City of Lights: St. Augustine, FL

City lights, St. Augustine, Florida by designerssweetspot.com

I love Christmas lights. I am probably the only one in town who dreads putting the lights away for another whole year. I could keep them up all year long, but then the neighbors might think it was a bit odd.

This year I may just put some up after the New Year, because I never got around to putting them up before the holiday. For now, I have to admire everyone else’s’ display.

This is the city of St. Augustine, Florida. St. Augustine has a world famous Festival of Lights nor the holiday season from November to January. Rated by National Geograhic as one of the top ten best light displays in the world, it will not fail to impress. There are 2.5 million lights in the city, can you imagine? They are a sight to behold. I pity the poor soul who has to find that one light bulb that is out!

The city is built around an old town square with loads of beautiful shops, galleries and restaurants. It would be easy to spend your days on the beach and explore the city at night.

There are lots of interesting Windows to shop at after dark, I love,this stained glass window in an old church on the square. There were lots of people taking in the lights after dark, so be sure to go early and find a place to park. You can also take a trolley ride around town to see the lights for $12.00 per person.

All for now, it’s time to get back to the beach!

Enjoy your New Year!

 

Silver and Gold Holiday Decor

 teal sectional sofa and christmas centerpiece

This post is sponsored by Gordman’s. Any opinions given are completely my own.

The last minute decorating is done. The last minute shopping is done. Time to kick back and relax for the beginning of the holiday week. Can you believe it’s here already?

I did my last minute shopping at Gordman’s this year. It was fun to pick out a few new Silver and Gold accents for our home.

Actually, I picked out more Gold than silver.

 

gold pillow and center piece

This season, gold is the color for me!

I loved this huge gold and red gazing ball. It’s not really a Christmas decoration, but I love how it reflects warm light around the room in this big bowl of greenery on the coffee table.

gazing ball bling #designerssweetspot

The sunshine comes in the window and hits the gazing ball, it warms up the entire room with it’s gold, orange and red tones. I must admit I completely underestimated how much I would love this ball, I think it will stay on the table well past the holidays!  In the spring, it will find a new home out in the garden. I love things I can re-purpose!

Moroccan Ginger candle table display #designerssweetspot

I was thrilled to find this Moroccan Ginger candle, I love the gold mercury jar that it came in.

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When the candle is burning, it sparkles and the light reflects off the gazing ball and the jar and the other ornaments in the bowl. I will definitely find a home for this beautiful jar after the holidays! Did I mention that the candle smells amazing?? AMAZING!!

Well, it does.

gold ornaments with bling #designerssweetspot

The gold ornaments came from Gordman’s, too. I love ornaments that are non-breakable. They are pet proof and child proof and work great for a million reasons. Mostly, I love them because they are sparkly and full of bling. And they look fabulous in the candlelight.

We all need a little bling during the holidays!

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I snatched up this gold printed pillow for accent on the sofa. I love it! It works great with my hand knit afghan.I also couldn’t resist the gold polka dot notebook.

“Happy Thoughts” was exactly what I was looking to focus on over the holiday season. Sometimes we need a little reminder of the season to focus our mind on. I love these inspirational notebooks for writing down New Year’s resolutions and goals. I fill several notebooks a year with my writing and notes, but it just seemed right to start the New Year with a new notebook! Goodman’s had lots of coordinating gold desk accessories, I may need to go back and stock up after the holidays!

My last find at Gordman’s was in the kitchen isle, I spotted these stemless Champaign flutes and loved them immediately. They are swirled with gold trim around the glass, and I think they would even make pretty vases for a flower or two after the holidays.

For now though, they hold champaign. Dipping into the bubbly already, can’t wait for a holiday celebration!

Thank you Gorman’s for sponsoring this post!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Hand Dipped Biscotti

Biscotti is my all time favorite holiday food. Years ago my friends and I would gather for a special holiday gathering and each year one of my friends would make Hand Dipped Biscotti. She would wrap each piece like a gift and we would relish every single bite until we got more the next year.

Hand Dipped Biscotti|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com

Hand Dipped Biscotti is easy to make and so rewarding! It makes a great gift for any time of year.

Hand Dipped Biscotti|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com

Hand Dipped Biscotti

I make Biscotti each season, it’s easy and fun. Our kids love biscotti as well and often help me in the kitchen. They eat more than they make, but I love having them in the kitchen. It is a fun family activity.

