Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Highlights

In 2010 we....

Bought a house

Got married
Picture by Amanda Fales Photography

Amanda Fales Photography  (and yes, argyle cake!)

Had a fun honeymoon

We also had a lot of fun times with friends and family. Here's to more adventures and fun in 2011!  Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.
Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never had a family or a home.
He didn't go to college.
He never visited a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born.
He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but Himself.
He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him.
His friends ran away.
One of them denied Him.
He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His garments, the only property He had on earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not effected the life of man on this earth as much as that One Solitary Life.


Christmas Cards

A while back, I told you about Shutterfly's Christmas cards and to get free cards. I thought I'd share with you what card we ultimately went with. It might surprise you, because it isn't one that I considered in my previous post.

So, why this card?  To be honest, my husband picked it.  I made up some choices and he wasn't very thrilled with any of them.  He wanted to use this picture because it wasn't posed. I desperately made some more choices for him and threw this one in and surprisingly, he liked it!  I liked that it has French on the front because I love French (took it for 5 years and spent 2 weeks in France one summer). 

I originally wanted a card with the year on it and since this one doesn't, I fixed that on the inside.  Since this is a folded card, Shutterfly gave me the option of having another photo (or two or three) on the inside.  I included another photo of us posing with our wedding cake and below it put our wedding date.

Once I finally ordered the cards, they came fairly quickly and were packaged well.  The cards are very nice quality with thick cardstock.

Everybody I have given a card to has raved about how much they love them and how pretty they are.  I love that I got such a great deal for fabulous cards and found yet another use for our wonderful wedding pictures!


Friday, December 24, 2010

My First DIY

Now that the baking and gift wrapping is finally done, I can share with you my first DIY project for our home.  It also happens to be a Christmas decor project.

I've seen wreaths like this one for sale in various stores.

Most stores want anywhere from $30 on up for a wreath like this one.  I really wanted one for our front door, but I did NOT want to pay that much money for a wreath.
As it turns out, you don't have to!  (I'm a terrible blogger and did not document the process, so bear with me.) I bought a 24" wreath at Christmas Tree Shop for about $7.  I sprung for a lighted one, but you could go even cheaper with just a plain wreath.  I bought a set of ornaments for $2.50 at Michael's. (They were 1/2 off!) and some green twist wire for $1.50 at Meijer.

For just $11, I came up with this...

Pretty cute right? I'm on the hunt for the right ribbon to perhaps make a bow for the top. (I actually took off a pretty cheap looking "velvet" bow that came with the wreath.)  And bonus, I can always change the ornaments if I decide to change the look.
I've never been very crafty, but I'm pretty proud of my very first decor DIY project!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Favorite Ornament

I showed you our Chirstmas tree earlier, but I didn't show you my favorite ornament.  It's a new one for this year and it was the first one I put on our tree.

Isn't it cute? We picked it up at the Christmas store at Downtown Disney on our honeymoon. I had in my carry-on and I was super paranoid that I was going to break it on our way home.  But, it made it in one piece and now it's in a prominent place on our tree.  I think it's my favorite souvenir from our honeymoon.

Do you have a favorite ornament or Christmas decoration?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Decorations

I've mentioned before that I love Christmas and I love decorating for Christmas, so I thought I'd share with you some pictures of our decorations. Since this is our first Christmas in our house, it's kind of a hodgepodge of stuff that I've been buying over the years. (I love shopping on the day after Christmas!)

I've already shown you our tree,(which is still topper-less and skirt-less) so let's look at some other decorations.

Here's our "mantel."

We don't have a fireplace, so the top of our entertainment center became our mantel. I actually have ideas for decorating this, but I don't have any of the supplies I need and I'm waiting until after Christmas to buy them. So this year, I went with simple decor. I did buy the garland this year. It's from Target and it was on sale one week, so I grabbed it. The angel lamps hold tea lights and were a gift from a student years ago. I should have taken a closer picture so you could see how pretty they are.

The manger scene has a bit of a story behind it. Every year at the church I grew up in, the children receive a piece of it. How old you are determines which piece you get. I believe you start with the baby Jesus. These are hand carved figures, but I cannot remember where they come from. I believe it is either Israel or an African nation. I have all the pieces that my brothers and I received over the years. I'd like to point out that the 3 figures on the right are shepherds and not the Wise Men as I don't put the Wise Men in until Epiphany. (and yes, I know I really shouldn't put Jesus in until Christmas, but I thought it looked odd without him, so there he is.)

