J. Crew Vivi Flat - on sale!

Jeffrey Campbell how I love thee!

Totally worth the splurge, originally $275 now $165 at Rafe.

Sam Edelman's

Gap Plaid Ballet Flats - perfect to pair w. a warm chunk sweater and skinny jeans.

Super cute w. sequins and only $35 at!

Naughty Monkey "Bambi" Flats

BOC by Born Leeza Flat in various colors

Sam Edelman is my new BFF.

Banana's Paris Beaded Flat

The infamous TB Revas continue, ahhh. Love the Tortoise Shell!

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Advent Calendar!

I'm joining in Kimba's DIY Day over at A Soft Place To Land. Ever since I stumbled upon Buzzing of a Queen Bee's advent calendar last year I was determined to make my own. It was so stinking cute and looked pretty easy. "Technically" I had an entire year to make it but it didn't happen until this weekend. Nevertheless I don't think my hubby minds since he gets 6 days in 1 in order to catch up. Saturday morning we woke up to snow(!) so it was the perfect day for a festive craft. Here's what I needed to make this super cute calendar.
-24 paper mache boxes (in various shapes and sizes)
-holiday scrapbook paper
-1 picture frame (12x14 for me)
-Mod Podge
-24 goodies to stash inside
-hot glue gun
-exacto knife
-sponge brush
I started by spray painting a "natural" wood frame with Rustoleum's Colonial Red.

Next I took the cardboard insert and covered it with scrapbook paper to make the base for the calendar. Then I cut out the scrapbook paper for the lids of the paper mache boxes. My "type A" self was telling me to cover the sides of the boxes w. paper too but my lazy bone took over. Cut the paper to fit the tops using an exacto knife (scissors and tracing will work too). Once you have all of the paper cut figure out the layout for your boxes.

Since I was only able to find one star box I decided to make that Christmas day. After you figure out the layout start applying the Mod Podge to the lids and paper. Tip - a little goes a long way. I got a little MP happy so I applied MP to the lids as well as to the back of the paper. Then once I placed the paper on the lid I applied a thin coat over the paper for a glossy finish. Set them out to dry.

In case you have preferences as to where each paper should go lay them in order to dry. Next, using my glue gun I glued all of the bases to the background.

I let the lids dry for about 30 minutes then I put them on. And no art project would be complete without ribbon. I finished off the calendar by making a ribbon hanger complete w. a box. Fill with your favorite treats and you're all set! (If only Starbucks gift cards would fit inside!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Just Can't Get Enough

Of this man. Singing.

If you don't know him, let me introduce you. Bloghers meet Michael. Michael Bublé to be exact. He is one of my favorite singers of all time. I'm really truly a country music girl, I'd say 95% of the time, but Michael has convinced me to give him an exclusive 5% share of my music listening time. I became hooked on Michael when his "It's Time" album debuted. Some of you may remember his popular "Home" song from American Idol cast-off nights. And ever since I've been hooked. His voice is like none other. His latest album came out a couple of months ago and it is equally amazing. "Crazy Love" has earned a permanent home in CD slot #1 in my car. The new album has renditions of some classics like Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind" and the title track, Van Morrison's "Crazy Love." This man is simply amazing! If you haven't checked him out do so quick, because you're missing out. Michael's tunes are perfect for a date night w. your lovah or trying to wake up on your drive into work. There's nothing better than starting my day with a serenade from this man. And his beautiful green eyes don't hurt either! (You can listen to his new cd by clicking on the album cover below.) Is anyone else as smitten as I am?

He has a Christmas album too, which is perfect and a classic that you must add to your Christmas collection.

And since it's the weekend I'll kick it off by sharing 25% off at Gap with all of you, through Sunday. Enter promotion code BZKMXN1D9JTB at checkout. (Sale is also good in store, but you must have the coupon.) Be sure to take advantage. I will definintely be taking advantage in between finishing the Christmas decorating, a holiday party and cutting down and our tree!

Happy Weekend!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

This Is No Blue Box!

Not sure how the weather is where you are today but the sun is beaming and it's in the 60s already here in VA! I will absolutely take it for December! I might even run outside today and take full advantage of the spring-like goodness.

I thought I'd share my mama's yummy ever-so delicious, homemade recipe for Baked Mac and Cheese. You can't go wrong with this recipe. I'm a less than novice cook and even I can whip this up sans a disaster.

Mama Willis' Baked Mac & Cheese
2 Tblsp Margarine
2 1/2 Cups Milk
1/4 Cup Flour
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Pepper
8 Cups of grated Velveeta Cheese
1 Slice American Cheese
8 Ounces cooked & drained Elbow Macaroni
1/4 cup Ritz Cracker bread crumbs (optional) SO not needed!

1. Cook 8 ounces of elbow macaroni according to the instructions on the box and drain.
2. In a 1-quart sauce pan melt the margarine over low heat.
3. Stir in flour, salt, mustard and pepper until smooth.
4. Remove from heat and gradually stir in milk until smooth, stirring the entire time.
5. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until thickened.
6. Stir in grated cheese, a little at a time, until melted. (This requires patience, but you'll get an arm workout!)
7. Pour macaroni into casserole dish.
8. Pour cheese sauce over macaroni.
9. Mix well.
10. Top with bread crumbs (if desired).
11. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-40 minutes or until topping is light brown.
12. Put a big heaping spoonful in a bowl and enjoy this hunk of cheesy goodness!!

From my kitchen to yours,

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Favorite Nail Polishes

I've quickly come to realize that over the past 3 months I've developed a bad obsession with nail polish. Before, I was always a french mani kind of girl, au naturale. But lately I've found myself shopping for the latest fabulous color to take into the salon. This does help when a nail chips, I can repaint and extand the life of my mani. Thus I'm really saving money in the long run, right?!?! Nevertheless I love a good mani/pedi. It's a cheaper alternative to having a monthly spa day. So I thought I'd share some of my favorite polishes with you. Wink wink, polishes make great stocking stuffers!

I'm really into these two colors for the fall/winter and the past three times I've gotten a mani/pedi I've had her put the same color back on, "Lincoln Park After Dark." "We'll Always Have Paris" is a very close second.

Can we say someone needs a manicure, ahem trim! Please excuse those nails, this color looks really good on anything but claws!

We'll Always Have Paris - this is VERY close to Lincoln Park except it has a bit more of a red/maroon tint to it.

My sis was wearing You Don't Know Jacques at Thanksgiving and I really loved it. It's a great neutral brown, not too dark, not too light. I think I might have to snatch this one.

And my favorite natural, perfect pink, is Bubble Bath.

On a recent trip into Trade Secret I learned that OPI is now offering "Matte" colors. Have any of you used these or seen them? I tried a few samples in the store, because a lot of the glossy colors are also offered in matte and I hated them. I thought they looked like absolute poo. No offense, to anyone who likes them. Apparently these are all the latest rage, however, I just don't get it. Feel free to enlighten me. Here's a few mattes that OPI has.

This is the matte version of Lincoln Park After Dark! Yick!

Here's an article I found explaining the latest fad of matte polishes.

What are some of your favorite nail colors??