Thursday, November 29, 2012

fill my stocking with a duplex... and checks

I adore the holidays for many reasons.
I love the spirit of the season, the quality time spent with family and friends, the decorating, the baking and crafting. But most of all, I love the giving.

I'm a spoiler. I love to shower those closest to me with little tokens of appreciation for being in my life over the last year. Throughout the course of the year, I keep a running list of ideas for certain hard-to-buy-for individuals. This way, once October rolls around (yes, I start early) I am not pulling my hair out.

Having said that, I tend to be on 
Team: Many Little Gifts as opposed to the popular
Team: One Big Gift. This is where Spencer and I differ drastically.

This is one reason why I find gifting stocking stuffers to be the most fun. I tend to go for quirky little trinkets that my recipient can use year-round. The other great thing is that stocking stuffers tend to be inexpensive since they are not typically the feature gift(s). Win.

In the spirit of the season, I've compiled a list of some of my current favorite stocking-worthy finds.
It's kind of like 'Oprah's Favorite Things'... on a budget.

 Without further ado…

$5 Magazine Subscriptions to
Seriously, some great finds on this list and BONUS(!) your recipient can enjoy an entire years worth of subscriptions for $5!

You can never have too many of these little guys on hand. Plus, now they come in a variety of different, yummy flavors. I happen to be a Chap-Stick girl myself, but I am boring and often accused of being a traditionalist (who knew?) so I only like the scent of the original black-and-white tube.

You don’t have to like coffee to use a Starbucks gift card! Tons of other caffeinated/non-caffeinated options await you. While I am an avid coffee drinker (it didn’t make #1 on my thankful list for nothin’!) I also really like their refreshers (cool lime flavor, especially), chai tea lattes, salted caramel hot chocolate (the best!) and all of their Tazo teas. And don’t even get me started on their treats! Cranberry Bliss Bar? Yes, please.

Chocolate & Candy
 I especially like to give the mini Dove pieces or Lindor truffles. These are the perfect size for your recipient’s desk at work, candy jar, purse, or pocket. I mean really… you never really know when the mood is going to strike, am I right girls? Gotta be prepared… Girl Scouts motto.

Fun Dishtowels
I am a self-proclaimed dishtowel whore. I have no shame in admitting that. We all use them. Why not give away a couple of fun, brightly colored ones for your recipient to use year-round? The oven handle will thank you.

Travel Size Hand Lotion & Anti-Bacterial
These are great—for girl or boy! I keep one of each in my purse, car and around the house. I especially love Aveda Hand Relief lotion. Fantastic quality and it only takes a little bit to get your hands feeling smooth and moisturized in no time. Bath & Body Works also sells lots and lots of mini lotions and anti-bacterial gels in fun scents.

I love gifting Christmas ornaments made unique because of their regional characteristics. For instance, last year I gave the families each a beautiful glass ornament in the shape of California to commemorate our first year as CA residents. I waited until the holiday inched closer before purchasing them, as the prices were drastically reduced. This one is especially fun if you live in a different city!
last year's ornament stocking stuffer
Coffee / Keurig Cups
Here I go again… I know. If you are gifting for a coffee drinker, another one of my favorites are those little pouches of flavored, ground coffees. You can get these anywhere (World Market and Target both sell them, for instance) and they are often very reasonable in price. This allows your recipient to try a couple of different flavors without having to commit to an entire bag. Also, if you know that he or she has a Keurig machine, the individual cups of coffees make great gifts as well.

Post-it Notes & Notepads
As much of a ‘green’ society we may be (or try to be), we’re always going to have a need for these. Make that grocery list in style! Why not?

Re-Useable Grocery Bags
So, I couldn’t give the above example without at least providing a sustainable counterpart, now could I? I adore these fold-up re-useable grocery bags, like the kind by Baggu. They even fold up into their own little pouch for easy storage--cute! I stick ‘em in my purse and always have at least one handy for the times I forget to bring in the Trader Joe’s bags inside with me… which is every time.


Scentsy Bars / Travel Tins
I am a big fan of Scentsy! I’ve got one warmer in the kitchen that I keep running constantly. Each Scentsy bar is only $5 and lasts for a long time. The travel tins are the perfect, sweet-smelling addition to the car.

I'd love to hear your favorite stocking stuffers to give and/or receive! I'm always looking for fresh new ideas in this department.
Happy shopping!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Merry & Bright

black friday at the outlet mall 

OK... I'll admit it.

This year, once again, we celebrated Thanksgiving around the table with my 9' Christmas tree in the background.
I'm sorry... I can't help myself. 

The intention was to put up the tree and the rest of the decorations on Thanksgiving Day, after the turkey coma had passed. However, as I flipped through Instagram, finding photo after filtered photo of beautifully decorated trees, garland, and tablescapes, I marched right to the hall closet and pulled out every stinking box of holiday decorations I own. Then... I got to work. 

