Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Year's Eve Entertaining

I am so excited to linkup with Sam and Khala to describe our New Year's Eve party ideas.  My favorite New Year's Eve celebration is a relaxing party at home with delicious food, fun games and wonderful time with family and friends.  We are looking forward to celebrating with some dear friends this year!  Here are some ingredients for a festive party I would host.

New Year's Eve Entertaining

Kate Spade porcelain dinnerware / /Karen Walker table linens placemat / /Drinkware / /J Crew red shirt / American Eagle Outfitters open front vest // Topshop skinny jeans // Steven by Steve Madden riding boots,  // CARAT carat jewelry / /Trivial Pursuit Family Edition Game

I loved all the festive dinnerware I found including these adorable and festive Kate Spade dishes and sparkly glasses!  The gold polka dot napkins seemed to add the perfect celebratory touch. :)

As for food, I love sweet and savory treats and homemade snack mix is one of my favorites.  I think I'm going to make some this year along with finding a recipe for some delicious white chocolate Oreo popcorn.  Once I saw the delicious Oreo brownie dessert recipe above, I couldn't resist adding it to the list and that warm artichoke dip sounds absolutely divine!!

Playing fun board games is another favorite way I love to spend time with friends while counting down the hours.  The fun and laughs during these games are what I remember most about these celebrations!

As far as my ensemble, I would love to wear something comfortable and cozy like the grouping above.  I'm just loving the skinny jean and tall boot trend and think those fun faux fur vests are such a cute accent.

I hope you all had a special Christmas celebration yesterday and are looking forward to celebrating the exciting new year ahead!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Word for Christmas

In church on Sunday during the singing of a familiar and favorite Christmas Carol, I was struck by a phrase that impacted me in a new and powerful way.  In the second verse of "What Child is This?", "the silent Word is pleading" is the phrase that stood out and seemed to capture Christmas for me.  I was simultaneously convicted and renewed. 

In the gospel of John, Christ is described as the Word.  "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."  John 1:1.  I imagined how the hymn writer would describe Jesus as the "silent Word" in this hymn and what a powerful image we anticipate each Christmas season as we look into the manger and see One, fully God and fully man being born to us, so we might experience true life in Him.  He came into this world to save us because of his immense and powerful love for us. 

I think the word plead stood out to me the most and reminded me in a new and fresh way of how Christ does plead for each of us to turn our lives to Him, to live the life abundant He calls us to and desires for each of us to experience.  May you experience the love of God in a mighty and renewing way this Christmas season.

"This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; 
haste, haste, to bring Him laud, the Babe, the son of Mary."

 -William Chatterton Dix, 1865                      


Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Five

It's Friday once again and I'm linking up with NatashaDarciApril, and Christina to talk about my favorite five things of the week!

Last weekend, the mister and I went on a fun little brunch date to one of our favorite restaurants.  It was the perfect start to the day and they had the most delicious flavored coffee that morning.  I think it was cinnamon almond or something like that and it was wonderful!  I enjoyed a treat that I don't usually make for myself -- a poached egg.  They always remind me of my grandfather Mackie because that is the way he always liked his eggs.  I still remember visiting their house and sitting with him at the breakfast nook while he put salt and pepper on them. :)  I think one of the reasons I love food so much is that I connect such special memories to things I've gotten to enjoy with others!

After brunch, we explored some fun antique shops around town and had a fun time envisioning what different pieces might work in different places in our house.


That afternoon I indulged in a fun holiday gel manicure.  I hadn't treated myself to one of these for a while and it sure was fun!  My favorite thing about the gels is knowing I won't mess them up before I get to the car! :)  I love how OPI is making so many of their colors in gels now, so I was able to choose "I'm Not Really a Waitress", probably my favorite red of all time and perfect for this festive time of year.


Saturday night Mr. G and I had a fun walk down memory lane.  We visited our first and second date places!  For our first date, G and I went to Starbucks and for our second date, we went to Carino's for dinner and then bowling, so Saturday night we had dinner at Carino's and then went to Starbucks for a yummy drink before looking at beautiful Christmas lights -- one of my favorite pre-Christmas treats!  Dinner was so delicious.  Their rosemary bread and olive oil seemed even more flavorful than I remembered and I loved my Spicy Romano Chicken (made a little less spicy). ;)  Then, with our peppermint mochas in hand we were ready to visit some of our favorite neighborhoods and see all the beautiful decorations with Christmas music playing in the car.  Such a fun night!


