Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Favorite Posts of 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, we're looking back on another wonderful year in the blog world and sharing some of our favorite posts. Of course, The Sequin Notebook wouldn't be anything without our wonderful readers, and we're so glad that we've had the opportunity to connect with so many of you throughout the year! Thank you for visiting our corner of the blog world - we are so thankful for the time that you spend with us. Now, onto the posts!

While we would never claim to be fancy chefs, our love of food led us to be a bit more experimental in the kitchen this year! Our Italian white bean, pancetta, and tortellini soup is on heavy rotation again this winter, and we're satisfying our sweet teeth with Kelli’s chocolate barkOnce fall rolled around this year, our pumpkin obsession couldn’t be denied so we fully indulged it with the most perfect pumpkin dipKelli's mac and cheese, and gingersnap pumpkin ice cream sandwiches.

This year we discovered some new brands that we now adore (hello, Vigoss jeans!) and went back to an old favorite by rediscovering the incomparable deals at Old Navy. We'll always be totally devoted to Rent the Runway, but even more so now that B was able to maximize a rental by getting 3 completely different looks out of 1 dress, and we are thrilled that they've expanded into accessories with Rent The Runway Unlimited!

In our (sequin) book, there isn't much that tops a theme party! We went all out this year by throwing the ultimate neon barbecue and an adorable Monster Mash 1st birthday party, and got some new inspiration by partying like a pop star at a Pop Star Palooza birthday party. Thanks to all of our hosting, we've picked up quite a few tips about how to efficiently plan for a party (and what NOT to do), and were excited to share our Top 10 Party Planning Tips in our guest post on one of our favorite blogs, A Little Glitter!

We love trying to channel our inner mixologist, and had a busy year experimenting with tasty cocktail recipes. We’ll basically find any excuse to mix up something new, from seasonal sips, like our Watermelon Martini, to turning our favorite sweet treats into a liquid dessert, like our delicious Coffee Cake Martini, Bourbon Pumpkin Pie Milkshake, and of course, B's Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur. Love was definitely in the air this past Valentine’s Day and our Love Potion Martini was the perfect way to kick-off this sweet holiday with a bang. When the holidays came around, we had so much fun recreating our favorite red cup coffee drinks with our Pumpkin Spice Latte Martini and our Peppermint Mocha Latte Martini.

We kept busy this year with lots and lots of DIY projects, whether it was crafting up some party décor for our next soiree, creating the perfect printables for our cocktail glasses or just basically adding glitter to everything. We always love to add our own personal touch to a party and shared how to jazz up some Mini Wine Bottle Favors, along with an adorable tutorial for DIY Pipe Cleaner Hearts. As usual, M was busy crafting up printables, and we shared some free downloadable Conversation Heart Printables for Valentine’s Day, Springtime Peeps Printables,  Glitzy Mother’s Day rounds, and of course, a matching Father’s Day set. We also shared our favorite and most useful Craft Tools to keep in your arsenal, and then put them to good use with our Glitter Bunting and First Birthday Tee Shirt tutorials.

We are definitely gals who love a good product or two, and are just a tad beauty obsessed. B shared her favorite Tips to Fight Off Bed Head, as well as a Chain Link Braid Tutorial for those days where your mane just can’t be tamed. There was no shortage of polish love, and we featured our favorite Summer Polishes, along with a glitzy Halloween Mani, and our latest polish obsession, Cirque Colors. B also had the pleasure of attending a couple of beauty blogger events, including Atelier Cologne, Rituals Cosmetics and Birchbox Customer Appreciation Day.

Every now and then, we like to branch out and add some unexpected items to our post roster - some of our favorites from this year include the summer beach books on our reading list, Joey's guest post on men's holiday gifts, our ultimate guide that helps determine which Buble Gal you are, B's Favorite MOHments of M's wedding, and curating a beautiful home bar.

We don’t want to get too sentimental here, but as we wrap up 2014, and look back at our favorite posts, we can’t help but favor the ones we wrote together. At the end of the day, we’re just two BFFs rambling on about the things we love, so we’ll leave you with what we like to call our favorite “galish” posts of the year! After the excitement of the holidays, we love that we have our birthdays to look forward to, first we celebrating M in February, and then B in March. We also let you in on some of our little galish secrets and shared our Secret Single Behaviors. B had a fun time interviewing M for our “Just Us Gals” series (that we promise will return in the new year!) with a little Mommy Talk. Later in the year we were excited to welcome some new readers and decided to reintroduce ourselves in a fun Getting to Know Us post. Then we capped off the year in the very best way possible – with a BFF photoshoot for our holiday card!

Do you have a favorite TSN post of the year?

Linking up with Lauren.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Five on Friday {December 26, 2014}

Happy Final Friday of 2014! I'm sitting here listening to some Christmas tunes in front of the fireplace and soaking up the last hours of this magical day. I wanted to pop by the blog with a quick holiday round-up post so of course, the five things I'm loving this week are all about Christmas!

