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Wednesday, December 31, 2014


2014 went by in a blur! A LOT of major events happened but they all somehow passed quietly by, without a lot of fanfare or to-do. In an attempt to reflect on the past year and prepare for the next, I picked my most favorite moment from each month of 2014. It was a tough choice but these twelve moments definitely made this year a happy one.

My favorite moment of January was definitely the fun snow day(s) we had. We played in the snow, building mini snowmen, playing with Jack (the dog), and making snow angels. We walked around our neighborhood and congregated at the bars down the street. We even managed to squeeze in a horror movie marathon. Definitely a snow day to remember!

My top moment of February was the Eat Your Heart Out Valentine's burlesque show by Effie's Club Follies. Two of my friends were performers and they did an excellent job! It was a really fun night out with friends + boyfriend. And I'm already counting down the days until the next burlesque show this January.

Boyfriend and I spent a week house-sitting for my parents and also pet-sitting their new puppy, Piper, and their cat, Picasso. It was fun fun times even though we both had sinus infections for part of the week.

I apparently didn't do much in the month of April but one fun moment was a birthday party for a couple of my gal friends. We got dressed up, lit sparklers and had fun treats + drinks and great conversations around the bonfire - my favorite kind of house party.

While I was visiting with some family, we decided to go to a local petting zoo to entertain my younger nieces and then to a wine tasting to entertain the grown-ups. Two completely different atmospheres that made for a memorable weekend trip.

In June, I spent a few days in the North Georgia mountains for boyfriend's annual family vacation. We got to spend some lazy days on the lake - swimming, tanning + reading on the dock, playing flashlight tag and board games at night, sharing yummy meals with his family.

I got to celebrate my birthday with my mom this year which was a change from most years. I usually go up to visit her sometime before or after but I haven't spent the actual day with her in quite a few years. It was nice to have some mother-daughter bonding time and we made some yum food, like spicy fish tacos with lime + cilantro crema AND homemade roasted strawberry ice cream for dessert. DELISH!

Boyfriend finally moved in this past August and we've been having a fun time playing house. It's really starting to feel like OUR home and we've established a good flow together. A successful experiment so far!

September was another mostly uneventful month but one fun night was the night of my friend Marlene's wedding. I got to get dressed up and spend the evening in Atlanta, sipping champagne + extra-dirty martinis, catching up with old friends, spending time with my sister who came down from Chicago, making great conversation with interesting strangers at my dinner table. FUN.

It was hard to choose a top moment from all of the amazing October moments so I just decided to include several of my favorites under the all-encompassing label of HALLOWEEN activities. Some extra special events that stick out include the Rocky Horror Picture Show Live performance, Halloween Sheet Fort Movie Night, several fun pumpkin carvings with friends and walking in the Wild Rumpus Parade. I LOVE Halloween!

This year was BIG Thanksgiving year in my household which meant there were nineteen of us under one roof for the holiday. It was pure chaos but the best kind of chaos there ever could be. It was so nice to get to hang out with all of my nieces and my nephew and to have boyfriend bond with those of my family members that he doesn't know as well.

Christmas-time is my favorite time of year and I would rather spend it with my family than anyone else in the world. We did our usual family traditions like Christmas Carol Karaoke, an epic Christmas Eve Snack Night, hiding the pickle on the tree, stuffing stockings - such a cozy and happy Christmas even though it was a smaller year.

All in all, it was a low-key but memorable year, full of good times with family and friends. Next year I hope to create even more magical moments with the people I love the most because THAT is the most important thing to me.

How was YOUR 2014? What were your favorite memories from this past year? And what are your hopes for the new year?

XOXO and HAPPY 2015!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

NEW YEAR'S EVE + DAY // TRADITIONS  photos-history-holiday.html

Happy almost New Year, kittens! And Happy Christmas [for those of you who celebrate]! I hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday break and got a chance to get cozy with loved ones and have a bit of fun. I know I did. Now that Christmas is over, the focus shifts to the passing of the old year and the ringing in of a new one. I'm excited for 2015...2014 was a good year but it was more of a transitional one - I quit my job of ten years and started a new one, graduated from college, moved in with my boyfriend. In 2015 I'm hoping to have more time for FUN and TRAVEL and CREATIVITY. Here are a couple of my personal New Year's Eve and New Year's Day traditions from years past.


