31 December 2012

songs for 2012

Do you ever think of the ways that songs are the soundtrack to our lives?  You hear a few bars of an old song, and are immediately transported back in time.  Every time I hear that crazy Chumnawamba song about getting knocked down, I'm at Charity Ball in my high school gym.  

I love music, and 2012  gave us lots of good songs. I tend to be drawn to songs with a good story, complimented by rich harmony.

Here are a few of my 2012 favorites:

Or listen here.

30 December 2012

Christmas City Swap 2012

This Christmas, the wonderful Allie of Be Up & Doing hosted a Christmas City Swap.  She matched us up with other bloggers around the country, and our task was to gather local items and put together a city-special package for our recipient. What fun! This is right up my alley (no pun intended), so I signed right up!

I received my package from miss Hannah over at The Homesteady.  Her home city is Northampton, Massachusetts, and apparently that city has a wonderful fragrance, because the package she sent me sure does!  I love these little luxuries.

For my package, I took some help from one of my favorite local boutique wine + coffee shops. We selected some local-to-Wisconsin gin, and some rhubarb hopps to make the perfect gin + tonic, along with the most delectable sea salt caramels I've tasted to date.  I'm a proud Junior-Leaguer, so we topped it off with our local chapter's cookbook, Mad About Food.  

Off it went to Nicole over at Probably Polka Dots!

I had even more fun with the City Swap than I'd predicted. What a wonderful way to connect with other bloggers, support small + local business, and enjoy treats from other geographies, all at the same time.  What fun!

25 December 2012

#love came down

Merry Christmas, all.  I hope you are enjoying lots of laughter with your loved ones.

We enjoyed a beautifully candle-lit Christmas Eve service last night, followed by hors devours and cocktails with family.  My mom is an incredible hostess, and she outdoes herself each year.  We started a new tradition this year of post-rugrat bedtime games and prizes for the adults.  My sister and I shopped yesterday for good prizes and bad, including some XXL granny panties.  They'll re-appear next year I'm quite sure.

In the midst of the excitement, I hope you'll take a moment to reflect on the reason we have to celebrate… our Loving God come down.

Merry Christmas. :)

21 December 2012

20 December 2012

snowpocalypse {and other words that don't exist}

It's a winter wonderland around these parts . We had it coming, really.  Last winter was more like a really chilly fall, and this summer was beastly hot, so much so that most of my time was spent next to my air conditioning vent.  

The snow is falling, swirling, piling, beautiful.  Our office is closed due to the blizzard today {boo ya don't have to take a vacation day today}, which never happens.  The governor declared a state of emergency.  My Christmas tree is lit up and decorated, my coffee pot full.  

I took several days off work this week, which also never happens.  I have a 90 minute massage scheduled for later this morning, and started worrying about 24 hours ago that it would be cancelled due to the weather, thus resulting in 3-4 phone calls. You know, just to make sure it's still on.  Thank heavens it is. I've been looking forward to these 90 minutes for about 92374 days.  

I have big and grand plans for my days off this week.  In preparation for snowed-in day today, I finished my Christmas shopping yesterday.  I also did five million errands I've been putting off for such a day as yesterday.  It was awesome.  Every last letter on that list got crossed off, and I did so many returns I swear I MADE money. Talk about bliss for this type-a.

Today is "bundled up day", and I am.  Until my massage at 11:00. But that's really still bundled and blissful.  On today's agenda is lots of organizing (did you know I LOVE to organize? I just barely ever do it because it takes time, which I don't really have lots of). I'm organizing my various manuals and warranties (a la alejandra.tv) and hanging a little basket in my entry closet for gym towels and heading-out-the-door gear.  Have I mentioned I love Command hooks? I don't love the idea of me wielding a hammer or screws, but those little hooks allow me to do the same stuff without permanent holes. Brilliance.  

Tomorrow is my personal planning + goal-setting day.  I'll take a look at 2012 and its ups and downs.  Upon us is 2013 - another year - and we only get so many.  I'll be spending time with my journal, my calendar, my bible, and this here blog.  And maybe the StrengthsFinder assessment, although I don't have many questions about my strengths and weaknesses, sometimes you just need to hear it again.

I'll be back tomorrow with a Girl Behind the Blog vlog about Christmas traditions.

11 December 2012

howdy hi hello (i have not disappeared)

image via
My apologies for the unplanned hiatus.  At work, junior league, life group, + church, full-on holiday harriedness has hit.  Hard.

Alas... that is life, and here I am.  

