Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a beautiful Christmas filled with love, hugs and happiness...
tucked into each stocking,
resting softly beneath the tree,
nestled into every corner of your world.
Love Brittany and Daniel

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Frosted Rosemary Sprigs with Cranberries {Drink Garnish}

I made these for our Christmas party this year. They are so easy to make and they look really pretty. I paired mine with a Brut Champagne (but I'm sure they would work with a variety of drinks}. The rosemary is very aromatic -- a lovely little surprise that lingers in your glass. 

Here's what you'll need: 
5 inch or longer rosemary sprigs {= to # of glasses you'll be serving}
1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 bowl of water
1 cup of sugar {for dusting}

 ^^^ strip the rosemary so that just the top needles are left. Spear each cranberry in the middle and push it up towards the top.

 ^^^Dip the Rosemary needles into the water bowl and then into the sugar. Tap to get any excess sugar off.

^^^Then put them in the freezer and take them out just before your guests arrive.

Yay For Christmas Time!

I just LOVE Christmas Time! If it were up to me, I would have our tree up the day after Halloween. I think Thanksgiving and Christmas go hand in hand, right? I guess Dan would be embarrassed or something, so we waited until after Thanksgiving this year to decorate our beloved Christmas tree. On December 1st, Dan and I turned on the Pandora Christmas station, sipped eggnog and hung up our Christmas decorations. And then we wrapped ourselves in blankets and watched the Grinch {Dan's all-time favorite}. Now why can't we celebrate Christmas year round? I love this fun stuff.

^^^ Dan cut a wafer from our Christmas tree trunk last year and I made into an ornament so we could always have a little piece of our first Christmas from 2012. {Just let the wafer dry for a few months and use a soldering iron to burn words or a design into the wood -- super easy}.

^^^We found some snow on a hot chocolate walk with friends! The church around the corner made snow for us to play in...I mean the kids, for the kids to play in.

^^^I tried my hand at making snowflakes out of coffee filters. Pretty cool huh?

^^^ A Christmas Wreath Party with neighbors. We all brought our own wreaths and decorated them together while listening to Christmas music and drinking pomegranate mojitos! My kind of party :)

^^^ The finished product!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Great Christmas Gifts! BIRCHBOX {For Him or Her}

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Our Thanksgiving!

^^^I know it's a tad on the late side, but I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving! We had Thanksgiving with my Parents and our HUGE extended family. So, I might have gone a bit overboard with all these pictures of the table, but I think my Mom did and amazing job -- she should be a party planner...right?
^^^We reused the candle holders from our wedding. What a great investment...I think we've used them for every party since then!
                        ^^^ are killing me with the bitty butterflies and acorns! Too cute!
^^^ My cousin Charlie and hubby Dan. Dan teases Charlie for being a frat boy and Charlie teases Dan for being a surfer...basically they love each other. 
^^^My Dad is the turkey master. Our family loves to have potluck style dinners -- everyone brings their favorite dish. We have a huge family, so having one person cook the entire meal would be insane. I was in charge of bringing pureed candied yams and rosemary potatoes and carrots. I really got into it and sprung for the fancy multi colored carrots at Traders. Is it weird that I was excited about carrots? 
Because no Grams party is complete without a coffee station and butter cookies...^^^ Nice Mom ;)
^^^Meet my Family. Mom is up front and Dad is at the other end. Everyone in between is an Uncle, Aunt or cousin + about 20 more not pictured! My mom was the youngest of 8 kids and Dad was the oldest of 3 kids...who all grew up and had 2-6 kids of their own. So family holiday parties are of epic proportions.

