Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Christmas Decor

On Christmas Eve, after Santa put out the presents, I decided to take some pictures of our Christmas decor.  The house was so peaceful with Jillian sound asleep in bed and Jeff passed out on the couch.   Although I would have liked to have done more with our Christmas decor this year, I am pleased with how it turned out.  My goal next year is to switch the colored lights for white lights and add some tulling as garland and as a tree topper. 

I bought the light up Christmas presents last year at Marshall's and was so excited to break them out for this year.  I think out of all my Christmas decor, these are my favorite!!!

Last year, I found a fun way to use Christmas ornaments in my Apothecary jars.  They add so much Christmas color to our kitchen!

I have decorated our staircase the same way for the past three years and I like the simplicity of the garland and the lights.  I am thinking of possible adding a little more pizazz to it next year but for now, it's perfect!

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our home during Christmas!!!  I am linking up today to Kelly's Korner Blog, The Nester, Blue-Eyed Bride, Thirty Decor Chic, and Christmas Cheer Link Party.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top Projects of 2011

I love looking back through my blog this time of year and seeing all of the memories that were created and all of the projects that were accomplished.  This is actually one of my most favorite things about writing a blog, a chance to document our lives so I can look back and read through the posts with a warm heart and a sense of accomplishment. 

In 2010, I participated in Southern Hospitality's Top Projects of 2010 and I am exciting to do the same for 2011.  Here are a few of my favorite projects that I accomplished this year according to me and Google Analytics:

{2011 Home Tour with A Bowl Full of Lemons}

Looking back through my blog stats, the 2011 Home Tour with A Bowl Full of Lemons Blog was by far my most popular post.  I had 1200 hits that day alone!!!  I had a great time participating in the Home Tour and hope to participate again in 2012! 

{Tissue Paper Poms Project}

For Jillian's first birthday, I made several red, green, and white tissue paper poms to go with her birthday theme.  The Pom's were quite the hit and I received several questions on how to make them.  They are so easy to do, go back and check out my easy tutorial to make your very own tissue paper poms for your next celebration!  

{DIY Wainscoting}

In January 2011, I talked about how we upgraded our dining room with DIY Wainscoting.  It was a more of a DIY with a twist.  We borrowed our builder's Amish Carpenter to cut and measure the picture frames and we did the rest.  This was one part of the project that we didn't want to chance being incorrect on so we contacted the expert's, The Amish. 

{Summer Pasta Salad}

My most popular recipe this year was my Summer Pasta Salad.  This recipe is so easy and always has my friends and families asking for the recipe.  It's always a huge hit at Summer BBQ's and Block parties!!!

{Baby #2 - It's A Boy!}

And our biggest project in 2011?  Our precious Baby Boy due March 2012 which should surely be the biggest project of 2012 too!!!  Stay tuned for his nursery, hopefully a name and all the other fun project ideas I have in preparation of his arrival. 

I am participating in Southern Hospitality's Top Projects of 2011.  Stop by Rhoda's Blog to check out all of the other amazing 2011 Projects!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Easy Oreo Balls

Our neighborhood had a cookie exchange last weekend so I decided to try making Oreo balls.  These were so easy and delicious, I have a feeling they are going to become a staple in our house!!! 

{What You Need}

All you need in this recipe are THREE easy ingredients!!!

1 Package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (8 ounces)
1 Package of Oreo Cookies (16 ounces)
2 packages of Bakers Semi-Sweet Chocolate ( 8 squares) - melted

{How to Melt Chocolate}
Place unwrapped chocolate squares in microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 2-1/2 min.
or until chocolate is completely melted, stirring every 30 sec.

{How to Make Oreo Filling}
In a food processor, dump in your cookies and cream cheese until smooth consistency.  Using a cookie dough scoop, form the filling into smooth round balls.  Roll in your hands for additional smoothness.  On a wax paper lined cookie sheet, place your Oreo filling in even rows.  **Refrigerate your Oreo balls (before dipping them into the melted chocolate) for about 30 minutes.  This will help set the Oreo mixture and make them it a lot easier for dipping.** I learned this the hard way, I started dipping the Oreo filling right away into the melted chocolate and my balls completely fell apart!

