Three Cocktails to Liven up your Holidays

It’s 5:00 somewhere… am I right??  Today I’m participating in the link up party at The Lovely Cupboard, where there is bound to be quite a few yummy cocktail recipes abound!
After getting our new bar cart, I went wild at BevMo, so we are stocked to the gills with delicious holiday beverage accouterments…. everything from brandied cherries (these are just AMAZING in a manhattan), to flavored syrups, whiskey, vodka, mixers, and LOTS of champagne… 
To keep things feeling festive, I’ve devised three holiday cocktails to perpetuate that warm feeling of holiday cheer (or is that warm feeling from taste-testing three different cocktails in the afternoon…)
The hard part about this post wasn’t coming up with three cocktails, but, actually limiting myself to just three!!  I had a little too much fun with this one!
The first cocktail up, is the Rose “merry” and Cranberry Cooler… ya like that name??
I, for one, LOVE mixing savory and sweet flavors, and the rosemary in this recipe gives this cocktail a nice earthy balance.  
It also could not be easier to concoct this bad boy, and it’s as delicious as it is pretty!  I mean come on… red and green??  It doesn’t get more festive!

  – Vodka
  – Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
  – Simple Syrup
  – Rosemary
  – Ice
  – Campari

Muddle Rosemary in your cocktail shaker.  Pour in one part vodka, two parts unsweetened cranberry juice, one part simple syrup, and 1/2 part Campari.  Add 4 large ice cubes, and stir 30 seconds.  Strain into martini class (or here, I used a pretty crystal coupe from my mama).

This drink is sweet, but also bitter (from the campari) and a bit sour from the cranberry juice, and earthy from the rosemary.  It’s a little TOO good…

If you’re not a fan of Campari, just leave it out – I made a second version without it, and it was also absolutely delish!

Next up, is the Orange & Mango Fizz…   This is a bit of a twist on the classic mimosa, but the bitters and the mango spice it up a bit… 
  – 1 orange wedge
  – 2 1/2 cups sparkling wine, prosecco or champagne
  – 3/4 cup mango nectar
  – 1 teaspoon orange bitters
  – orange zest twists, for garnish
In a large pitcher, combine the wine, mango nectar, and bitters. Serve in a champagne flutes, and garnish with an orange zest twist.
It literally could not be easier, and this serves four! Perfect for Christmas morning if you ask me, and aside from the mango, most people have everything else on hand already!  If you don’t usually keep bitters on hand, you should start!  Great in food (mainly sauces, soups and broths as an aromatic) and drinks.

Finally, onto dessert…. err… I mean dessert drinks.  
The Snowy White Russian is so sweet and yummy, you’ll want to skip the fig pudding… or yule log… or grandma’s fudge, or whatever traditional Christmas dessert you have!

  – Vodka
  – Kahlua
  – Milk (I’ve used non-fat before, but 2% is better)
  – Chocolate Syrup
  – Whipped Cream
Combine one part vodka, one part kahlua, and one part milk in a glass, stir.  Add three large ice cubes, and top with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

You can thank me later.

Making this one totally took me back to my college days – my girlfriends and I would make these on a regular basis, regardless of season, and now I remember why.  They are SO GOOD.
I mean… YUM!!  Can we get a close-up glamour shot here??

Ohhh yeahhhh… nom nom…

And how cute are these glasses?

Kris got them from his sister as a birthday present, and I’m kind of obsessed (they originally came from Restoration Hardware although I can’t find them online anymore).  They are labeled to measure out how much “medicine” you might need after a grueling day of caroling, or an especially brutal snowball fight…

Super cute, right??

So that’s it!!  Do you have any favorite holiday beverages??  Mulled cider?  Mulled wine?  Some sort of yummy whiskey cocktail??  A hot toddy???  I could go all day people!

May your holiday’s be merry and bright(er) with these fun cocktail recipes!


Holiday Shelf Decor

Hello friends!

