Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Semi-Homemade Christmas

Well I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! As grinchy as it sounds,  I LOVE the holidays but I always love taking the decorations down just as much. I think just getting back to normal is as much of a Christmas gift as any other for me!

Tyler and I ended up going to his parent's church for the Christmas Eve service just as we do every year then heading to my parent's house for dinner. Then we woke up bright and early on Christmas morn (about 4:30 am for Tyler) and headed to Tyler's parent's house with homemade cinnamon rolls in hand. After the Caldwell food and gift fest we headed to my parent's house for round 2. We were home by about 3:00 pm to veg out and play with our toys!

On to the gifts..... My Dad decided to challenge me with doing only homemade Christmas gifts for him and my mom this year. Oh how the creative juices started flowing at the thought, okay not really, I was stumped for a while!
Although the challenge seemed daunting with only a few weeks until Christmas, Tyler and I embraced it and we ended up making 7 gifts either completely homemade or at least semi-homemade!

Here is the low-down:

  • 2 button down shirts with monogrammed cuff. Obviously I didn't make the shirts but I did monogram the cuffs.
  • 1 collapsible picnic basket with monogram. Again, I only monogrammed.
  • 2 cheese boards by Tyler

  • 1- 8 x 10 inch Red Oak picture frame by Tyler.

  • 1 purse/day bag made by me.

I can't tell you much more rewarding gift giving can be when you but a little more thought into it. I hope that we have the time and energy to do even more next year!

Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guestroom Update

Well we have finally found a hot minute or two to do some updates on the house. Nothing extreme, just a few little things that I have been meaning to get to lately.

One such thing is the bed skirt from my childhood bed that is about 4 inches too short for our guest room bed. Nice....

You can't fully appreciate the horror in this picture but it was all I had. Nothing like a too short, ruffled, white on white bed skirt to perk up a room!

Anyway, my kind and patient friend Blair devoted 3 hours of her Saturday morning to help me tackle the project of making a box pleated bed skirt to replace the old one. She has made a few in her day so she made it look so easy. In truth, it was not too hard and MUCH cheaper than buying a custom made one for my taller than normal bed.

Ta daa....the finished product!

Not perfect but for my first try and only $35 total I would say I did alright! Thanks for all the help Blair!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday for Winners

I must brag for a moment. Who am I kidding, I brag all over this blog! Back to the point, I am GOOD at Black Friday. I hadn't planned on doing any shopping on Friday but 9:00 a.m. came around and I got bored. Disclaimer: I am an early riser so boredom at 9:00 a.m. is normal. Now I can't tell you about everything that I bought because some are Christmas gifts but I'll share what I can!

First stop: Jos A Bank
Huge sale! I purchased $377 worth of stuff for a mere $100!! Today they are having yet another huge sale and EVERYTHING is 50% off so get it while you can!

Second stop: Best Buy
That place was a mad house and if I was in the market for a TV bigger than my master bathroom I probably could have saved more but that was just not in my cards. I did however need a TV small enough to fit underneath my kitchen cabinets so I found this bad boy.

I also needed a new SD card since Tyler accidentally gave the other one away somehow. Don't ask!

I didn't save as much as I would have liked but beggars can't be choosers when only 1 TV in stock would fit the dimensions I had. I ended up getting $175 worth of stuff for $143, not my best.

Third stop: Southern Homes and Gardens
Don't get too excited, I need poinsettias and they had some beautiful ones for 20% off. $18 worth for about $14.40. They look nice on my mantel so who cares.

Fourth and final Stop: Dick's Sporting Goods
These are my favorite running shorts and they had them for 50% off. Not too shabby; so I snagged 2 pairs and when I got to the register they gave me another $15 off! That is $64 worth of shorts to help me get skinny for only $17!

So for the grand total: including taxes I purchased $706.20 for only $311.18! Yes I am aware that I could have spent $0 but what's is the fun in that, plus some were gifts and I really needed the rest ;)!

Monday, November 21, 2011

An Update and a Recipe

Well I'm finally finished with my little stint in the pharma sales world and I am now safely and comfortably back in my cushy cubicle. I had a great time getting out and about and enjoyed getting to meet new people every day but there is something to be said for having a home base and knowing exactly where you are headed when you get in your car every morning. When I got back to the office I was also welcomed with a little promotion. Now don't get too excited, it's nothing dramatic but it's nice to feel rewarded for finishing grad school AND getting some experience in the sales world. Anyway, with that said, I have my head back and now have a bit more time to think about blog posts.

I have to get my sea legs back so I'm going to start slow (aka boring)...

One we go...this weekend I had the opportunity to host a baby shower for a sweet friend of mine who is expecting her first child in January and was flattered by being asked to take are of planning the menu! I won't bore you with all the details but I do want to share my chicken salad recipe because it was simple, easy and flipping GOOD!

please forgive the picture quality, I was in a hurry!