^^^One of my Aunts always brings a box of See's Candy. It's sort of a tradition for family that I take full advantage of {I secretly snuck the rest of the box home when everyone had left}. And on the right is my Danny. This is what his face permanently looks like. ^^^
^^^And then we had a Friendsgiving with all of our friends who were still in town. We originally were going to have it in our tiny house {in the backyard},  but it rained all day, so my parents offered their house. How nice :) Well that made things super easy....everything was still set up from Thanksgiving, so we just cooked a new turkey and everyone pitched in with leftovers.
^^^The table looks so different at night! I love me some ambiance and candles!
                                          And then we had hot cider and beers in the backyard^^^
It was a great Thanksgiving! We have SOOOOO much to be thankful for! I/we couldn't be more blessed.
P.S. It is now officially CHRISTMAS TIME!
Woot Woot. Lets go get a Christmas tree!

Monday, December 2, 2013

50 Ways to Celebrate Life

1. Surround yourself with positive people.
2. Get involved in a charity or volunteer work. Do something good for your community.
3. Breathe deeply. Deep, slow belly breaths are good for reducing stress levels. 
4. Eat healthy foods. Your body will thank you immensely!
5. Laugh, laugh, laugh every day!

6. Dance! Turn up the tunes and shake it!
7. Have a yard sale. Declutter your home while making some money or you can also donate it!

8. Redecorate a room. Change can be a good thing, even if it’s just rearranging the furniture.

9. Go to your local farmers market for fresh produce. Support your local farmers.

10. Go out to dinner with friends and try new exotic cuisines.

11. Indulge in a piece of dark chocolate cake and cup of coffee while watching your favorite show, reading a book or sitting on the porch etc.

12. Travel as often a possible. See new places and learn about different cultures. Be humble and open to different ways of life when visiting other countries.

13. Take a slow walk with someone you love. Hold their hand.

14. Grow your own garden. Plant flowers, fruits, veggies and herbs that you like to smell and eat!

15. Clean the house while listening to your favorite music. It’s nice to feel organized.

16. Treat yourself to an item that you’ve been wanting for a long time. You’re worth it…you work hard. It’s ok to get something nice for yourself once in a while.

17. Spend time with your family.

18. Play a classic board game ex: Monopoly, Pictionary or Scrabble. Have a game night with your family and friends.

19. Drink red wine…one glass a day is great for your heart

20. Go on a date with your spouse, bf/gf or a lovely friend.

21. Write your letters by hand -- it's becoming a lost art and handwritten letters are beautiful and personal. Someone will definitely cherish your effort.

22. Learn something new {outside of your box}…Latin Dance, Trapeze or Karate. It may just be the greatest thing ever!

23. Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts, ideas or feelings.

24. Go for a bike ride. Bring picnic supplies.

25. If you’re tired, take a nap. You need it.

26. Exercise and establish healthy habits.

27. Take a mental health day.

28. Sleep in on the weekends. If you have little ones, take turns with your spouse. “You take Saturday, I’ll take Sunday.”

29. Get a massage, take care of your body…it's got to last you a lifetime J

30. Wear sunscreen, protect your beautiful skin!

31. Literally "smell the roses" when you take a walk. Enjoy them.

32. Have a technology-free day, weekend, or week {this is a hard one}. Go and spend a day outside at the beach, hiking, riding bikes etc.

33. Spend quality alone-time with yourself.

34. Call someone just to tell them how much you love them.

35. Snuggle and kiss babies as often as possible.

36. Have a spontaneous day. No schedules allowed. Follow your heart.

37. Reminisce with friends over old pictures.

38. Stay in your PJ’s all day.

39. Smile more.

40. Read a book. A real book. With pages.

41. Close your eyes, get in a quiet space and meditate, pray or reflect on your day and the people you love.

42. Once in a while be sure to take a leap - a big giant leap- do something that’s scary and watch how life supports you! You’ll never what will happen if you’re too afraid to make a move.

43. Write love notes.

44. Tune into the fact that there is only one you and you are here for a special reason. Leave every place better than you found it.

