Friday, December 19, 2014

Five on Friday: {December 19, 2014}

Hey Gals! It’s the last Friday before Christmas, which means I get to squeeze in one last 5 on Friday for the year that’s devoted exclusively to Christmas!! Hopefully everyone isn't holiday'd out yet, because I'm soaking up all of the festive goodness while I can since this season has flown by so incredibly fast! I hope you all have a great weekend ahead - as usual, here are my five favorite (Christmas) obsessions of the week!

ONE | Holiday Card Link-up

We're so excited to be hosting our very first link-up on The Sequin Notebook next Tuesday, on 12/23, featuring holiday cards! So grab the button above and join the party and link-up your beautiful holiday card posts! I know I’ve been seeing them float around blogland all month, so we thought it would be fun to feature them all together!  And of course, we can’t wait to showcase some of our favorite cards from our Card Swap, so don’t forget share your pictures on Instagram, along with #2014SequinCardSwap so we can feature YOU!

TWO | Family Holiday Card

And speaking of holiday cards, I’m excited to share my own family holiday card! I was so behind this year with getting these out, but now that they are in the mail, I couldn’t resist sharing! That wagon has been a staple in Little M’s life since he received on his birthday from his two fabulous Aunts, so I knew we had to include in our card this year.  
Oh, and I couldn’t forget my gal Fred, so we also included a jazzed up picture on the back (thanks PicMonkey!) that includes BOTH of my babies – don’t they both look thrilled in the picture?!  I ended up designing the card in photoshop and uploading the complete file to Vistaprint for printing - I like having total flexibility with the design and it ends up being a lot cheaper this way!

THREE | Disastrous Santa Visit

Along with being pretty behind in getting my cards out, we also decided to go visit Santa on the worst possible time – 2 Sundays before Christmas! So obviously the line was out of control and we had to wait for over an hour.  Little M handled it pretty well, but the second we got to Santa, he was having none of it! Oh well, I still think the pic is pretty cute! I mean, we need at least one “crying in Santa’s lap picture” to tease him with in the future, right?!

FOUR | Favorite Recipe - Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!
oreo truffles, peppermint snicker doodlescookie wreathcake batter cookiessnowman cookies
Normally I try to make a batch or two of cake pops for the holidays but this year I've decided to go the cookies route and try out a bunch of different recipes.  After spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, I think I'm going to try out some of the above recipes, though please let me know if you have any recommendations or must make cookie recipes!!

FIVE | Favorite Holiday Episode – The Mindy Project

I absolutely love when tv shows do a holiday episodes since it’s always fun to see your favorite characters engaged in crazy holiday antics.  My favorite from this season has to be The Mindy Project.  First of all, I love, love, love this show and basically know that she and I would be total Gals in real life (so if you aren’t watching – add to your DVR stat!), but on top of that, this show is always good for a great Holiday Episode.  I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t watched yet (or planning to get all caught up over the holiday), but basically it had a little bit of everything I love: tons of ridiculous one liners from Mindy, a romantic plot twist, and an ending that left me wanting so much more!

What fun holiday things have you been obsessing over this week?

Thanks to our gals AmandaJennieKarliClare, Rebecca, Katie, Natasha, and Lauren for hosting today's link-ups!

- M

p.s - Don't forget to enter our Cirque Colors Glitter Polishes Giveaway!!
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Peppermint Mocha Latte Martini

Move over pumpkin spice.. there's a new gal in town, and she's minty, chocolately and best of all, a little boozy!

That's right - we have adapted our beloved red cup winter beverage, and made it a bit more festive.

I was recently picking up a couple of things (see also: wine) from the liquor store, when I stumbled upon this Limited Edition delight - Peppermint Mocha Kahlúa  I mean...Peppermint Mocha Kahlúa - obviously it went right into the cart.

After testing it out over a little ice cream (sooo good!), I knew I had something here, had to incorporate into a holiday cocktail immediately.

I decided to turn to my trusty old gals Baileys and Espresso Vodka and turn it the wintry version of my coffee holiday go-to.

And let me tell you - this one's a keeper!

Peppermint Mocha Latté Martini
Just combine 1 part espresso vodka, 1 part Bailey's (I opted for the coffee version, but if you prefer it more minty, stick with the original), and 1 part Peppermint Mocha Kahlúa in a cocktail shaker, over ice, mix up, and pour!

It's a little sweet, a little caffeinated, and 100% holiday magic!

Cheers Gals!


Linking up with AnnieNatalie & Joey

p.s. - Don't forget to enter our ah-mazing Cirque Colors Glitter Polish Giveaway!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cirque Colors Polish Review + GIVEAWAY!

