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December Goals

Hey y'all,

I am going to try and participate in blogmas, similar to vlogmas for Youtubers I am going to try and post everyday leading up to Christmas. I have planned out my blog calendar so let's keep this party rolling.

I thought I would share some of my goals for this month. I love goal setting and I think if you put it out ther for others to know you are more accountable for your goals so here are my 5 goals for the month of December.
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1. Decorate for the holidays. I love decorating so this one is a siple one but it's a reminder to take time and enjoy all of the festivities of the holidays.
2. Take care of myself amidst the holidays. I am participating in a 30 day challenge with Charlotte  which starts on Monday and I am challenging myself to complete 10 CYCLEBAR classes in the next 30 days.
3. Remember the reason for the season. I need to remind myself to be in the word each day as we celebrate God's outpouring of love for us in the form of his son.
4. Connect with others. I know we all get crazy busy around the holidays but with small gestures like sending a text or a card or just calling someone I know I can connect with more people.
5. Blogmas. Write something everyday to share with y'all!

What are your goals this month?
What's your favorite Christmas movie?


Five on Friday {December 2}

Hey y'all,

Once again we have made it to Friday and I am still in disbelief that it is already December and Christmas will be here before we know it! I mean, only three more weeks of work before I am on vacation for 10 days!

So as usual, I am linking up with lots of fun blogs to share five things that I have been loving this week.

one. Max Cat.In case you missed my post on Monday, I am now a pet mom. I have adopted my parent's orange tabby cat named Max. This week has been filled with cat cuddles and I'm not mad about it.
two. Friendsgiving.Wednesday night, my small group got together for Thanksgiving round two. It was a dinner filled with lots of laughter and catching up with one another. I would call it the perfect night in the middle of a busy work week.

three. Chinese Lantern Festival. Tonight, I am headed to Cary to see the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Koka Booth Amphitheater with my parents. I have never been to the event but friends that went last year really enjoyed it.I'm excited to see all of the displays and enjoy some more time with my family before a busy weekend.

four. Office Decor. This week, we decided to start decorating the office and set out supplies to make paper snowflakes. I now have a nice collection of snow on my cube walls that make me smile whenever I enter our suite of offices.

five. Poldark. Y'all, I finally decided to sit down and watch Poldark after a ton of people recommending it and I am now in love! Poldark is set in 1783 and Britain is in a crisis of falling wages, rising goods prices and civil unrest. Ross Poldark returns from fighting in America's revolutionary war and finds his world has dramatically changed: his family estate is in ruins, his father has died, and his sweetheart is engaged to another! The show is actually based on a book series that began in the 1940s.  Season one is on Amazon Prime Video and season two just ended on PBS so I'm going to have to wait for a marathon or until Prime picks it up.
What have you been loving this week?

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

Ps. Check out this loop of 8 hours of Instrumental Christmas Songs. I have this playlist on in the background of my workday and it just makes me smile.

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Winter Beauty Essentials

Hey y'all,

As we are now only 20 days away from the official start of winter and NC is trying to get back to freezing temperatures after a bit of 75 degree weather the last few days I thought I would share some of my winter beauty essentials. The cold air mixed with the dry heat indoors always causes lots of issues for my skin so here are some products that might help you. 

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I recently purchased the Josie Maran argan oil and y'all, it's great. I had heard lots of people rave about it but for $16 for the tiny travel bottle I wasn't sure if I wanted to bite the bullet. However, it only has one ingredient, argan oil, and it perfect for your hair or as a moisturizer. This is replacing my Moroccan oil hair oil that I put on the ends of my hair since it is 100% argan oil. I also have been putting it on at night for an extra boost of  moisture for my skin.

If you are still using chapstick you need EOS lip balm in your life. I love the vanilla mint flavor for the winter and the summer fruit flavor for summer months. I love that it's shape makes it super easy to find in the bottom of my purse as well. The also come out with cute holiday gift sets and festive flavors like vanilla bean, winterberry, and honey apple.This is the first lip balm that I can remember completely using up before I lose it.

I love Bath and Body Work's Shea socks. I typically get a new pair every year around Christmas. They are perfect for lounging around the house in especially after a nice at home pedi with the B&BW Toe the Line foot scrub. This stuff smells like mint toothpaste but helps so well in keeping my feet soft.

I swear by Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser. It is the perfect gentle cleanser for my skin even with all my acne issues. I also love to pair it with a toner or liquid exfoliant like the clinique or this 100% pure toner that is on my to try list. I also tend to switch from the Cetaphil moisturizing lotion to the moisturizing cream during the winter to help with the dry skin.

WATER! The best beauty ingredient is of course drinking lots of water. I love adding in hot tea now that it has cooled off in the evenings. I'm also excited since holiday teas are out. I always pick up Celestial Seasoning's Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride and Trader Joe's Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea. This whale mug is so cute!

The saying goes that your hands tell your age and my Mom has instilled in me the need to use hand cream. I like the Eucerin Intensive Repair hand lotion but my mom loves the B&BW Look Ma New Hands lotion so I tend to always associate hand lotion with her.

I think it's important to pamper yourself in the winter especially with all the craziness of the holidays. I love to put on a hair mask, pop on a shower cap and watch a show on Netflix while it sits. It's the perfect way to escape for 30 minutes and then you have gorgeous hair for all the holiday parties. I love the thick Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Masque and you can sometimes get it on a deal at T.J. Maxx since they changed their branding and now have three levels of masque dependent on the level of moisture needed.

Finally, a good scrub is always needed before you get to all the moisturizing needed to survive the winter. I have been loving the Burt's Bees Peach and Willow Bark scrub for my face and then I am using up a B&BW scrub I received as a gift too.

What are your winter essentials?
Favorite lip balm?

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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 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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