How about a quick look at our dining room table before it became gift wrapping central?
I really don't have ideas for this area because eventually our dining room will actually be decorated and have a theme. So this year, I just used what I had. The runner is from Kohl's and is always on the table as it actually is part of the theme.
This little tree was my Christmas tree when I lived in my college dorm. I got him at Target. I did decorate it with little ornaments, but a certain cat thinks they are fun to play with, so I've been finding them all over the house.

That's the majority of our Chistmas decorations! Next time, I'll show you my very first DIY craft that I made for our house!

Christmas Day 16

What's your favorite Christmas tradition?

My favorite Christmas tradition is Midnight Mass. (Which is actually at 11:00.) I used to love going to church on Christmas Eve before I converted because at the end, we'd light candles and sing Silent Night. The first verse was in English, the second verse in German (lots of German speakers in a Mennonite church with a high population of senior citizens, including my grandparents) and then we'd hum until everyone had filed out.

Now that I'm Catholic, I go to Midnight Mass on Christmas eve. I love being in our beautiful church and listening to the Christmas story and singing Christmas hymns with the organ and choir.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Day 15

You're standing under a mistletoe. Who do you wish was there with you?

Besides David Tennant? I guess, I'll have to go with my husband!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Day 14

Did you enjoy last Christmas?

I do believe I did. I don't actually remember anything specific, but I guess that means it wasn't horrible, either!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Day 13

Who will you buy gifts for and what will they be?

I've got gifts for the husband, my mother, 2 brothers, future sister-in-law, future nephew, mother-in-law, 2 sister-in-laws, 2 brother-in-laws, 4 nieces and 1 nephew. Plus, 2 friends.

And no, I will not tell you what I got any of them.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Day 12

What do you really want this Christmas?

I'd really like a new job and a sudden influx of money.
But, I guess I'll take some time with family and friends and lots of good food.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Day 11

5 Things you Hate About Christmas

1. The weather
2. Grumpy shoppers

I love Christmas, so much, that it's hard to think of things I hate about it. But I really hate snow and dealing with grumpy people.


Christmas Day 10

5 Things You Love About Christmas

1. The music
2. Decorating
3. The food
4. Spending time with family and friends
5. Giving somebody the perfect gift


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Day 9

What's your favorite Christmas treat?

A local candy company makes a delicious treat called Chocolate Charlie. It is only available at Christmas time and I crave it year round.


Basically, it's marshmallows and peanuts covered in chocolate. It is heaven! I can't wait to get my hands on some this Christmas!

Christmas Day 8

A photo of where you will be spending Christmas.

See yesterday's photo!

Since this is our first Christmas as our own little family, I'm trying to set the traditions now, so it won't be a hassle when we have kids. Christmas eve is with the husband's family. This year (and hopefully, the next few years) it will be at our house. Christmas morning is just us at our house. Christmas dinner and afternoon is with my family at my mom's house.

That looks a bit like this...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Day 7

What does your Christmas tree look like?

It looks just like this...

Because this is our first Christmas together as a married couple and our first Christmas in our own house, we don't actually have our own tree. This one is my mom's old tree that she's been hanging onto for a couple years now. We're hoping to find a good deal on a tree after Christmas.

Because we don't have a tree, we also don't have a topper or tree skirt. Mostly though, I just haven't found any that I like. I'm being incredibly picky (as usual) and want either an argyle tree skirt or a penguin tree skirt. So far, no luck finding either for a reasonable price.

Christmas Day 6

What's your favorite Christmas song?

I LOVE Christmas music. The minute the local radio station changes to all Christmas music, I'm there. I even get excited when they start playing Christmas music at work, even if it is November 1. In high school, the music department put on a Christmas show every year (think the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, but high school and no Rockettes. In fact, it was called Christmas Spectacular.) Rehearsing and performing that show (4 times in one weekend) was my favorite thing in high school.

