Three Drugstore must-haves for Winter dryness

Moving from San Francisco to Colorado has wrecked havoc on my skin.  I absolutely cannot go a day without slathering moisturizer over every inch of my itchy skin, something I never did when living on the coast.

It has taken me 10 months of living here to figure out which products give me the best punch of moisture without killing my wallet.  And here are my favorite budget-friendly dry-skin savers:

Three favorite drugstore finds for Winter dryness

For dry lips: Evolution of Smooth Sphere Lip balm.  This stuff stays glossy for so long!  Plus it smells and tastes fab and only costs $3.29!

For dry cuticles: Burt’s Bees Hand Salve.  Full disclosure, I am rough on my cuticles.  ROUGH.  And this is my favorite smoother.  I have tried so many products, but this salve has the perfect amount of moisture and smoothing without being overly sticky.  You definitely need to really rub it in, but once you do it won’t smear all over everything.  And the $9.00 tin will last you forever!

For dry skin: Nivea Creme.  I am a recent convert to this.  But I really like it.  Yes, it is slightly sticky and you really have to work it in, but it has more lasting power than just about anything I have tried.  I rub it into my hands and even after washing them a few times, I can still feel the cream protecting my skin!  It definitely has a lot of fragrance which is my only complaint, but in reading other reviews it seems most people like the way it smell!  The best moisturizer I have tried for under $6.00!

What are your favorite drugstore beauty finds?

DIY – Faux Pebbled Leather vase

DIY Pebbled leather vase from StylishlyLived

Do you have a collection of florist vases from arrangements you’ve received?  If you do, how lucky – someone loves you!

While the shapes of these vases are usually fabulous, they are typically rough-edged, flawed, clear glass.  How boring!  Case in point:

florist vase

I recently found some crafting paper at Michaels that I am obsessed with.  I (rudely) bought every single sheet they have in stock.  I had one DIY in mind when I bought it all, but realized that with the leather-like look and feel of this paper, it would be perfect for a Mod Podge project!  I can’t find it online at Michaels, but here it is at PaperMojo.

This project doesn’t take many supplies:

  • One vase
  • Pen
  • One (or more) sheet of decorative paper
  • Mod Podge (I use satin finish)
  • Paint brush

Materials needed for DIY mod podge vase

Steps:

  1. Wrap your paper around your vase to determine how many sheets are needed.  If more than one sheet is needed, trace the sides and cut out the traced shapes.  Tip – cover as much as possible in one seamless sheet and line up seams with corners.
  2. Brush a coat of Mod Podge over the BACK of the paper.  I didn’t want it to be very gloopy, but I did make sure every inch was coated.
  3. Press the paper onto the vase firmly, smoothing out air bubbles as you go.  Wrap the paper over edges and lip of the vase.
  4. Allow the Mod Podge to dry so that you can handle the vase without the paper sliding around.
  5. Once dry, brush a thin coat of Mod Podge over the top of the paper to seal.
  6. Let dry for 24-48 hours before filling with water.

DIY Mod Podge and Paper covered vase from StylishlyLived

This project would be perfect for a bridal show or wedding – a great way to DIY your centerpieces!

Last minute New Year’s Eve DIY – Gold Leaf Bar Car sign

Last minute New Year’s Eve DIY – Gold Leaf Bar Car sign

There is still time to sneak one more cute little DIY project in for 2014!

Whether you’re hosting a blow-out bash or snuggling on the couch for New Year’s Eve this year, a dash of extra gold and sparkle is always called for!  And this easy project will ensure 2015 is golden!

Last minute New Year's Eve DIY with a dash of sparkle

This project took me about 3 hours total.  That includes drying time and a fair amount of goofing around.  So if you dash out to the craft store right now – there is plenty of time to finish it before you pop the cork!

Items needed:

Wooden numbers (another material would be totally fine, the wood version is easy to find at Joann’s Fabrics)

Sanding block

Mod Podge

Decoupage (or paint) brush

Gold Leaf

Gold Leaf adhesive

Soft brush to apply adhesive

Soft brush to burnish gold leaf

Gilding gloves (totally optional, I ended up not using mine)

Gold Leaf project - items needed

I used many Martha Stewart products for this project.  I found the sheets easy to use and would definitely recommend her leafing sheets for this project!

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Even better Mulled Wine

Even better Mulled Wine

The holidays may be coming to a close, but the cold weather is definitely sticking around for a few more months.

From Christmas night through the 26th, we had about six inches of snow accumulate at my house in Denver… and the snow hasn’t melted yet.  My poor, Boston-raised husband thought he escaped this type of weather (usually Denver snow melts quickly because it is so sunny here).  And we’re about to get more!  My birthday is on Tuesday and the high is 8.  Degrees.  8 degrees.  For the high…  And it is supposed to snow.

So – what could be better than a cozy drink perfect for sipping under 37 blankets?  I posted about Mulled Wine a few years back and that recipe is still tasty, but this one is even better.  What can I say, my boozing has evolved.

Even better Mulled Wine

Ingredients:

3 cups apple cider

Six whole cloves

Three cinnamon sticks

Juice and zest of one orange

One tablespoon brown sugar

Half teaspoon nutmeg

One cup cranberries

One bottle red wine (I use a cabernet)

One cup brandy

Instructions:

Combine the Cider through the Cranberries in a non-stick pot.  Bring to a strong simmer, stirring occasionally.  The cranberries should “pop” – their skin splitting.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the wine and brandy.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Keep in mind, the hotter the temperature and the longer you simmer after the wine and brandy have been added, the less alcoholic it will be.  I yank mine off the heat immedeatly.

Garnish with cranberries and oranges slices.

Enjoy!

Sweet and Spicy goat cheese stuffed cherry peppers

Sweet and Spicy goat cheese stuffed cherry peppers

If I had my druthers, I would only eat appetizers. But that is not an adult way of eating I have been told.

During this time of year however, when my husband and I are home together more often with random days off here and there – we will indulge in the occasional “snack-a-tizer” day (that is exactly what is sounds like, snacking on appetizers all day long).

Yesterday there were bacon and jalapeño deviled eggs. Today we have herbed goat-cheese stuffed cherry peppers.

I have been trying to find Peppadews in the olive bars at my local grocery stores to make Goat Cheese stuffed peppadews but haven’t been successful. That has been one of the biggest changes since moving from San Francisco to Colorado, the wide-variety of produce isn’t as abundant in Colorado. Lots of great stuff to be found here – but apparently not Peppadews. So, I broke down and bought a bottle of Mezzatta Sweet Cherry Peppers – and it turned out to be a bit of a blessing! While these little morsels are different from what I originally had in mind, they are certainly tasty. Vinegar-y, spicy, crunchy and cheesy… yum! Because the sweet peppers don’t have quite the kick I wanted, I threw some jalapeno in as well. Peppers stuffed with peppers!

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Delicious spicy and smoky appetizer – deviled eggs with bacon and jalapeno

Delicious spicy and smoky appetizer – deviled eggs with bacon and jalapeno

Spicy and smoky… so delicious. But those tasty words aren’t enough to describe this appetizer… Totally creamy, a little bit crunchy and beyond decadent.

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Deviled eggs are a favorite in this house. We love them the standard way with just a little bit of paprika dusted on top, but sometimes you want to serve something ever-so-slightly elevated. And who doesn’t love bacon? And what savory dish isn’t made better with a kick of heat?

Plus the bright green of jalapeño looks so fresh with the creamy yellow and white of the eggs.

Serve these for New Year’s Eve or for brunch on New Year’s Day or, you know, on Tuesday. They are perfect anytime!

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The perfect cocktail for Christmas – Bourbon Alexander

The perfect cocktail for Christmas – Bourbon Alexander

The perfect cocktail for sitting near a fire, chatting with family, opening presents is a little rich, a little sweet, a little festive and not so strong that you’ll have apologizing to do the next day (although still has a kick!).

My parents always drank Brandy Alexanders around the holidays. They are sweet and a bit nutty and creamy and white – so perfect for this time of year. And while I have Brandy, I wanted to try something just a bit different for my Yuletide fun.

Enter the Bourbon Alexander. It is delicious! And SO easy to make:

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How to make a Bourbon Alexander-

Combine in shaker:
1oz Bourbon
1oz dark Creme de Cacao
1oz heavy creamy
ice

Shake and strain into a martini glass

Grate a bit of fresh nutmeg over the top

Enjoy!

The easiest holiday cocktail – Pomegranate Sparkler

The easiest holiday cocktail – Pomegranate Sparkler

‘Tis the season for celebrations!  What is more perfectly suited to celebrating than Champagne (or Prosecco or Cava…)?

But – if you come to my house, because I am not a Real Housewife of Orange County, you are probably not going to be served Veuve Clicquot…  One of my go-to bottles to buy in bulk is La Marca Prosecco – I think it is really tasty for the price point.  But because I like to serve budget-friendly sparkling wine, I usually dress it up a bit!  Plus, this is the time of year to get a bit fancy…

The other key element I need in my party cocktail is ease of assembly.  A holiday party is not the time for spanking mint or igniting orange peel.  If I can’t point my guests in the direction of the bar and know they will be able to assemble their own cocktail without burning down my house – it isn’t the holiday party cocktail for me!

This cute little cocktail has everything needed: easy to make, just fancy enough, a great pop of color and (of course), super tasty!  Plus, guests can really customize to their liking!

Easy Holiday Cocktail - Pomegranate Sparkler

Ingredients:

  • Sparkling wine (I used Prosecco)
  • Pomegranate
  • St. Germain

Remove the seeds from the pomegranate, put half of them in a pretty bowl with a small spoon to use as cocktail garnish.  Put the remaining seeds in a blender and blend into a pulp.  Strain the pulp (to separate the seeds from the juice) into a pretty, small pitcher.

To assemble the drink, pour the sparkling wine into a flute (about half to two-thirds full), add St. Germain and pomegranate juice to taste.  Spoon several pomegranate seeds into the flute (this is super fun, they sort of bob and dance).  And enjoy!

2014 Gift Guide: For the Bibliophile

Gift guide for the Bibliophile

Bibliophile: “A person who collects or has a great love of books.”  This is me.

As a child, my parents discovered that if they really wanted to punish me, they could ground me from reading.  Not joking.  Luckily they are both amazing and smart and felt that prohibiting reading was unethical, so they only did that once (I was notoriously difficult to punish since books were my only real obsession).

But I have so many books that it can be hard to buy me a book as a gift.    So if you are looking for something for a bibliophile you know, peruse these literary gift option!

Keep reading and click each photo below for descriptions, pricing and purchasing options.

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