Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spanish New Year's Eve Traditions

In Spain, there's a New Year's Eve tradition of eating 12 grapes just before midnight. They eat a grape following each chime of the clock on top of the Casa de Correos building in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid. After the clock has finished chiming, the Spaniards toast each other with champagne or cider. I've heard it's for good luck, and I've also heard that the grapes predict good or bad months - sweet grapes for good, sour grapes for bad. Spanish tradition says that wearing new red underwear on New Year's Eve brings good luck, too. Oo la la!

Happy new year, and may you all have 12 sweet grapes (and fresh red undies!).

Photo via Noble Pig.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cloudy Outlook

First, let me get this out of the way - I'm not pregnant, nor am I planning to be for a while. But, if I were decorating a nursery, I'd be thinking seriously about adding in some happy little clouds (yes, that was a Bob Ross reference). These little fluffy puffies are adorable, and if you're crafty, you can save money by sewing some up yourself.

Here are a few of my favorite little cloud items.

1. Mobile    2. Garland    3. Pillows    4. Crib bedding    5. Print

Friday, December 23, 2011

Have a Merry Weekend!

We'll be on the road tonight, traveling to see family and friends (blasting Christmas music on the way). Kevin is coming with us, so it could be an interesting trip. He'll be wearing his Christmas sweater and looking extra handsome. I'm secretly hoping he finds a girlfriend at my mom's farm, and we'll get to come home with two kitties. We shall see.

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

Neat wine etiquette tips.

Some really great 2012 calendars.

Dreamy cloud-shaped doughnuts.

Pretty winter ezine. (I especially love the clever "Big Cookies, Small World" section.)

Awesome cafe in Los Altos, CA.

I'm a list maker. Here's a blog all about lists (!).

Fantastic New Years wedding palette.

Adorable snowflake garland DIY.

One fabulous wall.

p.s. If you like our Christmas card above, you can hire me to make a custom card for you and your family, too. I also design birthday party invitations, birth announcements, Christmas cards and more - all made especially for you. Email me if you'd like to know more.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thrifty Thursday - Silhouette Artwork

Using small but heavy items, you can create lovely pop art for just a few dollars.

Pick out your items, and choose the color spray paint you want. Arrange your items on a piece of paper board, and sweep over them with the spray paint until you get the look you want. Let it dry, then frame it. I think this also would work well on a canvas.

Get the full how-to from Better Homes and Gardens here.

Photos via BHG.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Black and Brown

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I don't mind breaking fashion "rules" every now and then if the outfit still looks great. Lately, I'm loving black and brown together. Aren't these ladies lovely? The trick is to have two browns, like a belt and boots, to tie everything together. I think wearing a brighter brown makes a difference, too.

Would you wear black and brown?

Photos via Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My First Birchbox


I broke down and subscribed myself to Birchbox, a monthly delivery of sample-sized beauty products. It's so fun getting packages in the mail (even if you have them sent to yourself).

Here's what came this month.

Yogini perfume by Harvey Prince
At first I was unsure about this scent, but I put a little on and actually really like it. It's sophisticated, but sweet, and seems to last all day. It's calming, and full of exotic oils that are supposed to counteract stress. As the description says, "It’s the fragrance equivalent of yoga class."

Mythic Oil by L'Oréal Professional
I was really excited to try this hair oil because I have dry hair, especially in the winter. I normally use Biosilk or Aquage Silkening Oil Treatment, but am open to trying new things. This oil smells great, and can be used before or after blow drying. After two uses, I don't think it works better or worse than Biosilk or Aquage, but it wins for having the best scent.

Jouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss
I really like this silky lip gloss. It came in a bright pink, that with one coat gives you a pretty gloss, but with two or more, gives you bright pink, shiny lips. It's not too sticky like some glosses, but it doesn't seem to last long. To keep the look, you'd have to reapply often. Maybe it would be better used to add gloss to lipstick.

Befine Gentle Cleanser
This face wash is made from sugar cane, oats, rice and mint extracts - a nice combination to use for cleansing dry winter skin. It smells nice, but I'm not much for minty face washes. I think my mindset is that mint belongs in foot scrubs. It's really runny - not expecting that, I lost half the bottle down the drain ... so that was a bummer. It seems to cleanse well though, and it left my face feeling refreshed. Not too bad for something that belongs on feet (kidding ... kinda).

EBOOST Orange Natural Energy Booster
I mixed this up to give it a try and was very disapponted in the taste. Honestly, I couldn't even finish it. It's an orange-flavored, vitamin-filled, powdered energy drink, so I can't say I expected it to be delicious. I'll stick with coffee for my morning energy.

Showstoppers Designer Fashion Tape
I haven't used these yet - I'll save them for when I need a little strapless bra/dress help. I'll update after I use them.

