Friday, December 21, 2012

5 Cheers for Holiday Break

I am officially on Christmas break...  for 17 days. 12 of those 17 days will be spent with my family in Naperville, Greg's family in Michigan and a family wedding on New Years Eve. Being so busy is going to make break go by super fast! Oh well, cheers to time with family and friends! During break I probably won't be blogging much. See you in 2013!

Here are some favorite things that happened this week, link up with FMGD to share yours.

1. December Birchbox arrived in the prettiest box. I love the perfume sample and the shampoo. I have not been disappointed yet by one of my boxes!

2. Greg and I celebrated Christmas over the weekend. Murphy always steals our blanket, so we got him his own plus a super soft bed. Can you tell he likes it?

3. The awesome family I nanny over the summer got me this adorable Kate Spade makeup case. I love the creativity and thought behind it. Will definitely be using it a lot for all our travels.

4. Annual Christmas cookie baking.. Losey Sugar Cookies the first batch, and the second batch of dough we decided on gingerbread. We frosted and sprinkled them of course :)

5. More festive holiday nails. Sally Hansen Cha-Ching

How will you be spending your holidays? Be safe to everyone who is traveling!

xo, Erin

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Weekly Menu

Every Sunday, I head to the grocery store with a shopping list in hand. This is normally the only time I am in the grocery store, so I need to plan accordingly. For a few years, I have been using a menu planner notepad that looks something like this:

The sheet of paper seems to get either shoved at the bottom of my purse or lost in a grocery bag. Then I forget what I planned for each night. Greg goes out to lunch a lot at work and likes to have an idea of what is planned for dinner. This way, he tries not to eat the same type of food two meals in a row. 

I wanted to create a menu planner and have seen some on Pinterest involving a chalkboard. I can't stand to use chalk and normally don't like the look of it. Greg and I brainstormed a bit and had an idea when renovating our laundry room. This was the wall we were working with:

We started with an orange magnetic board from IKEA (that must be discontinued because I can't find it). This board was covered in fabric and used in our laundry room to hold coupons. On the way out the door, we were able to glance at it and see if we needed to use any. It didn't make the cut when re-organizing our laundry room. The size was perfect for the skinny wall in the kitchen, but how could we use it for a weekly menu?? We ripped the fabric off and were left with the orange board. It definitely didn't fit our color scheme and I didn't want it to stand out so much. So Greg painted it white using a small foam roller.

In the meantime, I played around with my Cricut to figure out what size and font I wanted to use for the letters. We decided we wanted to put the word 'menu' on top and then just the first letter of each day.

Gather your supplies that you will need for the project. I planned on using scrapbook dots to put the letters down on to the board. This would allow them to stay put, but not be super permanent. I used super glue to make the 'menu' word with two different colors. Greg gathered what he needed: driver, screws, level, measuring tape, mirror clips and a stud finder.

We played around with spacing. We measured the board then divided it by the number of spaces we needed. We used a yard level and piece of paper to help us keep the letters straight all the way across.

Once you have the letters where you want them and the spaces marked, start securing them down. Run some scrapbook dots along the back of each letter and put it back in its original spot.

Almost done, now you just need to make it reusable. We had a piece of glass cut at Lowe's to the exact size of our board. The glass cost about $6 and they cut it for free. I will now be able to write on the glass with dry erase markers. This will remind me if something has to be prepped or thawed and Greg can know what not to eat for lunch.

We used these mirror clips we had from an IKEA wall mirror. We didn't use them and they worked perfect for what we needed.

The lighting isn't so great, but here it is finished and hanging in place. It is so useful, I can't believe it took me this long to make something!

What do you use for a weekly menu? Do you plan ahead or have to stop by the grocery store on the way home from work?

xo, Erin

Monday, December 17, 2012

Homemade Peppermint Bark

I wanted to make a festive, easy dessert for a holiday party I was going to. I searched around Pinterest and found a Peppermint Bark recipe that sounded so simple... and it was.

Homemade Peppermint Bark

1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bags of white chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
about 25 Hershey's peppermint candy cane kisses

1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper
2. Melt bag of chocolate chips in a small pot on low heat, stirring frequently
3. Once completely melted, pour on to the wax paper and spread thin with a rubber spatula
4. Place the cookie sheet with chocolate in the fridge to harden
5. Unwrap kisses and use a food processor to break them into small pieces
6. Melt the bag of white chocolate chips with the peppermint extract
7. Once completely melted, remove from heat and stir in most of the peppermint pieces
8. Pour the white chocolate mixture on top of the hardened chocolate
9. Sprinkle the remaining candy pieces on the top and gently press down so they won't fall off
10. Place back in the fridge until completely hardened
11. Use your hands and break the bark into desired pieces

This took about 10 minutes to prep. You can also used crushed candy canes if you prefer. I just can't get enough of the Candy Cane Kisses. Enjoy!

xo, Erin

Friday, December 14, 2012


It's Friday. I have five more work days until break. Today is payday. I am going to a holiday party tomorrow night. Greg and I are baking cookies this weekend and celebrating Christmas together on Sunday. Yup, this week and next week will be awesome.

