Thursday, October 27, 2016

Five Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

Alright, y'all - Halloween is in four days.  Did anyone else wait until the last minute to choose a costume, like me?
Since we're in a house, not an apartment, this will be the first year we get to pass out candy to a whole mess of kids.  Even when we lived in a house in Connecticut, I swear, there was always something crazy that prevented us from having a real Halloween (like this freak snowstorm).  We bought 200 pieces of candy and will be sitting on our porch to give it out - so excited to see all the little kids in their costumes!  Needless to say, we need to dress up.  Mike's always been the best at coming up with couple's costumes.  Our first year together, when my college roommates and I were the Ninja Turtles, he was Splinter, and a couple years ago, he even made our Mario and Luigi costumes.  Well, we don't have that much time left, but I have started brainstorming some easy costumes that we'll be able to put together in a day or two:
1. Character onesie: Target has the best collection of union suits right now.  You can be a Power Ranger, Minion, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, or even do Big Bird and Cookie Monster as a couples' costume.  I bought this one last year, and am seriously thinking about wearing it.  Bonus - it's one of the warmest costumes ever, and you can wear these comfy pjs all winter!

2. Crazy Cat Lady: Here's another costume where you can buy something comfortable and wear it again.  Get yourself a bathrobe and some fuzzy slippers, and find that collection of old stuffed animals.  Carry around a couple of cats, and even put some in your pockets!

3. Snapchat filter: There are sooo many good ones for this costume category: the puppy dog, deer, rainbow tongue, and my personal favorite, the flower crown.  I made this one for my Halloween party at work!  I just took a photo of myself in the filter, removed the background, and printed it out on card stock.  I taped the crown to a headband and did a full face of makeup as light and bright as possible!  If you'd like me to email you this printable, just leave me a comment!
4. Superman: Going to a party after work?  Put a Superman or Superwoman tee shirt on under your clothes (make sure you wear a button-up shirt) before you leave.  Then, when you get to the party, unbutton the shirt to reveal your costume!

5. Beanie Baby: This last one is for your pet.  Take a piece of red card stock, write "TY" on it with white paint, and attach it to your pet's leash.  For extra points, put his/her name and birthday inside the tag!  Check out this tutorial to see how to make it in more detail.

Are you dressing up for Halloween this year?  Any fun weekend festivities planned?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Party Starters: Cheesy Italian Arancini

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® & Lactalis American Group but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #MealSolutionMatch
This weekend was such a good one!  Mike and I headed up to Connecticut on Thursday night to surprise his dad for his 60th birthday (shhh, don't tell him I told y'all his age).  We helped plan a party for him and a whole weekend of fun.  Food is always central to our get-togethers, and I have one of my absolute favorite party appetizer recipes to share with you today.
We shopped for all of the following ingredients at Stop & Shop:
1 cup Barilla Orzo
1 Johnsonville Italian Sausage link
3/4 cup Galbani Mozzarella Cheese
4 eggs
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
oil for frying
Barilla Tomato and Basil Sauce

1. Boil water in a medium saucepan for the Barilla Orzo - Italy’s #1 brand of pasta!  Salt the water and cook the orzo for 13-14 minutes.  You want the orzo to be beyond al dente for this recipe.  Allow the cooked orzo to cool completely.
2. Remove the casing from the sausage link, fry it in a saucepan until done, and drain the grease.  All the spices and flavors are built into the sausage – making this recipe even easier.
3. Shred 3/4 cup of Galbani Mozzarella Cheese and mix with the cooked sausage.  Did you know that the shredding usage represents almost 1/3 of the total usage according to a recent consumer usage study?
4. Combine the cooled orzo, 3 eggs, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper in a large bowl.
5. In three separate bowls, pour the rest of the breadcrumbs, whisk the egg, and salt and pepper (1 teaspoon of each) the flour.
6. To assemble the arancini, take a heaping spoonful of the orzo mixture, press your finger into the center of it, stuff with 1 teaspoon of sausage and cheese mixture, pinch the orzo around the filling to close, and finish by rolling in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs.
7. Place the arancini on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet and freeze for 1 hour.
8. Heat up one inch of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees.
9. Fry three aranicini at a time, turning to ensure they are cooked evenly, for approximately three and a half minutes.
10. Remove the aranici from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate.  Season with salt immediately.
11. To serve, spoon 2 tablespoons of Barilla sauce in ramekins and top with one arancini pasta ball.  Did you know that Barilla makes pasta sauce now, too? New Barilla sauces are only made from ingredients like vine-ripened tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and fragrant herbs, all slowly simmered, to bring authentic flavor into every bite.
There you have it!  I created a fun fall-themed chalkboard tray on which to serve these rice balls, and it's the perfect way to welcome guests to your party!
When you stop by your nearest Stop & Shop between 10/21-10/27 and purchase Barilla Pasta, Johnsonville Italian Sausage and Galbani Cheese, you’ll automatically save $3 at checkout with your store loyalty card! While supplies last.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Round-Up

