Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bar Hopping, Anyone?

I'm suddenly obsessed with these chic and glamorous cocktail/bar carts. We don't even consume mixed drinks, but I think something like this would look so fabulous in my dining room. I suppose I could stock it with spirits of the non-alcoholic variety and it would still look just as pretty.

images via Pinterest

I personally hate the taste of beer but I love these recycled beer glasses from Uncommon Goods. Very pretty.

This stainless steel cocktail tray is beautiful. It's at Crate and Barrel.

Maybe something like this French Sparkling Lemonade...very smart and sophisticated looking bottles and the kids could even drink it.

You can find lots of vintage bar ware and cocktail items on Etsy. (I just love browsing the vintage category, don't you?) Check out this silver ombre cocktail set, this art deco style cocktail shaker, and this bartender tool set. Always great stuff on Etsy!

Here's a long list of non-alcoholic drink recipes, a.k.a. mocktails. With names like Afterglow, Dot's Hot Spot, Virgin City Slicker, and Russian Denim, who can resist giving these drinks a try. They also have tons of recipes containing the real stuff, if you prefer.

Do you have a dedicated bar area in your home? What's your favorite cocktail (or mocktail)?


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Post Where I Try To Get Back Into Blogging Mode

After taking somewhat of a computer break during Christmas, I'm now finding it difficult to get back to blogging. So, I guess I will start off by filling you in on some of our random holiday happenings...

We had such an enjoyable Christmas! On Christmas Eve, we hosted my side of the family (about 25 of us). For Christmas Day, we went to my husband's twin brother's home for their side of the family. Everythng went nice and smooth. It was all pretty stress-free.

Some gift highlights: My mom gave me a KitchenAid Professional Mixer. Yes she did! Very excited about that (now have to find a spot for it in my kitchen). Santa brought our 11 year old son a set of drums. Yes, a set of drums. Very fun and very loud. Our 13 year old son and 15 year old daughter both got laptops (thanks for helping out with that, Grandma). Our 18 year old got a GPS for his car and some very nice headphones. Lots of other goodies for everyone, too. We feel very blessed!

On Christmas Eve night before we go to bed and await Santa's arrival, we let the kids open their gifts from us and each other. This year, we were all sitting around the Christmas tree, in front of the fireplace, opening our gifts...and watching Tosh.0 on TV.  Totally inappropriate, I know. And, a little embarrassing to admit but what can I say. The show is hilarious (and very inappropriate).

I made these White Chocolate Cranberry Cream Cheese Snickerdoodle cookies that I read about on a lovely blog called Joy's Hope. Believe me when I say they are pure awesomeness! I'm not usually a white chocolate fan, but these cookies are truly divine. I would pop one (or four) in the microwave and have with a cup of hot good!

Cute story: I met up with one of my best girlfriends for a belated Christmas lunch yesterday. Each year, her family reads Twas The Night Before Christmas as one of their Christmas traditions. This year, they let their youngest daughter (1st grade - a fairly new reader) read the story. When it came to the part that says, "He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself" little Emma read it like this, "And I laughed when I saw him and spit on myself." Very cute and something I'm sure they will always remember when they read the story each year.

I didn't go out for any after-Christmas shopping. I just didn't have the energy (or money) to do it this year. Did you pick up any post-holiday deals?

My plans for the remainder of 2011: Not much. I intend on being fairly lazy and hanging out at home catching up on some movies and reading. My husband has a lot of out-of-town work coming up in the next few weeks so it will be a very hectic time for him. I may tell you more about that later, it's a pretty cool, yet demanding gig.

How was your holiday? Would love to hear about it....


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Guest Post - Paula from Living At Blessed Life

Today, I would like to introduce you to my blogging friend, Paula. I "met" Paula when I purchased some of her wonderful soap products from her Etsy shop. I absolutely love her Lavender Shea Butter Body Lotion - it smells so good and leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft. I really cannot get enough of it; it's one of my favorite scents on earth. Her soaps are great as well. Paula is so friendly and sweet and always has a kind word to share. She writes a lovely blog and often offers giveaways of her natural, homemade skincare products. I'm so happy that she agreed to come over and share some beauty tips in a holiday guest post. Welcome Paula....

