Christmas Sights around Quebec City

Christmas Sights around Quebec City

Last weekend J and I escaped up north to Quebec City, Canada for a long weekend getaway.  While looking at the weather the week before, we quickly realized that it was going to be FREEZING and that changed our clothing prep big time.

Before I get into the exquisiteness of the city, I have to tell you about my boots.  I wanted something stylish, yet extremely warm, and after some research I realized that these JCrew boots were the winner.  I normally don’t do well with online shoe orders, but pulled the trigger anyway.  I was hoping they would work…and they did.  So the moral of the story is: if you need warm winter boots, these are amazing.  I wore them the entire weekend from day to night.  And I just checked, the entire site is 40% off with the code WHYWAIT.  They also come with red laces if you need a change of pace.  For reference…I am usually an 8.5 or 9, but I ordered a 10 so I could wear thick socks.  They worked perfectly!  Onto Quebec City –

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This year’s advent calendar

This year’s advent calendar

For as long as I can remember, I created some sort of Advent calendar for my daughter to open throughout the month of December.  When I met J, the tradition continued on to all the kids, so now they look forward to some sort of daily Advent activity that leads them right up to December 24th.

Some examples of my past ideas include a “book a day” calendar where I found twenty four beautiful holiday children’s books and wrapped/numbered them for each day of the month.  I remember Payton loving this idea and looking forward to the story each night.

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I also found this wooden tree at Target a few years back and filled it with questions about the holiday season.  Each morning, Payton had to open the slip of paper and answer the question or talk about the prompt before she got her Hershey kiss.

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Last year I created these tags and had them numbered in a pretty bowl.  The kids opened one each day and answered (often times we discussed it at dinner), and they also got a piece of chocolate for the day.  Here is a sample of the tags:

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First Home? Where to start…

First Home? Where to start…

A friend of mine recently secured her first apartment where she will be living completely on her own.  She is super excited and can’t wait to have a space where everything is chosen by her alone with no outside influence.  For years, she has been dreaming about this moment…collecting ideas, figuring out her style (what she likes and doesn’t like), scouring Wayfair, and pinning too many pictures to count.

The other day over lunch we were talking about all of the things she will need for her new digs, on a budget of course.  She told me that I needed to write a blog post, or three, of where to start when someone is starting new.  Now I’m not a designer, but I do know what I like, and I also know what I have learned along the way when I was in her same situation.  So here are my tips for anyone who is starting fresh in a new place and is on a budget.

1. Don’t purchase everything at once (or before you move in).

I am a HUGE believer in living in a space for a while before pulling the trigger on pricier items.  If your grandmother’s old kitchen set will do before buying one of your preference, do it.  Live in the space to get a feeling for the flow of life.

2. Scour places like flea markets, thrift stores, and online sources like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

I can’t say enough about this one.  There are soooooo many pieces out there that are dying to be brought back to life.  I found two Broyhill Brasilia dressers (one with a mirror) at a thrift store a few years back.  I bought both immediately.  The one is in my bedroom and the other is a credenza for the TV.  If you search them up on eBay, they are going for hundreds more that I paid for them.  They are such good, solid pieces of Mid Century Modern furniture.  Here is a photo of my exact piece taken from the site:

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Our Faux Mud Room

Our Faux Mud Room

Ok — so it’s only taken a year, but I FINALLY had the chance to finish this space.  Everything came together after I had my friend (Trish) take some headshot of the kids.  When we did the family room makeover last December, I also had J’s rockstar uncle install board and batten molding to the area just inside the garage.  This is area is a huge traffic zone, as most people enter and exit the house through this door.  That said, I wanted to make sure everything about the area was functional and durable.

My inspiration for this area came from Shanty Chic’s post found here.  I love the way she used the finials for knobs, but for me, I went with more of a clean look.  I also went a little more decorative with the molding since I wanted a second level of hooks for the book bags.

