valentine’s day gifts: procrastinator’s edition

0abd7fcd-af06-41ae-81a1-e9e309abad30.jpgValentine’s Day is just three days away, love is in the air and chocolate is everywhere you go. If you have procrastinated getting your significant other a gift, or are just looking for something small to add onto what you have already purchased, you can thank Amazon Prime for getting you out of a pinch. Check out the gifts below that are guaranteed to arrive by Valentine’s Day and put a smile on your S.O.’s face — it’s a win-win!

For Him:

Beard Grooming & Trimming Kit for Men Care: This six-piece kit contains a brush, comb, oil, conditioner, wax and scissors — everything a man needs to maintain a soft, well-kept, full beard!

Mahogany Row Italian Tie Collection: This collection of five ties and two tie clips are the perfect gift for any guy who needs an assortment of ties for work. The high-quality design coupled with a neutral color pattern is extremely versatile no matter what the occasion!

Travel Duffel Bag: Whether your man travels for work or for pleasure, this canvas duffel bag with leather trim can be used as a carry-on or a weekender bag!

For Her:

Michael Kors Jet Set Large Crossbody Bag: I own this bag in Gold, and it is my go-to choice whenever I am running out to the store, going out for the night or jumping on a plane. There is plenty of room inside, and with so many color options, it is sure to match any girl’s style!

Bath Bomb Gift Set: This gift set by LifeAround2Angels contains 12 bath bombs with therapeutic and moisturizing effects. Plus it has a five-star rating with thousands of reviews!

Tarteist PRO Palette (PRODUCT) RED: This matte eyeshadow palette includes 16 long-lasting shades that are perfect for transitioning from the winter months into the spring.

For Both of You:

Cravings: For your next date night, take a page out of Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook! Whether you want to try making hearty dinners or delicious breakfasts together, the recipes in Cravings can certainly help you get there!

Red Wine Glass Set: This set of red wine glasses is a perfect pairing with the cookbook mentioned above! Who doesn’t love a night in of being wined and dined? Don’t forget a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or your favorite red wine to pair with this gift!

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera: Any time you and your significant other take a trip or have a date-night-in, snap a photo with this mini instant camera. The pictures will be fun to look at in years to come!

If you are like Connor and I, gifts may not be something you do for Valentine’s Day. Instead of giving each other gifts, we typically choose an activity or a trip for the day or weekend. This year, we will be taking a cooking class over the weekend, where we will be learning how to make macaroons! More on that next week, but for more ideas of what you can do for Valentine’s Day (or Galentine’s Day for the BFFs out there!), check out my post, love is in the air.

 

love is in the air

Love is in the air, as Galentine’s Day (thank you, Leslie Knope) and Valentine’s Day are fast approaching. Whether you are spending these holidays with your best friends or your significant other, there are plenty of ways to celebrate! Instead of going out for a night of dinner and drinks, consider these options to help you celebrate love, friendship or togetherness this month!

  • Take a class: Do something that is outside of your comfort zone by trying something new with your partner or friends. Whether there is a dish you have always wanted to learn to make or a SoulCycle class you have been dying to try, take the leap and sign up! Look up local classes in your area for some ideas.
  • Cook a three-course meal: Getting wined and dined at a restaurant is great, but it can be even better at home. Plan out a menu to cook together that includes an appetizer, main course and dessert. Pour the wine and get to cooking!
  • Travel somewhere new: Sometimes last-minute trips are the best trips. Hit the open road and plan a quick weekend trip to somewhere you have never been before. Exploring a new city, whether it is in your home state or a neighboring state, is bound to bring you a weekend of adventures!
  • Host a party: Who doesn’t love a good excuse for a themed party?! Have your guests come dressed in red or pink, throw on some classic love songs, serve some festive drinks and let everyone mix and mingle! Spread the love by asking guests to bring red or pink sweets for all to enjoy!
  • Simply Local recommendation: Bury the Hatchet: If celebrating Valentine’s Day isn’t exactly your thing, try a different take on the day. Grab your friends and head to Bury the Hatchet for some good, old-fashioned axe throwing. Bury the Hatchet has locations in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Kansas.

