Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Facebook Timeline

sooo....has anyone else made the big change yet?

you've heard the rumors that Facebook will soon be transitioning everyone's profiles to the "timeline" format, right? i saw a presentation this fall introducing it and it reminds me of a comprehensive scrapbook your stalker-ish aunt suzy compiled for you since 3 years before your birth. but in the sweetest, most well-intentioned, innocent way.

well, if you're Type A like me, you want to be in control of that transition. those other folks can just let it happen to them, but not me. no sirree. nuh-uh.

though Facebook will be rolling it out over the next week or two, you can go ahead and update your profile to the timeline format now. it's super easy to do, but be warned that Type-Aers may lose a few hours making sure everything is just so. perfect. accurate. stalk your friends to make sure their timelines are accurate. i mean, what kind of friend has a sloppy timeline? geez.

want it? yeah, ya do. here's a super easy guide from mashable to get you to it. may the timeline be with you. once you set it up, you have 7 days before it goes live. this gives you time to perfect it. (as if you wouldn't do that in one sitting.)

 not sure what i'm talking about? well, Facebook is changing the way everyone views you. it will basically chronicle your life based on info you've provided, photos your friends have tagged you in along the way, places you've checked into, and well, some educated guessing. you have the control of editing what you want peeps to see, making sure things are accurate, and auto-editing every photo of yourself to be 7 pounds lighter, 97% muscle mass, + healthily glowed. okay, last part MIGHT be a lie.

don't like it? well, before you start complaining, a few things to remember:
  • it's free to use
  • it's your choice to use it
  • they need to make money, and well, yeah, they'll probably know more about you now
  • and they'll probably sell some insights to advertisers
privacy? well, you'll have to read their policy on that. i'm sure it's just as solid as your average million-plus member community on the internet. use it at your own risk, be smart. it is what it is.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

magic reindeer food

when i was little, one of our holiday highlights was putting out the reindeer food on Christmas Eve. every year, Mrs. Gidley would deliver the magic mix to our porch, and we 3 girls were delighted to get to sprinkle it on the lawn. part of this excitement may have stemmed that this brown paper bag had likely been touched by Mrs. Gidley's son, who was SOOOOOOOO cute. cute boy aside, the reindeer food was always a favorite thing.

after we'd open our Christmas PJs on Christmas Eve, we'd put on our slippers, bundle up, and sprinkle the mix on the front yard to make sure Santa's reindeer had a snack while he was so busy unloading our loot. then, we'd argue over who got to color which part of the reindeer.

Mrs. Gidley's mixture consisted of hay and glitter packaged in a brown paper sack, and it always had a hand-drawn reindeer picture for coloring. apparently, glitter isn't bio-degradable, so i had to adjust the mix to be environmentally friendly and all. but the packaging stayed the same.

Oats - duh, reindeer LOVE oats
Colored sugar - creates the "magic" sparkle to help the reindeer find your house
Cypress fronds - gives it a Christmas-y smell to help the reindeer know it's safe to eat

Evenly disperse the oats among the dozen or so bags (about 1/3 cup each). Sprinkle sugar crystals into each bag. Top off with some cypress fronds (I salvaged mine from the porch where my garland was shedding). Give it a shake.

Fold over the top of each bag + staple the coloring label onto the front. I stamped each one with our name so folks knew where they came from, too.

You can download my coloring labels here. 2 will print per page, and they fit perfectly onto the average brown paper lunch sack. If you're distributing to a household with siblings, you may want to tack on enough coloring labels for each child to avoid a small war.

The label's poem reads:
Sprinkle on your lawn at night
Rudolph's nose will make it sparkle bright.
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam,
This will guide them to your home.

Drop them off to your friends + neighbors with school-age kiddos the week before Christmas.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

'tis the season - spice rub gift

for holiday gifts, we've started giving friends some of cricket's famous rub. he uses it on his pulled pork, but it's good on rubbed on tenderloin, chicken breasts, or sprinkled on grilled veggies + anything else you put on the grill.
[the label for the jars]
over the past few weeks, we've gotten a few hints from last year's recipients about how they love it, use it all the time, are running low. hint hint. yeah yeah, we whipped up a batch of the super secret mixture this weekend and packaged it up for this year's gifts.

of course, it's packaged in mason jars. a little tissue paper + we have ourselves a gift.

Monday, December 12, 2011

cinnamon honey butter gifts

my mom has long given her friends + neighbors homemade roasted garlic butter as holiday gifts. it's delicious on every.thing. and fills the house with a wonderful garlicky aroma when she's roasting like 20 cloves at a time.

since i'm not much of a baker (and when i do bake, the treats don't last very long), i thought i'd follow in my mom's footsteps + whip up some flavored butter as gifts this year. whip up, get it?

i found this recipe from ina, and figured i couldn't go wrong. the cinnamon + honey flavors just scream holiday time to me. i knew this would be perfect for family gatherings around the holidays: french toast on Christmas morning, smeared on warm rolls, used to ice cinnamon rolls, or even used to make cinnamon toast.

as usual, i altered the recipe a tad. here's the recipe to fill 1-dozen 8-oz mason jars. i actually had enough to fill 2 additional 4-oz jars.

