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3 Easy & Delicious Thanksgiving Recipes to Contribute!

Before you get intimidated by this post...hear me out! Whether you are the type of person who could burn cereal, or someone who is giving Martha Stewart a run for their money, these recipes are simple and delicious and are guaranteed to be a hit at your Thanksgiving holiday. 

It will be many, many, many years before I'm ever hosting a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner myself, but I love trying out new recipes and cooking, and I think it's an incredibly thoughtful way to contribute to an often stressful holiday. 

Your host will definitely appreciate the helping hand!



Zucchini Muffins | While this isn't something that necessarily comes to mind for the actual Thanksgiving dinner, I think this is the best one on the list. Most often, yours hosts will already have their dishes mapped out, but playing host for a holiday is a massive undertaking, especially if you're also hosting relatives in town! The last thing any (sane) human would want to do after serving up a massive Thanksgiving dinner is to whip up a big breakfast the next day. These make a great and easy no-mess option for a host to lay out and have everyone help themselves and give a well-deserved break from more cooking! (Not to mention, zucchini muffins healthy and so yummy). 

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • muffin tray/cups
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and stir. Add the zucchini, then the melted butter. 
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, add together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Stir this mixture into the zucchini mixture bowl to combine them.
  4. Coat each muffin cup with non-stick spray. 
  5. Spoon the mixture into each cup completely and equally.
  6. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes (until golden brown). Test with toothpick to ensure the center of the muffins are done. 
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes.
*You can find this original recipe here.


Pecan Pie | This is one I've had for many years with my family, and it has finally been handed down to me. I'm really excited to give it a shot this year (and feel grateful that if I mess it up, we will have a backup!) Pecan pie is such a classic Thanksgiving dish, and one that thankfully people tend to want seconds of. 

Ingredients: 
  • 1 box Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust Unbaked (9" is standard)
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Karo (corn syrup - I recommend the light kind!)
  • 2 Tbsp. Margarine (or butter)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups pecans (de-shelled, whole pecans)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Spray pie pan and place crust in pan (direction video for this below!) Place back in fridge until needed. 
  3. Add all ingredients (eggs, sugar, Karo, butter, vanilla) in bowl and mix. Add pecans afterwards to the mixture to prevent clumping.
  4. Stir ingredients and spread evenly in pie crust. 
  5. Bake for 50-55 minutes and let cool.
*If you need instructions for how to lay a pie crust into a pie pan, I recommend checking out this brief video for reference!

Pumpkin Pie Martini | Dessert cocktails are normally not my forte, and I usually opt for wine or a vodka tonic at all times...mainly because I like to avoid anything too sweet. This cocktail will not disappoint, even if you're like me in that sense! You also don't need any bartending skills whatsoever, but it will definitely look like you're a pro! I got this from a family friend a few years back, and she ended up publishing it in her cookbook!

Ingredients:
  • 1/1 oz. Cream Liqueur (like Bailey's Irish Cream)
  • 2 oz. vanilla vodka
  • 1/2 oz. pumpkin liqueur
  • 1 tsp. whipped cream (real homemade is best)
  • For garnish: cinnamon stick, ground nutmeg, and a dollop of whipped cream
Directions:
  1. Pour the cream liqueur and vodka into a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well. 
  3. Add the pumpkin liqueur.
  4. Shake again. 
  5. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass (preferably a martini glass)
  6. Top with a teaspoon of whipped cream. 
  7. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a sprinkling of ground nutmeg.
Try any one of these, and no matter what your cooking skill is, you will be the best guest a host could ever ask for (plus, duh...more food!)

Is anyone else feeling brave enough to try out a new recipe or two?!

Balancing Your Time During the Holidays

I think I'm definitely on an extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to the holiday season in that I LOVE it. All of it. Every single second of cheer, merriment, food and drinks, dressing up, decorating and cleaning...and even the chillier weather.

