Monday, December 31, 2012

What to Wear For New Year's Eve: A Holiday Style Post from Molly

I am beyond excited to share my first guest blogger with you today. She is the always fashionable and fabulous Mommy who blogs over at Stilettos & Diapers, and she is here today to help to plan your New Year's Eve outfit!


Hi! I'm Molly. A wife, boy mom and displaced southern gal. I live not far from Pam and got to lunch with her not too long ago. It's always fun to finally meet a blog friend and even better when you actually like them in person as much as online!

I blog a lot about fashion at Stilettos and Diapers. I love dressing up and staying trendy, even if those fashionable clothes may have spit-up on them. I never spend a lot on my clothes for that very reason. I like to call myself frugal, but I'm probably just cheap. Being a stay at home mom, I often dress to the nines if I have an event to go to. Even if that event is a trip to Target. I'm going to share with you some of my fave New Years looks. 

Let me warn you by saying my photography has changed a big since the beginning of the blog...thank God. 

New Years, in my book, means sparkles. Whether you're dressing up or going casual, a splash of sparkle never hurt anyone. These are a couple looks from holidays past.
1. Dress: Forever 21, Cuff: Forever 21, Tights: Target. 
2. Pants: Old Navy, Cardigan: Gap, Belt: Forever 21, Tank: Forever 21

1. Try a cocktail dress, that may have been put away with the summer clothes, add some sparkly tights, booties and jewelry. 

2. A sparkly tank, (don't forget to check those summer pieces!) topped with a festive colored cardigan and belt is a good casual option. I love putting a belt over layers, as it gives you more shape. You could pair it with pants and heels, cropped pants and booties, or a skirt and tights. 

3. This is an option for a more casual look. A t-shirt with a sparkled pattern and jeans can be dressed up just enough with a blazer, heels and a little jewelry. 
Boyfriend Jeans: NY&Co, Blazer: Forever 21, Necklace: Forever 21 Tee: Target, Shoes: Steve and Barrys

4. A couple things I've worn this holiday season are fun cocktail dresses. One, a punch of color, and one covered in sparkles. Pair with sky high heels and lots of accessories and you're ready to party. I find that I can wear a coat and once you I'm at the event, it's generally warm enough to be able to wear this type of dress with nothing over it. You could always add a cardigan, if you wanted to. 

Dresses: Hazel and Olive Accessories: Molly Suzanne

Lastly, don't neglect those nails! My go-to color this season is Revlon's Sparkle Aplenty. I have also seen a lot of people wearing China Glaze Champagne Kisses. Love it, too! 


 Thanks, Pam, for letting me take over Our Love Nest today! 


Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Week of Rest & Exciting News!

Well, I decided to take most of Christmas week off, as you probably noticed. I spent as much time as possible soaking in the spirit of Christmas, celebrating with family & friends, and sitting by our Christmas tree watching Christmas movies.

Now that Christmas week is over (sads!), and B and I have made the trip down south to sunny Florida, I am super excited to share some of my favorite bloggers with you this week as they take over my little home on the interwebs and dish about their favorite holiday memories, New Years Eve fashion, and goals for the New Year! Sheesh, I really need to get on this whole resolution thing!

Starting tomorrow you'll be hearing from six fabulous women who all have wonderful families, stories and hearts to share with all of you. I think you'll enjoy every word you'll read this week! Thanks for supporting us this year. Let's do this, 2013!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I May Never Take My Christmas Decorations Down ...

Every year, I can barely wait until Thaksgiving to start decorating my house for Christmas. After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year, so why not celebrate that for as long as possible, am I right?! My husband always has other things in mind, like not getting a tree until the second week of December, but we've come to a compromise that sometime right after turkey day works for us.

I also like to document what my decor looks like each year, because I do some small things a bit differently, and it's fun to look back at what the years' past have been like.  Last year was all about my bright new red decor, and the DIY projects that I completed. 

This year, I did many of the same things (ahem, my windows always have candles in them, it is my absolute favorite thing), but I think I went a bit more traditional and simple.  This is our second year in this home for the holidays, and this year it truly feels like our home. Even better, we get to host my family this year! The Sunday before Christmas (only three days left!!) we will have our own little Christmas morning with my parents, brother and one of my sisters. We'll make a big breakfast, and then open gifts in our pajamas in our living room. It is hard for me to even put into words how excited I am to be starting new traditions this year, and I hope that this will be one that sticks around for years to come. 


