Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Minute NYE Planning!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Although it's already NYE, it isn’t too late to throw together some last minute appetizers and treats to enjoy while ringing in 2015.  John and I will be hosting family, so I wanted to make some easy, no-fuss eats to enjoy while celebrating the New Year.  
My parents, younger brother, and his girlfriend will be arriving in Scottsdale this evening, and my older brother, his wife, and our good family friends, Mark and Marsha, will be joining tomorrow.  
It will be a great week of fun, exploring, and catching up!

Anyway, the goal for this evening is easy, but still tasty and festive... here are a few things that I have my eye on – we will see what I actually come up with when I make it to the grocery store this afternoon, but at least I have good intentions!  Do you have any easy, but festive recommendations?

Here are some great, yet simple ideas for NYE hosting that require very little (or no) preparation.

Champagne and berry bar
A few berries dress up a glass of champagne quite nicely, if you ask me!

Chocolate fondue
Who doesn’t love chocolate fondue? Serve with oreos, marshmallows, pound cake, strawberries, and whatever else your heart desires… it’s interactive and simple to put together.

Cookie Clocks
Buy premade sugar cookies and draw on clock hands with frosting – and ta da! NYE cookies! 

Midnight Kisses
I’m not a huge fan of Hershey chocolate kisses, but with a theme this easy, why miss out?

Cheese Platter
It isn't necessarily festive, but it is easy and who doesn't love cheese?


Side note... one of the great things about Arizona is that I can celebrate the New Year on East Coast time and still be in bed by 10! Please tell me I’m not alone in thinking this is pretty amazing?

Have a safe and happy NYE! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Calendar Picks!

Now that 2015 is right around the corner, it means that it is time to begin shopping for one of my most favorite items... a new calendar!  I must admit, last year I didn't end up buying my calendar until mid-January - which was great for a discount, but there were definitely slim pickings!  I usually have a couple calendars - a functional calendar to keep track of scheduled appointments and bills, and one that is pretty, pretty to look at.  :)

Below you'll find some calendars that I love (apparently I'm liking a rustic look this year?).  
All of these lovely calendars are from Etsy, might I add!
Where do you find your calendars?
Invest wisely, you'll be looking at these for the next year!


1  |  The National Parks, $20
3  |  Clipboard Calendar, $30
5  |  2015 Wall Calendar, $69

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Winter Simmer Pot!

Merry, Merry (belated) Christmas! (I can still say merry Christmas, right?!)

John and I spent this Christmas at home in Arizona, and we have very much enjoyed lounging, going to the movies (we saw the Hobbit and Unbroken - recommend both!) and eating ridiculous amounts of delicious food.  I am so thankful for the blessing that is Christmas and our Savior's birth, and I am looking forward to continuing the celebration into this weekend!

I posted about a fall simmer pot a few months ago, and I loved it so much that I just couldn’t help but make a winter one too.  Although Christmas has (just passed), this simmer pot is perfect for any winter day (or any day, actually... considering it is 60 degrees in AZ!).  

I love a yummy smelling candle, but something about a pot simmering away on the stove is just so much better - not to mention that it looks beautiful too!

What you need:
Cranberries, oranges, cinnamon sticks, rosemary, cloves

Pull all ingredients in a pot, add water, and simmer away!  
Add more water as needed (it will slowly evaporate).
Trust me, your home is about to smell unbelievably festive and wonderful - I swear, I was standing by the stove breathing this stuff in way too deep... classy, I know.

Monday, December 22, 2014

What we’ve been up to!

I can’t even believe that Christmas is this week... I feel like a little kid because I am so. dang. excited!! Here’s a little bit of what we’ve been up to lately!

John really enjoys going to the movies, but up until a month, or so ago, there has been absolutely nothing to go see!  Well, I feel like the movie drought is officially over... and we are taking advantage of it.  We’ve recently seen Wild with Reece Witherspoon and Mockingjay.  We still need to see Interstellar, Exodus, Imitation Game... and soon Unbroken, Selma, and American Sniper will be out!

 Have you seen any good movies in the theater recently?

I mentioned a couple of times that John and I recently bought a new Sleep Number mattress, and we are absolutely loving it.  I’m not sure if it is the fact that our old mattress was old or the fact that we upgraded to a king, but it is amazing!  Since we upgraded to a king, we needed to buy all new sheets, pillows, duvets, etc.  And it got pricey fast.  To help save some moo-lah, I decided to DIY a headboard, and I am quite pleased with how it turned out!  