No matter what you choose to do or who you spend the day with, I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day filled with love, laughter and fun memories!

simply local: board & brush

Yesterday, I took my first class at Board & Brush, and I have to say — I’m hooked.

I have never been much of a do-it-yourself-er, but I love the idea of it. I enjoy watching shows where people embark on DIY projects, and on several occasions, I have even tried to build things for my home — with a very low success rate.

So when my best friend suggested we go to a DIY wood sign workshop, I was slightly skeptical about what the outcome of this workshop would be, but regardless of my lack of skills in this department, it sounded like fun.

Prior to the class, we had to select the type of wood project that we wanted to create. Board & Brush has a variety of wood sign styles and customization options to choose from on its website. I chose an 18-inch round tray with the word “cheers” on it, accompanied by a floral design, and Deana chose a planter with the phrase “let love grow.”

On the day of the class, we walked into a studio filled with avid-DIY-ers. I walked up to our table expecting to see a round wooden board ready to be painted with my chosen stencil; but instead, I was greeted by a round piece of unfinished wood, hammers, meat tenderizers and chains.

I quickly learned that this was much more than a pick-your-project-and-paint-it type of class. We sanded our wood, and then weathered it with the tools on the table (I highly recommend using this part of the class as a stress reliever!). We then stained the wood, added as wash, applied the stencil and painted it to reveal the final product. I even got to convert my tray into a lazy Susan for my kitchen!

At the end of the class, I walked away with a finished product that I am proud to display and excited to use. The class was simple to follow, and the instructors give you all of the tools you need to create a wood project that is truly a reflection of your own personal style. I know that I will definitely be going back again soon, and who knows — maybe with a few more classes I will become the DIY-er I have always aspired to be!

Board & Brush has locations in more than 30 states, so if you are not a New Jersey native, not to worry! For more information about Board & Brush classes available near you, click here!

sweet dreams

On an absolutely frigid day like today, the last thing I want to do is leave my bed. Those who know me personally know that I rarely make time to stay home and relax, but when the temperature falls to single digits, I tend to bend that rule a bit.

When I do stay home, I feel like I truly get to enjoy the space that Connor and I have created here, and I love that. While I love our apartment, our bedroom has always been my favorite room. When I set out to decorate this room, I channeled my best Joanna Gaines vibes to create a space that would exude coziness, comfort and relaxation.

I chose a light, neutral color palette for the décor in the room to match our light gray walls. I wanted the room to always feel light and airy; I wanted it to be a place we can retreat to after a long day and instantly feel relaxed.

My favorite design element in our bedroom is the gallery wall behind our bed. I had started purchasing signs here and there, from stores like Hobby Lobby, Home Goods and Michaels. At first, I was not sure what I would do with the signs, but after searching for the perfect piece to put up behind our bed and not having any luck, I realized that I could create something unique for us.

To create the gallery wall, I laid out all of the signs on the floor. After rearranging everything several times, taking a few measurements and getting some additional input, the final version of the gallery wall was created. In my opinion, it is definitely the best part of our room!

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We also found these great white shelves from Ikea for the walls and this white shelved corner piece from Macy’s to go underneath the television that is mounted on the wall. We utilize these shelves for décor items such as photos, signs, flowers and books; the pieces on the shelves tend to be reflections of us. I always try to move pieces around to change it up now and then, but most of the decorations on the shelves are year-round staples.

In addition to the décor items, I also wanted to make sure we had useful pieces of furniture in our bedroom. Aside from a mirrored dresser and two bedside tables, we also found this bench at Home Goods and mirror at Kirklands. These two items were the perfect pieces to fill space in the room that was otherwise empty. The bench has plenty of storage inside, and it is also a great option for extra seating when we have company!

Looking at the finished product, it is hard to believe that there was a point in time where we only had a mattress and blanket on the floor for several days until our furniture arrived. It is fun to think about how far this space as come from the empty room we moved into, now into a space where I would happily stay home to relax!

winter getaways

It is way too cold out.

