Monday, December 23, 2013

On The Fly Guide to Holiday Entertaining: Classy Cocktails


It's finally time for my favorite and final post in the On The Fly Guide to Holiday Entertaining-- Festive & Classy Cocktails! Each of these drinks are so easy to make and only use a few key ingredients. My advice for your holiday get-together is to have wine, beer and a signature cocktail. Many of these drinks are easy to make in a large batch, which is ideal throughout the night. No need to play bartender when everything is already prepared :) Try out these delicious drinks on your own, or with friends, and enjoy the holiday season to its fullest!

The Weary Chef has a great recipe for a twist on a classic cocktail. A Cranberry Mimosa! This is probably one of the easiest holiday drinks to make. Three ingredients and you can drink this at your holiday brunch, Christmas dinner or your New Years bash! Thanks to WearyChef.com for photo & recipe!

INGREDIENTS
Champagne
Cranberry Juice
Frozen Cranberries

RECIPE

Fill glass almost to the top with champagne.
Add a splash of cranberry juice and a few frozen cranberries. 
The cranberries will also serve as ice cubes and chill the drink for you!


Another festive and delicious drink is this Holiday Sangria recipe
from Decor and the Dog. It's literally two liquids and some fruit! Perfect if you want to make a large pitcher for all of your guests. Photo & Recipe credit to DecorAndTheDog.net.

INGREDIENTS

White wine
Sparkling apple cider or apple juice
Clementine
Apples
Pomegranate seeds

RECIPE
Combine equal parts wine and cider.
Add cut up fruit to the liquid and that's it!



This treat has been one of my personal favorites for a while now. Basically an Adult Root Beer Float, this drink doubles as dessert and a cocktail! 2 in 1 deals over the holidays... I'm in! Photo credit: Brides.PrestonBailey.com

INGREDIENTS
Root beer
Three Olives Root Beer
Vanilla Ice Cream
RECIPE
Pour root beer over ice
Add Three Olives vodka to taste
Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream  

 
I also love this idea by Preston Bailey-- put the float into fancy champagne glasses for a totally classy, but fun holiday treat!

This last drink is one that I just recently discovered and is totally perfect for both fall and winter. I call it Caramel Apple Cider. It's absolutely delicious and tastes great when served cold or hot! Yum!
INGREDIENTS
Apple cider
Smirnoff kissed caramel
Apples


RECIPE
Pour cider.
Add Smirnoff vodka to taste.
Add cut up apples.
Serve over ice or heated up in the microwave/stove.
Made this in a cauldron for our Halloween party and it was a HUGE hit! The bottom was dry by the end of the night.  

What are you favorite holiday cocktails?! I'd love to add some new recipes!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On The Fly Guide to Holiday Entertaining: Easy Hors d'oeuvres

In post #2 of my On The Fly Guide to Holiday Entertaining, I'll be helping you to tackle the most daunting task in all party planning...the food. Now, don't cringe or sigh or hyperventilate over the thought of long hours slaving over a hot stove. I'm going to help you make things WAY easier than that! Check out some of the great appetizer options below; they're easy to make, low maintenance and your guests will love them!

MINI STROMBOLI
I love this snack for any occasion. Also, switch out the crescents  and cheese for reduced fat, and use turkey pepperoni to create low calorie roll ups.
Photo from DinnerWithTheDonnells.com
INGREDIENTS:
Pillsbury crescent rolls
String cheese
Sliced pepperoni
Marinara sauce
DIRECTIONS:
Cut cheese stick into 3 even segments
Roll 2-3 pepperoni and cheese segment into the crescent
Place on aluminum foil covered cookie sheet
Follow instructions on the back of the Pillsbury tin
Serve with marinara sauce

SWEET & SOUR MEATBALLS
My Grandma has been using this recipe for over 50 years. Also known as, Many Magic Meatballs, the sweet and sour flavor is always a hit! Perfect as an appetizer, or, serve over rice as a meal!
Photo from Food.com
INGREDIENTS:
Small package of frozen meatballs
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup grape jelly
1/3 cup lemon juice
DIRECTIONS:
Pour sauce over meatballs
350 degree oven, 20 minutes, until sauce thickens
Pour into chafing dish
Use toothpicks to serve

 