DIY coming soon!

Mountain bike.
John has been wanting a new mountain bike for a while, and his parents very generously gifted him one for Christmas!  This is a bit bittersweet for me... I’m obviously super excited that John has a new bike, but I was able to keep up with him much easier when he was riding his old one... haha, ohhh well.  

We went for a ride this weekend, and it reminded me how great of a time it is... and not to mention the weather is absolutely perfect this time of year.

Laundry. And an absurd amount of it.
I forced myself to do every ounce of laundry this weekend.  It was brutal, but I got through it!  I feel prepped and (mostly) ready for Christmas.  My laundry "helpers" are not so helpful...

New camera.
My mom and dad gave John and me a new DSLR camera for Christmas and I have been watching YouTube videos galore to figure out how to properly use it.  I’m slowly but surely making progress, but it’s just not quite as forgiving as my iPhone and Instagram.  
Anybody have any good tips for online tutorials?!
 The weather has been above 60 degrees during the day, but at night it has been getting into the 40s.  And if you ask me, that's fireplace weather! We have a great wood burning fireplace (yes, in Arizona), and we are loving being able to use it in the evenings!  
The only issue is that Scout seems to want to eat the ashes and put her face in the fire... anyone else have this trouble with their dog? I have no idea why she is doing this!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Date Night Christmas Q&A

On Tuesday, Bailley posted about at home date nights... Christmas style, and I absolutely loved the date night Q&A that she shared.  I'm always trying to pry memories out of John, so this is a fun way to swap answers and Christmas memories.  

I decided to take a hack at my own Q&A, and this is what I've come up with!  Any ideas for things to add?!  John and I will definitely have fun taking full advantage of this!

Christmas Q&A

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter Sangria

I’m sure that everyone is saying this, but really though, I cannot even believe that Christmas is only about a week away.  It feels even more crazy to me since this is my first winter in Arizona.  I’m used to cold weather and snow, but it has only recently dipped into the 60s! …As far as Michigan is concerned, this is September weather!

Since it doesn’t really look like Christmas outside, I’m doing my best to make sure that it still feels like Christmas inside.  This includes garland, Christmas music, Home Alone… and Christmas sangria! My dear friend Hannah gave me this recipe for Christmas sangria last year, and I have no clue why I waited a full year to make it!

What you need: 
- 1 bottle of sweet red wine (we bought a really great semi-sweet Hungarian Merlot from Trader Joe’s for only $4.99 – holler!)
- 1 25 oz bottle of sparkling cranberry juice (also bought at Trader Joe’s – if you don’t have a TJ’s near you, use 1/2 Sprite and 1/2 Cranberry juice)
- 1/2 cup of pomegranate juice
- 1 cubed apple 
- 1 cubed pear
- 1 sliced orange
- Cranberries
- Pomegranate seeds
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- Sprigs of rosemary to garnish (they look like little evergreen branches!)

How to:
1.  Combine your fruit (chopped apple, pear, sliced orange, cranberries and pomegranate seeds) into a pitcher and pour the bottle of wine over the top.
2.  Add the cinnamon sticks and pomegranate juice.
3.  Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
4.  Before serving, add the sparkling cranberry juice, and garnish with sprigs of rosemary.

It’s easy drinking, not too boozy, and wonderfully festive!

For more festive Christmas cocktails, check out these delicious looking recipes below!

And these non-alcoholic options!

Now it’s your turn! Link up and share your Christmas related post… we look forward to seeing what you share!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Five on Friday!

It feels like it has been a while since John and I have had a “normal” weekend... we had company in town last weekend, and we were traveling in Seattle the weekend before that.  So needless to say, we have some laundry that has been waiting to be put away (I never have an issue washing my clothes, it's always putting them away... anyone with me?!).

Linking up with Christina, Darci, Natasha, and April for five on Friday!

ONE:  Christmas Card Reveal
Our Christmas cards are in the mail, and it's finally time to slow down and enjoy the season!
You can view our past cards and more photos from this year here.
(totally had to picture of a picture it...)


TWO:  New Car
John and I have been searching for a new car for me for a while, and finally bit the bullet! And we couldn't be happier! But get this... the first day of owning the car, I was driving to work on the freeway and a rock chipped my windshield! Thankfully, it is covered by Arizona insurance, but still, totally annoying!!

