Monday, November 30, 2015

May you leave room for dessert...

and may none of your foods ever touch each other.

That's the kind of Thanksgiving blessing I can get behind.  Y'all know, I kid.  I am extremely lucky to have spent this holiday with my husband and parents...and that we had 3 pies for 4 people. Again, LOL.
It was a fantastic weekend on Hilton Head Island filled with golf, tennis, biking, horseback riding... all to work off the two turkeys we had... for the 4 of us.  We're Italian, it happens.  The weather on the island was perfect - low 70s all weekend, and it was so nice to see everything dressed up for Christmas!
On the way home yesterday afternoon, Mike asked if we could stop at Costco for milk, and OF COURSE I saw the Christmas trees outside, so we popped one on top of the Jeep, and we'll wait for the branches to drop for a couple of days before decorating.  This whole "dropping" concept is new to impatient little me.  My parents and I used to go out into the woods and cut a tree down when I was growing up, so the branches never were tied together.  Regardless, Costco has fantastic trees and I'm happy to wait a day or two if it means I get a real tree in South Carolina!

Today we're back to the grind and happily celebrating Cyber Monday.  Please share your good deals with me!!  We ventured out a little on Black Friday (but only after 18 holes of golf), and I picked up a few things at B&BW.  I planned on checking out Kate Spade, too, but there was a bouncer outside and line, so I looked for sales online instead.  

Don't forget, tomorrow is Giving Tuesday.  If you're looking for a small way to give back, head over to Wreaths Across America.  Each holiday season, they put wreaths on all graves at Arlington National Cemetery, and they're currently 30,000 short (read more about it here).  Consider donating just $15 to someone who gave so much to our country.  Your donation is tax deductible, too. 

Linking up with Ashley and Biana today!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Thanksgiving Lineup

I'm so excited for Thanksgiving this year!  For the second year in a row, my parents are renting a condo in Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island, and Mike and I are down here for the long weekend.  Last year, I was a mess and so sick that I actually lost weight over Thanksgiving, but this year is going to be different.  I've been taking as much Vitamin C as I can find and washing my hands every 5 minutes.  I WILL eat so much Thanksgiving dinner that I won't be able to move for two days.  My mom has been kind enough to offer to roast the turkey, but we are contributing some of our favorite old and new side dishes for the meal.  Here's our rundown this year:

- Turkey
- Gravy
- Two stuffings - my Nona's Italian style stuffing with tons of parmesan cheese and greens as well as Stove Top for those not as adventurous
- Two cranberry sauces - homemade for all of us and the jello log for Mike
- Mashed potatoes
- Sweet potato casserole - this recipe from the Pioneer Woman is amazing!
- Butternut squash soup - Mike asked for this addition as a first course this year, and I can never turn down my favorite soup!
- Green beans
- Corn
- Rolls - As another addition this year, I decided to get Callie's biscuits (y'all know they're my favorite!) and I'll just have to heat them up on Thanksgiving!
- Chocolate cream pie
- Toll House pie
- Wine, beer, and holiday punch

Since I'll be eating as much as possible, you know comfort for the day will be key.  I already have my outdoor (for walks around Harbour Town between courses) and indoor (for watching my Panthers play) outfits planned for optimal stretchy-ness and relaxation:
All day: oversized sweater /// leggings /// necklace /// earrings
Outside: booties /// vest
Inside: slippers /// blanket /// book

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Simple Open House Entertaining for the Holidays

