Thursday, December 30, 2010

The List

In the past years I've taken the minimalist view for New Years Resolutions.  Lose Weight, Be Happy, Just Do Something With Your Life Already Claire, Jeez... etc.... Can't say they worked...

The beauty of those goals were their ambiguity - and lack of a check box after accomplishing.

So this year, I'm taking a more detailed approach to the whole thing, and making a cut and dry list of things I want to accomplish in the next year.  I started this list back in October, so I would be sure to capture all of the things I want to do, big and small.  I might even add some as the year goes on.  Of course I will share my successes with you  if  when they happen.  

Some are straightforward (#14, #21), others are going to be a challenge (#9!, #13), and others are going to be more long-term, to give myself a fair amount of time to actually complete them (#3, #6).  

The List:
  1. Do something that really scares me
  2. Be confident - physically, mentally, optimistically
  3. Lose 25+ pounds so I feel like me again (and sadly, no, this isn't a drastic number...)
  4. Learn to garden - actually grow real things
  5. Kiss Tony hello every evening when I get home, regardless of how tired/stressed I am
  6. Read every book (even if that means re-read) on this Top 100 list - with the freedom to change a few at-will
  7. Go camping or hiking - even if it's not real camping or real hiking
  8. Get professional photos of Tony and I 
  9. Learn how to make 5 new recipes that are edible
  10. Refinish a large piece of furniture from the thrift store
  11. Make my wedding scrapbook
  12. Eat more veggies
  13. Run 5 miles in one go - this is big for me, but probably seems pathetic to real runners
  14. Go one month with no soda
  15. Tell people more often how much they mean to me
  16. Do more papercrafts; send at least one card I made from scratch
  17. Teach myself more about web design
  18. Do something totally life-changing
  19. Be a better sister
  20. Go on a bigish vacation
  21. Go on a little vacation
  22. Organize our garage, for real this time
  23. Try a new piece of random fruit from the farmer's market
  24. Build a piece of furniture from scratch via
  25. Be a better friend
  26. Make 1 new friend 
  27. Eat more fish
  28. Volunteer more
  29. Buy/Build as needed so our closets can finally be organized.
  30. Learn more about a new country each month - even if it's just from the elementary school level books
  31. Put up crown molding in our house (with Tony's help!)
  32. Improve my posture - especially when sitting at a desk
  33. Plant more fall bulbs for a spring surprise
  34. Backup my photos online somewhere (this is a MUST!)
  35. Go to a high school football game
  36. Waterski again (I've been scared to try again after this success)
  37. Figure out how to backup my blog's history
  38. Ride bikes once a week (once it's warm)
  39. Visit Atlanta landmarks I've missed
  40. Clean out our dryer's hoses 
  41. Go one month without fried foods - at all - no cheating
  42. Give up something big for Lent
  43. Floss more
  44. Go on a summer picnic
  45. Reduce my sugar intake
  46. Revamp our laundry room (I've been planning this for years...)
  47. Find a daily/weekly cleaning routine I can stick with
  48. Build our deck (with Tony's help!)
  49. Paint the furniture in our guest room
  50. Love life, every day! 

(Don't worry, I wont post about #40 or #12 or #43, but if I do something really amazing I will be sure to update you!  I'm also going to post this list on a tab at the top of the blog and cross things off as I go)

Any other suggestions of things I must try in 2011?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Table

Here's a little background:  My mom, lacking the same frenetic sentimentality I have, always had every trace that Christmas existed in our house erased by the time I woke up on the 26th.  Tree and everything.  As a result, I have always insisted on leaving my decorations up until at least New Years, sometimes longer (although, I draw the line at anything post-January, don't worry!). It takes so much effort to put up, why not make it last a little longer??

This year was different.  I feel like the holidays came and went so fast, while our tree decided to drop needles at record speed.  The result?  I took down Christmas.  On the 28th (the horror!).

It's a sigh of relief, to be honest.  I'm ready to clean up and de-clutter and move on to next year.  I'm ready for it!

