Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Salon Wall.

I love the following pictures for some salon wall inspiration. Now if I could just find the perfect wall in my house to do such a thing . . .

Southern Living has a great article on how to easily hang a salon wall here.

P.S. I'll be back with a Christmas recap soon. Tonight is my first night in over a week without company over or being at the in-laws. I am thoroughly enjoying relaxing and having some quiet time at the house with Justin (and Riley).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Decor.

For some reason, I was behind schedule this year for decorating and presents (buying and wrapping). I am still trying to figure out where the month of December went. The Christmas decorations this year are not too much different than last year (see last year's pictures here).

Here's our tree (sans presents). Thankfully, I am happy to report that since I took this picture, we have wrapped a bunch of presents, so our tree looks much more complete. I was just too lazy to take an updated picture.

The mantel decorated with Ikea vases, the lumiere candleholders from CB2 (what a bargain those are), and a fun ribbon wreath from Michaels.

This is a bad picture, but you can see my cute twig reindeer on the buffet! There is a bowl (washed out by the sun) full of silver ornaments. I also wrapped thick red damask ribbon around the upholstered chairs and tied it in a bow. Please excuse my coffee cup (it is not part of the Christmas decor).

And my favorite Christmas Target find -- the red sequin tree. Those little blocks (also from Target) say "merry christmas." You can also see our new devon mirror from Z Gallerie. Love it!

There are a few other decorations in the kitchen and entry way, which I will (hopefully) post soon!

Tasty Hot Chocolate.

I recently saw a post over at Annie's Eats* about a hot chocolate mix recipe. It looked delicious, and I needed a little something extra for people at work, so I decided to make it this past weekend.

For quality control purposes, I had to sample a cup to make sure it was tasty enough to give out. It was so rich and delicious. Really, what's not to like? It's vanilla sugar and chopped chocolate bars!

Frankly, it was so good, it was hard to package it up and give away! I love hot chocolate! But I certainly don't need that much of it around the house. I packaged it up the mix along with marshmallows and Williams-Sonoma Peppermint North Poles.

* I have made several different things from recipes I got from Annie's Eats (including peppermint mocha cupcakes this past weekend too). All of them have been wonderful. Definitely check out her recipes!

Hot Chocolate Mix

2 vanilla beans
4 cups granulated sugar
1½ lbs. good quality semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
9 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups Dutch process cocoa powder*

Split and scrape the vanilla beans and combine in a large bowl or jar with the sugar. Work the vanilla seeds into the sugar with your fingers. Bury the pods under the sugar, cover tightly and let stand overnight (or up to months) at room temperature. Remove the pods when ready to use.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the sugar, semisweet and bittersweet chocolate, and Dutch process cocoa powder. Process in 4-second pulses until the chocolate is very finely ground and the mixture is well combined. Store the mix in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Serving Instructions:
Combine 2 tablespoons cocoa mix with 8 oz. of very warm milk and stir to combine until well blended.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Say Yes to the Dress.

I recently watched Say Yes to the Dress and fell in love with a dress. I am not gonna lie, I like the show even though I am not in the market for a wedding dress. If I was getting married again (to Justin, of course), this dress would be a top contender.

I asked Justin if we could renew our vows so that I could go buy this dress. Obviously, he wasn't entertained. My dress was simple and understated, and I still find myself drawn to that same style.

My second favorite part of the dress is the half bow in the back (not pictured above). I have a weakness for bows.

My favorite part of the dress is the POCKETS! Pockets, people! The dress has pockets! How awesome is that? You don't know what you have been missing if you haven't worn a dress with pockets. I don't know why, but it's delightful.

Then I started thinking . . . my dress (from 5.5 years ago) had similar qualities, except for the heavenly pockets.

It was also simple, understated, strapless, a-line, no beading, no lace:

And, it had a fun detail in the back (which was somewhat bow-like when bustled):

I guess my taste in wedding dresses hasn't changed all that much over the years.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dining Room Updates.

I recently snagged some new wall art for our dining room at High Fashion Home. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but as soon as I saw these, I knew they had to come home with me. And, the decision was even easier since they were 50% off!

Here is a close up (click to enlarge to see the detail):

We also found some great new buffet lamps at Z Gallerie (they are the constaletti lamps). The other lamps I had were too much with the pearson chandelier and the other one was too short (see this post). These are just right. I wasn't crazy about the color of the lamp shades at first, but I like them now (and their shape is perfect). You can also see the new art in the mirror!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Party.

