Five On (Black) Friday: Unique Gift Ideas

It's time for another edition of Five on Friday and I do hope you'll join me, DarciChristina, and Natasha! Remember, all you have to do is post about five things on your mind, add our logo (found at the bottom of this post), and join the party using the linky tools below.

Today I wanted to share a little about a sweet company specializing in "hair jewelry" that I have recently been introduced to, Lilla Rose.

The best part is that starting today, and running through Sunday, they are doing a big Black Friday sale with 20-50% off EVERYTHING. You can shop their sale here if you are interested.

Here are my five favorite items on their site!

Here is my new favorite hair accessory. This pearl headband is so comfy; I wore it all day Monday and Wednesday. For daycare dropoff, I had my hair in a big topknot and then just slid this on the front part of my head so that it created a little "pouf" behind it. Later that day, I wore my hair twisted back with the headband right behind my bangs. The adjustable elastic at the back is extremely comfortable, and I love how the neutral pearls can go with casual or dressy outfits.

I used to love wearing hair sticks. Why did I ever stop? They are easy to use and I love wearing my hair back and off of my face. This pearl with gold set is my favorite that they offer.

The next headband on my wishlist is this gold cluster one that would coordinate really well with the gold jewelry I wear.

These bobby pins would look great stuck in a messy bun. Perfect for a holiday party!

This jet black headband is another favorite. I like how it would be rather camouflaged in my dark hair but would catch the light and create a little sparkle.

Black, gold, and pearls ... I'm sensing a theme here!

Don't forget to check out their great Black Friday sale going on now -- you can find it here.

TGIF y'all, and hope you will join in on Five on Friday this week! Cheers to the weekend!


Happy Thanksgiving!

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never seen a lump!

May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Love & Hugs
from April


Fall Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

If you are looking to add some greens to your Thanksgiving menu, here is a great side salad we had recently. The maple vinaigrette makes it perfect for fall!

Olive oil, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, and salt ... how easy is that?

In our salad we had mixed greens, honeycrisp apple slices, blue cheese, and pecan halves.

The maple vinaigrette was the perfect combination of salty and sweet and really paired well with the salad toppings.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve and happy menu planning!


My Favorite Things 2014 - Stocking Stuffers

Favorite Things 2014 - Stockings

Confession: I love stocking stuffers more than I love big gifts.

You can really flex your creative muscle, and sometimes as the recipient, it's easier to put together a little wishlist of $3-15 items than picking out larger gifts.

Here are some of my favorite things for stockings. I hope you'll join me, EliseKatie, and Zelle in sharing your stocking stuffer list today. We can't wait to see what you come up with! 

1: Fun lipglosses. This one is the perfect combo, gloss on one side and Benetint on the other (love this stain on my lips and cheeks).

2: Mini-wine and champagne bottles, they will run you $2-10 each usually. I pick these up at the grocery store (wine minis) or World Market (champagne minis).

3: Raspberry French macaron mix (here), I am not over the macaron craze yet!

4: Travel-size hairspray, and Elnett is a pack leader with a cult following.

5: Love my small size of the Josie Maran Light, and it's $16 and lasts way longer than I expected. I use it on my hair and also as a facial moisturizer. Great for these cold months.

6: Aquaphor is a must for my dry winter hands, and bonus: also awesome for diaper rash. Not mine. The baby's. Ugh.

7: Little notepads like this "Thinking of you" one are stocking staples for me.

8: Le duh, Essie nail polishes. This one shown is Watermelon.

9: My favorite candy to find in my stocking? Jelly Belly jelly beans!

10: Silicone cupcake liners (like these) make me wonder how I ever baked cupcakes without them. A fun stocking stuffer, but practical, too.

So there you have it -- some of my tried-and-true stocking stuffers. What are your go-tos?


On The Local News ... A Recap

I had an opportunity yesterday morning to take part in a local news segment on our CBS affiliate, WBTV, and present some apple, cheese and beer pairings for the holidays.

I was nervous as hayyy-ell. And I tried on approximately sixty-three outfits Saturday night (hated them all), finally deciding on a blouse that I grabbed from my Goodwill pile at our front door. But all in all, it went well and it was a really fun endorphin rush!

My Sunday morning started at 5am with a brutal alarm clock ringing in my ear -- I didn't sleep well the night before due to nervousness, a sick baby and a coughing husband. But I got ready for the segment, hopped in my car at 5:45am, and headed to the studio.

In the lobby, they had a live broadcast running of the morning news, so I was able to watch the anchors that I would be working with, Brody and Ashley.

The security guard took me back to get my mic on, and then I had a little bit of downtime before it was time for me to go get my table laid out. At this point, I still had the jitters, but I was ready to tackle it.