My tree is bright with mostly red ornaments, ribbon and beading, and I just love the way it came out. 


This little nook of our main level is probably my favorite. The Pottery Barn stockings, the tree, the candles. I love it all and could easily leave it up all year round. 


And this year, for the first time ever, I put up our hand-painted nativity scene that we got as a wedding gift. It is beautiful and you can bet that I will be on the hunt for the perfect manger to use with the set. It just adds a special and traditional touch to this years' decor.

So, now that I've taken you on a little tour of my house, I would love to see some of what your house looks like for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Holiday Necessities: A Guest Post for Love to the Moon & Back

Today, I am so excited to be guest blogging for Lindsey. For those that don't know me, I'm Pam and I write over at Our Love Nest. When she asked me to help out with her holiday theme, it took me a while to figure out what to write about. And then I realized that there are certain things that truly make the holiday season as special as it is. So I wanted to share a little bit more about what that means to us with you.


Every year when the holiday season rolls around (which in my world is no later than November 1st), I get all giddy and start dreaming up new things that I can create, bake and do to make this year the best ever. 

From cookie baking with girlfriends to gift exchanges to Ugly Sweater parties, we have really done it all. Adding extra ribbon to the tree? Check. Buying those extra holiday dog treats for Riley's stocking? Check.  Setting up the nativity this year for the first time ever? Check, check!

What I've come to realize over the years is that it's usually not all of the new things that I try to add to an already never ending list, but it's the few things that are absolute necessities, and have become traditions, that truly make the holidays such a special time of the year for me. 

For me, these things include ...
  • Setting up and decorating my tree with Christmas music playing
  • Driving around to look at Christmas lights. This was a huge one in my hometown, and I'm still trying to find something equally as exciting down here in MD
  • Kicking off my Christmas shopping on Black Friday. Yep, I am one of those crazies.
  • Baking a minimum of 2 dozen Christmas cookies. Sometimes the types vary, but I just love having a tin (or two) of cookies to eat for dessert!
  • Watching Christmas movies approximately every other night for the entire month of December
  • Indulging in my brothers' 'famous' crumb cake for breakfast before we open gifts on Christmas morning. I can't even remember exactly when or how this tradition started, but my brother is a decent cook, and his crumb cake topping is to.die.for.
  • Unwrapping stockings and presents on Christmas morning in PJs. I'm not sure I will ever be able to part with this one. It is one of my favorite parts of Christmas, and I think staying in PJs all day really helps to slow down the pace of the day
  • Packing up and heading to Florida with my family just a few days after Christmas and celebrating New Years' in the balmy Florida temps!

I am excited just thinking about what's in store for the next two weeks. It really is the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Comfortable and Chic Workout Gear: pv.Body

Since I work out of my house, I am constantly looking for cute and comfortable threads that I can throw on in the morning and will last me through hours in the office, or even a morning out around town while running errands. 

Simply put, I am a huge fan of workout gear simply because it's comfortable, easy to move around in, and there are so many cute styles to choose from!

When I was asked to check out the fabulous apparel from pv.Body, I jumped at the chance. You simply log onto their site, take a quick quiz, and they customize outfits for you based on your style profile. How easy and great is that? Each month, you can get a brand new customized outfit, valued at $150, shipped directly to you for just $49.95!

Even better, pv.Body has everything from flowy, bright-colored tanks to the perfect leggings for your favorite yoga class. 


I absolutely adore my leggings. They are comfortable, practical, and perfect for a day at home, or one when I'm on-the-go. And the blue top they sent me adds the perfect pop of color to my gym outfit. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't planning to wear it most of the day this Friday while I run errands and clean my house in preparation for our holiday visitors!

But, pv.Body has so much more to offer. Tons of styles, colors and brands are waiting at your fingertips. Sounds like the perfect gift for that athlete on your list too, right?!

Well, you're in for a spcial, holiday treat! pv.Body is offering a special discount just for my readers to use - Signing up for pvBody gets you a $15 Lululemon gift card, plus 25% off your first month subscription.

