Monday, December 30, 2013

Sara Is: December 2013

Can y'all believe it's the end of December already?? Not just that, it's the end of the YEAR! Crazy! I always say I can't believe how the time has flown by, but wow. 2014 already.

Here's what I've been to into the last month.

Drinking: Water. Boring, right? I don't know why, but I've been drinking tons of water everyday lately. And even on days when I can't get a lot of water in me, I make up for it as soon as I can. I love this 24 oz. tumbler I got from Starbucks. If I can get two to three of these in me everyday, I'm good.
Eating: Sugar. Yeaahhh.... C'mon, it's Christmas time. Time for cookies and brownies and ginormous Rice Krispies treats. Am I proud of this sugar consumption? Not necessarily, but I have to keep up with tradition...

Listening to: "Holding on for Life" by Broken Bells. James Mercer and Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton. This is the single from their new album, "After the Disco", that comes out in February. They have an alternative sound. I'm bad at describing things, so you can listen to it on iTunes.

Loving: Stud earrings. I'm really digging stud earrings over dangles and hoops. A fun stud paired with a smaller, more simple one in my second hole, and I'm set.

Not loving: The weather. You guys. It was 70 degrees a couple of days ago. And a week or two before that, it was snowing. What's going on? I LOVE the 70 degree weather, don't get me wrong, but not as I'm wrapping Christmas gifts (which I wasn't really doing because I just finished that stuff a few minutes ago).

Reading: "Deadly: A Pretty Little Liars Novel" by Sara Shepard. Don't judge me here, but these are actually pretty interesting novels. I mean, who doesn't like a good teenage murder/stalker story?

Wanting: A black cable knit sweater. Like this one. I have the light brown one and I love it. They're on sale for only $20, so grab them while you can! I may or may not have just ordered the black one......
Wearing: Essie's "Shearling Darling". Have I told you how much I love this nail polish? Because I do. It's like a deep red/maroon that looks black in low lighting and brown in other lighting and red in other lighting. It's amazing. I don't know how long it'll be available since it's part of the winter collection, but I might have to pick up another bottle just in case.

What are you guys into right now?

Photos taken by Sara and edited with A Beautiful Mess. I'm not affiliated with any of the companies or products. I'm just a fan. :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Chex Mix

Every year, there's some type of work shindig that requires me to bring food of some sort, and of course I lean toward the dessert side of things. I usually make this Chex Mix "Puppy Chow" or "Muddy Buddies", but this time I put a different spin on it.

I saw this YouTube video and instantly knew I had to make this. I mean, it has Nutella in it. Need I say more?

Here's what you'll need:
- 9 cups rice Chex cereal (You could also use corn and/or chocolate Chex)
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup Nutella
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Here's what you do:

1. Measure your cereal and put it aside in a big bowl.

2. Melt your chocolate chips, Nutella, and butter until smooth. You can microwave it in 30 second increments, or use a double boiler, like I did. Once everything is melted, stir in the vanilla.

3. Pour the mixture over your cereal and gently stir it together until everything is evenly coated. Be careful not to break up the cereal! My chocolate mixture wasn't smooth like it's been when I've made this before, but it still coated the cereal just fine.

4. After it's all coated with chocolate, pour it into a large zip lock bag, add the powdered sugar, seal the bag (this part is very important!), and shake to your heart's content!

After everything is coated with the powdered sugar, I usually pour the mixture out on some wax paper to let it cool down and to get some of the moisture out.

And voila! You're done!
This was the first time I've used Nutella instead of peanut butter, and I couldn't really taste a difference, but it was still delicious! Seriously, you'll be lucky if you don't eat it all before you take it to your party.

 If you make this, show me! Post your pictures on Instagram and hashtag it #BTPuppyChow so I can see!

Until next time,

All photos by Sara and edited with Afterlight and A Beautiful Mess.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sara's Top 5: Last Minute Gift Ideas

Yup. It happens to the best of us. We forget someone or we run out of time and realize we need a gift for our sister's boyfriend's cousin's father. But have no fear - there's always something out there to pick up last minute. And they won't even know you scrambled all night to put it together.