I’ve been sick as a dog, spending as much time as I can in bed resting, but I’m stopping in briefly today to post a few pictures of the holiday decor I’ve added to the shelves in our dining room / office.

Everything we added to this space was either re-purposed from past years, or it was free…
One of my favorite parts about the holiday updates on these shelves were the “chalkboard” printouts from online.  I just took the prints that were previously in these frames and swapped them out.  So easy, and it cost me nothing – my favorite kind of update!
I also took the faux holly berry sprigs that had been in our living room last year, and cut the stems short, putting the berry branches in a few small pots we had on hand.  Another super easy, free addition, and it added instant holiday cheer to the shelves.
The faux potted amaryllis was a score from Target last year, and is livening up our pretty little bar cart.
This is not a “Christmas” update, but you might also notice a pretty addition here… my mom gifted me one of her crystal decanters!  I am dying to get some port decanted in there, but for now, it’s just looking very pretty.
Also, not holiday specific, but the striped red straws were another Target find recently!
On the other side is a pretty close mirror image… in a small space, keeping things symmetrical helps keep things from feeling super busy…

Notice the fake snow tucked behind the pot of berries?  It’s actually fake cobwebs leftover from Halloween.  Woot woot!!

On each of these shelves is a little project I worked on – the stacked paper Christmas trees. I got the idea from this post on Style Me Pretty from last year, where they made all these adorable paper Christmas trees. Mine didn’t quite come out the same, but they aren’t terrible either…
I ended up cutting up one of my Sookie Stackhouse books for this project (don’t worry, it was not some piece of classic literature) – different sized square pieces, and stacked away.  I used the leftover branch from cutting down the holly berries for the tree trunk, and called it a day.
Next time around I’d use thicker / stiffer paper, and more of it, so each tree was bushier, but for a first attempt, it wasn’t a total fail.

I especially love this space at night… there are lots of candles in here, and it creates the most cozy atmosphere…

I kind of hated the full mirror wall for the longest time, but while it’s totally 80’s, it also does make the small space feel more open.  I also love that it reflects back the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree…

So that’s all for our dining room holiday updates…

It’s festive, without being over the top, and they were all easy, inexpensive (or free) updates!  Ok, back to bed for me…

O Christmas Tree

December is almost half way through (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!), and after getting our tree decorated last weekend, let’s give it a moment in the spotlight…
Pretty, right??

I feel like there are two types of Christmas tree decorators… the traditionalists, and the theme decorators.

Myself, I’m a traditionalist – my favorite part about decorating the tree is to hang all the sentimental ornaments I’ve gotten year after year and reminisce (much to Kris’ chagrin) all about when I got them, and the stories behind each…

Mixed in with all the sentimental ones, I’ve got colorful globes, and glittery ribbon woven throughout.  I had big hopes this year to swap out the gold ribbon for a fun black and white stripe, but it was impossible to find.  So gold ribbon it was.  At least I upgraded from my sheer ribbon last year to a big, chunky glitter ribbon.  It really stands out and sparkles so much at night when the lights are on.
This year, the tree is a bit different from years past – I could not find our tree topper to save my life, but instead of going out to  buy a new one, I just rounded up some ribbon we had stashed in one of the boxes to make a pouf for the top.  
It’s not my favorite, but it’s not half bad and adds almost an extra foot to the top, so I’m ok with it…
I’ve been collecting one ornament a year since I was a baby (some years more than one), so that’s quite a few unique ornaments. I got these ballet slippers when I was maybe 8 years old.  I remember so distinctly – there was a small antique shop near our house, and even though these were one of the more expensive ornaments I wanted them so badly… at the time, there was a book about a ballerina I was obsessed with… it was called The Silver Slippers and the book came with a ballet slipper necklace (one of my most prized possessions) – thus I NEEDED this ballet slipper ornament.
I have no idea what happened to that book (or the necklace) but this ornament is still one of my most cherished.  Isn’t it funny how some things stay with you?