SPINACH DIP
This recipe is one that my Mom has been using for many years. It's easy and so delicious! The perfect addition to any holiday party.
Photo from KaraInTheKitchen.com
INGREDIENTS:
2 sourdough loaves
Frozen spinach, thawed
Knorrs vegetable soup mix
1 cup mayo
16 oz. sour cream
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
DIRECTIONS:
Hollow out one of the sourdough loaves so that it looks like a bowl
Cut the other loaf into pieces for dipping
Drain and dry spinach
In a bowl, mix vegetable soup mix, mayo, sour cream, Worcestershire and spinach
Mix until thick
Chill at least an hour before serving
Put dip into the hollowed-out bread bowl and serve with the cut up sourdough bread

BUFFALO CHICKEN CHEESE BALL
Thanks to the KeyIngredient.com for this twist on a classic party favorite. I've made this cheese ball many times and people have always gone crazy over it. Easy to make and easy to serve.
Photo from KeyIngredient.com
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup chicken, cooked & shredded
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
2-3 tbsp hot sauce
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar & gouda cheese
DIRECTIONS:
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except the cheddar and gouda cheeses
Form into a ball, and then roll in the cheeses to coat
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour before serving
Serve with tortilla chips, pretzels, crackers or chopped vegetables

HOLIDAY PINWHEELS
Check out TasteOfHome.com for this delicious recipe. These pinwheels just look delicious and make perfect bite-sized appetizers for the holidays!
Christmas Party Pinwheels Recipe
Photo from the TasteOfHome.com website
INGREDIENTS:
16 oz (2 packages) of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
4 oz (1 package) of ranch salad dressing mix
1/2 cup minced sweet red pepper
1/2 cup minced celery
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
3-4 flour tortillas (10 inches)
DIRECTIONS: 
In a bowl, beat cream cheese and dressing mix until smooth
Add red pepper, celery, onions and olives; mix well
Spread about 3/4 cup on each tortilla
Roll up tightly; wrap in plastic wrap
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours; Cut into 1/2-in. slices

These unique, delicious and festive creations are sure to please all of your guests. Not to mention, major kudos for making them all yourself (no need to reveal to anyone how simple the recipes really are!) With such easy-to-create and easy-to-maintain dishes, you can really relax and enjoy the party and the company!

What are you favorite holiday party hors d'oeuvres?
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

On The Fly Guide to Holiday Entertaining: Festive Decorating

In my opinion, hosting festive get-togethers and parties is one of the best things about the holiday season. It's so fun to invite all of your family, friends, and co-workers over for a fun night! However, it's extremely easy for the party to get the best of you and for the stress of hosting to overshadow an enjoyable evening. For this reason, this is my first of a series of posts called the On The Fly Guide to Holiday Entertaining.

In this post, we'll cover the topic of Festive Decorating:

One of my favorite decorating tricks is remembering that accents are key. Little accents like ornaments from the ceiling, or strategically placed ribbons and bows keep things both festive and classy. I must give credit to my mother for the following decorations that are currently around the house. Aren't they simple, yet elegant and festive... what could be better?!

holiday decorating
holiday decorating
Photo Credit: Megan Tichonevicz
Centerpieces are another way to create themed stunning visuals that are sure to impress your guests. I love the first piece below that we have in our house. All you need is a vase, candle and either a purchased or DIY wreath. Or, take a tip from AldoVega by filling glass jars with holiday items like bows, ornaments or candy canes! Lastly, I love the creative use of wine glasses by As Long As Its Fancy. Try out any one of these ideas and be prepared for a giant WOW from each and every guest!


holiday centerpieces
Photo credit, Left to Right: Megan Tichonevicz, AldoVega.com, & AsLongAsItsFancy.com
Lastly, display cards are always a fun idea. Whether it's to arrange seating or display food options, finding a creative way to hold the cards will be sure to impress. My mother has these great little nutcrackers with slits in the head. We made the name tags with puffy paint and voila... we're prepared every year for Christmas dinner. I also LOVE this candy cane idea by Industrious Justice. Once again, so easy, affordable and perfect for the holiday season!

holiday display card ideas
Photo credit, Left to Right: Megan Tichonevicz & IndustriousJustice.com
Don't let the stress of hosting a party overshadow the fun. Remember, party decorating isn't about going overboard, but about just a few strong accents. Use these ideas to add some simple sparkle and flash to keep your guests feeling festive, classy and blown away all party long!

