Blessing Jar

Happy New Year's Eve!  A 2013 recap, December recap, and New Year's Resolutions are all to come, but today I want to share a quick and easy DIY for 2014 - A Blessing Jar.  

To make a blessing jar all you need is some paper, a pen, and an old vase or container.  We've had this jar forever, and I just added some gold leaf and a label to make it "fancier."  (Josh loves it when things get "fancied.")

The idea is that once a day we will jot down a blessing or something we are thankful for and throw it in the jar.  We've decided to initial and date each entry so that at the end of the year we can put them in order.   It's so easy to remember the highlights of each year, but I'm hoping the Blessing Jar will help us relish the little joys in each day.

"A good life is when you assume nothing, do more, need less, smile often, dream big, laugh a lot, and realize how blessed you are."

Blessings to you in 2014!



New Year's Eve Outfit Inspirations

Happy Almost New Year!  Have you recovered from Christmas?!  It has taken me about 5 days, but I am slowly but surely getting back into the routine.  It's amazing how exhausting a day of celebrations, food, family, and fun can be.  

If you are like me, you've spent so much time and energy on Christmas that you haven't thought much about your New Year's Eve festivities.  To make things a little easier, I thought I would share a few outfit inspirations today.  Each outfit features the same pair of faux leather leggings - comfortable yet chic for a night of celebrating. 

leggings // top // fur vest // boots // necklace // earrings // watch (sold out - similar here)
For a casual dinner with friends, slip on a pair of flat boots and a fun top.  I love this midnight blue peplum paired with a statement necklace.  A fur vest is the perfect "casual chic" topper to fend off any chill in the air.  Finally, throw on a pretty watch so you don't get caught lingering over dessert when the clock strikes midnight.  (True story: this happened to me once!  We were having so much fun we completely lost track of time and wound up watching the ball drop with the waitstaff of the restaurant!)

leggings // top (on sale!) // earrings // shoes // bag // nail polish // watch
A New Year's Eve party with drinks and dancing calls for some shine.  Pair a sparkly top with dangling earrings in a similar tone for instant sophisticated glamour.  Add ankle strap heels to make sure you can dance well past midnight, and carry a cross body clutch with all of your essentials for the night.  Oxblood red works perfectly on your fingers or toes for a pop of color with an otherwise neutral outfit. 

leggings // sweater (sold out- similar here) // earrings  // bracelet // wrap // shoes // lip gloss // printable
Welcoming the New Year at home is one of the best ways to celebrate in my opinion.  BUT, just because you aren't out with the masses doesn't mean you want to wear yoga pants.  Throw on a cozy sweater, some chunky jewelry, and a pair of nice flats.  Add a warm wrap for wandering outside to watch the fireworks.  A touch of neutral lipgloss will help you feel pulled together and ready for a kiss to welcome in the New Year.  Finally, if all else fails, pop open some bubbles, turn up the music, and dance on the coffee table.  

Here's to a fabulous 2014!



Christmas blessings

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Christmas blessings to all of you sweet readers.  I will be posting only occasionally this week as I slow down and enjoy some time with family and friends.  Wishing each of you a joyous Christmas with time to relax and celebrate with those you love.  



Happy Friday

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Happy, Happy Friday!  After a long week of cleaning, baking, shopping, wrapping, addressing, and meeting, I am looking forward to enjoying the next few days.  Family and friends start arriving today, and I couldn't be more excited.  We have a few parties tonight and tomorrow, and then we are in relaxation mode until Christmas.  

Are you ready for Christmas?  I'm sure there will be a few loose ends that pop up over here, but all in all I feel like a kid just counting down the days now.  

Happy Weekend!


Christmas Travel Packing Lists

For many people, Christmas means travel.  Though seeing friends and family is always a treat, sometimes the stress of choosing what to pack can be overwhelming.  (Let's not even discuss trying to pack gifts and clothes into a carry-on size bag...)  While this packing list doesn't offer the most exciting outfits, it is easy and you likely already own some version of everything on the list. 

The flight to your destination is not the time to arrive in ratty jeans and a sweatshirt.  You will be greeting friends or family you love, and looking polished makes it much easier to go straight from the airport to meet your long-lost friends for dessert and drinks.  A good pair of flats and a snuggly scarf will keep you comfortable and chic on the plane, and a large watch ensures you don't miss you connection waiting in line at Starbucks.  

Rely on those trusty flats for brunch and sightseeing on Day 2.  Your scarf will add an extra layer of warmth, a large bag holds your essentials for the day, and leggings give you a streamlined look. 

Head out for dinner or drinks in a sleek, simple look.  Pull your hair back and throw on a pair of heels and a statement necklace. Finish your look with a swipe of color on your lips for an instant pick me up.

