New Year’s Eve Favorite Things Brunch

Happy new year! The ladies in my family have started a new tradition of having a favorite things brunch around the holidays where my younger cousin and I host our moms, aunts, and grandmothers at my house for a fun morning of fellowship and gifting. (Click here to read more about the favorite things game.) This year, we had extra helping hands from our cousin’s new wife. (You may remember when we hosted her wedding shower last spring.) Last year, we hosted the brunch a week before Christmas, but this year we decided a New Year’s Eve brunch would work best.

We had a lot of fun setting the table this year! It was a special treat to break out linens and actual dinnerware and treat the ladies of our family to something special. We’re definitely a family that typically uses disposable plates and napkins for family gatherings.

Each place setting had a water glass, linen napkin, mimosa champagne flute with a swizzle stick, favor, party hat, name card, small plate, dinner plate, charger, and utensils. Trust me, we really upped the table setting ante from last year’s brunch.

The party hats were from Target, and almost everyone wore their hat during brunch! It was so much fun to look around the table and see everyone wearing party hats and enjoying themselves. The name cards were a simple DIY using free flower clip art. This helped us identify which mimosas should be mocktails. Plus it was a really sweet touch everyone seemed to appreciate.

We found the Bubbles & Kisses favor idea from Pinterest, and it was a huge hit! All we did was add some Hershey Kisses to an organza favor bag, write “Bubbles & Kisses” on gift tags from Target, and add it to the mini bottles of sparkling cider.

I’m going to get real for a minute and admit that this cake was almost a huge problem. It all started when I ordered a cake topper that didn’t arrive correctly, and then the Etsy seller forgot to send the correct topper. She was really gracious about it and gave me a full refund, but the cake already started with a disadvantage: no topper. Then, when we picked up the cake, it didn’t look at all like it was supposed to look. Instead of being covered in an edible glitter, it had gold sprinkles haphazardly sprinkled all over.

Honestly, we just needed to reset our mental picture of how the cake was supposed to look and instead accept how it actually looked. Once we did that, it became a lot easier to move forward. I found a free clock printable to use as the central topper, and we just used a decorative scalloped circle punch to add some circles to add some something decorative around the clock. This all happened around midnight the night before the brunch. The cake itself was strawberry and delicious.

The rest of the table’s centerpiece featured grocery store flowers in holiday vases, a beaded runner, and the cake on a silver cake plate. There was enough going on with the rest of the table to feel comfortable with a simpler centerpiece.

All of the food was placed on a small buffet table near the main dining table. Unfortunately, the only place to put the buffet table blocked one of the doors into the dining room, so we had to get a little creative blocking the exit. The mix of balloons and the banner ended up being the perfect kitschy, not-so-serious additions to the party decor. The balloons were hung from the door frame with sequined ribbon, so the extra touch of sparkle was really fun.

The food itself was a mix of old and new recipes, and it was all well received by the brunch guests.


Happy new year, friends!

Favorite Things Christmas Brunch

Merry week of Christmas! I hosted a Christmas favorite things brunch (ladies only!) over the weekend, and I wanted to share it with you before the holiday passes us by.


Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.comFavorite Things Brunch at


I added a few new things to my Christmas dining room decor this year, such as my black Christmas tree.

Favorite Things Brunch at Favorite Things Brunch at Favorite Things Brunch at Favorite Things Brunch at Favorite Things Brunch at


Favorite Things Game:

If you’ve never been to a favorite things party, I highly recommend hosting one. The premise is simple, you bring a pair of your favorite things at a certain price point. The two people who draw your name each receives one of your favorite things. Each person leaves with two, new favorite things!

I set our price point at $15, which was challenging in a fun way. I chose two faux fur blankets as my favorite thing to bring. However the majority of the women in my family chose to bring a snowman as evidenced by the photo below. Ha! I received the trio of snowmen (far right) and one of the largest snowmen made from corn husks (second from the left). The two smallest snowmen below are from an adorable snowman nativity.

Favorite Things Brunch at


(Linking up to Between Naps on the Porch.)

A Pretty Black Christmas Tree for the Dining Room

Remember my steal of a deal on a white Christmas tree? It was not meant to be. Even after a call to customer service, it was apparent that had sold me a tree it did not actually have in stock. The nearest location that had the tree available in store was in another state.

This story has a happy ending, though. I found a different tree that is absolutely perfect.