In addition to the personalized ornaments – the angels, the bears, the little birds, and the Santa with his surfboard (that’s Kris’ ornament) my mom has been giving us a box of vintage glass ornaments every year as well – they totally remind me of the ornaments in the movie A Child’s Christmas in Whales.  It’s a family favorite, and I love being able to hang those up as well.
I love that the tree is colorful and fun – maybe one day I’ll have a second tree to decorate as a “themed” tree – all bird ornaments and feathers, or all jingle bells and silver sparkles – but I love the character this has, and I love how packed in all the ornaments are.  It’s the one time of year that “more” is better (I think).

Growing up, we’d go with our parents to cut our tree down in the Santa Cruz mountains, and while we’ve skipped it a few years, I love our new tradition of going to the school around the corner from our house to buy the tree, and walking it home in the chilly evening.

Even though we haven’t cut ours down this year, I honestly cannot imagine not having a fresh tree.  To me, there would be no magic in taking a tree out of a box, and the smell… oh the smell… it’s SO GOOD.

It’s like a fresh fir forest in here I tell ya!

It’s pretty in the daytime, but at night is when it’s really magical…
Now, not to brag, but I’ve got to take a moment to give myself some credit for thinking creatively. Storing stuff is always in issue in this little apartment… after the ornaments were on the tree, we were left with boxes upon boxes, and without anywhere to put them, I decided to wrap them.
Yep, those presents under the tree are just empty boxes my friends.  What better place to store them than in plain sight – the tree looks so much better with presents under it, and I don’t have to worry about what to do with these boxes… win-win.

The guy at the tree lot also cut quite a lot off the bottom of the tree, so we ended up putting a box under the Christmas tree stand to bump it up a bit.

I actually think we will do this every year from now on.  I like how it creates space under the bottom branches for the presents to tuck under!  Another happy coincidence…

So what about you??  Are you a Christmas tree traditionalist or do you prefer the themed trees?

I Cheated…

I cheated… but just a little!!

I’m linking up today with Michaela at Michaela Noelle Designs for a fun craft link up party!

There have been some AMAZING ideas posted already, and while I had grand plans to post up a fun paper Christmas Tree project, there have not been enough hours in my day.  Eh, you can’t win them all… so I’ve contributed to the link up with my ornament garland from last year that has held up SO WELL.

Last year it stood alone in the hallway, but this year, it’s a part of the winter wonderland I posted about last week!

Go take a look at some of the amazing ideas and projects!!  Some of them totally doable, and some I know are outside of my talent level…

A few favorites already??

This super charming Swedish Felt Christmas Tree from Southern Distinctions….

I’m obsessed with Sarah’s blog, so it’s no surprise that I loved her feather garland… I just love how it catches the light and sort of glows…

And this felt wreath from Life on Virginia Street is so festive, and relatively simple to make!

If I had a mantle, you can bet your buttons that I’d be whipping up a few of these trees from Little Bits of Home!  I love the tinsel one along with the one with the pompoms.  So clever!!

Have you gone and checked out all the brilliant projects??  Prepare yourself… you’ll get totally sucked in!

We’re calling it "Pre-Christmas" Decor

Let me preface this post by saying, yes, I am fully aware that we haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving yet… 
But let me also just say, Thanksgiving is the latest it’s ever been… EVER… so since Thanksgiving is so excruciatingly late, I figured it couldn’t hurt anyone to hang a few harmless wreaths in our living room over the weekend….

I LOVE boxwood wreaths. Possibly more than any other wreath.  They are fresh and simple, and need no adornment, which around the holiday season – when the motto is “the more lights, tinsel, and general bedazzlement, the better” – a simple wreath is subtly festive.

In my case, I went with four subtly festive boxwood wreaths… for $10 each, how could I say no?!

I decided to hang them in each of the windows of our living room…


The best part about boxwoods is that they dry so well.  These windows get direct sunlight all day long – pretty much from about 9am until 4pm, but boxwoods keep the bright green color even after they’ve dried!  Last year, I kept our wreath from the holidays, and hung it on our front door through the summer.

Now, I never normally take photographs at night in low light like this, but, with the wreaths in the window, I found it nearly impossible to photograph them during the day.  They were completely blacked out with the sun behind them in every shot , but I guess it’s nice to document our house with the cozy lamp light too… this is actually how I like our house the best, even though it doesn’t turn out in photographs so well.

God… we really need to do something about the coffee table – the bane of my existence.  Its SO scratched up on top, and the storage below is just not attractive.  Functional… yes, but I’m sure we could get rid of half that crap and not miss a thing.

Perhaps that’s something tackle next weekend… the decrapification of our coffee table… and then the selling of the coffee table and buying of a new one……….

Anyway… enough talk of my hoarding ways… let’s get back to my pretty wreaths.  Don’t you just love how they get a little up-lighting from the side lamps?
And notice my new lampshades… $5 on clearance!  Woot woot!!

Gotta love a good deal – ok last glamour shot of the wreath….

Hope you all had a lovely, productive weekend too!!


Glitter Guide: Holiday Decor

Gold is in, in a big way – gold jewelery, watches, brass hardware, and gilded picture frames – it’s everywhere!  Gold is the perfect transitional color for the holidays, and can take you from Thanksgiving seamlessly into Christmas (and beyond if you ask me).

I’m a big fan of transitional decor – things that feel like the season… not specifically the holiday, so I’ve pulled together some of my favorite gold accessories to incorporate into your seasonal decor, for a little glitz and glam that doesn’t scream “Santa Claus”


Stag Head: Ok… so he’s not gold… but I couldn’t resist!!  How cute would he be with a boxwood wreath around his neck… OR… a gold ornament wreath (in keeping with the gold theme here)… post holidays he could transition into a jaunty scarf…  Right?!

Jewelry Box: I need this.  My jewelry has taken over an entire dresser drawer and it’s just mayhem.  I can never find anything, so this jewelry box (or a set of several) would be amazing… and simply gorgeous to keep out on a dresser or nightstand to hold the pieces I wear the most.

Honeycomb Ice Bucket: A super stylish way to keep drinks chilled at a holiday party…

Confetti Martini Shaker:  Um… I love this.  It’s a party even before the drinks get poured!!

Gold Ikat Coasters: Another favorite of mine on here – to jazz up a coffee table and protect your furniture!  So cute, people will actually WANT to use them!

Gold Swirl Art: This is seasonally agnostic if you ask me!  I mean… this would look equally great in the summer as it would next to the glinting lights of the Christmas tree.

Cheers Bitches Banner: And…. perhaps my favorite item on the list.  How funny and awesome is this little banner??  Hanging over the drink table??  Love.

Christmas House

I cleaned our house today, finally putting away all the Christmas gifts, recycling all the boxes we don’t have storage for, and dusting off all the crumbs that have accumulated over the last few days.  We’ve got cookies, candies, and sweets up the wazoo, and it seems we’ve made it a personal mission to finish every last treat… thus the crumbs!
Anyway, the light was so pretty, I decided to get out the good camera, and snap some shots of our Christmas house this year…

This photo was taken from the archway between the living room and the dining room.  As much as these two love seats have bugged me since we moved in, they don’t grate on my nerves nearly so much with a few pretty throw pillows.  For winter, we’ve got some white faux fur in the mix, along with the navy and gold floral pattern, and some neutral linen.
Taking these pictures, I realized that I haven’t documented our house much since we got this rug.  One of my new years resolutions will to be better about that, and this is the start.

Notice how the faux fur throw I got from Cost Plus has made a home for itself on the wicker chair?  This chair bugs me to no end, so I guess I figured covering it up with cozy blankets would solve that?  No idea, but we now refer to this chair as the abominable snowman, since it looms in that corner fairly ominously…

For all it’s modern lines, Kris’ black love seat somehow blends in more to me with that snazzy striped throw blanket – $30 from Ikea – heck yeah!!

