Wednesday, September 28, 2011

{Inspiration} Fall Happy Hour

Good Morning! Now that the invites have been delivered, I have been thinking more about my neighborhood happy hour, and have started collecting some inspiration pictures. I want to keep it simple yet festive for this time of year.

Let me start with my favorite -- the three tiered galvanized tray from PB has been on my "To Buy" list for the longest time. It's a little pricey for me, so I've been keeping an eye out at my favorite stores for PB knockoffs luck. Hmmm....I might buckle and buy an early Christmas present for myself....

Aren't the fall treats adorable? Love the simplicity -- apples, popcorn and Halloween candy.

Monogrammed pumpkins -- cute!

Caramal apple taffies are the epitome of fall and one of my favorite treats at this time of year. The cutest thing about these? The striped straws used as sticks -- LOVE it and will be trying this at some point this fall.

Last but not least, the sweet mason jars filled with candy corn and candles. I did this a few years ago in a big vase and used it as a centerpiece for my table. I might just have to try something like this again!

**All pics via Pinterest

Monday, September 26, 2011

{Parties} Neighborhood Happy Hour

My husband and I decided awhile ago that we wanted to throw a little happy hour for our neighbors. We have lived in our home now for about 2 1/2 years and are friendly with the people that live on either side of us and across the street, but we don't really know them all that well. Most are older couples with grown children, but there a few younger couples with little ones. In an attempt to get to know everyone a little better, a fall happy hour was born.

I have mentioned before that I have not had any of my designing programs for months {that will be changing soon!}, so I decided to use some adorable free, yes FREE, printables from The TomKat Studio. They are perfect for this event -- black, chevron, simple. Thank you, TomKat!

I filled in the details over the weekend and Dean and I will be dropping them in mailboxes today after work. Looking forward to sharing some of the details with you soon!


**What a weekend! Of course it flew, but my fall decorating is done, and I'm loving the warm, cozy feel it adds to my little abode. My sis was also home with her kiddies for a whirlwind weekend visit, and we had a blast yesterday at Hershey Park. Miss them like crazy and so thankful to have had some unexpected quality time with them.
**September is always a rough month for me with being back to work, but I finally feel like I'm settling in to the new routine and so is Dean. Ahhh....I miss that boy during the day...
**So looking forward to October -- the beautiful fall weather, LOTS of fun weekend plans, fall photo shoot with Karen Carpenter Photography, Vegas with my hunny, Halloween, and more!
**Here's to a quick & painless work week!

Friday, September 23, 2011

{Invitations} Maura's First Birthday

My sweet niece turned one in early September, and my sister and I are currently planning her first birthday party {the party is being held in late October because her daddy is a college football coach and doesn't have many free weekends}. Her theme is "Apple of my Eye" and we are using some pretty girly colors to tie in the green apples -- lime, moss green, dark pink, and light pink.

The party is being held on a Saturday morning, and we will be serving brunch. I'm so excited to help my sister with this one -- I've been wanting to plan a birthday brunch for the longest time {and have been considering it for Dean's 2nd birthday for a while now too}.

I also made wrap labels to coordinate with the invitations. These will be going in the mail this weekend!

Check out my Apple of my Eye pinboard on Pinterest to see some of the inspiration I've been collecting for Maura's party!

**Boy am I glad it's Friday...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

{Decorating} Lanterns

Although not official yet, fall feels like it's in full swing, and I'm feeling very ready to decorate my home for the season. I started with the outside this past weekend. I lean toward a simplistic decorating style, so mums and pumpkins usually do it for me, but this year I was on the hunt for something else -- lanterns.

Home Goods is my go-to store whenever I am looking for home decor. I found a HUGE lantern that was perfect for my porch steps for $29.99. You don't even want to know how much very similar lanterns were going for at Pottery Barn this past weekend....

Then I bought some large pillar candles and sat them atop upside down vases to give them even more height {this lantern is very tall!}. Lastly, I added some fall leaves and twirled them around the candles to hide the upside down vases.

