Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve Survival Guide

Can you believe the year is almost over?! I am so excited to ring in the New Year with my friends downtown. Usually, I go to upstate New York with my family, which is fun, but as I get older, I want to really celebrate the night. This year, a couple of my friends and I are going to the Washington Plaza Hotel for a party. This is a new experience for all of us, but we are going to go into tonight prepared. Plus, tomorrow is the Winter Classic and there is absolutely no way I will not be ready to go and watch that game (in a bar, not at the game...$300 for nosebleeds was a bit steep for me StubHub). Anyways, I am packing a little survival kit for the hotel and I thought I'd share it, just in case any of you are anticipating a fun night, too.
{One: Water} HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! Please drink water all day, throughout the event, and tomorrow morning. It'll keep you from getting too shambly and help prevent, or at least reduce, that hangover. Gatorade is also a good option for the morning after.
{Two: Makeup Remover Wipes and Blotting Pads} The blotting pads can reduce any unwanted shine in a crowded ballroom and the makeup remover wipes are perfect for getting that makeup off when you get back to the hotel room.
{Three: Hairspray} It'll keep your hair big and can help stop any run in your hose. 
{Four: Boob Tape} This stuff comes in a compact little container that you can actually fit in your clutch if need be and it is seriously a lifesaver when your dress might be a little loose in some places.
{Five: Flats} You may need these if your heels start to be a problem or they break, or a number of other unanticipated shoe, ankle, foot problems. 
{Six: Phone Charger} Make sure your phone is fully charged before going to the party. If you know your phone loses charge, bring a portable charging pack in your clutch or leave a charger in your room if the party is in the same hotel you're staying in.
{Seven: Aleeve and Sunglasses} Tomorrow morning can be rough.
{Eight: Snacks} Do you really want to compete with everyone else for late night food? Trust me, you are not the only one thinking that a pizza sounds good at 2 am. Instead, just bring some snacks with you. Also, eat throughout the day. Yes, you want to look good in your dress, but you don't want to look good at the expense of getting shambly because you have nothing in your stomach before you start drinkin.

Have a wonderful, safe, and Happy New Year! I will see y'all in 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gift Guide: For Your Boss

Yesterday one of my friends texted me asking for ideas of a holiday present to get for a boss. Of course, the first thing I thought of was that scene from Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold drops off the present and it is the exact same as all the other presents the boss is getting. It might seem silly, but there are a few staple presents to give a boss and he/she probably expects to get a couple of duplicates. A good rule of thumb for getting a present for a boss is to get a present that is maybe a step above a hostess gift. Personally, I think that a nice Harry and David box is the easiest way to go. The treats are going to be tasty and nicely packaged. You can also sort of make your own box by combining a bottle of wine and some cookies or nuts in a gift basket. This may seem impersonal, but unless you know your boss well, this is the easiest way to go. Oh, and don't worry, you can absolutely run out and get something on your lunch break today if you haven't already gotten a gift!
Before you get the gift though, run through a couple of questions in your mind so you don't end up giving them something they're going to not be able to use: Do they drink? If you're giving them a bottle of wine or a nice scotch and they don't drink, you just wasted a present. This is especially true if they don't drink on principle. Are they allergic to [insert item here]? If you give them nuts and they're allergic to nuts, it is going to look like you don't know them or even worse, they might have an allergic reaction. Call me crazy, but that might cause you to lose favor with your boss. 
Harry and David Snack Basket
Harry and David Sweet Treat Stack
If you want to get a bit more personal, either because you know your boss better or because you just don't want to buy a prepackaged kit, you can always bake cookies yourself. If you know your boss well, maybe a cute coffee mug and a gift card to their favorite lunch place could replace the gift basket. Again though, this is totally up to you. Remember that the gift is not actually a part of your job description, but it is polite to bring them something for all they do for you.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Workout

Motivating myself to get back into shape is hard enough, but motivating myself when it's freezing cold outside is dang near impossible. Fortunately, I have a ton of free time this break, so I have some flexibility about where and when I workout. Over the summer, I loved taking my dog for walks at the lake near my house after work. It's about a 5 mile loop around the lake so it's not too long for either a walk or run. The only problem I'm facing now is that it's so cold out! I don't mind doing things outdoors or winter, but once I get chilled to the bone, I am absolutely done having fun and want nothing more than to find somewhere to defrost. One way that I put off the inevitable chill is by bundling up in some workout gear that is designed for the cold. I realize everyone has different preferences based on what type of exercise they're doing, but for walking/running with the dog, I like to wear basic cold weather running gear with one of my puffer vests to keep my core warm, especially at the lake where it can get a bit chillier by the water.
find it all here


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Survival Guide: Last Minute Christmas Shopping

Anyone else have to brave the mall today/this week? I always end up having to finish my shopping the week of Christmas because of school and finals so today's adventure is nothing new to me. I wish I didn't have to go to Tysons today, but I figure it is only going to get worse as Christmas gets closer, and I may as well knock out all my shopping in this one trip. Now, I realize Tysons is a beast of its own as far as crowds and a mall goes, but there are some universal last minute Christmas Shopping tips I try to stick to, no matter where I have to go shopping.

