Fabulous Finds: Free Shipping Day!

For all you last minute present buying slackers out there (aka me), today is your lucky day.  Over 2,500 merchants are offering free shipping for today only!  The best part?  They guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve (to the contiguous US anyways).  There is a store for everyone with over 23 different categories of shopping from clothing to arts/crafts to electronics to home/garden to furniture to pet gifts.  You think it, it’s probably on there.  Check out freeshippingday.com to see all the awesome deals going on but here are a few of my favorites:

#1  J.Crew

Not only will you receive free shipping but also 30% off anything you order!  Huge savings!  (Use code: CHEER)

#2  Etsy

Need a unique and personal gift?  Check out these amazing Etsy Stores that offer homemade personalized presents plus free shipping by Christmas Eve.

#3  Amazon

What can’t you find on Amazon?  Order by December 19th to get free super saver shipping on any orders over $25 with promised delivery by December 25th.

#4 Department Stores

  • Nordstrom (Free shipping and returns, NO CODE NEEDED)
  • Neiman Marcus (NMRUSH)
  • Macy’s (Extra 20% Off + Free Shipping, use code: SAVEMORE)
  • JcPenney’s (SHIP69)
  • Kohl’s (STOCKING15)
  • Younkers (Free shipping, NO CODE NEEDED)
  • Walmart (Free Shipping on orders of $45 or more)
  • Target (Free shipping on all toys when you spend more than $50, plus take $5 off orders of $50)

#5 Clothing

  • Ann Taylor (Free Shipping + 40% OFF, use code: ENTIRE40)
  • Express (Free Shipping + 30% OFF + $25 OFF orders of $100+)
  • Levi’s (Free Shipping + 30% OFF, use code: THIRTY)
  • Forever 21 (Free Shipping on orders over $21, use code FREESHIP21)
  • Gap (Free Shipping + 20% off your order, use code GAPCHEER)

Now to add just a little holiday cheer and to destress from all the hundreds of things you need to do, my favorite holiday shopping commercial:

In love when that little girl screams at about 20 seconds!  I love my comfy sweater, how cute are these boots!?

Open-Face Chicken Salad Sandwich

I’ve held onto and been drooling over the anticipation of this recipe since I came across it in the September issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  Although I executed the recipe as it was created by BHG and as it is written below, I would increase the amount of grapes from 1/2 cup to 1 cup as they add great juicy flavor to the sandwich overall.

Prep Time          2 Minutes
Cook Time        15 Minutes
Makes                4 Servings

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
14 oz chicken tenders
2 cups seedless red grades, halved
6 cups fresh baby spinach
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 18 inch loaf baguette-style French bread
4 oz provolone cheese, thinly sliced

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to broil.  Line a baking pan with aluminum foil; lightly brush with olive oil.

2.  Place chicken tenders and halved grapes in a single layer in the pan.  Drizzle with remaining olive oil.  Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Broil 2 to 3 inches from the top of the oven for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

3.  In a large bowl, toss spinach, chicken, grapes, pan juices, and red vinegar.

4.  Cut baguette into 4 equal portions.  Slice each portion open but still keeping both halves attached.  Top with provolone and broil 2 minutes to melt the cheese.

5.  Top baguette and cheese with the chicken salad mixture to create a makes-me-feel-like-I’m-back-in-Italy sandwich.

Sneak Peek

Here is our 2011 Christmas Card Inspiration, found on Pinterest of course!  We thought it was such a cute, simple, laid-back holiday card that gave us lots of room for interpretation. We tried to make it our own by adding a little pizzazz – think bright letters and fun, non-lovey-dovey, I-may-pull-a-muscle-doing-this poses.  I created our own letters with four different colors/patterns of scrapbook paper, white card-stock, red ribbon, and lots of double-sided tape.

**You can obviously spell anything, use any colors, or use for different occasions**

Step 1: Choose a font (we used Marker Felt Bold size 620) and print the letters to spell “MERRY CHRISTMAS”.  Cut them out.

Step 2:  Flip the letter over and trace onto white card-stock.

    

Step 3: Attach the white card-stock to the coordinating scrapbook paper using double-sided tape.

Step 4: Cut out the traced letter from both the white card-stock and scrapbook paper.

     

Step 6:  Repeat steps 2-5 for each letter.

Step 7:  Flip all letters over so the backside is facing up and place them in a straight line.  Using tape, attach ribbon to each letter making sure to leave extra ribbon at both ends.

Finished Product:

Our Christmas Card picture will be revealed on no-other than Christmas Day!  Hopefully it won’t disappoint!  Don’t get too excited though!  Do you send out Christmas cards?  Feel free to share your cards here!

BIRTHDAY BANGS

Yep.  That’s me in sixth grade.  Don’t sixth graders look so much older these days?  Anyways…Why am I sharing this lovely beauty moment from my not-so-long-ago past?  Well as of two weeks ago, these bangs along with a little modern update have became my new present hairstyle.  Why did I resort back?  Maybe I was being nostalgic?  Nope, that’s not it.  Maybe I finally got gutsy/crazy enough to break free from my beauty comfort zone?  Considering I was shaking in my knees, had knots in my stomach, and was sweating the whole time I’d say wrong again.  Maybe it was a quarter-century life crisis?  BINGO.

