Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Santa Brought Me - Christmas 2011(otherwise titled "Products I'm currently loving")

This year, Santa (also known as my very generous little kids are reading this, right?) was really good to me...probably better than I deserve.  I've had a few weeks to use gift cards and some of the spending cash I received and thought it might be fun to share in case you too have Christmas $ left!

A few things I've gotten or have my eye on:

1.  New wallets - which conveniently came in very handy when I not so conveniently lost my wallet on the flight from Saint Louis to Omaha :(  Which by the way - is a real pain when travelling...especially when you have to call and cancel all your cards which ALSO cancels your husband's cards since you're on the same account.  Lots of fun!  Anyway, I got a black Lodis wallet from my Mom and Allen and the gold wallet pictured above from my Dad & Renee!  I've had fun switching them out depending on my mood/outfit.

2.  Wireless printer - The printer we currently have I've been using since high school (I apparently like to hold on to things....see this post.  Miraculously, it still works, but its upstairs in our office and I've gotten a little too lazy to want to walk ALL THE WAY UPSTAIRS and plug in a cord.  I did a little research and found this little printer (which I actually bought somewhere else for cheaper) which has Airprint (i.e. will print from my IPad), has a very small footprint, but still has copier/scanner capabilities.  For now, its on a console table in our living room as my plan to put it on a small table in the coat closet under the stairs plug in there, duh.  Its just nice being able to print a coupon or two off and grab on my way out the door.

3.  Ceramic Egg Crate - I didn't get this for what you might think - I'm currently using as jewelry storage!  I made a large hanging jewelry organizer for my closet, but it I didn't have a way to store my stud earrings or rings.  This egg crate has worked perfectly!

4.  Cold weather running gear - Dan and Teresa helped me gear up for some outdoor running during these colder months with Brooks Pulse Lite Gloves and Infiniti Headband.  The gloves are awesome because the tip of the thumb can be pulled back so I can still use my iPhone.  They're also lightweight enough that I don't get too hot.  I don't know if they'd be warm enough up there in Nebraska, but down south, they work just perfectly! 

5.  I'm still on the hunt for some perfect black pumps - I go through these way too fast and haven't had time to shoe shop, but its on the list!

6.  Finally...a subscription to Cooking Light!  Just got my first issue last week!

7.  Boot Shapers - I don't know why I didn't try these sooner.  So great for keeping your boots looking nice, plus its keeping my closet a lot more organized.  They're pretty inexpensive compared to some of the other options out there.  I think I'll especially like having these when I store my boots during the summer.  I'd recommend to anyone!

8.  Teeth whitening - I kept telling Tim I wanted to do this, but he thought it was kind of a waste  :(  So, I made him give it to me for Christmas - all's well that ends well, right!  I haven't done it yet, but have at least bought the certificate.

9.  Two words.....erasable highlighters.  Enough said.

10.  I'm really realizing how much of a dork I am right about now....considering #7, #9 and #10 but, I also got a laminator.  I have visions of nice organized labels, something one of my favorite bloggers at I Heart Organizing would be proud of.

11.  This wasn't really a Christmas present, but thought I'd throw it in - really liking the John Frieda Full Repair fly away gel - it has a mascara want and helps tame the breakage.

I also still have a gift card left to spend (thanks Mike & Jody)!  My sister-in-law Amber and her fiance John must know Tim and I too well...I'm embarrassed to admit we've already been through almost all of the Moe's gift card they gave us.  Its still our very favorite place!

One more thing I'm loving right now...

I bought this at Target a few weeks ago and it is DYNAMITE.  I've been begging Tim to look for it at every store since (although I see now on their website its exclusively sold at Target).  Run, don't walk to your nearest Target - you'll thank me later!

Tim went shopping at Bass Pro yesterday which is right by the Leeds Outlet mall.  I brilliantly remembered that there was a Ghiradelli store at the mall and quickly texted him to demand sweetly ask that he bring some home.  I'm a lucky girl because he texted me back..."two steps ahead of you there."  Such a great treat after a long week of work! 

A Weekend of Pinspiration - Part 3 - Painted Wallpaper

After a very long delay, here is the follow-up to Part I and Part II of my Pinterest weekend with Lisa.  I'll explain the reason for the delay, so just keep reading!

For our largest project of the weekend, Lisa and I decided we wanted to tackle this:
Stenciled Wallpaper

Phase I of our dining room makeover occured when Tim's mom came to visit.  We repainted the dining room a slightly lighter blue and I had a secret plan that I wanted to do the wallpaper stencil.  After a little bit of searching on Pinterest, I knew I'd found the one I wanted.  But, when we printed out the stencil from the website, which I linked below, it was TINY and we thought that much pattern would be too busy all over the walls.  So, we headed to Office Max and had them blow up the stencil (honestly it took a few guesses and we had them print a couple).  The total cost for this was a little more than I was expecting (about $10), but still not too bad! 

See link to template here

We traced the template onto some sturdy cardboard so it would hold up while we traced it - honestly the hardest part of this entire project was probably cutting through the cardboard.

We also wanted to make sure that the design was spaced semi-evenly on the wall.  We figured out that the space we were covering was 73" tall and each design was 20.5" tall.  Because we wanted an even amount of overhang on each side of the design, I figured out how many full designs would fit and divided the remining amount by 2 - the magic number was 5.75" of overlap on each end.  We ended up folding our paper template so that there was 5.75" and used this for the partial designs. 

I may be an accountant, but I think I'm crippled by always using a calculator - ignore the erase marks, the "borrowing" from the other digits and my carrying of the 1  :)

I decided to follow the advice of the woman whose pin I copied above and instead of using white paint, we used the leftover blue wall color paint I had and mixed in some white (it came out a more light grey/blue).  I like this better because there isn't too stark of a contrast.

Once we had our paint ready, it was just tracing and painting.  Luckily, my dining room has wainscoating and is open to the living room so we only had to do the top half of 3 walls (really only 2 since one of them has a large window).  I tackled the tracing while Lisa did the painting.  The wall is by no means perfect and we didn't use a level or really measure it out - just eyeballed it.  It helped that we tried to make the space we painted the width of the paintbrush so Lisa only had to do one stroke and it kept the painting uniform.

Design traced in pencil

 We just contined all the way around the room:

It really didn't take a lot of time when the two of us were working on it - maybe 6 hours total.  So, now the reason for the delay...

We had originally traced the outline of the stencil in pencil.  We did a test once the paint had dried to make sure the pencil came off, and it worked great!  Well.....turns out, if you let the pencil sit for a few hours or if you paint on TOP of the pencil, you can still see it underneath the lighter color and it WILL NOT ERASE!  Also, when I tried erasing over the darker color, the pencil would smear and leave dark streaks.  So, word to the wise - use a VERY light touch when tracing and try to keep your lighter paint color inside the paint lines. I ended up having to do a second coat of the entire lighter color and then touch up a good amount of the darker color (don't forget to save a little bit before you pour the white in - you'll need it!)  It took me much longer to do this by myself, hence the reason for no update post. 

But, I'm happy to report - I'm all finished!!  All in all, I'm pleased as punch with how it came out!  Yes, I said "pleased as punch" - I also knit and love to go to the library - I'm 90 years old, don't judge.  Especially, since the only cost was about $20 for the template and a quart of white paint!  I think it was totally worth it, but don't take my word for it - a picture (or three) is worth a thousand words:

I also got some new curtains and a new rod - the previous one was just too skinny and not substantial enough.  I was proud of myself for being able to mix patterns - normally I'm a scaredy cat about about that kind of thing, so if you hate it - just keep to yourself!

Now, just need to figure out what to put on that blank wall (any ideas?!), add a few accessories and this room should be almost complete!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happy Belated New Year!

What's that you say?  New Years was a few weeks ago?  Better late than never!

I have always been in the camp that New Years is way overrated - crowds, expensive and who thought it was a good idea to have a party that doesn't really START until midnight?  Call me old, but I've never been much of a night owl. 

This year, we did something different - our friends Ken and Kylie (who we originally met through Justin and Nichole - Ken & Nichole work at UAB together) invited us and a few other friends to their house for the evening - my kind of New Years party!  Nichole was on call/at the hospital that day and night so Tim and I went with Justin and Justin's dad and Tracy early for some light food at McCormick & Schmidt's.  We love this place, but heard it closed down shortly after New Years  :(  I had my fav - oysters & a little lobster bisque.

NYE 2011/2012

McCormick & Schmidt's
We then headed to Ken & Kylie's where they had prepared even more delicious food.  Kylie had also gotten these cute 2012 glasses.

me, Kim, Kylie & Nichole

Kim & Scott

Steve & Tracey

Ken & Kylie
We watched Auburn win the Chick-fil-a bowl (part of it using the 3-D glasses which was intense - I think it would make me sick watching all the time?!)  WARE EAGLE!  Here's where I must admit - I started to fade around 10:30...may have dozed a bit on the couch.  I just can't sit for too long at that time of night without getting sleepy!  But, I told myself - push can make it.  We got up and watched the ball drop in New York!

Happy New Year!!

Cheers!  (East Coast Countdown)
And then....I rallied!  All it took was a little bit of friendly competition.  Nothing wakes me up quite like the heat of battle.  Ken & Kylie have the Kinect system for XBox which I'd never seen before.  The best way I could describe it is its like Wii without the remote - it has a sensor that captures your body movements.  We played a bowling game and it was so much fun!  The biggest surprise was at the end of each game the system would play back RECORDED reactions from your game - so funny!!!  You could see your victory dance or a grimace when you rolled a gutter ball.  Plus, its pretty hilarious to watch yourself bowl without a bowling ball.  I wasn't too bad at this game if I do say so myself....certainly bowled better than I've ever bowled in real life.

So animated!
After a few games, we toasted the New Year in BOTH the Central and Mountain times - aren't you impressed?  We even wrapped it up with a little dance party...

Lots of fun!  Great way to celebrate 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Recap

What a wonderful holiday it's been - can't believe we have to go back to work tomorrow! :(  We kicked off the Christmas season with a Christmas party at Caroline's house - yummy food, jingle juice and good friends always = a good time!

Caroline, me & Emily Ann
Then, the week before Christmas I headed to Dallas to see my family early since it was a Nebraska Christmas this year.  Tim wasn't able to get as much time off of work, so I was flying solo for the week.  It was a relaxing week and I got to see lots of friends and family.  One thing I was especially looking forward to was meeting this little guy for the first time -
Pam with Forrest Benjamin Taylor
Ross and Sally have been two of my best friends for so long and Forrest was born in October.  I couldn't wait to just hold him - look at those precious eyes!

We had a great night just hanging out and catching up (missed Lauren & Patrick and Chris and Kristine!)
Linds, me, Forrest & Pam
I also got to see my mom and Allen's new apartment (so great!) and hang with Crew (who ended up getting very sick on

My sister Katie taught me to play a new game:

So fun!!  It's very simple once you learn the rules - the point is to get rid of all of the marbles on your side before your opponent does.  When we were in Nebraska, my father-in-law, Dan got the game for us and Shae and I played WAYY too many games.

The Thursday before Christmas Tim and I both flew to Omaha to spend a whirlwind Christmas with his side of the family.  One bad note - I did lose my wallet in the St. Louis airport - I got everything cancelled in time, so no major loss other than a little bit of cash and the painful time it took to go replace my license.  Here's a quick map of our stops:  flew into Omaha, stayed in Palmyra, visited Lincoln & Beatrice, stayed in Kearney and then flew back out of Omaha!

Friday morning we did a little last minute Christmas shopping and had a delicious lunch at Misty's in Lincoln with Dan and Shae.  Friday night Tim and I went to our friend Brandt and Amy's house - it was my first time to meet their little girl, Chloe (the last time I saw Amy was on her due date - the girl was out tailgating..that's some real Husker love).
Tim & Chloe

Saturday (Christmas Eve) started with something strange landing in the back yard....

One of Tim's very good family friends (who is also Brandt's uncle), Mike, has a helicopter and he landed in the backyard!  So crazy!  It was pretty cool to watch.  We then did a little family present opening at Dan & Teresa's before heading to Beatrice to celebrate with Teresa's side of the family. 
Bella enjoying her new doggy bed
One thing we definitely did PLENTY of was eat!  Teresa's family made 4 different kinds of soups (Tim brought his chili) and we had sandwiches and desserts.

Shae and Tim in Beatrice
That evening, we headed to Mike & Cathy's house for Christmas Eve dinner - they make their beef stroganoff every year and again it did not disappoint.

Teresa loves her AU koozie!
 On Christmas morning we rode with Tim's grandparents out to Kearney, NE to visit Tim's mom and step dad (Mike & Jody).  My sister-in-law, Amber and her fiance John also made the trip.

John & Amber
Mike and Jody own a kitchen store in Kearney - so they have all the best gear.  They're the ones that have gotten us hooked on Wustof knives (which they gave us for Christmas 2 yrs ago).  Mike makes a mean prime rib which we had for Christmas dinner. 
Christmas Dinner
Poor Jody was a trooper - she slipped on the ice earlier in the month and broke her leg in multiple places.  She had to have surgery and is not allowed to bear any weight on her leg right now - you can see it propped up in the chair above.

We opened gifts and played lots of games - center, left right (dice game), dominoes and pitch (card game). 
Grandpa reading us a story from his men's coffee group - not something I think I can tell on the blog, but funny  :)

Tim & I - Christmas 2011

Grandma, Grandpa, Amber & John

The whole group - Tim and I missed the red memo
After a send-off of biscuits and gravy and french toast, we headed back to Palmyra on Monday afternoon for a little bit more family time before we left.  We flew back to Birmingham on Tuesday morning and have been trying to catch-up ever since!  Hope you had a great Christmas!