Don't you just love decorating for the holidays? Rich fabrics, heavy patterns, and wonderful warm colors. I always like to feel a little fancy this time of year and that includes dressing up my home. As they say, the devil is in the details, and some of these gorgeous tablescapes and home holiday decorating ideas make me want to just rush out to the craft store! What are some things that inspire your holiday decor?
Style Me Pretty
Fern Creek Cottage
Four Generations Under One Roof
The Bridal Detective
Pretty Handy Girl
Beneath My Heart
100 Layer Cake
Neil Hills Blog
That chandelier? Just lovely! I also am a huge fan of the theme of champagne in a lot of these photos! So what are your plans for the holidays? We have quite the couple of weeks ahead of us, but I am extremely excited to get back to the East Coast and visit some friends and family.
A great read for any girl that feels like a free drink at a bar is always more than just a free drink.
I wish that I could receive more hysterical Christmas cards like these.
With all of the discussion concerning race in our society, this article brings up some very valid points concerning the idea of "white privilege" and how it tends to be misconstrued.
In the season of consumerism, I think it is always important to take a step back away from what we own, and really consider the greatest gifts in life. This article does a wonderful job of exploring things vs. experiences, and how to live an abundant life.
A heartbreakingly beautiful story about losing the one you love, but standing and fighting with them all the way until the end. I have watched my family lose some wonderful people in the last few years, and it gives me comfort knowing that love can survive death.
Obviously, there's not much time for this list of places to go in 2014, but you can always use it as inspiration for your New Year's travel resolutions
A thought provoking read from my man, Billy Gates explaining why we should all be concerned about inequality at home and abroad.
Ho Ho Honey! I can't tell you how much I love Christmas; the smell of it, the music, the fact that there are delicious foods and tons of excuses for me to bake. You know what else I treasure about this season? Everything seems to give off this glimmer of hope and promise for things to come. The snow twinkling along with the strands of Christmas lights lining cold little homes filled with warm hearts. It is a season of love, special moments with family back-lit by the soft glow of a Christmas tree. But even more than these, it is a time of giving and sharing, for acts of kindness and generosity. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the consumerism of it all, that we forget that Christmas is not about the newest gaming console, but in simply doing something nice for a stranger. Help someone carry bags out to their car, hold open the door for the older woman in your building even if you have to stand there twenty seconds more than you would like to, buy the person behind you in line a coffee. Instead of getting caught up in the stress and anxiety, the road rage and cutting people off while speeding through the mall parking lot, let's just look around and appreciate that we are alive during this beautiful season when everything looks pristine under a layer of snow and glows in anticipation of something to come.
Now that I'm finished waxing poetic, I also understand that giving gifts is a love language for some people. Me, for example. Pretty sure I inherited it from my Mom. But sometimes it is really hard to find something unique for the person that you love, and sometimes you just don't have time to make something handmade or personal. So here are some of my picks for unique gifts for everyone on your list.
Unique Christmas Gifts 2014
Alright guys, I am really not one to toot my own horn, but I was having an epic sweet tooth the other night; a kind of hole that only a brownie could fill. After scouring my cupboard, I was met with the sad realization that the only chocolate available in the casa came in the form of Jello Chocolate Fudge Pudding. Now reader, if you haven't discovered the joys of baking with Jello pudding, you are missing out in a big fat, ooey gooey, kind of way. I'm talking cookies that stay soft and moist on the inside without having to find just the right ratio of soda:powder (baking that is). So rather than being disheartened by my chocolackin' situation, I took it as a challenge to make "The World's Best & Most Amazingly Delicious Chewy On The Outside, Moist On The Inside Brownies" but for brevity's sake we'll call them "The Best Brownies Ever". But listen to me blabbing, you probably want to get work whipping up those heavenly morsels. You can tell me to "shut up," I won't be mad.
The Best Brownies Ever Recipe
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 package of Jello Chocolate Fudge Pudding mix
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil)
1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used Madagascar Vanilla)
3 eggs, room temperature (use only 2 whole eggs, and then the whites from the 3rd)
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Combine your sifted flour, Jello Chocolate Fudge Pudding mix, and the baking soda and powder. Set aside.
2. Cream your sugar, vanilla, and oil in a large bowl using a mixer until the mixture looks fluffy. Beat in your eggs. Once the mixture is smooth, begin adding your dry mix. Beat well until combined.