I love the idea of winter. Waking up to the sun shining through the blinds on a cold winter morning, sipping a hot cup of coffee in bed or snuggling up under piles of blankets and watching a movie are some of my favorite parts about this time of year. It is nice and cozy inside, but ask me to go outside in this weather, and I immediately want to hop on a plane and go somewhere warm.

I have to wait another seven weeks until I am in paradise again, but in the meantime, I want to share some of my favorite all-inclusive vacation spots for a winter getaway! If I can’t be on a beach soaking up the sun’s rays in this extraordinarily chilly weather, at least writing about it makes me feel like I am!

Secrets The Vine Cancun

This trip was the epitome of relaxation. From lounging by the ocean and swimming in the infinity pools to exploring an island and getting the best massage ever, we had an amazing time!

The Resort:

Our trip to Secrets The Vine Cancun was by far my favorite trip we have taken together. This adults-only resort is beautiful, the rooms are incredibly spacious and there is so much to do on the property. With five gourmet restaurants, a buffet, a grill and a cafe, there are plenty of different options for dining for all guests. There is also entertainment offered every night, so after finishing a nice dinner, that was definitely a great way to unwind before the next day’s adventures!

The view from our room!

If you are traveling for a special occasion, be sure to tell the concierge! Connor and I booked this trip for our anniversary, and after our first day on the beach, we came back to our room decorated for the occasion! Our door had a Happy Anniversary banner on it, we received champagne and we had a complimentary breakfast delivered to our balcony any morning we wanted! It was definitely a nice surprise!

What to Do

We loved the resort so much that we spent almost our entire trip there! Our typical morning included waking up early, grabbing breakfast from the buffet and heading down to the beach. There was never a concern about grabbing chairs first thing in the morning because the beach was staffed with attendants who bring you to chairs and set up an umbrella for you if needed! There were also waiters available to take any food or drink orders if you did not feel like moving from your oceanfront seats!

If you were ever looking to step away from the sand and surf for a bit, the buffet was open throughout the day, as well as an oceanfront restaurant and bars. There are also several heated pools at this resort, including two infinity pools that look out to the beach.

We dedicated one day to an excursion while on this trip. We decided to go snorkeling and take a boat ride to Isla Mujeres. Unfortunately, the weather conditions were not ideal for snorkeling that day, but the captain made the best of it for us. Before we reached Isla Mujeres, he stopped the boat to let us all swim in the ocean for a bit! Once we got back on the boat, we sailed the rest of the way to the Island, where a tour guide took us around for the day. It was such a beautiful trip, regardless of being unable to snorkel! You can’t beat this view!

The view from Isla Mujeres

We also booked a massage at the spa while on vacation, which was one of the best decisions we made! We chose a wine therapy couples massage, and it was an incredibly relaxing and refreshing experience! Before the scheduled massage, we were also able to use the spa facilities at our leisure. The spa was beautiful, clean and well worth the price.

All in all, this was an amazing trip. This truly is the perfect place to stay if you are looking to satisfy all of your vacation needs in one location! From amazing food (our favorite was Italian!) to beautiful views of the ocean, we could not ask for much more! We cannot wait to go back again some day!

Majestic Elegance – Punta Cana

Our first all-inclusive vacation we ever booked was to Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana. This adults-only resort was filled with fun activities, great excursion packages and wonderful rooms and dining options!

The Resort:

Majestic Elegance is a beautiful resort located in the Dominican Republic. Adjacent to Majestic Colonial, a family-friendly resort, the Majestic property is massive. We only visited Majestic Colonial to try and win some extra cash at the casino, but unfortunately, we did not have much luck there!

The rooms at Majestic Elegance were great — we had a jacuzzi inside and a balcony with a view of the large pool area. The hotel also has six restaurants and 11 bars — plenty of options for even the pickiest eater! We tried to sample as many restaurants as possible, but our all-time favorite was El Asadito Steak House, an Argentinian steak house!