**Karen At Home Blog...Homemaking Made Simple Shortcut**

{How to Easily Dip Truffles}
To easily coat truffles with the melted chocolate, add truffles, in batches, to bowl of melted chocolate. Use 2 forks to roll truffles in chocolate until evenly coated. Remove truffles with forks, letting excess chocolate drip back into bowl. Place truffles on prepared baking sheet; let stand until firm.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday Jillian!

What a Christmas gift from God you were two years ago today!! You bring such joy into our lives and so much laughter into our home. Happy Birthday Snoozer!! Mommy loves you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Christmas Card

I literally just slipped these cards into my mailbox today.  I was so behind this year, basically because I was struggling with finding a picture that was "Christmas Card" worthy.   Luckily, we went to 'Breakfast with Santa' yesterday at Lake FarmPark in Kirtland, Ohio, and captured a few cute shots in front of their Christmas trees. 

I cropped this cute shot using, uploaded to a pre-made Christmas Card on, and picked them up in an hour.  It was that easy once I had the right picture.

Merry Christmas from the Karen At Home Family!

Today I am linking up to the Christmas Card Carousel on the 'Walk With Me By Faith' Blog.

Friday, December 16, 2011

24 Weeks - Baby #2

I am at 26 weeks, however, need to catch up on my weekly pregnancy posts.  Here are the exciting things I remember about the 24th week!

How far along? 24 weeks

Total weight gain/loss: 20 lbs. I don't know what it is when I am pregnant, but the pounds seem to just stick to me and the girls are in constant competition with my belly.  I haven't done anything differently than my last pregnancy and I am now chasing around an active toddler. Thank goodness I am tall and it "spreads" out more!!!!

Maternity clothes: I am in all maternity clothes right now, however, have been buying several non-maternity pieces in larger sizes. I am still frustrated with the maternity clothing selection lately and am still trying to be creative and play with larger sized non-maternity clothes. I continue to buy pieces from Kohl's and TJMaxx that are less expensive and won't feel badly if I don't wear them again. The top above is from the Kohl's junior section, but in an extra large!!! You just have to spend some quality time in the dressing room seeing what works and what doesn't. I am so happy that sweater tunics are in style right now because that is all I am wearing with leggings lately. My all time favorite maternity purchase so far this pregnancy is the Old Navy maternity jeggings. I am wearing them in this picture too but you can't really see much of them.  I was a bit nervous purchasing jeggings even when I am not pregnant but these things are actually very flattering.  They look great with flats or boots. 

Stretch Marks: None right now and I never developed any with Jillian. Thank you Mom for these great genes!!

Sleep: Sleep is hit or miss.  Some nights I have a good night of sleep and others I toss and turn from back pain or from Jillian waking up in the middle of the night.  My back is really sore this time around and I think it's from carrying Jillian around.  There was one day this week where I had to try to pick Jillian up out of her crib three separate times before I was able to do it.  The pain in my back sometimes is so sharp that I have to re-adjust how I pick her up. 

Best moment this week: Jeff was able to interact with our little man one night laying in bed and it was such an exciting first moment between father and son.  Jeff would talk to my belly and he would respond with a kick.  The more Jeff talked, the more he would move.  He certainly was responding to Jeff's voice and it was so amazing!
Movement: I love when our little man is on my right side, I can feel him so much better when he isn't hiding on the left side where the placenta is.  His kicks are getting stronger and I really can feel him at night.  I finally felt a foot or an appendage!!! It was so cute, I had almost forgotten what it was like to feel little baby body parts in your belly. Certainly a sign that our little man is growing!

Food cravings: Nothing out of the ordinary this week, however, salty snacks like cheese and crackers and potato chips are really appealing to me right now.

Gender: BOY!!! Our little guy continues to remain nameless, we are still working on it!! As of now, our list has been narrowed down to Nicholas or Jeffrey.  Both family names, we have eliminated all non family names from our list, they just didn't seem as special to us when it came down to seriously discussing it.  Nicholas Robert or Nicholas Alan seems to be the front runner right now. 

Labor Signs: Thankfully none so far.

Belly Button in or out: Out.

