Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Maraschino Cherry Fudge Brownies

Happy New Year!

I actually can't take credit for these brownies. My co-worker and friend, Jamie (who you've all read about before!), gave me a great cookbook for Christmas. It's called The Cookie Bible and though it is mostly awesome cookie recipes, it has some brownies and bars in it as well. I spotted this super easy brownie recipe and knew I'd have to make it for the holiday season. 

I ended up bringing them to my parents' house on Christmas Day. We always order piles and piles of Italian cookies from our favorite Italian bakery but we also needed something to put candles in to sing Happy Birthday to Cody and my grandmother. Yep, there two Christmas babies in my family!

I knew these brownies would be two things: easy and delicious. It's really just a brownie mix kicked up a notch with maraschino cherries and some yogurt. How can it get easier than that??

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Most ~Perfetto~ Italian Christmas Dress!


I know Christmas has come and gone and everyone has already taken down their stockings, lights, and trees but I am just not ready to see it go! It comes so fast and then - BOOM - it's gone. It's my favorite time of the year and this year, I feel like I got the shit end of the stick since I got sick two weeks before Christmas and it was one of those awful colds that JUST DON'T LET GO!

Oh well. I can't be bitter. I thankfully started to feel better the weekend before Christmas so I guess I can't be too upset. Still, I missed a couple parties and was just not as into the spirit as I usually am due to feeling so terrible. Ugh!

To make up for it, I am posting about this year's Christmas dress!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Memories in the Palm of Your Hand: Casetify!

So I love Casetify. What's Casetify? Well, it's a pretty rockin' place to customize cases for your phones, tablets, etc - WITH YOUR OWN PHOTOS! You can cover your iPhone/Android/whatever with your own photos or, if you're not photo-savvy, you can choose a funky layout they have created in their galleries. Not only are you protecting your device, you get to carry around your photos and memories. It's like a travel size photo album!

My new case for my new iPhone 6 with memories from 2014!
I LOVE that idea. I take a lot of photos (duh) and am an avid Instagrammer and love having them on display wherever I can. In my old apartment, I had a photo wall, which I covered in framed snapshots. That got to be too much. It's hard to display all your memories on your walls - so how about on your phone?

So, I started making Casetify cases for my phone (when I discovered them a year ago they were called Casetagram). I made one last year that included my favorite snapshots from the year. I decided to do it again this year as I eagerly awaited the delivery of my iPhone 6 (it FINALLY arrived over 3 weeks after ordering - phew! Talk about anticipation!).

Then I thought of something even BETTER. I knew I loved Casetify - I bet others would, too! I decided to make a bunch of my friends and loved ones a case for Christmas. Last year, I had made Red one for her birthday and she loved it. This year, I decided both my sisters and Cody's mom deserved one as well!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Purple Power!

What else could make me feel better when stuck with a never ending cough and stuffy nose but a beautiful new (to me) vintage dress? NOTHING else, that's what!

I got stuck with what people apparently call Travel Flu a couple weeks back. I traveled to Las Vegas (again, I know!) the first week of December for a conference EMC had a booth sponsorship with and upon my return got very sick! It was no fun! I had to cancel some of my holiday festivities and zombie'd my way through the others.

After being home sick for 2 1/2 days, wasting a perfectly good weekend on the couch with my tissues and chicken soup, and feeling oh-so-gross without being to the gym or yoga in 2 weeks (1 week due to traveling, 2nd due to sickness - yay!), I started to feel better.

I made it back into the office the following Monday and knew just what to wear to make me feel back to my normal self - my latest purchase from Capsule Vintage!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Super Easy Baby Weenies (aka Pigs in a Blanket)

If you're anything like me, you love and appreciate an easy recipe. Especially when I am hosting - from a typical Friday night hangout to a whopping dinner party - I look for easy, simple, time-saving recipes and ideas so that I can spend minimal time in the kitchen (getting frustrated with myself in the process) and more time with my guests (also more time EATING the food I just made).

With next week being Christmas (SO EXCITED!), I thought I'd share one of my go-to appetizers to make your parties a hit without all the time and effort! Pigs in a blanket are small, flaky, delicious, and perfect as a finger food or as a starter for your guests to munch on before the main course.