The view from our room!

What to Do:

img_7690.jpgOur hotel room was about a five minute walk away from the beach, and once on the beach, there were chairs available to bring over to the ocean, or there were tiki huts to sit under to escape the sun for a bit! After spending our days by the ocean, we would wrap up the day at the swim-up pool bar before heading in for dinner and nightly entertainment.

The entertainment at Majestic Elegance was great. Our favorite night was the circus night! We sat back and watched people perform tricks and trapeze artists swing high above the ground. We even got to hang out with this man on stilts before the show!

In addition to spending time at the resort, we also booked two excursions on this trip. The first excursion we went on was such an amazing experience! We hopped on a boat and set sail to swim with sharks! We even got to hold a sting ray! That is definitely not something you get to do every day!

Our second excursion involved driving through the Dominican Republic to zip line through the trees! The views were amazing from the treetops, and we had a chance to see more of the Dominican Republic than we would have if we just stayed on the resort property. Our tour guide for this excursion gave us so much history and information about the culture and lifestyle of the people who live here. He also brought us pure cacao beans to try, and we had an opportunity to explore and do some shopping before going back to the resort!

We had a great time at Majestic Elegance, and we met some really great friends that we are still in touch with today! We were very happy with this trip, especially since it was our first all-inclusive vacation! We definitely got the travel bug after this trip!

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Our next winter getaway is a little different than these trips — we will be setting sail on our first cruise together, with some friends, to the Eastern Caribbean! I cannot wait to go on this trip and document it all to share once we are back! I am counting down the days until my next winter getaway — when and where will yours be?

 

travel guide: nashville, tn

Nashville is by far my favorite city I have ever visited in the U.S. The country music, hot chicken and live bands almost everywhere you go are just some of the reasons that I fell in love with this Tennessee city.

I went to Nashville with a few of my friends in 2017, and since then, I have been itching to go back (thankfully I am going back later this year!). From doing a pedal tavern in a rainstorm and celebrating the Nashville Predators winning two Stanley Cup games, to talking about how we pretended to be a bachelorette party on the radio, it is safe to say that our trip to Nashville was full of adventures! Read on below for some of my favorite activities and places we visited while we were there!

Where to Stay

Courtyard by Marriott Nashville Downtown
Just two minutes away from the historic Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, and a short walk to Lower Broadway, the main street of bars and restaurants downtown, the Courtyard is a great location to stay at while in Nashville. The hotel has clean, comfortable rooms and a Starbucks — the perfect combination to kickstart a full day in Music City!

What to Do

Grand Ole Opry Tour
Normally, I would recommend seeing a show at the Grand Ole Opry if possible, but unfortunately, there were no shows scheduled when we visited. I still wanted to check out this important piece of Music City’s history, so my friend Allie and I jumped in an Uber and spent an afternoon touring the Grand Ole Opry. Having the opportunity to go backstage and even step foot on the Opry stage is something I will never forget! Find out more about the backstage tour here!

Join the Studio Audience at The Ty Bentli Show
Formerly known as the Ty, Kelly & Chuck show, the Ty Bentli Show on Nash FM is one of my favorite radio programs to listen to. When I found out you can be a part of the studio audience, I knew it was a must for my trip to Nashville. As someone who works in media, it was great to see Ty and Chuck in action. They were incredibly welcoming, and they even gave me an opportunity to be part of the show! After the show, we got to tour the other studios in the building, and we even learned how to line dance with Shawn Parr from Nash Nights Live! Whether you listen to Ty’s morning show every day or hear it for the first time while in Nashville, this is an experience I highly recommend! Click here to learn more about how to join the audience!

Nashville Pedal Tavern
When you walk around in Nashville, you are bound to see groups of people pedaling through the streets, singing songs and drinking. While there are several different pedal taverns to choose from, we chose Nashville Pedal Tavern and had a great time. Unfortunately, it was pouring out the day we were scheduled to ride, but Nashville Pedal Tavern employees provided us with ponchos and a driver who made the day so much fun despite the bad weather! The Pedal Tavern also stopped at a few bars along the way, giving us an opportunity to explore parts of Nashville we had not been to yet. Book your bike tour here!

