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, Travel

Weekend Trip: Pensacola

After every semester I’m given about a week of “vacation” time–with vacation time meaning “time to catch up on busy work” time–but I usually try to make the best of my “time off”. My husband is from Pensacola, and as soon as he finished his law school finals we headed to his hometown.

Mike always reminds me how much history is in Pensacola. It was actually the first settlement in the US but was wiped out by a hurricane, and now “St. Augustine gets all of the glory”. Most people think of the beaches when they hear Pensacola, and while It has beautiful, white sand beaches, downtown Pensacola is really where the fun and food is at!

Our favorite place downtown Pensacola is Global Grill. It’s an AMAZING tapas bar, so don’t mess up and order a big entree. The tuna cubes are to DIE for, and so is the charcuterie board. Always be sure to ask for the specials because they switch them out often! We did, of course, go to the beach because I absolutely love being near the water when possible. So, if you are near Orange Beach, AL, avoid going to the tourist traps and the Flora-Bama (although going to the Flora-Bama on Sunday is pretty fun!), and go to Cobalt. It’s an awesome restaurant on the water that has amazing Apalachicola oysters, food, and drinks. Also, I’m always on the hunt for macarons and I found this bakery called Adonnas that had some. They were definitely tasty, but there was too much filling. However, a local talked me into getting the earl grey flavor and It was absolutely delicious! I will definitely be on the lookout for those in the future!

I was absolutely excited to take pictures in my new Kiel James Patrick Summering dress. I really wanted the yellow, but you can never go wrong with classic blue pinstripes. The detail on this dress is perfect, from the ruffled collar to the white contrast sleeve cuffs. It’s perfectly light and airy, and can be dressed up or down! And best of all….IT HAS POCKETS!!!

Blog, Style

Nautical Inspiration

“There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea. But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be.” And best friends who buy you awesome sweaters with ships on them are even more amazing! My best friend, Hailey (check out her blog here!), found this awesome sweater from Old Navy for me. She is always on the lookout for clothes in my size when she is shopping, and I fully appreciate the caliber of her friendship in that regard and many others.

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I layered my sweater over a white poplin button up, and paired it with a khaki pencil skirt. It was pouring rain the day we took pictures, and I didn’t want to ruin my shoes! But I would usually wear a pair of brown leather flats with this outfit. Also, since my sweater made a statement, I didn’t want to overload on accessories. So, I wanted to keep it simple, yet classy, and wore my favorite pair of pearl earrings (Anchors Aweigh by Kiel James Patrick) and pearl bracelet (Anchor Atlantic by Kiel James Patrick).

Although not on purpose, a lot of my outfits have some nautical element. For whatever reason, I just feel that navys, whites, and golds are classy, sophisticated, can be dressed up or down, and (like pearls) are appropriate for any occasion–and usually this is what nautical clothes and accessories provide!

Most of my fall and winter clothes are navy or grey, and while I love these colors, I am so ready for it to warm up to start breaking out bright colors for spring and summer. Lilly Pullitzer season can’t get here soon enough!

Sweater: Old Navy| Shirt: Express | Skirt: Express | Shoes: Frye | Earrings: Kiel James Patrick | Bracelet: Kiel James Patrick

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Blog

Power Outfit

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On my second day of teaching, I wanted to make a statement. Like I said in a previous blog, Mike always says to wear your best/power outfit on the second day. I wanted to present myself as a professional, make an impression, and emit confidence.

So, I went with this amazing shirt from J. Crew (unfortunately I don’t think it is available anymore), and layered a navy blazer over it. I have a lot of navys and blues in my closet, but I think that those colors can be paired with most anything while achieving a classy look. I also paired it with a khaki pencil skirt (you don’t always have to match your blazer/jacket with your bottoms!). But, because I still wanted to keep it semi-casual, I rolled my sleeves up over my blazer to tone it down a bit. Also, because the shirt itself was my statement piece, I decided not to overload my outfit with a necklace–instead I just wore a pair of simple pearl stud earrings.

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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
Featured, Style

Dress to Celebrate Success

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Today was my first day teaching a university course! In my doctoral program (and I’m sure this is the same for most), second year students are allowed to teach courses (given that they have taken all of the pre-reqs and such). I am beyond excited and nervous to start gaining experience in the classroom. It’s just another step and milestone closer to accomplishing my goal of getting my Ph.D. and starting my professional career. So, what better was to celebrate than by dressing up for the occasion?

Shop my outfit here.
Tote: Kate Spade | Cashmere Sweater: Macy’s | Shirt: Express | Skirt: Express | Shoes: J. Crew Factory | Pearl Necklace: Lauren Ralph Lauren | Pearl Earrings: Lauren Ralph Lauren | Bangle: Kate Spade

Everyone knows the saying, “dress for success” or “dress to impress”, but I think we should also dress to celebrate success! Achieving professional goals and milestones is such a rewarding feeling, and we should allow ourselves to be proud of our progress and accomplishments, no matter how big or small. Celebrating surface milestones–the goals that others can see–makes all of hard work and perseverance that others don’t see worthwhile. And just to make the day even better, Mike had a bouquet of lilies, champagne, and dinner waiting for me when I got home to celebrate this small marker in my career.

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When deciding on the outfit that I was going to wear my first day of teaching, there were a few factors that influenced my decision. My outfit needed to:

  • Be classy
  • Give me confidence
  • Be comfortable
  • Appropriate for the setting
  • Give a great first impression

So, I went with a classic look by layering a poplin button-up shirt underneath a crew neck sweater and pairing it with a high-waist pencil skirt. In my opinion, no outfit is complete without pearls–they’re the “pearl”fect touch of class!–and they really did help to bring my outfit together.

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I also feel that your outfit should have some sort of “pop”–an item that stands out. Kate Spade is by far my favorite designer because she always has a great selection of colors and designs for all of her products, while maintaining a classic-modern-chic style. This tote was the perfect “pop” for my outfit!

Most importantly, I had to save my best outfit for the second day of class. Mike always tells me that growing up he would save his best outfit for the second day of school. This makes a lot of sense! So, stay tuned for my day two outfit!

What is your go-to outfit for celebrating success or your first day at work? What is your “closet staple” that always completes an outfit? I’d really like to know your thoughts and opinions!

Cheers!

Kelly