Instagram 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

 2013 was a great year! Here is a look back at some of my favorite Instagram pictures from the year.

I loved looking back at all the pictures I snapped! Hope you enjoyed it too!


Wrapping Up

Saturday, December 21, 2013

One of my favorite Christmas activities is wrapping the presents! I know there are others out there that enjoy it as much as I do...right? Every year I use brown kraft paper for my gifts! I just love the way my gifts look under the tree! I try to mix up the bows and gift tags each year, but I LOVE how the gifts are looking this year...I may just stick with this for a while!

My gift wrapping is SUPER simple. I used fabric instead of ribbon...I really don't know why I didn't think of this sooner! Two yards only cost me about $2 and I have plenty for all of my gifts. I also picked up a white paint pen. I hate buying gift tags or stickers...i really just haven't found any that I love. I used the paint pen to label the presents this year. I tried to use different lettering, and make it look festive and fun! I don't know how long I will be able to use this kraft paper, but for now I am sticking with it!

Happy Wrapping!

christmas activities

Wild Lights

Friday, December 20, 2013

Well, we marked another Christmas activity off of that list of mine! We went to the zoo! I wouldn't normally consider a visit to the zoo a Christmas activity, but the St. Louis Zoo turns into a winter wonderland at night! Wild Lights is something I have been wanting to see for a few years, and this year we finally did! I was so excited, and you better believe we made it an adventure! Josh, Val, Dane and I may have picked the worst night of December to make the hour drive to St. Louis, but it was worth it! It was cold...VERY COLD, but there were lots of layers, hot chocolate, and a walk through the reptile house to keep us warm!

I will admit that I thought there would be more animals to view. We did get to see the sea lions, some snakes, and some really creepy bugs, but most of the animals exhibits were closed. We still had a great time, and I am sure that kiddos would LOVE it! There are little activities scattered around for them to participate in.

It started snowing just as we were getting ready to leave...BEAUTIFUL!

What Christmas activities are you enjoying?


Deck the Halls

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December has been busy, but I am not complaining! We have had a lot of fun, and there is so much more to come! We have already managed to mark off a few activities from my list...with the help of two of our favorite people!

We kicked off our holiday activities a couple of weeks ago with our First Annual Deck the Halls Christmas Extravaganza! It was work, but it was a lot of fun! We started the day at our house. Val and I decorated the inside, while the boys hung up lights outside. Our outdoor decorations are pretty simple (just two strands of lights).

Then it was on to Josh and Val's house!

It was a fun day of decorating! However, I have added a few more things! I did just get this AMAZING wreath that is now decorating my front door! If you are reading from Pennsylvania, check out Henry's Tree Farm...and be sure to like them on Facebook!

You can see some Christmas decorations from last year by clicking the links below.

Christmas Tree Stand

Snow Globes




Thursday, December 05, 2013

It is time to deck the halls, wrap the gifts, and let it snow! December is here, and we are in the Christmas spirit. This month is going to be the busiest of the year! There is shopping to be done, family to be seen, and lots of holiday activities to enjoy! I am so excited.

 November was a GREAT month! We celebrated the birthdays of some pretty special ladies, AND we welcomed my adorable nephew into the family! He is an absolute doll...I would seriously spend every hour of the day cuddling him if I could! Thanksgiving was busy, but amazing...as always! Plus we had our First Annual Deck the Halls Christmas Extravaganza...I will be posting about that very soon!




Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I did not partake in the 30 Days of Thanksgiving on Facebook, but I have a lot to be thankful for (including a BRAND NEW nephew). I am looking forward to seeing all of our family tomorrow. Thanksgiving is a BUSY day for us, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Sure, I wonder what it would be like to wake up, make breakfast, watch the Macy's parade in our PJ's, and enjoy a nice meal with family in the afternoon...BUT that wouldn't be Thanksgiving! We get to enjoy FOUR Thanksgiving celebrations. It is great, because we get to see almost everyone in our family. That is the best thing in the world! There are sometimes arguments, always laughter, and lots of love...and turkey!

 I hope that all of you have an amazing Thanksgiving! 


Holiday Happenings

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Who is ready for the holidays?! This girl is! I am really in the holiday spirit, and have been putting together a list of fun activities that I want to do this year. I AM SO EXCITED!

 We are kicking off my list of holiday excitement with The First Annual Deck the Halls Christmas Extravaganza! Doesn't it sound exciting!? On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we are going to spend the whole day decking the halls walls (we don't have any halls in our house) and drinking hot chocolate. This is an idea that my cousin Val and I came up with, and the boys are pretty stinkin' excited about it (don't let them tell you otherwise)! We are going to start the day at our house! While Dane and Josh put up the outdoor lights, Val and I are going to decorate the inside and make lunch. Once we are done with our house, we will move on to theirs! Doesn't it sound awesome?! I imagine that the day will also include Elf playing on a loop! I will be sure to document this day, and share all of the fun details with you.

