Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Party Perfect

Have a few holiday parties on the calendar in the coming weeks? Feeling pressure to look holiday fab? I sure am even though I'm learning in my wise old age that no one really cares - or remembers. But it's the holidays. It's a time to do up your 'do, slip on a sequins dress and dust off those high heels you haven't seen since you had kids.

Not sure about you but when it comes to stepping out of my day-to-day make-up and hair routine (aka -- pony tail, mascara and a dusting of bronzer) I go absolutely brain dead. So when I saw this Glamour tip come to my email this week, it was like God was telling me, "Hailey, DO THIS. Don't spend all week stressing about how you're going to spice it up. Just do this."

If you too are looking for a quick and easy way to take your look from drab to fab, DO THIS:

1) Line under your eye with black eyeliner pencil.
2) Swipe your upper lids with a liquid eyeliner.
3) Apply a gray shadow over the top to soften the dark black line.
4) Dust some sparkly pink over the entire lid.
5) Apply lighter gray into the creases of her eyes for shading.
6) Pair with a peachy lip and don't forget the mascara!

Overall this look is a little friendlier than most smoky eye looks, which means it's perfect for an office party or anywhere you're going for "festive" over "sexy."

Want to shop for a liquid liner or a shimmery pink eyeshadow now? Start your shopping here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

If you do ONE thing this week...

Disinfect your kitchen sponge.

Can you remember the last time you cleaned your sponge? While the moist, micro-crevices in a sponge do make it an effective cleaning device, they also make it a cozy home for germs and more difficult to disinfect. Wiping your counters or dishes with a dirty sponge will only transfer the bacteria from one item to another.

How to: According to Carolyn Forte, Director of Home Appliances and Cleaning Products at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, you have three choices -

1) Put the sponge in the dishwasher for a full cycle, set on "heated dry."

2) Microwave it on high for a minute. Make sure the sponge is wet or it can catch on fire.

3) Soak it for five minutes in a mix of 3/4 cup bleach and 1 gallon of water.

You should aim to do this once a week. And toss out that sponge once/month. My sponge cleaning day: After Sunday night dinner. It's nice to start the week fresh!

Wondering what other bacteria is cooking in your kitchen? Check out this previous post. This might just motivate you to clean more than just your sponge this week.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday: Don't buy the hype

Are you a Black Friday junkie? I'm not and never will be. I'm all about a good deal but this just seems excessive. I'd definitely be throwing some elbows amongst that crowd. If you like the thrill of it, that's one thing - I guess. But if you're looking to score bigger deals than what's online, you might just want to stay in bed and shop till you drop in the comfort of your home. Experts agree that it's marketing at it's finest and you shouldn't give into the hype.

"[Early sales] are media events more than anything else," says Steve Schaffer, CEO of "You don't need to get to a store at midnight to find good deals." In fact, the only thing the early bird may actually be getting a jump on is holiday debt, as the longer hours decrease a consumer's odds of actually scoring the limited number of doorbuster deals retailers use to hook them.

"Stores seem to be just pushing the early envelope to create an urgency, hoping people will buy early before realizing they've spent too much," says Andrea Woroch, consumer savings expert with She says retailers aren't likely to add extra doorbusters just because they are opening up earlier.

"There are lots of big sales out there, but it doesn't seem there are more of them than in the past," Woroch says. "I don't think it will be a huge factor on the number of deals," echoes Brad Wilson of

All experts suggest consumers increase the odds of scoring the lowest prices by researching beforehand. Schaffer says consumers may even want to consider sticking to online shopping because it enables them to compare prices rather than succumbing to impulse buys in person. "Consumers get much more empowered by weeks of research, especially compared to the old model of just rifling through the morning paper and making quick decisions," Wilson says.

If you just can't resist the temptation, click here for year's post on survival tips for braving the mad rush and long lines.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sweet Sunday

Pumpkin and apple pies might be classic, but this deliciously sinful dessert puts a chic (and mouthwatering) spin on tradition. You can make in a glass trifle bowl or for individual servings that look super fancy with little effort, serve in wine glasses. Or for larger groups and easy clean-up, dish into plastic cups. Any way you serve it, you can be grateful wont have you slaving in the kitchen for hours.

