Wednesday, December 30, 2020

What I Gave For Christmas 2020

 I love giving gifts. You’ve read it here before and may have even read this post and heard me talk about it, but the only reason I think I’m decent at it is because I write things down as people mention them. This year’s list of gifts I gave is a mixture of doing that, specific requests from my parents, and Pinterest stalking friends. I am definitely at the point in my life where I am more excited about what I am gifting people, and I had so much fun wrapping everything up in preparation for the holiday! Whether you’re shopping after Christmas sales or are looking for gifts to give in the future, I hope you enjoy this post. 

All links to the items are included below the image in the description for each recipient! 

I really nailed it on shopping local for my mom since two of the things she had mentioned to me were made in Alabama. She asked for new pillowcases, so these weren’t a surprise to her, but the Zkano socks (made in Fort Payne, AL) were something she mentioned that were sold out online but available locally to me at a store in Homewood. Her surprises from me were the other two items. The last time she came to town to visit, we binge-watched The Home Edit’s show on Netflix, so I got her that book to enjoy. Lastly, I had this wrap, and she had complimented me on it in the past when I’d worn it, so I gave her her own since it is the perfect layering piece for Alabama winters.

For my dad: A Speedsleev Bike Bag and Trump Toilet Brush Cleaner

My dad epitomizes the type of person who just buys what he wants—because of that, deciding on gifts for him is incredibly challenging. He loves riding bikes and is quite the athlete, but I certainly can’t afford to purchase a new road bike for him (mom covered that), and I am not sure what “accessories” would even be useful for him. Thankfully he told me that he wanted this bike bag for his new bike, making that easy. But since I love surprises, I saw the Trump toilet brush cleaner and knew he would get a kick out of that. He found it hysterical, texted a picture to his friends, and jokingly used it as a wand to pardon us on Christmas morning. 

For my brother: Red Clay Hot Sauce Starter Set

My brother is another person who is a challenge to shop for since I wouldn’t feel confident buying him clothes and am not sure what he really “needs.” When we were together over Thanksgiving, he kept talking about different hot sauces, so I knew a gourmet hot sauce set would be well received. I’ve been following along with Red Clay Hot Sauce for a while after being introduced to them at work and settled on their starter set for him. Two of the bottles were opened while we were all together, and after tasting them can confirm that they made a delicious gift. 

For my sister-in-law: Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer

My sister-in-law and I love to complain about what a chore it is to dry our hair/ My hair takes forever to dry despite not looking super thick. Shannon’s hair is visibly thick, so I knew this would be a practical yet fun gift for her. When she opened it, she was so excited since she had heard people on TikTok rave about it. She tried it while we were all at home and agreed that it was a great gift that she might not have purchased for herself! 

For my boyfriend: Cooler Backpack, Mistral Bourbon Vanilla Cologne and Soap, a Breakfast Sandwich Maker, and Red Clay’s Hot Honey

Thank goodness for the running list of gift ideas on my phone since it made shopping for Hunter a whole lot easier. The cooler backpack was something that one of our friends had when we went rafting this summer that he commented on would have been convenient when we went to the beach or rafted again. I tried to find him the one my friend had since it was from the Hunter collaboration at Target and said Hunter on the front, but those were being sold for 4x the price on eBay, which felt like a scam. I settled on the one featured because I thought the color and size would work well. The cologne and soap were something he smelled when we were shopping in Homewood that he said would be nice to have but wasn’t a need. Since I don’t think I’d feel comfortable picking out a cologne scent on my own so I noted this on my list and was able to find it. The last two things I got him were afterthoughts but still fun. We really like getting breakfast sandwiches from Crestline Bagel, so the breakfast sandwich maker seemed like something fun for us to try. I was able to get it on sale, and we used it a few times before I left for Christmas. There’s a slight learning curve, but it does make really yummy sandwiches! Lastly, I ordered him Red Clay’s Hot Honey when ordering my brother’s gift because I really wanted to try it but was worried my brother wouldn’t open his while we were at home. He did, and now I’m so glad Hunter has it, too, since it’s delicious! 

For my friend, Sophia: A Blue and White Chinoiserie Jar and Faux Palm Fronds

This was the first year that Sophia and I weren’t able to exchange Christmas presents with one another in person. In years past, she’s either traveled to Birmingham, or I’ve gone to Greenville and during our trip have designated a “Christmas morning” to open presents. Instead, this year we opened on Christmas morning and texted each other in excitement. Sophia and her husband bought a house this year, so I knew stalking her Pinterest home board would help me decide what to get her. She had lots of pins of pretty blue and white jars with faux palm fronds pinned, so that’s what I wrapped up and sent her way! 