Lower Broadway
Lower Broadway is a must for your Nashville getaway. No matter where you go, there is live music playing all day and night. The bands are so talented and they all take requests. Some of our favorite spots include Tootsies, Honky Tonk and Nudie’s!

The Gulch
Have you ever seen pictures of the famous wall murals in Nashville? My favorite is this one pictured here: “What Lifts You?” created by Kelsey Montague! You can check them out in person by visiting The Gulch. A short ride away from downtown, The Gulch also has some great boutiques and restaurants, including a few of my favorites: Kittenish and Biscuit Love.

Belle Meade Winery
Belle Meade Winery just exudes southern hospitality. We booked a food and wine pairing with one of their sommeliers, and it was such a great experience. We got to taste Belle Meade’s award-winning wines, pair them with foods and learn about the proper ways to taste wine. After our pairing, we were able to enjoy the property while sipping on a few bottles of wine and snacking on some cheese and crackers. The best part is that they ship wine to almost all states, so you can enjoy Belle Meade’s wines long after you leave Nashville!

Shenanigoats
Two words: Goat. Yoga. This is definitely not something I ever thought I would try, but when I visited Nashville for my friend’s bachelorette party, this was at the top of the agenda. The goats are incredibly cute and playful, and are ready to climb all over the yogis in the room! They are even willing to pose for some fun pictures at the end of the session!

Where to Eat

Biscuit Love
We may have waited two hours in the hot, Tennessee sun, but Biscuit Love was well worth the wait. This is the first restaurant we stopped at once we hopped off the plane, and from fluffy biscuits to large mimosas, Biscuit Love did not disappoint! Make sure you try a Bonut (fried biscuit dough) while you are there. I promise you, you will not regret it!

Pancake Pantry
This was my favorite breakfast spot we ate at while in Nashville, and we all agreed that the food was amazing. I am a big fan of breakfast, and Pancake Pantry exceeded all of my expectations. From the best crepes to melt-in-your-mouth hash browns, I am still dreaming about this meal!

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken has some of the best hot chicken around Nashville. You can’t go wrong with a hot chicken sandwich and a side of pimento mac & cheese!

Burger Republic
Declared one of Zagat’s 50 Burgers in 50 States, the Tennessee burger at Burger Republic is one of the best burgers I have tasted to date! Topped with a Jack Daniel’s honey glaze, maple bacon and crispy onions, this burger was absolutely delicious! Definitely make this one of your stops while in Nashville!

5th & Taylor
The drinks, appetizers and dinner coupled with a cozy, family-style ambiance makes 5th & Taylor the perfect place to go to celebrate a special occasion. Everything is delicious, especially the duck wings appetizer and the pork tenderloin with rattlesnake beans, peach and jalapeño.

These are just some of my favorite spots we visited during our weekend in Tennessee! I hope this travel guide inspires you to put on a pair of cowboy boots, blast some country music and travel to this amazing city!

a simply wonderful new year

Isn’t it splendid to think of all of the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive — it’s such an interesting world.

— Lucy Maud Montgomery

When I was younger, my grandma always told me that when she would lay down at night to go to sleep, she would close her eyes and imagine a blank notebook. As she lay there, she would imagine filling the pages with words, doodles, pictures — wherever her mind would take her — and then she would slowly drift to sleep. Every time December 31st rolls around, I think of the new year in the same way.

To me, a new year is a blank notebook waiting to have its pages filled with memories, experiences and lessons learned. A new year is a clean slate with infinite possibilities of how it will be approached, shaped and carried out. It is entirely unknown what a new year will bring; however, each individual’s personal experience has the ability to be enhanced by making resolutions and goals.

Every New Year’s Eve, I look back on the year and reflect on all of the things that happened. All of my experiences, whether good or bad, shaped my year and brought me to where I am today. As I reflect on the previous year and look forward to the next, I think about everything I hope to accomplish. Whether it be to read one book a week, live a healthier lifestyle or travel more, I work to set realistic goals and expectations for myself.

