Friday, January 31, 2014

Snow cream recipe

Did your elementary math teachers ever teach you to "guess, check, and revise"?  Well, today's snow cream recipe follows that same method.

I may or may not have mentioned before that I don't love the snow that much.  I don't care for slick roads or freezing cold weather.  And because this was the status of our road around 1:00 pm, I worked right at the kitchen table on email all day.
That's not a lot of snow, you say.  I know.  But there's a great sheet of ice underneath.  Yuck.  
One good thing about the snow though was that I was able to make some yummy snow cream!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Weekend trip to Biltmore

We put a lot of things on the calendar around here.  I'm a list person.  I like to know what our plans are for any given day in advance.  It helps me.

But every now and then, we do something spontaneous and super fun.  Like taking a trip to The Biltmore Estate for the weekend.

And what a fun time we had!  According to my parents, I've been before when I was small, but seeing as how I have no recollection of that, I count this as my first trip.  Hubs had really never been, so it was fun for both of us.

This quaint little home in the mountains was the former home of George and Edith Vanderbilt and is just like taking a step back in time.

The tours are self guided and thus self paced, with attendants along the way to answer any questions about the estate's history, current operations, or just to help you find the nearest bathroom.  And frankly, I would have been perfectly impressed to walk around the house (is house the right word?), no - mansion, myself.  But, our tour included an awesome audio guide that walked you through each room of the house providing stories about the home's history, the Vanderbilt family, and the workers that made this house operate in its day.

Aside from the sheer size, detail, and absolute beauty of this home, one thing that really impressed me about it was the fact that the estate is still a working estate.  Still owned by family members, the estate places a big emphasis on sustainability both for the environment's sake and for cutting down on their own operational costs.  One thing we learned from the attendants was about the many solar panels throughout the estate and other agriculture that helps sustain operations.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

A DIY Valentine's Mantel

Can I tell you a crazy thing?  February is this week.  THIS WEEK, people.  I can't believe how quickly time goes by!  Honestly, this month has been kind of a blur.  We've been doing bits and pieces of decorating around the Thrift for Today house, but since the fall and Christmas decorations have come down, the mantel has been one big old area of boring.

But, with Valentine's Day coming up (and Valentine's Day is one of my favorite days...who doesn't like to celebrate love?!), and so I had something themed to decorate.  I'm still working on my year round inspiration but I'm happy to have something new up for February.

This little project took about half an hour and was created all with things that I already had, so not only was I pumped about it, but the hubs was too.

I started with the vases that I spray painted about a year ago (also seen here) and then collected some sticks that had fallen from trees in the back yard.  I was really excited about this as I think about the more permanent decor for the mantel, I thought this would be an easy way to decide how I felt about sticks/flowers in the vases...and I think I like it.

I also had lots of foam hearts in different sizes left over from another project a couple of Valentine's days ago from Michael's and ribbon I had simply on hand.

The photo above really shows exactly how these Valentine trees were put together.  Sticks in a jar with tied on hearts.  I used a simple hole puncher to punch each foam heart and tied a string around the heart and then tie them to the branches.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five on Friday

Like it always does, Friday has come this week just on time - just in time for me to need a weekend to re-coup, refresh, and relax.  

I'm pumped to be sharing Five on Friday again this week and have compiled a nice, random assortment of things from this week for you all to enjoy. 

1.  "The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table" wall decal.  My youngest sister got this for us for Christmas, but we just recently were able to get it up in the kitchen.  (Forgive the photo...I'm not entirely sure the best way to take a photo of something that wide so close to the ceiling...).  I am so happy with it.  And since we were able to have friends over for dinner this week, it was especially true.  Although, much of our conversation was spent swapping college stories and pranks.  Essentially, we came to the conclusion that it could also be true that the fondest memories are relived when gathered around the table.  :)

2. These mirrored wall panels from Kirkland's.  I love them so much.  They are hanging together as pictured below on one of our two story walls and I couldn't be more happy with the way they turned out.  I realize this photo is completely out of context with the rest of the room, but I'm gearing up for a home anniversary tour in just a couple of months, so I don't want to give too much away.

3.  This laundry room sign.  Yet another purchase from Kirkland's.  And no, Kirkland's did not sponsor this post...but if they'd like to I wouldn't say no.  Basically, I went to Kirkland's 3 out of 4 consecutive days within the last week.  I just couldn't totally make up my mind about some of the pieces and always ended up getting something else each time I went in.  I was also able to get some great design advice for our mantel, which is sitting pretty bare these days since the Christmas decorations have come down.  I have a big clock above the mantel (also from Kirkland's) and then have been kind of lost and what year-round decorations to add.  I was able to show the associates a picture and they went right to work making suggestions and showing me different pieces that would work well.  Love that store.    

