Ready for 2011

I picked up my 2011 planner this week at one of my favorite stores- Paper Source! I chose the Curry color--an uplifting, sunny yellow which (I think) brightens my outlook on 2011. I need positive vibes in my life right now even if it's as simple as the color of my planner.

In my previous blog, 2011 Planners, I was considering other options because I'm not too crazy about the boring cover. Once I opened it up, I was pleasantly surprised to find some improvements from last year which made the planner's cover a minor detail.

One of the my favorite features in the 2011 planner- the stickers! There are more than the 2010 and also more variety including stickers for dental, doctor, haircut & nail appointments; a beach chair for vacations; popcorn for going to the movies; and an alarm clock to name a few! I know, I sound 8 years old right now. I don't care. Like it says under my blog title, "it's the simple joys in life that make me smile."

The notes section expanded to "Doodles & Notes," "People & Places: Contact Information" and  "Curiosities"which includes four different sub-sections: "websites to visit," "blogs to explore," "restaurants to visit," and "books to read." 

The planner is also eco-friendly, made from recycled leather and 100% recycled paper! Half way through 2010 I started making efforts to be more earth-friendly and I want to continue that into the New Year!
See ya in the New Year!


Merry Christmas!

courtesy of dryicons.com
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas! On this Christmas I'm reminded how God can change your life so fast. In one week we have moved home to North Carolina (which I will have to blog about when I have more time), welcomed a nephew (from a distance who was born on Christmas Eve in Pittsburgh), and my sister-in-law got engaged yesterday in Tampa! What an exciting and eventful week! We are thankful for all of the wonderful blessings in our life and looking forward to the New Year! God Bless!


Christmas Classics

With just five days away from Christmas, I want to know what your favorite Christmas movie is?

My personal favorite

Personally, I love the animated stuff: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolf & Frosty. My mom recorded a tape of the trio back in the 80's so you can imagine that the commercials are almost just as fun to watch. Is it wrong that I don't love the non-animated classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" or "A Christmas Story?"


Giveaway Winner

And the winner is...
Ex-Tek Girl

Thank you for the comments! I really appreciate the responses.

I may have to try this again when people aren't so busy with the holidays! Special Thanks to Shawnee from TinkersCottage on Etsy for providing such an inspirational giveaway!



I apologize for the delay. Okay, here's what you've been waiting on!
If you'll remember from my blog on an Etsy Christmas , one of my favorite items -the Burlap Seashell Shabby Christmas Wreath- came from a shop called tinkerscottage out of Topsail Island, NC. Go check out her shop because there are some really awesome shabby chic items for sale! I love the Family Name sign & the And They Lived Happily Ever After sign, which both make great wedding presents.
She has been gracious enough to donate one of her favorite items, the Pledge Allegiance Colonial Primitive Sign (also available in antique white).

Click to see more

When she told me about this item and her passion for it, it reminded me of my drive home the other day. Something came across the radio about The Pledge of Allegiance and I thought to myself, do I even remember the words? So I tried to remember it in order but I was having trouble, kinda sad, huh? I mean this is something we had to recite everyday in grade school. I should be able to spit it right out without thinking.. I think this sign is a good reminder to display in your home or in a classroom (is that even still allowed?) For me it's a great reminder of our freedom, the flag, and it makes me want to give thanks to those who protect and serve our country whether at home or abroad.  

In order to enter the giveaway, I would like you to comment about how you (if given the opportunity) would work to create change or improve the current state of our country. Maybe it's something large scale like an idea to improve the economy or small scale like a hometown project to help the homeless. I want to know what your passionate about? You can keep your response simple like "education" or "a campaign to support our troops." I would love to hear your ideas! Please be respectful of all ideas and beliefs because that is what it truly means to be an American. Any comments discriminating others ideas will be removed and ineligible. Make sure that you do not leave an anonymous comment.

The Details:
A comment is worth 1 entry but I will double your chances if you also become a follower of my blog, or let me know you are already a follower. If you comment and re-post about the giveaway on your blog, it is worth 3 entries! Please share with your friends on facebook and twitter! If I see it, I will double your chances.

