Let the Celebrating Commence...

...because yesterday marked the start of Leslie's 25th Birthday Celebration Week. Yes, the day of my birth is typically marked every year by a week-long celebration, thanks to my crazy/awesome friends...really ya'll, this could be the next national holiday.

FYI- My b-day is this Thursday, Dec. 3rd and if you can't tell, I'm pretty pumped.

So...in keeping with the birthday topic, I thought I'd share this gorgeous blue/gold birthday party theme from Lollipop Events & Design's website.

I've blogged about this site before, but really, if you guys haven't checked them out, you so should.

Have a fabulous Monday everyone (yes, there really is such a thing!)



Show Us Your Life: Traditions

I hope everyone had a great Turkey Day and were able to spend some quality time with your friends and families. I'll be posting some pics later today of my own family's special Thanksgiving day : )

This Friday's edition of Show Us Your Life, hosted by Kelly's Korner, is all about sharing your holiday traditions!

Every year, my mom and I put up the Christmas tree at my parents' house on my birthday, December 3. (Yes, that's next week, if you'd like to send my birthday gifts in advance : ) We've been doing this for years, and I so look forward to it.

We also hang our stockings, of course! Since I was a "Christmas baby", (born in December), they sent a stocking home with me from the hospital when I was born. I still have the same one today!

We usually have a certain theme for the tree...for instance, one year we may do a gold/red theme and the next year we might do a tree in all silver ornaments. It's so fun to think of new ideas!

I've had my own place for a couple of years now, so I've kind of formed new traditions for myself. I usually make a cup of hot cocoa or mulled wine, watch "Elf" (my fave holiday movie) and bust out the boxes of Christmas decor! I know someday when I have my own family, I'll look back on these days of decorating my little apartment and smile : )

I had mulled wine for the first time in Austria 2 years ago and loved it. It's so delicious and such a festive holiday treat....

I'm actually thinking of starting a new tradition this year and doing something like this on my bedroom wall. For all you guys with apartments or small houses, check out Apartment Therapy. They give tips on decorating for small spaces!

On Christmas day, my Memaw and Papaw (my dad's parents), come over and watch my mom, dad, brother and I open presents. Then my Memaw cooks her traditional, famous Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits!

Chocolate Gravy is a traditional food from the deep-south that my Memaw has perfected over the years. It is our "official" Christmas morning breakfast!

So what are your holiday traditions? Join in the fun on Kelly's Korner today and share yours!

P.S.- I received some reader emails inquiring about the recipe for chocolate gravy, which I'd be more than happy to share! Here goes:

1/2-3/4 cup granulated sugar (to taste)
1/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
7 Tablespoons of white, all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (whole or 2% works best)
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, egg and a bit of the milk in a separate bowl. Set aside.
In a pan sprayed with Pam, heat the milk until warm. Turn on medium heat. Transfer the flour and egg mixture to the saucepan.

Keep stirring as it thickens, so it won't stick or burn; reduce heat as necessary.
When it reaches a pudding-like consistency, remove from heat.
Stir in vanilla.

Gravy thickens slightly when removed from heat.
This is best prepared using an electric mixer or hand blender to help avoid any lumps.


Trend Watch Wednesday: Be a Gem

Happy Day-Before-Thanksgiving ya'll!

As you probably know, jewel tones are definitely hot this season! I mean, just take a look around you in any department store or boutique and you'll see what I'm talking about.

From fashion to home decor, shades of plum, teal, navy and deep, ruby red are filling the shelves.

Below, you'll find some of my favorite jewel-toned pieces:

Trousers by Jeni Kayne, top by Nanette Lepore

Both of these lovely wine-colored dresses are from Alice & Olivia. Love them!

Dress from Mason by Michelle Mason

Navy dress comes courtesy of Marc Jacobs and the teal dress is the genius of Shoshanna.

Metal heeled stillettos by Barbara Bui, stacked heel in plum by Pelle Moda

Hobo-inspired bag by Marc Jacobs

Couch and throw pillows by Urban Outfitters
Candle holders and mini table tree from Target.com

Do you have a passion for purple? A crush on crimson? What jewel-toned pieces have you picked up this season?
Images courtesy of Shop Bop, Target and Urban Outfitters.


Who Needs Hansel...

...when you've got Gretel?

