2013 Retrospective

Just like last year, I have created a Videogram via Shutterfly, documenting my adventures throughout the year.  I really love making these.  The craziness of the holiday season tends to force you to live in the moment.  But in making this retrospective video, it encourages me to reflect on all that has happened this year.  This has been a mostly happy year for me, and I am really looking forward to what’s in store for 2014.

Best wishes to you for a very happy 2014!

My favorite time of year!

Hi all!  Sorry again for the extended hiatus.  Life is finally starting to slow down a bit, which is great, as I am in serious need of some down time.

I just wanted to make a quick post to show some fall decorating that has taken place in my house over the past few weeks, in between all the craziness.  This is the first time I get to decorate my new living room, so I am excited to share!  Most of my living room decor focuses on my Boney Bunch collection.  It’s fun to be able to display it in one central location, since for years it was scattered all around the first floor.  The bookshelves are the perfect place for the majority of these pieces.

I realize the lighting is a bit dark (these were taken with my iPhone early one morning, before work), but I think you get the idea.

 

I think my favorite spot in the living room is the console table behind our sofa.  Remember the table runner I made last year?  By the way, the candies in the right-hand bowl are Caramel Apple Milky Ways, which are just as good as they sound.  Mmmmm…

When I was at the Magic Kingdom in early September, I came across this little Ghost Mickey Jim Shore figurine that I just couldn’t resist.  He’s the newest member of my Halloween decor collection.  Again, sorry for the dark pic.

Not really decor, but I could not resist when I saw these at Target…  I’m not really a HUGE soda drinker (at least by comparison to my soda-guzzling husband), so I love that these are tiny cans.  The caramel apple soda is actually delicious.  It kind of tastes like carbonated apple juice with a little something extra.  Tadd picked the blood orange soda…I’m not really a big orange soda fan, but it was okay.  If you like orange soda, you would probably like it.  But I just love the cans.  So cute and festive!

I will be back soon with tales and pictures of where I have been all this time!

Are you getting into the fall/Halloween spirit yet?

Boney Bunch Preview 2013

I know it’s still summer, but who is in the mood for some fall-themed topics???  I know I am!

The first Saturday of August is always the preview event for Yankee Candle’s Boney Bunch collection.  I have attended this event for the past few years and have been collecting Boney Bunch figures for 5 years.  The first year I collected (2009), I really just bought one figure, the pirate seen on the left in this picture:

We were in the process of buying our first house and I knew I would be in some stage of packing/moving during the month of October, so I really didn’t want to invest in much seasonal decor at the time.  But I just couldn’t resist this guy!  He really kicked off my Boney Bunch habit.  At the time I really knew little to nothing about Boneys, and I didn’t get him at the preview…I just happened to be walking by my local Yankee Candle at some point in early September, and he was on a display of Boneys that hadn’t sold out yet at the very front of the store.

2010 was my first year attending the preview.  I think this was my favorite year, because I feel like they were in their heyday of creativity that year.  They had such a variety of items, including several non-candle things.  That was the first year that I got a candy dish promo-with-purchase item, which I LOVED!  I also had to get the adorable salt & pepper shakers.  PLUS as you can see in the photo below, they gave out small jar candles that were Boney Bunch-branded.  I believe the small jar candle was free, and the candy dish was $10 with a $30 purchase.  I wish they still did things like this.

I ended up skipping the preview event in 2011, because I was in the midst of my No Spend August Challenge.  But I was right back to it for 2012.  Last year was the first year they had a kitty Boney, which of course, I love.  They did another kitty figure this year, so I am hoping that they will have a new kitty Boney every year from now on.  I also got the light-up submarine (Tadd’s favorite), and the “Dead and Ferried” rowboat.  I also got another promo-with-purchase candy dish (which you can see in the below pic from last year’s Halloween decorations).

THIS year, the only promo-with-purchase was a generic non-Boney pumpkin plug-in with your choice of scent refill for $5.  It’s definitely cute, and I did buy one (we got the Autumn Leaves scent if you’re curious), but I also thought it was kind of lame.  If I am at the Boney Bunch preview, I want the special promo item to be a Boney item, you know?  I didn’t take a picture, but you can see this year’s preview promo item here.  See what I mean?  Cute, but nothing special.

We also got the “Bone White and the 7 Dwarves” jar holder with a medium jar in Witches’ Brew.  I think this might be my favorite Boney item of ALL time!  It’s SO cute!  I love that Bone White is holding a black apple.  Nice touch!  The jar candle is adorable too.  It’s hard to see, but the candle itself is black glass, and it has all these cute Halloween images in white around it.  Really fun!

We also got the “Bone Dry” tea light holder, which unfortunately broke before we got it home.  We brought it right back to the store and were able to order another one before they sold out (it was already sold out at my store, which is why they had to order one for us), so it should be on its way to us shortly.

And, of course, we HAD to get the kitty tealight holder!