I ordered this 6-foot, black pencil tree from Overstock, and I love it. It was a bit more expensive than the white tree, but I was still able to apply my PayPal credit bringing my total out of pocket spent for this tree to $30. The best news? I already had some gorgeous glass ornaments to adorn the tree and ribbon to make a bow for the top. I bought some pretty bows at Target and one strand of lights to finish the tree, bringing the total spent on this tree to only $40.

Black Christmas Tree at

The tree is perfect in front of the large window in my dining room. I put it on a crate to give it a little height and draped the base with a tablecloth I already had to round out my festive little tree. My favorite thing might be how well it correlates with the large white Christmas tree adorned with black ornaments in our living room while still maintaining its own sense of style.

Favorite Things Christmas Brunch

Maybe next year I’ll add another tree to my Christmas decor. 😉

Cyber Monday $10 Christmas Tree Purchase

Hello! I’m stopping in to quickly share a great deal I found today on a Christmas tree. I basically just purchased this Christmas tree for only $10!

How did I manage such an amazing deal? I used the Cyber Monday 15% off coupon (CYBER15) stacked with a coupon code that saved $10 off of $50 (DECORATE). This saved me a total of $16.34 off the $53.60 price tag. (I was originally willing to spend the $53.60, because it’s already an excellent price.) This brought my total to $40.67 – wow! I decided to pay with PayPal, and discovered that I had a credit of $40. This brought my grand total to just $10.67!

Have you found any great Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals this year?

All I Want for Christmas 2014

I’ve bought and wrapped the gifts for our family and friends, so now it’s time to share my Christmas wish list! Below are a few of the items I’m hoping St. Nick brings my way.

1. A Heated Blanket

A heated blanket with duel-tem controls would be so nice for those extra chilly nights. I’ll be honest, I’ve been tempted to order this a few times as the temperatures drop ever cooler.

2. Michael Kors Watch

Nothing makes me feel more polished for my very corporate day job than a nice watch. I already have a couple by Michael Kors, but I would love to have a watch with a silver band. This versatile piece not only plays well with office attire, but would also be cute for the weekend.

3. “You’ve Got It Made”

This cookbook has 4.5 stars on Amazon, and with a tagline that reads “make now & bake later,” what’s not to love? I love freezer cooking, and I’m looking forward to adding some new recipes to my arsenal.

4. Dior Addict Lip Glow

This has been on my wish list for quite some time. I can’t wait to try it, especially this time of year when we all need a little extra lip protection!

5. Industrial Lamp

This super cute, industrial lamp is just what I need to finish off a little space I’ve been working on in the office!

That’s what’s on my list this year. What’s on yours?

Holiday Planning

How is it already November? (More importantly, how have I not blogged in nearly a year?) November means the busy holiday season is upon us, and I’ve already begun prepping.

I moved the second desk and the bookcase out of the office. I purchased a chair for the space to make the corner of the room a comfy reading nook. Bonus: the chair can serve as extra Christmas seating for guests! I’m hoping Santa brings me a lamp and small end table to finish out the space.

Holiday Planning at

I’ve also ordered a large area rug for the living room:

It gets mixed reviews, but the price was great! I think it will work just fine with a nice rug pad underneath. Plus I don’t have to worry about it being too precious at this price point.

I also made over this cute little stool for extra Christmas seating. Trust me, it was not cute before. (The cat helps the cuteness factor.)

Holiday Planning at BetweenWeekdays.com2

It’s normal, day-to-day function will serve as a place for Travis to take off his work boots (rather than tracking who-knows-what all over the house each evening).

One large project we’ve tackled this year is painting most of our interior doors black. Every room should have something black it it; why not the door? I’m loving the contrast, and it’s a serious upgrade from the yucky cream-ish doors color we had before.

Holiday Planning at

We still have a few doors left to paint, and we’ll tackle those as soon as warmer weather arrives. Our new paint sprayer might be one of my most favorite purchases made this year.

In addition to prepping our home, I’ve also been thinking about meal prep. I’ve decided  to make one of my easiest — and most crowd pleasing — desserts this Thanksgiving. The only problem was that my trifle dish didn’t have a lid making travel difficult. Amazon to the rescue with this inexpensive solution.

Holiday Planning at BetweenWeekdays.com2

I love it so much, I might even order another one.

