Saturday, December 31, 2016

Favorite Outfits of 2016

Happy almost New Year! It's so crazy to think that another year has come and gone. 2017 has always seemed like a far away year since it's always been associated with the year I graduate college and somehow time has flown and here we are. Before moving full force into the new year I am planning to take some time to reflect, motivate, and maybe in the process inspire in the coming week as 2017 begins. 

Something semi new to the blog this year was outfit posts and they have quickly become a favorite and I hope y'all feel the same way. Because i never want y'all to feel as though my blog seems materialistic or conceited I try to break up outfit and product posts with advice or inspirational posts. Sharing my style and favorite pieces with y'all in these posts has added a fun new element I hope to continue into the new year. Today, I thought it would be fun to round up some of my personal favorites from this year. As you may be able to tell I am craving adding more color back int my wardrobe once winter ends and I wouldn't mind the tan I had going too! 







 


  

 


 




I hope that y'all have found these posts as a way for me to express my personality through the use of my style. And outfit posts would be nothing if it weren't for Nell! She is constantly behind the lens helping me to bring this content to life while keeping me laughing, telling me when my smile looks forced, and putting up with the harsh Alabama summer heat.

I have no doubt that y'all will be ringing in the new year in style! Cheers to 2017!

Friday, December 30, 2016

What I Gave & Received for Christmas

So sorry for the little hiatus I took over here the past week. I had every intention of having posts go live this week but with my computer out of commission last week that meant I would have had to work on those posts while at my grandparents house over the holiday weekend and I didn't want to take away from time spent with family. This little part of the week off gave me time to work on some assignments I have due when I get back to school and work on some behind the scenes aspects of blogging that take the back burner which was refreshing. I have been doing a lot of brainstorming of what type of posts I want to post as the new year approaches and y'alls suggestions make that so much easier. I am hoping that this semester I can stay on top of blogging (unlike Spring of last year) and that will be a lot easier if I have a general idea of what you're looking for. I have included a survey at the bottom of this post that will allow you to give your input. Please please please fill it out as it helps me so much! 

Now for the real reason you clicked on this post... seeing what I gave for Christmas & What I Received for Christmas and my birthday. My birthday is the day after Christmas so I thought it would be easier to just include those together since they are back to back. I hope that y'all have all had a wonderful holiday season and were able to enjoy it with friends and family. Being in college makes me appreciate the time that we all have together even more than I used to but also makes the reality of heading back to school in a few days that much harder. 

Since over the past couple of year I have found that it is more fun to give than to receive we will start with what I gave for Christmas. This year I wasn't as good as last year about having all my presents wrapped and ready to go way before Christmas but I was still pretty pleased with what I found for people on my list! I am purposefully not including a few things since I haven't exchanged with all of my friends just yet.



Nell: Most of y'all know Nell. She helps SO much with the blog and is typically behind the camera helping me out! I forgot to give her a birthday present so decided she could be like me and experience Christmas and birthday prizes all at once. 
Grace Not Perfection // Leather Tassel Earrings // Body Pillow // Wool Gloves (when we take blog photos she talks about her fingers getting cold so I decided this would be a funny gift to use as a solution)

Kate: Kate is one of my best friends from home. We've been friends since 1st grade and although it's rare for us to get to spend much time together due to being in different places our weekly phone calls have helped us stay close! I got Kate two journaling books this year since we both love a good list and since I have one of the books I thought it would be fun to talk about what we wrote down each week when we call each other. 

Gil: Gil is my brother if you didn't know and shockingly his gift is always he first one I think of. this year I got him a Daniel Wellington watch after taking mental note of the fact that he knew and liked the brand when I received one a few years ago. I also gave him a Southern tide bow tie that is red which works perfect to support Alabama (where he went for undergrad) and Stanford (where he attends law school). Lastly I got him a pair of socks since he had indicated that he wanted some new ones.

Dad: My dad is always the hardest person for me to shop for. This year I got him a bike tool, the Feltul Eagle, designed by one of his friends on his triathlon team. He had talked about how cool it was this summer and before Christmas so when he told me he didn't have one I decided it would be the perfect gift for him.