For the piece, I chose three cheeses to highlight (Parrano, a 3-year aged gouda, and an aged cheddar). The Parrano was my favorite because it's a nice mix between an aged parmigiano-reggiano and a young gouda. I paired them each with an apple to compliment the cheese and a beer from a local brewery, Birdsong Brewing Company. Their jalapeno ale is my favorite.

Brody and Ashley were so nice, and they really helped to keep the conversation going, which made the segment a lot easier on me. It was LIVE so I only had one shot to get it right!

If you want to catch the segment, you can see it here. And for your holiday cheese platter, here are some notes about great pairings! Cheers, and happy eating and drinking. :)

Beer and Cheese Pairings
Lagers and pilseners: pair well with a nutty, buttery cheeses such as a Gouda like Parrano
Wheat beers: pair the best with goat cheese. The fuller the character in the wheat beer, the more pungent you can go with your goat cheese.
Low-hop, milder beers pair well with an aged, nutty Gouda Stouts are known for the bitterness and roasted flavors.
Stouts are mellowed by semihard cow's-milk cheese such as aged American Cheddar. Saisons: are bright, citrusy, and slightly tangy. These flavors complement the flavors in a triple cream cheese that are typically smooth, rich and creamy with a hint of sweet grassiness.
Apple and Cheese Pairings
Parrano Cheese + Cameo apples
Cameo apples are nutty with sweet undertones and a tender skin that snaps cleanly to the bite. They pair perfectly with the alluring nutty flavor of Parrano cheese
Cameo apples are believed to be a cross between Red and Golden Delicious apples, since Caudle was growing both varieties nearby at that time.
Melkbus237 Original Cheese + Fuji Apples
Fuji apples are crisp with a sugary-sweet flavor that resembles that of freshly pressed apple juice.
Fuji apples are a cross between two classic American apple varieties - Red Delicious and Virginia Ralls Janet.
Fuji apples contain between 15 to 18 percent sugar levels, making them one of the sweetest varieties available.
Pair with an aged gouda made with raw milk for a sweet, tangy flavor.
Melkbus125 Winter + Braeburn Apples
Braeburn apples have a robust spicy-sweet flavor with a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Pairs well with a spiced gouda with ingredients like pepper, cumin, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.


Five on Friday

It's time for another edition of Five on Friday and I do hope you'll join me, DarciChristina, and Natasha!

Remember, all you have to do is post about five things on your mind, add our logo (found at the bottom of this post), and join the party using the linky tools below. Easy, and a great way to find new blogs and be found. :)

Soooo, rough week for us. I got a call Monday afternoon from Camille's daycare that they suspected Hand-Foot-Mouth for her (a viral infection that covers her hands, feet, and chin/nose in red bumps, similar to chicken pox). I flew over to the daycare, scooped her up, and made it to the pediatricians office 10 minutes before they closed for the day. They confirmed the diagnosis AND also found that she had an ear infection, which then became a double ear infection by our Wednesday appointment. So she has been home with us all week (thank goodness for a mother-in-law who dropped everything to come help) and she is on the mend ... but we are still dealing with the expected fussiness and sleepless nights that are standard with a babe being sick. Poor thing, it just breaks my heart to see her not at 100%, but we've been having extra snuggles to help her feel better.

Avocado grilled cheese sandwiches? This will be happening this weekend. Recipe here!

Avocado Grilled Cheese...all you need is avocado, fresh mozzarella and a thin layer of pepperoni.

I attended a baby shower recently that had such a cute favor for attendees. In a large basket by the front door, they had little votive candles for everyone with this sweet message attached: "Thank you for being with us today! Here is a candle for you to light, Once the stork has made his flight. With a flicker of the flame, Please say a prayer in Elaina's name."

Is that not the sweetest favor idea?

Since we've had little sleep this week, I've been a little too excited about my morning coffee. My favorite flavor right now is Wild Mountain Blueberry. I've been pairing it with some lemon wildberry mini-biscotti from Harris Teeter and it's a great morning treat.

Who's excited for Thanksgiving? THIS GIRL. Bring on the stuffing and next-day turkey, mayo and cranberry sauce sandwiches!

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Will you be traveling?

TGIF y'all, and hope you will join in on Five on Friday this week! Cheers to the weekend!


C. Wonder Gift Picks

C. Wonder

I was so excited to see that C. Wonder is doing their friends and family sale now with 30% off of EVERYTHING. Here are my favorite gift picks.

Zodiac Candle (Capricorn for me!)
Monogram Glass Plate - to hold my jewelry
Ikat glass plate - to hold candles
Leopard Dessert Plates

I always love perusing their site for gift ideas and stocking stuffers!


My Favorite Things Link Up

Favorite Things 2014

I'm so excited that the day is here for the big link-up! Please join me, EliseKatie, and Zelle in sharing your wishlist today. We can't wait to see what you've got your eye on! 

