Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Ahead

It's gonna be one heck of a year folks! Well, it is for me anyway. How do I know? I already ordered some post-Christmas, early-birthday presents. Yeah, I robbed my boyfriend of the joy of showing me how much he loves me. Don't worry...he'll be ok. Wanna see what will be waiting for me on February 5th?

#1 set of 6 snowflake inspired placemats
#2 one two-foot tall birch tree
#3 set of 3 lacquered boxes in green
#4 two table runners in two-tone blue

P.S. Sorry baby - I couldn't wait! At these great prices, if I was slow to act, they would be gone!

P.P.S. I had everything shipped to you so that you can "present" them to me when the time is right... pun intended :)

08 Relived

Sweet memories of 2008:

  • Hosting the Couples Halo Tournament


  • Turning 27!!!
  • Mountain biking



  • Helping with the Bluegrass Ho down & Bingo Night
  • Throwing Austin a bridal shower


  • Visiting New York
  • Exploring Boston









Sucky moments of 2008:
  • Visiting the fair
  • Hurting my knee
  • Killing a brave little squirrel
  • Falling off my bike and intersecting with the tree & rocks
  • My Mummum's knee replacement
  • Gaining 20 lbs
  • Getting 14 laser hair removal treatments (ouch!)
  • Losing my dear Aunt Kay
  • My mom's ACL surgery
  • My sister's mouth surgery
  • My seven visits to the dentist
  • Not getting to visit my grandmother
  • Discovering how much fat is in a Chickfila milkshake

Overall - it truly was a fantastic year. One for the record books. I even got to use my passport twice! There were low spots - like when I had one friend move far away...but high ones too, like getting closer (metaphorically speaking) to other friends - like you. You know who you little internet-never-met-in-flesh-and-blood-buddies. So before I start dreaming about what is to come in oh-nine, I wanna make sure you know that all of you dear lovely friends helped make my oh-eight one of the best years yet. And I hope that you have a fun (like a fat kid in a chocolate factory amount of fun) and safe New Year's Eve!

See ya in 2009! Peace out 08!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stocking Up

That title sounds like a Christmas checklist item, doesn't it? But that's not why I am here.

Today I am here to talk about stocking up on the great after-christmas sale items that will have you prepared for next year. Yes, it is time to head to your local Walmart, Target, and home decor stores (heck, even grocery stores) to snatch and grab some heavily discounted goods that will have you purring like a kitten. And to help you along the way of choosing this or that, Bower Power has some tips to make your venture victorous!


Most wrapping paper and bags are 50-75% off right now. So my main tip is inscribed on the Temple of Apollo. It is to "Know Thyself" - know what you will actually use in the year to come. Do you have some birthday parties in the year ahead? I look for paper that doesn't have typical Christmas motif. Lots of wrapping paper comes in stripes, polka dots, and swirlies that are perfectly ok for JoJo's birthday, your single BFF's valentines gift, or your hubbie's just-because presents. Do you typically use a bag for every gift that comes in the door? Buy some plain bags in red, green, blue, gold or silver to use in the coming months. Or do you know someone who loves gift wrapping? Grab some coordinating rolls, bags, and ribbon to give to a friend as an early-next-christmas gift. It won't cost you but about $20 for the works. and your friend will be prepared to wrap their family's gifts. Cost of being prepared = priceless.
I prefer to use real ribbon versus the plastic-y gift wrap ribbon. (and I save each bit off of unwrapped pressies) The downside of real ribbon is that it can cost a pretty penny. After-Christmas, my wire-laced fabric ribbon is literally pennies for a roll. No matter what you use, real vs. plastic-y, now is the time to buy. Look for any that will coordinate with your wrapping paper or will stand alone on a white box. Winter-specific ribbon can keep till next holiday season while plain, striped, or fun colored ribbon can be used all year long. And here is another tip - before the next present you wrap, learn to do a bow. A real pretty one. One that makes your heart flutter. One that would make Paris say "that's hot".


