Friday, December 20, 2019

Stocking Stuffers To Arrive Before Christmas

Whew, we made it! This is my last gift guide of the season, and it has been a labor of love for sure. With a more hectic end of the year than I expected, some went live later than I wanted, and there’s always room for additional categories, but I sure hope that the ones that did go live were helpful for y’all! We are rounding out the shopping season with my favorite part of Christmas present, my stocking. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but at one point I had a conversation with my family about how much I love opening my stocking and how I would love for more useful items to fill it. I will gladly receive hair ties, my favorite laundry detergent, toothpaste, and socks despite the bad wrap some of those items may get. 

Most of the items below are from Amazon, practical, yet still fun to receive. Go ahead and fill your cart to stuff family member’s stockings! 

If you happen to spot any items that you’re interested in giving or receiving, click directly on the product in the image below to be taken to where it can be shopped! 

And if you haven’t checked them out already, be sure to take a look at the following gift guides for even more ideas:

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Gifts For The Jet Setter

The holidays are, without a doubt, one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Luckily, I am in driving distance of my destination, which means that I can load up my car with anything I could imagine needing and hit the road without being concerned about breakables or the weight of my luggage. I know that may not be the case for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give them a gift that they will LOVE traveling with. Today’s gift guide contains great ideas for any of those people on your list that always seem to be jet setting somewhere new. And I can’t post this without mentioning (yet again) how much I love my Ostrich Pillow and how everyone who has a flight booked in the coming year needs one. 

If you happen to spot any items that you’re interested in giving or receiving, click directly on the product in the image below to be taken to where it can be shopped! 

And if you haven’t checked them out already, be sure to take a look at the following gift guides for even more ideas:

Our House Decorated For Christmas

It’s a bit ironic that I am posting this today since now I am home-home (aka Fairhope) for the holidays instead of soaking up the holiday season in Birmingham. I really wish I had had more time to enjoy the holiday season in Birmingham, but it’s good to be with my family. 



 Even with the short amount of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas in Birmingham, I still wanted our house to feel festive and decorated with a tree, lots of garland, and even more lights. I filmed the process which took *much* longer than I had anticipated and thought it would be fun to share it with y’all. Blown out fuses, a slight meltdown, and a re-lit tree later, it was all worth it in the end! I hope y’all enjoy this look at our décor and be sure to watch the video at the bottom of this post for more of the behind the scenes. 

Be sure to check back this afternoon for another new blog post! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Perfect Pair of Christmas Pajamas

No matter the season, I feel like my pajama set collection is pretty impressive. My roommate once told me that if she picked up any habit from living with me, it was an appreciation of matching pajamas, and that felt like quite the compliment. Sometimes I feel like I have more Christmas pajamas than nights to wear them though (talk about a great problem to have). And while that’s definitely an exaggeration, I can’t help but add a new pair each year after seeing all the cute patterns and styles available. Some of my favorite Christmas pajamas are from the brand Sant and Able, which I’ve talked about plenty of times on my blog and Instagram. This year I’ve basically been living in their cute candy cane set, and I was thrilled when they announced last year that they were available to be purchased on Nordstrom’s site. I wore their Christmas zebra pajamas and reindeer shorts set well past Christmas and fully intend to do the same thing this year. Plus, if you head to my Instagram today, you’ll be able to enter to win your own pair of Sant and Able pajamas, which is really exciting! 


In addition to the ones I own from Sant and Able, both Lake Pajamas and J.Crew have some quality options that have lasted year after year. If you’re on the hunt for Christmas pajamas, don’t sleep on it and go ahead and order them ASAP. I’ve included some of my favorite finds from this year below. All you have to do is click directly on them in the image below to be taken to where they can be purchased. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Great Gifts Under $50

We are nearing the home stretch of shipping dates that guarantee delivery by Christmas which means if you’ve put off your holiday shopping it’s either now or in-store. Judging by how much traffic has been headed to our malls as of late I much prefer shopping from the comfort of my home. Today’s gift guide covers anyone you may be shopping for that you’re hoping to spend $50 or less on and even gives you great ideas for people who may be asking you for a few more items you have on your wishlist! 

If you happen to spot any items that you’re interested in giving or receiving, click directly on the product in the image below to be taken to where it can be shopped! 

Winter Bucket List

Although I know that Winter doesn’t officially begin until Sunday, I couldn’t hold off on sharing my holiday & winter bucket list any longer. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of crossing something off a to-do list to motivate me to do it! Luckily all of these activities are festive and fun, which means that it won’t take long to choose an activity and get to it. I hope that this holiday and winter list does the same thing for you! 