First, I would like to say “Thank you Kari” for inviting me to be featured on your blog. You are the Best!

Hello my name is Paula Parrish from Living at Blessed Life. I would like to share with you some Natural Beauty Recipes made with Kitchen Staples.

Simple and Natural Beauty Recipes

This time of the year, everyone is super busy making yummy treats for Christmas.

I believe in keeping things simple and natural. We all want to look our best, so why not use some of the yummy kitchen ingredients that you currently have on hand during the holidays to create natural beauty products. I love using natural skincare recipes because they save me money and I avoid tons of chemicals. Here are a few recipes, I hope that you will try out at home.

Brown Sugar and Honey Scrub
Simply mix up brown sugar and honey. Sprinkle in a few dashes of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg from your kitchen spices. The brown sugar exfoliates the skin doing away with dirt, oil and dead skin cells causing blemishes. Honey is naturally antibacterial, so as the brown sugar scrubs away the things clogging pores, the honey cleans out the sources for buildup to prevent future breakouts.

Pumpkin Pie Face Mask
Pumpkin naturally contains high levels of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body naturally converts into vitamin A. Pumpkin also contains antioxidants and enzymes that speed up cell turnover, revealing brighter, younger looking skin. Combine 2 T of pumpkin, 1 T raw honey and 1/8 t of cinnamon. Blend the mixture gently, then apply a thin layer of it onto your face, avoiding the eye area. Relax for 15 minutes as you enjoy the amazing aroma of yummy pumpkin from your skin. Wash off with warm water and pat to dry.

Replace Conditioner with Vinegar
To remove the usual problems with hair like dullness, build up, dullness or lack of luster, replace your conditioner with vinegar 2 to 3 times a month, depending on your hair type. Just use it as you need it. And don’t worry about buying the best stuff for the best results, common white vinegar will do the job.

Smooth Fizzy Hair With Honey
Simply add a tablespoon of honey to one litre of water. After shampooing, rinse your hair with this mixture to tame your frizzy hair. I love this natural hair rinse.

Soften Skin With Oatmeal
There are many beauty recipes that involve oatmeal, but you can use oatmeal by itself to help your skin. Ground up about 1 cup of oatmeal using a blender or food processor, and then add it to your bath water to soften skin.

I hope that you will give some of these super simply and fun skincare recipes a try at home. I would love to hear about how they work for you. Leave a comment here and don’t forget to stop by my blog at Living at Blessed Life and leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you.

If you are on the look out for more natural skincare products? I have on hand handmade soaps and other products that your skin will love.
Check out my featured soap this month, Honey Bee Oats & Cinnamon Soap Bar.

This soap has a yummy smell of cinnamon and honey. The Beeswax is great for Eczema and Psoriasis, while the honey helps to naturally moisturize your skin. Honey is a naturally healing moisturizer, full of natural enzymes and vital nutrients, such as vitamins C, D, and E, to leave skin soft and healthy. Organic oatmeal added to gently exfoliate and unclog pores. It soothes irritation and softens skin.

Do you have a favorite handmade soap scent?
Smiles, Paula


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Purex Triple Action Liquid Detergent

I've talked many times about how much laundry we do around our house (and by "we" I mean "me"). We are a family of six - including three teenagers, one pre-teen, and a firefighter-carpenter husband. You can probably imagine the amount of dirty laundry we have. Sometimes I'm amazed at the stinky, dirty messes I come across in our laundry baskets.

I do laundry almost every single day - lots of laundry! When it comes to laundry detergent, I want something that is highly effective; it has to get rid of dirt, stains, and odors. I also need a detergent that is affordable. Purex Laundry Detergent has been a long time favorite and is the detergent that I use most often. I love that it costs quite a bit less than most other leading brands but really gets the job done.