Rotisserie Chicken Salad
  • white AND dark meat from 1 large rotisserie chicken ( I get mine from Costco because they are huge, if you go for a grocery store chicken you may want to use the meat of 1 and a half, using the dark meat is KEY!!!!)
  • 1 1/2 c good mayo (Hellmans or Dukes)
  • half of a sweet onion diced very small
  • 2 ribs of celery diced very small
  • 1 c toasted pecans chopped
  • juice of half of a lemon (another KEY!)
  • salt and pepper to taste ( I also added a little garlic powder just for giggles)

mix everything together and pop it in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

* depending on what consistency you like, add as much mayo as you need; just remember that using the dark meet will ensure that it has lots of flavor and isn't overly dry. Also, the lemon juice really brightens up the flavor so don't leave it out!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Conclusion: Salzburg

Well the end is finally here and I'm sure you are all glad! I know, I know, I have drawn this vacay recap out a bit much! Bel

Anyway, after our jaunt in Italia we headed north to Salzburg, Austria. I think Tyler and I would agree that Austria was by far our favorite country. The people were so warm and inviting and the fact that EVERYONE spoke perfect English didn't hurt either!

Our VERY quick stop in Innsbruck.

We were amazed to see the Orient Express at the train station in Innsbruck. From what we could see through the windows all of the passengers were dressed in the Sunday best.

Tyler forced me to take this picture!

Warning: Another silly video ahead.
If you couldn't hear, this was where they filmed part of the "Do Re Me" scene from The Sound of Music.

Salzburg, Austria

We were in Salzburg during their annual Salzburg Festival and were lucky enough to see not only the authentically dressed theatre patrons as they entered but we watched the actors arrive as well. Each year Everyman is preformed outside of the cathedral and got the behind the scenes view!

We also managed to find the local beer garden. It's still attached to the local monastery and was quite a sight!

Yummy potato salad, and some random yet delicious meat products!

This may have been one of my favorite spots. At about 10 am we found this tiny local spot packed full of old folks enjoying homemade schnapps of all flavors. For a few Euros you we taste all we wanted but only ended up bringing home one small bottle.

Yum, more random meat products!
Our final day in Zurich was not much to a day at all. After our early morning 5 hour train ride from Salzburg we only had about 4 hours to spend in Zurich. Either way we enjoyed the city for as long as we could before our flight home the next morning.

One last video just for old times sake... 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Two Rednecks in Italy: The Final Installment

Now don't get too excited, the final installment doesn't mean that I am finished with our vacay recap but we are getting close!

Here are a few shots from our journey from Bologna to the far northeast city of Bolzano. We took a few pit stops along the way and they were well worth it!

Our first "pit stop" was a gas station off the interstate. Why can't all American gas stations serve fresh sandwiches and espresso? 

We stopped in Verona, Italy on our way to Bolzano. Remember that little story, Romeo and Juliet, by some guy named William Shakespeare? Yeah, me neither but apparently it took place in Verona and this is what has become known as Juliet's house. The tourists were EVERYWHERE but Tyler and I managed to mark our territory with a sharpie...

 Can you find it?

Get ready for another cheesy video segment!

 The day we left they held a production of Romeo and Juliet in the old Roman coliseum; I was so sad that we couldn't stay to see it.

After another 2 hours of driving we finally made it to Bolzano. It was amazing how the further north we drove the more German the architecture and food became.

We stayed at the Park Hotel Laurin in Bolzano and it was by far the nicest hotel stay of our trip! It has been hosting travelers for over 100 years and not only were the rooms and food lovely but the hotel garden was beautiful as well!

 Can you find me in this picture?

 The square in Bolzano.

Bolzano seemed to have some kind of identity crisis going on. It was part German, part Austrian, and part Italian. Thank goodness the German part meant they had some great beer to go along with the Italian wine!

One of the few things that Tyler DEMANDED that we do on this trip was to drive in the Dolomite mountain range in Northern Italy so that is just what we did!

A wine shop in the mountains.
Yet another "Sara looking at a map" shot.

 We took a ski lift to the top of the mountain and did a little walking. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

 Our 2 door compact car looks so hard core doesn't it?

Check out how windy the roads were!

Get ready for the final chapter of our European adventure, Salzburg, here we come!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Two Rednecks in Italy: Part 2

I formally apologize for all the numerous installments needed to document our trip but I really dislike reading freakishly long blog posts with way too many pictures so I figured other people might as well.

After our rendezvous in Torino, Tyler and I rented a compact car, a Lancia to be exact, and headed east to Bologna. On our way there we decided to make a little pit stop in Alba and Barolo for some wine tasting. I really wish pictures could do this place justice but they just can't...

Yes, we did stop on the side of the road and yes, I did steal a grape off of some poor unsuspecting farmer's grapevine but I couldnt resist. And I would also like to confess that I stole some hazelnuts that had fallen from the trees in a nearby orchard.

 In the beautiful village of Borolo.

Wine tasting in Borolo. It's amazing to me how the same grape grown in within 5 miles of each other in either sandy, clay or a sandy/clay soil can taste so different!

And because I love videos....

 After our little detour we finally headed to Bologna. We used for this one and ended up staying in an apartment owned by a computer programmer and his artist girlfriend. They had an amazing apartment inside the city walls with courtyard garden all to themselves! When we arrived they were busy watching an old Russian film on their laptop in the garden. Must be nice!
 Here is Eli giving me some travel tips before we left for Parma.

After walking around Parma for a while we figured it was time for the pièce de résistance, prosciutto de parma. Oh yeah, and the Parmesan cheese was not bad either! We left with almost 3 lbs of prosciutto and about 2 lbs of Parmesan cheese.

Next up, the city of Romeo and Juliet, Verona, and the Northern Italian city of Bolzano.