Thursday, December 22, 2011

last minute holiday idea....

I know lots of us enjoy a simple way to tell others we love them....I decided to tell my family & friends this via chocolate....

Incase you are stumped on a last minute stocking stuffer or yummy treat to pass at your holiday gathering, here is one that is sure to please.  I can't tell you how many times I keep catching my husband & kids sneaking these treats when I've been trying to save them as little gifts....

Holiday Salted Caramel (+chocolate) Bark
 What You Need2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 pound bag of mini pretzels sticks
12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
sea salt, for sprinkling on top
 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside.
Melt 2 sticks of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. While the butter is melting, place enough pretzels on the prepared baking sheet to form a single, even layer.
Once the butter has melted, add the brown sugar and stir well to incorporate. Allow the brown sugar and butter to simmer and bubble, but do not let it boil. You may need to adjust the temperature to low. Stir the butter-sugar mixture occasionally. It should take about 3 minutes for the butter and sugar to caramelize, but keep a close eye on it because it will burn quickly.
When the sugar and butter have caramelized, pour the mixture evenly over the pretzels, strafing it back and forth down the length of the sheet. The caramel hardens quickly so it’s important to pour it as evenly and quickly as possible. If there are any clumps, use an offset spatula to spread the caramel as best you can. Bake for 5-7 minutes.
While those bake, set up a double boiler for your chocolate chips and careful the water does not touch the bottom of the container that chips are setting in - they will burn!  Once smooth and melted, pour the chocolate over the pretzel-caramel mixture, strafing it down the length of the baking sheet just as you did for with the caramel layer. Again, move evenly and quickly. Use an offset spatula to smooth out any clumps or thick spots. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over chocolate before it starts to harden. Allow the baking sheet to harden in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
When the bark has cooled and hardened, remove from the fridge and carefully pull the aluminum foil off the back. Break the bark into pieces and serve. Best stored in the refrigerator.

My hubby designed these cutie pie labels....


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

a beautiful season

Can we just shout hip hip hooray for a fantastic wedding season?

I can't tell you how many brides I nearly cried with this year due to such gorgeous families & beautifully woven family histories.  I consider it a huge honor to be present during the hours when Dads see their little girl become a bride...Mothers help dress their daughters...sisters offer support and encouragement.

While my role simply lies around doing the makeup, I find the energy that fills a bride room completely compelling.  I always think back to my wedding day.  Every. Time.

Many thanks to my awesome mentor and company owner, Kimberly!  I am excited that we not only share a love for bridal makeup....but we are also sharing pregnancy together as our due dates are only about 5 weeks apart.  Want to book us for next year?  You might see us with babies in our makeup extra charge!

Happy Wednesday Friends....
 photo courtesy of lovely & talented Suzanne Cofer of Suzuran Photography
 photo courtesy of ZMedia's talented Dan & April O'Keefe

the last 2 photos courtesy of ZMedia's Owners & fantastic photographers: Chris & Julie First 

Monday, December 19, 2011

the gift of giving

The older I get the more I enjoy the act of giving.  Perhaps with years on earth comes the basic realization that 'keeping for oneself' is not nearly as refreshing as giving to others. 

The other thing I love almost as much as giving is packaging the gifts so they are special, significant and create a special feeling once given from my hand to theirs. 

To the ladies on my side of the family, I have a special packaging plan.  I must give credit to my obsession over the summer with Aladdins Cuisine for aiding me in finding this adorable little shop in Lakewood. It's called Cosmic Collectibles and it sits just a few doors down from where I would weekly get my Baba Garden Rolled fix in. I have been so excited to see what new things store owner, Robin, brings in.  I am in love with the dressers, vintage chairs, mirrors (which I've already nabbed one and it's on my wall as we speak) & all at reasonable prices. 

One of my most recent purchases were a stack of adorable vintage strawberry back to who knows when.  These adorable boxes are a perfect square & ideal for the gifts that fit inside.  Instead of covering the gingham print & illustration of strawberries with wrapping paper, I simply tied with bakers twine & added a colorful tag.  

Can you guess what's inside?

Friday, December 16, 2011

breathing a little easier

Tomorrow marks my 16th week in this pregnancy.

I am both shocked that we're already to this point and amazed that all has gone so smoothly.

It was when I was 15wks and 5 days that I lost my 2nd and ever since then I have a hard time relaxing until I hit that 16wk mark.  It's just SO far along and the bonding is already too deep.