Mom: Sometimes parents ask for very boring presents and this year my mom did just that. She wanted some new hangers so I got her those as well as the Garden and Gun coffee table book since my whole family LOVES that publication. 

Grandmother: I also gave my grandmother the Garden and Gun coffee table book and a book about succulents since she has a lot at of them at our beach house. My favorite thing I gave her though was an ornament by Evelyn Henson with landmarks for Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama on it. She hung it up right away! 

I didn't come up with anything for my grandfather this year so hopefully I have much better luck next year!

Now for what I received. As I've gotten older I've found that the gifts I want have become more expensive so I was surprised to unwrap so many things that were on my Christmas & Birthday wish list (this post). I am so appreciative of the gifts I received and the time I got to spend with my family to celebrate. 


I received a few other prizes as well and clearly Santa must've thought I was extra good this year! I am excited to put all of these items to good use in the year to come and years after! 

And because I'm totally cool with the idea of getting yourself a prize or two around the holiday season I always treat myself to a new planner although I order it when the new patterns are released in October. I swear by the Day Designer and have the cutest pale pink gingham one for this upcoming year (see how I organize my planner here). I also got myself a new small cross body bag with some Christmas money since I needed something smaller that was good for on the go and am tempted to add the Amazon Echo Dot to my general wish list since I was SO impressed with it when the kids I babysit for were showing it to me.

Here is the survey I created to help me make sure that my posts are catering to your interest! I encourage you to fill it out as I plan to rely on this when coming up with planning for the year to come!

Create your own user feedback survey


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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Flannel, Duckboots, and Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas Eve! The 24th definitely snuck up on me this year but in the best way possible. I feel like each year before the holidays the amount of time you have to get stuff done gets shorter and shorter while the list gets longer and longer. We spend the holidays each year at my grandparent's house which we call the farm and this outfit about epitomizes proper attire for the season. Christmas is relatively casual and when we are spending a lot of time outdoors clothes that are casual, comfortable, and durable are our go to. 

While I wish I could say we have to bundle up to brace the cold in reality it's going to be another hot Christmas in Alabama. Forget sweaters and jackets because vests are about as heavy of a layer as you can bear to wear while bracing the heat. This navy vest makes this flannel look a bit less masculine and more winter ready despite the thermometer reading 70 degrees. Paired with one of my pairs of L.L. Bean Duck Boots and jeans I'm ready for any four wheeler riding or target practice we decide to do. 


 


 

shirt (similar) // vest // jeans // boots // necklace // bracelets ( 1 & 2) & gold and white

As someone who loves planning I also love consistency which I think is why I like traditions so much. While we don't have too many I thought it could be fun to share them on here with hopes that you'll share some of your favorites as well! 

Pre Christmas

Baking // I adore spending time before the holidays baking treats for my family to enjoy. Cookies and cakes and anything else are my favorites and if you feel the same way you'll probably want to check back for tomorrow's post! 

The Farm // The farm is what we call my grandparents house about an hour and a half away. The have around 60 acres with two big fields and ponds and it's where we go for Thanksgiving and Christmas each year. We will be heading that way tomorrow to celebrate the holiday with my family there. 

Christmas Eve
Appetizers & Dinner // Christmas Eve we usually get dressed up to have appetizers and dinner at my aunts house after church/. Usually we have some sort of soup and bread and for the "kids" (the youngest of us is nearly 19) a Christmas tree shaped pizza. This year we are doing the same sort things and this definitely puts us in the Christmas spirit. 

Organizing the Presents // This is something I've done since I can remember. On Christmas Eve we reorganize the living room designating spots for everyone and then I put on my pajamas and sort everyones presents into their spots. Call me crazy but I love doing it and it makes things easier in the morning since we can just go and sit in our spot and our presents are already there. 

Christmas Day
Brunch // After spending the morning in our pajamas enjoying each others company and unwrapping presents we eat a big brunch as a family. While there are too many foods to name pound cakes and kringles are some of my favorites (I definitely have a sweet tooth).

