A Hiatus And A Promise

HELLO!!! I hope you did not lose faith in me. I am SO sorry it has been so long since I’ve written. As you know, I broke my phone during the holidays. This paired with AT&T’s ridiculous $200 insurance deductible (what is the POINT of buying insurance?!) and a chance to buy a new phone for $199 in February (I have my eye on that Galaxy S), well, I am left with an old blackberry with a broken camera until Feb.

As you can imagine, the death of TONS of photos I had hoped to blog about put me pretty behind on my blogging. All of this, combined with a few virus’ (ear then stomach) and a CRAZY work schedule has lead me to take a hiatus from blogging – in an effort to get myself organized and prepared for inspired posts (I don’t want to bore you).

Don’t worry, I have QUITE a few things I am already preparing…as a teaser here are a few pins that have inspired me the last few weeks:

add molding to the top of the front door to create a totally custom look

Check out what I like about this photo here: http://meandjilly.blogspot.com/2011/05/front-door-miracle.html

Cake idea for beer tasting party...and snack bar!

I cannot WAIT to share what this is for!

My promise is to be back and blogging before the end of the month. And a promise to blog at LEAST once a week! I hope to inspire as much as all of you have inspired me!

A little shout out to Charlotte for a recent text message that lead to inspiring me to post again. Thank you for reading dear readers!

XO, Karen

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Pinterest Saved My Sterling Silver Jewelry

Recently, I pinned a tip for cleaning sterling silver before the holidays and today my colleague sent me the following email with the instructions tweaked for JEWELRY! Her email:

“Totally random but I have been trying to clean my sterling silver jewelry lately and nothing seems to really work.  Tried a home remedy last night (many of you may already be aware but I’d never tried it) and it was amazing. Everything looks like new.

  • Line a glass or plastic dish in aluminum foil, shiny side up.
  • Heat some water to simmering/low boil and pour into the dish.
  • Add any silver pieces you need to clean, each one should be touching the foil and water should cover all pieces completely.
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda.

The tarnish literally just peels off.  I did it about 3-5 times for REALLY badly tarnished pieces but for those that just needed a polish, just did it once.  Remove, rinse and rub with soft jewelry cloth. Not recommended for any pieces with stones.  I only tried on straight silver.”

She then followed up the email with:

“Seriously unreal.  I did it prob 3-5 times on some of the pieces that were like black just to keep going until nothing else was coming off but I was impressed even after the first time.  SO pumped bc thought some of my pieces were ruined.  You’re going to love it.”

OH I am SO going to love this and I had to share it because I thought you might enjoy it too! I have a particular bracelet in mind that Jose gave me for my high school graduation (see below). The nooks and crannies make it almost impossible to clean so this will be the true test – I will be sure to take before and after photos for you.

Such a sweet graduation gift!

Such a sweet graduation gift!

Happy cleaning dear readers! I cannot WAIT to sport my new shiny jewelry this holiday season!!

-Karen

HAPPY HOLIDAYS – “Deck the Halls with Bells of Holly”

Yep, the weekend is here, Mr. Darcy and I are going to get our tree tonight and I will be decorating the Darcy home this weekend!!! I cannot WAIT! Now, this is actually a week late for me. Typically I am decorating the day after Thanksgiving. However, since we were traveling for Thanksgiving my decorating was put off…and I am SO excited to get into the holiday spirit!

I’ve already pulled together my inspiration map – pulled from my favorite Pinterest Pins:

I am a red/gold/silver and GREEN holiday color scheme kind of decorator ;-)

I am a red/gold/silver and GREEN holiday color scheme kind of decorator 😉

I will DEFINITELY be tuning into KOIT 96.5 (they live stream their Christmas music here if you don’t live here in the Bay Area) OR listening to Songza’s “Classic Christmas” Playlist – have you checked out Songza.com yet?! You should, the Classic Christmas playlist is PHENOMENAL!!

Happy Holidays Dear Readers!

XOXO, Karen

The Darcy Family Grew by One Today: Newborn Gift Ideas

That’s right, my sister and brother in law welcomed a baby girl this morning at 5:05am CST – 8lbs, 4oz. She is gorgeous and I cannot wait to meet her!

Out of habit, I went to Pinterest to see if I could find unique “birth” day gift ideas beyond the clothes and other lil things I’ve already purchased for her. I, of course, found a few I HAD to share!

Look at these ADORABLE burlap pillows from Etsy, personalized with the baby’s name:  My girlfriend gifted Mr. Darcy and I with a sign when we were married that read “The Darcys est. 2010.” I think it is so cute and a fun play on words. Why not a pillow?! Plus, this pillow would look cute in my in-laws home! I may need to get one to match for my nephew so they can place on both sides of the couch ;-).

