Friday, December 30, 2011

Great Ideas for an Organized New Year

The new year is a great time to clear out clutter and get organized. I'm always looking for new ideas to help get things organized and last week I received an email from my mother-in-law that was full of great ideas. I decided to share a few of my favorites.

Use straws to hull out berries.
Hang a strip of Velcro on the wall to organize stuffed animals.
Use a stocking on the end of vacuum hose to find small lost items like earring backs.
Use wire to create a place to store wrapping paper on the ceiling of a closet rather than on the floor!

Mount a tension rod under the sink and use hang spray bottles.
Use shower caps to cover shoes while traveling to keep your clothes from getting dirty.
Store sheet sets inside their pillow cases to save time searching for matching pieces.
Use baby powder to easily get sand off of your skin.
Attach rain gutters to the side of a building or on a fence and use to plant vegetables.
Cut X's into a box lid to create an instant cupcake carrier.
Use a rubber band to secure a sliced apple together to help prevent browning in your lunch box.
Use old baby wipe containers to store plastic bags. This is a great idea for pet owners!
Use bread tabs to organize and label power cords.
I will soon be implementing several of these ideas in my own home.

Happy organizing!

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011: A Year to Remember

It would be an understatement to say that 2011 was a great year! Seriously it has been one of the best that I can remember to date! So many wonderful things have happened this year (and a few not so wonderful too) and I thought it might make sense to take a few minutes to reflect on all that we did and were blessed with over this crazy, awesome, amazing year!

January - We started the year off ramping up on wedding planning, we found our venue and began talking to vendors. Sadly though, we lost one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met, Kevin's Grandma T, so he flew home to be with the family for her services. She is greatly missed by all.

Later in the month, I attended my lovely little sister Tanya's Bridal Shower. Her friends did a really great job pulling everything together and she was beautiful as ever.

by Emily Faulknor Photographers
February - We had the most fun having our Engagement photos taken with our super-awesome photographers, The Faulknors of Emily Faulknor Photography. It was a total blast and we felt like celebrities for a couple of hours! We also took a little time to play and headed east of San Diego for a couple of hours to see some snow!
My snow art!

March - March was dedicated to the wedding of a really amazing couple! My sister Tanya Thomas and her sweetheart Terence DeBeer. They had a beautiful ceremony at Chapman University, Tanya's alma mater and we had a wonderful time getting to know his South African family and dancing it up with their friends at their reception! (Gorgeous couple - inside and out!)

April - The month of April brought us three weeks of my best friend April and her sweet daughter Eva! They came to San Diego for a visit and spent the weekends at our house. It was so much fun to spend some time with these two. We even got to take Eva to her first Easter egg hunt!

May - By May I was really feeling the love! My amazing mom and fantastic girlfriends came together to throw me the ultimate girlie weekend, fondly referred to as the "Triple B!" We had a Bachelorette Party with scavenger hunt (something old, new, borrowed and even a special blue cocktail menu with a drink named just for me! - "The Elektraelena!").

Next, we had a glorious 30th-Birthday Wine Tasting Tour followed by a good ol' fashion slumber party with spa baths, pedicures and cupcakes to boot!

Finally, on Sunday we were joined by more friends and family for a quaint Bridal Shower Brunch in my mom's backyard!  It was so much more than I could've ever hoped for!

May also brought some more sad news on Kevin's side with the loss of his cousin Jon. He was a sweet kid and we were so sad to see his life cut short.

We ended the month with exciting news for my brother Nick and aunt Chely, with the publication of their first children's book, "Freddie D. Teddy Goes Camping!" This adorable little story can be found in Barnes and Noble and What an exciting accomplishment for the two of them.

June -  The 1st was my actual birthday and I turned the big 3-0! This birthday will forever be dubbed my "Balloon Birthday" because not only did my mom and wonderful husband both have the same idea of sending me balloons at work, they turned out to be almost identical bouquets of awesomeness! (Great minds think alike!)

Next, Kevin took me up in a hot air balloon which was scary but totally thrilling all at the same time!
Then, my mom threw me another Bridal Shower, this time it was a High Tea here in San Diego at Tea Upon Chatsworth. A bunch of friends and family from So Cal wore cute hats and joined us for a traditional English Tea!

Finally, Kevin had his Bachelor Party weekend in Las Vegas with a bunch of buddies! (Strangely there are no pictures for this one...hmmmm!)

