Christmas Card Books

So, I’m curious…what do you do with all of the Christmas cards you receive every year, once the holidays are over? In the past, I’ve tried to come up with ideas of storing, organizing or possibly displaying the cards, after all, most of them are so pretty, I can never seem to just toss them. Of course I don’t keep the ones from the orthodontist or the insurance agent, but I have a hard time discarding the beautiful photo cards that we receive from our family and friends. I love to see how all of my friends’ kids are growing each year, especially since many live far away and I don’t get to see them as often as I would like.  Well in my search for ideas, as I was “Pinteresting” one day, I came across a very cute and simple craft to solve this problem…the annual Christmas Card book. And I do mean simple, anyone can make this, regardless of how crafty you may or may not be.

Once the books are done, you can either store them or display them on your coffee table every Christmas and browse through them.  There are many different versions out there, you can truly make them as fancy or simple as you prefer. So here are my favorites…just click on the links in the photos for the simple instructions on how to assemble your Christmas Card Book:

Christmas Card Books, click here.

Christmas Card Books, click here.

Another version of the Christmas Card Book, click here.

Another version of the Christmas Card Book, click here.

Another interesting version, click here.

Another interesting version, click here.

And of course if you don’t have time to or like to craft, this book is about as simple as it gets… just put all the cards through a 1-inch ring binder, tie some cute ribbons on the ring, and it’s done!

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Simple book…

This one is more of a Christmas Art Journal, but you can include your Christmas cards in it as well.  And again, you may embellish it as much or as little as you like.

Christmas Art Joural, click here.

Christmas Art Journal, click here.

What will you do with your holiday cards this year?  Do you have a special spot or way you display them, I’d love to hear!

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My Christmas Must Haves!

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year! I love the family gatherings, the delicious holiday treats, the Christmas music that reminds me of my youth, Secret Santa gifts for school, the beautiful lights and trees everywhere, hunting for the perfect gift for loved ones and most importantly, celebrating the birth of Jesus.  But sometimes I need a little help to get me through some of the last minute craziness of the holidays, and that’s where my Christmas Survival Kit helps me stay sane and continue with my holiday spirit:

Christmas Kit

I love the Starbucks holiday drinks served in the holiday cups. My favorite is the Peppermint Mocha; espresso, steamed milk, mocha sauce and peppermint flavored syrup. Topped with sweetened whipped cream and dark chocolate curls. YUM!  Along with their holiday drinks, I also love and look forward to their Cranberry Bliss Bar every year; a blondie cake base, topped with sweet cream cheese icing, tart dried cranberries and white orange drizzle. It’s delicious!

In my house we all love to listen to Christmas music, but one album in particular has been part of my Christmas tradition since I was very young.  The Salsoul Orchestra Christmas Jollies.  Typical Christmas songs with a disco, dance twist (yes, in case you’re wondering, I grew up in the 70s and 80s).  You can listen to some of the songs and download the entire album if you like it on iTunes here.

We also love to watch Christmas movies, I love them all really, but my favorite has to be Love Actually. Not only do I love the message it sends, but I also happen to love many of the actors in the film (my favorites being Colin Firth and Hugh Grant).

Another Christmas tradition from my youth, and I have continued it in my adult life is the Swiss Colony Christmas Petit Fours, you can order some here. Every year I order boxes for all of my family members (they all love them too), and I make sure we have plenty to serve on Christmas day.  It’s just not Christmas without Swiss Colony!

And last but not least, I love to sit at night with my husband sipping hot chocolate, and just gaze at our beautifully decorated tree. I’ve been collecting Christmas ornaments for many years, Hallmark dated ones to mark special occasions, glass and ceramic ornaments from our various trips to Greece, Germany, Spain and Italy, as well as many others I’ve received as gifts.  My daughter just told me the other day that our tree was very special, and that she had never seen any other tree with such beautiful and special ornaments.  That made my day!

