Happy New Years!

This year…

…do what you’ve always said you can’t…

…live the life you have been imagining…

…dream a little more…

…laugh a little harder…

…always greet a stranger with a smile…

…don’t let fear stand in your way…

…make amends…

…give away more than you get…

…don’t let them bring you down…

…make the choice to turn this into the most amazing year of your life (so far)!


Here’s wishing you all the best as we enter the new year!

2011 Recap

If you had asked me a few weeks ago if I accomplished a lot this year, I would have said no. Thank goodness for the blog or I wouldn’t have remembered half of what I completed. Overall I would say that 2011 was a ramp up year. It wasn’t out of this world great, it wasn’t bad in the least. It felt like a year of growth, one in which I got back on track. I still have a long way to go, but I’m okay with that, because I’m back to enjoying the journey.

There were a few things I remember happening before the blog started, the best were:

  • My company finally started raises again after a 4 year break. I received both a raise and a compensation increase based on additional work I took on in 2010. Along with some money I got back from buying the house, I finally achieved a level of financial security that I had never know. I’m not my any means rich, but I have an emergency fund which has been such a relief. Prior to buying the house, there were times when I had to check my credit card balances to see if I could afford groceries. Things were tight.
  • I scored $62 roundtrip tickets from San Diego to Boston and visited 6 states for the first time. We hit Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, and Rhode Island. My favorite: Boston…hands down! I never did a formal recap from the trip, but you can see some pictures on my Flickr feed here, or here.  (Still updating both of those sets)
  • I celebrated my one year anniversary of buying my first home, and celebrated by 29th birthday.



Oil Rubbed Bronze Door Knobs, White Interior Doors      IMG_1253

In July I started this little blog and welcomed you to my journey in finally taking action to start living a life I loved. That first month was a little rough as I tried to figure out my blog voice. I recapped my first trip to Boston  and shared how I scored a Roundtrip ticket from San Diego to Boston for only $62. I bought my first BBQ, hosted the first BBQ in my new home, and purchased my first grown up bed frame in the past 5 years. Later in the month I chopped off 20 inches of hair and donated it to Locks of Love, shared how I’m tackling my debt, and how I save money couponing at Target. I also painted the brass hardware in my bedroom bronze, permanently relieving the brass headache that I had for over a year.



IMG_1400 Inspiration Boards, Look Books

Paint Chip Key Chain, Keychain 

Pottery Barn Knock Off - Bar


I went a little MIA at the start of August, but picked back up with the reveal of my French Door Makeover. I showed you my style of art by creating a custom art inspiration board for the dining room, and shared how I store all the art supplies. I tried my hand at my first Pinterest inspired project by creating a paint chip keychain and closed out the month by sharing the Pottery Barn Bar Knock Off that my dad helped me build. The PB bar knock off was my first feature and I welcomed a bunch of new visitors.



Powder Room - After  Twine Dispenser

Dark Cork Bulletin Boards  Homemade Mod Podge

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

September was a big month for the blog and the first month where I dove head first into this crazy world, loving every minute of it along the way. I started the month by sharing my Powder Room Reveal, creating a fun Twine Dispenser, and repurposed two framed peg boards into bulletin boards. I also shared the training plan for running my first 10K. Later in the month I removed a sticker from my washing machine, which was much more work than I every thought; and started the fireplace remodel by painting the fire place screen (3 cheers for no more brass!). I made a trip out to (my now favorite) local vintage shop and after seeing so many of my childhood toys, quietly mourned the loss of my youth. My parents and I had a blast making our first trip Apple Picking at a local orchard and plan on going back next year. Near the end of the month I shared how to make Homemade Mod Podge, a very cool Mason Jar Match holder, and how I was planting grass on concrete in my backyard.


September also marked the return of my love for cooking and I shared some great recipes: 5 Ingredient Fish Tacos, Roasted Parmesan Tomatoes, Polenta Gratin with Mushrooms & Fontina, Dark Chocolate No Bake Cookies, and Baked Ziti Marsala.  



     CrockPot Apple Butter

Nail Challange

Front Door Post

I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween but I tried to embrace it a bit this year with some holiday inspired crafts like the Mummy Pumpkin and the Glitter Skull. I showed you my finished Laundry Room, and turned those apples we picked in September into delicious Crockpot Apple Butter.  I attempted to bring some organization into my life, took steps to break my nail biting habit, and finally hit my stride with 10K training. I also shared how I finished the backyard grass planters and installed sprinklers!  I tried my hand at making homemade White Cheddar Pesto Pizza, Pumpkin Spiced Almond Butter, and freezable Sausage & Egg Muffins.  I finally found Fall and welcomed Autumn with open arms with a visit to the biggest Pumpkin Patch I’ve ever seen.

