Friday, December 15, 2017

The Best Trader Joe's Charcuterie Board

Happy Friday, friends!  Who is headed to a Christmas party this weekend?  If you're still looking for something to bring, check out my host with all my favorite hostess gifts (click here).  If you're like me and hosting this year, I have the perfect charcuterie board to add to your menu that will impress all your guests and doesn't break the bank.

I absolutely love hosting hors d'oeuvres and appetizer parties.  It's so easy to put things together ahead of time then actually be able to enjoy the party with your guests.  Plus, having a variety of options, like this cheese and meat tray, give friends and family tons of options. 
I work across the street from Trader Joe's, and it's deadly.  I go in at least once each week to grab lunch (their freezer meals like the burrito bowl are so good) and end up with at least two bags of delicious things: fresh produce, wine, some type of chocolate, and usually flowers.  I thought it would be fun to round up some of my favorites that make the best holiday appetizer.  This post was in no way compensated or sponsored by Trader Joe's, these items are just some favorites that I had to share!
Let's start with the meet and cheese, the base of the tray.  Turkey Summer Sausage, Wisconsin sharp cheddar, and cranberry goat cheese are my favorites.  I put these on different corners of the tray and cut a few slices of each to start.  I've found that if the meat and cheese still looks intact, no one will want to reach in to be the first to take a piece.
Next is the crackers.  My absolute favorite are these Fig & Olive Crisps, and they also make Raisin Rosemary and Pumpkin Cranberry that are delicious.  Don't forget some traditional crackers like Golden Rounds or a cracker trio for even more options.
Lastly, the finishing touches might be my favorite.  Fill in all of the open spaces left on the tray with dried fruits, yogurt and/or chocolate covered raisins, or this English Toffee - so good!
There you have it!  Find me one person who can't find something they enjoy on this tray they love - I bet you can't.  Pair this with a couple of bottles of Trader Joe's wine, and you have yourself a party!
What is your favorite party appetizer?

And before you go, one more thing!  Head over to my Instagram page (@megd_taylor) and enter to win Starbucks gift cards for you and a friend to enjoy a holiday drink together!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Wish List

Happy Wednesday!  This is always one of my favorite posts to put together, it's my twenty-first century letter to Santa.  There is definitely emphasis on the word wish in this list.  Some of these items are absolute wishes, but that's the fun part of making a list - just like when I asked for a pony when I was little!

Let's start with my wishes - first those headphones.  On Black Friday, we were at Best Buy getting new phones, and I wandered over to the audio section and tried on these pretty white headphones.  The store was so loud, but as soon as I put them on, it was silent.  They have a hefty price tag, but again, that's why we call it a wish list - haha!

My other wishes include prints by the amazing Teil Duncan here in Charleston.  The colors of the Sullivan's Island beach would be perfect for our living room, and the picnic blanket and oranges match our kitchen so well.

Now for more useful gifts; I am in desperate need of a new camera strap.  I want a long one that I can wear across my body, and I love how thin this Etsy shop's styles are.  I also love that hat and vest.  I don't wear winter jackets very much anymore in South Carolina, but vests are so perfect for the weather down here.  While it might not look like a useful gift, I have been wearing the same cocktail dress to work events for like two years, and I would love a new look.  The sweater and midi skirt look is so pretty, and I love the colors on this skirt from Nordstrom.

And lastly, the pretty things: who doesn't love some new jewelry and shiny sneakers?!

What's on your wish list this year?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Family Traditions: Cinnamon Ornaments

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #ShareMagicSpreadJoy #CollectiveBias

Growing up in New England, the holidays were everything.  When I think of the month of December, I think of snow on the ground and bundling up in the car to go on drives to see Christmas lights.  Now, living in South Carolina, life is a little different.  I was still in shorts last week, and we take our golf cart out to see the lights around our neighborhood.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love where I live, but nothing beats heading "home" to see family.

