Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas Gift Guide: Under $25 with Uncommon Goods

I was recently introduced to a new-to-me company, Uncommon Goods.  If you have been reading here for awhile, you know I love shopping, and more than that, I love finding the perfect gift.  Insert Uncommon Goods.  They have super unique items, at all different price points.  Super handy for all the people you may be buying for - moms, dads, your favorite guy or gal - whoever is on your shopping list the perfect gift can be found.  Below are some of my favorite picks - bonus, they are all under $25 dollars!  Even better, for every purchase you make, $1 will be donated to your favorite non-profit.  Combining shopping and donating is a definite win in my eyes.  

Microwave Popcorn Popper.  I love popcorn, and this microwavable popper seems so handy.  I have an actual popcorn maker, but rarely go through the effort of getting it out and using it.  This takes away any of the inconvenience of using a real popcorn maker, while staying away from just bagged microwave popcorn.

 City Map Glass.  These glasses are so neat!  Although they don't have St. Louis, they do have my favorite city, Chicago.  I also think it would be a fun idea to get these for someone who travels - you could get a variety of different cities!   

State Dish Towel.  While I wouldn't actually use it as a dish towel, I would totally frame one of these.  I think it would be the perfect touch in any home, whether you choose to go with the state(s) you have lived in, or ones that have special memories from traveling.  They also have cities and colleges, so you could really go all out with these! 

Champagne Carry-On Cocktail Kit.  One of my closest friends LOVES champagne - think along the lines of Heather Dubrow.  I could totally see her enjoying this on her way to and from visiting family.  If you aren't a champs fan, they have different options, too, so you could tailor to personal preferences.  How fun would it be to bring these along on a vacation?  Sounds like the perfect way to start things off!

Wooden Dice Set.  My family enjoys dice games, so when I saw this set, I thought it would make a great gift.  It's cute enough to keep out as a little knick knack, while being functional!  It's currently out of stock, but you can sign up to be notified by email when it comes in!

Those are just a few of my favorites - it's one of those sites you can lose track of time browsing though.  So much neat stuff! 

Have you ever shopped with Uncommon Goods?

A big thanks to Uncommon Goods for sponsoring this post - all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!   

Linking up with Annie, Sarah and Victoria.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas Crafting: Wish Upon a Star Ornament

Growing up, I always remember my mom making ornaments.  They would be gifts for friends, teachers, our hairdresser, whoever, really.  There was always some type of Christmas crafting going on.  Last year, we put together a few different crafts to share on the blog, and I wanted to continue that this year.  What we came up with was what I am referring to as the "Wish Upon a Star" ornament.  It was super quick to put together, and I just love how it turned out.

What you need:
Garden Nippers
Hot Glue Gun / Hot Glue Sticks
Ella Claire Printable 
Bakers Twine / Ribbon

To start out with, you need to find a few sticks, trying to get them all about the same size around.  These were soaked in vinegar and water to help kill any little bugs, then set to dry before using.  We (my dad) whitewashed the sticks, using a mixture of paint and water.  He put a little paint on, then wiped it off, so that it was more of a whitewash finish than pure white.  He did this in the morning, we let them dry throughout the day, then made the ornaments in the evening.

We decided to go with 5 inches for the length of the sticks.  Using the ruler, I measured out the 5 inches, then cut using the garden nippers.  To get a more weathered look, each stick was sanded a bit, just to make it look a bit imperfect.  Once we had all the sticks cut and sanded, it was time to glue them together.

If you look at the star, you can see we started on the bottom with the left diagonal piece ( \ ), then built on from that.  The ending piece will connect the middle with the first stick.  I glued all places that the sticks touched each other, to help reinforce it.  The next step was to decide what we wanted across the middle.

We were between ribbon, adding greens, pinecones, berries, jingle bells - the list could go on - until my mom remembered seeing this free printable on the Ella Claire blog.  It was absolutely perfect for this ornament!  Just print out, then cut the "wish" banner along the lines.  Fold in on the sides as show, then glue to the star.