My New Year's Eve necessities are three-fold: champagne [duh] + sparklers + a midnight kiss. I've spent my NYE nights celebrating in every which way - at home with my parents, at bars downtown with friends + strangers, at home with my boyfriend, at house parties with friends, alone. I have yet to find the perfect way to celebrate [see: HIMYM season 1, episode 11] but lately I've been leaning more towards the quieter, more intimate celebration. This year I don't have any big plans except maybe some Thai food takeout with boyfriend and a Netflix marathon.

The only other New Year's Eve ritual I celebrate, besides my three necessities and counting down to midnight, is finding time to finalize my New Year's RESOLUTIONS. I am a HUGE fan of list-making, especially ones that have to do with goals but I can often get a little overboard with it. So I usually make sure to pare down and create my final list of resolutions sometime on New Year's Eve.  photos-history-holiday.html


New Year's Day I like to SLEEP IN as late as possible and then wake up and put a pot of chili on the stove to slow-cook throughout the day. I usually try to get a winter walk in [even if it's just around the neighborhood] and then come home and eat chili and drink any leftover champagne. Usually the day also involves a lot of lounging around, reflecting on the past year and the new year ahead, and board games. Oh, and I can't forget the HOPPIN' JOHN and COLLARD GREENS - a Southern tradition that's supposed to bring you good luck and wealth in the new year. HERE is an old but interesting NYT article about variations of HOPPIN' JOHN [and there's even recipes included].

What are YOUR traditions and rituals for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day? Share with us in the comments below! And I will leave you with some great New Year's advice from Neil Gaiman HERE.

Here's to a magical year full of FUN and love and joy...HAPPY 2015! XOXO.

Friday, December 19, 2014


This year boyfriend and I decided to forgo the traditional gift-giving route and stuff stockings with mini presents for each other instead. After we each celebrate with our families, we'll have our own Christmas just for the two of us so that we can open our stockings together. I thought I'd share some of the fun items I found for him in case anyone needs some very last-minute stocking stuffer ideas for the men in their lives. Most of these [or similar items] should be available on Amazon. Here we go!:

- anchovies [these gross me out but he loves them on crackers]
- matzoh ball & soup mix [his favorite comfort food]
- justin's chocolate hazelnut butter [to satisfy his sweet tooth]
- mini chuao honeycomb chocopod [these are the best things me]

- wine wipes [to keep his smile stain-free after a dinner date out]
- bee + flower bar soap in ginseng + sandalwood [super cheap + nice-smelling]
- blistex lip medex [to keep those chapped winter lips away]

- incense [he has an obsession with burning incense and I don't mind most of it]
- henry miller book [we've been going through a Miller phase lately]
- gold dino skeleton [just a fun tchotchke for his desk...check out the diy HERE!]
- herb lester map of rome [he LOVES maps and we took italian classes together so this is perfect for his collection]
- diy cheese kit [boyfriend has been getting really into making bread from scratch and wants to move onto cheese next so this mini kit is the perfect starting place]

I'm also gonna add in a few more items like mini bottles of nice whiskey but I think I have a pretty nice spread for him so far. I hope you enjoyed this little stocking stuffer tour and hopefully you got some great ideas for last-minute items or for next year's stocking.

I hope y'all have a merry + happy holiday! We'll be gone for the next week, enjoying family time and Christmas fun, but we'll be back on the 29th with a new post! See you then! XOXO.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Need an idea for a cheap, last-minute stocking stuffer? Look no further than these EASY DIY Gold Dino Skeletons. This isn't really a tutorial to make's much too simple to need that. It's just a suggestion for an inexpensive but fun stocking stuffer to make for your family and friends. So grab your gold spraypaint [I used Rust-oleum American Accents in Metallic Bright Gold] and some plastic dinosaur skeletons or other figurines [I used THESE dinos from Amazon] and get to spraying. I did a few coats on these guys, waiting a few minutes between each coat, and then I let them dry for two hours before flipping them over to paint the other side.