During the month I also found a way to slip proof a kitchen rug, use Candy Corn as a vase filler, turned a hurricane into a kitchen utensil holder, built a front door sign post and painted a cute Halloween sign to hang from the new post.

It was a crazy productive month!



Thermostat Frame

DSC03195  Black Friday Fuel

San Diego Marina

November brought one of my favorite projects so far, the Thermostat Chalkboard Frame!  I shared my finished Spare Bathroom, spent time shopping with my Mom, and started dancing again.  I launched a Tumblr site, crushed the 10K, and shared my love for an old fashioned Thank You note. I made progress on the fireplace remodel by removing the old tile, installed a kitchen ledge,  and created a fall inspired yarn sign for the front door post.


Thanksgiving was lot of fun and my Mom and I continued out yearly tradition on Black Friday. I also got to spend time with my best friend and watch a beautiful sunset in San Diego. At the end of the month, with your help we raised $140 dollars for Toys for Tots during the Penny Campaign (which will be back again next year). Thank You!



Ribbon Filled Holiday Ornament Sequin Holiday Ornament No Mess Glitter Ornament Glitter Stripe Ornament

Sequin & Lace Holiday Ornament Felt Tree Ornament Raised Word Ornament Marbling Ornament

Dining Room Moulding - FAV

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee  Holiday Foodie 2011

Whoa, December was busy and most of the month was dedicated to the 18 DIY Holiday Ornament Project. In between ornaments, I participated in a Blogger Cookie Swap, created an easy JOY holiday yarn sign, and finished the moulding in the dining room.  There was incredible progress on the fireplace mantle which allowed me to hang stocking for the first time in this house. Later in the month I guest posted a fun holiday craft over at Dear Creatives, and hosted Christmas dinner at my house, including some amazing Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee. I also hurt my back on Christmas Eve, shared a personal epiphany, and prepared to welcome the new year.

It’s been a good year and I can’t wait to ring in 2012 tonight. I’m looking forward to all the great things I have planned for the next 12 months!

I’m Feeling Inspired – New Years Eve

Source: oncewed.com via Whitney on Pinterest

Source: weheartit.com via Amanda on Pinterest

Source: escapadeblog.com via Jen on Pinterest

A Serious Moment…

Warning: This involves no crafts, DIY tutorial, or pictures. It is a wordy reflection on my recent back injury and a resulting epiphany. I hesitated even posting something so personal and somewhat ‘TMI’, but it’s a part of my life that I wanted to share because it affected me so deeply. However, I am in no way offended if you skip reading this post and wait for something lighter (I have a New Years inspired post that will be up shortly).


I’ve been through a huge range of emotions this week, beginning with when I hurt my back on Christmas Eve. I can’t fully explain how hurting my back has given me such perspective, but I’d like to try since it has such a bearing on where I’m emotionally headed with this whole ‘Changing My Destiny’ journey (in between my crafty/DIY moments).

At 9am on 12/24, I turned wrong while making toffee, and pain shot through my back and leg. It’s nothing too serious and has been getting better day by day, but at that moment everything stopped. Since Saturday morning, I haven’t been able to walk, sit or sleep comfortably. The simplest things are difficult. You would think that I would be angry/frustrated, and there are moments for that, but for the most part I’ve actually been grateful (I’ll explain more in a bit). I’ve had injuries in the past; I had my gallbladder removed at 14, was hit by a car at 15, and struggled through 2nd degree burns on my shoulders from a severe sunburn in my early 20s. However, I’ve never had my mobility really taken from me like it was this past week. For the most part I’ve dealt with it, icing and resting as much as possible…but there were two distinct times where I grabbed the phone to dial 911. Actually, I would have probably dialed my Mom first, who would have told me to dial 911 after hearing me cry in pain.

The first time was the day it happened. After about an hour of trying to figure out what I did, I laid on the floor since standing was getting uncomfortable. 15 minutes later I was feeling pretty good and decided to get back up and get some ice for my back. I haven’t felt pain that bad since I had my first gallbladder attack. (Gallbladder attack pain, I’m told, can rival natural childbirth. I don’t have kids, but to be honest, I’m not worried about the pain after having multiple gallbladder attacks…those things are awful) From the laying position, It took me nearly 30 minutes to get myself to my hands and knees. At which point I realized I couldn’t stand up on my own, so it took me another 10 to crawl over to the couch which I used to help me get up. I had my phone with me the whole time and nearly called for help several times. (I’ve also assured my Mom that my cell phone is to be glued to my hand until I’m completely healed, just in case).

