2012 | first friday toast


to a new beginning

to the challenges we overcame and the lessons we’ll learn this time around

to another chance to change your life for the better

to the opportunities in the coming year, and the strength to make the most of them

to learning from our mistakes

and lastly, to chasing our dreams.

Wishing you an amazing year, xo.


my favorite things | 2011

Raindrops on roses…

It’s here already. The nearing of the new year, and end of a very eventful 2011.

Looking back on my experiences I’ve gathered my favorite-things list for the year to remind me of all my blessings and cherished moments of 2011.

My 2011 Favorite:

concert: bon iver

restaurant: the spot

experience: local farmers markets, nose piercing, blogging, tears of joy

geekery: new glasses

advice: if you compromise on everything, you’ll never be satisfied

proud moment: my hubby making music

discovery: eucalyptus essential oil

old habit, relived: playing guitar

book: the 5 love languages

test of patience: saving for new apartment and four-legged friend

blessing: my parents health

thing to share: lash love and auroshikha incense

routine: morning tea

trips: 4 weddings

date night: dodger game (complete with dodger dog and a beer)

introduction: meeting my amazing co-workers (in person)

So, cheers to all of your experiences, accomplishments, and memories of the past year, and for those yet to come…


a very etsy christmas

Your Holiday shopping, done.

A start to your gift-giving (inspiration) with a little help from our Esty Elves. Mostly hand-made, you can get some rockin’ gifts for your friends and family while supporting small business!

Disclaimer: If not already affected, an Etsy addiction may entail once shopping begins ….

all things natural

for those out-doorsy

all things mustache

for the fun lover

all things vintage

for the vintage lover

all things bridal

for the bride-to-be

all things manly

for the manly man

all things music

for the guitar player

all things yoga

for the yogi

all things boyfriends

for the boyfriend

words, words, and more words

for the journal keeper

all things newborns

for the expecting mom

all things caffeine

for the coffee lover

friends or more than friends

for the girlfriend

all things vegan

for the vegan

all things words

for the artistic writer

tradition | the holiday necessity

Tradition | It’s as simple as that, or as complicated as that, anyway.

During the Holiday months of November and December I find myself greeting my friends and asking “how’s your Thanksgiving” or “are you having a nice Christmas?” I’m surprised that often people aren’t enjoying the Holidays as much as you’d think. And then I ask myself why? Isn’t Thanksgiving and Christmas supposed to be a cheery, cozy, celebratory time of year?

Well of course it is.

I then realized it usually comes down to the little things that make the Holidays special. Holiday traditions… and the necessity to keep their spirit alive.

As easy as it is to stay in, stay warm, and avoid holiday crowds and traffic to experience your traditions, sometimes that exactly what you need to make it feel like the holidays.

I’ve found that my Christmas seasons keep getting better and better, and it’s because of all of traditions I’ve worked to keep, and those we’ve added (like our annual “Classy Christmas Party” where we gather our friends, holiday beverages, bring our cheer, and enjoy the city view together in a limousine- one of my newest, and most favorite traditions).

It’s these holiday traditions that have made each Christmas better than the last! I’m thankful for those friends and family that have helped make such wonderful memories…

So take the time to enjoy your Holiday season- whether enjoying these traditions or creating your own list… and make this year a Christmas to remember.
tis the season

Christmas Traditions To Enjoy In Cheer:

  • attending an annual holiday party with your friends
  • looking at your city’s historically lit neighborhoods
  • running the annual holiday 5k with friends (dressed in holiday attire of course)
  • baking your holiday cookies
  • enjoying a silent night… fireside
  • making homemade eggnog
  • watching the Christmas Parade and attending the Parade Of Lights
  • attending the Christmas Mass or church service
  • visiting your local cafe’s and bookshops to enjoy the festive scenery (while sipping a peppermint mocha or eggnog latte)
  • listing to the holiday music channels
  • deck the halls (with decor and lighting)
  • making snowmen
  • jingle bells (or attach one to your dog’s collar)
  • watching your favorite Christmas movies (on repeat)
  • sending out holiday cards
  • reading the story of Jesus’ birth or ‘The Night Before Christmas’ with your family
  • donating to your favorite holiday charity
  • experimenting with Holiday recipes and mulled wine
  • hanging mistletoe in your doorway (and making the most of it)

xo, Melanie

a fresh thanksgiving munch

Thanksgiving recipes you’ve never made:

Brie en Croute

Brie en Croute

I love a traditional Thanksgiving meal, so I’ve never been open-minded to trying something new, until now! Normally, I want turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and dessert (Plus a fun holiday cocktail)!