3. Grease an 8x8 pan, pour in your batter. I drizzled mine with chocolate sauce, but that is obviously optional. Place brownies in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
Now go get to bakin'! I promise you will not be disappointed. I ate pretty much the whole pan the day after I made them. Sorry, I'm not sorry, but my pants might be a wee bit snug. I hope you guys enjoy!
As someone living in Colorful Colorado, I love a great mountain cabin as much as the next girl, but sometimes, in my humble opinion, the decor in mountain homes can feel too heavy, too ornate. The interior ends up loosing its authenticity because it is so predictable, I mean, a bowl of spiced pine cones? Never saw that one coming. When I stumbled upon this gorgeous home in Ketchum, Idaho owned by Mary and Rusty Turner, my eyes were greeted by a refined elegance I have never been treated to before. This house, featuring plenty of the usual natural materials, was also full of unexpected juxtapositions that play with color, texture, and light.
Don't you just want to move in right now? I think I would even be okay setting up a tent on that porch. It looks like there is enough cheese that I could survive for at least a week! And that chandelier is absolutely to die for.
I'm hoping that at some point in the 5 year plan, that we will be able to afford a seasonal rental in the mountains with friends. It is such a pain in the arse to have to drive from Denver up to the ski mountains. Most days you either get up before dawn to beat the traffic or you plan on being stuck for at least 3 hours. That doesn't even account for the fact that the weather on one side of the Eisenhower Tunnel could be completely opposite when you come out on the other side. Until the day comes that we can get a place, do you think the Turner family would adopt me?
You can read the original story over at Elle Decor
As I write this, the temperature is hanging out right around 6 degrees above zero. Last time I checked, I had NOT agreed to move to the arctic circle, but I guess there's no reasoning with a polar vortex. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, Denver seems vastly unprepared for this storm despite the fact that it has been in our forecast for over a week. I had to drive somewhere today, and I might as well have been driving in a ski town. There was nary a snowplow to be found, and I was lucky I didn't slide all the way down Capital Hill into oncoming traffic. It was stressful to say the least. After I was safely within the four walls of my home and once my heart stopped racing, I realized that I was desperately craving comfort food. Maybe it was the near death experience or the near zero temperatures, but either way, I channeled my stress into something absolutely mouthwatering! My mom used to make this Celestial Potato Soup for us as kids, but I put a little bit of a twist on it by adding...you guessed it...bacon, cheese, and green onion! Oh and did I mention the bread bowl part? Only the healthy stuff for me today. I included the recipe printable for you below, too.
I actually used a handheld blender to really smooth out my soup. It gets really thick so feel free to add water if you need to. The bread bowl is optional yet highly recommended. And if you are trying to cut back on calories, limit your sour cream to just a single cup, and then just add a dollop on top of your finished product. Trust me, the soup will still be creamy and savory. I hope that this helps you stay nice and cozy on the cold winter nights ahead. Brrrrr.
Good Morning Everyone! For those of you who are in my Denver circle, you know that life has been absolutely bonkers for me recently. It has pretty much been work, work, work for this girl, and well...you know...priorities! Thankfully, I have had a lull in activity in the last couple of days so I finally had time to finish this blog post for you. I wanted to include a lot of the details because that was what we spent sooooo much time on. If you want to see more photos of family and friends head over to Kendall Pavan's blog and check 'em out. Also, I had so much fun crafting for my wedding that I am offering a lot of the decorations up for sale over at my Etsy shop. I will be adding stuff as I have time. If you see something that you like, but would like it tweaked especially for you, just drop me a line, and let's see if we can figure something out.
Rather than having a guest book, I thought it would be cute to get some old vintage keys, tie tags to them, and create a "Keys to a Happy Marriage" board where guests were invited to share their suggestions for relationship nirvana. Overwhelmingly, people wanted Mike to know that my happiness should be his number one priority (duh!), and that Naked Saturdays are someone's secret to success.
We shuttled guests from Telluride so a number of them were at the house for an hour or more before the ceremony started. Like any good hostess, I wanted to make sure there was an assortment of beverages available
Bateman was the ring-bearer and my cousin, Drew, was his handler. He was a cheap hire. All I had to do was agree to purchase him a bow tie for his troubles, such a future frat star (and he is on the golf team). Bateman was not really happy over the course of the weekend, and at one point started snipping at people. I think he was overwhelmed by all of the guests, the stressful energy in the air, and the fact that his favorite romping field was suddenly interrupted by a massive white tent.
