Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Highlights


Happy New Year's Eve! We're counting down the hours to 2016 today by sharing some fun NYE-themed photos from our recent shoot with Idalia Photography (you may remember their work from our fabulous 2014 holiday card). It was great to throw on some sequins and reminisce about highlights from the past year while taking some fun snaps - if you're in the NJ area and in need of a wedding photographer, newborn photographer, or a glitzy photo booth for your next party, we can't speak highly enough of our experiences working with Alex at Idalia Photography!
Of course, no reflection on the past year would be complete without a look back at some of our favorite blog posts! Here are a few favorites that we loved in 2015 (and we hope you did, too!).














However you're planning to celebrate tonight, we wish you lots of love, health, happiness and sequins in 2016! Cheers to a fantastic New Year! And just for fun, here are a few more of our favorite New Year's Eve photo booth pics :)




Monday, December 28, 2015

Healthy New Year with Skinnygirl


I hope you all had a very merry Christmas! With a new year on the horizon, I'm planning (like so many others) to strongly focus on my health and nutrition. I've been fortunate to partner with Skinnygirl this past year and have the opportunity to try many of their newest products, including their yummy Rich Chocolate Brownie and Vanilla Bean Sundae protein shakes. These fantastic snack swaps have been excellent sources of protein in my diet, so I'm lucky to count Skinnygirl as a true partner in helping me achieve my health goals!


Not only are the shakes great sources of protein, but their overall stats are quite impressive for any health-conscious gal:

80 calories
0g sugar
12g protein
Low Fat
Gluten Free


And I've said it before but it's worth mentioning again that there is no powdery, "diet" kind of flavor here...they truly taste like indulgent milkshakes! Yum!

These shakes have been super helpful to me in snacking smarter, and while they're delicious all on their own, I've come up with a couple of simple ways to help you add some variety and extra flavor to their health benefits by mixing them into some tasty smoothies:

Vanilla Bean Sundae Skinnygirl Protein Tasty Nutrition Shake + frozen pineapple slices + blended over crushed ice = tropical colada smoothie

Rich Chocolate Brownie Skinnygirl Protein Tasty Nutrition Shake + a spoonful of peanut butter + blended over crushed ice = peanut butter cup smoothie

Vanilla Bean Sundae Skinnygirl Protein Tasty Nutrition Shake + a few shakes of cinnamon = vanilla spice smoothie


vanilla spice smoothie
Skinnygirl protein shake four-packs are available for only $5.78 at Walmart and SkinnygirlDaily.com, and will be coming to other retailers soon, so it's easy to give them a try! Visit Skinnygirl Daily on Facebook to share your thoughts on the new protein shakes and how they fit into your lifestyle for a healthy New Year! Be sure to use the hashtag #SkinnygirlProtein. 

I am a Skinnygirl Tasty Nutrition Bar Ambassador (#SGSavvySnacker) and received compensation in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Five on Friday: Christmas edition!

Merry Christmas from M and B! 
I'm sending lots of merry wishes out to all of our readers this Christmas! I'm keeping this short and sweet since I'll be spending the day relaxing with my family, but would love to share 5 special photos from this holiday season with you. Merry Christmas!

 

T and I went all out in getting our first Christmas tree together! A truly awesome tree, Stan always looks regal towering over the pile of glittering presents below.



The December outing of the Brunch Club, where we always exchange silly gifts (see the monkey hat?) and have our own little celebration before going our separate ways for the holidays. 


 

His and hers Christmas cocktails...Fireball and Coke for T, and some Holiday Bubbly for me!


 

Last weekend, I was a bridesmaid in my friend Sarah's gorgeous winter wedding. It was held at a museum, and decorated with Christmas trees that were adorned with handcrafted ornaments created from natural objects found on the museum's grounds!


This was my first holiday season in my new neighborhood, and it already feels like home. T and I took many walks at night and saw plenty of glowing lights! 

 Merry Christmas to you and yours! M and I are doing a fun photoshoot with Idalia Photography tomorrow, so follow us on Instagram to catch some behind-the-scenes glimpses!

Cheers to AprilAmandaJennieKarliRebecca, Katie, Heather, and Tif for hosting today's link-ups!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Party Planner: Herb & Wine Pairing Guide


There's a lot to be excited about and thankful for during the holiday season! We get to catch up with family members, get together with friends, and enjoy quality time with the kids. What makes these big gatherings even better is joining together over delicious food and drinks. 
 
Whether you're throwing a cheese and wine party or hosting a feast with all the fixings, choosing the right wine to accompany your appetizers and entrees can be a challenge. To make it easier, FTD put together an herb and wine pairing guide with thirteen of the most popular herbs. All you have to do is look at the main herbs in your recipe and choose whether you prefer white or red wine. After the party prep is done, the celebration can really begin, accompanied by festive songs, twinkling lights, and lots of holiday cheer!

Herb and Wine Pairing Guide

We love these foolproof pairings and how this guide provides an easy roadmap for any overwhelmed host to plan the perfect menu! We're excited to try some of these suggestions for our holiday celebrations over the next two weeks...which herb and wine combinations are your favorites?
 

Monday, December 21, 2015

DIY Ornament Wreath

The Christmas season always seems to fly by so quickly, but this year I was determined to try to relax and actually enjoy the holidays instead of getting stressed and overwhelmed. One of the ways I was able to accomplish that was by drastically cutting down my DIY project list - while I normally tackle several crafts each year, this year I focused on a few small activities and just one big project...a DIY ornament wreath in metallic shades, with pops of red.


I'm pleased to report that this was way less labor-intensive than I had anticipated, and I was able to easily complete the entire thing on a Saturday morning while watching a corny made-for-TV Christmas movie (my favorite!).