To keep things simple and classic, we went with the black and white bakers twine - about 8 inches - to make a loop at the top to hang on the tree.  

I an absolutely obsessed with how it came out - it looks gorgeous on the tree, too!  I really think you could make this so many different ways - use silver or gold paint, cover in glitter...the list could go on!  To check them out, we hung them on my parents' hutch, and I think it even looked cute just on the knob - if you didn't want to put it on the tree, it would be cute on a cabinet as an extra bit of Christmas decor.  

You can check out last year's Christmas Crafts via the links below.

Linking up with Jenn and Jessi.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Home Tour 2016

Today I am sharing my Christmas decor.  I love decorating, especially for Christmas.  My mom came down to help me decorate, which was so nice, especially because we had a bit of a mishap with the tree at the beginning.  I switched things up a bit from last year and am loving all the new touches!

The following pictures are little touches in my bedroom.  The small tree (second picture below) with different ornaments is one that I had growing up.  Each year my mom and dad would get us a new little ornament to add to our tree.  Since moving out, my mom has given us our little trees, and I like to keep the tradition going in keeping it bedside, like growing up.

If you remember last year, this little hanger is one of the Christmas crafts I posted about - you can see it here.  I still love it and the bit of festiveness it adds!

Lanterns - Ikea (Small / Large)
Mercury Glass Votives - Pottery Barn (I have a small obsession with these this year!)
Pinecone Greens - Michael's
Santa Plates - Pottery Barn (currently sold out)

Hope you enjoyed a little peak into my home at Christmas!  You can see last year's Christmas Home Tour here.

Linking up with Andrea, Lindsay and Whitney today and Sarah and Victoria tomorrow!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Weekend Recap + Christmas Wish List

Another Monday is here...wishing we could go back and start the weekend over!  While I didn't do much at all, there were a few highlights.

Catching up on DVR.  I stayed up late (for me) on Friday night watching Sister Wives.  While I could never be a polygamist myself, I find it very interesting and enjoying watch the show.

I headed to the library on Saturday to pick up some holiday books.  I got through a few already, and would definitely recommend Welcome to Serenity by Sherryl Woods.  

I started on my wrapping and while I still have a few items to go, the majority are wrapped and under the tree!  Listening to Christmas music and wrapping presents is one of my favorite things.  

I love any excuse to wear my Hunter boots, and a trip to Target on a dreary and rainy Sunday was the perfect reason to break them out.  It was a mad house there, though!  I was happy to get in and out as fast as possible.

It's the first day of Sarah and Victoria's "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" link up, and today is Christmas Wish List.  I keep a running list on my phone throughout the year, because it never fails that when the time comes to actually make a list, my mind just blanks.  Below are some of the items I have asked for.

Lounging / Pampering:
UGG Slippers.  I have lusted after these for a few years.  I love UGGs and the fact that these are a bit sturdier than the slippers I currently have. 
A new robe.  I would love any of these robes.  Currently, I have more of a towel that velcros around me, but would love a traditional robe.
Face masks.  Unfortunately, the Kiehl's face mask trio I mentioned in my stocking stuffers post is sold out, but they do have another trio with 2 smaller masks, and a full size container of the Deep Pore, which is my favorite.  I would love to try out the other two and this seems like the best deal to do so!
Clarisonic.  I have always wanted one of these, but never wanted to spend the money myself.  I know they usually have good deals on them during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, so if this doesn't appear under the tree, I may go ahead and purchase it next year - assuming it will be on sale again!

For the Kitchen:
Cookbooks - The Seasoned Life and Skinnytaste Fast and Slow.  Along with pretty much any Barefoot Contessa cookbook.  
Cupcake Scoop.  I have a smaller cookie scoop, but would love a larger one for muffins and cupcakes.    
Spiralizer.  I would love to try zoodles!  I thought about asking for a smaller, cheaper one, but I heard that getting a heavier duty one is worth the money.
Vegetable Chopper.  I don't have the best knife skills, so I think having this chopper would be super handy, as well as save me some time in the kitchen.
Honestly, my "for the kitchen" list could go on and on!  If you are shopping for someone that loves to be in the kitchen, too, check out my "Kitchen Favorites" post where I share some of my must haves.

