December in Photos

★ Treated myself to the Shoshanna Amulet from BaubleBar to wear for our annual Eggnog & Dessert party after seeing it here.  I adore this statement necklace.

★ Put the finishing touches on our living room tree and on the blue tree in the hallway.  The lights make me so happy.

★ I’ve been saving this book for December – the perfect book to curl up with on a chilly winter night (it’s My True Love Gave to Me).

★ Lots of baking –  chewy chocolate ginger cookies and orange cranberry mini loaves for our party; cannoli cheesecake for Christmas dinner (my first cheesecake!).

★ Eric took me to an amazingly beautiful display at the Dallas Arboretum of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

★ Participating in a fun book photo challenge and remembering some books from earlier in the year.

★ A holiday isn’t a holiday without a holiday mani!

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November in Photos

Nov in Photos

November started off with a bang!  The first Saturday I attended a book signing for Christina Lauren for their latest book in the Beautiful series – Beautiful Player.  I’ll have a post up soon on the series and the book signing too, but I finished Beautiful Player shortly after getting it at the signing!  And speaking of books, I also got to go see Catching Fire the night it came out in the theatre – loved it!

I spent some time during the month looking at my in progress craft projects, working on some, and planning for some new things.  One of my big projects towards the end of the month was working on finishing some Christmas ornaments I’d stitched.

Of course, one of the things I was excited about was visiting a local camera store and checking out a variety of camera bags in preparation for my trip to Germany/Paris.  I loved the bright yellow of the one in the photo, but I ended up going with something slightly different.  Post to come on that as well and why I chose what I did.

As the holidays approached, I celebrated with a super blingy manicure – I used my new polish, When Monkeys Fly, over a gold I already had on hand and wowza!!  Eric and I made apple pancakes for breakfast, which is our tradition for Thanksgiving morning, and then watched the parade.  We went to my mom’s for our cozy Thanksgiving dinner and it was really a nice, relaxing day.  So much to be thankful for!

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October in Photos

October in Photos 2

So….October.  Is it perhaps an indication of how the last few months have been that I’m just now posting about October?  October is always a crazy crazy month for us.  We see to try to cram in so much stuff in October it leaves my head spinning.  I think I still have photos from last year’s whirlwind October that need editing, or blogging, or…something.  This October was no exception to the rule – we kept it jam-packed, but were able to enjoy some fun things.  But, I know I’m playing catch up a bit with some of the things I intended to post last year – but I’m starting where I left off and my intention is to stay more in sync with my blogging because it’s important to me.

I started off October with a ton of excitement and inspiration.  I really want to take some time and try to capture what really hit me, and some of the things that spun out of that, but for now I’ll just focus on capturing the month itself.  One of the things that I tapped into was Lara Casey and her newsletter.  I’d been following her on Instagram for a little while, but I finally subscribed to her newsletter in October.  The theme for the month was Clear October.  She wrote in her newsletter about having a clear mind and really being intentional about the time before the holidays and the end of year craziness sets in.  It really struck a chord with me too – I wanted not only to have clear intentions and clear ideas about my plan for the remainder of the year, but it also meant a clear heart.  I’ve always been a firm believer that you have to make room in your life for what you want – if your life or your space or your heart doesn’t have the space to receive God’s gifts, how can you expect your prayers to be fulfilled?  In an effort to do my own clearing in October, I started off the month by cleaning off the white board in my office.  It literally took me about an hour.  There were notes and diagrams on there that had been there so long I could not get them erased and I had to scrub at the words to remove them.  My Instagram photo shows my clean and clear whiteboard – out with all the “junk” that no longer serves me and opening up a space to receive.

The rest of the month was, like I said, jam-packed with all sorts of things.  We went to the State Fair, as usual, and I finally got to see the Chinese Lantern Festival at night.  It was just as stunning as I’d imagined!  Plus we got to see the Kildares play, which is always fun.

I spent a good amount of time reading in October, particularly the Beautiful Bastard series by Christina Lauren.

I did some baking – pumpkin bread and then my very first Italian Cream Cake for Eric’s birthday.  We had amazing Thai food for his birthday dinner at one of our favorite local spots.

