Filed In: Holiday

Happy New Year Weekend Agenda

Happy New Year, Travel, Venice

Happy New Years, lovelies! It’s officially 2016 and as great as twenty fifteen was, I’m excited for a year of new adventures! My 2016 plans include lots of traveling…Where to? There are a few on my list like Cuba, Vancouver BC and Croatia. 2016 also includes some grown-up things…like {hopefully} buying a condo. An actual home. Exciting! So cheers to a fantastic 2016 and here is a Happy New Year Weekend Agenda to get the year started…

Happy New Year Weekend Agenda

Do

Get organized. So basic, but so great. The past two years, I’ve used the Notebook from Graphic Image and have 2016 ready to go. Keep track of appointments, workout schedule, spending and vacations in one place. Speaking of spending…if you’re trying to find ways to save more, here are 80 tips that might help.

Drink and Eat

Go for the green juice! I recently spent 3 days juicing and I always feel great after. If a juice cleanse isn’t your thing, find ways to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your daily menu…Step up your juice and smoothie game or try this 21 day challenge. A few of my fave recipes I found while doing a 28 day Barre3 challenge last year…. see recipes here.

Relax

Enjoy the long weekend with a spa day, a great book or binge watching something like… Making A Murderer {So. Good.}. Final season of Downton Abbey starts Sunday and we get to see if Edith finally gets happiness. What will happen?

Beauty 

Make a couple beauty resolutions that you know you can keep…like trying a new shade of lipstick each month or mastering a new hair style. Here are 13 suggestions and I think you should try them all.

 

Merriest Christmas Weekend Agenda

Christmas Weekend, Christmas Tree

It’s officially here… the last week of 2015! After a month of holiday cheer, we get ready for twenty sixteen with one last festive week of celebrating and relaxing. I made it home in time to see Santa with my nieces yesterday {priceless}. They both spoke to Santa without tears, which is pretty huge for a 1 and 3 year old! Fingers crossed that Santa delivers what they asked for {my 3 year old niece asked for a “bra” as part of a mermaid costume, let’s hope Santa gets that one right!}. And now, for this last weekend of 2015, here is your Merriest Christmas Weekend Agenda…

Merriest Christmas Weekend Agenda

Eat

A cheese plate works for a few reasons…it pairs well with most cocktails, it’s easy to eat, and goes well with a game night or movie marathon. Not sure how to put together a cheese plate? Here are tips from Whole Foods and a perfect example to take out any guess work.

Drink

A drink for everyone! This list of 50 holiday cocktails has a festive drink for those who like apple cider, egg nog, champagne, whiskey….you name it. It’s here.

Watch

Christmas movie marathon time! My absolute favorite? Elf. Because who doesn’t want to eat the elves 4 food groups? Some other’s…National Lampoon Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Christmas Story and Love Actually {on Netflix}.

Do

Naughty or Nice list? Make it out to see Santa if you haven’t yet… many are still making those lists today. Already on my ‘must do’ for next year is to visit Hipster Santa. Only in PDX!

Rwandan Basket Bowl At Macy’s. The Gift That Gives.

Rwanda Basket Bowl

The holiday season brings out the best in people and encourages a generous, festive spirit. While we all love gift cards, during this month’s gift giving frenzy, I love supporting presents that are socially conscious. Macy’s Rwandan Basket Bowl {$30-60} is a great gift that also gives back!

As part of the Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace, Rwandan women using age-old methods make these hand-woven baskets. This craft is taught by Gahaya Links, a Rwandan handicraft company dedicated to women’s economic empowerment, which aims to lift Rwandan women out of poverty by providing expert training in basket weaving to create sustainable income-generating opportunities.

Beyond looking beautiful on a coffee table or kitchen counter, through the “trade-not-aid” wages that the artists receive, these women are able to take care of essential human needs, send their children to school, buy malaria nets and have access to healthcare. The benefits of this program reach beyond these women by extending into their families and communities.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Rwanda Path to Peace program, Macy’s has released the 10th Anniversary Collection of the baskets. This collection revitalizes the tradition to preserve local folk art in this unique collection of woven baskets made of raffia and sweet-grass.

If you’re looking for a gift that makes a difference, look no further, here it is. See additional patterns and colors here.

Rwanda Basket Bowl, 10th Anniversary Sun Bowl, Macy's

Red Wine And Cranberry Tart

Cranberry Tart

 

‘Tis the season to bake! Not only did this Cranberry Tart turn out absolutely perfect, it’s a great story of how it came to be. It’s a Saturday afternoon and after a few hours of holiday shopping, I feel like baking something festive. I also feel like a glass of red wine and putting my feet up, which might have been my main priority.

