Monday, December 31, 2012

12 resolutions in 2013



2012 has not been kind.  I'm just gonna say it.  2012  has been the worst year of my life.  I'm not trying to be dramatic here.  It's just honest.  No hardship, trial, or trouble that I have ever faced compares with the grief and heartbreak of losing my Dad.  Nothing holds a candle.

We made it through the holidays.  It sucked.  Christmas morning was filled with tears.  Every gift was a "cry gift".  My Mom gave our 9 year old the iPad that she had bought for my Dad on their 39th wedding anniversary.  He died not even 4 weeks after that anniversary.  Reid opened the iPad and I could have crawled into the corner and sobbed.

But, we made it through Christmas.  It's one of those things that I felt like we had to overcome.  One of the many ugly "firsts"...

And, now, finally, 2012 is over.  Thank God, because I'm over it.

We need a fresh start, a new beginning, like never before.  New opportunities and new experiences and coming together as a family.  What is important to me has never been more clear.

It was easy to make resolutions this year. 

I am following the same path I took last year.  12 resolutions for the year - a new goal or habit each month.

Until our life completely imploded last July, I was actually doing a really good job with my resolutions.  When I look back at that list, I feel kind of proud at how much went RIGHT those first 6 months.  A monthly resolution was a good way to go.

You can do ANYTHING for 30 days, because you know that there is a definite end.  It's a lot harder to stick to something for a whole year.  And it's actually amazing what can be accomplished in 30 days. 

You can check out last year's list {here}.

Some of my resolutions from last year were copied over to this years list, because they are good ones for every year, and lots of them are new.

If you are stuck thinking about how to come up with 12 resolutions, here are some tips:

*think about what changes or habits would make the biggest difference in your life and the way you feel...just like that quote above, "what would make you the most proud in a year?"

*think about what gets you fired up {being creative, organizing, writing, painting, etc.} and make goals or new habits around those things.  If you are EXCITED about your 12, you are way more likely to actually follow through with doing them.  You don't have to be excited about the process, but make sure you are excited about where you'll be on day 30.

*think about the roles in your life {business owner, mom, wife, daughter} and see if there are habits you'd like to form or things you want to do {or do better} in those roles.

*think about unfinished projects you've never gotten around to.

*think about that ONE THING you always said wanted to do, but never found the time for...now is THE time!

Get out your journal, find some quiet and make 12 resolutions to make 2013 the best year of your life!!
 
Happy New Year!!





Tuesday, December 4, 2012

tuesday randomness: catching up

Wow, it's been a little bit of a whirlwind the last few weeks.
 
Here is what I've been up to....via instagram, of course.

 
 
Finally broke down and got a Erin Condren planner.  I'd heard they were pretty awesome.  I've been using it less than a week and I am already completely addicted.

 
 
Prepped all these boxes and I am almost out again...tis the season!
 

 
 
Trying to steal kisses from this boy...
"Grant, please give mommy a kiss?  Pleeeease??"


 
 
Print from The Love Shop.  I got one for my mom too.  It was a little Thanksgiving Day gift.  Thanksgiving was pretty tough.  We needed the humor.


 
 
My Thanksgiving centerpiece: stalks of cabbage and brussels sprouts.  Love the colors.


 
Date night to see The Guardians with Reid.
{Fair warning: the Sandman dies about 20 minutes in.  Did not know that was gonna happen...it was kinda brutal.  We are not ready to see death, animated or not.} 
 
A walk on the pier to get out of the house and blow off some steam on a lazy Sunday.

 
The one time of year I get to shop in the girls section!!  Hats and scarves for my two favorites.
 
 
 
And pretty wrap too.  I could go crazy if I had a girl.
 

 
 
I was so excited when I got home and saw that Mark put the lights up! 
 
 
 
 
Monkey see, monkey do under the tree.  Lol.
 

 
 
Last years Advent was just way too much work for me and I was completely burnt out by the time Christmas arrived.  This year, I took the lazy route and picked up the Lego Advent Sets.  The boys are loving it.
 

 
 
My cute packages lasted about 10 seconds, maybe less.
 

 
 
Boots that I have been pining after that finally went on sale!  Yay me!!
 

 
 
The new Valerie necklace.  I am in love with it.


 
 
Working on the lights.  They always look so magical. 
 
{Shortly after this photo was taken, I had to make a 9pm Target run because we ran out and I had PROMISED Reid I'd get them done, even if I had to stay up all night!  I made good on that promise...and I also stayed up all night!!}
 
 
I hope you are enjoying the season!!
 
 
 


Thursday, November 22, 2012

buy one, get one free!! black friday is here!!!

In case you haven't already heard, Black Friday is kind of a big deal around here.  All day today, a free necklace will be added to EVERY order.
 