In January, I am co-hosting a baby shower for a close girlfriend whose first bebe is due in early February.  The invites arrived today via Tiny Prints, (use code HOLFS for free shipping on orders $49+ now through 12/31and they are SO STINKING cute. I cannot wait to show them to you.  Heavens.

For now, a hint. Like those little mustaches up there? I know, right? That's the hint.

PS. Tomorrow is 12.12.12.  Did you know this is likely the last time any of us will ever see a triplicate date - ever? Crazy, huh? To document it, tomorrow, I'm going to do A Day in the Life.  I'll post it later this week.  

--- xoxo ---

Affiliate links used.

06 December 2012

calendar time :: mama mia it's almost 2013

Can you believe it's already almost 2013?!  Sometimes it's fun to look at some of the major events that happened during the past year.

Here are just a few:

:: London Olympics :: Facebook went public :: Whitney Houston passes away :: leap year :: Encyclopedia Britannica discontinues its printed edition :: Andy Griffith passes away :: 

I realized this week that it's time to hop on the get-a-2013-calendar horse.  So, here I am, galloping away.  The past couple of years, I've relied solely on the calendar on my phone + Outlook at work, but this year, for longer-term planning purposes, I'm going back to good old paper.  Actually writing something down, coupled with seeing the entire month and its contents at the same time works better with my brain.  I can't wait to hang it on the wall next to my desk at home and get to work doing lots of planning!

I've always been a huge fan of Minted's paper products, and recently heard great things about their line of calendars, and some of the changes they've made over the past several months, including a new matte luxury finish.  I can't wait to get it in the mail.

Instead of a typical people-picture calendar, I decided to use all pictures that I've taken of life kinds of stuff.  

Here's the cover...

Oh my goodness, isn't the striped washi tape design just lovely? I love all the designs, and went with the Washi Chalkboard Notes calendar.  And also, because everything's better when it's bigger, I selected the "grand" size, which is 11.5" x 14" .  Ahem. 

The user-interface of the design program is nice and simple - and warns you if you're trying to upload an image that's not a high enough resolution.  See? It told me above, with that exclamation-point-yield thing.  Thank you little thing for not letting me screw up my wonderful work of art.

Minted also has a huge selection of gift ideas, which, if you have recipients on your list who have a love for color, great design, thick and rich papers, and something just a little creative, you may want to check it out.  

Here are a couple of my favorite gift ideas:

OUR WISH  family tree art print

BY THE NUMBERS infographic art print
Isn't the artwork to die for??

What are your calendar plans? Are you a paper or a screen calendar person?

This is a sponsored post. A calendar was provided to me for free. 
All opinions are my own, and I wouldn't do it any other way.  As my grandma Peryl used to say, 
"Integrity - if you have it, nothing else matters. If you don't, nothing else matters."
Affiliate links used.

05 December 2012


1. Taking a tip from my favorite manicurist, I use tin foil-wrapped, polish remover-soaked cotton balls on my fingertips to remove my shellac manicure. Let it sit for 15 minutes or so while you catch up on episodes of Private Practice.  It's way better than heading to the nail salon for the removal.  Also smarter than scraping off the shellac and sending my nails into nuclear shock.

2. This is how far I've gotten on decorating for Christmas.  Yes, those are the halloween baggies my mom made for my life group gals. And yes, I finally remembered to give them to my girls last night - a few days into December.  I guess I have no choice but to follow my own advice.

3. Check out these beautiful blooms. I didn't even edit this image.  Dang, gina. Those are some beauties. And the guy who showed up at my door with them isn't so bad, either. :)

4. I fully realize that everyone in the nation is talking about the weather.  But people, I LIVE IN WISCONSIN. It's cold here like 8 months out of the twelve.  Sixty-four degrees in December is OUT OF THIS WORLD.  Geesh.  

28 November 2012

the girl behind the blog {this one time...} a vlog

Hey All!

I'm linking up once again for The Girl Behind the Blog!  It's another vlog. I tell ya, I learn so much each time I do one of these bad boys.  

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll stay awhile. :)


27 November 2012

amplify the music on your phone

need some tunes, but don't have speakers?  use a bowl or shallow dish to amplify the music on your phone.  

it works. give it a try.

image via a subtle revelry

26 November 2012

gift guide :: what's on MY christmas list

  1. kate spade's manners :: love kate spade. love manners. done and done.
  2. urban decay's naked2 palette :: i love the {look} options this palette provides. i'm really hoping my secret {sibling} santa reads my blog.
  3. dyson mini vac :: because just this morning i spilled coffee grounds all over my kitchen ceramic, and wet paper towel doesn't do the job.
  4. the food52 cookbook :: because one of my favorite writers recommended it.
  5. pioneer woman's food from my frontier :: i want to be her when i grow up.  or at the very least, cook like her
  6. re-everything eye serum :: since using it, my under eye area feels like a baby's bottom
  7. lululemon groove pants :: actually - anything lulu will do. those are totally my abs.