~Pumpkin Bread Trifle~

1 loaf of Pumpkin Bread
1 package of Toffee bits (found at store by the chocolate chips)
1 jar Caramel ice cream topping
1 qt Whipping Cream
1 1/2 c Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla


1) Purchase a loaf of pumpkin bread or make your own. Trader Joes has a yummy pumpkin bread mix.
2) Cut loaf into cubes.
3) Whip the whipping cream adding in the brown sugar and vanilla.
4) Create trifle by layering ingredients. Start by placing half of the pumpkin bread cubes in the bottom of the trifle dish. Put the bread and other ingredients around the edge so the layers can be seen through the glass.
5) Drizzle caramel sauce over the pumpkin bread.
6) Sprinkle toffee bits over the bread and caramel.
7) Spread a generous layer of the whipped topping over the pumpkin bread.
8) Repeat all of the above for the second layer. Garnish with toffee bits.
9) Refrigerate a few hours before serving.

Hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! Happy {beginning} of Thanksgiving week. xo

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fancy Friday

Something I love about the holidays are the family traditions that come with them. Now that I have my own family, there are several traditions that will carry on from my childhood into my own children's childhood but I do always keep my eyes and ears open for traditions we can start as just our own little family.

One thing that tickled my fancy this week was this particular Thanksgiving tradition from Simply Vintage Girl (picture above) that is so simple to make and encourages dialogue amongst your family on what you are most thankful for. Call them what you like - Gratitude Tree. Thankful Tree. Thanksgiving Tree. Not a new idea but one worth starting.

The idea is simple: Have each family member write heartfelt sentiments for the things they are most grateful for and during Thanksgiving dinner go around the table and have each person read their tag. It fosters communication, teaches gratitude and gets the room glowing with smiles.

If you're bundled up inside this weekend, this is an easy and fun craft to do with your kids to keep them away from yet another hour of tv. You don't need much - just a few twigs from the yard and some craft paper.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Deal Alert: Starbucks Buy One, Get One Free!


Starbucks is offering a special this week for their holiday drinks - Buy 1 Holiday Drink, Get 1 FREE! This special deal on their holiday drinks will be from Thursday November 17th – Sunday November 20th between the hours of 2pm & 5pm. {not to be combined with other offers or discounts}.

The drinks included are: Gingerbread Latte, Peppermint Mocha, Skinny Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulee Latte, & Eggnog Latte.

Happy sipping!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Give Thanks

What do you get when you try to buy Thanksgiving decor a few days after Halloween? A clearance table of picked through, half chipped miscellaneous decor hidden behind robust Christmas trees, reindeer ornaments and red berries. Obviously I was a little late to the party but c'mon I hadn't even sifted through the Halloween candy yet.

So I got to thinking. Why are so many people quick to overlook Thanksgiving? What's the big rush to deck the halls? Don't get me wrong - I do enjoy Christmas but I personally consider Thanksgiving to be the calm before the storm, the last chance to breathe before the busy holiday season. It’s a time to celebrate our faith, family, and friends and meditate over the many rich blessings we have in our lives.

Now that Chase (my 3 year old) is old enough to 'get it' (kinda), I figured it was time to teach him to savor 'giving thanks' for Thanksgiving’s sake. So in an effort to teach him to count those blessings, I let him choose a couple people he wanted to give a gift of thanks. He picked his Preschool teacher and nanny Vira.

Together we went to The Coffee Bean - his teacher's favorite coffee spot - and bought a gift card, wrapped it with a note that reads, "Thanks for 'bean' a fantastic teacher!" For Vira, he helped me make a batch of white chocolate covered pretzels - her favorite. Attached is a note that reads, "Thanks for being so sweet to me!"

Taking the time to do this with Chase has been such a precious time for me. It taught him the act of being thankful as well as the joy of giving. And it taught me to slow down and reflect on what I am most thankful for. Too often, I get bogged down with never ending holiday to-do’s and shopping lists that I even forget to say thanks in the midst of my abundant blessings.

If this struck a cord with you, it's not too late. I encourage you to team up with your child(ren), have them pick a few people they would like to give a special thanks to and make it a fun activity. Below are a few inexpensive gift ideas to get your juices flowing:

1) Have your child hand-dip fortune cookies with chocolate and sprinkles, box them in a Chinese take-out box found at any craft store with a note attached that says, "I'm fortunate to have you as my _______!"

