Monday, November 29, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

My Christmas cards arrived yesterday (I'll show my solution to my problem once they are delivered to fam & friends), my first ever real tree "straight from the farm" is up and my apartment is looking festive with holiday decor scattered throughout.

On my to-do list still is to make a DIY centerpiece for my dining room table (searching for inspiration), finish my Christmas wish list and even more importantly, start my Christmas shopping. For some reason I'm having a hard time deciding what to ask for this year. Could this mean I don't need anything?

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, I know I enjoyed a little break with my family. I just love the day after Thanksgiving when I can finally pull out my Christmas decoration boxes from the storage closet. (What I don't look forward to is putting them all away.) For now, though, I'll enjoy the extra sparkle all around me. Why can't it be Christmas all year long?

"These things only happen to you" is a reoccurring statement I constantly hear in my life, so I fully expected to see my tree plummet from the hood of my car and roll into oncoming traffic the second I pulled out of the Home Depot parking lot. However, luck was on my side this time and my Noble Fir made it home with me in one piece. All thanks to Brian, the friendly Home Depot man who secured my tree tightly after answering my one million and one questions about trees. Thank you kind sir.


Hauling a tree up a flight of stairs and securing it in a tree stand is definitely a 2 person job. Thank goodness my Mom held the tree upright while I screwed the bolts in - not as easy as it would seem with tree branches digging into your head.

Ta-Da! [After]

I used gold as my primary color with red and silver as my secondary colors. Stringing the 800 lights was my LEAST favorite part by far. A pre-lit tree is a much better option in this respect.

(Tree: Home Depot. Lights, ribbon & tree stand: Wal-Mart. Tree skirt (Used a round Gold tablecloth - much cheaper at $9 compared to their tree skirts at $30): Target. Extra gold ornaments: 99 Cent Only store)
(Angel Tree Topper: TJMaxx)
I never really know where to string these gold glittery snowman lights I got on clearance one year in college at Kirlands. I don't have a mantle to put them on and they aren't very long so they don't really fit anywhere else. My mom suggested draping them over my entry mirror and I really like how it turned out. A little glittery glam makes my happy.

"Who are you ... Martha Stewart?" - my BFF Patty's response to my little DIY pinecone and mini silver and gold ornament arrangement I put on my bar top. This is why we're friends; I would have said the same thing to her if I saw this @ her apt. I think I may have actually got this idea from Martha's Web site. It's cheap and easy, so I elle ooh vee eee it.

(Mini ornaments: Target Dollar Spot & 99 Cent Only store. Cinnamon scented pinecones and glass bowl: Wal-Mart)

The DIY arrangement above, Santa from Kirklands and Bath and Body Works candle are on one end of my bar top.

On the other end hangs my hand sewn (a family tradition) stocking since I don't have a fireplace. The stocking hanger is from Kirklands and was about $3. A Christmas tree tray holds my Christmas cards from last year with some Cherry candy canes on top.
These are some gold and red festive accents on one of my living room end tables. Guess how much this whole thing cost? About $3.50! Unreal, right?

Last but not least, who can resist a cute snowman with reindeer slippers on his feet? This little guy is on my entry table under the mirror where the snowman lights are draped and I found it at TJMaxx in college for less than $10 (if my memory serves me correct).
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Monday, November 22, 2010

My commitment to a cappuccino maker

I didn't do much this weekend other than a little laundry, cleaning and very minor organizing. I can't believe how lame I've become at the ripe old age of 26.

Yesterday after an early Sunday morning wake-up call from my nephew who I was babysitting for a few hours, I made myself a "cafe mocha" with my cappuccino maker that I don't use nearly enough. I needed a little pick me up because an energetic 3-year-old at 8 a.m. is almost more than I can handle.
I make my Cafe Mocha with Starbucks mocha powder and a generic breakfast blend coffee. In my opinion, my homemade version tastes virtually identical to the Starbucks version at a fraction of the cost. I even drink it out of a Starbucks mug!