Ornaments, berries, bells, or snowflakes all are good ideas to make your present pop. Add a twig of holly or a candy cane to a bow to make the receiver gasp when you reveal the gift. Go to the store now to stock and stash for next year. Get some extra bells to adorn the wedding presents that are sure to go out this coming year. Buy some plain mini ornaments to monogram for a fun embellishment to an anniversary gift. Even 2 candy canes are cute when making a heart on a package for your Valentine. The best part is that RIGHT NOW is the time to buy the cheap chotchkies that will beautify boxes & bags alike.


Sure you can stock up and save everything Christmasy and use it next yule-tide. But while you are picking up the bags & bows, take a look at other holiday themed items to come up with a versatile and unique approach. Maybe stash some el cheapo battery powered holiday lights in a double ziplocked bag and put in the bottom of a icy drink tub for a glowing Halloween buffet. Or how about getting some pre-tied bows (add a safety pin & provide a paint pen) for an instant baby shower name tag. Even fish, bird, or snowflake ornaments can double as table decor. This Christmas I used some scrapbook paper for homemade name tags. This same paper will make a fabulous frame mat for a photo for a little girl.


I love me some food gifts no matter what time of year. And sometimes all we have is basics - like tin foil. God gave us tin foil to protect us from brain-wave-reading aliens, to create our tin man costume and for gift wrapping food. It is an item 99% of folks have in their home. And it makes an excellent wrapping paper when combined with a bit of bow. But wait. This isn't the only thing most peeps got lying around for gift embellishment - white printer paper can be a great cookie envelope, baggies are perfect for candied gifts, even that odd mug (that used to be part of a set but alas, the boyfriend dropped the matching partner) can hold anything from Hersey kisses to a few Christmas meatballs. Now tell me - who wouldn't like to get a mug of meatballs!? Either way, we have many, many resources lying around the house that when combined with a little imagination can create excellently wrapped gifts that don't cost a thing.

So who is ready to go shopping? Did you already stock up? I already got all my supplies...but I am kinda itching to get back out there to see if I missed something. and you know what they say about an itch...

Monday, December 29, 2008

I am a spoiled brat

This Christmas was unreal. You guys know how much I like presents. Pretty wrappings topped with a sparkly bow. A gift bag stuffed to the gills with white tissue paper. A brown paper package tied up with string (anyone wanna break into song at a sleepover?!)

The point as I have said so many times before is this: I feel so loved when I get a gift. This holiday I felt the love. I felt mucho love. like love that Bono feels. he gets screaming fans, I got tons of kick-A gifts. It was as close as I have ever gotten to adoration. I felt like a spoiled rotton princess. I almost felt bratty just being on the receiving end...but then I remembered how fabulous all my gifts were and I got over it :) In fact...let's just be honest...I loved every gosh darn second and I love reminscing here about my drool-worthy worldly goods.

This may sound cruel, seeing how we are in a recession and all...and believe me, I am not trying to rub anything in anyone's face. So, here is the disclaimer...I know you will hate me after you read this post - so turn away. Close this post. If you continue - you will have feelings of disappointment toward your loved ones. Santa will be the arch nemesis for years to come. And unfortunately, Bower Power will be host to your ridiculously spoiled blog frenemy...whom you are insanely jealous of. It is a burden I must carry :)


My Grandparents and parents gave us moolah...lots of moolah. I spent every last penny. I have a job so that I can save money...Christmas is so we can help spur the economy. That is the real reason for the season, right? Just you Jesus!

Anyhoo, went to Pottery Barn/WS home outlet, Goodwill, and TJMaxx (how's that for a combo!) and got some fantastic new stuff for the house.