Thank you to AldoVega.com, IndustriousJustice.com & AsLongAsItsFancy.com for your photos and holiday inspiration!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter Beauty Switches for Season-Long Radiance

If you live in an area that experiences multiple seasons, then you've probably been feeling that strong change into winter. Change in temperature, lack of moisture in the air, and increased holiday events can really take a toll on that natural beauty of yours. But instead of letting the season get the best of you, just make these three beauty switches and look your best all winter long!

Lotion--->Vaseline:
With the increased dryness in the air, your skin can really take a hit. And sometimes, regular lotion just doesn't cut it! That's why I've switched out all of my lotions and moisturizers for Vaseline. It does the same job... ONLY BETTER! It's stronger and in the dead of winter, you need that perfect combination of strong and soft.
TIP: Change up your bedtime routine and generously add lotion to any dry parts of your body for an overnight moisture mask (ie: lips, face, elbows, feet, hands)

Heated hair--->No heat styles:
The frigid, dry air can make your hair coarse, staticy and completely bone dry. So instead of sucking out all of the moisture that's left with hair dryers, straighteners or curling irons, try out some of these no heat style techniques. They're low maintanence, healthy for your hair and look fabulous for holiday events and long parties! Buzzfeed has a list of 22 great no heat styles, check out a few of my favorites:
  
Toothpaste--->Baking soda+lemon:
The final beauty switch is in response to the hot coffee you drink to stay warm and the red wine you enjoy at the various holiday events. Now, I'm no stranger to coffee and wine throughout the year, but my consumption is definitely increased during the winter months! And, if you're not careful, this can really do damage to those pearly whites! Avoid and reverse coffee and wine stains by using this toothpaste substitute, recommended by Dr. Oz:


Dr. Oz’s Teeth Whitening Home Remedy
Baking Soda
Lemon


In a small bowl, mix a little bit of baking soda with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon. The mixture should bubble slightly.
Using a cotton swab, wipe saliva and excess plaque from your teeth before brushing on the mixture. Leave the mixture on your teeth for a minute before gently brushing it off with a toothbrush.

Don’t leave the mixture on your teeth for any longer than a minute; the acid erode tooth enamel.

So make these three beauty switches and radiate all winter long! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Fly Lady's Guide to Gifting

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time for the holiday craze! Packed malls, daily discounts, and sheer chaos is not always as fun as it sounds. Not to mention, buying great gifts is hard! It seems as if everyone has everything and finding practical, yet unique gifts for loved ones can be a real challenge. 

Well, you know I'm all about making everything as simple and stress-free as possible so I bring to you: 
The Fly Lady's Guide to Gifting! 

Wantist.com is a great gifting concierge. First, choose what kind of gift you're looking for (ie. clever, edible, engaging, practical, funny, etc.) Then, what kind of person you're buying for (ie. fun loving, professional, geeky, artistic, etc.) And boom- the site generates a ton of gifting ideas. When I entered "I'm looking for something practical for someone fun loving" the site gave me all kinds of options, including a waffle cone maker, table in a bag, a table side fire bowl and more! Click on the photo for a longer description and a list of different sites (and their prices) to buy the product! How much easier could it get?! Love this site.


Sugarfina.com is the place to go for the candy lover in your life. But this isn't just your normal, everyday candy store. The site features everything from a mini martini giftset to champagne gummy bears! They even offer gluten free and fat free options! This is definitely the site for the classy sugar lover. 
 
Now of course, every lady knows that buying gifts for a man is hard! I mean, men have it easy. All they have to do is buy candy, jewelry or flowers and we're happy! Can't go wrong with that! But what do men want? Something practical? Something sentimental? Something unique? Well, thank goodness there is GreatGiftsForMen.com to guide your way! With everything from stainless steel shaving kits to a personalized beer growler to round whiskey stones, this site it foolproof! Trust me, all guys would want ANY ONE of the awesome gifts on this site! 
 
