Friday, December 23, 2011


I always like to give my co-workers a nice Christmas gift, especially since they work so hard all year long. Many of them are Pinterest addicts, like me, so I thought it would be appropriate to get some inspiration from there for this year's gift.

As you know from when all our visitors came, I love thoughtful gift baskets, so I thought I would make a mini basket for all the girls at work. 
First, I started off by making a homemade Vanilla Brown Sugar Scrub. I found the recipe on Stephanie Lynn's blog, Under the Table and Dreaming. It is super easy and only requires a few ingredients: brown sugar, sugar, vanilla and sunflower oil. The last may be the hardest to find. I discovered it at Whole Foods, so I would suggest looking there or a similar "natural" food store for it. Check out Stephanie's blog for the full recipe.

I mixed up the scrub and bought some simple mason jars to put it in. 

While the scrub can be used all over, I decided to pair it with gifts that would allow each lady to pamper their feet. So, I bought a few things to go with it.

I found the socks at Ross, bought some foot lotion from Avon (which was also on sale) and found some mini nail polishes in a gift pack also at Ross. 

Plus, I found these cute baskets at Target in the dollar section. They weren't Christmas colors, but they went perfectly with all my other fillers.

I loved the end product and so did all the ladies at work!

Not sure how I'm going to top this one for next year. Hopefully Pinterest will give some good inspiration!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homemade Christmas Goodies

I always feel really guilty when I haven't blogged for a while. The thing is, you would think I didn't realize Christmas came each year on December 25th, because I waited until the last minute to do everything this year.

Last weekend I was busy. Including making some Christmas goodies for Landon's co-workers -- chocolate covered pretzel rods. 

These have become my signature Christmas gift. Not only do they taste good but they are so easy to make look good. I'm not sure if the recipients like them as much as Landon. It is always his requested gift for co-workers, mostly because he knows I'll make extras that he'll get to eat. 

So, here's what you need to make these: pretzel rods and two types of chocolate (I use almond bark because it melts so easily, though I have also used chocolate chips in the past).

Next, melt the chocolate in two separate pans. Here is one step that I wish was a little easier. Not that melting chocolate is hard, because it's very easy, but it's choosing the right pan that is the problem. See, I think someone needs to invent a tall, skinny sauce pan in which I can actually dip the pretzels. Instead, I usually just use a regular sauce pan and spoon the chocolate over. Not nearly as easy, though it's still not hard.

There is a very important step after you spoon the chocolate over. Once you do that, you need to spin the pretzel in small circles to make sure to get rid of all the excess chocolate. Otherwise, when you lay it down to dry, all the excess runs off in a puddle. It takes a bit away from the beauty of them.

After you have done this, place the pretzel rod on wax paper and let them dry.

Once dry, here's where the fun part come in. Grab a fork and dip it in your other chocolate. Feel free to dip generously. You want your fork to be covered with a good layer.

Then, take the fork and fling it over the dipped pretzel rods. Now, this process doesn't have to be perfect but you will want to be somewhat careful not to fling too hard. The first time I did this, I ended up with strands of chocolate all over my kitchen. 

The end result should be a beautiful pretzel rod.

You'll want to let this layer of chocolate dry as well, but then you can bag them up. I usually buy the tall, cellophane gift bags at Wal-mart or Target and use those. It's the perfect size.

I dip my pretzels in both the chocolate and white chocolate and simply decorate with the other color. You can also decorate with white on white or so forth. It makes for a nice sophisticated look. In the past, I've also gotten creative with my flavors, using dark chocolate and even mint. You can really do whatever you like. 

What "staple" Christmas goodies do you make every year?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

'Tis the Season

You would think that with all the wonderful Christmas crafts being pinned on Pinterest, I would be staying very busy, but it's actually just the opposite. 

Over Thanksgiving, Landon and I stayed home and were very lazy. Then, it took us a full week to recuperate from being lazy! Now, it's gotten cold and my house is so frigid that all I want to do is sit under a blanket by the fire. So, needless to say, I have not gotten an abundant of wonderful things done. Hopefully that will change soon.

But, the one thing I did do over the past week was get our home ready for Christmas. I love pulling out decorations. I think they multiply every year. I never realize how much I have until Landon keeps bringing boxes out!

When we moved into the house in Nashville, we inherited a Christmas tree that the previous owners didn't want to move. It's actually a better tree than the little one we bought right after we got married. The only negative is that it is not pre-lit, but that's a minor luxury I can go without.

So I decided to make this our "fancy" tree. The first year we had it I bought a few red and silver ornaments. Then, apparently, right after Christmas I bought a bunch more on clearance. And, I may have not remembered that and bought a few more the next year. Needless to say, we have lots now.

We didn't decorate our current home last year because we were traveling over Christmas, so it has been fun to figure out where things should "go" in this new home. We decided to put the "fancy" tree in our living room. We had to move the couch over a bit so you could walk by, but it's the grandeur of the tree is perfect for the over-sized room.

The smaller tree is used for all our Christmas ornaments from childhood and the ones we've bought since getting married nearly seven years ago (yes, for those of you who attended our wedding, it has been that long!).

As much as I love the "fancy" tree, because it makes me feel all grown up for having a color coordinated tree (silly, right?), I really cherish the "memories" tree. It has some of my favorite ornaments on it.

Like the Barbie bride and Ken groom, which was used as our cake topper on March 5, 2005.

And the Cinderella and Prince Charming we bought at Disney World on our honeymoon.

And the ornaments we've bought along the way. We try to buy one any time we go on vacation or even special trips. I have a few from business trips (an NYC ornament and White House Christmas Tree), a couple from Disney World (we buy one every time we go) and some that special people have given us (a Billy Graham Library ornament from Landon's grandmother and a few Florida ornaments from the Coles). Plus, some of my most favorites are ones, which I have been hanging on a tree for as long as I can remember.

And while ornaments are my thing, Nutcrackers are Landon's. This is a tradition started by Landon's grandmother. She would get him one every year. Now we have lots to decorate with!

And, of course, we set up our nativity.

We also decided to let our "guard" lion take a break and replaced him with this little guy.

I'm working on decorating the dining room but am not quite done, so I'll have to show you that later.

Have you gotten your decorations up yet? What is your favorite?