Most of us tend to forget the spirit of the season because we get lost in the hustle and the bustle that is inevitable this time of year. The Holidays are all about spending time with family and friends so make sure to keep that in mind when planning for the season ahead. I’ve got some tips to make entertaining easier.
My focus is always on three areas of the house: the kitchen, the pantry and the dining room. Keeping your pantry, kitchen and fridge stocked with the essentials is key.
MOMS HOLIDAY PREP
One of my favorite entertaining essentials is stocking a bar cart like this Threshold Metal & Stone Bar Cart and matching Barware Tool Set with festive beverages and mixers. That way, your guests can have fun mixing their own cocktails and you’re not stuck behind the bar all night.
Pre-Mix one custom cocktail and set out wine, beer, sodas and a big bucket of ice and it’s totally self-serve. Another time saver? Pre-washed and pre-cut Archer Farms Veggies ready to go as soon as you open the bag. Need to freshen up your snack rotation? Try Archer Farms holiday trail and snack mixes that are available for just a couple of weeks during the holiday season, so grab them while you can!
Another tip? Don’t sweat the menu. Sure you want some wow-factor (like a great turkey stuffed with sage and basted with Madeira), but you need some easy go-to recipes. Success® Rice takes just 10 minute to make and can be a key ingredient in some tasty recipes. like this Cranberry Pecan Brown Rice Stuffing. It’s tasty, elegant and effortless. It’s a great classic recipe with a modern twist that will wow your guests. And there’s a variety of products available including White, Whole Grain Brown, Jasmine and Basmati. Everyone in the family will love it. Success is in the Bag.®
Cranberry Pecan Brown Rice Stuffing
2 bags Success® Brown Rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp dried orange peel
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp margarine
1/2 cup celery, finely sliced
2 Tbsps shallots, finely chopped (may substitute onion)
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Prepare rice according to package directions. In a medium microwave safe bowl, mix cranberries and orange peel with chicken stock and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Set aside. Heat a large sauce pan over HIGH heat and add margarine. Stir in celery, shallot and poultry seasoning and sauté 3 minutes. Stir in cranberry mixture, pecans, parsley and rice and cook over medium heat for 3 more minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
To toast pecans: Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Place pecans on a small cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn pecans. Cool.
The Mom Boss Book Tour is taking me all over the US. While it can be exhausting, finding places like the Kimpton Monaco Hotel Baltimore, also make it really fun and exciting.
I checked in late to the Kimpton Monaco Hotel Baltimore. I took an evening train from NYC to BWI and picked up a rental car to drive into town. Baltimore is set up extremely efficiently. It’s only a 15 minute drive from the airport.
After checking in, I just crashed into my cozy bed–I didn’t get to really look around. I slept like a baby in my spacious and quiet room. The next morning I took in my surroundings. Here’s my video tour:
Kimpton Monaco Hotel Baltimore
I don’t love large hotels. This one was sized-right. There are just over 200 rooms and each is thoughtfully laid out. I appreciated the rich decor–it’s elegant and quirky while still remaining inviting. The hotel made the most of this historic space. It used to be the B&O Railroad Headquarters before the hotel opened in 2009. You’ll swoon over the entrance–there’s a whole lotta marble and don’t forget to look up to see the Tiffany stained glass windows.
Each room is loaded with charm. I had five enormous windows and a bathroom that could fit an entire NYC studio inside it. The layout was great. I had a big living space (enough to do yoga!) and then the bedroom was tucked away. There are plenty of nods to the hotel’s history. Look for train and luggage details in the decor.
When it comes to finding a room for the kids, ask for one of these bunk rooms. I know my two girls will love this space when we come back.
Since I was in town on work I needed a few things:
high-speed internet (check)
a gym (check)
convenient restaurant with GOOD food (check and check).
The hotel has all the conveniences a business person needs and I love the little touches like the zebra robe and the yoga mat. I used both of them on my stay! One thing is was missing was as coffee maker in the room (apparently you can request them). I like a hot tea before bed and missed this detail.
For meetings, the hotel has over 10,000 square feet of conference room space. This space and the grand foyer make it a wedding favorite too.
But Baltimore certainly isn’t all business. It’s also a great family getaway. Since I grew up outside of Baltimore in Annapolis, I know the area well. You can’t go wrong with a visit to the aquarium and the waterfront. My must-dos with the kids include the Historic Ships in Baltimore, the National Aquarium (don’t miss the 4D movie) and the MD Science Center.
Here are a few more ideas of things to do with the kids in Baltimore:
There are tons of great restaurants, but you won’t want to miss dining in. The B&O American Brasserie is fantastic. I had a delicious crab cake (heavy on the crab light on the mayo and breadcrumbs) just like my mom makes. Definitely get the potato salad too. I ate dinner at the bar one night was delighted by the full wine list and a great healthy option is the pear and arugula salad.
Let’s talk about what else makes Kimpton stand out–the people. I was greeted wherever I went. In the morning they told be to grab a warm coffee or tea and in the afternoon I was treated to wine and a hula hoops. Yes, they do go together. And I love the way that pets are treated like family.
This is also the ultimate pet-friendly hotel. I’m told they welcome any and all pets (no weight limit) and if you don’t have a pet, they will lend you one. Take a look at my companion goldfish Taylor and Swift. Ask about the Guppy Love before you check in and there will be a pet waiting for you. BONUS: They take care of the feeding and cleaning the water.
Staying healthy is a priority for me. I love how the Kimpton properties have my back. In addition to the yoga mats, hula hoops and gym, they even offer free bikes to tour the city. This may have been my fist Kimpton stay, but it won’t be my last.
This excellent hotel made all with racing around of the book tour so much easier. I was able to pack in FOUR events in three days.
First was the JCC Panel and Signing in Owings Mills Maryland. A huge thank you to everyone at Ivy Books and the Gordon Center. Panelists were: Kirsten from 3 Green Moms, Amy from TeachMama.com, Jessica from AParentinginAmerica.com and Ellen Allen from Ellen Allen Annapolis.
Next was a Mom Boss signing at Tyson’s Corner in Virginia with Jen Griswold.
On Saturday I went home to Annapolis for a great signing at the Annapolis Bookstore where we RAN OUT OF BOOKS. Mom brought in a home-town crowd for that one.
Summer is here and it’s time to show some skin. I think summer nails can be a great accessory, and to get the best summer nails. I’ve got a few tricks and favorites.
Best Summer Nails Tips
First, I try to give my nails a rest. During the winter, I’m likely to leave my toes bare and just wear a basic polish on my nails. My winter treatment tends to be more basic and restorative. During the summer, it’s all about color!
Second, since I love to change up the color, I do my own toes and nails. They only polish I keep in the house is Sally Hansen Miracle Gel. It’s a total game-changer ladies. You can get a salon-quality polish in two steps.
Here’s why I love it:
Where to get it
All you need is the Miracle Gel Value Pack The #1 zero light gel system! (you can find it at most drug stores and at Walmart.com). Start with clean dry nails, apply two coats of color, add a top coat and you’re done. In just two easy steps, I get over a week of hi-gloss color. And it dries super-fast–much faster than traditional polish. Pricing ranges from $13.99 and up.
When do you tend to do your nails? For me, it’s all about catching a netflix binge session and getting bold color on my nails. Lately I’ve been catching up on HBO’s Girls as I polish away. I find trying to do my nails when the kids are awake is like going on a diet in Paris–pointless.
The colors this summer are amazing. I’m wearing Prince Char-mint on my toes and Regal Rosé on my hands. All I need is a great sundress and I’m ready for a summer party.
My final tip? Don’t go all matchy-matchy. Pick colors that compliment one another. I usually go for a bolder color on my toes and a more neutral color on my fingernails. And I’m crazy about all the nail metallic accents I’m seeing too.
This is not a sponsored post. Sally Hansen has gifted us nail colors to test.
Cabi Blogger Day was like a mini vacation–I got to play dress up, sip champagne and score some quality girl time! For a lifestyle blogger, it was like winning the lottery!
Earlier this month I flew across the country to spend the day with some blogging pals and check out the fabulous new cabi home offices in Manhattan Beach, California. The offices are where the design magic happens and it’s also the cabi shipping hub (the place that packs and ships the gorgeous clothes to cabi girls across the nation).
