Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I've Been Tagged!

Hi friends! Happy Tuesday! I was thrilled to be "tagged" in Simply Sarah Style's "Getting to Know You" game! So let's get to it...here's how it works.

Game Rules:
1. You must post the rules
2. Post 11 fun facts about yourself
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions to ask the people you have tagged
5. Tag 11 bloggers and link them to your post
6. Let the bloggers know they have been tagged

11 Fun Facts About Me:
1.  I'm totally addicted to reality TV. Sad, but true.
2.  I'm a former pageant girl (see that post here).
3.  Since I was born and raised in Savannah, GA, I am totally obsessed with all things nautical and coastal. I can't help it. It's in my blood. My home is filled with nautical decor. It's my little retreat.
4.  I love sending handwritten notes to friends and family for no reason other than to say "hello."
5.  I was on the opening team for the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the world. I also served as the "voice" of the Aquarium. I recorded the entire phone messaging and ticketing system.
6.  I never changed my major. I always knew I wanted to work in Public Relations and Marketing. I majored in PR and minored in Marketing.
7.  I adore traveling and exploring new cuisines. My favorite cuisine is Mexican. Italian is a close second.
8.  I have an unhealthy relationship with my Mac Book Pro. Best. Thing. Ever. 
9.  Being a vocalist, I used to enter karaoke contests while in college to win extra spending money.
10. I rode and showed horses for over ten years.
11. I love anything sour or tart, especially candy!

11 Questions From Sarah:
1.   What made you want to start a blog? I started a blog for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I love to write. Starting a blog gave me an outlet for that. Secondly, it's a great way for family and friends near and far, to keep up with the Husband and me. Before starting a blog of my own, I read a ton of blogs and last summer, I decided to start my own.

2.   What are your top three blogs to read? I have many favorites but if I had to pick the top three, they would include Simply Sarah Style, Monograms and Manicures, and Analyze This.

3.   What are your favorite things to "pin" on Pinterest? I love, love, love to pin fabulous fashion, home decor and recipes.

4.   Where are your favorite places to shop for home decor? I love to shop at Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, World Market and of course TJ Maxx/HomeGoods.

5.   Where are your favorite places to shop for clothing bargains? TJ Maxx/Ross/Marshalls, Macy's clearance rack, and Target.

6.   What are your favorite color combinations? Pink and Green, Navy and White, Turquoise and Pink/Coral. Pretty much anything paired with Pink, I love!

7.   Do you collect anything? Wine and champagne corks. I hope to make a cork board soon.

8.   What is your favorite thing to cook/bake? Anything in the crock pot, cookies and cupcakes (although I don't bake much in fear of over consumption on my part!)

9.   In what ways do you connect with other bloggers? When I find a blogger I really like, I will usually drop them an email to let them know how much I enjoy their blog. Everyone loves to get a nice email! I also really enjoy commenting on their posts.

10. What is  your favorite holiday? Easter. Always has been, always will be. I just love it!

11. What, if any, is the most recent thing you have made from Pinterest? I made this!

This project involved a drill and special drill bit, which made it a wonderful Daddy-Daughter Project. We did several different size bottles and colors. It was a blast! A step by step post is coming soon. Stay tuned...

11 Questions for My Tagees:
1.  What is your favorite thing about blogging?
2.  What one thing can you not get enough of right now?
3.  What's your idea of a perfect weekend?
4.  Have you ever met any of the bloggers you follow?
5.  If you could do anything other than what you are currently doing career-wise, what would it be?
6.  What's your favorite childhood memory?
7.  What do you allow yourself to splurge on?
8.  In the last year, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
9.  What is your favorite food?
10. What are your top three favorite songs on your ipod right now?
11. Do you have any home improvement projects planned for 2012 and if so, what are they?

My 11 Tagees:
1.   Analyze This
2.   Pink Champagne
3.   Monograms and Manicures
4.   New England Girl in Pearls
5.   Seashells and Southern Belles
6.   Summer Wind
7.   Monograms and Martinis in Manhattan/Boston
8.   A Little Dash of Ash
9.   Style Me Swanky
10. Your Southern Peach
11. The Company She Keeps

A great BIG thanks to Sarah at Simply Sarah Style for inviting me to play! I hope y'all have as much fun with this as I did!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What I'm Digging...

It's time for another "What I'm Digging" post! I've known about BaubleBar for a while now. It's one of those awesome things I learned about through the wonderful world of blogging. While catching up on some of my favorite blogs yesterday, I saw yet another BaubleBar post. It seems like every time I turn around lately, there's a post about BaubleBar. I decided this was the fashion goddesses telling me to check it out!

