Thursday, December 27, 2012

Homemade Gifting ~ Hot Cocoa

Every holiday season I usually send a parcel of cookies or some other baked treat to neighbors and friends.
Since my amount of "free time" was seriously condensed this year, I almost leapt for joy when I read about making homemade hot cocoa on Siri's blog.
She shared a recipe from Martha (who else would have a delicious homemade hot cocoa recipe?) and displayed it in a mason jar.
As if the sun, moon and stars then aligned, I saw another version on Pinterest that was paired with a shooter of Bailey's.
The hot cocoa is simple to mix up and tastes delicious!
(We taste tested, naturally)
The only glitch in my plan was that almost every single liquor store on the NJ Shore was sold out of Bailey's so I had to settle for another brand of Creme de Menthe Liquour for some of them.
I purchased cute little tags from Target and wrote the "recipe" on the backside and our salutation on the front.
I always keep corsage bags on hand for gifts and a little festive baker's twine attached the tags perfectly.


I have to admit it was a little thrilling to stray from the predictability of the cookie this year and surprise people with a delicious and practical homespun gift.

Do you share homemade gifts with your friends and neighbors?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Finally got to bake some cookies on Christmas Eve~

Then headed over to my brother's house and I got to spend time with this little angel~

And this little angel too ~ my goddaughter ~

I was tempted to have a laugh making this little guy do some innapropriate things, but my brother forbid me to touch it.

So instead I spent as much time as possible with my favorite girlies.

Christmas morning dawned bright and early~

and I was surprised with another beautiful note from my very best girl.

Husband spoiled me with trinkets, baubles and books~

And I returned the favor with some yummy treats.

The settings were placed at the table with care~

With hopes that good food soon would be there.

Our day was filled with comfort and joy.
I hope yours was too.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Homemade Christmas Cards

This holiday season I thought it would be a great idea to deign and make my own Christmas cards.
I handmade the invitations to our annual Halloween party this year and they came out so great that I thought I would repeat the process for Christmas.
I ran into obstacle after obstacle, time being one of the biggest ones of all, and after a few meltdowns and lectures from my husband about biting off more than I can chew I completed them.
Of course they didn't hit the post office until Saturday morning, but I finished them without compromising the design I envisioned and the perfection I expected. What can I say? I'm stubborn.

Husband scolded me that I don't have time to do projects like this but these are the things I love to do that make the holidays extra merry for me. Even with the occasional meltdown and roaming the aisles of the arts and crafts store in a daze at 9pm trying to think up a backup plan. If I can't decorate, bake and craft then what's the point?

Do you ever overextend yourself to do something you enjoy that makes the holidays special?

Have a very, very Merry Christmas and I hope it's spent with all the ones that you love best.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's Christmas Time In The City

Last Saturday we headed into NYC with our daughter to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, do some shopping at American Girl, have lunch at Heartland Brewery and explore St. Patrick's Cathedral.
There really is no place like New York at the holidays.

P.S. It was SantaCon 2012 that made for quite a few laughs!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"I Love You to The Moon"....

"I love you to the moon and back" I said as I hugged her tightly and kissed the top of her head.
There were faint traces of the chocolate donut she was eating for breakfast smeared across her lips as she smiled.
"What about me?" asked my husband.
"I love you to infinity and beyond." I replied.
She giggled.
"Like Buzz Lightyear Mom?"
They both laughed at me.

Our goodbyes before school and work have been tough this week but full of a little extra tenderness and care.
I hope yours have been the same.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Can't Stop Wearing...

My denim button up.
That thing has been poking out from under everything I am wearing lately.
I firmly believe I couldn't live another day without it.

Do you have an item that you wear so often that you worry it will sprout legs and run away from you?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Decking My Halls ~ The Tree

Am I the only one who thinks in themes and color palettes?

Every year I change things ever so slightly when the tree goes up, inspired by an item or a photo or an idea.
This year, the two cylindrical vases I bought at Target on clearance inspired me. Cream and gold with pops of red were are this year's color palette.