2) Create Thankful Jars;
Fill a mason jar with mints with a note that says, "Knowing you has 'mint' a lot. I'm so thankful for you!"

Fill a mason jar with gummy bears with a note that says, "I'm 'beary' thankful for you!"

Fill a mason jar with M&M's with a note that says, "I'm thankful for a Marvelous & Mighty Mrs. ______"

Monday, November 14, 2011

If you do ONE thing this week...


When holiday gatherings, family traditions and too many gifts make the holiday season hectic, a little organization can go a long way. So, how do you become a master of merriment without having a mid-holiday meltdown? One way; organize your purse/handbag.

Don't underestimate the value of purse organization! From family dinners to holiday parties, clearing the clutter from your handbag will help you minimize chaos when you're on the go during the busy holiday season - and make room for holiday shopping receipts.

Follow these tips to make keeping your handbag organized a cinch;

What should I have in my handbag?
A wallet or a small pouch for currency, credit cards and identification are “musts” for every handbag. Many women choose to carry a small cosmetic pouch for touch-ups on the go. You’ll want a place for your mobile phone, sunglasses and/or reading glasses. It’s also a good idea to carry supplies such as medication, bandages, tissues and antibacterial wipes.

What should I leave out of my handbag?
Full-size bottles, tubes or a large hair brush are too big and take up too much space inside a handbag. Use travel-sized bottles and opt for a folding hairbrush instead.

How do I keep it all organized?
As handbags have gotten larger, the need for internal organization is essential. It’s best to use a variety of pouches to separate and contain like items inside your bag. Pouches also make changing purses simple and fast. Pouches in bright colors are easy to spot. Clear or mesh pouches are another great option — they allow you to see what’s inside at a quick glance.

And chances are that your holiday wardrobe may require more than one purse, so a removable purse organizer such as the Pouchee ($24-27) makes matching your bag to your shoes the easiest thing you do this holiday season.

How often should I clean out my handbag?
Cleaning out your purse once a week will allow you to maintain your handbag organization. Try and make it part of your Sunday night routine, which will help you start the week organized.

Happy purging!

Friday, November 11, 2011


It probably no longer shocks most of us to see Christmas decorations in stores before Halloween is over. And in my book - the Christmas creep is just wrong. So the one thing that tickled my fancy this week is Nordstrom's policy to hold off in "decking the halls" until after Thanksgiving.

You will find signs throughout Nordstrom stating this;

"Happiness is celebrating one holiday at a time.

That’s why you won’t find any holiday trim in our stores until after Thanksgiving day. So relax. Reminisce. Enjoy the day as we will — with family and friends. Then when Friday, November 25 rolls around feel free to stop by for a bit of good cheer. It’s then we’ll be decked in our holiday finery — and eager to welcome the season with you.

From our family to yours, happy Thanksgiving. We will be closed on Thanksgiving day."


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ON THE MENU: Ravioli Skillet Lasagna

When I think lasagna, I think time consuming. All the ingredients. All the layering. Definitely not a realistic dish for busy moms.

As an alternative, try this fresh twist on lasagna that takes just 25 minutes from start to finish that your kids will enjoy too!

~Ravioli Skillet Lasagna~

2 cups purchased pasta sauce
1/3 cup water
1 - 9 ounce package refrigerated or frozen cheese or meat-filled ravioli
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 15 ounce carton ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 - 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

1. In a 10-inch skillet combine pasta sauce and the water. Bring to boiling; stir in ravioli. Reduce heat. Cook, covered, over medium heat about 5 minutes or until ravioli are nearly tender, stirring once to prevent sticking.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together egg, ricotta cheese, and the 1/4 cup Romano cheese.

3. Top ravioli with spinach.

4. Spoon ricotta mixture on top of spinach.

5. Cook, covered, over low heat about 10 minutes or until ricotta layer is set and ravioli are tender. Sprinkle each serving with additional Romano cheese. Makes 4 main-dish servings.

Bon appetit!

Monday, November 7, 2011

If you do ONE thing this week...

Vacuum your carpet.

