December 31, 2010

My Christmas Present

My amazing husband bought me a new car!

It's a new Toyota Camry. With gray leather interior. And my favorite part? It has HEATED seats! Keeps my bum nice and warm in this cold weather!

The week of Christmas the husband said he thought it was time for me to get a new car. And who can argue with that? We shopped around and then picked it up yesterday.

I was driving his Ford Escape and he was driving my newer and nicer Jeep, because, well, I'm not so great at driving big SUVs. The week of our wedding (2 years ago) I sort of scratched up the front side of the Jeep. I was stressed out, in a hurry, and trying to park it in the garage of a condo I had just moved in to. And I scraped it against the side of the garage. Oops. I felt SO bad. But the husband didn't mind. Once we were married he suggested we swap cars since his Escape was a little more of a manageable size for me. And I happily agreed. So this time around when we started shopping for cars we quickly narrowed things down to either another Escape, a Camry, Passat, or Accord. I think I drove 8 cars but liked the Camry the best! 

And here's a tip for anyone in the market for a new car. Go on to Consumer Reports and download the invoice price information for the car you like. It costs about $14 but it gives you the price the dealer paid for the car, the price it is sold for, and what price you should haggle to. We did this and within 10 minutes we had 2 dealers in our area call us and offer the exact car (color and interior) I wanted for the price very close to the invoice. So it was totally worth it!

I was a little disappointed I didn't get to haggle. My mom is an excellent negotiator, so I learned from the best! But on the other hand, not having to deal with haggling was nice too.

I'm off to get ready for our New Year's party. Happy New Year everyone!

December 29, 2010

Christmas Vacation

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! We sure did. The husband and I took the week between Christmas and New Year's off....so we are enjoying a nice little stay-cation right now! I have no excuse for not blogging about Christmas sooner....but it's hard to get back in the swing of things after the holidays.

Christmas started off right with a surprise package in the mail from my mom's good friend Karol.

It was Karol's delicious fudge! I just about screamed with excitement when I opened it! Thanks Karol! We look forward to this every year. 


This year we hosted our families at our house for Christmas. It was great and the food was so yummy. Here is my Christmas table. I'm still working on getting all white chairs, so please ignore the black ones!

My Grandma's old mason jars, candles, and clippings from our Christmas tree helped make our simple table complete. Once all the food was ready we were crunched for space on the table....until I realized I totally forgot to put the leaf in. Oops! 

Me and the husband by our tree. Wrigley did not want to look at the camera! He was too busy trying to get to the new toys he got for Christmas. 

Modeling the cute top the husband got me for Christmas. 

Me and my mom...not looking at the camera. She flew in from California on Christmas Eve. It's just not Christmas without her with me!

Pancake enjoyed some snuggle time on the couch.

I'll post about my big Christmas gift later this week! I'm beyond excited about it. 

Right now we are busy preparing to host our New Year's party. Yes, we are crazy for hosting Christmas and New Year's....but I secretly love it.

December 22, 2010

Our Christmas Card

I love how great our Christmas card turned out! I wish I could send it to all of my readers! I am thankful for each of you this holiday season. 

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

December 21, 2010

The Family Room....sort of

We've finally made some progress on our family room. New sectional couch, new chair, and new coffee table. We still need to do a few more things, but I thought I'd share what we've done so far!

 Here is the the before. We basically only used this room to watch movies.

The old ugly couch I bought for my first apartment. And the window treatment that came with the house that I have hated since day one. This couch is now living in our basement.

 And here's what it looks like now. It's so much more cozy and inviting.


 I'm waiting for my mom to come out here for Christmas so that she can help me make some curtains to match the room. But for now this shade is an improvement over the ugly old thing that was there before. 
 The TV makes it hard to decorate the mantel, but I did my best. The fake trees are from Michael's (50% off last week) and the mercury glass trees are from Target (after Christmas sale).

 While going through our Christmas stuff I discovered that Wrigley had chewed up our stockings from last year, so I picked up these from Joann's Fabric for 70% off. I love a good deal. 

My Noel letters on display along with our manger candle. The old crates and watering can are vintage and were gifts from my in-laws. 

***Edited to add: For those of you who've asked, I downloaded the Keep Calm and Merry On print for free from Craftily Ever After. There are two other prints too! Just an FYI: I uploaded it (8x10) to Kodak Gallery and had it sent to Target to print so I didn't have to pay shipping/wait for it to arrive. For some reason Target couldn't get it to print correctly. It has several black smudges on it (you can't really tell from my photo though) so I got it for free. I'm going to try having Kodak print it and mail it to me so that I have a better copy for next year.