Ever since we adopted our own Halloween black cat, Jacoby, I have been REALLY into black cat Halloween decorations.  Some of you may remember last year when Yankee brought out their black cat collection at Halloween, and I could not resist ordering the tea light holder, because it looked JUST like my Jacoby!

Well, they brought back that same collection this year, and I could NOT resist this little jar clinger after Tadd pointed it out to me.  So this was a total impulse purchase, and not a Boney item, but I love it!

After taking pics, I sadly packed everything back up and put it all away until September.  Because August 3rd is too early, even for me, to start decorating for fall & Halloween!   Soon enough, my pretties!

This totally put me in the fall/Halloween spirit all weekend.  I wore my skull scarf on Saturday, burned one of my more fallish summer candles (Summer Boardwalk by Bath & Body Works…it has a very foody, bakery/cinnamon/caramel/popcorn kind of scent that reminds me more of fall than summer), and let Tadd talk me into buying a Sam Adams Harvest Collection variety pack.  I drank my first pumpkin beer of the season last night!

Are you getting into fall-mode like me?  Or are you holding on to summer a little longer?

Happy Fourth!

Hope all of my American friends had a spectacular 4th of July! We kept it pretty low key early in the day and hung out at home with the kitties.

In the early afternoon, we went down to Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando for Fireworks At The Fountain, where it promptly started storming like crazy. Luckily, Tadd’s office has an awesome view of the lake, and they were kind enough to open for employees and their friends & family. Some friends of ours joined us too. Soon enough the storms passed, it got dark, and the fireworks went off beautifully!

No Bake Banana Split Cake

Hope you had a fabulous weekend!  And a belated happy Easter to those who celebrate.

We had a busy day, starting with exchanging Easter baskets with Tadd…

Followed by a trip over to my Great Aunt’s house for a big family gathering, then a trip to a local park to hang out with some friends.  It was a lovely day.  Gorgeous weather too.

As usual, I contributed one of the desserts to the family Easter meal.  This time I decided to make something that my mom used to make when I was growing up.  She passed the recipe onto me, and whenever I make it, it’s always a HUGE hit.  It’s a great warm weather recipe, because it doesn’t require use of the oven.

No Bake Banana Split Cake

12-oz box vanilla wafers (ignore the fact that there are 2 boxes in this pic)

2 sticks butter

1 brick cream cheese

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

20-oz can of crushed pineapples

5 or 6 bananas

1 tub of whipped topping

a handful or two of chopped walnuts

12 or so maraschino cherries

The first step is Tadd’s favorite part…Crush the vanilla wafers (click the link for an amazing demonstration of this important step)!  Melt the butter and combine with the crushed wafers.  Press evenly into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

Mix the cream cheese and sugar until it has a creamy, frosting-like consistency.  Spread over the vanilla wafer crust.

Drain the pineapples and spoon in an even layer over the cream cheese.   Slice the bananas and place on top of the pineapple layer.

Spread the whipped topping over the bananas, and then sprinkle with chopped walnuts, and top with cherries.  Viola!

When I say it was a hit…Some people had seconds and I know of at least one person who had thirds.  I have zero leftovers.  People just love this stuff.  Give it a try!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Unfortunately, my life is still somewhat askew and the car situation is STILL not rectified.  So we STILL have been unable to make the car purchase I talked about previously.  But we made a huge step in the right direction today, and by this time next week, it will all be in the past.  Fingers crossed!

I did want to make note of the fact that today is a special milestone.  Today marks 10 years since Tadd asked me to be his wife!  As you can see from this pic from our engagement photo shoot, we were babies!  Well, I was 21, Tadd was 22, so practically babies…

We celebrated last weekend with a trip to Lakeridge Winery in the beautiful hills of Clermont, where we purchased a few bottles of wine, including a bottle of Pink Crescendo, a sparkling rose that we are drinking tonight…

Followed by a delicious dinner at  Yachtman’s Steakhouse in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.  I’m not really much of a steak eater, but Tadd LOVED his NY Strip.  We got the truffled mac & cheese as a shared side and WOW!  Easily the best mac & cheese I have ever had.  I told Tadd next time we go, I will order a side of truffled mac & cheese, and a side of roasted Brussels sprouts and call it a night!  Delicious food!

Hope your Valentine’s Day is full of love and happiness, however you choose to celebrate!

What I Did On My Winter Vacation…

It’s 2013 and I’m back!  Although I managed to conclude my 10-day vacation with a plague of sorts, so I have not been functioning as fully as I would like to be over the past couple of days.  It’s making the return to regular daily post-holiday and post-vacation life a little difficult.

I thought I would share just a little bit of what I did with my time off.  With a little star-alignment, serendipity, and good planning, I managed to secure 10 (TEN!) consecutive days off of work.  So from 4:30ish PM on Friday, December 28th through 7:30ish AM on Tuesday, January 8th, I was on VACATION!