Good morning, friends and happy Friday!  It's one of those weeks where I've had a lot of random ideas to post about, but not that much sustenance to go with them.  Soooo, I thought I'd share a round--up list of everything I've been wanting to tell you before the weekend!
I finally gave up on my pastel nails colors, even though it still feels like summer in SC.  I love this Wicked color.

Don't roll your eyes, but I think it's time to start thinking about Christmas cards.  November is almost here, y'all - how is that even possible?  I was thinking I'd combine a moving announcement with the holidays, so how cute is this?

Salads and acai bowls have been my lunch of choice lately.  Vintage Coffee has my favorite acai bowl with banana and peanut butter.  Any locals have other favorites?
Have you heard Maroon 5's new song?  I love Kendrick Lamar and this video cracks me up.

I am so excited that one of my favorite events is coming back to Charleston in 3 weeks: The Mac Off.  Take 25 different mac and cheeses, and add in amazing cocktails and live music, and the best part? It's a two-day event this year.  We've been the last two years, and I am so excited to be partnering with them this year and to serve as a judge for their Critics' Choice competition.  YES, that's right - I get to sample all the macs.  Tough job, but someone has to do it!  If you want to learn more and buy tickets, here is the link!
Has anyone watched Haters Back Off on Netflix yet? The first episode was funny, but 2 and 3 are starting to tail off a bit... I'll finish all 8 episodes and see what I think after that.  Anyone have other Netflix favorites?  We're just about done with Mad Men and will need a new show.

This might be the year that I finally buy a few fall/winter statement pieces.  I love this leather jacket, these suede booties, plus a bright, versatile clutch!

Last but not least, the sunsets in this city have been killer this week!  I shared one photo on Insta earlier this week, but as you start your Friday, here's another to make your day.  Have a great weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Make Free Collages For Your Blog

One of my favorite types of posts to read from fellow bloggers are "wish lists" or "current favorites."  I love seeing what y'all are enjoying, and I am working on a "Bloggers Made Me Do It" blog post right now, since there are so many things I've been inspired to buy or try by my favorite blogger babes.

I know that everyone has a different style of doing these posts from lists to individual photos and personal style photos to stock photo collages.  I prefer collages, because I can see everything in one place and choose what I like the best.  The first time I tried my hand at one of these was nearly three years ago, and it really wasn't even a collage (because I had no idea what I was doing).  I like to think I've learned a few things since then, and even though everyone has their collage preferences (for example, I don't keep everything true to scale and I'm not afraid to rotate photos a few inches to fill empty space), I'm excited to share a few of my tips with you.  For this post, I will be sharing how I put together my "Birthday/Fall Wish List" last month.
1 || Use Fotor - Yes, I am a blogger, so yes, that means I love me some Picmonkey, but the "Design" tab on is unmatched.  They allow you to choose the exact dimensions you want for the optimal Twitter cover, Facebook ad, Youtube thumbnail, or Etsy shop icon.  For collages, I like to start with the "Facebook post" template, because it fits well on Blogger.
2 || Remove the background for each product image - After you've done all of your window shopping and saved your favorite links and stock photos, you might find some that do not have a white background (like my favorite necklace in this collage).  Even if the photo does have a white background, you might still want to remove that background to better collage the photos together.  Did you know that you can easily do this in Microsoft Word? 1. Copy the image onto a Word page and click on the top "Format" tab. 2. The far left icon says "Remove Background," click on that next. 3. There, you can select areas to keep and areas to remove (as displayed in the second photo below).  4. Once you're done, click on the green checkmark to "Keep Changes" and right-click on the image in the document to "Save as Picture."
3 || Fill in all white space - Now, it's time to start building!  Import photos in the right column of Fotor, and click on them to add them to the design page.  Like previously mentioned, I don't mind if items aren't true to scale (i.e. the Starbucks gift card is almost as big as the shoes), but that is definitely personal preference.  I like to choose my large items first (wall art, dresses, blanket and chair), then add in lesser items like the gift card and nail polish to make sure all the space is filled in.
4 || Add text and sign your work - I like to add a title to my collages as well as my blog url in the bottom right corner.  Fotor has a fantastic collection of free fonts.  You can also add numbers to each item to help readers find the links in the text of the post (like this).  
5 || Create a variety of different layouts for social media - We, as bloggers, know that a great way to bring traffic to our blogs is by sharing what we blog about on social media.  As mentioned in tip #1, Fotor has a wide selection of specialty template sizes for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.  Below are examples of the same collage optimized for Facebook and Pinterest.