When it comes to nail polish, we are (more than) a tad bit obsessed so it takes a LOT for a brand to impress us. When we first encountered Cirque Colors nail lacquer at a blogger event earlier this year, it was love at first sight (come on, look at all that beautiful glitter, how could we not swoon?!).

Cirque is a Brooklyn-based company that hand-mixes and individually hand-pours its luxe polishes. We spoke with founder Annie Pham at the event and were immediately blown away by her passion for her products and her bold experiment with materials and colors that we simply have not seen in other polishes. (Plus, she's super nice, beautiful, and successful - a total gal all around!)

The nail polishes offered by Cirque range from glitters to cremes to shimmers to holographics; there is something that is sure to please every polish lover! We love them all for different reasons, but the one big thing they have in common is that every single polish is a true stunner. We've never received so many nail compliments as when we are wearing our Cirque Colors because they are simply that unique and eye-catching!

You've already heard me rave about Lullaby (which is one of the 5 polishes included in today's giveaway!), but there are so many more Cirque polishes that I'm totally obsessed with! As much as I'm drawn to all of the glitters, the first polish that caught my eye at the event where we discovered Cirque was a gorgeous inky blue creme called NYFW. I recently paired a NYFW mani with a Queen Majesty glitter accent nail for a night out on the town:

In addition to being gorgeous hues, I'm tremendously impressed by the staying power of all of the Cirque polishes. We've all had those moments when you're ready to show off your mani at an important event and it suddenly pops up with all sorts of unseemly chips on Day Two - Cirque consistently remains chip-free longer than any of my other polishes, which is essential for a gal on the go. I'm so glad we were able to meet Annie and learn about her incredible company, because Cirque is really onto something very special!

It's no secret I'm a polish fanatic, but one bald spot in my collection (up until recently!) was holographic polishes. When I discovered all of the gorgeous holo options that Cirque had to offer, it was truly love at first sight. I was introduced to their Burlesque collection at the blogger event and was able to try out Trocadero for my complimentary mani. I was in awe with how light catching the holo effect was, and couldn't stop staring! I was excited to try out some of the other holographic beauties Cirque had to offer, and decided to do a play on a Christmas mani with the vampy Boudoir and an accent nail in the green goddess Josephine.
Holo-day Cirque mani!
 It applied like a dream, and I was able to achieve full coverage in 2 light coats. I'm definitely all about the holo now, and can't wait to add some Cirque glitters to the mix and really glitz it up!

Now, here is the best part: One lucky TSN winner will take home 5 stunning glitters hand-selected by the TSN gals! The prize set includes:

LullabyA rainbow confetti made with satin-finished glitter in soft pastel colors (best layered over other colors) - shown here over black

ChainmailA cool gunmetal micro-glitter with holographic sparks

1999: A glitzy glitter overcoat made with soft white and holographic silver glitters (best layered over other colors) - Shown here over black

Le Invader: A rainbow confetti that consists of square-shaped glitter (best layered over other colors) - Shown here over black

8 Crazy Nights (Limited Edition!): A festive glitter overcoat made with varying shades of blue and holographic silver glitters (best layered) - shown here over black

**Above images and descriptions courtesy of Cirque Colors**

The giveaway runs though 12/23 and is open internationally*.

We hope you'll head over to Cirque Colors to discover more of the wonderful products available. Just don't say we didn't warn you when you suddenly find yourself with dozens of polishes in your shopping cart! 

Now that we've converted you into Cirque worshippers, which shade is your favorite?

The Gals

* International shipping exceptions include Brazil, Italy, India, and Russia.

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P.S. Don't forget to also enter our Skinnygirl giveaway which ends tonight at 11:59 p.m. EST!

Linking up today with Maria Isabel, Patti, and Anni.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chocolate Bark {Guest Post from Kelli's Recipes}

You were obsessed with her pumpkin mac and cheese, so we are thrilled to welcome Kelli from Kelli's Recipes back to the blog! Today she is sharing an amazing chocolate bark that is sure to be the hit of your holiday party - it would also make a fantastic gift!

Chocolate Bark (by Kelli's Recipes)

* 1 and 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers
* 2 sticks salted butter
* 1 cup sugar
* 12 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips 
* 8 oz. white chocolate chips
* Chopped nuts (I used sliced almonds)
* Chopped dried fruit (I used diced apricots and cranberries) 
* Sea Salt 

Line a jelly roll pan with heavy duty large tin foil. Have a ridiculously cute toddler line the pan with saltine crackers (or do it yourself). You may need to cut some in half to fit tightly in the pan.

