Monday, December 31, 2012

My Favorite Posts of 2012

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Happy Monday!!!

It's New Year's Eve, and today I'm reflecting back on my favorite posts over the last three months of blogging.

Drum roll please....

#5 My Nursery Crafts Post:

This was only the second blog post that I wrote back in September!  Jen, from Migonis Home was so sweet to feature it on her blog.

#4:  The Laundry Room Reveal

This organized space is so much more functional now!  This laundry room also got a feature on IHeart Organizing!

#3:  My Front Door Make-Over!

This made my house feel so much more "me"!

#2:  The DIY Square Boxwood Wreath

This beauty is staying out all year!  It also got featured on Centsational Girl!

#1:  Miss L's "Vintage Cupcake" First Birthday Party

This post easily takes the #1 spot as my favorite post.  My little girl turned one, and we threw the sweetest party to celebrate!
I feel so lucky to have been featured on some really awesome blogs this year.  IHeart Organizing!?  Centsational Girl!?  Migonis Home!?  These have been some of my favorite blogs for years, and I never thought I'd be lucky enough to be featured on them! 
When I started blogging in September, I didn't know if anybody many people would really read my blog. I have been thrilled by the number of pageviews, followers, e-mail subscribers, Facebook "likes" and Pinterest pins I've racked up in just a few short months.  Each time somebody clicks "follow" I do a happy dance. (Seriously!)  Thank you so much for reading my blog and showing your support, it really means a lot! :)
I hope you have a great (and safe) night tonight!  Mr. Hoff and I have some fancy shmancy dinner plans...It will be so nice to dress up and go out!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Twas the Day After Christmas...

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Happy Day-After-Christmas!
I'm excited to be featured on one of my favorite blogs today, IHeart Organizing!  Jen is kind enough to be featuring our laundry room re-do.
If you are visiting from IHeart today, welcome! I hope you come back and visit my little blog often! :)

Well, I don't know about you, but my house is looking pretty cuh-razy today.  Miss L's new toys are scattered everywhere, and we still have the last of the dishes in the sink from yesterday's dinner...yikes!  We made a very last minute call to have Christmas with my family at our house, (plumbing issues at my parents house = last minute switcheroo)!

We were totally up for the challenge, and actually had fun throwing together a holiday table setting.
I got these red wine glasses at Target during a post-Christmas sale a few years ago.  The napkins were also a Tar-jay purchase a few years ago. 

I pulled out some gray and white chevron ribbon and double-sided tape to create some cute napkin rings!  It was a good way to pull in some of the room's colors.

I didn't have time to switch up the centerpiece, so I just went with the naturally-fake one I made last week.  I alternated snowflake votive candle holders with glass votive holders filled with small ornaments around the base of the centerpiece!

I think we pulled it off!  The table looked great, the food was delicious, and the company was top-notch! :) 

Even though it wasn't technically Miss L's first Christmas, it sure felt like it was! She was so much fun this year!  She loves all of her new toys, and, to be honest, I'm happy to have some new ones to look at too!
It actually took her a few minutes to notice that there were presents under the tree, but when she did, she went right to them!

New blocks!  Miss L is very good at knocking them down, we're still working on the stacking them up part...

 Stay safe out there!  We're getting a lot of snow here in Indiana today, woohoo!

  I'm taking the rest of the week off from blogging to get my holiday decor down and hang out with the fam!

Have a good week! :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Crafts & Decor Roundup! + A Dramatic Retelling of Recent Events