Whenever I see the dreaded "bring whatever you want!" on an invite to a party, I typically stick to one or two things: some kind of dip or these baby weenies!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I Want to Work for QVC: Gourmet Holiday

Have you guys ever watched an episode of Gourmet Holiday on the QVC? Now, I know QVC is known for their corny fashion shows catered to the stay-at-home moms and housewives of the world but have you ever tuned into the food side of QVC?

Well, I have.

I'm hooked.

Many a night this holiday season, Cody has come home to find me watching Gourmet Holiday. He just looks at the TV then back at me and asks, "Really, Sara? Really?"

I can't help it, you guys! I flip through the channels, pause when I see food, and suddenly I am sucked in! Even more so, I want their job.

Monday, December 15, 2014

14 from '14: My Top 14 from 2014

Like most people around me, I cannot believe it's December and that the year is already coming to a close. 2014 is over? Whaaaaat? This has definitely been one of the fastest passing years but as we all come to know, time moves faster and faster every year we get older. It's just a crazy concept to me. Some days it feels like we just got summer back and now we're prepping for Christmas. I don't mind that - this is my favorite time of year!

What I want to do today is highlight 14 of my favoite finds/moments/experiences/items from 2014 - get it? The 14 from '14? Sorry, that was my attempt at being clever.

They're in no particular order (no playing favorites now!) and some may be repetitive to other blog posts so I apologize in advance if you're thinking "OKAY SARA, WE GET IT!" with some of them. So without further ado, let's get this party started!

1. EMC World in Las Vegas, May 5-8
This trip was full of so many firsts for me. The only other time I have been on an airplane was when I was 7 so going to Vegas for this work event was CRAZY. Luckily, Cody came along. EMC employees usually bring spouses to Vegas for our annual conference. While we work, they get to play, but hey, it's a free hotel stay for them so why not? Cody had so much fun exploring (he sent me constant selfies on his adventures while I was stuck working our booth) and I learned SO MUCH. I conquered a lot of fears and was very proud of myself for accomplishing the whole thing: the airplane, embracing a new place and experience, all of it! Cody and I had a great time together as well. I did work for most of it but we explored at night. We are definitely looking forward to the next EMC World in 2015!

2. One Pot Pastas (aka Wonderpots)
One thing I made a lot of this year were one pot pastas. TELL ME you've heard about this concept. Google it and you can probably find a plethora of recipes. Basically, a one pot pasta is a recipe that makes it possible to cook EVERYTHING together in one pot: the pasta, the sauce, the add-ins, all of it. Insanity, right? I've made all kinds of one pot pastas: Italian, Alfredo, primavera, lo mein, chili mac, taco pasta, scampi, all the pasta you can name! I originally discovered the idea of a one pot pasta on BuzzFeed. They listed 21 recipes and I think I have made about half of them by now. They're just so easy and convenient and most only take 30 minutes, which makes weeknight meals super simple!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our First Christmas Tree

Although this will be Cody's and my 4th Christmas together, it is our 1st holiday season living together. Shit, that seems crazy to think! 4 Christmas seasons? Holy Moses. I know that is small potatoes to some but that feels like such a long time!

Since moving in together this fall, one of the things I was super excited about was getting a Christmas tree and getting to decorate it with our own ornaments and memories. Other than my family trees growing up, I have never actually gotten a Christmas tree for myself. I've always either lived in too tiny of an apartment or been so busy that it seemed pointless to invest in a tree and ornaments. It is also the first for Cody. So we have been pretty excited about it (not so much about the whopping Target charge after we picked out a bunch of ornaments, garland, stockings, and decoration though!).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not sure about you, but to me, it is insane that it's already December! I feel like we all have a moment of disbelief when another month goes by quicker than the last but, I mean, my pumpkins are still on my front steps, alive and well. I pass them everyday and think that I should probably get rid of them but they're still there. Not sure what's holding me back. Is it just laziness? Or the sadness of saying goodbye to the fall? Hmm...

It's just WEIRD to be done with fall and into winter. Goodbye pumpkins, falling leaves, Thanksgiving, and apple cider! Hello gingerbread, snow, icy roads, and Christmas!