What I miss: Nothing really although the smell or beer and wine are really starting to appeal to me now and I am really missing a nice glass of wine with my girlfriends.  Every time Jeff drinks a beer, I find myself just wanting to smell it.  You couldn't get near me with a glass of wine or beer in my first trimester with me not wanting to run into the bathroom or gag.  It's so amazing how our bodies just seem to know what to do! 

What I am looking forward to: Meeting my little man!!  I have really started to think about what he looks like and how life will be like with him.  We are no where near ready but that doesn't make me any less excited to be the Mommy of a little boy!!!

Milestones: Feeling that little baby foot!

One thing I wanted to mention is that I am extremely Anemic this pregnancy so I am now taking daily iron supplements to help which I think is finally working.  There have been so many days where I have felt like I was hit by a truck and simply couldn't shake a horribly sluggish feeling.  I was initially prescribed iron supplements 4 times a week but it just wasn't helping much.  I have also tried eating more red meat which I NEVER eat.  I am a turkey and chicken kinda gal but that didn't seem to be doing much help either.  My doctor continues to test me every few weeks so hopefully the next time around my numbers will finally start to look better. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

November 2011

I feel like November 2011 was even busier than October if that is possible.  I had four big Thirty-One parties in November which kept me insanely busy.  The pictures in this college are pretty much the last two weeks of the month so you can pretty much guess when those four parties took place!!  One of these days, I am going to have someone take pictures or videos of my in action at my parties, perhaps once I am feeling more comfortable about my speaking in front of people. 

{November 2011}

Week 1: November also proved to be fairly mild, however, extremely rainy.  Cleveland hit their all time record in rain fall in a year this month which is absolute craziness if you think about it.  I am so sick of the rain!!  Please snow already!!!  At least snow is pretty and exciting, not dreary and depressing!!!  Anyway.........the leaves for the most part have almost completely fallen off the trees which  means we can see our deer friends again!  Our woods are just loaded with deer.  Our personal record of the number of deer spotted in our back yard at one time still remains at 17 when we first moved here in 2007.  They pretty much hide all Summer long deep in the woods, however, once the leaves fall, their food source deteriorates rapidly and they come out looking for food. Particularly our stocked bird feeder.  I know it's a small picture, but you can see this beautiful buck snacking on bird seed remnants from our bird feeder. 

Week 2: We took Jillian back to the allergist to get tested again for milk, eggs and peanuts.  The good news is that she is no longer allergic to peanuts!!!!  Woo hoo!!!!  Jillian is still allergic to eggs and milk, however, her numbers in those areas have lowered as well.  In celebration, Jillian and I resumed our traditional Friday afternoon lunches at Chick-Fil-A where she happily ate chicken nuggets fried in peanut oil!  Jillian's allergist also recommended that she finally go off of the insanely expensive formula we have been giving her and try Silk or rice milk instead.  Well, she absolutely hates both and refuses to drink either one.  We have tried giving her just a splash in her sippy but she responds with a disgusted raspberry and a "no like it".  We have tried giving it to her with Hershey syrup and "no like it".  I even tried it, it was good!  Nope!  Not our picky little girl.  So we continue to give her the expensive formula.  We are completely at a loss on how to get this situation turned around.  I would love to hear ideas on how you transitioned your child to milk.  I realize she is a year older than most kids that go through this but because of her milk allergy, we had no choice and now she just flat out refuses.  Ugh!!!

Week 3: Leaves have now completely fallen off the trees and it's still raining!  Ahhh!  But, it's the week of Thanksgiving in which we have so much to be thankful for!!!  We hosted Thanksgiving for the first time at our house which was a lot of fun and a lot of work!  I give my Mom a lot of credit for hosting for so many years.  I now feel like a seasoned Thanksgiving hostess and feel better prepared if we do this again!!!!  Here is Jeff trying to figure out how to stuff the turkey and the after!!!!  For Turkey rookies, it looked pretty good! We did have to put it back into the oven to cook for another 45 after the first time we took it out but can happily say it was a success!!!! I wish I would have gotten a picture of Jillian all dressed up in her Thanksgiving outfit, but unfortunately was too busy trying to feed everyone turkey that this was the best I could do.  Her hair is looking a tad bit disheveled here after her nap and running around with her cousins.  That weekend since so many family members were in town, we celebrated my niece Katelyn's 1st Birthday.  Katelyn is my sister's daughter and I still can not believe she is one!  I feel like we just had a sprinkle for her yesterday.  Jillian loved helping Katelyn celebrate her birthday, as you can see, she liked reading the birthday cards with my sister.  The picture with all of the little ones are all of the cousins on my side of the family.  My sister's two girls, Jillian, and my brother's twin daughters.  It's very challenging trying to snap a picture of five toddler girls but I somehow managed while they were all trying to help unwrap the gifts.  It was so nice to see my brother and his girl's who were in town visiting from Arkansas.  My cousin Amy was also in town visiting from West Virgina and is expecting a little boy a day before me!!!  Needless to say, March is going to be a busy time for our family!!!