I guess my grandparents technically bought me this set of 6 squiggly glass cups. Jeremy breaks glasses like Jews at weddings. It's routine for me to get new ones. Aren't they fab? And my favorite part is that when you put drinks in them, the liquids look colder cause of the squigglies. Dontcha think?
4 graphic & green salad plates and a wooden soy candle...both PB. Bragging: plates cost less than $2 a piece :) Thanks Mummum & Pappap!
Mercury glass votives in silver & green, snowflake placecard holders - 75% off at PB. Tiny ornament placecard holders - 50% off at Hobby Lobby. Gray glass trees - 90% off original price at TJ to the Maxx. Now I am ready for next year...almost.
I also scored this expensive looking down-filled brown & white lumbar pillow at the Maxx for full price. Go ahead and gasp. I know. I don't usually do that. But seeing as how full price was only $14.99 - I thought it would be alright. Please forgive me.
The white PB soup tureen was only $20. And my dear mummy dearest bought Jeremy and I those lovely white-handled Cutco knives. I am a little bit scared of them seeing how I manage to cut myself on our current set of dull-as-a-plastic-spoon knives. They could definitely hinder my blogging speed. And I got the plate stand at Goodwill. It was only $4. I think I might spraypaint the sucker either silver or dark bronze...whatta ya think?
The 6 yellow placemats ($1.24 each) and the giant round vase ($12) are PB - Thanks be to the Grandparents! and the little bud vases and the artichokes are from Pier 1 - curtesy of the my in-laws very generous gift card :) The square vase was Goodwill - so mom you get a point for this one.
Pier 1 also had these cute little shell style ramikins and sauce dishes. And boy do they look saucy stacked on one another in a setting - I may have to host a sushi night so that I can put them in action. And that little white bud vase ($1) was too cute to not put in my cart. Thanks again Dad & have great taste!
Four red salad plates, two diffusers, and some woven accent balls complete my gift card action. The white bowl is huge and will be perfect for a tossed caesar salad. It was only $10 at PB.
My generous hubby got me the Victoria Secret sampler - and I am amped about trying out all the different scents...although not all at the same time...that would be about as sexy as a skunk. The underarmour headbands and chapsticks are stocking stuffers from my in-laws (I haven't had a stocking in a while and digging out the goodies was extra fun this year). My brother in law got me the mint chocolate chip bath smell-goods...the back of the bottle read: smells good enough to eat. please don't.
He also got me this silverplated tray from Ikea and matching coasters. I can't wait to serve glasses of bubbly on it or stack bowls and fruit on it with a pitcher of OJ for a super-casual breakfast.
Jeremy also bought me a little something to keep me sexy on the inside :) I asked for a white one with my name (and I prefer New King James Version) so I think he is going to keep this one as a good alternative to his big fattie bible. I really like the size and the extra reference material in the it isn't that far off. Our friends own a Christian bookstore so now that my boyfriend knows the parameters of what I hope to be my forever-bible (the one I will live by and get buried with) hopefully it will be here by my birthday. Until then my coverless good book will have to keep me going :)
And no Christmas is complete without gadgets. My dad got me the 500GB external hard drive...yeah I didn't know that they made things that huge. That's what she said. And my brother & sister in law got me a remote control for my camera (it's awesome!). My sister totally scored with getting me and my man the first three seasons of The Office...and yes, it came with the stipulation that we must let her borrow it without hesitation.
Jeremy got me the Jack Johnson CD that I go baby. And he got me a blue-ray movie and a lens cleaning kit and a lens filter. He definitely hit a high note by snagging Photoshop 7 and wrapping that sucka up for me. It will probably be a while till anyone sees it in action...but let me tell ya, I am pumped!
And lastly he got me a navigational system. It isn't the most unusual thing for me to call him to see if he could mapquest a way out of the ghetto. And tricky tricky got outta bed on Black Friday (unbeknownst to moi) to score the life-saver at a great price. He spoils me.
And Christmas wouldn't be christmas without some apparel. I got some uber-comfy socks from my in-laws...boy do my feet love them. And I got some sweet exercise gear - all due to my parents generousity. Hopefully - in the next few months I can say that my mom & dad got me a littler bootie for the holidays. hopefully.

So there you have it. My blissfully satisfied self - all because of my loving family and their thick wallets. All I can say is that I am undeservedly spoiled rotten. and to whom much is given, much is expected. That's how it goes, right? I guess I better get crackin on that :)

And because I am nosy and would love to know what you got, I shared the scoop on my spoils first. But now you have to promise me to tell me what you got and what your most favoritey present was this year. Heck, my birthday is coming up & a girl has got to plan ahead :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Decorating for Christmas

No better time than the eve of Christ's birth to talk about Christmas decorations. In preparation of the birthday celebration and Santa's arrival, we pulled out the green & red storage tubs full of goodies and got ornamental up in here.

