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....