Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Favorite Posts of 2015

I am in disbelief that today is the last day of 2015. I still find myself writing 2014 on various assignments so I am not entirely sure how I am going to adjust to 2016 once I head back to school. A post that I started doing last year that I knew I wanted to do this year was to share my favorite posts that I've written in the past month broken down by month.

This is such a fun way to reflect on all of the different things that have occurred in the past year and how I've grown as a person too.  The weirdest part is that for most of them I can think back to where I was or what was happening in my life while writing the posts and even what inspired them. In all I think 2015 was a big year of personal growth for me. The beginning started out a bit rocky but I found my footing, went on some big adventures, enjoyed being home, and even grew more confident in myself and my endeavors. I've outgrown friendships and formed many new ones and in all have learned the importance on focusing energy on myself instead of directing most of my energy on pleasing others.

I've been able to see and do lots this year including growing my blog and doing some really amazing collaborations with brands that I adore. I have y'all to thank for that and can't tell you how much it means to me that y'all continue to come back and see what I am posting on this project that I started during a stressful Junior year of high school. I am especially grateful that y'all understand when life gets busy and school has to take priority and realize that I would always much rather be blogging!
So before I decide to tell you random things about every month of this year here are some of my favorite posts...


Tips For Becoming A Morning Person




It's Different

Holiday Bucket List

I hope your 2015 has been filled with all sorts of excitement and that you have some fun plans to ring in the new year even if that means being in your pajamas by 8:00 (like I usually am). I would LOVE to know what posts were your favorite that I did this year!

PS my most viewed posts from this year include:
How To Be A GREAT Roommate
How I Study For Tests
Class Must Haves
Agenda Organization Tips and Tricks

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Organization Items to Kickstart Your 2016

As the new year quickly approaches and everyone begins to come up with resolutions it is likely that some goal involving organization may make that list. Being the organization obsessed planner that I am I don't necessarily have to put it on my list because I'll likely feel stressed if things get too messy. Paper products, colorful pens, and acrylic organizers are my weakness and I honestly spend hours picking out and organizing school supplies for a new semester. Since not everyone has these tendencies I thought it would be fun to share with y'all some great organizational items to help kickstart your resolutions in 2016 and make you want to keep them!

desk organizer // planner // cardboard calendar // weekly planning pad // illustrated desk calendar // notepad // hardbound journal // pretty tape dispenser // colorful pens

What is your favorite organization item? 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What I Received for Christmas & My Birthday

After sharing what I gave for Christmas yesterday I thought it would be fun to share what I received for Christmas and my birthday with y'all today. Some of y'all have been asking for this post so I am happy to share it with y'all but want to make sure y'all are aware that this isn't me trying to "show off" and I highly doubt any of y'all would take it that way. You can read about what we did for the holidays in this post. I hope y'all had an equally wonderful holiday with your family and maybe received some of the items on your wish list as well.

We will start with what I received for Christmas since that came first. I've made it easy to shop the gifts by including links to the items beneath the image!

If you want to see almost all of the items I received (including stocking stuffers and other goodies) then feel free to watch the video I made for y'all here.

Now for what I received for my 21st birthday the day after Christmas! 

vase // tassel key chain // vintage cakes book // kate spade all in good taste // kate spade socks // yay glass // champagne gummy bears // day designer (gift to myself) // bitter is the new black

I hope that y'all had a fabulous holiday spent with friends and family as well! I wanna know what your favorite gift was this year?

Monday, December 28, 2015

What I Gave for Christmas

As I mentioned in some previous posts this year I was definitely just as excited about what I was giving for Christmas as what I was receiving! I love shopping for presents for people so this didn't feel like a chore at all to me and starting the shopping early definitely helped eliminate any gift giving stress. Since before Thanksgiving I had been thinking up the perfect gifts that I wanted to give to friends and family and I definitely think I succeeded with most of them. I thought it would be fun to share all of these gifts with y'all before showing you what I received since it's better to give than receive ;).

Sometimes parents can be the hardest people to shop for but this year I came up with a great combined present for both of my parents. I got them Apple TV to use in our living room since my dad is an avid Netflix fan and they are always looking for new shows to watch. Today's mission is setting it up for them but I know it will be a gift they enjoy even if they didn't know it was something they wanted. I also got them individual presents but my dads was left at school so he will be getting that when I come home next or Father's Day. For my mom, I got her a cookbook from a restaurant we love in Greenville! 

Shockingly enough my brother was the first person whose gift I had picked out. He burned a hole in his last Patagonia pullover so I decided to get him a new one this year. Unfortunately it couldn't be a surprise since I needed to ask him what size his was and decided that it would probably be best if he told me his color preference. 

My grandmother had commented about how cute she thought my S'well water bottle was at Christmas and since she is always using reusable cups of some sort I thought getting her her own S'well bottle would be a fun and practical gift. I ended up getting her the wood one and I hope that she gets as much use out of hers as I do out of mine.

The gift I gave my grandfather was probably the most thoughtful of the gifts I gave this year. I went to the same summer camp for 9 years and spent some of those years as a camper and some as a counselor. One of the biggest rewards you can receive from both sides is the honor camper or honor counselor paddle. One year as a camper I received the honor camper paddle and when I brought it home my grandfather kept telling me how great it would look hanging up in one of his cabins. A few summers later I received the honor counselor paddle and the Christmas following that decided to give my grandfather my honor camper paddle. This year, I decided to make him his own paddle and wrote honor grand dad on it. It was such a fun and unexpected gift and I am so glad that I was able to do that for him! 

One of my aunts is coming to visit me this spring and really wanted to go to this great local store in Greenville called We Took to the Woods. They make a variety of great candles right there in Greenville so I decided to get both of my aunts a candle from the store!

