Create Your Own Bloody Mary Bar

One meal that is just as important and often shared with our loved ones is BRUNCH! We love brunch, and even more than going out to brunch, we love hosting brunch with friends and family.  From easy breakfast casseroles prepped the night before, to french toast and egg skillets – the only other thing you need is a yummy Bloody Mary to go alongside it! I have an easy way to make an awesome statement for your brunch-goer guests with an awesome Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar.
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What You’ll Need:
– Cube Cheese; Sharp Cheddar, Colby, Swiss – all your faves!
– Beef Sticks
– Celery & Carrot Sticks
– Pickles
– Thick Cut Bacon
– Stuffed Olives; 3x (garlic, blue cheese, feta)
– Horseradish Sauce/Hot Sauce – extra spice
– Bloody Mary Mix: Zing Zang
– Vodka!
– Extras: Sport peppers, whole banana peppers

For Serving:
– A round or square tray to hold all your toppings & keep you bar area contained
– Glass containers; I used 5-square votive holders (washed) and 4-taller sphere candle holders (washed) to hold the various toppings
– Write with a marker on the glassware to help distinguish cheeses, stuffed olives, etc.
– Fun Paper Straws, skewers  & cocktail napkins!

Step-by-Step:
– Cook your bacon; this might be the item you’ll want to prep most ahead of time make sure you bake to time appropriately in the oven, you want it to be nice & stiff.
– If you don’t buy your cheese pre-cubed, you’ll want to cut up your various cheeses and separate into glassware and label accordingly – you’ll also want to prep, wash, and cut your celery and carrots. For your celery it’s OK to keep the leaves on, it’s a fun garnish for your bloody! I also bought pre-cut beef sticks, so it was easy for platting.
– When your ready to create your Bloody masterpiece fill your pilsner glass with ice; add your shot of vodka, or more, fill the rest of your glass with your Bloody Mary mix! This is when you can add any additional hot sauces or horseradish to mix in.
– Garnish your bloody to your liking & last, but not least – cheers with your crew!
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I was inspired by one of our favorite brunch spots who has an impressive Bloody Mary Bar – the options are seriously endless of what you could have for garnishes for your bar, but the most important factor is knowing what your guests like and having enough of a variety!  This is a fun way for guests to create something they love with all their favorite toppings, in addition to a delicious brunch!

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Local Love: Valentine’s Edition

Hello, Cleveland lovers! Guess what – Valentine’s Day is a little over a week away… eeek!  Are you ready? If not,  I have some of my favorite local spots that would be perfect for a coffee date, heart-felt card or a romantic date night.
Local Love - Valentines Edition - the bee life
Brewella’s: Decorated to the tee for the day of love, you might just fall in love with someone here.  Whether it’s a gift card, a coffee date for one of their seasonal latte’s (with homemade strawberry whip cream) or a breakfast date for crepes – Brewella’s will not only deliver in delicious drinks and eats, they’re festive pink and red decor will make you melt! Explore the coffee shop from their instagam.

Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes: KEC just dropped their Valentine menu, the key for this is ordering ahead to make sure your sweet treats are secure for your sweetie for the big day!  Not feeling all the kitchy V-day sweets?  KEC has a collection of customizable cakes for any occasion and other delicious treats stocked daily! Check out the Valentine menu here or tease your sweet tooth with KEC’s insta feed.

Boundary & Thorn:  The kitchen punny line of prints are so cute, and not to mention a little frisky!  This would be a fun little gift to give to a gal pal or sig-o, one of my personal favorites from the Coffee Punnies by B&T is “Wanna French” with a french press – it especially makes me think of B since we always make a french press on the weekends!  Boundary & Thorn also specializes in custom projects (dog portraits, wedding invites, holiday cards!) beyond her shop items! Shop B&T’s instagram feed.

Lovely Paperie & Gifts: Hey guys, listen up for this one! This would be a great place to bring your gal pal on a little shopping spree, to let her pick out a Lillie Pultzer piece, a monogram bracelet, or maybe some Kate Spade? If a shopping spree sounds a little too extravagant, they also have an assortment of stunning Valentine cards that would make anyone’s heart melt.  Ladies, they also have gifts for your guys too! Shop Lovely virtually here.

