December 2012 archive

Thoughts :: A trip and a life-changer

A few weeks back I had a “first” (and a pretty exciting one I might add). I visited New York for the first time! I was invited to be a judge in the Sterling Wine Ultimate Host Challenge and was flown in (with 2 other guest judges) to New York for the finale event — which I was pretty excited about!

Here’s a quick photo recap of the highlights. I only had a day and half to explore, but thanks to a friend for a “must see” list, my feet covered a lot of ground!

Sterling Ultimate Host 2012

The event itself was great! Here I am above (left) with judges Kristen of Dine and Dish (center) and Aryka of The Fab Femme. Kristen was a great pal to explore the city with! She led me to the best pizza in town and was a fabulous walking companion :). On the right is the main host and judge, Padma from Top Chef.

The first morning I was there, I woke up and decided to go explore in search of coffee and breakfast. I came across this Christmas tree in the middle of Madison Square Park. I sat there and just took it in.

Then I found breakfast. What? These can be breakfast in my book. I had to bring some home too, so good!

Next I discovered the best prop-shop I have ever seen; Fishs Eddys. If I lived in NYC I would be broke. This store has all of the vintage and unique kitchen finds a girl could dream about.

I was able to quickly spend a small fortune and have the goods shipped back home. I just wish I would have grabbed some of these vintage linens (ah, well next time!).

 

After much more exploring and a great dinner, we had to see “The Tree.” It was stunning!

 

The next morning I was on my own and I walked my little heart out. I headed to this young designer’s market to see if I could find any unique treasures or gifts (there was plenty of both).

Perhaps one of my favorite spots was Eataly. I only managed to grab only this one photo because I was immersed and taking it all in. I cannot wait to go back.

I couldn’t leave the city without stopping at Shake Shack. As I sat devouring  enjoying my burger and shake I watched this woman filming an exercise video in the park. On a workout bike. Go figure!

 

On my route back to my hotel I grabbed a few souvenirs for my girls and a cupcake from this adorable sweets truck.

And then it was time to head home. After a whirlwind day and a half I looked out my car window to catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty. I felt so in the moment and grateful for the experiences I had just enjoyed.

Eager to get home to my family and share my awesome trip with them, I landed on the west coast only to get life shattering news (I’m okay). The kind that grabs a hold of your gut and threatens to never let go. I almost did not share these photos as I felt the trip was “tainted.” However, I realized that would do nothing to change things. I am thankful I was able to enjoy the trip and look forward to the future when I feel that same joy and gratefulness.

I hope you enjoyed these photos and I hope to share more travel pictures soon. xoxo

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DIY: Jingle Drink Stirrers

 

Looking for a quick way to add some festivness to your holiday drinks and cocktails? These Jingle drink stirrers are super simple to make. Your guests will love the little “jingle” when you serve them up a beverage :).

 

 

See the full DIY steps over on DietPepsi.com today!

For festive holiday drinks to serve, try one of these or these. Cheers!

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FREE Holiday Printables with HP

This week is all about last minute holiday prep (are you in this same boat?). One way to add some quick style to your holiday season is by incorporating holiday printables. What I love about printables is that they are an easy (and often free) way to give some style to your table setting, food display or gift wrapping. Simply print and you’re ready to go — simple! Look at this darling table setting by The Party Dress.

The addition of a simple printable name tag puts the finishing touches on the tablescape. I suggest using printable name cards (like the ones shown here) to direct guests to their seats. Place them on the napkin, directly on the plate or even attach them to the  chair backs. Be creative!

 

Download these FREE holiday printables from The Party Dress here. There are several holiday printable you can incorporate. Like these straw flags (perfect for holiday cocktails!).

And these gift tags that are perfect for holiday favors and gifts.

For more FREE holiday printables, see these cute milk & cookies printables  I shared last week.

 

 

This holiday season, let loved ones know how much you care. Use your favorite photos to create something personalized and unique for everyone on your list. Make it memorable. Make it meaningful. Make it matter. Go to hp.com/holiday for inspiration and ideas.

 

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by HP via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of HP.

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Nutella Cream Cheese Danishes

What could be better than a  warm, gooey breakfast? Not much in my book. Last week, I kicked off the Pepperidge Farm   PuffectionTM  Holiday Entertaining Challenge, and whipped up this recipe for Blueberry Cheescake Danishes — they were delicious! This week, I’m putting a kid friendly twist on this recipe.

Nutella Danish

I created the same cinnamon sugar danish and then filled it with a cream cheese and Nutella center. YUMMY.

Nutella Danish

The flaky danish paired perfectly with the creamy center. This would make a great Christmas morning breakfast (bonus is that they are super simple and fast to make).

