A Perfect Match

Recently, my family got some exciting news! My dad proposed to his long-time girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. Since this will be both of their second marriages, they aren’t very practical in the wedding planning process. My family has had 3 weddings in 14 months, so I think we all have this type of party down to a science!

In order to celebrate, I wanted to give them a small, yet personal engagement gift. My dad burns candles every evening, so it is a tradition to give him candles at any holiday. I knew that I wanted to go with that theme, so I bought a jar and filled it with matches. Then, I glued a strike pad to the bottom so that the matches could be out on display and not hidden in a drawer. Finally, I used my trusty Silhouette (how did I ever live without this thing?!) to cut vinyl to personalize the jar with their special date, names, and “The Perfect Match”. If you don’t have a die cut machine, you could always use chalkboard paint or paint pens.

I gave this gift to my dad recently, and he was very touched! If you are looking for a simple, but special engagement gift- I recommend this fun project!

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2015/2016- The Year of Dates

When I came across the 12 months of dates on Pinterest, I knew this would make the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day! My husband and I have gotten into a bit of a rut when it comes to date night, so I was eager to come up with some new adventures. This project did take a few weeks to complete, but the end result was so worth it!

My first step was to brainstorm date nights that were creative, and also inexpensive. Once I had 12 dates picked out, I went to websites and Groupon to purchase vouchers and gift cards. My goal was to stay under $50 for each date night, which could be tricky!

I wanted a compact way to store these gifts, and a scrapbook seemed like the perfect solution. Additionally, it would prompt us to take pictures during date night. I swear in our 4 years together, we have less than a handful of pictures together that aren’t from our wedding!

I wrote a little note explaining the idea to my husband. My hope is that we can open the envelope together on the first of the month and then determine which day will work best for our date. I am eager to begin our monthly date nights, and I think this will bring my us closer together!

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Making My Own Luck

I have been staring at the space above our kitchen window since we moved into our house. I was dying for a vintage sign to fill the space. I eyed a few Pottery Barn signs, but they were so expensive ($100) and didn’t hold any special meaning for me. I am at my happiest crafting, so I was determined to create something unique for our home.

We both have sentimental attachment to the word “Lucky”, so I wanted to be sure to incorporate that into my design. Also, I owned a horse growing up, and I had one leftover horseshoe from him sitting in the garage waiting to be used for something crafty! I had seen a sign using a horseshoe as the letter “U”, so I was inspired!

Fortunately, we already had white wood in the garage leftover from another project. I measured and it was the right size for above the window- don’t you love when things like that work out? I designed the sign using my Silhouette software, making sure that the letters matched the size of the horseshoe and coordinated with the vintage style. I cut my letters out of vinyl so that I could paint over them and peel them off later.

I laid out my sign and transferred the vinyl, making sure that I left space for the horseshoe. Once I had my letters stuck, I used a light green paint to paint over everything. I needed to paint the sides too, as this sign would be hanging up high and people would be able to see the sides.

Once the paint was dry, I peeled off the vinyl letters. This was my first sign project, and I was impressed with how crisp the letters turned out! Finally, I nailed the horseshoe in place and stepped back to admire my work. Initially, I was totally content with the result. However, after coming back to it after a day, it felt too “clean”.

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I had a bit of gel wood stain on hand, so I went over the paint with the gel and deepened the colors in some areas. The sign definitely had more of a vintage feel after that finishing touch!

My hubby helped me put 2 sawtooth hangers on the back and hang it up above the window. He was very impressed when I told him the cost of this project was just pennies. I love adding personal touches to our home, and this sign makes me smile every time I walk into our kitchen!

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The Future Starts Today!

Winter has arrived, and I am such a wimp about cold weather! As we are exploring our home, we discovered that our thermostat was original to the house- meaning that it was older than me. Although I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing…

Anyway, we started to research fancy new techie thermostats. In order to save energy, I really wanted to be able to control our home’s temperature while we are out and about. With a learning thermostat, our system would learn about our lifestyle and turn off the heat when we weren’t around. We got advice about various models from a few friends and decided upon the Nest.