I have to admit that I may have put down some tasks I’ve already done on this list, although there are still things left that I want to accomplish. It’s easy to cross off the Christmas related to-dos for me, but sometimes I find myself less motivated to enjoy Winter activities. There is something about Christmas time that makes cold weather seem more bearable, and after that, I find that I am not nearly excited about winter (and that’s coming from someone in Alabama with such a mild winter). I’d love some additional ideas for fun Winter related activities to help to avoid a cold weather funk and instead find some excitement in it. 

cute illustrations by Evelyn Henson

38 Holiday Party Dresses

‘Tis the season for holiday parties and an excuse to get dressed up even when you’d rather stay in pajamas and oversized sweaters. I had a couple of Christmas parties last year that I got to dress up for, but this year that’s not looking to be the case. My festive frocks are ready just in case something comes up, though, and it doesn’t hurt to have one on hand if you’re looking for an excuse to shop any of the holiday party-approved dresses I found for today’s post!

Fortunately, some of my dresses that fit the Christmas color scheme can easily be worn for more casual events as well. This long sleeve emerald dress that I got from Shop Minette is one I’ve worn to work, out to dinner, and fully plan to wear on Christmas eve if it isn’t too cold! The red dress below that is from Target of all places and has a price tag that won’t break your budget and a silhouette with plenty of room to indulge in all the delicious treats readily available this time of year! 

In case you’re looking for more formal options, you can click on any of the dresses that catch your eye below to be taken to where they can be purchased. I was sure to include a variety of retailers and price points, so hopefully, if you’re on the hunt, this roundup can be your solution! 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Affordable Gifts To Give Your Coworkers

How is Christmas so soon!? I know I'm not the only one who hasn't quite finished their holiday shopping and it doesn't help that I keep thinking of people I may not have originally accounted for. I'll be sharing some additional posts this week that will hopefully help you tackle your last-minute shopping no matter your recipient or budget!

Today's guide covers those hard to shop for coworkers who you'd like to give something nice to but don't really know outside of the office. A homemade treat would be a delicious bet but if you don't have time for that I've rounded up some great affordable options.

If you happen to spot any items that you’re interested in giving or receiving, click directly on the product in the image below to be taken to where it can be shopped! 

Step Into My Week 12.16

I am baffled that today is my last Monday of work for 2019. I head home on Wednesday for a shoot I was assigned in Fairhope that is taking place on Thursday. It’s really convenient to get to be home for that, but I’m kind of sad that I don’t have more time to celebrate Christmas with my friends in Birmingham before leaving. Next year I need Thanksgiving to be earlier, so things don’t feel quite so rushed. Fortunately, I got to spend lots of time with friends this weekend, and I have no doubt that January will be here before I know it!

I’ve been loving starting my morning with quiet time by the Christmas tree and is making it feel more worthwhile to have set up a Christmas tree. Monday, I spent most of the day unpacking boxes and packing things up for my first solo location shoot on Tuesday. I had to run out of the office in the afternoon to get flowers and spent the end of the afternoon arranging those and loading up the van to be ready to go the following day. Once I left, I went to the Y to work out and then came home to shower and finish wrapping some presents and making place cards for the shoot. 

Tuesday morning, I woke up to lots of rain and colder temperatures, which made me nervous since I knew I’d be the only one unpacking everything from the car once I got to the shoot. Thankfully, the homeowner had me pull into her garage so that I didn’t end up drenched after grabbing the flowers from the office and getting some extra greenery. Set up took over an hour, but I am so pleased with the final result. The shoot included five recipes, which gave us plenty of time to get detail shots between the food shots, and it’s crazy to think that this is already ready to go for Southern Lady’s November/December 2020 issue. Cleanup took much longer than expected even though we got our last shot around 3:00, so I spent the better part of the afternoon packing everything back up and cleaning the space. I came back to the office to unload and then had to get a manicure on my way home from work for a shoot I had to model in the next day. I was exhausted by the time I was finally back and showered, ate dinner, and got in bed. 

I've been living in this $30 pullover! 

On Wednesday, I got to the office and tackled a few emails before having to head to the location of the shoot I was helping with. This one was for Victoria Magazine, and another stylist and I had to “model” evening gowns, jewelry, and hairpins for a feature they are doing. I definitely struggled to keep a straight face and am a little bit terrified to see how these photos turn out since this is unlike anything I’ve done. The team on the shoot was a ton of fun, which was helpful, and we finally finished around 3:30. I got a bit more done at the office before heading home to eat, shower, and change into my pajamas before my friends came over for bible study at our house. Once that was over, I got in bed and attempted to read before falling asleep. 