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I think I can officially say that I'm done with my holiday crafting and decorating.  I guess I should never say never, but I wanted to sum up my season in one post:
1.  It all started with my Front Door Holiday Decor seems like only yesterday.
2.  The Pretty Painted Pine Cones were so easy and versatile!
3.  The 20-Minute Burlap Banner was the easiest project ever!
4.  My DIY Square Boxwood Wreath with Burlap Bow was a hit! I can't believe I was featured on Centsational Girl for this one! Still pinching myself!
5.  Cute little reindeer feet!  The perfect holiday gift from Miss L to her family members!
6.  Cheap and easy gift card envelopes!  Love these!
7.  My first baking experience was a total success with these Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms!
11.  My holiday vignette, which I linked up to about a million link-up parties!
 And now, I have a terrible story to tell you. 
 I wanted to end this post with a picture of my darling baby sitting on Santa's lap.  Fate would not have it though.  You see, last Tuesday, I got her dolled up, we loaded her into the car, and drove her to Santa's Chalet.
Her father waited patiently in line, while Miss L and I dawdled carelessly snapping pictures of her while she wandered around in her puffy pink coat sucking on her pacifier.
The line got shorter, so Miss L and I joined Mr. Hoff...our big moment approaching.
I got out my camera to get my flash adjusted, fix my settings, etc., BUT THE BATTERY WAS DEAD.
Yes.  You read that correctly. I would not make this up.
The lady behind us very kindly offered us her camera.  We gratefully accepted and gave her our email addresses so that she could send the pictures to us.  We snapped some pretty darn hilarious pictures of our terrified toddler screaming her head off on Santa's lap, returned the camera, and waited.
We are still waiting....
I will keep you updated.  We may end up going back to the Chalet on Saturday if we haven't gotten the pictures.  I cannot let this Christmas go by without a picture of her on Santa's lap. 
Sorry, Mr. Hoff.

A Naturally Fake Centerpiece

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I was on a mission yesterday to put together a cute centerpiece for my table. I wanted to incorporate natural elements like fake apples, fake cherries, and fake greenery. This is the most naturally fake centerpiece you'll see out there... Or the fakest natural centerpiece...? 
 On my first attempt I used this glass footed serving bowl.  I liked it, but it was nearly impossible to make it look balanced and nice from every angle.  I kept rearranging and tweaking, but I couldn't really make it just right. 
I think my second attempt was more successful.  I used my footed milk glass bowl and the same "natural" elements.
Milk glass + natural elements = perfection.
The milk glass really goes well with the rest of my milk glass collection, which has played a major role in my holiday decorating this year.
It is worth noting that the greenery is from some old garland that I'm not using anymore.  I simply snipped off some of the branches. 
To finish off my "fake" themed day I watched the first half of the Miss Universe Pageant before I switched over to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills...(I don't know if I should be embarrassed right now or not.)  :)
Have a good Thursday!

The 36th AVENUE

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Decor Around the House...

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I'm taking a rather simple approach to holiday decorating this year (and every year for that matter).  You won't find every holiday decoration I own out on display.  I tend to pick and choose which items I want to use each year, then throw the rest of them back in the boxes.
There's nothing wrong with going a little crazy holiday decorating.  In fact, I think it's the one time of year you can get away with it.  Maybe one year I'll just go nuts and make my house a Christmas wonderland!
Here are some of the decorations you'll find around my house:
I know I've already shown you the vignette, but isn't it worth repeating? :)
These pink and green blinged out trees are in Miss L's room.  I bought them last year in November, while still pregnant, from Hobby Lobby.  I knew my little girl's bedroom would not go without stylin' holiday decor.  She loves them!  I usually find her pointing at them whens he wakes up from her naps, which I take as a good thing.
I put this little combo together and stuck it in my kitchen.  I've had some of these items forever, like the rustic tin containter.  Others, like the blue basket, are brand spankin' new.

Cute little wreath hanging in front of my fave Ballard mirror. 

I added these ornaments to the lids of my glass vases.  Cute little touch!

Simple wreaths hanging in windows.  Replacing those boring window treatments is on my short-term to-do list.  I'm thinking bamboo roman shades...hmmm (that's me thinking about it some more).
I love the mantel.  So clean and crisp with some pops of red...perfection!

Notice I didn't post a picture of the tree?  It's because it's pathetic (and the bottom half is in a constant state of disarray due to a little pair of hands that keep pulling ornaments off of it).  I don't even own a tree topper.  Isn't that ridiculous?  I know.  I know.  I really must do better with the tree next year.
Do you recognize these evergreen designs from our December issue? We've turned them into pretty Christmas cards and gift tags!