Putting in a little extra effort saves me the $5 I would've spent at a Starbucks, which truly is outrageous for a cup of coffee. I typically fork over the extra money without thinking twice because on most days I'm too lazy to brew my own espresso or froth my own milk.

So I guess the moral of my story is that I'm going to make an effort to spend more time with my cappuccino maker and less time in a Starbucks line. I know cutting back on Starbucks sounds silly, but $5 here and there adds up.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

A.k.a. a slice of chocolatey heaven. I'm not a "sweets" person (much like I'm not a "morning" person), so I rarely ever crave anything sweet and when I do, a couple of bites will usually do the trick. I may or may not have eaten four of these last night warm and straight off the cookie sheet if that tells you anything. So, so, so good. So good in fact I had to bring the leftovers to work today because I didn't trust myself with these in my apartment all weekend. All of my co-workers keep coming back for more, so they must agree with me.

I stumbled across the recipe for these cookies via Miss Melissa, and they just looked too good not to try. The nights have been cooler in Dallas lately and warm DOUBLE chocolate cookies just sounded like a brilliant idea.

As recommended by Miss Melissa, I baked them for a few minutes less than instructed because I like my cookies softer as well. The consistency is almost like a cake and brownie combined. I highly recommend you try this recipe out yourself, but don't say I didn't warn you if you end up eating a whole batch all by your lonely.

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)- I used chopped pecans. Any nuts will do.


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2.In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
3.Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

{image via}
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Freebie from Shutterfly: 50 Holiday Cards

I discovered this awesome Shutterfly giveaway from my buddy Kendall at Our Neu Life, and immediately I wanted in too. After all, I can't think of anything better than a freebie during the holiday season when we probably spend more than we should anyway.

Until recently when my friend showed me some bridal shower invites she purchased from Shutterfly, I was under the impression Shutterfly was just a photo sharing site. I soon discovered their adorable designs for shower invites, birthday invites and most recently, their holiday cards.

While I'm very excited to share this freebie with you, I have a slight problem. And by slight, I mean quite a dilemma.

You see, all of Shutterfly's cute designs feature pictures of adorable little children and happy couples staring lovingly into each other's eyes. Ummm ... it's just me, no "couple" over here. And the only adorable child in my life is my 3-year-old nephew who I'm very close to, but I don't exactly think it's appropriate to send a holiday card with a picture of a child that is NOT YOURS.

Needless to say, I haven't quite ironed out all the details yet. However, I do know most of my friends have a fiancé/husband/child(ren), so really this post is for you.

Anyway, I'm going to figure out what the hell I'm going to do about a picture for these cards. While I'm doing that, why don't you take a peek at some of my favorite designs. Which one do you like best??

here to fill out the submission form.

Anyone have a husband I can borrow for a Christmas card photo shoot?? I kid, I kid.

If any of you bloggers out there want 50 free Shutterfly Holiday Cards too, click
Jolly Gems
Giggles and Grins

Funky Christmas Wishes
Holiday Love Sketch

Most Wonderful Story
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Organizing on the Cheap

I've been on a mission to organize my drawers and cabinets, which all started because I was trying to find a nail polish color one night. It finally dawned on me after years and years of having my polishes tossed in one big container that surely there had to be an easier way. I could never find what color I wanted, I forgot what colors I had and polishes were laying on their side and leaking. Did I mention I'm a nail polish hoarder?

I needed a solution to my problem, so I took a trip to Container Store since I had recently received a gift card from there. I settled on a refrigerator organizer tray I could pull out from under the sink where I was storing the polish. The tray was $14.99, which I didn't think was too steep of a price until I discovered the 99 Cent Only store. From there, I went a little nuts. The Container Store purchase was essentially free, so my little organizing overhaul below ended up costing me $7 total. I highly recommend you find a 99 Cent Store by you because they have a huge isle with tons and tons of containers that are so many different sizes, shapes and colors.