Can you tell that I am excited about Christmas decorations! I really don't like to put stuff up before Thanksgiving, but it takes a lot of self control to keep myself from doing it! I am glad that my neighbors are not followers of the rule...I am happy to just gaze out the windows at their lights! I am ready for the day that the whole neighborhood will be sparkling with Christmas lights. I am hoping that Dane and I can drive around town, look at the lights, and listen to Christmas music! Who wants to join us?

Can you imagine the ZOO decorated for Christmas?! I have wanted to go to Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo for several years...this year I AM GOING! I am probably imagining it as something much more spectacular than it actually is, but I don't care. I love the zoo when it is 110º out...and I am sure I will love it just as much when it is only 30º and transformed into a winter wonderland!

All of my other free time will probably be spent with family...and shopping! What kind of awesome things do you have planned for the season?


It's Beginning To Sound a Lot Like Christmas

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hot cocoa, cozy slippers, the smell of spruce, and CHRISTMAS MUSIC! It is that time of year again! Dane has even been enjoying the festive tunes. I have not started decorating...but that will start soon enough! Of course, I will be decorating with all of my favorite Christmas music playing in the background. Here is a list of all of my favorite holiday songs. I have put a lot of thought into this list, and I hope you enjoy it...while sipping a big cup of hot chocolate!

Baby it's Cold Outside - Leon Redbone & Zooey Deschanel

It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas - Michael Bublé

Believe - Josh Groban

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Christina Perri

Hairy Christmas - Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas (This album is

awesome...and the only reason my sweet husband is letting me listen to Christmas music this early! But seriously, check it out!)

Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt

Silent Night - Lady Antebellum

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Michael Bublé (Yes, he made the list

twice...really his whole album should be on this list!)

Maybe This Christmas - Ron Sexsmith

Run Run Rudolph - Luke Bryan

White Christmas - The Drifters

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Christmas music always gets me in the festive mood! What are your favorite songs for the holiday season?


Surprise...Another Chalkboard

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Can anyone have too many chalkboards? I don't think so! Anyway, I have really been wanting to make a framed chalkboard for a while. I found an old framed painting at Salvation Army a couple of weeks ago, and thought that it would be perfect for my little project.

After I painted over the original painting with chalkboard paint, I taped that area off and spray painted the frame white.

I really like the way that it turned out, but now I have to find a place to put it. Okay, maybe you can have too many! For now it will go in the spare room...which I will show you when the hubs and I get it all cleaned out. (It is almost done! We just need to make a couple more trips to the attic!)


Happy November

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Happy November!!! October was a great month! I am still all excited about all of the celebrations we got to partake in! Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries...oh my! We had so much fun spending time with our family and friends throughout the month.

I officially broke out my scarf collection. It is totally acceptable to wear scarfs everyday of the week, right? You can find my new favorite scarf here!

I also decided it was time to start buying a few Christmas decorations! I am obsessed with this garland from West Elm. I figured I could use the white garland all year round!

Speaking of decorations, it wouldn't have been October without some "spooky" chalkboards! Our house was covered!

Enough about October...lets move on to all of the excitement of November. I have been listening to Christmas music all week! I will be making a list of all of my favorite tunes very soon! I haven't gotten out any decorations (and I won't until after Thanksgiving), but I am very tempted to change all of my scents over to Christmas Cottage and Sparkling Spruce. November has already proven to be a fabulous month! Last weekend we celebrated a baby shower for my sweet nephew! He isn't here yet, but I already love him so much! There are also some big birthdays to celebrate this month, AND Thanksgiving! This is my favorite time of year! Do you have big plans for November?

coffee cup

Enjoying a Little DIY

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I was really in the mood to do some DIY today. After looking through some of my boards on Pinterest, I decided that I would make a cute little coffee mug! I found this tutorial several months ago, and thought I could finally put it to good use! The supply list is short! A white coffee cup, Sharpie marker, and a little creativity...and an oven.

Once you have drawn your design onto the mug, you just place it in the oven at 350º for 30 minutes. DONE! You have a one of a kind coffee cup!

There are a few things that I will do differently next time.

ONE: I would use a black Sharpie marker! I thought I had one at my house, but I only had bright colors and gold. I think the black would cover better.
TWO: I would get a different coffee cup. The dollar store only had two to choose from, but I would have liked one that was more square. This shape is not the easiest to write on.
THREE: I would keep the design simple. Swirls are kinda my thing, but I think clean lines would have looked better.

This project was really easy! AND...wouldn't this make a cute gift?! I am going to have to make some more (with revisions)!

For now I am going to enjoy the little things...like a cup of hot tea, and an episode of Bones!