So since it's usually practically spring when I have to replace my Christmas decor with something else, I had to be creative with my table.  So I decided to go with a New Years theme, using, of course, what I had around the house - and a few new things I got as gifts (the candlesticks from Ikea and the cake plate).

Not the best centerpiece ever... but it does the trick!

If I were having a party (which, I'm not, go figure) I would serve cocktails and tapas.  (And the books were appropriately colored in silver and purple!)

Isn't the cake stand beautiful??

No New Years is complete without a disco ball or three!

A little sparkle for the cold winter
What do you all decorate with during this limbo time between Christmas and spring? Do tell! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Facts

1.  It was a White Christmas!  Both in TN and in GA!   In fact, it was the first White Christmas in Georgia in 128 years.  We're makin' history here, people! 
At the GA/TN border - we traveled on Christmas day

Less snow in GA - but still! 

2. My nieces are adorable.

3. Family time is the best.

4.  I love my friends! 

5. I got some great gifts! (lots of DIY'd ones!  those might need their own post..)

Hope you had a great one as well! 

Monday, December 27, 2010

On My Way...

2011 is going to be a good year.  I can just tell.

Tony is amazing for many ways (um... he feeds me), but one of his best qualities is the ability to help me step back and look at the big picture.  He calms me down when I worry about little things, reminding me of their triviality.  He helps me appreciate the little nuances that make our lives amazing.  He also helps me find myself (and this is no easy task).

During a momentary case of the sads last week (and a little self-loathing), he reminded me of all the amazing things that have happened this year.  You see, last year, about this time, I was bemoaning how I felt I had "lost myself" ... as cliche as that sounds.  I felt like I didn't have the same spark and creativity as I used to, the same excitement for life.  He encouraged me then, as ever, to do something about it.  And just last week, he reminded me of how, somewhat accidentally, I did just that this past year.  He reminded me of how all in one year, we had made some pretty big changes in our marriage (shifting our spending and focusing on what matters), and how I had given more outlet to my creativity by building my blog into something even better (no dissent allowed here readers!), doing more projects around the house, and even writing for the newspaper.  My little bit of volunteering with Sunday School classes and Saturday tutoring programs helps me feel like I'm giving back.  The feelings for our two new nieces is a whole new level of love in our lives.

As I've said numerous times before, I truly feel like I am on my way towards something bigger in my life.  I want to feel like i'm really living this life, and it's an ongoing change.  I'm glad Tony is helping me navigate my way towards it. :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Simple Pleasures - The Best Kind

Merry Christmas, from my family to yours! 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Merry Christmas to all!  I am off to do some much-needed relaxing, baby-holding, eating (not much-needed, in fact), socializing, laughing, shopping, crafting, cooking, and playing catch up on my blog reading!  Not a bad week to plan... 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chocolate-Dipped Ritz Filled With Nutella!

 Last year I shared a delicious (and super simple) dessert for the holidays.  So delicious, in fact, it needs re-sharing.

Basically you take Ritz crackers (the holiday snowflake shape ones are fun, if you can find them!) and fill them with peanut butter to make little sandwiches.  Our new discovery this year was fill them with Nutella instead - amazing!  

Next melt chocolate chips in a double boiler contraption (or a pot and ceramic bowl, if you're me...) and dip the sandwiches in, laying on wax paper to cool.  I dip some fully, some halfway, etc.  Then sprinkle with sugar for extra calories fun!  Freeze them for a bit and they are nice and solid! So delicious - and would be so easy to make in large quantities and share!  And really, the possibilities are endless - white chocolate, butterscotch, other toppings, etc.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Traditions

It's the last week of Kim's Dare to DIY party (which, by the way, has kept me on my blogging toes, thanks Kim!).  This week it's all about tradition.

I'm alllll about traditions, especially when it comes to Christmas.  You can ask my mom - I was the one in the family who dictated that we keep up traditions, no matter the circumstances.  Sister was sick?  WHO CARES!  We are going to get the Christmas tree the SECOND week of December NO MATTER WHAT...  I was serious about it. 