The second time was after I went to bed on Christmas night at about 1:30am. I had been doing pretty well all day and thought I might be on the mend, I was so wrong. I normally sleep on my side and so I went to bed in my normal position, on my right side facing the center of the bed. I fell asleep for about 3 hours, when I woke up and had to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. Since I was lying on my right, that meant I had to roll over to my left and then sit up to get out of bed. Sounds easy, right? Looking back I had probably aggravated the injury by all the walking, standing and cooking I did on Christmas day, because I could not move to get out of bed. I wish I could have taken my time, but let’s just say I REALLY HAD to get up. (I’m trying not to get too ‘TMI’ here) So I tried to sit up and a stab of searing pain shot through me, bringing me to tears. This woke up my dog who comes to my rescue any time I cry. So he immediately walked over to me and curled up by my chest and started licking my hands and face. I tried moving my legs, just enough to see what I could do and every movement causes streaks of pain and I was all out crying now as I had realized that I could not move without the pain, but I had to get up. I felt helpless, a bit scared and embarrassed that I might have to call 911 to help me get out of bed (note to self: wear nicer PJs when in pain…actually wear nicer PJs always, just in case).

I made it out of bed, using the wall and bed frame to balance me, along with willpower that I didn’t even know I had in me. It all sounds so dramatic when I think about the fact that it’s all about a tweaked back, but at that moment I was broken. I made it to the bathroom and sat down; still crying because sitting was incredibly painful at that point. It took me another 10 minutes to work up the courage to try standing again which was a little easier now. I made it back to my bed and sat on the edge, unsure of what to do. I was afraid to lie down, but I was so tired. It had taken so much energy out of me just to walk to the bathroom that my body was literally shaking and exhausted. For some perspective, my bathroom is not down a hall or on another floor…it’s less than 15 feet from my bed. I gently lay down on my left side this time and fell asleep.

It’s been 4 days since that night and things have gotten so much better. I’m currently on day 6 of the injury and I can move around near normal. My back is tight and feels sore but I’m not getting the pain like earlier in the week. I was even able to take my dog out today for a short walk; although it physically wore me out and I had to rest both my back and my pride afterwards. Was it not only several weeks back where I finished a 10K, and now I’m completely exhausted from taking my dog out for a 20 minute walk? I know it’s the back, I know it will slowly get better over the next few days, but mentally, it’s draining.

It’s frustrating when you can’t move and I had all these plans since I have days off of work for the holidays; however, instead of cleaning, organizing, cooking, crafting, working out, and playing with Bubba…I’ve been sitting, standing, or laying down for almost a week straight now. Knowing that I’m getting better just brings on the frustration because I want to move NOW, my body is itching to just move, but I can’t yet.

Want to hear the crazy part? (…and the main reason why I’m sharing these very personal details about me…)

Aside from the pain and moments of frustration, I’ve been feeling grateful. The fact that I’ve come to a grand epiphany right as we close out 2011 and enter a new year, isn’t lost on me. I’m sure that it has something to do with how I’m processing this event. But ever since the injury originally occurred, I’ve been trying to understand why I’m actually smiling about it…and have been since the beginning.

I think this experience has a lot to teach me, but here’s what I’ve got so far…


It slowed me down. I’ve gotten very little done around the house. Dishes are piling up because leaning over the sink hurts, dog toys are scattered around the floor because I can’t bend over to pick them up, I’ve had to take a unexpected break from crafting, DIY and daily posting on the blog. It forced me to stop and reflect on what I was doing. I had to pick out the most important thing and focus on completing a single task, because I couldn’t physically do it all.

I had Monday, the 26th, off from work for the holiday. It took me several hours to get ready to drive to Target because I had to buy dog food or else Bubba would have nothing to eat on Tuesday. I had originally planned several errands & projects for Monday, but really the only important thing was my pup, and making sure he had food. I made it to Target, got his food, came home, and took a nap.


It gave me time to reflect. I’ve had lots of time to reflect on this past year and the goals that I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. Even though I haven’t gotten anything done this week, I’ve come up with a pretty amazing plan for the coming months. As soon as I can move again, I’m going to hit the ground running. This includes long term plans on where I want my life to go from here and ways in which I really can ‘change my destiny’.


I’m humbled. When I stated above that I’m grateful, I meant it in every sense of the word. This pain is temporary for me, I know that in a few more days I’ll be able to go back to my life and dance again, walk again, run again, painlessly climb up and down the stairs, and take my dog for long walks again. The physical pain is temporary and for that I am so grateful. I’m humbled by thinking how lucky I am to being dealing with temporary pain and strong I am deep down. I don’t think I’ve given myself half a chance all these years, and I’m learning that I’m emotionally/mentally/physically stronger than even I know. In the scheme of life, this is a small bump in the road for me, but it’s really shifted my outlook to appreciate all I have and all I’m capable of. It reinforced the fact that everyone is fighting a harder battle and I’m grateful to be able to heal fully from this injury while I know others are dealing with so much more.


My tweaked back was life changing or me because it put things into perspective. At any moment all the things you thought you knew can be taken away. At a single moment while making toffee on Christmas Eve, I temporarily lost my ability to walk and move in general. The time the injury gave me to reflect has changed a lot in my eyes. It makes me want to be a better, stronger, and more authentic person going forward. It was the epiphany that I’ve been looking for all these years and couldn’t find.

Being forced to sit and taking the time to reflect led me to reading this article and watching the amazing videos made by Ben Breedlove, a name I will never forget. This young man, of only 18 years, changed my life tonight. He has left this world with such a gift. Beyond that, I’m unable to articulate, other than to whisper a heartfelt, tear filled…THANK YOU!

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

I’ve always thought that Toffee was a complicated treat. The buttery crisps always boggled my mind and I often left it to the professionals. However, toffee is one of those desserts that is very simple and tastes amazing. It also lends itself to an incredible array of options. You could change the types of chocolate, change the type of nuts, or go au natural and skip the toppings all together.

I love this stuff; although, my teeth appreciate it if I only torture them once every 12 months. So I will likely only make this during the holidays.

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

2 Cups Unsalted Butter

2 Cups White Sugar

1 teaspoon Salt

10 oz Dark Chocolate Chips

3/4 Cup Pistachio Nuts, Chopped

  • Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
  • In a heavy bottom stock pan, melt the Butter and Sugar over medium heat. The first batch I did separated and was ruined. I stirred constantly during the second batch to ensure that the sugar and butter did not separate.
  • Using a Candy Thermometer, continue cooking the butter/sugar mix until the temperature hits 285 degrees and is a dark amber color.
  • Once the candy hits the right temperature, turn off the heat and CAREFULLY pour onto the lined baking sheet.
  • While the toffee cools, chop the pistachios into pieces. It’s best if you chop them unevenly as it works great to have a mix of fine powder and large chunks. Now is also a good time to melt the chocolate over a double boiler.
  • Once the toffee is room temperature, blot any oil/butter residue off the top with a paper towel, or lint free towel. This will ensure that the chocolate sticks to the toffee.
  • Pour the chocolate on top of the the toffee and spread to cover. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the pistachios over the top. I used a spatula sprayed with cooking spray to softly pat the nuts into the chocolate to ensure they didn’t fall off.
  • Once the chocolate is set, you can break the toffee into pieces. It makes a great dessert for company (or for yourself) and it wraps up well in case you want to give a batch as a gift.

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee



Linking To: Craft-O-ManiacThe Girl CreativeEverything Under the MoonGinger Snap CraftsBlue Cricket DesignVery Merry Vintage StyleSavvy Southern StyleThe Shabby Creek CottageBeyond The Picket FenceThe Artsy Girl Connection, The Crafty NestAddicted 2 DecoratingThe Shabby NestDear CreativesOhh Baby! Designs, The Not So Functional Housewife, Funky Junk InteriorsPositively Splendid

Holiday Food Wrap-Up

Yesterday was a lot of fun and there was plenty of great food. However, I only took pictures of the appetizers because they were by far my favorite. I also made some dark chocolate pistachio toffee for dessert. It’s addictive and I’ll be sharing that recipe in a separate post sometime in the next week.

S’mores Marshmallow Pops

Holiday Foodie 2011

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Sugared Cranberries & Dark Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti in the background (I’ll share this recipe later as well)

Holiday Foodie 2011

Toffee fixin’s

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

Chocolate Fruit Skewers

Holiday Foodie 2011

Holiday Foodie 2011

Blueberry Gingerbread

Blueberry Gingerbread

Balsamic Almonds

Balsamic Almonds

Holy Goodness!

Holiday Foodie 2011

Holiday Foodie 2011

For the decor I used my vintage blue ball jars, pinecones and Christmas lights. I absolutely loved them and am trying to figure out how to leave them all year long.

Holiday Appetizer Decor 2011


I don’t have any pictures right now, but as a DIY junkie I got the best gifts ever this year, a workbench for my garage and some tools. I can’t wait to set them up and starting sawing things in half, oh yeah!