These are some go-to ideas I tend to hover toward when I'm looking for something for someone I might not know as well, or for someone I'm not overbuying for.

1. A "Make your own drinks" bundle. A cute mug, drink mixes, and something sweet. I like peppermint bark. You can also go the easier route and pick up an already made set, like this one from Starbucks.

2. The "Ultimate Man Cave" package. A nice bottle of his favorite beer or wine, some scratch off lottery tickets (who doesn't love scratching those things??), and some food. Sounds good to me.

3. I don't know about you, but not enough people write letters these days. And I mean snail mail, postage stamp, handwritten letters. If you know someone on the more sentimental side, try a cute stationery kit, a pretty pen, a book of stamps, and some cute stickers! Help them keep in touch with their loved ones and keep that USPS running! The recipient (and your mail carrier) will thank you!

4. I tend to like making "goodie bags", instead of doing it up super big. I love a great make up bag, or clutch filled with fun goodies. I found adorable single Revlon eye shadows at Ulta that connect to make the perfect pallet! Throw in a lip gloss, nail polish, blush, etc. and your girl is ready for all those holiday parties!

5. A gift card. I know, I know. Gift cards aren't the most creative things to give, but seriously. If you know your pal LOVES Starbucks, or goes to Target at least twice a week and buys sweaters and make up and cute iPhone case she's been eyeing up, then just go with a gift card. Pair it with a yummy snack or cute wallet, and you're good to go!

Good luck!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Courtney's Top 5: Stocking Stuffers

It's more fun to give than to receive, so let's stuff those stockings!

1. Nail Polish: What girl doesn't love a stylish new nail color? Revlon is winning with the winter hues this year! Cayenne looks gorgeous!

2. Tea: It's the time of year for curling up with a blanket and drinking something warm. I've always been a fan of Bigelow's teas. They're affordable and full of flavor. Another perk: each bag is individually wrapped. If you have multiple stockings to fill, split up the tea bags and pack them in sheer, sachet bags (available at craft stores).

3. Hand Sanitizer: No matter what line of work your recipient is in, they can use a mini hand sanitizer! The seasonal scents at Bath & Body Works make this little gifty feel more festive. Plus they're 5 for $5.00 — a very stuffable price! ;)

4. Eurasia Cafe Frac Packs: Sample bags of Eurasia Cafe's Signature Medium coffee. This is my favorite coffee. Any of my friends who have tried this blend all use the same word to describe it: smooth. It's a fantastic breakfast blend — full bodied and sweet. You can buy Frac Packs for $2.00 a piece, or a case of 24 for $40.00 (an excellent party favor option!). Plus, when you order from Eurasia Cafe, your coffee dollars are helping to fight extreme poverty, human trafficking, refugee displacement, and more.

5. Travel Size Items: Shopping the travel-size aisle will help stretch your Christmas budget and help fill your stocking to the top! Most items are between $1 – $3. The selection usually varies from store to store, so don't assume Target will have the same things as Walmart!

What are you favorite goodies to find in your stocking?

♥ Courtney

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Courtney Is: Loving Winter

Most people don't like winter. It's a time of extra clothing, chilly wind, chapped lips, and grey skies. Not me. I LOVE winter! 

I love the crunch of the frozen ground beneath my favorite pair of boots.

I love mittens. 

I love naked trees.

I love being ushered into the coffee shop by a frigid wind, then wrapping my frozen fingers around my gingerbread latte.

I love winter skies with leaden clouds that randomly sprinkle snow.

I love sweaters, Christmas, and cookies.

I love winter.

What's your favorite season?

♥ Courtney

All photos taken by Courtney.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November: Concerts, Coffee, and Leaves

What were some highlights for you in November?

Sara and kicked off the month by attending Toby Mac's Hits Deep Tour. It was such a fun evening!