We have also wrapped many a Christmas present this week and I've enjoyed coffee in these adorable Williams Sonoma Christmas mugs my aunt gave me for Christmas one year.  This year I used some darling gift tags I had picked up one year on super sale after Christmas.  It reminds me to keep my eyes peeled for super post Christmas sales this year.
We can't wait to load up our gifts in the sleigh and make our deliveries! :)


A new recipe we tried this week was one G found and it is a winner!  It makes 8 servings, so we enjoyed it several times this week.  I had never made pork chops before, but this recipe is super simple.  We used boneless pork chops for ours and they turned out beautifully.  It does take 1.5 hours to cook, but the prep is super easy.  Enjoy!

I hope you all have a marvelous weekend as we prepare for Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fancy New Year's Eve

Fancy New Year's Eve

Fancy New Year's Eve
featuring a Black Purse//Warehouse high neckline dress// Kate spade shoes // La Regale black purse
Forever New pearl necklace / /Tiffany & Co. pearl earrings / /Crown jewelry,

Ever since I was a little girl I have dreamed of a New Year's Eve gala filled with glorious music from a wonderful big band, a delicious multicourse meal, and lots of dancing!  I think it stems from my love of the classic movie White Christmas and those amazing show scenes.

I don't anticipate my New Year's Eve plans requiring any of the fancy dress showcased above, but if I were to have a night on the town, this might be something I would love to wear.

I'm linking up today with Sam and Khala as we share our New Year's Eve outfits!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Latest Read!


Before I begin the review of my latest read, I wanted to tell you a little about program that I have joined to be able to write this review.  Booksneeze is a place for bloggers to sign up and in exchange for a book selected by you from a list, you write a review for your blog.  I love to read, so I thought this would be a fun way to enjoy a favorite past-time while also writing down what I thought of what I just read.  Though I did receive this book in exchange for my review, please know that all opinions are my own.  If you are interested in participating in Booksneeze, head over to their website and sign up.  It's so fun!

And here's my review:
From the very title of Lisa Harpers book, Overextended…and Loving Most of It:  The Unexpected Joy of Being Harried, Heartbroken, and Hurling Oneself Off Cliffs, I knew this book would have much to speak to me about.  My personality type leads me to want to live life to the absolute full and sometimes that can lead to an overabundance on my plate of things to do.  Sometimes ironically in these situations rather than press ahead to achieve the seemingly impossible, I allow isolating fear to capture my heart and mind and I frantically look for escape routes rather than trusting in the One who has made me as I am and who will carry me through whatever I face. 

Lisa Harper speaks to these scary moments of great risk and great disappointment through her recounting of two adoption processes.  The first she writes of involves her patient and prayerful process throughout the pregnancy of an addict in hope of adopting the child this woman would bear.  The second involves her stressful and uncomfortable journey of adopting a child from Haiti.  Both experiences are testimonies to her faith and trust that God will lead her through any situation.  I personally felt God speak to me through Harper’s words as she spoke to the scariness of the unknown.  How in both situations some of the people involved would in many ways prefer to stay in their dire circumstances than embrace the new life awaiting them.  I found this message so convicting in my own life because I recognized myself.  How many times have I hesitated to step forward in faith to something God was calling me to because I was fearful of the unknown?

Another powerful portion of the book is Lisa’s description of the discouraging and disappointing features of her relationships with her father and step-father and how God has redeemed both relationships for her.  She writes of learning to let go of the hurts and wrongs that leave painful scars and pursue grace and forgiveness even when it is very difficult, speaking to God’s immense and healing power.

I found Harper’s writing to be encouraging and inspiring as she entwined Scripture and theological principles into her witty and humorous style.  I’m so thankful for the opportunity to read this work and look forward to reading others by the author.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend!! :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Five

Once again it's that wonderful day of the week -- Friday!!  There can be so much hustle and bustle around this time of the year, but I hope each of you have a little room for some calm this weekend.  Some plans changed for the mister and me this weekend, so we will get to enjoy a pretty relaxing weekend filled with some fun holiday traditions!!  I'm linking up with these fabulous gals (NatashaDarciApril, and Christina) once again for their Friday party.  Here are 5 things I'm loving this week!

{1} Cookbooks
My placement this year for Junior League has been the cookbook committee and it has been so fun getting to work on this project.  The other gals on my committee are so sweet and it has been so great working with them to think up knew marketing strategies for the book, so we can raise some funds for all the projects we are doing to help the women and children in our community.  I even made this little flier to do a little advertising!