No matter how much determination you have to accomplish your resolutions in the new year, sometimes it feels as if it is all much easier said than done. While sticking to your resolutions can always be difficult, there are some ways you can keep yourself accountable and work on achieving all of your goals. Here are my tips for staying on track and maintaining your goals in 2019:

Do it for yourself

The number one way to be successful with your resolutions is doing it because you want to. The minute you try to make changes in your own life because of others or for others, it becomes more of a chore than something you want to do, and it makes it much harder to implement those changes. Evaluate the goals that are important to you and focus on those. At the end of the day, you only have to answer to yourself!

Be specific about what you hope to accomplish

New goals are always inspiring, but they can also become overwhelming when they are too broad. Take a different approach to setting resolutions by being more specific about what you hope to accomplish. Not only does that make your goals feel more attainable and manageable, but it also leaves room for improvement or modifications to your goals.

Plan ahead

Talking about your goals for the new year is great, but writing them down will help hold you accountable. Try keeping track in a notebook, on your phone or on your computer, and update your progress toward your goals throughout the year. It will help you stay focused on what you want to accomplish, and it will also be fun to look over at the end of the year to remind yourself how much you can do when you set your mind to something.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

— Theodore Roosevelt

Establishing goals can be tricky. Sometimes we set unattainable standards for ourselves, and it can be heartbreaking when we do not reach those goals. Do not be so hard on yourself if your year does not go the same way you planned it in January. There are an infinite number of factors you are not able to account for yet that will also influence how your year turns out. If you fall off track with your goals or they suddenly become unattainable, take a few steps back, re-evaluate what you have been doing, and modify how you approach these goals. Remember, at the end of the day, you are doing this for yourself, so continue to work toward your new goals at your own pace!

Whether you have a list of what you hope to accomplish this year or have yet to think about it, I do hope that 2019 brings you all happiness, health, love and success! Happy New Year!

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breakfast with santa

Merry Christmas Eve! It is hard to believe that Christmas is tomorrow! It is no secret that I love this time of year, and no matter how old I get, nothing beats the feeling of waking up early on Christmas morning and spending time with loved ones.

Once the presents are opened and the coffee is consumed, breakfast is the next best part! Read on below for two sweet treats to make on Christmas morning!

French Toast Casserole

This French Toast Casserole from Savory Magazine is been my go-to breakfast for the holidays, and it is too good not to share! The recipe is just five ingredients, and you can even prep it overnight and pop it in the oven first thing in the morning!

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Ingredients
1 loaf (16 oz) of cinnamon swirl bread (Pepperidge Farm)
¾ of a container of blueberries
5 eggs
2 ½ cups of half and half
1 tsp of vanilla extract

  • Cut the entire loaf of bread into approximately 1-inch pieces. Use a 13 x 9 non-stick pan and lay the cut pieces of bread across the bottom. Once the bottom is covered, continue to layer the bread on top of itself until the full loaf is in the pan.
  • Scatter the blueberries over the bread.
  • Mix the eggs, half and half, and vanilla extract in a large bowl, and pour the mixture over the bread and blueberries.
  • Let sit in the refrigerator overnight or one hour prior to cooking.
  • Preheat the oven to 350º. Cook the casserole for 50 minutes.
  • Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top and serve immediately!

Pop’s Pancakes

Growing up, my dad always made pancakes for my family on Sunday mornings, and whenever possible, Connor and I continue that tradition for ourselves! Pop’s Pancakes are a twist on the classic Aunt Jemima recipe. His modifications create a much thinner pancake — perfect for stacking on your plate!

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Ingredients
1 cup of Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of half and half
1 egg
1 tbsp of vegetable oil

  • Mix all ingredients into a bowl and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  • Preheat the griddle to 350º and coat with a little butter.
  • Pour batter, cook the pancakes evenly on both sides, pour on the syrup and enjoy!