Don't miss out on this awesome opportunity. I can barely wait for my next package to arrive on my doorstep next month!

pvBody2

Easy peasy lemon squeezy: pvBody is easy. Take the quiz, sign up and boom, an awesome package arrives at your door each month with a hand picked outfit for you!
Every outfit is styled just for you by a pvBody expert. Each month you receive an outfit worth $150, but you pay just $49.95. You’re getting great, quality pieces for a fraction of the retail cost thanks to the relationships pvBody has built.
pvBody is not just another clothing company, but a lifestyle brand. Their blog is a great place to check out tips and tricks for healthy, delicious meals and at home workouts.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of pv.body. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Homemade Shortbread Snowball Cookies: Hey, That's Pin-tastic!

i love you more than carrots  

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that we celebrated Christmas with B's family on Saturday afternoon. It was a day full of food, family, gifts and laughter and we had a blast. One of the traditions that we have with his family is that we all bake cookies and do a little 'exchange' at the party. It's a win-win because I love to bake, and we get to bring a couple dozen yummy treats home with us afterward. 

Just like last year, I made my Mom's 'Snowball' cookies. I know these go by many other names, but they are basically short bread cookies filled with crushed walnuts and dusted with powdered sugar. The recipe is simple and they are so yummy, so I couldn't help but share them for this week's 'Hey, That's Pin-tastic!' over at my SIL's blog.


Snowballs Recipe

What You'll Need:
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar for dusting

First, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla. Next, sift in your flour and salt and continue to blend until it forms a nice doughy consistency. Then, stir in the walnuts and chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30-35 minutes.

Once the 30 minutes is up, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and begin rolling the dough into 1 inch balls and placing on an ungreased cookie sheet. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, and then roll each cookie in powdered sugar while they're still warm.

Serve at any temperature. These cookies are bite sized and a perfectly sweet treat for the holidays!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Perfectly Simple ZONEPerfect Bars: A Review

I tend to be a 'grab-it-and-go' type of eater about 60% of the time. Hence the reason we pack our pantry full of snack items that are easy to throw in your purse or lunch box and/or are easy to eat while driving. Trust me when I say that I have eaten my fair share of peanut butter crackers lately. 

Although we like easy on-the-go snacks, we're not big fans of your typical fast food. So, when we can find an easy snack that also packs a protein punch, that's a win-win in my book.

I was asked to review the brand new line of Perfectly Simple Bars by ZonePerfect recently. They sent not one, but all three flavors for us to try, which included Cranberry Almond, Peanut Crunch and Toasted Coconut. 

These bars contain only simple ingredients, taste great and don't leave you wanting more. They're the perfect snack to throw in your bag and grab when the hunger strikes around 3PM. Is that just me?!

I was thrilled with this new line of bars, and even got B to take one in his lunch one day last week. Small victories!

So, if you're looking to add a new, healthy snack to your cabinets, definitely check out ZonePerfect's newest line of nutrition bars, they will not disappoint!
 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sometimes, I Set Myself Up to Fail at the Holidays.

Do you ever feel like to aim to overachieve around the holidays? To add just a few more decorations than last year, buy just one more stocking stuffer for your husband/dog/kids, and agree to one too many holiday parties? 

I think my friend Mandy said it best today: 'I swear my brain doesn't function on full capacity at all in December, so bits and pieces is all I can muster today.'

Could it be true? Is there a part of our brains that gets overloaded and just stops working during the month of December? That must be what has happened to me these last two weeks since Thanksgiving. Or at least, that is what I'm telling myself so I don't feel like a complete failure. 

Sure, my house is decorated, and you can see the candles and tree shining from our windows each night. I even finished my Christmas shopping a little early this year, but it's not helping me feel any more accomplished. 

The reality is that I haven't plucked my eyebrows in weeks, and it's driving me bonkers. My home office has turned into the North Pole with unwrapped gifts strewn all over the floor. We have our first family Christmas celebration on Saturday and I still have to wrap, bake, cook and find something to wear. 

This is a big year for us. We are hosting most of my family for Christmas the weekend before the big day. I am over the moon ecstatic to have my family at our home this year. But, where will everyone sleep? Do we have enough food, coffee, gifts, towels, etc? I so wish I could be one of those women that creates personalized welcome baskets for her guests. Maybe some day

So, if I'm a little scant over these next few weeks, please forgive me as I am probably buried in wrapping paper or wrapped up in my holiday haze.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The HUGE Holiday Giveaway Event!

First things first. I am happy to announce that Abbey is the winner of my Printcopia photo canvas giveaway from last week! Congrats!!


As you likely know by now, I am participating in a HUGE holiday giveaway with Becky from 'From Mrs. to Mama' that kicked off Friday night! There are a few other fabulous bloggers that are in on it with us as well, and I am so excited to be able to share it with all of you, and give one winner a load of goodies in time for the holidays!

What will you win? Well, a lot. Check it out!



