Hi! Did you have a good Christmas?? I hope you did... So I thought I would pop in on my little break to share some of our (mines and yours) favorite recipes of 2015. I didn't blog as much this year as I have in the past. But I have to say that this year I made it a point to put more time, effort, and thought into the posts that I did do - especially when I came to my recipes. My passion for food and food photography has grown exponentially over the years - so much so that I have thought about turning this blog into a food blog. Maybe that will happen, maybe not. But one thing is for sure - my love for food and food photography is not going anywhere, so I look forward to sharing more good eats with you next year. In the meantime, here are a few favorites from 2015. Happy New Year!

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Happy holidays my friends!! To think that there are only eight more days until the new year is incredibly baffling to me! This year flew by for me... But I'm so excited for a new year. This year was a year of incredible growth and self-discovery for me, which has been both rewarding and challenging! Anyone else have that same experience?? I so look forward to a fresh start in the new year where I can exercise what I have learned and hopefully display how much stronger I know I have become.

I'm signing off here for the remainder of the year from some good ol' family time, rest, and reflection. Thank you so much for following along here on my little diary of favorite things. Your time spent here means a lot to me. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe, relaxing, and happy New Year! I'll see you back here in 2016!

 Images 1 / 2 / 3
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Hi there! Hope you had a great week! So confession. I know I promised a weekly gift guide, but it just ain't happenin'. Health wise it's been a few challenging weeks. That in addition to work, holiday gatherings, and holiday shopping, there just hasn't been as much time as I anticipated! So sorry! So the least I can do is share a few links with you - cause' I know that's your fave. :) Enjoy and I hope you have a great weekend!

Good Gifts...
For the homeowner...
For the heavy tea drinker...
For the cook (totally dying for one myself)
For the lounger (Their pants are all so comfy!)
For the faithful exerciser (I gifted this to someone and it was loved...)

Good Spaces
Such a pretty holiday home tour...
This tour is pretty, too. Her stuff is always so good!
A home renovation process worth keeping up with...

Good Things
Keep this in mind for your home next week!
In case you'll be on an airplane next week, or any week for that matter...
Simply good to know around this time of the year...
In preparation for 2016...

Good Food
A Christmas cookie suggestion... So good.
Chocolate banana bread... Yes and yes.
52 EXCELLENT holiday baking tips...
My favorite, favorite, favorite soup at the moment...
Quite possibly the prettiest sugar cookies I've seen...

Image by Tessa Neustadt via Rue Daily

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This year I have had more personal time than I have had in long time (so thankful), so I decided to spend some of that time shooting my own holiday card. Yep, I'm that girl who is an animal lover who made her cat the star of the show. I have no shame in doing so! Once I have kids, I'm 100% sure I will be that mom who makes her kids the star of the show. In the meantime, Max is it! Over time, Max has become more comfortable being in front of the camera - and I have finally figured out how to make him sit still for more than 5 minutes to get a good shot. Many of you have asked me how I do it, so I thought I'd share a few tips with you today. You might have a pet that follows commands really well and doesn't mind the camera, but I haven't always been that lucky, so here's what I do... 

1. Plan the shoot in a familiar environment around their typical nap time - My favorite pet photos are the ones that make it look like the pet is totally comfortable being in front of the camera when that couldn't be further from the truth. I've found that the easiest way to get that look is to work with them when they are sleepy and in their own environment. So if you know your pet sleeps mostly in the afternoon, then plan to shoot them right after they start sleeping. I usually wake Max up and carry him (he loves to be held when he's sleepy) to a spot he likes to be in (if he isn't there already) and one that has some good light. I then "go about my day" in that space and see if he will get settled somewhere. Pets can pick up on you when you are trying to get them to do something they ordinarily wouldn't want to do, so it's important for you to act natural. In this photo, Max happened to be lounging comfortably on my bed - a place he loves to be, so I knew there was a chance. If you have a dog, then using treats to get them to sit still obviously helps as well. 

2. Exercise patience - Step one might take one, two, or ten tries over one, two, or ten days. You just have to let them do what they do naturally. You have to be natural as well. If I seem impatient with Max and try to force him to do something he doesn't want to do, then getting a good shot is impossible. 

