Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Day in the Life of an Elf

One of my favorite traditions during the holidays is going to the Macy's 8th floor exhibit in downtown Minneapolis. They have been doing their 8th floor display for years and years, I can remember going there when I was just a wee kid!

The past few years, the exhibit has stayed the same (instead of changing it out every year like they used to). The exhibit is called "A Day in the Life of an Elf." It features miniature scenes of elves as they work and play in preparation for Christmas. You'll have to excuse the poor-quality cell phone pictures, but I wanted to share a few pictures so you can see how cute it is!

There's a forest of singing trees, who move and dance in rhythm to their Christmas carols. 

There's a bakery complete with oodles of delicious looking treats! 

Scenes depicting the snowy outdoors, as well as cozy elves tucked into their beds for the night.

We always have so much fun going to the 8th floor, and it's totally free! If you have kiddos, there's even an opportunity to get portraits with Santa at the end. So, if you are in the Minneapolis area this Christmas season I would highly recommend checking it out. It's fun for kids and adults alike! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


 This Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks to God for so many wonderful blessings!

  • A wonderful husband who loves me 
  • A warm, comfortable home to live in
  • Family that I love spending time with
  • Friends who encourage and laugh with me
  • A job that I adore
  • The many opportunities that God provides 
There's just so much to be thankful for, I can't even list them all. But, at least it's a start!

Today, I will be busy baking 2 apple pies for Thanksgiving with my Mom's family, preparing the delicious and heart-attack-inducing mashed potatoes for Friday's celebration with Josh's family, and making a special pre-Thanksgiving dinner for my hubby. We like to celebrate before each holiday by having a sit-down meal together (that doesn't involve watching Warehouse 13 on SyFy...) and enjoying a little at-home date!

What are you thankful for this season?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Glittery Wonderland

Here's a fun little craft idea for everyone who wants to get a head start on their Christmas decorating! The little vignette above was made using some cheap plastic toys, paint, glue, and glitter. Total, it cost me under $5 to make! Plus, it's a really fun (and easy) project to work on while you sip some hot chocolate and watch a Christmas-y flick!

The supplies you need are:
  • Plastic animal toys and trees (I found mine in the toy section at Wal-Mart for $3)
  • A small, plain wooden plaque (JoAnne fabrics, about $2)
  • Craft paint (I use acrylic craft paint)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Tacky glue (I love Aleene's, it's great!)
  • Glitter

The toy set I found had some little plastic trees in it already, which were perfect! I used a wooden plaque (like the one pictured above, but smaller) that I already had on hand. It's about 4'' wide, the perfect size to fit 5 little trees and 2 sheep!

I painted the animals first, with about 3 coats of metallic paint. Then I coated the plaque with a cream colored acrylic paint, and accented the sides with a pearly paint in the same shade. I also used a snowflake stencil to make some pearly snowflakes on the top just for fun!

The trees were super easy to make, I used a small paintbrush to paint on some tacky glue and then dipped them in glitter. Instant transformation! Once everything was dry, I used a hot glue gun to adhere them to the surface of the plaque.

I really love how this little Glittery Wonderland turned out. It reminds me of the vintage decorations that I sometimes see! The picture below will give you a better idea of the size, it's pretty tiny.

Have you started on your Christmas decorations yet?

I'm linking up to Sew Woodsy- head on over there to check out some more awesome craft ideas!  
Also linking to CentsationalGirl and these other fabulous parties:

The Girl Creative

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Funny Story...

2 posts in 1 day? Crazy, right?  I was going to wait and post this later on this week, but I'm just too excited and I have to publish it right away. =) So here's the story...

When I first started college as a music major in the Fall of 2003, Melissa was one of the first people I met and became friends with. We had music theory together, at 8:00 am Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. She lived one hall away from me in the dorms, so we would meet every morning and walk to class together.

Throughout college, Melissa and I stayed friends. We had the same voice teacher, same major, and many of the same classes! We even sang in 2 Opera Workshop productions together.

After we graduated, we kept in touch and would hang out occasionally (not enough, of course!). Finally, after being friends for about 8 years, I thought that maybe *just maybe* Melissa would be a good fit for my brother, Iain. So, I invited her over to our place for an informal gathering which my brother just happened to be attending as well.

That was in June.

2 weekends ago, Iain got down on one knee and asked Melissa to marry him.

I can't believe how amazing God is, and I'm so happy to have a sister-in-law who is also a dear friend. Their wedding is set for the 1st weekend in May (I'm a bridesmaid! woohoo!), and I couldn't be happier for them. Iain is so blessed to have Melissa, and she is definitely a lucky girl. Life is pretty crazy, right? 

