Friday, December 30, 2011

Playing Catch Up

I hope everyone is as excited as I am that it's Friday! Things have been busy around here, what with traveling, colds, sinus infections, packing, errands, and the list goes on. By the time you read this, we will already be on our way to Florida. Just the three of us in my little Honda Accord embarking on the 1,000 mile trip to Palm Beach. We'll be joining the rest of my family for some New Year's festivities and good old R&R. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited, but we need to get through the road trip first.

I am also THRILLED to announce that while I'm vacationing next week, I will have five fabulous ladies guest blogging for me right here at Our Love Nest! Make sure to stop back next week and give each of them a little bit of love. They are all so unique and so special, and I am honored to have each one of them! Trust me, you don't want to miss it!

And, in case you miss us while we're away, here's a little nugget of love from the M Family to you! Don't forget to check in with me on Twitter next week to keep up with our Florida happenings!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our Christmas in NJ ... At Least There Are Pictures!

I'm sure you're tired of reading 'Christmas recap' posts by now, but I just couldn't help myself. I also couldn't bring myself to bang this post out yesterday because I was suffering from post-Christmas sadness. I cannot believe that it came and went so fast this year!

Just like I mentioned, we fulfilled all of our annual traditions this year. We traveled up to NJ, spent countless hours relaxing and catching up with my family, went to church on Christmas Eve and attended our annual Christmas Eve party with our closest family friends. 

 We even remembered to pose for a sweet family picture, can you believe it?! It's about time we had a new pic of the three of us, and those reindeer ears of Riley are just too hilarious not to photograph.



 Christmas morning was great. I baked a french toast casserole for everyone, and we spent most of the morning just relaxing, eating and listening to Christmas music. We didn't even start opening gifts until well after 10AM!!



It was a memorable year for all of us. We stayed home, just the seven of us and soaked up every minute of the day. We shared a delicious Christmas dinner and watched a movie afterward. And of course, it was early to bed for all, Christmas can be exhausting!

The only thing getting me through this week is knowing we're headed to spend New Years in Florida with my family on Friday; I just don't want it to end!

How was your Christmas? I hope it was everything you hoped for and more!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wishing You & Yours A Blessed Holiday Season

Don't you just LOVE this time of year?! Remember my giveaway? Well, I promised I'd share our holiday card with all of you, and since they have been received by our family and friends by now, I thought I'd finally share!

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.




 We want to wish you and your families the merriest and most blessed Christmas yet! From our home (well, really straight from NJ!) to yours, enjoy this weekend relishing in Jesus' birth, and the sweet time there is to share with your family and friends, because isn't that the greatest gift of all?! 


I'd love to see your holiday cards as well, please share!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blending Family Traditions: Guest Spot Over At Love to the Moon and Back Again Today!!

I am so excited to share with everyone that I am guest posting for Lindsay over at Love to the Moon and Back Again today! Lindsay has been hosting a '12 Days of Christmas' guest posting extravaganza, and I am just thrilled to be able to write amongst all of the fabulous ladies that signed up! 


 I decided to get a few kind of serious in my guest post and talk about blending family Christmas traditions, and the transition from daughter and sister to wife and domestic diva! Maybe you guys will have some advice for me on some good ways to kick start some new traditions for our little family?!

Make sure you pop on over and show Lindsay and all of the ladies some love! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stocking Stuffer Idea: Chalkboard Painted Coffee Mug!

I think I've already mentioned how much I love picking out and exchanging gifts with my loved ones. I just love seeing how happy the perfect gift can make someone, especially at Christmas time. One of the traditions that a couple of my closest girlfriends and I have started is to exchange small gifts for Christmas each year. We don't go overboard, but we definitely make a point to get something special for each other. 

This year was no different. We exchanged gifts a week or so ago, and I just had to share one of the gifts that I received, because I thought it was the perfect gift item for the people that are still on your list!


One of my dearest friends took a standard (black) painted coffee mug and painted it with chalkboard paint. And, now we have this adorable mug to personalized with whatever messaged strikes us that day. 


Isn't this a great idea?! I think it is the perfect thing to give as a stocking stuffer for those people you have trouble buying for every year. Please tell me you have them on your list, too? I've been using mine every day, and definitely have plans to personalize some small gift items in the near future!