For my roommates (I have 3) I decided to get them gold initial mugs from Anthropologie and some cute red and green camp socks from a place called Mast General in Greenville. While it seems a bit impersonal we are all avid coffee drinkers and it was a great gift to get each of them without being too pricey. 

I'm not showing some of the other gifts that I gave my friends since I still haven't given them their presents just yet and I would hate for them to ruin the surprise by checking the blog! Be sure to check back tomorrow to see what I received for both my birthday and Christmas! What was the favorite gift you gave this year?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Best Post-Holiday Sales

As if we haven't had enough materialistic fun this past week some shops are having some amazing after holiday sales! If you're like me and may have received a bit of money from the holidays you can get more bang from your buck for shopping these sales! Be sure to check back as I upload some of my favorites from each sale to make the shopping a bit easier for you! 

extra 25% off sale with code: APLENTY

extra 40% off sale and clearance with code: NEWYEAR

40% off past favorites! This includes my favorite purse which can be purchased here

40% off winter styles with code: SHOPNOW

30% off new arrivals with code: SALETIME

extra 25% off sale with code: THRILL

50% off everything with code: HOLIDAY50

extra 30% off sale with code: YOUWIN

It's the half-yearly sale with items up to 50% off! It's a must shop

30% off your online order with code: ENJOY

20% off sale with code: Extra20

100s of items recently added to the sale section

10% off with code: Polar Express

extra 30% off sale with code: MERRY

Let me know if you pick anything up!!

Step Into My Week {Christmas & Birthday}

What a fun week! I definitely spent the beginning of the week attempting to get all of the Christmas out of my system in time for the holiday! From baking to traveling to spend time with family I think I accomplished that! Also, how odd is it that this is the last"step into my week" of 2015, I feel like I just got used to writing 15 on things instead of 14 and here we are jumping to 2016 I guess time really does fly when you're having fun! Fortunately this "Step Into My Week"is extra fun filled with lots of photos from before Christmas, Christmas, my birthday and everything else from this past week! 

One of my friends, Macy, is a deb this year (you may remember her from this post) and had a champagne brunch party last weekend that I attended with her sisters. It's always so fun for us to all be back on holiday breaks and it definitely feels as though we've never left! 

The next day Bowen (pictured far left above) and I went on a long bike ride to catch up. I've always loved where I live but biking along the boardwalk by the bay makes me appreciate it that much more! Plus accidentally going 10 miles because we were catching each other up on life is no complaint either!

The next few days were spent working on sorority stuff and prepping for the holidays! If you need some fun recipes there are 2 fun ones that I swear by in this post


Then it was time to load up the car and head to my grandparents house for the holidays. We go there pretty much every year and this year both of my aunts and their families were there as well which was fun since Thanksgiving there were only 5 of us and this holiday there were 11 of us! We always joke that my Hyundai Santa Fe becomes Santa's Sleigh when we put all of the Christmas presents in it! Somehow we all must've been on the nice list! 

I'll be sharing what I gave for Christmas (as well as what I received) this week but my joke gift to the family definitely is high on the list of my favorites. We always give joke gifts on Christmas Eve and I ordered two of these Santa's Flask for my family. They are stocking shaped wine bags of sorts and they will now be my go-to gift for dirty santa! We even set up the Elf on the Shelf to make it seem as though he enjoyed the prize too! 

Christmas morning we woke up and started opening presents at around 7:30 and I'm semi embarrassed to say that I still have trouble sleeping through the night on Christmas Eve. My brother and I needed to take photos for our New Years Card (that's code for putting off your Christmas card…) and ended up also taking a few family photos. A selfie stick photo was also thrown into the mix and provided some entertainment on Christmas morning. The only downside of Christmas was that it was in the mid 70s which is a major bummer when you love colder weather! 

The day after Christmas is my birthday and this year was my 21st. We celebrated at my grandparent's house with a brunch and then came home after that so I could celebrate with some friends that night. It's always hard having your birthday over a holiday since it's harder to get a group of friends together and you aren't with all of your school friends. We made the most of it and went to a delicious dinner and then came back to my house for champagne and cake!

The remainder of today will be spent on the couch (currently with coffee) watching the Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family that I am just convinced is in honor of my birthday…(a girl can dream) while working on blog posts! Be sure to stay tuned for some fun upcoming posts to finish the year out strong and start the new year on the right foot. I hope you all had a wonderful week spent celebrating with your friends and family! 


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday Baking with Two Fun Recipes

Nothing screams Christmas quite like making the kitchen extra messy and making up for it by making it smell extra yummy. In high school I would bake something pretty much every weekend since I found it to be such a great stress reliever and maybe that's one reason I love baking so much when I come home from school for breaks. Around Christmas I feel like I have an excuse to since we usually take a lot of food with us when we head out of town for the holidays. Some of my personal favorites to make as of late are iced sugar cookies, oreo truffles, and any kind of cake. Today I'm sharing recipes for my iced sugar cookies and oreo truffles in case you have any last minute baking to accomplish. 


For the sugar cookies I've included the entirely homemade recipe that I use although if I am being honest and am in a hurry or need to make a lot of cookies I'll use the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Bag Mix. While I'd prefer to make them entirely from scratch this cookie mix tastes equally delicious and makes things a little 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.

Preheat your over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cookies for 10-12 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 greased 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.

-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 about 10 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 about 10 minutes.
- 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. 

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.

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
- Festive Sprinkles

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 in 30 second incriminates and stir each time. 
- Roll oreo truffles into melted chocolate and place on wax paper.
- Before the chocolate hardens put sprinkles on top or if you'd like to you can put crushed oreos on top too. 

Have you tried either of these types of recipes before? 
Let me know your favorite things to bake over the holidays below and maybe I'll try some of those recipes out in the near future! 

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