Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend---I know I did! It's so nice to get some extra days off work. Especially, with a busy Thanksgiving. Between my mom's family, dad's family, and fiance's family dinners it was a whirlwind of traveling and LOTS of eating!

I tried my best to stay on track with my 21 day fix but I'd be lying if I said I didn't indulge a bit. It was worth it! These were my contributions to the festivities!

This cranberry orange cheesecake from Gimme Some Oven was so good! Cheesecake is a chore for sure but always wonderful!

Sticking with the cranberry theme I took this cranberry cream cheese dip to my dad's and it was a hit! It's hard to explain but the cranberry, cilantro, and jalapeno combination was so unique and delicious. Did I mention it's on top of a layer of cream cheese....

I also made this salad and it is always a crowd pleaser.

After all that eating we jumped in the car and traveled to Gatlinburg to do some Black Friday shopping. It was crazy at times but my mom, sister, and I rallied hard until 3 am and got some good deals!

I strictly adhere to the notion that Thanksgiving should have its time and I don't decorate until after Thanksgiving. I understand why some people do but it's just not for me. However, this week I am ready! I picked up these ornaments over the weekend and I'm so ready to hang them.

Have you all started decorating yet?

I spent the rest of the weekend being a slug on the couch, watching Netflix, cuddling my dogs, and working on my post for the upcoming Cookie Exchange this Friday! Don't forget to link up this Friday, December 4th for the Blogger Cookie Exchange hosted by Lindsay and I!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Guide to Surviving Black Friday

I know, I know. Black Friday represents everything that is wrong with our over commercialized society. We spend the day giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives and then hours later get in a wrestling match over the last pair of $19.99 boots. I know it's silly, I know it's ridiculous, I swear each year I will never go back. But I always do. I don't do it every year to fight through crowds in the cold to get a deal. I do it because it has become a tradition with the ladies in my family. Every year after our dinner my mom, sister, aunt, and cousin brave the cold and the crowds and shop through the night. We talk and tell stories on the drive, bustle through the masses of people together, and LAUGH until we almost pee our pants. We even get a little jump start on our Christmas shopping. But I think we mostly put ourselves through the chaos each year to be together.

I can't even count the number of times I've done a Black Friday all-nighter but through them all I've learned some tricks the hard way. Here are my tips for surviving Black Friday! 

Be Mentally Prepared.  You may think this sounds silly because it is shopping after all but it can get rough out there people. Get in the mindset that you will likely be tired, want to kill several people for being completely rude, and maybe even disappointed. 

Along with this you should also be physically prepared. If you are hard core and plan to shop through the night make sure you get a good night sleep the night before and maybe even a nap before you start! I will be hitting up Starbucks for sure! You will likely be stuffed from Thanksgiving dinner and think you will never eat again but you will so bring snacks to tide you through! Dressing in layers is always smart. Depending on the weather it will be cold outside but the hustle and bustle of being inside a mall may leave you wanting to shed some layers. I've been to an outlet mall in years past where they limited the number of customers in the store at once and we had to stand in line just to get in! I've never been in a Coach store since.

Have a plan. Obviously, it's a good idea to jot down everyone you have on your list and some ideas you have for them. Looking for some big ticket items? You want to make sure to hit up those stores first before the goods get gone! Some stores also have special coupons or codes so be sure to have those printed or up on your phone and ready to go! 

Be kind and courteous. Stressful and chaotic situations like this generally brings out the worst in people. Take the higher road and try and be polite. I've been shoved, kicked, and even had someone grab something right from my arms reach! Make a commitment to stay classy

Have fun! Most importantly make sure to enjoy yourself! Like I stated in my intro I don't do this every year to make sure I get doorbuster deals. I do it because it's a fun once-a-year activity to do with my family. Above all else--have fun with it! 

Happy Shopping! 

Do you have a Black Friday tradition?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Friday Fun

This week has been a whirlwind with everything going on in the world. I feel like there is so much negativity floating around that I hope we can all just get past this week and choose to focus on the good things in life!

I'm hosting a great giveaway with some other blogger girls on Instagram and giving away a new Rebecca Minkoff crossbody bag! I'm a huge Rebecca Minkoff fan and have a couple of her bags and continually impressed with the quality. Most of all I love the edgy yet classic designs that will last you through multiple seasons. Head over to Instagram to check it out!

You know how I know I'm getting old? I want serving pieces for Christmas. I know, I know. Louisville Stoneware is a company that has been around for over a hundred years and all their pieces are so well made that I think they would be a great investment and something I would keep forever. However, I'm having trouble selecting a patter. Help me choose! 

Which do you think? 

I love trying out new products so when the folks at Natural Balance Foods reached out and offered to send me some healthy cereal bars I was so excited! They were gracious enough to send me a sampler pack of their Nakd bars and I've enjoyed snacking on them all week! My favorites have been the cocoa mint and the orange chocolate. They are the perfect size for a quick snack without feeling like you're forcing down a protein bar. All the flavors are made from natural ingredients, gluten free, dairy free, and no artificial sweeteners. Yum! 

