Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fortune Cookie




Powerful words from such a small package. But, it's true. The only thing in life that we really can control is ourselves and our own, personal view of the world. This fortune from our New Year's Eve dinner at the Chinese restaurant says it all! Cheers to a Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's the little things

Sometimes the smallest things can make a big difference. Like this new runner we bought for the hallway where the bedrooms are. I thought it looked just fine without it, but then decided to get this on a whim today, and I really like how it warms up the area but still exposes the beautiful floors (as well as the base moldings that still require painting...).


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas all around the house

I'm not sure if it's because we are in a new home this year, or if it's all of the wonderful inspiration from blogs and Pinterest (or likely both!), but I think I am the happiest I've been in a while with Christmas decor in our home. Before we moved, we lived in the same home for many years. All of the decor I had purchased were specifically for different spaces in our former home. Now, we're in a new place, and not all of it "fits" in the same way, and I found I was wanting to switch things up a bit anyway. I went for a lot more fresh greenery this year. I am so happy with the boxwood wreathes we got at Trader Joe's. They are a few weeks old now, and are still bright, vibrant green. I also used paperwhites, and ivy topiares from TJ's and they look beautiful in the dining room window under the wreath. As far as the Christmas tree goes- it's the best one we've had in a LONG time. This is one of the first years we have not gone to a tree farm to hand-select and cut ourselves. Instead, we went to Stone House Nursery in Wyckoff (one of my most favorite places around Bergen county), and bought a pre-cut Frasier Fir there. Even Greg has said over and over what a perfect Christmas tree it is. This year's tree is slightly slimmer than previous years, so we chose to put only our most favorite ornaments on it. Many of our ornaments we received as gifts throughout the years, and many of them have been passed down from my mother. Beautiful, vintage, shiny and vibrant ornaments of so many shapes and colors that it was hard to pick which go on the tree, and which stay in the boxes for another time. We also decided to put a wreath in every window of the house outside, and it really looks pretty. Each wreath has a classic red velvet bow. I think it will stick with the fresh, green theme for many years to come!

Paperwhites along the window sill in the Dining Room. I love having a shed to place a wreath on too!
Love these boxwood wreaths from Trader Joe's. I put a bright green ribbon on it.
Our tree
Mom's ornaments.
The buffet in the dining room. I like how you can see the tree in the mirror on the opposing wall 
Santa on the Chalkboard shelf in the kitchen!
More greens and a wreath from Trader Joe's
My adorable baking companion frosting cookies for Santa tonight!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Praline Pecan Crunch



Looking for the easiest Christmas treat to make and enjoy over the holidays? One that does not involve hours of laborious dough prep and rolling and cutting and frosting? Look no further, this Praline Pecan Crunch is the best stuff ever! My Mom gave my sister and I this recipe, and she and I both agree it's the gold standard of crowd-pleasers when it comes to holiday goodies. We have yet to find one person who doesn't gush over it and ask for the recipe. It's SO EASY too. The funny thing, is that this recipe begins with ingredients that are relatively healthy, but quickly takes a turn to the dark side with lots of sugar. But, hey it's the holidays! You have permission to indulge!!

Praline Pecan Crunch:

1 16 oz package of Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal (8 cups)
2 Cups Pecan Pieces
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/2 Cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Baking Soda

Heat oven to 250 F. Combine cereal and pecans in a 13x9 pan, and set aside.
Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter in a 2 cup microwaveable bowl and microwave in short intervals while stirring ingredients until they come to a boil (maybe 1 minute, then stir, and then one more minute, etc).
Stir in vanilla and the baking soda. Pour this over the cereal and coat all of the pieces evenly.
Bake for 1 full hour, stirring this mixture every 20 minutes.
Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool
Break into pieces and serve it up!

I put one cup servings into cello treat bags, and brought them in to the office for my friends at work...



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving Floral Centerpiece Workshop

I've always wanted to attend a workshop on flower arranging. For one reason or another, I've never actually made it to one. This year, when I received the email from Abma's Farm announcing that they would be holding a workshop for Thanksgiving centerpiece-making, I couldn't sign up quick enough!
Abma's, without doubt, is one of my favorite places in Bergen County. We haven't lived here long enough to know all of the good places around NJ, but we are definitely fortunate to live so close to this awesome farm. They hold workshops all year on various flower-related DIY things, so I will certainly be on the lookout for future projects as they come up.
Here are some pictures from this mornings' event. There were 15 people and we each had a workstation in the greenhouse. A mother-daughter team was across from me, and I had a fellow novice on my right. The two of us had a good time laughing at how we aren't good at this at all.
Cathy instructed us, and some of the young girls who work there weaved in an out of us as we were working to assist with design as needed. I'm pretty happy with my final product!
Lots of gourds to choose from!
I wanted something other than orange
Amanda cut our gourds for us, be we gutted them ourselves, and gave our guts to the compost pile
Ready!
Oasis is in! 
Some of the flowers I selected
Cathy assisted me a bit. Gave me the 3-5-7 rule.
Work in progress- they told me I needed more filler!
Final product!!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

November. All the leaves are brown....

As I mentioned in an earlier post, and as evidenced by my non-stop instagramming, this fall has got to be one of the best that I can remember. I think it's a combination of many factors that are causing me to pause throughout my busy day, and slow down just a bit, so that I can soak it all in.
I found, that during the leaves' peak for color and abundance, I was driving just a bit slower than normal on the back roads around my northern New Jersey town so that I could peer out my windows and absorb all the beauty. My morning drive is saturated with beauty ( I am a seriously lucky gal), and as I made my way through many towns with gorgeous autumn scenery, I would actually welcome a prolonged stop at a light, or waiting behind a few cars making a left-hand turn. Those unexpected delays gave me the opportunity to really take in the landscape and enjoy it.
It occurred to me as I drove into my work campus on Monday that the leaves have gone from bursting with red, orange, bronze and yellow to being sort of brown. They've curled up and have begun to fall. I remembered thinking to myself "I'm glad that I took the time to take it in, because it won't be long before the snow comes".
But, yesterday, as I was trotting down to our cafe for some coffee, I looked out of our vast wall of windows, and saw the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, the lake, and trees. Though not at peak color any longer, the sight was equally beautiful. I couldn't resist getting a couple of shots. It too is worth remembering.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Joey-isms

For as long as I can remember, Joey has been making up words of his own by combining two words together.
"Hanitizer"-- short for hand sanitizer. He uses it (the hand sanitizer, I mean) like mad and always asks for a new bottle for his backpack. "I NEED MORE HANITIZER,MOM!"
"Rememberize"-- Sort of like remember and sort of like memorize.
"Newdea"-- That's "new idea" and sometimes was used to mean "good idea". This was the first example of his word combo thing that I can remember. "I have a newdea, let's go get donuts!"
There were a few others that he used to say, but over time he's outgrown them. I figured I had better write these down before I forget more!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween 2013

I've been writing a Halloween post since the kids were born and feel very far behind on this year's post! (3 days?)

This is the first year that the kids have NOT gone as something cute like a superhero. Now they want to be as scary and frightening as possible. Though trick-or-treat was a somewhat different experience here in NJ, we did find some doors to go to and every single person who answered the door gave the boys exactly what they had hoped for: an "OMG you scared me!!" reaction along with a pretty decent handful of candy.

Here are this years jack-o-lanterns. Joey wanted his pumpkin carved into a bunny because we have been referring to him as our Baby Rabbit for so many years. Chris chose the Chicago Bulls mascot. Why? No one knows other than his recent obsession with bball. But why Chicago??


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

BEST.HUSBAND.EVER

Today is our wedding anniversary! I am a lucky girl to be married to such a great guy. He's my best friend forever and is also the best Dad our kids could ever ask for.
Here's to many, many more great years together!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Colorful, Colorful Fall

We are having a spectacular fall here in the Northeast! The weather has been unseasonably warm and there has been very little rain. I am really enjoying the colorful foliage, it really reminds me of home in New England. The reds and oranges are truly a sight to see, there honestly is nothing quite like it. Every morning when I drive in to work, I drive just slightly slower than normal so that I can soak it all in. And take a few pictures...

Feel kinda bad for the people behind me driving into TRU campus.

When you've lived away from this sort of natural beauty for so long, it really makes you appreciate it even more when you're surrounded by it again. Thus the pictures while driving in to the parking lots...


TRU Headquarters - So pretty!!!
 Though moving has been overwhelming in terms of how much stuff there is to unpack, we've made a point to get out and enjoy this gorgeous weather we've been having. Who knows how long it will last before the cold weather finally arrives! Last weekend, highs were in the mid 70's. We headed over to the Ramsey Farmer's Market at the train station in the center of town. Even though we got there late, there were still a lot of people roaming and the vendors still had a ton of great samples and things to check out.

Ramsey Farmer's Market- not a great shot of the tents, but haaaaad to get the pretty foliage in

My cuties on the Fire Engine




We also took a visit to Secor Farms in Mahwah. Joey had gone there already with his Kindergarten class for his field trip, and couldn't wait to go again! Hayrides, donuts, lots of photo ops, and of course a corn maze. And, of course, pumpkins! Pretty good day!

My Baby Rabbit...


Secor Farms - lots of photo ops.

Corn Maze

Chris vs. Frankenstein

Meditating over his pumpkins....

Rocks carved into owls.

Where'd you go, Chris??

My beauties



Monday, September 23, 2013

Custom Photo Cards from Ink361


My favorite site for viewing my Instagrams, Ink361,  is having a sale on Instagram photo cards - buy 10 for $20 (regular price would be $30, so this is a pretty sweet deal). This deal ends on 9/25, so act soon to get in on it.


Instagram Photo Cards
I plan on making several from the Instagrams I've been posting from this summer. Like this one of the boys at the beach in East Hampton. Such a great way to remember those days of summer that seem to fly by too quickly!


These 5x5 cards from Ink361 are the perfect way to send a unique, personalized card. Using the new apps - like Letterglow and Over - that let you add words and graphics to your pics before you Instagram - help you create the perfect little message for a card. These apps are a perfect compliment to Instagram and are especially useful for people like me who are not graphic designers!

Ink361's cards are printed on 100% recycled paper and ship within the US for Photo cards is just $1 or to Canada for $3 (other location shipping costs vary).

To take advantage of this offer, visit INK361.com and use code 10CARDS20XT at checkout.

Check out their site for more info on the products or start your order.

Offer details here. 
Not valid with any other offer, valid only on 10 Cards from your own photos, expires 11:59pm PST Sept. 25

Hope you enjoy your photo cards!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Airplane Graffiti

Last weekend, the kids were outside and called for me from the deck. The pointed to the sky in disbelief over the perfect letter "X" that two airplanes had made in the sky. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my iPhone was able to capture it!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

House Projects Update- Kitchen Wall Down!

Lots of progress is happening at the new house. We've repainted the entire main floor. We started out thinking Grey Owl from Benjamin Moore was the Holy Grail of paint for us, but it wasn't until we painted most of the house in that color that we realized that NOPE. It's wasn't! This color was very nice but had a strong greenish-blue cast that really turned us off. This color did not lay down as gray for us at all in this big space. We think it deserves a second chance, so we'll try it in the master bedroom. For the main floor, we decided to turn to the trusty Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore. MUCH BETTER. It's a beautiful, classic gray that is warm, yet fresh and clean. We love it. Our furniture will look great with this shade of gray. The floors are being refinished this week. We've picked a red mahogany stain. We can't go back in the house to check it out until Saturday. I'm excited though!

Floor swatches! Decisions, decisions! 
 
As for the wall in the kitchen--it's gone for good, and wow, what a difference! We decided to keep one wall facing the living room, and only take the wall that is adjacent to the dining room down. This opens the kitchen right up to the dining room, yet leaves one wall for additional cabinets.

Wall demolition in progress
And, it's gone! Much more open!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The #Ink 361_Letterglow Challenge

East Hampton, NY
I can't tell you how many days go by where I wish I were a graphic designer, or had at least some sense for Photoshop. Well, I'm not, and I don't. And at this stage of my busy life, I don't really have time to go back and learn (I'm waiting for my kids to become experts, and then they can teach me :).

This is why I love innovative design/photography apps like Letterglow, a very cool app that I just learned about from @Ink361. Letterglow allows you to take your photos one step further, and enhance them with typography overlays. It gives you several fonts to work with, but if you have your own custom fonts you prefer to use you can add them to this app as well. You can also fine tune the image with other photography adjustments as well. Once you have something you love, you can share it to all of your social networks.

Letterglow is hosting the latest photo challenge on @Ink361, so I submitted one of my favorite pictures from the summer of the two boys at the beach in East Hampton. The challenge ends on September 11 at midnight.

I couldn't resist playing around with the app a bit more, and created this picture below of the kids today on the #FDOS (first day of school). I figure the interesting typeface on this picture detracts from the less-than-thrilled look on their faces!

First Day of School in Ramsey, NJ




 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Home Redesign Update- Dining Room Progress

This is one of the few times where we've wanted to repaint our home, and have had luck with the first few samples we've brought home to try. There are so, so many great choices for paint color that it can be completely overwhelming! One of the benefits of house-hunting is that you get the opportunity to explore many homes where you can see how others decorate and the paints they choose. The lighter and brighter tones definitely appeal to us over the warmer, deeper tones. Our old home in Pittsford was mainly deep. I loved our deep red dining room with the white crown, but I think for our new home we will lighten everything up. Where the dining room is completely open to the living room, we think the lighter tones will make the rooms seem even larger.



Dining Room: Before and Progress Update- no more curtains and dark walls

We looked at many paint chips at our local Benjamin Moore paint shop in Wyckoff. The colors we were leaning toward were Revere Pewter, Gray Owl, Stonington Gray, Silver Half Dollar. Very subtle grays. Some with warm undertones, and some cool. We ultimately chose Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore.  It has a beautiful lightness to it, but it's nicely grounded with a warm undertone and the slightest touch of green. You need to be in the right lighting to see the green but in most conditions it's just gray. We think it will coordinate really well with our existing furniture, and will give everything a more modern, updated feel. We intend to refinish the floors to a deep shade of walnut, which will look much nicer than the honey oak stain that is currently on the floors. I love how the light walls play off of a dark finished floor. All of the crown moldings in the house are currently painted a creamy yellow-y ivory color. We will paint it all a bright white, which will look amazing against the grays. Once the walls are painted, we can then tackle the ceiling in the dining room...also a yellow/ivory tone. Needs to be bright and white.



I think the beautiful window needs nothing more than a fresh coat of white paint. It is designed so well, and has such great moldings and detail that covering it up with curtains is a crime! The room already is so much bigger and brighter without the curtains (even before painting). After the room is painted, we will replace and update the lighting. I have many ideas for chandeliers but I am strongly considering this one from Ballard Designs. I just don't know which size to get - petite or grande.

Coming along nicely!!






 

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