That's right. $643 worth of prizes of all shapes and sizes! To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 30, 2012

TopHatter Review: Online Auctions Made Easy!

I have become quite the online shopper. My husband constantly jokes that the UPS man must either hate me or love me because he is here all the time. And, half the time, I don't remember what's in the box he delivers. What can I say, I love being able to shop in my PJs with no makeup on at 7AM or 11PM. And free shipping is awesome.

Although I have shopped on many different sites, I had never participated in an online shopping auction before! When I was contacted to review Tophatter.com, I jumped at the chance to check out a new way to shop online.

If you're not familiar with Tophatter, allow me to share a little bit about them with you. Daily auctions are hosted on the site where you can place live bids for items like jewelry, accessories, home decor, crafts and so much more! You actually have a little person that enters the 'auction' for you, and you can bid with the best of 'em. 



I found myself checking out a bunch of the different auctions, and bidding on a few accessories. Items like furry fingerless gloves, Coach purses and tons of jewelry. I was in heaven!

Tophatter also features a live chat feature, so you can chat about the item, with your friends during the auction, and have your questions answered all in real time. Th bidding goes pretty quickly, so you will not need to sit around for hours waiting for your favorite item to come up for auction. I chose my top three favorites and was the proud owner of my new furry fingerless gloves within 20 minutes!

 
Even better, Tophatter would love to help you pass along the savings to my readers this holiday season. EACH of you will receive a $10 credit when you sign up for Tophatter and spend $11 on an auction! It doesn't get much better than that!

Happy Holiday Shopping!




Have you discovered the addictive new auction site called Tophatter, where buyers bid for sellers’ unique goods in fast-paced virtual auction rooms? From crafts and DIY projects, to antiques, jewelry, home décor and much more, there’s no limit to what you can discover on Tophatter.

With live auctions every day, sellers get to showcase their wares from around the world to a community of thousands of buyers, and answer questions via chat as the clock ticks down. Each lot sells in an average of two minutes, so buyers must bid quickly!

Tophatter’s auctions become interactive live events where buyers and sellers can hang out, chat, and win. Led by the esteemed Sir Wendell Wattington and his animated family, Tophatter auctions keep the fun rolling in.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tophatter. The opinions and text are all mine.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Car Shopping With Your Spouse Is Not For the Faint of Heart.

Remember that post a few months back about the state of my vehicle and how disappointed I was? 

Well, I sucked it up and got through the remainder of the summer with no working air conditioning. Once the fall hit, things were looking up. That is, until a funny squeaking noise started coming from under the hood every cool morning when the car was trying to warm up. A sound that can only be described as scary when your mechanic has already told you that your timing belt will likely need replacing, and it would be another $1,000. We had already made the decision that the money was not going to come from our pockets, so we were counting the days that my trusty little 2004 Honda Accord kept running smoothly.

Flash forward to November. B and I sat one night discussing our upcoming 15-hour road trip to Florida. We have started driving down each year right after Christmas for an extended stay with my family at our vacation home. The driving part was originally against my better judgement. I did it way too many times as a kid. But it worked out well last year, and Riley was a gem in the car, so we're going for it again this winter. This conversation skirted past buying a new car before the trip, mentioned trying a rental, and then landed right back where we started. 

Thus how car buying was brought to the table several months before we originally anticipated. Have you ever bought a new car with your spouse? It is definitely an interesting experience.

I consider it to be a lesson in the differences between men and women. Before we headed out one afternoon to test drive a few SUVs, B had done his fair share of research, checking safety, features, style, size and price. Of course, I am interested in those things, too, but I was really looking for the cutest and/or most attractive car I could get within our price range. 

I found 'the' car the night before we even went to test drive it. It's a funny thing, getting emotionally attached to an inanimate object. I had already pictured myself driving off the lot with it, and keeping it for the next few years as our family grows. Plus, mid-sized SUVs are better on gas, and easy to get to and from NJ in, right?! 

When we got to the dealer, we had a few different types of cars we wanted to check out and test drive. I knew immediately that some of them were not right for us. Err me. Still I kept a simle on my face and tried not to go lunging toward the car I had already picked out.

We left the dealer that night without a new car. We went home and slept on it. I am so thankful that my husband is level headed and less emotional about decisions like what car you're going to drive for the next 4-5 years.

Although, I'd totally be lying if I told you I wasn't feeling confidant as ever about the car I had already picked when I woke up the next morning. Bless B's heart, because he took me back there that night and we bought the car. What a relief to no longer worry about breaking down on the side of the road.