I already can't wait for next month's Birchbox!

Get a subscription for yourself here.

Photos via Birchbox.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Party-Perfect Lips

I love the look of lipstick, but hate how it smudges and fades. And, if it's a long-lasting formula, it's dull. Martha Stewart offers a few tips to help you get shiny, smudge-proof lips.

To keep lipstick from smudging, cover your lips with a clear pencil or primer, and emphasize the edges to create a barrier. Use a matte lipstick - it's less likely to smudge than a glossy formula. Apply your lipstick with a brush to control exactly where the color is applied.

To make lips shine after applying lipstick, gently blot the lipstick with a tissue. This will pull some of the oils out of the formula and leave a stickier surface to apply gloss to. Avoid licking your lips before applying gloss.

See all of Martha's lip tips here.

Photo via

Friday, December 16, 2011

Have a great weekend!

Hello! This week I was able to attend an advanced Photoshop class in St. Louis. It was fun because it was my first business travel experience. I felt pretty official driving up to my hotel, navigating roads, adjusting to heavy traffic and being alone in a big city. I met up with a friend for dinner, and made a new friend in class who kindly took me to lunch with her. It was nice to do something different during the week.

When I came home, Jeff had dinner cooking, a bottle of white wine chilled and gave me early Christmas presents - Tina Fey's book Bossypants, and a mandolin slicer that I've wanted for a long time. He made us chicken breats stuffed with red bell peppers and cream cheese, his signature mashed potatoes with sautèd onions and crab, and green beans (as seen above). It was delicious. I suggested he cook dinner more often - we'll see.

I hope you have a great weekend. Here are some links from around the Web.

Love this fun bike print.

Adorable kissing clothespin.

Insane money origami.

Delicious looking hot chocolate cupcakes.

Get an Hermès wallpaper for your desktop.

Make your own festive-topped jars.

Four gifts that give.

Microwave candy treats.

Hot chocolate with peppermint cream.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thrifty Thursday - Best Times to Buy

You probably already know the best time to buy Christmas decorations and wrapping supplies is right after Christmas (50-75% off!), and that you can great deals on summer or winter clothes at the end of their season, but what about everything else? compiled a chart for when to get the best deals for things like grills, cars, oil changes and more. This could really come in handy when considering a large purchase or planning ahead for Christmas shopping.

See the full-size chart here. See the article from here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to Be Cool

I love this print titled "How to Be Cool" by Austin Kleon from 20x200. Wouldn't it be fun to try to make something like this yourself? I imagine laughing really hard at hilarious word combinations. I think it would be something like a mixture of Mad Libs and Damn You Auto Correct. Maybe you'd end up with art, but you'll probably get some laughs first.

Get this print at 20x200. See more of Kleon's work here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My To-Read List

I've said it before - I'm really not much of a reader. But, if I pick up a book and start reading, I can't stop. Here are three I can't wait to get to.

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Because I love Tina Fey.

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Because I've heard it's hilarious.

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Because I know I'll enjoy it.
(I really want to see the movie, but not before I read the book.)

Get them here:
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
The Help

Photos via my Pinterest.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bathroom Christmas Decorations

If the rest of the house is festive, why shouldn't the bathroom be, too? Since there isn't room for many decorations in the guest bathroom, I used a few ornaments and some twine to add a little Christmas cheer.

The ornaments are clipped to the shower curtain hooks.
I also added some Christmas candles to the shelves.

The same ornaments are hung from the vanity lights.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Have a great weekend!

Kevin lounging in all the ornaments he knocked off the tree.

Since he likes Christmas so much, I got him a sweater.

Happy Friday! We're headed home to Iowa this weekend to have Christmas with my parents, my sister and her family. It's a little early, but it's hard to schedule a time since we all live in different states. The car is loaded down with gifts galore, and we have our snow gear packed in case sledding is in order. I'm so excited to spend a relaxing, fun couple of days with my family (and get presents!).

How drunk you can get at your office holiday party.

Pretty DIY centerpiece.

Christmas music favorites.

Hospital event yesterday (I took the photo!)

Neighbor gift ideas.

Darling engagement shoot.

Jaw-dropping wallpapers.

This is hilarious.

Pink and red outfits (that actually look cute).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thrifty Thursday

We finally broke down and turned the heat on the day before Thanksgiving. Now we're keeping the thermostat at a conservative 65 degrees. For us, we would rather put on warm clothes and use a blanket than be shocked when an astronomical electric bill comes in the mail. November's electric bill was only $65 and I was happy about that. If I remember, I even try to turn the thermostat down farther before I leave for work. Since we rent, I don't want to go to the expense of installing a programmable thermostat (although I'm still considering it). When I get home from work and start cooking dinner, it doesn't take long for the house to warm up again.

