Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My daughter and her friend have been conspiring and planning for weeks to go Christmas caroling. It was so cold last night. I know, 40 degrees isn't that cold to you Northerners, but to us Phoencians, 40 degrees is burrrrrr cold. Four of their friends couldn't make it, but that did not deter them. I thought they would last about four houses. They surprised me and were out for two hours. Another sweet Mom followed them in her car to assure their safety. Thanks Michelle! I had no idea that carolers were rewarded with dollar bills. They came home plied with dollar bills and cookies and topped off their night with hot cocoa. They were all happy and giggling.
Now I have a very cool Christmas story to share with you. Our son, Cole, is in Drumline and is taking quad lessons with a friend. About six weeks ago, he informed us that he wanted a quad practice pad as his big gift from us. They sell for $150. He then changed his mind, wanted an I Touch as his big gift and wanted to buy the quad pad himself. It would take every cent that he has saved and my husband said NO. We are trying to instill saving habits with Cole. He is our little spender. Taylor is our saver. My husband told him that he would have to save more money so that he wouldn't spend all that he had. He takes lessons with his friend Ryan. Ryan recently ordered a quad pad himself with his birthday money. It arrived broken. The company sent out a replacement and told him they did not want the damaged one back. Ryan's father repaired it. His family wrapped it, rang our doorbell just as the carolers were leaving and presented Cole with an awesome gift. I have one happy boy. By the way, does anyone know where I can get a good set of earplugs?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I finished teaching my "Pet Scrapbook" class last week. This is my sample. My friend Sasha gave me the idea for that class. That girl NEVER stops. This is my second cover. Chloe got ahold of the first one. See the dog bones? She ate them. I love the little blingy dangles. They are available in pink and clear from Hobby Lobby. I also adore my new stamp from Crafty Secrets that border the punched holes. The girls had a blast in the four-week class. However, they did not complete their books. Lots of chatting, texting and cellphone answering. Don't even get me started. Here are a few of their pages.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Look closely and you will see a snowflake. A few years ago, a friend invited me to Place Settings, a benefit for a hospital, featuring tablescapes. It's right up my alley. One of my favorite tables was all white. They used these snowflakes as charger plates. I loved the idea and asked the hostess of that table if she had any information on where I could purchase them. She told me they were from the dollar store. I wasn't able to find them until this year. They are plastic and are sold as ornaments. I had a few requests from my blogging friends to post holiday decor photos so I thought I had better get with it before Christmas is over.
I chose shades of silver and white for our dining room this year. I still have one empty jar on my dining room table. I'm still searching for fillers.

I was excited to find the oversized silver ornaments for the top of our china cabinet. What's funny is that I found the center one last year and the others as a set of two at a different store this year.
My kitchen is decorated with a red and white candy theme. I have so much fun adding to my collection every year. Don't look too closely at my spotted windows. We have had a lot of rain lately.

I found these oversized candy ornaments this week at JC Penney. I rarely shop there. They sent me a $10 off $10 postcard so I couldn't resist.

Our kitchen table is white with red chairs so I use a candy theme on the table.
This is my favorite of my glittered houses that I made last year. This year I was lucky to find a few from Cracker Barrel.
We have a total of seven trees this year. We usually have nine. This is the first time that I have worked fulltime in 16 years. Let's just say that I'm amazed to have seven up. Only one of them is full sized. I just enjoy having one in each room.
I adore vintage ornaments. They remind me of my Grandmother's tree. Someday I will have a vintage tree. In the meantime, I'm enjoying my tiered shabby chic stand as a display. A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to find a vintage mercury glass garland at the Chandler Flea Market.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

We rarely travel up north to Scottsdale. However, when we do, we have a blast. I had a gift card that was expiring so we decided to make a day of it. Our local television station had featured this incredible gingerbread house built my their pastry chefs at the Arizona Biltmore, as well as several others that competed in their gingerbread house contest. We had so much fun examining all of them. We have created a few in the past ourselves and hope to attempt one next year.
Our next stop was the relatively new Scottsdale Waterfront where Urban Outfitters is located. I love their displays.