With Spencer's help, we put up the tree (well... he mostly put up the tree--someone had to supervise!) and strung the lights (again, my supervision skills were at work). It then took the next hour and 48 linear feet of silver mesh ribbon to twist, tuck, pinch, throw a tantrum, un-do, re-do, throw another tantrum, fluff, and finally stand back and bask in my creation of the perfectly styled Christmas tree. From here, the canvas had been set for the ornaments... which would unfortunately have to wait until the next day (Thanksgiving Day) as I was grumbling about being too tired to proceed.

Thanksgiving morning started bright and early at 5 AM with the making of cranberry sauce, followed by pumpkin spice pancakes for breakfast (in the shape of a Double T, of course), followed by the creation of a very fall-inspired apple pie. Since our turkey and stuffing was pre-cooked (no judging!) these were the only menu items involving any real effort. We'd invited a friend over, new to San Diego with no family in a reasonably close distance, to join us so I felt compelled to put forth some effort, minute as it may have been.


After a menu consisting of turkey with gravy, chicken sausage and cornbread stuffing, slow cooker macaroni and cheese (wonderful!), orange-cranberry sauce, green beans with bacon, and whole wheat rolls, we enjoyed a cup of coffee paired with a slice of apple pie / vanilla ice cream for dessert. Normally, after consuming a meal of this capacity, I would burrow into a hole and sleep for all of winter... but I was on a mission. I dragged out all three boxes of ornaments, and began to trim the tree.

thanks to williams-sonoma's pie crust cutters,
our apple pie was fancy fancy!

coffee and pie... my favorite way to enjoy a cup o' joe. 

Three hours later, I was still at it. I felt like such a loser boxing up unused ornaments, but with the 12" wide mesh ribbon winding its way down the tree, there just wasn't enough room this year. After the last box had been put away, we immediately started for the outlet mall to do a little Black Friday shopping. The doors opened at 9 PM this year instead of midnight (bless you, outlet mall employees) so we were shopped, home, and putting away our goodies by 11:30 PM...S-U-C-C-E-S-S.

Here's a little glimpse of some of the decorations around the house. I'm still adding here and there, but for the most part, it's styled and ready for the holidays! It also helps that I'm ahead of schedule for the party I'm having next weekend... more on that later.

living room / dining room tree
one of the garlands--this is above the bedroom door. 

of course our santa is a texas tech santa.

the stockings were hung by the
chimney entertainment console
with care...

a simple table display in the works. 

In the meantime, hope that you all had a wonderful Turkey Day and are off to a very merry holiday season :)


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

T-Giving Tidbits

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Did you know that today is the biggest drinking day of the year? Who knew!

Mix up a Pumpkin Pie Martini or an Apple Pie Spiced Cider and enjoy these five little Thanksgiving tidbits.
They were too fun not to share.

1. Nix the Turkey--Lobster, Seals and Swans were on the First Thanksgiving Menu. thanks. Keep the scurvy and seal. I'm good with turkey.

2. Leftover cranberry sauce? Try these delicious looking Cranberry-Walnut Streusel Bars.
That crust looks buttery enough to give yourself a virtual toothache!

3. Plenty for your pooch? Read about these 10 Dangerous Thanksgiving Foods for Dogs.
The beer, in particular, made me smile. While our dog has an affinity for eggs (wth?), our cat is the one with the bizarre palette. She goes particularly crazy for coffee, chocolate, and cigars. (Before you call PETA on me, I don't give her these things--she goes crazy for the smell but if you don't watch her, you'll be sharing your morning coffee for two).

4. Balloons weren't always the main attraction at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Between 1924-1926 live animals were on loan from the Central Park Zoo. Read about the 8 Suprising Facts about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

5. 'Black Friday' coined the title by being the first big day of the high sales season. Retailers went from being in the red, to in the black.
Are you participating in Black Friday this year? It's been a couple of years since I've braved the crowds. Mainly because the last time involved a 4:00 AM shotgun start at Target, a 50" television stolen from my cart, a trip to the outlet mall (guilty by reason of insanity) and a 17' Penske truck with a broken fuel gauge. Epic.

Hope everyone has a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving Day!
Please don't gobble till you wobble.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Giving Thanks

Oh, that’s right. You know what time it is.
Well, OK. Technically not for another week… but that doesn’t mean that I can’t start counting my blessings now!
We’ve all seen those Facebookers who have the daily countdown to Thanksgiving and commemorate each day with sharing something they are thankful for (friends, family, health, etc). Are you one of these people?
Pardon my criticism, but those posts kind of make me want to beat you with the obvious stick.
I’m certainly NOT meaning to imply that I am at all oblivious to the very same blessings in my own life. Each day I thank my lucky stars for all these things and more. At least for me, these are the types of things that I don’t take for granted and am therefore continually grateful.
While I am thankful for my friends, family, health (my own and that of those I care about), I have a whole list of other things I am thankful for in addition to these… a shallower more concise list that I will share with you in honor of the season.