If you're like me, you've likely booked a flight later in the day to enjoy those last few hours with those you love.  Keep your look polished for your last bit of visiting with a blazer, but stay comfy with leggings and your trusty scarf.  


Happy and safe travels to you this Christmas!

favorite things: Christmas Edition

ornament // carol // scent // decoration // movie // greenery // treat

1 week until Christmas, and it is most definitely the most wonderful time of the year.  I am extra excited for Christmas this year because we will wake up in our own house on Christmas morning!  This means I have been extra hard at work making the house festive and fun, and it has been a blast putting out all of our decorations.  

Though figuring out the decorations in a new house is fun, there are always those tried and true favorites that make appearances every year.  For us, this means frasier fir candles, spiced cookies, silver cross ornaments, and my very favorite nativity scene.  A new addition this year is a magnolia wreath for our front door, and I ADORE it.  I love magnolias any time of year, so combining them with Christmas decor leaves me a little weak in the knees. 

What are your Christmas Favorites?  Any I should add to the rotation?



Chicken Divan

This time of year, we can all use some time saving tips.  Enter: this recipe for Chicken Divan.  It can be made ahead of time and frozen to pull out for those late nights of wrapping Christmas presents, or it can be whipped up on the spot and enjoyed immediately.  It would also be great to have on hand for when guests arrive later in the evening and want some dinner- it only needs to bake in the oven for 15 minutes!  Nothing like it for a warm, satisfying, and easy meal.  

Chicken Divan
adapted from All Recipes

  • 1 pound fresh chopped broccoli
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 can cream of broccoli soup
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 Tbs. dijon mustard
  • Salt & Pepper (as desired)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbs. butter, melted
  • 2 Tbs. bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 450.  If needed, boil chicken in a large saucepan to cook, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place broccoli in a large saucepan with water.  Cover and let cook 5-7 minutes until tender.  Drain.  
  3. While broccoli cooks, combine soup, milk, mustard, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  4. Grease 9x12 inch casserole pan.  Line bottom of pan with cooked broccoli.  Cover broccoli with cubed chicken.  Top chicken and broccoli with soup mixture.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
  5. Combine butter and bread crumbs in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over top of casserole.  
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.



Weekend Happenings

Over the weekend we were in Nashville to celebrate the wedding of a friend from law school.  We had a whirlwind trip, but it was amazing to catch up with lots of friends.  This group actually graduated a year ahead of me, so it was a reunion more than a year in the making for lots of us.  I am waiting on more pictures of the group, but I thought I would share a few shots from my iphone...

Reunion on Friday night with the BEAUTIFUL bride.

26 degrees...yes that is a ruffle wrap - wrapped around my head.  #floridian

Reception at Union Station.  The bride thought of every detail and the effect was stunning...gold flatware - check!

With my handsome date.

I'm filling in for Leggett here...too good not to share even with a blurry picture.

A last glimpse of the sunset taking off over Nashville

How was your weekend?  We are exhausted and thankful to be home, but so happy to have shared a weekend with great friends.  Congrats Katherine and Hilson!  


Happy Friday

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Happy Friday!  We are planning to spend the weekend celebrating a sweet friend's wedding, wearing some cozy sweaters, sending warm thoughts to the half of the country battling another winter storm, and generally trying not to panic that Christmas is in less than 2 weeks.  When did time switch into warp speed?

Don't forget to shop my gift guides if you need some last minute gifting inspiration.  Feel free to contact me for more personalized help as well.  Wishing you a happy, safe, WARM, productive (but mostly just relaxing) weekend.



DIY: Covered Books

Good Morning.  I'm excited to share a little DIY project with you all today.  A few weeks ago, I decided that our large built in bookshelves were looking a little cluttered for my liking.  This is the problem with large bookshelves for any organized neat freak; they always seem great in theory, but once the items are on the shelf things can feel cluttered and disjointed.  This is especially true if you are like us and have a limited number of books (or uniform items) to put on your shelves.  Never fear though, I did a little DIYing in an attempt to bring some uniformity to the shelves, and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out.  

All you need for this project is some butcher paper  (I found some on amazon), scissors, scotch tape, a pen and a ruler.  And of course, books to cover - lots and lots of books.  

First, start by estimating how much paper you will need for each book.  Remember, you need more than just the flat width of the book when it is opened for the spine.  Leave a generous amount on both sides of the book.  

Next up, draw a straight line as close to the top of the book as possible.  I lined my books up with the bottom edge of the paper every time to limit the number of cuts, but you could also draw a line along the bottom and cut there as well.  The idea is to have the height of the paper cut as closely to the height of the book as possible.

Cut the paper along the line, and you should have something that looks somewhat like this:

Next, I folded the paper around the book to make a jacket.  Don't use tape yet, but do make sure to create creases on the spine of the book that are prominent enough to see even if the paper is not on the book.