Ever wondered how often you should vacuum? Although there is no concrete, scientific answer, it is recommended that in high traffic areas you vacuum once daily. Seem ridiculously impossible? Ok shoot for at least 2-3 times per week but just remember that the cleaner your carpet, the healthier you and your children who are the ones rolling around on them will be.

According to an MSN & Men's Health, carpets are wall-to-wall germs. Think about it - you walk in a public restroom that has god knows what on the floor and visible pee puddles around the toilet and then those same soles trample on the carpets like it's no big deal. Gross.

Tierno's research indicates that your carpet probably contains about 200,000 bacteria per square inch, making it 4,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat. "Rugs are botanical and zoological parks," says Tierno, who says hundreds of thousands of different types of species live there. These invasions occur because the average person sheds about 1.5 million skin cells every hour; these skin cells hit the rug and serve as food for germs. Add in food particles, pollen, and pet dander, and you have a gratis buffet, he says. And since a vacuum cleaner's suction and rotating beater brush don't usually reach the bottom of the carpet, you're bound to have communities of E. coli, salmonella, staphylococcus, and other bacteria down there. Every time you walk on the carpet or roll around on it with your kids, you disrupt the bacteria, bringing some closer to the surface, Gerba says.

In order for bacteria to thrive, certain conditions must be met. They must have constant supply of food and an area where they can breed. However, these creatures don't need much to go on. Plus, they have a high tolerance for different environmental conditions. Some can tolerate very acidic conditions while some can withstand extremely high temperatures. Moisture is also one culprit that helps bacteria multiply. There are even some types that can live without the presence of oxygen. This life form is one of the first ones that existed on earth. Pathogens are species of bacteria cause diseases in humans. Examples of diseases caused by pathogenic species are cholera, syphilis and tetanus.

And don't forget about those little spots. Spots that we may very well ignore can often contain harmful particles. The variations will depend on the kind of environment that the carpet is located in. For example, germs that come from pets who are allowed to roll on carpets will be different from the germs on the soles of corporate personnel. It can range from bacteria, fungi, allergens, viruses, parasites, allergens and other hazardous material may be trapped deep inside carpet fibers. If you are like the many, who just depend on vacuum cleaning, consider this fact; It only takes away the dirt on the surface but invisible microorganisms don't necessarily die after vacuuming. Often our noses, eyes, and skin still itch because of the remaining dirt in them.

Stores offer a wide selection of cleaning products like bleaches and disinfectants. These chemicals will kill pathogens but most people do not have the time and patience to do a thorough job. Large and fluffy carpets are beautiful but it takes a lot of work to keep them clean. For those people with busy lifestyles that wish they had the time to do it right, I suggest hiring a professional carpet cleaning service every 4-6 months to do a deep steam clean and consider covering high traffic areas with machine washable area rugs. And if you really want to decrease the germs in your home, don't eat on the carpet, take your shoes off outside and if you want to go extremee - get rid of your carpet all together.

There is no price for your health and the well-being of the entire family. It is a fact that unseen organisms can make us sick. The best way of protecting yourself and your loved ones against harmful things that live deep in carpets, is by doing a thorough job of cleaning it. But this must be done on a regular basis. And if you're like the majority, you're just "toooo busy." If you have the money, hire professionals do this time-consuming and demanding job. If not, make it a priority every week.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Nothing screams fall more than a warm apple cake. With only 15 minutes of prep time, this cake is a snap to make! And yes you can eat well, even out of box.

~Whole-Grain Apple Cake~
Serves: 12

1 box Duncan Hines Whole-Grain Apple Cinnamom Muffin mix
2 large eggs
1/4 cup oil (I prefer substituting applesauce)
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Apples of your choice (Honey crisp or Fuji are my particular faves)

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Coat a 9-inch springfoam pan with non-stick cooking spray.
3) Prepare muffin mix as package directs, using 2 eggs, 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup oil (or applesauce).
4) Gently stir in 1 sliced apple with the provide apple-cinnamon pouch and stir into pan.
5) Arrange remaining apple slices in concentric circles on top.
6) Sprinkle 3 Tbsp sugar and then the granola topping on top.
7) Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Try this too:
~Sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped walnuts on top along with granola.
~Use 3 pears, peeled, cored and sliced instead of apples.
~Stir 2 tsp grated lemon zest into batter.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Friday, November 4, 2011


Spring forward -- Fall back.

