I'm Back ... with Sweet Treats!


It has been WAY too long, and I have certainly missed reading about all the creative ideas being shared this Christmas season! Fortunately, the project that has kept me tied up since Thanksgiving is complete and I am enjoying the holidays in a major way!! This is by far my favorite time of the year and I absolutely love any opportunity to throw a party. Over the past few days I have been baking my little heart out and have loved every minute of it! Thought I would share a few sweet treats that are not only E-A-S-Y, but a huge hit! I will warn you ... I am not one to follow the directions exactly, so feel free to ask questions :)

Caramel-Chocolate Tartlets from Southern Living at Home

1 (13.4 oz) can of dulce de leche (Nestle)
2 (2.1 oz) packages of frozen mini phyllo pastry shells, thawed (Athens)
1 cup double chocolate morsels or semisweet morsels
1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped, or coarsely chopped pecans, or both

  • Spoon 1 heaping tsp of dulce de leche into each pastry shell. 
  • Microwave chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring twice. 
  • Spoon 1 tsp chocolate over dulce de leche. 
  • Sprinkle tartlets with peanuts or pecans. 
  • Freeze one minute to set chocolate. 
  • Makes 30 tartlets. 

I began by toasting my pastries for about 4 to 5 minutes on 350. This step isn't necessary since they are already cooked, although I prefer my pastries little more crisp. Once out of the oven I used the 1 heaping tsp of dulce de leche, as recommended. What they don't tell you is how STICKY this "sweet milk" is! Try spraying a little bit of Pam on your index finger to scoop the dulce de leche into the shell. Makes the process so much easier, I promise! After scooping into the shell, smooth out to create a full bottom layer. The recipe calls for 1 cup of morsels, where instead I ended up using around 1 1/2 cups to create the top layer (as if more chocolate is EVER a problem!!). The recipe calls for peanuts or pecans, but I decided to spice mine up a little! Since pecans are a staple item during the holidays, I used what I had available. After being chopped, I placed the pecans on aluminum foil and lightly dusted them with Pam and topped with cinnamon. I also had coconut leftover from pumpkin bread I made during the Thanksgiving holidays and toasted it, as well. The directions say to put the tartlets in the freezer for a minute. Because my freezer is FULL and also on the bottom, I placed mine on a baking sheet and left them in the refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes. Works just as well! These sweets are hands down one of the prettiest I have ever made and will be perfect for my cocktail party! See what you think ... 

Another big hit were the Holiday Pretzel Treats from Disney's Family Fun Magazine. I needed something quick to make and easy to package, and this definitely fit the bill. A friend recommended this recipe after seeing it on Pinterest where she used them for school Christmas favors. Note, the Hugs don't take quite as long to melt so you may get the "double bump". (Insert jokes here ... I did!! Hilarious!!) They didn't stay around long for anyone to notice the difference between the regular Kisses and the Hugs, especially since the Hugs were my favorite! Take a look ...

Until next time, have a Merry Christmas! 

Night Owl


I am NOT a morning person! I have tried and tried to convert from my natural, night owl ways but it just won't work! I truly need to wear a sign that says "No Talk 'til 9am"But there are days like today when I wake up early, ideas start to move and there's no stopping that train! So at 4:50AM I was up!! I started a pot of coffee, began straightening up around the house and decided I would start decorating for the holidays ... Thanksgiving that is. I bring out my chic Turkey Day dinnerware and it hits me ... I have only 4 DAYS to use these little pretties and then it's Christmas!! WHERE HAVE I BEEN!?!?! It seems like yesterday sweet, little ghosts and goblins where showing up at my door asking for sugar and now I have missed an entire month of using these Thanksgiving accessories until next year?? Certainly I am not the only one who has felt this time fly??

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I need to regroup and Get in the Expresso Lane ... which is code for figuring out what I am going to wear!!

One of my all time favorite nail colors this season is Get in the Expresso Lane by OPIThis color looks great with just about anything and can bring the simplest of dresses to life! To change it up, top with a sheer metallic like Ulta's GODDESS for a twist on a classic look. Other colors by OPI that will be on my tips and toes this season are:
With parties for both work and friends it is easy to be double-booked! Convert any staple dress, like these from Ann Taylor below, from office attire to an after 5 cocktail party by adding large bangles and earrings that sparkle. Change each look with mod patterned tights such as lace or polka dotsThrow on a colorful pea coat and viola! Each outfit will be perfect for either occasion without compromising style or comfort. If you hurry you can save 40% on everything Ann Taylor by using the code THANKS ... 

With the sun coming up and my coffee almost gone, I will leave you with a few gift ideas or a place to start your wish list ...

from Sephora - $48

from Anthropologie - $8

$18 - $28 each

Be on the look out for new holiday accessories and jewelry by pure grace out later this week!!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Wreaths, wreaths, and more wreaths!


To know me, is to know I L-O-V-E wreaths! (Carrie I know you are nodding in agreement right now!) As I count I have a monogrammed fall wreath on the front door, one hanging by burlap ribbon in my den adorned with pomegranates and striped feathers, and another made of twigs in my bedroom that overlays an old window pane given to me by a friend. 

Wreaths have been around for centuries and depending on the culture have different meanings. Traditionally wreaths are made of fruit, leaves, twigs, and vines. In the Greek and Roman cultures wreaths are used to symbolize rank, status, or achievements such was the Olympic Games where the laurel wreath originated. For Christians, wreaths symbolize the coming of Christ and preparation of the Advent season. 

With the Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, I am certain to come up with a new idea to add to the collection. As I looked for inspiration I found several beautiful ideas from Martha Stewart that can easily be created for your entry way, or a cookie wreath that can be made with children to hang in the kitchen or mud room with other artwork! A wreath I have been dying to have for my dining room is the lacquer magnolia wreath from The Magnolia Company. I can't decide between white, pumpkin, gold rush or silver bells. Decisions, decisions! See what you think ...

 Happy Monday ... Get to creating!

Remembering Pure Innocence


My thoughts have been here for weeks, my heart heavy laden for a friend and family that long to be reunited with an angel, their angel. On November 6, 2010, my dear friend Kristin, husband Cannon and their son Parrish lost their precious baby girl, Olivia Charles Prickett, to SIDS. As a friend, I can in no way understand their pain or know what day-to-day life means for them and the obstacles they face. My memories of this tragedy are vivid and over time do not seem to fade.  It's times like these where you struggle to find the words to express your deep sorrow and you want so badly to take their pain away. Even still I struggled to know what they would need in the way of prayers because I felt they needed everything our Lord could provide and more. I remember asking the Lord to shelter and comfort them during this unimaginable time, filing the hole in their hearts with only His perfect love. Without doubt my prayers were answered and God continues to watch over this sweet family. I have witnessed the Lord work through Kristin and Cannon and their foundation to not only help them survive their own tragedy, but to help other families cope with pain, suffering and loss similar to theirs.

For those who knew Olivia, her contagious smile was complimented by a laugh that brought joy to anyone in her presence. Today, her light lives on and touches the lives of many through the her parent's faith and God's pure grace. I ask that you please continue to pray for The Pricketts during this difficult time and especially the holiday season.

Psalm 119:28 “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Psalm 119:41 “May your unfailing love come to me, LORD, your salvation, according to your promise.”

Psalm 119:50 “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

Remembering Olivia, 

One Unexpected Journey


I just love when you start the weekend with no real plans and you find yourself in a place like this! Saturday was an exceptionally gorgeous day here in Birmingham, with the temperatures in the 50's and a cool crisp air. Whenever I am asked "What is your favorite season?", my reply has always been "any season that isn't an extreme!" Spring and Fall are absolutely beautiful in the south, but Fall is especially a favorite and it is easy to see why. When rounding the corner onto this peaceful road I immediately said "I need a picture of this" (for those of you who know my Father - it seems that I have become him in that statement!!).

For years, my idea dream house would always have a road like this as a driveway. There is something about the color of the leaves, the trees and the beautiful canopy that they create. Who wouldn't want to come home to something like this? Life is full of winding roads, all leading to one unexpected journey. Capturing this picture brings me to passages such as these. 

"Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Psalm 25:5

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the paths for his name's sake. Even though I will walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:1-4

Happy Monday ... 

One thing is certain ...


... I WANT TO BE IN COLLEGE AGAIN!! There is something great about being an Auburn Tiger, but this weekend was extra special for so many reasons! Our 10 year Pledge Class Reunion in the new Willow Hall Chapter Room was a hit (or should I say hoot) for owls both young and old. The Chapter Room, Owl's Hollow and dorm rooms were definitely a sight to see, bringing back memories of Hollifield Hall, Bid Day and much much more. It was great seeing good friends, baby hoots and laughing about old times. But, the trip would not have been complete without a celebratory cheers of the Loving Cup by Beth and Anne!!! A big thanks to Rebecca for organizing our tailgate and for coordinating a tour of the new Chi O Dorm. We certainly don't need to wait another 10 years before we get back together again! A few pictures from Saturday ... I hope you enjoy ...