Then, slip the paper off and find the spine of the book.  (This will be denoted by the creases you just made around the spine.)

Write the title of the book, the author, or any other identifying information you want on the spine of your book.  I found it was much easier to write before the paper was on the actual book, hence the creases and slipping the paper back off the book before it is taped in the prior steps.

Finally, slip the paper back onto the jacket and tape into place on the inner covers of the book.  

And you're done!  

Now, I know this is not revolutionary for anyone that covered their books in elementary school, but this little project changed the entire feel of our room.  It was a little time intensive, but totally worth it to have some uniformity and cohesion to the shelves.  

What do you think?  I'm glad to have this done for Christmas, but I think I will keep it up long after the tree comes down!  



Gift Guides: A Personal Wish List

fit bit // cropped running tights
the perfectly imperfect home // the joy of decorating // couch
tassel necklace // tassel bracelet // stone necklace // knot bracelet // wrap watch
d'orsay flat // bag // scarf
neutral top // floral top // black and white top // gray poncho // tan poncho
face lotion // nest candle
Every year, my mom asks us to make a Christmas wish list.  I include lots of options, knowing that I will be surprised by whatever item or two shows up on Christmas morning.  Hence the very extensive list.
(just don't want you all to think I'm super greedy over here!)

When I was putting this list together, I noticed certain themes...cozy neutrals (love those poncho sweaters), tassels (hello, perfect tassel necklace), fitness items (have you all tried the fit bit?), and pretty items for our home (coffee table books and a new candle.)  And just in case, I threw in a great gold bracelet for layer, a neutral bag, some pretty tops, and even a new couch.  You never know when Santa's reading, right?

Linking up with Annie & Morgan today for Wish List Wednesday! 



Gift Guides: Stocking Stuffers

body scrub // nail polish // candle 
make up brushes // cashmere slippers // wine bottle stopper // notecards
initial belt buckle // one line a day // metallic notebook
someecards calendar // mini games // knife // travel toiletries
Stocking stuffers are some of my favorite gifts on Christmas morning.  My general philosophy is that stocking stuffers should be little things you wouldn't buy for yourself.  Some can be indulgent, some are silly, and some are just plain funny.  

Cashmere slippers and golden wine bottle toppers are splurges, Butter nailpolish is just the best (and dries almost instantly), everyone can use a fun set of notecards, and a pretty notebook can brighten any day.  And, have you seen this someecards desk calendar?  It's the perfect thing for that person who likes a little irreverent humor on a daily basis.  Finally, the Nest Holiday Candle is right up there with Frasier Fir as my favorite all time scent...it really is divine.

I also love the One Line A Day Journal.  It's a five year memory journal with room to write just a few sentences each day - makes keeping a journal seem a little less intimidating right?  At the end of five years, you have a record of what you did on a particular day for the past five years.  Josh has one, and we like to play the "do you know what happened this day three years ago?" game.  

Fifteen days till Christmas y'all...things are getting crazy!



Gift Guides: For the Girls

sunglasses //  wrap watch // pjs
coffee table book // cashmere sweater (on sale now!) // print // rings
calf hair clutch // necklace // ipad case
 desk calendar // shoes // leather pouch // cashmere texting gloves

As I've been putting the finishing touches on this post, the song "This One's for the Girls" has been running through my head.  Despite the cheesy soundtrack, I'm especially excited to share this edition of the Gift Guide with you.  Many of you have asked for a guide for your mom, your best friend, your sister, or even yourself...and here it is!  While I will be sharing my personal Christmas wish list on Wednesday, I would be ecstatic to find any of these fun things under the tree in a few weeks.  

A fun print is perfect for your younger sister's college dorm room or to help her spruce up her first office.  Your mom will love an embossed ipad case or an on trend black and white clutch.  Your best friend will swoon over this chunky necklace or this swingy (and affordable!) cashmere sweater.  And who doesn't love a good coffee table book?  (As an aside, I heard Danielle Rollins, the author of this book, speak over the weekend and now I can't wait to read her first book- Soiree.)  While you're out shopping, snag a few items for yourself- the sales are too good not to indulge a little.  

Gift Guides Remaining in the Series 
Tuesday, 12/10: Stocking Stuffers
Wednesday, 12/11: My Personal Wish List

Is there a certain someone you're still struggling with?  Contact me for personal shopping help.



Gift Guides: For the Guys

On the 6th day of December....our Christmas tree fell over....5 broken ornaments. 
 4 glass beauties, 3 homemade, 2 sad adults, and a confused and scared puuupy.   

Did you sing it in tune?!?  While I wish this was a sad version of Christmas April Fool's, it is not.  We awoke this morning to a loud crash, and in our fog, we both thought an ornament had fallen off our tree.  Imagine our surprise when we switched on the lights to see our entire tree on its side.  Christmas surprises never cease to amaze.  

