December 14, 2011

Mantel love & giveaway winner!

First and foremost, I'll announce the winner to our Plaid craft product giveaway, since I know you are all sitting on the edge of your seats! The winner is....
RENEE at ElfRenee!
Congratulations Renee, and Happy early Christmas!
I was blown away at how many of you entered to win! I am so thankful for each of you who stopped by

Well, I finally finished my mantel for Christmas! Not much has been getting done lately because I have been so overwhelmed with work and school, so this is a major accomplishment! I thought I'd share a few pictures because I love looking at how other people decorate- especially for Christmas!

Did anyone else see the White House Christmas on HGTV? I finally got to watch it today. I'm going to try and save it all year on the DVR. So much inspiration for next year! It makes my little mantel look a little unimpressive. But that's ok, I like it :)

So much has been going on, I can't wait to share it all with you! Perhaps this weekend we'll have a little coffee chat and I'll fill you in on everything that's been going on lately, along with some pictures of Christmas cheer around here. Can't wait!

November 27, 2011

Plaid product GIVEAWAY!!!

Click HERE for winner announcement

I love a good giveaway, don't you?! I was so excited when Plaid contacted me about hosting a giveaway for their products! I have been using Plaid craft products since I was old enough to say, "I love making crafts!"
I was so honored they thought of my readers when they wanted to spread a little holiday happiness :)
   Whether you realize it or not, you know Plaid. They are the makers of your favorite, wonderful, sent down from heaven craft products like Mod Podge®, paint brands Folk Art® and Apple Barrel®, the amazing new Martha Stewart Crafts™paint line and many more!

Being the awesome company they are, they wanted to share some Christmas cheer with you- my wonderful readers, by giving away some of their goods!

The giveaway prize includes:
-4 FolkArt holiday colors
-4 FolkArt Extreme Glitter holiday colors
-Sparkle Mod Podge
-A Value Pack of 25 brushes.

The giveaway prize has a retail value of $40!

Here's how you can enter, you have FOUR chances to win:

1. *To enter you must be a follower of my blog*
    (Through Google friend connect or RSS feed-on the right sidebar of my blog)
2. Follow Plaid on Twitter
3. Like Plaid on Facebook
4. Share this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook
    (To make it easy, you can click on the FB or Twitter buttons at the bottom of this post)

You aren't officially entered until you leave a comment below for each of the ways you entered (Ex. if you followed 3 of the four ways above, leave 3 separate comments below)

Deadline to enter is Tuesday, Dec. 13th. 
Spread the word & enter to win right NOW! :) 

While you're at it, check out this awesome contest!
Plaid is also hosting a Crafty Christmas Contest. Enter your best Christmas or winter holiday projects using Plaid products, and you could win some fabulous prizes! Click HERE for details about the contest.

*Just so ya know, this was an unpaid endorsement. I was not compensated in anyway for this post or giveaway*

Giveaway Winner!!!

Sorry I am getting to this announcement so late! Actually, I'm not too sorry because I was busy enjoying an AMAZING time with my family this week. :) Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I'm sad to see everyone leave, and go back to the normalcy of every day life. 

But back to business! I missed you all, and I hope you had a great time getting to know Deanna at Mirabelle Creations. She's such a talented, lovely person. (Thanks for sharing with us Deanna!) I'll put it off no longer...
The winner of the Mirabelle Creations giveaway is:


Congratulations! We will be contacting you by email about your prize! Steph won an entire printable collection from Mirabelle Creations!
Don't forget to go by and visit Deanna's blog, and Etsy shop too!

Check back soon, I will have another giveaway this week from Plaid. You don't want to miss it!

November 18, 2011

Deanna from Mirabelle Creations and a GIVEAWAY!

Let me introduce you to a fabulous blogger...Deanna from Mirabelle Creations! 

Deanna is a wonderfully creative party planner and crafter. I know her from blog world, as we both started blogging around the same time; but also in person as we go to church together! She is so sweet, kind and creative. I love all the detail she puts into her parties. They are all so beautiful.
She's even started her own Etsy shop where she gives 50% of her profits to charity! 

Take a peek at some of my favorite parties featured on her blog:

This is from her adorable "Give them wings" party where she invited other Kindergarten moms over for brunch to get to know one another, and connect about sending their babies off to school for the first time. I LOVE this idea! Such a great and personal way to connect with others.


