Dec 29, 2011

Citrus Splash Margarita Recipe

Can you believe it's almost time to ring in the new year???  2011 has really flown by for our family.  Once you have kids I think time goes by at least 3 times faster than before!

Here is a super yummy homemade margarita recipe that you can whip up to help ring in the new year with family and friends.  My husband and I are margarita lovers and have been perfecting this recipe made with fresh citrus juices for many years.  We think it's near perfection so it's high time to share it with you.  Whether you're hosting a large party or having a nice quiet get together with just a few friends, this cocktail will be a hit!

pic from thekitchn

Dec 28, 2011

Fun Color Combos

Do you ever come across two colors that just really work with each other?  Often times they are colors that you'd never imagine pairing together, but once you see them in the same space it's like they were meant to be together.  Here are four really fun pairs that I've come across and wanted to share with you.

Tangerine & Fuchsia! - Nothing beats the winter doldrums like some hot pink and orange.  They're very bold colors so you wouldn't want to saturate your entire home with them, but talk about a great way to liven up a work-space like an office or laundry room.  These two colors work best with a very neutral background like white, gray, or beige, and really warm up any wood tones in a room.  I don't think you could be anything but cheerful in the rooms below!

pic from smallspacestyle

pic from smallspacestyle

Grape & Turquoise! - Rarely will you ever hear me say that I'm a fan of purple...only in the most special of circumstances where the color occurs in the perfect space in the perfect hue.  However, I saw the picture below and immediately fell for it because it was paired with one of my favorites, turquoise.  The two colors complement each other beautifully and make for such a regal presence.  The dark gray wall in the background makes the accent colors glow!

pic from hgtv

Goldenrod & Brown! - I say it and you may cringe...flashback to '70s and velour gone wrong.  But, I'm telling you the color combo can be gorgeous like in the bedroom below.  The use of contemporary fabrics and plenty of white balance out the strong earthy colors and make them sing.  A few splashes of orange also help modernize the space.  I'm loving it!

pic from hgtv

Cornflower Blue & White! - Pretty, fresh, and ready for spring...I love the way you can combine very traditional colors and traditional items like the china platters on the wall and beautiful crown-molding, and mix it with a modern rug and dining suite to create the perfect eclectic combination.  The bold ikat valance and white-washed floors really make this space!

pic from becolorful

Gorgeous pairings, huh?  All of these bright colors are making me ready for spring decor and fashion.  What other color pairings do you love?  -Kristen

Dec 27, 2011

Guest Blogger @ Su Casa Design Blog

Hey everyone!  I'm very excited (and flattered!) that I was asked to provide a guest post on a great blog based out of Baltimore, Maryland called Su Casa Design Blog.

The blog is affiliated with two super cool home design and decor stores in downtown Baltimore - Su Casa and Pad - two of my favorite local places to shop when we lived there.  They're definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.

In my guest post I chose to share 5 key tips for living in small spaces since both stores cater to the hip city-dwellers who live in the historically charming but narrow row-homes of Baltimore (some are only 9 feet wide!).  They do a fantastic job of helping their clients maximize space.  Square footage is a premium in a tiny row-home, so every room needs a lot of attention to detail when it comes to design and functionality.

Please click {here} to read my guest post entitled "Design Tips for Living in Small Spaces".  Hope you enjoy!

Dec 24, 2011

The Christmas Story (From Kids' Perspective)

This one will be short and sweet...I just wanted to share this brief video with you that we found last year on You Tube - The Christmas Story.  It's the nativity story told from the perspective of some adorable kids from St. Paul's Church in Auckland, New Zealand.  If you have a second, sit down and share it with your family sometime this Christmas weekend.  (the direct You Tube link is below)  I know you will enjoy it and it will remind you of why we celebrate this joyous holiday together.  I promise it will make your heart smile!

May your hearts be filled with peace, love, joy, and wonder as you reflect on the true reason for the season - the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!   I wish you all a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  May your blessing abound this Christmas and throughout the new year... -Kristen

Dec 22, 2011

Easy Apple Dumplings

Ok, these are phenomenal!!!  And, super easy and quick to make.  If you're trying to come up with a good dessert for the holidays or just want something sweet after dinner give these a whirl.  I found the recipe (and some wonderful detailed pictures) on the Real Housewives of Bucks County (RHBC) blog- if you haven't checked them out yet, you must!  They're adorable DIYers and are frequently featured on the Nate Berkus show.

Now for the gooey delectable goodness!  Note: I modified the original recipe a bit to cut back on the sugar and butter because I had way more sauce than needed to cover the dumplings.