 

winter slumberland

Connor and I absolutely love the Christmas season, and celebrating with our friends is one of our favorite parts about this time of year. To officially kick off the holiday season and the countdown to Christmas, we hosted our second annual Winter Slumberland event!

Winter Slumberland is a brunch idea that we came up with where everyone invited shows up in their best Christmas jammies and we eat, drink and be merry! From brunch, mimosas and holiday-inspired desserts to Christmas movies and spending quality time with each other, Winter Slumberland is definitely one of our favorite parties we have ever hosted! Read on below to see how we prepared for this fun holiday brunch!

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To get ready for Winter Slumberland and the holiday season, we decked out the apartment with Christmas decorations. This year, we decided on a blue and silver Christmas tree. With some neutral decorations and pops of red, we worked to transform our apartment into a winter wonderland!

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Once the apartment was decorated, it was time to focus on the menu for Winter Slumberland. From French Toast Casserole and bagels, to quiche, monkey bread and Oreo truffles, there were plenty of options and sweet treats! We also made some holiday treats that were almost too cute to eat! Read on below for some of these fun holiday recipes!

Christmas Tree Brownies

This recipe was so much fun and simple to construct. Start by making your favorite type of brownies and let them cool (for approximately 15 people, we made two boxes). Once cooled, cut the brownies into triangle shapes and add in a small piece of candy cane at the bottom for the tree trunk. Then, we used food coloring to dye vanilla frosting green. With a piping bag, we created a zigzag pattern on the brownies, and we topped them with some crystal and pearl sprinkles for ornaments! Last, but not least, star sprinkles for the tops of each tree!

Santa Hat Pancakes

Another easy holiday recipe! Stack several mini pancakes on large toothpicks (we used six to eight pancakes per stack). Cut the tops of strawberries off to remove the stems and create an even base. Slide a strawberry on top of the pancake stack, and top it with a mini marshmallow! Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the pancake stacks before serving!

Snowman Donut Kebabs

These snowman donut kebabs only require 4 ingredients to make! Stack three mini powdered donuts on a kebab stick. Use a piece of fruit rollup to tie a “scarf” on top of the second donut. Then, add an orange gumdrop nose in the first donut and two green gumdrop buttons in the other two. Finally, add in eyes made out of coal by using black food coloring!

With tons of food to eat, mimosas, coffee, and hot chocolate flowing, and a room full of friends, we spent the day lounging, laughing and celebrating the true meaning of holiday spirit: togetherness.

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breakfast in bed

This weekend, Connor and I tried out a new recipe that redefined the phrase “breakfast in bed.” While we were fast asleep, our breakfast was cooking all night long. What could be better than waking up to a nice, hot breakfast on a chilly December morning?

We used our slow cooker to make a savory casserole that was filled with some of our favorite breakfast staples: eggs, cheese and hash browns! At the last minute, we even made a game-changing decision to add in some crispy bacon! Read on below for the recipe

Ingredients

1 dozen eggs
24 hash brown patties, frozen
1/2 cup of chopped onions
3 & 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 package of cooked and chopped bacon (or your favorite breakfast meat) — optional!
1 cup of milk
1/4 tsp of ground mustard
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 tsp of pepper, plus more for seasoning

  • Whisk the 12 eggs until fully mixed. Add in the milk, ground mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and whisk until all ingredients are combined.
  • In the slow cooker, start by placing the hash brown patties in as the base for the first layer. We found it best to break the patties up into halves and quarters to fit across the entire pot without too many empty spaces. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Add in 1/3 of the onions, as well as 1/3 of the bacon over the hash browns. Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese on top.
  • Repeat this step two more times, so that you have a total of three layers of hash browns, onions, bacon and cheese.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the three-layer casserole. Then add the last 1/2 cup of cheese on top.
  • Cover the slow cooker, and set it to cook on low for 8 hours.

Go to bed, get a good night’s sleep, and wake up to a delicious breakfast casserole first thing in the morning! This hassle-free breakfast is the perfect meal for the holiday season! Bon appétit!