Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back on 2012

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Wow, what a year we have had! I chuckle as I think back to last year at this time…I was really restless and craving some change. Boy, did I ever get it! Never did I imagine the changes that were right around the corner would be picking our lives up and moving south {always was a dream of mine} and the surprise & blessing of having another baby!
Besides moving and having a baby, I did manage to do some other things this past year. LOL!

Here are some of the popular posts:

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Tab Top After

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I would like to thank you for your support and visiting with me. I hope you will continue to find more inspiration here in 2013!

Have a very Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Elevating Gift Presentation

I know Christmas is over, but I think this can give you ideas for any gift you give year round.

This year, I really wanted to elevate the details of gifts that we gave. Not just make the outside wrapping beautiful, but the inside presentation as well.  I think it just makes the gift feel all the more special and well thought out. Yes, it costs a teensy bit more, but I think it makes all the difference with how beautiful your gift is.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

We like to give updated pictures of the boys to some family members. The first year we started this, I gave frames with the picture in it and then just updated the picture every year. With Luc joining our family, I wanted to give another frame so the receiver would have two frames for the pictures they would receive every year.

After I had all the gifts figured out, I went to The Container Store and found these beautiful gray boxes, {LOVE}!
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I filled the base with the shredded wood shavings and folded beautiful tissue paper on top so the frame would sit on and under the tissue paper.
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Here is a gift of beauty from Shaklee’s Enfuselle line of skincare. I use it myself and have been extremely pleased with the results. My Mom asked for it for Christmas. I gave her the hydrating line since her skin is very dry in the winter. I also tied up some decadent {and yes, washcloths can be decadent} washcloths to use with her new skincare. This beautiful box is also from The Container Store, but only had white in this size. Gray would of been gorgeous. My mom even commented on how much she loved the box as she was opening it via skype. :) So, see presentation does get noticed!
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This is how I wrapped them up.
The giftwrap is just a beautiful paper. It has script and Angels on it and could be my favorite paper this year. I found it at The Container Store.
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The ribbon is from Michaels. I went back and bought all the rest of the spools at 70% off, because I love it so much and it’s not just for Holiday season!
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Just lovely…I think.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts


they are delicious, especially warm out of the oven and they happen to be vegan and gluten-free which is good for everyone whether you have diet restrictions or not.

I am all about starting traditions with these boys! And I wanted to have something that I made from year to year on Christmas morning that they would look forward to. Baking with food allergies to wheat, egg & dairy is tough! So, when I saw this recipe that I could make donuts for Reed despite his food allergies, I loved the idea that every Christmas morning, I would make homemade donuts. {Jeff had a similar tradition with his Grandma’s cinnamon rolls}. Gluten-Free baking is tricky…so I haven’t attempted to convert his Grandma’s recipe to GF yet…

I have been seeing baked donut recipes everywhere these days. You can get a donut mold pan at your local kitchenware store.

Here is the recipe from my ‘babycakes Covers the Classics’ cookbook:

Donut recipe Cinnamon Sugar
***I found the cinnamon sugar doesn’t adhere as much to the side that is facing up in the baking pan, so after they have baked, brush a little leftover coconut oil on it when they are warm and then the sugar mixture will adhere better and then you will have it completely coated. :)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Food Recap

Hope you had just a wonderful Christmas. 
We stayed here this year and enjoyed some family time with just the four of us and some delicious food, if I might say so… HA!
On Christmas Eve, I made a modified Tuscan Bread Salad from the recipe on {Jones Design Company}. I just adore Emily’s blog. Have you seen it? It’s one of my favorites. She is so talented and inspiring! I made mine as more of a side salad than an entree. It’s so delicious and the vinaigrette…well, let’s just say I will be using it on just my “regular” salads too!

For the main course, I made Jeff’s favorite dish. It’s called Braciole. It’s a flank steak stuffed with garlic, cheeses, breadcrumbs and parsley. Then you bake it in a wine-marinara sauce for a couple hours. The meat gets all melt-in-your-mouth tender.
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It’s not the prettiest looking dishes, but I assure you, it will delight your taste buds. :)

Christmas morning, I made homemade Cinnamon Sugar Donuts to eat while we opened presents and you would never know they were gluten-free and vegan!!!
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and then around 10:45 we had brunch.

We started off with a cocktail…Pomegranate Champagne Punch.
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I thoroughly enjoy cooking for my family. And even though we didn’t have company, I still wanted to make it festive with some special dishes. And, I got to enjoy the fruits of my labor via leftovers! The strata btw, is great for dinner too with a salad!

Jeff went back to work yesterday and I worked really hard putting some assemblence back into the house and doing some cleaning. It was making me crazy. 