2 tubes of crescent rolls (I used Pillsbury flakey crust crescent rolls)
2 Granny Smith green apples
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon to taste
8 oz Sprite or 7Up (I used Sprite Zero)

pic from RHBC

Dec 20, 2011

The Perfect Gifts for Guys

Why is it always so tough to shop for the men in our lives?  We brainstorm for days and never seem to come up with the perfect gift for them.  They have so many hobbies and interests, and always seem to like whatever we come up with.  Perhaps that's why it's so difficult - it's hard to pick something out for someone who would like anything!  Here are 13 great ideas, inspired (and mostly thought of) by my husband, for all the men in your life:

I saw this Timex Weekender watch ($40) the other day at REI and wanted it for myself.  It's classic yet rugged, and I love the olive green canvas strap (also comes in black or striped canvas).  The watch face is large and has the Timex Indiglo feature for telling time in the dark - a must, right?!?

This leather passport cover ($40) from Eddie Bauer is the perfect gift for the avid male traveler in your life.  I received a cover like this from my mother-in-law and have loved it for many many years - it protects your passport and provides convenient pockets to stash other paper items like receipts, IDs, credit cards, cash, etc.  A traveler's must have!

That's right, it's a remote control holder from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Store.  I could just kiss the couple that designed this because it neatly organizes remote controls and other handheld electronic devices in a design-friendly (almost sculptural) way.  What man wouldn't like something that always keeps his remotes within reach?

The magazine that makes the testosterone flow even stronger - Outside magazine ($24/year) - is a gift that keeps giving all year long.  Adventures, sports, outdoor activities, travel, survival tactics, you name's in here.  And, I don't mind a quick read of it myself.

Dec 18, 2011

Pine Cone Crafts

Today I'm sharing two easy crafts made from pine cones.  I haven't tackled these ones myself since I'm out of town, but they're on my to-do list...maybe for next year?

Craft #1 - Colorful Cones:

pic from shelterness

- Pine cones
- Spray paint

When I said "easy", I meant EASY!  Just find some pine cones (or buy some at a craft or hardware store) and spray paint them a variety of colors.  After they dry, place them in a large bowl or hurricane vase and place on your table for a centerpiece or on your mantel for a dash of Christmas color.  

I adore these bright colored cones, and the great thing about them is that they don't scream "I'm a Christmas decoration!".  They look like they could stay out all winter long and not look out of place.

Dec 15, 2011

Small Space Christmas Decor

Just because you don't have much square footage, doesn't mean you have to give-up on festive decor for the holidays.  We're in that very boat - a small 2 bedroom town-home but a big love for all things decorative, especially for Christmas time.  In a small place it's important to use your vertical space, so use your walls, your windows, your mantel, and your shelves for decor.  Here are some fun ideas, some from our house, and some from other great spaces...

Because we decided to go without the traditional Christmas tree this year and opt to do a alternative tree on top of our corner fire place, we decided to hang a large wreath on our wall so we wouldn't miss out on the greenery and lights.

We used vertical space again for our stockings.  I usually hang them from the mantel, but our baby likes to grab anything that hangs within 4 feet of the floor, so they had to be EXTRA high this year.  I bought the suction cups at the Dollar Tree - 6 for a buck - and surprisingly they've stuck despite the cold cold weather.

pic from housetohome

Who needs a fireplace for stockings?!?  This is a great way to hang your stockings when you don't have a fireplace in a room.  Find a long branch - keep it natural or spray paint it - then hang it from the ceiling with thick ribbon attached to hooks (make sure the hooks will hold some weight).

I love this guy - for the holidays or all year round.  It would be super cute if you hung ornaments from his antlers, or strung some garland through them.  He's only $32 online at Fred Flare.

pic from Tilly & Fran

Adorable and another great use of wall space!  This is a Christmas tree made from embroidery hoops and green fabrics.  These inexpensive items can be found at your local craft store.

pic from

This whimsical decoration was made from an old frame, some ribbon, and ornaments.  Spray paint your frame a fun color, then string ribbon side to side (attach it to the sides with a staple gun or small craft hooks).  As you string the ribbon string some ornaments on or hang the ornaments from short hooks when you're finished.  Finally, tie some ribbon to the top and hang from a window with a strong suction cup or the top casing of the window sill.

pic from

Another good window idea, hang your homemade snowflakes - made from paper or felt - from some fishing line so they appear to dance and float in your window.

pic from

This pipe cleaner tree doesn't take up much space but it certainly adds a lot of charm.  It was crafted out of a small dowel with tiny holes drilled through it, then pipe cleaners were threaded through the holes with a few beads put on for tiny ornaments.