45. Do something nice for someone else. Share your gifts.

46. Forgive. Grudges weigh on your heart…life is too precious to spend it unhappy

47. Host a party and cook an outrageous meal to share with the people you love.

48. Give long hugs.

49. Follow the path that matters most. What makes you happy? If you're happy, the people around you will be happy too. 

50. Be grateful for EVERYTHING that has been brought into your life. Even challenging times can shape us into stronger, wiser people.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Carry-on Essentials For International Travel

Here is a list of goodies that I always have in my carry-on when I travel out of the country. Yes, I do have this much stuff in one bag! Sure, Dan makes fun of me for bringing everything but the kitchen sink, but you know what? He always comes to me when he needs something. Yeah, that's right...who's the smart packer now!? You'll be so thankful for all these little necessitates, they make traveling that much easier and enjoyable. I promise that you'll use all of them! Ok here we go.
I love these! All of the KIND bars are healthy + tasty = A rare combination
2. Hat This is my attempt at being somewhat fashionable. I like bringing a hat or beanie for the plane because they're great for hiding your smooshed sleepy face or blocking the overhead lights.

3. Colored Pencils For doodling when you get bored. It's a fun way to pass the time.

4.Travel Umbrella Any compact umbrella will do the trick. They come in handy when it's raining at your destination. To save space, research the weather before you leave and pack it in your checked luggage if sunny skies are in your immediate future.
5.Michael Kors Chronograph Watch My all time favorite watch -- pretty and waterproof! Perfect for traveling  if you plan on leaving your phone at home and need a reliable watch to keep track of time.
6.Solar Calculator + Notebook Features 120 lined pages and a solar-powered calculator. *Now this isn't something that you'll need on the plane, but I use it daily to figure currency exchanges and our budget while out and about. So I thought it would be best to add it to the list.
7.Eos Smooth Sphere Lip salve Sweet Mint This lip salve is the best. I feels so good on your lips and has an amazing mentholated cooling sensation. Your lips will stays moisturized for hours.
8. Ear Plugs {for sleeping} I bring these EVERY WHERE! Dan is a loud snorer so I wear them nightly...but they're also great for when you need to sleep on the plane and cancel out all that noise.
9.Travel Toothbrush & Toothpaste Sometimes it's refreshing to brush your teeth mid-flight.  Remember to bring some water with you...don't use the bathroom sink water in the plane!
10.Dogeared St. Christopher Necklace The Patron St. of Travel. It reminds me to say my prayers for travel blessings and protection. I have a cool story about this...A long time ago I was in the Doctors office getting shots for a trip to Egypt. My Mother was worried about all the commotion in the Middle East and she didn't feel that I should go. Just as she was telling me this, a shiny object caught my eye on the floor of the waiting room. It was a necklace and on the back of it was inscribed, "A Guardian Angel is Watching Over You". We both took it as a sign that I should go. To this day I wear that necklace every time I travel. I even stuck it in my shoe when I walked down the aisle on our wedding day.
11.Stainless Hot or Cold Thermos I like to fill this up after the security check. It's also convenient for backpacking. You can have a hot or cold drink throughout the day.
12.Headphone Splitter This is the best goes to Dan on this one. We only have one iPad, so we plug the splitter in so we can both watch movies or listen to music without bothering our neighbors or taking turns. Genius.
13.Wallet Well this is an obvious'd be surprised how many times I've forgotten it. Now I write it down on my packing check list.
14.Gold Makeup Pouch. It's nice to have a makeup touch-up when you're feeling a little frumpy. All that stale plane air and cramped seating can take a toll on you. I like to bring the basics...face lotion and powder, lipstick and mascara. *Make sure that your liquid make-up sizes adhere to TSA regulations.
15. Anti-Bacterial Hand Sanitizer Bath & Bodyworks has a fabulous selection of mini hand sanitizers that smell soooo good. I get a few of them and stick one in my carry-on and the rest in my checked luggage.
16.  Travel Brush,Hairbands & Bobby Pins My hair gets crazy knotted on long this is one of my biggies.
17.Voltage Converter Ya need to get this! It's very important if you're traveling abroad and need to use electrical outlets. Get a pack that has a complete world set...that way you can research your outlet fitting before you go and take the one(s) you'll need.