It's beginning to look a lot like...

This weekend before Thanksgiving was filled to the brim! Looking back, I can't believe how much we fit into 3 short days (I'm counting Friday, since I don't usually work on Fridays!).

I went to the French bakery again (this makes the 5th visit in 2 months... hehe!) with Elsie, my not-so-little sister. 

We sipped coffee, nibbled on eclairs and pastries, and just spent some wonderful sister time together. Elsie is flying to Ohio on Tuesday to visit her boyfriend for Thanksgiving. I'm sad she won't be with us, but so glad that they will be reunited after 2 whole months apart!

Friday night, we got together with a bunch of friends for a "Dominion" tournament, complete with scratch-off tickets and prizes. I may or may not have beat a table full of die-hard Dominion players... It was pretty fun!

Saturday, my soon-to-be sister in law, Melissa, came over and we had a day full of Christmas crafting! We watched sappy movies, sipped hot chocolate, and even got the weather to cooperate! 

Josh brought my car to the tire store to get 2 new tires, since my old ones were starting to wear really thin (not a good thing for Minnesota winters!). He came back with the adorable milk-glass bud vases/candle holders. I can't really decide what they are for sure, but I know they are adorable and will fit into my collection perfectly!

On Sunday, we went to church, did a bunch of Christmas shopping, and then ended the evening by having dinner with some dear friends. It really was a wonderfully full weekend!

So what did you do this weekend?

P.S. Here's a little teaser for a couple of posts I have planning for the week. Stay tuned to hear about how I transformed these $3 plastic animals into the perfect Christmas decoration (tomorrow!), and then later on I will be sharing the story of how my brother met his soon-to-be wife (it's pretty fantastic, and I actually had a part in it! hehe!).

P.P.S. I can't believe it, I finally hit 100 followers! How exciting! My aim in blogging is not to gain followers, but to really connect with other bloggers and share ideas and such, but even so, it's an exciting milestone! =)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Burlap + Gold

I love unexpected combinations. Especially for holiday decorations, where things can easily careen into "gaudy" territory with all the glitter and stuff. Don't get me wrong, I love me some glitter! But, I think it's good to balance those things out.

I saw a magazine article recently (I can't remember which one- it was in a doctor's office!) that had a burlap table runner with gold stripes. I thought immediately "I could make that!" And so I set out to JoAnne Fabrics to gather supplies. I found some burlap fabric in the remnant section for only $1.50! It was less than a yard, but still perfect for what I needed. 

Using the lines of the fabric as a guide, I cut the fabric into two equal length runners. You can make them whatever size you want! Then, I peeled back about 4 rows or so to get a nice fringe around each side.

Then, I made a stripe going down each side using painters tape, and slid some sheets of paper underneath to protect the carpet.

I used some paint that I found at JoAnnes. It's normally used for less porous surfaces, but it had the sheen that I wanted so I thought I would give it a try! It's gold with a bit of silver mixed in called "Champagne Gold." I just can't decide whether to go with the gold or silver as an accent color, so I thought this would be a good mix!

Next, I used a foam brush intended for stenciling to dab paint down each line. Make sure to press the tape down well so you get a clean line!

After letting it dry overnight, I now have a brand new table runner that will work for the whole holiday season, and beyond!


I love the subtle shimmer of the gold. It's not overwhelming or gaudy, but it's the perfect accent to the rugged look and feel of burlap.

So I guess my holiday decorating has officially begun! No Christmas lights yet, but they will be coming soon. Have you started decorating for the holidays yet?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Procrastinator Extraordinaire

Do you ever put off doing things because you worry they will be too expensive? I do this ALL the time. And the silly thing is, my assumptions about cost are not based on fact, they are based on this idea I have in my head that life is just so darn expensive.

So, we had 2 things that we were putting off for a while: getting my engagement ring and wedding band soldered together, and buying the subway tile for our backsplash.

For the jewelery work, I was assuming it would be like $150. Again, not based on fact, but on my own ridiculous expectations. Finally, I talked to my aunt (who works at a jeweler) and she said that for soldering it's usually only $35 to $50. What? I could have done that 2 years ago!

Sure enough, I brought the rings to my jeweler and it was $70 to have them soldered and have the rhodium reapplied. They feel much more secure now on my finger, and plus they look all pretty and shiny!

We also got a big shock when we went to purchase the subway tile for our kitchen backsplash. Once again I was assuming it would be upwards of $150 since we want tile from the countertops all the way to the bottom of the cupboards. Guess how much it ended up costing?


