I can hardly believe that today is the last day of 2013. This year flew by! This year has certainly been a good one in many ways. I have learned so many things and have grown in so many ways. This blog has grown right along with me and I have definitely have you to thank for that.

I was going to end the year here on the blog with a roundup of some of everything that I have posted during the year. But as I was going through the posts, I realized that the recipes clearly peaked your interest! So I thought I would end the year here with my top recipes of the year. I truly adore cooking, baking and food photography and I definitely plan to post lots more in 2014!

Have a safe New Years Eve!

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{Fresh upcoming year called for fresh white tulips for the nightstand... } 

Hi!!! I hope you had a great holiday! I must say that I am feeling quite refreshed right now. Last week was a week of family, food, laughter, reading, going to bed early, waking up late, shopping, movie watching - the works. All of that is why Christmas is truly my favorite time of the year. Lucky for me, I have another week of downtime before returning to the real world. If you need me, I'll be doing more of those lovely things I mentioned above, detoxing, organizing, making a Goodwill run and just getting my thoughts together for this upcoming year - a year that is going to be amazing. I can just feel it... More on that later this week. In the meantime, here are some highlights from my week! Have a good Monday!

{ I'm from the south and I didn't know how to make proper southern collard greens until last week. My mom gave me a little lesson and they were SO good! }

{ Details on my parent's tree...}

{The gift with the pink ribbon included this wallet that I bought for my mom. It was her first ever designer wallet. She loved it and deserved it... } 

{This spinach and goat cheese quiche was our Christmas morning breakfast. It was my first time making it and it was SO SO SO good! My family loved it and I will be making it every year from now on... }

{Oh these cinnamon rolls were a part of our Christmas morning breakfast, too. Grands from the can... They are tradition. }

{We upgraded my dad's Keurig for Christmas, so I with the touch of a button, I had warm, creamy decaf coffee (caffeine and my migraines aren't friends) almost every morning in my favorite mug (now on sale!)... }
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Well, my friends, Christmas is here and I am EXCITED! This is truly my favorite time of the year and I intend to make the most of it. I'm going to step away from the blog for a week or so to focus solely on family, friends, eating and napping - times 10. :)

Before I go do all that, I wanted to take the time to thank you for stopping by. This has been an amazing year for my little blog and I have you to thank for it! I really appreciate you and I wish you the most amazing, safe and wonderful holiday.


Image via
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Happy Friday before Christmas my friends! I find it sort of hard to believe that Christmas is only five days away. Now that the day is almost here, I feel like it snuck up on me this year and I'm slightly less organized than in years past. Does anyone else feel the same way?? Anyway, hopefully I will have the opportunity to catch up this weekend. I'll be wrapping gifts, prepping food for Christmas Eve and Day, and avoiding mall parking lots at all costs.  :) Happy weekend and enjoy the links!

Here is what my Christmas Day outfit will look like and I think this is the perfect hairstyle to go with it...

They met, he then asked her out on a tea date - not coffee - but tea, and they married 10 months later. Their story of risk and reward is incredibly inspiring...

If baking is on your weekend to-do list, then these tips might help...

This video is the epitome of Christmas. So.very.good. Grab a tissue...

This blog is just comfort to my eyes. Pretty...

You know I love naps, which means I loved this.

Loved her "Holla-Day" home tour...

Holiday desktop, computer desktop that is, de jour...

Indoor s'mores... Yes and yes.

Image via Herriott Grace
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If this is the most boring Christmas Day outfit you've ever seen, let me explain. Christmas Day at our house is extremely laid back. No table settings (even though I love them), no assigned seating, and no dress code. Wearing Christmas colors isn't required. We are just chill. I'm often running around assisting my mom with our late lunch - which is really our early dinner. So I dress similar to what you see above. I like to keep it classy, yet comfortable. And by comfortable I mean that I want to feel the way I felt in the pajamas I wore before having to change. Clothing that allow my stomach and waist to stretch is important. A roomy tote for any gift deliveries after lunch is good. And a cozy blanket for that necessary Christmas Day nap is a must. :)

P.S. I have those eyeglasses and I L-O-V-E them... They have a matte finish, so they are very soft and light and don't stick to my nose like plastic frames do. Love that.

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So for the past few years, I have made and photographed a favorite holiday cocktail (here and here). This year time just didn't permit. But know that I'll still be making some sort of concoction for Christmas and New Years! On most days, I perfer white wine. But cocktails around the holidays are just a necessity to me. They are just a little more special and personable than the standard beer or wine. So if you feel the same way and are looking for something special for that party, family dinner or holiday evening on the couch, these cocktails by some talented virtual bartenders might do the trick... 

P.S. More of the "Best Of" series here...
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I love a good, cute comfortable outfit. I love a cute graphic top that has a good meaning. And I love a good, sweet dessert. I enjoyed the best of all three things a few weeks ago at Steel City Pops in Homewood, Alabama. My photographer introduced me to this local spot and it's just one of those places that really should be in every city. They serve fruity and creamy flavors of fresh popsicles that are all 100% natural and gluten-free. They aren't made with any refined sugars and the fruity pops are even vegan. I chose the creamy vanilla bean pop and it was HEAVEN on a stick! It was so creamy and the vanilla flavor was robust, but not too much. It definitely didn't taste "healthy." I loved the rustic, industrial decor just as much. I definitely seized my quiet little stress-free moment there. And with the Christmas coming up, I suppose that seizing the little moments will be even more important... 

