Friday, September 30, 2011

Have a great weekend.

Last weekend Jeff and I took a boat cruise out on the lake. When we left the dock it was fairly warm and sunny, but clouds rolled in right after we were out of the cove (of course). Even though I was a little chilly, I still enjoyed exploring a part of the lake we hadn’t been before. I’m excited to go out again this weekend and see more leaves turning!

Here are some posts I enjoy from around the Web. Maybe you will, too.

A cozy place to sleep in the airport.

Ten words you need to stop misspelling.

Make your own fringy streamers!

Fun lipstick colors.

Print your own wooden invitations.

Very cool DIY orb light.

Giant paint by number.

Rosemary Lemonade Gin Slushes … Yum!

Make your own wall art.

I think I’m going to buy this e-book.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thrifty Thursday

Jeff and I love good food.  Most nights I'll spend time preparing a nice meal, but that doesn't mean it can't be fast, easy and inexpensive. We're constantly inventing recipes and trying new things, but I have a few go-to meals when we just want something easy or when the budget is tight. None of these are gourmet by any means, but they always hit the spot.

Macaroni and cheese with hot dogs - Dinner for two under $2! We stock up on mac & cheese and hot dogs when they're on sale (usually we can get a box for around 30 cents!). Boxed macaroni stores well in the pantry, and you can freeze hot dogs. Many times I'll double the recipe so we both have lunch the next day.

Chili dogs - They're easy to prepare and you can make eight chili dogs for under $5!

Tuna Casserole - egg noodles, canned tuna, cream of mushroom and frozen peas are all inexpensive. You can make a giant casserole for around $5!

Goulash - I always loved when my grandma made goulash, now I understand why she made it so often - lots of food for little money. All you need is a pound of ground beef (we normally use ground turkey), macaroni noodles, canned diced tomatoes, frozen corn, canned tomato sauce, spices and voila! All of those ingredients are things I buy when they're on sale and I can keep on hand.

My best friend Lynna recently told me about Iowa Girl Eats (It’s a good blog, go check it out). Earlier this month she posted about cooking on a budget. It’s a detailed breakdown of ways to save money on meals. If you’re looking for more ways to cut food costs, check out her post here.

(Photo via Kraft)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pinterest Pretties

Yesterday I discovered the wonders of Pinterest ... and now am totally addicted. I used to search the internet for pretty pictures of bedrooms, living rooms, console tables, etc, but now all I have to do is search for it in Pinterest! I'm amazed by it and am a little sad I'm just now joining in.

Here are some of the beauties I found yesterday.

(Photos via my Pinterest)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

Last week I was thumbing through the October issue of Country Living magazine and was inspired by their fun Halloween/pumpkin decorating ideas.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m one of those people who decorates for holidays too early. I just get excited and can’t help myself. I'm trying really hard to wait until Oct. 1 to put pumpkins on my patio. I guess it gives me time to plan which of these beauties I'll decorate with this year.

These gilded gourds and pumpkins make me swoon (top) (bottom).

Black and white pumpkins! I’m in love. Get the how-to here.

This bookshelf pumpkin tree made my jaw drop.

This decoupage pumpkin is genius.

See more of Country Living’s pumpkin decorating ideas here.

(photos via

Monday, September 26, 2011

Glitter Nails

I loved summer's bright nails, but it's time to embrace fall (as if I haven't already: evidence #1, 2, 3, 4) and paint my nails for the season.

I've been wearing lots of gold jewelry lately so I wanted something to match it. I used OPI Bronzed to Perfection for the polish color, and then used gold glitter to add some sparkle.

It’s really easy to do.
1) pick your nail polish and glitter
2) paint two coats of the nail polish
3) apply top coat to the part of your nail where you want the glitter to go (I like the tips)
4) dip a separate small brush into the top coat, then into the glitter, and apply it to your nail
5) apply a top coat over your entire nail to seal the glitter in

Friday, September 23, 2011

Have a great weekend.

It’s amazing how leaving the office on a Friday feels so different than any other work day. A feeling of relief and relaxation comes over me. I’m just ready to rest a little and see friends again. Halleluiah for weekends.

Tomorrow I desperately need to clean my neglected house. I’m also hoping to squeeze in a boat ride while it's still warm enough, finish up a few projects and make a delicious meal for Jeff and I.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Here are some things I enjoy from around the Web. Maybe you will, too.

Lovely list of gifts for new mothers.

Adorable tote bag.

I’m a sucker for beautiful, personalized calligraphy.

Pretty nail polish.

Super cool Back to the Future shoes.

Pretty scarf.

Cute stop-motion baby announcement.

(Photo via Style Me Pretty)

Happy Autumn

Happy first day of fall! In honor of my favorite season I made this illustration.