Fireworks // I blame the boys in the family for this one but starting last year Christmas has become our holiday of choice for fireworks. Last year we had some really great big ones and earlier this week my brother and I got to go shopping for this years. We ended up getting a number of big ones so it should provide plenty of entertainment (and noise) to our family Christmas. You could say we are ending the holiday with a bang. 

Day After Christmas
Birthday Cake // Since my birthday falls the day after Christmas the excitement isn't necessarily over on the 25th. One thing that I do pretty much every year is make my own birthday cake. I love to bake and am not the biggest fan of store bought cakes so doing this is fun for me and ensures that it will be delicious. 

New Years Day 
Polar Bear Plunge // You may have herd of this before but if not think of crazy people deciding to go for a swim on New Year's Day. Some of my friends roped me into doing this the past few years and since they live on the bay we just go out on their pier and jump in. They have a designated spot we have to swim to and then dunk our head underwater before we race back to the pier to try to get out of the water as fast as possible. After that we all shower and have hot chocolate or coffee to warm up while we make a traditional New Years Day meal of ham, black eyed peas, and collard greens. 

What are some of your holiday traditions? Do any of ours overlap? 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Iced Sugar Cookies & Rudolph Oreo Truffles

It doesn't quite feel like Christmas until I've started to bake. In high school, I would bake something pretty much every weekend as a way to relieve stress and even since I've found baking to be therapeutic. All of my friends knew to expect some sort of cake, cookie, or cupcake from me on their birthday in addition to a prize and coming home for the holidays and knowing that all of my favorite cookie sheets, wire racks, and decorating supplies are awaiting me still gets me excited. My family has come to expect some of the treats I make over breaks and the dessert table for Christmas has slowly become my domain. A domain I take very seriously because what's better than treats covered in chocolate and filled with as much love as sticks of butter? 

With Christmas movies on in the background this year I got to baking and may have made a few too many cookies. Fortunately, Nell came over and helped me decorate so a number of the cookies ventured home with her to be enjoyed by her family. I usually break up my baking and decorating day just because of how long it can take for the base icing to dry but that gives me plenty of time for me to think about how I want to decorate. 

While I love taking photos of outfits and flat lays for the blog I think in my next life I am bound to be a dessert cookbook photographer because taking and editing these photos is almost as much fun to me as eating the final product. Maybe if I ever find free time there will be a Prep In Your Step cook book but for now hopefully these recipes suffice as you finish up baking before the big day! 


Iced Sugar Cookies

For the sugar cookies I've included the entirely homemade recipe that I use although when I used to host a cookie decorating party I would use the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Bag Mix since I needed to make so many and it was similarly delicious and a bit less messy.

For the sugar cookie dough you will need: 
2 cups unsalted butter (softened)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tsp vanilla (if desired 1.5 tsp vanilla and 1.5 tsp almond extract is delicious too)
2 large eggs
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

Depending on how thick you roll out your cookies this can make anywhere from 25-35ish cookies.

Instructions:
Preheat your over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to appear golden brown. 

- Start by creaming the butter and the sugar together. I use my kitchen aid mixer for all of this. 
- Add eggs slowly and then add vanilla.
- Stir dry ingredients together and then slowly add them to wet ingredients in mixer.
- Allow dough to form by leaving in the mixer for 30 seconds or until the mixture begins to clump and form a dough. 

Once the dough is done I like to put it in the fridge to cool for a bit. Usually by the time I have the kitchen cleaned up and all of my cookie pans are covered in parchment paper the dough is good to go. For cut-out cookies I like to use a marble slab and cover it with flower when pressing out dough by hand. I don't really like using a rolling pan because I find it frustrating when the dough sticks to it but if you've perfected that technique then that should work too. 

-Once you've cut out a cookie put it on a greased cookie sheet leaving it about an inch from the nearest cookie to avoid too much overlap. 
- After filling a tray put the cookies in the oven for about8 minutes and check to see if edges are golden brown. Once they are take the cookies out and allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes to ensure they are firm enough to be picked up..
- Move cookies to wire cooling rack for remainder of cooling. 



