Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Hi all and happy new year's eve! Sorry for the absence, I've just been having too much fun closing out 2010! Please stop by in the next few weeks for year recaps, resolutions, pictures from my trip to St. Louis and upcoming ski vacation, and DIY projects galore!

For now, I wish you lots of fun, confetti, and champagne this evening and in the coming year.
xox and here's to 2011!


Picture from here

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gift writing

Now that the gifts are unwrapped, I can finally share some of my favorite DIY holiday gift creations. After my Mom saw this post about the kitchen chalkboard Derek and I created, she was eager to have a chalkboard of her own.

I kept my eyes open at the thriftstore until I came across just the right piece to turn into a chalkboard and when I saw this plate with some questionable ribbon on it for $1 I knew I had it.

We took the ribbon out, sprayed the plate with chalkboad paint (four coats!) and picked out some new ribbon combined with jute twine.

I was so pleased with the result and my Mom loved it and hung it up right away with a message to welcome guests to our Christmas Eve open house.

Did you DIY any gifts this year? Please share if so and check in later this week for more projects ...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy holidays!

Happy holidays everyone! How was your holiday weekend? Mine was spent in Minnesota with Derek and my family and I must confess it was one of the merriest Christmases I can remember. Here were a few highlights ...

My mom's pretty holiday decor ...

Snowy scenes and sisters ...

Cross country skiing with the whole crew (and a snapshot of one of the few times my Mom wasn't on her behind) ...

Our impromptu ugly Christmas sweater party and the fact that my Dad's was covered with glitter ...

Tomorrow we are off to see Derek's family in St. Louis for more winter fun. So happy Christmas to all! Thank you for stopping by my little blog and I wish you and yours oodles and oodles of holiday cheer.

Taylor and Derek

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eggnog cheesecake bars

I had some leftover eggnog after this yummy recipe, and with just one day to go until Derek and I headed out of town, I thought it would be good to use it up while making something yummy to bring my family for the holidays.

I couldn't find any eggnog recipes that were really striking my fancy, so I decided to invent my own! Hence, eggnog cheesecake bars were born, adapted from this recipe for pumpkin bars.

These turned out very yummy and rich! Let me know if you try them out.

Eggnog cheesecake bars

1 package Snickerdoodle cookie mix (I used Krustaez)
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup cold butter - sliced

1/2 cup eggnog
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon would work)
1.5 tsp rum extract
2 TB whipping cream
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the snickerdoodle mix (and cinnamon sugar if it came with it) and walnuts.
2. A few slices at a time, add in the butter, mixing into a crumbly, sticky mix either with your (very clean!) hands or a food processor.
3. Set aside one cup of the mixture, and press the remaining base into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch brownie pan.
4. Bake for 10 minutes then let cool for at least 10 minutes.
5. While the base is baking, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.
6. Add in all the other ingredients and beat until combined.
7. Pour the filling on top of the base and smooth out.
8. Top with the remaining cup of the base.
9. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until top is light brown.
10. Chill/harden for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
11. Dive-in!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wrap star

One of the best parts of Christmas is seeing all the beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree and speculating about what could be inside. But with all the fancy bags, wraps, and ribbons out there, it would be easy to spend just as much for the trimmings, as you do for the actual gift.

That's why I love craft paper. For about $3, you get a huge roll that can last you through several Christmases. For a few more dollars, you can pick up some fancy ribbon (I used a coupon at Michael's so these nice rolls were about $2 each) and then add some extra accouterments. I save buttons, stickers, bits of ribbon and other crafty knick-nacks I come across throughout the year, and end up with a huge bag of treats to use in my wrapping. This year, I also incorporated some jute twine from a never-ending $2.50 roll I bought for this project and a cute wine cork on one gift to hint at what's inside ...

The other great thing about craft paper? It's infinitely adaptable. Change out the ribbon color, sticker theme, etc., and you don't have to buy new wrapping for birthdays, Valentine's Day, anything!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bear with me

This weekend, Derek and I were on the hunt for ugly Christmas sweaters for a party we'll be going to, and hit up several area thrift stores trying to track down some tinsel, holly, pom-pom covered gems.

In the midst of this search, we came across several little trinkets that, unlike a holiday sweater, had the potential to be rescued, rehabilitated, and turned into some adorable pieces for our home. A few of these pieces became Christmas gifts, so stay tuned to see those makeovers after they're unwrapped next week, but for now I wanted to share this sweet little California brown bear we found for $4.