Download them for free here >>
I found some cute (and free) gift tags and holiday card printables from Better Homes and Gardens yesterday. 
Have a good day! :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Neighbor Gifts

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Happy Monday!  In ONE WEEK it will be Christmas Eve!?!

I need to get my neighbor gifts delivered before time runs out!  I am gifting my Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms this year, and presentation is half the gift, don't you think?

I picked up these used cookie tins at Goodwill for 25 cents each.  I ran them through the dishwasher and spray painted the exterior "Blue Ocean Breeze" by Krylon.  I wasn't really sure what I was going to do to decorate them, but when I found the large sparkly bows at the Dollar Tree, I knew it would be perfect!
An inexpensive but great looking (and tasting) gift! 

One more little nugget that I am SO EXCITED ABOUT!  My square boxwood wreath tutorial was featured yesterday on Centsational Girl's Christmas Craft Party Highlights.  I nearly squealed and jumped up and down with excitement.  Kate is kindofabigdeal in the home decor blogging world!

I couldn't end this post without expressing my deep sorrow to those affected by the events that unfolded in Newtown, CT.  Like all of you, I was horrified by the news on Friday. As a parent, I'm trying to understand what this means for the world I'm bringing my little girl into.  I've never been prouder to call myself a teacher though.  The bravery of the staff and teachers was unbelievable.

Have a good day.

The 36th AVENUE

Friday, December 14, 2012

Adventures in Baking: Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms

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Would you judge me if I told you that this cookie baking experience was my first? 
That's ok, I'm going to tell you about it anyway!
Let me further explain.  I have made cookies from pre-made dough lots of times.  I might have made cookies from scratch when I was a little kid, but not that I remember.  So, I'm counting this as my first time!   
Here is the recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms, which I found on Bake at 350 via Pinterest.

1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark Dutched cocoa flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup ( 1 stick) salted butter, sliced into chunks
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Hershey's kisses

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and extracts, beating until combined.

Gradually, add the flour mixture, beating on low just until combined.  The mixture will be very sticky.  (This step is where my arms got sore!)

Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Use a spoon to scoop dough onto the prepared cookie sheets.  Place the powdered sugar on a plate.

Gently roll each ball of dough through the powdered sugar until coated and place on the cookie sheet.
Bake for 12-16 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Unwrap kisses while the cookies bake.

Remove from the oven and immediately press a Hershey's kiss on top of each hot cookie.  Let cookies sit on the sheet for 1-2 minutes, then remove to a wire cooling rack until cooled completely.

I learned a few things as I went that I will find helpful in my future baking endeavors:
1) It takes muscles! My arms got tired from stirring and mixing and stirring and mixing.
2)  Figure out what "creaming" the butter and sugar means before you begin. I had to let the butter get to room temperature for an hour before I could start.
3) Listening to holiday music while making the cookies makes them taste their best!

I had a lot of fun making these delicious holiday treats!  I think I'll deliver some to my neighbors today...I don't trust myself home alone with them!
Have a good weekend! :)

The 36th AVENUE

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DIY Gift Card Envelopes

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Have you ever read the Love Languages book?  I have.  I think my primary love language is "acts of service".  In other words, Mr. Hoff if you help me out around the house, I will love you forever. :)
My love language is definitely not receiving gifts.  If my husband gave me a piece of jewelery, I'd want to return it to get a new counter top or a nice piece of furniture...
This may be the reason why I stink at giving gifts. I don't know what people want, and I would love to give them a gift card so that they can be very happy.  Happier than they would be if I tried to pick out a gift for them.

Sorry, it's just how I feel.  I can't help it.
You know what I can do though?  I can make you a super-cute gift card envelope to make your gift card more personal.
I downloaded this handy gift card envelope template here.
1.  My goal was not to spend any money on this project, so I only used materials I already had including this scrap booking paper.
2.  I traced the template onto the paper.
3.  I used a ruler to mark straight lines where I would need to fold.  Then I used a scoring tool to make the folds nice and neat.
4.  I dabbed hot glue along the folded edges, then closed the envelope up. 
The decorating of the envelopes just kind of came to me while I was looking at all of my embellishments.  There's no wrong way to decorate them!
 Cuties!  I think my favorite is the reindeer.  He looks a little loopy with those googley eyes.  I know just who's gift card to put in there...kidding. :)
Have a good Tuesday!