{Midway through organizing my polish by color and brand.}

{Polish on the Container Store tray, now I can choose what color I want easily}

{My make-up was also in one big container and I NEVER used any of this stuff because I forgot what I had and it was just too big of hassle to dig through it all.}

{These pink containers were 3 for .99 cents: 1 for eye shadows, one for lipsticks, one for blush and lip glosses}

{.99 cent cutlery holder I converted to a make-up brush/liner holder. Four different compartments hold my eye liners, lip liners/lip brushes, eye shadow brushes and face brushes}

{This would be under my sink in the kitchen before. I didn't even like opening it up because as you can see, it was quite scary.}

{One large .99 cent container made all the difference in the world.}

{The clutter above my washing machine before.}

{Again, these larger containers were only .99 cent each and they help divide my laundry detergent from cleaning supplies.}

And in very unrelated news, check out my yummy dinner of easy eggplant parm and homemade croutons on a homemade Caesar salad. As you can tell, everything I cook is "easy". If it sounds entirely too complicated, I probably will not be cooking it. Eggplant recipe via Life as a Wife. Every recipe she posts looks so dee-lish and her blog is addicting. Go check her out!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Easy Egg & Sausage Casserole

I hate mornings. I really do. And I've never understood the so-called "morning people". I press snooze a minimum of 3 times before I actually drag myself out of bed for work. Needless to say, on most mornings I'm rushing out the door with my hair barely done and finishing up my make-up at red lights. I've clearly got my life together as you can see.

Well, this breakfast casserole recipe is perfect for any anti-morning peeps like myself. Most of the work can be done the night before. Actually, pretty much all of the work can be done the night before. Basically all you have to do is pop it in the oven and let it bake.

Once cooked and cooled, you can divide single serving portions into Tupperware dishes to take to work with you and heat up. I also think this would be a great recipe if you have any overnight guests staying with you like the in-laws. They'll never know it was actually made the night before and instead they'll think you slaved away all morning. Sneaky.

3/4 pound ground pork sausage (I use reduced fat Jimmy Dean . It tastes the same but has 50 percent less fat.)1 tablespoon butter or margarine
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
10 eggs, beaten
1 (16 ounce) container low-fat cottage cheese
1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chile pepper

Directions - The Night Before:
1. Brown sausage in large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain, and set aside.
2. Melt butter in same skillet. Then cook and stir the green onions and mushrooms until tender.
3. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, cottage cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and chiles. Stir in the sausage, green onions, and mushrooms. Cover, and refrigerate overnight. (I just mix everything in a large Tupperware bowl w/ a lid.)The Next Morning:
4. Preheat oven to 350.
5. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and then pour your refrigerated mixture into the prepared baking dish.
6. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until lightly brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


{image via & recipe adapted via}
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Bookshelf Re-do

I didn't actually buy anything to re-do the built-in bookshelves that are in my guest room/office, and instead I decided to make-do with what I had since I am the "Bargain Blonde" after all.

I am pleased with the finished product although it's not the bookshelf of my dreams. For spending zero dollars, I don't think it's too shabby.

What do you think?

{I had already started clearing the shelves when I realized I needed to take a before picture, so it actually didn't look this bad before.}

{Old mismatched photo albums from high school a.k.a. the "pre-Facebook era" and a filing system make up the top shelf. I tried to color block books/knick-knacks on the second shelf, the 3rd shelf is my pink stuff and cook books and the bottom shelf are toys and books easily accessible to my nephew who calls this "his room" anyway."}



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The Rancic's in Dallas

Most of the haters out there made fun of my extreme excitement about seeing Bill and Giuliana Rancic speak on Saturday in Dallas, and that's OK. They were in town to speak at a free financial seminar hosted at Lakewood Theater, and me and two of my BFFs were there in the 2nd row to listen to what they had to say.

Now more than ever I think they are the cutest couple and I have a huge crush on the both of them. I need to find a Bill to marry, and when I grow-up, I want to be just like Giuliana. Not only does she have a dream job, but she has great style, is so successful and is hilarious. Bill is just hot, and not just because of his obvious good looks, but because of how smart he is.

