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New Year: Happy Trails 2013 

So, it's the end of the year. Time to reflect & take stock.... 

2013 has been a really difficult year for me.  Maybe one of the worst of my life.  I have battled health issues which bled over into my work life.  Not a whole lot has gone right.  So, as I wrap up 2013 I can't say I am sad to see it leave.  More like, "don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out..."

But, the thing about life is that tomorrow is always a new day & happily, Wednesday is a NEW YEAR

I have high hopes for 2014.  Not just because I have no where to go but up ---- but, because I'm slowly on the mend (actually, doing much better) and I have some job things brewing.  As I look forward, I think I might try and drop some of the dark cloud & really find some positivity.  

Now, I am not one for resolutions..... I never keep them.  But, I am all for a clean slate & wanting to make some changes. 

via the atelier

I found this graphic & really liked a lot of what it was saying.  And, while they are not necessarily "resolutions" it's something to strive for.  Something to achieve.  

Now, I am not a party girl.  I never go out on NYE.  This year is no exception -- I have been dead sick with a cold for 5 days and it's still kicking my butt.  BUT, if you are - I hope you are safe & have a blast. 

So - make sure you have your best dress & sparkly shoes all ready. 

Have a sip of bubbly for me (I'm allergic to alcohol). 


But, the most important thing is that I wish you all a healthy, wealthy & wise 2014.  

See you on the flip side!!! 


Picture of the Day: To You & Yours

Sending you all good tidings of peace & joy.....  enjoy your holidays, my friends! 

via apartment therapy


Spotlight: Darling Magazine 

I have a recent addition to my ever growing list of magazine crushes.  I know -- it's really long.  But, the thing is - there are JUST SO MANY amazing publications out there.  How can I not be swayed? 

Today's feature is on Darling Magazine.  This beautiful & creative magazine is a real gem.  I was lucky enough to find a copy at my local Anthropologie & now I am a huge fan.  

So, what is Darling? 

Darling isn't just a magazine, it's a movement.  Our print magazine is a guidebook to lead you through the seasons of the year and your life.  We exist to encourage and empower women and be a voice of love.  - Darling Magazine 

That mission is what they believe makes their publication different.  Darling's intention is positive female empowerment - but, not with battle cries & fire torches.  

A truly stunning visual piece - there is also a great deal of content & so much editorial.  Their website is another treasure of imagery, articles, features and truly highlights the riches they bring to their quarterly publication. 

With areas of interest such as dreamer, hostess, confidant, stylist, explorer, etc..... there is something for every imagination.  

One of my particular favorites is the hostess section, filled with amazing cooking, gathering & entertaining features.  Yet somehow - this isn't a girls guide to sparkles & shine.  This is more about the sharing of an experience and the value of friendship.   

The talented & wide variety of writers & photographers the publication / site use are really amazing.  As I have been reading the previously publications & archived features I feel like this gem needs to be shared with a larger audience.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  

Sources: Image via Darling Magazine / Darling Website 

Darling Magazine on Pinterest 

Copies of the magazine can be found online (in their store) or via retail.  See their stocklist for details. 


A Scandinavian Christmas 

Happy Holidays Friends.... I hope you are having a lovely start to the holiday season {whatever holiday it is that you celebrate}.  For me, it's pretty quiet so far - but, one of the things I have been fascinated with is the idea of a 'Scandinavian' style Christmas.  I have always had such a fondness & interest in the countries of Scandinavian countries {Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland}.  The traditions and themes of the Christmas holiday season are so beautiful & creative.  I really love them. 

One of the biggest themes is red & white, nature, simplicity and family.  How perfect. 

Two of my favorite books on the subject are Scandinavian Christmas by Trine Hahnemann and Handmade Scandinavian Christmas: Everything You Need For A Simple Homemade Christmas by Hege Barnholt are filled with amazing ideas & inspiration.  Lovely books, truly.  

Traditions in these countries have individual beliefs and their own unique ways of celebrating the holidays. The celebration of Christmas in Scandinavia incorporates old Christmas traditions with connections that predate Christian influence. As these northern countries become their darkest near the winter solstice, the Christmas holiday also signifies brighter days ahead.

Even in these very modern countries the celebration is rather traditional – the gathering of friends and family for seasonal food and drink, with an assortment of presents for the children.

The holiday season slowly builds itself throughout the entire month of December. As the days grow darker approaching the solstice, Lucia candles appear in the windows of many houses and offices as part of the St. Lucia festival of lights, found primarily in Sweden. Celebrated on December 13, this holiday gathers together children, selecting one girl with a crown of candles as the city or neighborhood Lucia. The children proceed in a Lucia train singing carols and Christmas songs. 

The food available in Scandinavia over Christmas varies by country, but is generally based on various types of seasonally available meat, fish and vegetables. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, there’s plenty of pepparkakor (gingerbread) to be seen at local grocery stores and bakeries. At the julbord on Christmas Day, Finns and Swedes will often serve some type of Christmas ham, along with pickled herring, cod, potato casseroles, and vegetables. In Denmark and Norway it’s not uncommon to see pork and lamb rib along with cod and herring. For dessert, rice pudding is often served with a single almond hidden in a bowl – the receiver of which can make a wish for the following year.

