#Friyay! 

Definitely looking forward to the weekend (more than usual)! This weekend officially starts the Christmas season for me. While we can’t attend the fabulous party we’re invited to for tomorrow night (it’s in Virginia)- we’ve got some other amazing stuff going on. 


We have tickets for Garden & Gun Jubilee. I’m very excited to attend Jubilee at Charles Towne Landing (one of our favorite parks) – I’ll post about our experience. 

We are thinking about going to the SC Aquarium Event- Sea Life By Starlight, so we’ll see if that ends up happening. 

Visiting the James Island Park Christmas lights extravaganza is going to be pretty great. We have a wonderful group of friends that we’re going with- and everyone knows how much I love some Christmas lights. 

I hope your first Christmas weekend is just as special! 

#Thanksgiving Traditions

I can’t wait for Christmas, and yet I loved reflecting on why Thanksgiving is fantastic.

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Thanksgiving is a favorite time of year for many people- I know I enjoy it. Spending time with people you love (or at least like), eating lots of food, and celebrating the culmination of fall- what’s not to like? I was reflecting on some of the things we do for Thanksgiving each year and I wanted to share some of my favorites.

Each year, I wait for Black Friday, which has a very close relationship with Thanksgiving, to order my Christmas cards. I design them myself (I can adjust this year’s design for you!) and then order them online.  For the last couple of years, I’ve been ordering them from Sam’s Club (I’m a Costco girl, but my parents both have Sam’s Memberships). Why? They are SO dang inexpensive! You can’t beat 100 cards for $15, and they give you the whole weekend to order them…so you may still have time for this year. They do a pretty good job and they include envelopes. I love sending out Christmas cards. One of my favorite Christmas memories (& still today!) is opening Christmas cards that arrive all through the month of December. I even love getting them in January. If you’re on the fence about sending Christmas cards, know that I love them and appreciate the work you put into them.

My next favorite is a Thanksgiving morning tradition- it’s Beignets & Bellinis, which is a pretty sweet one (pun intended). On Thanksgiving Eve, we make beignet dough, which comes together pretty quickly…especially after you’ve had a some wine. The dough likes to chill for a relatively long time, so overnight works best. In the morning, we put on the Macy’s Parade, and make our beignets as we sip bellinis. It’s a family favorite and seems to spread as people hear about it. Look for a fall post in 2017 with my recipes for both and some lessons learned advice!
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The last tradition on my list is one that only happens every other year (when we’re with my husband’s family): The Turkey Bowl. It’s a long-standing tradition in my husband’s family to play a Thanksgiving morning touch football game. The Turkey Bowl has been going on for at least 50 years and some of the original people play- although most of the big deal players are a bit younger now. It’s so fun to get together with a teensy bit of competition, for fun and exercise before the (huge) tasty meal.

It’s wonderful to reflect on what I love about Thanksgiving, because as much as I love Christmas, I don’t decorate until after Thanksgiving. I think it’s important that we keep the focus on gratitude and being thankful for all of the blessings we’ve been given.  It’s nice to realize that Thanksgiving is such a (different) wonderful time of the year.  Although I know I can’t wait to get the Christmas trees up.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

#TFT: Table French Toast

tbtThose that know me know that my favorite meal is brunch. Hands down, I love brunch. There are so many good things that brunch offers…

  • It usually occurs on weekends (my favorite days)
  • It happens later in the day (no early wakeups!)
  • I can order traditionally breakfast OR lunch menu items
  • Brunch drinks

Really though, the list can go on and on (leisurely meals, anyone?). One of my favorite things about brunch is something that my husband loves to chuckle at me for…Table French Toast. He loves to laugh at me, because he said it’s something that I made up. After a cursory look on my Google Machine, maybe he’s right. If that’s the case, then more power to me, because Table French Toast is pretty much amazing.

Let me set the scene for you.  I’m at brunch (or breakfast) and I want to eat some delicious food. My eye typically makes a beeline for the sweet stuff: waffles, sweet crepes, french toast…dessert mains. I’ve played that game before and I lose every time. I order a giant plate of french toast (a personal favorite), I gobble it down and I’m starving again in 45 minutes. I’ve just eaten an enormous plate of sugar, which really isn’t the best choice. So, I convince myself I should order something that incorporates a few basic food groups, but I really still want the french toast…enter the Table French Toast. It’s a nod to it’s sweet nature, I treat it as the dessert that it really is, and we share it as a table.

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Brunch at Sea Biscuit Cafe


I often wait until the server seems to be just ready to come back to take the order- and drop the dulce bomb…”Want to get Table French Toast?”- if you wait until your dining companions have decided on their chosen savory treat, their brains will say “Hmmmm, I sure would like a sweet bite to finish my meal on.”, and the answer on TFT is an enthusiastic yes. Looking for a brunch friend? Need some help on getting TFT in your next brunch? Let me know on Facebook– I’m always glad to help.