We watch the amount of lights that are on in the house - making sure a closet light or the patio lights don't get left on can really make a difference. Other small things include only running a full wash machine or dishwasher and unplugging electronics that arent being used (many still pull a small amount of electricity, even when off). Also, as hard as it is for me to not plug in all the Christmas lights every night, only plugging them in when necessary will help, too.

What are ways you try to cut your electric bill?

Image via.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Ultimate Man Gift

beer of the month club

They say food is the way to a man's heart, I think beer might be a close second. For $36.95 a month, you can gift a subscription to the beer of the month club (or get one for yourself). I'd like to get it for Jeff just to sip a little of each. I'm not much of a beer drinker, but I'm happy to be a taste-tester and critic.

There's also wine, fruit, flower, cigar, coffee, chocolate and pizza of the month clubs! See them here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Easy Paint Press-on Nails

Hi. I'm Amanda and I'm a nail biter.

I've tried to stop a million times, but I can't. I wear fake nails to hide my shame. Recently I stopped getting my acrylic nails filled because it was getting expensive, and sitting in a nail salon for an hour every two weeks was getting old. I decided to try wearing press-on nails instead. They were working well except for that I couldn't sit still long enough for them to dry. I always had smudges. So I came up with a solution. I bought the nails that have break-off tabs for easy application (I like Broadway, Real Short), held on to the tabs, and painted them a few hours before I glued them on. No more smudges!

Find your nail sizes. File and shape them before you paint.

Hold the tab and apply two coats of polish and a top coat.

One of the tabs broke off so I glued it to the manicure stick so I could still
 paint it. It pulled right off when it was time to glue it on my nail.

Set them on a piece of paper or cardboard to dry (I used the nail box).

I'm excited to paint my next set (I want to get creative since I don't have to worry about trying to paint with my left hand).

Nail color:  e.l.f - Royal Purple

Monday, December 5, 2011

Amazing World Map

Enormous World Map Made from Recycled Computers by Susan Stockwell recycling maps installation computers art

Enormous World Map Made from Recycled Computers by Susan Stockwell recycling maps installation computers art

Enormous World Map Made from Recycled Computers by Susan Stockwell recycling maps installation computers art

Enormous World Map Made from Recycled Computers by Susan Stockwell recycling maps installation computers art

Enormous World Map Made from Recycled Computers by Susan Stockwell recycling maps installation computers art

Since 2010, UK-based artist Susan Stockwell has been working on this enormous world map made from recycled computer components. Isn't it incredible? See more of her work here.

Via This is Colossal.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Have a great weekend!

Yes, that's what it looks like. My Christmas tree is on its side. Kevin decided to go exploring through the branches and knocked it over. It was exactly what I wanted to hear at 5:30 a.m. So I got up, made sure he wasn't trapped under it, found him hiding behind the dresser, told him he was naughty and shut him in his room (the laundry room with his litter box and food). He was quiet the rest of the morning. Too quiet maybe. I fell back asleep and didn't hear my alarm go off - and then I was 45 minutes late for work. It's the first time I've ever done that. I blame Kevin.

Now my weekend plans include standing my tree back up and putting all the ornaments back in place. Thank God for shatterproof bulbs.

Here are a few links I enjoy from around the Web. Maybe you will, too.

Where you'll find me at parties.

The perfect gamer alarm clock.

Beautiful DIY spruced up lantern.

Gifts for your pet.

Seriously beautiful interiors by Gary Spain.

We've booked a ski trip to the Black Hills. Here's where we're staying.

Ridiculous, but probably will make you laugh.

Short film about living in an IKEA catalog.

Pretty arrow cuff bracelet.

Gift guide for girls (under $25!).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thrifty Gifting

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Buying Christmas gifts can be expensive. To help relieve a little of that burden, I shop thrift stores for most of my gifts. I don't want to spoil the surprise for those on my list so I'm not going to go into too much detail, but I've found some really great deals this year. Let's just say some nice clothes (some new with tags!), great home decor items, and cool things you can't find anywhere else. It ups the gift-finding challenge sometimes, but finding the perfect thing is even more rewarding. The trick is finding things that don't look too "used." My thrift store mantra is to not buy something just because it's cheap. Make sure it's in good shape and is something the receiver can use and will appreciate.

My mom, my sister and I have been shopping for gifts this way for years now. We can get so many more gifts for the same cost. Probably about a third of my house is decorated with things that came from a thrift store and I received as Christmas gifts. You'd be amazed at how good a bunch of Goodwill junk can look!

I also like to shop at Home Goods and Pier 1 (mainly the clearance racks) for gifts. Handmade gifts or baked goods are always special, too (get some ideas here).

Do you have a favorite place to shop or something special you make that is a great gift? I'd love to hear!