Buying a car with your spouse is definitely not for the faint of heart. But, I was glad to have a 'left brain' with me. You really do learn something new every day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Printcopia: A Photo Canvas Review & Giveaway

Printcopia 

 If you've visited my blog before, you likely already know that I'm a big fan of pictures, and I've had the opportunity to work with several companies that print photos on canvas.

There is something about canvas prints that I think is so classic. It's the perfect way to display a favorite wedding picture, or in this case, one of my favorite Christmas card photos from last year. 


When Printcopia contacted me about hosting a review and giveaway, I jumped at the chance. Because honestly, who doesn't need another canvas print?

Have you worked with Printcopia before? This was my first time, and I was thrilled with the quality and fast processing/shipping of my order! The canvas print really brought last year's photo to life, and I love having it in the house to glance at all the time.

You may recognize their brand via one of their sister sites. If you're not in the market for a new canvas print, perhaps you're searching for a personalized car magnet, custom banner or even customizable cheap signs! They do it all.

I am even more excited to announce that Printcopia is giving me the chance to gift one of my readers with a FREE 8x10" canvas print of their own! Simply use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter this giveaway. A winner will be selected on Monday, December 3, 2012 and announced here!


Monday, November 26, 2012

A Favorite Recipe from The Archives: See Also, My Absolute Favorite Football Sunday Food

I posted this recipe last year around this time. I never actually made it myself until this fall. My most recent inspiration for bringing this recipe back into the fold was from my good friend, A. She made it for a BBQ that she had at the end of the summer, and ever since that night, I have been addicted.

I am not even exagerating when I tell you that I have made this dip for about six of the nine Sundays that the NFL has been back in season. It pairs perfectly with pita chips, tortilla chips and even with pretzels. Plus, it's all fresh. I cannot get enough.

So, I thought I'd share it again. This dip will more than likely join your list of favorites for football or party food.


Cowboy Caviar (or Fresh Salsa Dip) Recipe


Ingredients
2-3 avocados cute into small chunks
1/2 red onion diced
3 plum tomatoes, cut into small chunks
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups cooked corn (I just cook some frozen corn since we always have that in the freezer)
1 can Mexi-Corn (I omit if I don't have this on hand
A splash or two of white vinegar
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil (I always use EVOO)
1 packet Good Seasonings Dry Italian Dressing Mix

Prepare corn per package instructions (I use frozen). Chop avocado, red onion, and tomatoes and add to large bowl for serving. Rinse black beans and strain. Strain corn and add corn and black beans to large bowl. Then add vinegar, olive oil and Italian Dressing mix and stir together well.

Refrigerate mixture before serving. Serves well with pita chips, tortilla chips and/or pretzels!

Another use for leftover dip: We grilled tilapia last night and I used it to garnish the fish! It was divine.



What are your favorite Football Sunday foods?!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So Many Reasons To Be Thankful

Whether you're ready or not, I think it's safe to say that the arrival of Thanksgiving Day means the 2012 Holiday Season has officially started!

I hope you are all taking time today to be extra thankful for your families, your health, happiness and the food on your table.

We'll be in Hometown, NJ to celebrate this year, enjoying a beautiful turkey dinner at my aunt's house and then back to my parents home that evening for some ice cold beers and the Jets vs. Patriots game!

Friday morning, my Mom and I will be out the door early to get some Black Friday shopping done. Call me crazy, but shopping early on Black Friday has become a tradition itself. 

And the weekend fun doesn't stop there. We'll also be headed to Hoboken Friday night for my 10-Year High School Reunion. Wow, that makes me feel old! Reminiscing with my high school besties, and inevitably running into a bunch of people that you vaguely remember. But, I am excited to see how much things have changed, and how something have surely stayed the same. I will do my best to get some pictures so I can share them next week!

So, hold your loved ones extra tight today.


Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

image from littlejoys.photography


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Holiday Favorites, And Holiday Sponsors Faves!

Today, I am feeling extra Christmas-y, and extra thankful. Thankful for my husband, our health, our families, my business and all of the friends and blessings that we take for granted every day.

I am also thankful for this creative outlet that has become a home where I can journal about the daily happenings in our life. The funny things, the struggles and the celebrations. This little place that has grown and changed since it started back in December of 2008. 

There is something about this time of year that changes my mood instantly. I get giddy thinking of decorating my tree, baking Christmas cookies and shopping for the perfect gifts for my loved ones. This year, we're starting a brand new tradition for Christmas. We normally head to my parents house in NJ, but this year, they're coming to us! We'll be celebrating Christmas, albeit a little early but nonetheless, in our own home surrounded by most of my immediate family.