So…I start digging in my cupboards and fridge and pull out what I have. Priorities! I first find the red wine {open and pour a glass comes next}. I then see a pie crust, left from the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie, and cranberries. The typical stuff, right?

As I drink my wine, I begin to make a cranberry sauce and get the pie crust ready. Once the pieces are all together and it’s in the oven, I enjoy more wine. 11 minutes later, I have a boozy {actually, I think the wine cooked out} Red Wine And Cranberry Tart.

And if you’re ever hesitant to cook with wine because you don’t know if you’ll finish the bottle, then try out VinEdge, a wine preserver that will keep wine fresh. I promise, it works.

Red Wine And Cranberry Tart
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Pie
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup dark sweet cherries
  • 1 tbs light agave
  • ½ cup red wine (I used a red blend, but your favorite will work)
  • 2 handfuls of dark chocolate chips, optional
  • 1 pre-made pie crust
Instructions
  1. Throw berries, agave and wine into a saucepan and begin to heat on medium.
  2. Bring to a boil, remembering to stir.
  3. Let sauce simmer for about 20 minutes. Liquid will reduce and thicken.
  4. Let pie crust stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  5. Unroll crust and place in ungreased pie pan.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  7. When berry mix is ready, pour into pie pan.
  8. Sprinkle 2 handfuls of dark chocolate chips into mixture (optional).
  9. To avoid making a mess in the oven, place pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any bubble over.
  10. Bake pie for 11 minutes.
  11. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

 

Wine Lover Gift Guide

Wine Lover Gift Guide

One of my favorite type of posts during the holidays is writing the gift guide. Sharing my most favorite and unique gifts is exactly the type of work that I love…and it pairs well with a glass of wine. Which brings me to the person we either are or all know…the wino. This wine lover gift guide is perfect for hostess gifts, your sister or best friend. Now open a bottle of red, white or bubbly and enjoy a little online shopping…cheers!

The bottle of wine. This is where you start. I either go for a wine that I love and am confident my friend will also or I go for fun packaging. Great strategy, right? Last month, I hit the jackpot with the Grocery Outlet. They sell wine! And really good wine…at really low prices. How? Why? Here are the details.

Wine Bag. I got the Easy, Tiger brown bag set in a PopSugar Must Have box this year and think they are the cutest!

Tea Towel / Napkin. These make the gift a little more festive, but are also incredibly useful. I either go with messaging that ties in to wine or the occasion. I found this tea towel at Nordstrom, but you can buy here. For holiday napkins, shop here.

Wine Accessories. This could include a cork, the wine opener, an aerator or a wine preserver. Yes! It’s a real thing and it works. VinEdge Preserver keeps your bottle of wine fresh longer.

Wine Glasses. GoVino is kind of the ‘thing’. These dishwasher safe, plastic glasses can be taken anywhere.

Bubble bath. I know…it’s not directly tied to wine, but who doesn’t love a relaxing evening? Like wine and a bubble bath. Vitabath products contain vitamins and botanicals and comes in a variety of scents.

Happy shopping!

5 Ways To Wear A Sequin Skirt This Holiday Season

ways to wear a Sequin Skirt

One of my favorite posts is this 5 Ways To Wear A Sequin Skirt. I posted it two {yes, TWO} holiday seasons ago and I think it’s one that still holds true going into 2016…plus it’s a good reminder to pull out the sequin skirt this winter.

This is the time of year when your wardrobe is expected to sparkle. In fact, going over-the top is basically the rule…or at least, it should be. And since the holidays bring out the sequins in everybody {don’t they?}, let’s make sure to make the most of it. Here are a few ways to wear a sequin skirt during the holidays and beyond. Wait, beyond? Yes, I admit that I plan to wear my new found love {the sequin skirt} into 2014, keeping the sparkle alive. Join me.

Five Ways To Wear A Sequin Skirt

Read the rest here

Ways to wear a Sequin skirt

Peppermint Recipe Roundup. Holiday Baking.

Peppermint Bark Waffles, Peppermint Recipe

With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to say goodbye to a season of pumpkin everything and hello to peppermint! Holiday baking is here and since I only have a couple days home between trips, I sadly didn’t have enough time to experiment {and eat} something sweet and delicious. So instead, I decided to share a peppermint recipe roundup….all of my favorites in one place. Time for you to get baking!

Peppermint Recipe Roundup

Peppermint Bark Waffles are not only a perfect at-home, holiday brunch item, they also are perfect for Christmas morning.