Yes, I gave in and took the plunge into Accessory Heaven. I mean, what's the harm, right? They give you $10 towards your first purchase just for signing up. Sounds good to me! After entering my email and choosing a password, I jumped right in assuming all the pretties would be way out of my price range and the "free" $10 would only be a drop in the bucket. To my surprise, everything is very well priced! While perusing and falling in love with everything, my next thought was, "oh, well, I'm sure they get you back on the shipping." Again, I was shocked to discover that shipping is FREE...both ways! Oh yes, my friends, Accessory Heaven. Trust.

All of a sudden I felt a rush of heat over my cheeks. How in the world would I choose which pretties to make mine? I had a moment of weakness and immediately started filling up my shopping cart. Yikes! Even though the return shipping is free, there's still something about bringing an item into your home and immediately, you start justifying. Internally you think...well, it's already here, it would be a shame to send it back! Ha! Anyone been a victim of that one? Therefore, I have to really, really love it when I make that purchase.

After much thought, I decided to make one bauble mine and created a mental wish list for the rest.
I'm going to keep my selection a surprise for now but here's a hint: it's beautiful and it sparkles...I know...shocker! ;)

Here are a few things on my wish list: (and so much more!)

All images via BaubleBar

If you haven't checked out BaubleBar, do yourself a favor and check it out. After all, Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Why not treat yourself?

Click here to sign up! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Little Things...

Hi Friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! My weekend was jam packed with a lot of relaxing. It was awesome, and definitely needed. When I wasn't relaxing, I was shopping, which could potentially be defined as relaxing since it was therapy, retail therapy that is! Anyway, I'm always looking for ways to make my busy life a little easier. With that being said, I've been wanting a second garbage can specifically for recyclables, for a while now. Our neighborhood started offering FREE recycling about a year ago and since then, I've made an honest effort to recycle as much as possible. The husband isn't as dedicated to recycling as I am so I figured if I could make recycling easier than it already is, it would be a win in our household.

We already have a stainless steel garbage can that we received as a wedding gift, and I wanted something that would match but all the choices were quite expensive. After much thought, I decided it would be worth the investment. Plus, I was able to score a 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath and Beyond. With coupon in hand, I set out to find a solution to this recycle apathy I have going on in my house. I opted for a smaller round stainless steel trash can that happens to fit perfectly, right next to our main trash can. Success! I can't believe how happy this new addition to our kitchen has made me!

Now that we have a legitimate place for the recyclables, (we were using old paper shopping bags that just sat next to our main trash can), the Husband is buying in 100%! It's almost as if he looks forward to putting that water bottle or plastic bag into the new recycle can. Double Success! Here's hoping the enthusiasm lasts! I will keep you posted...

What little things make you happy? Who knew it would only take a trash can to make this girl happy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Weekend!


Hi Friends! Happy Friday! I hope it's been a great week. I just returned from a quick trip to Tampa and I was welcomed back to ATL with lots of rain and cold temperatures. Boo! Tampa was beautiful and the weather was delightful. Too bad it was a quick trip. Although I love traveling, I am glad to be home and I'm certainly looking forward to a relaxing weekend.

After work, I'm kicking things off with a mani/pedi. With all the hustling through airports this week, I am long overdue! Following my mani/pedi, I look forward to propping my feet up, ordering dinner in, and retreating to the sofa for the remainder of the evening. It can rain all night as far as I'm concerned!

Tomorrow I have a ton of errands to run, a little shopping for Monograms and Manicures' 4th Annual Pink Swap, and then a much anticipated Swedish massage (thank you Groupon!). Ahhh, I can't wait!

I'm hoping the husband and I can try a new restaurant tomorrow night and if we do, I will be sure to share my review.

What are you up to this weekend?

Here's wishing you a wonderful, relaxing weekend! Cheers!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wheels Up!

Hi Everyone and Happy Wednesday! I hope you are having a great week so far. I am jet setting again this week and will be traveling today and tomorrow. Where am I going, you ask? Somewhere WARM!

I will be sure to check in again on Friday. Hopefully I will have some fun adventures to share with you. Until then, have fun and remember...only three more days until the weekend! That's reason enough to smile.  Cheers!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy 100 Years, L.L. Bean!

