Friday, December 30, 2011

Dear 2011...

Dear 2011,
Wow you have been good to me! I cooked and crafted more than any other year and I am truly happy with all that you had in store for me. Here are a few of my favorite things from this year...

Favorite books:
The Hunger Games,
The Forgotten Garden
The Help
The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Favorite projects:

Favorite events

Favorite new recipes

Favorite Discoveries
Cast iron skillets
My Brita pitcher
And my absolute favorite discovery in 2011...Blogging!

Thanks for the memories 2011.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My favorite Christmas Traditions...

This year I realized how much I treasure my family's Christmas traditions. Every year I get to spend with the people I love becomes more and more special!

Every Christmas Eve we go to church with my family and then meet up with Drew's family for Christmas eve dinner. This year we went to Bonefish Grill.
 After dinner we head back to the Renner house and get our Christmas PJs from Drew's parents. This year we also exchanged sibling gifts since two of Drew's sisters had to travel on Christmas day.
Then Drew and I head home and prep for Christmas morning aka go to bed and dream of Santa's visit. This is our 3rd married Christmas together and we have our own traditions in place. We make this amazing blueberry french toast, start a fire in the fireplace, open our stockings...and yes the cats each have their own stocking, and take lots of pictures with our self timer.
We also always end up watching some version of Mickey's Christmas while we eat breakfast.
Then we get ready and head to my parent's house for more Christmas! We celebrated with my parents, little bro and newly married sister and her hubby.

If that weren't enough Christmas for one day we then head over to my Grandparent's house for a late lunch and yes more presents. My mom, sister, grandma and aunts always end up playing our favorite family game, Sequence!
And that my friends is how I celebrate Christmas. I hope yours was Merry and Bright! I'm off to read about them now.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas from our "Nest" to yours!
Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday season.
"Let every heart prepare Him room..." Remember the reason for this season of joy.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Annual Holiday Staycation

Last year at this time a few of my girlfriends and I had planned to go to Chicago for the weekend. Sadly we got snowed in Ohio and couldn't make it to Chi-town. Instead of being sad we decided to go ahead and have our girls weekend here in Cincy. We stayed in a hotel for free, went out to dinner and had a marvelous time. Our Christmas staycation has now become a tradition...
 We ate at one of my favorite places, Bone Fish Grill...Bang Bang Shrimp=pure happiness. Yummm
 We had the hotel receptionist snap a few pictures since the hotel was so festive and merry.
 What's a girls night without Christmas PJs, jumping on beds and a pillow fight?
Sadly our friend Ali couldn't be with us this year since she had just gotten in from North Carolina (freshly engaged)  but we saw her the next morning to celebrate.
I love girl's nights especially when they include free night stays at hotels, amazing food and girl talk. Now we have to figure out how we can get a free night stay for next year...
Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nutella Chocolate Fudge with Sea Salt

Since hubby is still working I am spending today making more Christmas banners and trying out this recipe for Nutella Chocolate Fudge with sea salt. I'm drooling just thinking about it! Click here for the recipe. I just love everything about the holidays! 3 more days until Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2 quick and easy meals for your crazy, busy holiday schedules!

I've been so busy lately that I haven't left much time for cooking...too much shopping, wrapping, Christmas party hopping and Christmas movie watching to do! I know we are all busy so I thought I'd share two delicious and super easy recipes with you.
First I give you Rotini with Salsa di Limone...perfect to throw together as you are wrapping gifts.
 Here is what you need:
1 lb. rotini pasta
1 1/4 lbs. Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 C. Olive oil
1 Large lemon, zested and juiced (to maximize juice, roll lemon on counter top with your palm)
1 C. crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Boil pasta and cook 8-10 minute until tender, drain pasta, reserving 1 c. of the pasta water. Place hot pasta in a large bowl and add tomatoes, olive oil and lemon zest & juice, feta cheese, salt and pepper and 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss to combine, adding the remaining pasta water if desired.
Hubby always likes to have meat with his meal so he added chicken to his, but I loved the pasta just as is! YUM!
Now for an easy evening Pot Roast throw these things in a crock pot when you get up in the morning...
3 potatoes, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3-4 lb. pot roast
1/2 cup water
1 Bay leaf
Start by cutting up all the veggies (minus the onions)and placing them in the bottom of the crock pot. Put 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a pot, cover the pot roast in salt and pepper and brown both sides then place in crock pot over veggies. Use the left over olive oil to brown the onions before placing them on top of the pot roast in the crock pot. Add the water and don't forget to add the bay leaf for a little extra flavor. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.
Now with the 10-12 hours you have before your Pot Roast is ready, go ahead and shop, bake or wrap. Speaking of wrapping,  I discovered these Trader Joe's gift tags found on their grocery store bags and I am using them on all my gifts.
My cats are always ready and willing to help with any home project.
One reason of many why I love Trader Joes! I hope you have time to try one of these recipes in all of your holiday craziness.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Over the river and through the woods...