This jaw dropping palatial mirror was in the window a few doors down from Urban Outfitters. How would you like to attach those crystals?
We traveled across the street to Fashion Square to my favorite shops, Anthropologie, Crate and Barrel and a few more for eye candy purposes including Juicy and Tiffany. Their Santa photo area was stunning.
What's this? A Betsey Johnson store? I had no idea this was here.
One of my dreams is to visit New York at Christmas to see their windows. I don't know if I could stand the cold! Nordstroms did a nice job with their outside window. I remember my parents taking us to downtown Omaha at Christmas to see their department store windows.

It goes without saying that we experienced the "JOY" of Sprinkles.

It was dark by the time we finished shopping. We topped off the night by driving along Biltmore Estates Drive to see all of the incredible lights and Christmas decor. Years ago, I worked for a woman who lived there. She used to point out Jacquelyn Smith's house and Paul Harvey's house. Next time you're in Phoenix, be sure to take this beautiful drive. It's exceptional at Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

After Christmas shopping last night, my daughter and I drove through our favorite Christmas light's neighborhood. We've been fans of this neighborhood for at least 10 years. I wish I could take you all with me. Not only are their lights amazing, they decorate their garages. All of their garage floors are epoxy painted. One garage has a Pepsi theme and the logo is painted on the center of their floor. We love the ferris wheel and teeter toter. I wonder how many toddlers have climbed on themselves.

I wish my yard was filled with these lighted lollipops. The owners were outside last night and I asked them if they sold them. No such luck!

At the end of the cul-de-sac, a couple has turned their backyard into "A Walk Through Bethlehem". It's truly amazing and such a wonderful way to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My son called me on my way home from work today and said "Mom, wait until you see this gigantic gift basket that came today." It's from my best friend from college, Michelle, who lives in Connecticut. The photo does not do it justice. It's dark and rainy today but I was excited to show it off. It stands 18 inches tall and I will enjoy the sleigh for years. The kids and I were so excited. We unwrapped packages of sugar cookies, biscotti, ginger cookies, chocolate cookies, white chocolate mocha, milk chocolate cashew bears, tiramisu Italian cookies, candy cane roca, vanilla creme tea biscuits, chocolate covered Bavarian pretzels, Ghirardelli carmel chocolate squares, hazelnut Italian chocolates, cashew roca, and praline chocolate leaves. Wish I could share!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My friend, Debbie, hosted her 3rd Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange today. She served the best French toast I have ever tasted. I have to get the recipe and share it with you. However . . . I do have a recipe to share with you. SNICKERS COOKIES! My favorite candy bar in the entire world. I blame that on my Mother. She was thin as a rail and always, always had a Snickers bar in her purse. I'll be making these every year.


Cookie made with SNICKERS® Brand Bars.

1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter
1 c. peanut butter
1 (16 oz.) pkg. SNICKERS® bars, miniature size
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
3 c. flour
2 eggs, beaten