A few other items include a new wallet, and a light gray winter coat.

Linking up with Biana, Sarah and Victoria.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday Favorites 12.2.16

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TGIF!  Time for some favorites this week.

Charity happy hours!  This past week was Giving Tuesday.  In conjunction with that, Provident's Young Professionals teamed up with Urban Chestnut Brewing Company for their Steins for Support, where a charity (on this day, Provident), receives 10% of all beverage sales at their Midtown location between 5-8:00 PM.  We had a great showing - even a few of my co-workers made their way down there in support, which I was so very thankful for.  It's always a good thing when you can help out a good cause and enjoy a drink or two at the same time! 

Pure Genius.  I discovered this show because one of my favorite, Odette Annable from The Astronaut Wives Club, is part of the cast.  When the show started this fall, I made sure to set the DVR to record it, but didn't watch it right away.  I just finally got around to watching it this past weekend and I am hooked.  Such a good show!  Speaking of good shows - have you all seen the new episode of This is Us?  It had me in tears multiple times!  I swear it's like an emotional rollercoaster every episode!

Cinnamon.  Plain Greek yogurt is one of the "red" suggestions for the 21 Day Fix.  Well, I love mixed berry Greek yogurt, but I quickly learned that plain is not my favorite.  I am trying really hard to stick close to the meal plan, and thankfully I found my game changer, at least for plain Greek yogurt.  Cinnamon is one of the seasonings in the plan that you can use an unlimited amount of, and adding a little bit (or a lot) to plain Greek yogurt makes all the difference in the world to my taste buds.  Mix those two together, add in some strawberries and blueberries, and you have a delicious breakfast or snack - all falling within the guidelines!

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes.  I am a little late to the game with these, but I just love them.  My mom had gotten a two pack for herself when she came down to help me decorate and ever since I have been hooked.  They are just so handy and do a great job!  If you haven't tried them yet, definitely do, you won't be disappointed!

The weekend.  This week has been LOOOONNNGGG.  I am so ready to relax, watch some Hallmark movies, and enjoy my Christmas decorations.  I also have a huge to do list, that I am hoping to get done, in between my relaxing of course.

Linking up with AndreaAprilKatie and Amanda. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 2016 Goals

In all honestly, half of my goals for November were totally at the back of my mind - I didn't even think about doing them the more we got into the month.  Let's see what I did get accomplished though...

November Goals:

1.  Finish Christmas shopping.  I count this as a success, even though I still have to get a white elephant gift and gift card for next week.  The main shopping is done, though!  Now, time to wrap!

2.  Switch to paperless billing.  Nope.  This is one of the goals that didn't even cross my mind!

3.  Find a new work out DVD.  Done!  I borrowed the 21 Day Fix DVDs from my co-workers wife, and then after doing a few of the days, I went ahead and ordered it myself.  Due to Thanksgiving, I took a little break and started fresh this Monday doing the full program - meal plan and work outs.  So far so good.  I like that the work outs are only 30 minutes - I feel like I have such a huge chunk of my evening back, and I don't dread doing it because I know the time will (mostly) fly by.  Thanks for everyone's recommendation!

4.  Start using my NutriBullet.  Technically I did think about this one some...but never actually acted upon it, whoops!

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December Goals:

1.  Wrap presents!  This one should be easy to accomplish - I am planning on tackling my wrapping this weekend.  I got new wrapping paper this year and when I was home for Thanksgiving, my mom and I created new Christmas tags.  I am so excited to see them all wrapped and pretty under the tree!  

2.  Make a Christmas bucket list.  I already have a few ideas for this one!  I love Christmas and everything that comes with it, but sometimes it goes by so fast!  I am hopeful a bucket list will help me be a bit more intentional.  

3.  Keep a tidier purse!  I love having a large purse, but sometimes that makes it so easy to just throw things in there and left the paper, receipts and miscellaneous items pile up.  Sometimes I am really good about keeping it clean, others not so much.  Hopefully by having it as a goal this month, I will get into the habit of always having it clean!  