A winner will be chosen at random on Sunday night and will be announced on the blog!
I'm looking forward to seeing your comments! Good Luck!!


Giveaway Delayed 1 Day

Sorry about this folks. I've been in bed with the flu all day and it has been brutal. I'm hoping to have more energy tomorrow and get this giveaway posted. Stay tuned!


Check Back Soon for a Giveaway!

courtesy of icklebabe.com

On Thursday evening, I will unveil my first giveaway on the blog! Check back tomorrow to enter. A winner will be drawn at random on Sunday. Good Luck!! And Merry Christmas!


Best of the South: Savannah Bee

I could really use some of this Beeswax Hand Cream by Savannah Bee today! It's snowing and cold... 17 degrees out right now with a windchill in the single digits. Brrr!!!

Beeswax and royal jelly replenish and nourish skin with essential nutrients. We add softening pecan and peach kernel oils, anti-oxidizing blueberry extract, and healing propolis to create Savannah Bee Company Beeswax Hand Cream. Fresh peach-scented with a rich and creamy texture, our long-lasting formula protects and softens hard-working hands with all-natural moisture.

My hands stack dry and cracked throughout the winter. Until I moved to Pittsburgh, the dryness was minimal but now... I'm constantly putting on hand cream.

Anyone have any favorites for surviving the winter? I'm considering this or L'Occitane products.


An Etsy Christmas

As you may know, I adore Etsy. And this is a great time of year to shop etsy for unique gifts and decorations. Here are a few of my favorites this holiday season. Click on any of the pictures to go directly to the seller's page.

Rusted Tin Snowflake: NestaHome Phoenix, AZ

Mitten Ornament: RedRavenNest
Vineland, NJ

Christmas Apron: LoveDoversClothing: Los Angeles, CA

Burlap Seashell Shabby Christmas Wreath
TinkersCottage- Topsail Island

Love this designer's hand painted signs:
MyFlipFlopz Jupiter FL


16 Days until Christmas!

I was definitlely ready to get into the Christmas spirit this year! I had everything decorated the day after Thanksgiving! I even had presents wrapped (not shown here) the weekend before. I'm not usually that ahead of schedule but we bought all of our gifts in Hawaii this year.

Here's our homely Christmas tree. Next year we are definitely getting a new one. Every year when I get this out, I love how simple it is to put up but I always forget how Charlie Brown it looks. Since we're not staying here for Christmas, and no one really comes over to visit... we decided one more year won't hurt.

Checkout this Countdown to Christmas Clock!


Designing the Perfect Holiday Card

While this has been a year where we have had to be very frugal, I still wanted to make room in the budget for a quality Christmas card. Luckily, Shutterfly is making that happen!

I love their expansive Holiday Collection and Christmas Collection with three different layouts to choose from...

Traditional Folded Greeting Cards

Peppermint Christmas Story
Perfect if you have three kids, or a small family like ours- me, the husband and the dog :).

Flat Stationary Cards

Family Wall Red Christmas Card
This is my personal favorite! Just a heads up for those of you on my list, you might be seeing this one again but with our mugs on it. Being a newlywed, I wanted to use my new initial and establish our new family. I think the monogram in the middle will be perfect to do just that! I plan to incorporate some of our wedding pictures, honeymoon pictures and of course, one of Calhoun.

Flat Photo Cards

Starlight Colored Snowflakes
Love those colorful snowflakes!
Flat Photo Cards are the most affordable option, usually under a dollar per card (based on quantity). This particular one ranges from .44 (for 225+cards) to .71 (for 12). You really can't beat that! And it includes envelopes.

Shipping is free for orders of $50 or more on all orders. Promo Code SHIP50

Among these layouts are hundreds of different designs to choose from. Shutterfly has it all! I may also order some address labels for our new family. I love these because they can be used year round.

Retro Chic

Hope this helps those still searching for the perfect card like myself. Now I'm off to design the perfect card for 2010!

Also, don't forget that bloggers get 50 free Holiday Cards. Click here for the form: http://blog.shutterfly.com/5358/holiday2010-blog-submission-form/

Free Shutterfly Christmas Cards to Bloggers

Look what I found out from Mouth of the South blogger: Shutterfly is giving away 50 free cards for bloggers!!  Here's the submission form to sign up! Just in time too, I was about to order my Christmas cards!