One of my biggest holiday purchases this year was a new Christmas tree since we said goodbye to our old one last year.

I’m in love with the size and shape of this new tree. It fits our room perfectly! I also added a few cranberry ornaments this year in addition to our normal black and white. I’m not sure if I’m in love with the cranberry, but time will tell. The cranberry stays for now.

That’s some of the holiday prep I’ve been working on lately. How — and when — do you prep for the holidays?

Want some more holiday inspiration? Click here for 5 tips for a stress free holiday. Or click here to see our house decked out for the holidays last year.

Christmas Meal Planning

Last week, I mentioned that I like to plan all of my Christmas meals in advance, but I didn’t share with you what that looked like. Today, I thought it might be fun to share what I’m planning to prepare and take with me to all of our events, as well as some of the recipes. I’ve broken down what we’re taking where calendar style, so let’s dive right in.

December 20: Work Cookie Swap

I’ll make a plate of my favorite chocolate chip cookies to take and leave at the office. Rather than using a serving dish, I’ll use this simple — and disposable — idea I saw on Pinterest:

Christmas Eve

Noon luncheon at Travis’ grandparent’s house:

Whatever we bring to this get together will have to travel well as his grandparents live 45 minutes away. At the moment, I’m torn between bringing a simple potato dish (Meghan Potatoes, below) or Pioneer Woman’s Pretzel Turtles. Either way, I’ll have all the ingredients on hand to make both.

Meghan Potatoes

Ingredients: cream of potato soup, one can of water, a cup and 1/2 of sour cream, 2 cups of cheddar cheese (divided), garlic and pepper to taste, shoe string frozen french fries, crackers, 2 T melted butter

Directions: Combine soup, water, sour cream and cheese. Slowly add fries to sour cream mixture until all the potatoes are thoroughly covered. Place potatoes in a dish and sprinkle with additional cheese and crushed crackers, repeat layers. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake at 375 until bubbly.


Afternoon gift exchange with Travis’ immediate family:

Hooray! This is a meal-free event. I’ll just bring whatever’s left from his grandparent’s house for snacking.

5 p.m. Dinner with my paternal grandmother:

This is one of three times my entire extended family gets together, so it’s always a lot of fun. I’m known for deserts, so this year I’ll be making a red velvet bunt cake! Rather than using the ganache the recipe calls for, I’ll use a simple cream cheese frosting instead. I’d hate to cover up all of that pretty, red cake!

This recipe is surprisingly easy and a real crowd pleaser. Plus, I can make it in advance!

9 p.m. Gift swap with my Dad, stepmother, and extended family

This is when we get together with my Dad and immediate family. We’re definitely too full to eat a meal, but since we socialize well into the wee morning hours, we end up snacking a lot. This year, I’m planning to make a Chicken Cheese Ball (it’s delicious!), plus I’ll bring whatever cake leftovers we have.

Chicken Cheese Ball

Ingredients: 1 large can of white chicken, 1 tsp. chicken granolas, 8 ounces cream cheese, 1 small chopped onion, slivered almonds or pecans, crackers for serving

Directions: Combine all ingredients and roll in nuts. Serve with crackers.

Christmas Day

Christmas day is a lot simpler for us. In face, we don’t have to even leave our house if we don’t want to!

10 a.m. Christmas breakfast with my Mother’s extended family, hosted by us

This is a potluck event, so I’m only responsible for providing the eggs and one dish. This year I’ve decided to make a sopapilla cheesecake, which sounds really fancy but is basically a cinnamon cheese danish. I’ll halve the recipe below.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Ingredients: 2 cans crescent rolls, 16 ounces cream cheese, 1 ½ cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions: Lightly spray a 9×13 pan and roll one can of crescent rolls along the bottom. Mix cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Pour mixture on top of crescent rolls. Spread the second can of crescent rolls on top of cream cheese mixture. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cinnamon together and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

5 p.m. Christmas dinner with my Mother, stepfather and grandmother, hosted by us

Happily, this is also a potluck affair, so I’m not responsible for the entire menu. This year I’ll be making:

  • Roast Turkey
  • Mashed Potatoes
  •  Pineapple Casserole (see below)
  • Sweet Tea

Pineapple Casserole

Ingredients: crushed crackers, 7 ounces shredded white cheddar cheese, 6 T all-purpose flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple chunks in juice drained

Directions: Combine flour, sugar and cheese. Stir in pineapple until evenly coated. Place mixture evenly in dish and top with crackers. Bake 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees until golden and bubbly.

That’s it! While it seems like I’ll be spending a lot of time preparing dishes, it’s much less than what I’ve done in years past. What’s your favorite holiday dish?

5 Tips for a Simpler Holiday Season

Sometimes it seems like the holiday season is one endless to-do list. While I love to-do lists as much as the next gal, sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy the moment rather than worrying about what the next 15 moments should look like. Today, I’m sharing with you five steps I’m taking towards enjoying a simpler holiday season this year.

1. Purchase Gifts Early

I always begin Christmas shopping as soon as possible. This year, I actually began the day after Christmas LAST YEAR with all of the post-Christmas sales. Click here to read more about how and why I shop early.

Early Purchased Christmas Gifts at


I’m happy to report that my Christmas shopping is DONE! And, as an added bonus, all of the gifts are already wrapped. I’m so happy to have this checked off of my to-do list for the holiday season.

2. Tried & True Recipes & Meal Planning

If you’re like us, you host multiple holiday meals at your home. The one thing I’ve learned over the years is to only prepare dishes you know. This is not the time to try out that recipe you tore from that magazine two years ago. Trust me: I know.

When it comes to holiday meal prep, I’ve learned that simpler is better. When planning your menu, stick to dishes you’ve cooked before (whether they’re special holiday dishes or everyday staples.) If there’s a new dish you’ve been saving for Christmas, try it out a few weeks in advance. You’ll either love it and add it to your meal, or you’ll be glad you didn’t try to prepare it on a special (and busy) day.

I’ve also learned it’s best to plan your meals well in advance. I like to write out all of the events we have scheduled and then plan dishes accordingly. Having it all planned out ensures that I have all the serving dishes I need on hand for each event and that I don’t forget grocery store ingredients. I add the menu plans and grocery store list to my Christmas binder.

3. Easy Decor

I never stress about decorating my house for the holidays. I have two bins of Christmas decor in addition to what we need to decorate our Christmas tree stored in the attic. I use the same decorations each year, and I use all of our decorations each year. I love our Christmas decorations, but I’m not overwhelmed with more than I can handle; simple is best.

5 Tips for a Simpler Holiday Season


Plus, having all black and white Christmas decor, keeps me from over-shopping on extra things I don’t need each year. Finding black and white during a time of red and green is difficult, which makes the items I have even more special since they’re usually one of a kind.

4. Make Clean Up Easy

Let’s face it: hosting holiday parties can be messy from all the food preparing, eating and gift unwrapping. Here’s a few ways I make clean up a breeze:

  1. Ask guest to bring dishes. Hosting a potluck party cuts down on the number of pots and pans you’re left to clean.
  2. Use paper products. Simply throwing away paper plates at the end of a meal is way better than standing at the sink for hours cleaning up plates. We use paper plates, cups and napkins for large get-togethers. However, real utensils are always appreciated by guests.
  3. Keep large trash bags handy for unwrapping gifts. While I’m sure my cat would love endless piles of gift wrap, I’m happier trashing it as soon as possible.

5. Accept That There Will Be Stress

While the holidays are great fun, you must accept that you will experience some stress at some point. I know that we’ll hit the roads at 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve and not return home until 1 or 2 a.m. Christmas morning. I will inevitably forget something, and we will probably be late to at least one event. But, that’s ok.

One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote an article about this very thing: It’s OK if Your Holidays Aren’t Totally Stress Free and Simple.

The holidays are NOT about being perfect, they’re a time to celebrate the love of Christ and family, and that’s precisely what I intend to do this year. How do you keep your holidays simple?

Out of Treats Sign for Trick or Treaters

I’ve heard that my new neighborhood is a hot spot for trick or treaters. As in, I can expect hundreds of trick or treaters to visit my home October 31.Yikes!

I’ve already started buying candy (in bulk), but I’m still worried that I won’t have enough. Enter this adorable sign I saw on Pinterest. Cute, right? And totally DIY-able. (For those of you who don’t want to click over to Pinterest, it’s a sign you hang on your door announcing that you are out of treats.)

Luckily, I let Hobby Lobby do most of the hard work for me.