But sometimes I can get a bit stressed when trying to figure out what to buy that one difficult person (usually the men in my family). Last year, I came across Man Crates, a company that specializes in creating wooden gift boxes for men with anything from movie night to golfing  (oh, and did I mention it comes with a crowbar for them to open it with?)  As stated on their website:

“We say ‘no’ to ugly neckties, cologne samplers and executive trinkets.
We don’t save wrapping paper, we don’t do ribbons.
We ship bragworthy gifts for guys.
Gifts that you can’t wait to arrive because you know the recipient will love opening them.
Gifts that people gather round at the office, people following the sounds of wood being torn from wood by the included, laser-engraved crowbar.
We are Man Crates, and we deliver awesome gifts for men”

So, if you’re looking for some creative gifts for the men in your life, make sure to check out Man Crates and click here for some awesome gift ideas . I’m sure you will find something very original for that special guy.  Prices for crates range from $25 – $180.  Here’s one of my favorites:

The Clean Shave Crate

The Clean Shave Crate Photo Courtesy of Man Crates

What are your holiday must haves? I’d love to hear!

WHISK Gourmet

So, I finally got to eat at WHISK Gourmet. I had been hearing about this amazing restaurant, and was dying to try it out, but they don’t take reservations for parties smaller than six, and they’re usually pretty busy (they won’t even sit you down until your entire party is present). WHISK is owned by Brendan and Kristin Conner, a brother and sister team, who started the business in 2007 as a catering company in Coral Gables. The catering company evolved into a restaurant over the next few years and they relocated to South Miami in 2011, making it a true neighborhood restaurant. They have really put this place on the map, but it’s quite tiny, so you just might miss it if you’re not familiar with the area. Parking can be difficult, as it is throughout most of Miami, but don’t let this keep you away.

WHISK Restaurant

WHISK Restaurant

We recently went on the off-chance of getting a table on a Thursday evening, and we got lucky. First, I love the decor. It’s a cozy little restaurant that makes you feel as if you were in any other town, but Miami. Whisk has a certain charm and warmth to it and the atmosphere is very welcoming (oh yeah, and they serve their drinks in mason jars, my kind of place).

I wasn’t sure what to order, as everything sounded delicious, true southern comfort food. We started with their freshly baked warm Homemade Cornbread served with scallion-honey-buttercorn…yum! Then we ordered the Butternut Squash Soup and the Fried Green Tomatoes, as they are quite popular, and now I know why. Being a huge fan of pork, hubby had the Pulled Pork Sliders served with honey cider slaw, mustard barbecue sauce, and house pickles. I ordered the Lump Crab Cake served with sautéed spinach, crispy shallots and corn relish.

Warm homemade Corn bread and Butternut Squash Soup

Warm homemade Corn bread and Butternut Squash Soup

Fried Green Tomatoes & herb buttermilk dressing

Fried Green Tomatoes & herb buttermilk dressing

Pulled Pork Sliders

Pulled Pork Sliders

Crab Cake

Lump Crab Cake served with sautéed spinach, crispy shallots and corn relish.

Everything was delicious but we definitely took some home, as the portions are generous, and we made sure we left room for dessert. All of the desserts sounded heavenly, and in addition to the variety of desserts (which I believe changes quite often to keep the menu fresh and exciting), they offer a daily homemade cake (Sweet Annie’s Slice of Cake), which ranges from guava to plain vanilla, but they are all delicious and moist. Luckily for hubby, on the day we went they were also serving coconut bread pudding, one of his favorite all time desserts!

Warm Coconut Bread Pudding served with vanilla crème anglaise and toasted coconut flakes

Warm Coconut Bread Pudding served with vanilla crème anglaise and toasted coconut flakes.

Needless to say, we’ve been back a few more times, including a Sunday family brunch, and this place does not disappoint! Every Friday is Burger Friday, featuring a different burger every week, adding to the originality of their menu.  Here are a few more photos of the dishes we had on our other visits:

The Tuna Melt, fresh grilled tuna salad, melted havarti cheese, bacon, arugula, tomato, crispy shallots, mayo & dijon

The Tuna Melt, fresh grilled tuna salad, melted havarti cheese, bacon, arugula, tomato, crispy shallots, mayo & dijon.

Pan Roasted Snapper Filet, fingerling potato cake, grilled asparagus, beurre blanc, charred lemon

Pan Roasted Snapper Filet, fingerling potato cake, grilled asparagus, beurre blanc, charred lemon.

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PB&J Parfait layered on top of chocolate cookie crumbles.

Papa’s Buttermilk Pancakes served with  pecan-caramel praline butter and maple syrup

Papa’s Buttermilk Pancakes served with pecan caramel praline butter and maple syrup.  
My daughter claims these are the absolute best pancakes she’s ever had in her life!

Fried Green Tomato Stack with bacon, pimiento cheese, baby arugula & egg.

Fried Green Tomato Stack with bacon, pimiento cheese and baby arugula, topped with an egg.

If you’re in the Miami area, make sure you stop by and check them out. I guarantee you will love their food!

WHISK Gourmet Food & Catering
7382 SW 56th Avenue
South Miami, FL 33143
786-268-8350

http://www.whiskgourmet.com

Mason Jar Gifts for the Holidays

Mason jars are all the rage these days. From home decor to wedding centerpieces to light fixtures to stationery to housewares, mason jars make the perfect gift.  Every year I find myself searching for new and original Secret Santa gifts for friends and my daughter’s classmates.  This year I decided to make some gifts, using mason jars.  You can fit almost anything into a mason jar, tie it up with some ribbon, add a cute tag, and voila!  Here are some of my favorite mason jar gift ideas for the holidays:

M&M Poem Jar, click here.

I actually made this same exact one last year for a Secret Santa gift for my daughter’s school.  It came out so cute!  M&M Christmas Poem Jar, click here.

Hot Chocolate in a Jar, click here.

Hot Cocoa Mason Jars, click here.

For the golfer, click here.

Mason Jar for the Golfer, click here.

Chocolate Kisses Mason Jar, click here.

Chocolate Kisses Mason Jar, click here.

Peppermint Pampering Mason Jar, click here.

Peppermint Pampering Mason Jar, click here.

The Mason Jar Cookie Company, click here.

The Mason Jar Cookie Company, click here.

Spa in a Jar, click here.

Spa in a Jar, click here.

Santa Twizzlers Mason Jar, click here.

Santa Twizzlers Mason Jar, click here.

For the Baker, click here.

Mas Jar for the Baker, click here.

Nutcraker topped Popcorn & Peppermint Mason Jars, click here.

Nutcracker topped Popcorn & Peppermint Mason Jars, click here.

Crafts in s Jar, click here.

Mason Jar for the Craft Lover, click here.

Do you like mason jars?  If so, what do you use them for?

 

 

Monogram Jewelry

My daughter on her lst birthday, wearing her monogrammed acrylic necklace from Moon & Lola

My daughter wearing her monogram acrylic necklace from M&L

In the past few years, monogram and personalized jewelry have made a huge comeback.  You see everyone wearing the large initial necklaces and the nameplates, almost everywhere you look. I remember my “Carrie” necklace from the 80’s (I think I still have it), and I’m glad I kept it!  One of my favorite stores to find these fun pieces is Moon & Lola, a jewelry boutique featuring necklaces, earrings, bracelets and other high fashion items, all designed and produced in Apex, NC, a few towns over from Raleigh.  There is also a flagship store in downtown Raleigh, and one in Charleston, SC.  But of course, if you don’t live near to any of these locations, you can always visit their website to find numerous retailers that carry their items, nationwide, including Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. And by the way, their colorful monogrammed cuff links ended up on Oprah’s 72-item “Favorite Things” holiday list for 2014, read all about it, here.

Just having visited Raleigh a few weeks ago, I can tell you M&L is a place not to be missed.  First, the store is gorgeous!  When you walk in, you’re not sure where to look.  So many cute, comfy, pink couches, and all of their displays are beautiful.

Moon & Lola, Raleigh

Moon & Lola, Raleigh

Also, the staff could not be friendlier.  Each time I’ve visited the store I have always been greeted by very attentive, sweet, young ladies that really take the time to help you personalize just about any item they sell.  Needless to say, we made a few purchases, and my daughter loved everything about this place, so I’m sure we will be returning on our future Raleigh visits.  And if we don’t make it back soon…there’s always the website!

Gorgeous displays at Moon & Lola

Gorgeous displays at Moon & Lola

My daughter in heaven...designing some bracelets with charms...

My daughter in heaven…designing some bracelets with charms…

More beautiful displays...

More beautiful displays…

 Moon & Lola

219 North Salem Street, Suite 100
Apex, NC
919.367.6838

208 South Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC
919.322.4277

http://www.MoonandLola.com

Many other retailers sell monogram jewelry as well, as it’s very much a trend right now, especially among the younger crowds.  A few of my other favorite online monogram jewelry websites include:

 Allison & Ivy

  Marley Lilly

 Three Hip Chicks

   Max and Chloe

 Swell Caroline

Do you like or own any monogram jewelry, and if you do, which are your favorite pieces?