4.  New Year's Resolutions.  It's hard to believe it's that time again, but I want to make sure to give some thought to what I would like to focus on for next year.  While these monthly goals are great to help me accomplish things throughout the year, I still want a few underlying resolutions that I can work on throughout the year.

Linking up with Annie and Kristen.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Recipe Round Up: November 2016

I didn't do as much cooking this past month, with my mom visiting and Thanksgiving, but I did try out some new (and delicious!) recipes.  The first two are actually ones I made in October, but forgot to share last month.

Spicy Sausage and Potato Soup by Mix and Match Mama.  I love sausage and potatoes, so when I saw this recipe in Mix and Match Mama's Eats cookbook, I knew I had to try it.  Not to mention it is a slow cooker recipe - always a good idea.  This soup was super good, I did substitute in petite diced tomatoes, because I don't like big chunks of tomatoes, and I really doubt it made too much of a difference.  The parmesan cheese is a must as a garnish.  I didn't have any when I first ate it, but the next time, I added the cheese and it was a game changer.  It makes a ton, so either plan on feeding a bunch of people, or freezing it.  I did freeze some, and then thawed out for lunches, which worked out really well for me.  If you are a fan of soup, sausage and potatoes, then this recipe is for you!

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie by Mix and Match Mama.  I made the recipe as written, and I just didn't quite like the taste of the filling.  It was just a little too cream cheesy for my taste, because I really wanted the peanut butter flavor to come out.  So I added in a bit more peanut butter and whipped cream and made it to my taste.  I also used an Oreo pie crust, because that just sounded delicious.  It ended up tasting like a big Reese's cup - SO GOOD! 

Beef Turkey Enchiladas by Mix and Match Mama.  I love enchiladas.  LOVE them.  I have made various versions, but I think this one is my absolute favorite.  I altered a little bit from the recipe, using ground turkey and wheat tortillas, then adding cheese to the top when baking.  I cannot emphasize how good these were.  They do have a bit of a kick, so I suggest topping with some sour cream to take away some of the heat.  Next time I will use Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream to make them a bit healthier.  Also, a little tip, I made these the night before I cooked them.  I left off the enchilada sauce and cheese, but assembled everything else.  The next night, I took them out of the fridge about a half hour before I wanted to bake them, topped with the sauce and cheese, then baked as instructed.  It was nice to have the bulk of the work done on a night where I had more time.  Regardless if you make ahead or same day, just make this - you won't regret it.
    Chicken Bog
Chicken Bog by Paula Deen - passed along by Chesson at Magnolia & Main.  Chesson introduced me to this Southern goodness, and I can't tell you how happy I am that she did.  It is delicious!  I just used drumsticks, instead of a whole chicken, because I have never made anything with a whole chicken and thought this would be easier.  I think I ended up cooking it just a little bit longer than advised, to get the rice a little more done.  It's so flavorful and yummy.  It also makes A TON, so it's perfect for when you are cooking for lots of people, or are wanting some leftovers.  The smoked sausage was probably my favorite part, and I can see myself adding in more next time I made it. 
Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers by Simply Anchored.  I came across this recipe when looking for 21 Day Fix dinners, and it did not disappoint.  They were super easy to make, and so very delicious.  A few small changes - I used red peppers, because I don't like green.  I also ended up adding some salt and pepper, just because I thought they needed a bit more flavor, and I think next time I will add in more onions - I love the taste of caramelized onions!  I think my onion was a bit on the small size, so it got a little lost in the steak.  I served mine with rice, and it was a super filling meal, while still working with the meal plan.
mexican lasagna

21 Day Fix Mexican Lasagna by Confession of a Fit Foodie.  Another 21 Day Fix compliant recipe, this one had me at Mexican and lasagna.  I also heard good things about it from Kelsey at The Peacock Roost, so it made me want to try it even more.  I really liked this!  I didn't add any of the extra toppings, but I can imagine how good it would be topped with avocado or sour cream!  

What recipes have you tried lately?

Linking up with Jenn and Jessi.