Purex has come out with a new and improved Triple Action formula. This new formula promises to leave your clothes bright, white, and clean, while still saving you money. Purex Triple Action is formulated to work both in traditional and High Efficiency (HE) washers and offers a variety of scent choices. My personal preference is the Free & Clear detergent - perfect for our family's sensitive skin.

Purex provided a free sample of their Triple Action laundry detergent for me to try. All of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Movie Trailer Tuesday - Joyeux Noel

This is a repeat of one of my previously published Movie Trailer Tuesday posts. But, I just had to share it again as it's one of my favorite films to watch at this time of year.

Joyeux Noel is based on a true story about WWI soldiers from opposing trenches who decide on their own to hold a temporary cease-fire for Christmas Eve. The soldiers meet and interact with one another but know that after Christmas Eve, the battle must resume. It's such a moving story; one of my very favorite films of all times.

Rated PG-13 for some war violence and a brief scene of sexuality/nudity


Movie Trailer Tuesday - Heartbreaker

I absolutely adored this movie! It's sweet, charming, and hysterically funny. So, so funny! Alex is a seductress for hire. Need to break up a couple? He's your man. He and his duo of accomplices will go to great lengths to get the job done. He's suave and quirky and you can't help but fall in love with him. When he starts working on his latest subject, he finds that he just may be about to fall in love for real this time.

If you are looking for a cute, romantic comedy then you should check this out. Oh, I should mention it's predominately spoken in French with English subtitles.

The film is NR/Not Rated but I would consider it an R - there's some mature sexual language and situations.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Be Sure And Visit Swagbucks On Monday

Swagbucks is going crazy on Monday, with more ways for you to earn reward points towards free stuff. First, they're having a Swag Code Extravaganza, which means a fun day where you can earn up to 70 Swag Bucks from 8 different codes throughout the day!

Second, there's a new set of Holiday Collector's Bills which you can only earn through search - get all five and you'll receive an instant 12 Swag Bucks bonus! The set starts at noon on Monday

Finally, for any referral you bring in today through the 19th, you'll not only get up to 1000 matching Swag Bucks from Search, but 1000 Matching Swag Bucks from everything they earn (not including codes) all day Monday - they're calling it Mega Match Monday!

Three big reasons to visit Swagbucks this Monday!

If you are not yet signed up for Swagbucks, now is the perfect time. Register now using the code HOLIDAYSWAG and you will receive 100 bonus Swagbucks (only for new users and must be applied during registration). This code will be live through December 31st.

I've said it before, but Swagbucks really is an easy, no-brainer way to get free stuff. I typically earn one or two Amazon gift cards per month, with very little effort. There are many different ways to earn Swagbucks so you can choose how much or how little you want to do. Check it out!

Disclosure:This post contains my Swagbucks referral link. No monetary compensation was received for writing this post, however, I am eligible to earn Swagbucks for referrals. All opinions expressed are my own.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Aloha Friday - Holiday Greetings

Welcome to this week’s edition of Aloha Friday, hosted by Kailani over at An Island Life. In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day to take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So, on Fridays we can take it easy on blog posting, too.

I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer - nothing that requires a lengthy response. If you’d like to participate, visit An Island Life where you can link up with your own question and also visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Do you send out Christmas/holiday cards? If so, how many do you send? Do you mail actual cards through snail mail or send digital e-cards?

I send photo Christmas cards out via snail mail and this year I think I mailed around 28 cards.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by T-Mobile

There's no place like home for the holidays...ain't that the truth!

We stick close to home around Christmas-time. All of our immediate family happen to live nearby so we are fortunate that we don't have to worry about traveling. One of my favorite things about being at home on the holidays is spending Christmas morning with my husband and kids (ages 11, 13, 15, and 18).

For as long as I can remember, we have gotten up bright and early Christmas morning to see what Santa left under the tree. When I say bright and early, I mean around 5 or 6 a.m. Even now that the kids are getting older, they still get giddy with excitement over this. They're not allowed to get out of bed until we're all ready. Last year, I guess the kids thought that my husband and I were sleeping too late so they called me on my cell phone to say, "wake up!" And so, with our coffee cups in hand, my husband and I turn on the Christmas music and fireplace and just enjoy hanging out with the kids while they check out all their goodies. It may not sound super-exciting, but it's our tradition and defines what it means to me to "be home for the holidays."

Here's a lovely, feel-good video that I wanted to share with you. T-Mobile surprised shoppers at the Chicagoland area's Woodfield Mall with a beautiful performance of "(There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays". Watch it...I know it will make you smile (and maybe even tear up, if you're sentimental like me).

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Director
Paul Mirkovich, Musical Director

What about you? What does being "home for the holidays" mean to you? I would love for you to share some of your special memories or traditions.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Guest Post - Under $25 Gift Guide

Here's another guest post from one of my favorite's Corrin from Oh Hey, What's Up?  I've been a fan of hers for quite awhile and was thrilled when she agreed to pop over to my blog for a quick visit (Thanks, Corrin!). She has a superb sense of style and is always sharing the coolest finds in shoes, jewelry, makeup, and all kinds of other fabulousness. Today she's offering up some holiday shopping help with her under $25 gift guide.

Under $25 Gift Guide

Whenever I create a gift guide, I’m pretty much just putting my wish list and a bunch of good juju out into the universe, hoping that gifts start showing up at my doorstep*; so I take extra care to only including those things that truly make me gaga. If you have someone like moi on your shopping list, here’s what we’d like. Please and thank you.

*Mailing address available upon request.

Zebra Notepad $8.95
Running Zebra Scarf $19
Bow Ring $11
Glitter iPhone Case $25
Elephant Ring Holder $12
Greek Coffee Cup $12
Benefit Gift Set $10
Lush Bath Bombs $4.95 each

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thrift Store Painting Transformed Into Kitchen Chalkboard

After seeing so many fun kitchen chalkboards all over Pinterest and the blogosphere, I decided I had to have one myself. I'm not a crafty person at all - not only do I lack artistic talent but I'm also very impatient when it comes to these kinds of things. But, despite these facts, I made up my mind that I was going to give this project a try. I started going in thrift and consignment stores, keeping an eye out for a big, nicely framed piece of art that I could transform into my chalkboard masterpiece. For weeks, my hunt proved fruitless. I could not find anything. You know how sometimes you don't really know exactly what you're looking for but you just know that when you see it you'll know? That's how this was for me.

Last week, my daughter and I stopped in a local thrift store that's fairly new to our area. And, there it was! Hanging way up on the wall, was a huge framed painting. For $22 it was ours!

Here I have it turned on it's side because that's how I'm going to hang it on my kitchen wall. As you can see, there's a cheesey lovely scene of a quaint little house in the woods next to a stream containing some ducks, swans, or some sort of water fowl.

After wiping it all down with a slightly damp cloth, I put a coat of primer on the entire thing.

Next, I spray painted the frame - a dark metallic gray. At this point, it was starting to get dark outside. I really should have waited until the next day to continue working. But, remember, I'm very impatient. I couldn't be bothered with taking time to properly set up a work area for painting. I mean, it was getting dark and I had to hurry! So, I just propped that bad-boy against the grill and started spraying. Turns out that this wasn't such a good idea because I ended up getting a wee little bit of spray paint on the driveway. Ooops! I then moved over to the yard and finished up.

Then, my project took a little hiatus. I was scared to do the actual chalkboard part. I'm not a very good painter and was afraid I would screw it up (remember, I'm not crafty). So, I came up with a pretty good (somewhat sneaky) plan. I placed my framed piece in the middle of the dining room floor on some newspapers under the guise that I was "getting ready" to apply the chalkboard paint. We are about to paint our dining room anyway and I knew my husband would be in and out of the area, prepping the walls. I casually mentioned how I hoped I didn't make a mess with the chalkboard paint. And, the next thing you know, my dear wonderful husband was painting my chalkboard for me! Of course, who am I kidding? He knows my tricks and knew that I really wanted him to do it all along. He gave it a good sanding and then applied two coats of the chalkboard paint.