My Hawaiian Christmas Ornaments

While in Hawaii I bought a lot of souvenirs including: playing cards, a magnet, postcards and a 2011 calendar to adorn my cubicle at work. I couldn't help it! I've always been in love with all things Hawaii without ever having gone. My room in college was decorated Hawaiian with a Pottery Barn quilt to boot.
So when I saw these Christmas ornaments on sale at Macy's in Lihue, I  couldn't resist!

I love my Island Santa

In  2007 we began collecting an ornament for the tree to represent each year we've been together. I 'm so excited about our 2010 ornament below!

gotta have a surfboard ornament

Flip Flops or "Slippers" in Hawaii

Mele Kalikimaka!  
(Merry Christmas in Hawaiian)

Are there any special Christmas ornaments you have hanging on your tree this year?


2011 Planners

I love a good planner/calendar to keep me organized throughout the year. I can't function without one.

For a while I was using the Kate Spade planner.  It had everything I needed from monthly calendars in the front, weekly diary throughout and notepad pages in the back.

My Kate Spade collection 2007-2009

Then in 2010 "Kate" decided to leave out the weekly diary section which is my whole reason for needing a planner! Thanks "Kate" (heavy sarcasm). If you were to open the weekly diary section on any given week in one of my planners, you would see that it is filled with little reminders and to-do lists. I NEED this section. So I had to make a change. Very sad, because these planners are only $20-and are pretty much the only thing at the Kate Spade store that I can afford. (FYI-They still charge $20 without the weekly diary section; notepad pages replaced those).

After a lot of searching (just ask my husband), I found a great planner from papersource.com for $29.95. I love it! This planner has everything the Kate Spade had and more (even stickers in the back).  I may choose this one again if I can't find anything else. The only negative is that the cover didn't change for 2011 and the other color options aren't that great. Here's a link to the 2011 to check out the inside.

2011 calendars
This is also what my 2010 looks like.

So, I'm keeping my eye out for that perfect planner to get me through another year. I came across these day planners recently at Tiny Prints by Erin Condren.

I thought the below would be cute since I have a new last name this year that I'm still getting used to...

Taffy:Waterfall from $50 each.

... or this cute one that you can have your picture printed on the cover.

Zen Gems: Chocolate from $55 each.

I'll keep my eye out for some other ones since these are on the expensive end. I'll let you know what I find for 2011.

How do you stay organized? Let me know if you see something I might be interested in!


Our Thanksgiving

My husband and I love Thanksgiving. For some odd reason we love spending all day in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove. Strange, isn't it?
It's kind of become our favorite holiday other than Christmas, of course. It began in 2007, when I moved out to Arizona to live with him. It was our first real meal together and it was my first big attempt at replicating all of the amazing recipes the southern women in my family have concocted over the years. Guess what? It was a total success. I don't know if it was because the expectations were low, but everything tasted amazing that year! So we had to keep it up in 2008. Well, not only did we cook an amazing meal together on Thanksgiving, he proposed the next day.  In 2009 we took over my family's kitchen in Charlotte, and this year we spent it in our own in PA cooking for my husband's family. We love spending this time together, cooking the foods we love for the people we love. And more importantly, giving thanks for all of the wonderful blessings in our life.

So I wanted to share a few pics from our little Turkey Day feast...

I started out the night before baking the pecan pies. So bad for you but yet, so yummy!!

my little pecan pie montage

I also baked my sweet potatoes since it doesn't hurt those to sit out overnight. Timing is everything when cooking, so if you can prep the night before, go for it!

ignore the dirty oven
Onto the Big Turkey Day...

Mixing together all of the goodness that goes inside the sweet potato casserole.

the finished product was my favorite dish

Believe it or not, no pictures of the turkey this year but here's some of our side dishes...

broccoli & cheese casserole, with ritz cracker topping

my husband's cheesy baked mashed potatoes

We also had brown rice, green beans, stuffing, jellied cranberries and rolls.  

Now I'm ready for Christmas!! Bring it on!