At the same thrift store we found this guy, we picked up a 99 cent glass votive holder. We brought them both home and gave the bear a few coats of white spray paint.

A teeny bit of hot glue and one pine-tree scented candle later - we have an adorable little candle holder perfect for our Cali home and this little side table that was looking a bit BEAR (pun-intended) before. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Weekend wrap-up (really)

Happy weekend all! What are you up to this weekend? Derek and I will be doing some last minute preparations for Christmas since we're off to see both of our parents starting next week. We'll be shopping, baking, packing, and wrapping and I'm turning to this awesome site for gift-wrap inspiration.

P.S. Today is the last day to enter my giftcard giveaway. Don't delay! And you can still use the coupon code "taylored" at check-out now through Dec.31 at

P.P.S. If you're looking for something crazy-delicious and even more crazy-easy to make to bring to a holiday gathering try this ... if you can manage not to eat it all first.

photos from here

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chalkboard clock

When Derek and I moved in together, he brought with him several items from his old house, few of which fit into our combined decor. One such item was a metallic silver and black wall clock, very '80s looking, that he picked up for free. Instead of tossing it out, we decided to use some leftover chalkboard paint from this project to give it a facelift.

The result is a cool clock facade that we can customize with as many colors and designs as we so please - infinitely re-doable! So in honor of the season, we decorated the clock with Derek and Taylor's 12 Days of Christmas - an idea I borrowed from Young House Love's personalized calendar - making each hour on the clock a special number to us like "2 love birds," "7 years" - how long we've known each other, "11 days of Christmas vacation" and "12 months until next Christmas."

Any ideas on what we should change it to in January? 12 new year's resolutions?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy feet

The prettiest shoe from Kate Spade

In the works

While there is nothing like the thrill of the hunt at the thrift store, it can be hard to find the time to search for hidden discoveries. That's why I love Housing Works, a NYC based thrift store that also has a online component where you can track down their hottest items and bid on them in an auction. The best part? The proceeds go to benefit HIV/AIDS patients in the Big Apple - a perfect excuse to buy that vintage Diane Von Furstenburg dress this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


P.S. Only four more days to enter the giftcard giveaway!

Ornamental fashion

I've been so enamored with all the gorgeous decorations I've seen on trees around my favorite blogs. These greens are gussied up and gorgeous enough to wear! So I thought, why not do just that? I came up with three party-ready outfits inspired by the prettiest trees around.

Centsational Girl:

1. Tree photo from Centsational Girl
2. Clutch from DSW
3. Dress from Spiegal
4. Shoes from Last Call

Young House Love:

1. Tree photo from Young House Love
2. Top from The Limited
3. Pants from Victoria's Secret
4. Jacket from Forever21

Full House:

1. Tree photo from Viva Full House
2. Velvet dress from Revolve Clothing
3. Purse from Ebags
4. Pin from Forever21

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eggnog French Toast with Rum Syrup

Every Sunday, Derek treats me to a late sleep-in and some relaxation while he fixes us a special breakfast and does all the laundry. Even though I love to cook, it's nice to have a day off and the special care he takes of me is super sweet.

This Sunday, however, we planned to put our routine on hold since I had an early morning flight to NYC for a few days of work and visiting some friends. So when my flight was cancelled due to the winter white-out in the Midwest, I decided to take advantage of the already off-beat day to try out a recipe that had been brewing in my holiday-crazy mind for a few weeks now.

The result was glorious, so much so that Derek didn't even mind I stole his position as Sunday head-chef (though I still let him do the laundry). Enjoy!

Eggnog French Toast with Rum Syrup
Makes 12 pieces


12 slices cinnamon bread
2 eggs
1.5 cups eggnog (we used "vanilla spice" instead of regular - highly recommend)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or use a combo of nutmeg and cinnamon if you don't have this)

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1 teaspoon rum extract


1. Heat a large pan over medium.
2. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork until well-beaten.
3. Add the eggnog and pumpkin pie spice to the eggs and mix until thoroughly combined.
4. One at a time, dip each slice of bread into the eggnog mixture and turn with a fork to coat both sides.
5. Transfer slices to the pan and cook on each side until slightly browned - flipping once.
   * Since my pan fits only about 3-4 slices at a time, I keep the finished pieces of toast on a plate in the oven on "Warm" so they don't get cold.