 Wrigley likes the new room too!

 The new chair. I plan to hang a shelf above and slightly to the right of the chair. The frames for the shelf are sitting to the right just waiting to go on display. Oh, by the way, the blanket on the chair is from Pottery Barn and is quite possibly the best blanket ever. I'm obsessed. Click here to check it out. It's so warm and comfy.

Here are the photos courtesy of Erin Vancura Photography. Love them! I think I might paint the frame with Wrigley in it black.

 View from inside the room. I plan to put a sofa table behind the couch so that the lamp has a home. (Oh, and you can see my foil still on the left side of the couch? Classy.)

 Pillows from Pottery Barn. 

Wrinkly pillow also from Pottery Barn. Oops. 

Pancake approved coffee table from Ballard Designs. I want to put a basket on the lower shelf to hold all of our remotes and stuff.

Once I finish the room I'll post it again, but for now any ideas about where I can get a cute and inexpensive sofa table?

December 16, 2010

The Best Cookies Ever

 Last night I was in the mood to bake cookies. I found a recipe online for Peanut Butter Cup cookies and they sounded so yummy. So I set to work. Seriously, these are the best cookies I've had in a long long time. Amazingly delicious. If you like peanut butter and chocolate, you'll love these. I took one bite and told the husband they were hands down the best. He responded by trying one too. And then another. And then he told me to hide them from him...they are that good!

The best part is that they are SO easy to make. 


Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside. 
  • Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter, and brown sugar until fluffy. 
  • Beat in the egg, vanilla, and milk. 
  • Add the flour mixture; mix well. 
  • Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan. 
  • Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. 
  • Remove from oven and immediately press a peanut butter cup into each cookie. 
  • Cool and carefully remove from pan
Enjoy!

December 14, 2010

Cat Proof?

I'm still working on our family room update. I'm still waiting for Pottery Barn to deliver some pillows and a cute throw blanket. I also need to get the husband to help me hang a new window treatment and I need to buy a shelf to display some pictures. So much to do!

In the meantime I'm working on ways to cat proof our new furniture. Henry likes to scratch on the end of our couch. And yes, our cats still have their claws. I don't believe cats should be de-clawed, so that is not an option in this house. So far Henry has scratched a few spots on our white living room couch.....but it wasn't an expensive piece and it's not too noticeable, so I haven't really worried about it. However, this time around we decided to invest in a new Pottery Barn sectional couch...and I don't want it to get ruined! 

My solution?

 Aluminum foil and painter's tape, of course.


So far it's worked really well! They hate the foil and it is training them to stay away. This is by no means a long term solution....because it's SO ugly! So I need help blog friends....any suggestions to keep the cats from scratching? They do have a cat scratcher that I try to get them to use....any other ideas?

December 13, 2010

Baby it's cold outside....

Good morning! I hope it's warm where you are because here in Michigan it is FREEZING! The wind chill was zero this morning. Yikes! I've officially added an electric blanket to my Christmas wish list. To make matters worse, last night we didn't have any hot water. And no, I don't live out in the country, so I have no idea what happened. I am a night-time shower person....mostly because it takes me forever to do my hair, and I just don't have time for it in the mornings. And there was no way I was going to take a cold shower last night...it was SO cold. Luckily the husband re-set the hot water heater and we had hot water this morning. (Thank you God!).

Of course I didn't have time to shower this morning...so I am a hot mess today. Hopefully my co-workers don't notice!

This weekend we pretty much stayed inside watching movies and drinking hot chocolate. It was perfect. We also finished our Christmas shopping....I am SO excited to be done and to get everything wrapped and under the tree!

And I realize the above photo has nothing to do with this post....but it's cute. So how was your weekend?

December 9, 2010

LED Lights Dilemma

This is the first year we've put Christmas lights up on our house. I frequently did it growing up (not too hard in California because it's always warm!) but this was the husband's first experience with outdoor lights. I bought 5 boxes of LED icicle lights last year after Christmas. Of course they were half price! (I refuse to buy anything Christmas related unless it is at least 50% off.) Anyway, I can't remember if LED were the only ones they had or if I was feeling very concerned about the environment at the time. I've never had LED lights before and well....they are, what's the word? Bright? They didn't look so bright during the day when were were putting them up (and freezing our buns off, by the way!). But holy brightness batman! Our eyeballs were temporarily shocked. You can see these suckers from a mile away.
So, what's the problem you ask? Well, I'm not so sure I'm sold on the look of the LED lights. They are super white and therefore make traditional white lights look yellow in comparison. So I can't light our two mini trees by the door because they have traditional lights so they look dingy.