#Silhouette: Sketching Clipart & Turn Into Cut File

We have some guests coming into town for the weekend and I wanted to get a catch-all for the dresser. When I’m at someone’s house, it’s nice to have someplace to put my jewelry when I got to bed, especially if you’ve been out enjoying some delicious Charleston restaurants.

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I found this star dish at TJ Maxx for $1 on the clearance shelf and I thought it would be a perfect catch-all, until I walked by the guest room and saw that my husband filled it up with caramels, thinking it was a candy dish! My Silhouette Cameo (a tool I absolutely love) to the rescue…

  1. To start with, I measured the dish to decide what size I should make the design.
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  2. Next, I looked online to find some clipart I liked. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find JUST the design I’m looking for in the store, and for times like that, you can have the Silhouette software trace designs for you! I found the image I liked, right clicked it and chose Save Image As
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  3. Once I saved it to my computer, I opened the Silhouette software and clicked File > Open. Then, I navigated to the file I saved and opened it into a new project.
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  4. Once I opened the image, I resized it to match up with the size I wanted (think back to when I measured the dish).
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  5. Next, I want the Silhouette software to trace the image for me so that it will become a cuttable file. Click on the Trace menu button (upper right)- it looks like a blue butterfly image with a yellow frame on it.
  6. In the Trace Menu, click the Select Trace Area first, and draw a box around what you wish to trace.
  7. Once you’ve drawn the box, I chose the Trace option below and it traced my image. After you click trace, the image will be traced in red (see second image).
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  8. Once you’re satisfied with the size of the image, click the Cut Settings menu option (upper right).
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  9. I typically keep it on Standard and infrequently change it from cut.

  10. Next, I chose what material I was cutting my design from. In this case, I wanted to use a matte adhesive vinyl, so that I could stick it in the bottom of the dish I bought.

  11. TIP: Even if you have it on Vinyl already, click it again, because it will open up the Editing: Vinyl menu below, which tells you which level your blade needs to be on and lets you adjust speed & double cut (which can be useful for thicker things or older blades).
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  12. Finally, I got ready to send (don’t send it yet!) the cut job to my Cameo. I made sure my Cameo was plugged into my computer’s USB port. You can send it from the cut settings menu or from the Send to Silhouette button.
  13. Before I sent the job to my Cameo, I got the vinyl and the machine ready:
    1. First, I chose the vinyl I wanted to use (this is a great project for odd-sized scraps that I keep).  I put the vinyl on my cut mat (with the colored side up).
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    2. Next, I looked at the blade settings (step 9) and adjusted my blade to be on that numbered setting with the grey ratchet tool that comes with the blade (I made my Cameo cover with a pocket so I could keep it in there).  Then, I put the blade back in the holder and spun the lock to secure it in place.
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    3. Next, I loaded the cut mat with the vinyl situated on the top end of the mat.
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  14.  After loading the cut mat, I sent the cut job from my computer to the Cameo (step 9).
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  15.  After the job was finished (you’ll be able to see on the Silhouette’s display & on your computer), I unloaded the cut mat, but touching Unload on the display.
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  16. Often, you can peel away a large piece of unused vinyl (if it’s pretty large, I’ll keep it), but do so carefully- try not to disturb your cut design.
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  17. Next, I weeded the design with the hook tool. It’s very helpful when trying to get small parts of vinyl out without moving other parts,
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  18. After weeding the design, I cut a piece of Silhouette transfer paper large enough to cover the weeded design (TIP: If you run out of transfer paper, you can also use blue painter’s tape). I peeled it off the lining paper and lined it up to stick over the top of my design. Transfer paper is so important in easily and effectively moving your designs from the cut mat to your finished spot.
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  19. I stuck the transfer paper right over the design and rubbed it repeatedly to securely attach it to my design.

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  20. Next, I peeled the design off the cut mat so that it all stuck onto the transfer paper (be careful, the underside is the adhesive part that will stick it onto its final location).
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  21. I then trimmed the transfer paper so that it would easily fit inside my dish.

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  22. After lining the design up, I pressed it firmly into the bottom of the dish so that I would stick, then I carefully peeled up the transfer paper.
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  23. Finally, I put the finished dish in the guest room, ready to get used by our friends coming for the weekend!
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*The links above are Amazon affiliate links, which helps keep this blog going, if you’re interested in buying any of the items above, consider using the links. 

Goals: Watch Me Do Better.

I’ll own it, I have been a terrible blogger lately. I had visions of writing (& pre-writing) lots of blog posts this summer when I was off work, but I had the most wonderful visitors…my sister and her two lovely children. I got to spend about four weeks with them, which was the longest time I’d seen her in years (they’re 2 & 8 months, so I’d never spent that much time with them)!

We were able to do all sorts of great things- we went to Boston for a week and then spent two weeks at our house in Charleston. After that, we had some time in Pennsylvania, so that’s my bad (yet good) excuse for not writing.

However, I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf- I’m getting back on the blog train. I’m aiming for an every-other-week blog post…if I don’t do it, call me out. There’s nothing worse than getting called out, except not achieving my goals, and my goal is to write more. I’m very excited about the next blog post- it’s going to outline our trip to Iceland & England that we got home from on Sunday. It was pretty amazing. We saw some unbelievable things and had fantastic experiences. So look for that in the next few days.

