I am super indecisive and since I do this for my readers AND myself, I thought it would be helpful to get your opinion on this matter. What do you guys think I should kick the new year off with? Fashion/Cooking/My Daily Life/Beauty Reviews etc? VOTE below and if you choose other, please specify what your OTHER vote means in the comments :) Thanks so much in advanced!
What Kind of Blog Should I Kick the New Year Off With?
Let's be honest here, if you are hosting any parties or dinners this Holiday season, you know that there are going to be a few people that show up that you didn't account for! This isn't necessarily a negative thing, it could even be a boyfriend/girlfriend of a cousin or niece or nephew who you just didn't think of at the moment. Well, as a good host should, you should have a few of these ridiculously easy to create, gifts on hand for those "HI!, nice to meet you (oh my goodness I have nothing for them) moments".
What you will need:
*Festive Mug (I found mine at the dollar store, and they had tons of different varieties!)
*Candy Canes (plain peppermint full sized ones work best for this because you can swirl them in the hot cocoa and make it a peppermint hot cocoa :)
*Hot cocoa (I got the one without marshmallows in case you end up giving this to a non-marshmallow lover.)
*Tissue paper (the same kind you use when wrapping gifts etc.)
*Ziploc Snack bags (make sure they are the ones with the Ziploc seal!)
*Optional but cute- Ribbon or a bow
Let's get started:
1. Wash out your mug thoroughly, maybe just because I am kind of a germ freak, but I think gifting a cleaned mug is always better, even if it is brand new haha
2. Place some tissue in the bottom of the mug as pictured above, this assures that the candy canes etc have enough room to peak out of the mug and look all "purrttty". :)
3. Grab two bags of hot cocoa and place them in the cup together and curved a little (you will see what I mean in the end picture) toward the back of the mug.
4. Place a handful or so of the mini marshmallows into your snack bag and be sure to squeeze out all air and seal tightly. place this in front of the hot cocoa packets and tuck any of the visible Ziploc seals down, this just makes it look aesthetically better.
5. Take two of the candy canes and place them on opposite sides of the mug and face them outward :)
**An optional step would be to add some fancy ribbon tied around the mug, I didn't have any more ribbon on hand because I used it for my decor already so I just used a gift bow and it looks very pretty.
**You can also include a little note card that states how to make a peppermint hot cocoa (pretty much saying you can swirl the candy cane around when its hot and the candy cane will melt and make your hot cocoa nice and minty.
I made three of these because I refuse to be stuck feeling bad when someone unexpected shows up. I love to encourage people to come over because I honestly love hosting and making little things like this, it shows time and effort and who doesn't like hot cocoa?!
Hot Cocoa Box: $1.99
Marshmallow Bag: $1.00
Festive Mug: $1.00
Ziploc Bags $0.00---Already had these lying around!
Gift Bow: $1.00 for entire bag!
Candy Canes: $1.00
TOTAL: $5.99!! --and I made THREE!
I even had enough of everything to make at least three more! Now, that's what I like to call a bargain, quick delicious gift :)
Although many company parties have passed, my family and a lot of others get together for Christmas Eve. Whether it be for a more formal party or just spending quality time with one another and sharing a warm meal, I know I always feel obligated to bring something, even if I'm not asked to. Below is something you have probably all eaten at one point or another and I know I am not the only one who has posted about this, but this was my journey so come along if you wish :)
Peppermint Bark requires NO baking and you can even do it with children, which is another thing I absolutely love. It pleases a lot of different people because its not too overpowering and has something most (minus myself!) love, chocolate.
Here's the super simple "recipe" I used---way too easy for me to even think of this as a recipe haha:
Things you will need:
*Small Baking Pan (or large if you're going for a larger amount)
*2 16 oz. packages of chocolate morsels--NEVER bake with chocolate you wouldn't eat alone (good quality chocolate)--it just comes out bad. For this you can mix white and milk chocolate or do all of one etc. Totally up to you! This amount makes enough for a small baking pan. Adjust accordingly
*Peppermint Candy Canes or Candies
*optional*--Cute Treat Tin
1. Line your baking tin with parchment paper, this makes it so easy to get the chocolate out after it's done.
2. Melt your chocolate in the microwave. I did one minute, stirred it and then did one final minute and it was perfect! You want to melt them separately.