 
 
This year, for the first time, you can choose whether you would like a free Cameron OR a free Taylor
 
 
 
 
You do not need to add anything to your cart at checkout.  Just let me know in the notes at checkout, which necklace you would like and what initial.
 
Also, if you would like to add a charm to your free necklace, you can do that {here}.  It's $6 for an additional Taylor charm and $8 for an additional Cameron charm.
 
The deal starts NOW and will run through midnight on Friday 11/23/12.
 
And one last thing....you can get as many FREE necklaces as you like.  Every time you check out, a free necklace will be added to your order.  There is no limit.
 
This is the 3rd annual Black Friday Freebie and the other two have been huge successes.  If you follow me, you already know that this is the one and only time all year that I run a buy one get one deal so....get it while it's here.  Friday at midnight it's gone til' next year!!
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

black friday is back!!!!

I usually wait until mid December before I buy a single gift.  It's awful.  But, not this year.  I think I am already halfway done!  Yeehaw!! 
 
And speaking of early shopping....Black Friday is 2 days away. Holy Cow, that came around quickly.
 
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If you've been around here in holiday seasons past, you already know about Black Friday.
 
For the third year in a row, this coming Friday 11/23, a FREE necklace will be added to every order. {squeeeeee!!!!!!}
 
 
         {The Cameron}   
 
{The Taylor}
 
This year you can choose whether you'd like a Taylor or a Cameron.  You don't need to do anything at checkout.  Just let me know in your order notes, which one you'd like and what initial.
 
A free necklace.  With every order.  All day long.   No lines.  No camping out.  No mad dash.  Order in your pajamas.  It's Black Friday, the London Reid way.
 
Enjoy your turkey and I'll see you all on Friday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

tuesday instagram: supper club

Thanksgiving is Thursday, so I thought I'd do a little post about hosting {made easier} and some of the things that I do to make it less stressful.
 
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There is not much that makes me happier than having people over. I love it when our house is full and loud and those are my happiest memories.
 
Our home is not a museum. It's meant for using and loving and it serves our family.  I joke that everything in our family room is either wipe able, machine washable, IKEA, or Craigslist.  I don't want people to be nervous to put a drink down, or feel bad if their child spills a glass of juice.  It's alright....we live here, for goodness sake!
 
But, entertaining can be so.much.work. Clean the house, cook the food, stay up til 1am cleaning it all up. Not so awesome.


A few weeks ago I shared this photo:

 
Inside that cute chevron bag, was a notecard that said:
 
"Please join us for our first ever supper club,
Friday November 16th at 6:30pm.
Bring the kids and a dish to share.
The food theme is Mexican."
 
I handed them out to a few friends and last Friday, we all got together and had a big potluck and it was a lot of fun.
 
The kids played {nicely!} and the adults chatted and it was EASY. 
 
Here are my top 5 tips for hosting a little crowd {I think we had 20 altogether?} and making it stress-free....
 
1. Make cute invites. 
For the fun of it and also because when you take the time to do invites it sets the tone and feels like a real occasion and not a playdate.
 

 
 
2. Cook early.
I made this {massive} pulled pork.  I cooked half of it in the crock pot and the other half in the oven and it was done hours before any of my guests arrived and I was completely free to enjoy the party. 
On a side note, I have NO idea why I thought we needed 13.5 pounds {?!?!} of pork but I have a hosting complex that we are going to run out of food at any moment.  That has never happened.  But still.  There are worse complexes to have I guess.  {Actually the worst one is the one that prevents you from ever having anyone over at all...}
 
3. Have coolers...and be beverage prepared.
We had a cooler of water and a cooler of beer outside the back door.  Way easier than having people in the kitchen for drinks.  We also had pitchers of margaritas at the ready in the freezer.
 
4. Have kid stations.
We set up a tent in the backyard that the kids could play in, an air hockey table, a slot car race, and a Thomas track as well as and a bin of outside toys.  The stations were all over the house, so the kids sort of wandered from activity to activity and I never heard any fighting at all, which is surprising!  But they were busy and engaged and I think that helps a lot.
 
 
 
5. Easy table set ups...aka Burlap, Kraft Paper and Plastic Tables.
By now, you all know that I love a Kraft paper runner with crayons.  It gives the kids something to do while they eat.  It also makes for super easy clean up.  Those are long stem cabbages in the vase.
 
 
 
We rearranged the dining room and added two plastic tables {draped in burlap} and I shopped the house for every chair, bench and stool I could drag in.  All in all, we had 18 seats in there.  It was cozy, but it worked!
 
Do you have any good hosting tips?
 
I am already thinking about next month's Supper Club.....appetizers and cocktails to ring in the New Year, maybe??
 
 

Friday, November 16, 2012

early birds!!!

If you've been around here for awhile you already know that I don't often run a discount code.  So, when I do, it's kind of a big deal and I'm super excited about this one!

Today and tomorrow, for all of you early bird shoppers, I am running a 2 day discount code that will save you 25% off of your entire order!  Yippee!!

So that means....

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
The discount will apply to all designs, and any size order, so it's a good time to stock up!  Just enter promo code earlybird at checkout.
 
Happy Shopping Early Birds!!
 
Click {here} to start shopping!
 
 
 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

30 minute thursday's: 5 cheese penne {freezer stock!!}

Well, hellooo there!!

I missed Tuesday randomness this week...honestly I looked at my instagram and realized I didn't take that many shots this past week...so I'll do a double round up next week.

But now it's Thursday, so let's talk recipes and quick weeknight cooking.

I decided after getting some feedback from you lovelies on instagram that once a month {or so} I'll post in this series something that can be made in a huge batch, fairly quickly and frozen to be enjoyed on crazy week nights when you just want to throw something in the oven.  Today is the first of those...

This is a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa.  She is my favorite.  Of all time. 



It is a 5 cheese pasta, par boiled, then divided into single serve ramekins, and easily frozen.  The ingredient list below is for a double batch, which will get you about 12 main course servings.

Ready?  Here is what you'll need:

:: Kosher salt
:: 4 cups heavy cream
:: 2 cups crushed tomatoes in thick tomato puree
:: 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (about 3 oz)
:: 1 cup shredded Italian Fontina (about 3 oz)
:: 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola (about 6 oz)
:: 4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
:: 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
:: 12 fresh basil leaves chopped
:: 2 lbs penne pasta
:: 1 stick of butter

(You can also add 1 cup of freshly grated Parmegiano Regiano if you have it on hand)

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

3. Combine all the ingredients except the penne and butter in a large mixing bowl.  Mix well.

4. Drop the penne into the boiling water and par boil for 4 minutes.  Drain well in a colander and add to the ingredients in the mixing bowl, tossing to combine.

5. Divide the pasta mixture among 12 shallow ceramic gratin dishes (1 1/2 - 2 cup capacity).  Dot with butter and bake until brown on top, 7 top 10 minutes.

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{ramekins all dotted with butter and ready to bake...or freeze}


Note: For the servings that you are freezing, simply add the lid to the ramekin and place in freezer. These will last in the freezer 4-6 weeks, although not really because when you know they are in there, you tend to eat them all up.

I bought my gratin dishes at Wal-Mart.  They were the corningware brand and had a snug fitting rubber lid, which makes it super easy.

To warm up the pasta straight out of the freezer, cook at 500 degrees for 15 minutes. 

You can serve solo, or if you want to pair the pasta, my favorites are:
*green salad and crusty French bread
*artisan soup from the deli section of the market {especially a butternut squash if you can find it}
*rotisserie chicken from the deli section of the market

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Don't forget to come back tomorrow...big, BIG announcement!




Friday, November 9, 2012

burlap and gratitude

This is a repost from last year....but I thought it was worth sharing again! 

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I mentioned in last week's post that I wanted to put together a few burlap wreaths for the Dining Room since Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I finished both of them and here's how they came out:


 
Emily over at Jones Design first posted this tutorial and I have used her method now a few times to make big ruffly wreaths and they always come out great. You can use any fabric and all you need is a wreath form, fabric, a few pins and a glue gun.


See the full tutorial {here}

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On to the gratitude pin board.

We already had this pin board in the workshop and we weren't using it for anything, so I figured we could just dress it up a bit and use it for our gratitude tags.


I took a big spool of ribbon and with Mark's help {because the board is giant and awkward} we just wrapped it around the board, front and back to create stripes of ribbon and I used painter's tape every so often on the back to keep the ribbon in place.


We attach our nightly gratitude cards with mini clothespins and voila! When Thanksgiving is over, I'll take the gratitude tags down and use it to display Christmas cards.


I hope I inspired you to get your craft on!
 
PS You can find the free printable for the gratitude tags {here}

Thursday, November 8, 2012

30 minute thursday's: ribeye with arugula and roasted peppers, peanut butter cookies

I cannot believe I've never posted this recipe before because I make it all.the.time.

It's a simple steak salad from Giada, that I've tweaked a little to make it do-able in 30 minutes.



Seared Rib-Eye Steak with Arugula and Red Pepper Salad
 
9 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 
2 Rib-Eye Steaks {about 1lb each and about 1" thick}
 
1 1/2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt, plus more to taste
 
1 1/2 Teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper, plus more to taste
 
3 Cups fresh arugula, washed and spun dry
 
2 Red Bell Peppers
 
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
 
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
 
1 Small Block of Parmesan {Parmagiano Reggiano is best here}
 
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Rub 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the steaks and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
 
In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over a medium high flame.
Add the steaks and fry until seared on the outside and cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium rare {in order to create a good, crusty sear, do not move or pierce the meat as it cooks on each side.}

Using tongs, transfer the steaks to a large plate and let rest for 10 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, cut the red pepper into long strips and cook in second saute pan over medium low heat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the minced garlic, until softened, about 5-10 minutes.
 