{WHAT DID I DO?!}

Please excuse my inability to take a legit picture of myself in the mirror, there will be additional bang pictures from our New York trip.  Although I’m still getting used to the fact of having hair on my forehead all day every day I am actually pretty pleased with the change.  What do you think?  Have you ever tried a new hairstyle? Kate over at thetwentysixthyear (may remember her from this post) took an even bigger risk last year going from blonde to brunette back to blonde.  Not many people can pull off both hair colors flawlessly but she definitely can.  Isn’t she gorgeous? Check out her post about hair trials and errors here.

National Gingerbread House Day

Today is NATIONAL GINGERBREAD HOUSE DAY!  I have successfully purchased two gingerbread houses and a mini-gingerbread village for Justin and I to decorate tonight.  Hopefully next year I will step it up and help Justin accomplish his dream of creating and designing our own Hogwarts Gingerbread Castle but until then the store-bought versions will have to suffice.  Here are a few gingerbread houses decorated by us in the past years:

{Year 1 – Gingerbread House 2009}

{Year 2 – Gingerbread Village 2010}

Check back tomorrow for an update with this year’s gingerbread house!  Upload a picture of your favorite gingerbread house here for us all to enjoy!  Good luck with your own personal gingerbread houses and/or villages!  Happy holidays!

UPDATE:

Here is our Gingerbread Village, House, and Christmas Tree for 2011.  We had some extra help from our families while they visited for a Christmas in Chicago weekend!

The Envelope

If you didn’t already know….my husband is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!  Although I already knew this prior to last Thursday, December 1st (my 26th birthday) this surprise absolutely floored me.

{The Envelope}

{What was inside}

The most perfect birthday card and a fully-planned, color-coded itinerary for a trip to New York City.  Seriously?  Who does that?  My husband, that’s who.  I was equally as excited about the trip as I was proud of his organization, planning, and secretiveness.  He even arranged a dog-sitter for the girls (thanks Annie and Jim) and for me to have work off!  I am the luckiest girl in the world to have a husband who not only surprises me with big materialistic things like trips, tickets to shows, and gifts but also the more important everyday small immaterial things: listening to my forever long To Do List and helping without being asked, washing dishes, folding laundry, being excited and helpful with my blog, being supportive and patient, loving me and my family, and making me laugh.  He is so unbelievably amazing and thoughtful.  I guess this sets the bar pretty darn high for me and his birthday next year! :)

Oh and how perfect is that quote from Mark Twain on the front of the envelope??  Such a good thing to remember and live by!

 “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw all the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”

See what I wore in NYC (here and here), my best Elf impression, and our fun day in Central Park!

Fabulous Finds: Christmas Cookies

For as long as I can remember, my dad would buy cookie ingredients for five plus recipes and do nothing but bake the entire day.  My brothers and I would wander in and out of the kitchen sneaking cookie dough, offering our professional assistance, and keeping Dad company.  Chocolate chip cookies, no-bake snowball cookies, Special K bars, monster cookies, and church cake have graced the kitchen counters and filled the house with their amazing aromas year after year.  Although the cookies pictured below aren’t typically part of our Christmas cookie routine, they are going to make their first grand appearance this year when Justin and I host our families for a Chicago Christmas experience! Check back for these cookies’ recipes and my dad’s famous family recipes throughout the next few weeks!

{Peppermint Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookies}

{No Bake Snowball Cookies}

{Peanut Butter Rudolph Cookies}

{Peanut Butter Blossoms – Justin’s Fav}

{Melting Snowman Gingerbread Cookies}

What are your favorite holiday cookie recipes?

Pinterest: Rudolph’s Tipsy Spritzer

For our Christmas party last Saturday night, I wanted to treat myself and our friends to a little Christmas-themed beverage so off I went to Pinterest to search for something simple and sweet.  I found exactly what I was looking for (a super cute name, fruity taste, and only one step of preparation) in Rudolph’s Tipsy Spritzer.

Simply stir together the following ingredients and serve over ice!

5 cups orange juice
2 cups Sprite
1 1/2 cups vodka
1/2 cup cherry juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

My craving for Mexican was off the charts earlier this week!  However, I wasn’t in the mood for the usual routine of ground turkey and Old El Paso seasoning so I kicked the flavor up a notch by placing chicken, green chiles, onion, cumin, garlic, and salsa in the Crock-Pot (recipe here).  After 5 minutes of combining all the ingredients in the slow-cooker and 8 hours simmering on low, the chicken had shredded, marinated, and was ready for dinner without any other preparation which was perfect for a quick yet delicious weeknight meal.

Prep Time        5 Minutes
Cook Time        8 Hours
Makes              4 Servings

Ingredients:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 can green chiles, diced
12 oz jar of salsa
1 tsp ground cumin
1 whole onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

1.  Place chicken in the slow-cooker.  Top with green chiles, salsa, ground cumin, onion, and garlic.  Cover and set on low for 8 hours.

2.  Spoon chicken into taco shells and dress with your favorite toppings (cheese, lettuce, salsa, tomato, sour cream, guacamole)!