Out of Treats Sign for Trick or Treaters at

I recently found this adorable sign at Hobby Lobby for $2.99 — with 40 percent off! I don’t think I could have made it myself that cheaply. However, this sign only advertises that we have treats available. The back side was lacking when I purchased it, but with a few DIY touches, I knew it could be something really fun.

Out of Treats Sign for Trick or Treaters at

Tons of potential, right? I thought so, too.

3Out of Treats Sign for Trick or Treaters at

Using my Silhouette I cut some vinyl words and polka dots to add to the back of the sign. Some cute bows hid the staples and finished off my little sign nicely. When we run out of candy at the end of the night, all we have to do is flip the sign over.

Here’s hoping we won’t have to worry about our doorbell being rang a million times after dark. How have you been preparing for Halloween?


I’m linking up to TDC’s Before & After Party.

Christmas in July 2013

Every year in July, I take a day to sort through all the Christmas gifts I’ve already bought (hello after Christmas sales!) and get a game plan together for the gifts I have left to purchase. I thought it might be fun t0 blog about my process this year in case someone else out there likes to start early. I can’t be the only one, right?

Christmas in July at
If preparing for Christmas in July sounds like utter madness to you, I understand. A few years I would have agreed with you. However, I’ve found planning ahead to be extremely helpful.

Why I organize Christmas gifts in July:

  1. We buy for a lot of people each year: six parents, two siblings and their wives, various gift exchange parties, a nephew, two (new this year!) nieces and one set of grandparents. I want to ensure that each person (big or small) receives the perfect gift each year, and to do that, I need to plan ahead. Not only to stretch out the budget, but also because I like to take the time to ensure each person receives the perfect gift(s). 
  2. I start buying Christmas gifts the day after Christmas each year and continue buying gifts throughout the year. If I didn’t stop mid-year to sort through everything, I might accidentally over shop for one person and under shop for another leaving my budget a wreck and me stressed at the last minute.
  3. Gifts are a big part of Christmas for us. We love being able to shower our family with them each year, but if I left all of the gift purchasing to the last minute, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the season as thoroughly as I would otherwise. When the gifts are purchased, I can spend the holiday focusing on spending time with family, decorating the house and baking Christmas treats. 

My Christmas Binder

A couple of years ago I created a Christmas binder to keep track of purchased gifts and receipts. Since then I’ve used it faithfully to keep me organized. This year I finally found the perfect gift planner printable from Liz at Life in Yellow. Our parents get their own pages, but everyone else neatly fits on this little sheet.

Gift Buying Checklist used by

I keep a pocket for receipts in the front of the binder, and, later, I’ll add other pages for organizing things like menus and special dates.

At this stage of my holiday planning, it’s most important for me to list what I’ve bought so far for each person along with the dollar amount spent. We’ve allocated a set amount to spend on each person, so totaling up what we’ve spent so far helps me know where the rest of the gifting budget should be spent. For instance, I have more left to spent on my Mom than I do on my step-dad (see below).

Gift Planning at

Christmas in July 2013

I’ve focused a lot of efforts on purchasing Christmas gifts early this year, so I had a lot to sort through!

Early Purchased Christmas Gifts at

Some items had already been boxed (just behind my Christmas binder in the photo) for wrapping. Each box had a piece of paper taped to it with the recipient’s name, what the gift was and the dollar amount. Everything else had to be sorted through and labeled appropriately.

Once all of the gifts were sorted and boxed, gift wrapping commenced. It makes sense for me to go ahead and wrap the early-bought Christmas gifts since I’m already sorting through everything. Plus, it saves me from having to wrap everything in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

I decided to tackle this major project in the back guest bedroom in case I wasn’t able to complete it all in one day. That way I could just close the door on this mess.

Christmas in July Mess at

Luckily, I was able to finish in a day. Winter was a huge help, naturally.

Christmas in July Winter Cat at

Once everything was wrapped, I tucked it all into the top of the back guest bedroom closet. No one will stumble across the gifts there, and even if they did, they’re all wrapped up. I’ll keep the Christmas binder in my desk, so that I can easily access it for online shopping throughout the rest of the year.

I’m so happy to have this much of my Christmas to-do list checked off. I’ve still got plenty of shopping left to do — more than half, actually — but at least now I not only have a game plan but also a large portion of my gifts purchased and wrapped.

Merry Christmas in July!


I’m linking up to TDC’s Before and After Party!

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