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Best of 2013


I hope you are having a fantastic holiday.  Ours has been busy, and I finally undecked my halls yesterday, so I'm feeling a little more in control of my house again. ;-)  I'm itching to get back to business around here, and even have a gallon of paint ready to paint my son's scary teen bedroom.

I started off the year with some organizing goodness, when the urge to organize is at its peak.  I tackled my office and shared my craft closet.  I'm happy to say, it's still organized!  I'm finding that if I go through the organizing process in a methodical way (ala A Bowl Full of Lemons), it seems to stick.

Along the way, I discovered the 1971 JCPenney catalog my grandmother gave me and took a hilarious trip back in time.

My organizing kick stuck around and I tackled my laundry room, and master closet.  

I tackled my husband's office (wallpaper included), finding the perfect shade of gray, some thrifty new office chairs, and adding gallery wall and a new rug.  I still have some things to do in here, but it's definitely a big improvement from where it began.

I quit my job this year (best. decision. ever.) and started taking on client projects.  My friend's builder grade kitchen redo is one of my faves.

I tackled my pantry this year too - I swear, organized spaces make me feel lighter.

I stained my front doors as part of my Stain Without Pain mission.  Talk about a huge bang for your buck!  Love them!

And then there is my biggest (and longest) DIY project ever - our stone fireplace.  An epic journey, but totally worth it now that it's finally done.

I love that blogging gives me a record of actually getting some things done around here.  Sometimes it definitely doesn't feel that way!

Did you have a productive year this year?  What are you going to tackle in 2014?


Dude, Where's My Car(d)?

Merry Christmas Eve!

I got my Christmas cards out before Christmas, so I'm counting that as a victory.  Perhaps if I didn't spend so much time trying to decide 1) which photo to use and 2) which card to buy, I might get them out sooner.  This is one Christmas tradition that seems to hold true year after year, yet I refuse to buy New Year's cards in order to look timely.

So, from our family to yours - have a very, Merry Christmas.

A huge thank you to my friend Kelly of Kelly Ann Photography for capturing these shots.  I don't have many photos of me and my husband together, and I love the candid ones that she took.  If you're in the Dayton-Cincinnati area, I can't say enough good things about her and her work.

Have a blessed holiday.


12 Days of Christmas Tour Recap and Link Up!


I hope you all have enjoyed the 12 Days of Christmas Tour of Homes!  As an avid house snooper, I definitely have.  And today, it's all about you!  

Click on any of the banners in the recap to see their tours in case you missed anything - and now we're ready to see your holiday home!

Ok everyone, let's see it!


My Favorite Soup and More Home Tours


Are you starting to feel the holiday pressure?  I admit, I am.  Even though I had a great gift wrapping session earlier this week, there is still much to do.  We're having a happy hour at our house today for 20+ people, and I allowed my oldest son to have a Christmas party tomorrow, which has me a bit freaked out since it's looking to be an equally large group (of teenagers).  I may need to hire bouncers.

But, I do have a great holiday recipe that your guests are sure to love, and you can make it ahead of time!  It's my favorite soup - Italian Sausage Vegetable soup.  It's so delicious, and honestly, it gets better the longer you let it sit and allow the flavors to marinate.

Top it off with some parmesan cheese and serve it with some crusty bread, and you're good to go!

Here is the recipe - I promise you won't be disappointed!


  • 1 lb. Italian sausage (I have used regular sausage and chicken sausage - both are great)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 small zucchinis, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced (I prefer a red pepper myself)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 
  • 5 cups chicken broth (40 oz)
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo
  • To serve: parmesan cheese
Use bulk sausage or remove the casings from the sausage and discard.  Brown the sausage in a heavy Dutch oven or large saucepan, mashing it with the back of a spoon until the meat is no longer pink and has rendered most of its fat.

Spoon out most of the fat from the cooked sausage and discard.  Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring until soft, but not browned.  Add carrots, zucchini, pepper, wine, chicken broth, tomatoes, basil and oregano and bring to a boil.  When the soup is boiling, add the orzo and cook for 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve in heavy soup bowls.  If desired, sprinkle parmesan cheese over each serving.

To prepare in advance:  Like most hearty soups, this tastes best if it is cooled, refrigerated overnight, then reheated to serve.  It may also be frozen.

Makes 6-8 servings.

We're rounding out the 12 Days of Christmas Tour of Homes, so here are the latest in case you missed them.  And don't forget, tomorrow is the big link up party to share your holiday home!

The Little Black Door opened her colorful home on Day 9.

Andrea, at Oak Ridge Revival showed us her amazing home on Day 10.  Love, love, love her house!

And today, we have Steward of Design.

The first words that came to mind on her home tour are natural and fresh.  

Come back here tomorrow for the 12th day, where you are the feature!


More Holiday Home Tours!


We are getting even more snow at the moment, and I'm giving you fair warning that after Christmas, I won't be so agreeable about it.  But, it works - for now.  

My cookie exchange was over the weekend, and as always, it's one of the highlights of the season for me.  With everyone so busy this time of year, I really appreciate these girls taking the time to catch up, hang out and have fun.  It makes me so happy to hear people say, "I look forward to this party every year!"

And the cookies did not disappoint!

We still have a lot of home tours to enjoy in case you were stuffing your face with cookies busy shopping this weekend!

Kristin, at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, gave us a gorgeous tour that you don't want to miss.  I have always loved her home, and it's even more beautiful all dressed up for the holidays.

Then, we're off to Kris' house at Driven by D├ęcor

So much gorgeous natural greenery, plucked from her own yard!  And I'm loving all of these champagne buckets!  Not to mention the soft spot you know I have for all things chalkboard.

And today, we have sweet Pam, at Simple Details.

A stunner of a fireplace!

And styled to perfection - love this.

I'm gearing up for more entertaining this week - clients of my husband on Thursday, and then a bunch of teenagers on Friday.  Have I lost my mind?  Catching my breath while I still can!

Have a wonderful day!