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #HolidayPairings #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 and older.
When we lived in Connecticut, we were always entertaining.  We had a fantastic dining room and loved having our family and friends over for dinner.  Now, we live in an apartment, and while it has a great open-concept, we don't exactly have a dining room.  We have two chairs and a little table in a corner of the room that we never use (tray tables are where it's at!), and if we ever have people over, we pull the two unmatched chairs from our porch inside.  It's a bit crowded, but it works.  Needless to say, dinner parties are out of the question.  So, what are we to do during the holidays?  An open house is the perfect solution.  Friends and family are given a few hour window to stop in, have a few snacks and drinks, and enjoy each other's company.  My go-tos for holiday entertaining are cheese and charcuterie platters, salads, cookie trays, and wine, of course.  They're all super easy ways to throw a fantastic holiday party.
The first step in throwing the perfect holiday party is obviously making a list.  Regardless of what I put on that list, I know that I can find everything I'm looking for at Walmart.  For this party, I focused on crackers, cheese, and cookies from Pepperidge Farm for my platters; Barilla Pronto Pasta for my caprese salad; and Clos Du Bois Merlot for all of my 21+ guests.  Walmart is definitely my go-to place for holiday entertaining needs and they have the best selection of super premium wine!
For my parties, I like the concept of make-ahead dishes that don't require constant re-warming so that I can enjoy the evening as much as my guests.  I also like to spread the food and drinks around in different spots of the entertaining space so that guests mingle from one spot to another.  This holiday season, I decided to make my dishes even more festive by creating serving platters out of one of this year's biggest trends: chalkboard.  As an added bonus with the chalk markers, I can write little notes to the guests so they know what they're enjoying and can pick exactly what they want.
All you need to do is:
1. Go to your local craft store and buy chalk, chalkboard paint, and pieces of wood in any shape you like.  Since chalkboard is so popular right now, I actually found fantastic ornament shapes already chalkboard-painted to save me from having to do step #2.
2.  If purchasing plain wood, paint the pieces with the paint and let them dry completely.
3. Wash the platters to make sure they are ready to hold food.
4. Start building the platters with different ingredients.  I chose to do an appetizer plate and a dessert plate.  Make sure that you leave room for labeling.  Here are my suggestions for each plate:
After I created and placed my platters (a few for each part of my home), I spooned my caprese pasta salad (a ten minute side dish made with Barilla Pronto Pasta, sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and a little Italian salad dressing) into individual cups, uncorked the wine, (poured myself the first glass,) and enjoyed the party with my guests!
To me, holiday entertaining is about having a little something for everything.  Variety in a box like with the Pepperidge Farm Cracker Trio and Pepperidge Farm Cookie Collection make shopping and hosting so easy because of the diversity in one package.  Plus, so many people are familiar with those iconic butterfly-shaped crackers and Milano cookies that they instantly feel at home!

For even more ideas for planning your holiday party and to learn about tasting events near you, visit the Simple Entertaining Hub where you can even find out about tasting and pairing events at Walmart stores near you!

  • Are you hosting a holiday party this year?
  • What is your favorite time-saving party tip?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekend Recap

Raise your hand if you're as excited for Thanksgiving as me?!  This weekend was amazing, but I couldn't help and look forward to one of my favorite holidays coming up in three days.  Luckily, I had a lot to keep me busy...

Friday was my biggest event of the year at work.  We hosted our Golf and Gala out at Kiawah, and it was the perfect 70 degree sunny day!  Both portions of the event were fantastic, there was delicious Lowcountry food, and we raised a lot of money for our kids!
In return for working at the event, my organization paid for Mike and me to spend the weekend at The Sanctuary Hotel out on Kiawah.  It was amazing, just like last year.  I even had a chance to finally meet Chesson at an awesome new wine bar on Kiawah; you're given a card and can dispense any of 48 types of wine by the glass at self-serve machines!
On the way home yesterday, we took my parents and a family friend to our favorite place, the Charleston Tea Plantation!  They loved the tours and we finished our last little bit of Christmas shopping with all of the makings of a Charleston tea basket for Mike's grandma!
Our afternoon was spent shopping for Thanksgiving dishes, watching my Panthers go 10-0 (!!!), and finally spending way too much money at Sephora thanks to winning Pamela's giveaway.  Don't worry, I plan on sharing the love with y'all after Thanksgiving weekend - more info soon ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Good morning!  How's everyone's week going?  My organization is hosting our biggest event of the year, a big gala out on Kiawah Island tomorrow, so to end my week of blogging, I thought I'd share a little early "Five on Friday"-type post to share what I've been doing lately...