July - Probably don't have to remind you about what happened in July! But just in case you forgot, Kevin and I celebrated with all of our family and friends in the most special, magical and fun day of our lives! The final prep leading up to the wedding kept us very busy, but it was oh-so-worth-it when the big day came.

by Emily Faulknor Photographers
August - Funny, I'm having a hard time remembering August! Perhaps that's because we spent the majority of that month in haze trying to recover from the wedding and all of the other amazing events of the year!

September - September was also quiet for us, however my sister Tanya released her first album and had a CD Release Party where she preformed live with a band (sadly we were unable to attend). All of her hard work and perseverance paid off and we couldn't be more proud of her!

photo by Leonard Jonathon Photo

October - October started off another slew of busy months for us. It was finally time for our honeymoon in Jamaica, but first we went to Dallas, TX to celebrate with a bunch of Kevin's Navy friends at the wedding of Branden and Francis Barron. We had so much fun not only at their wedding, but at all of the other fun events they had planned surrounding their big day. While there, we got to catch up with another Navy buddy of Kevin's, Steve Smith and his wife Natalie who we hadn't seen since their wedding in Kauai 4 years ago!

Francis and Branden were a beautiful bride and groom!
Our little buddies Asher and Moss were the life of the party!

Then, we were off to Whitehouse, Jamaica and the Sandals Whitehouse Resort where we had some serious R & R for an entire week! It was truly our own little slice of heaven!


November - Turkey Day was upon us before we knew it and we decided to stick around town and lay low. On Thanksgiving Day we participated in a nation-wide telephone and Skype anniversary call for the 50th wedding anniversary of my dear, great-aunt and uncle Leo and Orlando Abreu. This was amazing! They had people calling in on 5 different phone lines and 6 or 7 on Skype from all over the country! Then we hit World Famous Restaurant with a few local friends for a Thanksgiving dinner buffet.

Friday, we braved the sales at the mall for some great deals and then back home where I made day-after Thanksgiving dinner! It turned out quite good if I do say so myself (and by the looks of his face below, I'd say that Kevin agreed!).

We finished the month with some awesome news, our wedding was published on Style Me Pretty, the amazing blog all about weddings! It was so much fun to see it online for the world to view and hopefully be inspired by.

December - The last month of a great year! This month is always so busy for us, not just because of Christmas, but because my wonderful hubby was born in December. This year I wanted to spoil him a little since it was our first year being married, so first I threw him off track with a trip to Julian for lunch and a visit to the California Wolf Center.

That's an Alaskan Grey Wolf in the background!

Then, just when he thought he had had all of his birthday fun, I gave him two tickets to the Chargers v. Ravens football game. We met up with some friends for a little tail-gate party (complete with his favorite Funfetti cupcakes) and then into the game where the Chargers kicked some butt!

Now, we're off to the lovely city of San Francisco where we will have a couple of days to celebrate Christmas with my mom and Chuck complete with a tour of Alcatraz Island on Christmas Eve, before heading up to Santa Rosa for a little holiday break.

What can I say, 2011 has been an amazing year for The Donnelly's and it will be with bitter-sweetness when we toast in the new year in one short week!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a very Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Suzy's Salmon

My good friend Suzy made me dinner a few months back and I have literally been making it once a week ever since! This Salmon recipe is THE BOMB! (and so super simple!)

Start with a couple of good portions of salmon. You can either make this as one big piece or individual servings.

Go to Trader Joe's (hopefully you have one of these closeby because it is the best store in the world!) and pick up their Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce and a jar of capers.

Lightly coat a non-stick baking sheet with olive oil spray and place salmon, skin-side down (if you left the skin on). Evenly spread a layer of aoli over the salmon flesh to cover. Then using a fork (or clean fingers) place capers in the aoli evenly on the salmon.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 24 mins (this time may vary with your oven and fish size).

That's it! So easy! Low calorie! And delicous!

I serve it up with veggies for a nice well-rounded meal and last week I tried the Trader Joe's brand of crescent rolls, which were really good too! (not as buttery & greasy as the Pilsbury brand)

Enjoy! (and thanks Suz for an awesome new dish!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Office Organization

I guess the wedding being over was a bigger let down than I maybe expected because now I've moved onto fixing up the house. And, if you know me, I can never have just one project going on, I have to have about 5 at once!

So, not only am I slowly redecorating our living room, I'm also redoing our office which serves as Kevin's closet and our guest room (and lately our junk room that we shut the door on whenever we have guests over!). The space really hasn't functioned well since we moved in almost two years ago and now I am determined to change all of that!

I made a good dent last weekend after a trip to IKEA, but there is still much to be done. So, in the meantime, I'm looking at pretty offices for inspiration.

And my favorite of them all:

Ahhhh, organized bliss here we come!!!!