Blog, Life, Style

Hosting a Tree-Trimming Party

It really is the most wonderful time of the year. There is so much joy in the air and love to go around. My favorite part about the holiday season is seeing all of the bright decorations and, of course, the holiday styles. Hosting a tree-trimming party is the best way to get the best of both things!

As a hostess or a guest, to me the most important part is the holiday party outfit. There are so many styles and looks to combine with the different colors and prints of the holiday season, so you really can’t go wrong! If you are hosting a party or attending a semi-formal or formal party, it’s best to go with a classy outfit. This dress from London Times is absolutely perfect for such an occasion. The silhouette is timeless, the length is just right, the neckline is classic and sexy (but not too revealing), and the bow detail is adorable and brings the whole dress to another level. I paired it with a simple pearl necklace and bracelet from Kiel James Patrick and some nude heels. If I had a pair of heels that were sparkly or had an embellishment on it, I would have worn that!

A tree-trimming party is the fastest way to get your decorations us while spending time with your family and friends. Before the party go ahead and string lights on the tree. For the party, set a basket of ornaments around the tree so your guests can add them to the tree gradually throughout the party. Also, prep a bowl of popcorn and cranberries so you and your guests can string them together for garland. Another great idea for a tree-trimming party is to have a cookie decorating table. Go ahead and bake different cookies before the party, then set out icing and sprinkles for your guests. Or ask guests to bring some cookies and serve those as desserts.

No party is complete without food, drinks, and music. For such a party, since people will be moving around a lot it may be best to have finger foods set out such as a cheese ball, deviled eggs, different dips, a charcuterie board, or pigs in a blanket. For drinks, I like to serve wassail (recipe below) or poinsettias (champagne and cranberry juice). Turn on the holiday music and you have yourself a fun holiday party and tradition to celebrate every year!

Wassail Punch

Ingredients:

2 qts apple cider

2 cups pineapple juice

2 cups orange juice

1/2 cup of brown sugar

15-20 cloves stuck in an orange

Orange slices

4 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp allspice

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large Crockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil then let it simmer for about 3-4 hours. At this point I usually start tinkering with the recipe to get it to taste “just right” but adding more sugar, spices, or juice. Drink it as it is or serve with bourbon or vodka. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, cranberries, and orange slice. Enjoy!

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Kelly

Blog, Life, Travel

Weekend Trip: Philadelphia

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to present a poster at the Society for Research in Child Development Special Topics Meeting held in Philadelphia. Although I accidentally printed my poster with the wrong title (WHOOPS! and SOO embarrassed!), I still learned so much from the conference and made some great connections. We first visited Philly last year when we won tickets to the Army Navy game and did all of the tourist stuff then. This time, we were able to venture out and check out all of the cool local favorites.

Thursday night we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Cleaver’s. It’s a small bar that serves great cheesesteaks. Last time we were in Philly we overdid it on the cheesesteaks, so this time we told ourselves that we would only have one.

For lunch on Friday we went to Monk’s Cafe, a restaurant/bar that has been open for more than 20 years and prides itself on serving world-class beers. We did some reading and all signs pointed to Monk’s! We tried the Monk’s mussels which were divine. They were steamed in beer, garlic, and parsley. These were the basic recipe, and we hope to go back and try the others. Also, the fries were ridiculously delicious! My absolute favorite was the Gaffel Kolsch beer. If you are able to buy this anywhere I highly recommend it!

Friday night we went to see a string quartet and before we stopped at Mac Mart. This restaurant started off as a food truck and due to its popularity they decided to open a flagship store. Let me tell you all…this place was TOPS. The mac and cheese here is probably the best I have ever had and definitely will make you super happy! We got the “In the Buff” which was their classic mac topped with buffalo chicken chunks, potato chip panko crunch, and Pam Pam’s Buttermilk Ranch. If you have a chance and need a quick bite to eat, I HIGHLY recommend stopping here!

Saturday morning we ventured over to Drexel University’s campus to grab breakfast at Sabrina’s Cafe. Several people recommended going here on my Instagram and on Reddit, so we knew we had to check it out. We got the Stuffed Challah French Toast (hands down the BEST french toast I have ever had) and Eggscellent Mexi Special. We left there happy and full. We could have easily taken a nap after eating here, but we had a full day of exploring ahead of us.

My favorite thing we did was walk over to University of Pennsylvania’s campus. It was SO gorgeous! The buildings were so pretty and the campus was lovely! Afterwards we took a train to Chestnut Hill because there was a Witches and Wizards festival happening. It was so fun to see all of the kids and everyone dressed up in Harry Potter costumes. The neighborhood of Chestnut Hill was SO charming and I could totally see ourselves living there one day.

To cap off our day, we headed over near Fish Town to check out The Philadelphia Brewing Company and Tired Hands Brewing Company. Both of these places had great beer and a great atmosphere! I highly recommend checking out these local businesses!

We seriously cannot wait to head back to Philly to check out more neighborhoods and local shops. If you have any recommendations for our next trip, let me know!

Cheers!

Kelly

Blog, Life

Happy 2nd Wedding Anniversary!

It’s hard to believe that two years ago my best friend and I said our “I do’s”. For those who don’t know, as soon as we got married we started living apart in the fall. Mike had just started law school, and I was beginning my PhD program. Has It been super hard? Absolutely. Would we do It all over again the same way? You bet. Why? Well, It’s been incredibly hard having two houses and distance between them, but us attaining our goals is just so important, and having each others’ support just makes It even better. We miss each other most at nights, but we still see each other nearly every weekend. Although we have two houses (three now if you include Mike’s apartment in Dallas), we only have ONE home–HOME is where both of us are together, and it’s our favorite place to be. We try to encourage each other as much as we can. Even though times get difficult and stressful, we always try to say how much we appreciate each other and the hard work that is being put in. We only have one more year left of school, so all of this will be totally worth It, and we will have both achieved our goals.

No, we didn’t have the big, show-boat of a wedding with hundreds of guests. Instead, we had a very small, intimate wedding with our closest friends and family in my mom’s yard. We knew that we didn’t want to have a big wedding (and our wallets thanked us later!), because It wasn’t about the wedding, It was about being married. Too often I see couples getting too caught up in the “show” and don’t focus on what will happen the day, weeks, months, years, lifetime AFTER the wedding. So, for those preparing for your wedding, just stop for a second and think about what really matters! A MAJOR shoutout to our incredible wedding party! They were our best and closest friends, and man did they all look amazing! Mike’s groomsmen even got the “sorority squat” photo down! (Check out the pics below).

However, Mike and I were so caught up in our happiness that day, that we actually FORGOT to take pictures together! It totally ended up being okay seeing that It was a June wedding and It was SO hot. We ended up taking pictures later in October which gave us a reason to put back on our wedding attire. I must say It was not as stressful and considerably cooler than our wedding day! Although most people would just like to have their pics on their wedding day, taking them at another time actually turned out great!

I am so blessed to have such an amazing husband that supports me, keeps up with me, and balances me out. Here’s to a lifetime of adventure with you, Mike! I love you always!

Cheers,

Kelly

Blog, Life

3 Day Weekends and Donuts

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Donuts are the key to my heart, and I am so happy that a local donut shop has opened here in Tallahassee. I am ALL for local businesses, especially those with donuts! We have a 3-day weekend with MLK this week, so it’s always fun for me to head over to the donut shop and get some work done.

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Sweater: Banana Republic | Shirt: Express | Glasses: Warby Parker | Pants: J. Crew Factory