12 Days of Gift Guides {Under $25}

Hey y'all,

Whether it's a tight budget, a lot of presents to purchase, or the office round of white elephant, I always find I need a few gifts under the $25 mark every Christmas. I feel like I always get into a rut of buying people jewelry so, to help you think outside the box here are a few ideas:
Gifts under $25

I am a huge board game fan and now that I do not live with my parents my collection is lacking. I think gifting games are great since there are so many under the $25 mark and it initiates everyone getting back together after the holidays for a game night. I love the classics like Mattel UNO Card Game by Mattel and Hasbro Classic Jenga Game .

I have to have a giant bottle of water at my work desk at all times and love showing some personality with my tumblers so I think a S'well 'Turquoise Blue' Stainless Steel Water Bottle or this Lilly Pulitzer Insulated Printed Tumbler would be perfect for your work bestie.

Changing it up from the traditional chocolates, Sugarfina makes fun candies like the Sugarfina Yes Way, Rosé Roses Gummy Candyand the Sugarfina Champagne Bears Gummy Candy   perfect for your friend who stops over for wine night or for your Scandal watching partners (just add a couple of bags of popcorn or the Microwave Popcorn Popper and a small bottle of red wine).

I am actually thinking of gifting friends ornaments that have meaning behind them like this plane and bag to the friend that spent a lot of time traveling it is perfect to gift with a cute passport cover as well like the ban.do I'm Outta Here Passport Holder.

Candles are always a go to and with the Voluspa Limited Edition Japonica Mini Candle Set
or the Voluspa 'Maison Blanc' Mini Tin Candle Trio (Nordstrom Exclusive) ($24 Value) you can split the sets and make a few different gifts. Just add bubble bath, cute slippers, a fun throw blanket, a good book, or some nice bubbly and the gift is done.

I also love gifting experiences so grab tickets to an upcoming movie or a movie theater gift card with theater box candy, a brewery tour, a course like SkillPop on a topic they are interested in like hand lettering or jewelry making, etc.

Here are some other ideas:

What's your go to white elephant gift?
 Favorite board game?

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Miscellany Monday {Max Cat}

Hey y'all,

I hope that you are having a wonderful start to the week and that you were able to have a nice relaxing weekend. This weekend I spent Thanksgiving with my family and it was a nice relaxing time (apart from binge-watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life) and it was also the last weekend that the cats were together.
About four years ago my parent's rescued an orange tabby that our family friend found in her neighborhood and started to feed. We named him Max and he became the family pet. About six months later, a kitten arrived at my Dad's work and we brought Lily home that summer. Well, this past summer after three years of living together, Lily and Max began to fight. It was stressing my parents out having to separate them and always be on alert to make sure they were okay. We tried hormone therapy and drugs from the vet but things weren't working.

This September both cats visited my home and while they did fine, when they returned home the fights broke out again, so this Sunday, Max made the two hour drive north and officially became my cat.

 So I now have an accountability kitty who in his spare time loves to play fetch and watch the birds out of my window.

How was your Thanksgiving?
Do you have a fur child?


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12 Days of Gift Guides {Shop Small}

Hey y'all,

It's the week of Thanksgiving! It means a short (but busy) three days at work and then I am headed South to see my family. It's going to be odd since only 3/4 kids will be home as the baby is in Texas but I'm excited to see my siblings, watch Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them & Gilmore Girls, eat way to much apple pie, and just have a few days off.

While I have never been a big fan of Black Friday shopping I am slowly getting behind Small Business Saturday and in prep I thought I would share some small business to check out on Saturday. However, as I began to collect things I decided to make this NC specific. I love supporting small and local businesses and I hope this encourages you to seek them out in your state. Whether it's the local coffee shop, boutique, or Etsy seller there are a lot of businesses I am sure would love your support.

Crushing on Carolina

For the guys, Julep Tie company is based in Raleigh and makes beautiful cotton bow ties in a multitude of patterns. Similarly, High Cotton is also a NC based brand and their USA made products include gorgeous ties (perfect for wedding parties) as well as apparel like this check sport shirt. Their bow ties are currently BOGO with the code BOWGO!

