Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's Eve

I'd like to wish everyone a safe and happy new years eve!!! I'll be celebrating in Raleigh tonight with friends. Every year Raleigh does an Acorn drop (similar to the big ball drop in New York except on a smaller North Carolina scale) and thousands flock to Raleigh to stand in the freezing cold for the count down. We will not be among them. Instead we will pregame with wine cocktails in a warm apartment and head to a bar for midnight festivities! No matter how you spend your holiday - keep warm and keep safe!
oxox - April and Lilly
10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmastime is coming to a close...

And I'm not ready. The Christmas music has stopped and the holiday specials on tv are over. I have not taken down my tree but I will probably get to that sometime this weekend. For the time being I am enjoying the last of my Christmas Eve wine in my new snowman goblet that was given to me by a coworker.
All good things come to an end. Can't wait for 2011.
Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cleaning products I love...

This is an updated cleaning post, I did one a while back but I'm constantly trying new things so these are my new favorites. These suggestions are only my opinion. Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom cleaner - I love this for my shower and sink. Spray it on and let it sit for about 15 minutes, then a little light scrubbing with a sponge and all the gross stuff is gone! I use this about once a week.
SwifferVac. I love this because it attracts pet hair (and mine) and can vacuum up cat litter. I use this about every other day.
Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Gel. This is something new I'm trying, the little blue disk cleans your toilet for about 2 months. Fine by me!
Microfiber Sponges. I buy mine at the dollar store and these can be washed and reused. I use one for dusting surfaces with Pledge and I use another specifically for counter tops.
Clorox Greenworks Multipurpose cleaner. I've blogged about this before, I'm still loving this for basic cleaning in the kitchen.
Extended Arm Sponge. OMG I love this, I bought one at Walmart and it is the best thing for wiping down a bathroom and shower walls. It reduces the amount of bending that you have to do to get that deep down clean.
Method Best in Glass. Love the mint scent. Love the Method line of products. This is an awesome glass product with zero ammonia. (I love windex but the chemicals aren't good for you!)
This Method microfiber wipe works great with the Best in Glass...ZERO streaks! It's about $4 but it can be washed and reused so you waste less paper towels!
I've been buying the Palmolive Eco dishwashing detergent. It doesn't leave the weird smell in your cups like some other products on the market. The detergent is suppose to break down naturally in the environment - I can't confirm that but I enjoy using it!
When all else fails, this is what I use. Mix it with water and wash bath mats, pour down clogged drains, and soak litter boxes. It's the very best thing for killing mold period among the million other uses for it. I have a special shirt that I wear when I play with clorox, I suggest you do the same.
Not a cleaning product but clutter looks so much better when sorted in canvas bins.

Monday, December 27, 2010

After Christmas Shopping

Like most of the east coast, my family has been snowed in since early Sunday morning. Our first White Christmas (that just missed Christmas by a few hours) since I was a little girl. My county had a solid foot of snow! So excited that it is finally starting to melt. Mom and I spent the whole day yesterday baking, playing cards, and watching movies. The novelty of snow wears off quickly in the Carolinas and I was happy when we could finally get out and do a little after Christmas shopping today. My loot: From Pier One this metal sleigh and reindeer tealight holder. I bought this as a centerpiece and I might weave some garland or poinsetta branches underneath it.
These were given to me, crystal Santa taper candle holders. I think I will use these with gold candles.
From Hallmark a snowy forest ornament, the camera didn't pick it up but there is a doe in the background. This scene is very similar to the one engraved on my dad's tombstone so I thought it would look beautiful on the tree in his memory.
Pickle ornament from Pier One. My friend told me her family hides the pickle in the tree every year and I noticed this is one ornament that they always sell out of so I picked one up for myself.
Tartan Plaid wrapping paper and gift tags from Hallmark.
I bought a few ornaments and mini diffusers from Pier One to use as gifts next year. I chose the ornaments with specific coworkers in mind but at least I can package them together for a quick gift. I LOVE the gingerbread diffuser so I might keep a couple for myself.
Modeling my new snowflake earrings from Kohls. I wanted something festive to wear that could possibly be used all winter long.
I really wasn't as excited this year about after Christmas shopping. I really don't need anything. In a month or so boots, thick socks, and scarves will go on clearance and I might purchase a few things then. I am in the market for a new raincoat but honestly nothing I'd go out and stand in line for. I think I might pick a few more things that can be used for gifts next year as I find them.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Ya'll

" Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests'."
I hope everyone has a great Christmas surrounded by family and friends. I hope Santa was good to you, but remember Mary wrapped the very first Christmas present!
oxox April and Lilly

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Candy - 5 Layer Bars

Yumm freakin' O!!! This is a Paula Deen Recipe and is so delicious:
1/2 cup chopped pecans 1 cup butterscotch morsels 1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
All of the above ingredients can be layered into a jar and given as a gift
1/2 cup melted butter
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk


Preheat oven to 350* F.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press into bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle remaining ingredients of mix over crumb mixture. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the layers. Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool. Cut into bars.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Candy - Pecan Bark

Spray PAM into a baking dish and pour in chopped pecans.
Add 2 teaspoons of coarse salt.
Toast in the oven at 350* for about 10 minutes.

In a tube pan lined with parchment paper alternate white chocolate and bittersweet chocolate squares in a checkerboard pattern. Melt in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. Swirl a knife or wooden skewer in the chocolate to make a pattern with the white and dark chocolate. Top with toasted pecans and cool in the fridge for about an hour. Break into pieces and Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top Two Tuesday

Favorite Christmas Memories.
I have too many to pick favorites so I just chose two.
1. When I was young and Santa was still a reality I have a distinct memory of my dad coming to open presents with me Christmas morning with his beard covered in cookie crumbs (green cream oreos were for Santa!) and milk in his moustache! Apparently they had forgotten that I'd check the snack plate we left for Santa until the last minute and mom told dad to take care of in a hurry and he forgot to check the mirror! PS - do they still make the green cream oreos anymore? I think they had a christmas tree stamped in the center instead of the oreo emblem???
2. My Christmas dolls. My grandpa bought my cousin and I a porcelain doll every birthday and every Christmas. I have some really beautiful ones and even some he handmade wooden stands for. They are still displayed in my room at my mom's house. I also love the way he wrapped them in the packing paper that they were probably shipped in and never wrote our names on them...just handed us each one. Honestly they weren't always new, sometimes he bought them from antique sales or auctions and obviously there were years when Cynthia and I didn't get the same one. My favorite is a Lady Diana Spencer doll. When we had family dinner Papa made sure this gift was our last present of Christmas!

Holiday Candy - Peanut Butter Balls

These are delicious...I make these every year!
Empty a small jar of peanut butter and mix with about 2 cups of powdered sugar. Add sugar in about half cup increments and stir well. When it gets hard to stir with a spoon switch to "kneading" it with your hands. Take small amounts of dough and roll into balls.
Chill the peanut butter balls for about half an hour. Place 1/3 bag of milk chocolate morsels in a double boiler until smooth. Cover each ball with the chocolate. Continue melting chocolate 1/3 bag at a time and dipping the peanut butter balls. Keep the candies in the fridge until you are ready to dip them.
Chill the candies until the chocolate sets. Keep in a container with a tight fitting lid.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Flatware!

So last year my grandma passed away the day after Thanksgiving. She had already bought my Christmas present so mom went ahead and gave it to me as my Christmas Eve gift. I think my grandma was big on tying up loose ends. I'm the only unmarried grandchild and when the others had their weddings my grandma spent a certain amount of money on each for something for their home. Well some months earlier she wanted to go ahead and give me the money for my gift....just in case she didn't make it. I shook the whole thing off, it wasn't even something I wanted to think about. As usual she got her way.
Here is my "new" Pfaltzgraff stainless steel flatware set. The design is "pearl", she couldn't have picked out a more beautiful pattern and it's perfect for everyday, casual use. I've had it a year and it stayed in a box because I toyed with the idea of only opening when I was married and in my own home. But a few weeks ago when I was packing to move I decided I deserved to having a matching set - MY set, picked out by MY grandma as MY Christmas present. She didn't give it to a "we", she gave it to "me" and as I've used it this past week it makes me think of her.