6. Meanwhile, put the butter and milk in a saucepan on medium-low heat and heat, stirring occasionally, until melted.
7. Add in the powered sugar and rum extract and continue to stir until combined.
8. Keep the syrup on "low," stirring occasionally, until you've made all the toast.
9. Plate the toast and drizzle generously with syrup.
10. Stuff yourself until it hurts!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy weekend!

What are you up to this weekend? Derek and I are going to see the movie Black Swan and Saturday is supposed to be gorgeous so we may squeeze in a beach day before I head to cold, cold NYC on Sunday.

Have a fabulous time, whatever you do, and don't forget you have one more week to enter my giveaway!

images via here

Before you judge my scrawny Christmas tree...

let me give you the full story.

First you need to know that when my sweet boyfriend makes up his mind about something, herds of wild animals can not stop him.

So this year when he decided that we needed to start a tradition of purchasing a live, potted tree, replanting it after the holidays, then recording the location so no matter where we move, we can search our growing tree on Google Maps ... there was no turning back. Not even when we discovered that most potted trees cost upwards of $100, or when we realized we'd only actually be in town two weeks to enjoy our tree.

A live tree was going to make it's way into our tiny apartment, or no tree at all would be allowed through the door.

So to combat the cost issue, and still fill our home with holiday cheer, we settled on this guy. He's alive and kickin' and only cost $15 at Home Depot. And while only about 1/3 of our ornaments could fit on his branches, and they sag under the weight of the tiniest adornment, I love him dearly. First because it's Derek and my first tree together, and second, because it's the start of a sweet tradition that we'll carry on for years to come.

And what about you? Are you starting a tradition this year? Or carrying on a special one from the past? Is your tree the mangy mutt that no one wanted like ours is? Tell me all about it! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The outdoors type

Derek and I have been throwing around the idea lately of going on a camping trip. I love the idea of cooking s'mores by a campfire and sleeping under the stars, but I must confess that I'm a little frightened of the prospect of multiple insect invasions and port-a-potty disasters.

So if you're like me, here's a gift guide of outdoors gifts, for the indoors gal.

1. Bark Life Picture Frame, $14.99, ModCloth
2. Branch Bit Stopper, $14, Anthropologie
3. Tail for Two Mug, $15.99, ModCloth
4. Kissy Deer Salt & Pepper Shakers, $12.95, Patina
5. Pinecone Windchime, $11.95, Patina
6. Fawn in Forest Necklace, $89, The Afternoon P.S. Click here for an Afternoon giftcard giveaway and coupon code!

7. Bear Pillow, $95, Curiosity Shoppe
8. Antler Necklace, $30, Curiosity Shoppe
9. Driftwood Hurricane, $38, Anthropologie
10. Tree Bark of Love Jewelry, $62, BCYR Jewelry
11. Business/Pleasure Notebook, $12, Curiosity Shoppe
12. Tree Log Bolster Pillow, $75, Green Grass Design
13. Cardboard Taxidermy, $28, Urban Outfitters
14. Campfire Candle, $18, Terrain

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Send a message

A week or so ago I included this boxing gloves necklace in my giving guide from The Afternoon. I love this kitchy necklace and think it would be a really special gift to let a friend who is going through a difficult time know that she can hang tough.

While hunting around for some more gift ideas, I found two other special pieces of jewelry that can send a message between friends.

First up, I love these Morse code necklaces found via A Cup of Jo. The one below says "Fine" but you can purchase them in all sorts of messages like "friend," "mom," and "I love you."

I also think this "heal" bracelet from Dogeared is exceptionally dainty but with a powerful message. If you haven't ever been to Dogeared's site, I highly recommend you check it out! Their jewelry is beautiful and there is a symbol of message for everyone on your list!

P.S. Don't forget to enter my giftcard giveaway!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

State pride

Everyone has a friend who is constantly repping the glories of their home state. The guy or gal who always gives a loud "hooty hoo!" when someone mentions where their from. Well lucky for you, I've got the perfect gifts for that hometown pal. Check 'em out!

