Saturday, December 31, 2011

Laura Loves {December 2011}

Happy Happy New Year’s Eve!

I have been super busy this past week at home in New Jersey so this edition of Laura Loves will be short and sweet. Let’s get to it!

MASH RIP – Online!
I’m not sure if there is a more appropriate time to be nostalgic than on New Year’s Eve...when it is so hard to believe another year has flown by. For me (and probably a billion other girls) it is hard to get more nostalgic than remembering playing MASH RIP in elementary and middle school with your girlfriends to tell your future: the boy you will marry, how many kids you will have, and what kind of car you will drive! I recently discovered that you could play MASH RIP online! There aren’t as many options…but it will do the counting out and crossing stuff off for you (and even let you watch as it does because that was half the fun)!….enjoy it {here}!!

Shit GIrls Say
As a girl I probably shouldn’t love this….but I do…it made me laugh out loud…also the guy is a pretty good looking girl haha…

And…Episode 2 if you couldn’t get enough…

My Parents New Living Room!
The other day I posted about how we couldn’t have a Christmas tree this year…well just today my parents new furniture arrived and the living room is looking AWESOME! Its really coming together and I couldn’t be more excited for them.

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(Please forgive the picture quality…I took the photos fast and didn’t fix the lighting during or after I shot them…)

The hardwood floors have been covered for over 30 years! They look so great! There are still a few more things in the works…like an area rug…but its turning out fabulous!

New Phone’s Panorama Photo Feature
I found out that I was due for an upgrade to my phone the other day! If you talk to me on an every day basis you probably know how dusty my old phone’s screen was after I got it fixed after it cracked {picture in this post}. So I jumped at the chance to upgrade my phone and I’m loving the new one so far…especially the price Costco was selling it for! I haven’t had it long enough to put the phone on Laura Loves quite yet…but I do love the panorama photo feature….check it out!

NYC Times Square
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360 of the New Living Room
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Jib Jab ~ 2011, Buh Bye!
The perfect recap and sendoff to 2011…

I hope you all have a very Happy New Year! I know I will as my January is looking busy busy busy already! As the guy at the fast food joint said today to my friend Laura and I…

“Happy New Year! Enjoy your future and forget your past!!”

Happy New Year! Laura Loves will be back at the end of January! See you all in 2012!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! The Year With No Tree…

It is kind of ironic that the year that I got my own tree for the first time, we were unable to have a tree at home for the first time. It is almost like it was meant to be for me…so that I’d at least get a tree this year somehow…

When I found out earlier this week that we weren’t going to have a tree at home this year I was disappointed…but there was good reason…

My parents are doing some renovations on their house and the major thing right now is the living room. They are currently:

1) Painting the walls
2) Installing crown molding
3) New light fixtures (including recessed lighting)
4) New built in shelves
5) Taking up the carpet that has been there for over 40 years and refinishing the hardwood.
6) New living room furniture

Because the floors were just finally getting finished this week, we still aren’t able to even have furniture on it…meaning the furniture from the hardwood part of the house (including the bedrooms) are all squashed into two other rooms. Basically while the floors are curing we can’t have a tree on them…and a tree won’t fit in the other rooms with all the stuff…so we weren’t able to have a tree :-/.

But I think we had the prettiest alternative! We spread the gifts all over the new built in shelves….and I think it looks great!

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I hope you all have very Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah or whatever it is you celebrate!!! Enjoy this time of family and friends!! Smile

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dear Fake Christmas Tree {Wordless Wednesday}

Dear Fake Christmas Tree,

 I've never been ready so early! Thanks for the encouragement!

Love,
Laura

and Milo too...


Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Favorite Holiday Albums

It seems in the past few years that people start listening to holiday music earlier and earlier. Pretty much as soon as Halloween is over…people are ready to sing some carols. I have to admit to resenting that practice. I can’t stand holiday music until after my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is over. But once I’ve awoken from my Turkey-induced coma…my attitude toward the music of the season does a complete 180…well…because now it actually IS the season!

Monday morning after Turkey Day I tuned into 97.1 WASH FM which has been on 24 hours of holiday music since just before Thanksgiving. As soon as I got into work I started listening to my holiday Pandora station.

It really is amazing how quickly I go from resenting holiday music to not being able to get enough of it. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite holiday albums.