My first three nights were spent at home, cleaning, packing, running pre-vacation errands, etc.  Saturday night, Tadd and I went down to Downtown Disney for a date night (and renewed our annual passes too!).  Got to eat at my favorite Raglan Road, and saw Les Mis (which instantly made me a HUGE Anne Hathaway fan, as you might have seen that night if you follow me on twitter).

NYE was spent at home with our traveling companions.  They spent the night, since we were heading to Fort Lauderdale in the morning.  It was a wild night, let me tell you.

Yeah, not really!  We were all in bed by around 1.  Up early the next morning to load the car and head off on a mini road trip!  We spent the next 2 nights in Fort Lauderdale, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66.  Fun place!  It’s right on the water, and has its own marina.  Being around marinas and boats made it very easy to quickly slip into vacation mode (which was the whole idea).  These helped too:

Our second day, we took an airboat ride into the Florida Everglades.  I have lived in Florida for over 22 years and had never been to the Everglades!  Now I can say I have, although we were only on the very outskirts.  We did see some gators, and a few other creatures.  The weather was beautiful and we had a blast.

The next morning, we drove a little further south to Miami, where our cruise ship awaited (and it was still decorated for Christmas too!).  The next four nights were spent on the Carnival Destiny.

We were supposed to stop in Key West, but due to one of the crew members having a medical emergency, we had to turn back to Miami the first night and ended up missing Key West.  But we got an extra day at sea, and they managed to get us almost twice the amount of time they had planned in Cozumel the next day.  While in Cozumel, Tadd and I got to return to one of our favorite places, the Mayan ruins at Tulum.  How gorgeous is this place?

That photo above is now my desktop background.  Ahhh…

All too soon, the cruise was over and it was back to the real world.  Unfortunately, it was in the drive back from Miami to Orlando that I realized I was sick.  So my transition back to reality was rather harsh.  Luckily, I had something to look forward to right away.  One of my Christmas gifts from my parents was a pair of tickets to see the traveling Broadway production of Mary Poppins.  We went last night, and although I was still slightly under the weather, I really enjoyed it.  Special effects on TV and at the movies are cool, but special effects during a Broadway production are SO much better.  Loved the costumes and sets too (the way they moved around and changed the Banks’ house from scene to scene was just amazing)!  And of course, the songs.  So many great ones.  I have had “Feed the Birds” stuck in my head all day.  Love it!  Even Tadd enjoyed himself more than he thought he would.

So that brings me pretty much up to date.  I plan on sharing more pics from my adventures soon, so stay tuned!

Wishing You a Happy New Year

I will be away from the blog for a few days, but I thought I would post one last message for the year before signing off.  I hope to have lots to share when I get back!

2012 has been an amazing year for me and Tadd, and I decided I wanted to make a keepsake of all of the happy times I shared with friends and family over the past year.  I decided to try out Shutterfly’s Videogram feature.  You basically select a group of photos or video clips, choose a display style and music, and it puts together a really cute video slideshow for you.  Once the video is to your liking, you can purchase the digital file in one of 3 different resolution types.  I chose the middle option for $4.99 and think it was well worth the price.  I was able to save the video file to my laptop, share it on Facebook, and post it to YouTube.  So far everyone has loved it, and I told Tadd that it would be fun to do one of these each year.

Wishing you all a very happy new year!  Here’s to 2013!  See you next year!!!

P.S. Above opinions regarding Shutterfly and their Videogram product are 100% my own.  Not being compensated in any way.

Pretzel turtles and a bow wristlet!

Wanted to share two quick last-minute Christmas projects with you before I return to my pre-holiday to-do list!

This idea can be found in about five zillion versions on five zillion blogs and Pinterest pins.  I used this version from thehungryhousewife.com.  All you need are mini preztels (the waffle shapes or the traditional twists), Rolo candies, and halved pecans.

Toast the pecans for 7 minutes in a 350F oven.  In the meantime, lay out your pretzels on a foil-lined baking sheet and top them with the Rolos.  Stick the Rolo-topped pretzels in the oven for 5 or so minutes, then smoosh a pecan half on top of each melty Rolo.  Viola!

I was worried that they would stick to the foil, but I put them in the fridge to firm up overnight, and this morning, they popped right off of the baking sheet.

Can’t get much more effortless than that.  I have seen other versions using Hershey Kisses (the white chocolate candy cane ones work great) topped with red and green M&Ms.

Second project is a sewing project.  I wanted to make something special for a relative that will be in town for Christmas, so I decided to make her a wristlet.  But I wanted to do something different from the wristlets I have done in the past.  I found this tutorial from elmstreetlife.com, and decided to make it my own by using natural linen for the body, and one of my favorite quilting cotton fat quarters (beefed up with some medium-weight interfacing) to give a two-toned look.  I really love the size of this wristlet.  I might have to make one for myself.  I hope she likes her gift.

And with that, I am signing off until later this week.  Off to make my cheesecake and finish cleaning the house!