See...easy AND cheap but still cute enough to gift. You could use these as stocking stuffers, present toppers or fun accessories for your bookshelf!

Do you have any other suggestions for quick + inexpensive stocking stuffers? Let us know in the comments below! XOXO.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Cacti and succulents have been a BIG DEAL in home decor for a few years now, so I'm guessing a lot of you probably own a cactus or two. Or some sort of greenery, at least. How about jazzing them up for the holidays with some fun + festive accessories? Here are three cheap + easy ways to add some holiday cheer to your house plants:

Mini pom-poms make the perfect ornaments to hang on the spines of your cacti!

Wrap some leftover trim around your cactus for a garland!

Add a gold pipe cleaner halo and some cut-out paper wings and voila! - a cacti angel. TOO cute.

And there you have it - three easy ways to add pops of festive fun to your cacti or other house plants. If you have any holiday plant decor suggestions, let me know in the comments below!

Cereal Killer Tiger print by Ray Young Chu
Plastic Goblets from Oh Joy! for Target
Peace on Earth free printable from Angela Hardison

Friday, December 12, 2014


Christmas morning is a time to get comfortable + cozy - while dressing appropriately enough to be around family and friends. How about a striped matching pajama set? Or some cutesy polar bear shorts with a striped top? Whatever you choose to wear, amp up the cozy factor by adding an extra-plush robe and some fleece-lined slippers. Now, grab some coffee and start emptying that Christmas stocking!

1. Fireside Long Jane Pajama from Victoria's Secret [$39.50 on sale]
2. Winter Fleece Robe from L.L. Bean [$74]
3. Striped Waffle T-shirt from Aerie [$22.46 on sale]
4. Flannel Boxer from Aerie [$12 on sale]
5. Corene Slippers from Target [$17.49 on sale]

What do y'all think - change into "real" clothes before the festivities begin? Or roll out of bed and rush straight for the tree? I'm more of a roll out of bed kinda gal but let us know what you think in the comments below!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we sometimes forget about other December happenings, like fall semester college graduation. It hasn't even really hit me yet that I'm graduating from university in a week, but it is a thing, and other people are doing it, too. If you have a soon-to-be college graduate in your life, we've got you covered on the perfect gifts to celebrate his or her accomplishments [although most of these are geared towards the gals...SORRY!]. Although I am proud of myself, I'm not really doing any sort of big celebration - I'm kind of a non-traditional student in that I've been in and out of school for years and I just don't really feel like making a big deal of it. But, for those of you with graduation parties or dinners to attend, check out the links below to find the perfect graduation gift!


Beyonce Wasn't Built In A Day Tee from Swank Blue [$30]
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Puffin Chalk Edition from Amazon [$6]


Lucite Stapler from Anthropologie [$32]
Gold Business Card Holder from russell+hazel [$28]


Get It Girl! Print from Charm and Gumption on Etsy [$5 for instant download]
The Graduate on DVD from Amazon [$6]

Happy gifting! And CONGRATS, grads!!

Monday, December 8, 2014


a typical Christmas morning with my family (note the mustaches from our stockings)

Get excited! It's officially the most wonderful time of the year. December is such a joyful and nostalgic month with some pretty spectacular holidays. It's a fun time to cozify our homes, gather with our friends + family, and celebrate the coming of winter and the passing of another year. After sharing my Thanksgiving traditions, I thought it would be fun to write posts about traditions for every holiday. Here I will share my list of past traditions that I would like to continue to honor and new traditions that I would like to start incorporating into my holiday season. I broke them into sections - Traditions to Start When I Have Bebes, Friend Traditions, and Family Traditions.