AND, just in case you still need something to go under your upright tree...on with the day's regularly scheduled post.

notebook // bocce set // shoes // travel razors // sweater // collar stays 
ear phones // shirt // book // anki drive set 
guitar picks // mason jar shot glasses // socks // bow tie
I know I said shopping for little ones was tough, but in my opinion, shopping for guys is even tougher! Josh always seems to be content with what he has, and rarely wants anything for himself.  (Note: this is a wonderful trait in general, but at Christmas it can be a bit frustrating!)  As a result, I wind up scouring random shops and websites year round for unique and fun gifts for Josh and the other guys on my shopping list.  Here is my round up to make shopping for the guys a little easier this year...

I was giddy when I found these mason jar shot glasses - they are the perfect gift for almost any guy I know.  I also love these collar stays, and they can be customized too!  These travel razors are perfect- they have the shaving cream in the handle, and fun socks are a great way to jazz up that blue oxford and khakis.  Don't forget some fun for the guys as well- a mini bocce set, wooden guitar picks, or the new car racing kit from Apple are sure to please!



Gift Guides: Gifts for the Hostess

nutcracker // cocktail mixers // ornament // candle // bread board // bracelet // picture frame // fork cheese markers
This time of year, I try to have a stockpile of hostess gifts on hand.  There are so many celebrations and gatherings, that it just makes sense to have a small supply of items that you can grab on your way out the door.  If you are really ambitious, you can even pre-wrap items in brown butcher paper and a pretty ribbon.  Just be sure to label each gift with a post-it note that you can quickly remove before delivery.

Though a bottle of wine is always a nice touch, sometimes it's fun to give something more unique.  I love this picture frame, and this mercury glass candle smells divine and looks so festive.  And, how cute is this walnut nutcracker from Tory Burch's new home line?  If you are a house guest for an extended period of time, bringing this complete set of cocktail mixers is a great way to make sure you don't overstay your welcome.  If all else fails, grab a few of these beautiful crackled glass ornaments and hand them out like candy. 


Gift Guides: For the Little Ones

love you to the moon // sophie // lamb // pjs
sweater coat // piano // owl hat // mittens // rainbow loom // necklace
cosmetic bag // shoes // makeup brushes // headphones
Though I can't claim any little ones of my own, much of my Christmas budget goes to gifts for the younger set.  Buying for nieces, nephews, and the children of friends can be a fun but frustrating exercise if you are not "plugged in" to market for kid's toys.  In an attempt to make shopping a little easier for those of you in my boat, here are some of my picks for the little ones.

For babies, my favorite gifts to give (for Christmas or baby showers) are kissy kissy pjs, and a sophie the giraffe teether.  I also love this adorable print for a nursery wall.  When the kids get a little older, toys or whimsical accessories (hello, owl hat!) rule the day.  Rainbow looms are the must have toy of the year, and I am partial to anything by Melissa and Doug (like this learn to play piano.)  Finally, for the tween in your life, I suggest versions of things you would like for yourself.  A monogram necklace takes a younger twist when done in a colorful acrylic.  A pair of sneakers is young and hip when covered in gold sparkles.  And for the boys, anything musical goes- wireless headphones or mini speakers are always winners.  


gift guides: sparkle for the ears

pave drops, love knots, pearls // emerald // colorful studs // organic perfection // pink deco, blue deco

In case you haven't picked up on it by now... I love jewelry.  I tend to stick with neutral basics in the clothing department, and I rely on my accessories to keep things fresh or to add a pop of color.  When it comes to jewelry, earrings are some of my favorite gifts to give or receive.  The style possibilities are endless, ranging from classic pearl studs to more daring danglers, and earrings are easy to incorporate into most wardrobes.  While I love necklaces and bracelets, earrings are often my go-to accessory to complete a look.  So if you're struggling with what to buy for your sister, aunt, or best friend's third cousin once removed, look no further than a pair of these beauties.  I for one wouldn't mind if Santa dropped those organic drop earrings down my chimney in a few weeks...


gift guides: gifts for the home

candles / mirror / glasses / coasters / bath mat / table / pillow

It's that time of year!  I know most of you are totally on top of your Christmas shopping (right?!?), but in case you need some extra inspiration, here is the first installment of Ann Elliott's 2013 Gift Guides.  Be sure to check back often, as new guides will be featured daily, including hostess gifts, tech gadgets, gifts for your man, and many more.

Now, on to today's guide.  Most of the items featured here are under $100, and would make a fun gifts for someone with a knack for decorating.  I love all of these because they are things you probably wouldn't buy for yourself, so when someone else gives them to you they are all the more appreciated and special.  Sometimes all it takes is a new bath mat, a fun set of glasses, or a sparkly throw pillow to change the whole feel of a room.  AND, if all else fails a set of 10 mini candles will never disappoint!