Traveling - The weekend before last I flew up to Philadelphia to meet Mike in Delaware for his grandmother's 80th birthday.  It was so nice to see all of his family, and during our 5 hour layover in Chicago on the way back, we even enjoyed some deep dish pizzas with a friend from college.

Cooking - Football Sundays for us mean crock pot fun!  Last weekend we made the most delicious slow cooker Mongolian beef (but I added 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and a bunch of dashes of sriracha) and spicy zucchini.  I haven't been the only one busy; Mike made a from-scratch German chocolate cake, and I can't wait to share the recipe next week.

Golfing - I had Veteran's Day off from work, so Mike and I played a round of golf where we've been members for the last year.  I've been striving to break the course record all year, and I did with an even par 72!  I started off playing well, parring every hole through 10, except for one birdie.  I three-putted the 11th to go back to even par, and held there through 17.  On 18, I hit my ball into the hazard and took a drop.  From 137 yards out, I hit the ball to about 15 feet from the flag and made the putt to make par and shoot even par!

Anticipating - I have another Charleston Blog Society event to attend tonight.  This time, it'll be "Bloggers at the Barre," and I'm excited and nervous all at the same time to try my first barre class.  Usually, we have events at boutiques and new spots around town, like last month's event at The Spectator Hotel, so I'm really excited to try something new!

Yelping - I was so excited to get an email this week that I was accepted into the Yelp Elite squad.  I've been Yelping for a few months now and am loving getting to know another group of people in Charleston.  I'm even helping to plan my first UYE (unofficial Yelp event) with Erika in a couple of weeks.  Are you on Yelp?  Add me!

Wrapping - 95% of my Christmas shopping is done and everything I have is wrapped.  Like last year, my parents are driving down to spend Thanksgiving with us, and they're going to bring all of our gifts back so we can fly up without a million suitcases!  They're the best.

Gifting - One of my favorite gifts I've wrapped so far is for one of Mike's cousins.  As part of an art kit, I requested Doodletopia: Cartoons from Blogging for Books.  He is absolutely going to love it!  The step-by-step instructions and tips are perfect for kids of any age, and the student learns how to draw every part of the cartoon from their expressions to their outfits.  There is even space on many of the pages to draw right in the book.  Mike's cousin is 12, and I know this will be the perfect gift for him, as he likes to follow instructions, but also has quite the imagination and can take the tips from the book and run with them.  I can't wait for him to open it on Christmas morning!

Wishing - The only person I haven't finished shopping for yet is Mike (we do our gifts at home before traveling for Christmas), and I've been thinking about gifts for him as well as creating my own wish list.  Here are the links to my lists from last year and 2013.  What's on your wish list this holiday season?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Praying for Paris and the World

We all know the horrible tragedy that took place in Paris last week.  I am so proud of the outpouring of love our country (and the world) has shown this beautiful country.  However, we also cannot forget our other neighbors across the world, in places like Beirut, who have also experienced senseless tragedy like that in France.

This weekend, I spent some time looking back at my photos from my summer abroad in Paris in 2010.  I thought I'd share a few, since I realized I never have on this blog.  This trip was actually my second time in Paris.  I had spent a weekend in Paris while studying in Luxembourg the previous summer and that experience definitely sparked my interest to want to go back. I studied French and Franco-American history, and we took field trips to amazing places like Giverny, Versailles, and Normandy.  I also explored every inch of the city on the weekends, and you know I had to make a trip to Disneyland Paris with my Disney obsession.
Maison des Provinces de France where I lived on the campus of Cite Internationale
Eiffel Tower /// Standing in the middle of the city in front of Notre Dame
From the top of the Eiffel Tower
Musee Rodin /// Normandy
Monet's Gardens at Giverny
Main Street USA (LOL) in Disneyland Paris

I really hope that someday soon Mike and I can go back and visit.  We had only been dating a couple of months when I studied in Paris, and although he got to see a lot of the city via skype, I'd love to show him everything in person.