Thursday was the first day in a while that I was at my desk all day, and it was heavenly. I was SO productive and crossed a ton of things off of my to-do list. I really can’t remember the last time I’ve been that productive. I was able to get through resources, invoices, and emails in record time. After work, I came home to get cleaned up before going to dinner at Slice with a friend. We decided to go bowling after that and ended up at a bowling alley where it was league night. Everyone there was decked out in bowling gear and bags, so we decided to try a different bowling alley that was much less intimidating. It ended up being unlimited bowl night, and we played nine games, all of which I lost. Bowling is definitely not a hidden talent of mine, and I am sad to admit that my finger was bruised and my wrist was sore when I woke up the next morning. 

Since I got home a bit later, I slept in some on Friday before going to Starbucks. After that, I picked up a few props that were needed for my shoot and made my way to the office. The shoot wrapped right around noon, and I ended up being behind Nell’s mom on my way to the Summit. I said hello to her and ended up getting lunch with them before running into Trader Joe’s for supplies for the party my roommate and I were having that night. The Summit was a zoo, and I’m hoping I don’t have to go back until January, given how chaotic everything was. I cleaned our house, started some food, showered, and took a nap before it was time to party prep. Sadly I failed to take any pictures (aside from Nell dressed as a Christmas tree). A bunch of our friends came, and we played Picolo before some of us decided to go out to Moe’s after. It was crowded there, and we stayed for a bit but ended the night playing pool at Nana Funks before heading home.

I woke up earlier than I thought I would on Saturday morning and sat by the Christmas tree in my pajamas watching Christmas movies and attempting to work on blog posts. I did a bunch of laundry throughout the day and took an accidental two-hour nap in the afternoon. Eventually, I got ready and went to dinner with Nell at Bamboo on Second before seeing It’s A Wonderful Life at the Alabama Theatre downtown. When the movie ended, we decided to go to the Christmas bar, Miracle, that opened in Queen’s Park before coming home and going to sleep. 

I don’t know what got into me on Sunday, but I was in a major cleaning mode. This was great timing since now I’ll be coming back in January to a cleaned space (although after being away I’m sure it’ll need another good cleaning). I washed all of my bedding, including decorative pillowcases, swiffered our entire house before vacuuming, and deep cleaned appliances. In the afternoon, I went out to grab a few Christmas gifts and food for the party we were hosting that evening. I came home and showered and wrapped some presents before prepping to have our friends over for an appetizer dinner and a game of dirty Santa. I thought I was clever and gave this item as well as a Smirnoff Ice, which bit me in the butt when I unwrapped a six-pack of Ices and a pack of bean boozled. The game didn’t last as long as it could of since there wasn’t a ton of stealing, but I loved seeing what everyone chose to bring. Everyone stayed till around 9:30, and my roommate and I cleaned up before going to bed. 

I’ll be wrapping things up at work this week and am doing my best to have the last of my holiday posts live on the blog this week. That means you may want to come back and check the blog more than once a day since I have LOTS planned for y’all! 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

#StepUpYourReading The Best Books To Give And Receive

Hi, remember me? I’ve missed y’all this week even though it has only been two days without posts. My google calendar is looking CRAZY, and life at work has been busy while life outside of it has been social as it tends to be this time of year. That hasn’t left me a ton of time to work on posts even though there are so many that I want to share. I have a feeling that if between outings and parties this weekend I’m able to sit down with my computer for a little while there will be LOTS of content for y’all to enjoy next week. From the last of my gift guides to my winter bucket list and house decorated for Christmas, I am committing to fully share the excitement of the holiday season with y’all. On top of that, I’m headed home next week for an extended vacation and can not wait to slow down. I am fully prepared to drink too many cups of coffee while reading by our Christmas tree. 

It has been so much fun to share to have Phoebe share her reading recommendations on the blog this year, and I am thrilled to have her continue to do so into 2020. In today's post, she is sharing so many great book gift ideas! My dad is always really good at finding unique books that my brother and I may not have heard of and gifting them to us. That's how I discovered I'll Be There For You (a Friend's lover's dream) and Bitter Is The New Black (a snarky light fiction read that had me laughing all the way through). In case you may not be as lucky to have someone discover and gift you amazing reads go ahead and send this post there way as a suggestion list! 

Phoebe's Recommendations of The Best Books To Give And Receive:

How is it December, and we are almost starting a new decade? I can’t believe it. One of the highlights of my year has definitely been joining all you on Prep In Your Step to share books each month! I am incredibly grateful to Dorothy and can’t wait until we get to hang out IRL. 