Week 4: I ended a very busy month with my first vendor show with Thirty-One Gifts.  The event was held at a local party center in celebration of a Mom's Night Out.  I was so proud of how my display turned out, I would certainly buy a new purse from this nice looking table, wouldn't you??? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

October 2011

With all of my 2011 Thirty-One Parties behind me, I am able to focus on a few other things in my life again, like Blogging!!!  It's been a wonderful experience starting my new business with Thirty-One, however, I am looking forward to the break and getting back on track with other things I enjoy doing.  In only a few short months, I can solely focus on Thirty-One so I know all of the hard work I am putting in now working two jobs will pay off in the long run! 

I honestly think Fall passed me by in a blink of an eye!  Where in the world did it go???  Although we haven't had too much snow to speak of just yet here in Cleveland, I still feel like Winter is here and Fall has been gone for awhile now.  In an effort to play catch up, I am going to publish a few posts summarizing our busy October and November which will bring us to where we are today, The Christmas Season!!! 

{October 2011}

Week 1: We began our October here in Cleveland with beautiful weather and mild temperatures.  I had to capture our backyard trees which were adorned in beautiful shades of yellow this year.  Our view from the back of our house never seems to disappoint!!!  I turned 17 weeks pregnant and finally started to feel a bit more confidant about our growing little baby.  In just two weeks, we were going to find out what we were having and I was beyond excited!!!

Week 2: The mild October weather continued so we ventured out one afternoon after my 18 week appointment and headed out to Patterson Fruit Farm.  Jillian loved playing among all the pumpkins and helped us pick out a "winner" for us to carve later that month.  We took the same family picture that we had two years prior overlooking the beautiful park. 

Back then, I was 7 months pregnant with Jillian. How times have changed!!!

Week 3: On October 21st, we found out we were having a healthy little boy. I am still in shock it's a boy and can't believe how blessed we are.  It just goes to show that God is listening and really does have a plan.  At some point that week, we had just put Jillian to bed and our door bell rang.  A neighbor had left us a fun 'Boo' package so we ran out and bought two 'Boo' packages of our own to hand out to two unsuspecting neighbors.  I just love how our neighborhood has such a sense of community and does so many fun things together.  The booing tradition keeps growing every year and is only going to get bigger as more homes are built.  At the end of the week, we spent our Saturday evening carving pumpkins and making pumpkin seeds. I absolutely LOVE pumpkin seeds and will have to post the Pumpkin seed recipe next year.  I had every intention of doing it this year, however, I don't think anyone has any pumpkin seeds readily available right now!  Ha! At least I have the pictures already taken for next year.

Week 4: I celebrated my 20 week of pregnancy and snapped this picture right before I left to hang out with my friend Shannon and her adorable kids.  Her daughter Quinlan is the same age as Jillian and they love to play together.  Jillian went trick-or-treating for the first time and absolutely loved it.  It was FREEZING that night so our little lady bug only made it to a few houses around the cul-de-sac before the poor things lips started turning blue and she was shivering.  I think that was all she needed though, she certainly preferred hanging out at home passing out candy to the kids.  Every time a trick-or-treater would come to our door, she would yell "More kids, more kids!"  It was hilarious.  She still talks about it today, I am so glad she had such a fun time.  I snapped a quick picture of our front porch before heading inside for the night.  I was proud of myself for even finding the time to plant mums this year and put our Fall flag out so I had to capture the proof!!

Although it feels funny to talk about Halloween as I am listening to Christmas carols, we had a great October and had to document it before the memories faded away!!!