Luckily I've relaxed a bit on die-hard traditions (moving away and then getting married will do that...) but I still cherish the little traditions with my family - going to church Christmas Eve and going home after to eat ham biscuits, getting up early Christmas morning (I put up a mock fight at how early the girls get me up), eating breakfast casserole, opening my presents more slowly than my sisters so I am left with a bunch when they are already done (they hate this!), saving stockings for last.  Love all of them.  Every sentimental thing matters to me.

And having a new "second family" doesn't change anything - it's just more traditions to add to the collection!  I shared before how we all don reindeer ears to read the Christmas story with Tony's family.  I'm looking forward to a little tiny set on Ava's head this year... And then we look at lights

Tony and I have some of our own as well.  One big one revolves around our friend Tom.  He has been doing a group reading of "The Night Before Christmas" for 11 years now, and the group has grown bigger by the year (including adding me!).  Last night we gathered together for appetizers, desserts, and cider to hear his rendition.  Never disappoints.  Mikey's mom has tons of different versions of the story, so we all get our own books to follow along.

He shows us every picture.

I had the Coca-Cola Santa version of the story! 

I love Christmas.  Hard to believe it's almost here (and over!).  

Dare to DIY

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Simple Pleasures

My calendar, starting today:

Yes, it's going to be fantastic.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Ornaments on our Tree

I'm a traditionalist around the holidays.  As such, there are so many ornaments that are near and dear to my heart.  My mom was kind enough to give me a few for my own tree, as was Tony's mom when we got married  - and I've acquired many new ones that are now part of my group of favorites.

And now, photos, since my camera is able to actually focus at close range.  :)  Although... I'm still learning how to use it properly...

Got this in Asheville last year during my surprise birthday with the family

His mouth opens when you squeeze the sides.  There's a Candy Cane Hershey Kiss in there from 4 years ago.... might eat it some day.


One of the first ones I received when I was old enough to be away from home and have my own tree.

This little pig is from 1982.  Says so on his side.  I've always loved him.

The two best parts of Christmas in one! 
I like to think of this mouse as the one in the church when they first played Silent Night.  What's better than a mouse on your tree??

And so many, many more.  Wish I could take photos of them all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Cheer at Home

It's all-Christmas-all-the-time around here, much to my husband's delight... :)   I thought I would share a glimpse of what it looks like this year.  As with any other time, I've used what I have on hand (including some last year 50% off finds) and switched it up just a little from last year's look.  I tried to go with gold and silver.

First, I used my amazing $3 cutting board again to make a nature-y glittery centerpiece.  With a grapevine tree (Hobby Lobby, 50% off) and some other decorations I had, I mixed gold and black and bronze.  Oh, you didn't know that the Gold Glitter Reindeer's natural habitat was a cutting board? Now you do.

The gold and red is intense.  I get it.  But what other time than Christmas can you pull something like this off??   

My mantle is sporting silver.  All leftovers, with a few things spraypainted silver (I LOVE the silver spraypaint, if you hadn't noticed..)

My newest project this year was my front porch tree.  Apparently I have a strong pull to take the inside outside when decorating.  I showed you my giant hanging ornaments last year, but this year I added to it with a tree.  It's just a simple Walmart fake tree (gift from Tony's parents!) that I ziptied to a piece of plywood to keep it from flying away.  Some plastic Ikea red and silver ornaments top it off. 

I love my outside tree.

Our tree:

Here is the Santa Art that is gracing my wall:

And the festive gold tinsel tomato cage tree I made last year:

And of course, the $5 silver wreath I made last week decorating the front door.

That's how I've decked my halls this year!  With a few homemade touches and a bunch of preexisting treasures, our house is comfy and cozy, and we will snuggle up together like two birds of a feather on this cold Georiga night! 

I'm linking up to Kim's party this week, because I want to keep playing each week, and I kinda sorta made some stuff! 

Dare to DIY
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