Sunday, November 25, 2012

How to decorate your Christmas Tree

So Sissy and I have been decorating trees since we were little. My mother's favorite time of the year were the holidays because she could decorate the entire house with her centerpieces and beautiful pieces from Vonda's. And Sissy has been decorating trees professionally for quite some time here in our town! So when we were decorating her tree yesterday we thought we would do a step-by-step tutorial of how we go about decorating our trees. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

First, take down your tree from the attic (we use fake), plug in your lights and begin fluffing. If your tree doesn't have lights, put as many as you can on it and remember to fluff those branches! The lights should be tucked in from deep inside your tree so that is can illuminate from the inside out. After that has been done, you are ready to decorate your tree. (side note, our children each have their own trees to decorate with all their lovely homemade treasures. In my house with 4 kids the girls have a tree and the boys have a tree!)

Okay, let the fun begin.
Step one, after you have fluffed and filled with lights add some netting. This can be found at Sam's Club for $6.99 or Martin's for $9.10. I believe Micheal's carry's
 it as well, but can't quote you the price. Mesh or netting can be done in two ways, one, wrap it around creating a downward motion or cut in pieces and create the same look without going around the entire tree. With a fake tree you can bend the branches and pinch to hold in place. With a real tree try to stuff inward so the netting or mesh and stay in place.
Step 2: Create your topper. For some of you who like the traditional angel or star on top of your tree you can do the same effect and replace the poinsettias in this picture with the angel or star. The fun of the top of your tree is to create a bigger impact by using branches or sticks that are decorated in sparkles or more natural decorative sticks if you prefer a more rustic look. With this look we took 3 large ornaments to use as our base, added 2 sparkly poinsettas from Martins and 3 red sparkly leaves from Mrtin's as well. We then stuck a lot of glittered branches or sticks coming out from the top. 
Step 3: Add some garland. This can be beaded, flowery, natural,  cranberries, etc. In this tree we used beads.

Step 4: Add some fillers. Fillers can be branches with leaves, flowered branches, feathers, Large decorative leaves, pine cones, etc. Here is what we used in this tree.

Place sparactically throughout the tree following your netting. Like this:

Step 5: When we collect ornaments, we like to collect different sizes and shaped. Too many balls can ruin a tree in my opinion. Using a variety can give your tree dimension and texture. Begin placing ornaments on your tree. One tip to creating a full looking tree is to decorate from inside the tree to the outer part of the tree. Don't be scared to stuff ornaments inside the tree and piling a certain branch with more than one ornament. Like this:

I like a full looking tree and try to put as many ornaments I can find onto my tree. I have a 12 footer and fill it from top to bottom. This tree in this picture is 6 feet. I even put larger decorative items in my tree. This year I have a chandelier on the very top! Here is how your tree will look if you follow this tips:
My sister's tree
My tree

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

These are a few of my Favorite Things

So with Christmas quickly approaching (our Christmas trees are up, I know) and Oprah revealing her favorite things list, I thought I would share some of MY favorite things for Christmas this year. These are things I want, already have and love, and put on my Christmas list. Enjoy and merry shopping!

Guess Asymetrical Collar Boucle Coat 149.90 Nordstroms (wish list!)

Topshop Supreme Platform Pump $176.00 Nordstroms (Wish List!!!)

Jcrew Heartbreaker sweater $73.90 (wish list!)

Lauren Conrad simialr heartbreaker sweater only $35.00 Kohls (wish list-nice steal!)

LOVE this dress by Lauren Conrad!!!! It's $60.00 and a great festive holiday dress that I think I should purchase with my 20% off!!! At Kohls

Lululemon Scuba Hoodie in red! Love these hoodies-never lose their shape and SUPER warm!!! My favorite thing, but want in red!!!! $108.00

Nothing better than Lululemon Groove Pants...I have a knee length legging, but would LOVE a pair of these!!! Again, they never fade and never lose their shape! $108.00

How cute is this dress by JLO! I don't think I could pull this off, but if I could I would purchase!!!! Only $35.00 at Kohls!

Tori Burch cosmetic bag for your purse! Too cute and fits every lipgloss I carry!!! My sister has this and I want it! $55.00 Tori Burch

JLO Boots with the fur! Only $64.99 at Kohls!