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blogger Q & A: Thrift for Today edition

Happy Wednesday, friends!  It is snowy/icy here today and I want to be in a hoodie all day long.  Since that won't happen though, I'm excited to share a fun little Q&A that I was recently tagged in by Lindsay over at Wedding Rings to Teething Rings.  I used to love answering these sorts of Q&A surveys when I was a teenager and it always makes me smile to get to answer a few questions here on the blog!  And so without further introduction - here is the [somewhat] official Blogger Q&A - a la Thrift for Today

When did you first start blogging and why? 
I started blogging back in 2012 when the hubs and I were engaged.  I thought I would share all sorts of fun wedding things and great stories about the things that we did together.  And I did that for just a little bit before totally revamping, re-branding, and re-committing to the blog in 2013.  

Have you had any past online presence?
Only a little.  The regular social media outlets, but nothing much other than that.  Actually, I did have a xanga blog account for a small bit of time years and years ago.  

When did you become serious about your blog? 
Define serious.  Perhaps mid-2013.  I've learned so much since then and have really started to become more consistent here and more thoughtful about opportunities to meet other bloggers and promoting Thrift for Today.  On the other hand, the blog is still a hobby for me, so I blog when I can and don't when I can't.  

What was your first blog post? 
 My first blog post was way back in March of 2012.  See here.  :)

What have been your biggest challenges blogging? 
 Just learning the ins and outs, really.  Continually thinking of content and getting it written well.  Remembering to take photos.  Probably the biggest thing for me though is learning that it doesn't have to be perfect.  It's important not to get caught up in it.  Turning the computer off is important a lot of the times and some of those times mean that I just can't always blog as much as I'd like to.  
What is the most rewarding thing about blogging? 
I have really enjoyed having a place to document some of the fun things we do, the projects we complete, and the yummy treats that we eat.  And it doesn't hurt that I've met some fun blogging friends and have awesome readers that follow along!

What is the most discouraging thing about blogging? 
Not knowing html or coding at all as well as I would like.  And when you write what you think is a really fun post or post a great project, that doesn't get nearly as many views as you expected.  It's sometimes the posts that you least expect that will be the most popular.  

What is your lasting inspiration or motivation? 
As far as blogging goes, I think really just not wanting to quit.  I enjoy sharing with others the things that I enjoy and I look forward to continuing that.  

What is your blogging dirty little secret? 
Not sure about this one...

What is your current goal as a blogger? 
To become more coordinated and organized with outreach and collaboration with other bloggers and to create a stronger social media plan for the blog.  

Have you learned or become passionate about anything through blogging that caught you by surprise? 
Just blogging in general actually.  I have really grown to enjoy it - there is always something to learn and new, fun blogs to read!  

Thanks, Lindsay!  Now I'm tagging Ericka at This Crazy Thing Called Life, and Abby at Always Abby!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 Blogger Challenge: Skincare

Happy Wednesday, friends!  I'm excited about today's post because it's my first post for the 2014 Blogger Challenge a year long blogging challenge hosted by Gaby over at Another Girly Blog.  The idea is to have a different prompt twice/month to challenge us to think and to write about things that we might not otherwise talk about on our blogs.  And with more than 400 participants, this is a fun way to meet other bloggers as well!  

I'm looking forward to all the different writing prompts and and excited to share some different things with y'all!  

We're actually on the second topic of the year - skincare.  Does anyone else have trouble keeping their skin looking great during the winter?  Please tell me how you keep your skin beautiful.  (This post is mostly about facial skincare, although, I'd also love to hear your about your favorite products to keep your hands smooth in the winter...mine are sooo dry these days.)

I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to skincare - that is, I've got some things I would love to change about my skin - those random red spots from high school/college acne, random breakouts here and there, etc.  But, ultimately, I've got pretty normal skin - not super oily, not super dry.  

And my routine is also simple.  Wash daily, tone, moisturize occasionally (I know, I should be better about this), and that's that.  

I would love to tell you that I have a lovely, routine and flawless skin, but that's just not true.  Below is what I use on a daily basis: 

The facial cleansing gel on the far left was an impulse buy that I picked up at Marshalls when we were Christmas shopping and I like it so far.  It's a nice change from the exfoliating scrub sometimes.  Next in line is St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub.  Again, nothing fancy, but I've been using this for several months now and have enjoyed it.  And finally, Olay refreshing toner finishes up my nightly routine to get any left over makeup or dirt that I might have missed.  This one really lives up to its description, too.  Cleans without drying out your skin.  I have really enjoyed using this one.    