Yup, $60 for the tile, the grout, and several accessories. We already had a wet saw and mortar, but we were shocked when our total rang up.

So, through all this I have learned a very valuable lesson. From now on, instead of procrastinating on doing things that need to be done because of money concerns, I will go ahead and price things out right away! 

What about you? Have you left any projects undone because of finances?

Monday, November 14, 2011

T(urkey) Minus 11 Days!

Sorry for the blurry photo- but it was taken with my cell phone as I drove by this house that had a giant rooster on their front lawn. I spotted it while I was on my way to work one day, and had to go back and take a photo because it made me giggle. I thought maybe you all might appreciate a little laugh. Unless of course you also have a giant rooster in your yard, in which case I apologize profusely. But really, maybe it's time to rethink your lawn decor... =)

I also thought the giant fowl was appropriate, considering that Thanksgiving is only 11 days from now (counting today)! Can you believe how fast it's coming this year? What are your plans?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Busy Little Bee

This week, I feel like a busy little bee buzzing all over the place. Between prepping for and teaching lessons, trying to cook dinner every night, keeping the house somewhat tidy, getting myself dressed every day (what, you don't have trouble with that?) and practicing for an audition on Saturday, I'm feeling a bit stressed.

I was hoping to publish another outfit post today, but that will have to wait because somehow in the busy-ness I forgot to take photos.

So instead, I thought I would talk a little bit about how I handle stress. You see, I didn't used to handle it very well. In fact, a little over a year ago I had to go see a psychologist who recommended medication for my anxiety issues. That was kind of a big surprise to me, I didn't realize my anxiety was that big of a deal. Then again, I was having panic attacks on a regular basis which were what caused me to see a doctor in the first place.

Well, I didn't want to start taking medication, so I decided instead to really focus on alleviating unnecessary stress. Part of that plan was to quit my 40+ hour a week job to start teaching music, something I am thankful for on a daily basis. Doing what I love to do, instead of spending 50 hours a week working and commuting at a job that was a bad fit for me, is an automatic de-stresser. When I was working full-time, I was still teaching voice on the side and taking lessons myself to keep up and it was just getting to be too much.

In addition, I started using my planner again to keep track of everything, learning to say "no" to certain things (anyone else have a hard time with that?), spending time daily in God's word, and taking time to get the right amount of sleep every night. Even though I still deal with stress on a regular basis, it's definitely to a much lesser extent. I feel like a different person. I haven't had a panic attack in over a year, praise the Lord!

When I notice my stress levels creeping up, it's usually due to one of those issues. So I go back and look at what I did wrong- do I really need to hang out with friends 3 days in a row? Can I move one to the next week? I know, it's a rough life. =) But I tend to over-commit to things that are important to me; family, work, church, friendships, music events.

How about you? Are you a high-stress person, or do you handle life in a stride? I would love to hear your comments and thoughts on dealing with stress. One of my biggest tips? Grab a cup of decaf chai, and take a few minutes to sip some tea and breathe deeply. Instant calm-in-a-cup!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thrifty Finds

I come bringing tidings of yet another great thrifting experience! Every once in a while, I just seem to hit the jackpot! Have any of you other thrifters out there noticed this phenomenon? You can go 50 times and only find one thing, then suddenly you find yourself actually looking for a shopping cart... Gotta love it!

The blue mason jar was actually found this Summer at a garage-sale, but I just had to post a picture of it's prettiness. It was in a big collection of canning supplies that my MIL stumbled upon, and of course when I saw this I couldn't hide my envy, so she gave it to me. I have the best Mother-In-Law ever! =)

But ahem, on to the thrifting finds. First up, I found another tile-trivet to add to my growing collection. I have 2 smaller ones that are similar colors, and they are really versatile! I use them for setting plants on, for decoration, hot pans, so many things!

Next, I finally found a chair for the desk in our 2nd bedroom. I've been waiting for the perfect one, and I finally found this for only $3.99. Yup. I think it may be from IKEA. I plan to paint it and the desk someday for a matching pair.

I also found this interesting painting- it is hand-painted on a wooden plaque, with a cool, scrolly metal hanger at the top. I can't decide where to put it quite yet, but I think it would work in pretty much any room of our house!

Finally, I found a fun hounds-tooth skirt that I plan to refashion soon... Hopefully by the end of the week.

I also found a couple of sweaters, but I may be returning them. I think I was a little too greedy in my thrifting... Have you found any fun things while thrifting lately? I would love to hear all about it!


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