Wednesday, December 21, 2016

DIY CHRISTMAS CARD DISPLAY

Kevin & I spent this past weekend in Raleigh, NC. On Saturday we caught a Carolina Hurricanes (NHL) game, visited the coolest arcade bar known to man, made pasta in a cast iron skillet at 3am and crashed (hard) at 5am Sunday morning. We also scored some awesome center court tickets to the NC State Basketball game at 2pm on Sunday, but I don't think my eyes were even open for most of it.

I'm so, so, sorry, liver. I'm detoxing all week.





I'll spare you more complaining and just skip to the part where I say being home and in my own bed is the best feeling in the whole world after a night of drinking. 

Actually, being home in general is just my favorite. Not being at our HOUSE, but being HOME. There's a difference.

Which is why I wanted to share this DIY Christmas Card holder because right now our HOME is featuring a ton of cards and pictures of our favorite people and I think yours should too.




This is a really simple project that took me all of five minutes. Okay, it was 10 minutes because apparently I don't tie knots well and the whole thing fell down. #Re-do

First things first, make a dollar store run. You might already have these things on hand but, for once, I didn't. Pick up a pack of clothespins, a red & white rope, some foam paint brushes and a couple jingle-belled sparkly reindeer ... because, well, jingle-belled sparkly reindeer.

Does anyone else always seem to have random command strips around? Like, I can't actually remember buying any but definitely found a baggie of 2 and knew they'd work perfectly for this project. 



Begin by attaching one of the command strips horizontally (instead of the normal vertical hook hang) to the top of the door so that the open part of the hook is facing toward the middle of the door.

Take one end of the rope and tie a simple knot to form a loop. Take the loop and put it onto the command hook.




Start wrapping your rope around the door in any pattern you choose (Hint: It helps if you leave the door cracked so you can feed the rope in between the door and the door frame).

Once you're done wrapping, secure the end of the rope to a second command strip and rope loop combination towards the bottom of the door.

The fun part about this project is that it doesn't have to be perfect! I made ours completely abstract by crossing the rope over itself, putting two strings close to each other and others further apart. You can experiment with the layout as much as you want before you attach the second command strip. 



Optional: Before attaching your cards to the rope with the clothespins, paint them fun Christmas colors! I used the foam brushes you can pick up at the dollar store and craft smart acrylic paint I had on hand in Red, Silver and Gold. Easy spruce up!

I chose to use our pantry door in the kitchen for this project because 1) I'm always in the kitchen and 2) I'm always in the kitchen. I literally get to see these smiling, joyous faces every day and I just love adding more and more cards (since I took these pictures we've now added an additional 8).

We accept cards from strangers too... just in case you have any extras from this year's order :)

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DIY CHRISTMAS CARD DISPLAY



Materials 


1 50ft Poly Rope
1 package of Clothespins (36 count)
Miscellaneous Decorations 
Command Strips 
Foam Brush (optional)
Red, Green, Silver, Gold Paint (optional)

Instructions


First, attach one of the command strips horizontally to the top of the door, hook facing towards the middle.

Tie a simple knot on one end of the rope to form a loop. Take the loop and put it onto the command hook.

Wrap the rope around the door in a design you like and when you're done wrapping, secure the end of the rope to a second command strip and rope loop combination towards the bottom of the door. 

Optional: Before attaching your cards to the rope with the clothespins, paint them fun Christmas colors.

Hang cards using clothespins and enjoy!

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My Materials

Paint; craft smart │ Foam Brush; ArtMinds 

Clothespins; Essentials │ Poly Rope; Tool Bench Hardware



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It really made me smile going to friends/family's houses and seeing our Christmas card on their fridge or displayed somewhere in their house. But then I second guessed myself and wondered why I even paid for a stamp in the first place if we were going to be in their house before Christmas anyway.  That was really my deep thought of the day and probably the deepest thought I'll have all week since I'm officially in the Christmas spirit. T-minus 4 days!


Friday, December 09, 2016

CREATIVE WAY TO ADDRESS CHRISTMAS CARDS


When I was little, one of my favorite Christmas traditions was rushing out to the mailbox and seeing cards with everyone's pictures and then hanging them on this wire card hanger off the pantry door at my parent's house. It would be so stuffed that cards would randomly pop out and land on the floor and it was nearly a puzzle trying to fit them back in. We have relatives as far as Alaska and I loved seeing/hearing what everyone had been up to, even from an early age.

Since then I have literally dreamed about "one day" doing Christmas cards of my own and that "one day" has finally come. I couldn't think of a better time to start this tradition with Kevin than moving into our first home together.