Work Christmas Party

So the past week has been so much fun at work, everyone has a stocking and we've all been leaving Christmas cards, candy and small gifts for each other. I wanted to wait until this week to "stuff" the stockings. My contribution will be my favorite Christmas treat:
These are soooooo good. We keep our candy dish at home full of them and I've been carrying a few in my lunch bag every day. I have a few coworkers that I'm really close with but this is my first Christmas with them and I wasn't sure how they did gifts. I bought a few round tins at the dollar store and packaged homemade candies (recipes to follow this week) but I have been really shocked at the nice gifts I've received! My loot:
The social worker gave me those beautiful painted snowman wine glasses and a very nice set of candy cane notecards that didn't make it into the photo. I think they were a "congratulations on your new apartment" / Christmas gift. My boss gave me the Victoria's Secret lotion and body wash and the secretary gave me the hand sanitizer and kitchen soap. Random candy was found in my stocking from the techs and nurses. My company also gave us all $25 gift cards to target! I made raspberry brownies for the Christmas party and the boss bought us all lunch from a very nice resturant in town (anyone ever had Korean Beef - good lawd it's amazing! We each brought a gift card from a resturant or store of our choice to play "The Wright Family Christmas". If you've never played, you must google it for a copy of the's a different variation of dirty santa or white elephant but if you read it fast it can get super confusing. I ended the game with a $25 gift card to Cracker Barrel and this sweet ornament: It's freaking adorable on my tree! We also received a gift from a local drugstore that apparently sends them out to all the medical offices. Here it is:
It has a nice scripture from the book of Psalms on the back and the inside of the bell is a snowflake! The social worker and I have divided the units for the patient Christmas parties on Wednesday. We're both making sugar cookies and decorating the lobbies. I've ordered the food so it'll be boxed up with utensils and they have little gifts from the company and cards from the staff that they'll be receiving that day. I'm really excited about it! If I remember I might try and sneak a picture.
Just for fun, this is Lilly getting ready for yet another Christmas movie...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In the Kitchen: Raspberry Brownies

This is a bit of a cheat recipe...taking a box mix and tweeking it to make it something really special. The idea came from With a Cherry on Top who takes the most beautiful food photos. I have bookmarked several recipes from her blog and can't wait to try them. I made a couple of changes to her recipe based on the fact that I hate to measure ingredients and I don't care for nuts.

1 box of brownie mix
 2 eggs
 1/2 cup vegetable oil
 1/4 cup water
 3 big tablespoons of raspberry spreadable fruit
 1/2 cup white chocolate, melted

  Directions heat oven to 350*. Spray PAM on a 9x9 baking dish. Mix brownie mix, eggs, water, and oil until smooth. Heat raspberry spreadable fruit in a small pam until just heated through and add to the brownie mix and stir into batter. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. In a microwavable safe dish (I used a pyrex measuring cup) heat white chocolate chips in 10-15 minute increments stirring between each increment until smooth. Drizzle chocolate over the brownies and let it cool.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New wine L.O.V.E.