For some state support & gameday gear, I would check out both HomeStateApparel & Olly Oxen. Both companies have products featuring a variety of states in the US. I have a Home State Apparel long sleeve tee and I love that I can represent my home state wherever I go. Olly Oxen has some of the cutest gear for your tailgate, from skirts, hats, scarves, and even bow ties you can show your state and school some support.

I had to show some support to local bloggers of course with Sarah's beautiful new jewelry collection belle. a signature collection including this Hayden necklace perfect as a statement piece. Also, speaking of bloggers since April's adorable collection of hair bows for little ones came out I have been trying to think of people to purchase bows for, my cousin's little girl might be seeing some in the near future. She even has festive holiday and gameday bows for your littles.

Also, Addison from Carolina Dandy (she just had a beautiful baby boy) used to blog a lot about her adventures in NC but is now a full time shop owner. I have the Monogrammed Quarter Zip and live in it! I have a black one with white vine monogram and a charcoal grey with hot pink monogram.

Y'all, I died laughing when I found this mug from shopHelloGinger. I think this would be a perfect gift for a friend especially for Mondays at the office. Her etsy shop also includes beautiful giftwarp, prints and Charlotte themed items.

I love the trend in calligraphy and hand lettering and have to include some beautiful shops like Dana Reid calligraphy with this beautiful engagement card and watercolor prints as well as All She Wrote Notes' Bless This Mess pillow.

Now for the girl that needs some jewels, check out Hope Anchored Designs. These pieces have been featured on shows like Quantico and the Vampire Diaries and are made of amazing materials like raw black diamonds. Perfect for a little glitz to your wardrobe. Along with the jewels, there is the classic monogram necklace and Moon & Lola is the queen of personalized jewelry here in the Triangle.

Do you have a favorite local brand I should know about?
Any other NC brands I skipped?

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Thyme for Thursday {Dairy Free Green Bean Casserole}

Hey y'all,

Can you believe that we are only one week away from Thanksgiving? This year is my first round of holidays after being diagnosed as lactose intolerant so finding ways to still have all of my favorite dishes and not make my insides upset has been a bit of a challenge. I have worked it out with my parents that we are going to set aside boiled potatoes for me to mash with Smart Balance & a splash of almond milk, cresent rolls are already df, so my favorite dish to convert was the green bean casserole.I have been on the hunt for a while and I ended up mashing up a few different recipes to make this one. I wanted to stay as close to the traditional, back of the French's onion can, as possible.

Green Bean Casserole
Serves 4-6
1.5 tsp sea salt
2 cans of green beans(either cut or french style), drained*
1 1/3 cups French's Crispy Fried Onions
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1.5 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp onion powder
*I get the no salt added kind.

1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
2. Place drained green beans in your casserole dish.
3. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat.
4. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft. Remove from the heat, drain, and set aside.
5. Bring almond milk to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
6. Add garlic, onion powder, salt, and paper; cook, stirring frequently for 1-2 minutes.
7. Make a slurry by adding 1.5 Tbsp of warm water to the cornstarch. Add cornstrarch slurry to almond milk mixture; cook, whisking constantly for 5-7 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat.
8. Combine the mushrooms, 2/3 cup of the crispy fried onions, and almond milk mixture with the green beans in your casserole dish; mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
9. Bake at 350º F for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Stir.
10. Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 min. until onions are golden.

Enjoy! The casserole is a little more soupy than the traditional but it does set up over time and in the fridge overnight for leftovers the next day!

What is your favorite food at Thanksgiving?

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The 12 Days of Gift Guides {Literary Lover}

Hey y'all,

As a huge literary fan, my background is in English literature, I always love receiving book themed items. Whether it is a print of a favorite book quote, a punny mug for tea, or even just a book themed item I am all for it. I also love when people gift books they recommend. My book club does a book exchange every December and it is fun to see the variety of books that are recommended and loved. So instead of gifting a giftcard to Barnes & Noble (although I would never turn that down) check out my list of literary themed gifts.