All these amazing ideas, and just a few more weeks until Christmas!  -Kristen

Dec 13, 2011

Holiday Party Fashion

It's party season - work parties, Christmas concerts, church services, family gatherings, New Year's Eve celebrations, etc. - and you're thinking, "What am I going to wear to that?".  Here are some beautiful dress-up items I've found and wanted to share with you to get the fashion ideas flowing.  The beauty of these items is that you can keep wearing them even after the new year begins.

This beautiful BB Dakota Clarissa dress ($99) has a gorgeous fit that would accentuate a waist on any body type.  The neckline and pleating remind me of something you'd see from the early 1960s, but the fabric makes it completely up to date.  Top it with a black cardigan and slip on flats to dress it down for daytime wear.

Dark navy is the new black!  The ASOS Cowl Neck Pencil Dress with Belt ($61) is a solid color but it packs a punch with a beautiful neckline and sweet sash that ties in the back.  This dress will never go out of style and would look great with any color of accessories.

These beautiful bronze Cross-strap Sandals ($80)  from will add the perfect dash of sparkle to any holiday outfit.  You can wear metallic sandals like a neutral - they go with any color or pattern.

The Tempesta ring ($30) from Shabby Apple is sophisticated and sparkly like something you'd find in your Grandmother's stash of vintage jewelry.  This would be a lovely accent piece to any outfit, and you can skip the bracelet and necklace because it makes a grand statement on it's own.

Dec 11, 2011

Advent Calendar Ornament Tree

I've been searching and searching for a creative advent calendar/Christmas countdown display that would be an affordable and easy craft.  I saw so many great ideas on other blogs, but many of them required intensive sewing or an expensive decal/sticker cutter, requiring either lots of time or lots of money...neither of which I was going to swing.  So, I thought about it for a few days and came up with a miniature Christmas tree with numbered ornaments that either countdown or count-up to Christmas.

Dec 9, 2011

Christmas Decorating with Grocery Store Goods

By special request from my beautiful, stylish, and ever-inspiring cousin-in-law who currently resides in Washington D.C., here are some ideas on Christmas decorating with items sourced entirely from the local grocery store.

pic from

These beautiful lanterns are made from a Kerr jar (any glass jar would work), Epsom salt or rock salt, and small candles. Light them and you instantly transform a space into a glittering winter wonderland.

pic from Small Notebook

pic from Small Notebook

These popcorn and fruit garlands from a blog called Small Notebook are nostalgic and beautiful.  All you need is popped popcorn, some dried orange slices (slice thin and let dry out), or cranberries and a needle and thread.  If you don't have the needle and thread at home, they usually sell small sewing kits at the grocery store too.

pic from Ever Parent

Cranberries are bright, colorful, and available everywhere this time of year!  Find a pretty dish or platter and place cranberries around some candles, or place the berries inside a small vase and float small votive candles on top.

pic from housetohome

Another fruit to use is green apples.  They are a fun more contemporary green shade to infuse into the holiday decor.  In this picture they placed green apples in a large see-through container and placed taper candles down in the container as well.  The candles are not a necessity, the apples alone look great.  Limes, pears, and red apples are also great for Christmas decorating.

pic from housetohome

Expand the above picture for better detail of the gift tree in the background by the fireplace.  We all have boxes lying around - whether they're cereal boxes, shoe boxes, diaper boxes, etc.  Take those boxes and wrap them with some festive paper and ribbon, then stack them up - largest box on the bottom graduated up to the smallest box on top - to create a make-shift tree.

pic from gzpzguy

I remember making these in elementary school - the Reader's Digest (or any magazine really...) Christmas tree! You may have magazines laying around the house, if not just grab a few small magazines at the supermarket check-out stand - Reader's Digest, Soap Digest, and those small recipe magazines all work great for smaller trees.  For a great tutorial with step by step instructions, watch the video at  After folding, you can leave the trees as-is, or they look great spray painted and glittered as well for a more formal look.

pics from

Who doesn't love a traditional snowflake?  Yes, they sell construction paper and printer paper at the grocery store, too....  You can't go wrong with any cuts - circle flakes, square flakes, diamond flakes - they're all beautifully unique.  If you're not feeling extra creative and want to cut the flake above go here for instructions.

pic from housetohome

This last one really made me smile because it looks like something a poor college kid would have come up with during a study break...the post-it note tree.  Grab a stack of post-its at the grocery store and arrange them on a wall, a mirror, or your refrigerator in the shape of a Christmas tree.  You can write messages, words, Bible verses, or draw small pictures on them too.  Love it!

