Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wake up, Natalie!  It's Christmas!

Santa has come to visit!

He brought you and Mama golf clubs!

And lots of presents!

Now it's time to go to Gigi and Granddad's house to see the little Kate Spade that James and I got you. :) 

And what everyone else got!

Hope yours was as merry as ours!

(Maybe next year I will actually get photos of our Christmas Eve dinner with Nana and our Christmas lunch with Gram....)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stocking Stuffer Ideas: For the Guys

I realize I might be a little late on this...but if you still need ideas, a lot of these items can be found at brick-and-mortar stores (even though I am guilty of doing 95% of my holiday shopping online!).

The Outdoorsman

Waterproof Matches.  Great for camping, floating, hiking...
Military Can Opener.  I originally got one of these as a cheap option to keep with out camping stuff, but it would be a fantastic option for a survival kit or even a glove box.
Beef Jerky.  What guy doesn't love jerky?  James's favorite is Fire on the Mountain by Smoky Mountain Beef Jerky.
Camelbak Drops.  These are pellets that drop right into a Camelbak and don't need to be mixed.  James will be psyched to get these since carrying/mixing Gatorade on the go is always a pain.
Protein Bars. It's always fun to try out a few new ones. 
Fire Tabs.  Useful when trying to start campfires when it's damp.  Or grills, for that matter.
Survival Saw.  Again, great for camping and survival kits.
Zippo Hand Warmer.  Guaranteed to get a ton of use! I think next year I'm getting some for every man on my list. 
Waterproof Cards.  We always play cards when we go camping.  With these, we don't have to worry about humidity, storage, or drinks getting spilled. :)

The Homebrewer

Beer Flight Paddles.  I picked up several of these at Target this year for $2.50 each.  Whenever we have friends over, they always want to try everything in the kegerator.  This makes it a little more fun. :)
Calculator Watch.  James is getting one of these, too.  He is always setting timers throughout the brewing process and doing gravity calculations, etc.  I think he'll find this to be really useful for that (I would be surprised if he made it a daily piece).
Beer Line Cleaner.  Self-explanatory on this one.  Just something stocking-sized and useful.
Sticky Fermometer.  James got several of these in his stocking last year.  They're useful for the sides of fermenters.
Keg/Carboy Labels.  I think these are so cool!  Super customizable, too.
Bottle Caps.  Always in need of these (if he bottle conditions, that is).
Beer Smarts Game.  For a little something fun.
Hops Candy.  And a little something sweet!

The Foodie

Condiments and Spices.  James is getting a Stone Brewing Company mustard this year.
Fun Ramen.  We love scouring the net and Asian markets for imported ramen.  James got a case of this last year--it's delicious!
Paring Knife.  Or any other cooking knife....still in the package.  It usually makes more sense to build a collection one-by-one when you're purchasing expensive knives, that way you can pick specific items and you don't end up paying for things like a sharpening steel or kitchen shears (which you probably already have).  America's Test Kitchen recommends this Wusthof one.
Subscription to Cook's Illustrated.  Fantastic magazine if he doesn't already receive it.
All Clad Measuring Spoons.  Handsome and hard-working.  And the All Clad name makes them a little special. 
Spice Shaker.  We use these for custom blends (poultry seasoning, taco seasoning, etc.).
Curing Salt.  Nice to have on hand--and I admit that I love putting something hot pink into his stocking!
500 Things to Eat Before it's Too Late.  This one has actually been on my wish list for a while...
Vosges Chocolate Bar.  I always expect a treat in my stocking, and these have neat flavor combinations that your foodie will appreciate. :)

The Nerd

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.  Trekkies will truly appreciate this.  I've been incredibly tempted to get some for myself.
Pocket Ref Book. You can find one of these to fit any interest.  
Woot Shirt.  What can I say about this?  Maybe 90% of James's wardrobe?
Hands-Free Magnifier.  This one is from Restoration Hardware, but I've seen them plenty of other places.  Perfect for working on all the little parts in electronic items.
Fountain Pen.  James actually bought himself one of these after his friend got one.  I don't really understand it, but your geek might.
Yo-Yo.  I put one in James's stocking a few years ago and he entertained himself for hours.  That's worth a lot when I'm trying to get Christmas dinner ready!
Roll of Solder.  Is he "crafty"?  Chances are, he can probably use solder.
Chocolate Gaming Dice.  Even if he isn't into Dungeons and Dragons...who isn't into chocolate?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Welcome to our home, all decorated for Christmas!

I made this wreath last year out of the deco mesh that was everywhere.  Our front door is orange, so I added teal ornaments to make it work better with the red and green.  For most holidays, I made huge wreaths to fit around the monogram I keep on the door.  This year I added the burlap ribbon with little red jingle bells.  I love it!

