Dream Big & Buy The Shoes: 2015

December 29, 2015

It Was The Best Year Of My Life

Hello friends, it's been a few days but I hope that all of you had a wonderful holiday with the ones you love the most. Christmas is such a beautiful time and while it all seems to go by so quick, I'm trying to hold tight the memories of 2015.

Today I want to recap the best year of my life and share some of my favorite moments, posts, and pictures. Follow along, I promise it will be fun.

January: The start of a new year brought me some fresh ideas and allowed me to find my way in this blogging world a little more. Chuck and I took a day trip to Niagara Falls and I wrote about how to Bring Back The Spark In Your Relationship . I remember also being so excited it was finally 2015, the year I was getting married.

February: I crossed off a Bucket List item and saw Fleetwood Mac in concert as part of an amazing Christmas present from Chuck. DIY became a real thing here at Dream Big & Buy the Shoes by the end of the month and I discovered how much I really love sharing recipes too. One of my favorite recipes to date is still the Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers...they are so good..

March: This was the first time I created some free printables, my Easter ones. Easter is my most favorite holiday so it was a lot of fun. I also shared my blogging space and How To Blog When You Don't Have An Office which is another personal favorite post of mine.

April: April was an AMAZING month...we went to Las Vegas to see the Queen herself, Miss Britney Spears!! I love Vegas so much that I had to break it down in to 3 posts...the trip was absolutely awesome. I didn't meet Britney, but I did meet someone pretty awesome- I promise you it's worth the read. I did my first post based on some feedback from Facebook- where I had asked about people using Keurig's. My Battle of the K-Cups was a fun post in April.

May: I remember really thinking "Wow-I'm getting married soon"...all the fun really started to set in as we continued to plan for our big day. Normally in the spring and summer months we take a lot of trips to Pittsburgh, but our budget didn't allow for it with all the planning. We still managed to have fun though. Ethan had a great event at school where I paid far more for an umbrella than I ever normally would and I wrote about it in this post. I performed some random acts of kindness and had some fun documenting it.

June: It was a whirlwind of a month and I took an unexpected blogging break for a while to get caught up on life. School ended for the year for Ethan, we enjoyed some much needed time by the pool, and plenty of outdoor exploring went on whether it was at the peninsula or our local amusement park . I celebrated ONE YEAR of blogging and made a delicious  Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad...is it summer yet, because I could sure go for some right now.

July: July was a perfect month full of fun. I celebrated my birthday and bachelorette all in one weekend with my best friends in Pittsburgh. They went to amazing lengths to make sure my weekend as all about me, and they went above and beyond...I still get a huge smile on my face and tears in my eyes just thinking about every detail that was paid attention to. It was also interesting when I put up a controversial post and got my first negative blog comment. The beautiful thing about blogging is that everyone has their own opinion, and this is my space to share mine and hear out other's. I shared Why Divorce Isn't An Option For Me and I still feel that way today.

August: Another great month full of wedding planning and celebrations. My beautiful and thoughtful friends & family threw me the most perfect bridal shower I have ever seen (sorry I'm partial, but it was to die for).  I gave some props to fashion bloggers because I was sick of hearing people bash them. Also, what's summer without some good food and drinks? I shared another fun kick on pasta salad and my summer sangria that was enjoyed at my bridal shower and one for those who don't drink alcohol since I was obsessed with infused water this year.

September: It's safe to say that September was the best month for me this year...WEDDING month! I still can't seem to find the words to put our day in perspective. While planning I kept referring to September 26, 2015 as the Best Day Ever & wow, was it ever. I look at pictures and all the feelings of those moments come back. I can hear the music, the words, feel the hugs and cherish the love in each and every single second of the day that I look back on. There is nothing quite like marrying the love of your life and sharing an absolutely beautiful day with your closest friends and incredible family.
I had some talented ladies guest post for me while I was busy with the wedding festivities and was so honored they posted on the blog. Blogging brings beautiful friendships and I am so very grateful for all the love that was shown to me and my family during this special month.

October: It was so weird to come home from a day of work and not arrange a seating chart, seal an envelope, organize wedding decor and have some time to get back in my groove. I tackled some new DIY projects like the flower letter and the cupcake onesies which also made good gifts for some of my pregnant friends who now have welcomed precious little angels in to the world. I shared some important information with beauty lovers everywhere about how often you should clean your makeup brushes and my adorable stepson made a blog appearance with his very own chocolate chip cookie recipe.