THREE:  Sunglasses
The distributor for Tom Ford sunglasses happens to be a client of the law firm that my husband works for... and because of it, we had the opportunity to buy sunglasses for 90% off - And you better believe that was a deal I couldn't pass up! I bought the below 3 pairs for only $90 total - score!

FOUR:  The final holiday link up!
Tuesday is the final holiday link up, and it's all things Christmas!  Link up with Annie, Cait, Katie, and me and share your favorite Christmas recipe, DIY, get-ups, tradition... anything goes! 
Can't wait to see what y'all share!

Holiday Linkup
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Holiday Linkup"><img src="" width="250" height="250" alt="Holiday Linkup" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

FIVE:  Kitchen Aid Mixer Giveaway
Madison and crew are giving away a Kitchen Aid Mixer - Perfect for some holiday baking!
Don't forget to enter... Sunday is the last day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DIY Christmas Bulb Wreath

Every now and then I come across a DIY that I am absolutely obsessed with… a DIY that I would even pay decent money to buy in a store. And let me tell you, this was one of those DIYs for me. First off, I’m obsessed with wreaths, and secondly, I love Christmas. So what better DIY than a wreath that uses Christmas ornaments?! This has been on my to-DIY list for quite some time, and I am so excited about how it turned out!

Most ornament wreaths use a hot glue gun to glue bulbs/ornaments to a Styrofoam wreath frame.  I love the way they look, but I was a little bit concerned about how the wreath would hold up over several years. Instead of hot gluing ornaments to a frame, I decided to use a wire frame and attach the bulbs to the frame using wire.  It was a bit more time consuming, but equally easy!

All in all, I used about 200 Christmas bulbs… it sounds like a lot, but I made quite a large wreath.  Walmart sells huge assortments of plastic bulbs for super cheap, and they are even color organized which is great!

What you need: 
- A wire wreath frame 
- Plastic Christmas bulbs 
- Wire and wire cutters

How to:
Begin by cutting a long piece of wire and anchoring it to the wreath frame (by twisting the wire around the frame). String on an ornament, and then wrap the wire around the frame two times to secure.  Continue this process (stringing on an ornament and wrapping the wire two times) until a single layer of Christmas bulbs is around the frame. 

Next, using the same method, start attaching Christmas bulbs to another layer of the frame.  It takes a couple tries to get a rhythm, but once you get going it isn’t difficult. 

Continue to add more and more bulbs until the frame is full.  Once the frame is full, you can fill in any visible holes with smaller ornaments and secure with wire.  The bulbs anchored to the sides of the frame may move to the back of the wreath, but just continue the process and you will end up with a full and thick looking wreath that will last you several years to come!  Add a ribbon (or not) and hang from a door using a standard wreath hanger.

It took a few hours to complete, but it is a perfect DIY for when you’re watching a Christmas movie and drinking a glass of wine!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Mexican Food + Full Hearts

John's parents were visiting from Virginia/DC this past weekend, and we ended our time together with bellies full of Mexican food and hearts even fuller!

We spent a day walking around in beautiful Sedona, went for a mini hike in the desert, saw Horrible Bosses 2, relaxed watching football and enjoyed exploring Scottsdale (with several ice cream pit stops!).  

We had a great time with them, and since we won't get to see them over the holidays, it was extra special to be with them now.

By the way, did anyone watch the Pioneer Woman Christmas special?  Uh-mazing! I told John we need to seriously consider becoming cowboys...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Five on Friday: Christmas Bucket List

Happy Friday! Did anyone else think this week was just super weird? Not bad, just super weird. I’m so glad it’s over… I’m not sure if it is because it was directly following a holiday weekend, or what, but I’m happy to see it gone!  John’s parents came into town last night, and we are excited to spend the weekend with them, so it should be a pretty fun few days ahead!

Since there are less than 3 weeks until Christmas (what?!), I figured I better get my Christmas bucket list up and running! Linking up with Christina, Darci, Natasha, and April for Five on Friday… Christmas bucket list style!

ONE: Christmas Movies

Christmas movies, Christmas movies, Christmas movies… I’m talking about some serious indulgence here! Some of my favorites include It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone (1 and 2), Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Holiday, …to name a few (but really, I’ll watch just about anything – including those terrible straight-to-television Hallmark movies – I don’t discriminate).  

Andddd I fully expect to be watching these movies while eating cookies (see bucket list item number 2) and drinking wine – ohhh, the holidays! What are your favorite holiday movies?! 
(Confession: I have never seen The Family Stone or White Christmas – are they worth seeing? They are pretty much the only Christmas movies that I haven’t seen!) 

TWO: Christmas Baking

Holiday baking is always so much fun, but unfortunately, since we don’t have family to feed, I have no one to eat my goodies (except John and me… but really it’s just me because John doesn’t really enjoy sweets).  So I plan to bring many goodies to work to avoid single-handedly eating everything! 

Here are some yummy baking ideas from Pinterest.

THREE: Christmas DIY

And to me, even better than baking is a good ole Christmas DIY!  I’m cheating a little bit on this bucket list item because I already have a Christmas DIY in the works, but I have many more on my list to tackle. 

How awesome (and easy) are these DIY ideas?! Pinterest for the win again!

FOUR: Christmas Advent Devotionals

I absolutely love Christmas, and I absolutely love the advent leading up to Christmas.  Every year, I always do several advent devotionals, and although I have read the Christmas story countless times, every time I read it again I am still in awe of God and His gift to us through His Son. 

The Bible app has several seasonal advent devotionals (some good, others super short), but I always enjoy doing several of them at a time… it’s a good reminder of the real reason for the season.

FIVE: Christmas Card Book

I saw this idea on Annie’s blog and absolutely fell in love.  Each year she binds all of the Christmas cards that she received into a book.  Such a fun and festive way to remember everyone’s cards.  
I always feel so bad throwing old cards away once the season is over (which for me, is like February… just kidding, but no really, my Christmas cards stay on my refrigerator a while into the new year…) so this is a great way to preserve them.
What's on your Christmas bucket list?!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Card Throwbacks!

Eee, I love Christmas cards! I do, I do, I do!  This year's cards have been ordered and are going to be making their way to the mailboxes of our friends and family very soon!  Have you sent yours yet?  I never know when the best time is... so I always shoot for the second week of December (I am pathetically calculative when it comes to Christmas cards...).

To celebrate this fun holiday snail-mail, I am throwing back to our past Christmas cards... and a little peek into this year's! :)




 2014 Sneak Peek!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Seattle, Part 2!

(You can catch our Seattle, Part 1 here!)

Since this was my first time in Seattle (and in the Pacific Northwest, even), I had no qualms about pulling out my inner tourist. And the Space Needle (along with Pike Place Market and Starbucks) was at the top of the list.  We went to the Space Needle on the sunniest day during our visit, and it was really the only time that the mountains were visible. We had great views of the Northern Cascades and Olympic mountains, and we were able to see (albeit, not very well) Mt. Rainier! The mountains with the water all around were incredibly beautiful, and the views definitely made the Space Needle worth it.

And the tourist in me wouldn’t call any trip to Seattle complete without a visit to the original Nordstrom for a little Black Friday shopping (and John was equally excited about the REI and Filson flagship stores, so I wasn’t the only one with a shopping bug – they even have a Filson outlet and Arc'Teryx… my hubby’s dream!). 

The shopping was great, and we enjoyed walking around downtown soaking in the cold (and yes, rainy) weather with all of the Christmas lights! I guess when you live in Arizona you’re better able to appreciate a little Hunter boot and scarf wearin’ weather!

On Saturday morning we headed about 2 hours north of Seattle to Whidbey Island which is one of the islands located in Puget Sound. It was so beautiful, but the wind was so strong (and cold) that it could have blown us away! John did a little bit of running around while I enjoyed the views from the car (ha!).

We left Whidbey Island earlier than we had planned since the weather was so cold and headed back to Seattle for dinner at The Walrus and the Carpenter. We attempted to eat at this fabulous seafood restaurant the night before but the wait time for a table exceeded the time they were open! 

John wanted to get there right when they opened (4pm) to make sure we could get a table.  We showed up a 4pm, and I was trying to convince John that we were way too early and going to be the only losers in the restaurant with no one else around us, blah blah blah… I was quickly quieted when the line for the restaurant wrapped around the entrance! By the time we got to the hostess (at 4:05pm), there was already an 1.5 hour wait! Needless to say, the food was amazing – fresh oysters, fried oysters, clams, salmon belly, and yummy dessert and drinks.  The food was definitely not for those who are timid with seafood, but it was absolutely amazing (and worth the wait) if you enjoy that kind of stuff.

It was sad to leave Seattle, but we had such a great time exploring the beautiful city and surroundings – and we have already decided that we will be coming back this summer when it isn’t quite so rainy, ha!
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