You could totally deck out a place on a grocery store visit alone!  Any one else have some good ideas?  -Kristen

Dec 7, 2011

Reupholstered Accent Chair

It's been awhile since I've posted a fix-me-up project, so I figured it was about time...  I got this totally shabby looking high-backed chair from a retired music teacher.  He said he had taught thousands of hours worth of guitar lessons sitting in it, but it was no longer being used and needed a new (more updated) home.

Don't you just love that mustard colored velour?!?  Yes, I'm being sarcastic, but the uglier it is "before" the better it looks "after".  I knew the chair had great potential because of the detailed carving in the legs and the back.  I also loved the fact that the back had an upholstered panel on it...that's not something you see everyday in a chair of this style.

Now that you've soaked in the "vintage charm" of the chair, here it is after a dramatic transformation:

Dec 6, 2011

Pulled Pork Barbecue Nachos

I know they sound totally fancy, right?  This is the sort of thing you're going to serve for a nice Christmas dinner...or not.  But, these pulled pork nachos do make a great throw-it-together meal when you've been out and about all day.  Typically, we pre-cook the pork in the slow-cooker, then use it for at least two meals.

Dec 4, 2011

An Alternative Christmas Tree

Because we have a beautiful bouncing, crawling, scooting, grabbing, teething, almost-walking 14-month-old for Christmas this year, we opted to skip the traditional Christmas tree and go for an alternative tree that we could place at least 4 feet off the ground for safety's sake.  We had a few requirements: it had to 1) resemble a Christmas tree at least in shape and function, 2) fit on top of our strange corner fireplace, 3) fit all our favorite ornaments, and 4) break down easily and take up minimal storage space.

We searched around on the internet and found our designer inspiration piece:

We saw this Filigrantrae Danish Design Table-top Birch Tree and said, "Hey, we could make that...and, make it look much better!"  Oh, by the way the pictured tree costs a whopping $150 (marked down from $275) online at Design Public.

The inspiration tree was a little sparse-looking for what we wanted so we decided to step it up a bit and make it look and feel much more sturdy.  Here is how we made it...

Dec 1, 2011

How to Display Your Christmas Cards

It's Christmas card time!  This time of year, I'm like a giddy little kid...rushing to the mailbox to see if we got any cards.  We haven't received any yet (after all, it's only the very beginning of December...) but I wanted to get on the ball and determine how to display them once they do start pouring in.  Here are some great ideas from some very creative people...

pic from House to Home

I know not everyone has a beautiful old piano in their home...but you could do this same thing along a fireplace mantel or even from corner to corner on a wall (see above).  Hang some twine, ribbon, string, or yarn, then use some clothes pins (more traditional), paperclips (more thrifty), or bulldog clips (more contemporary) to attach your cards.

pic from Budget Wise Home

This is what my family did when I was growing up...we'd hang our cards around the doorway leading from the entry to the dining room or living room.  We used some scotch tape and up they went!  You can add some garland or ribbon for some extra flair.

pics from Tip Junkie

These are two great ideas!  The first is to arrange your cards on the wall in a shape like a Christmas tree (shown on left), a star, or some other fun shape.  The second is to fill small vases with floral foam and stick forks in, prong side up, then stick the card down in-between the prongs...a fun way to display cards on a dining room table. (Click on picture to enlarge for a better view.)

 pic from Martha Stewart

Crafty and cute!  Purchase a large embroidery hoop at your local craft store and hang it from decorative ribbon. Using hot glue, affix miniature clothes pins to the outer surface of the hoop.  For best results, alternate the clothes pins to point outward and inward so you can fit more cards in.

pic from

Love this wreath!  Wrap a straw or floral foam wreath with upholstery webbing (available at some fabric stores or online) or some wide ribbon.  Tie a bow on top and hang on the inside of your front door, then simply pin your cards to it with long straight pins or bulldog clips (shown here).

Now for some options you can purchase:

This is a picture mobile from (only $12).  I think a few of these hanging from a ceiling with your cards attached would be super cool - whimsical but modern.

This card tree from Exposures ($40) is a fun piece of decor, even before your cards arrive in the mail!  Hang it on a wall or prop it up on your fireplace mantel.

For our family, I think we'll do what we did last year, and hang our cards around our big metal star:

pic from TLC

We just tape them around the outside ring of the star...easy and out of the way of little fingers that like to pull absolutely everything down. :)

Hope these ideas got your gears turning.  If all else fails, you can always put them up on your refrigerator with magnets!  -Kristen
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