3.5 pounds of unsalted butter, room temperature (each stick of butter is 1/4 pound, so 14 sticks)
2.5 cups + 2 tablespoons of clover honey
3.5 teaspoons of cinnamon - i used roasted saigon cinnamon for a richer flavor
1.75 teaspoons of kosher salt
heavy whipping cream, about .5-1 cup
12 8-oz jelly jars, with lids

blend butter using mixer's paddle attachment until no longer in large chunks.

add honey, cinnamon and salt into mixer's bowl until well blended. blend on medium speed until smooth.

add cream until desired consistency. the more you add, the creamier it will be. the less you add, the firmer it will be. it's really a matter of preference.

once it's creamy enough for your liking, spoon into jars, approximately 3/4 full. place lids on the jars, affix label, tie on your ribbon, and refrigerate. it's a very yummy + very inexpensive gift for the holidays!

i created little labels for my jars and printed them on 1 1/2" round labels from Avery (item #8293). i had the labels available for download, until i realized i'd misspelled the word "biscuit." shame, shame, shame. i've actually already gifted a few, so i'm just gonna go with it. please don't tell Teacher Sis.
[i misspelled BISCUITS. that makes it more personal, right? geez. i'm ashamed.]
would love to know what you try the butter on this holiday season!! and check out the other holly bloggy christmas parties across blogland:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

i found Christmas!

as i blabbed about last week, i was having a hard time really getting into the Christmas spirit. despite shopping, carols, holiday parties, & endless trips to Starbucks, i couldn't find my cheer.

turns out, it she was right here all along.

thanks to her aunt coco for the holiday pawty collar, and to her gran for the Santa bandana.

as you can see, the tree is up. more details on the decorating extravaganza to come...

Saturday, December 3, 2011


got the crate + barrel holiday magalog today, and what did i see?
yes, you + everyone on Santa's list can have not one, but S-I-X of these "antique" bells for $11.95.

do they look familiar to you? let me refresh your memory:

the "antique" bell i picked up at a local antique mall for $20 in february. then, ballard started selling them (for $35!) and they've been spotted all over the place. now ornaments.

i guess i need to add crate + barrel to the list of style gurus who must be stalking me. geez. can't a gal be original?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

i'm looking for Christmas

as many of you, i'm sure, i've been eager for the holidays to arrive. i LOVE Christmas, but i don't let myself get into it until after Thanksgiving.

i have a strict rule about playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving has passed, and then, well, it's pretty much all-Christmas, all the time. i have a weakness for Christmas tunes, a sickness perhaps. the "holiday" genre makes up the majority of my itunes library. it's at the point where i can walk in just about any store during the season and tell you the album playing. not just the song + artist--the ALBUM. it's pretty impressive when you consider that I am, admittedly, a music moron. just ask my husband. it's uncanny the way my ability to match notes over the airwaves to artist + album appears for only 4 weeks of the year.

but this year, the spirit, well, i don't know where it is. i haven't been bitten by the bug yet. the tree isn't up. heck, it's still in the attic. i thought a holiday concoction from *bucks would put me over the edge. nope. a post-Thanksgiving trip to the mall to absorb some energy. didn't work. buying a dress for my work party, nah (despite it being super cute and shiny). shopping for gifts for our adopted Salvation Army Angel last night? it helped a little, but still not there.

this morning, i thought i was over the hump. the Angel's musical toys were serenading me along the way to work. with each turn or pothole or sudden stop, a few notes played on the toddler's piano toy. it definitely put me in a good mood, and i even called hubs to tell him about it. chuckles all around. but no magic.

is it because i sorta cheated and listened to the House of Fifty's holiday playlist early? (it's amazing by the way) breaking my own rule? surely there's no such thing as Christmas karma.

whether i've been bitten or not by this friday night, the tree is going up. the garland's being hung. the stockings go into place. we'll sip bailey's + milk. "elf" will be on the TV. holiday tunes will be blaring.

what are your tips for catching your fa-la-la-la?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Table

i'm linking up to the tablescape party sponsored by Homegoods, so here are the up close & personal details of our turkey day tables:

history: thanksgiving has long been a holiday staple in our family, often having 40-65 cousins gathering in south arkansas. i think when i started dating j, i told him he'd have to agree that my family would always get thanksgiving! i'm pretty sure my cousin and i made a pact when we were 12. over the past few years, we moved the holiday to Texas but it's remained one of the most important holidays to me. as the families grow, new traditions start. so this year was our first year to start a new tradition of our own.

guest list: my newlywed sister was finally within driving distance (she's been on the west coast and unable to join us for the past 5 years). better yet, her husband is from nearby Athens, GA, so his family was able to join us too! my mom was coming from Arkansas, my dad & his new fiance too, my in-laws, and even some hometown friends who are now neighbors got to join the fun (being the BFF of my baby sis, she was a great stand-in for the sister who had too many papers to grade!). all in all, we had 13 folks at the table.