My birthday is five days after Christmas, so I’ve always loved finding the perfect gift for my friends and family! I think I have a dash of elf blood or something. 

I think there is no greater gift than a book. Although it can be a lot of pressure, it’s also really personal, especially if it’s one you’ve read before. You are sharing more than an object, but words that stayed with you! It’s so special. I’ve rounded up some of my favorites from 2019, as well as a few I just love to give from years past. I’m also sharing a few kids’ books because they are just If you have any nieces, nephews, godchildren, or cousins on your list, consider some of these! 

Becoming by Michelle Obama
One of my favorite things about this book is that Michelle really empowers women to stand up for themselves. It’s a fascinating look at their lives on the campaign trail and how she wanted to protect her daughters from the limelight. 

Know My Name by Chanel Miller
If you remember anything about the summer of 2016, when the victim statement from Jane Doe in the “Stanford Swimmer Rape case,” now you can meet the woman behind those powerful words! It’s incredibly inspiring and well written. Though do be wary who you gift it to, as it does deal with sensitive topics. 

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
The sequel to one of my FAVORITE books is finally being released this June! Until The Heir Affair comes out, share The Royal We with others who are royally obsessed! It’s a fun and dramatic romantic comedy that’s basically Royal Fan Fiction. And though it stars an American falling for the Prince of England, it was written three years before Harry and Meghan would meet!

My brother gifts me one of the illustrated editions each year, and they make me so happy! It’s such a beautiful gift and is great for any tween Potterheads on your list! 

American Royals by Katharine McGee
For any royally obsessed teens on your list, this book is SO fun. It’s a bit Gossip Girl, a bit The Crown, and a little Crazy Rich Asians, set in an alternate reality where George Washington became America’s first king! Now the current generation of young people are preparing to take the throne in 2019! 

A Woman Is No Man by Edif Piaf 
This is one of the BEST books of the year, in my opinion! It is emotional, informative, and written in a way that makes you just want to keep reading. It was Jenna Bush Hager’s book club pick earlier in the year as well! 

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi 
This book is BOLD and is perfect for any reader on your list who isn’t afraid to experiment with what they read. It’s about teens going to an elite drama school in the south in the 1980s and won the National Book Award for fiction this year! 

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren 
I think I’ve mentioned this book before to you all, but I think it’s the perfect gift for anyone getting ready to head on a tropical vacation or any engaged friends on your list! It’s sexy, funny, and totally romantic. 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides 
This is one of the most talked-about books of the year, and if you love psychological thrillers like Dorothy, this should be at the top of your list! It’s about a woman who has committed a shocking act of violence against her husband and refuses to speak after. Her criminal therapist becomes obsessed with uncovering her motive in an all-consuming, dangerous way. 

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais 
This isn’t a light book at all, but it is simply beautiful. It’s about three women who come together in Post-Apartheid South Africa during the darkest moments of their lives, learning that love is capable of breaking the highest of walls. 

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand 
Elin’s Winter in Paradise series is what I like to call “Thriller Light,” so they are perfect for anyone on your list who loves a good beach read, but needs a little mystery and excitement mixed in. These are about Irene, a wife and mother from Iowa who learns her husband has been killed in a helicopter crash off St. John. She travels there to discover a whole other life he kept and is determined to find out how he was really killed. 

New: Meg & Jo by Greta Gerwig
If you didn’t know, Greta Gerwig’s new adaptation of Little Women releases Christmas Day! There are so many beautiful editions of this classic book that would make the perfect gift. If you have anyone who loves a modern retelling, Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra is the way to go!


A is for Audra by John Robert Allman
Remember, I’m an actor, so I LOVE the concept of this book! It’s the alphabet using the famous leading ladies of Broadway for each letter! 

Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter
Not a new book at all, but one that is so cute and funny! 

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
I love tacos, so I can’t blame dragons, except for the firey breath it causes them to have! DUCK!!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you! I can’t wait to check back in in 2020 with some amazing new releases. If you’ve taken any of my recommendations, I’d love to hear which ones! You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and my blog! 

Monday, December 9, 2019

Step Into My Week 12.9

This probably sounds bad, but I am so glad that last week is over and I can start fresh this week. Have you ever heard the saying about how bad things come in threes? Well, I lived that this week. Fortunately, those “bad things” are all very manageable, but with a crazy work week having one thing at home throw me off course was more than I really wanted to deal with, let alone three things. So, I am thrilled we are into a new week, and I can start fresh.