Morning Glory

While on vacation I took a break from The Last Song (still struggling to pick it up since I've seen the movie now), and picked up the book Morning Glory. This time I was determined to read the book before seeing the movie.

Click to read about the author

I'm sure you've seen the previews by now for the movie currently in theatres featuring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton. The book is by Diana Peterfreund who I had never heard of prior to reading the book. It's an enjoyable, quick read with very little conflict. Definitely a great book for vacation!

Let me know if you plan to read, have read it or if you've seen the movie!


Home Sweet Home

The honeymoon is over. And vacation too for that matter. [Insert sad face here]. I think we were ready to make Kauai our new home... if our dog had been on the trip with us, we may not have returned. Of course it was absolutely amazing and as beautiful as I had seen in pictures! It was just unbelievably perfect!

We have been battling jet lag this past week so I'm not up to blogging too much but wanted to share some pics with you! Enjoy!!

Sunset at Poipu Beach

Another beautiful sunset through the palms (I did do some photoshopping but it was beautiful before I did that)

Kilauea Light House- Northernmost point in the Hawaiian Islands


Go Pink!!

We're probably all aware by now that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I told my husband the other day "Susan G. Komen Foundation has it going on! It's everywhere!!" Their marketing is phenomenal and has brought so much awareness to the fight against breast cancer.

Everything goes pink this time of year, I love it! From downtown fountains, the cap on my Yoplait yogurt ( www.yourlidmatters.com ), even NFL players sporting pink shoes, gloves, heck! even the coin for the toss had a Breast Cancer Awareness side to it.

Breast Cancer has affected my life, as well as my husband's. In remembrance of his mother, and in celebration of my grandmother's 10th year of being cancer free, I wanted to write this blog and let you know about some of my favorite items to purchase that support the cause.

My personal favorite which I carry year-round is my Bank of America debit card...Make Every Purchase Pink™. Pink Ribbon Banking
From 2009-2011, Bank of America is guaranteeing a minimum of $1,950,000 and a maximum of $2,700,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® in conjunction with this program. For each new Susan G. Komen for the Cure branded credit card account opened and activated, Komen receives a minimum of $3 and up to 0.20% of all net retail purchases made with the card. For example, 20 cents for every $100. Komen also receives $1 for each annual renewal of the card.

One of my favorite tennis shoe brands New Balance has several different Pink Ribbon styles this season...

Pink KitchenAid mixer
KitchenAid® Artisan Stand Mixer-more colors available

I own an Under Armour hoodie from last year's collection that has a pink ribbon on the sleeve like this one. It is so comfortable and warm in the winter. This one sells for $54.99 on the Under Armour website.

Women's PIP Big Logo Full Zip Hoody

These are just some of my favorite items. There are so many out there that contribute so please get out there and shop for a cause!

While October is awareness month, the fight against breast cancer never stops. Please visit http://ww5.komen.org/ and make a donation or sign up for a 5k in your city! God Bless!!


Pain in the Neck

from http://sunrisechiropractic.ca/

For just over a month now I have been having problems with my neck and back. I pulled a muscle in my right shoulder while drying my hair... I know, not the best story.

Kinda like the time I sprained my ankle while walking to the front of the classroom to turn in an exam my senior year of college. My ankle had fallen asleep, when I got up to take a step, it flipped over, took another step and voila!... back into place. The professor looked at me oddly like "what'd you do?" I had no idea. I didn't feel the pain right away but as I began walking out of the building, it began to throb with pain. Point of that story... I never do these things while actually doing something athletic like most people, and I used to be an athlete! But anways...Back to the muscle strain...

I nursed it back to health (or so I thought) but in the mean time the muscles around my neck began to hurt. It got to the point where it was uncomfortable to sit at the computer at work, and also to get comfortable at night to fall asleep. So a few weeks ago I decided I needed to see someone right away. Everyone was saying go to the chiropractor. I don't like chiropractors, don't believe in them and sure never thought I would have to go to one. Sure enough, there I sat four Tuesdays ago in a Chiropractor's office desperately seeking some answers and pain relief. The guy probably thought I was crazy because I was just very hesitant about everything and had lots of questions. He was actually very nice and I believe he's probably a very, good chiro; however, I did not go back. Not because of his work but because I just had this enormous uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. The next day I called a Physical Therapist and spoke with her about what she could do for me. I have been seeing her since. I love it! I get heat stimulation when I get there, then she works my neck and back muscles to loosen them up, then, I go through the exercises. The exercises are meant to help me now and in the future with my posture which is probably one of the causes of my "injury." At first my homework was doing these exercises twice a day but now I am down to once a day now that I'm at about 90%.