advent calendar from the painted hive


1. Advent Calendar: I'm a huge fan of activity-centered advent calendars - in fact, I made an EASY PEASY DIY ADVENT CALENDAR this year for my household. If I have bebes someday, I would really like to try to make an advent calendar each December. It'd be fun to do an activity-based version but I am also loving the children's book advent calendars I've been seeing around for a few years, where your child opens a new story book each night leading up to Christmas. I would probably only choose a FEW holiday-themed books to give to my kids but it would be fun to curate a collection of books you think your kids would love throughout the year.

advent calendar printable tags from simple as that

2. St. Lucia's Day [December 13th]: St. Lucia's Day is a holiday celebrated mostly by Scandinavians and some Italians. It's a day of celebrating the Winter Solstice (which fell on the 13th a few calendars ago) and bringing light and warmth to the dark and cold days. I really hope that I have a daughter someday who will be willing to celebrate her barely Swedish blood and take on the part of St. Lucia every December 13th. She'd get to wear a pretty white gown with red sash, a wreath of (faux) candles and sing songs while bringing coffee & Swedish cinnamon buns to the family for breakfast (just think of Kirsten from the original American Girl dolls).  TOO CUTE. Plus breakfast-in-bed, hello?!

saint lucia and star boy crowns from frontier dreams


1. Annual Holiday Lights Tour: Last year, some friends & I found a Google map that someone had made of awesome local neighborhood light displays. So we piled into the car, tuned into the Christmas radio station and drove around town, looking at lights. And that was the 1st Annual Holiday Lights Tour. This year, I'm hoping to recreate that night with the same people but the addition of these Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Cookies. YUM. And if that doesn't end up happening because of this or that, I do have definite plans to go see the lights at Stone Mountain with a different group of friends. Either way, I will chalk it up as a successful 2nd Annual Holiday Lights Tour.

stone mountain at christmas
salted caramel hot chocolate cookies from beyond frosting

More Christmas traditions after the jump!

Friday, December 5, 2014


Words cannot describe the wonders of Banoffee Pie. YUM. It's a super creamy and incredibly rich combo of bananas + toffee topped with whipped cream + a dusting of chocolate, all in a buttery shortbread crust. I'm drooling just thinking about it. The first time I had the pleasure of trying banoffee pie was at Christmas-time a few years back. My oldest sister made the delectable dessert on a whim and we ate it while we watched Little Women. I've been wanting to recreate that memory and turn it into a holiday tradition but I run out of time or forget or some other excuse conveniently pops up. This year, I read through quite a few recipes, decided it was going to be a breeze to make, and came up with my own shortcut version. The only steps I dreaded were making the toffee [which can be done ahead but takes two-and-a-half hours plus cooling time YIKES] and making myself wait for the pie to set in the fridge for two hours before serving. But even these were a cinch, promise!

[pairs well with a black cuppa coffee, flannel pajamas, and a screening of Little Women with your sisters]

premade shortbread or graham cracker crust
one can of sweetened condensed milk
three medium-ripe bananas
one cup heavy whipping cream
one-half teaspoon vanilla
chocolate bar of your choice


1. MAKE THE TOFFEE *THIS STEP CAN BE DONE AHEAD OF TIME* - Peel the label off of the can of sweetened condensed milk. Place in a deep pot with a heavy bottom and cover with water. I made sure there was at least an inch of water above the top of the can at all times. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that the can stay submerged completely in water the whole time it cooks or an explosion can occur [and cleaning toffee off of the walls + ceiling does not sound like a fun time at all]. Boil the can for two-and-a-half hours, checking every thirty minutes or so to make sure there is plenty of water in the pot. Let cool completely.

2. MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM - Combine the heavy whipping cream with the vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium with an electric handmixer until peaks begin to form and it retains a thicker consistency. Keep cool in the refrigerator until needed. NOTE - if you want to cut out even more time, you could buy premade whipped topping like Cool Whip. But it really didn't take long at all to make by hand.