Cream together sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter. Add vanilla and eggs; mix. Add dry ingredients. Cut candy bars in fourths. Wrap dough around each piece forming a ball. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 12-18 minutes or until golden brown.
ing these cookies every year.
I made Pizelles. After experimenting with several recipes, I've concluded that the recipe that is in the Cuisinart Pizzelle book is our favorite.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's a busy Christmas activity week at our house this week. Monday night was my neighborhood Christmas bunco and gift exchange. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were band events. We went shopping this week to buy Taylor a wrap for her dress and much needed shoes and found this pretty red Christmas dress too.
This group has improved so much. They are fun to watch. Just wish we could get a better view. They are difficult to photograph or videotape from the audience. We actually watched one Dad go up the stairs to the edge of the stairs to videotape his child. I wonder if he realized he would be in everyone else's video. Ha!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Last weekend I went down to Oro Valley, a suberb of Tucson, for my dear friend Carolyn's surprise party that she threw for her incredible husband, John. He retired from the Army as a Lieutentant Colonel after serving our country for 22 years. I'm so proud of both of them. The party was at Tohono Chul, which is a beautiful botanical garden park just down the street from where my children attended preschool. I remember walking with them to the park on field trips. Sweet memories. John and Carolyn both spoke so eloquently. I set with close friends, ran into friends I hadn't seen for the five years since we moved back to the Phoenix area, and met a few new ones. In the town of Oro Valley, you are never a stranger. I miss it and all of my wonderful friends there. I prayed for John and his family during his tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and am so relieved that he is safely home.
After the party, I went and met with two pals, Carmen and Tina. Boy do we know how to have fun! We started at Tina's house. She and her husband had done some major remodeling and I hadn't seen it yet. She has such an incredible warm, happy, home. They converted two of their three bays of their garage into a family room. It's huge, incredible and just looks like another room in their house. What a great idea. We were celebrating birthdays. Look at the two boxes she had waiting for Carmen and I.
In case you are wondering what was in the boxes, they were clocks. We often buy things in twos for each other.
Tina gave us beautiful Thanksgiving cards. I snapped a photo of what she did with hers. I need to work on mine.
Tina's hutch is decorated so beautifully. Carmen recently went on a wonderful trip to New York with her three sisters and her Mother. She decided to surprise Tina and I with early Christmas gifts. She brought this darling charm back for each of us. Love it.
After celebrating birthdays and Christmas, we went on a prearranged trip to Mary's. Mary lives in a beautiful custom home where she and her husband design and make beautifully crafted items. I didn't know her when I lived in Oro Valley, but she is from Iowa and her husband works for Union Pacific Railroad so we always have a lot to talk about.

After shopping at Mary's, we went to John and Carolyn. Carolyn not only hosts great parties, but she is an incredible artist and decorator. I only make to her house about once a year. Her house is only five years old, but every time I'm there, she has repainted and changed some rooms around. This time, she changed 3. We had a wonderful time seeing all of her decorative changes and spending time with her family.
Last, but not least, Tina had arranged for the two of us to stop in at her Aunt and Uncles home. My husband and kids surpised me by starting a Department 56 collection for me a few Christmas's ago. Tina's Aunt and Uncle are avid collectors and have a room devoted to them. I had my own personal tour.

I was like a kid in a candy store. A few days later, her Aunt was featured in the Tucson Sunday Paper. Sadly, my day ended and I had to return home to Chandler. My tank was filled. I had a wonderful day with friends dear to my heart!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Crazy girls! Taylor wanted to take a group of her classmates to the opening night of HSM 3. The majority of them had soccer games that weekend so we waited one week for her party. This was definitely the least effort that I have ever gone to for her parties. She made it clear that she did not want me to throw her a "pink girl party". (Sniff, sniff) She just wanted to take her classmates to the movie and out for pizza. We did come back to the house for cupcakes and gifts. Can you say "sugar".
Taylor made and decorated the cupcakes herself. I couldn't even think of eating one with all of that sugar. The girls loved them though.
We love birthdays around here. She woke up to a banner of 12 dollar bills on her bedpost, a pancake breakfast, Subway for lunch, her favorite pasta dinner and a cherry pie for dessert. Not to mention donuts for her classroom. I don't remember my birthdays being that much fun!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Marie Antoniette. I have been collecting these "Marie" inspired pictures for the past year or so. I feel fortunate to live near several retirement communties. Not only do I love meeting these kind, fun-loving retirees, but I have the opportunity to attend estate sales almost every week. I try to stop in on Saturdays after our soccer games, which coincidentally just happens to be half-priced day.
Look at the French paper-lined backing on this frame with the name "Mary" hand-written on it. I wonder if someone brought this to Mary from their trip abroad. Attending estate sales always has me wondering about the treasures I find.
Cupids Charm is hosting a Marie "Soiree" today. Go take a peek. You will be amazed.

I checked out this book from the library a few weeks ago. I hope I get a chance to relax and steal some time to read it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Candy Corn Witches? Who'd have thought. Taylor wanted to be a witch this year. When the catalogs started arriving, we were amazed at all the choices. I was happy that she chose such a cute and happy one. It was a coincidence that her friend chose the same costume and they weren't even planning on trick-or-treating together until the night before. Their friend cleverly came up with the idea to be a pig in a blanket. Cute!!! I passed this sign a few days ago and new it would be the perfect photo op.