I can hardly believe it's the week before Christmas already! I better get back to wrapping! Make sure to check back tomorrow when I'll be guest blogging over at Lindsey's little slice of the interwebs!

Friday, December 16, 2011

'Oh What Fun It Is To ... Decorate!!'

The final day of the "Oh What Fun ..." linkups is here. Erin from Blue Eyed Bride is hosting the final day: 'Oh What Fun It Is To ... Decorate!'

Decorating for Christmas has always been one of my favorite parts of the season. Growing up, my Mom always had two trees, one real and one artificial, and our house would be sprinkled with holiday decor in each and every room. We even had our own tiny Christmas trees with ornaments and all that we set up and decorated in each of our bedrooms each year!

Now that I'm married, and B and I bought our very first home, it was important to me that I try and bring the same warmth and joy of Christmas spirit into our home. Since this is our first Christmas in our new house, and since we've spent practically all of our money on remodeling projects lately, I didn't have much extra dough to use to invest in my stash of Christmas decorations this year. So, I went for the "we've already used this but still love it" look.


One of my favorite things about Christmas decorations is the way they make homes light up from the inside out. The quality of the above photo may not be great, but I just love the way the glow of the window candles and tree look from outside our place!


This year, I stuck with my tradition of a red and gold themed tree. And, as you can see in the corner up there, my wrapping this year is mainly red, green and gold! And, thanks to Nina, I have been decorating most of my gifts this year fabulous bows!











The rest of our house is sprinkled with some extra red berries, sparkles and items that I've collected over the years. When I look at these pictures all together is just screams that I must be a red person, huh?! 

We are still using the artificial tree that I've had since college, but I have every intention of heading out to Target right after Christmas to buy us a new, larger tree for next year! And yes, I'd love to add a real tree and some fresh garland next year. You know, once we have rails up on our staircases and external power outside the front door?

I just love seeing the way all of you decorate for the holidays, so, share away!!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

'Oh What Fun It Is To .. Create Traditions" Linkup!


 I am just loving all of the holiday cheer that is buzzing around the blog world lately. From linkups to guest posts, to pictures of people's homes decorated for Christmas, I just can't get enough!

Today, I think it goes without saying that I'm linking up with the sistah-in-love for Day 4 of the "Oh What Fun It Is To ..." week full of linkup parties!! I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but not only are AP and I married to brothers, we also grew up in close-to-neighboring towns in North Jersey. And, because we grew up in the same area, I couldn't help but smile and laugh when I read her linkup post today about her family traditions!

So, because I love a good tradition, and because Christmas was basically a sacred day growing up in my house, I couldn't help but share some of my most favorite traditions with all of you!

Christmas Eve Service: Every year in our house, we bundled up in the early evening hours of Christmas Eve and headed to our church for one of the three services. Because we have plans later that evening with family friends, we often attended the earliest service they offered, which usually meant it was the 'family' service, so we got to see all the elementary school kids perform that Christmas song they'd been learning in Sunday School for the past 4-6 weeks. I wouldn't have it any other way. I just love the glow of the advent candles and all of the Christmas music that are a part of that hour in our church. And, it's even more special each year because B and I were married in my home church, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Christmas Eve Family Party: Every year as far back as I can remember, we spent the post-church part of the evening with our close family friends. You know, the family friends that you are so close to that you call them "aunt, uncle, cousin" and feel like they're real family? It became our tradition long ago to spend Christmas Eve with this part of our 'family.' Each year we switch who hosts the party between three different places. And now, a tradition that started with two families, 12 people total, has grown to 5+ families with kids of all ages, couples that are newlyweds and ones that have been married for 35 years. Christmas Eve is one of my absolute favorite days of the year, and I haven't missed one yet. We mingle, eat yummy food, share stories, read the Christmas Story, and even sing "12 Days of Christmas" as a group. Yep, you read that right. It is such a special night, and I am so glad that B has become a part of a tradition that I love so much.

Santa's Little Helper: As a result of being the oldest of four children, it was only natural for me to become my Mom's/Santa's little helper. I have been helping my Mom place all of the gifts under the tree and pack the stockings since I was about 15. Some might think that takes the surprise out of Christmas morning, but I love setting everything up, and love seeing everyone else's face when they finally see it even more!