November: I started out the month with a tutorial on how I became a cupcake for Halloween- seriously it was the best costume I've worn to date. Instead of purchasing something I've been wanting - a perfume tray, I decided to try and make it...turns out I'm pretty okay at this being crafty thing. Unfortunately, tragedy struck our world again...this time in Paris. I shared my thoughts on the subject along with some love and positivity in tow. I'm always extra grateful when Thanksgiving rolls around and I reflect on all my blessings and I shared what I'm thankful for this year.

December: In my free time I have spent every second wondering where the year went. Besides that I kept busy decorating my favorite Christmas tree & gave you a tour to show it off.  I got the courage to make my mom's Italian Christmas cookies and it brought back so many special memories. It was good month professionally and I was featured in a magazine with my Chocolate Mint Christmas Dream dessert recipe. Ethan turned another year older and we celebrated him & everything that is awesome with being 12 and I rounded out the year with another group of free printables and showed you how I styled my bar cart this holiday.

I seriously can't believe the year is already coming to an end. 2015 brought a lot of change- I received a promotion, I gained a husband, that husband got a new job, Ethan moved on to middle school, we officially became a family who share one last name and this little blog of mine continues to grow.

The thing that makes my heart happiest isn't the labels though, it's the friendships, the creativity, the interaction and the support that comes day in and day out from this space of mine and the beautiful life I live.
If you would have asked me back in June of 2014 where I saw this blog today- it wouldn't be here, but that's what makes life interesting. I recently updated my "About Me" page because it said I couldn't craft...and look at me now. I am so grateful that this blog has allowed me to take a step, and most days,  a jump out of my comfort level. It's exhilarating, refreshing and sometimes scary but I love it so much.

I have big dreams for the new year both personally and professionally, but a few simple requests first. All a girl really needs is a cupcake emoji and a tweet back from Britney Spears...2016 I'm talkin' to you, can we make this happen please?!

But really, a huge thank you to each and every one of you who come to Dream Big & Buy the Shoes. Whether you visit daily or just once in a while I appreciate you coming here and spending some of your day with me. I hope that I can bring a smile to your face in some way and remind you that anything is possible if you allow yourself the chance to dream...you're never too young or too old, I promise.

I will be taking a few days off to focus on the future of my blog and enjoy some much needed time with my family and will be back in the New Year with some new content. Thank you for your constant support and sweet comments, I can't wait to spend more time devoted to making this space even better in 2016.

Stay warm, stay safe, keep dreaming.....and always, for sure...buy the shoes.

December 23, 2015

Christmas Printables & Holiday Bar Cart Style

We all know my love for printables. I was so excited to make the holiday ones, but I wish there was some more Christmas overlays that were up my alley in PicMonkey...you know, like pizza. Duh.

I managed to come up with an interesting variety for this holiday, but first let's take a look at what else I made this year.

Some of my past printable work:

My favorite holiday- Easter

Some Halloween fun-

And my most recent Fall & Thanksgiving designs-

I hope you enjoy my Christmas creations as much as I loved making them. I decided to put mine to use on my bar cart and make it even more festive. So, you know that means a peek at my favorite corner of the dining room too.

An ode to my favorite holiday movie of all time, downright demanding a kiss under the mistletoe, and some Christmas cheer & bright fancy fun...a little bit of something for everyone.

The best part of Christmas printables is that they can double as gift tags...I don't know about you but I seem to run out or lose mine each year, even when I buy multiple packs. I love unique gift tags...bright ones, big ones and I think these would look great under any tree.

You can print them out by clicking on the link here and yes, they're completely free!

I attached a few to some holiday straws to make them more festive and fun, so with that comes a peek at my bar cart. It's by far one of my favorite spots to decorate each holiday. I love finding little things to make it pop and add to the fun of the season.

One of my big blog goals for 2016 is to improve my photography. I took these pictures on Chuck's camera (his is way nicer than mine), but the lighting is not the best. I'm working on it though, I promise...better pics to *hopefully* come as time goes on. 