That said, I did not always feel this way. Holidays can be really stressful, even for people like me who really love this time of year. Between trying to balance schedules, keep your life on track, budgetary worries, and making everyone happy (and inevitably failing), I think we can all agree that it's a lot to take on. 

One of the things that always stressed me out above all growing up (and honestly it gets worse with age and the ability to choose) is how to split up your time. This might not be a problem for everyone, but growing up in a divorced household with the additional component of extended family always made this to be...a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. The thing with being younger is that usually these things are decided for you!


Now that I'm older, and I'm sure this is more relatable for many, is that when you're given the independent choice of where to spend your time, it also comes with guilt and stress and a lot of planning! If you have a significant other do you spend it with them? How do you divide your time with each others' families, combined with coordinating vacation days from work or balancing a school schedule, and fitting everything in? Whew...getting a little bit worked up just thinking about this, and my holiday plans are already set in stone! Talk about overreacting, y'all!

There are a few times I learned growing up that have totally cemented this process for me in my early 20s that I think are incredibly helpful, so if you're one of those people who starts to feel really overwhelmed by all of this, check these out and it should help chill you out!

Setting Expectations | One of the biggest problem areas with the holidays is that everyone gets an idea in their head about what they think the holidays will look like and how they will be spent. Expectations are a great way to get disappointed and leave people with hurt feelings - so establishing and discussing these way ahead of time are a HUGE time saver when it comes to damage control. 

People won't feel abandoned by you if you tell them you're going to your S/O's house for Thanksgiving dinner if they never believed you were coming to theirs first...even if that idea came out of thin air in their own imagination. Even if all you say is "we aren't entirely sure what our holiday plans are just yet, but we will let you know as soon as we do so that you can plan" a few months or weeks in advance can make all the difference!

Plan It Out | Usually sometime around mid-late October we sit down with some printed out calendars and map out a couple of different scenarios that make sense and cover all of our bases family-wise. (For us, planning out multiple scenarios is pretty much essential because it's guaranteed that at least a couple of them will have to be altered or scrapped altogether due to insane flight prices or family members weighing in). 

This is the easiest way to get a birds-eye view of what can work and make everyone happy, though! Once we've found something that seems feasible, we can just snap a picture or type it into our Google Calendars and share them with our families so that everyone is on the same page down to our flight times and arrivals (another essential for getting rides from the airport without being asked 97 times when we are landing!)

Syncing Calendars | I realized that last part should honestly be its own section...Sharing calendars is a game changer. I personally use Google Calendar and sync it to everything - blogging, personal, work-related, travel...and if you book a flight it automatically downloads your info from your inbox into the calendar spaces. It's amazing! The best part is that you can share certain calendar types (like travel) with family members so they can check it on their own or save it to theirs as well. So much easier!

Alternate, & Compromise | I got very well rehearsed in the idea of alternating holidays given my family situation as a child, but some people could never fathom or allow the idea of giving up every other year with families. Sometimes, though, you need to compromise! Either taking turns or compromising on a couple of details (like spending two days in one city rather than five). Whatever it is, you have to realize that it can't always be according to your plans!

Hopefully these tips will help give you a little bit of peace of mind and leave you free to enjoy all of the amazing holiday activities that I'm excited about! Number one on my list? Picking out and wrapping presents for everyone!

Why Bean Boots Should Be Your Essential Winter Shoe (Plus They're 25% Off!)

I became a total Bean Boot convert about halfway through college after initially buying into the Hunter Boot hype...seriously still can't understand why those are so popular, guys...

Bean Boots (also known as Duck Boots) are the single best and only option that I ever recommend to people who ask me for a rain/snow boot recommendation for the winter. In case you're not familiar with them, I wanted to break down every possible question you could ever have, from sizing, shape, and styling to help make your decision easier!