Since so many of you provided input into what I should wear to my firm's holiday party (are you sensing the sarcasm?), I thought I would do an update to my original post and show what I actually decided to wear.

That's right, I disregarded the only comment that I got (thanks, Meagan!) and went with the light pink/shell horizon line dress. Hmm, maybe that's why people don't give me feedback -- because I ignore it!

I just felt that dress was more me, and that I could get more use out of it than the red/orange one. I tried to "winter it up" a bit by wearing tights and a cardigan. It worked out well (I think so, at least). It was the perfect "dressiness" for the party, conservative enough, and the pockets were great!

Monday, December 14, 2009

5 things . . .

5 things I am loving right now . . .

1. My wonderful husband who worked very hard around the house this weekend. Thank you, Justin.

2. Organics Banana Vanilla Yogurt.

And to the person at work who removed it from the fridge (either for their own enjoyment or during an overzealous fridge clean out), thanks for nothing. I was planning on having that with my lunch today, jerk.

3. Having our new lighting installed. It looks great! The installation took over a week longer than expected thanks to workers who showed up late every time they were scheduled to come out (at least they gave us a discount to make up for it). I will post pictures soon.

4. Our Christmas trees and other decorations. Again, pictures to follow. It's looking Christmas-y around the house!

5. This blouse from Anthro:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pearly Whites.

Do you think he's comfortable?

My favorite part are Riley's teeth. They are large and extremely white.

If you look closely, you can see his tongue between his teeth. Click to enlarge the picture to get a super close up of the teeth (and tongue).

In full disclosure, sometimes I kiss those cute lips. Isn't he precious?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Justin's Birthday.

Justin's birthday was the same day as the Big 12 Championship, so rather than going out to celebrate that night, we had family over, ordered Maggiano's takeout, and watched the UT game.

Everyone was wearing burnt orange that night:

. . . including Riley.

I see a theme here. (If you are in Houston and need a cake, Carrie at Carrie Made the Cake does a wonderful job. Not only are the cakes super cute, they are very delicious as well.)

The birthday boy and his new scotch (he is an old man).

Because sunglasses are impossible to buy without actually having the person try them on, Justin's parents gave him money so he could pick out his own. Justin's dad drew a picture of sunglasses to go along with the money. How cute is that?

Monday, December 7, 2009

I need some opinions on which dress (or neither) to wear to my firm's holiday party this Friday. People wear a whole wide range of things. My requirements for a dress: (1) cocktail (or close to it); and (2) on the conservative side of things.

Meagan was nice enough to help me with my search a while back. Sadly, the dresses I thought were winners didn't look good on me, were sold out, or were a little more than what I wanted to spend.

I bought this dress from Banana Republic, but it was much lower cut and drapey (is that a word?) on me. Hollywood fashion tape would have been a necessity and even then it was questionable. I returned it. So . . . don't pick this dress as your favorite!

I saw the horizon line dress online at Anthropologie and went last week to grab it from the store. I couldn't decide on the color (that's where you come in), so I bought both to think it over. I will put my thoughts in the comments so I don't persuade your vote one way or the other. Good news -- it has pockets!!

The first one has a shiny light pink/shell top and a brownish/gray skirt with blue at the bottom. The color is very pretty, but it isn't really showing up well in the pictures. I wanted to take these in the day light, but I didn't get home from work until it was already dark and I didn't want to postpone getting your feedback any longer! (Excuse the tired look too -- I was up until 2:00 a.m. working on a motion.)

The second has a redish/orange top with a black skirt with gray at the bottom.

What color do you like best? Or do you have any other last minute recommendations for a different dress? If you pick the pink/shell one, could you also recommend what color shoes you would wear with it? Thanks!

Blog Anniversary.

Today is the 1 year anniversary of my blog! You can read my first post here. I have enjoyed having an outlet to share my thoughts (some more interesting than others). Frankly, this was probably the worst year to start blogging because this past year has been way busier than normal at work. But it has been nice to have something else to think about during my down time.

Thanks to my readers for stopping by!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Random, but funny.

I randomly came across this video and could not stop laughing (and watching it over and over again). Keep watching until the end. The best part is the reaction of orange kitten that was fighting. I can just imagine him thinking "what the heck?!"

Good Gracious.