And, just like AP, my family has a pretty strict tradition of stay-at-home-in-your-PJs-all-day on Christmas day. Except for my Mom, she somehow always ended up fully dressed and makeup on in front of the video camera each year. I would say that this part of our tradition ranks right up there with Christmas Eve as one of my absolute favorite parts of my childhood. Just staying home with my immediate family, opening gifts all day, relaxing in front of a fire, playing with all of our new gifts, and enjoying a yummy Christmas dinner complete with homemade filet mignon and all the trimmings is perfection for me. 



It's hard to describe how a certain holiday makes you feel, and how all of the little traditions and quirks of your family make Christmas day the day that you look forward to most each year. Especially when you're describing it to someone who didn't grow up in your family, and who has traditions of their own. Figuring out how to spend Christmas once you're married can be a challenge; it is still a topic of interest in our house each year. But for now, while we're a family of two (plus the pup!), I am thrilled to be able to share Christmas with B and my family, and to show him why it's my favorite holiday of the year, and why the things that my family does to make the day special are so important to me. What will we do once we have kids? Well, we have a few ideas, but nothing is fully negotiated ... yet. It's all about making new traditions now, right?

Thanks to AP, Erin, Nina, Meredith and Molly for hosting this week of linkups - it sure has been fun so far!!

What are your favorite Christmas traditions??

Holiday Dessert & Drink Pairings!


Thanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring my writing. There's no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On! www.duncanhines.com.

I know it's a cliche' that you put on your 'winter layer' during the holidays, but it is so true in my life right now! We have had fresh baked goods circulating through our house for the last three weeks, and the more I Pin and Tweet, the more ideas I get and the more baking I do!

One of the traditions that we started with B's family is an annual cookie swap that we do each year at our Family Christmas celebration. In each of the years' past, it has been requested, typically by my husband, that I make a specific type of cookie. Peanut Butter Kiss cookies, to be exact! Now, don't get me wrong, I love a good PB Kiss cookie, but there are so many other options, and I felt like this year was the one to try something new!!

Of course, I started my search on Pinterest. I wanted something I could make from scratch, but didn't require a million ingredients, and didn't cost a fortune either. 

There were pumpkin, sugar and snowflake cookies everywhere! As I did my research, I also started to think about what cookies were a tradition in my family. My Mom has a favorite cookie that she calls "Snowflakes." Another family favorite has always been Snickerdoodles. So, why not go with one of these, right? Recipes to come next week!

And, while I'm dreaming up ideas of what sweet treats I'll bring to the family Christmas this weekend, I can't help but make my list of the adult beverages that will accompany us!

I have always loved a cold beer or chilled glass of white wine, but over the last year, I just cannot get enough champagne! For some reason, champagne just hits the spot; it's bubbly and light and perfect for the holidays! Pictured above is my new favorite: Martini & Rossi's Asti. It's light and yummy and doesn't leave a bitter after taste! And, you better believe that I have a bottle already chilling in my fridge to bring over and share with the other ladies of the family!

Honestly, can you think of a more perfect holiday treat than fresh baked cookies and a glass of champagne?! Finish off the party with some fresh, home brewed coffee, and I am one happy girl!

What are your favorite holiday dessert and drink pairings? I would love some new ideas!


Remember to check out Duncan Hines' website www.duncanhines.com to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fun for the Holidays: Blogger Ornament Swap!!


Today's blog swap was hosted by Julie and Megan! I got into this swap at the last minute, and I'm glad I did! A traditional holiday blog swap, we were tasked with picking out ornaments for our partners!

I was paired up with Kayla from Keeping Up With Kayla. In true blogger fashion, once I knew Kayla was my partner, I headed over and did some blog stalking and started to think of what types of ornaments she would like! Kayla is a loving girlfriend and auntie, so I wanted to get her a few sparkly things to show her that I recognized all the love in her life!

Once I found the perfect ornaments, I sent them on their way, and anxiously awaited the arrival or my little package!

Late last week, my package arrived, and I was so impressed with the ornaments that Kayla had chosen for me! It's so funny to see how much you can learn about someone through their blog. Kayla and I each picked out two ornaments, and I am just loving mine!



Aren't these ornaments just gorgeous?! I love the sparkly details, and they match perfectly with the theme I already had going on my tree this year!



A special thanks to Kayla, Julie and Megan for allowing me to participate in this year's swap, and for trimming our tree with a little extra sparkle this year!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Very First Blog Swap & Holiday Fun!