And because we're talking about facial skincare, I figured I would also show you what I wear on my face each day...again, nothing too fancy.  

It's a mixed bag.  I really like L'oreal's true match powder.  I've used the matching blush and other products with it several times and have been pleased, but am using Maybelline's Fit Me liquid foundation and blush currently because I was in a hurry and someone had just come through the makeup aisle, clearing things out and making a mess when I bought new makeup the last time.  The foundation is pretty lightweight, which has been nice and actually, mixes quite well with the powder. 

And finally, my eyes.  I tend to be not picky  AT ALL when it comes to my mascara, so long as it keeps my lashes soft, is waterproof, but can be washed off and this Covergirl Clump Crusher mascara fits the bill.  I wear mascara almost everyday, regardless of whether or not I'm wearing other makeup.  On the left, is my favorite eye shadow trio currently, which is from Avon, although I don't have a link to it.  And at the very top is the liquid eyeliner that I've been using for quite a while. It's by e.l.f. (eyes, lips, face) and at just $1.00, it really can't be beat.    

As you can see though, almost all of it is empty, which means I soon need to restock my makeup bag.  I would love to know if you all have any favorite products that you've found to keep your skin particularly healthy...or long wearing/great coverage makeup.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chocolate & cream cheese brownies: a Hershey's classic

This weekend was just what I needed.  Way too quick, but just on time.  As far as blogging goes, I linked up to my first link party in about 2 weeks, which is very unlike me, but life has been busy busy busy and so it goes.  

Today, though, I'm super excited to share a new recipe with you all: Chocolate & Cream Cheese Brownies!  Most of my recipes are "pinspired", but I recently re-found this awesome cookbook by Hershey's and decided to give this brownie recipe a try.  

One word about it:  YUMMY.  If you're looking for an alternative to your regular brownies, I'd recommend giving this a try.  

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened 
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 12 oz. package)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease 9x13 baking pan. 
2. Blend 1 1/2 sticks of butter and cream cheese (set 1/2 of one stick to the side)
3. Add sugar and mix well
4. Add egg & vanilla and mix well
5. Melt remaining 1/2 stick of butter and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring occasionally (I started this in the beginning so it would be melting while I mixed all the other ingredients.  I used my new double-boiler to melt the chocolate and butter, and it worked out well.)

6. Gradually add chocolate mixture to cheese mixture, blending well
7. Stir together flour and baking powder and blend into chocolate mixture
8. Spread batter into pan and bake for 30 minutes (Batter will be much thicker than your usual brownie mix)
9. Enjoy!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Finally Friday

Happy happy Friday, friends!  I am beyond happy that it's the weekend!  The weather is warming up (aka not freezing anymore), and I am looking forward to spending some time getting things done around our house, visiting with friends and just mostly relaxing this weekend.  I've been super busy at work the past couple of weeks and so the weekends are always that much sweeter.

And because I've been so busy away from home, I've been not so busy on the blog.  And so while I usually think of 5 fun or random things to post on Friday, today, I'm mostly just glad that it is Friday.

One thing that is fun to share today though and I think I can kind of call a "Friday Favorite" is this verse.  We've been working on making more of an effort to memorize scripture this year and Romans 12 is first up.  It's the second week of the year, so verse 2 is this week's verse:
Romans 12:2  Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
And there is more to share next week - like a fun new recipe and updates on some of the fun things we've been doing around the house.  And maybe...just maybe I'll do something crafty over the weekend and will share that too.

But for now, it's Friday and it's time to relax.

Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Last minute party snacks: pigs in a blanket

Who doesn't love a good, trusty last minute party snack?!  I mentioned last week that we were able to ring in the new year with some of our college friends and since my office was closed on New Year's Eve, I volunteered to bring over some of the food.

My go-to is usually something sweet, but I thought it probably best to bring over something sweet and something with a little more sustenance.  And so pigs in a blanket (or pigs in blankets?) it was.

This is such a simple and frankly good treat so I thought it worthy of a share.

1 package of cocktail wieners
2 packages of refrigerated croissant rolls (I use the jumbo ones)

1. Be sure that wieners are thawed and not frozen
2. Preheat oven to 350
2. Separate and flatten croissant rolls
3. Cut each roll into fourths
4. Wrap each wiener (like photo above) 
5. Cook for 15-17 minutes

Easy enough, right?  You can also sprinkle a little cheese on top or add to the inside for a little something extra.  

These are a filling, easy, and fun snack, so they are often a staple when I'm bringing over party food.  