It's pretty much impossible for me to pick just one favorite song, but I tried to narrow it down a bit. My favorite Christmas song that we sing at church is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. My favorite Christmas song to listen to and sing along with is Don't Save It All for Christmas Day. My favorite "traditional" Christmas songs are White Christmas and O Holy Night. Those were my 2 favorite songs from Christmas Spectacular.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Day 5

What's your favorite Christmas movie?

I'm usually not much of a Christmas movie fan. I don't like Rudolph or Frosty and Charlie Brown is OK. I do however, love the animated Grinch. (Don't even talk to me about the Jim Carrey version.) I also really enjoy Elf. It's a fun movie and I love to quote it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Day 4

Which reindeer is your favorite and why?

I don't think I've ever really had a favorite reindeer. I'm not really a fan of the Rudolph movie or song (other than the Jack Johnson version), so it's not him. I think I'll go with Vixen because that's a fun name and it's a girly name, so it must be a girl reindeer.

This made me remember that a local mall used to have a talking reindeer. I think it was Rudolph and he would talk to the children. I don't remember if I actually liked him because I never liked furry characters when I was a kid.

Christmas Day 3

Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

My stylist and I were just talking about this subject last night. While I don't still believe that there is a physical Santa Claus, I do believe in the magic of Santa Claus. As a child, I don't remember when I stopped, but I did come by it on my own. I think I kept believing because I had younger brothers and I didn't want to ruin the magic for them.

I'm always sad when I sub for kindergarten classes and children ask me if there is a Santa because their friend told them there wasn't. I do my best to tell them that if they believe in Santa, then he is real (while I give their friend dirty looks.) I hope my own children never stop believing in Santa Claus.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Posts!

I found this neat little list of Christmas prompts over here and I thought I would try them to help me update everyday. Keep me responsible, OK?

Since I'm already behind, I'll do #1 & #2 now and #3 later today.

Day 1: Is Christmas your favorite holiday?

It sure is! I love just about everything about this time of year (except the snow and cold). I love Christmas music and decorations and the baking. I think I love Christmas so much because I have a lot of great memories of Christmas from my childhood. My cousins would come from Kansas every year and we'd get to spend time with them and our grandparents and have tons of fun.

Day 2: What's on your Christmas list?

Random stuff. Stuff we didn't get for our wedding that I still want. Some clothing items that I've been eyeing. Games so that we actually use our Wii for something other than watching Netflix. My birthday is 12 days after Christmas, so my list is always extra long so people can use it for both.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Time Lord Christmas

The husband and I are big Doctor Who nerds and so are several members of our family and some friends. While looking around Etsy for gift ideas, I've stumbled on some gifts I know some people (and Time Lords) would love. Maybe some these will find their way under our tree!

First up, how about a TARDIS phone case for the iPhone or Droid user?

$20 from Etsy seller Coolbeans717

This poster really needs a home in my house.

$13 from Etsy seller tuffindustries

I really hope this shirt becomes available again.

From Etsy seller imaginationemporium

My husband or brother-in-law would love to get this hoodie, I'm sure.
$30 from Etsy seller geekboypress

This is only a small sampling of the many Doctor Who gifts available on Etsy. I encourage you to look for yourself and support those who make these wonderful handmade goods.

Doctor Who gifts in our family are pretty much a tradition at this point. My sister-in-law made my nephew the 4th Doctor's scarf last year and this year she's make me and my niece some TARDIS socks!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New recipe and a deal!

My boss retired two weeks ago and we had a party for him at work. He loves breakfast pastries and other sweets, so I took the opportunity to try a new recipe. November's new recipe is Muffins that Taste Like Donuts! I won't put the whole recipe here since I got it from Tasty Kitchen and they do a great job of giving you the recipe there. And if you haven't check out Tasty Kitchen before, do so. It's a great site for recipes and it's run by one of my favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman.

Sadly, I did not get any pictures of mine, but I assure you they turned out well and were very tasty. They tasted a lot like my local supermarket's donut holes, which I love. I will definitely be making these again.

Now for the deal! If you haven't heard already, Amazon is offering $3 towards mp3 downloads. Just enter the code, GET3MP3S right here. And this week, Amazon is offering 5 albums everyday for just $1.99. They change everyday, so be sure to check them out. They also have tons of FREE mp3s that might interest you. Downloading mp3s from Amazon is super easy and they go right to you iTunes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Online Shopping Exclusives!