I am excited to share our new home with them. To decorate and actually have guests come to enjoy the festive spirit, and to cook my very first big holiday meal in my kitchen. While it's hard to narrow down my favorite things about the holiday season (hello, the Jets are playing on Thanksgiving night this year!), I think the above mentioned do a pretty good job of scratching the surface.

There are some other special ladies that have become a part of this little home on the internet, and I thought what better way to share some more about them than to ask them what some of their favorite things about the holidays are as well! 

So, I am thrilled to share a little bit more about each of my holiday sponsors, in no particular order, of course ...


 

Kelly from Today Was A Fairytale says her favorite things consist of ...  
  •  I absolutely love all the family traditions that come along with the holidays and can’t wait until I can pass those on to my kids.
  • To me the holidays are all about spending time with family and I love getting a bunch of people together to play games and watch movies.
  • While some people love Summer, I am an absolute Fall/Winter junkie! I love the cold weather and getting to bundle up in jeans, jackets and boots. 
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Mandy from Mommy Musings is one of my favorite blogging Momma's, and she shares a little bit about her favorites as well! 
My favorite things about the holidays are:
  • Football on Thanksgiving
  • Exchanging gifts with Skip on Christmas Eve
  • The look on my girls faces Christmas morning!


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Tina and I were definitely meant to be friends. Both JMU alum living in Maryland; it was bound to be an instant connection! 

Remember that huge giveaway that I participated in with Tina? Well, she's back today to share some of her favorite things about the holidays, too ...

My 3 favorite things about the holiday (in no particular order!): 
  •  Christmas music (all of it, any song, any artist, I love it all!)  
  • Watching Little Women with my sister and my mom after baking a huge batch of Christmas cookies  
  • Charlie Brown.... anything Peanuts and Vince Guaraldi related (but I suppose that sort of fits under #1, doesn't it)

Photobucket

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Britt from Not So Newlyweds shares her heart and some of her favorite things about the holidays! We share the exact same sentiment about family traditions ...

I love the holidays! I love being around friends and family. I love the feeling of a beautifully decorated home. I love people who get into the holiday spirit. I love the Christmas music on the radio. But most of all I love the little traditions we have as a family.

J and I do not have any children yet, so we don't have big traditions. We often discuss what new traditions we want to start when we have kids and get excited to think about our future. But for now, we enjoy our own traditions we have started as a couple and enjoying doing together.



Breakfast with sister



Okay, I should first tell you that my mom is not a cook. This will be explained more on my blog on Monday, so check it out. Every year my mom has our Thanksgiving catered, at least the main parts {turkey, stuffing, pies}. She orders the meal and the day before Thanksgiving my sister and I pick it up. About six years ago, when I was back from college, my mom had asked my sister and I to pick up the order. She bribed us by saying that if we picked it up, she would buy us breakfast. So, we took the offer and have been doing the same thing ever since. We actually get a kick out of it and enjoy our sisterly time together every year. We are 10 years apart {and now she's in college 2.5 hours away} so it's nice to have a tradition together.


Christmas Lights

Every year J and I take an evening to drive around our town and sometimes surrounding towns and view Christmas lights. We enjoy seeing how other people decorate their homes and even get a chuckle out of those who go blow-up North Pole happy. We "ooooh" and "ahhh" while driving around for a few hours then usually head back home to watch a movie. It's great just being the two of us and having quality time together looking at something we enjoy.

We try to get to the Columbus Zoo every year as well. We went on one of our first dates to the zoo during Halloween, so it is a special place during the holidays for us. It's truly magical around Christmas time and I look forward to going when we get the chance.




Dinner

Ever year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, J's parents take us out to dinner at Hyde Park. This year will be the fourth year we have gone and we look forward to it ever year. Hyde Park is a steak house in downtown Columbus. In the winter, the downtown is beautifully decorated with Christmas lights. After dinner we head down the street to walk through a large nativity scene.



J and I before dinner last year 
{he looks funny with the beard-no shave November continued to December}


I look forward to these small traditions we have made every year and I cannot wait to continue adding to our traditions list! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family. And thank you again Pam for letting me guest blog!

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Undoubtedly, you all recognize Molly from Stilettos & Diapers by now. She is another one of my absolute favorite Mommy bloggers, and I'm so happy that she wanted to share a little about her favorite things about the holidays ...


  •  Making cookies with my boys and cooking for the family.
  •  Coffee, in my santa cup.
  • Christmas shopping! My favorite is Macy's NYC, of course!

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Sonja from Running in Pearls has a few favorite things about the holiday season, and I must say, I agree with all three!
  • Playing Santa 
  • Gingerbread Lattes 
  • Christmas lights, smells, and music! 
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By now, I'm sure you all recognize Lindsey from Love to the Moon & Back. She is a Momma to two beautiful girls and another one of my favorite Mommy bloggers!


 Lindsey's favorite things about the holiday season are ...
  1. Getting the house all set up for the holidays with the lights, tree decorating, etc. 
  2. Making a ridiculous amount of Christmas cookies for friends and family- my house smells like a bakery for most of december and that makes mama very happy :)

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Beth is my newest sponsor and I am so happy that she is here with us, and love that she has special holiday memories that are important to her ...

My favorite things about the Holidays are:
  • Spending time with family and friends. Every year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we get together with some close friends after church for a pre-Thanksgiving celebration. It has become one of my favorite traditions. The men deep fry our turkeys for the next day.  The ladies sit around our friends' old wood burning stove in their garage, snack on finger foods, and just enjoy being together. It is such a fun time of fellowship. Of course on Thanksgiving Day and the week of Christmas we try to squeeze in as much family time as possible. We stuff ourselves silly, talk, laugh, and play games like cards and Dominoes. 

  • M and I listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies together throughout December. My favorite is White Christmas. His favorite is Elf. It has also sort of become a tradition for us to watch Serendipity every year together.
  • My dad has read us the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve every year of my life. Now that my sister and I are both married, this has grown to include us, our husbands and all the puppies piled up on the couch while dad reads and mom takes pictures. I love it!  

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It that didn't get you into the holiday spirit, than I'm afraid there may be no hope for you! 


So, what are your favorite things about the holidays? Do you and your family have special traditions, or are you trying to create new ones?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What to Wear on Date Nights!

Recently, I have allowed myself to fall into the trap. What trap is that? The one where you no longer gets dressed up every day because your office is just down the hall from your bedroom. And, it's much easier to just throw on a hoodie and slippers than to come up with an entire outfit when you're just going to be working in there by yourself for a good chunk of the day.

Once I realized that I was letting myself slip into said pattern, I started to feel two things. Guilt and laziness. Neither of these are places I want to be, so after a little online shopping, I got my mojo back! 

B must have noticed, because we have been on several dates since I've been making more of an effort. So, what am I wearing on these dates, you might wonder?

I have a few absolute staples in my wardrobe. These include black leggings, skinny jeans, long sweaters and riding boots. Sometimes, I spice things up, but most days, I throw on an interpretation of said staple items.

A cute button down and a comfy sweater are perfect for a trip to the winery, and wear heels at home with those cute new pants just because. 


When putting this together, I learned a few things. Apparently, I wear a lot of blue, and I cannot get the 'strike a pose for your OOTD' thing down to save my life

But, as you can see, I love to mix and match. Sometimes it's the same pair of pants dressed up one day, and down a few days later. Or it's the use of my black boots with every outfit I can come up with. But, I typically go for something cute and comfortable. Hence the reason that leggings and skinny jeans have become my best friends!

Another thing I've learned? A statement necklace or cute pair of dangly earrings can make all the difference when you're trying to find something to wear and you're sick of everything you have. Try stripes with patterns, or use a scarf to add a color pop to an outfit. 

I also love black. I wear black almost every day. There is something about it that is flattering and chic. I love wearing a black top and colored pants. And the top right outfit (above): black leggings, stripes and a pumpkin cardi  is one of my very favorites this season. 

Where do I shop? I consider myself to be somewhat of a bargain shopper. Sure, there are a few things I will splurge on, but I love a good sale, coupon code, or $11 pair of stretch skinny jeans from Forever 21. I buy most of my clothing from Forever 21, Target, Old Navy and JCrew (always the outlet, of course!).

By far, my favorite thing to do is come up with new combinations of the clothes that I already have. This way, it keeps me from getting tired of my clothes, and trust me, I have a lot of them and no need to keep feeding my shopping addiction. 

And then there are the nights when you let yourself order a new dress that was a recommendation from a friend, and you get all dolled up to go to a party. And then you wonder why you don't do this more often.


I smell a Christmas Eve outfit in the making!