The game wasn't pretty, I don't understand what happened the last 30 seconds, and I missed seeing Colt and Jordan work their magic like normal, but Texas won the Big 12 Championship game in a nail-biter. It came down to the last second (literally).

What a great game (I can say that now that it is over, and I have recovered from my 3 heart attacks). Hook 'em horns!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Justin.

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband. He is the best husband in the whole world (even though he is the hardest person to buy for). He got an early present with all the snow Houston had yesterday! And I am hoping UT will win the Big 12 Championship game tonight in honor of Justin's birthday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Early Presents.

So they're not really Christmas presents, but I am very excited about two things.

(1) When I get home from work tomorrow, an electrician will have spent the whole day changing lighting configurations in our kitchen and bathroom. I can't wait to finally share pictures of the changes and new light fixtures previously blogged about here and here.

(2) After a very long and diligent search, I bought a replacement for my everyday purse. It will be sad to see my other bag go, but she lived a good long life. And, let's be serious, this new beauty will make the transition a little easier.

I am off to prepare a response to a ridiculous motion for contempt, do my work self-evaluation that always takes forever, and to change all my stuff over to my new bag.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. In honor of turkey-day, here are 15 things I am thankful for:

1. My terrific husband. No one could ever love me like he does.

2. Riley -- the cutest and sweetest dog in the whole world (who is snuggled right next to me).

3. Our great home. I can't believe we've already lived here for 2 years.

4. My mom. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful mom. (This is our first Thanksgiving apart!)

5. My job. Even though I wish it wasn't so crazy sometimes, I really do love what I do and being challenged each day.

6. My great friends who keep me sane.

And some less "serious" ones:

7. Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper.

8. Taylor Swift's album, Fearless. It has been on repeat in my car for weeks now.

9. Starbuck's tall non-fat no whip 1 pump gingerbread latte.

10. I have been so inspired by the pictures on the site.

11. Ann Taylor's most recent coupon code. Enter the code "turkey" between now and Friday and get 40% off your entire order!

12. Butternut hot chocolate. (I can never find it in the store, but we have it at work.)

13. There is no better time waster!

14. The cheap bar menu at Mockingbird Bistro.

15. Elastic waist pants. I am sure I will be needing them tomorrow. And on that note . . .

I hope everyone has a wonderful thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I need a vacation.

I meticulously worked on a grocery list over the course of the past 2 nights. I even went so far as to type it up and sort the items by aisle (rather than the usual haphazard list on the back of an envelope or other piece of trash found at the bottom of my purse).

I thought having a "nicer" list would help me better deal with the crowds at the store. My version of hell is a crowded supermarket with lots of those extra-large, kid-friendly carts shaped liked cars.

Anywho . . . about 2 hours after making it back from the store, I realized I forgot to get cornbread mix for the corn casserole I am making for Thanksgiving. I then realized I forgot to get corn or any of the other ingredients for the corn casserole. Ugh. I have no clue how I forgot to include those items on the list. The recipe is sitting out in plain sight on the kitchen counter. So much for a well thought out list.

But the good news is, I am planning to work very little over the course of the next 5 days. I left my laptop at the office and brought home only minimal work. I am keeping my fingers crossed things go as planned, and that I get a little bit of a vacation! I have a to-do list a mile long, which includes making up for lost time on the blog. I have been keeping a running list of post ideas, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Under the Weather.

I have been battling the flu and bronchitis for the past 2 weeks.

I hope to be a better blogger soon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Banquet.

We recently had a dinner party at our place. Justin liked to refer to it as a "banquet." Whether it was a banquet, dinner party, or get together, we had lots of good food and wine and even better company.

Justin and Sean planned a delicious menu (with a little assistance from moi):

Tuna tartare with avocado
Figs with goat cheese and almonds

Bacon and corn chowder

Beef tenderloin with a bacon and shallot broth
Fingerling potatoes with creme fraiche and chives
Brazilian cheese bread

Chocolate pots de creme with cherry whipped cream

Here we are with stuffed bellies.

You can read Meagan's recap of the event (and her whole Halloween weekend) here. And since she requested pictures, I aim to please:

Meagan & Jeremy (and baby H)

Sam & Bennett

Me & Justin

Sean (not sure what kind of facial expression this is)

Kevin (clearly winning the award for the best dressed; and no, he doesn't have socks on)

The boys (sans Bennett and Jared)

And last but not least, the girls.

I am saving myself the embarrassment and am not posting pictures on the blog of us playing Wii.