Until then, enjoy my contrite face…

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Bathroom Cabinet Update

headerIt’s been wonderful being in the new house. We love Mount Pleasant, and are really glad with the move to South Carolina.  As with any move, however, there are some things that we didn’t love about the new house:

  1. The hideously filthy carpet on the second floor (it was terrible).
  2. The cabinets in the kitchen
  3. The cabinets in the bathrooms
  4. The appliances
  5. Paint colors on the second floor

We prioritized where our renovation budget was going to be spent. Highest on the priority list was the carpet on the second floor. I have pretty severe allergies, so having carpet in a large portion of the house isn’t really an option. After painting (some of the colors were rough, and it’s a pretty easy fix), and setting aside money to update the kitchen (more on that later), changing out the cabinets in both upstairs bathrooms wasn’t in the budget. While there wasn’t money to replace the honey-esque wooden cabinets, they were in great shape and painting them seemed like a good option.
1After doing little (seriously, we hardly looked into it) research, we chosecabinet enamel Valspar cabinet enamel. I really liked it in the store because it’s tintable (our color is Oxford White, which is what the house trim will be…eventually), and it claims to not have brushstrokes (spoiler: it’s true!).  It was economical too…FAR less than replacing cabinetry, countertops, and sinks!

 

To start with, I cleaned the cabinets and frames twice (with warm soapy water) and then wiped them down with just water. After cleaning them, I removed the drawers and cabinet fronts from the bathroom, removed the hardware, and then sanded them- 2
I wanted to make a hospitable environment for the paint to adhere to. When painting, I started by painting the detail portions (see photo) and edges with a brush and then going over all of it with a small, low-nap roller. This method worked really well.

Over the course of two days, I put three coats on. I let them dry thoroughly between coats. This is definitely the type of project that you want to take your time. I’m hoping that by allowing the individual coats to dry, the finish will be much more durable (and to date, it has). I followed the same steps for painting the frame/structure of the bathroom cabinets- the part still in the bathroom. I painted the drawer and cabinet fronts in a bedroom on the (hideous) carpet, which had still to be removed, so it wasn’t necessary to protect the carpet from paint.

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I used some of the wooden paint stir sticks to hold up the drawers, so that they wouldn’t be on the carpet to keep fibers and assorted grime off of the newly painted drawers. This method worked so well- I would definitely use those again.

Once I was certain the newly painted items were dry:  not just dry to the touch, not just tacky- you want these to be desert dry…it will help prevent nicks and scrapes when you’re reinstalling them. We had a little money still in the budget for new hardware. Blissfully, Anthropologie was having a sale and we found these wonderful pulls, which really pulled the whole look together.

I was very impressed with the quality of the Valspar cabinet enamel- it was thick, covered well, and I was surprised that one can of paint was able to do both of the bathrooms (and honestly still have some left over). I painted these in March and now it’s almost June- the cabinets still look great, and are still in awesome shape. I’ve banged the doors, run the vacuum into them, and they’re still looking fantastic. I’m so pleased with how inexpensive this update was and what a huge impact it has had on our bathrooms- they look so much better.9
Do you have a project you need to tackle at your house? Maybe some cabinets to paint? Like the Chasing This Dream Facebook page for a chance to win $15 at Lowe’s to get your project started. The winner will be chosen on Monday June 6th (giveaway sponsored by Valspar, opinions sponsored by me).

 

Shopping Fun for Littles

A couple of weeks ago we had my fantastic sister-in-law and her family in town (including her two littles). Her husband is super handy and is always kind enough to help us with projects that require two burly handymen. Since they were in town, we obviously ended up at Lowes getting ‘new house’ stuff. The kids (8 & 4) are so wonderful and were coming with us, albeit semi-reluctantly.
Lowes HuntMy sister & I put our heads together and came up with the Team Lowes Hunt, which is basically an Easter Egg hunt in Lowes. It worked like a charm at keeping my niece and nephew occupied (and out of trouble), while we were able to get stuff on our half of the list (while the husbands did the other part). A nice thing about the Team Lowes Hunt is that you can make a copy of it and customize the ‘finding’ list to reflect some of the things that you need to buy- so as you get your shopping done, you get to play a game with the kids.

The Team aspect was especially important for two reasons: 1) the 4 year old doesn’t read yet, so he needed some help and 2) you likely don’t want  your kids running all over the store unescorted- so doing it as a team was the winning combination of fun and sanity.

Before we left the house, we printed two copies of the lists (one for each) and brought 2 crayons for them to check things off with. Once we got to the store, we had a conversation about the rules (work together, take turns, be kind, stay with us, etc.). It probably took us 45 minutes to complete the list, but we got all of the things we needed and there was zero complaints, and zero requests for candy and other treats- so it seemed like a success.  You could try it with your littles the next time you head out!lowes hunt toilets