If you'd like a printable PDFof it, leave a comment telling me your favorite part about fall, and email me at I'll attach the PDF in the reply.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Colorful Jewels

I wish I would’ve known about these Spike the Punch necklaces when I was searching for bridesmaid jewelry. They are really pretty and come in lots of colors. She even takes custom orders! The mint green and mushroom is my favorite.

I just love Etsy.

(Photos via Spike the Punch)

Thrifty Thursday - movie night

This may come as a shock, but going to see movies in theaters can be expensive! OK, so not that shocking, but you may not realize how much you're spending until you compare renting a movie versus going to the theater.

Jeff and I occasionally go see movies, but generally we rent or buy DVDs. We are big fans of Redbox and $5 DVD bins.

Here's a breakdown of what we might spend on an at-home movie night.

Rebox movie - $1.07 (sometimes less if I have a coupon code)
Big bag of M&Ms - $3.50
Air popped popcorn - under $1 for a giant bowl
Soda - .59 cents for a 2-liter (we buy the store brand)
Total - $6.16 (I suppose we could live without the M&Ms and cut the cost to $2.66)

Here's what we might spend if we went to the movie theater.

Two movie tickets - $18 (sometimes more for IMAX or 3D)
Small bag of M&Ms - $3
Large popcorn to share - $7
Soda to share - $4
Total - $32

If we had an at-home movie night every weekend we'd spend $24.64 in a month. If we went to a theater each weekend, we'd spend $128 a month! That's an electric bill payment!

Get a free Redbox rental here by reserving a movie online!

(Photo found here.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Incredible Illustrations

E.W. Thomason is my new favorite illustrator. I can’t get enough of his work – seriously incredible. I go look at his online gallery almost every week. It’s one of my happy places.

Go check it out!

(Photos via E.W. Thomason)

Reaching New Heights

Lately Kevin has discovered heights far beyond the floor and couch. I wasn't happy when he started getting up on the kitchen counters (he thought he was being sneaky, but the noise he made moving plates, silverware, or whatever else was left out, wasn't exactly stealthy). But now, he's figured out how to get from the floor, to the counter, to the top of the fridge, to the top of the kitchen cupboards! Also, he gets on top of the storage cupboard in the living room (Urgh!).

The tops of my cupboards are decorated with lots of antiques, thrift store finds and other treasures, and Kevin is making a mess of them. I just keep spraying him with water when I catch him up there, then I put things back where they belong. I'm about to start setting glue traps for him to get stuck in – maybe then he'll understand. Too cruel? Try having a cat destroy everything, then let's talk.

And now for a little game of "What's the Difference."

Good thing I put everything back where it was ...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Words of Wisdom

As seen here.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Fall gives me an overwhelming desire to bake (especially pumpkin flavored things), so Sunday I made a pumpkin cheesecake. My mom makes the best cheesecake in the world so even though I was following Paula Deen's recipe, I used a few of her tricks. It turned out great!



  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (just crush of the three sleeves that comes in a box)
  • 3 T light brown sugar
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted salted butter


  • 3 (8oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (15oz) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 c sour cream
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 t vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 70 minutes. Remove from the oven (cheesecake will be very jiggly) and let sit until cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Get Paula’s recipe here. Watch Paula’s video here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Adorable Notebooks

I love these cute, personalized notebooks from Minted’s latest design challenge. I especially love the wedding day thank you notebook. What a cute bridesmaid gift idea!

See all the winners here.

(Photos via Minted)

Dinner Party Guidelines

Growing up in a bed & breakfast/restaurant, I quickly learned what it takes to entertain dinner guests. With a little preparation, you’re party is sure to be a success. Here are my tips to help you be the hostess with the mostess.

Plan ahead. Even while hosting, it’s easy to enjoy the party while preparing food.

If I’m serving an hors d'oeuvre, I always make something I can prepare ahead of time – either something cold I can pull right out of the fridge (like a cheese plate or pinwheels) or something hot I can put in a small crock pot or have baking when guests arrive (like cocktail weenies in BBQ sauce, bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, baked brie, or stuffed peppers).

For the main course, let’s say the menu includes twice-baked potatoes, stuffed pork loin and baby carrots. Earlier that day I would’ve prepared the potatoes and have them on a baking sheet ready for the oven. For the pork loin, it would be stuffed, seared, seasoned and in a baking dish ready for the oven. The carrots would be in a pot on the stove, covered in water and ready to boil – the butter and seasonings would be nearby. The trick here is timing. The potatoes will take the longest – put them in the oven first. Since the pork is already partially cooked from searing, it won’t take long to finish. Generally it works to put the pork in the oven and boil the carrots at the same time. The takeaway  everything should be ready together. 