I have picked up little odds and ends over the years to add to my decor. I grabbed these adorable reindeer lights in the dollar bin at Target and got the little tree and silver berry garland at Marshall's last year. The sign was part of a wine gift basket from my mother in law, does she know me or what?! I think my favorite part of the bar cart may be the gifts from Maker's Mark...I'm still not sure why we get packages from them, but I'm not complaining. The vodka is all bundled up in a scarf, the tequila is wearing a hat, and the whiskey has earmuffs...great stuff guys.

I hope you all have the most enjoyable holiday and a very Merry Christmas with the ones you love. Stay safe, stay warm (no worries here, it's supposed to be 50 degrees!!) , and soak up every little moment...much love to all of you!!

See you next week...XO!

December 22, 2015

Why I Don't Mind Elf On The Shelf

Sure, there's plenty of people out there who can't stand Elf On The Shelf. Then there's the people like me, who don't mind the guy. He gets a bad wrap when all he's trying to do is make some children behave for their parents...doesn't sound so awful to me.

We only had our Elf in action last year. Ethan was on the fence about believing in Santa and asked about the Elf so we bought one. His name was Jerome, or if you ask Chuck...Melf.

I remember some nights waking up like Shit, I didn't move the Elf. I literally would wake Chuck up and asked him if he moved Melf. Some mornings were a fiasco trying to beat Ethan to the Elf to make sure he was magically moved.

The nights we did remember far in advance were pretty fun. We did a few fun things with our elf, like spell out Ethan's name in his favorite cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Jerome also brough Ethan a new ornament and was hanging from the tree. Some of my favorite moments with Jerome were the ones you don't see on Pinterest or your average mom group Facebook page.

Jerome likes his vodka. Don't worry- we did this one night when Ethan was at a friends & just took pics.

Jerome the gamer. Staying up late, eating snacks & playing XBox.

Jerome the Minecraft lover- waiting to play some games with Ethan.

Who knew Melf was a gambler? He even played against Sock Monkey with some Ethan M&M's as chips.

Miley Melf came in like a wrecking ball.

I find it hilarious to see what parents come up with for that Elf. I mean, the clothes alone make me laugh. We got our guy an aviator jacket that came with flight goggles. I don't mind Elf On The Shelf because I find it flat out hilarious. 

What are your thoughts about that crazy Elf?

December 21, 2015

Things I Love To Do In December

Tradition. I just love the word. Say it. It just sounds nice. Tradition.

I'm sure you all have some. Great memories of what the holidays were like in your home. You may do the same things your family did, or you could have started your own. There's a few things I love to do each December, and most of them are free....which is always awesome if you're looking for something to do.

Get some hot cocoa or coffee and drive around looking at Christmas lights.

Watch Home Alone with all the lights off except for the Christmas tree and recite the movie word for word.

Have a cookie baking day. Try a new recipe or just get wild with the frosting & sprinkles. How about one with pudding like some Chocolate Mint Christmas Dream?

Make a craft. This year I made a garland for my Christmas Coffee Tree. Have you seen it yet? I gave a tour which I hope you enjoy.

Go to your favorite store and don't spend any money. Get inspiration for decorations or plan what you're going to buy the day after Christmas....hello SALES!

Get ideas for next year's tree & how I will decorate it. There's plenty of creativity in my Inspirational Instagram Accounts: Holiday Home Decor. I'm talking serious swoon worthy homes you guys.

Snuggle up at the library or your local bookstore reading some good books. These places are always cozier around the holiday time.

Make new traditions. My friend Anne shared her Cocoa Bar and got me in the mood to make my own. If you don't already follow me on Instagram, stay tuned for how my ideas turned out.

Light a candle, snuggle up on the couch and enjoy Christmas movies and shows. A few favorites are: The Great Christmas Light Fight and The Great Holiday Baking Show on ABC, The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I can't believe Christmas is THIS WEEK...enjoy every little moment with your favorite people. Until tomorrow....

What are your favorite things to do this month?

December 18, 2015

6 Inspirational Instagram Accounts ((Holiday Home Decor))

I've talked about Instagram and why I love it a few times here before. I have also shared 4 inspirational accounts you need to follow.

I don't know if any social media will ever replace my love for Instagram. I can get lost in it forever. No joke....hours. Lately, I'm crushing on decor. I absolutely adore decorating for the holidays and enjoy creating new looks with our decor each year. Thanks to a few bloggers ((and their love of hashtags)) - Sarah, Erin, Taylor & Helene to name a few... I have found some beautiful accounts to follow.

I may never have a house as perfect as these, but they sure are some #holidayhomegoals to work up to.

Jennifer // @southernswagfarmhouse

Jennier's home looks so cozy and sweet and I would love to lay on her couch with all those cute holiday pillows. My favorite picture is the one of her beautiful living room and tree.

Feet up ✔️ pajama pants on✔️ Fuzzy socks on✔️. Sharing my mantel again for #allsprucedup and #FalalaForDecor and my garland hanging from our new lights for #ourholidayhome and #ispydesignseries wants to know our favorite room to decorate for Christmas which would be the living room because that's where we all hang out and get cozy by the fireplace! I hope I got all those tags right πŸ™ˆπŸ˜¬. Would you ladies like to join in on any of these fun holiday tags? @backtoblueberryhill @livingwithamanda @fourgenerationsoneroof. Also we don't all have matching stockings because my sweet and dear Grandmother Winkie made mine and my husbands stockings. She was well known for her gorgeous stockings that she made! She passed away before we had the boys so they unfortunately didn't get a stocking so @potterybarnkids was where I turned when they were born to order cute monogrammed stockings and I think I got Kealey's from Kmart one year. ❤️❤️❤️ #holidaysfullofheart #colorFULLchristmas #myholidaystyle
A photo posted by Jennifer (@southernswagfarmhouse) on

Emily // @emilyanngemma 

While Emily is known for her amazing fashion sense & blog, her decorating is so on point too. This tree....WOW! All the colors and details seriously blow me away.

Liz Marie // @lizmarieblog 

Liz's house is just stunning... I love the rustic and sort of country cottage touches. The rooms of decor wow me, but don't overwhelm as my eyes travel all around looking at each detail. I would love to spend a morning drinking coffee in this living room.

Jodi // @twineandvines

I love a DIY-er, and Jodi is that person. Her house and decor projects are really cool and I love the things she comes up with. My favorite is this hot cocoa bar and all the cute accessories.

Kim // @kimkhazel

Not only is the exterior of this house immaculate, just take a look at the inside. The grand features and way Kim decorates every little place is so beautiful. I love the great colors of this tree and the unique decor.

I was tagged by some lovely friends for #widn @tasselsandthrows @brittanyaleciaxo @mintcandydesigns Thanks for thinking of me ladies! Please go visit all their feeds for some great inspo. I am just putting some finishing touches on my tree. Thank you to @katie_blythe_designs for the idea of using @wallmarts Santa spray to "flock" my tree. It's not true flocking but it did give my tree a white frosted look that I love! I'm using blue with a lot of silver and gold metallic and added peacock feathers. Sharing for #colorfullchristmas who want to see metalic, #ourlovefortheholidays who want to see #christmastree and #leavenospaceunturned who want to see a #treetopper or decorated space. Would friends @figandtwigs @innernaturedesign @styledwithlace like to share any of the fun tags or #widn? #sharemyhomegoods #the_real_houses_of_ig #decorcrushsunday #DeckingForTheHolidays #deckthehalls #jmholidaystyle #ispydesignseries #OurHomeForTheHoliday #holidaysfullofheart #thecolorfulhome#magicalandcozy#classyinteriors #the_real_houses_of_ig #dressyourhome#kava_interior#MakeHomeYours#shabbyinteriors#eleganceroom
A photo posted by Kim (@kimkhazel) on

Haneen // @haneens_haven 

Last but not least, Haneen and her great eye for home decor and style. Growing up I was obsessed with the game Candy Land, so when I saw this tree I about died. Look at the bright colors and all the fun ornaments!

I absolutely love each one of these accounts and their beautiful decorations for the holidays. I have spent one too many nights getting lost on Instagram finding new inspiration.

Do you have any favorite accounts to follow for home decor?

See you next week friends, I hope you have a great weekend getting ready for the holiday!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway that ends next week...you can do so via the widget below. Good Luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 17, 2015

A Minecraft Celebration: Happy 12th Birthday Ethan

Today my awesome stepson Ethan turns 12 and we celebrated his special day this past weekend at one of his favorite places, Dave and Buster's. It's the perfect spot for both children and adults...hello games for all ages and adult beverages. 

I think that having a party at a location outside of your home is easier since you don't have to prepare all the food and a ton of decor, but I still like making it fun and personalized. Here's how I put my own touches on Ethan's birthday celebration.