My day started with a welcome breakfast. CEO, Lynne Coté inspired the group with her “state of the union” address. While the rest of the retail world suffers, cabi seems to have found the secret sauce.
Truth: It’s nearly impossible to get great service at a department store anymore. While I used to love a trip to Nordstrom, now I wander around trying to find someone to help. I feel cabi’s rise to the top as a fashion brand has a lot to do with service. The company has managed to earn 5-10% annual sales growth in a challenging retail environment.
While department stores cut back on services, cabi girls are increasing their efforts to serve with style. The cabi stylists are making shopping fun again by providing women with a trusted friend to help them build a wardrobe–not just jam a closet full of clothes.
After hearing about cabi’s plans for continued excellence, we went to meet with Style Director Becky Jantzen (and her pug Bailey) and Chief Design Officer, Kat Woodside. I loved hearing about Kat’s background in denim design (she worked at Paige denim before cabi) and her obsession with fit. Kat also got all misty-eyed when she talked about what a gift it is to design for cabi–”It’s a designer’s dream to be able to design a collection that is sold as a collection, not as pieces,” says Kat.
Each season she dreams up hundreds of ideas and then whittles it down to about 100. (Note: cabi now has four deliveries a year–there are about 30 bonus items called New Arrivals that provide a mid-season infusion and give the cabi stylists an extra reason to reach out to her customers).
Throughout the design process Becky works with Cat to dream up outfits. And then more outfits and more outfits. Cabi doesn’t just want to sell you clothes, they want to give you a wardrobe that empowers you to be your best.
I love how the creative team and the design team work in tandem. After seeing a preview of Fall 2016 (it’s fabulous!) we learned about the next step…how the creative team takes the clothing and dreams up marketing materials to tell the story of the collection.
Daniele Trussardi (Creative Director) basically has to direct a movie each season. He picks a setting, selects the actors (the models), does the wardrobe and writes the script. All his effort is meant to make being a cabi stylist a seamless job. With the gorgeous marketing tools they get, it’s easy to sweep women up into the vision for the season. Beyond the magazines and sales materials, Daniele also works with the marketing team to create cabi’s big sales presentation called cabi Scoop (read more about cabi Spring 2016 Scoop).
It’s all well and good to know how cabi comes up with designs and develops great marketing tools, but what about the actual shopping experience? Let me just say, once you go to a cabi show you will be spoiled for life and NEVER want to shop in a department store again. We were treated to a cabi Fashion Experience led by Cheryl Higgins (VP of Sales) and Kim Carpenter (one of the 10 Founders).
Yes, the duo is extraordinarily experienced, but I think all the cabi girls put the same amounts of enthusiasm, planning and passion into their cabi events. The blogger guests sipped wine, nibbled on grapes and tried on clothes–totally getting into the spirit of what it feels like to be swept up into a fashion experience.
One of the big takeaways: While cabi is a multi-million dollar company, it’s still got all the best parts of a small women-owned business. It feels intensely personal, deeply rooted in service and entirely devoted to making women feel great about their choices.
After all this inspiring information it was time to PLAY! We were given free reign to pick from the sample rack for our special Blogger Day photo shoot.
Danieli oversaw the photos, Becky helped with styling and a professional team of hair and makeup artists made the most of our other assets. The photo session was so much fun, and I love the way they captured my style. It feels like me, just on a very, very good day!
Finally, I was most moved by spending time with Taylor, the Director for the Heart of cabi. Taylor, the Director of the Foundation, started as a stylist, now she works full-time to help cabi as a brand maintain and grow their foundation. The Heart of cabi is all about giving back and paying forward the gift of being supported in business. For the past nine years, cabi has been deeply invested in the Heart of cabi Foundation. They have donated $37,000,000 in clothing donations and helped fund 2,400 small business loans. As part of our blogger day education, we saw a fabulous mini documentary about the micro-lending movement; cabi partners with Opportunity International to give women without access to traditional banking the chance to start a company, feed themselves and educate their children.
The saying “women on purpose” means that cabi’s women are giving in deeds and action. In addition to start up grants, cabi also donates products to charity relief efforts overseas and in the US. When hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 cabi was on the ground with the relief effort donating clothing to those in need.
Thank you so much to cabi for letting me be a part of this incredible day! I was compensated for this post and for my travel time.
Gratitude isn’t innate. It’s taught. So is the art of the personal thank you note.
Parents have to lead by example and model how to be gracious and receive with grace. A big part of that is giving thanks. Since it’s the season on giving, I carve time out to teach my children to look at each gift with joy. Someone took the time, money and effort to pick something special out for them. Even if they don’t immediately LOVE that new pair of long underwear, I expect them to smile, say “thank you” and send a note after.
Having kids write thank you notes is a must to teach them to be grateful. Here are some ideas in how to get them to write great notes of appreciation.
Personalized stationery makes all the difference in motivating your kids to write. Stock up and make sure some new notes appear under the Christmas Tree. Minted has TONS of adorable options that you can personalize. I’m smitten with the Sweet Hello cards and then the Animal Hello cards–those are especially nice since they have lines to guide the kids’ hands.
Toast is cool again. Not just boring bread and butter, we’re talking healthy toast that’s topped with super foods. Chef Amie Valpone from Thehealthyapple.com shows inspired ways to stack your toast for breakfast, lunch, snacks or desserts. Lots of kid-friendly ideas too!
Momtrends’ YouTube channel is all about providing fashion and style inspiration to moms. From the trendiest fashions to the coolest gear to beauty trends, we want you to feel fabulous every day.
Fall means bundling up, but you don’t have to look like an eskimo. You can do it chic-style. Long cardigans are a trend. But how do you style them without looking like you are in a robe? The key is the belt!
J.Jill Jacquard Plaid Sweater started the whole outfit. I wanted to wear it on the first crisp day of fall and I wanted to not look like an oompa loompa. I kept everything else trim. A fitted tee and slim leggings (this leather pair is from last year’s Cabi collection).
What else is new? The bag. I’m obsessed with this Moleskine tote. It’s fabulous and from the makers of the classic Moleskine notebook. It’s the bag that PERFECTLY fits my 11″ mac air and all my other things. Like all the Moleskine products, this is exquisitely detailed. Derived from the design of the classic Moleskine notebook, it’s sleek and slim. The bag slips on my shoulder perfectly and has three pockets inside and two outside. Ideal for a commute across town or to school drop off, this bag is a gem.
Since it is solid black, I added a bit of color with a CAbi scarf. Try a smaller one, I think the scarf SLIGHTLY overpowered the bag. Oh well, I tried.
And finally a note about the Euro-sneaks. This Longchamp pair is a fave, but you can get them from any maker–just look for a black pair with cool trim.
Loving my new jeggings from Miraclebody. Denim is essential for all your fall looks. It works for day, night AND with the kiddos. This fall to keep looking slim, I’m wearing the Thelma Jegging from Miraclebody. These are more than a comfy pair of leggings, they’ve also got the built-in support to trim your waist and give your backside a lift. Thank you! I paired the denim leggings with the Linda top.
The fabric on the top super soft and flows nicely. I like the deep color and the ladder detail. And the top comes with a slimming tank top. The tank is removable, but you’ll love the way it smoothes things out and trims your waist.
Booties are a favorite for fall this pair is a few seasons old. You can find a similar updated bootie with the cut-away here from Matt Bernson. I like the bootie look with the trim legging. You can also wear a ballet flat (such as tieks) with these for an even more casual style). Since there is not space for a belt on the leggings, you’ll want a top that covers or skims the waistband.
I’ve been on a hunt for a metallic bag and I spotted this one at a local boutique the bag is from Annabel Ingall. The Metallic Jojo Crossbody has three separate zip compartments that snap together. I can make a clutch out of the bag or wear it across my body.
Since I pulled the gold bag into the equation, I decided to add my Chandelier earrings from Stella & Dot too. This is an easy outfit that will be ideal for date night or a night out with friends. Trust me, once you try on these jeggings you’ll want them in every color.
Monday Mingle is the stylish collaboration between Bon Bon Rose Girls, Momtrends and Thirty Something Fashion. Each week we post about our personal style and then invite our friends to join in the fun. This week the lovelies over at BonBon are hosting the linky.