As you know, I love a good bargain. One of my favorite ways to find a good bargain are online sample sales. I belong to numerous sites that offer clothing/accessories/home goods to members at a fraction of the cost and they are often designer goods! I thought I'd share with you today a list of sites that I belong to along with links to sign up yourself. These sites are great sources for holiday gifts, so check them out daily as their sales change!

ideeli - clothing, accessories, cosmetics and travel

HauteLook - clothing, accessories, beauty, travel and home goods They are having an Urban Decay sale tomorrow that I cannot wait to see.

One Kings Lane - home goods

Beyond the Rack - clothing, accessories, home goods and travel They have a great Melissa & Doug sale right now that runs until Tuesday. I love Melissa & Doug toys.

Gilt Groupe - clothing, accessories, home goods, travel, and gifts

Swirl by DailyCandy - clothing and accessories They have a holiday shop full of fun and unique gift ideas.

the Foundary - home goods

The Mini Social - kids' clothing, toys and accessories I can't wait to have kids, so I can buy all the great stuff I see here!

Totsy - kids' clothing, toys, accessories, baby care items, educational materials, maternity items They are also having a Melissa & Doug sale!

Zulily - kids' clothing, toys, accessories, baby and maternity items They always have a lot of seriously cute stuff. It's hard for me to just look right now!

Those are my sites for now! I'll let you know if I discover any new ones and feel free to let me know about your favorites in the comments!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Brides Beware, Target Registry Sucks!

My number one piece of advice for brides? Don't register at Target!

Prior to my engagement, I loved Target. I shopped there at least once a week even if I didn't need anything. They have good deals and I love their clearance. Naturally, when it came time to register for wedding gifts, I was excited to register at one of my favorite stores, Target.

(FYI: I work retail. I do not work at Target. I do not work for any of Target's competition. This is completely unrelated to my work other than I expect good customer service as every consumer should.)

My then fiance and I headed to our local Target one day in January to register for fabulous things for our new house. We started our registry, got our scanner and spent the next hour or so wandering the store scanning items we wished to own.

When we arrived home, I excitedly located our registry on Target's website so that I could link to it on our wedding website for our guests' convenience. Imagine my surprise to discover several items we most definitely did NOT scan during our trip to the store. BABY items. I am so glad that I discovered the errant items and was able to delete them before any of our guests got the wrong idea!

So, I fixed the mistakes, kept an eye our registry, added and deleting things as needed. I had my bridal shower in May and I had a lot of fun watching our registries and trying to guess who bought us what.

Unfortunately, I did have to return a couple items after the shower due to some miscommunication. I had gift receipts and the items still had all of their original packaging still attached and intact. Simple transaction right? Not at my local Target! The girl working at the guest services desk preceded to accuse me of using the items I was returning and made a big deal about taking them back. I remained polite and calm and gladly took the in store credit given because I loved Target and knew I would use it.

Luckily, we did not have to return any items to Target after our wedding.

Fast forward to about a month after our wedding. I receive an email from Target congratulating us on our wedding (4 weeks later) and informing us that we would receive a (one time use) coupon for 10% off to help complete our registry. Well, cool! We received several Target gift cards and I had my eye on a few things off our registry that we didn't get. I though I'd just wait for the coupon and use them all together!

As of Friday, we have been married for 5 months. I have yet to receive that coupon. And I have yet to use any of our Target gift cards.

I wrote to Target through their website to let them know how disappointed I was in my experience. That was 1 month ago. I have yet to hear from them.

The moral of my story? Don't register at Target if you want to be able to return things or complete your registry.

I am not the only one to have these complications. I highly suggest reading wedding message boards to hear about others' experiences with Target. Weddingbee and The Knot are good places to start.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Free Christmas Cards!

If there's 2 things I love, it's bargains and Christmas. So, I'm really excited to share with you a Christmas bargain I've found!

Shutterfly is giving away 50 free Christmas cards to bloggers as long as they blog about Shutterfly's awesome Christmas cards. (So, consider this a sponsored post) Shutterfly always has a great selection of photo cards and this year they have a fabulous selection of Christmas cards.

I really want to send photo cards for Christmas this year because we have fabulous photos from our wedding to use. I have a feeling it's going to be tough to pick one! Almost as tough as deciding on which card to use. Here are some of my favorites: (Click on any of the pictures to see more details about the card)

I definitely want a card with the year on it, so people can remember when we got married. I love the diamond background because it reminds me of argyle, which we love!