That means plan to set your clocks & watches back one hour THIS weekend as Daylight Savings Time comes to an end. Yipee, an extra hour of sleep!!

The official time change is 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6th so if you're smart you'll set your clocks back one hour before going to bed Saturday night, to make sure you aren't late for church services or other Sunday morning activities.

If you've got little ones at home and are stressing about how your child is going to transition to the time change, here are two tips to ease the transition and keep sleep deprivation at a minimum. No matter what approach you take, your child will adjust to the time change within a few days to a week:

•Maintain your child's regular sleep, wake and nap times; Try not to compensate for the lost hour by delaying bedtime or allowing your child to sleep in. This however will increase the time it takes to transition. There may be some crankiness from being tired, but this should last only a day or two.

•Make gradual adjustments; This is personally what we've done and it's always worked perfectly for us. We always start on Friday night and make a slow transition throughout the weekend by moving Chase's bedtime earlier by 20 minutes each night. We bank on that come Sunday night he will be right back on schedule.

In addition to changing the clocks, it's a great time to consider changing batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. If you do the two together, you'll never wonder when you last changed them out.

"The most commonly cited cause of non-working smoke alarms is worn or missing batteries," said Stacie Durham, MFD public information officer. "The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are sleeping. Smoke alarm maintenance is a simple, effective way to reduce home fire deaths. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

DECORATE: BIG statement, LITTLE effort

Whenever the holidays roll around and I know we have family coming into town, I put this crazy stupid pressure on myself to want to change up the decor in my house. Above and beyond the festive cornucopia table centerpiece and gourds on the mantle. As if they remember what it looked like in the first place or even care for that matter. Regardless I lay in bed and think about what I can do differently to 'spice' up my predictable Pottery Barn'esk interior. You know - white couches, brown walls, floral area rugs, red accent pieces.

If you find yourself in the same mental predicament but don't have a lot of time or money to be making drastic changes, here are a few ideas that make a big statement with little effort:

1) Change out your pillows: Mix in a wild or bold print - possibly zebra or yellow - to add some contrast to a simple couch and inject some personality. For $20, you can transform a boring, drab room with a few decorative pillows from TJ Maxx or Marshalls. Tip: Toss a few large throw pillows onto your couch rather than a jumble of smaller ones for a cleaner design.

2) Bring in flowers: Perk up a room (inexpensively) with a bouquet of vibrant flowers set in an equally vibrant vase. If you're like me and can't seem to keep anything alive longer than a few days, find a Michael's 50% off coupon and go buy a bundle of fake flowers. Nobody knows if you don't tell.

3) Paint a wall: Introduce color on the walls to add a pop of liveliness and warmth. A blue like this is as versatile as a neutral, such as beige or gray. Pick a wall or two and have some fun with an unexpected color. For $15, this will change your room from drab to fab!

4) Use mirrors as art: Have a bare wall and can't afford expensive artwork? No worries. Target has pages of fantastic inexpensive large mirrors online that will fill the space and actually make a room appear brighter and larger by positioning a mirror to reflect light and a view. Find a big, cool clock you like? That works too!

5) Hang a gallery of photos: Mine your albums for your best shots (pick a theme: weddings, birthday parties, vacations) and put them in identical frames. Hang in a tight grid or a long line - you can’t go wrong if you stick to a geometric arrangement. Best spot in town to find simple, super inexpensive frames to achieve this look - IKEA. The Ribba series frames range from $2.99-$24.99.

6) Bring in shades of color: Colored lamp shades can make a bold statement. Limit the colors to one per room, and select other lamp shades in neutral tones, such as parchment and white. If you're super crafty, you can pick out a fabric of your choice and re-cover an existing lamp shade yourself.

7) And for no money at all - Re-arrange your furniture: My favorite. Just a quick shift of the furniture and it will feel like an entirely new, inviting space.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

DEAL ALERT: 1/2 Yearly

It's time to get your shop on!! The Nordstrom 1/2 yearly sale for Women & Children is going on now through November 13th. Use your Nordstrom card between November 2-5 and earn double rewards points!

This is the perfect time to get some of that holiday shopping checked off the list! Start shopping NOW!