What are your quick and easy go-to party foods?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Weekend review and exciting things on the horizon

This is a story about a post that almost wasn't.  And not because we didn't have fun this weekend, but instead because our weekend was packed full of awesome things that I hope to share with you really soon.  We have really hit the ground running this year and I am feeling super motivated to get things done around here!

I've got several posts in progress (which include 2 fun and easy recipes), and planned to do lots of blog work over the weekend.  You know like respond to all of your lovely comments, catch up on my blog feed, finish editing and schedule a few posts, maybe even send out a tweet every now and then.  And instead we did this:

Now to some, this might not look that interesting.  But let me tell you it is super!  We cleaned out our bedroom because went shopping for and bought new furniture that is being delivered today, perhaps even while you're reading this!  We bought a new mattress set shortly after moving, but the rest of our furniture (with the exception of a bookcase I bought from Target in college) was either from Craiglist, hand me downs from friends, or from beside the dump and then repainted.  And so I am pumped to have things that match go into our room!  (I'm also open for suggestions on a more fun and better looking curtain rod for that window.  It comes so close to the wall on the left that I'm at a loss for the best rod to put there.  So all you who are good at things like that, feel free to help a sister out...)

And in case you missed the "before" shot of our bedroom, let's take a little trip down memory lane to the once salmon-ish pink that the room once was:  

We also got to relax and watch Netflix, attend an international festival with friends, have a double date movie night, make and order our 2014 family calendar (I know it's late, but I wanted to wait for a great deal and I got a coupon code for a free 8X11 one from Shutterfly which meant that I only had to pay shipping, so I'm good with that), and visit with some of our family.  

And then just when I was about to call it a night, I thought it would be nice to at least stop by and say hey over here.  :)

I'm excited to get to decorating this space and making our bedroom more cozy soon!!  

(I'm also excited to start working on full house updates to share in a couple of months when we celebrate our anniversary of's hard to believe we're almost there!)

Stay tuned!  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Five on Friday

What a whirlwind of a week!  2 vacation days right smack dab in the middle to celebrate the New Year and here we are at another weekend.  I've been excited this week to spend time with friends ringing in the new year and to be getting back somewhat into a routine in the office and at home since getting back from our Christmas travels.

In other news, I've been fighting a just bad enough to be annoying colds this week and have slowly moved through each symptom of the common cold, the last being runny/stuffy nose.  And I will be a happy happy girl when I'm totally done with that.  Not to worry though, that certainly has not stopped any of the fun times around here and I'm pumped to be sharing another five on Friday post here on Thrift for Today with 5 random things from the past week.  

1.  Celebrating the New Year with this handsome guy.  And several of our friends from college.  And yes, that is a plaid jacket he's wearing.  He's got a whole collection of silly suits saved just for occasions like this and I don't mind one little bit.  :)

2.  Arrow.  Over Christmas, we ended up watching the entire first season of CW's series, Arrow.  And I'm hooked.  It's based off DC Comic's Green Arrow, which I haven't read, but I'm trying to catch up on the first part of Season 2 before it comes back on CW on January 15.

3.  Puffs...because a nose in need...
This one is only partially a joke.  Meaning, I wish it was a joke.  
4. This big dog and his bone. 

5.  And this little dog trying to take it away. 
The last 2 are my brother's dog and one of my sister's dog respectively.  One of the fun things about having all of us together is getting to play with these fun pups.  And seriously, how funny is the little one (Chance) trying to steal the big one's (Diesel) bone?  

That does it for this week.  I hope everyone has a super fun weekend ahead!!  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On purpose: My 2014 New Year's Resolution

Hey there, 2014!  Happy New Year!

New Year's resolutions are funny things to me.  It always comes across to me as an opportunity to re-list out all the things that I listed last year - the things I know I should already be doing, or have been thinking about doing, or want to do, but haven't taken the initiative to do yet and hoping that somehow I'm going to follow through with them this year.  

We have a list of goals that we do keep up with in 6 month intervals around here, which are very helpful, but the resolution list for some reason just never resonates with me.  (And maybe it's just me, but still.)

And so this year, instead of a long list of things I need to get better at, I decided to have one overarching theme for 2014:  on purpose.  

This is just about being intentional - acting with purpose in all areas of my life.  To be to be intentional about my walk with Christ, to be intentional about how I spend my time, intentional about relationships, and the way we invest our resources.

The fact of the matter is, we only get this year one time.  And you can choose to embrace it and be on purpose, or you can choose to not to.  I want to be on purpose.

What about you?  Do you make New Year's resolutions?  If yes, what are your plans for 2014?