 Of course, as a fellow UK fan, I swooned over this beautiful party. Now THIS is how I like to watch sports :)

This Rustic Star Spangled Banner party is a summer must. I can't wait until this next summer to grab these printables and put them to use at my 4th of July outdoor party!

Get to know Deanna below, then head on over to Mirabelle Creations to let her know how much you love her!

1.     Tell us a little about yourself & how your blog & shop came to be.

I've always loved parties and party decorations!  I can remember when I was a little girl, I remember my mom making me a Strawberry Shortcake Cake for my birthday.  I adored that cake -- probably more than the presents.  Then, as I had my own kids, I started planning their birthday parties months in advance.  My passion grew into a business this year when I started my blog and opened my Etsy store. 

2.     What was one of the first parties you threw? What lessons did you learn from it as to what worked & what didn’t?

My daughter's first birthday -- she'll be turning nine in the next few months.  She had been a ladybug that year for Halloween, so I picked a ladybug theme for her 1st birthday.  A big lesson I learned from that party was pick a party theme that means something to you.  Maybe it's your child's favorite toy, a favorite book or a nickname.  You will pay more attention to the details, which will make it more meaningful for both you and your guests 

3.     How do you get your inspiration for a party idea?

Sometimes there is so much inspiration around, it's overwhelming.  Besides, being influenced by the guest of honor's favorite things, a lot of my inspiration comes from fabric patterns.  Often, I have found a tablecloth or dessert table background fabric first, then planned the party around the fabric.

4.     What are the first steps to planning a fantastic party/get together?

Start well in advance and pick your theme.  I planned a Golden Indian 50th Anniversary party for my in-laws.  Once I picked the Indian theme, when I was out shopping, I found lots of Indian inspired items -- elephants, lanterns, etc.  If you have time, you will be able to find party decor in the most unpredictable stores. 

5.     What are some goals, personal or professional you have your sights set on?

The past six months have been a huge learning curve and a bit of a whirlwind.  One of my goals when I started was having a party featured on Amy Atlas' blog.  Her modern, clean style is incredible.  When my football party was featured on her site, I was in the clouds for weeks!  One of my current goals is to grow my customer base for my Etsy store.  At least 50% of all profits from the sales are donated to charity.  One of the reasons I started the store was to be able to raise money for charity, while doing something I love.

6.    If you were throwing the party of your dreams, who would be some famous people you’d want on your guest list?

Tina Fey (would keep everyone laughing), Amy Atlas (of course -- so I could pick her brain about party planning), John Wall (he could teach me how to Dougie), my Grandma Fan (she is the sweetest person I know and the best cook), Justin Timberlake (do I really need to say why?) 

7.    Other than planning your next fabulous party, what are some things you love to do?

Reading, sewing, cooking, lounging at the beach.

8.   If you threw a party and filled it with the food, colors, d├ęcor, etc…that showed us who you were and what you loved, what would it include?

Most importantly, I would start with my family and friends.  The best parties always start with loved ones, the rest is secondary.  If I could throw the perfect party, I would find a way to incorporate all of my guests favorite things or at least one thing was that was meaningful to each guest.  To me, party planning is all about making your guests feel special and important, as a way of showing them your love.  


Thanks so much Deanna! And because she is so fabulous, she's giving all of you a chance to win an ENTIRE COLLECTION from her shop! It's awesome, and so simple! The collections are customizable and sent to your computer within 48 hours! No need to wait for slow shipping. 

Some of my favorite collections shown above are available, along with many others, like a beautiful Thanksgiving collection, An adorable baby shower collection, and a fun Fancy Nancy Parisian collection! And Christmas collections are coming soon! I can't wait to see them. 

You have 4 ways to enter to increase your chances to win! Here's what you can do:

1. Become a follower of Mirabelle Creations and comment below that you did so
2. "LIKE" Mirabelle Creations on Facebook, comment below that you did
3. Become a follower of Just down the Hall through Google Friend Connect, then comment below that you did so
4. Share about this giveaway on Twitter, Facebook or your blog and comment below telling me you did (You can click the buttons at the bottom of this post to link up automatically!) 

Make sure you include your email so we have a way to contact you if you win. If no email is available, a new winner will be chosen (don't be THAT person! haha) The winner will be announced on Wednesday, November 23rd!

November 10, 2011

Guest Post: Jessica from The Mason Jar!

Welcome Jessica from the Mason Jar! Jessica is a friend I've known since college, and is one of the sweetest, funniest people I know! She is AMAZING in the kitchen. I am always so inspired by her recipes, and her use of fresh, "real" food, and in awe of all the things she makes from scratch! 

I love reading her blog. It's a place where she shares her heart, her recipes, the hilarious happenings of small town life, and her beautiful family (which just got bigger with the addition of the most beautiful baby girl!)
Join us as she shares an amazing recipe that I cannot wait to try! Give her some love, and hop on over to her blog when you're finished reading!


I'm so thrilled that Andrea has asked me to guest post for her! I blog over at The Mason Jar. This is my first official guest post so I wanted to come up with something awesome. However, I just had a baby, so I've decided to share an older post of mine that has lots of great tips for this new season.

With Autumn officially upon us, I thought we should talk about something very serious: pie crust. Did you know that pies are the new cupcake? I want you to know how easy it is to make your own pie crusts at home. Are you ready???

We need to have a talk.

You might want to sit down.

Ok, here goes. I know about those store-bought pie crusts you've got lurking in your refrigerator.

Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. The ones in the--ahem--red box with the chubby little dough-boy? The ones that are so "easy" that you can just fit into a pie plate and fill with whatever your little heart desires?

I don't understand the drama that surrounds pie crust. Store-bought, while only about $3, is still more expensive than making it from the pantry staples that you already have. Homemade pastry crust has about 7 [or less] ingredients, depending on your method, whereas store-bought has about a bagillion ingredients---most of which are unrecognizable.

Making your own pie crust is actually really easy. And I'm going to teach you to conquer this pastry dragon. Save the drama for something serious, like boning a duck.

I should tell you that there are many different pie crust recipes. They all start with flour, a little sugar and salt, and a fat. The fat may be butter, shortening, or a combination of both. Some call for ice water and others for milk and/or an egg. The important thing to remember is that the fat needs to be cold. Having cold fat results in the fat being evenly distributed, creating a flaky crust.

I don't always use the same pie crust recipe. It just depends on what I need the crust for. For instance, last night I was making homemade pop tarts, so I went with an all butter recipe because I find that using all shortening yields a more delicate crust. I like the durability and flavor of an all butter crust, more often than not.

[from King Arthur Flour]
Yes, that is a lot of butter. Eight ounces or 2 sticks, same difference. It needs to be cubed and very cold. You should cut it up into half inch or so cubes and then place them in the freezer to get really chilly. Remember, cold fat is key to a great crust!
You can do this all by hand, but I recommend using your food processor. If you don't have a food processor, don't stop reading! Use a pastry blender, a fork, or even your hands. I've done that plenty of times and it works just fine. Whirl together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp of salt.
Then you'll add in the butter and pulse until it starts to look kind of like clumpy sand. If it holds together in your hands, you know it's ready. 

Separately, whisk together 2 Tbsp of cream or milk, and one egg.

 Add the egg/milk mixture into the food processor and turn it on low. It will quickly turn into a ball and that's when it's ready!

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and just need it until it comes together. Don't over work it; you'll be able to feel the smoothness and know that it's ready.
 Split the dough in half, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. You can even leave them in the refrigerator even for a couple days, or freeze it. From start to finish, the whole process takes less than 10 minutes. SCORE!

How hard was that? Let's review.
2 cups All Purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tsp salt
*Pulse in food processor
8 oz. cubed, very cold butter.
*Add in flour mixture
Whisk together 2 Tbsp cream/milk and 1 egg.
*Add in flour mixture and pulse until it turns into a ball. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it just comes together and is smooth. Divide in half, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

I hope I have given you some tools to give you the confidence that it's not too late to learn to make homemade pastry crust for your holiday pies. If you've already bought the kind in a box, save it for a rainy day. It makes a great item for kids to play with, just make sure they don't eat [too much of] it. You're creative, you'll think of a way to use it up. And please, if you're making pecan pie, please refrain from using all that corn syrup.  Tapioca syrup or even maple syrup or honey makes a great substitute.  But that’s a subject for another intervention. 
Happy fall baking!

Thank you so much Jessica! I admit, I'm guilty! I have two of those red pie crusts in my freezer! But I'm definitely saving them for another day. I can't wait to try this recipe for my next pot pie, or upcoming holiday sweets.
Now, go check out The Mason Jar and become one of Jessica's newest followers. I have a feeling new baby pictures will soon make an appearance!

 Partying here!