Last week was also my first week officially as a stylist. Unfortunately, the company I work for hasn’t hired someone to fill my old role just yet, so for the time being, I have to do both things. This made for a non-stop on the go week as well. I spent some time on Monday morning packing up my desk upstairs to eventually move to my new desk downstairs. I did typical desk tasks in the morning and then in the afternoon, helped our senior stylist, Sidney, set up for a Christmas cover shoot happening on Tuesday. Once we finished that set up process, I went home to change quickly before going to a workout class at True40. After the class was over, I came home, showered, cooked dinner, and hung out before going to bed.

Tuesday was the day of the cover shoot, and I spent pretty much the entire day on location. Once everything was set up, I had tons of emails to send out to gather props for the shoot I have on my own this week. In the afternoon, I went to look at the location for that shoot before coming back to the cover shoot until about 5:30. After we got the final shot, I went to the Y to spin for a bit before coming home to shower for what I thought was going to be a laid back evening. Instead, my roommate and I discovered that in addition to the rat that has been coming in and out of our unfinished basement laundry room, we also had some sort of sewage leak. While we were very, very annoyed about this, we tried our best to laugh about it since that seemed like a better option than panicking. Nell and I had plans to go get Chick-fil-A’s peppermint chocolate chip milkshakes and catching up, which fortunately still happened despite the mess we were dealing with downstairs. 

On Wednesday, I met Sidney to clean up from the cover shoot, and we went to a pop-up event on our way back to the office. I was able to order in some props and do desk work for a while before heading to two other pop up events that afternoon/evening. Once those were over, I met my small group for a fellowship night at Taco Mama in Crestline before heading home and calling it a day. 

Thursday morning, I officially moved my desk downstairs, and boxes quickly overtook it for this week’s shoot. I ended up having to take over another stylists’ in-studio food shoot due to her son getting sick, which threw off my day a little bit but was good experience. In the afternoon, I ran the errands I needed to run for this week’s shoot before going to the Y to get a workout in. I changed back in my work clothes at the Y so that I could meet my friends and a friend’s parents for a delicious meal at Galley & Garden. Katie’s parents were so generous in treating us to this meal, and we all had a blast. By the time I got home, it was way past my bedtime, but I still had to shower before I could finally call it a night. 

On Friday morning, I spent about 30 minutes doing some blog work at Starbucks before getting so much done at work. Once I was off for the day, I went home to eat lunch and wrap a few Christmas presents before going to Nell’s apartment to do my laundry (since both the sewage issue and rat made our laundry room uninviting). While my laundry was going, Nell and I went for a walk through Crestline before going to dinner with our friend Mary. After my laundry had finally finished, I headed home to shower, and Nell came over to watch Home Alone. I ended up falling asleep during the movie and didn’t even know Nell had left. 

I was able to sleep in on Saturday morning, which was so lovely! I cleaned up our living room area in preparation for setting up our Christmas tree, which FINALLY arrived that morning. I’ll tell you now that this Christmas tree has been a true labor of love. I fluffed the first section and ran out of lights before even getting to the second section of the tree. This led me to both Target and Walmart, who were sold out of classic white Christmas lights with a green cord. I didn’t have time to search elsewhere since my friends and I went to Avondale Brewing to watch the Georgia LSU game. That was a lot of fun, and we ended up staying much later than I expected. By the time Nell and I finally made it to dinner at the new Carrigans in Mountain Brook village, it was nearly 8:00. The food and drinks there were just as delicious as the downtown location, and it’s much more convenient to my house, which is a plus. We drove around looking at Christmas lights for a bit before I dropped her off and went home to finish fluffing the tree. 

I woke up earlier on Sunday morning and put away the laundry before heading to Home Depot on the hunt for lights. Luckily they had plenty and a great tree topper too. I went ahead and finished the second section of the tree before it was time to go to church. After church Nell and I went to Trader Joe’s to get groceries for the week. I spent most of the afternoon tackling projects around the house and finally (or so I thought) finished the tree. Once my roommate got home, we deep cleaned our laundry room with bleach, a shop vac, and “it’s a hard-knock life” playing in the background. I can honestly say the room has never looked better, and I hope the exterminator appreciates this nice clean space when he comes today to handle our rat. I went on a walk and talked on the phone with my parents before coming home to shower. When I got out of the shower, I discovered that all of the lights had gone out on our Christmas tree, which made me want to cry. After a phone call home and a large glass of wine poured, I finished making my dinner, checked every strand of light, and had to change the fuse of a strand before the tree finally lit back up. I called my mom again, and she said it best, “I’m glad you can go to bed without being mad at your Christmas tree.” Thankfully I was able to enjoy my dinner next to the lit Christmas tree while watching The Holiday. 

I hope that y’all had a less frantic week than I did, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this week is calmer.

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