This is why I'm so excited about Publix's Home for the Holidays Sweepstakes.  Visit Publix this holiday season and shop for Coca-Cola® to find the code to text and enter to win airfare for two, anywhere in the continental United States to travel home for the holidays.  Five winners will be chosen and the sweepstakes ends 12/30/17.  If I won the sweepstakes, Mike and I would use the money to make our annual trip back to Rhode Island and Connecticut for the holidays.  Mike has so much family in Connecticut that we would not be able to see everyone if we didn't travel there.  Plus, my parents dress my childhood home up so nicely each year with their tree and Christmas village that it's always a highlight for me.
Because we only spend a few days home with family this time of year, we've begun incorporating some of our families' traditions into the holidays at our own home.  From filling our stockings the same way Mike's mom did each year (complete with an orange at the bottom) to opening each door of our advent calendar with excitement (which is still filled at Thanksgiving by my mom), we are all about traditions.  Each of the last few years, I have made cinnamon ornaments for our home, and they smell so much like my childhood.  Growing up, my mom and I would roll out the dough on the kitchen table each year, and cut them into holiday shapes to hang on the tree.
Last time I was at Publix, I grabbed the apple sauce and cinnamon I needed, along with a 6-pack of holiday-themed Coca-Cola® for a fun afternoon of crafting.
What you'll need: 
- 1 cup apple sauce
- 1 1/3 cups ground cinnamon (plus a little more to keep dough from sticking)
- 2 tablespoons school glue
- rolling pin
- wax paper
- cookie cutters
- straw
- cookie sheet
- ribbon
What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
2. Combine apple sauce, cinnamon, and glue in a large bowl and mix until smooth.
3. Lay one piece of wax paper on a flat surface, and place the dough ball on top.
4. Cover the dough with a second slice of wax paper, and roll out the dough until it's just thinner than the diameter of the straw.
5. Uncover the dough and cut out shapes using the cookie cutters.
6. Place another piece of wax paper on the cookie sheet, and lay each ornament on the covered cookie sheet.
7. Use the straw opening to cut out one hole on each ornament (for the ribbon).
8. Bake in the oven for 1 hour on the wax paper.
9. Take the ornaments out of the oven, remove the wax paper, and place the ornaments back on the sheet (same side up) to cook for an additional half hour.
10. You will know they're done when they are no long doughy on the bottom.
11. Let the ornaments cool on the cookie sheet and when cool, tie with a piece of ribbon for hanging.
What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Where would you travel if you won the Publix Home for the Holidays Sweepstakes?

Friday, December 8, 2017

A December Five on Friday

Happy Friday!! I hope everyone has enjoyed the first week of December.  I can't believe we have only two more work weeks until Christmas.  It's been a while since I did a life update, so I thought a Friday Five would be the perfect excuse.

1. Flashing back to last weekend, we had some friends over for a dip party before our neighborhood holiday party.  There were food trucks, free doughnuts, horse and carriage rides, and photos with Santa.  Of course, us big kids took advantage of a photo, done by our favorite neighborhood photographer, Ashleigh!
2. So what's a "dip party" you ask?  Well, we pulled out all our crock pots and decided to make a whole bunch of dips ahead of time and leave them on "warm" through the party.  Y'all, this worked out so well!  We made Damn Delicious's Corn & Jalapeno Dip and her Enchilada Dip as well as my Buffalo Chicken Dip.  I kept with the "easy" theme for dessert and made these amazing Rice Krispies treats the night before.  Check out my secret ingredient here!
3. Two of our friends mentioned at the party that their yard decoration theme was "Elf" this year... but they couldn't find a narwhal.  We were at Target buying a rhino to add to our Christmas zoo (here are photos from last year - we will share this year's photos when we're done putting everything up this week), and they had a narwhal!!  They only had the floor model in stock, and after telling the store manager that we were planning on surprising our friends with it on their yard (we went on a sneaky midnight golf cart adventure to add it to their decorations), not only did they let us have it, but they also gave us a discount.  I just love Target!
4. In case you missed it, I started my Holiday Gift Guide started.  So far, I've shared ideas for stocking stuffers and hostess gifts.  Still to come is my own wish list - any other suggestions?

5. And lastly, my favorite holiday giveaway of the year is up.  I love following fellow Charleston blogger Look Linger Love, and her holiday giveaway is always SO GOOD!  Here's the link if you want to enter!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide: Hostess Gifts

It's time for another installment of my 2017 holiday gift guide!  If you missed last week, I started my round ups with stocking stuffers (click here to link to that post), and today it's all about those hostess (or host!) gifts.  Who else is headed to Christmas parties over the next few weeks?  Whether it's with friends, family, or co-workers, I was taught by my mom to always bring something.  It can be flowers, a dish to accompany the meal, or a little gift.  I always ask the host/hostess if I can bring anything, and if he/she says yes, here's where my first set of gifts come in...
Whether it's a hors d'oeuvre or a bottle of wine, I love these gifts as an idea to accompany whatever I bring for the party:

1 ||| If you're bringing bread, buy an olive oil set: It can be enjoyed with the meal, and then the hostess can keep whatever is left!
2 ||| If you're bringing cheese and crackers, then buy cheese picks: How fun are these?! Then you don't have to explain what everything is throughout the party. 
3 ||| If you're bringing wine, buy a wine bag
4 ||| If you're bringing beer, buy a bottle opener: Everyone can always use another bottle opener, especially one as cute as this cat opener!
5 ||| If you're bringing an appetizer, buy a serving board: This one can be personalized with the host's initial. Plus, I always like bringing something for the host(ess) to keep so they don't have to wash my dish to return to me at the end of the party. 
6 ||| If you're bringing a pie pan, buy a pie dish: Same as above, don't make the host(ess) wash a dish to return to you - give them a gift, instead!
7 ||| If you're bringing cookies, buy a cookie tray: I am obsessed with this Kate Spade dish!
8 ||| If you're bringing flowers, buy a vase
Now if the hostess is anything like me and says you don't need to bring anything, here are a few ideas just for the host/hostess to keep!