For the base icing I use a royal icing recipe that I found online and have modified. I also use a kitchen aid mixer to mix all of these ingredients.

- Take 3 eggs and use just their egg whites. Pour those into the mixer.
- Take one box of powdered sugar and slowly add that to the egg whites while mixing. 
This consistency is usually a bit thicker than I want it to be to coat my cookies so I usually add a splash of milk to thin it just a bit. If you are hoping to have a thicker icing or use this recipe for decorative icing you may want to add more powdered sugar. 

If you want to color this icing I have found that both liquid and gel food coloring work great although if you are adding food coloring you may not need the last splash of milk. The original color of this icing is a great bright white that serves as an excellent base before decorating. 

When it comes to actually covering the cookies in this base icing all I do is take a cookie, flip it over, and dip it flat into the icing making sure to cover it completely. Then, once I know it is covered I slowly lift it out of the icing tilting it so that excess icing all "drains" to one side. I use a kitchen knife and scrape off any of that excess to make sure that it is smooth and doesn't have any bubbles. This icing takes a number of hours to dry so typically if I've done the baking and base icing covering in the afternoon I don't put the cookies away until right before I go to bed. 


For decorating icing I use meringue powder from Wilton. The recipe I use is the one included with the can of meringue powder but I have modified it in order to be a better consistency to flow out of pastry bags. I also use a kitchen aid mixer for this as well.

-Take 3 tablespoons of meringue powder and put it in your mixing bowl.
- Add 4 cups of powdered sugar.
- Start by adding 2 tablespoons of water and begin mixing all ingredients on low. I add at least 4 more tablespoons of water if not 5 depending on how the texture appears. 

Then I separate the icing out into smaller bowls so that I can use many different colors to decorate with. Although it may not seem like that much icing when you separate it out it tends to be plenty for decorating the cookies and I always end up having leftover icing. 

Also just to note, I ue pastry bags when decorating but instead of using specific decorating tips I prefer just cutting a small opening in the bag. 





Although the cookies can be time consuming they are so fun to bake and decorate and you will surely receive tons of compliments when taking them to any holiday party you may be attending! If you are in need of a quicker or easier recipe then here is another one for you, Oreo Truffles. These are delicious, addicting, and don't even require you to use the oven. And best of all, these can look equally festive just by adding some pretzels and icing to have them appear as reindeer. 

Rudolph Oreo Truffles

For this recipe you'll need:
- 1 package of oreos 
- 1 package of cream cheese (softened)
- 4 packages (4 oz each) of semi-sweet Baker's chocolate
- Mini Pretzels


To make these: 
- Using a food processor grind the oreos into a fine powder consistency.
- Combine ground oreos and cream cheese until mixture is moldable.
- Form small balls out of the oreos and then stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes. 

During this time I typically clean up any mess I've made and then begin to melt the Baker's chocolate. I like to do two packs of this at once instead of all four. It melts easier if you go ahead and break it into small squares.

- Microwave the chocolate in 30 second incriminates and stir each time after the timer goes off. 
- Roll oreo truffles into melted chocolate and place on wax paper.
- Before the chocolate hardens place two pretzels on either side to look like antlers.
- Once the chocolate is completely dry put one dot of red icing in the center (I used royal icing from the recipe above) and add eyes (could be icing or small candies).  



Happy Christmas Eve Eve! I hope that y'all are feeling prepped and ready for the big day. We are headed to my grandparents house this afternoon which is where we celebrate Christmas each year so the presents are in the car as are all the sweets and other food we've made. We will be heading back home on Monday (my birthday) and I should be back on schedule with blog posts since I *finally* have my computer back after a week of dealing with it getting fixed. Glad that's over! If you decide to try out either of this recipes I'd love to know what you think! 



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Camel Cape

The weather has finally been cold here in south Alabama and to say I'm a fan would be an understatement. I have found from living in South Carolina that I love actually getting to enjoy all four seasons and winter may just be my favorite season at least until mid February when I get tired of it. 