Coffee: Because without it, I’d hurt people. 

Starbucks: Because some days, I just don’t feel like making any stinking coffee. Also, because they are the creators of the pumpkin spice latte, the cranberry bliss bar, the gingerbread latte, the pumpkin scone, and the most advanced coffee ordering hierarchy I've ever seen in my life (which is the main reason I adore them).

Chloe and London: I know, this could technically fall into my “obvious” category… but with a combined weight of 74 lbs, these two little creatures make my world go ‘round, and therefore deserve their own spot in my list. 

The ‘pink fluff and lava cake’ concoction at Souplantation: Seriously, who eats this pink stuff!? I am pretty sure every time we go (which unfortunately, is often) there is the same, untouched bowl of it sitting there. It's some sort of heavenly concoction of marshmallow fluff, cool whip, strawberries and crack cocaine. I really go hard on it. Coupled with the lava cake... watch out. 

seriously, was not even mildly ashamed. 
AutoCAD: I'm dead serious. It's like a game that I continually want to beat. 

DVR/Netflix: We are admitted junkies. Currently, we're working our way through Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, and True Blood. It's like a little gift every time you see that red envelope in the mail box :) 

Pandora: Because it knows what I like. And because I can plug in my headphones and no one else at work has to know I am listening to Boyz II Men, Taylor Swift, and Christmas music on loop play... not that I would ever be ashamed to admit it ;) 

My iPhone: Superficial much? But really… what did we do before smart phones? Look up directions before leaving the house? Be forced to make conversation with a stranger while stuck in line? Barbaric. 

The friendly people at my neighborhood Starbucks: OK, I see a recurring theme here. But really... these people are awesome. Surely, they are not locals. 

MAC Makeup: Because I'd be scary without it! 

Getting off at noon on Fridays: BIGGEST perk of my job. 

Diet Coke: I’ve toned it waaaaay down on the D.C. intake since moving to one of the '2012 Forbes 20 Healthiest Cities in America' (thank you very much!), but sometimes I just neeeeeeeed one. 

Texas Tech: I love my school--regardless of our ability to choke in football--but this is where I did the most growing up, met the best friends (and my sweet boy!) and had the time of my life. And given the opportunity, I would do it over time and time and time again :)

Altoids/Gum: I have an addiction to mint flavored goodness and an unhealthy fear of bad breath. 

Instagram: Ahhh… the outlet for individuals like me who are going to document their every move through a series of completely unnecessary pictures and force everyone to look anyway. 

Christmas Decorations: Oh how I ADORE decorating for Christmas! The hall closet is bursting at the seams with decor and once Halloween hits, I have to sit on my hands to wait a few more weeks to drag it all out and play. 

Pangea Organics Hand and Body Lotion (Indian Lemongrass with Rosemary): It smells nice. And my hands stay moisturized all day long. 

Trader Joe’s: LOVE everything about this place.

Crafting: My favorite past-time. 

My career: I love what I do. I mean, I really love it. It's not as glamourous as HGTV and BRAVO would have you believe. It's hard work, long hours, gives little recognition and pays even less. You take a lot of crap and your opinion as a professional is often veto'd because someone read the latest issue of Interior Design magazine and therefore is an expert in cork flooring (true story--yet, another reason why I reminded that residential design is not my forte). However, the beauty of the spaces you transform are nothing compared to the excitement across a client's face when their project is completed. You must have a passion for it. There's no other way! 

So, there you have it. Twenty things off the top of my head I am most thankful for. 

What are you most grateful for? Obvious or otherwise? 

Sunday, November 4, 2012


If you've ever heard anyone use the phrase "an emotional roller coaster" in reference something, then you'll understand this post. When I say this last week has not only been an emotional roller coaster, but this girl had a first class ticket on the express ride. And I sat next to the kid who puked. 

Figuratively speaking, of course. 

Work was insanely busy this last week, but that part was manageable. The part that wasn't was my closest friend / lunch buddy / partner in crime at the office left this past week for another firm. While I could not be any happier for her (and even a tad bit jealous!) I have really missed her being at work. It's just not the same. The work is still the same, the rest of the people are still the same, but the everyday occurrences are completely different. It stinks and I've been riding the highs and lows all week. 

It did however get me thinking about my own industry goals, and even motivated me toward completing some of those things. It's hard not to get complacent.

So that this post is not all so "wah wah wah"... the HOLIDAYS are almost here!!! I am soooo excited. It's my favorite time of year! If only our weather would cooperate ;) It's hard to put up a tree and dress in flannel PJ bottoms while sipping hot chocolate if it is still 72 and sunny outside. 

Here's to a new week!