For my friend, Nell: A Chappy Wrap Blanket

Lastly and one of the gifts I was most excited to give was Nell’s Christmas present. For years she has been wanting a Chappy Wrap blanket and always likes to use mine when she’s over at my house. She was so annoyed when the brand sent our dog Scout one, and she realized that Scout would get one before her. Thanks to a sale code and a gift card from the brand, I was able to purchase one at a discount to give her! 

I’d love for y’all to share the gifts you gave this year in the comments! I know there are plenty of us always looking for ideas.

You can shop some of the items featured by scrolling below.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Comfy Winter Loungewear & Athleisure Outfit Ideas

 As I think about packing up to head from Fairhope to Birmingham, I have to laugh at myself, given how much stuff I packed to come home. I will be the first to admit that I am terrible at packing and tend to overpack because I like to have plenty of options. This overpacking is made even worse when I’m traveling by car because I know there will be plenty of room to fit everything. As per usual, while at home, I lived in comfy clothes. My hang-up bag never even made its way from my trunk inside the house if that tells you just how casual our Christmas celebrations were. I relied almost entirely on leggings and pajamas to make it through each day. 

Since I don’t go back to work until next Monday, I know comfy clothes will continue to be my outfit of choice this week as well. I have a feeling many of y’all have a similar mindset this week and honestly while working from home, too, as that continues at the beginning of this year. From pajamas and slippers to cute sets, there are plenty of outfit ideas to help you stay warm and comfy this winter. 

The links to the items featured in each outfit can be found beneath the image! 

Outfit 1:

Outfit 2:

Outfit 3:

Outfit 4:

Outfit 5:

Outfit 6:

Outfit 7:

Outfit 8:

I'd love to hear which outfit is your favorite! You can also shop many of these pieces by scrolling through below.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Step Into My Week 12.28

 Hopefully, a Step Into My Week post helped to remind y’all that it’s Monday during a week in which I always confuse what day it is. I’m looking forward to another week off of work, however, and am going to do my best to tackle a few tasks that I had the goal of getting done during my time off from work. I know I’m not alone in being shocked this year is almost over (although I know everyone is ready for that to be the case), and I’ll share some reflections and goals in later posts but will likely wrap up 2020 planned posts before getting there. But for starters, the blur that has been this past week.

I was still in Birmingham on Monday and spent most of the day baking and listening to an audiobook. I only had about an hour and a half left of it to listen to on my drive home on Tuesday. I made another batch of Chex Mix and my favorite sugar cookies. I delivered some of the Chex Mix to friends’ doorsteps while waiting to ice the cookies. I had a bit of downtime in the afternoon before my friend came over, and we made dinner. We made this Pad Thai recipe I’ve made before, but it was Hunter’s first time ever having Pad Thai, so I was pleased to say this was the best he had ever had. After that, we opened Christmas Presents and watched the Claymation Rudolph and Frosty before turning on some Mickey Christmas movie. During our movie watching, we successfully ate an entire package of Pillsbury’s Christmas sugar cookies, which probably isn’t something to be proud of, oops.

Tuesday morning, I loaded up my car with Christmas presents and baked treats to go with Hunter over to his parent’s house to exchange gifts before I ran errands and headed home. The drive was relatively easy. I got home before 4:00 and hung out with my parents that night. Once all my wrapped presents were in the room with the Christmas tree it looked like mine were Christmas presents while the ones my mom wrapped looked like Hanukah and my mom didn't hear the end of that from us! 

Wednesday, I got up to Peloton and shower and then didn’t do much the rest of the day. I did help my dad wrap some of his other gifts for my mom, but aside from hanging out at home with my family, that was most of my day (are y’all sensing a trend yet?).

I think Thursday was the first “eventful” day of being home since my brother and sister-in-law came to town. My mom did some cooking while I arranged the flowers and set the table in anticipation of their arrival. They got to Fairhope around 3:30 with both of their dogs in tow. We aren’t used to being at home for Christmas, so it didn’t fully feel like Christmas Eve, but we had a delicious meal that evening and opened our Christmas crackers to wear our crowns while eating dessert. After all the dishes were washed, we changed into pajamas (still wishing we were a matching Christmas pajama family, but sadly we aren’t), and organized the presents into everyone’s piles for the morning.