Artists that performed were Jamie Grace (above), Colton Dixon, Capital Kings, 
Chris August, Mandisa . . .

. . . Brandon Heath — one of my favorites!  . . .

. . . and Toby Mac & the Diverse City Band. 

It was an evening full of dance-until-you-drop music and confetti cannons! You cannot have a bad evening when confetti cannons are involved — trust me on this.

We got to meet Brandon Heath, Jamie Grace, and Mandisa after the show.
An unexpected and awesome way to end the night!

Gingerbread Lattes have returned! Yummy to drink, and pretty to look at!
What's your favorite winter drink?

We put our Christmas tree up. I know it was early! But Thanksgiving was late this year, and I wanted to enjoy my tree! 

Meet Hector, guardian of the candy canes. He has a pretty mean 'stache.

Fall brought some gorgeous shades of red this year . . .

. . . as well as some beautiful photo opportunities. 

I had a lovely Thanksgiving, and a November full of fun times.
How about you?

♥ Courtney

All photos taken by Courtney on the iPhone and edited with Instagram. 

Sara Is: November 2013

Drinking: Nonfat lattes. Yup. Still. Drinking. Them.
Eating: Greek yogurt. I still don't get this whole craze, but since it's really the only option at most places, I don't really have a choice, do I?
Listening to: Capital Kings. I saw them perform a couple of songs live and really enjoyed them! I'd say they're electronic pop - super catchy!


Loving: Victoria's Secret's PINK "Wild at Heart" Body Mist. Whoa. A combination of red passion fruit and sheer musk. My only problem with it is that the scent doesn't last long enough!


Not loving: Shoppers who complain. It's that time of the year again where people fight over the latest toys and get very frustrated when stores don't have what they're looking for. I work retail, people. Trust me on this one, there are much more important things in life than that $10 t-shirt not ringing up on sale.

Wanting: For my nail polish to not chip one day after I paint them. Can you say girl problems??

Wearing: These studded flats from Payless. I needed a new pair of black flats, but the little studs convinced me I needed some extra oomph in my life. They're great to wear casually or to dress up an outfit a little bit.

What are you into right now?

Photos from here, here, here. I'm not affiliated with any of the products  or companies mentioned. I'm just a fan. :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope you have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy your time with your friends and family!

♥ Courtney and Sara

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What I'm Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Can you believe it's that time of the year already?? And Christmas is right around the corner!!!

This Thanksgiving, I just want to take a sec and think about a few things that I'm really grateful for. I definitely don't do this enough, and wish I didn't just do it once a year.

Mom and Dad: Who knows where I'd be without my mom and dad??? Literally! My parents adopted me as a tiny baby, so I really don't know where I'd be if I hadn't been lucky enough to get the parents I got. I wouldn't want any other life!

The Bestie: I only wish I'd met Courtney sooner in my life. We have so much in common, and I love that I can talk to her about anything (And we would've had an AWESOME time together as kids playing with Barbies and sharing toys).

Food: I guess I mean this half jokingly, because I really do loves me some food, but really, I'm grateful I get to eat multiple meals everyday. I take it for granted when I look in the fridge and
"there's nothing to eat."

Baseball: Okay, maybe this one isn't so important, but I love that I get to watch baseball everynight during the season and go to games. It has such a calming effect on me, and since I go to a lot of games with my dad, it's fun to spend the time with him.

Sweaters- I've been loving the chunky cable knit sweater trend this fall and winter, but again, I'm truly thankful I have the life that allows me to wear nice clothes and stay warm. Clothing seems like such a given, but I know they're not easy to get for some.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sara's Simple Pleasures: Red Cups

It doesn't take much to make me laugh or smile. Really. A surprise piece of chocolate, last minute coffee runs, a random smile, an Orioles win (or Red Sox loss)... I could go on and on.

Even on a bad day, it's nice to try and find that one little thing that makes it a little better.

And so I bring you today's bit of happy: Starbucks' red cups.