One: Make a List
I am a compulsive list-maker so this is nothing new to me, but that list will be your best friend. You don't want to be stuck wandering around the mall wondering what you forgot or, even worse, leave the mall and have to go back later to get something you forgot. Just write as complete a list as you can and check it off as you go.

Two: Plan Your Route
Start at one end of the mall and work towards the other end. Personally, I start in the middle because parking is easier and I just loop around hitting all the shops on one side first, and then hitting the ones on the other side as I come back.

Three: Save the Big Items for Last
Don't get that huge pedicure tub thing at Brookstone first. This is an exception to the route planning tip because no one wants to walk around with that massive thing the whole time.

Four: Get Off Your Phone
The mall is crowded and you staring at the phone means that the walking will take longer since you can't weave in and out of people and you are probably going to run into someone. Just wait until you get off to the side or into a store to check your texts.

Five: Plan to Gift Wrap
This comes from personal experience working the holiday season at the mall last year. It is not their fault that there are no more gift boxes on Christmas Eve. People have been coming in for a month to get things wrapped so of course they ran out. Go to CVS or something and get some gift boxes if the stores don't have any left. Again, it is not the employees' fault. I can't tell you how many angry customers I had on Christmas Eve last year...

Bonus: Be Nice
This goes off of #5 and also just in general. Spread the Christmas cheer and understand that everyone there is in a rush and wants to get done as fast as possible too. Be especially nice to the employees in stores, remember it's their Christmas season too and they're spending it helping you! (Yes they make money doing it, but still...)

Happy Shopping!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Five: Christmas Break Smiles

It's the first Friday Five of Winter Break and I am yet again blogging from the (semi)comfort of my floor while my dog is curled up at my side and SportsCenter is on the TV. I'm sure at some point I am going to get a little bored of doing nothing all day, but for now, it feels amazing. Last night Momma and I went to the Washington Ballet Nutcracker at Warner Theatre, an annual tradition of ours. If you're from the DC area, I highly recommend going. The whole show is America/DC-themed and it's a fun spin on a classic, seriously the battle with the rats is the revolutionary war and the nutcracker is George Washington, I love it!

One: Garth Brooks Performs "Mom"
Garth Brooks is one of my all-time favorite artists and my momma is my best friend so I knew I was going to love this song. It seriously brought a few tears to my eyes so definitely give it a listen...just maybe not in the office.

This looks absolutely amazing. I have never actually made hot chocolate from anything other than a premade mix, so I definitely want to try this. Also debating using it as a base for a hot chocolate float dessert. It would definitely be too rich for me, but whenever I make food and my brothers' friends are over, I can find at least one willing guinea pig.

The story is super cute on its own, but I just really love watching the little baby goat prancing around. True story, once when we were visiting one of my dad's client's ranches in Texas, I almost got to keep an orphan baby goat, but Bridget was not a big fan of that idea...darn.

As someone who runs a blog and is working on another business venture, I absolutely agree with this article. I believe that side gigs are important, but not only because it can provide a supplemental income. The experience I have gained and the pride I have because of this little business I have created is the real prize, in my opinion.

Well, the author could never actually ruin Love, Actually for me, but this article cracked me up. There are definitely some flaws in the story, but I don't watch it for its realistic feel. I mean, the American women in the bar absolutely crack me up every time. Also, there were two lines that I found particularly funny, so I hope that y'all find this as funny as sleep-deprived, post-finals Erin did. (if not, sorry)


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Checking In: Back from Finals

Hey y'all! Long time, no blog! I am so happy to be home for break after the hardest finals season of my college career. Seriously, there were a couple of points in time where I wondered how I was going to get everything done, but, in the end, it all worked out and now I get to sit back and relax. I've actually spent the entire morning snuggling with my dog, a cup of coffee, the BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries (nothing tops Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy), and the Southern Living Best of Christmas magazine. It's not anything exciting, but there's nowhere I'd rather be.
In light of not working this break (and everyone else in my family working), I can promise lots of Pinterest, blogging, a big announcement related to the blog, and lots of walking Luther at the lake near my house. Oh, and since I am going to have so much free time over break, I am going to take the opportunity to catch up on some long overdue reading starting with some of these books from Levo League's book great is this list? Any other recommendations for books to read this holiday season? Also, I absolutely love the Penguin Classics with the beautiful hardcover designs. I think I might need to start collecting those!
original pin
Before I go, I just wanted to share a quick gift idea for your girlfriends! Last year I gave these nail polish sets with some cookies for the perfect combination of an affordable, yet personalized gift!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

7 Tips to Survive Finals

Hey y'all! I hope finals are going well for those of you who are taking them right now. I know they are totally kicking my butt schedule-wise, but I just keep taking it a step at a time and trying not to let the stress get to me too much. Anyways, I am sure you are just as busy as I am, but I wanted to share a couple of my favorite study tips for this finals season, including a new one that I am trying!