Gift Guide {Literary Lover}

I have a scarf with some of the text from Pride & Prejudice, one of my favorite books, and I get complements on it all the time. If you know your friend's favorite author or text, search around especially on etsy for a Literary Scarf. I have even seen some scarves of illustrations such as the map of Middle Earth from Tolkien. Along with scarf searches on Etsy, I also love this mug since we all know if I am reading I probably will be making a cup of tea at some point, and yes, I know that makes me sound British and I'm okay with that. My other favorite etsy find for book friends are prints with book images or great quotes from their favorite works like this print.

I have to laugh at the H&M - Metal Bookend since my to-read list is ever growing(you can check it out on GoodReads) and I have a whole stack of books on my nightstand right now that are in line to be read.

Juniper Books - BabyLit Complete Set I discovered BabyLit one day when walking around the bookstore at UNC. I spotted the Romeo and Juliet counter first and then found the Jane Eyre one and immediately called my Mom. BabyLit takes the classic authors and places them into board books with themes like counting 10 garlic flowers in Dracula, animals in The Jungle Book, and shapes in Treasure Island.

I really want to smell the Byredo - Bibliothèque Scented Candle, since I think libraries do have a distinct scent and I might be strange but the smell of old books is comforting not off putting to me. It might have something to do with the fact that my Mom was a librarian. Along with the Byredo candle, Simply Sassy Things creates soy candles with literal pages of the book in the wax. It's a unique idea and I love the scent names like Pemberly, Tribute, and Wizard Ale.

 And the classic, if you can't pick something else, buy them a beautiful classic novel like this one of the Odyssey by Homer and Penguin Classics. I am always looking to expand my literary classics collection for my library.

Since the coloring craze has started I am always surprised at the next coloring book theme and the Pride and Prejudice: A Coloring Classic is no exception. I might want to add this to my wishlist since with quotes from the novel accompanying the pages I think it's the perfect stress relief.

Shop my picks and more suggestions:

What is your favorite book?
Who is your favorite author? 

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The 12 Days of Gift Guides {My Christmas Wishlist}

Hey y'all,

As much as I am a one holiday at a time person, I do excuse two things before Thanksgiving in regards to Christmas, watching Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, and purchasing gifts. My extended family is in California and New England so for my entire life my Christmas list had to be ready by October so that the relatives could shop and ship things with plenty of time. Therefore, I have decided to start my gift guides early since I have already started buying presents for others. I have 12 gift guides planned over the weeks leading up to Christmas. However, to start things off, I thought I would share what is on my Christmas wishlist. My big present this year was money towards my new mattress which I purchased in August so my list is rather small and most items are under $50.
My Christmas Wishlist

For some sparkle. I am a pretty classic jewelry person but I do not have a set of hoop earrings. I think the Anthropologie Threaded Hoops would be the perfect addition to my collection. Also, for fun nights out or when you feel more bold, I am loving the Nickel and Suede Gold Leather earring.

I love a good facemask especially on self-care Sunday. It's the perfect little treat during a hectic week and I have heard wonderful things about beatuty counter and since they came out with a collection at Target, why not ask for a little pampering in the form of the Beautycounter Purifying Charcoal Face Mask?

Have y'all noticed that Old Navy has upped their game recently? I am in love with the Oversized Flannel Scarf and the new Mid-Rise Go-Dry Cool Compression Crops perfect for motivating you to workout during the holidays.

I recently saw on Kristin Winchester's instagram that she used the Rifle Paper Co. Bon Voyage 2017 Calendar as wall decor in her home and since them I am inspired to do the same thing with the new calendar. I am also contemplating ordering the tea and coffee one from this year for my dining room.

The Pampered Chef Toaster Pan and Harry Potter boxed setare items that my mom has had for years but I never purchased after moving out of the house. All four of my siblings and I read one set of HP books and then the toaster pan is the perfect size for cooking for one.

I love Sam Claflin and he happens to star in both Love, Rosie and Me Before You. Both are great movies based on books I loved so I wouldn't mind if they ended up on my DVD shelf come January.

You can shop my list (with a few additions) here:

What is one thing you are wishing for?
Favorite present you have ever received? 

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Miscellany Monday {Weekend Update}

Hey y'all,

I apologize for this going up late but my photos and computer were not super happy this morning. I had a packed weekend and since these posts are some of my favorite to read I thought I would share.

After work I headed to the grocery store and then went to my friends house to watch her dog, Finn while she headed to SC for a concert.
Finn and I hung out watching Hallmark Channel Christmas movies as well as catching up on some tv shows. It was the perfect way to end a busy week and prepare for a jam packed weekend.

Saturday morning meant getting up to walk Finn and heading out to Raleigh to visit Jarrett Bay's store in North Hills for a Blogger Brunch. This was my first time hearing about Jarrett Bay and visiting their store. They just started a collaboration with Moon & Lola as well so their charms were a highlight of the event (along with a hot chocolate bar & Duck Donuts).
Jarrett Bay is actually a Sportfish Boat building company that began in Beaufort, NC. The first boat 
got its start in 1986 when Randy Ramsey led the construction of a single 52-foot charter boat in an old tin shed.They launched their first t-shirt designs in 1986, the same year they launched their first boat. A lot of their products are made in the USA and they support other coastal brands like Lauren James in their store. Also, if you are a fan of vineyard vines, their cash registers are actually Jarret Bay boats. They have had a collaboration for years.*Thanks to Molly for capturing some photos.

I ended up purchasing this long sleeve shirt and this t-shirt. They are both so soft and perfect for lounging around the house or running errands on the weekend.
After brunch, I headed back to hang out for a bit before going to my friend's Pampered Chef party. It was a fun but small gathering of us and we all had fun making an apple spice cake that included oranges. So delicious.

The party ended and I had to run and get ready before the Global Hope India Fall Gala. I went to support my friend Sam and it was nice to see a few other friends from church. Sam was my bible study leader for more than 3 years and we still get together for coffee a few times a month.

Sunday came with an early wake up to walk the Finn. It was freezing and I even captured these poor roses stuck in the frost.
After our walk, I got ready and headed to church. The message was on being a cheerful giver in but I have to share our pastor's thoughts on the election since they were powerful.

After church, I headed back to hang out with little Finn and watch some Blacklist. Then it was time to head back to my place. I ended up crashing and taking a nap for a few hours. I woke up then headed to visit a friend and her little guy who is now over a year old. We went to the park for a bit and then decided to call it quits since it was getting cold. I left their place around 5:30 and headed to the Teeter for groceries.
The rest of the night was filled with meal prep. This week I am making lots of salads for meals in prep for the heavy Thanksgiving meal next week. The one thing I had to prep though was a dairy-free green bean casserole. I am so pleased in how it turned out and happy I can participate in all the fun foods on Thanksgiving.
What were you up to this weekend?

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Five on Friday {November 11th}

Hey y'all,

It is Friday! I don't know about you but I am ready for the weekend. I don't have any plans tonight (the first night all week) so I will be catching up on tv shows and relaxing. The rest of the weekend include a Pampered Chef party, blogger meetup, a gala, church, and meal planning. 

one. Veteran's Day. Today is a day we celebrate all of those that have served in the armed forces. It is especially prudent after a rough week for everyone with the election to remember all of the sacrifices for our right to vote and have a democracy. My Dad and both grandfathers are veterans so it's always a special day to recognize all they have done to protect our country.
One of my all time favorite photos with my Dad.

two.The Royals. Y'all, this is complete trashy reality tv but I got sucked in this weekend and binged watched 8 episodes. The premise of the show is about the royal family of England following the death of the crown prince. While the family tries to put on airs of class and grace, the truth of the family is more tumultuous. The first two seasons are on Amazon Prime.
Image result for the royals

three. BP Luminate Open Toe Dress Sandal. Kristina talked about these heels and then on Sunday I was at the mall with a friend and tried them on. They are gorgeous! Now I just need to wait for a sale so I can purchase them (probably in every color).

four. Target ornaments. Every year I buy a few ornaments for my tree, it might come from the fact that my god-parents used to send me a new ornament every year so I have already started the hunt. Target and Crate & Barrel are my go-tos and I have started my list including these sea creatures. Fun fact, I love ocean animals and even slept over at Sea World during elementary school.