Nutella Danish Recipe

Pile them high on on a cake stand Christmas morning. Just be warned: they won’t last long!

 

Nutella Cream Cheese Danishes

Ingredients

Vegetable cooking spray

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

5 tbsp. granulated sugar

1/4 of an 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

All-purpose flour

1 pkg. (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed

2 tbsp. butter, melted

1/4 cup Nutella

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

3 tsp. milk

1/4 cup sliced almond, toasted (for topping, optional)

To Make

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with the cooking spray.

2. Stir the cinnamon and 4 tablespoons granulated sugar in a small bowl. Stir the cream cheese and remaining sugar in a small bowl.

3. Sprinkle the flour on the work surface. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on the work surface. Brush the pastry sheet with half the butter. Sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar mixture. With the short side facing you, cut the pastry sheet lengthwise into 6 strips. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet, making 12 in all.

4. Twist 1 pastry strip then coil into a spiral. Place the pastry onto the baking sheet. Brush the end of the spiral with the remaining butter and tuck tightly under the bottom of the pastry. Repeat with the remaining pastry strips. Place 1 teaspoon cream cheese mixture and 1 teaspoon Nutella in the center of each pastry.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Let the pastries cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

6. Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and milk to create a glaze. Drizzle on top before you serve.

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Be sure to visit the Puffection TM tab on the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Facebook page and share your own holiday Puff Pastry recipes, and http://www.puffpastry.com for more recipes, tips and how-to videos

Disclosure: Pepperidge Farm has provided me with a stipend for my time and materials invested in the Pepperidge Farm® Puffection TM Holiday Entertaining challenge, as always thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Milk and Cookies Party + FREE Printables!

I love the idea of hosting children’s’ holiday parties. Little ones are so excited this time of year that I think it brings out the kid in us all. From treats to gifts, crafts, fun gatherings and traditions — what’s not to love about holiday time?

One darling children’s’ holiday party idea is to host a milk & cookies party. You can go all out and invite several children over or simply set a little milk & cookie station up for your own kiddos like I’ve done here.

Milk and Cookies Party

I started with these darling Milk & Cookies printables designed by Jenn of HWTM. Printables are a simple way to incorporate a theme into your party or desert table and these paper printables can really tie it all together.

milk and cookies party

I filleed glass bottles with milk and added festive wasi tape to add a little flair.

christmas printable party decor

Simple stacks of cookies tied with baker’s twine and embellished with a printable tag make for cute presentation (and also simple take-home favors!).

Snowmen cookies

Homemade or store bought cookies are easy to display on cake stands or solid colored plates. Just use what you already have in your kitchen.

To adorn these red velvet cookies, I hot glued a couple of jingle bells to a lollipop stick. Super simple and a fun way to add a little jingle to the party!

Be sure to check out the complete Milk & Cookies printable collection over on Hostess With The Mostess (you can even download for FREE!).

 

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   This holiday season, let loved ones know how much you care. Use your favorite photos to create something personalized and unique for everyone on your list. Make it memorable. Make it meaningful. Make it matter. Go to hp.com/holiday for inspiration and ideas.

 

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by HP via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of HP.

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Football fever & a simple (perfect) dip

Many of our winter weekends include gathering with friends and family watching football (and eating yummy food!). Often we gather in our home, cozy on the couch to watch the big game. These weekends are great, however the real excitement happens when we get out and tailgate! Sporting our fan gear, preparing some football food and packing up the car — always leads to a good time.

I’ve gathered some inspiration for your next tailgate event (indoors or outside):

Football Party Ideas

 

Football Pizza // Football SubwayPrintable // Football Brownies // Velveeta & Rotal Dip (recipe below)

Cheesy Party Dip

 

This dip is a go-to for “Sunday Fun Day” game-day tailgates (even if it’s in your living room). I like serving dips in individual sized portions. Here, I’ve simple used stemless martini glasses as the vessel to serve the dip. Easy to hold and you get use out of glasses you already have, score!


 

Ingredients

1 can (10 oz each) Ro*Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained

1 pkg (16 oz each) Velveeta® Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 Jalapeno, diced (if you like it a bit spicy)

 Directions

Combine undrained tomatoes and cheese in medium saucepan.

Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until cheese is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently.

Top with diced jalapenos.

Serve warm as a dip with tortilla chips, crackers or cut-up fresh vegetables. I like to serve it with pita chips.

 see original recipe here

What are your favorite tailgaiting recipes? I’d love to know!

 

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The creamy, cheesy taste of Velveeta pairs with fresh and spicy RO*TEL for a delicious Queso Dip perfect for any occasion! Plus, I love how simple it is to whip up (bonus: it will delight all of your football fans in attendance)!

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by RO*TEL and Velveeta via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of RO*TEL and Velveeta.

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