One: Reduce Caffeine Okay, this sounds crazy coming from someone like me, but caffeine can increase your stress levels, which is the last thing any of us need this time of year! Personally, I like to add tea into my normal regime because it still has some caffeine without being as strong as coffee. You should also try to up your water intake because it will help with basically everything your body needs to do during this season, including sleep!
Two: Self Control App It might sound a bit extreme, but I use this app religiously around this time of year because otherwise I will just take "a super quick" study break that ends up being an hour on Buzzfeed determining which James Franco Selfie I am (I got Gucci&Pasta in case you were wondering). 

Three: Change the Venue If you are tired of going to the same library or can't study on the quiet floor of the library, don't force yourself to do it! I know where I study and write best, so I usually try to stick to the same few places. Tonight I am working from home because I am burned out on libraries...until this weekend.

Four: Sit on a Medicine Ball I had heard this increases your concentration and after doing it last night I am inclined to believe it. Fair warning though, if you are tired this can backfire. It would appear I sort of dozed off while sitting on this ball last night and didn't realize it until I was laying on the floor...oops! Plus, this gives your core a nice little workout to maybe combat the lack of gym trips and increased number of calories you're eating. 

Five: Sleep I am notorious for not doing this normally, but I have recently realized how important some sleep is. To be perfectly honest, if you aren't sleeping much, your work is going to reflect that!

Six: Classical Music Everyone has a different preference when it comes to study music, but I am partial to classical music since I see a noticible difference in my performance when I listen to music without lyrics. This time of year, the Nutcracker is always a good choice!

Seven: Make a List Again, I do this all the time, but making a list allows you to visualize the task at hand and that increases the chance that you actually do it. Seriously, nothing more rewarding that putting that check mark next to a task.

Any other tips?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Growing up, my brothers and I would always sit at the top of the stairs and wait patiently to go downstairs on Christmas. Once we got downstairs, the first stop was always the stockings over the fireplace. Trust me, as a little kid there was nothing harder than not going right to the tree, but it is a nice tradition and it gives stockings the credit they're due! There's always some candy and gift cards in our stockings, but my parents put other little useful knick nacks in there, too. I mean, we never found car keys in there, but I am always grateful for a new phone charger or some nail polish!
get all the links here
These are just a few of the things I thought would make great stocking stuffers. As I said before, I am always happy to get a charger or some polish, but a cute desk calendar or wine charms would be a fun way to change it up. Also, I included my C. Wonder card holder on this list because it is my favorite thing to carry around and it's only $10 today! 


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Cookies for Every Craving

Everyone has different reactions to stress. Some people nap, some eat, some exercise, but personally, I love to go into my kitchen and bake. Normally I will just bake something like chocolate chip cookies that I have the recipe memorized for because it is a mindless task, but this year I have been using that time to test out new recipes from the Martha Stewart Living magazine, Pinterest, etc. With finals approaching and Christmas being one of my favorite seasons, I have already tried quite a few holiday cookie recipes and plan to try even more in the coming weeks. Below are some of my favorite recipes that I've made, or want to make. Believe it or not, I think my current favorite recipe comes from Taylor Swift. Also, I promise all of these can be made without the aid of an electric mixer or food processor since I have neither... seriously, I hand-whisk everything. I did ask for a mixer for Christmas though, so maybe that will all be changing...(*wink wink* Momma)
I definitely used too much flour when I made these last week, but people still enjoyed them! Personally, I would recommend buying pre-crushed peppermint or candy canes for this one because those peppermint rounds are a lot harder to crush than I realized! This is basically one of Martha Stewart's great sugar cookie recipes with just a subtle hint of peppermint, definitely nothing overwhelming. However, I think next time I make them I will add a dash of peppermint extract to the batter to really enhance the holiday flavor.

These cookies kill two birds with one stone. I actually stumbled across these while searching for a good snickerdoodle recipe and thought these would be a fun holiday variation of a cookie classic. Plus, it makes me feel less guilty about using the pre-made Pillsbury gingerbread dough that you just have to roll out since I will at least be making something with a ginger flavor.