Our Christmas tree is covered in vintage and retro ornaments.  

 I found this vintage wooden bead garland at an antique store in town a few years ago.  The ornament is also a vintage find.  

I love these ornaments with indentations.  I have a set of new Shiny Brite ones.

This is a vintage ornament from my mother-in-law.

This is part of another set of Shiny Brite ornaments.  Each one is a different, bright color with a different flocked scene on it.  I think these are my favorites.

On top of my china cabinet, I set up a scene of little Putz houses with bottle brush trees.  I am crazy for this type of thing!

My mom got me these Fiesta Christmas plates last year to coordinate with my regular Fiesta dishes.  The ornaments are all different colors so they go with all of my multi-colored plates and serving pieces.

These vintage Santa mugs are also from my mother-in-law.  I trade out the Fiesta in my two display cabinets for all of my red and green pieces.  :)

The guest room gets fun pink trees!

I added Christmas books to the coffee table and a few vintage ornaments to my little Arkansas dish.

I love getting out my Christmas candles.  Frasier fir is my all-time favorite.  That little Christmas tree is another gift from my comes apart and the top is a lighter while each layer of limbs is an ashtray!  I love things like this that are so adorable and such neat reminds of the way things used to be.

The mantel decor is simple.  I got cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby and covered them with German glass glitter.  I surrounded them with evergreen garland and huge colored lights.  They're my favorite part of any Christmas decor.

My stocking was made by my grandmother for me when I was a baby.  I made James's the Christmas before we got married.  I can't imagine Christmas without my stocking and luckily James did not have one he was attached to, so ours get to match.  I made one for my sister's husband when they were married, and last year I made one for my niece.  Hopefully one day I'll be making matching ones for my kids. :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thanksgiving Travels

We typically spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family and head north to visit James's family for New Year's.  This year, we headed to Virginia to celebrate James's brother's wedding and stayed to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. 

My cousin/BFF also lives in Virginia, so we got to spend time with her as
well.  She is always up for fun, so when I mentioned that I had been wanting to visit Gettysburg for years, we decided to make the trip!  

We started with a stop at the Appalachian Brewing Company for lunch.  My cousin and I always get two items and share them, so we got a veggie burger with apples and cheddar and pretzels with ABC's beer cheese dip.  I washed mine down with a house-made ginger beer while Mary had the house root beer (and of course James had a pale ale).  Delicious!

Right after lunch, we headed to the Gettysburg visitor's center and museum.

It was bitter cold and incredibly windy, so we took an auto tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield and, sadly, didn't get out of the car much.  James and Mary's boyfriend were in charge of driving/directions, so Mary and I got to have tons of fun together being slightly crazy. :)

A lot of people tend to say that all battlefields look alike, but truly this one was different to me.  I loved driving through the old downtown and seeing important sites in the battle scattered all through Gettysburg.  The town and battlefield were so pretty.

We stopped by the amazingly handsome Virginia memorial...

and the site of Pickett's Charge.

I love seeing the Arkansas state memorials at battlefields (even though I don't know of any family that actually joined the fight from Arkansas).

We were lucky enough to still be in the park at sunset.  It was absolutely beautiful.

We finished up our visit at the Soldiers' National Cemetery.  I've always been very fascinated and moved by cemeteries and this one was no different.

Solemn.  Poignant.


In between Gettysburg, beer, shopping (there is a Kate Spade outlet in Leesburg, VA!), and visiting with family...We also made time to stop by Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. 

We shared the famous half-smoke with chili and chili-cheese fries.  YUM.

James had been wanting to visit for a while after reading about it and seeing it on TV, so this year's trip felt like a mission accomplished for both of us!  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hiking: Cedar Falls, Petit Jean

I have a lot to post about lately!  This is several weeks old now, but I thought I would go ahead and get this posted while I get recent photos uploaded.


Petit Jean State Park is one of our favorite places in the state.  James grew up at the foot of the mountain and it is only a short drive for us now, but it has a way of making us feel like we're way out.  It is a perfect way to take in "The Natural State."  

This summer, we packed up a picnic and a group of friends and went for a hike on the Cedar Falls Trail. 

The trail is gorgeous in the summer.  So green!

It took me a while to get this shot, actually.  There are always lots of hikers hanging around the falls and climbing around behind them.  It's a beautiful place to take a break, so there are always at least a few other groups there when we are.

The trail is only a couple miles long, but the trip back up the mountain can be a little difficult on a hot day.  We have hiked several of the other trails as well, but this is one of our favorites.

About a month ago, we decided to head back up the mountain to take in some of the fall color.  We brought my mom with us this time and had a really nice drive.

Not much hiking on this trip, but we stopped at several overlooks and enjoyed the view.  Cedar Falls looks much different this time of year!