I finished up my memorial sampler for my dad at the end of September, and finally blogged about it over at my other blog.

I got a little “on the spot” award at work for the work I did on a project, and what better way to celebrate than with leopard pumps?  You can’t go wrong with leopard.

We did some projects around the house, including installing some shelves in our media room to contain some of the things that came from my mom’s house when my dad died.  We also bought a new rug and pouf for the living room.  I am so in love with this rug, it is not even funny.  My absolute dream rug – and Eric was won over by it too!

And we also spent some time with my niece in October.  As part of that whole idea behind making room in your life, we decided that we definitely needed to make some room in our lives to spend more time with her.  She came and spent the night with us, Eric made her pink pancakes for breakfast and we watched The Breakfast Club.  She loved it!  I also worked with her on designing her Halloween costume.  This year she went as Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas – and the dress I worked on tirelessly was a huge hit!

As usual, October was a great, busy month.  I’m looking forward to sharing November with you!

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Honoring Her

Easter never used to be more than a holiday for me.  As I mentioned in my last post, over the past few years it has been made more special by spending our honeymoon in Rome for Easter.  Eric’s love of family and traditions has also changed my perception of it, and we celebrate with a special meal and his special cake.  But, this year things seemed to all fall into place to change me at some deep level, to focus on the true meaning of the days leading up to Easter.

On Good Friday, Eric’s grandmother passed away.  And suddenly, we were faced with mourning this amazing woman who had helped to shape Eric into the man he is today.  The past few years have been so full of loss, but somehow this was different.  In the midst of our sadness and grief, we were presented with the message of Easter and for me at least, it brought some comfort.

While I had intended to make Eric’s special cassata cake for him, because of the tradition his Grandmother started, once we got the news on Friday I knew that making Easter special this year was something we both needed.  When I did my last post and posted the photo of my dining room table decorated for the holiday, it reminded me that other than Christmas, I have done zero holiday decorating in several years.  So, I decided that I wanted to make this Easter as special as possible for both of us.  So, on Saturday, while Eric was gone I dug through my holiday decorations and did a little decorating around the house.  Just a few touches, since I knew it wouldn’t be up for very long.  I was so happy to see our dining room all dressed up for Spring.

I especially love my little glass bunnies.  I think I got them from Williams Sonoma years and years ago.  But, aren’t they cute?

And I’m glad I managed to get a photo of how pretty everything looked before the hoodlums got up on the table and ran off with an egg ornament in their mouths and proceeded to bat them around the house.

After I got the decorating finished, I got started on making the cassata cake.  My recipe reminded me that it’s good to make the pound cake a day ahead so that it is completely cooled before I try to put the filling between the layers and frosting it.

On Sunday morning, I got started on finishing the cake.  I made the filling and popped it in the fridge to chill so that it was easier to spread.  Then I got started on making the whipped cream frosting.  Homemade whipped cream is just the best, isn’t it?  Reminded me of my chocolate bread pudding – I need to make that sometime soon.

Once I had my filling and frosting made, I cut my poundcake into layers and then brushed them with rum.  I have actually forgotten this step before, so this time I made sure that I noted it on my recipe ingredients.

Once I had the cake assembled, into the fridge it went so that the ricotta filling and the whipped cream frosting could set up.  Then it was time to make dinner.  Eric made the fabulous Moroccan lamb burgers we’d agreed on for Easter dinner, from a recipe courtesy of our friends in Rhode Island.  We opened a bottle of Barefoot Moscato for dinner and it was a delicious counterpoint to the spices in the burgers.  Everything was so good!

And after dinner we dove into dessert.  I sprinkled the top of the cake with some semi-sweet chocolate shavings.  I loved the finishing touch it added.

Here’s a little view of the cake once we’d sliced into it.  So so good!  And don’t you love the little bees on the table runner?

It was a beautiful Easter Sunday, made all the more special because I felt like we were honoring Grandma’s life by celebrating with a wonderful meal, a beautiful table, and time with each other.  She will be truly missed.

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