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.