Does your house get like that too from the holidays?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Our Family Tree

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It is very similar to our tree last year. I think I like that tradition. It’s not decorated all perfect and won’t win any awards, but it’s special because we did it as a family. We make an evening of it unwrapping each ornament while listening to Christmas music (this year Ella Fitzgerald) and having cookies & hot cocoa with marshmallows!

The trees ornaments have been collected over the years either received as gifts or purchased. I have started a tradition with Reed and will with Luc as well when he gets a little older to pick out a couple new ornaments each year. The 2 previous ornament Christmas cards I sent out (2010 & 2011) adorn the tree and the pasta glittered snowflake ornaments I made last year have been added to this tree.

Still love the wooden “cranberry” garland I have had for years. The touch of red makes it so festive and I am seeing similar garlands out in stores again this year.

We did the metal buckets again, I really like how they look under the tree! This year, we did one for each boy for presents from Jeff & me. We re-evaluated our gift giving this year and what type of message we are sending about Christmas and the values we want to teach our boys and decided to seriously decrease the quantity and change the type of presents we are giving.

No fancy wrapping…just using up what I had for the kids’ presents this year.

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I know, Luc’s bucket looks so empty, but it just is because of the shape of his presents…he is after all not quite 3 months old. :)
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Here is my favorite ornament I added to our collection this year, it’s so nostalgic. :)
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We used the glittered star I made last year and it just fit since these are 8ft ceilings. :)
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I love the tree at night and the reflection in the window! :)
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Wishing you Peace, Love & Joy this Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Holiday card

Here is our 2012 Holiday card:

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Hope you are having a good week getting ready for the Holidays!

I am busy finishing up decorating the packages (Jeff wraps and then I come back and decorate with ribbon and gift tags, we have a good system…) and I have a fun gift to make for Reed. Planning to do some baking and decorating cookies with Reed this weekend, too. :)

Once I get some presents under the tree, I will share our Christmas tree with you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finishing Touches

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I have put the last finishing touches of spreading some Holiday cheer throughout our home. Less was more this year. :)

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12 Days of Christmas mugs

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I added some ribbon to the cloche since the last time…

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The Holiday card garland is coming along…I am so pleased with how it’s looking

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a little tree in each of the boys’ rooms

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a bit of sparkle in the upper hall

Now, off to put the finishing touches on the gifts.
I will share our family tree later this week.

Sharing at:

A Thoughtful Place

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peace in your hearts

I am not good with words of sadness. I always feel like I don’t know what to say…

After learning of Friday’s horrific event, I just have such a heavy heart and cannot imagine what those families are going through. It just doesn’t seem possible that such a thing happened.  I have been hugging my boys (including Jeff) just a bit longer and tighter these days.

While I was snapping the last of the photos this weekend, I found it ironic that this particular ornament stood out. Peace. That’s all I have to say…

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Embellished gift tags

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Hope you are having a great week getting ready for the Holidays! This week flew by and I feel like I didn’t even do that much!  HA! I had five tasks on my list Thursday and this was the only one I accomplished…making gift tags to attach to gifts Jeff was giving at work.
I love adding greens to gifts and when I saw we had holly bushes with a few red berries and another bush (I am not sure what it is since I am new around here…)with red berries I knew what I would be adding to my gifts this year.

I love the red & green, it just says ‘Holidays’ to me and it really stands out against the cream gift tags.

I had all the supplies on hand, too so it made this little project even better!
I used some basic cream gift tags, greens, stamps, gold stamp pad and red and natural twine I found at Ikea back in the fall when their holiday merchandise came out.

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Each one is a bit different since it’s nature and all…

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Stamp your gift tag first if you are adding anything to the back. I learned the hard way…ha ha (You are probably saying, well, yeah, duh of course you would, but my brain doesn’t work like that, I just dive in) Then use some hot glue to attach the greens to the tag. I also learned that just a dot of hot glue is your best friend when you are tying twine around a cylindrical container.  I added one in the back and again in the front to hold the knot for the bow.

BTW, the gift is Garrett’s popcorn from Chicago. Have you heard of it? It is no popcorn tin you get at the drugstore! Unless you are from Chicago or visited Michigan Ave and wondered why in the world are people wrapped around the corner waiting in line for popcorn??? you may not realize how incredible this stuff is. We chose to give a mix of their caramel corn and cheese corn. They do mail-order, and it even still melts into your mouth. If you are ever in Chicago, please go to one of their locations and get it hot! The first time Jeff ever had it was on a winter evening right before Christmas and getting hot, melty cheese corn on a cold night, he was 

As I write this, a french stew (daube provencal) is simmering on the stove to be served over garlic mashed potatoes. I hope it’s as delicious and comforting as it smells. I am feeling a little under the weather today so I am hoping it will just hit the spot!

If it’s a keeper, I will post the recipe!

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