Now, it's hanging in my kitchen where the kids are eagerly using it to countdown the days until Christmas. All together, I spent around $50 counting the framed painting and supplies. I used Valspar primer and chalkboard paint (just because that's what I found on the shelf at Lowe's). Wah-lah!


Holiday Guest Post - Tammy from Tammy's Two Cents

I thought it would be fun to invite a few of my favorite blogging friends over for some holiday guest posts. I love hearing how others celebrate the season - their traditions and memories, their favorite recipes, their gift ideas...all those little things that make Christmas unique and special to each of us.

First up is Tammy. You can find her at Tammy's Two Cents, where she blogs about all kinds of good stuff - from family life, to product reviews, to giveaways. We crossed paths in the blogosphere awhile back and became friends. Tammy is very down to earth, friendly, and a devoted wife and mom. She's here today to share some of her Christmas traditions. Welcome Tammy!

I am so excited to be guest posting here today. Kari and I met through a blog hop over a year ago and have been friends ever since. She asked me to share some of my family's holiday traditions and recipes.

There was really only one tradition I remember growing up and it was opening all our gifts on Christmas Eve. We always celebrated with my aunts and their families which was probably the reason we didn't do anything on Christmas morning. Everyone was celebrating as a family that day.

My mom made cookies and candy every year. She had so many tins to fill. As I write this I can remember those special tins she pulled out every December. A few of her specialties were divinity, Yule Logs (a Swedish cookie) and her famous sugar cookies.

My all time favorite holiday recipe was not one that my mom made. It was one that both my aunts made and it still reminds me of Christmas. It was a biscotti like cookie called Scorpa. Our families have grown so we don't get together like we did when we were little. Two years ago we had a big get together and my aunt brought me a tin full of Scorpa. It totally made my Christmas!

Last year I decided I was going to take on a new tradition and start making it myself so we could enjoy it. (My dad was thrilled to hear this!) I was in the middle of making it and I had to call my aunt. I had too many questions and was so glad I called her because she gave me some great tips. Scorpa is a Swedish cookie they enjoy with their tea and coffee.

With it being my favorite recipe, I thought I would share it with all of you.

Swedish Scorpa

1 Cup Shortening

2 Cups Sugar

2 Eggs

1 Cup Evaporated Milk

3 Cups Sifted flour

1 Tablespoon of fresh baking powder

6 cardomon seeds (I am going to purchase ground cardomon this year)

Bake in scorpa pans (which I don't have) or 2 bread pans. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Let cool and cut into slices. Then bake at 150 degrees for 2-1/2 hours.

These make a great gift and I will be dipping a few in chocolate this year...yum!

One small tradition I started with our family was opening new pajama on Christmas Eve. (My husband's family is ONLY OPEN GIFTS ON CHRISTMAS!) A hard change to get use too! This satisfied my need to open at least one gift...and yes, my husband and I get a new pair too!

I would love to hear your traditions or recipes that reminds you of the holidays.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Movie Trailer Tuesday - Lovely, Still

Set around Christmas-time, elderly Robert finds himself falling for his lovely neighbor, Mary. As they begin a whirlwind courtship, Robert feels as if he has found love for the first time. He is happy and overwhelmed all at the same time.

This film is sweet and moves along fairly slowly until an unexpected twist is revealed. It's a tear-jerker for sure and definitely made me think about life, love, and growing old. Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn both give remarkably touching performances.

Rated PG


Friday, December 2, 2011

Aloha Friday - Got Milk?

Welcome to this week’s edition of Aloha Friday, hosted by Kailani over at An Island Life. In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day to take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So, on Fridays we can take it easy on blog posting, too.

I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer - nothing that requires a lengthy response. If you’d like to participate, visit An Island Life where you can link up with your own question and also visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Do you/your family drink milk? If so, what kind? How much do you drink per week?

We are a family of six (three of which are teens and one a preteen) and we all love milk. We drink skim milk and usually go through about 4-5 gallons per week. I also personally like soy milk (light or light-vanilla flavored) but I'm the only one who drinks that.