Having friends who have lost babies later, lost multiples, or had just makes you wonder how much can the heart truly tolerate?

There is still a little place in me that wonders every day what life would be like if those little feet pattered about the house....he'd be 3 now.

Instead, though, I relax a little bit more today than I have in the last 4 months resting assure that all is well....occasional flutters remind me that life has begun and when I'm tired, I rest.  (something more women need to learn to do)  Walking into a weekend that will be both exciting and relaxing.  Looking ahead to some alone time, some time with Joel and some time with sweet friends.  Hope you are looking ahead and not looking back during this season.  So much good is in store.
I treasure this little pic of baby Sam....taken Sept 27, 2007. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

love affair with burlap

I can't stop looking at burlap-related items.  Completely timeless, perfect for various ages, and can be enhanced, printed on, and easily become art.  *LOVE*
 how pretty would this look holding presents together....
If you know anything about us, we are obsessed with letters in our house......
whoa this would feed both my addictions: to burlap and to tote bags
I love two different colors of burlap on this one.  gorgeous.
darling in every way.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

a shoe moment

I am funny about my shoes.

So funny that I really do prefer (usually) to shop alone for them.  I like to really look at them, distraction-free and not feel any pressure to hurry or delay a decision I want to make.

Over the last 2-3 years, I've gotten a bit more adventurous in my shoe choices.  BUT the one area I always have remained against (except for working out or walking to the bus to get my son) were wearing flats in public.  Call me CRAZY but I like the big girls

When you are 5ft 4, every little bit helps....

I was meandering through blogland and came across wedge sneakers and thought....I could do this! oh Santa....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

a wall

Joel recently transformed our first floor space with new paint & freshly laid tile by our hearth.  With the addition of our Christmas tree (which by the way is our FAVORITE ever) we are just so enjoying the look & feel of our home & living space.

There is one naked wall, however.  It used to hold some prints that we got at a local store but we are just simply wanting to tell a bolder story and draw the eye upward once you walk into our living space.

After a trip to Ireland which has of course inspired intense desire to travel ALL over the world....we've decided to create a wall of maps.

All shapes, All sizes, in modern frames, in vintage frames, just plain old maps....with the hopes that they will spark conversation with those who visit and create in us the desire to not only speak of various cities but to go out and see them with our own eyes.

Here is some of my inspiration....
this one, of course, captures my heart as it's home....
I love this idea for sending a gift to a friend who enjoys seeing the world as much as we do....
This one I could stare at for hours....
I love the modern & fresh feeling this one has - it also reminds me of climbing Pikes Peak back in 2000 with Joel and 500 of my closest friends....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

a beautiful soul

Yesterday was an intense day as we said goodbye with the entire Miller side of the family to the sweetest lady ever.  The funeral was sweet & loving....Joel and his brother sang a few of her favorite songs and that is something she had specifically requested.  

Something I loved about their memory of her was this particular table of photographs of family who had already gone on before her.  She had lost her daughter a few years back, her late husband several years ago & Matt (Joel's brother/her grandson) and all their photos were displayed.  It was also beautiful to see the bible that Joel's parents had bought her years and years ago on the table opened to the chapter about a wife of noble character (Proverbs 31), what an honor to have that be your page on the day of your funeral. 
Grandma Mary on the left, Joel's brother Matt pictured on the right and the bible below opened to Proverbs 31.

Joel's Grandmother was the quintessential Grandma type.  The type that loved cuddling and reading books and kissing babies and rubbing prego bellies and telling stories and caring for little ones and enjoying the noise that children make rather than being bothered by it.  Her voice was so soft and sweet and I will never forget when she met our youngest, how much he took her back to when Joel was that little tender age and would spend lots of time at her house. 

I may not have known her as long but when you are the 'outlaw' coming into a family, you remember when you are accepted and loved just like those related by blood.  She was the very best at that.  I remember Joel introducing me to her when we were just dating and thinking 'Gosh is she the cutest Grandma ever?"  She loved Joel so much and when he was little, she'd always call him 'lovebug' because of how much he loved on her. 

Whenever I catch myself calling my boys that name, I will most definitely smile and think of her and how she is no longer in pain but delighting in the peace of God.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

crop bistro & bar

Joel works in Ohio City and has for over 4 years now...

I remember meeting him down there for lunch from our home in the burbs and it was somewhat tricky on where to eat and we'd often just eat at the same spot over and over....especially because a ton of our favorites down there are only open for dinner or late into the evening.
ahem....Bar Cento.....hint hint....

When Crop Bistro & Bar started their renovation of the former United Bank Building, which sat vacant for so terribly long....I remember thinking, 'Geesh, they are going to utilize this entire space?"


This space is not only so beautifully restored and gorgeous but the food is just so wonderful and reasonably priced.  We ate lunch there today and enjoyed such a delicious meal & in addition to that we were given dessert on the house: Salted Caramel Affogato - might just be the dessert I'd select if it were my last night on 

I think the space is something you will spend hours talking about and then you will STOP talking once your food arrives....  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

what a little coat of paint can do.....

BIG props go out to my husband who painted his entire vacation over Thanskgiving to make the first floor of our home even more lovely.  We went from browns/reds/beige to a very cool, clean & bright shade of gray.   I can't describe in words how much I am enjoying the change and the clean lines....

What do you think?

Monday, November 28, 2011

our home

Every time the seasons change, Joel and I get the itch to change something....

When spring rolled around we installed a new backyard fence and can I just say something that will sound very dramatic?

That fence changed our lives.  

Seriously, gone are the days of me panic-stricken thinking that Lee will wind up getting hit by a car.  Not only is he SUCH a good listener these days and doesn't even run out in the street but that fence gives us added confidence.

Once Autumn came, our focus was on our trip and then when we got home, we had to discuss the fact that our boys would need to become roomies since a new sibling was on the way.   We have drawn up a plan for their room and gosh, I can't WAIT to see that become a reality.

This last weekend, however, was all about our first floor - dramatic change from warm tones, reds & brown to cool grey & crisp white with shiny hardwood furniture & floors.  Think of a happy version of Restoration Hardware....yes oh yes.

Not only are we in LOVE with this grey tone but it's making our accessories that were 'ho hum' suddenly feel like new.  My husband is a rockstar because not only is he a fantastically successful & BUSY designer but he gave up his long Thanksgiving Day weekend to paint, trim, re-tile our hearth, & paint some more.

Here are some before's.....once we finish up the trim, wash our floors & put art back up on the walls, I'll post the afters!

Friday, November 25, 2011

so so thankful

What a lovely weekend full of family time, rest, and lots of turkey!  ;-)

We avoided the crazy shopping & kept it simple.  Joel painted our first floor and I can't believe the difference it makes in our home.  I feel like we added square footage we didn't know we could have.

Hope you are continuing to be thankful for all you have as the life of gratitude is truly a life full of joy...



photos courtesy of my cousin, Michele.  ;-) 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

our 'little' (ok HUGE) news...

Happy Thanksgiving.

For some, they take a day to give thanks.

I feel as though for the last few months, I've been in a cloud of gratitude for what I've been given.

Joel and I went to Ireland just 2 short months ago.  We seriously connected in ways we hadn't ever.  We explored, we laughed, we experienced food & culture and we solidified decisions for our future.

Little did we know how the future would change.

The final evening we spent in Dublin, we chose a small Asian restaurant that was quiet and unassuming.   We gave each other our favorite moments spent in the glorious country and we just grinned at how blessed we felt to experience such beauty.

With our feet tired and our alarms set very early in the morning for flights back to the US, we decided to catch a movie and call it an early night.

With 20 minutes to spare before the movie started, I left Joel munching on popcorn to run to the restroom.

I noticed a pharmacy right nextdoor to the movie theater.  I decided to run in there and a grab a little pregnancy test.  (All week I was surprised at how late I was....but I was the girl with the 'fertility' problems and only one fallopian tube, right?)


There I was in the movie theater bathroom...looking at a positive test...opening and closing my eyes to make sure I wasn't seeing something wrong.

"Maybe it's opposite in Europe.... and 2 lines means NOT pregnant"

"Maybe American urine won't work on European tests..."

Yes - I actually thought these things to myself.

I sat through the movie, stunned.

Afterward, Joel and I got back & I decided to tell him about one more 'Dublin moment' I'd never forget....the moment I told him we were pregnant.

Stunned is the only word to use to describe his response....

When a husband walks through a difficult journey of multiple surgeries, fertility testing, a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy & the loss of 2 babies and a fallopian HAS a major effect on your ability to believe.

I thank God today that my ability to believe has grown far greater than a mustard seed....and my little one inside is about the size of a lime is our proof of that....

Happy Thanksgiving....thanks for reading the story God's writing out for us....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


So, this muppet movie comes out tomorrow.  I can't stop thinking about it.  I feel almost silly that I'm as excited as I am about it but I am.  I guess it just points to my generation and how lovely the memories I have from those silly characters on TV each Sunday evening....

Truth be told, I have a tiny little wish....a little wish that I'm not sure will ever really come true.  But, I kind of want to sing with Kermit.  Is that nuts?  Am I crazy?

I just want to be standing next to him (pretend I'm Debbie Harry) & Kermit is there with his banjo....

Here you go cuties, hope this makes your Tuesday all smiley....

Monday, November 21, 2011

these 2 little men

I'm gearing up for a beautiful Thanksgiving - with my extended family and my little family.

I am a tad excited to just enjoy and not host this year.  I love to entertain but this year we are simply going to relax, get some house projects completed & cut/decorate our tree. 

This weekend was really eye-opening as my sons are starting to develop a certain language in which they speak to one another.  I'm watching their eyes light up at the same things...their giggles are contagious & they are finally able to wrestle without me being all "Be careful with the baby!" 

We are also planning to surprise Jude with a night out (with just his parents and no little bro) to go and see the new Muppet movie.  Not sure who is more excited....Joel or I!

Enjoy your short week  -  a fun new announcement from Jude & Lebe coming Thanksgiving sure to check back! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

gift tags

The holidays are approaching and since I am not hosting Thanksgiving this year, I am massively excited about planning out thoughtful gifts that are both affordable and help my LOCAL economy.
I am in a happy & content place this holidays season....but moreso look forward to giving as it's really better than receiving.

My darling husband is helping me design a personalized stamp for gift tags but thought these tags featured on Made by Joel are so darling!  Free template so print 'em out!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lasagna, My Lasagna

I am looking for a Lasagna recipe that is PHENOMENAL.  I want to have one I make that tells stories.  I thought of trying to master a vegan type but am open to suggestions...this one sounds pretty delish....

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 10-oz. bag fresh baby spinach
  • 2 12-oz. pkgs. firm tofu, drained
  • 1 8-oz. pkg. vegan cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 5 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 12 uncooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles
  • 12 oz. vegan Italian sausage links, cut into thin rounds, or soy sausage crumbles, broken apart
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella flavor rice or soy cheese (3 oz.)
Want to try it? 
Heat oven to 375 degrees. 

Saute onions & garlic, add spinace & wilt.  Transfer to processer & add tofu, cream cheese, basil & nutritional yeast until smooth & thick.  Season with salt/pepper.

Start layering with red sauce, noodles, filling & finish with remaining sauce/shredded cheese on top.

Cover/bake for 30 minutes until bubbling hot.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

tree skirt lust

If there is one thing Joel & I argue over is the lack of creativity in the tree skirts out there - can you tell I'm massively excited about the holidays?

I am taking the time well before we venture out to cut down the Miller family Christmas tree so the skirt we've always dreamed about is ready when we are. Here are some of my favorites....

this little lovely makes me swoon
i love how this one comes with edges unfinished to give a shabby chic look over time..
I love how pretty & polished this one is....not sure about green on green...
and this one quenches a thirst I have for burlap...

what do YOU think?

Monday, November 7, 2011

after years of runny eye liner....

It's such a treat to live in a world where the perfect liner exists and that will stay put, stay dark & full of pigment & last FOREVER.

I remember wiping liner from the bottom and corners of my eyes after Zumba & all the sweating I would do.

I tested out Bobbi Brown's Gel Eyeliner in Black Ink & not even a smudge of it went anywhere on my face.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Leland Ryan...

Dear Leland,

Today is your day. I'm not sure you get it.

You are 2, little love.

This is a phenomenal surprise as it literally feels only moments ago I stared you in the face when we met. I will never forget the first words I spoke to you: I prayed for you for so long.

I did.

So many did.

Here you are, the perfect combination of rough & tumble, lover & snuggler, sass & wit. We have been your biggest fans since day 1. You carry with you such a loving smile & tender heart. We are so proud of you & how great a little brother you are. One day, we hope to call you a big brother.

In all that you may encounter in birthdays to come, know you are backed & whole-heartedly loved by a family that believes in you, your creativity & your dreams. Nothing is too big or too grande. If you can imagine it, go after it.

For now, I'll take all the snuggles you give & tickle you until you can barely stand it. Your laughter makes life beautiful & your kisses are sweet as honey.

Happy Birthday to my Leland....



Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day in every way,
It's getting better and better,

Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,

Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we'll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it's a long way to go,
But in the meantime,

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans,

Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,