Summer Seaside Shelf

There is an unfortunate lack of holidays in between the Fourth of July and Halloween which leads to a dilemma when it comes to decorating my holiday shelf.  I suppose there is Labor Day…maybe I could decorate with some union contracts?  Eh, Probably not.

So since there is no longer a holiday to decorate for I instead decked out the shelf with scenes of a beachy summer day.

Whenever I add a new look to the shelf I always start by shopping around my house and I can usually find almost everything I need to pull together a new vignette.  There is no need to go out and buy a lot of things every month or two.  Instead see what you already have and and think of ways you can use objects differently than you normally would.

This rope net is actually a bag that some ornaments came in from Ikea.  Normally I don’t keep packaging materials, but this one was unique and I knew I could figure out a way to use it. 

 In the end I only bought two things at the Dollar Tree- a package of four blue candles and a bag of seashells.  Two bucks ain’t too shabby!

I made a small banner by cutting some pennants out of paper and gluing them onto a piece of ribbon.  The ends of the ribbon are just taped on the backside of the mirror.  The texture of the wicker baskets is perfect for a sea side look.

And underneath some sea shell scrapbook paper was just right for the frames.   I save all the little pictures I use in the frames in a folder in my file cabinet.  I can always reuse them and storing some paper hardly takes up any space.

Sea shells, blue skies, sand, and the ocean.  I’m thinking a trip to the beach is in order.


Mat it with a Map!

If you joined me on the blog on Wednesday I shared a little bit about our trip to the big apple.  And since our trip to New York for our 6th anniversary was a little more special and since I got to cross something off of my bucket list (Lion King on Broadway!!!!) I wanted to make a special souvenir to commemorate the trip.  (holy run on sentence.)   It all started with a playbill that I wanted to frame but because it is not the typical size of a picture I couldn’t find any kind of mat to use.  No problem, I’ll just make one!

I had a thin piece of cardboard so using a ruler and a pencil I first drew a square that was 8 x 10 and then in the middle of that square I traced around the playbill.

This gave me the shape of the mat and all I had to do was use an exacto knife to cut it out.  Don’t forget to put something underneath your project when using an exacto knife, otherwise you’ll end up with some scratches on your table.

When we were in New York I picked up a couple of maps of the city (for FREE from a tourist booth) and one of them became the next step in my souvenir project.  I placed the new mat on the map and traced about an inch away from the outside and the inside.

I left the extra inch on both the outside and the inside so that I could wrap it around the mat and create a nice clean edge.  I cut a slit in the corners so that it would wrap around smoothly, like you would wrap a present, and I secured it with some tape.


 The finished “map mat.”   When I was cutting it I laid it out so that the whole Theater District is in the top left hand corner, you can even see the Minskoff Theater where we saw The Lion King.

Then all I needed to do was place the new map mat over the playbill and put it in a frame.  I LOVE this unique and meaningful souvenir.  It is a perfect memento for our trip and would also be a great way to also display a favorite photo from one of your favorite vacations.


Summer Days in New York City

Brace yourselves.  This post is going to have picture overload because when you are talking about a place as wonderful as New York City you come away with a million pictures.  A few weeks ago Sam and I headed over to the big apple for our 6th anniversary and I fell in love with the city even more than before, if it is possible.   There is a beat to that place that you can feel.  The streets are alive and never more so than on a warm summer day.

One of my favorite things about NYC is how you can go from soaring skyscrapers and millions of lights to hidden little gems just around the corner that are bursting with charm and character.  Like the delicious little Italian restaurant Mercato in Hell’s Kitchen.

This tiny place had amazing food, a very rustic and romantic atmosphere, and the kindest staff.  We loved it.

We stayed at the New Yorker Hotel and I just have to take a moment to talk about how fabulous this hotel was. 

This art deco jewel is truly a historic landmark in New York.  It was built in 1929 and experienced its heyday during the 30’s and 40’s.  The largest hotel in NYC at that time has since hosted just about everyone from politicians to celebrities, royalty and business moguls, to those who just want a taste of the city.

 The staff was very friendly and attentive and they were so kind to even give us a complimentary upgrade.  The rooms, a little small (it is New York City after all) were clean and cozy but the upgrade completely came though with this view.

Could you get a better view of the concrete jungle than this one from 38 floors up?  The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the gorgeous city skyline.  And at night it took our breath away.

The BEST part of the trip for me was going to see the Lion King on Broadway.  AMAZING in every way possible.   The music, the costumes, and the incredible talent of the performers blew me away.

Seeing a show on Broadway was actually a little extra special for me as it allowed me to check something off of my bucket list.  I have always wanted to see a Broadway play and it lived up to my expectations!

The other days we just spent walking around and exploring without any set itinerary or destination in mind.  We strolled through Central Park…

visited the 9/11 Memorial which was sobering, beautiful, and touching…

discovered the New York Library which has the most stunning architecture and stone work.  This 100 year old building may be one of my new favorites in the city.

These arches and the large brass lights?  To die for.


We met up with a good friend who lives there and indulged in the huge variety of cuisines available, hit some of the big tourist spots like Rockefeller plaza…

and St. Patrick’s Cathedral…

and so many more beautiful locations in the city.  It is one of my favorite places to visit and was the perfect place to spend our anniversary.  How about you?  Have you been?  What are your “must see’s” in the city?


Welcome Guest Basket

As I mentioned on Friday we had Sam’s sister in town and she stayed with us for a week and a half.  A while ago I saw a similar idea on another blog (I looked everywhere and couldn’t find it again!) but I thought it might be fun to put together a Welcome Guest basket to have waiting for her when she arrived.  It was pretty easy and I think it added a little extra touch to make her feel welcome.  I think this is a great idea for any guest room and something I plan on doing for all the guests that come to visit.

Have you ever been a guest at someone’s house and woken up in the middle of the night thirsty or hungry?  And you don’t feel quite comfortable sneaking through the house in the dark to find the kitchen?  Or maybe you’ve forgotten a toiletry item or don’t know where the linen closet is?  Those aren’t major problems but already taking care of them for your guest will make sure they really do feel at home.

Inside this basket I put some water bottles, snacks and granola bars, a towel and washcloth, soap, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, floss, toothpaste, lotion and some headache medicine. Batteries, a nice book, or CD of relaxing music would also be good things to include.  By picking these items up in the travel section of the drugstore you can save money and not worry about storing lots of big items.

Wrapping the items and adding little tags and ribbon adds an extra special touch and takes just a couple of minutes, especially when all you have to do is print and cut out some printables already made for you.  :)

And how about this?  I just happen to have some printables that you can download.  What are the odds? Download the PDF for the Welcome Guest Packet

Once your basket is all put together place it on the dresser, the bed, or a chair in the guest room and wait for your guests to be pleasantly surprised and delighted when they find it.

Our guest room is currently vacated…any takers?


The EASIEST Minty Cookie – Olympic Style

My sister-in-law was here all last week and I had SO much fun with her!  We went shopping and had some much needed girl time and Sam and I took her all over town seeing the sites.  Boston is the best place to be for the 4th of July by the way.  Awesome fireworks.

While she was here she shared with me this super easy treat.  I have to admit it, I was a bit skeptical at first.  Crackers dipped in chocolate?  Could it really be that tasty?  The answer is YES.  Absolutely yes.   We made ours all ready for the Olympics and if you want to have an Olympic viewing party or themed event then these are a must!

The ingredients: Ritz crackers, peppermint extract, baker’s chocolate or almond bark, and food coloring (optional).

Using a microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate or almond bark in 30 second increments stirring in between. After melting the chocolate add in the peppermint extract.  For every square of chocolate you need 1/4 tsp. of peppermint extract.  In each of our bowls we melted two squares of chocolate so each bowl had 1/2 tsp. of extract added.

If you want to add food coloring do it here. Sometimes adding food coloring to melted chocolate can cause it to become a bit thick and paste-y but a few drops of olive oil will make it smooth again as well as give it a nice sheen.  And you won’t be able to taste the olive oil at all.

Everything always tastes better the messier you do it.  It is a proven fact.  So since our bowl is so messy our cookies are going to be that much more delicious.  Dip the Ritz cracker into the chocolate completely covering both sides.  Hold the cracker on the fork and tap it against the bowl just like the picture below.  As you tap it the chocolate will smooth out until you have a nice even coat.

Place on parchment paper while you work on the rest of the crackers and make additional colors if you desire.

 Once all the cookies are covered in chocolate pop them in the fridge until the chocolate sets up.  I actually like to leave them in the fridge, the cool peppermint is absolutely delicious.  Once the chocolate hardens you have some beautiful Olympic ready treats!

These are deceptively simple.  I know it is hard to imagine that they are that good, but trust me they are SO yummy.  If you like Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies then you will LOVE these as well. And just like any other thing chocolate they can melt if left out in the heat for awhile.  Just another reason I like to keep them in the fridge.

If you want to make them sans food coloring and skip that step go right ahead.  They look just as purrty when they are left white. 

There is something about the cool, crisp taste of the peppermint with the slightly salty cracker that just works.    If you make them I definitely want to hear how they turn out so be sure to share!


Olympic Printables

On Monday I talked a little bit about how to host your own Olympic party/activity, and here are some printables to help you out if you decide to throw one or get you in the mood for the upcoming Olympics.

First off is a Medal Count sheet.  With spaces for six countries (print off more if you would like to track more than six) you can keep tally marks for every medal your country wins. 

Olympic Party Circles- Use these as fun, little decorations if you throw an Opening or Closing Ceremonies party, or anytime during the games.  I had to make a couple of ones for Team USA, because well….I’m American, but you can certainly use the other four designs by themselves if you’d like.

 And lastly a collection of medals.  You’ll find three large medals, a sheet of several small medals, and a sheet of medals that are left blank so you can fill in your own year or event information. Print these out, hole punch the top, and string onto a ribbon.

 You can download the entire Olympic Party Printable Set in PDF form here.  Print all the pages, or just the ones you need.