 Wantful.com is unlike any site I've ever seen before. It really creates a totally unique gifting experience. And honestly, what's better than getting an AMAZING gift combined with an awesome experience?! Basically, you visit the website, decide how much you want to spend and go through a variety of designer items that you think the "giftee" would like. Then Wantful sends them a book with the different options that you've selected. From there, the giftee chooses which item(s) they want! Definitely a personalized and practical gift giving experience for everyone involved.


 My last favorite gifting option is more sentimental than the rest. KindNotes.com brings back the classic warm feeling of opening a written note from someone you love. You can choose from a variety of styles and themes, as well as pre-written notes or blank ones to add your own! For example, the long distance jar includes notes that say:
-Someone is thinking about you today and every day!
-The thought of you makes me smile.
-If you think missing me is hard, then you should try missing you.
-Even though we're miles apart, my heart is always with you.
-If kisses were raindrops, I'd send you a storm.
-One more day without you is one more day closer to being with you.
-When we're together or when we're apart, you're first in my thoughts and first in my heart.

How cute is that?! This would be perfect for a parent, grandparent or long-distance family member. It's definitely a gift that keeps on giving!

So enjoy your holiday season to the fullest without worrying about crowded stores and perfects gifts. Use this guide to be everyone's favorite Santa this Christmas and all year round! Also, check out my posts on more great gifting options like Prepara Kitchen Tools and Sugarwish. 

WISHING YOU HAPPY HOLIDAYS & A SUCCESSFUL GIFTING SEASON!
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 Fall Fashion Must Haves



My favorite thing about a season change is the way fashion transitions with it. And, if you live around the Harrisburg area, you may have seen my fashion advice in The Patriot News. If not, check out my advice and photos on PennLive.com!

I was so inspired by this piece and of all the other participants' advice; therefore, I thought I would expand a little further on fall fashion that's easily transferable into the winter months as well. So I give you my FIVE FALL FASHION MUST-HAVES for 2013 year:

1. A Leather/Pleather Jacket: A jacket like this can be worn in so many ways and with so many outfits. Pair it with a some combats boots and an edgy hair style to bring out the inner badass, or just throw it over a cute, girl top for a totally sophisticated look. It's warm, practical and stylish-- the fall fashion trifecta!
Left to right: Photos & inspiration from Pop of Style & The Day Book

2. Scarves: Thick or thin, cottoned or sequined, simply solid or extravagantly patterned, all scarves are wonderful!!  Add them to a simple outfit or solid shirt for a cute pop or use one to bundle up for the freezing weather. Once again, scarves are totally stylish and one hundred percent practical. Check out all of these cool ways to tie any kind of scarf!
TIP: Can't find a necklace to match your outfit? Try a scarf instead!  
Top to bottom: Photos & inspiration from Groopdealz & Mae Badiyan

3. Tights: Not pantyhose, but TIGHTS. You know, those thick ones that you maybe last wore as a child! Well good news, they're totally back in style and come in all colors, patterns and textures. Throw them on with any skirt or dress and you can feel completely comfortable while also looking incredibly fashionable! That's a win-win in my book.
Photos by Daniel Zampogna & PennLive.com

4. Sweater Jackets: Throughout the fall and winter seasons, we are constantly traveling from cold outside weather to warm inside weather. Unfortunately, even the inside weather fluctuates so you have to always be prepared! This is why I LOVE having a couple great sweater jackets to throw on whenever I'm chilly, or to take off whenever I'm warm. Whether it's around the house, at work or out on the town, a sweater jacket almost always comes in handy. Don't have any? Invest in one that can transfer easily from at-home lounging to a professional working environment! 
P.S. The Aztec prints are my favorite! 
Left to Right: Photos & inspiration from The Cupcake Shop & ElfSacks

5. Boots: Short, high, leather, suede, flats, or heels, give me every boot you have! I'm not exaggerating when I say that my fall/winter shoe collection is FILLED with boots (even my slippers are boots!) I have a booties with a heel and another that are flat, as well as knee-highs with a heel and another flat pair! Then of course I have my FAVORITE boots, my Uggs. (I know that people have very strong opinions about them but I will publicly proclaim my love for Ugg boots wherever I go! They're like waking on clouds!!) So basically, find the boots that work for you and feel fabulous all season long. 

Photos by Daniel Zampogna & PennLive.com

Do you have any fall fashion staples that you can't live without?!

Thank you to the following people, companies & blogs for the above photos and fashion inspiration: