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  • Holiday

    Galentine’s Day

    Galentine's Day

    Galentine’s Day

    For anyone who watched Parks & Rec, you know about Galentine’s Day. It is easily one of my favorite fake-tv-show holidays. In the words of Leslie Knope, “It’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies.” I am all about Gals supporting Gals, no matter relationship status.

    It is super easy to plan a Galentine’s day party. Here are a few tips to crush your celebration this year!

    When to celebrate?

    February 13th. It’s close enough to Valentine’s Day, but not the day of so all your friends, single or in relationships, can celebrate. Also, that’s the day from the show so its cannon.

    Pick a theme.

    All good parties have a theme. Try to think of something that you and your friends like and pick that. Leslie has her Galentine’s Day party at the breakfast place. My theme this year is rose gold/pink. Maybe its famous women in history and everyone dresses up as their favorite woman. Anything you want!

    Also, my general theme is “the gals,” so I put together a playlist of songs that are all sung by women and generally pro-female. I made it collaborative on Spotify so your guests can add suggestions!

    Choose Activities.

    This goes hand in hand with your theme. My party has a pink photo booth, and we will have options to do your nails or decorate a cupcake. You could easily get materials for DIY crafts, or watch a movie! My philosophy on party activities is that they should be there as an option but not mandatory. Let your guests guide what happens in the party. Go with the flow. I don’t think many people will do their nails at my party, but it’s there as an option.

    An important activity is snacking! At least to me (hahaha). Make sure you crush the snacks. Either have everyone bring something or have people pitch in some dollars. You want to make sure that you have an awesome spread.

    Have fun!

    This is the last thing and the more important thing. Have fun! It’s a get together for ladies celebrating ladies. So don’t over think it and have fun!

  • Articles, Holiday, Relationships

    A Guide to Valentine’s Day

    Guide to Valentine's day

    A Guide to Valentine’s Day

    Celebrate Love that Matters

    As much as we hate to admit it, Valentine’s Day is a significant holiday in each person’s life – regardless of relationship status.

    Because let’s admit it, any day involving vast amounts of chocolate resonates with everyone. Whether you’re celebrating with your significant other over a candlelit dinner, having a movie night with your best friends, or indulging in some self-care, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to spread love – and we should all partake.

    While it’s easy to treat the fourteenth of February as a negative day, don’t fall victim to that mindset. Sure, all the red and pink hearts might be cliché, but pretending to be heartless is ever more so.

    This day doesn’t have to be about the stereotypical, romantic comedy kind of love. It should be about the love you have for your mom, who accepts you at your best and your worst (seriously, she had to deal with you during your pre-teen years. That’s love). It should be about the love you have for your friends, who have the ability to make you laugh during the most mundane moments. Even the love you have for your dog!

    Valentine’s Day isn’t just about flowers, chocolates and teddy bears – no matter how much we love those things (or pretend not to). It’s about love, in every shape and form. Love shouldn’t be defined by a date on the calendar. We should acknowledge it every day, hour, and second.

    So this Valentine’s Day, and each day leading up to and following it, embrace the love. Give your partner the appreciation they deserve, but don’t reserve it for those specific 24 hours. Give your current friends a hug, and give your old friends a call. Convey your love for candy by purchasing extensive amounts the day after, because it’ll all be on sale. It’s called self-love. 

    Valentine’s Day celebrates love, so don’t restrict the celebration to only those in relationships, and don’t restrict the emotion to one particular day.

    The negative stigma around this holiday is played out. Spread love!

  • Holiday

    Present Wrapping Step by Step

    Girlspring, present wrapping step by step; do it yourself; Christmas

    Wrapping presents has always been my safe-haven during the holidays. It’s a little piece of time that I carve out of my busy schedule to sit on my living room floor, with the sound of Christmas music in the background, and admire my good taste in presents.

    If you feel the opposite way about gift wrap, then let me walk you through a simple process to get it over with:

    Step 1 

    If you are buying baby presents for someone, go to Buy Buy Baby. Their items are no more expensive than Target, and they usually have coupons. Plus, they wrap gifts for you! No mess. No buying rolls and rolls of over-priced paper. It’s that simple. I’m sure the associates would also assist if you’re riding the struggle bus that particular day.

    Step 2 

    If you don’t have any expecting mothers or little ones to buy for this season, go ahead and purchase a roll or two of your favorite wrapping paper. Saving money by getting the cheaper paper may seem efficient, but the paper might tear easily and you to use more of it.

    Step 3 

    Find ample space of floor or tabletop that is comfortable for you to use as a workstation. Mine is the living floor. My mom prefers her large bed. And my grandmother always roped off the kitchen and displayed her elegant paper all over the place (and not on purpose, I should add).

    Step 4 

    Take a break. You’ve gotten pretty far already, and nothing defeats holiday cheer more than overworking yourself.

    Step 5 

    Reluctantly move from whatever relaxed position you’re in, to your workspace. It’s okay, though, because we are about to make wrapping go by quickly.

    Step 6 

    Unravel one of the pieces of wrapping paper for a few in inches. Then place the item to be wrapped on top of the bottom of the paper (the white or light-colored side that sometimes has dotted lines). Take the open end of the wrapping paper and cover half of the item. Then, bring the roll over the item, being sure only to overlap a little. Make sure to mark where the roll overlaps so that you can cut evenly.

    Step 7 

    Cut the place you previously marked, all the way across the paper.

    Step 8

    Move the roll to the side and start focusing on your present

    Step 9 

    Fold one end of the length of the wrapping paper under 1 inch. When the two sides of the length overlap on top of the present, one side will be folded under to form a sleek line instead of jagged scissor lines.

    Step 10 

    Tape the length of the wrapping paper (but don’t tape the excess that goes over the edges of the present. We need those to be flexible).

    Step 11 

    You can turn the present to where the width of it is directly in front of you. The length should be horizontal right now. You have two options now: be fancy or done.

    To get it over with, all you need to do is lay the top part of the wrapping paper down against the side of the present. Then bring the bottom half up and over the top half. There should be a line in the center where the two parts of the paper meet. Tape them together. And you’re done!

    Follow the remaining steps for a nicer looking package.

    Step 12 

    Tuck the sides of the paper in towards the center, creating a triangle figure with the top piece of paper.

    Step 13 

    The bottom should have pulled up some in response to tucking the top half. Fold the top of the bottom paper over about an inch, then lay this paper across the top half. You may have to wrestle with the tape a little bit to get it to lay flat.

    Step 14 

    Repeat steps 11-13 on the opposite side of the present. Then, add a premade tag with who it is to, and who it is from, to the top left-hand corner of the present. Leave enough space for a bow!

    I hope these steps made enough sense for you not to get frustrated with wrapping presents this year. The Christmas music also helps. Comment down below if you have any wrapping tips of your own, or if you have a favorite Christmas song!

    Here is a link to a more detailed list of present wrapping tips:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYXaxeJBj5k

  • Holiday

    Seasonal Favorites

    The holidays bring a lot of joy for many reasons, but my favorite is the seasonal food and drink items. There’s a reason drinks like the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks are considered “basic”: it’s delicious and can only be bought certain times of the year!

    I want to share my list of favorite holiday beverages and food items with you:

    • Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha (Frappuccino or Latte)
    • McDonald’s Eggnog Shake
    • IHOP Vanilla Grinch Pancakes
    • McDonald’s Holiday Pie
    • Disney World’s Santa Rice Krispy
    • Cracker Barrell’s Spiral Slices Sugar Cured Ham

     

    I could list Starbucks drinks all day, but I will leave you with this one recommendation today: Toasted White Chocolate Mocha. Whether you like your drinks frozen, iced, or hot, this beverage is the way to go. It is super sweet and tastes just like you’re drinking a coffee flavored Smore. Who doesn’t love coffee and smores? It wasn’t until last year that I got on the Starbuck’s holiday drinks bandwagon and each time I order it always comes down to this drink or Caramel Brulee Latte. Both delicious. And both only available for a short time, so make sure to grab one before your store runs out of the syrup!

    There are two items on the list from McDonald’s. What can a girl say? I have a passion for fast and tasty. Now, sometimes eating foods at fast food places can be hit or miss. Well, the holiday pie and Eggnog shake are definitely a hit! I am lactose intolerant, but I will go to my dairy grave over some vanilla and eggnog flavored ice cream. Even though they don’t offer the shake all year ‘round, here is a link I found for making your own:

    https://copykat.com/2012/12/16/mcdonalds-eggnog-shake/

    If you love breakfast food, then you’ve probably been to IHOP or Cracker Barrell once in your life. Why not go again? Except this time try out their seasonal items, such as the Grinch Pancakes from IHOP or the Ham from Cracker Barrell. Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, both recipes will have you wanting more. You could even get them To-Go and pair them for an at-home Christmas morning meal. Yum!

    The final seasonal item on the list is from the “most magical place on Earth”. If you’ve never been to Disney World or don’t plan on going anytime soon, don’t get discouraged. I have a copy recipe for this desert as well (I’ll link it below). What more could you want from a snack than to have rice krispies covered in chocolate and shaped like Mickey? They may be overpriced like everything else in the theme parks, but their taste and magical feel are amazing.

    Link for copycat recipe:

    https://www.momendeavors.com/disney-copycat-mickey-rice-krispies-treats/

    If you or your family have favorite seasonal foods, whether they’re sweet or not, please share them down below in the comments. I am always on the look out for more things to try!

  • Holiday

    My Family’s Christmas Traditions

    My Family’s Christmas Traditions

    I have a large family, so part of my immediate family’s holiday tradition is juggling houses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If we pull out the microscope and dive into my mother’s side of the family’s tradition, we’ll find BBQ sandwich platters and two rounds of Dirty Santa.

    Dirty Santa, for those of you who have that quizzical look, is traditionally a game where people bring a gag gift wrapped (or in a bag) to a Christmas party. At first my family went along with this, until people began to get upset with the dollar amount they spent on their gag gift versus the dollar amount spent on the one they ended up with. It’s not like there would have been a melt down if we had continued to do it the first way, but during this season of giving, we upped the stakes.

    Instead of gag gifts, there would be actual secret presents. Each person would bring a $10 present(s) and put it in a pile in the center of the room. This would lead to everyone drawing a number out of whatever bowl, hat, or bucket was available that year, and would begin playing. The rules are simple for our household:

    1. Place hidden (wrapped or bagged) gift in center of the room with other presents
    2. Count how many people are playing and put individual strips of paper in a hat with numbers representing the amount of people on them
    3. Everyone draws a number
    4. # 1 gets to pick a present first
    5. # 1 opens their present and shows it to the room
    6. # 2 picks a present and shows it to the room
    7. # 2 can then decide to keep their gift or “steal” # 1’s gift

    This continues with each number thereafter. A gift can only be “stolen” 3 times before it is stuck with someone. The person that is # 1 will get a chance to “steal” someone’s gift after the last number has gone. It’s all fun and games until a 10 years-old is crying over not getting what she wanted because cousin Tony wanted it, too.

    In the end, everyone leaves happy with a single present and the fun of hanging out with family.

    My dad’s side of the family is a little different. We actually cook food for this one. If you’re anything like me and are not a seasoned Chef, then I have some good news for you. I could easily burn a packaged sheet of cookies with the directions listed plainly in front of me, but I never go wrong with these two family recipes: French Potatoes and Chicken Dumplings.

    French Potatoes are identical to some Scalloped Potatoes recipes but sound fancier. You start off by peeling, washing, and cutting potatoes into chip-like slices. The preparation for both recipes is the only bad part.

    Then, heat up equal parts mustard and butter in a pot. Add in some salt. I’m not giving you specific amounts, because it really just depends on how many calories you’re feeling like eating that day. Give it about an estimated cup-cup and a half of each, minus the salt (that’d be a lot of salt, but there is never enough butter). The next step is to layer some potato slices onto a lightly greased pan. Cover the first layer with the butter, salt, mustard mixture. Add some parmesan cheese from those little bottles, next. And continue this process until all your potatoes are covered in heaps of sauce and cheese. Sounds healthy, right?

    Here’s a plain list of ingredients:

    Butter (to your heart’s content)

    Mustard

    Parmesan Cheese

    Salt

    Potatoes (of course!)

    Heat your oven to 350 degrees or 400 degrees if you’re impatient like me. I’m sure there’s some cooking logic somewhere that argues changing the temperature does not work the same just faster.

    Leave in for 45 minutes (or 30), and voila!

    The next recipe, the Chicken and Dumplings, are a favorite with my family. I even make these throughout the year if I’m feeling particularly culinary. You just need a little patience or some extra hands for this one.

    Grab two cans of regular (or large) size biscuits from your local grocer. I’m sure you could make them from scratch, but I’m just not at that point in my life right now.

    Roll out some parchment paper or clean your counter space. Cover the area with some Self-Rising flour. Make sure to have extra flour because the rolling process for these biscuits can get pretty needy (I definitely could have made a pun here, but I’ll spare you).

    Break open the cans, place a single biscuit onto the floured surface. Cover it with a little bit of flour and use either a roller or plastic cup to flatten it out. Then take a knife and slice the flattened pieces into long, thin strips. Continue this process until both cans of biscuits are now heaps of thin dough.

    Take two cans of Cream of Chicken soup (Campbell’s or off-brand both work) and place them into a large pot on the stove. Add in a cup of water for each can and toss some pepper and salt for taste. Let boil on medium heat for thirty minutes. Then, toss in the dough strips. Let cook for fifteen-twenty minutes until dough is cooked. You may need to stir a lot near the end of the time to keep it from sticking to your pot.

    If you’re not begging for more after your first taste, then I’m not sure you’re a real person.

    Here is a list of ingredients:

    2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup

    2 cans of ready to make biscuits

    Salt

    Pepper

    Self-rising flour

    I hope that you enjoy some of my family’s holiday traditions, and feel free to comment your own down below!

  • Gifts, Holiday

    Great Gift Ideas for Family

    With Christmas coming up fast, it’s always a good idea to get a head start on shopping for your loved ones. We know that it’s hard to show everyone how much they mean to you in a creative way, while also not breaking the bank, so we have compiled a list of some ideas for just some of the important people in your life. Let them know how much you love them this holiday season with these ideas!

    For Your Brother

    Socks are a necessity for every boy, and you can make them individual to your brother by customizing them to fit his personality. Does he favorite football team or food? You can find socks with either! You can find all kind of funky socks especially for your brother at Happy Socks in Birmingham.

    For Your Sister

    Shopping for sisters can either go extremely right or extremely wrong, depending on how well you can judge your sister’s taste. However, a simple but powerful gift that is sure to please any sister are the Giving Key necklaces. There is a plethora of different words that you can find imprinted on the different jewelry pieces. There are necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and more all emblazoned with words like “create”, “love”, and “strength”. Pick the perfect word for your sis and watch her smile. You can find these online, or at boutiques in Birmingham, like Lizard Thicket.

    For Your Mom

    Your mom finally learned to FaceTime, and now she won’t forget to have her charger on her always with the Lightning Cable Key Ring. It fits right on her keys and you’ll be so thankful she’ll be able to FaceTime you all the time! These are easy to find online to purchase.

    For Your Dad

    Do your parents like to entertain a lot? Then a perfect gift idea for dad is a serving board in the shape of his home state. Whether that be Alabama, Michigan, or any state in between, your dad could serve up his favorite cheeses and other snacks on his favorite state. If your dad happens to be extremely patriotic, you could choose a serving board in the shape of the United States instead. These are also easily found on Etsy, or a similar website.

    Have fun shopping for your loved ones this holiday season!

  • Cooking, Food, Health, Holiday

    How to Have a Gluten Free Christmas

    How to Have a Gluten Free Christmas

    Recently, I got tested by my doctor and found out that I was gluten intolerant.

    Do I ignore this diagnosis most days? Yes. If I didn’t, would I feel a whole lot better? Absolutely. Around the holidays, it seems impossible to avoid gluten. The holiday season tempts me at every family get together or holiday celebration. I want to eat every bread, cookie, and a piece of cake at holiday parties.

    For starters, a lot of people don’t know what gluten is or what types of foods have gluten.

    According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye.” Gluten helps food maintain their shape. It acts as “a glue that holds food together.” Basically, gluten is found in basically anything made with dough or batter. Gluten appears most often in bread, cakes, cookies, etc. What does NOT have gluten, however, are foods made with rice, corn, or oats. This means corn chips and corn tortillas, rice-based cereal, rice noodles, and oatmeal are safe to eat as long as they don’t have any wheat flour added.

    It’s safe and healthy for anyone to avoid foods with gluten. To an extent.

    Those with Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disorder diagnosed by a doctor) must avoid gluten every day. As a result, people prevent painful symptoms. Learn more about Celiac symptoms and treatments at the Celiac Disease Foundation website: https://celiac.org/

    Those who don’t have Celiac, but have gluten intolerance or sensitivity (like me!) should still avoid gluten. You can still consume a small amount of gluten. However, you may experience problems such as migraines, anxiety, depression, upset stomach, fatigue, abdominal pain, and iron deficiency.

    Before you make any diet changes, consult a dietician or medical professional.

    For me, an extremely food-motivated person.

    That means I have a hard time practicing self-control around foods I want to eat. Especially bread, cookies, cakes, and biscuits. Even though I know that I’ll feel better if I cut them out of my diet completely. If you feel like you may have any form of gluten intolerance, stay gluten-free for this holiday season. In January, see if you feel any different at the beginning of next year.

    Here are some recipes that will help you accomplish this without feeling left out from all the delicious holiday food:

    Grape and Cheese Board:

    Find the recipe here: https://pin.it/jkk3az5okpjrcu

     

    Popcorn Snowballs:

    Find the recipe here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/141793088243731373/

     

    Cream Cheese Cranberry Dip (serve with gluten-free crackers/pretzels):

    Find the recipe here: https://www.julieseatsandtreats.com/cream-cheese-cranberry-dip/2/#wprm-recipe-container-44418

     

    Cornflake Butterscotch Crunchies:

    Find the recipe here: https://www.greatgrubdelicioustreats.com/butterscotch-crunchies/

     

    White Chocolate Candy Cane Heart Pops:

    Find the recipe here: https://onelittleproject.com/how-to-make-candy-cane-hearts/

     

    Cranberry Barbeque Meatballs:

    Find the recipe here: https://pin.it/tecyljqkzlrpin

     

    Peppermint Popcorn:

    Find the recipe here: https://pin.it/ssbkacz7k7emnj