I picked up a bottle of the Duplin Naughty and Nice tonight. Yum! It goes great with all my homemade Christmas candy (recipes to follow in the upcoming days). Bottle can be ordered at

Christmas Decorations 2010 (picture heavy)

My new nutcracker and Santa in the kitchen. Bar display. My nativity is on the side table in the background but I didn't get a photo. A glimpse of the tree. I have several gold picks I bought on sale for my topper last year but they didn't make is to the apartment in the move so I'll either add them later or wait until next year.
No fireplace in the new apartment so I hung them on the TV stand. I wish I had a mantel to decorate!
Deer figurines under the foyer table.
A little sparkle in the bathroom. That gingerbread reed diffuser is heaven and only $5 at Pier One. I want to buy a few more before they sell out.
Have a Beary Merry Christmas lol. This little bear came from a department store Christmas promotion I believe.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Initial Outfitters Party

Anyone out there heard of Initial Outfitters? I hadn't until a friend of mine started thinking about selling it recently. She hosted a party at her house and all the ladies gathered around a table of jewelry, purses, soaps, and scarves. The catalog is pretty extensive and there are several pieces I'd like to own. Unfortunately this party was thrown after my Black Friday shopping and I wasn't in a place financially to put a lot of money into myself this time of year. I did however purchase one item. This multi strand bead bib necklace and matching earring set. I LOVE the earrings. I could see myself wearing them all the time. The necklace seems more summer appropriate to it was mean to be worn with a strapless dress or tube top. It looks very heavy on me so I'll have to play around with it to figure out how it will look best. The quality is nice and the colors are beautiful. I bought the set for $32 which seems very reasonable compared to what I've seen at some local boutiques. I can't wait to get another catalog maybe next year I'll be more prepared to shop for myself.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Favorite Christmas Ornament

I wish I had a cuter story to go along with my ornament but it all started with a trip to the mall. One of those girl meets kiosk type events. Oh well. I bought this last year after a long search to find a silver tabby cat ornament for Lilly. The lady at the stand put her name on it and the year I found her. You can't really see it but the little heart charm around the neck has "2006" written on it. It sits at the top center of the tree even though it doesn't match my gold / bronze theme.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Duplin Winery Christmas Eve Wine. Delicious. This disappears off the shelves in the grocery stores in and around the Carolinas. It's seriously hard to find. But it can be ordered at

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top Two Tuesday

I'm not sure I've participated in a top two before...something new to try I guess. These are my top two favorite new finds of Christmas 2010!
Um when did Toll House start making these? They are heaven in my mouth...I'd buy them up if I knew they would freeze well. I've seen the little mint swirl chips in the baking aisle and I've used them in layer bar cookies but these are DIVINE! I have a plate full of them now as I'm typing this post.
Taylor Swift Christmas music...omg L.O.V.E. I'm listening to it now and I'm addicted.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Festive Feet

This is my go to polish during the's my mainstay from Thanksgiving to Valentines Day.
OPI Not really a Waitress.
This is a beautiful color, and there is a reason it is one of OPI's top selling polishes. There are several beautiful dimensions of color in this polish. When it hits the light it just looks so, festive. During the winter our feet sometimes get neglected with all the stockings, boots, and cozy socks. It's fun to have a shiny red peek through when the snow shoes come off.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Mom's Christmas Tree

Mom wanted some new decorations for her tree this year. She had some mismatched ornaments that she has collected over the years but she was bored with the "same old" items. I was in charge of finding her colorful, fun ornaments which I had a blast doing because I'd probably never choose these colors for my tree.
These were the "ingredients" for her tree. She has an artificial, fiber optic tree so I wanted to get ornaments that had some sparkle. I bought the ornament tubes for $1 at the dollar spot at Target. I bought the snowflakes 4 for $1.00 and the candy ornaments for $2 each. Mom bought the garland (haha, yes it's old school and kind of tacky but she likes it). I found the blue bow at Target for $5.
This is the blue bow on top of the tree. The cabinet behind the tree holds moms Santa Claus collection. That pig on the left is the thing I hate most, it was a gag gift from a coworker and she won't get rid of it.
A closeup of some of the ornaments on the tree. I love that the colorful lights and old school garland look like the trees I had when I was a kid. Christmas is so special to me; 1997 was the last Christmas I had with my dad and I love when mom does up all of our old family traditions. Christmas day my mom invites extended family over for brunch so this tree will have lots of gifts for the kids!