Here are the items on my Christmas wishlist this year. I promise I've been a good girl ... 98% of the time, at least. ;)

1 - Clarisonic Mia 2
I'm feeling mighty late to the party on this one. The Clarisonic Mia is high on my wishlist this year. I've always been good about washing my face at night, but I feel like this would take my skincare regimen up to the next level and really help out my skin.

2 - Marble Fruit Bowl
Love this ... and not just for fruit. This Crate and Barrel pedestal bowl would be such a welcome addition to my kitchen.

3 - Fringe Boots
I want these bad. Still torn whether I'd prefer the full Minnetonka boot ($100) these American Eagle wedge booties ($70) ... but one way or another, a fringed boot will be on my Christmas wishlist for sure.

4 - Buffalo Check Mug
Just dying over this C. Wonder mug. Four, please! They would look so cute with our white dinnerware. I'm a big tea drinker in the chilly months during the day and would love to sip my tea from these adorable mugs.

5 - Pizza Scissors
Ahh, take me back to Italy! When Ian and I were in Florence, Italy we had some of the BEST pizza ever, and the folks at Pizza Florida cut off a size of your liking with big pizza scissors. Then you just paid by the weight. Since we have pizza almost every Friday night, these WS pizza scissors would be so fun to have at the house ... and they would always bring back great memories of our trip to The Boot.

And lastly, but most importantly -- the 2014 Swarovski snowflake ornament . I have every year's snowflake since 2002 and display them on my ornament tree. They are all different and so beautiful. These are certainly not inexpensive at $75, but they are the one thing that I collect.

I certainly hope you'll link up with us below! Remember, the theme for 11/25 is Stocking Stuffers and the theme for 12/2 is Friends and Family Gifts Under $100. I can't wait to see what great finds you all have up your sleeves!


Monday, Monday

Guess who had their first taste of solid food this Saturday morning! We had the camera poised and ready to go. Please do focus only on the babe and not on her robe-clad, unshowered mama. But that's just how we roll on the weekends. :)

She took a 1:3 ratio mixture of Earth's Best oatmeal cereal to milk. Loved it! Soon we'll try our hand at purees. I have my baby food maker ready to roll.

Later that afternoon, she attended a friend's first birthday party. Oh my goodness, there was a baby ball pit, and she was in LOVE with it. Hellllooooo, Santa gift! I've already added the inflatable pool and the 100-pack of balls to my Amazon list of Christmas gifts to buy. We aren't buying her a lot of gifts this year, but at $37 for this combo is a pretty good price, and especially since we can get double-duty and use the inflatable pool in the summer.

She ended up starting her afternoon nap earlier than we expected, so we got her home as quickly as we could to try to keep that nap going. 

Later that afternoon, I scooted out for a quick bit to check out the Vintage Charlotte pop-up market at The Fillmore. Ian stayed with Camille, and it was nice to walk around the market for an hour without having to push a bulky stroller around. We hung out with friends that night until it was time to get home and feed the baby and heat up some leftover pizza. Crazy Saturday night :)

Sunday consisted of a lot of laundry! After some quick trips to Homegoods and Michaels, I stayed home with the babe while Ian went to the Panthers game with a buddy. Camille took short naps and I used some of that time to work on her baby album and fold clothes.

The most exciting load of laundry that I did (never let me say that phrase again) was our new flannel sheets. Per Elise's recommendation, I bought us some flannel sheets and could not resist the scottie dog pattern. And you can't beat $24.99 for king-sized sheets. Plus, FREE shipping now! They are now on our bed and our first time sleeping on them will be tonight. I can't wait to call it a night and snuggle up in bed with a book.
Just bought these, king size for $24.99, can't beat it!

That's about all that's going on here. I am excited to share my Christmas wishlist tomorrow and hope you'll link up with us for the My Favorite Things linkup ... if you missed the details, catch 'em here.


Saturday Sip + Shop


Grapefruit beer bellini
You make a quick (and easy!) grapefruit puree for this one and then top off your glass with prosecco and grapefruit beer. I, for one, love grapefruit in the chilly months, and this sounds SO good to me!


Monogrammed Business Card Holder
(monograms also come in gold, navy, hot pink, white!)
A steal at $14 and would be such a cute girlfriend gift or stocking stuffer.
Uh YES, need this on my desk. Stat.


Five on Friday

It's time for another edition of Five on Friday and I do hope you'll join me, DarciChristina, and Natasha!

Remember, all you have to do is post about five things on your mind, add our logo (found at the bottom of this post), and join the party using the linky tools below. Easy, and a great way to find new blogs and be found. :)

Six months old, six months old. Happy half birthday dear baby girl!