My goal was to be 100% before Hawaii and it looks like I'm going to get there! Another good thing, I should be done with PT next week!

So I told you all of that to explain why I haven't been blogging as much. It's just kind of hard to sit at a computer all day at work and then come home and do the same. But I look forward to blogging some more when I return from our trip.


One of many dreams...

...to own a farm one day. Like this one in Efland, NC featured in Southern Living Magazine. When I read the Pioneer Woman, I grow envious of her Oklahoma Ranch. While I don't think we could manage a ranch, a nice little farm would be nice at some point in our lives. I grew up in the country on lots of land and that is definitely something I would love for my children to experience.

You'll find out that I'm quite the dreamer. I used to have 7 different career goals... one of them may/may not have been to be a soap opera writer for GH. ;)

 Do you have any secret dreams like this?


The Beautiful Mess: Engagement Photos

Photo courtesy of The Beautiful Mess

Check out these lovely engagement photos from The Beautiful Mess! The bride, Abigail, and I have been friends for almost 10 years now.  She's an amazing, fun and Godly woman... and look how gorgeous she is! Not to mention blissfully happy to be marrying the man of her dreams! Can't wait to meet Mr. Tanner!

Congratulations to the both of you! Wishing you nothing but happiness!!

Photo courtesy of The Beautiful Mess

Click here to see more from their session: http://thebeautifulmess.com/2010/10/engaged-justin-abby
They also need your help before Friday... If they get 100 comments on The Beautiful Mess link above, they receive some free stuff! Anyone who has had to pay for wedding photos knows how important this is!


Cleaning Made Simple

Cleaning...it's what we do every weekend unless there's something going on or we're sick. I don't clean during the week, just pick up here and there (if that) so the weekends are for cleaning. I'm not saying I spend my entire Saturday and/or Sunday cleaning but I get what needs to be done for that week.

Please, don't get me wrong -- I abhor cleaning. I wish I could hire a maid but I know it wouldn't be good enough for me. You see, my mother was a housewife for 13 years until she decided to go back to work. And everyday she cleaned. Our house was always spotless. The carpet was vacuumed at least once a day. You did not wear your shoes on the carpet, they came off at the door. My room was always tidy, and the bed was always made. My best friend Lauren recently joked that she would like my mom to come visit her so that she could "really clean" like "wash the base boards" type of stuff. That's my mom and that's how I was raised. So my standards for cleaning are up there! While I don't think I'm near as particular about cleaning as my mother, I do like a clean house. I love you mom for always keeping our home clean!

My husband and I have lived together for almost 3 years now and we've got this cleaning thing down really well! Yes, I said my husband cleans. :) He doesn't have an outside to take care of yet so we share duties in the apartment. I know, I'm blessed. Although this weekend my husband was "busy" watching football but I'll let it slide because I did get a "honey, you did a really nice job with the kitchen." That was worth doing it all by myself.

For those of you who find cleaning a struggle or just need a better routine, here is a guide from Real Simple Magazine that might help. I don't follow everything on here, but it's a good place to start.

Click on the pictures to enlarge

Thank Goodness for Real Simple Magazine!


Hawaii countdown is on...

My husband and I are counting down the days until our official honeymoon in Hawaii this month! We are going to be escaping the cooler temps of Pennsylvania and soaking up the always warm and sunny island of Kauai.

from KauaiDiscovery.com

I know I must look crazy buying up the sunscreen & tanning oils at the local Walgreens when it's rainy and barely 60 degrees outside but that's what I did this week.

from KauaiDiscovery.com

You know those Corona Commercials? My total inspiration for travel destinations. I picture a nice relaxing beach, some palm trees, a frozen alcoholic beverage in my hand, crystal blue ocean, and lots of sun & sand.

Can't wait!! :)