Ahhh...if I could wear white this is a coat I WOULD definately want!!!! Love the style and cut of this coat....super slimming. Nordstroms $189.00

Love this bangles at Target! They look like the Tori Burch bangles, but WAY cheaper! $16.99 at Target

Super cute Chevron inspired cuff...totally would like Santa to put this in my stocking this year (which is very possible!) Black and white Bangle Hinge $16.99 Target

This bangle is a total knock off of Tori it! At Target $16.99
MY FAVORITE lipgloss to date! Benefit Nooki Nooki Lip Gloss $16.99 Macys

Lululemon Scuba hoodie in black...always a staple in the closet! $108.00

Super cute stocking stuffer for the Starbucks lover (that's me!) This was first given to me on my birthday and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! So refreshing, easy just add water, and you're set! 
Very Berry Hibiscus Tea $5.95
*Note to self and others...add WAY more water then suggested.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Laundry Detergent

Okay, so my friend Annette made her own detergent 6 months ago and just recently had to make her second batch. So I decided to try it out! I mean who doesn't want to stop spending 25 every couple of weeks for detergent? So here is my attempt. I must say it smells very good and it can be used with HE appliances. It is great for sensitive skin and it is suppose to last 6-9 months! Total cost about $20.00!!!! WOW!!!! I know! So I was able to find everything at Target except for the 
box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 55 oz (3 lb 7 oz) which I found at Winco and 
3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap, which I also found at Winco (if you use Zote bars use 2 bars instead, Zote can be found at Home Depot). I added Purex Crystals for added aroma. I bought the 55 oz. and put it all in there! I am excited to try this out! Good luck to all of you!!! The recipe was found at the following blog, Being Creative

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Horn of Plenty

My mother made me this cornucopia almost ten years ago. I remember when she made this because it was her very first one. She was so proud to bring it to me and have me display in in my home.  Soon, the word got out of this "horn of plenty" that Stella made for her daughters, everyone was asking her to make them one. I think a few of you out there still have yours and put it out to this day. This cornucopia is a reminder to me every November that our lives are overflowing with plenty. That there is never a moment where I don't have plenty to be grateful for. This horn is a symbol of our lives; even though there are some branches that are missing, some fruit that need to be re-glued, and some bows that need re-fluffing, we have plenty. My mom was always so good about helping me to remember that one simple concept. We have so much, we have plenty. Some months it may not feel like that, even some days, but we do, we have plenty. I miss my mom's exuberance for life and everything beautiful. She could always take an arrangement that needed some love, and make it grand. I put that love in every centerpiece I create and every candy buffet I design. There is a little Stella in everything I do and today I just miss that love, that life she would always bring with her and put in everything that she touched. 
Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

THE BEST Chicken Parmesan Burger EVER!

my very own picture, taken by my cell!

So the other night I found a recipe in one of my old Cooking Light Magazines. It sounded simple and quick-one of the requirements for all my meals-so I decided to make it that night. All I needed was ground chicken, some fresh basil, and a few of these delightful cibata rolls! And voila! A very fabulous, hip conscious (as Martin would say) meal! Even my kids loved it!


2 (3 ounce) square cibata rolls

garlic clove, halved

  • 1/2 pound ground chicken $
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons lower-sodium marinara sauce, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • basil leaves

  • Preparation
  • 1. Preheat broiler.
  • 2. Cut rolls in half. Place bread, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Broil for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove bread from pan. Rub each slice with cut side of garlic. Set aside.
  • 3. Preheat oven to 375°.
  • 4. Combine chicken, 1/3 cup marinara, rosemary, thyme, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Divide into 2 portions, shaping each into a 1/4-inch-thick patty. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties to pan; cook for 3 minutes. Turn patties, and place pan in oven. Bake at 375° for 8 minutes. Top each patty with 2 tablespoons cheese; bake 1 minute.
  • 5. Layer bottom half of each roll with 2 basil leaves, 1 patty, 1 tablespoon marinara, 2 basil leaves, and roll top.

  • Cooking Light APRIL 2011

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's Good to be Alive

Sunday has become a day of spending lunches with my mom and dad. I love entering the home I grew up in and finding my dad taking care of my mom. He always smiles when we walk in. The noise doubles instantaneously, the house becomes messy in about 5 seconds, and joy fills the house immediately. Sitting in the patio today, with my mom, dad, the kids, Johnny, and Martin, every worry, every problem just faded away. The questions of the why and how will we be able to in life leave my mind, and I in that moment thought, "it's good to be alive."  I look over at my mom who is wearing a new velour sweat outfit my dad got her with jewels covering the top half. She is smiling today because she feels pretty in her new, bejeweled outfit. She is laughing today, and on her own came to the table to be a part of all the commotion  It almost seemed that in this one moment she was with us, enjoying us, enjoying being alive. Next to her Athena with her missing tooth still, is leaning on my mom and chowing down on her sandwich swinging her legs side to sided; not a care in the world for that little girl, it's good to be alive.  Loukas and Zoe laughing and having their own conversations about triangles and the miracle they learned at church today, while Niko is keeping us updated on Sliver-Black-Attack; it's good to be alive. I look over at my dad eating the sandwich he said he wasn't hungry for, and talking over the plans for his cabana with Martin and Johnny and what is holding up the building plans; it's good to be alive.  In that very moment today, I stopped and breathed in as much as I could to remember that there were no worries at this table this afternoon, no stress about tomorrow, no lack of love. And as we drove home the song by Jason Gray, It's Good to be Alive, came on as we all sang together. It's a moment in life that I will hold on to. "I wanna live, like there is no tomorrow, love like I'm on borrowed time, It's good to be alive, yeah."