Ethan is really in to Minecraft, which is a game where you build and dig with different 3D blocks and create worlds to explore. He and his friends play all the time and Ethan loves creating and designing. I thought we could make some Minecraft fun for this year's party and Ethan was really in to it. 

It all started when I was messing around on PicMonkey and made a creeper head, which is the main logo of Minecraft. Ethan saw it and loved it so much that he asked me to make his invitations for the party. I took a stab at it and came up with something that he really liked. 

I don't know much about Minecraft other than what Ethan shows me, so I went to my trusty friend, the Internet to find out some information. From there, I made up some party favors full of sugar and Minecraft fun.

Party favors ready for the guests at Dave & Buster's

Candy favors...gold, slime balls, diamonds, & of course TNT!

Mike & Ike candies were used for redstone

Plenty of sugar for everyone!

Our favorite candy...personalized M&M's

Our little man's party candy!

How cool were these for the pop?! The kids loved it!

The party group!!

I've been in Ethan's life since he was 4 years old and it's such a blessing to see him grow each year. I love his wild spirit and how he enjoys trying new things like soccer, violin, safety patrol & more. He's really come out of his shell more each year and it makes me so happy. He is the sweetest soul you will ever meet. Ethan thinks of everyone else before himself and usually his Christmas lists start with making sure homeless people have a home for the holidays before he asks for anything. Ethan is kind, loving and my little buddy. I feel so lucky to be his stepmom and I'm grateful for his love. 

Happy Birthday to my little dude, the best kid I know, my best friend. I hope each new year brings you so many amazing things and that you continue to enjoy every second of your life with as much excitement as you do now. 

December 16, 2015

Flower Girl Dresses // Wedding Wednesday

Welcome to another week of Wedding Wednesday where I share a bunch of fun pictures of our wedding day and give you every little detail because it makes me so so happy.

This week I am going to show you the cutest little flower girls dresses...EVER. I was completely obsessed and told everyone that if I had the choice, I would have worn theirs...ha-ha.

Our two nieces were our flower girls, both daughters of Chuck's sisters. I was absolutely thrilled that they could both be in the wedding and share a part of our special day.

I knew from the start that I didn't want traditional white or ivory dresses for the girls. With the variety and shades of purple that the bridesmaids wore , I wanted the flower girls to be in touches of purple too.
I looked on Pinterest and Etsy for wedding things before we were engaged (I know I'm not alone...no shame here) and enjoyed browsing through ideas. When I decided on purple I searched Etsy again and found some beautiful dresses.

I finally decided on a purple ombre tutu dress for the girls and ordered them from FrillyFairyTales on Etsy.  Dawn was a dream to work with and so informative and helpful. I first asked her how far in advance I could order and she immediately put me on her list for orders based on when I needed the dresses.
She advised how to measure the girls for width in the chest and length, based on where I wanted the dresses to fall. I suggest going to a local bridal store and having people measured, just to make it easier for all parties involved.
After submitting the measurements to Dawn, all I had left to do was wait. I ordered the dresses with slips sewn in so that the tulle wasn't itching the girls. I told the girls to wear whatever type of shoes they were comfortable in as long as they were something that matched the picture of the dresses I had given them.

The dresses came in almost a whole 2 weeks prior to the wedding which was great. When I pulled them out of the box I was so giddy because they were absolutely perfect. I got so many compliments on how pretty their dresses were, and I'm pretty sure the girls loved them too.

Just look at these sweet little sugarplum fairy flower girls....

My sweet nieces...Cali on the left & Graci on the right

These are some of Chuck's favorite pictures. Our photographer had them in front making us laugh. 

We were all cracking up...they're so silly and cute. 

I love this one...ha-ha

Beyond sweet, my little loves. 

They were making all of us laugh the entire morning and throughout the night. They both have quite the personalities and we had so much fun with them.

Now some more pictures of the flower girls in action...

Getting ready to walk down the aisle

I love this shot of them from the back

They are just TOO cute...

Working hard

My favorite picture of them from the day. They are so adorable!

I couldn't have asked for more perfect dresses to match the bridesmaids and they were bright and cute for our flower girls. I wish that I could wear one too...they are just so fun!

Do you like traditional or non-traditional dresses? I love them both, but chose this route to tie all the purple colors together!

Wedding Wednesday in week's past...in case you missed it:

To Travel and Beyond