And here is our pretty tree.  Kris keeps saying it’s the prettiest tree in the world.  He’s a keeper.

It really does look nice with a mix of new and old.  I have my favorite old ornamants I’ve collected over the years, with some bright colorful  balls from Target (I am loving those hot pink and lime green ones), along with our new tree topper (which is crooked in this picture… dang it!)

So, it’s clear to me that I need to figure how to work our camera in manual, since this shot above is way overexposed.  I could not figure out how to capture the tree, and the room, at the same time since the sunlight was streaming through the windows.

Ohh well – possibly another resolution for 2013… figure out how to take better pictures.

Now don’t make fun of me, those presents are not actually presents…  I wrapped the boxes our ornaments get stored in.  Yup – we have ZERO storage for these, so since they were in plain sight, I wrapped them to camouflage their function.  I don’t know about you, but I thought I was pretty clever!

And I couldn’t resist a close shot of my pretty white roses.  We had some deep red roses here a few weeks back, but I am loving the white just as much.  Also, I am loving how I was able to get a little bokeh effect going on with the lights on the tree.  Holla!

Target is seriously my favorite place on earth.  The faux amaryllis bulb AND that feather tray were both huge scores from Target – the feather tray was on sale for $9.99 last week, and a quick note on the fake flowers… they look so real in person, I’ve had several people ask how I was able to grow them.  Kind of amazing…

Finally, our desk got a few small additions – these birch wrapped bark candles are pretty and wintery, and I plan on keeping them around through February.

Pottery barn sells them for an arm and a leg, but Cost Plus has them for cheap!  Run and get them before they are gone!



Also, this candle got a little greenery from a tree that blew down during a storm earlier this month.  Luckily, the branches and leaves dried out perfectly, and retained their green color.

This tray had lived on the coffee table for a long time, but moved over to the side table next to the TV – it got a little snowflake wrapping paper on the bottom to Christmasify it (new word?), and the vase on it was stuffed with faux berry branches.

I was never fully happy with this little area, but it does the trick.  I still want a taller table to go here – perhaps that’s why I think it looks odd…

I took this photo standing in front of the tree looking back at the gallery wall that never happened (remember this ambitious post??).  I was gung ho about the gallery wall for about a week, and then I chickened out! We still have all the art and frames I’d assembled sitting in a little stack, but I just can’t pull the trigger.

I’ve been toying with the idea of hanging two larger frames here, so it’s less manic and crowded.  First I’ll need to find some frames, and then some art that I love…

For now, these three black and white (and crooked) frames will have to stay.  It’s not THAT bad… right?

This little guy is one of my favorite holiday additions to our space – he is jaunty, and so cute, just chilling below some mistletoe that hangs from the inside of a lamp.

God that crackle finish kills me on the lamp… the faux finish is just gross, but it stays for now.  Perhaps some rubbed bronze spray paint is in that lamp base’s future?  Or should we get crazy and throw some navy in the mix there??

And finally the Christmas card display… I really debated not adding this picture since it’s not the best execution of an idea.  I was trying to make a tree shape out of the cards we received… a glorious idea I saw on Pinterest.  Whelp… I’d pretty much call this a Pinterest fail.

I’ll still give myself an A for effort, but we’ll have to find a different way to display the cards next year…

So that’s it – a quick recap of all the simple Christmas Decorations we had this year in the living room – and don’t forget the pretty boxwood wreath we have hanging in the dining room, or the Christmas ornament garland I made for our hallway.
Cheers to the last few days of Christmas decorations!!

Wall Trees

Living in San Francisco, these old apartments don’t leave much space for Christmas decor, much less a beautiful, big Christmas tree.
Luckily, Kris and I have a large living room, and there is a perfect spot for the tree in the window, but a lot of my friends simply don’t have a tree – which I find SO sad!  I couldn’t imagine December without that lovely piney smell, and the soft glow of the fairy lights.  Especially since these are the shortest days of the year, I feel like I’m never even home when it’s light outside anymore!
That said, I have seen so many ideas for wall trees that would be perfect for apartment living!  All of these temporary solutions to having a tree without ACTUALLY having a tree!
I love the rustic feel of this tree that uses old branches stacked vertically in a tree shape.  Small ornaments and fairy lights are pretty, and you’ll hardly miss the real thing!
Or grab a can of paint, and free hand a Christmas tree right on the wall!  As long as you have the original room’s paint color, it will take literally 10 minutes to paint back over it once the holidays are over – less time than packing up all those ornaments, right??


Gallery walls are a huge trend right now, so why not twist that idea, and make a gallery tree.  Use ornaments, magnets, small frames, and whatever else you have.  Keep it lightweight and you’ll likely be able to use double sided tape for most of it, and small tacks for the rest!


Washi Tape – hard to find in normal stores, but easy to order online in plenty of patterns and colors.  It doesn’t get more temporary (or easy) than this!  And how cute!


A few thin twigs, a few tacks, and some small Christmas ornaments are all you need to make this next wall tree! I love how this one leans over as though the ornaments are weighing it’s wispy frame down.  How clever!


Hello there Chalkboard paint!  If you already have a chalkboard wall in your home, then you’re pretty much set, but if not, it’s kind of the perfect opportunity to jump on this bandwagon!  How sweet is this chalkboard tree?? (now if only I had that kind of artistic talent!)


Dear Santa…

The hardest thing in the world is putting together a Christmas List for “Santa” when you feel like you have everything you already want.  Well not EVERYTHING, but trust me – it’s hard!
Yesterday I sent my Christmas List off to Mrs. Claus and Santa (aka, Mom and Dad), and here is what topped the list this year…

1. A cozy Down Vest.  I always see girls walking around wearing these, and while adorable, they never seemed that functional to me.  If it’s cold, wear a jacket… right?? WRONG!  I borrowed my mom’s vest one day, and realized the beauty of it.  On brisk days, you can still feel the cool air, but you’re warm and toasty at the same time.  I’d compare it to sleeping with one foot out of the blankets.  It’s refreshing, right??  Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this!

2. A Clarisonic.  Everyone who has one swears its life changing, and who am I to say “no” to beautiful, glowy skin??  The thing that sealed the deal for me was a woman I met on our trip to Cabo this year.  She was a facialist in LA, and kept talking about her daughters who were in their 30’s.  I finally had to ask her how old she was, and she said 57!  She looked 40.  It was absurd.  Her secret??  She claimed it was the Clarisonic but I’m betting it’s also about having good genes (which luckily, I do).

3. Hello TopShop, and welcome to Nordstrom.  Another wish for this year is this adorable Navy Peplum Top.  Peplum is a look that flatters my figure, and I love the idea of wearing this with trousers and a cardigan for work, and a pencil skirt and a pretty statement necklace for a nice weekend dinner.

4. I found a seller on Etsy that makes the most adorable statement necklaces, and I’ve kind of fallen in love with this Navy Bubble, and this Turquoise Bubble necklace.  Amazing right?  And they are $16 each.  Ridiculous!

5. Last week, I fell head over heels for this french bulldog sweater from JCrew.  Unfortunately, they are sold out, but how cute is this little Fox Sweater?  Dare I say it, I may love the fox even a little more!

6. If you’ve read my little blog for a while, you know that my love affair with this Pave Link Bracelet from JCrew started a long time ago.  It’s still up at the top of my wishlist for fabulous accessories.  Love LOVEEEE.

7. No, my wish isn’t to look like a Victoria’s Secret Model… well it is, but it’s not what I asked for at least!  In the winter, my favorite thing to do after work, is to get into my pajamas as soon as I walk through the door.  Unfortunately, my old sweatshirts and sweatpants have seen better days.  Wouldn’t it be fun to lounge around in these adorable Leopard Pajamas?  Who says you can’t be comfortable, warm, and still super sassy??