TWO Years

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Today is our anniversary! I don't know how it is possible that we have been married for TWO whole years, but it really has been a great two years! I can still remember anxiously waiting for him to pick me up for our first date...we were kids then! Now, over seven years later, here we are! It hasn't always been easy. There are times when we disagree, but at the end of each day we are thankful to have one another.

I am so lucky to have Dane. AND...I am certain that he is the only man who would put up with my crazy DIY ideas, my desire to cover everything we own in chalkboard paint, and my random dancing.

Two years down...forever to go! :)

 Photos by Kevin Zimarik Photography.


Home is Where the Art Is

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sometimes simple DIY projects are my favorite! They are require few supplies, can be done in a couple of hours, and can really be a great statement piece. A while back I found the perfect simple DIY project. I have really been wanting some state art, and I had all of the materials to make some!

After printing off the outline of Illinois, I cut it out and taped it over some watercolor paper. Then I just started painting! After I was done, I pulled off the stencil and splattered a little extra paint around the edges! I LOVE the way it turned out! AND...I have some other fun watercolor projects planned! Get excited!

October is Here

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Who is excited about October...I know I am! September was a month filled with fun! There were festivals, birthday parties, and lots of other celebrations! Dane and I got to spend lots of quality time with our family, and that always makes for a good month. AND I finally got to break out some scarves...that is a successful month in my book!

October is going to be a fun and BUSY month! We are working on planning a special baby shower...I can't wait to share all the details! Plus, we have birthdays parties, AND Dane and I are going to be celebrating our 2 year anniversary! Is that even possible?! I would also like to have some kind of Halloween party this year, but I say that every year...we will see!

Have a great October!


Chalk Pumpkins

Friday, September 27, 2013

Yesterday was my day off, and I decided to spend most of the day working on some DIY projects! That usually means breaking out the chalkboard paint. Seriously...no surface is safe! Anyway, I had picked up some $1 mini pumpkins at Wal-Mart the other day, and decided that they would be even better with a coat or two of chalkboard paint! Who likes traditional pumpkins anyway?

I think they are pretty stinkin' cute! In fact, they may be my favorite fall decor!


Another Year Older

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wow, I cannot believe that I have turned another year older! Where does the time go?! I spent the weekend celebrating 25 with my friends and family. Celebrations kicked off on Thursday with birthday pancakes! (The pancakes were actually in celebration of my friends birthday!) What can I say...I like to celebrate!

Friday night I got to spend time with my sweet little niece, Kinleigh, and adorable nephews! I am a very lucky auntie!

 Saturday was a fun filled day with Lauren! We started the day with a trip to a local fall festival...imagine pumpkins, crafts, and the sweet smell of kettle corn! I left the festival with some yummy scents to burn around my house! Seriously...don't come over unless you like the smell of pumpkin!

 After the fall festival, we went to the Wooden Nickel Winery! We had a great time tasting different wines and chatting about life. We have both decided that 25 is going to be an awesome year!

 The rest of the day involved a DIY project, a photo shoot, an air hockey match, New Girl, and a slumber party!

Sunday, Dane and I went to church and then had lunch with his family. Later, we went and did some shooting, and had supper with my family. A whole day with my husband is my favorite way to celebrate! (Plus, Sunday was Dane's half birthday...another thing to celebrate!) If you want something to celebrate let me know...I search those out like it's my job!

Last night, we wrapped up the celebrating with supper at Buffalo Wild Wings and frozen yogurt! I basically had the best birthday ever...bring on 25!


I Love Fall

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Are you guys tired of hearing about my love for fall!? I am sorry...I really can't help it! I have not had a chance to work on many DIY projects this month, but I have a couple that I am hoping to get to soon! In the mean time here are some of my lovely fall decorations!

My uncle made us that awesome bench! Isn't it the greatest!? You can find the tutorial for my autumn bunting here!

Have you started decorating for fall?



Monday, September 09, 2013

Sorry it took me so long to get this post up! I have been busy, busy, busy enjoying my favorite month of the year! However, it is going to be hard for September to top August! What a great end to summer! There was vacation, a new (very adorable) nephew, news that we are going to have a niece, and lots of other wonderful reasons to celebrate! I got to spend lots of time with family and great friends, AND I did a little work on our house! (Adding curtains counts as work, right?)

What does September have in store? I have already had a pretty busy month, but the weeks to come are going to be great! I am looking forward to several senior sessions, a fun filled girls' night, lots of hot apple cider, and some birthday celebrations! I am feeling very blessed! I hope you all have a wonderful month.


Is it Autumn Yet?

Friday, August 30, 2013

I don't know about you guys, but this weather has me longing for fall! I decided that I would make some autumn decor...after all, September is in a couple days!!!

I picked up some burlap and lace at Wal-Mart for a cute little bunting!