Seriously. That's when you know it's Christmas time. And I love it. I also love the peppermint mochas or peppermint hot chocolates inside those cups.....


Photo by Sara

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Technology Tuesday?

So, this is the unofficial official Technology Tuesday... I promised myself I wouldn't do this, but I just can't help myself.

Courtney introduced me to this app called "Cartwheel by Target" and it's pretty awesome. You can search categories and find a deal on tons of products.

Then, when you go to check out, have the cashier scan the barcode on your phone, and if you have an eligible product, the register takes off the discount! Pretty cool, huh?

I shop at Target SOOOO much, so I like to check the app every so often to see what new deals there are, since they change a lot. Check it out and see what you can find!

Have fun and happy shopping (and saving!)!


I'm not affiliated with Target, the Cartwheel app, or any products, I'm just a loyal customer. :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Let's Catch Up.....

How was your October?

Mine felt like August! I should be wearing boots in this picture! The weather finally turned chilly towards the end of the month, but it's like we skipped autumn and went straight to winter! But I like my nose pink and a cup of hot cocoa in my hand, so I'm not complaining. 

I sewed a skirt from a large, men's dress shirt! The skirt needs a few more tailoring tweaks before it's photography worthy, but it IS wearable! This was a huge accomplishment for me, as most of my garment sewing ends up in the scrap bin. I also discovered that a white crayon is a fantastic substitute if your dress maker's pencil decided to go on vacation without permission.....

My favorite barista is back! She is so incredibly nice, and makes each customer feel like they are number one. Plus she makes the best cappuccinos — extra foam, every time!

My Dad had a birthday! I always bake him a fancy-smancy cake or pie. This year I baked Boston Cream Cupcakes from this recipe. There were a lot of steps, but they were fairly easy to make. 

The finished product! They were promptly devoured. 

I've been on a tea kick lately. It's a fall thing. 

Sara surprised me with this amazing trail mix! It's addictive. And those innocent looking chocolate-covered coffee beans? They pack quite the caffeine punch!

Sushi! So. Good. 

Coffee and cookie runs with Sara are always highlights in my week. They usually result in laughing until my sides hurt. 

Lattes and letter writing: a perfect way to spend a chilly, autumn afternoon!

What were some highlights of your October? What are you looking forward to this month?

♥ Courtney

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone!
I hope you guys have a spooky day and get lots of fun treats!
Be safe out there and eat LOTS of candy (I know I am!)!
What are you guys dressing up as??

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Serving Spoon

I just got back from another trip to Wisconsin — this time on a happier note! One of the greatest things about visiting Marinette, WI, is that you are a five minute drive from Michigan — two states for the price of one! Menominee, MI, sits right on the water with the most wonderful, historic downtown.

On chilly mornings, one of the best things to do is head to The Serving Spoon — a wonderful coffee shop/cafe in a quaint, old house located in the middle of First Street.

You'll be greeted by a vibrant, warm atmosphere — buy your coffee at the counter and head to the back room with a good book, or let them seat you for the most fabulous, homey breakfast!

Start with some of the best coffee I have ever had. I drank a minimum of three cups. Every. Time.

The prices are extremely reasonable. My usual was coffee, one egg and toast, and an order of hash browns or bacon.

The Serving Spoon is full of decor that makes it truly welcoming and unique: the giant silver spoon above the coffee counter, the rough and well visited wooden floor, tables made from antique, iron sewing machine bases, a collection of vintage percolators on a shelf, the sugar and cream bar from a repurposed desk, and local artist's painting and jewelry available for purchase.

Be sure to grab a fancy coffee drink to go — because they are AMAZING! The baristas truly take their time to handcraft your drink. You will have to wait longer than 2 minutes — which makes me wonder what I've been consuming at a well known coffee chain . . .

"Like" The Serving Spoon of Facebook for menu updates and news. A truly wonderful cafe — I guarantee you'll be in love after one visit!

♥ Courtney

All photos taken by Courtney.