This has been my first week on the Beachbody 21 Day Fix plan it's going surprisingly well (famous last words, right). If you're not familiar with the program it's centered around 6 containers. Each container is a different color and represents a food group (Protein, fruits, veggies, carbs, healthy fats, oils/dressings). 

I have a huge appetite and honestly can eat like a grown man if I don't watch myself so these have helped out tremendously with portion control. It took me a while to get a grip on all the containers but I've been pretty satisfied hunger wise and don't feel too deprived. I've been loving the chocolate Shakeology shakes and they feel like a treat when I add peanut butter or coffee! Here are some of my meals I've had this week! 
Lemon dijon salmon, brussels, and quinoa (1R; 2G; 1Y)

Mini Pepper nachos! (1G; 1R; 1B) 
 Open face burger; salad; sweet potato (1R; 2Y; 1B; 2G)
Crockpot buffalo chicken salad with greek yogurt ranch (2R; 1Y; 1G)
I'm way too excited about these poms! No more mess digging out the little jewels of deliciousness!

I'm really going to try and stick with this (aside from Thanksgiving) so send me your recipes if you're familiar with the plan! I've been tracking all my recipes and ideas on this Pinterest board

This Lush addiction is getting real people. I couldn't resist picking up this Santa's lip scrub and it did not disappoint. It tastes like a cherry coke and make your lips feel so smooth! The packaging is very cute and would make a great stocking stuffer.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

5 Thanksgiving Cocktails

5 Thanksgiving Cocktails to help you survive the stress of the holidays! Apple sangria, pecan pie jello shots, and more!

The holidays can be stressful. Everyone is buzzing around trying to get everything marked off their checklist, kitchens are heated up to ungodly degrees trying to get everything on the table at the same time, and you're having to explain to your nosy aunt for the 20th time why you're not married yet (wait that may just be me?). Take the edge off with some of these festive cocktails!

I posted this Fall Sangria recipe a bit ago but it is perfect for this time of year! The apple, figs, and pears go perfectly together!
5 Thanksgiving Cocktails to help you survive the stress of the holidays! Apple sangria, pecan pie jello shots, and more!

Bourbon lovers rejoice! This hot toddy recipe from the girls at The Sequin Notebook looks so warm and comforting! 
5 Thanksgiving Cocktails to help you survive the stress of the holidays! Apple sangria, pecan pie jello shots, and more!

Any time is an excellent time for margaritas in my book---this cranberry version from Gimme Some Oven is calling my name!

Apples, pumpkin...and beer. I rest my case. This cocktail needs to be made. 
5 Thanksgiving Cocktails to help you survive the stress of the holidays! Apple sangria, pecan pie jello shots, and more!


When all else fails...just take a shot. A shot disguised as pecan pie
5 Thanksgiving Cocktails to help you survive the stress of the holidays! Apple sangria, pecan pie jello shots, and more!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Thanksgiving Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Thanksgiving Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Thanksgiving dinners in my family have changed very little over the years. It is guaranteed the night before my grandma will be toasting up bread to make her famous dressing patties. My aunt Karen will bring her broccoli casserole. My mom will pour her heart and soul into a cranberry salad, become upset when it doesn't gel, and swear every year that she will not make it again.  I wish I had the heart to tell her NOBODY likes cranberry salad.  There is comfort and ease with these dishes. They are the dishes that my family looks forward to each year and will likely be passed down through the generations.

However, the aspiring cook in me yearns to mix it up. Oh what I wouldn't do to add a butternut squash mac and cheese to the table or throw in some honey maple roasted carrots into the mix. But what do I get stuck with EVERY year to make---a salad. The ladies in my family hold on to their beloved and familiar boring  recipes with a death grip. However, I take the small salad task I have and try to get as creative as possible--at least as creative you can get with a salad.  I've been scouring Pinterest for weeks trying to find the perfect Fall salad. I decided to mix and match several salads and dressings to come up with this salad that will be sure to wow on Thanksgiving day!

Thanksgiving Salad
1 Large Spring Salad Mix
1 container feta cheese
1 granny smith apple cored and sliced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette 
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1.5 tablespoons maple syrup
5 tablespoons olive oil 
Wisk all ingredients together! 

Thanksgiving Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

This salad is really easy to put together but has a creative twist! Lets be honest--a salad is all about the toppings. The sweetness of the apples and cranberries pair perfectly with the saltiness of the feta and sunflower seeds. This is the type of salad where you will be digging to the bottom of your bowl to get all the little floaters soaked in the dressing! 

Thanksgiving Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

I'd love to hear what dishes show up on your Thanksgiving table each year!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Fun

What a long week! I'm finally on the mend from my throat issues and thank you all so much for your kind words last week!

I say this every month but this month's box may be my favorite. I put this Kendra Scott necklace on my wish list last month crossing my fingers I would get it and luckily I did! I love it. The back is perfect for work and goes with everything.  There's very little chance it's going to be going back. 

I also got a cute pair of stud earrings and this great pave ring. 

Want to know more about Rocksbox? Here are some of my previous boxes (here, here, and here). Give it a try yourself and get your first box for FREE with code BRITTANYBFF300.   