It looks really cute and festive at night when it's lit, and it adds a whole new element to my front porch and compliments the mums and pumpkins without being too much. I plan on using lanterns at Christmas too since I'm having a love affair with them at the present moment ;-}

Friday, September 16, 2011

{TGIF} Pottery Barn Love

Happy Happy Happy Friday! I'm sooo looking forward to a little pizza, a little wine, a little pumpkin pie gelati, a little QT with Bo, a little snuggle time with R. Dean, and a little relaxation time for me!

We have a busy weekend ahead, and I'm really excited that I'll be taking a fall decorating class at my local Pottery Barn with my girlfriend Alyssa. After I get all my tips from the experts at PB, I'm off to do some fall decorating of my own! And if I learn anything worthy of sharing, you know I will pass it along!

I ADORE this PB drink station -- if only I had one of those carts. Hmmm....I might have to do some hunting around at my FIL's house....

Enjoy your weekend!

**Pics via Pottery Barn

Thursday, September 15, 2011

{Inspiration} Wall Art

One of my summer projects was to create a gallery wall in my upstairs hallway. It was one of the many projects I never got around to finishing....

Life got going and one of the best summers ever flew by in what seemed like a millisecond....and just didn't get done. Although not finished, it did get started....and I do plan on finishing it....sooner rather than later.

Here's some inspiration to get my creative juices, and perhaps yours, flowing...

I'm going for somewhat of an eclectic look -- frames of different color, size, orientation, etc. And maybe some other unique findings....

A few black & white pics are a must....

....and a monogram or two will definitely make an appearance.

An open frame might look pretty here or there too....

Ideas, ideas, Ideas!

**All pics via Pinterest

Monday, September 12, 2011

{Inspiration} Travelin'

Happy Monday -- here's hoping for a quick and painless week!

Inspired on a daily basis by all the fabulous parties out there in the blogosphere, one theme has left me completely smitten. I wish I had an excuse to throw a "travel" themed party -- I have so many ideas swirling through my head on this one! The above travel themed children's party table was created by paper & CAKE.

I love the suitcases and globe -- adorable and appropriate party props.

How about these "world" cake pops?! And arranged in a suitcase...perfect.

LOVE this one from Green Wedding Shoes -- a color palette of deep persimmon, postcards, travel brochures and mini suitcases add to the originality of this elegant wedding.

How about some framed maps like the ones above from Belle Maison to add to your party decor? Cute, huh?!

If I had a high school graduate in my life {and I'm very thankful that I don't just yet!}, I'd love to plan a graduation party with a lot of these same details. Don't graduates have the "World at their Fingertips?" I think I could make it work ;-}

Or how about a party with this theme for the geography teacher in your life? Or the friend or loved one traveling abroad? Or a retiree -- aren't they supposed to spend their days of freedom traveling the world and seeing all the sights they never saw because they were too young, too broke, or had young children?

For some more inspiration and ideas for this unique party theme, visit my World Traveler pinboard on Pinterest!

Friday, September 9, 2011


Well, I made it...made it through my first week back to school. Phew. Still lots to do before I feel like I can breath again, but I've tackled that initial hurdle. Can I be honest? I LOVE my students -- they are such a nice group of kids. **BUT** I miss summer like there's no tomorrow. Not only the weather but the carefree days and nights. The no having to pack lunches and diaper bags, the not feeling obligated to get to bed by a certain hour or not feeling pressured to get things done around the house. Ahhh....there's nothing like summer. Nothing....

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I AM really looking forward to the fall. I can't wait to decorate my home, but I'm trying to restrain myself a little and wait until closer to the end of the month. I'm looking forward to the cooler weather and fall fashion and fall parties and holidays and fall food....ooohhh....can't wait!

**Image via Country Living
**Weekends mean SO MUCH MORE now that I'm a working mom again ;-} I cherish them.
**Pumpkin pie gelatis should be debuting soon at Rita's -- that's our "thing" on Friday nights in the fall ;-}
**No wine and pizza with my cute hubby tonight -- instead I'll be sitting in my first of five more grad classes {ughh} I need to fufill the state of NJ's requirement. Friday night? Seriously? Thank goodness it's a hybrid class, and I only need to physically be in class three times. It's the LAST place in the world I want to be on a Friday evening of a work week, but I'm gonna grin and bare it so I never ever ever have to write another paper AGAIN.
**ENJOY your weekend!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

{Recipes} Easy Crockpot Chicken

Last night was a perfect night for a cozy crockpot meal. It was raining and chilly, so we cozied up in our little house and feasted on this new crockpot recipe I thiefed from facebook {not kidding -- ha!}. My friend posted a question asking for easy and healthy dinner recipes that her friends use on work nights, and she got a ton of replies. I was loving reading all the replies and yes, I shamelessly stole some of the recipes that her friends listed ;-} So, thank you to the woman that posted this recipe -- it's sooooo easy and was really yummy, although, I'll be honest, it doesn't look all that appetizing in this picture.