I really like the plaid on this one. It makes me think of cozy blankets and a warm fire.

As the example shows, this card is great for a wedding picture. Love the lace since my dress was full of lace and the Merry Christmas font is pretty. (By the way, Shutterfly is also a great source of thank you cards if you're recently married.)

I like how simple this one is, yet still elegant. What a great way to show off a favorite photo.

I love black and white damask and the snowflake damask is so cute!

It's going to be a tough choice! Which one is your favorite?

Are you a blogger that wants free cards? Visit this link for details!

Not a blogger? Shutterfly is offering 20% off all holiday cards!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October's New Recipe - Pepperoni Pizza Pasta

One of my 101 goals to complete in 1001 days is to try a new recipe every month. Since it's the last week of the month, I knew I better get on the ball in order to keep my goal this month. Since my local grocery store didn't have any good meat on sale this week, I decided to try this pasta recipe. My mom gave the recipe to me a few months ago since she knows how much the husband and I love pepperoni pizza. I don't know where she found the recipe or I'd give credit.

Normally, I tend to follow recipes to the letter, but for some reason with this one, I kept making changes as I went along. I'll give you the original recipe and make note of my modifications as well.

Here's what you need:

  • 2 cups uncooked ziti (I used mostaccioli since it's what we had on hand. They're the same shape. And I used the whole box, so I doubled the recipe as I went.)
  • 1 (14 oz) jar pizza sauce
  • 2 oz. sliced pepperoni, halved
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (We hate peppers, so I omitted this.)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. (I never spray my glass baking dish when I bake pasta, so I didn't do this step. Had no problems.)

Cook ziti to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain.

In large bowl, combine cooked ziti, pizza sauce, pepperoni, bell pepper, Parmesan cheese, oregano and garlic; mix well. (Because we love cheesy pasta, I also added a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.)

Spoon into sprayed baking dish; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil. (I didn't sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese at this point.)

Bake at 375 for 30 to 35 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated and cheese is melted. (I baked for 25 minutes and then removed foil and sprinkled with mozzarella cheese. I then baked it for another 10 minutes or so until the cheese was melted.)

While waiting for the baking to be done, take pictures of your oh so adorable cats.

When it's done, you get this

We like to have bread and dipping oil with our pasta.

Overall, this recipe was fairly good. My husband really liked it and ended up eating most of it. I prefer just regular baked mostaccioli. This dish didn't have enough cheesy goodness inside for my tastes. Also, the garlic turned out to be too much for me, and I love garlic. Since I was doubling the recipe, I used 2 small cloves of garlic and I probably should have stuck with just one. Keep that in mind if you make this recipe.

Let me know if you try this recipe and how you like it!

Monday, October 18, 2010


I tend to get mildly to completely obsessed with things. Argyle, giraffes, penguins, cherries...all current obsessions. Over the past few months though, I've developed a new thing. Owls.

It all started with this...

Photo by Amanda Fales

I found this alley in our historic downtown. Ok, my brother found it, but whatever. I thought it would be a fun place to take some wedding pictures with the bricks and the faded ad. At the time, I thought, "An owl, ok, looks cool."

But then, this happened...

An owl. A real live owl. In Africa. Ok, not really Africa. It was Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom. We were on day three of our honeymoon and enjoying our second ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari when we spotted this. Obviously, it's not an animal typically found on a safari, but it decided to have a little fun, I guess. Our guide was even shocked to see it.

I fell in love with owls right then. An owl on my wedding day and then one on my honeymoon? How could I not? They are my new favorite flying animal. (Although, I also happen to think bats are pretty cool, but mostly only around Halloween.)

So now that I'm obsessed with owls, I have to have owl things, right? Of course!

I've already ordered this fun owl flag for our garden flag pole.


Next on my list, this awesome owl lamp! He's going to look so cute in our living room.


And I was excited to see this guy on our trip to the local zoo yesterday...

One owl thing I don't like? Owl City. Can't stand to listen to them and unfortunately, the music at work has several Owl City songs. Drives me nuts everyday.

I'm off to search for more awesome owl stuff.

What are you obsessed with?