18. Face & Hand Wipes I don't go anywhere without them! Life savers {especially if you're traveling with babes}!
19.Lavanila Fragrance {Small Roller} A mini roller of perfume or  a sample spray is a real treat to bring along. Make sure the it's small enough for TSA regulations.
20. Kai Moisturizer This stuff smells so wonderful! I get compliments on it every time I wear it. A small lotion is always a good idea to bring on the can get really dry on a long flight.
21.Chimes Ginger Chews Candy Ginger chews are good for settling stomachs and fighting off nausea while flying.
22. Small Note Pad Incase you need to jot down a quick note.
23.Glasses I'm blind without them.
24.Pen For filling out customs forms and other important stuff.
25.iPad & Earbuds I love, love, love the iPad! We can play games on it, read books, watch movies, listen to music and for a small fee most airlines will hook you up with Wi-Fi. It's beyond great and so useful when you're on the plane or exploring a new country. Dan and I took it with us to Europe and stopped at cafes and McDonalds when we needed directions or to book a hotel and buy tickets to museums so we didn't have to wait in line. It's also useful for storing pictures when your SD card fills up in your camera. *Remember to bring your charger and an adapter.
26. Ritter Chocolate I am addicted to these German chocolates. Dan and I tried a new one almost everyday when we were in Berlin. They have marvelous options like White chocolate with hazelnuts, cocoa mousse, butter biscuit, marzipan, praline,  peppermint, apricot brandy etc. They are all amazing. You can buy them here in the US too! I've seen them at Trader Joes and Ralphs.
27.BYRON & Brown Leather Passport Cover My cousin got me a pretty leather passport cover for Christmas when I was young...she loved traveling and has passed the bug onto me. I use it to keep my passport clean and safe from torn pages and folds. Remember to bring your Drivers License too! It's smart to bring an extra form of ID and photo copies of each {to put in your checked bags}.
28.Scarf Believe it or not, I find the a scarf to be one of the most versatile travel accessories. It's my take on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy {a towel is the most useful thing in the universe}. I use it as a cover-up when I sleep on the plane, a hand-towel when I can't find anything else, a blanket when I get cold, a head scarf to keep my hair back, a tie for my bag etc. the possibilities are endless.
29. Trident Tropical Twist or Orbit Gum It's nice to have fresh breath and it's also a good icebreaker for meeting new friends. "You want a piece?" "Oh sure thanks. Now let me tell you my life story." ;) I really like Tridents Tropical Twist. It tastes so good and I swear you can smell that wonderful gum from a mile away... everyone will want some.
30. Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean Tea Because it's a beautiful thing to relax with your favorite cup of tea.
31.Journal I keep a travel journal and write about the things we've done/seen together. It's mostly little notes and bullet points of places or moments that I don't want to forget {the things we ate in Italy or the name of our funny tour guide or a recipe from Positano...}
I've had my camera for about 2 years now and I absolutely love it. I highly recommend it!
33.Levi's Waxed Canvas Backpack A midsized canvas backpack or shoulder purse is perfect for a carry-on. I can fit all these goodies in it and then roll it up when I need to put it in my backpacking backpack or suitcase. I would suggest bringing a smaller, more formal purse as well for days when you can leave your big items at the hotel.
*Not pictured --> I always wear a jacket on the plane and pack an extra outfit just incase our luggage gets lost! And when I travel with little people, I bring coloring books, small puzzles, easy/clean crafts and lots of snacks to keep them happy and occupied.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls

We made Vietnamese spring rolls the other day. I just love how healthy and flavorful they are. The crispy veggies are so refreshing. I do believe this is may favorite way to eat greens. I love dipping them in peanut or fish sauce.
2oz rice vermicelle noodles
8 rice wrappers
12 large shrimp
1 bag of sprouts
1 bunch of Thai basil
1 bunch of mint
1 bunch of green onions
1 cucumber
8 leaves of lettuce
*Peanut sauce for dipping! If you can't find it at your local store, you can make it from scratch.

Don't forget the lettuce! ^^^

 And a handy husband to help cut the veggies ;) ^^^

Rice Vermicelle {aka Bún Quế Lâm } ^^^