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For the floor, I chose the LLBean Everyplace Recycled Waterdog runner in camel.  It has a similar look and feel to sisal, but way more durable.  Plus, it takes up the entire hallway and doesn’t move an inch.  Win-win.  Every once in a while LLBean runs a sale, so be sure to watch out for that one if you need a rug like this.

I can’t remember exactly, but I am pretty sure the hooks are from Amazon and the frames are from Wayfair.

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DIY: Etched Wine Glasses

DIY: Etched Wine Glasses

A week or so ago I posted about a friend’s birthday celebration and I mentioned that I created DIY etched wineglasses with each guest’s initial.  Well, they were a definite hit!  Not only did I have enough glasses for everyone, each glass served as the favor for them to take home.

A former student’s parent was gracious enough to use her Cricut machine to make the stencils for me.  (THANK YOU, Kelly!) She gave me both the stencil and the transfer paper.  I also bought wine glasses at the dollar store to use for this project.

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15th birthday celebration

15th birthday celebration

Last weekend we had a little birthday dinner for my girl – who turned 15 yesterday!  How can that be??  She will be eligible for her driver’s license in less than a year, and that scares the living day light out of me.  While mom is worried, she is super excited for what lies ahead.  I guess that’s life….

Anyway, she is a pink and gold girl, just like her mom…so I went on that theme with the table decor.  It was very simple, yet elegant. Take a look…

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DIY: gold sprayed hydrangeas for the holidays

DIY: gold sprayed hydrangeas for the holidays

Last December when we were in New York, I happened upon a cute little stand in Washington Square Park that was selling Christmas greens.  This was the same place that I purchased the magnolia leaves that I carried all over the city just to bring home and add to my porch planters.

It was at that same stand where I saw dried hydrangea flowers that were sprayed gold and added to wreaths, garlands and greenery.  I knew right then and there that I was going to file away the idea for this year.

So this past weekend after doing some yard work, I carefully cut my drying hydrangeas and put them aside.  My mom came up with the brilliant idea of sticking them in the ground and spraying them that way.  It was genius.  The paint covered all angles of the flowers and they dried perfectly in the breeze.  Now all I need to do is preserve them in my garage and pull them out when I do my front porch planters!  Take a look…

The before picture…

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And after…

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Birthday Party Shenanigans

Birthday Party Shenanigans

This past weekend I held a 50th birthday party/wine party for my friend, Amy.  It was a big birthday for her this year and she was adamant that she didn’t want any attention made to her.  Well.  That didn’t hold out.  Not only did our coworkers know, but we brought it to the attention of our 125 fourth graders!  In the end, I know for a fact that she had a great day!

Here are some peaks of the party shenanigans and the decor, complete with DIY initial wine glasses for all of the guests.  This tutorial will be coming to the blog this week!

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Recipe Recap: Homemade Limoncello

Recipe Recap: Homemade Limoncello

If you’re a limoncello lover, this post is for you.  Limoncello is an Italian liqueur that has a very intense lemon flavor.  It is usually served chilled and in a cordial glass with no ice.  When J and I were in Italy back in June, it was so fun to try all of the different versions of Limoncello from its homeland.  Often times, restaurants offered it for free at the end of a meal, or you could drop in a bar in the middle of the afternoon and get a glass to sip.

I have made limoncello before with my friends Mike and Vanessa, so when they asked to do it again, I jumped at the chance.  Especially since J has never experienced the process.

To start, we met way back in May to do phase one of the process.  Making this liqueur is a two-step process with a few months in between.  The longer the wait in the middle, the better it will taste.

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Recipe Recreation: Cacio e Pepe

Recipe Recreation: Cacio e Pepe

Warning: This dish is not recognized by any diet on the planet.

When J and I visited Italy this past June, one of our favorite meals in Rome was Cacio e Pepe, translated “Cheese and Pepper”.  It got to the point where one of us would order the dish at every meal just to taste that specific restaurant’s version.  Cacio e Pepe is simple.  The ingredients are pasta, various cheeses, butter, olive oil and black pepper. That’s it!

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