3. Adjust your camera settings and prepare any props before the shoot: Once they are settled and seem comfortable, quickly take some test shots and adjust your settings. The last thing you want to do is fool with your camera during the 30 seconds you have the perfect shot. If your camera beeps when it focuses, then I recommend turning that function off to avoid scaring the pet off. Once Max had been settled on my bed for a few minutes, I adjusted the camera, and quietly and softly arranged the ribbon in front of him and the garland behind him. I had those in the room beforehand. He was deliriously sleepy, so he never moved. Plus, Max is used my shenanigans and the camera, so he was fine. But if this step isn't working out, then recall #2 above! :)

4. Act quickly, but quietly and patiently! That's a tall order, I know. Once your camera is set and they are still in a good spot, start shooting, but do so in a really soft and quiet manner. If you are frazzled or frustrated, then they pick up on that and are likely to move. Once I get a one good shot, I basically keep pressing the shutter button to get the most photos I can before he moves. 

All of that is easier said than done, especially if you have a cat or a hyper dog, but it can be done if you exercise enough patience! :)

Holiday card: "Simply Happy Holiday Card" via Minted

Images by me

**Not a sponsored post **

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Weeknight Brussels Sprouts | Savor Home

Can I just say that I LOVE brussels sprouts... But can I also say that I rarely used to make them on any other day other than Sunday. I would roast them in the oven the regular way at about 400 for 35-40 minutes until they were browned and slightly crispy on the outside. They were always lovely. But a friend of mine recently told me about a way to make them taste even better in half the time. And that way, my friends, is to simply place them in a cast iron skillet and cook them under the broiler! If you love brussels sprouts and don't have a cast iron skillet, then go buy one immediately - or go ask your mom or grandmother if you can borrow theirs... The heat from the cast iron skillet speeds up the cooking process and makes them a little crispy on the outside. BUT they are still super tender on the inside. The Parmesan cheese added at the end adds this bit of cheesy saltiness that make them extra tasty. They take a little babysitting to prevent burning, but it's so worth it!

Weeknight Brussels Sprouts | Savor Home

Here is what you need and what to do:

1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed (cut smaller sprouts in half, and larger sprouts in quarters)
Olive oil (extra virgin or regular)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the broiler. Add the brussels sprouts to the skillet. Toss them in a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper to taste. You might go a little light on the salt if you are adding the Parmesan cheese at the end.

2. Place them under the broiler for about 15-20 minutes or until they are lightly browned. They will need to be tossed well about every 5 minutes or so - especially towards the end once the skillet really gets hot.

3. Remove them from the oven and sprinkle them with the Parmesan cheese. Toss and serve immediately.


Images by me
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{That perfectly curated little sitting area... }

{That simply styled bathroom that proves that stylish lighting can make all the difference... }

{The classic style of the front of that home... }

{That outdoor dining area... It almost makes me look forward to next summer. Almost. :) }

Images 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
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Secret Ingredient Cranberry Sauce | Savor Home
Hi there!! Sorry for the silence here last week... I wasn't feeling that well and needed a moment! I felt much better over the weekend, so I got my camera out to photograph this amazing sauce that would be PERFECT to serve with a holiday appetizer or dinner. This year for Thanksgiving, I wanted to make homemade cranberry sauce. We've always eaten cranberry sauce from the can (so bad I know but SO good!), but this year I thought I would make my own. So I made up a recipe using a combination of different recipes that I researched. My recipe included the zest and juice of an orange, so I asked my mom to pick up some oranges from the store. She mistakingly picked up small grapefruits that looked like oranges, so I ended up using the grapefruit instead. And I have to say - that was the BEST cranberry sauce I've ever had. Hands down. It's tart and sweet - but not too sweet - and the grapefruit zest and juice is perfection with the cranberries. Everyone really enjoyed it and I even caught my grandfather eating it out of the serving bowl with his fork after dinner! It tasted so good with our turkey, but have you ever had cranberry sauce with cheese?? I paired it here with a little cheese board and it is delish! I think the sauce pairs really well with cranberry cheddar, brie, and swiss. It's so good and so worth the 10 minutes it takes to make on your own! :)

Secret Ingredient Cranberry Sauce | Savor Home
Secret Ingredient Cranberry Sauce | Savor Home

Here is what you need and what to do (makes about 2 cups):

2 12oz bags fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
Zest of 1 grapefruit
Juice of 1 grapefruit
1/2 cup water
Pinch of nutmeg

Add all of the ingredients to a pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil them simmer for 5-7 minutes or until most of the cranberries have popped open. Turn off the heat and let the sauce cool and thicken. Once it has thickened, remove the cinnamon sticks. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This can also be made up a few days in advance! Just store it in the fridge after it has thickened and cooled completely.


Images by me
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