I made a pattern with some cardboard, and cut out each triangle, and sewed them to the lace. I used this process to make the stencils and paint the letters on the bunting. 

It looks great on the front porch! I thought I would just hang it up long enough to take pictures, but I think I am going to leave it. Maybe it will bring the colder weather this way! I will wait to add more fall decor, but it won't be long! ;)

Hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend!


Chasing Vera

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Is anyone surprised that I am writing a post about Vera Bradley? I didn't think so!

A while back, Dane came up with a brilliant way to encourage me to run...this was after his attempt to "do dishes" while I was at the gym. (I came home to 2 dozen freshly baked cookies! More dishes and tempting treats...NOT HELPING!) Anyway, Dane decided that he would encourage me with Vera Bradley! For every mile I ran I earned a dollar towards some Vera of my choice! I just love him! (For many more reasons than this!)

 Last week I went and cashed in a few of my Vera dollars on this beauty!

 The little hipster is the perfect size (for a smaller purse) and I LOVE that it has a wallet compartment built in!

 I was torn between Jazzy Blooms and Plum Crazy, but I am so glad I went with this one! It matches everything!

 The real motivation for working out is being healthy, but it is also nice to have a goal to work towards. Knowing that I am only 5 miles away from a wallet or pair of Vera Bradley sunglasses makes it easy to get out and run! AND... I don't feel guilty when I buy something. After all, I earned it!

 What motivates you to stay active?

five star vacations

2013 VanHandel Family Vacation

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

 We're back! Dane and I spent the weekend on Table Rock Lake. We had been looking forward to this trip for a long time (I mentioned it a couple times here and here), and it was quite an adventure! The trip started early Friday morning. We met 10 of our friends (wearing matching shirts), loaded up an RV, and hit the road. About one hour into the trip the air conditioner stopped working, but we didn't let that ruin our fun! A few rounds of Would You Rather, lots of laughs, and SIX hours later, and we had arrived!

(This photo was edited using the Rhonna Designs app.)

 We quickly unloaded our belongings from the RV and got them on our houseboat! We rented the houseboat through a company called Five Star Houseboat Vacations. They were so helpful, and made loading the boat a piece of cake!

 Our houseboat was amazing!!! There were 6 bedrooms, a hot tub, and a slide...what more do you need, right?! Once we found a spot on the lake, we got in the water for a while. It was nice to float around and cool off. Later, we made supper and watched Pitch Perfect!

The next two days we spent floating, eating, and sleeping! It was wonderful.

We did move the boat once...to a place with an amazing view and some fun cliffs!

On the second morning, I took a little walk to the cliff edge to drink my coffee and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

THEN...I saw a snake! It was about 30 feet below in the water, but it was enough to make the spot a little less relaxing! I snapped this picture to show the crew...AND apparently there was a photo bombing turtle! I didn't even see the turtle until I looked at the picture!

The weekend was great! I would definitely go on this vacation again!

Hope all of the VanHandel's are ready for next year! (We aren not actually VanHandel's...but that is a very long story!)


This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own!


Happy Birthday...to the blog!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My sweet, little blog just turned 2! I have had such a great time sharing DIY projects, favorite products, and many random thoughts with all of you! It is hard to believe that 2 years have passed. I cannot wait to see what fun posts I will be writing in the future! Happy Birthday, blog! Feel free to celebrate with some pancakes!

(These were actually Dane's birthday pancakes...I try to be a sweet wife!)

fall favorites

Pre-Fall Favorites

Monday, August 12, 2013

I don't know if it is the rain or my craving for a pumpkin spice latte, but I am ready for fall to get here. Anybody with me!? It is my FAVORITE season! There are just so many things to love...I won't even try to list them all! However, I am going to share some of my pre-fall favorites with you.

1. Sweater 2. Bahama Mama 3. Jeans 4. Phone Case 5. Shoes

You can never go wrong with jeans and a sweatshirt...but I LOVE this updated version! I may buy this in every color and just get rid of my hoodies all together! Okay...I probably won't get rid of my hoodies, but one of these will be hanging in my closet very soon!

laundry room

Just a Simple Makeover

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I love little updates that make a big difference! I have been wanting to do something with our laundry room for a while. What I would really like to do is put some cabinets in for all of my cleaning products, extra toilet paper, and my large nail polish collection whatever else I may decide to store. I envision something like this drawing.

 Yes, I did use graph paper to ensure I made straight lines...don't judge!

 Anyway, this weekend we started working on it! It will be a while before the rest gets done, but I will embrace the baby steps! I just stained a board that I picked up at RP Lumber, and Dane used brackets to fasten it to the wall. It was probably the easiest update ever! I don't know why we didn't do it sooner. The whole project cost about $25! Check out the before and after below!

I am LOVING the they way it looks! What do you think?