All of the supplies were easy to pick up at my local Dollar Tree and through Amazon Prime. Armed with my glue gun, I was ready to whip up some holiday spirit, and you can too by following just a few simple steps!

Supplies
* Hot glue gun
* Wreath form (I used straw)
* Lots of round ornaments in various sizes (I used a total of close to 80 ornaments and I still wish I had one or two more packs!)



Instructions

1) Remove the tops from all of your ornaments. Using some medium-sized ornaments, glue them to the inside circle of the wreath form with the tops facing up.



2) Repeat the ornament gluing process on the outside circle of the wreath form with the tops facing up.



3) Flip the wreath over - it should look something like this:



4) Now begin gluing the ornaments to the front of the wreath. Be sure to vary the sizes and colors that you use throughout, and fill in any blank spots.



5) You're done! Time to hang it up and admire your handiwork.



This project was a cheap, easy way to satisfy my DIY urge while not taking up too much free time during the busy holidays. Even though I wish I had just a few more ornaments to layer onto the front of the wreath, I'm still really happy with how it turned out and would absolutely make another one next year!

Which holiday craft projects have you tackled this season?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Five on Friday: {December 18, 2015}


Happy Friday Gals! Today marks my last day at work before the holidays so I am more than ready for it to be the weekend already. I just want to thank everyone who reached out and provided support on Wednesday's post. I truly appreciate all of your well wishes and prayers. With all of the craziness of the past couple weeks, I can hardly believe that Christmas is just a week away already. I'm looking forward to taking next week to soak up all of the holiday goodness, but for now, let's jump into my 5 of the week.

Must Try Recipe
via
I'm planning to do lots of holiday baking next week and number one on my list are these amazing looking brownie cookies from Smitten Kitchen. I'm a sucker for a good brownie, but I usually like to bake cookies for Christmas, so this is really the best of both worlds!


 Christmas Card

I was ridiculously late in getting my Christmas cards out this year, but now that they are finally in the mail, I thought I'd share the final result! I ended up designing them myself and then having them printed from Vistaprint. I'm very grateful for super fast shipping seeing as I only ordered them this past weekend and had them mailed out by Wednesday!

Favorite DIY Gift

Every year I like to craft up some homemade DIY gifts and this year my favorite one is the what I'm making for all of the staff in GG's office. I found these fantastic mini stoneware baking pots at AC Moore for a steal of a price (I couldn't find a link online, so be sure to check them out in store), so I've decided to bake everyone an individual pumpkin bread, and gift it in the pot.

Then, just to add a little personal note to the gift, I'm also glitzing up an ornament for everyone thanks to this great (and easy!) Pinterest tutorial - who knew floor polish was so versatile?!



Favorite festive purchase

While doing a little online Christmas shopping at Nordstrom, I came across this glitzy tunic and just couldn't resist - especially thanks to the great price. It just arrived this week, and I can't wait to wear it next week. It's super versatile, plus you can't beat the comfort of a tunic, and thanks to the glitz, it's totally holiday appropriate.



Favorite pics of the week

And last but not least, I couldn't resist sharing my favorite pictures of the week. I work from home 2 days a week, and my girl Fred was extra needy this past week. Normally she can't be bothered with me during the work day, but for some reason she was all about being my little helper. She hopped up onto the chair next to me and was my little assistant for the day.

And this pic of Little M and his cousin just kills me. They were visiting with GG's Aunt this past week, and couldn't get enough of her great big Bernese Mountain Dog, Layla - or as Little M referred to her, "the big bear"!

And that about wraps it up for me for today. I'll be counting down the hours (and minutes) until vacay starts - what are you all up to this weekend?

Cheers to AprilAmandaJennieKarliRebecca, Katie, Heather, and Tif for hosting today's link-ups!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Life Lately


Hey Gals. You may have noticed I've been a little absent lately so I thought I'd check-in and give an update on what's been going on. And if you didn't notice any absence, it's solely because of my amazing co-blogger running the show while I took a little break (love you B- you are truly the best BFF a gal could ask for).

Life has decided to deal some rough cards lately and I'm just finally coming up for a breather. Besides the normal craziness that comes with the holidays and year-end busyness at work, my dad's been having some unexpected health issues that have really taken a toll on my family. We're still waiting on some additional testing scheduled for later this week to get a full diagnosis so I'm not quite ready to share the extent of it yet, but if you all could please keep my family and especially my dad in your thoughts I would be very grateful.  We could use as much positive thinking and prayer as we could possibly get right now.

I'm grateful that the holidays have brought a welcome distraction and after this week I'm off of work for a whole week, so to say I'm looking forward to Christmas would be a huge understatement. On top of trying to spend as much time with my family as possible, we've been able to squeeze in some fun holiday activities with Little M. We've finally introduced the Elf to him and it's really the most adorable thing.
Blue the Elf!
I know the Elf on a Shelf concept has plenty of haters but you can't deny the joy on Little M's face every morning once he finds Blue's new landing spot of the day. Plus having a little bargaining power when it comes to convincing him to eat at mealtime certainly doesn't hurt! This past weekend we also went to our local firehouse where Santa arrived on a train. Seeing as how much Little M loves trains, this Santa visit was a huge hit with him and we even snapped some tear free pictures on his lap!




And finally, just to end things on a fun note, my episode of Wheel of Fortune airs tonight! I'm already cringing at the thought of seeing myself on tv but I promised I'd share the air date, so here it is. So if you're curious to see how I did, don't forget to tune in and watch Wheel tonight! I don't want to give any spoilers, but let's just say I managed to talk to Pat about blogging and glitter, so that in itself is pretty amazing ;)


I know this post is a little more personal than the normal fare around here, so thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a fantastic Wednesday!


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