My brother and sister-in-law were up early on Christmas, so I was woken up at 6:40 so festivities could begin. My family considers Christmas to be “my thing” which worked well for me to insist we go in a circle and open gifts one at a time to make things last longer. After receiving some DMs asking to share what I received since often people use it as inspiration for what they may want to ask for during future gifting occasions, I won’t go into detail of that here. I will say my dad “won” Christmas gifting my mom a Newcomb Pottery vase. She went to Tulane, where the women’s college was called Newcomb and has oohed and ahhed over them for years, and my dad found one for her. It was the last gift unwrapped, and she was shocked. Tears were shed, and watching her reaction that morning and my dad’s sense of accomplishment was definitely a highlight of the day. 

We made mimosas and talked on the phone with my grandparents while brunch was being made, and we sat down to eat that around 10:00. After that, my brother, sister-in-law, and I took the dogs on a walk-in downtown Fairhope which was completely empty. I guess not everyone started their morning quite so early. After that, it was time to relax and nap before eventually getting dressed for the day. We made drinks and ate appetizers later in the evening and then had steaks for dinner, followed by homemade pot-de-crème. We watched a movie on Netflix that night, but I didn’t think it was that good, and I can’t remember the name. 

shop this jacket here

Saturday was my birthday, but I honestly spent most of the day pretending it wasn’t since I wasn’t going to be able to see any friends or do much to celebrate. Technically it was my golden birthday, but I decided I’ll just postpone that celebration until next year (or maybe when I get back to Birmingham and can at least see my roommate and a couple of other friends). My mom and I went to pick up my birthday cake from Warehouse Bakery, and in true 2020 and day after Christmas birthday fashion, we got half of a peanut butter pie. We then went to Publix and came home to see what everyone else was up to. We played a few games of backgammon and hung out before eating lunch and taking the dogs on a walk. Gil and Shannon wanted to run an errand, so I tagged along since I didn’t have anything else going on. On the way home, we stopped for coffee at Provision, and then I decided to take a bubble bath and paint my nails. I worked on some blog stuff after that, and eventually, we opened presents and had dinner. That night we watched a movie, another one that I don’t remember the name of, before going to bed.

I finally got back on the workout wagon on Sunday and did a Peloton workout after making a cup of coffee. Our upstairs living room has pretty much become a workout room, so my brother was in there while I biked. Eventually, I showered, talked on the phone to my grandmother, and had a late breakfast. My brother, sister-in-law, and I went to Panini Pete’s in downtown Fairhope for lunch. I think everyone took a nap afterward, and then we went for a walk altogether. Once we got home, my mom put out some appetizers, and my dad and I played a couple of rounds of backgammon on my new board. We had a short rib recipe for dinner that my brother and sister-in-law enjoy, and I went upstairs to take a bath before coming downstairs to watch TV as a family. I originally was going to head back to Birmingham today, and then it became Tuesday, but now I have a tire alignment scheduled for Wednesday morning, so I’ll head back to Birmingham right after that! 

I hope that y’all had a wonderful Christmas week and were able to see your family either in person or on zoom. I may have fewer blog posts this week and the following since I’ll be spending more of my blog time trying to get everything ready to be transferred over to a new site. That has been quite the process, so hopefully, you’ll enjoy what I am posting! 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Saturday Shopping vol. 69

 Happy Saturday! I really didn’t think I’d have a post live today given that yesterday was Christmas and today is my birthday, but when I looked at the folder on my computer where I keep finds for Saturday Shopping posts, I decided why not. There are so many cute pieces online right now (some that lean more towards spring than the weather does), and with many places having sales, I wanted to give you the option to shop my finds if you were interested! 

If you do see anything you like, you can click directly on it in the image below! 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

My Favorite Holiday Recipes To Make

 I do not wish a grocery store run on anyone today (even though my mom did go this morning), but if you are making a run for the store or are trying to decide what recipes for holiday treats are worth making before greeting the new year this post is for you. There’s something therapeutic to me about baking and cooking (but that’s only come as I’ve gotten older). I spent all day on Monday baking a few favorites to take home for the holidays. 