The timing couldn't be better too...because they are 25% OFF RIGHT NOW!!! This never happens, and it probably won't again for a while. Sale ends Tuesday, 11/14/17 with the code 25OFF) Even more insane? They aren't backordered!! I typically recommend that people who want these order in August to avoid waiting several months for the backordering, but it looks like their rising popularity in recent years has convinced them to stock up for the season!


In case that's not all enough to convince you, here are some of those other Q&A's I promised! 

What is The Best Use/Weather for Bean Boots?
Honestly, all weather - unless you're living in a tropical climate in which case a general rain boot would probably be just fine...(I ordered these recently and love them, plus they're only $50!) Bean Boots are great for any terrain, especially snow, and they are incredibly comfortable. It kinda feels like a luxury when I get to wear them to work!

Are They Comfortable?
Y-E-S! You have total flexibility, and great traction, which is great news for clumsy people like me who spend a lot of time falling on their butt anytime there is so much as a single icicle in a 6 mile radius. 

How Do I Know What Size to Get?
Their sizing guide is incredibly accurate, but I'll reiterate here for a personal perspective. These run large. Order one full size down from what you normally wear. I know what you're thinking, "but I'll wear them with thick socks!" They know that, and it is taken into account when they and myself recommend that you order a size down. Trust me!

They also come in different heights, and it really depends on what your needs are. The absolute classic, most popular and best go-to in my opinion are the 6". They are a medium length that hits a bit above your ankle, great for tucking jeans/leggings into them and pairing with boot socks. If you are really going to encounter a lot of snow, like in Minnesota or Northern Michigan, you may want to consider the 8" option or the shearling-lined ones, but otherwise 6" will give you everything you need. 

What Else Should I Know?
They have a lifetime warranty. I've owned mine for about 4.5 years now and have never looked back, but for some completely unknown reason if anything ever happened to them, I could have them repaired or replaced at no additional cost to me. Seems like a no-brainer here, y'all! They've also got free shipping.

If you have any other questions at all about sizing, deciding on a style, or how to style them, leave me a comment! I'd love to hear from you!

Essentials of the Week!

Happy Friday, friends! I hope your weeks went more smoothly than mine...I swear, the minute the holidays start approaching, everything flings into chaos! I'm writing this cozied up with hot chocolate and about six candles burning while I binge watch the shows I haven't had time to catch up on in weeks, and man...does it feel good.

I'm not exactly cheering on the temperatures to drop, but I won't pretend I don't love being cozy and warm with blankets, candles and some super rich hot cocoa. There's just nothing like it!

Here's to a peaceful weekend with a lot more cozying up. Is anyone else secretly loving the excuse to bundle up under blankets and hide away inside?? Bueller?



1. 90's Hair | I was cracking up laughing watching this video of 2000s born kids trying out "all the rage" 90's hair products. Does anyone else remember the wand that is supposed to braid your hair for you?? That had to result in so many girls gaining bald spots, I swear. It was particularly funny because my best friend got a product like this stuck in her hair in college....for hours. She had to go to a salon to get it out! (You know who you are, friend - hi!)

2. Beat Daylight Savings | It can be tricky, especially after Daylight Savings hits, to be willing to get out of bed or feel motivated throughout the day. It's dark when we leave for work, and dark when we head home...and our bed is just so much warmer. These tips for starting your day off right and motivated are going to come in clutch - trust me!

3. The Cutest Way Pups Are Finding Forever Homes | Well-known fact: I love dogs way more than humans. They're the best, and there is no arguing that fact. Also a huge fan of Harry Potter - and I was loving the way someone combined the two to make a sad situation at an animal shelter something that was exciting, attention-grabbing, and led to more adoptions! Everyone wins, and it's so cute. 

4. My Go-To Winter Nail Color | This is honestly a year-round go-to for me, and I just had to order my third bottle in the last year. Yep - you read that correctly, but hey I'm not ashamed! An $8 bottle of nail polish certainly is more affordable than $35 manicures...snag this in time for the holidays to get a break from the never-ending parade of reds.