Raffi’s Christmas Album

Raffi's Christmas Album

When I was younger, Raffi was one of our kid music staples, so its only natural that Raffi’s Christmas Album is extremely nostalgic for my sisters and me. Even now a days we play it on Christmas morning. If you have kids this is a fun kid album that is pretty adult friendly. Its just not quite Christmas morning if we don’t hear some of the songs from this album! But then we often move on to things like…

Aaron Neville’s Soulful Christmas

Soulful Christmas

This is another nostalgic album for me, a staple in our house around Christmas time. Aaron Neville has a great voice. This album has a fun beat, particularly the track “Such a Night.” It has always been a great holiday song to dance around to while wrapping presents!

Barenaked For The Holidays

Barenaked for the Holidays

The Barenaked Ladies are one of my personal favorite bands so when they came out with a holiday album in 2004 I picked it up right away. Now it is one of my favorites. They put their own spin on some classics, have a few songs with retro sounds, and even have some originals. Two of my favorite songs on the album are “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” with Sarah McLaughlin and “Elf’s Lament” with Michael Buble. They also include some New Year and Hanukah songs. I really enjoy the album but since it is a bit quirky I could see it not being for everyone. If you’d like to just test it out…my holiday Pandora station is based off of this CD…just search “Barenaked Ladies (Holiday)” to start the channel. There will be a lot of songs from this album as well as other great artists.

Hallmark Presents Julie Andrews The Sounds of Christmas

Hallmark Presents Julie Andrews - The Sounds of Christmas From Around The World

I have been a Julie Andrew’s fan for longer than I even know. My two favorite movies when I was little were Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music (and I had no idea that Mary and Maria were both played by the same woman…Julie). This album has a lot of very classic sounds and mixed with the beautiful voice of Julie Andrews…not sure its possible to go wrong. This album is hard to find nowadays but I would think that any Julie Andrews Chrismas album would be just as wonderful.

Kristen Chenoweth – A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas

A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas

A few years ago I started thinking I should get myself a new Christmas album each year. That year I picked up Kristen Chenoweth’s album since I know she has a great voice! This is another great album. If you love the sound of Kristen’s voice, you will really enjoy this album. My favorite tracks would be her version of “Do You Hear What I Hear,” “Sing,” and “Home on Christmas Day.” There are a good mix of touching and fun upbeat songs. I think I just wish there were a few more classics on this album because of her great voice.

As I mentioned, I have started to make a habit of picking up a holiday album each year. This year’s addition…

James Taylor at Christmas

James Taylor at Christmas

If you like the voice of James Taylor then you will definitely enjoy this album. There are a great collection of classic songs. I think this was a great edition to my collection. Love his versions of “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” “River,” and “In The Bleak Midwinter.”

What are some of your favorite Christmas or holiday albums? Any recommendations for what I should add to my collection next year?

*Note* – All album cover art taken from images at Amazon.com

UPDATE: I realized that I typed the wrong DC radio station. It is 97.1 not 94.7 (now fixed). I think I was thinking of a station in NJ whose name sounds like WASH FM when I wrote that…whoooops.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Marbled Christmas Nails! {Fun as Nails}

While I’ve never been the one for playing with make-up and I’m just NOW (at 27) developing a love of shoe shopping…I have always had fun doing my nails. For the 8th grade dance I actually did a design of a vine of flowers across my nails…it was really cute (and took a while!)…and went perfectly with my butterfly clips in my hair! (In my defense they were in style at the time). Anyway…doing my nails is the girly thing indulge in. Especially when I discover fun designs and colors! So I thought I’d start a feature about it: Welcome to Fun as Nails!

On Monday I decided to try my latest discovery…marble nails!

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While the technique for this is sort of time consuming it isn’t as hard as it might seem. If you are interested there is a pretty clear video tutorial {here}.

Here are the colors I used for my nails:

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The tutorial says to use white as a base coat but I didn’t have a white, so I used a light tan color that is typically used for French manicures. I think the colors on my nails might have come out brighter if I had used white so if you have a white…I think it might be better. The top coat on the left is just a generic clear coat that came in a nail polish set I got a while ago.

The two colors I used for the actual marbling were  OPI’s Here Today…Aragon Tomorrow and Sally Hansen’s Insta-Dri Wined Up.