This was when I was trying to hold it together, and my dad was trying to hold it together. It was fun.
Following the ceremony, we had a cocktail hour at the old barn on our property. When I first suggested using the barn as a back drop, my parents were worried that it would look dirty, but I assured them it would look authentic. However, it wasn't until they found out that Ralph Lauren had commissioned a similar barn for his son's wedding to Lauren Bush, that they cozied up to the idea. I'm glad good old Ralph and I have such great tastes. Mike designed and created the "BARN" sign, and had the really brilliant idea of having the "N" burnout so that it looks like "BAR" when the lights are on. It looked amazing! I was really proud of him. We had 3 passed apps during the cocktail hour as well as a cheese bar. Hey, the Harkness family loves cheese.
Mike and I decided to create signature cocktails for our guests during happy hour. Mine was called a "Telluride Packmule" and was essentially a Moscow Mule with muddled blueberries and mint. It was delish and refreshing. Mike created a "Runaway Mine Train" which was bourbon, alpine liqueur, mint, and muddled peaches. Yum.
My Granny always prided herself on having strong genes. She was so proud of this beautiful family that she created. These are two of my so very, very handsome cousins. Granny would be pleased with those genetics!
I really wanted to create a lighting scheme that created a mood instead of just lighting a tent. Since I wanted this event to feel sort of like of walking in the woods and stumbling upon a fairy tea party, I turned to a lot natural materials to achieve my vision. I decided that to fill the tent and create some atmosphere that I could put all those sticks I had been gathering from the yard to use. Wait for it...BRANCHELIERS aka branch chandeliers! It's a play on words (huge fan of those) and just a really cool DIY project that we took on for the wedding. They we really labor intensive, and highly scratch inducing, but I loved the way they turned out. The forest behind our house is literally covered in moss. It is really magical, and as a kid I would take my shoes off and walk across the carpet of moss searching for mushrooms, so I decided to incorporate it into my centerpieces. We cut circles of moss (or I should say, my mom, sister, and her mom did) and topped them with florals and a candlestick. Thanks guys! Mike sliced pieces of aspen and we topped them with glass cloches to hold floral arrangements alongside the vintage brass vases that I had been trolling Ebay forever for. Totally worth it.
Did somebody say, "Dessert bar"? Ever since I saw my first dessert bar, I knew that we were destined for one another. I have such mixed feelings about sugar. I know that it is so terrible for you, but then again, you put me within smelling distance of a funnel cake, and my knees buckle. Man, that stuff is good. Because of my issues with anything sweet, I tend to avoid having it in my house, but come on, this is my wedding. I figured a little splurge wouldn't hurt. We displayed the desserts on a piece of furniture that had been sitting out in the garage since my mom remodeled. I had been doing a LOT of antiquing prior to the wedding and had invested in some little accent pieces like hurricane lanterns, and old case, and some re-purposed crates to spice up the display.
Doesn't the light look so good at night? Great work Husband! Our band was a bluegrass band called Whitewater Ramble and the term "good ole fashioned hoedown" would best describe the dance party that ensued. There was line dancing, two-steppin', and heel clickin' good times. I had a blast, and watching my Dad try to dance like the youngins was a gift all its own. Mom had put together little s'mores packs for the kids to go down and roast at the bonfire, which was adorable. My brother had worked his butt off to make sure that his beach on the river was in ship shape for guests to chill alongside the tiki torches. My dad spent hours clearing the pasture, building my wedding arch, and the list goes on. My sister, her mom, and my brother-in-law were such an amazing help, too. I was overwhelmed with all of the love and support I received from my family, bridesmaids and friends. Thank you to each and everyone of you who made my day special. It was the best day ever! Yes, it flies by. Yes, get a videographer and photographer so that you can at least attempt to capture all of the special moments. Yes, take a deep breath, remember to eat, and try to greet each of your guests. Don't sweat the small stuff. It might all be a little overwhelming, but it will be one of the most wonderful days of your life.
Alright my pretties. The day has finally come. I have all of my wedding photos!!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeek! My excitement is boundless! BOUNDLESS I tell you. You guys, seriously, I can't even begin to measure the amount of love, sweat, tears, stress, and maybe even some blood that went into this event. It was beautiful. I am not biased or anything, but it really was perfect. Everything that I could have possibly wanted happened. The food, the music, the decor, the flowers, the dessert, oh my! I could go on and on, but here...let me just show you. You'll totally understand.