3. In the meantime, grab a food storage bag/plastic bag and put about two handfuls of the peppermint candy inside. Place this bag on top of a cutting board and begin banging away. I used my rolling pin and it worked wonders. WARNING: The bag can tear a little if you go "Incredible Hulk" on it so beware and if you feel like you want to be extra safe, double bag them :)
4. After the chocolate for the first layer is smoothly melted, spread it around the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Try to get as even a layer as possible and smooth it down really well. Place this in your refrigerator for about 20 mins or until nice and hardened. --While you are waiting for this, go ahead and melt your white chocolate morsels :)
5. Spread the white chocolate in the same exact manner, right on top of the hardened milk chocolate. Do this quickly because the cold from the milk chocolate will make the white chocolate harden pretty quickly. The reason we want to work quickly is because we want to sprinkle our peppermint crumbles on and have them stick and set in the mixture before it hardens! (As you can see some of the peppermint pieces are bigger than others and some just look like peppermint dust, this is because some people prefer a nice chunk of peppermint and some like just a hint--this way you please everyone!)
6. Grab your decorative holiday tin and line the bottom with tissue paper. On top of the tissue paper (just on the bottom layer) line that with a rectangle of parchment paper. (this makes sure you don't have tissue paper directly on your food product.)
7. When your Peppermint Bark has completely hardened in the refrigerator (about another 25 mins to be safe) remove them from the pan and cut into little rectangles or squares, whatever you want. Nicely place them in your tissue lined tin and place another piece of parchment paper over the top before folding the tissue paper over to close.
8. Tape two candy canes on top and slap a bow on and you're set to go! This makes a great gift, is SO inexpensive to make and literally can be done without ever turning on your oven, does it get any better than that? Not to mention that I am not even a chocolate lover, but this my dears is delicious! I will be making this for a holiday party I am attending this weekend, and I can't wait to see how everyone likes it!
Would you look at that, only just about 2 weeks until Christmas time and about a week or so until Hanukkah! Where has the time gone?! Unfortunately, my laptop has contracted a bit of a computer flu and I have been unable to post more regularly---I just got around to using my house computer this morning and wrote this blog up. I much prefer using my laptop because I had to transfer alllllllll kinds of info to this other computer but that is besides the point, its up! haha This post will show you briefly what I have done to my home this Holiday season to spruce it up with cheer. I LOVE this season because of the decor, everything is so shiny and glittery and bright :) This year, as you read on my previous post, I went to a tree farm and cut down my own 9.5 ft. tree! What an adventure that was to say the least! My tree was so big and so filled with decorations that it FELL OVER in the middle of the night!! Can you believe that?! Anyway, the pic you are seeing is a more toned down version of how it originally looked, unfortunately I had to either buy a new tree stand, which at the moment wasn't an option because my poor baby was lying on the floor, or take off some of the heavy decorations, so that's what I had to do. I told my boyfriend that I wanted my tree to look like Santa himself "threw up" on it haha gross I know. Lets get started!
SUPER EASY Holiday Wreath:
1. Clip on Poinsettia (pic of what that looks like below)
2. Festive Holiday Ribbon (spend a little more on this if you need to for better quality, it makes a huge difference!)
3. Gold pine-cones with long stem (this allows them to be held more secure when making the wreath, photo below)
This is what the clip looks like on the bottom of the poinsettia flower heads that you can buy. Makes them super easy to just throw on anywhere!
My "toned" down tree (still absolutely gorgeous!) :
1. Long stem Velvet Poinsettias with glitter (photo below)
2. Gold Locust Glitter Spray (photo below)
*other than those two things listed above, I just put lights and TONS of red and gold Christmas ornaments from Target/Pier 1.
Decorative Garland for Stairs:
1. Bows that my boyfriend's mama made from Ribbon that I bought :)
2. Pre-lit Holiday garland bought from Target years ago.
3. Poinsettia plant (real) --I have three or four of these strategically placed all over my house, the vibrant red color is so beautiful!