Because it is inevitable for the temperature to go back up while I'm home, dressing for cold mornings and warmer afternoons is essential. Pairing long sleeve shirts with looser sweaters, especially short sleeve ones like this, has become my go to. In the same way, tall riding boots don't always make the cut when the weather warms up so short booties are a great alternative. I purchased these fringe suede ones from Target of all places and they look nearly identical to a pair Kate Spade released last fall!






cape // jeans // boots // necklace // bracelets ( 1 & 2)

Sometimes I am just not in the mood to wear jeans and when thats the case these J. Crew Factory GiGi pants are a great alternative. They are navy with real pockets so they are dressier than leggings but with that same comfort. They are my go-to pants for student teaching since they are THAT comfy. 

Only a few more days til Christmas! I hope y'all have been able to get all of your Christmas shopping done! I still have a few smaller things to grab which I'll probably get to tomorrow between wrapping presents and finalizing any baking left. Over the past few days I've used more sticks of butter than I care to admit but there is something about baking for the holiday season that makes me think that is a-ok. I'd love to know what you still have left to do before Christmas Eve comes!




Tuesday, December 20, 2016

City Sidewalks

There is nothing better than feeling comfortable when getting dressed in the morning and finding an outfit that encompasses both comfort and style is a serious win. Last year after seeing this poncho on one of my favorite shop's website, Tuckernuck, I knew it would be the perfect piece for cold wintery days where I want to look cute but am not interested in sacrificing comfort. I was ecstatic when I saw that they brought it back again this year and while I styled it a little dressier last year (with heeled booties and a striped shirt) the simplicity of sticking to a grey and white color pallatte didn't seem to take anything away from the look. 

One of my favorite things about this poncho is the fact that it has defined sleeves. 
You wouldn't really think about the necessity of sleeves on a piece like this until you try to put a backpack on, let's just say it could've been a bulky mess without them! Whether lounging at your house or at the table for a holiday meal this poncho is perfectly suitable and comfortable for both occasion!

 



poncho // pants // booties // necklace // bracelets ( 1 & 2) & gold and white

The texture of this poncho is unique in that is has a little cross detail which makes it more visually appealing. I put on my favorite jewelry and some flat grey booties to complete the look without taking away from any comfort. You can bet that this will be heading with me out of town to celebrate Christmas!


Monday, December 19, 2016

Last Minute Holiday Gifts for Everyone on your List

Wanna know something crazy? Christmas is THIS week! I definitely still have a bit to do before I am fully prepared to go out of town to celebrate and snagging some last minute gifts for a few different people is at the top of my list. With the number of days (or hours and minutes as the kids I babysit for like to remind me) before Christmas depleting the amount of time I have to stock up on these gifts is as well. To make this shopping a little bit easier I thought I'd bring some of the fun gift guides I've made to one place to serve as a resource for each of you as you click add to cart & checkout the final few times. 

I was hoping to make a few new guides with ideas you may not have thought about just yet however Saturday morning my computer bit the dust. Fortunately my brother is letting me use his for this post but his patience with me borrowing it will probably soon run thin. Keep your fingers crossed that when I take it in today the computer people have the magic touch to get it up and running again since I'm pretty sure Santa has already figured out what to give me without adding a new computer to that list. These guides will hopefully provide you with a variety of items for any recipient on your list at a range of prices. Keep in mind though that today is likely one of the last days you can order something to come in before Christmas and you'll definitely want to check each website's dates when it comes to shipping just in case! 



Monograms:






Guys:

Beauty: 



Relaxing & Cozy:



Stocking Stuffers for Girls:


Stocking Stuffers for Guys:

 feltul eagle // camp mug // maple syrup // socks // Chipotle gift card // toothpaste // boxers // bean boot keychain // multipurpose key chain // tin scrabble // yeti hugger // hat // flask // cufflinks // shoe fresh // sunglass strap

Whew, did you make it all the way through those? I sure do hope that relieved any gift buying stress you may have had so you can focus on more important things like decorating Christmas cookies and playing your favorite Christmas album on repeat! I'd love to know which of these gifts you hope someone would grab for you?

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