Let me know if you would like to purchase one!  As I've served on this committee, I've found that some women actually collect Junior League cookbooks from all over and think that sounds like such a neat idea.  Some of my favorite recipes in our cookbook are a chocolate chip bundt cake and pecan bars.  We had the best green chile chicken at our meeting on Monday, too, and it is from the cookbook!  I can't wait to try it myself. :)

{2}  Chamber Singers Christmas Concert
On Tuesday, I had the joy of listening to the Chamber Singers sing Christmas music at Armstrong Browning Library.  Armstrong Browning is where I had my bridal portraits taken and so it was even more special to return to this glorious place and hear it filled with gorgeous Christmas carols.  The acoustics here are amazing and the space is so beautiful that it is truly a feast for the senses.  Ten years ago PBS aired a special called "Christmas at Baylor" with groups singing in special places all over campus.  Here is an excerpt from that special:

{3}  Christmas Service
On Wednesday, I got to take part in the most glorious Christmas service that really prepared my heart for the season.  I struggle with pausing and stilling my soul much of the time and this service was just what I needed to pause and allow God to prepare my heart for this Advent season.  I've been loving the She Reads Truth Advent devotional series (here's a link to today's reading) and if you are looking for an Advent devotional, I highly recommend this one.  You can sign up for the series on the YouVersion Bible app.  The postlude of the service was a fantastic organ piece and I was immediately reminded of my precious Aunt Betty who has gone to be with the Lord.  She was an incredible musician and played the organ at our church in my hometown.  I was amazed at the challenge playing an instrument like that is and how coordinated you must be to play with both your feet and your hands at the same, but playing different things!  My heart filled with a thankfulness that I had been able to know this gracious woman and for the influence she has had in my life.

{4}  Family Time
This week the mister and I got to spend some quality time with the in-laws, watching the Duck Dynasty Christmas Special.  I just love getting together with them and am so thankful we live so close.  My father-in-law had a fire going and it was so nice to enjoy a hot cup of cocoa and time together.  Christmas specials are another favorite part of the holidays for me and I can't wait to watch some Christmas movies over the weekend!

{5}  Christmas Wrapping
I'm looking forward to getting all of our gifts wrapped this weekend!  Since our online Christmas shopping spree last weekend, we have started to get some of our presents in the mail.  I'm looking forward to cranking up the Christmas tunes and wrapping away.  I may try to use this awesome bow tutorial from Nina to give my packages a little extra panache and also look to this gift wrapping guide by Fancy Ashley for more cute wrapping ideas.

I hope you enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree

Today I'm linking up with Megan and Courtney as we share our Christmas trees.  I just love seeing all the unique ways people decorate their trees from whimsical themes to storied treasures of ornaments passed down over the generations.  Growing up, decorating the Christmas tree was a special time when the house was filled with the sounds of Andy Williams on a record player and we reminisced about the ornaments as they were taken out of the box.  Each ornament seemed to carry a special memory whether it was crafted out of paper by my brother, purchased on a special family vacation or handed down by a loving family member whose memory we hold dear.  I hope as G and I fill our own home with Christmas memories, we will also collect these special ornaments that hold sweet memories for us both.  We are beginning our collection and here are a few special ornaments on our tree this year.

This summer we traveled to Boston for a work conference and found this beautiful ornament in a Christmas shop.  It was so hot during our visit that I remember it was a little ironic that we were selecting a Christmas ornament for our souvenir, but it was so special to hang this on our tree.

My boss at work has given two very special ornaments to us.
She gave me this ornament last year to celebrate our engagement

and this ornament to celebrate our wedding!  
What a fun way to remember these life changing events.

I have had this Baylor Santa for a while, but I think he is especially fitting this Christmas as we are the Big 12 Champs and heading to our first BCS bowl!!
And then there was this cutie mercury glass owl I saw somewhere and just picked up because it was adorable! :)

Thanks for stopping by to look at our tree.  Sitting in the living room with the tree lights on is one of my favorite places to be.  How do you decorate your tree?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Our Weekend

We had a little bit different weekend than what we originally planned, but it was fun and low key.  The mister and I had a big weekend planned to travel to Dallas Saturday morning and do all our Christmas shopping at my very favorite mall, Northpark!  The weekend also would have included looking at Christmas lights in Highland Park, cheering on my precious friend during her half marathon and celebrating her graduation, but the weather had other plans for us.  We stayed settled in at home, made chili, and put up our first Christmas tree!!  