Peppermint Bark Doughnuts are just as good gluten-free and easy to make. They just look fancy.

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich is just one of the quick-to-make cookies that taste like the holidays. Make with ice cream or frosting.

White Chocolate Peppermint Martini is dessert in a glass. Host a cocktail party and add this to the menu.

Find more peppermint {and non-peppermint} recipes here.

Merry Baking!

Take Your Workout With You This Holiday Season

Workout on the go

The start of the holiday season is in full swing with all of its craziness. Trying to do everything and be everywhere is happening. In order to stay sane with holiday travel and festive after-work cocktails, a good sweat sesh is a must. The problem is time and not enough of it. So in trying to keep with ‘doing it all’ here are ways to take your workout on the go…or fit it in whenever you have a spare 30 minutes.

I’ve talked a lot about Barre on my blog and I’m still loving it. I especially love that I can take my Barre3 with me wherever I go… online classes. I do one of their 10, 30, 40 or 60 minute online videos wherever I am. Bonus: Barre3 now has a ‘no-props’ full body workout that couldn’t be easier to take with you. View classes and sign up here ($15 / month).

If you aren’t familiar with barre or just need to relax and breathe, My Yoga Works provides online classes for beginners to advanced that you can do anywhere. Nomaste.

Whether you’re home or traveling, take advantage of those sunny, crisp winter days and get moving outside. When I’m traveling, I get running route recommendations from the hotel, which also is a great way to get to know the area. If it’s too chilly,  take advantage of the hotel gym and fitness classes they offer.

Other tips for staying fit during the holiday season

Keep moving and get in some extra steps during the day. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is an easy one. Use a fitbit Flex or the iPhone Health app to track your steps and set goals.

Schedule your workouts. You’re more likely to follow through and do the workout if you schedule it. It also helps to schedule your workout with friends to hold you accountable. Those early 5:30am workouts are tough in the morning, but always feel good after.

Stay hydrated. H2O benefits are many, but my favorites are that it’s fantastic for your skin and keeps you feeling full {also helps with portion control listed next}. Try drinking half your weight in ounces then drink an additional glass for every festive cocktail you enjoy.

Portion control. I love snacking and can easily down a bowl of M&Ms without thinking twice. This is where I have to take a couple and walk away. No more. All about control.

Snacking. Speaking of snacking, snacking smart helps with that portion control. Like grabbing a KIND Bar or banana instead of those M&Ms.

 Cheers to a happy holiday!

Thanksgiving Day Prep Guide

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving cooking will be here before you know it. If you aren’t taking my advice for picking up a delicious meal from Whole Foods and attempting to do the cooking on your own…godspeed. Joking! I’m sure it will all turn out fantastic! But it’s always nice to have a little help and that is where this Thanksgiving Day Prep Guide comes in.

Buy ingredients ahead of time and I don’t mean the day before. Make a list of ingredients for all dishes and drinks, then head to the grocery store Monday or Tuesday. Beating the crowd will feel so good! If you have overnight guests, don’t forget about Friday brunch.

Bake and cook early what you can. That pumpkin pie can be made the day before…and you also can spend Wednesday mixing up any casseroles, peeling potatoes {or even mash them up} so that all you have to do on Thursday is heat them up! There is zero reason to wait and do everything the day of. Zero.

Set the table the night before. One less thing to do on Thursday and will also check that your table linens, placemats, dishes and glassware are all clean and ready.

Thursday prep will include of heating up the sides, finishing the turkey and mixing up some mean bloody marys. Oh, and all of that eating.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes With Maple Frosting

Pumpkin spice cupcakes

This is NOT a recipe that I created… but it is everything you could want in a cupcake with my own gluten-free adaptation. When I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes With Maple Frosting + Heath Bar Topping from Ina Garten, I thought, how did I not think of this myself?!? Pumpkin and Heath Bar. Amazing!  The GF adaptation also was a success, which means I can keep eating….

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes With Maple Frosting
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • CUPCAKES
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup Tapioca flour / starch
  • ½ tsp Xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp Baking powder
  • ½ tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • FROSTING
  • 6 oz Cream cheese
  • 3 Tbs Unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs Maple syrup
  • ½ tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Powder sugar
  • 2 Heath Bar candy bars broken into tiny pieces
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix, mix, mix... mix the dry ingredients
  3. Mix the wet ingredients
  4. Combine
  5. Mix up until blended
  6. Scoop into cupcake baking cups
  7. Bake for 25 minutes
  8. While baking, whip up the frosting
  9. Frost up the cupcakes once they are cool
  10. Top with pieces of Heath bar