1. State Plyboo Cutting Boards, $40, A.Heirloom (a little heart can be place over the home city)
2. United Plates state food prints, starting at $24, by John Holcomb, purchase here
3. Key Hook States, $36, OldNewAgain  
4. I Heart state necklaces, $50, truche

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday giveaway -Closed

Two weeks ago I featured the awesome store, The Afternoon, as part of my 25 Days of Giving gift guide. Check it out here. And if you haven't already visited them online and scooped up a ton of their fun goodies, I have some great news! The generous folks at The Afternoon are teaming up with me to give away a $25 gift card for anything in their store!

And since only one of my readers can win, The Afternoon is offering 10% off everything in their shop now through December 24 with the coupon code, taylored, at check out.

So happy shopping and good luck!

Giveaway Details:
- Open now - December 17, 11:59 p.m.
- Winner to be chosen on Saturday, December 18
How to enter:
To enter, visit and leave a comment below telling me at least one item you loved! Please include your contact information (blog link or email i.e. taylor engler at gmail dot com).

Additional entries:

1. Become a follower of my blog and leave a comment telling me about it!
2. Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with a link!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy weekend and stay tuned for a giveaway...

Happy weekend! Do you have any plans to kick off your December? Derek and I are going to get our Christmas tree and watch my favorite holiday movie, White Christmas. We're also going to a Creole restaurant to listen to some live music!

Whatever you do, have a lovely weekend and check in on Monday for an exciting giveaway from one of my secret weapon stores (posts starting here).

Come sail away with me

OK, so I know this whole week is supposed to be about holiday gifts you can make at home, but Derek and I just completed a little makeover of our tiny apartment bathroom and I had to share.

In my defense, there are two DIY projects in here that you could totally make as gifts, so here it goes...

Since we currently live in an apartment, there isn't too much we can/want to do as far as home upgrades until we actually own a place, so small touches are key to making our rental feel like a home.

We have a huge amount of counter space in the bathroom and wanted to take advantage of it by making it a little nautical and fun.

First up, we swapped out the metal apt-issued towel rack for this awesome wooden shelf I found at an antique store for $15! With the addition of a hand towel, a $1 sailboat from the thrift store, some beach-found shells, and some watery pictures of my Grandpa in the Navy and my Papa fishing, this little area is complete for under 20 bucks.

Below the shelf I put this over sized plastic shell I found at the thrift store for $2. We're going to fill it with matches from all of the cool restaurants we visit for easy candle lighting and a fun memento. I was totally inspired by the clam shell in this post on Young House Love.

Over in the other corner of the counter, we started with a $3 sailboat picture I also found at the thrift store. I then got crafty on two projects that would be super easy for you to create at home!

Since we live in San Diego, finding some shells was literally a day at the beach. I washed them clean in bleach water and picked up this pretty candle and hurricane at Michael's (for less than $10) and used the shell as a filler.

I'm a lotion-o-holic and I like to keep my moisturizer handy but didn't like the look of the bottle on the counter. So with a .50 cent mason jar and a $2.50 roll of jute twine, I crafted a lotion holder that sticks with the nautical look! See below the pictures for the how-to.

Jute Lotion Holder

Mason jar
Jute Twine
Super glue and/or spray glue
Lotion bottle

1. Drill a hole in the lid of the jar large enough to fit the entire lotion pump through. Add some super glue to the rim of the pump, push it through the hole and let it set to attach.

2. Starting at the top of the mason jar, put a little dab of super glue and attach the end of the roll of twine. Begin wrapping the twine around the jar, pausing occasional to add some spray or super glue to keep it in place.

3. When you reach the end of the jar, attaching the last bit with super glue and cut off the excess.

4. Fill the jar with lotion and reattach the lid.

5. Voila! Nautical moisturization.

Jute jubilee

I recently completed a project with a roll of jute twine and at just $2.50 for almost a half a pound of jute, I was anxious to see what other projects I could create with my leftovers! Check out some of these ideas for jute projects and check back a bit later today to see what I made!

I love this pretty vase from A Soft Place to Land. What a nice present this would make for your mom or grandma!

This lamp shade project uses a similar idea as the vase. It would be gorgeous in someone's beach cottage!

And I adore this charger from Project Pretty! I could imagine making a few of these and bundling them up as a gift of placemats.

Check out this gorgeous coat rack from Susie Harris! It uses jute ribbon and looks store bought!