In a small pot, melt butter and sugar over medium heat. Whisk constantly for 3 minutes until it comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the pot. Pour and spread evenly over saltines.

Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 7 minutes or until the crackers are light brown. Watch out, the crackers may burn quickly.  

While the crackers are in the oven, pour the dark chocolate chips into a heat-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute and stir. Microwave another minute and stir. The chocolate should be melted. Set aside. Then repeat with with white chocolate chips in a separate bowl for 1 minute, stir, then 30 seconds. Allow to cool slightly. Then pour the white chocolate into a baggie and cut a small tip in the corner of the bag.

Remove the pan from the oven. Some of the crackers may have shifted. Put them back into place. With an offset spatula, spread the melted dark chocolate over the crackers.

Then drizzle the white chocolate over that.

Sprinkle nuts and dried fruit over the chocolate and press into the chocolate with clean hands (use gloves if you're planning to make bark for people who don't love your germs).

You want press the fruit in and pull up a little chocolate through the fruit so it's exposed on the surface.

Sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate until hard (about 2 hours). Then remove foil (be careful to get it all) and break into pieces.

I store this in the fridge leading up to Christmas. It also makes a great gift and is beautiful by itself on a platter or scattered over cookie trays.

This bark freezes well and is nice to have on hand for unexpected company; it doesn't take very long to thaw. Have fun with this method and top the bark with your favorite chocolate, nuts, fruit. Accessorize according to your taste!

This recipe was adapted by Kelli from a kind lady, Mrs. P. Mrs. P made it with all white chocolate and macadamia nuts, which is also amazing. 

We are absolutely loving this holiday treat - thanks to Kelli for sharing her culinary skills with us again today! For more deliciousness and kitchen inspiration, make sure you follow Kelli at Kelli's Recipes.

How would you customize your chocolate bark toppings?


Linking up today with EmilyJennifer JuniperKaryn, KristenEmilyMandyMaryJessicaMandySusanLisaNatasha, and Lisa!

All photos and recipe text are the exclusive property of Kelli's Recipes.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Gift Wrap Accessories

It doesn't have to be crazy-expensive to add some thoughtful gift wrap touches to your presents this season - in fact, most of mine come from the Dollar Tree! Here are a few of my favorite simple, inexpensive items to really make your gifts this season pop.

* I like to wrap some Crepe Paper Streamers around the center of a gift as a belly band (an old tip I picked up from Martha Stewart years ago!).

* Tie a few Cinnamon Sticks with some ribbon and you have a fragrant element to your gift (this pairs well with kraft paper).

* All gifts need some kind of tag, so why not go old school with some Chalkboard Gift Tags? The color scheme is simple enough to go along with any wrapping paper, and the chalk is an unexpected touch.

* I always keep a stash of Jingle Bells around during the holidays. Large or small, they are the perfect festive touch for any gift!

Paper Straws can be tied to a package with some ribbon as a nice little bonus gift - they go especially well with a drink-themed gift, such as a bottle of champagne or a cocktail shaker.

* I can never have enough ribbon, and lately I've really been liking Raffia for its unexpected, rustic feel.

* These Snowflakes can be found in packs of 6 for only a dollar or two, so they are quite the steal! They're such a pretty way to add some winter sparkle to a gift.

* And speaking of sparkle, Ornaments are always a very pretty accent - simply tie them with a ribbon and you have one fancy-looking package!

What's your favorite way to put a special touch on your holiday gifts?


Linking up with Meg, Leeann, Lisaand Molly!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Five on Friday {December 12, 2014}


Merry Friday, gals! With only 2 more weeks until Christmas (!), I'm definitely feeling the holiday cheer (and also the pressures of being slightly behind on my to-do lists but oh well, that's what weekends are for!). I'm trying to fully soak up all of the seasonal joy, so the five things I'm loving these week are all holiday-centric!

ONE | Holiday Card Photos
True confession - M and I are completely obsessed with the fun pictures from our holiday card photo shoot! We are so thankful to Alex from Idalia Photography for capturing these images (and for putting up with all of our glitter, cackling, and crazy costume changes!). We can't wait to reveal all of the photos and share the behind-the-scenes scoop with you during our card swap link-up but for now, here's just a few teaser pics...