My boyfriend's Tree!! Blue and Silver color scheme :)
His matching wreath--handmade as well using just some blue and silver Christmas ornaments, silver decorative ribbon and a wreath!
**I love taking the time to decorate for the Holidays, it genuinely makes me happy to flip the switch at the end and see my whole home light up with Christmas goodness. Although this post was late, hopefully if you are having family/friends over for the holidays, you can get some last minute inspiration. It doesn't take a lot of money, just a lot of heart and inspiration to make your guests think you're a pro ;)
Sending you all Holiday cheer and love,
**if you have posts on your holiday decor or a link where I can see your decor, please link it below, I love seeing things like that :)
With the Holidays right around the corner, I have been browsing through so many shopping catalogs and stores. I love buying the big main gifts, but find the little stocking stuffers to be the most fun to pick out :) I have a little sister and cousin and many women in my family in general so finding things that are beauty related whether it be hair, nails or makeup are always a safe bet. Below are some things that I found that I think would make great stocking stuffers!
Eco Tools 5 pc. Brush Set. I LOVE these brushes. They are such great quality, can be found at most drugstores and are a great price! These can for sure be found at most Targets, where I often see mine :) Price: $10.99!
Yes to Blueberries Brightening Facial Towelettes. These are my favorite makeup removing and cleansing wipes. They are all natural and from my experience really get my makeup off pretty well. (I always wash my face after anyway) I do however love that they don't have that oily residue that most others leave on your face. Price: $7.99
Burt's Bees From Head to Toes gift set. This is a great idea to allow someone to test out some new products. These are all travel sized but are enough for you to get a real feel if you are going to want to purchase the full size or not. This set contains pretty much everything the title says, foot cream, lip balm, body wash, Nourishing body lotion, deep cleansing cream and hand salve. I love Burt's Bees because they are another all natural company! :) Price: $12.99!
Nicole by OPI are some really great nail polishes. I love when the polish companies come up with cute Holiday gift sets, again another way to test drive a few colors without making the commitment to purchasing all full sized ones. These colors are adorable and some have a nice glittery shimmer in them :) I spotted these sets at Target just last week :) Price: $10.00!
This roller ball is from Marc Jacobs. This is my signature scent when I go out, it smells absolutely amazing! Buying someone a roller ball perfume is perfect for two reasons: one, they may have this perfume, like myself, and love it, but lets face it--sometimes we are out and need a refresher after a long day, this is a great thing to keep in your purse! Secondly, this is great if you are purchasing this for someone who doesn't have this fragrance already, again a great way to not feel guilty about trying it out without purchasing the full sized one! This can be found at Sephora and other fragrance/beauty retailers I'm sure :) Price: $20
Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner duo in Bourbon and Ransom. I own both of these eyeliners and can attest to how amazing they are! They are great in the waterline, glide on smooth and are just overall great quality. This duo is a great stocking stuffer because you are giving someone the gift of trying out the 24/7 eyeliners (if they don't already have them) and if they do, maybe you are adding two new shades to their collection! Making a duo with a neutral color and a bright color was a great idea :) Price: $14.00!
The Sephora by OPI Glimmer Wonderland Nail Polish Set is just perfect for this Holiday Season! It contains 4 mini polishes and again is a great way to try all of these gorgeous shades out! I really love the color scheme in this set, purples and pinks and glitters galore! Price: $18!
Stuffing Stockings with Beauty on a Budget Everywhere,
I came across an article in the Martha Stewart Magazine (the little one) from February of earlier this year. I like to save these magazines for inspiration when I am cooking or doing table-scapes :) Since I cannot share this article online with you all as it is pretty outdated, I am going to go ahead and tell you in my own words pretty much what it entailed as I think it is pretty useful information.
In this article it touches upon various foods that can help boost your immune system and fight off the common cold and flu viruses!
Apples contain Soluble Fiber which can help you recover quickly from almost any illness. They are also great for your heart! Make sure to keep the skin on, however, as it contains the most fiber :)
When choosing a mushroom for a healing purpose, get the common white mushroom as it can increase your body's production of antiviral proteins that fight off infections.