*some of these are affiliate links.

25 November 2012

how to help your holidays have more meaning

Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, I'm stopping to reflect today on how to help your holidays have more meaning......

Join me over at Naptime Diaries, where I'm guest posting today.  Join me, won't you?

23 November 2012

blurb black friday deal

Happy Black Friday, all!

I wanted to pop in and update you on a great promotion Blurb's got going on through Monday...

Today through Monday, create the perfect pesonalized gift and get 25% off with Blurb when you use promo code HOLIDAYTHANKS. 

My favorite ways to gift Blurb:
  • Commemorate a special event or travel
  • Compile favorite family recipes
  • Keep your (or your best friend's) Instagram alive forever
More later!

22 November 2012

thankful 2012

tHaNkFuL 2012

warm :: bed + feet + hearts + food

loving :: people + God + community

gifts :: health + strength + family + work + Truth

:: enough ::

image via everything fab

21 November 2012

what not to miss :: online deals

I love a good deal, don't you?

And I need to purchase Christmas gifts, don't you?

Cool. Glad we're on the same page.  

Here's a round-up of some of my favorite deals for this Black Friday.  I'll be sure to remind you on twitter about the biggies, so be sure to check in.

1. Are you a member over at Joss & Main? It's got a similar feel to One Kings Lane (in fact, I swear they're secretly related, because their emails come to me at the exact time every single stinking day), and is equally beautifully curated.  **On Black Friday, Joss & Main will be depositing a MYSTERY CREDIT of up to $1000 (holy cats) in each member's account.**  So... if you're not yet on the Joss & Main wagon - hop on before Black Friday!

2. Speaking of One Kings Lane... How about a coffee table book or coffee table tray for your next hostess gift? I'd start in the Gifts section.  What a nice way to say thanks.

3. Stella & Dot is offering an EXTRA 25% off of LIMITED QUANTITIES for Black Friday. YOWZA what a deal.  Stella & Dot is perfect for a Christmas gift exchange with girlfriends, for your sister, or for your mom.  There really is something unique and creative for everyone on your list. 

4. Tiny Prints has HUGE Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday deals going on.  

Thanksgiving Deal of the Day - 25% off holiday card/Holiday invites - use promo code DOD1121

Black Friday Deal of the Day - $10 off holiday cards - No minimum purchase - use promo code DOD1123 + 20% off your entire cart.  


18 November 2012

not normal

Do you ever have something happen to someone that you love and you know you can't go on acting like everything's normal?

I wanted to pop in to say hello and let you know I'm still over here, but I'm quiet on purpose.

People that I love are going through something hard. Something they shouldn't have to go through.  Maybe some bloggers would go on and post a Christmas DIY or warm fall recipe.    For me, it doesn't feel right. It would be counterfeit.

I'm being quiet because it's appropriate for me for this moment.

See you soon.

photo via a subtle revelry

13 November 2012

setting world records

I think I forgot to tell you about the Jenga game to end all Jenga games. I swear we set some sort of world record.  No really, I googled it.  We definitely set a record.  IT WAS INTENSE.  I pretty much gave a play by play on twitter.  And then I knocked the dang thing over.  Bah.

Has it been awhile since you played this raise-your-heart rate-beyond-healthy game? It's so fun.

12 November 2012

weekender :: in the kitchen

This weekend found me spending time cooking and organizing, and in general, thinking a lot about the feeling of urgency that's coloring my days recently.  Maybe I'll write about it sometime.

I made Cinnamon Roll Almond Flour Donuts ala Roost.  They are gluten and diary free, as well as (very) low in starch, which I like.  I've found this particular recipe is as adaptable as it is delicious.  Instead of donuts, I made short muffins, and I omitted the topping completely, though I have made it with a brown sugar + toasted pecan crumble topping before, and it was delicious.  I'm doing a bit of a cleanse before we get down and dirty for the holidays, and these little buggers actually make a really nice dessert.  

I also made an adaptation of Paula Deen's Hot Chicken Salad.  I've highlighted my changes below:

2 cups cooked chicken, cubed (I grabbed a rotisserie chicken to save myself the cook-the-chicken steps)
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used reduced fat made with olive oil)
1 can cream of chicken soup (again, I used reduced fat)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2/3 cup crushed potato chips or french fried onions
Instead of chips or french fried onions, I used 3 green onions to minimize the starch

Pre-heat oven to 350.
Combine all ingredients.
Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Total prep time is about 30 minutes.