Baby Girl Darcy – est. 2012

DIY Growth Chart – I don’t know about you, BUT I LOVE a growth chart. My parents had one for my brother when he was little and my sister started tracking our growth on the edge of her door when we were a bit older. It is funny looking back. This blogger shows you step by step tips for creating your own chart here.  OR you could just buy it here.

Such a cute growth chart! I also love the one going around Pinterest now that takes a 2×4 piece of wood and is painted to look like a ruler…so cute! This one is a bit easier to ship ;-).

Teddy Bear – In my opinion, no matter what the sex of the baby, you really can’t go wrong with an adorable teddy bear. Etsy has some INCREDIBLE homemade bears – I especially love the little crochet bears  – but any soft bear would work. Look at all of the Teddy Bear inspiration that pops up when you Pin the term “Teddy Bear”: http://pinterest.com/search/?q=Teddy+Bear

I am so overjoyed. Congrats to the entire Darcy family! Welcome to the world baby girl Darcy. We love you so much.

XOXO, Karen

Not that I would EVER compare my dog to my niece, but I thought you might enjoy a “baby” photo and since I don’t have permission to share Baby Girl Darcy’s photo, I thought I’d share Harper’s newborn photo!

Snail Mailed My Email Today

For one week (Nov. 12-18) a service called SnailMailMyEmail.org is creating handwritten letters out of your emails. It is BRILLIANT! I love snail mail – I love getting personal letters from people AND I love sending* them. BUT in this day and age, I find that I never do it OR cannot come up with a reason to write that would not be more efficiently sent in an email – an email in which my thoughts are literally delivered within minutes.

HOWEVER, a quick search of “Snail Mail” or “Letter” on Pinterest pops up photos of personal letters or pretty envelopes the pinner loved- WHY? Because a letter is so special! It is something that cuts through the bills and catalogs one receives on a DAILY basis. It says, “I spent time on this because you are special to me.” So, thanks to SnailMailMyEmail.org, I sent a letter to a friend who I miss desperately AND I’m asking you, PLEASE send a letter! If anything, let’s keep the Post Office in service!

IT IS EASY: Click through here and follow the two easy steps (1. write a 100 word letter, 2. email it to a specified address).

After submitting my letter AND seeing all of the beautiful letters on PINTEREST, I was inspired to send my own personalized letters/cards. But, what I like about SnailMailMyEmail.org is how pretty they make the letters! ENTER PINTEREST: With the help of Pinterest, I mailed colorful and creative letters to my friends this morning…just for fun.

FIRST – I created a “SECRET BOARD” so I could save images of letter/snail mail inspiration and saw some common denominators – pretty envelopes, personalized cards, brown paper packages tied up in string (these are a few of my favorite things), hand-crafted cards and pretty handwriting = PINNED!

SECOND – I scoured through my stationary, card box, old photos and craft box (complete with stamps and bedazzle stickers) and started crafting.

THIRD – I wrote little notes (TIP: Not sure what to write about? Write about things that won’t change in the next 3-5 days. For example, Your love for the person is a pretty good start OR The fact that you think about them often. Maybe you’ve even thought about writing a letter but never got around to it, but now, because the Pinterest Woman says so, you are writing ;-).))

LAST – I mailed them…I hope they will be opened soon and bring a smile to a few people’s faces.

I MADE 5 different cards!!!

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How cute are they! Some where just cards that I bedazzled OR scrap paper that I cut into card size and stamped to give it a personal touch!

I bedazzled old cards, used stationary I’ve been meaning to pull out, repurposed photos and old cards and was sure to add a few personal touches and/or stamps to the envelope or card.

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If you simply do NOT have the time to craft a card, beautiful stationary and/or a card will do JUST the trick! I love Shutterfly’s personal designer stationary, BUT this photo shows the envelop of an old stationary box set someone gave me years ago and it had the cutest little envelopes! Sometimes a different shaped envelope is all it takes to spice up a mailbox ;-).

One of my favorite homemade cards features a cutout of an old holiday card I had leftover from college, strategically glued to the inside of the envelope to give it some pizzazz – “While some people may be sending letters to Santa, I am sending letters to [my friend] because [she] is just as fabulous as he.”

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Michael’s Craft Store usually has some GREAT stamps in their $1 bin – that’s where I got the cute “HUG!” and “Special Delivery” stamp…because usually stamps can be quite expensive…yikes! The red “HUG!” card is just scrap paper that I cut into a card size and stamped to make personalized stationery. I wrote a little note on the back. 

