Category Archives: Blogs

Gift Guide Round-Up…

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Have you finished your Christmas shopping?  I have, which is a miracle…but I also really limited who I was buying for this year since I’ll be out of the country for Christmas (Mexico, woohoo)!

If you need some inspiration for unique gifts, may I suggest you check out a few of these fabulous blogs:

{A Cup of Jo}

 Joanna has put together a thoughtful & creative gift guide…you can really tell how much she loves her family & friends!

{Hip Hip Gin Gin}

 A super swanky gift guide, which has me drooling…especially over those gifts for the bar…

{Sequins & Stripes}

Here is a list of 50 gifts under $50!  Be sure to check out Sequins & Stripes for where to shop for all these goodies!

{Oh Happy Day}

 Jordan has put together a list of 10 gifts that are “Experiences,” such as a hot air balloon ride!

{From Me To You}

 Another great gift guide for men & women!

…Isn’t it such a great feeling when you’ve picked out the perfect gift for a loved one…I love being filled with anticipation as they open it!!

Happy Shopping & Giving!

{Click images for their source}

The First Snow…

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The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event.
You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different,
and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
~J. B. Priestley

We have been unusually lucky this November…with most days reaching above 50 degrees and most shockingly…no snow!  But Minnesota got back to its cold reality this week with the temperature finally dropping and a Saturday forecast for…snow, measurable snow at that. 

And surprisingly I’m a little excited…there really is always something magical about those first, few flakes dropping from the sky.  Of course that magic quickly disappears once I have to get behind the wheel of my tiny car…ugh!

This is the kind of weekend where I want to snuggle up, pour myself a drink, snack away and play board games!

Here is what I wish I could be drinking…

Vanilla Vodka Chai Tea

via My Life as a Mrs.

Ingredients:

6 oz. strong Chai Tea (I used 1 tea bag for 6 oz. water)
2 oz. vanilla vodka
¾ oz. amaretto liqueur
½ oz. simple sugar
½ oz. half n half

Directions:

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and steep 4 tea bags for 2 to 4 minutes (following the tea directions on the box). Allow to cool and refrigerate until time of use (3 cups tea will yield 4 drinks).

In a cocktail shaker or tall glass, combine ingredients and shake or stir generously (shaking will froth up the half n half and help release the infused flavor in the spirits). Fill glass with ice and pour drink over ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick or two.

Here is what I wish I could be eating…

Cheesy Baked Artichoke Dip

via Picky Cook

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (packed) grated parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of salt
2 14-ounce can artichoke hearts packed in water, well drained, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cup Italian cheese blend
French-bread baguette slices, toasted

Directions:

Whisk 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, pepper, onion salt, and garlic powder in medium bowl to blend. Stir in chopped artichoke hearts. Transfer mixture to 3-cup ramekin.

Sprinkle dip with remaining 2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese, Italian cheese and paprika.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake dip until heated through, about 25 minutes (about 35 minutes if chilled).

Preheat broiler. Broil until cheese melts, about 2-3 minutes.

Serve warm with toasted baguette slices.

YUM!

…Yum, yum and one more yum for good measure!  What is your favorite food for those nights you stay in?

{Click images for their source}

Sparkle On…

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While packing for Vegas I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to finally wear all the sparkly, shiny and otherwise ostentatious outfits hanging at the back of my closet!

Here is some of my Sin City “Sparkly” Inspiration…

Go Ahead…Sparkle On!

{All images via here}

Infinity Scarves & Beyond…

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I’m loving all the different infinity scarves out there…especially this one from Bark:

Have you ever thought about making your own…using an old t-shirt?  These two tutorials make it seem feasible for even someone like me to make a comfy, jersey scarf!

Tutorial One: Click photo for directions from //Between the Lines//

Tutorial Two: Click photo for directions from Put Up Your Dukes

…what do you think, looks pretty easy & fun to create your own!  Time to dig up some old t-shirts to use!

{Click images for their source}

More Cheese, Please…

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{Click photo for a list of items from Oh Happy Day}

This past weekend some girlfriends and I went to “Jazz at the Vineyard“…where we drank wine, ate a 10-course Tapas meal, listened to jazz music, danced and toured the vineyard.  It was a lovely evening!

I’ve already got a hankering to get the girls together once again for a wine & cheese night!  While I stocked up on wine at the event, I need a little help in preparing a yummy cheese plate.  Luckily, here are some handy tips from A Cup of Jo:

{The Perfect Cheese Plate}

…Click on either picture for pointers on how to create this perfect cheese plate.

{The Adventurous Cheese Plate}

…Click on either picture for tips on a bold, adventurous & stinky cheese plate.

{Perfect Pairs}

…Click on either picture for three delicious, perfect cheese + drink pairings.

Yum, can’t wait to start building a cheese plate…and subsequently devour it!!

{Click images for their source}

Everything in Perspective…

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I’ve been feeling pretty miserable this week dealing with migraines…and while in the midst of the pain it’s hard to feel positive about much of anything, let alone put things in perspective!  It is however easy to get sucked into self-pity.  But today is a new day, the pain is gone…and I’m once again thinking clearly.

This week saw the passing of a genius, the one & only Steve Jobs…he was only 56.  Just think for a minute about his legacy and what he contributed to our society.

“And the thing is, we all know we’re going to die in one way or another.
Today could be my last day. Will I be proud of how I spent it? When I leave here, what did I leave behind, what did I contribute, how will I be remembered? It is a humbling thought. I’d like to think that I try to treat my days with respect and not squander them away on bullshit that doesn’t really matter, but the truth is, I take too much for granted, even when trying to appreciate the moments that I might regret wasting.
3 years ago I lost my Grandfather rather abruptly and the following year my aunt. I nearly lost my mother before them and this week alone I’ve found out that two people very close to me have been diagnosed with Cancer.
Whether it happens tomorrow, next week or a year from now, life is short. Make it count.”
~Steve Jobs

{Image via Apple}

On a similar note here is Kate’s (the creative brain behind For Me, For You) story:

“…my boyfriend Will was diagnosed with testicular cancer recently and he is thousands of dollars in debt due to the surgery he had to remove a tumor, tests, doctors visits and all that fun stuff that he was forced to put on his credit card (the hospital refused to bill him). Will is currently unemployed and unable to work because of his condition and is without health insurance until we can get help from the state which will hopefully pay for his chemo.”

I lived for years without health insurance and it truly was scary wondering if something would happen…not so much the medical part & what it would mean for my health, but more so the financial aspect & the mountains of debt I would be in.  Which seems a little wrong…but that’s a whole other story.

For the moment Kate & Will are putting some of their prints on Etsy as a fundraiser, see a few below.  If you feel inspired to help out, I’m sure it would be greatly appreciated.  Click here to visit Kate’s blog, and here for her shop.

{Image via For Me, For You}

There you have it; everything is getting back in perspective this morning…because despite it all I am here. Alive. Able to enjoy another day of life…and that’s something.

Stylish Transitions…

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I guess this post should really be called un-stylish transitions…because that would define me!  I tend to have a little trouble in the fashion department when it comes to seasonal changes.  With autumn in full swing here in Minnesota I’m wishing I had some cute jackets & scarves rather than just my bulky winter coats.

Here is what I wish I looked like this fall…

…If only these jackets, hats, scarves & bags could magically appear in my closet!!

{All photos via SierraChantal}