The day before Christmas, Julafton, serves as the primary day when presents are handed out, and a large dinner is served at the Christmas dinner table, the Julbord.

Children will leave out porridge or milk the night before for Tomte (Sweden) or Nisse (Denmark and Norway), small elves who leave presents underneath the Christmas tree. These small elves will typically live in barns or attics, hiding away and taking care of animals and business about the house, while also helping to distribute gifts during the holiday season. A single Jultomten or Julmannen, similarly dressed to Santa Claus in red and white, might also possibly appear to hand out gifts directly to the children. As the night winds down, the group might sing carols and continue to drink many of the traditional seasonal beverages.

With the main festivities over the night before, Christmas Day is used as a time to relax after the night before. 

Personally, my favorite elements are the beautiful - yet, very simple decorations and ornaments.  The use of a simple color palette and natural / earthy materials is such a nice change to the over glittery & shiny Christmas that you find in America.  There is something to be said for bring back some of the simplicity of the holidays.  What do you think?  Could you imagine decorating your holiday house in such a matter?

Happy Holidays!!

{Credits: All imagery sources can be found here


Thanksgiving Week: Entertaining & Planning Tips 

Greetings my Friends....  Thanksgiving week is upon us.  {For those in my world - this is also known as Michigan / OSU week.  I prefer to concentrate on the bird!}

I'm sure each & everyone of you have traditions and rituals that are important to you.  I am not here to change your mind about green bean casserole {I'm old school & like it with canned soup and French's Fried Onions}.  But, what I thought I might do is focus on some of the additional areas that are important when hosting a gathering.  

“Whenever you entertain the Bunch, Always plan to have a punch.” - Mary Jane Remole

Perhaps a little decoration?First, maybe you could add a little decoration or something fun to break the ice with your guests?  Maybe there will be people there who don't know each other or maybe family that doesn't exactly get along.  If you present a welcoming environment & maybe a small little tasks (like adding a "What are you thankful for?" post.  Directions on how to make the Thanksgiving Garland can be found here via the blog A Beautiful Mess. 

Getting Your "Ducks" In A Row

One of the most important things to think about during your holiday planning is getting yourself organized and prepare as much as you can ahead of time.  One of the things I like to do is pull out all the serving dishes I want to use and put them on the dining table.  Sometimes I even put a post-it note in each one so I make sure I don't forget anything.  Another idea is to prepare a buffet.  This is also a great way to get yourself organized - and get the plates, flatware, etc out of the kitchen and easy for guests to find.  

Think Outside The Box

Are you lucky enough to live in a warm climate?  If you are - think beyond the four walls of your home.  Utilize the outdoors.  Maybe you put together a snack table or drink station outside?  That allows some room in your home but, also gives your guests somewhere to go.  It gets them moving around - helping themselves.  Always a good plan.

Another fun idea is to add an element of the unexpected to your feasts.  One of the sweetest ideas I have come across is utilizing super cheap plastic toy animals from the local dollar store.  You can go two different ways -- either spraypaint them in a one solid (neutral) color {see the example above and instructions HERE} or you can mode-podge them with sparkle.  

Don't Stress Yourself

A couple quick thoughts about snacks & drinks.  Don't stress yourself out too much.  You are already killing yourself by making the whole meal.  Maybe a just a few easy to assemble snacks out by the drinks cart or for a larger crowd a wine & cheese table.  It totally depends on what kind of event you are throwing.  Just remember - keep it simple & buy what you need.  There are SO many good little treats out there you can put together.  To paraphrase my cooking & entertaining idol, Ina Garten ...

"You're friends aren't going to have any more fun if you spent all day making the Hors d'oeuvre ." Ina

A Little Flair Table settings.  The big display.  Please don't call it a tablescape.  That makes me crazy.  But, anyway --- here are just a few ideas that caught my fancy.  I love the idea of a bountiful table with lots of friends & family.  BUT - I also love the idea of a small & quiet table setting.  One thing is true though -- I love dishes.  China.  Platters.  Serving ware.  I got that trait from my mother.  Don't even ask how many sets of dishes she has -- drives my father nuts.  However, this type of dinner is the perfect opportunity to bring out your prettiest things.  Go crazy -- mix it up.  These are just a few inspirations.  

Finishing Touches And, finally --- the end of the meal.  What to do - what to do?  One of the ideas that I am IN LOVE with is shown above.  Make your guests part of the feast and share all those AMAZING leftovers.  Prepare some take-home boxes (with labels) and this can also help your friends / family with the clean-up.  They are much more likely to pitch in if they know they will get some turkey or stuffing out of the deal.  SO smart & extra special.  

So - that's it my friends.  Just a few inspirations or maybe even something you had never thought of.  I hope you have a lovely holiday (safe & sound - of course). 


{Image Sources: All can be found via my Entertaining Pinterst Board