theme: i wanted something a little different than the traditional fall colors, so i drew from the rich palette of cranberries & pomegranates: purples, fuchsia, and metallics. i wanted the table to have a festive and elegant feel (we didn't have any kids attending, so it was safe to keep it "adults only"). this was the first time we were using the china we received when we got married (yes, 2 years ago), so we wanted it to feel special all around! it was also the first time several of our family members had seen our new house, so it was a big occasion.

flowers: i scored some amazing fuchsia peonies at the grocery store, and arranged them in vintage silver serving pieces i thrifted. i complemented the peonies with hot pink & burgundy pom mums, solidago, and other burgundy safari sunset blooms.

linens: the tables were each dressed with flax-colored hemstitched linen tablecloths. the main dining table's square linen was off-set to feature the rich grain of the hardwood table, while the additional folding table's linen hung to the floor.

accents: a pair of thrifted brass candlesticks with cranberry candles were lit in the table's center, while mercury glass votives added extra sparkle. a cranberry metallic ribbon with gold trim weaved its way along the table.

in lieu of wine charms, we tied combinations of plum, cranberry, and gold ribbon to the wine glass stems for easy identification. 

placesettings: alternating gold & silver chargers served as the placesetting foundation, which were topped with china dinner plates from the Vera Lace pattern. a deep plum napkin was placed atop each dinner plate, topped by the salad plate. placecards were displayed in pecan pods i found in the backyard!

serveware: the food was served in a collection of silver serving dishes. my latest Homegoods score, the silver casserole dish, was perfect for the wild mushroom dressing. and my le creuset crock steal from Homegoods matched the sweet potatoes to a tee.

i linked up to centsational girl's the tablescape party/contest.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

thanksgiving highlights

well, our house is awfully quiet today except for the roar of the Georgia v. Georgia Tech game on the TV. the dog is worn out from all of the excitement, and i'm already missing the family.

Thanksgiving has long been a big to-do in my family. growing up, we'd have up to 75 cousins crowding my grandparents house. it was one of my favorite times of the year because i got to spend time running around with my cousins in arkansas. that gathering has since moved to Texas and we get to join the fun there from time to time. but we also decided it was time for new traditions as families keep growing larger + more spread out. we were thrilled to have my family, cricket's family, and our extended families into our home this year. a blessing indeed. 

we started with prep day on wednesday. my mom brought us festive aprons for the occasion, while the guys headed to the golf course to get out of our hair. my sister arrived from ohio much earlier than expected, so that was a nice surprise!

we woke up early on thursday to get started. of course, we couldn't do anything until we each had our fill of the famous spudnuts from el dorado. for those who don't know, these are the best donuts ever. 10x better than krispy kreme, and they're made from potato flour (hence the name) with a flaky sugary glaze. there's a debate as to whether they're best hot, cold, fresh, or a few days old. in our opinion, they're good anytime at all.

the kitchen was abuzz...

[my mother-in-law and my mom cookin' up a storm]
[charcuterie plate featuring hyatt's homemade camembert cheese]
the table was set...

[still can't get over that peony!]
[place cards held displayed in pecan pods]

the turkey was smokin' on the big green egg...

[a 13 pounder after smoking for about 5 hours]
[mark + cricket about to carve]
[dad, cricket, + hyatt carving the ham + turkey]

the house was filling with family & friends...

[dad + his brunette daughters]
[olivia + her new mom-in-law]
[hometown friends who now live nearby]
[cricket's parents]

a serious game of soccer was starting in the backyard...

[mabel put lula to shame]
while one dog was ready for any nibbles to hit the floor...

[lula looking for her plate]

it was a wonderful weekend in atlanta. unfortunately, we missed a few folks + hope they'll make the trip next year! how was your thanksgiving??

diy pecan placecards

since we expanded into a second table for thanksgiving, i was trying to come up with a unique placecard option for the table. i always like to bring in some natural elements for the table, but i was having a hard time figuring out something to coordinate with the brass, silver, bronze, and cranberry palette.

as you may have learned, our beagle has quite a hankering for chasing the chipmunks that have moved into our backyard. these critters have set up house in the small brush pile at the back of our lot. see that hole? that was made from lula's head. i guess she was trying to get up close & personal with Alvin, Simon, & Theodore. you should have seen her face when we pulled her out of it. filthy.

[lula's hole in the brush pile]
so anyway, i went to grab a shot of the infamous hole with the new camera. walking through the yard, i was cautious to avoid dog poop since we hadn't mowed in a while. and what did i look down and see? literally right under my foot?

[my find underfoot]

these amazingly gorgeous pods that had fallen from the neighbor's pecan tree. and they were EVERYWHERE! shaped a little like a lotus flower, these multi-pronged shells have a rustic yet elegant appeal.

[fallen branch with a pecan pod still in tact]

i gathered as many as i could carry and took them inside for a rinse in the kitchen sink. i let them dry on a wire rack for a few hours.

once dried, they revealed some incredible textures + natural tones. i had thought about dry-brushing them with a little gold paint, but no need.

i printed out names on card stock, cut the names into strips, and placed the pods on the tables accordingly. each was different & unique, just like our guests. some were single pods, others in pairs or trios or quads. some still had pecans in them.