I tried to capture the brightness...but I sort of failed. But you get the idea right?
The lights are also super tight...so they don't hang down like icicles like I wanted them too.

 I mean, I'm all about doing what's best for the environment....but can't they make normal looking LED lights?

So am I being overly picky? Do they look good or weird? One minute I think they look awesome and the next minute I think they look crazy. I was feeling a little self-conscious about our bright lights so I scoped out all the houses around us. And there are ZERO houses our neighborhood with LED lights.
Tacky lights? Check.
Flashing lights mixed with non-flashers? Check.
Every color of the rainbow lights? Check.
Lighted snowmen and reindeer? Check.
Cute normal icicle lights? Check.
LED lights? Just our house.

The lights are staying up this year...frankly because it is way too cold to take them down. But as for us putting them up next year? I can't decide.

So I need you to be honest with me! Yes or no to the LED lights?

December 7, 2010

NOEL

Sorry for no blog post yesterday. The day sort of got away from me! This weekend we got new furniture for our family room...and I can't wait to show it to you! I don't think I've ever put a picture of that room on here because it's sort of boring. And there is nothing fun on the walls. My goal is to get that room in order and put up some fun decorations so I can post it on here next week....we'll see if that happens!

I always feel the need to make crafts around Christmas time. So this weekend I decided to make a cute Noel display to add to our Christmas decor. I saw the idea on another blog and thought it would make an easy project...plus it only costs a few dollars! 

First you need some supplies. I got everything at Joann's Fabric. The N, E, and L are all cardboard (aka cheap!) and the O is wood. Mix up your fonts! I like how the O is a different font and the E is smaller. I tried to make each letter different but as it turns out the selection was pretty limited. I guess if you go to a few different stores you might have better luck....but it was freezing here and I didn't want to venture out to other stores.

I also picked up some metallic paint. I think they were $1.29 each. The colors I chose were "Champagne Gold" and "Silver Sage". I wanted a combo of gold and silver, but I wanted the gold to be soft since we don't have a lot of it in our house...hence the "champagne" color. Each letter needed two coats of paint.

And here is the final product! I decided to keep the O white because I liked how it looked against the silver and champagne. The N and L are silver and the E is champagne. I wanted the colors to be subtle. (Sorry for the bad lighting! It gets dark here at 4:00, which makes it impossible to get a good picture!)

 Here you can see the color contrast a little better. 

I can't wait to put this in our family room once I get it all organized!

December 2, 2010

Hello Snow!

Well, it's official. Winter has arrived! December started off with a bang and dumped several inches of snow on us. And this is only the beginning!

December 1, 2010

Wish List 2010

The husband and I are exchanging just a few small gifts this year....but that didn't stop me from coming up with a bunch of stuff I want...in case anyone wanted to know.

 I love this hat from Express. And it will get a lot of use out here in Michigan. In fact I may have ordered it on Cyber Monday (oops!). You can't tell from the photo but it's pink and black! So cute.
 And I've been dying over these red spiral glasses from Pier 1. They are so festive. I can't decide if I want the wine glasses or the tall water glasses. I'm hoping they have these marked down to half price the day after Christmas.
I love Uggs. Mine get a ton of use. I'm lovin' the Bailey Button Triplet Boot in Grey.


And I must have Eclipse on blu-ray. (Hint, hint, husband! It comes out Saturday)

 I'm in love with these sequin animals by West Elm. I think I like the squirrel most. Wouldn't it be a cute way to jazz up your fall decorations? Oh, but the bunny is cute too. They are only $14.99 and $5 goes towards St. Jude's Children's Hospital. You can't go wrong with that!

 I've been wanting a white knit hat for a long time. I love this one from Target. It's cashmere and less than $20!

I've been wanting this Chalkboard basket from Target for awhile now. I keep stalking it at the store!
I really want to try Philosophy's Hope in a Jar. I keep hearing great things about it. And Oprah put it on her list of favorite things...so it must be good, right?


And I've been wanting MAC's Prep and Prime too. Love this product!

What is on your wish list this year?
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