Thursday, December 27, 2012

The best posts of 2012 {and some you may have missed}

Hi friends!

As 2012 is wrapping up {where has the time gone?} I'd like to share some of my favorite and most popular posts to date and some you might have missed. I'm hoping to really reinvest some time into blogging in the new year, so there will be more pretty things to come in 2013!

Enjoy this roundup of some of my favorites in different categories.


1. World map wall collage and travel-inspired bedroom
2. TV on a Brick Fireplace: A white-washed mantle makeover
3. Shabby Chic Lampshade makeover tutorial


1. Rustic woodsy cupcake table display how to
2. Rustic ranch wedding details and decor


 1. Our trip to the 2012 London Olympics!!
2. Airstream Dreams
3. Warrenton Round Top Antique Days

 1. Shine Bright Like a Diamond Printable
2. Travel-inspired world map printable

What a great year! Thank you for reading and sharing in this journey with me. This year we bought our first home, won the trip of a lifetime to the Olympics, I started graduate school, and I shared lots of the details that make our house a home and the moments shared with special friends along the way. I am completely and thoroughly blessed.

I'm excited for what 2013 holds and excited for the changes I'm actively pursuing to make my life even better. Dreams are turning into plans and plans into actions. Can't wait to share what's up my sleeve. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

InstaChristmas at the Ranch

Hi friends!

I'm back after a wonderful country Christmas at the ranch! Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

< The most incredible sunset outside the back porch of the barn. Makes you feel blessed to have such a beautiful place right outside your door.

1. Yummy wassail with red hots! 2. Cut down our own sweet little Christmas tree. It fit perfectly in an old washing machine drum. 3. Lola is exhausted after we worked on scrubbing the rustic wood in the barn. The remodel is going great! 4. Grandma's egg nog in sweet vintage glasses. Cheers! 5. A shot of my bracelet collection on the way to Brenham for some Christmas Eve shoppng downtown. 6. The most AMAZING Cajun "fried" turkey from an oil-less fryer. I am spoiled was the best I've ever had!

I'm back home enjoying this chilly weather and getting my life organized for the new year. I have a lot of BIG plans, so I'm excited to work on those and have some time off this week to myself to clean and watch chick flicks all day long. Long overdue ME time...Hallelujah!

Hope your Christmas was wonderful!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas {from our home to yours}

Aww our first Christmas in our little home! It was quite a feat to get this shot without our wiggle worm dog children. (They were scared of the lights!) I love our little tree with burlap trimming and the galvanized tin from our wedding as the base. (P.S. I "antiqued" it with salt & vinegar and it took out the shine. Looked old, rustic and perfect!)

We'll be spending some time at The Ranch for the next few days, having a good old-fashioned farmstyle holiday with my fabulous in-laws. The barn remodel is about halfway done, and the rustic bungalow is coming together nicely! Can't wait to share pictures. Now, to help my MIL decorate it. What a dream!

I hope your holiday is full of love and laughter with those nearest and dearest to your heart.

See you next week!



Friday, December 21, 2012

Burlap bubble wreath {Pinned it, made it}

Well friends, Christmas is right around the corner. Wow, that seemed to get here at lightning speed. I guess it's true that time speeds up when you get older!

Since the seasons do seem to go by so fast, I hated to spend what little free time I've had lately to make a wreath I could only put up for a month. Continuing my love of burlap, I found a "wreath for all seasons" that can easily hang year round.


Check out the great tutorial at Today's Fabulous Finds. It took a while {and was messy...thanks burlap!} but it was well worth it's shelf life. The bow is simply wired on with floral wire, so it could be interchanged. In the next few weeks, I'll be wiring on hearts for Valentine's day!

I love me a versatile project, and I give this one a big thumbs up!

Now, I'm planning to take life slow for a few days at The Ranch. Hope you also get some R&R this holiday season!



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Friendship is the best gift

Loved hosting "Friend Christmas" potluck/ adult beverage exchange at our house this week. Such an awesome night full of laughter. We are truly blessed.



Monday, December 17, 2012

Rustic window Christmas card display

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is receiving all the cute Christmas cards from my friends and family from around the world. I love checking the mail every day and add to my growing collection.

I decided to put them front and center in my entryway and used this vintage window with clothespins to string up the sweet greetings.

The jute string is attached with embroidery tacks, and I stapled burlap as backing. To add a little more of a rustic touch, I screwed an old staircase spindle to the top. Then, just pin on your cards! I'm in love with this. (Although I may have to expand! So many cards from great friends...what a wonderful problem to have. )

Hope you're enjoying these few days before Christmas! Now, to wrap all those presents I just bought. (YES, I started Saturday. EEK!)