I have two different snack mixes to share with y’all, an appetizer, and of course, my favorite sugar cookies. The best part about all of these things is that even though they make me think of the holidays, I can be found indulging in them throughout the year as well. One of my favorite parts about the holiday season is the food and sharing it with loved ones. I delivered some of these treats to friends nearby with cute gift tags and a note on the back that said: “made with love and well-washed hands.” I think that once all this is over, a party where everyone brings their favorite holiday treat will be in order but until then, consider this me virtually sharing some of my favorite recipes with y’all! 

White Chocolate Candy Coated Snack Mix

Lovingly referred to as “Christmas Crack” by my roommate and me, I have shared this recipe before here. It’s so easy to make and quite the crowd pleaser! 

Party Mix

My aunt sent me the recipe that I used, and I’m not positive if it’s allowed to be shared or if it’s her secret recipe, but this one seems similar! The best part about party mix is that you can customize the ingredients to only include your favorites. For me, that’s fewer pretzels and more cheerios! 

Swiss and Bacon Dip (sadly, I don’t have a picture of this)

1 (8 oz) package of Cream Cheese

½ Cup Mayonnaise 

1 Cup Grated Swiss Cheese 

2 Tablespoons Chopped Green Onions

8 Slices of Bacon, Cooked and Crumbled

½ Cup Crushed Ritz Crackers

1. Soften cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Once the cream cheese is softened, add mayonnaise, swiss cheese, and green onions; mix well.

2. Transfer to a baking dish (I don’t know the exact size of what I use, but it may be an 8x8. Shape doesn’t really matter) and top with bacon and crackers. 

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly.

4. Serve with wheat thins or favorite cracker.

This is a great recipe to make ahead of time to store in the fridge and cook when needed! My mom has been known to make a couple in advance of the holidays and store them in the refrigerator. 

Iced Sugar Cookies

This “recipe” is about to be a complete copout since this year I opted to attempt to keep things simple and used Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookie Mix instead of going homemade. For the icing, I tried something new and have a feeling I won’t stray now that I’ve tried it. I used Martha Stewart’s Royal Icing Recipe for the flood icing and decorating icing of my sugar cookies. To get the icing to spread enough on the base layer, I added a bit more water than what is stated in the linked recipe

I’d love to hear what your go-to recipes are during the holiday season! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

That's A Wrap - Cute Holiday Wrapping Paper

Way back at the end of October/beginning of November, I was so optimistic about my December content calendar for blog posts that I told myself I would have a post all about cute wrapping paper and tags live for y’all in the first week of this month. We can go ahead and laugh at that now since it took until the end of the third week of this month for that to actually happen. Not particularly helpful if you were to want to order the supplies I used, but maybe it’ll inspire you to enjoy the wrapping process or inspire your Christmas wrapping paper shopping for next year! 

It’s a good thing I love wrapping presents, given the frequency I end up doing it for work. The perk of that, however, is discovering some really great small businesses that create beautiful gift wrap and tags. This year my gift tags are from Dogwood Hill (Happy Holidays, A Gift For (similar), A Christmas Gift For You), Camilla Moss (the Merry Christmas ones are what she made), and WH Hostess (Ginger Jar Champagne and Joy). Most of my wrapping paper is either Sugar Paper’s line at Target or Dogwood Hill. I find it really fun to accessorize with different ribbons and tags to make each gift seem unique. I hope y’all enjoy seeing a peek of what I wrapped up this year, and I’m looking forward to sharing the gifts inside that I’m giving loved ones this season. 

Happy Christmas Eve Eve! 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Step Into My Week 12.21

 Happy week of Christmas!! It’s hard to believe it’s here, and I told friends the other day that I would probably believe someone if they told me it was July, given how skewed my sense of time is this year. I’m hoping to get posts live this week and originally planned to post next week too, but I’m toying with the idea of taking a short break during the week between Christmas and the New Year. This could change, but just a heads up! 

I have officially been on my Christmas break for a week now, during which time I went to Fairhope for a bit for a dentist appointment (yep, I still haven’t switched to one in Birmingham). All those days feel a little blurred, but I’ve done my best to piece together what I have actually been up to.

I was still in Birmingham on Monday, and despite the excitement of being off of work, I ended up styling some photos for blog posts in my free time. I also worked on responding to y’alls messages about who you were still shopping for to provide some gift ideas, which was a lot of fun! In the afternoon, I offered to take my friend Katie’s dog for a walk and picked him up, went and got Hunter, and we went to walk around Crestline park. It was really cold, and the dog is small, so we only made it two laps before calling it quits. That night we ate Santa Fe soup and watched some football before I went home. 