Monday, December 10, 2012

My First Attempt at Printables + SNC Concert

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Happy Monday!  Did you have a good weekend?  I hope so! 

I am coming to the realization that after Christmas is over Miss L is going to have a LOT of new toys.  While having a lot of new toys is a good thing, I'm already trying to figure out how we're going to organize all of these new toys after Santa drops them off.  I have nothing against toys, but I don't want them invading every inch of my house, so we're going to need to figure out an organization solution!

Miss L has two closets in her room.  One currently holds all of her clothes, shoes, accessories, etc.  The other isn't really being utilized to it's fullest potential.  My plan is to install shelving in this second closet.  On the shelving will be labeled tubs for her toys.  The details of this project are not really thought out yet, but, believe me, you'll get the scoop on how it all comes together!  For now I've been playing with to create cute labels for the tubs! 

Pictures were added to the labels because when Miss L gets a little older, I want her to be able to participate in the cleaning up of her toys.  I also want to emphasize the importance of keeping things organized and in their place.  That's just how I roll.

Here is my first attempt to share printables....

Click here to download this label sheet.

Click here to download this label sheet.
Click here to download this label sheet.

In other news...

My mom and I went down to Indianapolis this weekend.  We met up with my sister and her boyfriend's mom for dinner and a Straight No Chaser concert.

Have you heard of Straight No Chaser? 
This amazing 10-man a cappella group got their start at Indiana University (holla!!)!
I went to several of their concerts during my time at IU, and they would often perform at my sorority's Mom's Weekend brunches...Can you imagine all of us girls and our moms all googly-eyed chewing french toast as these guys would serenade us? 
Aaaannnyyyway, in 2008 SNC recorded Holiday Spirits, which peaked at #46 on the U.S. Billboard 200.  (Ahem, can you tell I've been doing my Wikipedia research?)  Then another holiday album, Christmas Cheers in 2009.  
We're so proud and excited when we see them on TV (they'll be on the Today Show on December 21st!) or hear them on the radio or, in my case, Pandora. :)

Have a good day! :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

You Might Have a Problem If...

Pin It You might have a problem if you can't leave your mantel alone for more than a couple of days before redoing it...

I linked my mantel up to The Lettered Cottage's mantel link up party the other day.  I loved all of the mantel chalkboard loveliness that I saw, so, even though I just put my mantel together, I redid it to include a chalkboard. I really like it!
You know I love any excuse to bust out my milk glass!  All of these milk glass pieces came from Goodwill!  The boxwood garland is from JoAnn. (I wrapped two pieces around each other to make it nice and thick.)  The trees are from Wally World (about 3 years ago!)  The chalkboard is Home Goods, the stockings are PBK (the second stocking is currently the dog's stocking...she gets it until there is another kiddo around here).  The JOY pillow is from Kohls this year.

I think I'm just excited to have a beautiful mantel...Remember just two short weeks ago, it looked like this:

I'm linking the new mantel up to Ten June's Link Up Party today!  Check it out! :)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Before and After Shots!

Pin It It never really ceases to amaze me how much paint can completely change not only the look, but the personality and overall mood of a space.  If I were to describe our house before the walls and trim got a paint job, it would be:  dated, tired, and boooring.  Now, as you will see, it's fresh, crisp, and  It's also quite festive with all of the holiday decorating I've been doing!

Ok, so here is the living room:
And after:
And after:
The entryway: 


Aaaaannnnd after:

The Eating Area:

And after:

The kitchen:
Yes, that is Miss L eating her breakfast and the dog at her post waiting for some toast to be dropped. I wish I had taken some pictures before we replaced the light fixtures...the brass fixtures that used to be hanging in these areas were very....brass.  The curtains that used to be haning here were....cuh-razy.
That's all folks!  I'm a hap-hap-happy girl since this big job got finished! There's still much to do, but it feels like we're getting there! :)
Have a great day!

The Lettered Cottage