Linking up here:
Cowgirl Up!
Nifty Thrifty Things 
Coastal Charm
Knick of Time
Mod Vintage Life
Debbie Doos
Twigg Studios
Savvy Southern Style

Baby it's cold outside {Chalk board wall}

Ok, I'm lying. It's not really cold outside at all, actually. But "Baby, it's mild and 70 degrees outside" just didn't have that holiday ring to it. This is Texas, after all!

I just adore the chalkboard wall in my kitchen. It's one of the only things we kept from the former owners (good call!) I change it all the time, and have my house guests sign the chalkboard around the cabinets. It's become a tradition!

And that super cute coffee filter wreath? I absolutely LOVE it. I found this great tutorial for it at Little Miss Momma.

On my menu will be the dangerously delicious Neiman Marcus Chess Bars, some chipotle sausage balls from Kerry at Pork & Periwinkle, and "Heavenly" crockpot mashed potatoes! I might even make what my mom calls "Fart Cookies" lol. Don't let the name throw you. These things (originally called pecan puffs) were a holiday staple growing up. And they're super easy!

So, bust out those tacky holiday sweaters, my friends. We're in the home stretch!



Linking up here:

Cowgirl Up!
Savvy Southern Style

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A season of change

Here I am again. In the same familiar dilemma I find myself in far too often. I'm feeling restless, questioning where my niche is, what my passion is, and what I want to do with my one precious life. Usually I can quiet and calm that little voice with a little travel and an afternoon in the studio, but its gotten to be every. single. day.

Here's the deal: I'm a writer by trade, yet I still feel that I haven't found my "voice" in blogging. I'm used to news writing...technically crafted with little emotion. So it's been a challenge to let my crazy personality shine through, because it's such a contrast to what I do every day. But believe me, I've loved having this creative outlet. I've looked forward to creating pretty projects for my readers and sharing bits of my life with friends (even if my posts are fewer and far-between than I'd like them to be).

But, I feel like I'm in a bit of a rut, creatively speaking and otherwise. The lack of opportunity in my little town is creeping in and making me feel stuck, and my husband feels the same. I've been reading a lot of Donald Miller's Storyline blog that addresses some of the uncertainty that's been tearing at me. (It's a great read, as are his books, and I highly recommend you check it out). It's all about crafting an interesting, wonderful life...a life of purpose, adventure and service to others. One of his questions was "Where do you see yourself in five years if you changed nothing?" My sad response was "exactly where I am now."  I'll sadly have wasted what's left of my youth living the "All-American Dream" but with no sense of fulfilment, purpose or passion.

Which comes back to my nagging urge to be an artist. In college, my 18-year-old self chose a practical major and silenced the little girl who would lock herself in her room to get lost in a magical place of sewing, painting and playing. What makes our society think that our 18-year-old selves should be making any sort of lifelong decisions at our tender young age?

I feel like doors are closing to pursuing my passion. It's partly because of my inability to reign in those dreams and pursue them full-time; the fear of leaving the comfortable, predictable paycheck to explore an uncertain future. I think the economy is partly to blame, making us feel like we're the lucky ones to have that steady salary and making us afraid to take a risk and do something crazy like follow our dreams. I'm working so hard in my career and networking to further that career that I can barely find time to make things with my hands and stimulate my soul.

And so, as we're getting to that time of year where we are looking forward to a fresh start, the new year's resolutions will soon take on new meaning. It's going to be a lifestyle change. A year of changing those "can'ts into cans, and those dreams into plans." With a little wanderlust, listening to my gypsy soul, and embracing my endless dreamer mentality, I'm going to find who I am and be who I was always meant to be. I hope you'll stick around for the ride!

Do you ever feel like you're pursing a paycheck over your passion? What is holding you back from following your dreams? Tell me in the comment section.



Friday, December 14, 2012

Elegant Winter Gala {Designed by me!}

I am on the heels of one of the biggest projects I've ever completed: designing the florals and some of the decor for a 400 person elegant gala.

Now, I've cut my teeth in the floral design industry in Dallas and have done several dozen weddings in my time, but this was my first solo gig as a designer.  They wanted simple, modern and elegant, and I was the gal to do it. It was maaah-velous dahling!

For the centerpieces, I used 8" by 24" cylinder vases, white sea glass and purple aqua lights topped with semi-submerged white dendrobium orchids. The lights added that perfect bit of glow.

I'm so glad I am still able to do something I'm passionate about on the side. The best part was that my hot date and I got to sit back afterward and admire all that hard work with some red wine and a fabulous three-course meal. And dress up pretty for once!

Can't wait to do it again next year {fingers crossed!}



Double LED aqua lights: Ebay! Holla! or
Vases: DFW Vases. Excellent source for all glassware.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wine Cork Ornament Tutorial

Brrrr. It's cold in East Texas, y'all! {Finally} And I love it! Me and hubs have spent many nights with the pups around the Christmas tree in our new little home. Bring on the Christmas parties...I'm ready to be a bit more jolly now that my finals are over...woohoo! Someone bust out the wine!

A party tradition of ours is to save our wine corks from special occasions and write our memories on them to reminisce on later. After looking at my big vase full of them, I decided to turn them into fun and easy wine cork ornaments for our rustic tree.
You can see the tutorial and feature story in the December issue of Sage Magazine, a lifestyle publication created by two talented Texas gals. This was such a great issue, with awesome DIYs and stories from fabulous women. I also wrote a feature about our rustic ranch wedding and how we built it from the ground up!

Read it here. Don’t have the time to DIY? Buy some in my Etsy store. Tie it to a bottle of your favorite vino for an instant, easy gift for a girlfriend.


Linking up here:
Savvy Southern Style

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Guest Post: Almond {Comfort &} Joy

It’s finals week in my world, which means total crazy chaos on top of the usual holiday craziness.

So, my dear friend Kerry over at Pork & Periwinkle is guest posting here today and sharing a festive holiday recipe! Kerry is an amazing cook {just check out all these mouth-watering recipes} and is a ton of fun, too. She just moved to Houston, and I miss all her fabulous summer dinner parties on the back porch of her sweet cottage home. It was like straight out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine {but with way more wine.}

Enjoy these two recipes from Kerry, and pay a visit to her yummy blog. {And say a little prayer for my sanity during finals, please!}

Almond {Comfort &} Joy

There’s something about candy and the holiday season. It’s the norm to have these treats lying around this time of year, and we often spend our free time making up batches to give as gifts {partly to be nice, and partly to show off our culinary skills.} Fishing for complements?...Who me?...Naaaaahhh, not me.

A family favorite we always had in the house during the holidays was peanut brittle. One of my aunts makes the best peanut brittle you can imagine. In fact, I remember everyone in the family always wanted the recipe, but my aunt would never give it up. She did not want people to know her trade secrets! Soooo, late one Christmas Eve night I snuck into her kitchen, found her recipe box and copied the recipe. I only wish I would’ve had my Wonder Woman cape with me at the time of the great brittle capade. Now the whole family can make fantastic peanut brittle. Just don’t tell my aunt!

Click here for the “Borrowed” Peanut Brittle recipe.

Anyway, I must not have that secretive gene because I am always happy to share my recipes with friends and family. There’s no better way to butter people up {pun intended} than through their stomach!

These little delights are so easy and delish! Like little chocolate covered snow balls.

Almond Joy Balls


2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup powdered sugar

1 {14oz} bag shredded coconut

1 {2oz} bag almonds, chopped and toasted {plus extra for garnish}

1 {24oz} bag chocolate chips {I used dark chocolate}

1 teaspoon almond extract 
*See below for more options to this recipe


In a mixing bowl, combine the condensed milk, vanilla and powdered sugar coconut and nuts and mix thoroughly. Roll the mixture into balls {about 1” balls}, place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and heat for 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval until melted and smooth. Add the almond extract and stir.

Remove the coconut balls from the refrigerator. Using a fork, dip each ball in the chocolate and let any excess drip off for a couple of seconds. Then, place on a waxed paper lined to set. If so desired, top each ball with a sprinkle of chopped almonds before the chocolate has set.

*This recipe is very versatile. You can flavor them with peppermint, imitation rum, orange or another flavoring by substituting the vanilla with the flavoring of choice. Also, the kind of nut used can be changed to your favorite. Other garnish options could be coconut, crushed peppermints, sprinkles, and even edible gold flakes…If you really want to be fancy {wink.}

Happy Holidays,

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shine bright like a diamond printable

I have the best girlfriends. Ever. Period. End of story.

My college girlfriends truly hold a special place in my heart, and when it came to their Christmas gifts this year, I knew the perfect little something for the gals who make my life so bright.

All eleven of us met through a student organization at our university and have been close ever since. We have made a tradition of meeting up at least once every summer for our annual Girls Weekend. Never have I laughed until I cried so much as when I'm surrounded by these special ladies. We live all accross the state of Texas, but we're bonded together and have that unending friendship that I treasure so much.

We have a lot of fun, but we also are able to have true heart-to-hearts. One of the things that our sweet friend Christy said to me right before my wedding was to remember that diamonds are created under pressure, and to keep shining whenever the road seems hard. It's become somewhat of a motto for us girls, all with crazy lives, but remembering to remain graceful during tough times.

When the Rihanna song "Diamonds"came out, we were so excited to finally have a theme song.  So, I wanted a little reminder for their desks.

Click here for a free printable 4x6 print!

Thinking of my girls just warms my heart. Roxy, Amanda, Kristen, Christy, Samantha, Amber, Julia, Amy, Laura, Zebine- You girls make my life sparkle! Cheers to good girlfriends. Keep shining. Galveston, Austin...which city are we gonna take by storm next? :)

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xoxo Kayli