Top: Banana Republic (old, but this is cute and this one is, too) | Jeans: Joe's | White Tank: Banana Republic | Shoes: Converse | Bag: Gucci | Watch: Michael Kors

Images by Paula Coldiron

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Hi there! I could scream to the mountaintops about how happy I am that today is Friday! The holidays for me make December one of my favorite months. But it is also one of my busiest months! Between year-end planning at work and planning for Christmas - my weeks can be a bit tiring! So this weekend, I really do plan to just chill. There will be limited errands, a fun dinner at one of my favorite restaurants with a good friend who makes me laugh, and online Christmas shopping and Christmas movie watching from the comfort of my couch. A forecast of rainy weather should help me stick to that plan... :) I hope you have a great weekend!

Their sales are making it easy for me to find gifts for others and hard for me not to shop for myself...

I could live here...

A delicious way to start Christmas Day...

And a delicious way to bring in the new year...

An easy, simple holiday decor DIY that could double as a beautiful gift...

A few ideas that might spice up your life during the remaining days of 2013...

In case you are looking for another cookie recipe to add to your holiday cookie repertoire...

30 things to stop doing to yourself...

Adorable. Just adorable...

Smile please...

Image via

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So here is the story... There is a bakery here in Atlanta that sells a red velvet cookie with cream cheese frosting. Whenever I am remotely close - remotely close I said - I stop in and get that cookie. I don't even have to be hungry or have a taste for something sweet. I always stop in for that cookie. It.Is.That.Good. So earlier this week when my blogging pal, Victoria, e-mailed me about doing a virtual holiday cookie swap, this was the first cookie that came to mind. I have always wanted to make the cookie myself, so I researched a few recipes and settled on this one. And I'm so glad I did. This cookie tastes JUST like a mini red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. It's moist and soft, which is how I like my cookies. And that frosting - in addition to cream cheese, the frosting has white chocolate in it. I honestly don't love white chocolate, but it became a good foodie friend of mine when I tasted that frosting. The chocolate adds this richness to the frosting that I really love. So my point is that if you love red velvet cake, moist cookies, regular chocolate, white chocolate and cream cheese all in one, then this cookie is worth a try.

This cookie is part of a virtual cookie swap today hosted by Victoria of vmac + cheese! Nine other fabulous bloggers have posted some really good holiday cookies that are worth checking out! The recipe to my cookie along with links to theirs are below!


Here is what you need and what to do:


1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 egg, beaten, room temperature
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon (more or less) red food coloring
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)


4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted
Red sugar for garnish (optional)

To make the cookies:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Melt the unsweetened chocolate using a double boiler or the microwave. Set aside to cool.

3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add the egg and blend until the ingredients are well incorporated.

4. Add the evaporated milk and food coloring to a small bowl and stir. I used about a tablespoon of food coloring to get the color of those cookies. You can use more or less food coloring to get your desired color.

5. Add the flour, salt and baking soda to a small bowl. Stir until combined.

6. Add the dry ingredients and red evaporated milk alternately to the butter/sugar mixture. Start with flour and end with the flour. Be sure the ingredients are well incorporated, but don't overmix!

7. Add the melted chocolate to the batter and beat on low speed until fully incorporated. You could also stir in the chocolate chips at this point. I didn't add them to these cookies, but I wish I did!

8. Use a medium ice cream scoop to spoon the dough on the cookie sheets.

9. Bake for about 8-10 minutes. I wanted my cookies to have a soft, cakey texture so I baked my cookies for about 8.5 minutes.

10. Remove from oven. Use a spatula to carefully transfer the cookies from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack.

To make the frosting:

1. Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave using 30 second increments. Set aside to cool.

2. Cream the butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt until creamy.

3. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Beat  until smooth.

4. Add the white chocolate to the mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated.

5. Add the frosting to a pastry or zip lock bag and frost the cookies. Sprinkle the frosted cookies with red sugar.


Here are the links to nine other holiday cookies! Be sure to check them out!

Peppermint Bark Cookies: Lemon Stripes
Molasses Crinkle Cookies: The Average Girl's Guide
Dark Chocolate Orange Almond Biscotti: Cupcakes for Breakfast
Almond Sugar Cookies: Lark & Linen

I'm also linking up with Schue Love's Holiday Recipe Link Party!

Images by me

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So I've mentioned several times here that I prefer muted colors, like black or brown, over bright colors - like the color of that coat. But every once in a while, I see something that grabs my attention - like the color of that coat. That sounds so backwards, but it's true. I purchased that coat on major sale last spring  and it stands out like a sore thumb in my closet - yet I wear it often and am so glad I got it. It's classic, it's cozy and it makes a statement. Like they say, it pays to step outside of your comfort zone every now and then. I have to say, though, that I love those coated jeans just as much as the coat. I love their "leather look" and the fit! They are SO comfortable. If you are looking for a leather legging or skinny jean, but don't want to pay the price of leather, then these are worth checking out. And they are now on sale! 