After watching their awesome video tutorial, I wasn’t sure if our wiring was compatible. I took a quick photo of our wiring and sent it over to the smart engineers at Nest. Within 24 hours, they emailed me back a customized wiring guide and we were good to go!

Let me preface with the fact that I am NOT a handy person. When we removed the original thermostat, I actually almost broke open the mercury vial when I slammed it down on the table. Way to go, me… Anywayyyyy, within 30 minutes we had removed our “vintage” thermostat and installed our modern Nest! The screen on the thermostat literally walked us through the entire set up process, and looks so pretty.

We have used the Nest for a few weeks, and have seen energy savings! I love that I can look online at our energy history and the Nest will give me tips on how to save energy in the future. And if you have seen the commercials, my legs muscles are still going strong and as far as I know the internets haven’t come to life! 🙂

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New Year, New Traditions

New Years always seems to be a time of reflection, and this year is no different! As I say goodbye to 2014, I am so grateful for all of the wonderful experiences I had in the last 365 days. I celebrated my first wedding anniversary with my incredible husband, grew closer with friends and family, bought a house, and started another school year with a great group of kids!

I used to make a big deal of New Year’s Eve- attending big parties, buying an obnoxious sequin dress, obsessing over my resolutions for the New Year. As I get older, I find that I am at my happiest on the couch with a glass of nice champagne on NYE. This year, I was craving a low key evening at home with just my husband and puppies.

I stopped by the store, and picked up all the fixing for my favorite meal- filet mignon, asparagus, potatoes, and sourdough bread. We cooked a fantastic meal, and took the opportunity to reflect on the past year. I found these amazing free printable conversation starters from Alice and Lois. My husband and I had such a great time laughing about all of the fun things the past year had brought- personally, professionally, and in pop culture!

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I hope that this is a tradition that we can continue to keep, it was just what I needed after the busy holiday season. Happy New Year to you all!

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Every family has their own Christmas traditions that we hold near and dear to our hearts. When I met my husband, I was so excited that he enjoyed the holiday season as much as I do! Both of our birthdays fall around the holidays as well, so we associate this special time of year with lots of celebrations with loved ones.

In our home, we look forward to chopping down our Christmas tree in the mountains. When we get home from our adventure, we can’t wait to decorate around the house and trim the tree while watching White Christmas. Finally, we sit back with a warm fire and admire our beautiful work.

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As a special treat, I enjoy baking a special cookie from my childhood: Santa’s Whiskers. These cherry and coconut cookies look festive and are delicious! They don’t last long in our house. Below is the recipe I have used since childhood, and it never fails! Just be sure to plan accordingly, as the dough does need to be chilled.

Santa’s Whiskers: (makes about 5 dozen)

1 cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

3/4 cup flaked coconut

Cream butter and sugar, blend in extract. Stir in flour, cherries, and nuts (if desired). Form n 2 rolls, each 2 inches in diameter and 8 inches long. Roll in coconut. Wrap and chill several hours or overnight. Slice 1/4 inch thick; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until edges are golden.

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Friends, Food, and Fun

This past weekend, we had a few friends over for a small dinner party. We enjoy seeing old (and new) friends on a regular basis and are always happy to host events to get everyone together.

I decided to celebrate fall a bit and decorate our table with a few autumnal accents. The centerpieces are just popcorn kernels layered on the bottom, with mini pumpkins layered on top. I also knit little acorn ornaments as gifts for our guests and learned a new napkin fold to accent the acorns. After this tutorial from The Wood Grain Cottage, I was inspired to make burlap placements with our initial. My goal was to highlight the season, but not overwhelm the table.

We had a great time, after all what’s better than good friends, good food, and good wine?!

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