Line a large platter with the arugula and sprinkle the garlic sauteed peppers on top.
 
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and any juices from the steaks that have accumulated on the plate.  Season the dressing with more salt and pepper to taste. 
 
Cut the steaks across the grain and diagonally into 1 1/2-inch thick slices.  Lay the slices atop the arugula and peppers and drizzle with the dressing.  Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan cheese over and serve immediately.
 
I always have a loaf of crusty French bread and butter on the table as well.
 
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And now, for dessert...

 
 
Peanut Butter Cookies
 
I found this recipe at All Recipes last weekend, read through the comments and made a few adjustments.
 
These were the softest, chewiest, richest peanut butter cookies I have EVER had.  Four days later, they are still perfectly chewy and delicious.
 
Since the dough gets refrigerated for an hour, you can make that before you start dinner, place the bowl in the fridge and then bake them up after you've eaten. 

Ingredients:

1 Cup Butter {Most baking recipes call for unsalted.  I always use salted, because I think it's a pain to have to buy have 2 kinds of butter.  I use salted in everything and I've never had a problem with it}

1 1/2 Cups Smooth Peanut Butter {I used Skippy Creamy}

1 Cup White Sugar

1 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

3 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

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Preheat over to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
{My oven cooks a little bit hot, so you may want to adjust to 375 degrees if yours is dead on}

Cream together the butter, sugars and peanut butter.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Stir into batter.

Cover with foil and refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Roll dough into 1" balls {mine were probably more like 1 1/2"}, place on baking sheets,  Flatten each ball with the tines of a fork, dipped in water and create a criss cross pattern. 

Bake for 9 minutes and remove.  Do not overbake.  Allow cookies to cool on the pan for about 7 minutes and remove to a cooling rack.

Note: The cookies will look doughy, but as long as they are looking cooked around the outside, you'll be fine.  They will keep cooking on the hot pan once you pull them out of the oven and the biggest mistake you can make is overbaking them.  Once they have cooled on the racks, I place them on paper plates and slide the plates into freezer ziplocs - this prevents them from crumbling and makes them easier to take to work or deliver to your friends!

Enjoy!!


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

tuesday randomness via instagram

It's been awhile since I've done one of these posts....but I've been using my instagram a bit more the last few weeks, so here we go:

 
On Sunday we stayed home all day.  No alarm clock.  No church.  No visit with my Grandma.  No errands.  Aside from missing church and my Grandma, it was looovely. 
 
I did cook though.
 
I made these peanut butter cookies...
 

And meatballs and spaghetti.  The real deal.  From scratch.  It's the only meal I make that all 4 people in this house will eat.  No joke.  It's no 30 Minute Thursday though.  If I have help, this recipe takes 2 hours.  Without help, 3 hours.  I don't make it that often.  Eek. 

 
Cute invites I hand wrote and dressed up with glitter tape, chevron bags and twine bows.  More on that event later...

 
Date night!  This was actually "go out with a bunch of our friends night" but then that was rescheduled, and we figured since we already had a babysitter...why waste a perfectly good opportunity?!
 
{Reid took this photo - hello weird angle and cutoff head, but that's what makes it cute}

 
I noticed that I was the only one on instagram not posting a red Starbucks holiday cup last week.  I'm a Peet's girl.  I don't even drink hot coffee.  Also never lived outside California.  Maybe that explains it?!

 
Mailed in my absentee ballot.  {Roseanne Barr ran for President?!}

 
Gorgeous sunset.  We are so spoiled.  San Diego has the most amazing sunsets.


Halloween.  My little firefighter.  And his buddy, police officer Brady.  The cuteness kills me!

{Halloween was bittersweet.  I missed my Dad so much extra that day.  He always stayed at the house to pass out the candy while we went trick or treating with the kids.  He got such a kick out of the whole thing.  It felt very "wrong" to go on with all of that without him.  I cried most of the day, so I was really thankful that we had a houseful of friends and my Mom over that night to help take my mind off the missing}

 
Silly Sock Day at Reid's school.  Pink knee highs with bows.  Alrighty then.

 
Me and my littles headed out to the Harvest Festival at Reid's school.

 
My kitchen companion waited all afternoon on Sunday for me to drop something.  I think Grant gave him half a peanut butter cookie.
 
We don't feed him people food, but seriously sometimes that face is hard to resist.  Even in a fuzzy photo.
 
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If you have instagram, you can follow me on there @sdamber
 
Hope your election day is happy!!
 
 


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