Image via. (Isn't it a great idea to wrap gifts in the cute Trader Joes bags?! If only we had one here.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do or Don't? - Colored Wedding Dresses

Even though my wedding was in June, I can't help but occasionally still look at wedding blogs. They're just so pretty! Lately I've seen lots of colored wedding dresses. I really think they can be beautiful, but looking back, I'm glad I chose white. It's traditional, and I'm OK with that.

Would you ever (or did you) wear a colored wedding dress?

Images: One Two Three Four

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Simple Grocery Bag Storage

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I love this idea for a quick way to help organize under the sink. If you're like me, you save way too many plastic grocery bags. If there's ever a shortage, I'd be able to supply one for every household. Unfortunately, that massive supply is exploding from underneath my sink. This recycled coffee can idea is a super inexpensive way to solve the problem.

With some spray paint, a knife and some scissors, you can get that bag disaster under control. Now I just have to get through a big can of coffee.

Get the full how-to here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cone of Shame

Kevin has been home from the vet since Wednesday and is recovering well. He had to wear a cone to keep him from licking his freshly declawed paws. He was pretty unhappy about it (if you can't tell by his angry face). Jeff and I couldn't help but think of the movie Up when Doug the dog wore a cone and said "I do not like the cone of shame." We kept saying that to Kevin - he was not amused.

His cone came off yesterday and he's getting back to normal. So far he limps a little, but I'm sure he's just sore. The best part is that he's been quiet, and has been sleeping through the night!

Because he's been so quiet, we don't always know where he is. This morning I didn't know he was sleeping under my clothes in the closet. When I grabbed my boots from out of there, it scared Kevin awake and he tore out of the closet -scaring me half to death. We weren't expecting each other to say the least. The scare was worth it though. A quiet cat makes me happy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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We've been so blessed this year, and this holiday season I'm thankful for many things. Here are a few.
1) My wonderful husband who takes care of me, our house, our cars and our cat
2) That we both are employed
3) Family and friends - near and far
4) A warm, cozy house to go home to everyday
5) And, of course, health and happiness

Tomorrow morning we're off to Kansas City to enjoy some time with my step dad's family. Then we're coming back to the lake and spending the rest of the long weekend at my family reunion. I'm so excited to see everyone! Tonight I'll be baking up a storm. A few things I'm bringing are two raisin cream pies, rolls, shrimp cocktail, a triple dipper crockpot of chocolate, caramel, and cheese fondue (complete with things to dip) and of course, wine. It's always a blast when my family gets together - good food and good company, what more could you ask for?

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. See you Monday.

Image via.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Love Tattoos


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Jeff and I have talked about getting his and hers tattoos, but I'm scared. I don't have any and I don't know if I really want one, but I think it's sweet sentiment. I definitely would want something I could hide (I work in an office), so we've considered getting them under our wedding rings. Both of our bands are pretty wide so we could hide them easily, I've just never seen a wedding band tattoo that I like. And, I'm so scared of being an old woman with an ugly tattoo.

What are your thoughts on tattoos?

Photos via my Pinterest.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Poor Little Kevin

Kevin is going to the vet today to have, what I would assume is a terrible procedure. That's right, folks, he's getting neutered today. He cries, whines, and screams for the stray female outside, and we've finally had enough. We're taking his front claws while he's there, too. Sorry, Kev.

We put it off because he never had any behavioral problems before, but since the day he ran away, got a taste of the wild and met his stray friend, he's been excessively meowing and making crazy loud mating calls. We've just finally had enough of never sleeping, and we miss peace and quiet in the house. We needed to get this done, especially with the holidays coming up and family staying with us - I'd feel terrible if he kept them awake, too.

We get to pick him up Wednesday. I hope he's not mad at us. I'm really excited about getting a full nights sleep though. I've forgotten what it felt like.

Keep 'lil Kev in your prayers.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Have a great weekend!

Happy Friday! Any plans for the weekend? I'm decorating for Christmas - I'd be lying if I said I hadn't already started - at least I'm waiting until after Thanksgiving to decorate the outside of the house. I see the arguement of not decorating before Thanksgiving, but I do too much decorating to only have it up a few weeks. And, like I said, I won't decorate the outside until it's time (so I don't offend any Christmas decoration haters). Have you put your decorations up yet or are you waiting?

Here are some links I enjoy from around the web, maybe you wil, too.

Really fabulous e-zine.

This makes me want to work for Google.

Lovely harvest dinner inspiration shoot.

How to make 3D paper ball ornaments (cool!).

Learn to speak Chinese.

Great DIY paint swatch chandelier.

Sweet nail polish.

I love cats, and this blog full of cat comics.

These look delicious.

Kitten eyeliner tutorial.

Double dark chocolate pomegranate cookies. o. m. g.

Illustration via.