Allicin which is found in garlic, fights off bacteria and stops viruses from reproducing. Using this vegetable raw is best! :)
No this is not an ice cream sundae! haha We are talking about yogurt here! Yogurt contains probiotics which are a great bacteria unlike the mean sickness causing ones! With just one cup of plain yogurt a day, you can reduce your risk of catching the common cold and flu!
To get your daily dose of Vitamin C, which I have told you all in many previous blog posts-is great tor warding off the bacteria and viruses that cause those yukky sicknesses, a red bell pepper is the top source, even more than an orange!
Sulforaphane, which is found in broccoli and cauliflower, helps to stimulate the cells that fight off infection. Your immune system weakens as you get older, so this is a fabulous way to keep it in "shape" haha :)
**Now let's say that you are already sick and you completely forgot about all of the above--REST is key as well as staying nourished. A warm bowl of chicken noodle soup can actually do the trick, no its not just a myth! Studies show that chicken noodle soup can prevent inflammation that causes symptoms like coughing and congestion. Who would have "thunk" it?! :)
**All info in this post was taken from Martha Stewart Magazine Feb 2011 Issue! Def a great magazine to pick up for everything FOOD :) xox
To creating an army against the sicknesses that come with the colder weather,
I have always wanted to cut down my own Christmas tree but never really got around to it. As a child I remember watching Home Alone and loving how he went to his yard and cut down the tree haha In many other Holiday movies this adventure is featured as well. I got to thinking this year and did my research to assure that I would be able to make this happen :) Below I am going to post a few pictures of my day at the tree farm, I definitely recommend taking advantage of this type of activity if they offer it in your area. It is a great way to spend the day with your family/loved ones/friends and really have a relaxed good time!
Some Highlights From This Day:
For those of you from New Jersey, the place we went to was called Stonerow Tree Farm. It was a bit of a drive from my house, but well worth it for sure.
It was our first time there so we had no idea what to expect. When you arrive you get a map of the farm (which is HUGE!) and you park your car in the lot. Then you grab a hand saw of of the fence
There were people/families having cookouts outside the trunk of their cars, roasting smores on the campfire that was lit at the farm, playing music, drinking etc. It was like we were tailgating at a football game! I loved it!! Had we known this, I'm sure more of the men of the family would have come knowing they could just flip some burgers and have a drink ;)
The map is divided into sections called "fields" according to which variety of tree you are looking for. My boyfriends mother was looking for Blue Spruce and I was looking for something other than Douglas Fir because that's what I always get, but of course the one I fell in love with (and that was big enough for my high ceilings) was a Dougie haha
You walk through fields of trees and choose the one you want. Mind you you are on your own, there is no "supervisor" around to assure that you know what you're doing, although I'm sure if you needed help someone could assist you in the beginning.
Once you choose your tree you (or your strong husband/dad/boyfriend/friend etc) get on under there and begin sawing. My boyfriend said it was easier than he thought it would be, which is always good to know. After your tree is cut, you drag it to the dirt road, just a few feet away and walk back to where the holiday festivities are going on. A truck will come pick up your tree and you claim it with your claim ticket back at the beginning within a few minutes.
I loved that this farm also had a gift shop called the Merry Moose Gift shop. They had all sorts of fun decorative Holiday things in there, I was in my heaven! They also had a little "canteen" type thing inside where you could get hot cocoa, chili, hot dogs, coffee, tea, etc!
Overall I have to say, after experiencing this once, going and buying a pre-cut Christmas Tree will never do it for me anymore. I am sure that I will return to this exact place next year. It was so welcoming and overall just wonderful from beginning to end.
Driving home with TWO trees on the roof of your SUV on the highway,
* Swatches above (left to right) : Shadowy Lady, Festive Delight, Trax, Lighfully, Fun!, Black Tied
I haven't been really buying any beauty items lately because I know during the Holiday season I am going to go crazy with purchases. I figured I would leave it until then, but also wanted to grab at least one item from the ever so coveted MAC Holiday Collection. I was torn but definitely knew I wanted to get one of the palettes. I liked the other one they offered as well, but felt that this one had more "holiday-like" colors. I love the packaging and although I have only done one look with this palette so far, I love the holiday sparkle in all the shadows :) Is this a palette I could use everyday, probably not because of all of the glitter, but definitely a fun one to say the least.
When it comes to Holiday scents and decoration, I am a SUCKER. I just had to stock up on some of my personal favorite things to smell during this season. I always light my candle while I read at night or clean or watch TV, and I love my house to smell cozy and warm :) The above scents are for sure divine!
*Clockwise the candles are [Gingerbread, Marshmallow Peppermint, Tis' the Season, Sleigh Ride]
*Wallflowers, not seasonal, are Japanese Cherry Blossom (my FAVORITE!) and Cranberry Pear Bellini, DELICIOUS!
In my neck of the woods (can't fathom that I just said that phrase haha!) the weather has been on an emotional roller coaster it seems. One week its 60's-70's, the next week, like this week, its 40's! While that leaves much room for those with a weak immune system to get sick (I recommend keeping up your immune system with daily vitamins and my favorite Echinacea tea from Traditional Medicinals!), lets look at the bright side of things, and take this as a sign to whip out those winter coats :) Below I am briefly going to go over the many types of winter coats that you may see in stores while shopping for yours--take note and narrow in on the best one for your needs/fashion sense :)
1. Puffer Coat
Puffer coats are perhaps the most popular, at least where I live where the weather can get absolutely frigid. They are a more casual approach I think, as obviously you wouldn't wear this over a dress to a fancy restaurant haha However, they sure are warm. Most are filled with down--and a they come in various lengths and colors and even some with a faux fur lined hood! Belted or not, these are the most practical in my opinion for everyday use.
2. Trench Coat
Ahhh the classic trench coat. I really love my trench coat, it's from years ago and I got it at Gap. It is a lighter lined one though, so I can only wear it in the spring, which I don't mind. I love the style of the trench--that cinched waist with that signature trench style belt. I don't recall these coming super thick and winterized, but this can go over a suit jacket/blazer for a classic look :) London Fog is my favorite trench brand--whenever I think trench, I think of them.
3. Military Style Coats
This is perhaps my favorite "dressier" coat for the entire winter season. I love that it is different than the traditional pea coat style (which I will touch on next) and I love that it looks edgy and structured. I love the hardware (buttons) on these coats and I really think they add a nice military touch. These come as thick or thin as you please depending on the months that you are buying them for. The ones pictured above are wool :) Nice and warm!
Did you know that in the past the pea coat was traditionally worn by Naval Officers?! How cool is that! Let's talk modern though :) The peacoat is a go-to coat for many people. It is traditionally made of wool, super warm and has neat details like different lengths and a double breasted front. This is your best option to bring you through various styles and outfits as it can be worn over something more dressy as well as over some jeans.
5. Cape Style Jackets
I LOVE capes! My goodness if I could wear these everyday I would haha I think I love them so much because the late Jackie O' (My style ICON) wore these very often and they remind me of her a lot. Capes also come in varying lengths, cropped or longer as pictured on the right above. This allows you to really customize any outfit easily. Stay warm and look fashionable, what could be better right? I am always cold--sometimes even in the AC in the blazing summer--call me crazy I know haha That being said, I really love the sleek clean lines of a winter cape, but also that your arms are all nestled inside near your body heat :)
6. Motorcycle Jackets
Motorcycle Jackets are more of a fashion accessory to me. Don't get me wrong, they are gorgeous, but I personally find that I am never really THAT warm in them, and you know I'm always so cold! That aside, I think they are truly a great fashion statement. You will definitely find zippers galore on these jackets as pictured above, and that is really a nice touch. They are typically made of leather or faux leather and I actually think they look super chic and edgy on women :)
7. Toggle Coat
Toggle coats for some reason or another remind me of being a little kid and bundling up to head out to play in the snow stiff as a snowman haha I buy my nephew toggle coats a lot because I just think they look so adorable! The toggle, which is so easy to secure is a nice alternative to the already overused buttons on every other winter coat :) The toggle style can be found on wool jackets, puffer coats and many other styles of winter coat.
Comment below and let me know which is your favorite style to wear for Winter. I have a few coats, but thinking of getting new ones and donating my current ones to a local coat drive :) We shall see.
To staying warm and fashionable this winter season,