New Year's Eve DIY

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We're packing our bags and making the trek up to the Smoky Mountains again for our annual New Year's gathering. Before we left, I was browsing on Pinterest for some cute decor ideas seeing as Target was fresh out of any and Party City is over 45 minutes away (maybe I'm just lazy). I found several different ideas, but my favorite were pipe cleaner crowns. I looked at several different ideas and finally came up with something I really liked (I think Lauren Conrad did something similar a few years back). It's really simple and you don't need very many things!

You'll need: 
Pipe cleaners in the color of your choice (I bought 3 packages of 25; 1 silver, 1 gold, and 1 white sparkle not shown all from Michaels $1.79 each)
Headbands ($0.88 for 2 at Walmart)
A pair of scissors

I made several different sizes to see which I liked better. I still haven't decided, but at least I have lots of options! 

For a larger crown, take one pipe cleaner, bend in half, and twist a loop once or twice or until you feel it will stay securely. Repeat 5 times.
 Once you have 5 pieces bent and looped, take two and connect them by twisting the loose ends. It all depends on how tall you want your crown as to where you should connect. I experimented heavily here, but as long as all 5 are connected at the same spot you'll be good to go.

 Once you have them all connected, they should look a bit like this.
Take about a half of a pipe cleaner and make it into a circle. This size also depends on how tall and wide you want your crown, but you can easily guess by placing your connected loops around the circle.

Once you have your circle and 5 connected pieces, place the circle on the bottom and bend the loose ends around the circle. You can either keep bending them around the circle to make a clean simple look, or cross the ends to add a bit extra.

To connect it to the headband simply cut 2 pieces about an inch or two of pipe cleaner and bend them in half.
 Loop the bent pieces over the crown bottom and around the headband to secure it.
 That's it! You have your headband and you're ready to party!
 You can also take the left over pieces of pipe cleaner to make more decorations for your New Year's look. Simply bend the pieces into the letters or numbers you want and leave a tail at the bottom so they can be attached to the crown base or directly onto you headband (that way you can change them out each year).
 (This silver crown below was made from half pipe cleaners and is smaller than the ones above)

Christmas Catch up

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I've been thoroughly enjoying my Christmas break so far (hence the lack of posts). I spent a day or so with the hubs wrapping gifts before making the trip home to my parents' house. 



My sisters and I spent several days lounging about the house and picking up a few last minute gifts as well as catching up on our Christmas traditions. We always watch a rather long list of movies and listen to the Cinnamon Bear on CD. (The Cinnamon Bear is a radio series from the 1930's about a brother and sister's search for the silver star that goes atop their Christmas tree)
I also started playing with some illustration pens I happened upon in Hobby Lobby

Christmas Eve we went to downtown Aiken for a few last minute gifts and some treats from Fresh Market. We braved the rain and abnormally warm day for an hour or so...
Shop my look: 
Shop my sister's look:
Until we couldn't handle the gloomy weather and found a local pub. They had the best homemade Root Beer I've ever tasted. 
My sister received one her presents a little early when they adopted a 1 year old toy poodle a few days before Christmas. I was so excited to meet my new nephew Finneus! Is he not completely and utterly adorable?!
Christmas Eve my sisters, brother, and I all sleep in my old room with a view of the Christmas lights outside while we wait on Santa to visit. It's a Christmas tradition that has been carried on for years and years! We wake up bright and early and wait for the rest of the house to get up to open our gifts.
On Christmas Day we go to my Grandma's early to help her finish the preparations for our rather large lunch. She cooks for over 40 people and she's 81! If that's not an impressive feat I don't know what is. 
Jared and I left that afternoon to spend the evening with his parents. We opened our gifts there and had a delicious new recipe of shrimp and grits for supper. After getting to our home (and discovering a new house guest, AKA a mouse in our towel cabinet) we started on winter cleaning. We've been pretty worthless just lying around the house and watching Harry Potter since, but that's perfectly ok with me! I hope everyone had as good a Christmas as we did!

Merry Christmas Eve

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We have a winner of the Cozy Christmas Giveaway! Congratulations! 









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Please email me at caitlinacleland@gmail.com with your address so I can send off your gifts after Christmas! Thanks to all the lovely ladies who entered, I have another giveaway in the works, so stay tuned!

Cozy Christmas Giveaway

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Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

Holiday Party-wear

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I've been on the hunt for some possible holiday party options. I've been debating between wearing a dress or two already in my closet, but I'm still on the fence after finding these pretties! Some of them are a bit pricier than others, but all of them are completely fabulous!
And don't forget to check out this lovely cream dress for less than $100!

I'll be back to regular posting next week once I finish with my on-campus and testing. (Boo testing)

A Cozy Christmas Giveaway

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I was picking up a few necessities wasting two hours browsing Target when I came across some beautiful blankets. If we didn't already have an overwhelming amount of blankets in our home I would have purchased one for myself, but as it is I thought it would make a great Christmas giveaway to all you lovely ladies.  It will include a monogram Anthropologie mug (I will purchase once the winner is announced) as well as a nifty Starbucks card! 








Stop the Presses...

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Barbour has released their new watch collection. How am I just finding out about this? I know I shouldn't be surprised seeing as fashionable timepieces have become very popular recently, but I guess I'm more taken aback by how long it has taken for them to release their own timepieces. All that time waiting was well worth it. There are at least 5 watches I would love have in my collection, and a few I think Jared would enjoy. It'd be a great surprise for those of y'all looking for a last minute gift!

My favorites of what I've seen so far:
Men | Beacon







Glysdale


Redley


Women | Lisle

Afton


Finlay (I'm quite partial to this one)

These are the two websites that have the best and biggest selection: Shadestation and Beaverbrooks. Don't wait around too long, these gorgeous pieces are selling quickly!

Almost Sinless Brownies

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I was searching for a high protein brownie recipe to make for the office as a parting gift and found this amazing recipe via SkinnytasteSkinnytaste. As per usual, I didn't necessarily follow the recipe as I thought it needed something more. The original recipe can be found here, but below is the altered recipe that I made. 


1 can of low sodium black beans (rinsed very well and strained)
1 tbs unsweetened almond milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp instant coffee (Starbucks blonde roast)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Godiva mini chips)
1/3 cup caramel morsels
1/4 cup chopped french walnuts
a dash of vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350ºF Mix black beans, sugar, eggs, olive oil, almond milk, baking soda, baking powder, and instant coffee in a blender. Once it is blended well, slowly add in the cocoa powder making sure to scrape the batter down so everything is blended well. Once the batter is mixed well, mix in 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate and a handful or so of caramel morsels. Pour the batter into a pre-greased 9x9 pan. 


Sprinkle the remaining caramel and chocolate chips as well as the chopped french walnuts. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. I prefer my brownies a bit more crunchy so I actually baked mine for almost 40 minutes. Let the brownies cool for 15-20 minutes and then cut, serve and enjoy!

I've considered sprinkling in Andes mint chips for a holiday party. I think it would be fabulously festive!
*Disclaimer: This original recipe was found on Skinnytaste. I altered different things about their recipe (cutting out sugar, adding caramel and walnuts, etc), but I do not claim their amazing creativity in using black beans instead of flour.

Blanket Scarf

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By now, everyone has finally gotten their hands on the coveted plaid blanket scarves that came out last year and increasingly gained popularity. I for one adore mine and wear them any chance I get. Unfortunately for us southerners who aren't getting much winter weather, it takes a bit of creativity to be able to incorporate these beauties in your outfit without sweating your socks off. Enter the belted scarf. This jumpsuit and scarf were perfect for the birthday celebrations we attended last weekend as the breeze from the river is often a little chilly, but the temperatures outside weren't very low.







Perfectly Coutured