But, another Sunday watching the Food Network led to some delicious insight I wanted to share. A few fresh takes on our favorite holiday dishes…guaranteed to be incredible!

Here are some revamped recipes I’ll be trying this year:

To appetize:

Main Course, Of Course | Turkey:

A Side To Enjoy:

To Finish It Off | Desserts:

Holiday Cocktails

Cheers to our many, many blessings… have a wonderfully-delicious Thanksgiving!

Did I miss something? Let me know!

eggnog blackout

yes pleaseTo my Husband and I’s surprise, we found eggnog at the grocery store in October! Regular, light, vanilla cinnamon, and pumpkin spice baby! Whatever your style, there’s an eggnog for you.

Or you can make it homemade:

Eggnog Recipe:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 egg whites

In a mixer, beat the egg yolks (until they lighten in color). Then, slowly add the sugar (beat until completely dissolved). Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg. Combine.

Beat egg whites with mixer into soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add an extra pinch of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Carefully whisk egg whites into the mixture. Chill, serve with cinnamon sticks, enjoy.

Keep the Christmas spirit alive with these delicious uses of eggnog:

  • use as creamer in coffee, add cinnamon
  • eggnog latte, hello!
  • eggnog chai or “chai-gg”
  • use as milk in french toast
  • eggnog ice-cream anyone?
  • serve chilled with bourbon
  • spiced rum, eggnog, and coffee, oh my!
  • eggnog icing (replace milk w/eggnog in recipe)
  • rice puddin’
  • eggnog cheesecake please
  • creme brulee
  • eggnog in your oatmeal

lebkuchen cheer

german christmas cookiesMy infatuation with Deutschland and it’s culture comes largely from my family background- if “Schwietert” (my maiden name) isn’t obvious enough, let me explain.

Both of my parents had ancestors in Deutschland and (at the time) Czechoslovakia. Growing up, I always heard my mom chirping little sayings like “Wie Ghet’s” and “Willkommen.” Aside from bits and pieces of the language I picked up, came the stories and recipes!

This is where lebkuchen, or German christmas cookies come in.

As I was young and don’t remember, my mother refreshed my memory. My mother said “Anna (Krist), niece of my Grandma Anna, would mail us a box of cookies from Worms, Germany each Christmas. The box would be a metal tin, decorated on the exterior with awesome German design and of course, Deutsch writing. It would be filled with little packages of different types of Lebkuchan. Ironically, I didn’t like the cookies, but I loved the box! They were dry and kind of tasteless (hence, my addiction to adding spices to my cooking).”

While we didn’t make traditional lebkuchen, some of my fondest childhood memories were making our family’s version (gingerbread cookies) of these messy monstrosities and frosting them! My first words were the sentence “I want a cookie” and clearly, I’ve had a sweet tooth since! I remember grabbing handfuls of them for my brother and I, jumping on the bed, and watching marathons of Disney shows next to my big brother. Not only delicious, but sweet, savory, and filled with the holiday spirit!

So, as this years Christmas season approaches, please pass the lebkuchen!

Gingerbread Cookies:

This is the recipe my mom used that we rolled out and cut. Most of them got eaten before being hung on the tree…

  • 5 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 c butter
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ c molasses
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Mix dry ingredients. Melt butter in saucepan on low and add sugar and molasses. Cool a little, stir in eggs. Add 4 c of the flour mixture. Gently knead in remaining flour (don’t over mix – dough will get tough). Roll 1/8” thick and cut out shapes. Transfer cookies to greased cookie sheet and bake 375º for 4-12 minutes. Cool slightly before moving to cooling rack to cool completely.

Frost and decorate. Enjoy with loved ones.