five.Southern Weddings V9. Last night I attended the launch party for Southern Weddings Magazine's 9th volume. As always it was a night of hugs, sweet speeches, mingling, amazing food and celebrating with the wonderful ladies who work so hard to show the world magic and love between the pages of Southern Weddings. I have a whole post about the launch party planned but for now, here is a picture with Nicole their art director. I have known Nicole for more than 7 years and I'm in awe of her hard work and talent for Southern Weddings & Cultivate What Matters shop. You can grab the magazine now on stands or grab it from the SW Mag Shop.

other favorites:
Chesson's beautiful dinning table that served as her guest book!
Hamilton Mixtape.The songs from Hamilton the musical but performed by the likes of Sia, Kelly Clarkson & the Roots.
In love with the Clare V. Leopard Fold-Over clutch, check out this version for $40!
I have been brewing Yogi Caramel Apple Spice tea this week since it finally feels like fall.
I watched my first Hallmark Christmas movie of the season! Now I only have 18 more to watch that are new this year.
Between a gala this weekend, a roaring twenties party next weekend and compiling my Christmas I have done a lot of online browsing. Here are some of my favorite pieces:
What have you been loving lately?
Any fun plans for the weekend?

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.
Also linking up with Brighton.
And Erika


Thyme for Thursday {Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars}

Hey y'all,

I know there have been a lot of feelings over the last few days and I wish I could hug each and everyone of my readers. No matter your political beliefs we can all agree that there are a lot of emotions, lots of friends who are fearful and scared for the next few years. This morning I read 1 Peter 1-5 and it reminded me of the hope we have in Christ. We are called to pray for our leaders and to show the world love. I hope that this verse gives you some peace and if not, I included a recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars since we all know sweets can help in stressful times.
Print from DaughterZionDesigns
 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Serves: 18 bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a 9 by 9 inch baking pan by spraying with nonstick spray. You can also line with parchment paper if you prefer.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the eggs and mix. Then add the peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients on low speed, mixing until a dough forms. Mix in the chocolate chips, and then scoop the batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.
Bake for 22-23 minutes. The edges should be starting to turn light brown.
Let the bars cool in the pan, and then use the parchment paper to lift the cookie out of the pan to transfer to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars. Store in an airtight container. 
What is your favorite comfort food?
Favorite food pairing? PB & J? Surf & Turf?
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Five on Friday {November 4}

Hey y'all,

I can't believe it but we made it to Friday again and this time I actually blogged so you weren't left with only one post a week! This weekend is going to be filled with friends, watching Carolina football, a run in this gorgeous fall weather, and some time at church. Now let's get to the five things I have been loving this week.

one. Ribbed Sleeve Open Cardigan by LOFT. Y'all, I am obsessed with this cardigan right now. I have it in the Ice Pale Pink and I am debating if I need it in the midnight slate color as well since it is on sale for only 27.50. I wore it to church a few weeks ago and to work this week as well. It is so comfortable.
two. Harry Potter. Last weekend I attended a Harry Potter themed party with my book club including a costume contest, Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, and the cutest owl emporium. Traci went all out! It was fun to catch up with friends and talk about the first book which most of us had not read in years.
three. Baking. This week I went all out and broke out the mixer to do more than a box mix or break and bake cookies. One of my co-workers' birthday was Monday so I baked up some chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars.A recipe will be coming to the blog soon!
four.Mrs. Meyer's Mum scent. The other week I ordered from the Grove Collaborative since they were offering free Mrs. Meyers products and I love their hand soap. It came in the mum scent and y'all, this is my new favorite. I am slowly transitioning a lot of my cleaning products to more natural items so let me know if you would like a post on my favorites.
five.Community. This month is already packed and while this introvert could be complaining, it has been reminding me of the wonderful community I have grown. Five years ago I was a scared first-year at UNC and now I still live in the triangle and have a wonderful church family, great college friends I still see, and sweet coworkers. Here's to a busy November filled with dinners with friends, bible study time, and fun events like Southern Wedding's Volume 9 Launch Party!

What have you been loving lately?
Any fun plans for the weekend?

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.
Also linking up with Brighton.
And Erika