Hand Dipped Biscotti|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com

Here’s what you will need:

Hand Dipped Biscotti

Hand Dipped Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. Grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 12 oz. chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Combine butter and sugar, mix well. Add lemon zest, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, combine. Fold in nuts and cranberries. Turn out onto slightly floured counter, kneed slightly. Shape into rectangle, about 3" wide. Place on large cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, cool for 30 minutes. Cut into slices 1" thick. Place slices on their side on cookie sheet. Bake again for 20 minutes until golden. Cool completely. Meanwhile, heat chocolate in double boiler until melted. Dip cooled biscotti pieces into chocolate, covering them half way. Place dipped biscotti on cookie,sheet until chocolate has hardened. Wrap pieces individually in wax paper or parchment to store.

To package your biscotti, wrap them in waxed paper and tie with pieces of bakers twine. You can also layer them in a cookie tin with parchment paper between the layers. Add a to/from tag and a copy of this recipe for a unique handmade gift!

 

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How to Make Mini-Mason Jar Snow Globes

 

Mini Mason Jar Snow Globe with red cardinal by www.designerssweetspot.com

All our boxes are packed. We are ready to go. We are waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I am not good at waiting.

We have been waiting for days and days to make our big move. I have tons of energy and nothing to focus on. This is dangerous.

Two 1/2 pint mini mason jar snow globes with snow and branches #designerssweetspot.com

I have rescheduled everything two or three times, we have had delay after delay. I cancelled the movers, the helpers, the mail, the everything.

Close up of red cardinal in mason jar snow globe #designerssweetspot
Mason jar snow globe supplies www.designerssweetspot.com

I am going nuts without anything to do.

Today, I busied myself by making little snow globes.

I found these tiny woodland ceramic animals at Joann’s on sale.

I found a few 1/2 pint size mason jars with bands and lids that I actually hadn’t packed. This was a miracle.

glued mini trees and animals for mason jar snow globes #designerssweetspot

I found a little bag of fake snow at Walmart for $.97 and some E600 Glue that probably kills brain cells.

glue on the bottom of a mini tree for a mason jar snow globe #designerssweetspot

I didn’t care about brain cells today.

I came home and glued the lids to the bands of the jars. Then I glued the animals in place, and tried not to inhale the E600 fumes. I was turning blue, but that’s okay with me.

deer and trees for mason jar snow globe #designerssweetspot

I placed my little ceramic creatures 3 to a jar, making sure they still fit inside the glass while the glue was not set. I had to rearrange them a couple of times. I was busy creating, I may have been blue, but was happy.

Then I sprinkled the lids and animals with snow, and sealed the jars. There was no water involved in this project.

I lined them all up on the window ledge.

I added more snow on top, and even some bows of twine.

cardinal snow globe with snow #designerssweetspot

There was nothing left to do but sit back and admire the view.

And try and figure out how I am going to stay busy tomorrow.

 

Reusable Gift Bags

stripe gift bag with tag

When we were kids my Grandmother always reused her gift wrap. She would patiently open each gift, gently removing the tape piece by piece. Then she would fold it up and store it away for the next year to reuse.

This made the gift opening process take forever, as opening gifts in this manner is very, very slow. It’s also nearly impossible when you have little children.

This year, I decided to go tiny with Christmas. Tiny decorations, and tiny gifts.

Then I decided that Thrifty was almost as good as Tiny, and I spent my day making a few Reusable Gift Bags for Tiny gifts.

They were very easy to make, and inexpensive.

The great thing, is that you can reuse them and they essentially become a practical part of the gift. Just think how much money you could save without buying ribbon, tape, paper, boxes and tissue each year!

polkadot bag

These bags are sewn from scraps of fabric, or fat quarters that I had lying around. I cut the fabric pieces 7″ wide by 18″ long.

 

With right sides of fabric together, sew a 1/4″ seam on each side.

Turn down the top edge of the bag 1/4″ and stitch (FIY the sewing foot is about 1/4″ wide, so you can line your fabric up with it).

Turn the new seam edge down further, to 1″. Sew again, on top of your first line of stitching. This way you have a nice neat seam, and you won’t have to measure or pin each time.

Leave about 1/2″ of a gap between the sewn edges for the ribbon to slip through the casing.

Use a safety pin, attach the pin to the end of a 1/4″ wide ribbon. Thread the ribbon through the casing, cut and tie ends together to keep it from slipping out.

gift bags with tags

I added some greenery and berries for a festive look. The burlap gift tags came from Target, and I hope to use them again too!