I am linking up with fmgd to share some favorites:

1. More small house projects to check off the list... organized basement and started painting interior doors

2. I love coming home to Christmas cards in the mailbox

3. Holiday nails are the best. China Glaze Red Stallion with silver crackle on top

4. I made an Enchilada Pasta Bake this week, and it was delicious!

 { recipe from Table for Two }
5. All my Christmas shopping is done! Now I just need to start wrapping this weekend 

xo, Erin

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Merry Murphy

So, my early Christmas present was an awesome new camera. I have been having a lot of fun playing around with it and learning the different settings. I love it! It is so much better than my old point and shoot and the pictures are so clear. Lucky for me, I have a pretty cute subject who loves getting his picture taken (no, it's not Greg).

Murphy thought our tree skirt was a new, soft blanket for him

Greg decided to cover Murphy in our tree trimmings.

Love this! He was using his bear as a chair

Investigating which ornament might be a squeaky ball

What Greg found in his stocking ;)

Love the twinkle lights in the background

Happy Holidays, from Murphy

xo, Erin

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Simple Christmas Card Solution

I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. I don't want them to just sit in a basket, I want them out and incorporated into my decorations.  This is what I have used the past two years-- all you need is a door, ribbon and clothespins.

By a few spools of ribbon in any color and pattern you wish. I would make sure the ribbon is at least 2 inches thick for more strength when the ribbons fill up. Cut the pieces to the length of the door plus a few extra inches on the top and bottom. Use duct tape, or something similar, to secure the ribbon to the back side of the door.

Last year I used plain clothespins, but I wanted to make them more festive this year. I bought three sheets of Christmas-looking scrapbook paper. I traced the clothespin on to the paper, cut them out and glued them down. That simple. Then I just hot glued a button to the top for a little extra detail.

Here is what it looks like up close. Lots of fun Christmas colors and patterns going on. Really spruces up a boring white door while having a function.

How do you display your Christmas cards? Would love some new ideas!

xo, Erin

Monday, December 10, 2012

Our Advent Tree

I wanted to create an advent calendar this year so I started searching on Pinterest... and I found this.  I loved everything about it. It was vintage, simple, something that will last for years and budget friendly.

I first needed to find a soda crate. I looked on ebay for a few days and landed an awesome deal. I ended up with two of them for about $20. I picked up the package of ornaments for $5 at Walmart and the foam number stickers for $2 at Michaels.

Before jumping into things, first lay out your ornaments in the spaces.  This step will make sure all your glitter, shiny and dull ornaments are equally spaced apart. Repeat a similar process for the numbers. Make sure all colors are evenly distributed and you have enough of each number (you will need a lot of 1's and 2's).

Time to begin - take it one by one. Peel the backing off the sticker and carefully apply a small amount of hot glue to the back. Place the number in the center of the ornament and set aside. Repeat until they are all done.

The ornaments kept rolling around so Greg broke toothpicks into small pieces and glued them down. This prevented them from rolling to the back and not seeing the number.

Here it is in action. Greg and I take turns putting the ornaments on our mini tree. They are shatterproof so they are in it for the long haul :)

 I love that the advent tree can be used year after year. I can also add to it by placing a small piece of candy behind the ornament. There are so many options! Do you use an advent calendar?

xo, Erin

Friday, December 7, 2012

5 Things That Made Me Happy

This week went super fast. That is both a good and a bad thing. I am excited it's Friday and I accomplished a lot, but sad classes start back up tomorrow morning. I definitely enjoyed my mini-break of freedom.

I was definitely in the holiday spirit this week. Christmas music was playing every possible second and we made Sugar Cone Trees. I am linking up with FMGD to share my 5 favorites from the week.

1. Christmas cards are stuffed in their envelopes and ready to be mailed out. I am glad this step is out of the way and am excited to get more cards in the mail from family & friends

2. We bought a wine fridge at the Hayneedle Outlet for $35. The touch screen on the front was not working when it was purchased, but leave it to Greg to have it fixed in an hour. Love that guy!

3. My favorite outfit from this week. It was a rainy day and I don't like wearing pants that may get wet. Leggings, boots and a dress -- always a good choice. 

4. Our outdoor lights this year, we went the simple route and stuck to all white lights. I love the snowflake lights in our front window. They look so pretty when sitting in the family room

5. Greg and I celebrated 8 years together on Wednesday. It's amazing how fast time has gone <3

More holiday ideas and happenings next week!

xo, Erin

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sugar Cone Trees

Greg and I have never made a gingerbread house in our eight years of being together. I don't think we would have enough patience to complete it.  While wandering around Kroger looking at all the holiday items on the end caps, I thought of an idea.  I could use sugar cones and make a tree village. This way, we could decorate until the cones ran out or until we got bored.

Here's what you need:
  • Sugar cones
  • Frosting
  • Green food coloring
  • Assortment of candy/sprinkles

I laid out the candy on the table and placed 6 drops of green food coloring into the frosting tub. You could alter the amount if you want your frosting lighter or darker.  I got out some shallow dishes to use as a work space for both Greg and I.  This prevented (most) sprinkles from bouncing around the floor.

You are now ready to frost and decorate. I preferred the up and down technique, while Greg liked using the swirl method. To each their own. Another tip is to get creative with your candy. Use a sharp knife to cut candy into smaller, workable pieces.

We had an audience the entire time, waiting for a sprinkle to hit the ground

It turned into a little competition on who could make the most creative tree. If this counts as a 'tree', I would say Greg wins :)

Other favorites and our completed forest:

My favorite of Greg's

My favorite I did. I stacked an extra cone under it to act as the stump

All in all, this fun activity took less than an hour. I think Greg spent more time getting frosting all over his fingers and licking them. He blames it on his big hands and small frosting jar. I blame it on getting distracted.

xo, Erin