09 November 2012

around the world {wide web}

via the very talented 

because it's friday and we all need something to celebrate... here are some links i liked this week

kate spade is launching an off-shoot


speaking of kate spade... and this for the fashion-friendly


how about a gift swap with all the items being local from your city? sign up before 11/30.


have you ever wanted to work with a professional stylist for free? 


and i do have just one question for you. (skip the ad) it's time to start thinking about this, you know.  i'm just here to help.

have a great weekend, you lovely people.  

08 November 2012

life hacks for the busy gal :: a simple gathering

Earlier this week, I had a few of my junior league ladies over to talk business - the kind of business that only junior leaguers discuss, including the details of arranging hundreds of donated prom dresses for perusal by hundreds of high school girls who'll leave with a smile on their face and a free prom dress in hand, all set to attend prom.  Junior League business also usually involves wine, which is really just an added benefit.

In making arrangements for my guests, I knew we had planned an evening gathering, and I'd promised wine and snacks.  A simple gathering, as it were.

I love to entertain. Hospitality comes pretty naturally to me, and having people in my home makes me feel alive. I like the idea of {HOME} (see what I did there? it's like home+hug), and helping people to feel comfortable - not just the come-on-in-and-make-yourself-at-home kind of comfortable, but the you-are-loved-and-accepted-and-appreciated kind of comfortable... the kind of comfortable where your people know you put in some time and work and effort because they're worth it.

Because I love it so, I've done a good amount of entertaining. I'm thankful my mom taught me the basics from the time I was a little girl, and I've really just grown into myself with more experience.  Though getting ready to have people in your home can be stress-inducing at times, there are definitely a few tips I use to make it more doable.

Favorite Resources on this topic:

*Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links used.

07 November 2012

what i wore :: to the corn maze in the cold

This weekend, we gathered a group together for dinner-at-a-diner and some old fashioned corn maze fun.  In the midwest, November is when it starts to get ACTUAL cold.  That October chill was not real.  November is when it gets real.  Like turn-on-your-heat-cause-it's-60-degrees-in-here cold.  Amen.

We went to the same corn maze last year, and I froze.  I looked cute (before I put on my man's seriously oversized fleece), but I was so dang cold I almost didn't have fun.  That's not actually true. It was really fun. I was just really cold. 

This year, I decided to opt for good-looking but practical.  Enter winter coat for the first time this year. And boots. Fuzzy ones.

bibb necklace - bridier baubles
long vest (old) - banana republic
black ruffle long sleeved tee - loft
leggings - gap active
cranberry knitted uggs
iphone 4s case by daninotes on etsy

pleated poppy

06 November 2012

today | 11.06.2012

today ::

the weather was

rainy with a few flurries

i wore

houndstooth heels

i went to

my local polling place

then enjoyed

a casual election-returns gathering with family friends

let freedom ring

liberty is beautiful.

for heaven's sake :: vote

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can excersize their Constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it.” 

-Abraham Lincoln

05 November 2012

write your love story custom chalkboard

This spring, one of my closest girlfriends got married to the man of her dreams.  

It's been several months, but I'm so excited to share the wonderful gift my friend Katie custom-made to commemorate the special occasion.

These chalkboards have been all over the place on Pinterest, and I was so pleased I could have one made by someone locally, and support someone whose artwork I love, to boot.  

I found a simple black frame at my local Michael's, and paired the chalkboard with these bright and fun chalkboard markers. 

I wrapped the package in simple brown kraft paper (one of my favorite ways to wrap!), and used the markers as a gift topper.  Sometimes it's fun to use the wrapping to give a hint as to the package contents.

What are some of your favorite wedding gift ideas? How do you encourage your friends to write their love story?

ps. need an emergency compliment? or just a giggle?

pps. thinking about something like this for my christmas packages this year.

ppps. or maybe one of these - probably the one with the yellow puffs.

31 October 2012

the girl behind the blog :: vlog

hi everybody and hApPy hALLoWeEn!

i just did that color manually and can i just say i'm glad that black is a halloween color? I only had to manually do the orange. amen.

today i'm linking up with ashley from 5 oh wifey and erin from living in yellow (two fellow #influenceconf gals!) for the girl behind the blog.

today's edition is a VLOG, and we're talking about the three things you need to make it through the day.  since this is my second vlog, i'm no longer a beginner.