9 ||| "Home" coasters: Come in any of the 50 states!

10 ||| Candle


12 ||| Tea towels



15 ||| Mugs


What's your favorite thing to bring to a party?

Linking up with Jenn, Jessi, and Brittany!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Spicy Apple and Orange Cider

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Emergen-C®. All opinions are mine alone. #FallImmuneSupport #CollectiveBias

The sights and smells of late fall are my absolute favorite. Weekend afternoons in these cooler months spent relaxing outside on the porch swing or watching television are the best. While many people have been thinking "pumpkin" this time of year, apple is my go-to autumn flavor.  It reminds me of going to the orchard when we lived in New England and sipping on warm cider.

Even though it's a little warmer in South Carolina, I still love making a batch of hot cider on the weekends. Using a slow cooker, the spiced cider-making process isn't only easier, it's also so fragrant throughout our home all day.
To transform my cider and support my wellness goals, I made an apple and orange cider drink with the addition of Emergen-C® Super Orange. Emergen-C® Super Orange is packed with Vitamin C plus other key antioxidants such as zinc and manganese to support your immune system along with B Vitamins to enhance energy naturally.* Emergen-C® dietary supplements are the delicious way to start your day and are recommended only for consumption by adults.

Ingredients:
- 1 gallon fresh apple cider
- 1 sliced orange
- 1 sliced lemon
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- Emergen-C® Super Orange
Directions:
1. Pour one gallon of cider into your slowcooker along with the sliced orange, sliced lemon, and spices.
2. Set the slowcooker to low and cook for 3 hours, stirring every hour or so.
3. After 6 hours, turn the slowcooker to the "keep warm" setting.
4. Ladle 6 ounces of warm, spiced cider into a mug.
5. Pour in one packet (0.32 ounces) of Emergen-C® Super Orange and stir until it dissolves.
6. Garnish your vitamin drink with a cinnamon stick, apple slice, or orange slice.
While at Walmart, I not only picked up the Emergen-C® Super Orange to use in my recipe but also purchased Emergen-C® Energy+ Blueberry-Açai and Emergen-C Immune+® Gummies Orange. To shop all of these products, use the clickable image below.
Emergen-C® Energy+, available in bold-flavored Blueberry-Açai, powder-packed Lemon-Lime, and fruit-y Mango-Peach, is flavored with natural, real fruit flavors. It’s also gluten free. Just by adding water, you can create a refreshing, fizzy, vitamin drink mix.

Your favorite fizzy flavors, now in a yummy new form! Emergen-C Immune+® Gummies support your immune system with Vitamin C and Vitamin D, support your energy with B Vitamins,* and are made with natural fruit flavors. No water needed! Bursting with fruit-y deliciousness, chew your way through Emergen-C Immune+® Orange & Raspberry Gummies to support your immune system with Vitamin C and Vitamin D.*
What's your favorite fall beverage?
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Happy December!  I can't wait to share gift ideas with y'all, leading up to Christmas, and I thought I'd start with my favorite: stockings.  Opening stocking are my favorite part of every Christmas morning.  In my family, we always opened them first, and in Mike's they were last.  I love the gifts in stockings because they're all so heartfelt and personal.  It's a mix of things you need, things you need, and always an orange at the bottom.  (We've continued Mike's childhood tradition with that one!)  I've rounded up a few gifts that would be perfect in any stocking this Christmas and linked to all of the products below:
Bath bombs

Animal ring holders

Socks - Smartwool is my favorite brand, and these compression socks are so comfortable, whether you're running or just hanging out around the house.

Hot cocoa

Bottle opener

Nail polish - I love seeing the mini holiday sets Essie puts out each year!

Lip gloss - Every stocking needs to have a little fun, and how awesome is this fidget spinner?!  Love it!

Sugarfina - Gummy bears cocktail kit?!  This is advertised as a carry-on addition - grab some champagne on your flight back home and enjoy.

Chocolate - Ghiradelli peppermint bark is my favorite!

Charcoal mask

Portable charger - I've had one of these for about 6 months.  They are so handy and fit right in your pocket or clutch.

Cocktail napkins

Coasters

Necklace

Mini bottles - Mike started this tradition in our stocking last year, and I 100% approve!

Pin it (hover over the image and click on the green "P")
What's your favorite little present to receive in a Christmas stocking?

 
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