Don't get me wrong, I am PUMPED for Christmas and all that comes with it. A part of me is still clinging to that fall feeling, though. Feelings aside, my pantry is still in fall mode. I've still got a container of pumpkin pie spice, a bag of pumpkin spice chips, half a jug of apple cider (hmm, that should probably be tossed, now that I think of it...), and I bet there's still a can of pumpkin puree in there somewhere. What am I supposed to do with all those fall ingredients?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sara the Snowman Had a Very Jolly Soul!

Every year, EMC gets into the holiday spirit by giving to those in need. Every quarter my company sponsors a charitable activity (Charity Water in the summer, food drive in the fall, etc.) but my favorite one comes in the winter for the holidays - the Snowman Drive.

What's a Snowman Drive? Well, my friends, it's a way of bringing gifts to children in the area. Social workers provide EMC essentially with kids' wishlists and EMC employees play the role of Santa Claus. They print each child's name, age, clothing and shoe size down on a card along with some items they want for the holidays and the employees take as many as they want to shop for.

Wait - so I can shop AND do it for a great cause? Yes, please!

In my two winters with EMC I have taken two cards for each drive. Last year I shopped for a little girl and a little boy. This year, I selected two little girls - a two year old and a six year old. I tend to prefer selecting girls since I love buying feminine clothes, Barbie dolls, and all things girlie but it was fun picking out race cars and sneakers last year for the little boy I had as well.

Then comes the challenge - where can I go shopping for these little ladies? I wanted to get them AWESOME clothes that would be fashionable but would last them awhile. I also wanted to get a good deal and get more for my money. Hmm. Where oh where could I go? Does this kind of place exist in real life?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Old & the New: Why I Love Retro/Contemporary Style

If you've seen any of my previous blog posts or follow me on Instagram, you'd know that I love all things retro, vibrant, vintage, funky, quirky, feminine, and novelty print. I wouldn't say I am a total vintage lass or pinup baberoni but I'm definitely not a totally modern gal either. I'd like to think I combine the above to some sort of retro/contemporary style.

I love finding true vintage items and pretending I'm in a different decade, but even just ONE item that has vintage touches to it works for me. I just like unique items - a dress covered in cheeseburgers (someone design this STAT), a sweater with big cartoon buttons, shoes made to look like ice cream cones, shirts with a big bow on the collar, big voluminous skirts that will fit a petticoat underneath, you get the picture. With all this in mind, it can be a lot of fun to mix it all together. Throw in something old and throw in something new! It's like baking - only with your wardrobe!

I've got this thing with food, it seems - I wear food, I buy miniature food items like charms, magnets, or buttons, and now I'm make food/wardrobe analogies. Hmm...

I have collected quite a few old concert tees over the years. Real, vintage, falling apart tees taken out of my parents' attic - thanks for being slightly hoarder-ific, mom and pops! My dad was a scrawny thing when he was a young adult (thankfully for me!) and his old shirts fit me perfectly (I also have his old leather jacket!). I am pretty much my mother when she was my age (this becomes more true everyday!!) so hers fit me quite well also! I love throwing on one of these tees on the weekend with jeans and sneakers but the BEST is when I wear one of my tees and I style it with one of my louder skirts (with a petticoat, of course). Talk about a killer combo!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!

Oh, trust me. I know how cliché that title is. I can’t help it – I really am in my happy place between September and December. Once Halloween hits, stand back. I am in full-fledged Holiday prep mode! So much so that this year, I went and bought my Christmas tree at Home Depot on November 2nd.

I was informed immediately that it could NOT go up but that I could go ahead and get it. So it’s been sitting in our garage, weeping quietly inside its box.


But I cannot. I promised Cody I would hold back until December 6. It hurts a bit since growing up, we’d go get our tree on Black Friday and would spend the Thanksgiving weekend eating leftover pie for breakfast and trimming our tree to the tune of Mariah Carey’s Christmas album (is there any other holiday album worth playing? Let’s be honest…).  I don’t get why he is so against Christmas. His Birthday is on Christmas! Yep! Cody was born on Christmas Day. Although, maybe that’s WHY he’s being a Scrooge?

I know a lot of people hate my kind but I’m sorry, I just LOVE the holiday season. I get that it gets obnoxious for those who don’t particularly enjoy the season (cough GRINCHES cough) but it’s just a magical time of year.