Although the more traditional route for cards is 'as a married couple', Kevin and I have never done things the traditional way. We both agree that our life together doesn't need a structured timeline, "after you're married", "after you're engaged", "after you've been dating more than 2 years" but rather when we feel the time is right. Like taking family photos after living together for less than 6 months and only dating for one calendar year. But we did it anyway and I can't help but smile knowing we'll be able to look at these cards 20 years from now with a million memories running through our minds.





On another note, I'm super frugal, let's just get it out there. And I'll still be frugal when I'm reflecting at that 20 year mark. Christmas can be a really expensive time of the year and I'm all about finding ways to save money without sacrificing quality. I have no shame in buying things from Groupon, Living Social or other discount websites and using coupons and promo codes. In fact, I look at it as a challenge like, "I wonder how much money I can save on this" ... which I then immediately go and brag to my Mom & Kevin about, "Guys, guess how much I saved?" It's a fun game... for me at least.

I came across a Groupon for 70 cards from Photo Affections for $20 and started researching the company/product. I wanted to make sure our cards weren't going to look cheap and that there weren't a million hidden fees (ie: processing, envelopes extra, etc) lurking in the background. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Groupon covered envelopes, single-sided glossy cardstock prints and shipping was the only additional cost. 

After playing around with a million template options and the 159 pictures (yes, 159) our super talented friend Alex (follow her @FollyGirlPhotography) took, we decided on both the Peaceful Branches template for a staged goofy picture and the Gilded Speckles template for a candid photo.


Peaceful Branches & Gilded Speckles templates on photoaffections.com




Cards + Envelopes from Photo Affections: $101.26
Actual Paid with Groupon: $20.00
+ Shipping: $8.75
+ Stamps: $50.00
----------------------------------------------------------------
Total Spent: $78.75



Our cards came SUPER quickly; I placed the order Sunday night and received them Tuesday evening. I could not be happier with the quality either, Photo Affections did such an awesome job! 

Now onto addressing all 55 of them...

I wanted something creative but not overly time consuming. I think it's so fun when I get mail (that's something other than bills) and hoped for our recipients to feel the same after receiving their cards. 





  1. Add your return address label (I used a custom ink stamp on the backside of the envelope)
  2. Create stencil using scissors and cardboard
  3. Trace stencil with black pen
  4. Draw a circle and the dotted design for tag ribbon with black pen
  5. Grab a foam brush, a cup for water and your watercolor tray (I used Crayola, green)
  6. Carefully paint inside your tag outline (I intentionally went slightly outside the lines for character)
  7. Allow to dry 20 minutes and label!



DISCLAIMER
I refuse to share my cards before anyone actually gets them, so instead I'll 
give you a peak of our favorite photos that we didn't end up choosing. 
Enjoy!











If you're one of the lucky 55 that received our card(s) this year, thank you for being such a special part of our lives! For those of you that didn't, we're still thankful for you & you'll get a look at the final card when I share it after the holidays!



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

DIY REINDEER HEAD CANVAS


Don't ask why but Kevin and I watched the horror movie Annabelle just before bed last night. I spent most of the night tossing and turning thinking some murderer was going to bust into our bedroom with a kitchen knife. Just as I was closing my eyes my 125lb German Shepherd-Rottweiler let out 3 extremely deep barks and just stared into the hallway from the bedside. I FREAKED. Turns out he heard an airplane (what a baby) but that's about the last of the horror movies for me. I think it's time to spread some holiday cheer instead.

FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LAAA

To the Reindeer Canvas...




Our mantel has been missing something since I first put up our Christmas decorations earlier this month. We have an outlet and cable connection above the fireplace (as if to mount a TV and avoid cords being seen), but instead we decided to mount the TV on another wall and put our second TV on a stand below the first for dual viewing. I mean, what else are you supposed to do when the Steelers and Panthers play at the same time? 

Needless to say, I had to come up with something that would look festive but also cover up that ugly outlet. 

A few months ago I purchased a 5-pack of 16" x 20" canvases from Michael's (only $10 after a 50% off coupon!) and thought this might be the perfect opportunity to use canvas 3 of 5. In a few easy steps, you can make this DIY Reindeer Head Canvas too! 

You might also like to see what I did with Canvas #1








Copy the Reindeer head image into Microsoft Excel. It's one of the only programs that let's you print in a tiled format (ie: prints the image on multiple sheets) so you can piece it together like a puzzle for the end result. You're welcome to use the image above or you can search for your own on Google.

Then adjust the size/layout. Since my canvas was 16" x 20" I made my Reindeer head image ~13" x 16" (keeping the proportions locked).

Optional: You can have your image printed at Staples for ~$2 on one sheet of paper instead but I'm frugal and used my printer at work. Don't tell!





Gather your materials; Canvas, Reindeer head image, paintbrush(es), paint, plate or cup for paint, scissors (or paper cutter), tape and pencil.







Trim off the borders of your 8.5" x 11" sheets of paper so that the edge of the paper is now even with the start of the image. I used a Fiskars SureCut Scrapbook Paper Trimmer, but you could just as easily use standard scissors.

Discard the excess border and arrange your sheets so it makes one complete image.







Tape your image pieces together, making sure you do not put tape anywhere on the outline of the Reindeer (both the front and back). You're going to be tracing over the outline and the tape will interfere.




On the back of the image with your pencil, shade heavily over the outline of your image. You want to make sure the entire outline is covered, including antlers and empty spaces between.  






Flip your image back over so the side you just shaded is against the canvas. Center your Reindeer and secure to the canvas with tape. 

Important: I place a large, hard book under the canvas before tracing. If you don't put a hard surface under the canvas, you may end up pressing too hard and tearing it since the frame makes it raised off whatever surface you are working on.

With pressure, trace over the entire outline of your Reindeer with your pencil. Then remove your printed Reindeer image to reveal it on the canvas. 




Begin painting your Reindeer in the color of your choice. I used craft smart Holiday Red, but green, gold or silver would all turn out well for the Holidays. It might help to use a smaller paintbrush for the antlers if you are new to painting with foam brushes like I am. I scooped a cheap multi-pack from the Dollar Store.

Allow to air dry overnight and display in your desired location!


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DIY REINDEER HEAD CANVAS



Materials 


1 16" x 20" Canvas
Printed Reindeer Head
#2 Pencil 
Foam Paintbrush + Smaller Paintbrush
Paper Plate or Disposable Cup
Tape
Scissors
craft smart Metallic Paint in Holiday Red



Instructions


Copy your Reindeer head image into Microsoft Excel and adjust the size/layout. Since my canvas was 16" x 20" I made my Reindeer head image 13" x 16". 

Print out your Reindeer onto regular computer paper (I used 8 1/2" x 11"). Your image will print in a tiled format (6 pages) so you will need to trim your pages and piece the image together as if putting together a puzzle. Tap the pieces of paper together to complete the full image.

Then, position the image (printed side up) onto your canvas to ensure the whole image will fit and using your #2 pencil, shade over the Reindeer head outline on the backside of the computer paper. 

Flip your computer paper back over so that the printed side is up and gently place your image as you want it to appear on your canvas. Optional: Tape it onto the canvas to secure.

Pushing hard, start tracing over the Reindeer head outline using your pencil. Once you've traced the whole thing, remove the printer paper to reveal your image in pencil on the canvas. 

Begin filling in your image with the Holiday Red craft smart paint and the foam brush. Apply two coats or more if you feel necessary.


Allow to completely dry overnight and display in desired location. 

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Total Project Cost: ~$4
$10 for all 5 canvases (regularly $19.99, but with 50% off coupon at Michaels), $0.79 Paint, $0.49 Foam Paintbrush



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My Materials

Paint; Craftsmart │ Foam Brush; ArtMinds │ Canvas; Artist Loft 



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I'm obsessed with how our mantel turned out with this canvas addition! It not only covers up those ugly outlets, but it really pulls the whole room together too. If you make this, I'd love to see how they turned out! Happy crafting! 



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

CATCH UP + CHRISTMAS PREP

So I've been pretty MIA lately and totally slacking on my weekly meal posts/craft ideas/any posts in general really. But that doesn't mean I've been sitting around binge watching Netflix... as nice as that sounds. The past few weeks have been full of crafts, outdoor activities, football, Christmas shopping, eating and more eating. Did I mention eating? I'm still in a food coma from the THREE Thanksgivings we had last week. 

All play and no sleep is probably one of the reasons I'm hacking up my lungs this week. Being sick sucks!


CATCH UP 


THANKSGIVING 


As mentioned above, I spent most of the Thanksgiving holiday (and the day before) with a full plate and full glass. Wednesday night was with Mom devouring the world's best homemade stuffing (it's a recipe passed from my grandmother) and flutes of champagne. Thursday lunch-ish was at my Dad and Step Mom's, complete with pumpkin pie martinis. Thursday evening was spent with Kevin's parents, a fried turkey and IPAs.

OH! and a Pittsburgh Steelers win! 

As exhausted and full as we were, we are so thankful that our families live this close and that we can spend time with everyone during this holiday season. Including my giant of a 'little' brother as seen below. 



CRAFTING  


You guys, Kevin is such a trooper. He loves to be involved in most things I do (cooking, crafting, not so much cleaning) and whenever I bust out a new project he dives in head first. Nothing changed when the next project on my list was Christmas Tile Coasters. 

Since this is a super inexpensive project (think, like, $4) I had no problem letting him make these on his own. He still has a bit to learn about Mod Podge techniques, and how to not smear newspaper ink all over the coasters, but overall he did a great job and the coasters are proudly on display on our coffee table.

I'll be sharing a post soon with a full tutorial and links for the images but for now I'll leave you with this pic of my handsome guy getting all crafty. 



FRIENDS


It's been a couple super exciting weeks not just for us but for friends too! We celebrated the beautiful marriage of our good friends Danielle and Joe in Hilton Head Island, SC on November 19th. Also, my best friend's husband, Mackenzie Hughes, just won his first ever PGA Tour event at the RSM Classic last weekend!! No big deal. We celebrated his win with a bottle of Dom Perignon (thanks to his sponsors) and homemade sushi when he and Jenna got back to Charlotte.

Oh, by the way, totally bought the Facebook-raved-about Sushi Bazooka. Unfortunately it didn't come in on time for our DIY sushi night but you betcha that baby will be used like twice a week once it does arrive. I see a sushi themed party in my near future because #ThatsHowWeRoll. 


OTHER 


On Black Friday, Kevin, the pup and I decided to #OptOutside by hiking the Pinnacle Trail on Crowders Mountain in Kings Mountain, NC. The outdoor company REI is behind the #OptOutside trend and encourages people to get out and explore instead of standing in line and shopping. Judging by the traffic around the Charlotte Premium Outlets (and our neighborhood) we wanted nothing to do with shopping anyway. 

Our luck, by trying to avoid the lines we ended up stuck in line waiting to park at Crowders. Ironic, isn't it?






CHRISTMAS PREP


CONFESSION


Our Christmas decorations have been up since, like, November 11th. In our defense though, for all you Judgey McJudgers, they were only up that early because we were taking Christmas card pictures by our wonderfully talented friend, Alex. We can't wait to see how they all turned out but she sent me a few unedited sneak peaks this morning and I literally can't stop looking at them (insert all the heart eye emojis). 

Check out Alex's skills @FollyGirlPhotography on Insta!

Also check out my fur child's modeling skills. That's his good side and he knows it.





OUR FIRST TREE


Our decorations may have been up since November 11th but it was definitely an artificial tree. Since moving in together, Kevin and I have had a blast planning and starting new traditions and this season we decided that a day trip to the mountains to hand pick a real Christmas tree was a no-brainer. We also decided to leave the hand saw and ropes at home because watching Kevin saw down a tree with a 125lb dog pulling me down the hill because he's gotta be all up in Kevin's grill just didn't sound ideal.

Kevin and his Googling skills found a tree farm about 2.5 hours away from Charlotte called Little Switzerland Fraser Firs where you simply pick your tree, they cut it down and even secure it to your car for you. I'm all about that simplicity! 

Our tree came back in one piece, needles still full and ready to be decorated! 






I'm so excited about some upcoming posts I have to share with you all and even more excited about getting into the Christmas spirit. I'm pretty sure Kevin's just excited about the 7 kinds of Christmas cookies I make each year but to each his own, right?

'Tis the season! 


Monday, November 14, 2016

WEEKLY FOOD ROUND-UP │ WEEK OF NOV 7

I just want everyone to know that I ran a 5k on Friday night. I also head-first penguin slid into a dirt pile after tripping on a root in the woods. 

The 5k was a nighttime trail run at the Whitewater Center here in Charlotte. The course was on one of the mountain bike paths with a pretty rough terrain and zero lighting. We were running with headlamps and flashlights and let me just tell you that sweaty foreheads and headlamps are not an ideal combo. 

It was my first 5k since probably college (I'm not admitting how long ago that was) and will probably be my last. At least until my old lady hips recover. We I finished in just under 45 min - Kevin would have finished in like 20 if it wasn't for me - and finished 188th & 189th out of 254 people. He even let me cross the finish line first, what a guy!

Thankfully my culinary skills are better than my coordination.



Check out; 
Week 1 │ Week 2 │ Week 3 │ Week 4 │ Week 5 │ Week 6





Week 7


Monday│ Cabo Fish Taco



Cabo Fish Taco Menu

We were playing hooky on Monday since Kevin had a few guy friends in town and had stopped by Cabo for an early dinner. The 3pm weather was just perfect for the covered patio. We were happily & immediately seated (usually it's a 30+ min wait during busy times) and ordered IPAs.

Cabo Fish Taco is dubbed a Charlotte staple but I was a little under-impressed with the food this time around. Don't get me wrong, it's totally delicious, but the amount of sauce and spice really masked the flavors of the meat itself. I couldn't tell if I was eating shrimp or tuna! I'm definitely more of a simple kinda girl when it comes to taste, so maybe this was just something I wasn't used to eating. Next time I go I'll definitely order the sauce on the side! 

The IPAs were great...

Ordered; Pictured; BBQ Mahi Taco, Lemon Grilled Shrimp Taco, Slaw. Not Pictured; Tavarua Tuna TacoHoney Soy Glazed Salmon Taco, Avocado Pasta Salad, Queso. Triple C Brewery IPA.


Tuesday │ Homemade Primanti Bros



Recipe inspiration from Primanti Bros.

If you haven't been to Pittsburgh, PA for a classic roast beef sandwich from Primantis, GO NOW. BYE. I won't even be mad at you for not reading the rest of this post. In fact, if I could eat this deliciousness every day of my life and not gain 100 lbs, I totally would. 

Surprise though, it's Tuesday and I'd make it to Pittsburgh and back just in time for it to be Wednesday. And some of us work on Wednesday's which is why I'm eternally grateful that my mom created a near perfect replica only 15 miles away from my front door. 

There are french fries on this sandwich. And coleslaw. And cheese. And rare roast beef. And ah, I'm drooling just thinking about it. And that's a lot of and's.

We don't make these as often as I wish but it was fun celebrating my older brother's birthday (early) and being glutenous for a night. As much as I want to share this recipe with everyone, I literally think my mother might kill me. And I don't want to die because then I can't eat any more of these sandwiches.


WednesdayThai Chicken Lettuce Wraps



Original Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy

Somehow I made this dinner AND cleaned up in a total of 30 minutes. It might have been because it's been a really rough week for me and I was on auto-pilot, but it might also mean I will be breaking my "don't repeat meals" rule. I like to call it a "time-efficient yum".

I used the leftover romaine leaves from the Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps and the green onions from the Skinny Burrito Bowl I made last week. I purchased 1lb of ground chicken from Food Lion for $2.99 on sale and scooped another pound to stick in the freezer for another meal later. Red pepper, matchstick carrots and peanuts (already on hand) added to the crunch. 

We scarfed these down in less time than it took to make them. Somehow Kevin lucked out and got the leftovers for lunch...


Thursday│ Charcuterie Meat & Cheese Plates



Cocktails & Creatives Original Recipe

Kevin and I have been wanting to make this dinner - is it safe to say this is dinner? - since forever. I also haven't been able to pronounce Charcuterie since, well, forever. I probably spent about $50 total on just this meal (including wine), but it was 100% worth it. 

As Kevin says; "You can't put a price tag on memories!"   

On our plates were; 

Meats - Prosciutto, Hard Salami, local salami from the Farmer's Market
Cheese - Manchego, Brie, Sharp Cheddar, Goat, Chipotle Havarti
Miscellaneous - Grapes, Almonds, Apples, Sweet Gherkin Pickles
Toppings - Hot Honey, Red Raspberry Jam, Stone Ground Mustard, Red Pepper Hummus, Regular Honey
Breads - Multi-Grain Crackers, Toasted Garlic Bagel Crisps, Honey Brown Bread, Honey Graham Crackers
Wine - Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon, Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon



Friday 1/2 Banana, Hershey's Chocolate & Jam Sessions



Post race recovery at it's finest. Since the 5k was a nighttime run, the Whitewater Center had some cool evening festivities planned for afterwards. Glow sticks, music, s'mores and NoDa Jam Session beers were all provided after finishing. 

Kevin and I snagged a piece of chocolate, 1/2 banana and nearly chugged the first half of our beers. Don't they always taste better after you did something to earn it? With temperatures dropping into the mid-30s that night our sweat quickly turned cold and we ran stiffly walked to the car. Side note: I'm so thankful for butt-warmers #ToastedBuns

We also popped a frozen pizza into the oven later and may or may not have set up our Christmas decorations. Don't judge. At least I haven't started playing the music yet.

Onto the weekend! 


Although it was a pretty tough week - work/home balance, getting back into the swing of things, having company over during a weekday and dreading the 5k, we still managed to still eat like pros. Can't wait to share next week... and hopefully by then my legs will have returned to normal.