I was also inspired by many old photos I found. I turned the back of one photo into a postcard for one special lady in my life:

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The back of my homemade photo postcard! The photo had a big dark section in it, so I put a cute little stamp on it…sorry I didn’t get a photo of the front.

And, I wrapped another set of images for one lucky person in a sweet brown paper package and tied it up with a string – because I’ve always wanted to do that…and get a gift wrapped like that ;-).

SO, check out the site: http://www.snailmailmyemail.org. The offer ends this Sunday! Even if you miss the deadline, start small – pick up a cute, but affordable, card at Trader Joe’s or the Dollar Store even and spice up someone’s mailbox!

Happy writing, Karen

*You know, I actually have three cards in my “card box” that are “Just Because” cards. I have every intention of sending them to friends, BUT I never do. They have moved to three different locations with me! BUT, last night, I bedazzled one and sent it to a special college friend of mine!

snail mail my emaill book

They made a book out of last year’s letters!

It’s Official: I’m having a ‘Guido’ baby for Halloween…

Ok, let me explain:

Last year I was Coach Sue Sylvester from GLEE for Halloween (there are no photos of this costume because it was absolutely AMAZING/HEINOUS). For the last few weeks I’ve been going crazy trying to figure out how I was going to top that costume – people from work were even asking me how…THEN, it came to me:

While cleaning out my childhood room I found a VERY lifelike baby doll AND while organizing my garage I found some FANCY sunglasses (they are pink with rhinestones and leopard print down the side – I have no idea where they came from) AND – I’M GOING TO BE NEW-MOM-SNOOKI!

Since “just-Snooki” is basically a “so-last-year” costume idea, I have to play up her lil Italian Guido  (her words, not mine) to make it more “2012”…SO I went to Pinterest for Italian baby clothes and LOOK WHAT I FOUND ON PINTEREST TODAY:

Pinterest Search Terms: Italian Baby Cap*

First of all, this is from an awesome store on Etsy and she has pretty cute stuff (including a little newsboy cap that I might have to get for my nephew). Secondly, she said she could crochet this cap TONIGHT and ship it out to me by Halloween (DONE!!!): http://www.etsy.com/listing/108766403/italian-baby-beanie

I’m going to wrap a jersey bed sheet around me, like a moby wrap – so the baby doll is stuck to me – throw on an old tight black dress I purchased for a Vegas Bachelorette a few years ago, some HIGH heels and TEASE the crap out of my hair for a Snooki Poof! IT IS GOING TO BE PERFECT!!! The sheet will keep me warm, the outfit will, hopefully, be funny AND I can later gift the little Italian cap to our friends who are Italian (I will let them know it was used by me. They will understand…my Irish self has no place owning an Italian Flag baby cap)! PERFECT I TELL YOU!!

YAY to PINTEREST for a quick find of baby Guido gear and to cleaning out things that help inspire costume ideas!! Now, to those of you who read my blog and know my colleagues, don’t share – it is a surprise!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN COSTUME FINDING!!

XOXO, Karen

P.S. Laughing out loud at this AMAZING Snooki pumpkin: http://swelldesigner.blogspot.com/2010/10/snooki-from-jersey-shore-halloween.html

*After looking up the urban dictionary definition of Guido I would NEVER refer to any child as a guido. BUT, since Snooki called her own son a guido, I used the language here. Plus, I will need to embrace her character on Halloween, so I’m starting now! See the definition of Guido from Urban Dictionary here (I’m guessing the definition really changed after the Jersey Shore)http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=guido

“They say: my, my, my…Fiesta, Fiesta”

Things I learned this weekend:

A. Jumping in a jump house at the age of 30 really messes up your equilibrium
LESSON #1 – It has been awhile since I jumped
LESSON #2 – Why?! It is so fun!
LESSON #3 – OH…because jumping in a jump house will make you trip over yourself for about 20 minutes after jumping.

B. Margaritas from a margarita machine are AMAZING
LESSON #1 – Get the Margarita Man’s* number and call him for EVERY Party!
LESSON #2 – At 30, drink a glass of water in between each Margarita
LESSON #3 – Stick to the small plastic cups put out for the machine and don’t go overboard using your “Fancy” (and larger) birthday-girl glass. At 30, larger glass means MUCH LARGER hangover

C. I’m a lucky girl
LESSON #1 – My family (extended and immediate) is incredible. We are big, we are mighty and we are rock solid. When we come together, we are all guaranteed a good time and my Fiesta was absolutely no exception to that rule…We may have been thrown a few NASTY curve balls through the years, but if you ask me, it has only brought us closer together. Is it weird to say I’m obsessed with my fam!? Well I am.
LESSON #2 – Mr. Darcy is such a stud. He kept a special surprise visit (see Lesson #3) secret for weeks, hosted an INCREDIBLE 30th Fiesta and totally embraced my extended birthday celebration – I can’t believe Birthday Week is over…but as my cousin said, “Birthday month is only HALF way enjoyed!”
LESSON #3 – In 30 years I have met the most incredible people and those who have stuck around for the ride have helped me craft my definition of family. I had friends come from near and far (one of whom flew from Texas with her hubby to surprise me – more on that later – ultimately making me feel like THE MOST SPECIAL BIRTHDAY GIRL EVER) and it truly would not have been the same without each of them.