I had another good mail day this week and got the Thug Kitchen Cookbook. I follow them on Instagram and love all the yummy food they post. It looks so good that I didn't realize for a while it was all vegan.  Have you tried it? Which recipes are your favorite?

Speaking of eating.....I also signed up for Beachbody this week and have a shipment of Shakeology on its way. I've never tried it and optimistic that it will be tasty or at least tolerable. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the shake or the program in general!

I'm not even in charge of my family's Thanksgiving table (or even let anywhere near it for that matter) but I can't stop looking at gorgeous table settings.  I love these looks and how they take produce items that you can easily buy at the grocery or already have from your Fall decorations and turn them into such a cute arrangement for the table.

I know we've not even got to Thanksgiving yet but I'm already starting to think about holiday posts. I'm so excited to share that my blogging buddy Lindsay are hosting a blogger Christmas Cooking Exchange on December 4th. Mark your calendars! We invite everyone to link up with us and share your favorite holiday cookie recipe! 
grab button for Bourbon, Lipstick, and Stilettos

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Books to Snuggle Up With this Fall

I originally wanted to title this post "Books to Snuggle Up With" but I could not for the life of me let that "with" preposition hang. So while you can certainly cuddle up with these books during Fall they are equally perfect snugglers for any season.

Books to Snuggle With This Fall!

Past and Proven Snugglers
This list includes books that I have read and have proven themselves to be tried and true snugglers.  

 The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
I loved this book. Have you ever described a book as beautiful? This one fits the bill. It has all the markings of historical fiction paired perfectly with a captivating family drama spanning a century. If you like twisted family secrets you will love this book! It's a bit on the long side which makes it perfectly snuggable (sure--snuggable is a word). 

This book ranks among my top 5 favorite books I've ever read. It's a unique combination of a personal memoir and cookbook. I found myself fighting back happy tears in one chapter and wanting to lick the page in another. I keep this book on my coffee table and I think it's the perfect place. It can be picked up to devour on a cold rainy night or used to flip through during a quick lunch break. If you are a lover of food or more importantly the interaction between food and relationships---get this now! She even gave me the confidence to try risotto

 The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

I've talked about this book and Liane Moriarty in general (everything she writes is gold!) but it's worth mentioning again because it's also snuggle-worthy material. This book is so easy to read and seamless that you will look up and you'll have been on the couch for hours without realizing a minute has passed. When I'm reading for pleasure that effortlessness is essential! 

Snuggle Worthy
This list of books are on my radar as they appear to possess all the qualities of a fine snuggly book. However, I have not read them. Please let me know if you have and assess! 

 The Brothers K by James David Duncan

This book has been on my radar for a while ever since Mrs. Modern Darcy posted it is worthy of a permanent home on her bookshelf. If it's good enough for her that tells me it's a must read. This is a long one (over 600 pages!) but I haven't seen one bad review! I'm looking forward to taking a weekend with this one! 

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Familiar classics are perfect for snuggling.  This one is next on my list to read from the great Jane Austen. 

What's your favorite book for snuggling?

Monday, November 9, 2015

How to Throw a Craft Party

Do you ever have those moments when you see a cool new product or company and you kick yourself for not thinking of it yourself? This happens to me all the time. Shark Tank is one of my favorite shows and I often scream at the TV when I see the presentations.  I had this same reaction when I heard of Cincinnati based company Gild Collective.

This amazing company was founded by three young women seeking to pursue their passions as makers and creatives. Basically, they curate everything you need for an awesome craft party and send it right to your door! The website has ever changing projects you can choose from to have an amazing party full of crafting. I was so excited when the girls at Gild offered to send me a party package!

The first step to a great craft party is organization. Nobody wants to be knee deep in pipe cleaners and yarn fumbling over directions trying to figure out what the heck is going on. That sucks the fun out of your party. This is where Gild collective will become your saving grace. THEY DO EVERYTHING FOR YOU. You simply select your project from their website. I've got my eye on these holiday cookie boxes and wreath for a future party.

When you order your party you designate how many people will be attending. Gild sends you the most adorable personal boxes for each person full of everything you will need to complete the craft. The only extra items I needed for this one was a hammer and scissors. 

The directions were very simple and easy to follow. I admittedly get very impatient and frustrated with crafts but this project was just the right amount of simple and challenging to keep me interested. If you have any trouble with your craft during your party, no worries, because Gild has a Live Chat to help you through it!  

Snacks. You will need lots of snacks and drinks. Maybe that's just me and my people but I think it's pretty universal. I threw together this cheese plate in no time. 

It had been a hot minute since I'd practicing my nailing skills. The first few were touch and go but I finally go the hang of it----56 nails later....

Can you see it? That's the outline of the great state of Kentucky. You can customize your party with whichever state you prefer.

Here is the finished product! I was so happy with how it turned out! I'm thinking about sending mine to a friend who recently moved to New York to give her a little sentiment of her home state.

It was such a good time putting these together! I can think of so many occasions to have a Gild party. Birthday parties, girls' nights, baby/wedding showers, holiday party, or just because you want to get together! Gild is an exceptional new company that has impeccable customer service. I strongly encourage you to check them out and try it out for yourself!

Follow along with them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Would you throw a craft party?
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