Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve Preparations

We are not big into New Year's Eve-ery here at the Hollow.  Not that we don't celebrate... we just don't much like going out.  I don't think we are alone in this.  I have been spending some time on and off the last few days reading some of my favorite blogs and it looks like lots of folks like to spend their evening at home, with friends, making delicious food and enjoying delicious drinks.

We are having another couple over and I couldn't be happier.  I am making one of my favorite holiday dishes, Tenderloin Chaucer.  It starts with a two-inch think beef tenderloin medalion for each person.  Yum!  (If you have priced beef tenderloin lately you know why this is a special holiday treat only!)  I am preparing the tenderloin tonight, and then it sits in the fridge overnight until it is ready to bake tomorrow night.  This makes it a perfect dish for New Year's Eve, when you want to be drinking and reminiscing, not slaving in the kitchen.  I will take pics of the prep tonight and post the whole menu and recipes tomorrow.

In addition to our wine and champagne, I am looking for a fun New Year's Eve festive cocktail.  How does this one look?  I found it on one of my all time favorite blogs, Design Sponge, which has a regular feature called Behind the Bar

Here's the recipe:

Honey-Rum Fizz
Makes 2
  • ½ bunch mint leaves
  • ½ lime cut into wedges
  • 6 ounces gold rum
  • 3 ounces honey
  • 1 ½ limes zested and juiced
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups of tonic water

Divide and muddle mint leaves into each glass, with a lime wedge or two, and set aside. Place rum, honey, lime zest and juice into a shaker with ice and shake together. Add the egg whites and continue to shake until the mixture becomes frothy. Pour mixture into the prepared glasses. Add the tonic. Then top each glass off with any remaining froth and serve.

I'll keep you posted...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Comin' Down

Our tree was really beautiful this year.  Perfect size, perfect shape.  The branches were really sturdy and did not droop with heavy ornaments. I admire the people who have coordinating ornaments on their trees; I, however, am not one of those people.  I have every ornament my kids have ever made (noodles and cheerios glued to cardboard cut out stars included), plus every ornament I have ever received as a gift.  It is a beautiful hodge podge of memories, and I love getting my ornaments out every year and taking that trip down memory lane.

Usually, I leave my tree up until New Year's Day.  This year, though, I think she is coming down early.  Like today.  My allergies can't take it.  My nose won't stop running, I have a persistent cough, and my eyes are terribly itchy.  Some of this is because it has been above freezing and I am allergic to all of the molds outside, but I have a feeling a big culprit is the lovely tree.

So goodbye tree...  how lovely are your branches.

Also coming down are the mantle decorations, as they are made of live boughs as well.  Good bye Christmas in the family room.  I will leave the rest of the house decorations up through New Year's.

I have been obsessed with mantle decorating lately.  I look and look for ideas and change my mind all of the time.  Here is my latest obsession...

This is the living room and mantle of one of my favorite bloggers, Nicole, from Me Oh My!  She is so creative and has an incredible sense of style, mixing graphic with traditional.  I think I am going to paint a large chevron striped painting for my mantle.  I am also looking for just the right antler accent.  Perhaps a couple of these from Ballard Designs...

Suzanne Kasler Atelier Antler

I am also obsessing about round mirrors like this one (also on Me Oh My! )...

Or this one from Ballard Designs...

Oversized Sunburst Mirror

The quickly approaching new year brings thoughts of new decorating!  

Thursday, December 22, 2011


This morning the Cute Puppy woke up at 6:00 am.  This is much better than the 3:15 am wakeup the other morning, and her usual 5:00ish on all of the other days of break.  She is used to waking up with me on work days between 5:15 and 5:30 am.  She can't help it.  She is growing so fast and is hungry all the time!  I took her outside to go potty, fed her breakfast, and then we went back upstairs.  She went right in her house and I got right back in bed and slept until 7:00.  Ahhh... much better. 

Since 7:00 am, I have been lost in blogland.  I decided to go through my list of "Creative" blogs, read them all, and decide if there were any to delete.  So far, I am about 2/3 of the way through, I have deleted one, and added two more.  I am also feeling extremely lame and not creative after checking in with some of my most inspiring, favorite creative blog ladies.  While I read, Cute Puppy played happily with her toys.  She makes up lots of games, her favorite being "I am going to hold a big toy in my mouth while I try to pick up my other toys but it's really hard and I can't do it so I try and try."  After about an hour of this game she got bored, so I helped her out.  I put two big dog biscuits inside her Puppy Kong, and for the last 20 minutes she has been trying to chew them out.  Here she is, happily working on her job.

I am currently working on a little knitting project for Christmas.  I can't show it to you yet because it is for someone who reads this blog.  I will take a couple of pictures of it in progress and finished, and share after Christmas. 

While I was happily browsing in blogland, I came across the most cutest little knitting project ever.  I am going to for sure knit a whole flock of these little guys to decorate my house and to give as gifts.  I have always had an obsession with tiny little creatures like this... fairies, elves, and gnomes.  (Remember the gnome craze of the late 70's/early 80's?  Yup, I had that book!)

I am a huge fan of painter, Rien Poortvliet, and I was obsessed over this book for years.  I wonder what happened to it?  Hopefully, it is still on the bookshelf at my mom and dad's house.  I am going there later today to drop off some gifts, so I will definitely have to check for it.
Here is my next craft.  I can't wait to get started!
You can find the free pattern here.  Hopefully, I will be able to show you a picture of my little elves soon!

Resolutions, Plans, and Schemes...

I have already started on my resolutions for 2012.  This happens to me when I have a bit of time off from work, when I spend more time in my house and realize all of the things I let go when I am so consumed with teaching.  I am going to keep it simple again for this year - better chance of success.  Last year my big resolution was to start this blog.  I did not set any posting expectations on the resolution, which took some of the pressure off.  I wish I had posted more, but looking back I think that I did okay.  I am motivated to continue, and so resolution #1 is to post more frequently on my blog.  I don't want to set any quotas (once a week, etc.), my only blog goal for 2012 will be to post more than I did in 2011.

I also had a resolution to read more books.  I love to read.  It is one of the reasons I became an English teacher.  The big irony is, high school English teachers are so busy reading (grading) student work that we have no time to read anything else.  I joined Shelfari two years ago, and I set my goal to read more books in 2011 than I did in 2010.  I think I have beaten my 2010 total by one or two books.  I am hoping to knock one or two more off before the New Year.  Resolution #2 is to again read more books in 2012 than I did in 2011.

A third resolution I had was to exercise more.  I am a generally fit person, blessed with good genes and a racing metabolism; however, I know that this won't last forever.  Also, I know that regular exercise is good for my heart and good for my stress level.  I started walking regularly last summer and listening to audiobooks while I walked.  I joined Audible, and have continued with the audiobooks.  I have listened to seven books on audiobook since last spring.  I have not walked as much now that school started (so sad!), but I am doing better over break.  Cute puppy is big enough now to go for longer walks and she loves my fast pace.  She prances along next to me like a show dog.  I have also continued to listed to audiobooks in the car on the way to work in the morning.  I also take two dance classes during the school year, a tap class and a ballet/jazz combo class (one week ballet, one week jazz).  I love my dance classes and they are good for excercise and for flexibility.  I am hoping to add another class to my weekly routine to up the exercise factor for 2012.  I am thinking yoga.

So, my resolutions for 2012 are:

#1 - Continue blogging - more posts in 2012 than in 2011

#2 - Continue reading - more books in 2012 than in 2011

#3 - Continue exercising - add one more class to my weekly routine and keep up the walks

I am also going to add one more resolution for 2012.  Tackle the paper piles.  Sigh.  This is definitely a HUGE weakness of mine.  I am a horizontal filer.  I set papers in piles EVERYWHERE and it drives me crazy.  There is an awesome article in the January issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine that has inspired me.  I am going to set up a paper command center in my laundry room.  I have an awesome countertop in there that will be perfect for this.  You should see it right now.  I am trying to work up the nerve to actually take a picture of it in all of its glory (chaos) and confess openly to my problem.  Thinking about it...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Shopping

gets me in trouble!  I love Christmas shopping from catalogs.  I am up before dawn with this terribly cute but terribly early-rising puppy, and the only thing to do is shop!  (Well, okay, I could be grading...)  I have been looking through catalogs and browsing online and I have found quite a few gift ideas for people on my list.  I have also found quite a few gift ideas for myself...

I am addicted to a new website/clothing line that I would like to share with you.  It's called Shabby Apple, and I learned about it on another blog I read called Sewing in No Man's Land.  I just ordered a skirt from the Tinsel Town collection and I hope it gets here before next Saturday because the Darling Husband and I have a Christmas party to go to.

A larger-than-life organza peony graces the hemline of the inky black matte satin of the 'Industry' skirt.  Top it with your favorite shell and blazer at the office, then pile on the rhinestones and bangles for a night on the town.

The site has mainly women's clothing and accessories.  It also has some kids and preteens stuff and some very, very cute maternity dresses that my friend Janelle would look adorable in!

Happy shopping!