ONE | NYC Blogger meet-up!
Without a doubt, one of the very best things about blogging is getting to meet so many fantastic women from around the world and I was lucky enough to kick off this holiday week by getting to meet Kristen! Her blog is a must-read for me so when I found out she was visiting NYC, I was so excited to get the chance to meet her in person. We met for happy hour with Pam and Kari who I've had the pleasure of hanging out with previously, and the 4 of us (plus Kristen's super nice husband, KC) had the absolute BEST time just chatting over some drinks. It was fantastic to connect, and I hope we'll all cross paths again. I love the cute pic that we were able to snap (since all of these ladies are glamorously tall, I had to stand on a step to be in the same frame, haha!).

TWO | Ugly sweater party

When I heard that my friends Emma and Mike were hosting an ugly sweater party, I knew that I had to bust out my hot glue gun and go all out with the tacky, crafty handiwork (and sadly, that huge bow on my head didn't last too long into the night!). Silly costumes, tasty food and drinks, and a whole bunch of great friends combined to create a perfect event for us to all spend some fun time together before going our separate ways for Christmas.

THREE | The presents

Ok, of course presents are not the most important part of Christmas, but I have to admit that I still get a rush of excitement when I see all of the pretty gifts under the tree on Christmas morning (this may also be because my mom is seriously the best gift wrapper in the entire world, no joke!). Not only did I receive some very thoughtful gifts, but I loved seeing everyone's expressions when they unwrapped the packages that I had carefully selected.

FOUR | The food

Christmas Day dinner is, by far, my favorite meal of the entire YEAR. As New Jersey Italians, my family knows how to throw together a huge feast and this meal is all of our favorite things...baked ziti, sauce meat, antipasto, stuffed peppers, artichokes, meats and cheeses, stuffed mushrooms, and much, much more...I'm already looking forward to eating my way through the leftovers on Sunday!

FIVE | Family fun

And of course, we all know that the best part of Christmas is spending time with those you whether its having a Christmas music dance party (like that blurred pic of my mom and me above), cooking a delicious meal together, or watching Christmas movies while sipping eggnog, the family togetherness is what makes this season so special!

I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas and are continuing to enjoy the holidays - farewell to Five on Friday for 2014!

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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Gals! We are off to enjoy all of the spoils that Santa has brought for us and we hope you are doing the same! We wish all of you and your families a very merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Card Link-up!

We're so excited to bring you our first annual Holiday Card Link-up! We had an absolute blast putting together our holiday card and working with some fabulous sponsors, so today we're taking you behind the scenes of our festive photo shoot. Make sure you link up your holiday card posts at the bottom!

This entire photoshoot wouldn’t have been possible if not for our fabulous photographer, Alex Peterson from Idalia Photography. Alex is a NJ Wedding Photographer who also happened to shoot Little M’s adorable newborn photographs, so we were absolutely thrilled when she agreed to photograph our holiday card for us!

We were just a *tad* excited so of course we had to commemorate the day on M's chalkboard wall! (crappy iPhone pic - Alex's beautiful photos are below!)
We’ll be giving a full review of her work in the new year, so keep a look out for that, but you can see how talented she is just by looking at the photos! The pictures turned out better than we could have ever imagined and we are so grateful that she was able to capture our best, galish selves! We decided to use three themes for the shoot and she was game for pretty much everything we threw at her!
A little pre-shoot setup
Our first setup was our party look.

We donned our finest dresses and accessories and toasted to a fabulous year with lots of champagne and cupcakes (and nail polish, of course! Wait.. you mean you don’t often include nail polish on your cake plates?!).

Our fantastic party set-up came together thanks to the The Sugar Confetti Shop, which has all sorts of festive supplies for your special events. We loved adding their gold-striped paper straws to our champagne flutes, and also decorated our table with their gold glitter bunting and confetti.

 One of our favorite items offered by Sugar Confetti is the confetti wand, which would be perfect for New Year's Eve (or really, any party). We had a little too much fun with ours and started tossing the confetti at Alex:

Our next theme was more of an outdoorsy look…

and by outdoorsy we mean fur, heels, sparkly headbands and hats…

Monday, December 22, 2014

Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

Poured over vanilla ice cream, mixed into a dessert cocktail, or simply enjoyed on by itself on the rocks, Irish cream liqueur is a longtime staple of my home bar. If you're a fan of Bailey's and you have 10 minutes to spare, do yourself a favor and make this recipe immediately - not only is it fresher and even more flavorful than its name-brand competitor, but it also has a higher proof. Since you'll save some cash by making your own version at home, spring for the good whiskey to make it an even more special treat.

And, if you're feeling extra fancy, serve this drink in festive glassware because I think we all deserve a holiday cocktail when Christmas is only 4 days away, am I right?

Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

* 1.5 cups Irish whiskey (I used Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel)
* 14 oz. can of condensed milk
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons cold coffee
* 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix for 20 seconds. Store the liquid in an airtight container for up to two months, and shake before serving.

If you decide to be nice and share this yummy spirit, you may want to consider giving it away in glass milk bottles - I found this set from Amazon.

I gifted a bunch of bottles of this homemade Irish cream liqueur to my friends this season - to make it even more special, I punched out a few labels and added sparkly snowflake ornaments that I found at (where else?), the Dollar Tree.

Have I convinced you to give up Bailey's for your own homemade Irish cream liqueur?


Linking up today with EmilyJennifer JuniperKaryn, KristenEmilyMandyMaryJessicaMandySusanLisaNatasha,   Meg, Leeann, and Molly!

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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