If you watch them on TV, they are everything you'd expect them to be and more. Here are some photos from the event:

{Stefanie, Liz and I waiting in line outside of the theater.}
{We were standing in line right where Bill & Giuliana's towncar pulled up so we got to see them come into the theater. They we're so friendly and nice when they got out of the car.}


{Bill & Guil speaking during the seminar.}

{Lakewood Theater in Dallas}
{After the seminar they had a meet & greet, but the line was too long and we were starved so we didn't wait. However, we were able to snap of picture of them on our way out. Could her body be more perfect??}
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I'm copying a couple of others I saw do a "Thankful Thursday" post today since Thanksgiving is looming on the horizon.

We don't always take time to acknowledge what means the most to us, so here are 7 things I'm thankful for:

1. My ridiculously cute and amazing 3-year-old nephew, Reese, who has blessed my life in more ways than I could ever imagine. I always say he is the light of my life, which sounds so cheesy, but it's so true. I sometimes wonder if I will love my own kids as much as him because I can't imagine loving anything more.

2. My mom who I don't know what I'd do without. Seriously, I've alerted my family and friends that if God forbid something ever happens to my mom that someone better check me into the nearest mental institution immediately because there is a good chance I'd off myself. Now you know too.

3. My two DVRs. It's safe to say I have an addiction to TV. How many people do you know that live alone and have 2 DVRS for themselves? Exactly.

4. Some sweet nectar a.k.a. booze after a long day at work. My go-to drink: Relax Riesling. Very affordable and refreshing. In college I discovered Relax Riesling during a wine tasting while at a conference in New Orleans and it was the first wine I ever liked. To this day it's still my fave.

5. Having a job because I know how fortunate I am. When I decided to start looking for a new job in communications back in June, it only took a couple of weeks and I know that is definitely not the norm. The unknown is always scary for me and leaving a job of 4 years was a hard decision, but I knew it was time. I am so lucky it all worked out and I'm happier than ever with my new position.

6. Relatively good health. I very rarely get sick with the exception of the swine flu I somehow caught last year the week before I moved. I would say it happened at the worst timing ever but since I was bedridden, my mom and brother got the exciting task of packing up my place up for me. Of course I waited until the last possible moment to pack, so when I got sick I only had about 2 boxes packed. Whoopsies, sorry guys.

7. And last but not least, in honor of Veteran's Day, I'm thankful for our military heroes. It still blows my mind that someone is willing to risk their life for my freedom and safety. We had a Veteran's Day celebration at work and hearing the stories about their service was such a great reminder of the sacrifice so many men and women selflessly make.

{Image via mtsofan}
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Friday, November 5, 2010


Happy Friday friends! I discovered Panera Bread coffee earlier this week while having lunch with a co-worker, and dare I say I like it better than Starbucks? eeepppp.

They started a "MyPanera" rewards program and today when I went in to get a coffee, they swiped my rewards card and told me my coffee was free! Umm, jackpot!

Where is your favorite coffee spot?
{Please excuse the poor picture quality; I just snapped the pic @ my desk w/ my Blackberry camera. Do you love the napkins my friend Erin got me for my bday??! They are so cutie!}
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Texas Themed Bridal Shower

Christina (a NYC transplant) is getting married in April, so this weekend her mom, my BFF Liz and I threw her a Texas-sized shower to celebrate her Texas roots.

Christina before opening her "Date-night" themed gifts.

The shower was at Mattitos in Uptown and the weather this weekend could not have been more perfect. We had a lot of fun planning it and of course, I was bargain shopping.  As Liz will tell you, I was obsessing with the details. *you really have no idea*

The room before the guests arrived.

 Texas-sized sunflowers in Mason jars for centerpieces.

 Hand-painted wooden sign from Hobby Lobby and red, white and blue marbles in glass stars decorated the cake table.

 Personalized scrapbook for guests to sign and leave a "blessing for the bride".

One more shot of the most delicious cake EVER from A&J's Bakery in Dallas.

I used InDesign to design invites and printed on paper bought from invitation store, which cut some costs.

I can't wait for the big day!!
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