TWO | Friendly festivities
I love packing my calendar with friend outings all year round, but especially at the holidays! I was so excited earlier this week to meet up with Allison, a blogger-turned-real-life-friend - wish I had some cute photos to share with you but we were too busy with all of the stories (and all of the wine). This weekend will bring a Christmas meeting of the Brunch Club (Santa attire optional...but strongly encouraged), a black tie holiday cocktail party, and some last minute holiday shopping, crafting, card writing, and party planning (for my annual Christmas movie night pajama party being held next week)...I can't wait!

THREE | Christmas cocktails

Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to feel jolly than by sipping some Christmas spirits? I have a big pitcher of my Christmas stand-by, Poinsettia Punch, chilling in my fridge, but I'm also experimenting with a few new recipes to create the perfect signature cocktail for my upcoming holiday movie night...any suggestions?

FOUR | Sweet swaps

When Mia and Libby announced that they were hosting an ornament swap, I knew I had to get in on that action. I was paired with the awesome Rachel who clearly knew exactly I would love - not only did she select a fully sequined ornament, but she also threw in some bonus cocktail napkins (with an all-too-appropriate saying) and some fantastic B coasters! I am one lucky lady!

FIVE | Holiday cheer in all corners of the world

Even when I was shoving my way through packs of commuters and tourists in Penn Station last week (and definitely NOT in the best mood), the Christmas spirit still managed to find me...I mean, really - you can't help but feel that holiday glow when you see Santa and an unknown reindeer just sharing a pint like a couple of bros (just watch that reindeer tongue there, buddy!).

How are you feeling about the holidays, now that Christmas is only 2 weeks away? (Also, don't forget to enter our Skinnygirl giveaway!)


Thanks to our gals AmandaJennieKarliClare, Rebecca, Katie, Natasha, and Lauren for hosting today's link-ups!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Skinnygirl Tips for a Healthy Holiday

During the holidays, food temptation lurks around every corner - whether its a second (...third?) slice of your grandma's famous apple pie, or perhaps a sinfully delicious chocolate cake pop that took home 3rd place in a recent office bake-off (baked by yours truly, thank you very much!). Luckily, our gals over at Skinnygirl have our backs and are providing us with filling, delicious, HEALTHY snacks to help us make smart food choices throughout the holiday season...and beyond!

We have been fans of Skinnygirl ever since we first saw sassy Bethenny firing away at her castmates on The Real Housewives of New York, and we've always admired her entrepreneurial spirit and everlasting spunk. She revolutionized the cocktail game, so it comes as no surprise that she's now worked out a tasty and smart way for a girl to get her snack on. One of the best ways to make healthy choices during the holidays is to be prepared by always having a healthy snack supply at the ready - thanks to Skinnygirl Tasty Nutrition Bars, all you need to do is reach into your purse (instead of the vending machine) for the burst of fuel and energy that you're craving midday.

Luckily for us, the Skinnygirl team has certainly not skimped on taste, as the bars are currently available in three yummy flavors: Banana Oatmeal Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter with Sea Salt, and Dark Chocolate Pretzel. Personally, I appreciate the fact that the word "chocolate" is a key player in ALL of the bars!

In addition to providing their own yummy bars, Skinnygirl also has you covered to address any cravings that randomly pop up. Skinnygirl Snack Swap is a handy online tool that allows you to enter the not-so-good foods that you're currently lusting after, and then provides you with healthier alternatives that will still satisfy your yearnings. It's such a fun, useful site to visit when you're about to swing by your corner bodega for some chips, since you can substitute that for an equally satisfying yet much healthier (and cheaper!) alternative from your apartment instead!

I recently tested the Skinnygirl Snack Swap for two of my biggest cravings: soft pretzels, and chocolate cake. The swaps suggested all sounded incredibly delish: some quinoa pizza bites to appease my salty side, and creamy hot cocoa to keep me warm on a cold winter night. For both the soft pretzel and chocolate cake, Skinnygirl's Dark Chocolate Pretzel tasty nutrition bar was recommended as a swap - looks like I've found my new go-to flavor!

After popping a few of these bars into my purse and turning to them during moments of need, I was truly impressed by the fullness of their flavors and how they easily satisfied my hunger pains. During the holidays, it's important to stick with a healthy eating routine to avoid overindulgence, and one of the best ways to do that is to always be prepared with smart, satisfying snacks - these Skinnygirl bars definitely fit the bill, which is why they are now a new staple of my work bag!

Now, it's your turn to try these snacks!

Skinnygirl is giving one of our TSN readers a month's supply of these tasty nutrition bars - that's 36 bars in total (12 of each of the 3 flavors, a $65.97 value!). The giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 17th, and is open to U.S. residents only.

How do you make healthy choices during the holidays?


Products for review were provided by Skinnygirl. Opinions are our own.
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