3. ASSEMBLE THE PIE - Slice the three bananas. Layer into the bottom of your premade pie crust. Once the toffee is done cooling completely, open the can and pour evenly over the sliced bananas in the pie crust. Spread a thick layer of the whipped cream on top of the toffee layer. Take the chocolate bar and grate evenly over the entire top of the pie. You can even use a vegetable peeler to CAREFULLY create [or try to create in my case] chocolate curls as a garnish.

4. REFRIGERATE - Put the pie in the refrigerator for at least two hours so it can set and cool completely.

5. SERVE - Serve straight from the fridge with cups of fresh black coffee - it helps keep the overwhelming sweetness of the pie in check. Keep the remaining pie cool in the fridge for up to three days.

I hope you end up loving Banoffee Pie as much as I do...or at least half as much. Maybe this recipe will become a new holiday tradition for YOUR family, too!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Advent calendars are fun for young + old alike. Kids can get excited with anticipation for Christmas Day and adults can keep track of how many days they have left to CRAM in holiday cheer. I've always been a fan of TO DO WISHLIST-type advent calendars - the ones that suggest a fun new holiday activity each day. So I threw together a very last-minute advent calendar with materials I already had at home. TA DA!


bulletin board
fun kraft or wrapping paper to cover the bulletin board
blank chipboard gift tags of various shapes + sizes
sharpie, color of choice
red + green thumb tacks
a list of fun holiday to-dos

1. First, measure the inside cork part of your bulletin board [width + length] and cut out a corresponding sized rectangle from the fun kraft or wrapping paper you chose for your background. Adhere paper to bulletin board - I used a row of cute gray mushroom pushpins from Target to keep my kraft paper background in place. You could follow my lead or use double stick tape or poster mounts for yours.

2. Count out 24 or 25 chipboard tags [I only count down through Christmas Eve but a lot of people count down through Christmas Day] and create a layout that makes you happy. I chose a diamond/tree shape so the pushpins would look like little ornaments. Number the tags from 1 to 24 or 25 on the front. On the back, write your chosen holiday activities. If you don't like your handwriting or would rather have more uniformity, you can type + print numbers and activities in cute fonts and glue them to the tags.

3. Use the red + green push pins to pin the tags to the bulletin board in your chosen layout. As each day in December comes, flip the tag from the numbered side to the activity side to find out what holiday fun is in store for you!

Monday, December 1, 2014


Hello, hello, December! November was great [especially Thanksgiving!] but now it's time for another favorite month - December! I'm having visions of snow days, warm socks, winter bonfires and marathoning my favorite Christmas movies. Here is my monthly mood board for December 2014...

1. Decorating your bar or bar cart, like this one seen on Design Sponge, is a great way to add a little festive cheer to every corner of your home. I'm planning on adding some fun + colorful touches to my built-in bookshelf bar to go along with my bold decor. Stay tuned!

2. It's always good to have a tacky Christmas sweater, like this one from Urban Outfitters, on hand! You never know when the Tacky Sweater Party invites will start rolling in. Plus they're totally appropriate to wear around the Christmas tree with your family back home. Check out eBay for some fun vintage ones [although they can get pricey this time of year!].

3. Every year I think about making aebleskiver for breakfast on Christmas Day but every year I don't end up doing it. THIS year will be the year with help from this simple recipe by The Baker Upstairs.

4. I'm planning on teaching myself to play some Christmas carols on my ukulele this year. "Mele Kalikimaka," anyone? I'm hoping to get some help from THIS book or THIS one.

5. Mini pom pom garlands have been trendy for years now but they're just SO freakin cute. I'm gonna craft some garlands to hang around the house and add some individual pom pom ornaments to my cacti, kinda like these Pinecone Pom Pom Decorations.

What are YOUR Monthly Moodz for December?


