Friday, December 28, 2012

{Cheers to 2012!}

Today, I am loving...

My Recap of 2012

Where do I begin? This year has been incredible! So much so that I've been spending the last couple of weeks in semi-hibernation mode, taking in all that has happened and appreciating just how blessed I've been. I cannot thank my friends enough for including me in so many fun activities and for joining me in my adventures. My family has been super supportive in all that I've sought out to do and accomplish, and I am all the better because of it! Thank you guys. So in honor of the best year yet, here are a few of my favorite 2012 highlights:

Mardi Gras
Enjoyed: the Endymion ball, beignets & coffee, bead catching during parades, drinking Hurricanes and Grenades on Bourbon Street, meeting my first Brazilian love of the year, dancing along Frenchmen Street, visiting Oak Alley Plantation, taking a cocktail tour around NOLA, shopping on Magazine Street, being "adopted" by friends Mary & Tom, river-riding on the Steamboat Natchez

New Hobbies
As most of you may already know, one of the things I've taken up this year is indoor rock climbing. It's awesome! I've also dabbled in pursuing new things (that's what bucket lists are for) and have tried new ventures, such as archery and shooting.

Liked: walking around Old Town, writing on the Lennon Wall, seeing street performers on the Charles Bridge, clubbing at Karlovy Lazne, going on a comical guided city tour, checking out Prague castle, joining in a city-wide bar crawl, visiting the "Dancing House"

Fond of: seeing the President's palace, walking to the top of Castle Hill for a view of the city, eating Slovak dumplings with our friend Matus

Loved: enjoying some R&R at the Szecheny bath house, walking along the Danube, photographing Castle District and St. Stephen's Square, forming a large group of friends - made up of Americans, Dutchmen and Germans - at Szimpla, satisfying my inner "foodie" at Central Market Hall, touring the Human Body exhibit, being convinced by our roommates that staying out all night at Morrison's until our flight the next morning was an excellent choice

Mont Saint-Michel
Adored: staying at a B&B on the rock, touring the monastery, eating crepes and homemade strawberry ice cream, seeing everything lit up at night, being the subject of pictures for a bachelor party (they were older, but hilarious!), shopping in the alleys

Nice, Cannes, Monaco
Relished: (Nice) staying in a fabulous apartment in Old Town, sunbathing on the beaches, dancing on tables at Wayne's with new friends almost every night (it's a must!), buying new sundresses, eating ridiculously good food, (Monaco) walking the Grand Prix track, watching the changing of the royal guard, admiring fast cars, seeing the Monte Carlo casino, (Cannes) checking out the red carpet for the Cannes Film Festival, relaxing on one of the only sandy beaches in Southern France

Appreciated: visiting the Tower of London, watching the changing of the guard outside of Buckingham Palace, goofing around in Diana's playground, checking out Westminster Abbey, patiently waiting next to Parliament for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee boat parade (we saw her!), going on an adventurous 'Jack the Ripper' street tour, walking around Olympic Park, meeting up with our English friends for a pub crawl, window shopping in Notting Hill

Savored: (Toronto) going to the top of the CN Tower, walking around the Distillery District, stumbling upon a music festival near our hotel, touring the Bata Shoe Museum, visiting Casa Loma, biking around the Toronto islands, (Niagara) wine tasting at Trius, overlooking Niagara Falls, shopping at Niagara-on-the-Lake

Beach Trips
Over the summer, I went on a few beach trips with family and friends to both North Carolina and the Eastern Shore. I enjoyed reading, eating crabs, going on long walks, drinking sangria, dancing the night away, people-watching on the boardwalk & relaxing in the sun.

Outdoor Adventures
Among my summer to-do items were jumping out of an airplane and organizing a tubing trip to Harpers Ferry. Both turned out to be extraordinarily fun!

Wine Tastings
Being the wine lover that I am, I planned a few girls-day-out trips to local wine festivals for the fall season. Sun, live music, wine, cheese, bread, olive tapenade, good company...I can't think of anything more enjoyable! And it was.

Concerts & Festivals
There is something magical about live music. Starting off the year with lots of jazz in New Orleans, I enjoyed attending many concerts & festivals such as Sweetlife, Augustana, Buckethead, The Flaming Lips, Idina Menzel, Florence + The Machine, VirginFest and the Trans Siberian Orchestra.

Maryland, Virginia Tech, Ravens...I was brought along to many fun tailgates & football games this year! We had pretty amazing weather this past fall, not to mention an abundance of awesome seats ;)

Wooded Escapes
Planning a camping trip for 12 people was interesting at first, but certainly worth it! Green Ridge is a great location and our group was a blast; we ate like kings, had a marine on hand for any potential crisis, went on nature walks and laughed for hours. Additionally, my family decided to get together for a long weekend at Massanutten Resort; hiking, playing basketball, competing in air hockey, spending evenings in the hot tub and going zip-lining were all part of our agenda!

Turning 25
For my birthday, I was joined by 15 of my closest friends for dinner at one of my favorite Baltimore restaurants, Pazo, and then ventured out to Fells Point to drink & dance with a few more friends and coworkers. The entire day and evening was extremely special, and I cannot thank my parents enough for being so thoughtful!

Holiday Celebrations
I enjoy holiday-related activities, like going on a pub crawl for St. Patrick's Day and watching Fourth of July fireworks with a myriad of friends dressed in red, white & blue. To celebrate the holidays & beginning of a new year, I always get a group of friends together for dinner at a local Japanese steakhouse. This past Easter, I hosted an "adult" egg hunt; it was a hit! For my sister's 21st birthday, we threw an Olympic-themed party and really got into it (outfits and all). I decided to glam it up as Cleopatra for Halloween and rally friends for a couple of fun events. Of course, I also had to find my inner 80-year old and get into the Christmas spirit via an ugly sweater party!

Cheers to Another Year!

And last but not least, THANK YOU for supporting my blog. It really means a lot! I wish you all a wonderful 2013 :)

Images courtesy of © 2012 Chateau de Victoria

Sunday, December 23, 2012

{Glitter Garland}

Do It Yourself...

Glitter Garland

I'm inspired by many DIY projects and like to add my own personal touches to make a craft more "me" and cater to my tastes. However, though I found many adorable phrases and ideas for a homemade garland, this one by Lauren Conrad really struck my fancy. So much so that I had to recreate it! This year has been so wonderful and there is so much to be thankful for...that no matter how many other wordy decor ideas I could think of, "be merry" fully captures how I feel right now. And the glitter was just the icing on the cake! For this project, you will need:

· Cardboard or poster board
· Scissors
· X-ACTO knife
· Spray paint (optional)
· Spray adhesive
· Glitter
· Tape
· Twine or string

Trying to freehand letters on your own can be quite tricky, so in an effort to save time and keep your letters as even in size as possible, use a ruler to divide a piece of cardboard into seven evenly-spaced boxes. Then cut out your letters using scissors. Note: an X-ACTO knife really comes in handy for tough spots!

I went ahead and spray painted my letters a metallic gold to make them as shiny and bold as possible. Once they were completely dry, I applied a layer of spray adhesive and coated each letter with gold glitter.

Once all the letters were dry and any excess glitter had been shaken off, I laid them out according to how I wanted the garland to look. Once I felt it was perfect, I taped string to the back of each letter and voila!

My garland on two different mantels :)

Merry Christmas!
(from my sister, Desiree, and I)

Images courtesy of © 2012 Chateau de Victoria and Pinterest

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

{Favorite Things of 2012}

Today, I am loving...

Favorite Things of 2012

Last year at this time, I began a tradition of writing down my favorite things and happiest memories from the previous 11 months. I consider it a great way to reflect and appreciate all that has happened, and serves as a reminder that life is what you make it. This year was especially adventurous, and I cannot wait to share my 2012 recap with all of you! But until then, I'd like to channel my inner Oprah and reveal a few of my favorite things:

Hair & Skin

Nails & Makeup

My passport. I was able to visit 6 countries this year!


Jewelry & Accessories



Drinks & Eats
Cappuccino & gourmet pizza!

Images via Pinterest 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

{Christmas in the Kitchen}

Indulge in...

Holiday Goodies

'Tis the season to satisfy your sweet tooth and fill your stomach with the most delicious of foods! Whether at work, home or a friend's, I am constantly surrounded by endless goodies (homemade banana bread, oatmeal cookies, chocolates, you name it I've eaten it). I don't feel guilty either. I enjoy eating, and I really like to try new recipes when I can. I had fun making apple pie and sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving, but sometimes it's nice to add new things to the holiday grocery list. So in addition to the traditional foods I indulge in at Christmas (king crab legs on Christmas Eve, monkey bread on Christmas morning, etc.), I'm planning on incorporating these simple yet tasty treats as well:
Rolo Sugar Cookies
I did a test run on these and they turned out great! To make a traditional sugar cookie even sweeter, just put a rolo in the middle of the cookie dough ball, bake 7-10 minutes in the oven and voila! Deliciousness.

Pomegranate Sparkling Wine
I've already stocked up on champagne, so this little number looks fabulous. Just take your flute, add pom seeds and a splash of pom juice, fill the rest of the glass with your [champs of choice] and there you have it...a tasteful toast!

Cheese Tree
Who doesn't like cheese? I prefer havarti, swiss, brie, mozzarella, cheddar...okay, I prefer most cheeses! So why not add baby tomatoes, olives, a little garnish and put it all into an adorable Christmas tree formation? Done and done.

Chocolate-covered Fortune Cookies
Yummy! I always love finding out what my fortune is, so why not make the experience even more scrumptious? I'm planning on adding this to our family "cookie decorating" night coming up!

Cocktail Sausage Wreath
Just looking at this makes me hungry! Wrap cocktail sausages in Pillsbury crescent roll dough, bake accordingly, place them in a circle, add some slices of red pepper for a bow and serve with your own toppings/dipping sauces. Mmm!

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars
I'm a huge cheesecake buff (did I mention I like cheese?) and this is an enticing spin on your traditional recipe! Why not combine two delicious treats into one? Check out how to make these bars here. Bon appetit!

 Happy Baking!

Images via Pinterest