I've seen Gretel mentioned on several different websites and magazines, so I knew it was only a matter of time before I did a post on it.

Gretel is just what they claim to be: pretty, modern design.

So what is Gretel? Well, it's an online store that features decorative items (think plates, cups, candle sticks, pillows and more) from a variety of talented, modern designers like Muuto and lacoli & McAllister.

Best of all, buying from Gretel won't break the bank. With prices on items ranging from $18-$120, their featured pieces are both functional, artistic and perfect for the average person on an average budget.

So, if you're still looking for the perfect gift for the art deco fan in your life, look no further than Gretel!


And Everything In Its Place

Using placecards at your Thanksgiving table can really up the "wow" factor of your meal presentation. There are so many different styles and variations, so it shouldn't be hard to create one to go along with your tablescape.

All the placecards below can be created for $20 or less for a batch of 12! So instead of spending a fortune on pricey, boutique placecards, save cash, create your own and look even more stylish.

Visit marthastewart.com to learn how to replicate each of these.

Simple Green Pear Placecard

Sweet-Gum Tree Ball

Pinecone Turkey

Gold Pumpkin

Classic Leaf

Chocolate Bar

Metallic Basketweave Print

All images courtesy of Martha Stewart.


Sparkle and Shine Giveaway

One of my favorite things to do is to give gifts! I love the process of finding the perfect gift for each of my friends and family members. So of course this means that I'll be doing several giveaways this holiday season, all in the spirit of Christmas.

To kick off the holidays, I thought I'd do an ornament giveaway!

From now until December 3, 2009, you can register to win 1 of any of the following ornaments from Pottery Barn! Click here to get closer views of the ornaments, or just refer to the chart below.

From left to right, top to bottom:

Twig Reindeer, Peppermint Sphere, Silver Reindeer, Beaded Snowflake, Mercury Star, Tin (Angel, Dove or Star), Rustic Bell, Glass Peace Sign, Thick Glitter Peace Sign, Thin Glitter Peace Sign, Bird of Peace or the Monogrammable Glass Ball

Here's how to enter:

1. Leave a comment and tell me which ornament you like best- 1 entry

2. Become a follower or let me know you already follow- 1 entry

3. Refer a friend and let me know you referred them- 2 entries

4. Post the giveaway button on your side nav- 3 entries

5. Blog about the giveaway in a post and let me know- 3 entries

All entries must be received by midnight on Thursday, December 3, 2009 (which also happens to be my b-day!)

Tis the season to give, ya'll!


Surviving the Holidays: Thanksgiving Tablescapes

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is setting a beautiful table. True, it will be demolished within about 3 seconds once dinner starts, but your guests will be so impressed with your handiwork. Even if you aren't a budding Martha Stewart (and let's face it, many of us aren't), you can still create an eye-catching tablescape.

Here are some lovely ideas for turning your Thanksgiving table into a piece of art:

Autumn Spice Tablescape

This tablescape features burnt reds, oranges and chocolate browns. Many of the supplies needed for this scape, such as the cinnamon sticks and white charger plates, can be purchased at stores like Walmart, Hobby Lobby and Michael's.

Contempo Tablescape- Warm Colors

Isn't this just adorable? The leaf print and bold fall hues of this scape really put me in the Thanksgiving mood. The square dishes can actually be purchased at Target (I saw them last night!) and the tablecloth could be replicated with any leaf-print fabric.

Contempo Tablescape- Cool Colors

This is definitely a more understated approach to the Thanksgiving tablescape and could actually be used throughout Christmas, thanks to the sage greens and steely grays in the color palette.

Arabesque Tablescape

How fun is this? And don't you just love the purple/burnt orange color combo? Similar placemats in a plethora of fall colors can be found at stores like Kirkland's or Pottery Barn. And the idea of using a simple pear as a placecard holder is so precious!

Persimmon Tablescape

I'll be honest, at first, I thought this tablescape was dreary and kind of spartan-looking. But I think if you added more pops of red or orange, this would be a home run. And, my mom totally owns those forks in that photo!

So there you have it. Some nifty ideas that will hopefully inspire you to create a Thanksgiving tablescape.

Do you have any plans to decorate your table this year? Which of the schemes above is your favorite?
Photo credits: Hostess with the Mostess, Simply Stated, Real Simple and Celebrations