Last weekend we celebrated Christmas with my Mom's side of the family in Louisville, KY. I absolutely love seeing this side of my family because we all have the same corny sense of humor. My cousins and I have a special bond and we always do ridiculous things and think they are hilarious. Exhibit Aunt bought ornaments for us to decorate to hang on my grandparents Christmas tree. All the girl cousins quickly decided to turn the sticky decorations into mustaches. Why? Because we felt like it...
My adorable grandparents are in their 80's and they still hold hands. They are so in love and it makes me so happy.
I am so incrediby blessed to have such a loving and supportive family. I wish we all lived closer!
Tomorrow is my last day of school until January 3rd. I am so ready for a break. Hooray for Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday's Letters

I'm linking up with Ashley today for my own version of Friday's Letters


Dear Hubby, Right now you are out with your friends hunting poor innocent squirrels. You claim their lives won't be lost for nothing and that you are going to make squirrel mittens, but I'll believe it when I see it...actually I don't want to see it. I will forgive you since you look so darn attractive and manly in your hunting gear.
Dear Christmas Break, Hurry up and get here I am about to pull my hair out dealing with my sugared up, running on no sleep, naughty but nice 2nd graders.
Dear Sister, Tomorrow is your birthday and I get to see you! I want a movie and craft night ASAP. We need a teleporting device. Let's make one okay?
Dear Friday, I love you and was hoping you would show up soon!

Happy Friday friends. Can you believe there are only 9 days left until Christmas??? I'm so excited but there are so many Christmasy things yet to do on my list!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blogger Ornament Swap!!!

I decided to participate in the Blogger Ornament Swap hosted by Megan of Mackey Madness and Julie of the Smitten Mintons. I was paired up with the lovely Megan herself from over at Mackey Madness and I was so excited to pick out an ornament for her! To see what I got here.
I have been blog stalking following Megan since I first started blogging almost a year ago and I love everything about her and her adorable blog. I just might have done a happy dance when I got her email saying we were partners.
I got my package in the mail on Friday and it was so timely...I got it after a horrible day at school and it made my day so much brighter. She got me two ornaments, one to represent my inner Martha Stewart and the other is for my inner Pioneer Woman. She knows me well. They make great additions to my tree!
Thanks Megan!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tacky Christmas Sweater Party!

Every year since we have been married, Drew and I have thrown a Tacky Christmas Sweater party.
We go shopping in my grandma's closet and have yet to wear the same thing twice! I love having this party every year because 1.) It motivates me to get my Christmas decorations up early 2.) I get to see all my friends in full blown Christmas tackiness and 3.) It is a wonderful way to kick off the Christmas season.
This year I decided to try out a Pinterest idea and make my own photobooth. I used a frame from my sister's wedding, popped out the glass and wrapped it in lights. I had some holiday fabric left over from another project so I put it up as a background and I love how the pictures turned out!
Have you ever been to a Tacky Sweater party?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Carrie Underwood Christmas Style!

One definite perk to working at a private Christian school funded by rich donors is that we get invited to their big Christmas party every year. The Christmas party is held at Music Hall and is always amazing. Last year was my first year going and the guest performer was Darius Rucker. Not too shabby right?

Well this year takes the cake...the performer was Carrie Underwood and let me tell you that I am in love with her. She is beautiful, talented, loves Jesus and is just a fabulous performer.
A few teachers I work with and our hubby's went to dinner downtown before the big show. We ate at an old bar and grill that has been around for literally 100 years and the food was great.
Carrie put on one heck of a show. My favorite was when she sang Jesus Take the Wheel and then went straight into How Great Thou Art...I seriously got a little choked up. She got a standing ovation after that song and she deserved it.
After the show there was a "light" buffet meaning free drinks, shrimp, meatballs, fruit and desserts galore...and a band performing in the ball room.  What a great way to kick off the holidays...with Carrie!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cute and cheap Christmas gift boxes!

Last night my friend Bekah and I had our annual Christmas gift exchange. We got bravos take-out, filled my dining room table with crafting supplies and watched Christmas movies.

Here's us trying to fit in all our gifts for a picture...including the JCrew slippers I got her. Pictured: Fossil watch, Wood chip ornaments, Slippers and Tea.

While watching Miracle on 34th Street I got out my Martha Stewart Scoreboard to play with. I bought this tool on sale a while back and have only managed one project with it. Check it out here. I set out to make gift boxes and I'm in love. If you want to make cute boxes and envelopes this is the perfect tool and they are surprisingly easy. I used the video tutorial below.

And for your viewing pleasure...Allison and Bekah in lights.

Side note: I am so excited...I just sent out my ornament for the blogger ornament swap to my fabulous partner Megan from over at Mackey Madness. There will be a link up to tell all about it on December 14th. Happy Weekend!