About a month ago, Twitter was buzzing with talks of holiday swaps between bloggy friends! I had never participated in a blog swap, so I was excited to sign up and meet some new ladies!

Laura played hostess for my first swap - the 'Very Bloggy Christmas Swap!' I was paired up with Jamie from Life In A Southern Town. I absolutely love shopping for the holidays, so as soon as Black Friday rolled around I put on my shopallday shoes and headed out to find some fun things for Jamie!


I packed up the goodies I bought for her and sent them on their way to her little Southern town.

And then I waited ....

And, a few days later came home to a package waiting just for me!


How exciting to open my first Christmas gift of the season! And, Jamie did not disappoint! She filled my package with fun, holiday themed items from chocolatey treats to ornaments for my tree.


What did Jamie send my way, exactly?
  • Minty hot chocolate mix
  • Two festive pairs of holiday socks
  • A travel cup!
  • Two ornaments for my tree
  • Hershey's Mint Truffles
  • And, a beautiful scented candle that's already on display in my kitchen!
Of course, I got right to hanging the new ornaments on my tree, because I love nothing more than adding to my collection! My tree may be small this year, but it's full of gorgeous ornaments! Jamie sent me a precious red, angel ornament, and an adorable silver tree ornament!



Thank you Laura for hosting this event for all of us, and special thanks to Jamie for brightening my holiday! It was so much fun to get to meet you, and I can only hope that you enjoy the goodies I sent your way as much as I love mine!!

Have you started to give and receive gifts yet this year? I just adore picking out special gifts for the people in my life and watching them open them! We have so much to celebrate this year, and we're counting down the days until the family celebrations begin this weekend!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Co-Hosting A Ladies Holiday Cocktail Brunch!!

Well, ladies, I think today will be the official start of my two weeks of holiday cheer posts! This year I particapted in two blog swaps, I'm guest blogging for a sweet friend for the holiday, AND my sistah-in-love is co-hosting a week's worth of holiday themed link-ups with Nina, Erin, Meredith and Molly, so what better to do than run with the theme and spinkle in some holiday posts of my own, too?!

Day 1 of the 'Oh What Fun It Is To ..." week comes from the fabulous Nina, and it's all about hosting and entertaining for the holidays! I must admit, I have definitely taken tips on decorating, wrapping and entertaining from Nina before, so I thought I must link up for today's party!

How do we celebrate and entertain around the holidays? Well, I love to throw a party, and attend a party, and the holidays provide so many reasons to do so! In keeping with the theme, and like I mentioned last week, some of my besties and I planned to co-host a ladies holiday cocktail brunch to celebrate some of our good friends in true, girly fashion. We chose a date (which just happened to be a Sunday afternoon), sent out an Evite, and got to planning the decor and of course, the food!

My fellow co-host, A, and I had been browsing around Pinterest and found this adorable champagne bar idea. It was love at first sight! We found all of the goodies that we'd need to make this idea come to life, and we just loved the way it came together!




I didn't get too many pictures of the food, but we wanted it to be brunch style, so we had an coffee, egg casserole, baked frittatas, grilled homefries, muffins, fruit skewers and of course, plenty of fun desserts!



We had about eleven girls come to the party, and I think the number was perfect because there was plenty of food, plenty of time to catch up with everyone, and plenty of gifts to go around!

We decided to do a white elephant gift exchange where each person chooses a number, and when it's your turn you choose a new gift, or steal one that was already opened by someone before you! Everyone was playing very nicely yesterday, until the adorable accessories started coming out, then the stealing really started!



We also decided that it would be cute to have favors for each person to take home! We went with adorable, silver star-shaped ornaments from Crate & Barrel, and I think it added the perfect finishing touch to the party, and gave everyone one more, small parting gift to go home with!



I am so glad that we decided to host this party this year! We mingled, ate, drank and swapped gifts and it was the perfect way to kick off all of the holiday celebrations! I will have to pull together some of the recipes that we used and share them with you, because the food was a big hit!



The above pictures are just some of the beautiful ladies that were in attendance yesterday. Thanks to each one of you for coming out and celebrating with us! We'll have to make this an annual tradition!

Don't forget to head over and linkup this week for the "Oh What Fun It Is To ..." party! There is a different theme each day!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Furbaby Friday

Happy Friday, Ladies! The days have totally blended together this week, so I was excited when I remembered it was Friday again! Not only is today Friday, but B has an off-site meeting to attend today, instead of his normal daily routine, so he got to stay home extra late  with us this morning! Family mornings at home are my favorite.

And, speaking of that little family of mine, there is a certain furry member who hasn't gotten so much blog love lately, you know, since buying a house and becoming "real" adults has taken over our lives. 

What is Riley up to these days? Well, she's just 8 days away from her 1st birthday, and absolutely loving all of the space she now has in her new home! She's still keeping us busy and on our toes, and we're loving her more each day. OK, maybe not as much at 5:30 AM when she's whining for us to wake up and feed her, but you get the point. She is definitely doing her job of training us to be parents to humans ... someday.


Here is the princess in all her glory. B and I gave up our bed and crashed on the air mattress the weekend that my parents were in town to help us move out of our apartment, and Riley didn't waste a minute before she perched up there in her comfy little nook. Oh, the joys of puppyhood!

I hope you all have something fun planned for this weekend! Two of my besties and I are hosting a ladies holiday brunch on Sunday morning, and I'm so excited to see it all come together! I will have to snap some pics and make sure to share some of the adorable ideas we came up with next week!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Evolution of Jersey Girl Makeup


Thanks to L'Oreal for sponsoring my post about my favorite beauty looks, tips and tricks! Check out Makeup.com for beauty advice from the experts.

I was pretty excited to learn about this Makeup.com opportunity from Clever Girls recently, because I've changed a lot of things in my daily regime over the last year. I mentioned a few of my new favorite things here

For as long as I can remember,  I have always been the type of girl that throws my makeup on in about 90 seconds right before she runs out the door. This wasn't because I didn't like makeup, but more so because I never really learned the necessary "tricks" to apply the smoky eyes I saw in pictures, or the bronzer/foundation/blush combo that matched my skin tone perfectly. Plus, I always spent all of my time in my closet trying to pick out something to wear, so hair and makeup were often an afterthought. Oops.

Fast forward a bunch of years. I'm engaged and planning my wedding. Of course picking out the dress was close to the very top of my priority list, but the makeup? Still an afterthought. Until I started paying more attention to how I was "dressing up" my face each day. How did my makeup compliment my eyes? My outfit? 


Lucky for me, I have more than a couple of beautiful friends who know much more about makeup application than I do, and I started paying attention. 

 
As the wedding grew closer, I had important events to attend: showers, bachelorette parties, etc. Of course I had the ensembles covered, but I turned to my sister and a few friends when it came to how I could energize the makeup department. At the time Maybelline Falsies because my new best friend. I guess I was blessed with decent eyelashes, and I saw an immediate difference when I switched over from my old stuff. Quick tricks like this helped me to liven up my normal look. I dabbled a bit with some new eye shadows, and started to find looks that worked for me. I tend to stay pretty neutral with my palettes, but how can you not drool over this palette?!


Naturally, the day of the wedding, I employed a dear friend to work her magic on me. We had done a trial, and I loved it. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a tad nervous about how the real "day of" look would match up with what I was expecting, but wow, did it ever exceed my expectations.




The combination of liquid and powder foundation worked great on me. My friend, L, is a wiz at the subtle, yet sultry eye, and I just loved it! Se used a combination of neutral tones: creams and some splashes of gold with a pop of light purples to go with the scheme for the rest of my accessories. I learned that using a bunch of eye shadow is not really a bad thing, as long as you know how to match colors and blend, blend, blend. 


The finished product definitely gave me the confidence to rock more makeup then I was used to. Now I apply eyeliner both above and below my eyes every day! Baby steps, people!




If you're wondering whether I bought one of every product L used on me that day, the answer is yes! My morning routine takes me a bit longer now, but I feel so much more like a grown up lady :o) A splash of foundation, my trusty eyeliner (totally saves me every day!), my beloved blush brush (buyoneitwillchangeyourlife), a fresh coat of mascara, and some days I even make time for my version of the sultry eye.


I would love you to share your smoky/sultry eye techniques with me! I still haven't mastered it yet, and I love learning how other wonderful ladies do theirs!


I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Click here to learn more about Makeup.com or become a Facebook fan by clicking here.