Planning your Thanksgiving dinner, or bringing a dish to a potlock? My husband's favorite Thanksgiving dish is green bean casserole (wait! wait! don't scrunch up your noses just yet) and I've found a great recipe that uses fresh green beans (here). I have made this one for the past two years and can guarantee that it's a winner. Duh ... Paula Deen.

Green Bean Casserole from

I am so excited that Tuesday is the start of a really fun link-up I'm cohosting with EliseKatie, and ZellePlease join us for Tuesday's theme: your wishlist!

This brown sugar apple dip looks positively scrumptious. I've been aiming to get an apple a day ... honeycrisps are my absolute favorite. This dip would make me enjoy them even more!

Here is kid and adult pleasing recipe! This brown sugar apple dip can be made in minutes and is really delish!

Hey mamas (or people shopping for mamas): I don't know why I haven't mentioned this one before, but want to see one of my very favorite baby products? I can't rave enough about Mustela Physiobebe no-rinse cleansing fluid.

Mustela PhysiObebe No Rinse Cleansing, Diaper Area - Face 10.14 fl oz (300 ml)

Let me tell you why it's the best: it will make your baby smell like they just dropped down from the heavens above.

I keep a bottle of it and some cotton pads up on the changing table. Not too get too graphic here while you're sipping your gingerbread latte, but when the babe requires a diaper change, I'll often squirt some of this on a cotton pad and just swipe swipe swipe after using a regular wipe but before her new diaper goes on. It is also great for that after-bath feeding if baby gets a little bit of milk captured in her chin rolls. It is probably in my top 5 baby products of all time. Just read the reviews and you'll see how other mamas use it (including one gal who uses it as eye makeup remover, smart!)

So! Enough about my baby's bootay. TGIF y'all, and hope you will join in on Five on Friday this week! Cheers to the weekend!


Thursday Confessions

I've been up since 5:45 this morning, but I'm well caffeinated and ready to tackle this day and share some Thursday confessions.

It took a few months for me to realize the importance of April + Ian time. I got so wrapped up in just being a mom, keeping this little baby alive, and I also think there's sort of the fear of judgement if you leave your child "too early" for a little escape. That has been a struggle for me and I probably pay it too much attention than I should. Last night, since my mom was in town, Ian and I snuck away for a quick post-work drink at Selwyn Pub. And later, after the baby went to bed, we went to go see Gone Girl, We didn't get home until 9:45 and didn't turn out the lights until 11:00, but it was so nice to have that time together. And of course we have full confidence in Camille's safety and wellbeing when she is with my mom. As an aside ... great movie.

Keys ... found 'em. They were in Ian's car console. After he spotted them, we both clearly remembered putting them there right before our hike Saturday morning. But we both completely forgot that we even did that! So scatterbrained.

I am a piler. And it drives my husband crazy. I am clean but I have far too many piles of things right now around the house. A pile of clothes to either sell or donate. A pile of mail to go through. And (ashamed to say so) some medical bills from Camille's birth that I still need to pay. I need to tackle those, it is just confusing because they send so many duplicate bills and I don't want to overpay the hospital (thinking a refund wouldn't likely happen). I need to sort them all out by visit date. I'm vowing to get that done by the end of this week. Period.

Workouts, they aren't happening. I am not waking up early, I am not going during my lunchbreak. And I just refuse to do any during the week after work while Camille is awake and could be hanging out with me. It's dark so early now so we can't even go on post-work walks. The weekends are about the only times I get walks in, but no strength training, no real cardio.

I'm in denial that Camille will turn six months old tomorrow. How in the world have we had this baby for half of a year? Saturday we will start solids and I'm really looking forward to that. But selfishly I'm nervous about having another daily "task" that will take away from our play time. 

So there are my confessions. Can you relate?


Get Excited! These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Happy Veterans Day, and a huge THANK YOU to all who have dedicated their lives to serve our country. There is a great little list here of places offering freebies to veterans today, and a nice recap of why we celebrate the day here.

In other news, I am more than excited to announce an excting linkup that I am co-hosting along with EliseKatie, and Zelle

Here are all the details for this year as I'm doing a little happy dance out of excitement.

Need ideas or a point of reference? Check out Elise's posts from last year.

In summary:
1. Plan your posts! We'd love to have you for all 3 weeks, but feel free to pick and choose if need be!
2. Grab the button at the very top of this post, and link back to our blogs. [April, Elise, Katie, Zelle]
3. Link up at the bottom of our posts for the next 3 Tuesdays, and/or join us on Instagram/Facebook with #FavoriteThings2014. Each week, the linkups will go live at 9am Eastern time.

If you'd like to participate and you are wondering how to corral all of your items together, I'm personally a big fan of Polyvore! It is free and it lets you make collages of items and then post directly to your blog. Just make sure to click the "Post as draft" option so it doesn't upload automatically without you being able to add your commentary.

We simply can't wait to see your lists, and I truly hope you'll join us. :)
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