Ingredients ::
~ 1 lb boneless chicken breast
~ 1 16 oz. tub light sour cream
~ 1 can cream of mushroom soup
~ 1 packet dry onion soup mix

Directions ::
Throw all the ingredients in the crockpot and stir. Cook on low for approximately 5 hours.

**I served this meal over brown rice and with a green salad and cranberry jelly.

Couldn't be easier for a working mom or any mom for that matter, and the woman on FB said it was an old Weight Watcher's recipe, which means it's healthy too ;-}

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

{Sweets} A Birthday & Back to School

While cleaning out my pantry yesterday, I came across a strawberry cake mix that I had long forgotten about. I also happened to have some cream cheese icing on hand, so Dean and I decided to make cupcakes. I've been feeling blue about going back to work and cupcakes make everything better, so down to work we got.

At first, I figured I'd practice a swirl icing method for Maura's birthday on some of the cupcakes.

I was inspired by this cake -- isn't it gorgeous? Clearly I need more practice with the swirls, and they will never be as fabulous as the ones in the picture, but I'm not a professional cake decorater so no worries.

Then, I thought I'd show a little back to school spirit with the remaining cupcakes. I showed the completed "masterpieces" to my husband and asked if he knew what they were supposed to be. He had no idea, even after multiple hints. Ummm....apples....duh! See the worm....geez! Guess they were a fail -- pretty bad actually ;-}

For some "real" back to school inspiration, check out my Teacher's Pet pinboard on Pinterest!

**Well, back to work for me tomorrow bright and early. So very thankful to have had 12 weeks off from work -- it was truly the best summer of my life.
**Ahhh....what a beautiful Labor Day weekend it was at the Jersey shore. I didn't want to leave -- I'm not ready to face the reality that awaits me this morning. I never will be. I don't mean to complain -- I'm grateful for my job and have loved being a teacher for the last 12 years. That will never change...BUT...what has changed is the little 27-pound, curly-haired cutie that smiles at me each morning when I walk into his nursery to hug and kiss his sweet skin before starting our day together. Together....sigh. It's not as if I won't see him or get to spend time with him because I am working, but it's not enough time for me. It's a hard job being a stay at home mom as I experienced first hand this summer, BUT it's harder to be a working mom {for me}.
**Always hoping and praying that one day in the future I am able to say that I no longer have the back to school gitters on Labor Day night ;-}

Friday, September 2, 2011

{Sweets} Rainbow Yum

My little kitchen assistant helped me yesterday as we made rainbow pudding pops. One last summer treat that we made together...sigh....

Happy boy :-}

These were so ridiculously easy to make. Just divide your pudding into 5 different bowls and add food coloring to each for your colors of the rainbow. Then layer a little of each color into your popsicle mold and put into freezer. Easy peasy.

Wouldn't these be an adorable addition to a rainbow, little artist, or even a St. Patty's Day party? I think so too ;-}

If you haven't already taken a peek at my Rainbowy Fun pinboard on Pinterest, check it out here for some "colorful" party ideas!

**TGIF & enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

{In the Works} Maura's 1st

My niece, Maura Kate, is turning ONE next week! My sis and I have been talking about her party and are getting the details ironed out. Because my sister and her family live in Virginia and won't be coming home again for at least a month or more, the party won't happen until the end of October. We're hoping for beautiful fall weather!

While in the OBX last week, we had a little photoshoot, and I took some quick birthday shots of Maura girl. It was nothing major -- just a sweet, little one year old blondie with some birthday "props." All I'm going to say is that this little girl is "the APPLE of our eye" ;-}

I'll be sharing Maura's invitations and some of her party details soon!