What are your favorite go-to date night outfits?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holiday Card Photo Idea: Hey, That's Pin-tastic!


Another holiday season means another reason to scour Pinterest for cute holiday card photo ideas. This year I wanted to keep it relatively simple. And, since we had Riley in last year's card, I wasn't sure if it was necessary to have her join us for pictures this year.

We decided to do our photo shoot sans puppy, but as soon as I got to actually designing our card with our favorite photo, it was obvious that something was missing. 

My inspiration for this photo started with this pin

via
How can you not instantly fall in love with that sweet puppy face all decked out in holiday spirit?! Even if it was a little forced.

I thought this would be the perfect way to feature Riley in our cards this year, so I grabbed a holiday wreath, a hand full of treats and got to it one Saturday afternoon.


Holiday Card Photo Idea: Puppy & Wreath

What You'll Need:

1 dog or puppy of your choice (I don't promise they will cooperate. Riley wasn't thrilled)
1 festive holiday wreath
A bunch of your pets favorite treats
A camera to snap as many pics as you can in 3 seconds

I started by removing Riley's collar, and then gave her a treat or 3 to get her relaxed and happy. Once she was obeying the 'sit' command, I quickly placed my wreath over her head so it hung gently around her neck.

Then I bribed her with a few more treats and started snapping away!



As you can probably tell, Riley was not as happy about this project as I was. Although the wreath bears a faint resemblance to a lion's mane, I love the way the pictures came out, and it was the perfect addition to this years' card!

So, if you're in the mood for a fun project, or your dog is looking to be mildly tortured for some extra attention, definitely give this a try!


Don't forget to check out the rest of this week's 'Pin-tastic' 
ideas over at ILYMTC!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Who's A Bigger Fan Than Me?!

 

If I've talked about it once, I've talked about it a thousand times. I am what you would call a sports 'fanatic.' That term might be a little broad for me, since I focus all of my energies towards and NFL, and more specifically, the NY Jets. 

I can't remember the actual day that I became a Jets fan, but I can remember the shock from my family (a big group of NY Giants fans) when they learned about my new rebellious rooting ways.  


 My enthusiasm for the team was only heightened four years ago when the Jets drafted Mark Sanchez from USC. You see, before Brett Favre's short stint with the Jets, we were not relevant. And, although I was a faithful fan, I was one of the only Jets fans I knew. Because, no one really cared about them. 

These last four years have been exciting, sometimes painful to watch, and all around emotional for a fan such as myself. I'm sure you can believe that I have padded my collection of gear. I even ask for a new top or jersey for Christmas most some years.


My love of football used to be one of the things my husband liked most about me. It was something we had in common and could spend every Sunday parked in front of the TV watching our favorite teams. But, as time has gone by, I have become insistent that we watch each and every game in its entirety. This poses a small problem being that we live in Maryland and the Jets are typically not on regular network TV here. 

We have tried it all. Stopping in at one of our favorite local watering holes every week, getting together with friends for a primetime game, and there was even a time right after we bought our house, but before we had cable, that I listened to the game on ESPN New York Radio while painting the walls of my now home office. 

Last week, we finally caved and ordered NFL RedZone. It's been a welcome change, and our checking account is already thanking us. 

So, now I'm all set to get dressed up for and watch the games each week. But there are new items each year that I have my eye on, so when SportsFreak365.com offered me the opportunity to review a totally customized NFL calendar, I jumped at the chance to add one to my collection. Now I have a brand new calendar displaying my favorite players and team that I can hang in my kitchen.


Please excuse the bad lighting. As you can tell, I was pretty excited when the package arrived on my doorstep! Full color, great quality photos of my favorite players, and a brand new 2013 calendar ready to kick off the new year that is quickly approaching.

What's even better? SportsFreak365.com has tons of sports and team related gift items for the sports fanatic in your life! It's the perfect way to start your holiday shopping, and you can do it right from the comfort of you own home! 

You know I'll be scouring all of the Jets gift gear, and may even snag something for my Dad (against my better judgement, boo Dallas!)

So, make sure and check out all that SportsFreak365.com has to offer, you will be happy that you did!


Showing off your team spirit has never been easier! Whatever team you root for and whatever sport they play, find the gear you need at SportsFreak365.com. Just in time for the holidays, you can get 30% off  any purchase using the code “Clever30.” And while you’re there, be sure to enter to win $500 toward team gear in Ditka’s SportsFreak of the Week Contest!



I was selected for participation in this campaign as a member of Clever Girls Collective.