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You will go through a LOT of tape and toothpicks! The tape really helps. Without it, a lot of extra polish on the surface of the water will get all over your finger. The tape makes it really easy to keep the polish only on your nail!

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I really thought these nails were fun and I really want to try to do this technique again with other colors (or maybe even with more than two colors!) But I think these green and red nails are a perfect nail for the season!

Here are some things I’d like to do for next time:

  • I’d like to try a white base coat to see if that makes the colors a bit brighter.
  • I did wait a really long time before applying my top coat, it still sort of made streaks in the marble pattern. I would either wait even longer between dipping my nail and putting on a top coat, or maybe use a quick dry lighter top coat. I do think a top coat is needed though because you are putting a pretty thin and kind of delicate layer of color on the nail. The top coat would definitely make it last longer.
  • I would use a plastic cup for the water. I had a mug that I didn’t care too much about…and it seems at first like the nail polish will clean up fine off the surface…but there was some residual polish that got on the sides.
  • I used the Insta-Dri purely for the tone of the red color…but I think it would be better to use a regular polish. I found the red sometimes dried on the surface too fast for me and regular polish will already dry fast since the layer on the water becomes very thin.

I had fun trying this though! And while there were some people online who said this technique is difficult…I find it more time consuming than difficult. I didn’t have trouble getting a cute design on the first try and its fun to see how each nail turns out…they are always different!

I plan to share more fun nail colors/designs/techniques/trends as I try them! Let me know if you try this technique! Are there other nail designs you think I should try? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My First Christmas Tree!

Every Christmas, my sisters and I would receive at least one ornament in our stocking which somehow related to what we either did or something we really liked during that year.

The year I was first able to vote in a presidential election (2004)…

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The year I moved to DC, I began getting the White House Christmas Ornament (2009 & 2010)…

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The first year we went skiing (1992)…

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The year I made my confirmation (1999)…

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Last year on Christmas morning, I opened up a nice new ornament storage box and Mom told me that this year I’d be taking my ornaments back to DC. The whole point of getting an ornament each year was to build up a collection for when we were older…and it was time that I decorate my own tree.

I wasn’t sure that I’d get a tree as of last year…but this fall the time came around to start thinking about it.

I had always been a real tree kind of girl. To me, a real cut tree at Christmas is the best, particularly because of the smell…and the feel of the needles…and even just the excitement of going out to pick the perfect tree.

The problem was that it wasn’t practical to get myself a real tree to decorate this year. I won’t be in DC for the holiday and the entire whole week afterward. It doesn’t really make sense for me to have a real tree drying out. I also didn’t want to have to figure out how to dispose of it living in a high rise. So a real Christmas tree was kind of out of the question.

BUT I had always told myself I’d never have a fake tree…

Then….the Target Black Friday 2-day sale happened…and I saw they had a pre-lit 6.5 foot tree on sale for $30…and I started to re-think.

A fake tree probably works the best for me over the next few years. I am storing my ornaments…so I should display them. I can have the tree up for most of the season since it won’t be drying out. I don’t have to worry about it while I’m gone for the holiday for the same reason.

Sooooo I bought it…and this year I have my very first Christmas Tree! I set it up when I got back to DC from Thanksgiving!

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I’m really pleased with my decision to get a fake tree this year! Not only has it put me in the Christmas spirit here in DC…but it has motivated me to do my wrapping sooner! The tree looked so empty without gifts under it that I find myself wrapping as I buy now! In the past my family and I would all grab different parts of the house to wrap our gifts on Christmas Eve…I’m excited to not worry about mass wrapping anymore!

It really feels nice to have a tree in my own apartment. It feels more like the season is also here in DC (as opposed to just when I go home to NJ) and inspires me to do more of my shopping. When I get home from work I can’t wait to light up my tree….I can kind of relate a little more to this lady (although she is talking about a real tree…):

But the only downfall is the smell…I really miss the smell of a real tree…but this candle has really helped…

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So much that I’ve already burnt it out (its been a week?) I really need to stock up on these…

I’ve decided that I can be a girl who has a fake tree….but maybe my new internal deal with myself will be that when I have a family…I will never have a fake tree Winking smile

Where do you fall in this debate? Real or fake? Or no tree at all? (Like me the past few years). Let me know in the comments! And YAY for the start of the holiday season!