I have absolutely no idea how my iPhone capture this blurred image of our tree, but I love it!  I'm looking forward to posting more tree details and other Christmas decor around our house later this week, but wanted to share this one now.

Another fun thing we did this weekend was purchase many of our Christmas gifts online!  It was so nice to look at all the options without a huge crowd swarming around.  I loved the ease of finding all the products I needed and with free shipping, what is their to lose?!  Part of me will always appreciate the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping along with all the festive decor found in stores and shopping malls, but now that I've experienced the comfort and ease of online shopping, I am so grateful for this option!

In other news, the most wonderful part of the weekend had to be our experience Saturday afternoon!  We were able to go to my in-laws and watch another amazing Baylor football game as our Bears took hold of the Big 12 Championship!!  I am so proud of our team and all they have accomplished!  I can't wait to cheer them on as they play in the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day.  Baylor football has come a long way since I was a freshman in the fall of 1999 and it is so exciting to see what these players and coaches have been able to accomplish together!!  Sic 'em! :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Special Potato Soup

Today, I'm linking up this December post for Kelly's Korner "Show Us Your Life" series on soups!  This recipe is one of my all-time faves. :)

With the cooler temps we have been experiencing in our area, good warm comfort food just seems to always sound good!  I've made chili more in the past few weeks than I have ever made in my life and this potato soup recipe was another yummy remedy to my comfort food craving.  I mentioned it in Friday's post and described how it was one of those meals I remember eating so vividly during my childhood.  The recipe makes a lot, so you will definitely have leftovers.  We enjoyed ours with some saltine crackers, but I think a loaf of crusty french bread would be a perfect addition as well.

This recipe originally appeared in Southern Living years ago and has been a family favorite ever since.  I tried to find it on their current website to link back, but didn't see it listed.

2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped (Our HEB carries these great plastic containers of pre-chopped celery and onion together, so I just used that!)
2 T. butter, melted
6 medium potatoes, cubed (peeling and cubing the potatoes was the most time consuming part!)
2 carrots, sliced (I used a bag of baby carrots and just put those in whole)
3 c. water
5 chicken-flavored bouillon cubes
3/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. dried whole thyme
1/2 tsp. rosemary, crushed
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of pepper
2 c. milk
1 c. (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese

1.  Cook celery and onion in butter in a large soup pot until tender.  
2.  Add potatoes, carrots, water, bouillon and seasonings 
3.  Cover pot and simmer about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
4.  Remove from heat, and mash vegetables with a potato masher.  
5.  Add milk and cheese 
6.  Cook, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted.  
Yield:  10 cups

It is so simple and tastes so good!!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Five on Friday!

Yay!!  My favorite day of the week is here and I'm linking up with NatashaDarciApril, and Christina to share five fun things going on in my world.  As I've looked through these five, perhaps this list should be called foodie edition!



Weekend Breakfast Casserole


Last weekend we made the Mix and Match Mama's delish breakfast casserole and it was the perfect yummy start to our day.  The recipe is so easy and tastes so fantastic, I think I might have found our new Christmas morning recipe!!  This dish is also perfect for brunches or for overnight guests.  It is in our rotation for sure!

Early Christmas Surprise


My parents surprised us with the Willow Tree nativity for an early Christmas gift!  I've loved arranging all of the figures and think I found the perfect spot for it in my dining room. :)  Putting out the nativity scene has always been one of my favorite things to do to decorate for Christmas!

 Mom's Special Potato Soup

Sunday night I made my mom's delicious potato soup.  It is the perfect comfort food for a cold winter night and is easy to prepare, too!  You know those recipes you grew up with and just the taste makes your mind flood with childhood memories?  This soup takes me to my parents' breakfast room eating this warm soup on a chilly winter night.  I'll have to post the recipe soon. :)

Elf on the Big Screen

Our downtown has been hosting lots of fun events this week, including a showing of Elf on the big screen!!  My mister had never seen this cinematic wonder that is certainly one of my Christmas favorites, so I was excited to share the fun with him!!  Good news -- he loved it!  I think Elf will be in our holiday movie rotation for years to come!!

Also, we enjoyed the most delicious white chocolate Oreo popcorn from a local vendor!  Delish!!

My Favorite Chilly Evening Snack

Finally, my favorite treat -- hot chocolate and popcorn with a few holiday peanut m&ms sprinkled infor good measure! :) It's getting a little chilly in our area, so this was the perfect late night snack! 

What are your Friday Five?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

An AMAZING Giveaway!!!

I just wanted to post today about two of my absolute favorite blogs and a fantastic giveaway they are doing!!
Shay at Mix and Match Family and Sheaffer at Pinterest Told Me To are giving away a $500 Nordstrom gift card!!!  I think Nordstrom is hands down my favorite store and these girls write such fun blogs.  I love to read their posts with my first cup of coffee!  Sheaffer writes the most darling posts about the greatest fashion finds and Shay writes the cutest posts about her sweet  family.  Shay also writes at Mix and Match Family where she posts mouthwatering recipes!  I know my pinboards are full of her meal ideas.  These girls also post about their fun shopping trips together and over Christmas they are blogging "Shay and Sheaffer's 12 Days of Christmas" full of all kinds of amazing Christmas ideas and treats.

Hurry to sign up for this wonderful giveaway!  They are announcing the winner tomorrow. :)
Pinterest Told Me To

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our Christmas Mantel

Today I'm linking up with Michelle for her Christmas mantle linkup.  Be sure to stop by to see lots of mantel decorating ideas!

Toward the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, the mister and I started decking our halls.  It is a fascinating process to decorate a very new space with a very new husband!  We are choosing the idea of marathon vs. sprint for our seasonal decor as we know special accents will be collected over time.  As with our fall decor, we began with a thorough review of what we already had, including some very sweet wedding gifts that had been patiently waiting for their moment in the sun.  It was so fun to get those out of closets and boxes and find the perfect place for them to rest.  I think the only thing we purchased new for our home was the garland and fresh poinsettias!

Here is our mantel and fireplace.  I remember thinking after we had put the final touches together, that it is a pretty traditional look, which fits G and my style to a T.  Although, I do recognize a few notes of whimsy from my single gal Christmas decor! ;)

This reindeer candelabra was a sweet wedding gift that we received and I was so happy to put it on display.  I loved how the size and style fit right in with the other pieces on our mantel.

The NOEL banner is a purchase I made several years ago at our Junior League holiday market and have always loved the way it accented a variety of places I've chosen to put it over the years.  I thought the mantel was a perfect place for it this Christmas.

G received this beautiful snow globe for Christmas last year after spotting it in a local shop in my hometown.  I loved how it nestles perfectly in the garland next to a vase filled with small red ornaments. 

When we received this fabulous antique lantern last year, I started imagining all of the fun things we could fill it with and ornaments were the first thing I thought of for Christmas time!  I brought a wide variety of colors of Christmas ornaments with me in the move and thought this was a fun way to pile them all together.

Thanks for stopping by!  How are you decorating for Christmas this year?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Girly Gifts Under $100

Girly Gifts Under $100

Nick Nora pajamas / Vera Bradley coin pouch / Stella Dot stella dot bracelet / Stella Dot stella dot jewelry / Stella & Dot aqua earrings / Waterford wine glass / 2013-2014 life planner -party pops

I'm linking up again with Elise and Jen for their Favorite Things Series.  Today's theme is gifts under $100 and my list is definitely a group of gifties that I wouldn't mind finding under my tree.  Maybe you'll like some of these ideas, too! :)

{1}  I just love these serenity stone drop earrings.  They have such a classic look and would work with tons of outfit options.

{2}  I think these pjs are so cute and would be so cozy for the cooler winter temps.  

{3}  An Erin Condren planner would be a great way to help me stay organized in the new year.  She has so many adorable designs and I love that you can customize them with family photos!
{4}  Lately, I have been carrying a smaller cross body bag and absolutely love the ease and lightness of it, but have struggled finding a good organizational system because my regular wallet is too big.  I've always loved this Vera Bradley pattern and think it might just be the perfect solution for me.

{5}  Not everyone would be as over the moon as I am for this item on my list, but I love all things china and crystal and would be thrilled to find another stem of my pattern under the tree.  If you have any recent or soon-to-be brides on your list, their registries may hold the keys to some fabulous gift ideas! :)

{6}  I think this pearl Stella and Dot bracelet is gorgeous and would make a beautiful statement with any outfit.

{7}  There is just something about laurel wreaths I love and this ring with its stackable bands is so beautiful  I have always loved stacking rings, so I think this one would be a real treat.

What's on your Christmas list this year?