Coat: Banana Republic (old but I like this one and this one) | Coated Jeans: Madewell | Flats: Zara (similar here) | Bag: Badgley Mischka (borrowed from my lovely photographer) | Sunglasses: Dolce & Gabanna | Lips: Bobbi Brown "Burnt Red" | Nails: Essie (one coat of Material Girl, one coat of Shearling Darling)

Images by Paula Coldiron

P.S. My recipe of the week is coming up on Thursday, so be sure to stop by!
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Hi there! Is it me or did this weekend fly by ENTIRELY too fast?? I swear it was Friday five hours ago... Anyway, even though the weekend flew by for me, I did accomplish a few things. This weekend I...

+ Finally finished decorating my tree and my living room for Christmas. I raided Target for a few last minute decorations like those metallic mitten ornaments and the snow globe. Snow globes remind me of my childhood - the days when I wholeheartedly believed in Santa and spent all of Christmas day in my pj's playing with the new toys that he obviously dropped off. I miss those days, so I bought that snow globe...

+ Made a certain cookie for the first time that turned out AMAZING! Of course I'll share them with you later this week. All of my Christmas lights were on and one of my favorite movies, Father Of The Bride, was on TV in the background as I was whipping them up in the kitchen. Here is what that whole scene looked like. I was in heaven...

+ Returned this top that I spoke so highly of last week. I was truly hoping it would work out, but it totally didn't. It was absolutely beautiful - on the hanger. But when I tried it on, the peplum was HUGE! It looked like I was wearing a tutu around my waist. No good... But while I was in the store, I purchased this mug, which made me feel better...

+ Made these fabulous black bean burgers for the first time for lunch on Sunday. They were SO flavorful and so easy to make. If you are trying to keep things on the light side during the holidays, then I highly recommend these...

+ Wrapped my first gift of the season using this ribbon tutorial I found on Pinterest. How'd I do? I don't have a glue gun (am I the only one??) so I just used tape instead. I think it worked... :)

I hope your week gets off to a good start!

Images by me

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Happy Friday! How was your week? It rained all week here and it's supposed to rain all weekend - which means that all I really want to do these next two days away from the weekly grind is stay in, eat soup, drink tea, read, lounge on the couch, and watch TV. But the reality is that I have a slew of errands to run and things to get done around my house - including decorating my tree that has been up but naked for almost two weeks now. Yikes. I'll also be spending some time in the kitchen baking something that I have wanted to learn how to make for a LONG time, so I am looking forward to that! I'll tell ya about it next week - assuming it turns out good. :) Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!

Four things successful people never do on the weekends... Interesting.

These will definitely have a spot on my holiday dessert table...

My thoughts on this kitchen: Stunning. Relaxing. Beautiful.

How to make your pins more searchable...

There are so many great gift guides out there this year! I particularly enjoyed her's, her's and her's...

A perfect dress for New Years Eve. I like the price, too...

Wishful thinking on my part. What a beauty...

Lasagna soup... My gosh.

Weekend reading...

Image via Coco + Kelley
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I don't know about you, but the hardest people for me to shop for are men (other than my dad because we are so similar) and my mom (because we are so opposite). So needless to say, this guide took me a bit of time! My goal here was to think of quality things that were both useful and thoughtful. I obviously love all of these, but I have to say my favorite gift here is the Rifle Paper Co. card that is only $4.50. One thing I've learned about good men is that they like to be told they are special and loved despite the fact that they sometimes leave clothes all over the floor, leave the toilet seat up and watch a days worth of sports instead of doing that one errand they promised you they would do. If you've got a good man, I think the holidays is a good time to let him know all that... And maybe give him another gift from this guide on the side if he is extra good. Just my two cents... :)
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Introducing one of my staple winter outfits... cute jeans, a cozy, comfortable, and classic sweater, and comfortable boots. Let me elaborate on the cozy, comfortable sweater part. Have you ever had that moment when you are in a store and see the most PERFECT sweater? You get all excited, find your size, and head to the dressing room to try it on. You basically know it fits, but you just have be to sure. You get it over your head, pull it down and then you start ITCHING like crazy! Have you had that moment?? I've had 1,000 of those moments. So disappointing. When I saw this particular sweater online, it looked so soft and comfortable.  I really wanted it (and it was only available online at the time), so I ordered it almost knowing that I'd be itching the moment I put it on. But to my surprise, it was the complete opposite. It is SO incredibly soft - so soft that I could almost sleep in it - almost. I also love that while it's light, it's still really warm. I can walk around and shop (as I was did right after this shoot) and not overheat inside the stores. In a current world of tons of different cable knit sweaters, I know that I'll have this particular one for years to come... 

SweaterJ. Crew | JeansJoe's | Boots: Franco Sarto (old, but similar here and here) | Bangles: Madewell and J.Crew | Ring: Banana Republic 

Photos by Paula Coldiron

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