These sound amazing. I feel like the same few flavors get all the attention this time of year, neglecting other wonderful flavors like cranberry! So, I haven't actually made these yet, but I probably will you think the twins will like them? I hope so, since I use them and their friends as guinea pigs when I am home (they don't complain).

When I made these, I had to tweak the recipe a bit due to Kroger having largely insufficient holiday baking supplies. Seriously, they had no peppermint chips of any kind, Christmas sprinkles, cake mixes, or Christmas Oreos (I needed them for Christmas bark). I was more than a little annoyed after that trip, but I substituted chopped up Ghirardelli peppermint bark squares for the peppermint chips and they turned out just fine. I also used a devil's food cake instead of dark chocolate which was perfectly good as well!

Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies

When I was going through my list of holiday flavors to include, I realized I had totally skipped over anything with nuts! There are so many options out there for praline, walnut, chestnut, etc. cookies too, but I love using pecans, plus I already have some in my kitchen from various other projects. On the note of nut-flavored items, I highly recommend the new Chestnut Praline Latte at Starbucks. I got a skim one over Thanksgiving to try and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it!

Thank you, Taylor Swift. These cookies are basically like a chai latte and I love it. The sugar cookie recipe she recommended is one I am going to use for years to come. Plus, she also introduced me to two new cooking blogs through this post, so I am doubly grateful. I would definitely recommend adding the icing glaze on the cookie because it wouldn't be quite sweet enough without it, but to each their own. I hope you enjoy my favorite cookie of the season...maybe even the year.*

What are your favorite Christmas cookie recipes? I'd love more suggestions!

*just kidding, the salted caramel dark chocolate chip cookies are going to take that title

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Five: Little Details

I always feel like when I have blog posts I want to write, something comes up and I have to put them off...hence the Friday Five being posted at 11:30pm. This week I had two papers due on the heels of a crazy break filled with family, friends, and my dad's wedding. Speaking of the wedding, after a little convincing from my friends, I ended up going with those Ann Taylor leather pants for the rehearsal dinner.
They'll definitely be making a few appearances in future blog posts because they're actually pretty comfortable and totally not something I would normally wear (which makes them way more fun)! Oh, and of course we also went to the wedding the next day. Don't forget to follow SugarSnapPearls on Instagram!

Okay, these put my little decorated mantle to shame, but I love a well-decorated mantle. I decorate mine seasonally and just put the poinsettias in my fireplace the other day. Gosh, I would kill for some real evergreen garland, but mine was free from my momma last year so I can't complain.

If you're in finals right now, the last thing you want to do is read another book, but I think that kind of stinks. I always forget how much I love to read until I am curled up under a blanket with a cup of tea flipping through a great book and staying up way later than anticipated.

Yes, I realize this is not news since it came out a couple of weeks ago, but I have had it bookmarked since then and I just had to share it. She looks so fabulous. I don't think I could ever stray from a traditional wedding gown, but I love looking at wedding looks like hers or Olivia Palermo's.

My cuticles have taken an absolute beating this winter between the weather, work, my obsessive nail painting, and just regular wear and tear. Over Thanksgiving Break I stopped by Sephora to restock on some stuff and got the Josie Maran Beauty Rewards box and I love everything in it! The Argon Oil is amazing and these wipes are so much better than regular nail polish remover. You have to work a little harder to get it off, and depending on the polish, you may need two wipes, but they save your cuticles from the harsh nail polish remover. Not only do they not harm your nails, but the cuticle oil infused in them is a treatment in itself!

Five: 40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes
 I thought this was an appropriate addition to the Friday Five in light of finals coming up. So next time you're lacking motivation during your 2am cram session, grab some coffee and watch this video. How can you not be inspired by it? Personally, I am a big fan of just sticking with the traditional Animal House video.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Practical Christmas List

Growing up and having your own place means being responsible for all those things you used to rely on mom and dad for. Seriously, my roommate and I have been using Trader Joes bags as trash bags for a week because we keep forgetting to pick up new ones! The freedom of having your own place is great, but sometimes it means making choices and having to make sacrifices that you didn't have to make when you were younger.
One thing that's changing this year is my Christmas list. I mean, there are still some cute sweaters, accessories, and other fun things on it, but some things are a bit less glamorous. Being on a college budget means that sometimes money you want to spend going out gets reallotted to practical things like groceries and rent. So this year, I am adding some slightly more practical things to my christmas list. Don't get me wrong, I actually like all the things on this list, but asking for a knife sharpener is a bit less fun than asking for a pair of Tory Burch Flats.
find all these items here!
You don't have to put only practical things on your list this year, but think about all those little things you need and why not ask your parents or relatives for them for Christmas. Maybe you will even score some bonus points for showing some maturity by asking for practical items. Honestly, I really hope I get an electric mixer for Christmas because hand whisking everything I bake is starting to get a bit old...