Aside from the frustrating back injury, it was a great day and we all had a wonderful time.

What was the best part of your celebration this year?

Happy Holidays!

I’m currently hobbling around the house with a ridiculously painful back injury from yesterday morning. Christmas baking, it’s dangerous I tell you! However, I’m determined to make this Christmas dinner amazing. Luckily my parents will be over in a bit to help with all the heaving lifting so things are bound to get better.

In the meantime, I wanted to stop by and wish everyone an amazing holiday. Whatever you are celebrating, I hope it is special and full of magic.


Guest Post at Dear Creatives: Repurpose Old Ornaments

Hello all!

I know everyone is knee deep in holiday plans, spending time with family, or finishing up your last day at work before Santa crawls down your chimney. I promise not to bombard you with posts over the next few days; however, I am honored to be guest posting a great tutorial over at Dear Creatives today, and I hope you’ll check it out.

BONUS: It will give you some ideas to repurpose old ornaments you may have lying around after the holiday.

If you found your way here from the tutorial, WELCOME & Happy Holidays!

Snowflake Magnets/Pins

DIY Snowflake Magnets


DIY Snowflake Gift Tag




Christmas Dinner Menu

This year I am hosting Christmas Dinner at my house and I’ve decided to try something new. I have planned for several new recipes and it will be more of a small plates meal. Lots of items cooked in small quantities so we can try everything without being too stuffed. Oh, let’s face it…we’ll never want to eat again..but it will be worth it!



Small Bites

Sweet & Spicy Hot Links

Artichoke Dip

Balsamic Almonds

S’more Pops

Chocolate Dipped Fruit



Roasted Turkey Breast

Mom’s Cranberries

Sweet Potato Marshmallow Gratin

Mashed Potatoes w/ Shallots & Thyme

Honey Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts

Sourdough Sausage Stuffing

Homemade Biscuits




Dark Chocolate Toffee

Apple Tart & Vanilla Bean Gelato


Photo Source

DIY Christmas Ornament 18: Paint Dipped Pinecones

I’m not sure why I leaved my favorite ornaments for last, but this is by far one of my favorites. The greatest thing about dipping pinecones in paint is that they aren’t limited to being Christmas ornaments. I can actually keep these out year round since I’ve used soft natural colors. I expect these will end up in vases and bowls throughout the house for the next 12 months.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • Pinecones
  • Push Pin
  • Basic Wire Ornament Hanger
  • Various Cans of House Paint
  • Paint Stir Sticks
  • Nail/Hammer
  • Paint Tray
  • Ribbon

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 2:

Using a push pin, make a hole in the pinecone.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Thread a wire ornament hanger through the hole you just made.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 3:

Set up a paint station.

Using a nail and hammer, put several holes near the sides of the paint sticks. Balance them across the paint cans. Set a paint tray underneath the paint stick to catch any paint that drips from the pinecones.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 4:

Hold onto the wire hanger and dip the pinecone into the can of paint.

Tip: Use a soft brush or towel to brush any dirt off the pinecone before dipping it. This will minimize any stray dirt that gets into the can of paint.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Be sure to dip the pinecone slowly, holding it over the paint can for a few moments to let it drain a bit.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 5:

Hang the pinecone from the holes you put in the stir stick.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Step 6:

Continue dipping all the pinecones in the paint and hang to dry.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Paint Dipped Pinecones

Step 7:

Allow the pinecones to drain/dry for at least 24 hours.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Paint Dipped Pinecones

Paint Dipped Pinecones

Step 8:

For those that you want to hang from the tree, use the hanger that is already hooked into the pinecone. For decoration, add a bow or ribbon around the hanger.

For all the rest, remove the hanger and decorate anywhere you like. The possibilities are endless.

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Paint Dipped Pinecone

Paint Dipped Pinecones

Project Cost Breakdown (per Ornament):

Pinecones (Found – Already Owned) = $0

Push Pin (Already Owned) = $0

Basic Wire Ornament Hanger (Already Owned) = $0

Various Cans of House Paint (Already Owned) = $0

Paint Stir Sticks (Already Owned/Free from Lowes) = $0

Nail/Hammer (Already Owned) = $0

Paint Tray (Already Owned) = $0

Ribbon (Already Owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $0


I know that I originally said I would complete 20 ornaments; however this will be the last one of the series for this year. I have more ornaments than my little 3 foot tree will hold; and that least two will not be dry enough to share over the next few days. I hope you enjoyed the series, it’s been a blast to share it with you. If you missed any of the DIY Ornaments this year, you can see a full collection recap here.