Offer a drink. Often guests will bring a hostess gift of wine, but always have something on hand. If you offer wine, plan for one or two glasses per person (knowing my friends, I plan for three or four). My husband and I keep a well-stocked liquor cabinet and make sure our guests know they’re welcome to anything they’d like. We also keep mixers on hand and offer a yummy recipe for whatever alcohol they choose.

Play music. Good food and good friends are a great place to start when having a party, but setting the atmosphere with music can take it to the next level. The music (and its volume) can set the tone for the evening – it’s important to take both into consideration. In my experience, mellow, upbeat tracks at medium volume work great for a casual get-together. Here’s some of my go-to dinner-party playlist.

Everything’s Right – Matt Wertz
Make You Feel My Love – Adele
Down By The Water – The Decemberists
Electric Bird – Sia
Your Song – Elton John
Cry Me A River – Diana Krall
1234 – Fiest
Green Screens – Sleeping At Last
I’d Rather Be With You – Joshua Radin
Let Go – Frou Frou
She’s Mine– Brett Dennen
The Way I Am – Ingrid Michaelson
Love and Some Verses – Iron and Wine
Miss Magnolia – Matt Costa
Orange Sky – Alexi Murdoch
Skinny Love – Bon Iver
Come Away With Me – Nora Jones
1901 – Phoenix
I Have and I Always Will – Dave Matthews
Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magentic Zeros
You Are The Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty

What do you do to make your dinner parties special?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Have a great weekend.

Happy Friday! Any fun plans for the weekend? I plan to continue my search for a second-hand, 10-inch, console table for my entryway; enjoy another homemade pumpkin spice latte; and hopefully take lots of naps.

Here are some things I enjoy from around the Web. Maybe you will, too.

Super cute wedding invitations. (I love mad lib RSVP cards.)

Beautiful table settings.

I’d love to wear this necklace this fall. (With a J for my Jeff)

Adorable thank-you card.

I love everything on this kitchen wish list.

My kind of breakfast.

My brothers-in-law both need this jacket.

Here’s a hilarious video of seniors learning to use a computer. I can so easily see this being my grandparents – grandma recently asked me to show grandpa how to use “Spacebook.” I assume that’s the same thing as Facebook.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Genius Wine Rack

I love a good do-it-yourself project, and this is too cool (and easy!) to pass up. I love that the design options are endless. It can be painted and repainted to always match your kitchen's color scheme. I'm going to start collecting cans!

Get the full how-to from Michelle Kaufmann's blog here.

(Photo via Michelle Kaufmann)

A penny saved ...

The Backstory:
Growing up, my mom (whose name happens to be Penny) was determined to find everything our family needed at a thrift store or at least at a discounted price. I’m proud to say, I try to do the same. My mom still is the thrifting queen.

Taking cues from my mama, Jeff and I are always trying to save a few dollars to help pay down those pesky student loans, save for a vacation or have a fancier-than-usual night out. Starting today, each Thursday I’ll plan to share with you a way we are trying to make the most of our money. Maybe some will work for you, too! Also, if you have tricks for saving cash, I’d love to hear them!

Thrifty Thursday Post:
Last Saturday morning I made a thrift store run. I’ve been trying to find a less-than-10-inch-wide console table (for under $50) so I’ve been checking there regularly. One of the stores is a consignment shop so I usually take a bag of things I’m not using anymore. So far I’ve made over $125 by consigning unused items!

After I dropped of my bag of consignments, I scanned the furniture for a narrow console table … no luck. I moved on to the clothing racks which are conveniently coordinated by size then color. It’s like a giant clothing rainbow in there. I scanned the racks until a shirt in the medium red section caught my eye. I went to the dressing room with a red knit dress; a red, black and white sweater; two red silk blouses; and two black blazers.

After trying everything on, I narrowed my selection to the red things. I loved the Ralph Lauren blazer I tried on, but it just didn’t fit right. (Thrifting tip: don’t buy something just because it’s inexpensive – make sure it fits well and looks good on you. You’ll never wear it otherwise, and even though it was a bargain when you bought it, it’s not if you never wear it.)

When I checked out, the grand total for all four items was just over $12 (woohoo!). Wanna know the best part? The red knit dress I bought for $3 was a St. John by Marie Gray – the same dress can be found on eBay for $149.97. The original retail cost was around $500. It's one of my best finds so far.

My thrift-store finds. Yes, I know it looks like I'm ready for
Christmas – it's because I am (I'm already planning my decorations).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lovely Surf Shack

I’m obsessed with this eclectic, colorful surf shack. It’s so relaxed and comfortable. I especially love the living room furniture, the colored glass hanging from the tree and the bonfire pit with blankets ready. Yep, ready to move in now.

As seen here.