D. (NOTE TO PARTY PLANNERS: LOOK AWAY) PINTEREST basically acts as a free party planner for unique party decor and celebration ideas. Although my sister and Godmom are incredibly talented in this arena, I am still SO impressed with what they were able to do for my party. Check out some of the decor photos from the party here (with links to the DIY websites we found on PINTEREST):

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Mexican Flag banners (See my black candlesticks with white pumpkins up top!?! Yes, that is a black witch hat with feathers on it too, hehe)

As many of you may remember from Friday’s post, I chose to leave my Halloween decor up because this party acted as a pseudo open house for my family members who have not seen our house yet. I wanted them to see my style too so we left the decor and just spiced it up with some Fiesta decorations to keep with the party theme.

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SOOO cute and colorful! Affordable and FUN way to decorate for birthdays, celebrations…30th Fiestas!!!

POM POMS: http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/226101/pom-poms-and-luminarias (NOTE: These take TIME and PATIENCE. While my sis, godmom and cousin totally gave me a pass on making these, they did reveal that they do rip VERY easily, so give yourself some time if you are going to make these)

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Colorful pottery, candles, authentic Mexican food cans and flowers – EVERYWHERE!

MEXICAN CANS (aka flower vases): OK, I did not get this idea originally from Pinterest, these were a REAL LIFE pin. My girlfriend actually did this at a Mexican restaurant for her 40th and I LOVED it! The flowers were just found at Trader Joes – SERIOUSLY, so much more affordable…and if you get a few bushels you can make QUITE a few arrangements…look at the little one we placed in the bathroom:

Mini bathroom decor 😉

In addition to flowers, my aunt brought along these gorgeous blue bottles she had a colorful pieces of pottery and statues to add to the centerpieces found throughout our house…as she said, a Fiesta theme works well with a hoedown theme so we did some cowboy hats/boots and this piece below…it works!

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Beautiful blue bottles, colorful birds, flowers, you name it – if it looks like it went with our color scheme and was colorful, we put it out!

This was the only section that really mixed the two decor styles – Halloween and Fiesta…in short, we embraced the Spooky Fiesta theme!

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What did I tell ya?! SPOOKY FIESTA was the ultimate theme ;-)!

I purchased 100 feet of the colorful Papel Picado on Amazon for $10 (it decorated our entire backyard as well as a variety of spots throughout the house and the front door): http://www.amazon.com/PartyCheap-com-520-Plastic-Mexican-Cutout/dp/B001BQWWG2/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1350346798&sr=8-11&keywords=mexican+flags

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Our lights held up throughout the party and those little paper balls actually lasted through the wet night!

Now, this will probably not come as a surprise, BUT, I did not get a chance to capture many photos of the party…I was enjoying it too much! However, I know MANY people took photos so I will DEFINITELY be doing follow up posts this weeks to share more and more of my party…can you tell I’m trying to work on getting people to pin my ideas?! 😉 I gotta give back ya know?! With that said, I DID capture a shot of our Sweet Potato Hash the day after and let me just tell you, it is the PERFECT day-after breakfast. We had 8 guests and we were all able to enjoy a hearty breakfast…AND IT ONLY TOOK 15 minutes to heat up!!!

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Yet again, I got to the dish too late, SO here is a snapshot of what was LEFT of the hash (after the first dish up…it was GONE by the end).

All and all, it was a fabulous party…and as my college friend said over our after-morning Hash, “Now I can’t get that Jay Z “Fiesta” song** out of my head, “Fiesta, Fiesta!” I look forward to sharing more details of the bash, but hope you enjoyed this first installment…mostly focused on decor…I can’t WAIT to share notes on the food…mmmmm. Until then, I’m going to sleep. LESSON #4: “Bouncing back” is not as easy at 30 ;-). #SOWORTHIT!!!

XOXOXO, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

*Bay Area residents: SMMargaritaMan.com, ask for George…he is AWESOME…For those of you not in the Bay check out MargaritaMan.com.

**This video has pretty harsh lyrics…I truly only knew the “Fiesta, Fiesta” part, BUT I thought I’d share for those of you who now have it in your head as well: