Friday, December 31, 2010

Sale Away

The week after Christmas is one of the best times for bargain hunting, so I'm glad we were a bit restrained on the pre-holiday gifts this year so we can take advantage of the great sales going on right now.

I found a 20% off West Elm discount code in my inbox on Wednesday, so I snatched up a couple of these great mirror-lidded boxes and two felt ornaments for next year's tree (I prefer lightweight ornaments so I'm not limited on where on the tree I can hang them):

Then I zipped over to to browse their holiday clearance section and went with two of these Smith & Hawken paper whites:

They're supposed to be foolproof, but if I do kill them at least I'll have the pretty silver vases to use for other flowers down the road.

Oh, and I've had my eye on this bone china pinecones from Crate & Barrel for a few weeks, so their winter clearance was the perfect opportunity to pick up a few on the cheap:

I can't wait to see it all arrive next week! Did you find any post-holiday bargains?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Gifts

As I've already mentioned, Christmas was a wonderful day. I was lucky to be able to spend it with my family - first my husband and kids, and then later in the day my in-laws. I prepped my wish list ahead of time and kindly provided it to my husband, and was thrilled to find some of my requests under the tree. I also unwrapped some great surprises, including a beautiful watch from my mother, a new waffle maker from my cousin and these other amazing and very appreciated gifts:

Crazy comfortable pajamas from Ann Taylor and the Gap (for this chronicly cold woman):

A gorgeous tie dyed cotton scarf from my friend's clothing line:

The deliciously smelling lotion I wanted from Laura Mercier, along with the entire Gourmande line:

Super cute ballet flat-style slippers from Forever 21:

Beautiful crystal and pearl bangles from Ann Taylor:

And (my favorite) these gorgeous candleholders made by my children:

I am so lucky to have so many wonderful gifts, best of all my supportive husband, my crazy cute kids and (even though she just peed on the floor) my sweet little pooch. Looking forward to ringing in the new year with this great bunch!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Soup's On!

What a weekend! From Friday morning until 20 minutes ago, I've hardly stopped moving. I started Friday AM at Trader Joe's (the kids, still in their pajamas, and I arrived five minutes before opening) to load up on all the ingredients for our Christmas Eve soup dinner:

Then I spent the rest of the day leisurely cleaning and cooking while the Mr. organized the garage and my oldest daughter organized her closet (two Christmas miracles indeed!) It was a beautiful day - sunny and in the high 60s, so I opened the windows and blasted the holiday tunes (love the free Target holiday playlist!) while Rudy kept me company in the kitchen:

Yes, it was a bit warm for a fleece blanket, but my little one likes to cover up the pooch when she's napping. Oh, and that bone on the floor is one of my favorite new doggy finds - a Nylabone. It's indestructible (so far) and she loves to chomp on it.

Our guests arrived around 5:00pm and we all enjoyed some chicken noodle, turkey chili and butternut squash soup, along with fresh bread, and amazing homemade fudge and caramel apple pie made by my great friend. We exchanged gifts and then scooted the kids off to bed to give plenty of time for them to fall into a deep sleep before the big guy arrived...

...and arrive he did! Saturday was a whirlwind of wrapping paper and ribbons, bows and bags, but it was also a wonderful day full of love and laughs and fun and family.

The kids got much of what they wanted:

...and the grown-ups did too, but more to come on that. By the time we returned home on Saturday night we fell into bed in a sugar/wine/gift coma, and spent much of Sunday making room for all our new goodies and dismantling the Christmas tree, since it had dried out a bit and was an irresistable temptation for the pup.

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday with their family and friends!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The hubby and I worked hard on this year’s holiday card, which we fully intended to mail out as a postcard a few weeks ago to reach all our friends at a time appropriate for those who celebrate Hanukkah and/or Christmas. But due to busy work schedules, the new baby dog and OfficeDepot’s unacceptable paper quality, we decided to go with a Paperless Post card again this year.

While I do like the idea of a physical card that friends and family can keep or hang (like I did this year with this holiday card wreath made from an embroidery hoop): can’t help but feel indulgent to waste paper and stamps when you can so quickly and easily send an attractive electronic card. Better yet, Paperless Post has a great tracking feature that lets you see who opened the card and allows them to send you a message back, which is something you definitely don't get with a paper card. I logged in this morning to find dozens of responses from loved ones with return holiday wishes and compliments on our card:

What do you think? I have to admit it was the Mr.’s idea, but it was inspired by silhouettes I did of the kids last year, so I’ll call that a joint effort. 

I’ll be spending the day today cooking up some delicious homemade soups for our little Christmas Eve get together, checking the closets for any gifts I hid but forgot to wrap, and hopefully stealing plenty of kisses underneath our homemade wool felt mistletoe.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and can’t wait to hear all about what Santa brought you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fun Find: Ork City Neighborhood Posters

You all know I love myself a nice map as artwork. Not only does it infuse a bit of your own personal history into your space, but more often than not they are already ripe with luscious color and elegant lines. So of course I was equally enamored with these city neighborhood posters from Ork Posters when my husband passed along the link earlier this week.

He’s got his eye on this gold metallic ink screen printed L.A. version, which would look super sophisticated in a gorgeous gold frame and could be perfect for our living room wall:

I’m also drawn to the blue and brown Boston screen print (gotta represent the home town, right?!) as well as this cheeky take on the Heart:

It’s too late to hope to find one of these under the Christmas tree on Saturday, but nothing says President’s Day like a nice neighborhood poster, right? J

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Made the List, Checked it Twice!

We’re down to the last three days of our advent calendar, which means the clock is ticking on my holiday shopping and I’m WAY behind!  I have somehow found the time to make my own wish list, however (I’ve definitely been more nice than naughty this year) and kindly emailed it off to the Mr. this week. Priorities, people!

Here’s what I’m hoping I find under the tree this year:

iPhone 4

Michael Kors Runway Rose Watch

Laura Mercier Body Creme (best smelling thing ever!)

Ugg Cable Knit Slippers
Even if I don't get any of these from Santa, Christmas morning will be a blast as always, thanks to the kids. And this year we'll have the added adventure of keeping the dog from eating the wrapping paper and all the gifts inside, so I've been socking away some presents (a.k.a. distractions) for her as well, including a braided bully stick and her first frisbee.
I'm also looking forward to Christmas Eve, when we'll have a few close friends over for a low-key dinner. Now that I've finally shaken this bronchitis I'll be able to accomplish all the shopping, cleaning and cooking that needs to happen before Friday!

Have you finished all your shopping? I was hoping to make more homemade gifts this year, but between the new pup and this cold I haven't had much free time. Oh well, Valentine's Day and our birthdays (all in March and April) will be here soon, and I can always find a reason to celebrate and craft!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bronchitis :(

Despite my best efforts to rest up last week, I ended up with bronchitis, which was diagnosed early Sunday morning at the walk-in medical center. I'm on a course of antibiotics and lifetime movies for the next few days so I'm going to take a little break from the ol' blog and work on getting better, along with some last minute additions to my Xmas list.

Be back soon!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Beginning Friday at noon my kids are officially on winter break, and less than a week later so am I. We'll be spending our days relaxing at home, playing with the pooch, doing some small projects around the house and, of course, celebrating Christmas and New Year's. I still have lots to do before I slip into vacay mode, but I was happy to cross teacher's gifts off the list this week. While I certainly don't go to the extreme on school gifts, I do like to show our appreciation with small but special tokens of our appreciation.

A couple months back I purchased eight gorgeous Voluspa candles from Gilt Groupe (at an amazing price, no less) and stashed them away, with the exception of two that I gave as hostess gifts and one that I kept for myself.

Since the boxes were hexagons they wouldn't be easy to wrap, so I opted to go for tissue and cello bags instead. I found a great pack of tissues in silver and gold and cute little star tags at Target:

While I was shopping for the wrapping I also came across these great holiday candies (I've been dying to try the Peppermint Crunch Junior Mints so I snagged an extra box, ok two, for myself.)

I'll be passing these little goodies out to some of the other important people at school, including the nurse who is always generous with the bandaids and stickers whether there's an actual injury or not, the music teacher who just cast my 2nd grader as one of the Von Trapp kids, and the daycare teacher who helps my children enjoy their afternoons while I toil away at work.

I hope they all enjoy their gifts!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pillow Pet

It's only taken me a couple of days with the dog to realize that she's not a fan of sleeping on the floor. We've decided to have a "no dog on sofas/beds" policy here though, so in between lots of "down" and "no," she's been getting cuddly on the sheepskin rug in our bedroom.

Since we're now Rudy's official new family (yay!!), I wanted to set her up with a proper bed that she could snuggle into and make her own, so I browsed Petsmart and Petco and Target, but didn't really see anything I would be happy to add to our home decor, didn't have the time to browse the smaller pet shops, and didn't have the patience to order something online. So of course I wondered (as those who know me well would expect) how hard could it be to make my own dog bed?

I thought about using foam or stuffing, but decided that pillows would probably be easier and not much more expensive, so I picked up two extra firm pillows on sale at Target for $5 a pop.

Then I overlapped them slightly and sewed the edges together:

...and stitched them together in the middle for extra strength:

To fill in the the extra space between the pillows I rolled up two hand towels:

...and then to protect the pillows from any doggy mess that might occur, I wrapped it all up in a waterproof mattress cover left over from when we needed to cover the kids' beds at night. I secured the edges with a few safety pins for now, but might add buttons later to make sure my pooch doesn't get an accidental pinch if one of these opens up.

Now that the insert was done, I moved on to the cover. I had two brown faux fur throw blankets left over from the kids' old room decor that were gathering dust in our linen closet, and when I laid one out under the pillows it was a perfect fit. I folded it in half inside out and sewed it closed up one long side and across one end, leaving the other short end open to insert the big pillow pile. After much deliberating I left that short end open and just folded and tucked the extra blanket material inside so I can easily remove the cover for washing.

I think it's a hit!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hershey Kisses

Our first weekend with Hershey was an exhausting adventure! First off, it's looking like her official new name will be Rudy, inspired by the dog of a close friend of mine growing up. I consulted a few online tips for changing a dog's name and they suggested adding the new name to the old name for a few days and then dropping the old name all together. After about 12 hours of confusing each other - sometimes we'd call her Rudy, sometimes we'd call her Hershey and occasionally we'd remember to combine the two - we decided to drop the Hershey alltogether, and I'm pretty convinced she's already adjusted to the change.

The first day I really just tried to follow her cues since I wasn't sure how she would tell me she was hungry, thirsty, needed to go out or just wanted to be pet. And because I was paranoid of accidents in the house, I probably took her out WAY more than she needed, but three days in I'm feeling more confident that I know what to do and when.

I'm also pretty confident that Rudy is here to stay. Although the rescue organization had allowed her to stay with us for a trial weekend before committing to adoption, we're loving every little hyper, silly, sweet, crazy puppy thing she does (including when she jumped right into the dirt and rolled around immediately after I took her out of the bath) and are happy to be able to give her a "forever home."

To mark this new and official family addition, I did my first doggy DIY! Remeber this bucket of popcorn from Trader Joe's that I noshed on during my sick day?

Well, it seemed like the perfect size for a dog food container, so I took it out back and gave it a quick spray prime and white lacquer coat.

Then I lined the bucket with a drawstring trash bag so I could keep the food as fresh as possible by cinching it closed.

I have a feeling this is the first of many creations I'll be whipping up for our new pooch!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dog Days

The kids have been begging for a dog ever since we moved into our house, but considering our busy schedules and our freakish need for organization and tidiness in our house, we’ve resisted. After much debate, we decided to appease them with a small critter for Christmas – maybe a hamster or guinea pig instead. So while the girls were at the Nutcracker with their Grandma (thanks for all the great holiday shows you’re taking them to GM!) we ventured off to Petco to explore their small pet selection. The guinea pigs were pretty cute, and from what I had read and heard, fairly easy to care for, super social (once they get used to you) and prone to making cute squeaky noises and hopping up and down when they’re happy.

Kinda cute, right? We checked out their food, hay and cages and were fairly sold on them as our newest family additions, until…

We noticed the tell-tale cages lined up under a canopy on the store’s patio. That's adoptions. We should just go look for fun we agreed, and with that innocent decision, our fate was sealed.

Within minutes we were making the acquaintance of Hershey. She’s a six month old black lab/retriever/shepherd mix with giant puppy paws and a super sweet disposition. She had us at woof.

See what I mean? In the days that followed our meeting, we discussed the pros and cons of dog ownership with each other and the rescue staff endlessly, but in the end we realized that a) this was a great dog that needed a good home b) we have plenty of love and space to make her happy and healthy and c) the right dog would bring so much more joy into our lives than even the most amazing guinea pig could (sorry, piggies and pig lovers, I’m sure they’re great, but just not for us after all.)

Hershey (new names are being considered now, send me your suggestions, please!) arrived last night for a trial weekend visit and we're smitten. Wish us luck! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wrap It Up

I’ve started to accumulate some Christmas gifts for the kids (they know that most of the presents come from us, but that one or two from their list to Santa are delivered by the big guy himself…wink, wink) and a couple for the Mr., so while I was alone with a glass of wine - ok, fine, I had two - and Grey’s Anatomy on the DVR the other night, I decided to get wrapping.

I like to put together a “wrapping palette” each year - last year was a black and white tweed print from the Container Store, the year before it was houndstooth. While the gifts looked especially lovely and the paper was of great quality, I wasn’t so happy with the price tag, especially since the kids tear through it in under five seconds per gift. So while we were in the Ikea holiday tent a couple of weeks back I was thrilled to spot some cute but affordable options. Best of all, many of them weren’t holiday-specific, so I can pull them out again for one of the dozens of birthday parties we have to buy for throughout the year.
I was totally smitten with the red bucks and plaid pattern (very Tommy Hilfiger, wouldn’t you say?) and at $1.99 for 5 ½ yards, how can you go wrong?

I also got two smaller roles of red and a craft-paper colored brown to complement:

And these tags are the perfect addition:

I have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled with the ribbon options (the quality of ribbon really makes the packaging, in my opinion) so I’ll probably go with some simple twine, or maybe even this great jute upholstery webbing, which you can find online for around $.80 cents per yard. I would reserve this more for special gifts.

Look forward to giving lots of great gifts this year!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sick Day

I had managed to stay one step ahead of the kids' colds for the past couple weeks - they've been coughing and sniffling non-stop, but it finally caught up with me yesterday, so I decided to indulge in a rarely taken sick day and stay home.

Once I got the kids off to school I crawled under a blanket on the sofa, where, other than trips to the kitchen and bathroom, I remained for most of the day. I took in a ton of HGTV and TLC, along with a viewing of Sherlock Holmes on demand (I'll give it two stars) and spoiled myself with lots of little comforts:

My favorite sick day South Park socks:

A big bowl of peanut butter Puffins with bananas:

Water from my new carafe (which I glass etched myself!):

And handfuls of popcorn from this giant Trader Joe's tin:

I'm back in action today, although a little sad I can't spend the day at home again -it was such a nice break!