Oh, winter! How I love you! I get so excited when the cold finally comes and the hope of snow is in the air. I'm from the South where our winters are mild enough that the prospect of snow is still exciting. Something about knowing it will all melt within a couple of days makes it more of a fun surprise than a threat to life. I come from a long line of Midwesterners, so I understand how harsh it can get. One way I've found to try to beat the winter blues is to change the way I think about the season. Instead of focusing on how bloody cold it is outside, try to focus on the warmth of the fire and the coziness of gatherings with friends + family. Get a great pair of boots and conquer those snow puddles. Get some physical activity by going on a hike or trying a winter sport like snow-shoeing. Create hygge wherever you go. In my opinion, EVERY season has its merits. For winter, there's something special about the brisk mornings and nights, the smell of snow in the air, adding blankets to the bed, sipping hot beverages. It's the most wonderful time of the year, right? Here is my seasonal inspiration for winter this year...

I absolutely adore this green coat and oversized knit scarf as seen on The Sartorialist. CUTE and WARM!
I definitely want to stock up on this Homemade Apple Butter recipe from A Beautiful Mess. Perfect on whole-grain waffles or skillet cornbread!
Scandinavians just GET Christmas decor. I have a bit of Swedish blood myself so maybe that's one reason why I'm so drawn to their minimalist yet cozy style, like in this Scandinavian Winter House Tour.
This winter tablescape from PoppyTalk is perfection! I love the red + black buffalo plaid and the outdoorsy vibe created by the simple evergreens, berries & pinecones.
I'm planning on hosting a Gingerbread Neighborhood Construction Party later this month. I like this idea of using pretzels rods + sticks to make a log cabin. Will have to keep this in mind!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Thanksgiving table

I have always been a big fan of holiday traditions and Thanksgiving traditions are no exception. My boyfriend and I are at a point in our lives now where we are trying to start our own holiday rituals and traditions. This means figuring out what traditions we want to retain from our own families and what new traditions we would like to create that are special for us. Here are some Thanksgiving traditions that I would like to keep going with my family and continue when I have a family of my own:

My sister and I started a tradition a few years ago where we wake up early and drink cranberry mimosas (or poinsettias) while we watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in our pajamas. We have since gotten most of the family involved and we have a fun time, sitting around making fun of the cheesier performances and out-of-step high school band members or getting a little too excited about our favorite floats. After the parade, we usually watch the dog show on the upstairs TV while the football fans go downstairs to watch whatever game happens to be on. And sometimes, if we're lucky, we can find the movie Best in Show airing on TV (SO FUNNY).

Prosecco & Cranberry Mimosa recipe from A Beautiful Mess

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Our meal is pretty traditional...turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, various casseroles, sweet potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce (fresh and canned) and pie. We always go around the table and take turns saying something we are thankful for before my father blesses the food. On years when we have an extra large crowd at the table, we usually write our gratitudes on paper and do something fun like read them out loud and have others guess who wrote it during dinner.

Thanksgiving grub
Printable Thankfulness Cards from Lovely Indeed
At our last big Thanksgiving, we had a backyard bonfire the night before. This year I suggested we do the bonfire on Thanksgiving night, after dinner and naps and board games. It's a nice way to end the busy day - staring into the fire, roasting marshmallows, and bonding with the family. This is definitely a new tradition that I would like to continue.

Thanksgiving backyard bonfire

On the day-after Thanksgiving, we usually go on a hike or do some other outdoor family activity. One year we played bocce ball in the yard for hours and last big Thanksgiving we went on a hike to a local waterfall. One year, on the day-after Christmas, we went clay pigeon shooting, which was WAY more fun than I imagined and would also be a fun post-Thanksgiving outing. I like this tradition because I think it's important to get outside and be active after a day of rich food, naps and coziness.

Anna Ruby Falls
my shootin' pose

That being said, a few years ago, my oldest sister made banoffee pies for us on the day-after-Thanksgiving and we ate this incredibly rich but DELICIOUS dessert while we watched Little Women (one of my favorite movies that I associate with this time of year). I would definitely like to carry on this tradition as well. Spend most of the day out-of-doors, doing something physically active, and then come home to a turkey + leftovers sandwich, a decadent dessert and a great family movie.

Mini Banoffee Pies
scene from Little Women
That's about it for my Thanksgiving traditions, new and old. What are some of YOUR Thanksgiving traditions? Isn't it fun to combine old family traditions with new personal ones?