I slept in a little bit on Tuesday with no real rush to get home since my parents were both at work. I packed up, waited for the mail to be delivered, and then hit the road around 11:00. I got lunch on my way and was home before 4:00. It’s an easy drive, and I often forget how nice it can be to have a much shorter drive than I used to in college. I think we ate Mexican food for dinner, but aside from that, I don’t think we did anything noteworthy.

Wednesday morning, I got up and did a Peloton ride and showered before attempting to get some blog work done. I ate lunch at home with my dad and my one outing of the day was to a new-ish coffee shop called Provisions. I had their Christmas Spiced Latte, and it was terrific. While there, I spotted Yosef from the Bachelorette for any of you that may be keeping up with that show. In the afternoon, I took Scout on a walk and then hung out at home with my parents for the remainder of the night. 

I think I watched a Christmas movie while doing some computer work on Thursday morning before eventually making myself lunch and wrapping a few presents for my dad. I went to my dentist appointment at 2:00 and then came home to do another Peloton ride before showering and waiting for my mom to get home. We sat by the Christmas tree, talking for a while before making and eating dinner.

 I woke up early on Friday morning to see my parents before they went to work since I was heading back to Birmingham that day. Once they left, I did another Peloton workout, showered, and packed some of my stuff up for the extended weekend in Birmingham. I wanted to head back since I knew there were some Christmas presents that had yet to be delivered, and that much time at home alone during the day didn’t feel like it would be all that fun. At least in Birmingham, I have my roommate and some elbow room before I head back home this week for Christmas (which I am so thankful to be able to do). I decided to deep clean my room when I got back on Friday and eventually went over to my friend’s house to make dinner. My mom sent me back with leftover barbecue, so we recreated a nearby restaurant’s dish using potatoes, the barbecue, and cheese. We made some broccoli to go along with it, and everything ended up being very tasty.

I didn’t do much of anything on Saturday. I went and got Waffle House to-go mid-morning with a friend and then eventually hung out with Nell and her mom before going to the grocery store and coming home. My aunt had sent me her homemade Chex Mix recipe, so I made that after eating dinner and attempted to catch up on The Bachelorette. I think I was in bed by 10:00 that night.

Sunday was similar to Saturday in that I didn’t do that much. I listened to an audiobook for a while, got ingredients for a bit more Christmas baking I want to do, and eventually, Nell and I went to a few shops in Birmingham to browse. The only thing we ended up buying was hot chocolate from Big Spoon, which we sipped while chatting in her living room. I went back home around 5:00 and hung out with my roommate before she went to eat dinner at her parent’s house. I made myself dinner and finally got all caught up on last week’s Bachelorette episodes before going to sleep.

I hope that y’all had a nice week and are looking forward to celebrating this week! 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sunday Styling vol. 17

Even though Covid has messed up a lot of plans, one thing I’m not too bummed for it to tone down is New Year’s Eve. As far as holidays go, it has never been my favorite, and the pressure behind having big plans for the night isn’t something I love. When I used to be in Fairhope for the holiday, one of my best friends and I would cook an elaborate meal that evening and stay in with some of our other friends to celebrate. The kitchen would be noisy (from us and the music playing) and usually messy, and our glasses would be filled with sparkling cider until we turned 21, when we happily switched to champagne. It wasn’t uncommon for us to fall asleep before midnight and have no regrets about staying in for the evening. Last year was a fun New Year’s Eve as well since I had a friend’s wedding to attend, and I realize the thing both these settings have in common is that my plans were already established without having to wishy-washily come up with something to do with a group of friends. So, in this way, the pressure of not having to have elaborate or noteworthy plans is exciting to me.

The idea of dressing up for the occasion is also stressful for me. With little to no black in my wardrobe and little desire to purchase trendy pieces for the night, I always feel a bit out of place when going out to celebrate. In case you are hoping to dress the part this year for the holiday, I put together nine different outfit ideas to inspire you! 

I’ll be back in Birmingham and plan to attempt to go with the flow on what we decide to do (making it Covid safe as well). Sign me up for outfit number nine, something fun to cook for dinner, and maybe a game night accompanied by champagne! 

Outfit 1:

Outfit 2:

Outfit 3:

Outfit 4:

Outfit 5:

Outfit 6:

Outfit 7:

Outfit 8:

Outfit 9:

Which of these outfits would you be most likely to wear?

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