Look for some collages on the blog this winter as I start thinking about my Christmas wish list as well favorite winter styles!

Monday, October 17, 2016

What A No-Plans Weekend Looks Like

Good morning, everyone!  I hope it was a good weekend all around.  On Friday afternoon, we looked at ourselves in pure amazement that we had no plans.  We ended up having a blend of relaxation, adventures around town, and items checked off our house to-do list - it was wonderful!

Going from the apartment to our house, we have many more walls to fill with art.  As I've mentioned before, I've enjoyed getting back into painting, and I can't wait to show these final products soon!
 We went to one of our favorite places on Friday night, Wild Blue Ropes.  Each year, for my birthday, I get a free climb plus a discount for any people I bring, so Mike and I took advantage.  I've tried tons of different workouts in this city: spin, barre, yoga, pilates, but that ropes course tops them all!  Plus, it's fun and you feel like you accomplished something.
Saturday morning was the best weather for our typical walk around the peninsula and through the Farmer's Market.  We stopped at Tricera for coffee and bagels and Sugar Bakeshop (for the first time ever!).  Apparently they have the best chocolate chip cookies in the state, so you know we got some of those in addition to cupcakes.
 I have been breaking all the fashion rules recently.  I keep wearing jeans because it's fall but tanks because it's Charleston - haha.  I've also been getting so much wear of my white shirts.  I just can't bring myself not to wear them.  I love denim + white!
On Sunday, except for a second trip of the weekend to play tennis, we spent all day around the house.  We finally chose the artwork for our living room (those awesome 360 degree photos I shared in my birthday wish list), laid out where they would go, and hung the beachy canvases I printed earlier in the weekend as well as a whole ton of other frames around the house.  Finally, the tv doesn't make the house echo - haha!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Brunch Essentials: The Perfect French Toast

Happy Friday!  What are y'all up to this weekend?  My absolute favorite Saturday starts with some Food Network and a cup of tea while I decide what that morning's brunch will be.  During the week, I maybe grab a piece of fruit out of the fridge or toast up a frozen waffle.  I save all my morning cooking energy for Saturdays, where my only motto is: the more carbs, the better.  Pancakes, muffins, bagels, doughnuts, French toast: I don't discriminate.  Well, I have officially found it, the best French toast recipe around.  Well, my bff Amanda found it and shared it with us last time she was here, and it is now my go-to.  Here is the link to the fantastic recipe.  The only change we made was to substitute the suggested challah bread for cinnamon raisin bread.  This is by far my favorite French toast bread!
For the ideal brunch, I suggest a batch of Makes-You-Fuzzy Navels or Mocha Chip Frozen Coffee as well as my favorite German Pork Schnitzel for the "lunch" portion of the best meal of the week!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fall Decorating

Now that the hurricane has passed, it's time to put (back) up the fall decor!  I always love decorating for Halloween and Thanksgiving because the pieces are fairly subtle, and it's a nice ease into "decorating mode" before we go all-out for Christmas.  Unlike last year, when I took photos of the fall decor around town, a lot of houses still have their storm shutters up, but I bet they'll be back in full swing for Christmas!  The last two years, we've decorated in our apartment, but it was fun this year to see where things would fit in the house.
With our anniversary and my birthday at the beginning of fall, cards are always the first decor that goes up ;)
One of my absolute favorite bits of fall decor are the photos from our engagement photo shoot three years ago.  They were taken in October, in a beautiful park where we lived in New England, and I love how to leaves are so perfectly peaking!  We keep a couple of these out throughout the year, but fall is the best excuse to put out a few more frames.  (That amazing Charleston pillow is by my wonderful friend, Kelley, too!  Check out her Etsy shop!)  
Fall is also one of my favorite seasons to bake.  With flavors like apple, pumpkin, pecan, and pear - how can you go wrong.  Here are links to some of my favorite fall recipes: Pumpkin Ranger CookiesApple Crisp, and Pecan & Apple Pie Cake Pops.
And if you check out that last photo above, you'll notice a delicious platter of Rice Krispies treats.  For my birthday a couple of weeks ago, Mike made me my favorite Cake Batter Rice Krispies treats that Kristin invented.  Add some fall sprinkles, and they definitely count for fall, too.

Do you decorate for fall?  Are you dressing up for Halloween this year?

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