The robes that I had ordered from India for us to get ready in, never arrived, so in true Colorado fashion, we all put on plaid flannel button-downs. Thanks to Jordan for bringing extras for some people who aren't as hipster as we are. It turns out Jordan and I have the exact same buffalo check J. Crew shirt. Hey, great minds.
Peonies were an absolute must for my wedding bouquet, I have known that for a while, but I didn't actually get to see my florals until the day of. It was kind of nerve-racking, but I was overjoyed with the beautiful creations from China Rose. Amy came to the property to do a walk-thru with me a couple of weeks before the wedding, and she totally saw my vision of this moody, fresh from the field kind of arrangements. She even put some wild raspberries in for me so that I could have a snack halfway down the aisle. Everything was gorgeous, and I couldn't be happier.
Obligatory cowboy boots. I am an Austin native and proud Texan so naturally, I was reppin' the Lone Star State on my wedding day. Thanks for indulging my inner redneck sophisticated East Coast friends.
Mike and I decided to do a first look to help alleviate some of the nerves of seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony. Also, I am not big into a lot of those traditions. I think that you really need to recognize what is important to you and your fiance and honor it. We didn't have a religious ceremony, I didn't change my name, I definitely didn't do a bouquet toss and Mike didn't do a garter toss. Personally, for me, those things are outdated, and although we are spiritual, we aren't religious, so I really wanted to celebrate my church; the beauty of nature and the love of friends and family. However, don't think I am telling you that what I did is right for everyone. This is your day so make sure your voice is reflected in those important choices.
Another reason we decided on a first look was so that we could get most of the photos done before the wedding. I HIGHLY recommend this! We actually got to spend some time at our cocktail hour instead of making everyone wait while we took hours of photos. Also, it allowed for a change of venue, and I have always loved the dramatic shots that I can get up on Wilson Mesa a few miles up the road. We allowed our bridesmaids and groomsmen to make their own outfits as long as they sort of coordinated with a certain color scheme. I think it turned out great and hopefully these are clothes that they can wear again. That was the idea at least.
Well there you go! End of Round 1. We literally have over 800 photos so trying to pick out my favorites has been more than difficult. Kendall Pavan is a photography rockstar! She was a ninja, lurking around, capturing some amazing moments completely unnoticed by most. Not to mention, her work is excellent, and prior to shooting, she asked me what was important to me. I told her, "Tell a story." She did it flawlessly! Coming next: Ceremony & Cocktail Hour.
With all of the recent talk in the media concerning women, feminism, and domestic abuse, I thought it might be nice to take a moment to celebrate my ladies. I think we can all agree that women are complex creatures full of beauty, sensuality, and mystery. Women can be both soft and strong, full of both darkness and light, beautiful and strange. I am pretty biased obviously, because I am a woman, and honestly, I think women kick ass. Because of my adoration of all of the amazing and strong women I know, I am naturally drawn to artists who celebrate them. Malcolm Liepke is certainly one of these artists. It is rare that you can find art that embodies all of the dichotomies of the fairer sex, but Liepke does so with ease, creating faces and figures that you just can't tear yourself away from.
Playful, stoic, curious, unamused, smoldering. Liepke captures the emotion of what it is to be a woman flawlessly and on so many levels. Granted, we can't all be blessed with cherubic lips and almond eyes, but I think that every one of you has mastered some of these looks. Most importantly there is always that mystery of wondering just exactly what is going on behind those big round eyes. And that my friends, has been and will always remain just that, a mystery.
One of my favorite contemporary labels is without a doubt Alice + Olivia. They always do a great job of balancing feminine with edgy, and what is better to achieve this balance than with a moody, fairytale shoot encased in rose colored smoke? Lisa Cant, her fiery red hair and smoldering stare, leave me wondering if she is supposed to be the fairy princess or the wicked witch in this story. Absolutely brilliant work from Lisa, gorgeous photography from Ruvan Afanador, and styled by the immensely talented Stacey Bendet.
I really love the bottom look and how the butterflies seem to emerge from the skirts fabric, sprout wings, and fly away. It would be nice to be lost in a fairytale right now instead of stuck at a desk all day. Oh well, a girl can daydream, right?