I decided this was the year to replace the little wire hangers on our ornaments with real ribbon. It only took about an hour to string about one hundred yule-tide balls and I love the overall effect. Since all of our ornments match, I went with a thin white ribbon for all. If you have a more electic style of tree embellishment, then a variety of different ribbons would look effortless and less matchy-matchy. Either way, no more running out for tetnus shots the week of Christmas because of wire-jabbed fingers.

The number one thing on my new-to-do-this-Christmas list was copy this idea. C'mon, nothing says Jesus is born like a disco ball! And since Jeremy and I used much smaller disco ball ornaments in the past - it was the milk to my cookies and brought me a whole lotta good cheer! Of course our color scheme is different from the Cottage Living interpretation - more traditional colors with a very untraditional 'star'.

We placed the tree in the den this year instead of the living room. And it was my brilliant boyfriend's idea to place it in front of the window (I had it in the corner - what was I thinking?!?!). Now you can see the lights from the street - YAY! Yes and here is a fun Bower Power fact - guess how many lights are on our tree...give up? clue?...I did the math and it is in the neighborhood of 3200. Sort of overboard I guess. But this gives Santa from Atlanta no excuse for missing our house. It's the one on fire.

When we removed the curtains, the curtain rod just begged for embellishment. I found an old Southern Living At Home catalog that featured a fireplace with round ornaments hanging with ribbon. Thus our blinged out curtain rod. I kinda think it looks like musical notes. And I love the shadow it casts on the wall. Oh and if you ever need some southern inspiration - look at the SLAH catalog for a quick boost.

The naked fireplace was so bare before. Now it has some candlesticks, faux garland, little white and red balls of yule-tide, and black & white ribbon giving it an infusion of Christmas fun. I know what you are is missing something. Alas, we have no stockings. The shame. We definitely need to order some this year - do I hear post-holiday shopping?!?!

Ornaments got scattered all over the house - but this was one of my favorite displays. Our white ceramic horse head got the holiday treatment with a couple jingle bells (mini disco balls) and a silvery ribbon necklace. A few ornaments in small glass vases and you have yourself a sleek, modern (and super easy) display!

The den's coffee table got in on the action with ornaments galore and a bowl of Christmas kisses (no mistletoe required). The starry origami ornament is too big for our tree - but just right on a tabletop. And when the morning light hits the disco balls in the big bowl - it takes everything in me not to bust a John Travolta move. Seriously - the whole room lights up like Studio 54! It's totally groovy :)

I think a couple elves got a hold of our giraffes...those sparklers are too funny! Look's like we have another Vixen in the house - and this ain't no reindeer! Meow!

Well, I hope that you all had fun decorating your house for the big day. I know (understatement ahead) we had a good time. During all our preparations, I still thought of you and your great holiday ideas. Some peeps like sugarplums - me, I like I have a few questions that I hope you can answer in the affirmative. Will Santa be proud? Are your stockings hung with care? Could your tree 'sleigh' me with delight? It is the greatest gift to spend time with family and friends - but a close second is a house full of reminders of this wonderful winter holiday.
Merry Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kitchen Makeover

Shut up Katie about your kitchen already.

I'm sorry. but it is so hot's like summer in Tahiti hot.

Yea, but we are sick of hearing about it. Enough already.

But if you only knew how far it has come!

Well, do you have 'before' and 'after' pictures? Then we could see the real progress.

Actually I DO!


All new cabinets, counter top, flooring, and back splash replaced 1970's cabinets, laminate counter tops, linoleum flooring, and mildewy walls. The lower part of the wall was removed in picture #2 after discovery of wet drywall and moldy insulation. The wallpaper was removed and all new stainless steel appliances were installed. Also, thirty years of roach poo was eradicated from the premises.


The wall separating the kitchen from the den was just ridiculous...even in the 70's. It was supposed to house a wall oven and a cook top. But instead of providing more storage and delineating the space - it actually took up more space than it provided and blocked light and made the space cramped. It was quickly replaced by the 'peninsula' of a granite counter top with overhead pendant lighting.

The kitchen now opens up to the den. Since there is no eat-in area, the barstools & countertop act as our go-to spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hopefully one day we can find three or four uber-jiggy-with-it stools to allow for a little more seating. But for now, when we have more than two eaters, we find ourselves in the dining room or on our couch.


(I really don't think my leg is supposed to bend like that! Can you say compound fracture?!)

Lastly, our fridge & microwave area. As you saw previously, the wall next to the fridge was only as deep as the cabinetry. We bumped that wall out a bit to make a complete covering for the side of our freezer-box. This same wall now houses a short bookcase (that holds dishes) and a mirror.

And there we have it.

A complete kitchen makeover - from head to toe. Dontcha just love before and afters?!?! I know I do!

Word to your Motha...

...and to mine :)

When I heard that my mom had decorated her house, I was amped about sharing her mad skills in Christmas decorating. Armed with my SLR and my old house key, I busted a move open the front door and started clicking away. And boy, I was not disappointed. Her traditional style with a theme-y foundation has some infusions of modern elements, cheap decor ideas, and of course, classic yule-tide inspiration.

Nativity scene takes centerstage in the great room. The wee baby Jesus' manger gets an upgrade with some holly and berries to add a little more color to the overall brown-ness. And a bigger-than-the-barn angel joins the oohing & aahhing crew (if I were God, I would get the little tike a body guard too...come on, anyone heard of Herod the baby-killer?!?) as well as a couple flanking urns.

Also in the great room is the main event - the Christmas tree. This year's theme was "Woodland Birds" and she scored enough feathered friends to complete the tree and have some to spare.
Upon closer inspection, you can see the tree also has some ornaments curtesy of the backyard. Branches were free from some 'local' bushes as well as the berries and some vacated birds nests.

Tying in the mini-valances with her color scheme, the tree boasts gold, red and a touch of sparkle. Yes, sparkle is technically a color.

Some of her ornaments were this glass one with the handpainted wings and the super sleek tail feathers.

And some were newer additions. I liked this silver and white one that boasted the real white feather plume.

Mom's dining room was oozing with the silver and white decor. The mercury glass tree, the tall beaded cone-tree, and the random ornaments were my favorite.

Also - I just adore the whole throw-a-bunch-of-ornaments-in-a-vase-and-call-it-a-day idea. Her buffet is ready for any event as she has her punch bowl, stacked glass plates, and serving dishes already out.

Mom goes modern in the kitchen with cone shaped trees of various heights adorning the island. I especially like that she chose an area that had great overhead lighting to make this festive display. The lighting effects make the trees sparkle even in a dark room and immediately make me believe that all trees look like this in the North Pole.

Above the television is another wintery display that goes along with the Woodland birds theme. The biggest abandoned nest make a nice home for ornamental gold eggs...Laid by the Christmas bird. Some small pine cones got a quick dusting of gold spray paint to tie in nicely with the color scheme.

A Christmas fireplace without stockings?! That's right mother is just as nuts as me...and her fixation is not animals with's stockings on the mantle. Put them ANYWHERE but the mantle. and no - it's not because she thinks it is a fire hazard...been there, asked that.

Her swirly fireplace screen protects innocent fingers from glowing balls of fire and the poinsettias add some softening up of all that brick.

Even her stocking-less mantle got into the swing of things, with some pheasants, berries (cause that is what birds eat) and some fruit-filled and ribbon garland.

And lastly, the foyer table top display. Two mini trees got a winter-wonderland version of the woodland birds theme with white toille, white ornaments, white nests, and some albino birds...also known as doves :)
So that's the end of mom's tour-de-house...I know it is a very traditional approach to decor but different folks, different strokes, right?! And if it IS up your alley...err...neck of the woods, then great! I know my mom would love knowing that she is an inspiration...and you are me :)
And the next time you guys see a bird (or a tree for that matter), wouldja mind throwin a prayer around for mi madre? She had ACL surgery on her knee this past week so she is now a crippled gimp. How did she get all mangled? Oh, she was jumpin on the trampoline trying to grab a tree branch. I don't know many grandma's who do that either. Oh & quick question - Mom - is that how you got the branches for the Christmas tree!?!