Mr. Leon Leonwood (L.L.) Bean himself. Photo Credit: L.L. Bean

Way back in January of 1912, L.L. Bean sold his first pair of boots and the rest is history. A great all American brand was born. I will never forgot how I felt when my first L.L. Bean book bag came in the mail. It was navy blue, complete with a brown leather bottom and my initials embroidered in khaki on the back. At the time, this book bag was the epitome of a uniform wearing prepster attending a private prep school. It was the best book bag ever, and definitely a status symbol. All the cool kids had L.L. Bean book bags. And let's not forget the classic anorak. My school colors were red, white and navy. The red anorak was so popular among students, my school decided to add it to the list of approved uniform apparrel. Let's face it, they didn't really have a choice! They would have been writing demerits to most of the school every day for being out of uniform! Little did I know, my book bag and anorak went way beyond status symbols. It was all about quality craftsmanship and customer satisfaction.

Fast forward a few years to the end of middle school. My book bag had a broken zipper and a hole in the canvas, both war wounds of a treacherous middle school experience. As a last ditch effort to save my status symbol, my mom decided to take L.L. Bean up on their 100% guarantee and send my bag back to be repaired. Just as promised, L.L. Bean repaired my beloved book bag and quickly sent it back to me. After being repaired, that book bag took me through four years of high school and then four and a half years of college, and could have kept going if I would have chosen to go to grad school. If that isn't a testament to L.L. Bean's craftsmanship and warranty, I don't know what is.

The cool thing about L.L. Bean is they stand behind their products 100%, a quality that's hard to find these days. It's actually a brilliant business practice. If a company doesn't stand behind their own products, how can they expect their customers to? From clothing to boots, travel essentials and of course book bags, anything with L.L. Bean's name on it, is built to last. And if it doesn't, they'll repair it. That's just awesome!

So here's to you, L.L. Bean! Keep up the great work! Cheers to 100 years and here's wishing you many, many more!

P.S. I looked high and low for a picture of me with my book bag. Unfortunately, all those lovely pics of me from middle and high school reside at my parent's house. Thank goodness! As for the anorak, I still have the same one that was purchased approximately 17 years ago and have added two more to my collection. All of which are still part of my outerwear wardrobe.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Is it Monday Already?

Happy Monday, Everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend! For those of you that are off of work today in honor of MLK Day, I am officially jealous. For those of you that are working along with me, I feel your pain. Uggghhh...

This weekend was super productive for the husband and me. We officially got all the Christmas stuff down and reorganized in the guest bedroom closet, cleaned out the closet in the office, hung a few pictures,  folded laundry and cleared out our DVR. By Sunday night, we both had a great feeling of accomplishment. We've been so busy since New Years, it was nice to have a weekend at home with not much on the agenda. A few more weekends like that would be a dream!

Is it just me or do the weekends just fly by? What did you do this weekend? I'd love to hear!

Since it's Monday, here's a little eye candy for you (especially those of you that are working) compliments of none other than Pinterest...

Ahhh...take me away...
Hope you all have a wonderful Monday, no matter where you are today...

Friday, January 13, 2012

There She Is...

Happy Friday, Everyone! It's Miss America Week and I couldn't be more excited! For those of you that know me well, you know that I competed in the Miss America Program for many years. Although I never made it to the Miss America stage, I did make it to the state competition five times. That may not seem like a big deal to some of you but let me assure you it is, and the scholarship money I earned along the way is a very BIG deal! By participating in the Miss America Program over my seven years of eligibility, I earned over $25,000 in scholarship money. This organization, which just so happens to be the largest scholarship provider for women in the world, allowed me to graduate from college debt free. This volunteer organization is the best thing that ever happened to me as a young woman. The lessons I learned about myself, others and life in general, through competing in Miss America preliminaries, are immeasurable.

It's so easy for the general public to throw around stereotypes about pageants but the Miss America Organization is different. The main focus is centered around the four points of the crown: Scholarship, Style, Success and Service. It's not all about glitz and glam, but about giving back to the community and furthering your education. I'm so grateful for my experiences with this organization and for the support of my friends and family during this special chapter of my life.

Even though this chapter is closed for me, my passion for this organization still runs deep. I now volunteer with a local Miss America Preliminary and co-direct and co-produce the pageant with a fellow pageant sister. Being on the volunteer side is just as rewarding as competing, if not more. I am so proud of our current Miss Georgia. I've had the opportunity to work with her and she is truly an amazing woman. I can't wait to see who our next Miss America will be...hopefully it's our Miss Georgia!
Who will you be rooting for?

To learn more about the Miss America Organization and all the opportunities available, please visit the website here and be sure to like Miss America on Facebook.

And for your viewing pleasure, here are a few photos of me during my pageant days...

Photo Credit: Brian Dougherty

Photo Credit: Brian Dougherty
Evening Gown during my final trip to Miss Georgia.
 Check out the feathers on this dress!
Talent during my final trip to Miss Georgia.
This was my FAVORITE phase of competition!

Don't forget to watch Miss America LIVE on Saturday night, January 14th, at 9pm on ABC. It's a classic you don't want to miss! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blend It Up!

Hi friends! If you are anything like me, your mornings are rushed and time is tight. There's so much to do from the time your feet hit the floor until you walk out the door. Wow, that totally rhymes! Haha! That was completely unintentional. Back to topic...with all the things that have to be accomplished, breakfast usually gets the short end of the stick in my house. I typically have things that I can grab and eat on the way to work or once I get there and based on that criteria, my options are pretty limited. Even on the days that I have plenty of time, I struggle with breakfast choices. I'd be completely happy with a protein shake...but blending it, fixing it to go, etc. takes even more time.

Enter: Hamilton Beach Personal Blender!

This nifty little gadget gets the job done quickly and the best part is, you can take it with you! That's right, this blender doubles as a traveler (or as we call it here in the South, a To-Go Cup!) and even comes with a lid. The bottom is small which is great for cup holders in the car. It fits mine perfectly.

And it gets better...it's only $15! My sweet Mama found this product a few months ago and loved it so much, everyone got one for Christmas. Brilliant! Thanks, Mom!

Already have your breakfast wrapped up? No problem...think about using this as you head to the gym, or while you are lounging poolside in the summer. So many uses!

To the best of my knowledge, these can be found at Amazon, Target and Walmart. It's probably the best 15 bucks you'll ever spend!

*Tip: When blending, especially when blending with ice, be sure to pulse instead of just letting it run. Since this little guy is small, the motor is small too. You definitely don't want to burn it up!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What I'm digging...

This Christmas, I received some pretty amazing gifts. Honestly, I enjoy giving gifts more than receiving them but this year, I enjoyed every part of receiving these gifts. They are awesome!

It's no secret that I LOVE makeup so these gifts were right up my alley. This first palette is by Too Faced and it's perfect for everyday. I love the neutral colors and of course the sparkles! And it even comes with instructions on how to create different looks. How great is that?
The picture I took of this palatte didn't turn out too well so here's one from the Too Faced website. The Erotica color is actually a beautiful brown...not sure why it looks blue-ish in this pic below.
This next palette of beautiful colors is by none other than Urban Decay. I have had so much fun with all these exotic colors! I absolutely love them all!

And finally, the tools to apply these fabulous hues...These Eco Brushes are fantastic! My mom, who is a makeup queen herself, did a great deal of research on brushes as we both needed to update. These are by far the best in class and come highly recommended by makeup artists. Each brush is labeled to help guide you...smudge, highlight, shade, blend, etc. Genius! The sweet travel size is just one more reason to love these, especially for us traveling girls! :)

All of these items can be found at Ulta or Sephora. Check 'em out!
What are you digging right now? I'd love to hear!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Special New Year's Eve in the Mountains

Happy Friday, Everyone! It's the first Friday of 2012! Here's my last holiday post...sniffle, sniffle! :(
The New Year's Eve Recap: For the last several years, the husband and I have spent New Year's Eve with some of our most dear friends in the GA/NC Mountains. These sweet friends of ours used to live nearby but moved away a few years ago, therefore limiting the time we could spend with them. As sad as that is, we make up for it every New Year's Eve as we visit, chat, eat and drink into the wee hours of the morning. It's awesome to say the least! This year was no exception. We headed up to the mountains on Saturday and met our friends at a local winery that we visit every New Year's Eve. The folks at the winery remember us year after year and have come to realize this is part of our tradition!
Here are a few pictures from the winery and New Year's Eve...

At the winery with my dear sweet friend!

The Husband and me at the winery.
Isn't this old truck awesome? Love it!

Yep, we totally had a photo shoot! Did you expect anything less?
Next year's Christmas card picture???

The four of us just before midnight!

Getting ready to toast at midnight!

With my sweet Husband just before midnight

Happy New Year! 

As if this New Year's get away wasn't already special enough, we learned just before Christmas that there would be an extra special touch to the evening. My dear friend's little sister was getting engaged, just before midnight, in front of her entire family and us (aka extended family). I was bursting at the seams with excitement before we even made our way to the mountains. The evening was perfect and the bride-to-be had NO idea of what the night would hold. Sure enough, just before the stroke of midnight, her boyfriend dropped to one knee and made his proposal. She was shocked and the whole thing was filmed. It was awesome and definitely an engagement that we will all remember!
The Happy Couple in the midst of the engagement...

So sweet! 
They say that whatever it is you are doing at midnight will dictate the rest of the year. Well, I was witnessing an engagement...I wonder if that means this is the year of love and more weddings?!? If so, I can't wait! Yippee!

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year! What did you do? Did you make any resolutions? I typically don't but I'd love to hear yours! Here's to a wonderful 2012. May it be your best year yet! Cheers!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One More Christmas Post...

I know I'm a little behind on my holiday posting but I wanted to share a few more highlights from Christmas. Plus, I'm not quite ready to let go of the holidays! Here are a few pictures from a Christmas Cocktail gathering at our house. Enjoy!

The spread.  Check out the edible cookie tree! It was a Pinterest project!
Another picture of the table. Everything was homemade, with the exception of the cured meats and cheeses. 
I had so much fun with this!
These reindeer cookie pops were so cute and fun to make! Great project for kids. A little time consuming but worth it!
I filled a pilsner glass with M&M's to display them and it worked great! 
I just can't get enough of our Christmas tree. I adore Christmas trees! This one is still up!
A little touch of Christmas on the chandelier! 
And a little touch on the china cabinet! I usually keep this up until the greenery starts to turn brown. To me, it's more wintery than Christmasy.
The mantle, complete with greenery, tea lights, and starfish ornaments. 
The dressier mantle where the stockings were hung with care! 

Next up is a New Year's Eve recap. Stay tuned, my friends!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Our Low Country Christmas

I can't believe the holidays are over and 2012 is already here! We had a wonderful Christmas that was spent back home with my parents and my brother. We were all thrilled that my brother could join us! He's in the United States Coast Guard and we weren't sure if he would be able to make it home for Christmas. What an awesome surprise! We made our way down to Savannah (also know as the Low Country) on the evening of the 23rd and once I got there, I immediately felt the weight and stress of the holidays disappear. There's just something about being around my parents and my childhood home that seems to make all my worries fade away.  It's an amazing feeling (even if it is temporary) that money just can't buy. I wonder if it would be the same if I lived closer to home...hmmm...food for thought!

We spent Christmas Eve catching up, wrapping presents and visiting with family. I grew up Catholic so every Christmas Eve we go to Midnight Mass. The last few years, we have attended Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in downtown Savannah. This church is absolutely beautiful. Locals and tourists from near and far come to the Christmas Eve Mass each year. The service starts at midnight but we get there around 10:15pm and wait for the doors to open to secure our seats. It's standing room only by 11:30pm every year. As always, the message was beautiful and full of the Christmas spirit. By 2am we were on our way home and in bed by 3am.
Downtown Savannah Christmas Decorations-Broughton Street

The Alter...these pictures don't do this Cathedral justice. 

Another view of the Alter with a huge Nativity Scene on the right. I wish I could capture all the beauty in this church. 

The Balcony

Christmas morning comes a little late around our house because of Midnight Mass. We started stirring mid morning and my mom and I immediately started our journey in the kitchen. We always make a breakfast casserole for starters, a cheese plate with cured meats for lunch and after presents, we start preparing Christmas dinner.

In years past, we've always had a Christmas dinner that was very similar to our Thanksgiving dinner. This year we decided to spice it up a bit and try something a little different. My mom has been wanting to try a standing rib roast for a while now, so we decided to give it a whirl!

It was quite the experience, to say the least. The meat has to sit out undisturbed for six hours prior to going into the oven. Then it cooks for one hour at 550 degrees. After an hour, turn the oven off and do not open it for two hours. About half way through, my mom and I started getting a little skeptical of the recipe but decided to stay the course and have faith. It turned out beautifully! It was cooked nicely on the outside and the inside was juicy and pink. It was perfect! Take a look at the journey...

Rib Roast resting...

More resting...

Seasoned with Garlic Pepper, Meat Magic, Salt and Cracked Black Pepper

Ready to go into the oven...
To accompany the prime rib, we had a mushroom and raisin wild rice medley, sweet potato souffle, "Grown Up" Mac and Cheese (made with gruyere and extra sharp cheddar cheese, milk and nutmeg), whole green beans, a mixed green salad with walnuts, pears, gorgonzola cheese and raspberry vingarette dressing, dinner rolls and red wine. Sure, it was a lot of carbs but Christmas only comes once a year! It was all amazing. My mom and I really out did ourselves!

Our Main Dishes
Carved Prime Rib with homemade horseradish sauce

Green Beans with Lemon Pepper
My Cookie Tree Centerpiece...homemade sugar cookies with homemade icing!
After all of our hard work in the kitchen, it was finally time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. It was all delicious! I can't believe it went by so fast. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas dinner with your family. I'd love to hear about your menu!

Mom and Dad's coastal Christmas Tree 2011

More holiday recaps to come. Stay tuned...