Last year was the first time I rearranged all the furniture in our formal living room so that the tree stood in front of our large picture window. It's a lot of work, but lends an excitement to the air as everything changes and the tree goes up.
And those moments that you get to just kick back and soak it all in make up for it getting dark so early, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tom and Stacey

Back in September while on my little blog hiatus, I had the great pleasure of being a part of my brother's wedding.
Tom is the 2nd born in our family and we are only two years apart in age. He has been my friend, confidante, partner in crime, and all around best buddy for the 36 years I have been lucky enough to call him my brother.
From the moment he told me about Stacey, I knew that a wedding was right around the corner.
And on September 16, 2012 I was fortunate enough to be a part of that moment.

They were married outside at a small Italian villa in Warwick, NY ~ just over the NJ border and about 45 minutes west of Manhattan.

The wedding was small, simple and elegant.
My sister in law is a woman of exceptional taste.

My baby brother Chris was the best man. Just looking at these two standing there together and I was already tearing up!

My beautiful daughter was the flower girl.

Isn't Stacey so chic in her tea length dress?
I love a bride who sways from the full gown and fuss and frills and opts for something so stylish and unique.


Spelling may not be their strong suit, but cooking certainly is!

My boys.
My life would never be what it is without these two in it.
I get emotional even looking at this picture as my heart is filled with so much love and admiration for my brothers.

Silvio's was charming and September was a perfect time for a wedding. The grounds were still lush and green and the warm afternoon sun made for a stunning backdrop.

My sister in law made the centerpieces herself.
Aren't they sweet?

Isn't this cake so perfect for this wedding?
I'm not lying when I tell you it was the best wedding cake I have ever tasted too!

We were able to grab their photographer and get a family picture outside as the reception began.
It is my favorite family photo yet.

I would have been remiss not to share this wonderful day that was so full of love and warmth because it was spent with all of my most favorite people.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rainy December Sunday

We were supposed to spend Sunday in NYC doing the typical holiday~ish NYC things. Rockefeller Center, American Girl store, ogling the magnificient windows along 5th Ave and winding the day down with dinner in Little Italy.

When we woke that morning, it was pouring outside. We live so close to NYC that we decided to switch gears and wait until next weekend. There might not be much worse than wandering for hours in the cold rain with a 10 year old who will inevitably become wet, tired and cranky.
I'd much prefer the tired and cranky without being sopping wet.
Since she had been counting down the days all week my daughter was completely devastated. To soften the blow we hopped in the car and headed to Red Bank NJ, a beautiful and hip little hamlet on the New Jersey shore.
I've blogged about Red Bank before. It is the town where my parents met, I was born, and my grandfather owned an amazing little corner shop called The Threshold (it is now an Urban Outfitters. How times change!) It is quaint and lovely and will always have a special place in my heart for more reasons than just the magnificent shopping!

We enjoyed a late lunch at The Dublin House which looks as if it was snatched right from a miniature Christmas Village. Trust me, it is just as adorable inside and the food is nothing short of amazing. My husband enjoyed Bangers and Mash and I had an amazing Corned Beef melt at a cozy table in front of the fireplace where we found ourselves lingering to enjoy an extra pint or two.

We browsed through Sickles Market in a neighboring town called Little Silver. Sickles is a small mom and pop gourmet grocer and gift shop that started off as a roadside corn stand when I was just a small child. All summer long my grandparents would stop on the drive home from the beach to buy fresh corn on the cob to have with dinner. At the holidays they have an amazing Christmas shop set up in the greenhouses overloaded with trinkets, treasures and pointsettas as far as the eye can see.

We finally found ourselves over at The Grove at Shrewsbury which was New Jersey's first lifestyle center - built back in the late '80s. It is a treasure trove of fine shopping where my daughter promptly fell in love with Anthropologie.
"They just have a little bit of  EVERYTHING!"
I might be in trouble now.

It was a lovely day doing everything we would have done in New York, just on a smaller more local scale.
Plus, we stayed pretty dry. Win - Win.

What did you do this weekend?