Monday, November 16, 2015

All The Shimmer: Holiday Card Picks

I know this is my second Christmas post already this year, and I swear that there will be a Thanksgiving post on this little blog sometime soon, but I had to share this with y'all today!  For the second year in a row, Mike and I decided to go with Minted for our holiday cards.  Navigating to their website last week, I found that they're having an awesome "foil" event that ends today - hence the importance of this post going up today!  20% off is definitely a good excuse to get your act together and order cards in November.

We knew we were using Minted but debated whether or not to do photo cards again this year.  Last year, it was a perfect reason to share a few wedding photos with family and friends, but is it weird to do a photo card of a married couple without kids?  Well, we took a few anniversary photos this fall, so we decided to combine those for the card with photos of Charleston at Christmastime, and I'm excited to see how they turned out!

Here were my picks from Minted's foil-pressed collection:
snowflake squares
simply christmas
season of love
gilded tree
moments of jolly
gold illume
Lastly, I want to share a link-up that two of my favorite ladies are hosting next month.  I love seeing bloggers' Christmas cards, and this also helps us make sure our cards are out by mid-December - haha!  I hope you'll consider linking up with Macy and Mary on December 14th!
To Travel & Beyond
  • What is your favorite of the Minted designs?
  • Which one do you think I chose?
  • Have you ordered your holiday cards yet?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What's In My Bag

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #BeHealthyForEveryPartofLife #CollectiveBias
Big news in the world of Meg: my new bag is here.  Maybe you saw my bag drama a couple of weeks ago, but a day after I wrote that post, my favorite person in the world went on Nordstrom live chat for me and found out they had restocked.  Well, now it's here!

You know the only bad thing about getting a new purse?  The transition from the old to the new.  #Firstworldproblems right?!  The pockets aren't the same and there's always that period where you just throw everything in the bottom until you figure the best use of all the new features.

This time of year, I'm also trying to carry a little bit of everything: planners to keep track of everything going on, makeup for touchups throughout the day, and my go-tos from Walmart like these from Pfizer to stay healthy through the next 5 months of cold and flu season.
Here's my current rundown:

Galaxy s6 - I've had this phone since this summer and cannot say enough good things about it; the camera is phenomenal and it's so fast.
Life planner (cranberry) and blog planner (floral) - We, as bloggers, know the struggle of all the planners all the time.
Vera Bradley wallet - I'm finally over the Vera floral pattern life stage, but I seriously love this wallet and how it has a place for everything.
Emergen-C Immune+ Chewables - I've been traveling a lot lately, so these are perfect for immune support.
Advil Tablet Vial - The same original round tablets providing safe, effective pain relief for over 25 years, just in a more convenient package for my bag.
ChapStick Total Hydration -  I love the vanilla flavor, and it is 100% natural and an advanced nourishing formula with argan oil and avocado butter and rosehip oils.
Tissues, gum, bobby pins, headphones, stain-removing pen, hand sanitizer, touch-up makeup - all self-explanatory!
Now that I have all these things, how do I keep them organized?
Here are my 5 DIY Purse Organization Tips Using Items You Already Have:
1. Put an eyeglasses case to use for those nail needs.  I especially love carrying whatever nail color I'm currently wearing at that time for little touch ups on the run.
2. Place cotton balls in your makeup compacts.  We've all had an eye shadow or foundation crumble into a million tiny pieces in our bags.
3. Buy mini sizes of your essentials, like Advil Tablet Vials, so you have all of your favorites on-hand without taking up too much room.
4. Use a wine cork to keep headphones untangled.  Simply poke a hole in the bottom for the jack and wrap the wires around it.
5. Fill a used mint container with bobby pins.  This definitely helps with the number of pins I find in my car, the bottom of my bag, under my desk... I could go on.
  • What's one "must-have" you always have in your bag?
  • Do you have any favorite organization tips to add to my list?
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