Distill Table: If you head to Distill you have to order one of their handcrafted cocktails, made with all locally sourced ingredients that will not only make your tastebuds giggle but the presentation will turn you to a heart eye-emoji.  The red velvet booths will make you want to cozy up with your Valentine while you enjoy all delicious and local food!
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So if you haven’t even thought of Valentine’s Day yet, maybe some of these local spots will inspire you – even if you’re not reading from CLE.   These are a lot of my favorite local shops that I like to frequent as often as I can especially for special occasions, looking for one of a kind gifts or for just some delicious local eats (or coffee, LBH)!

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Image Sources: Group image sourced from shops instagram feeds and linked within content.  

Last Minute Holiday Fashion Guide

Last year I fell in love with furs – mainly because of my winter wedding and then pulling those fur wedding vibes into my holiday looks. Fur is still my go-to piece for all my holiday looks this season!  Here is some inspiration for last minute holiday looks from my closet – plus I sourced some current pieces in case you want to shop any of the pieces (and a few of them are on sale!!)
Holiday Fashion Fur - bee life (1)Formal Christmas Party.  Burgundy is a great warm and sultry color to introduce into your wardrobe especially around the holidays.  Now pair burgundy with some floral prints and a classic capelet fur and you’re holiday ready! I love this look as it’s a bit more formal for a party without feeling overly Christmasy – not to mention it’s a little sexy too!

Classic & Comfy Plaid with Fur. Okay, total disclaimer this might be my favorite outfit – it’s so stinkin’ cute plus it screams Christmas! My plaid tights were any early season purchase from Old Navy, I can no longer find them on their website, but I found some for $13 at Walmart (linked below!) My awesome shoes (which are basically a shoe version of an ugly sweater) are from Katy Perry and appear to no longer be available – but she has new festive ones for this season to shop!Holiday Fashion Fur - bee life (2)
Fur Meet Metallic.  For a happy medium between dressing up and casual – I love mixing this classic blush scoop tee with a fun metallic skirt, throw that fur capelet on and you have a wintery look ready for a holiday party or evening mass.  This look is the right amount of festive without going over the top!

The Ultimate NYE look. When I think NYE, I think gold, glitter, sequins and sparkle… so what better look that a sequin dress and a fun fur vest!  When I was looking for a similar piece (my gold sequin dress is from Target last year) I found this adorable black large sequin dress from H&M that is on sale <linked below> and I might like it better than my gold dress! Anyways, this outfit is party and champagne ready.  Holiday Fashion Fur - bee life (3)

Shop the pieces: Faux Fur Capelet – Nordstrom $83 [on sale!] | Lace Shift Dress – Nordstrom $59 | Burgundy Floral Sheath Dress – Old Navy $26 [on sale!] | Red Plaid Leggings – Walmart $13.95 | Faux Fur Vest – Target $39.99 | Sequin Sleeve Shirt – Target $16.99 | Metallic Animal Print Wrap Skirt – Express $29.95 [on sale!] Black Sequin Dress – H&M $34.99

One of my favorite fashion times of the year is the holidays – it’s an excuse to dress up and be as sparkly as you want!  I’ll definitely be rocking a few of these looks in the next couple weeks for coming office parties, family festivities, Christmas Eve mass and of course NYE!  What’re some pieces you’ll be incorporating into your holiday looks this year?

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Bee Holiday Hacks – My Go-To Gift

I’m going to fill you in on another little secret of mine, it’s the gift I give every year… and sometimes even to the same people! But trust me, it’s anything from lazy, unoriginal or impersonal.  My go-to gift is ornaments! Growing up, every year we would get an ornament before the holiday – my brother collected the Puppy Love series from Hallmark, and I was usually a mix-match but usually went for the Barbie series from Hallmark.  Regardless, every year unboxing the ornaments and carefully finding a place for them on the tree is one of my favorite parts of the holidays, so I like giving that gift to others as well.
Holiday Hack - Ornaments - bee life blogOrnaments hold special memories, can mark significant moments or important dates, places traveled or a moment in time.  From an engagement, wedding, anniversary, to a lost pet or a new house our lives are captured into sweet little keepsakes to trim our Christmas tree year after year.

How I Make My Ornaments: I like to switch up my base for my ornaments whether it’s a large clear glass globe, wooden circular ornament (I used real wood we cut), shaped wooden ornament, or a round plaster ornament.  From there I like to search my nearest and dearest friends social accounts and find a few perfect pictures from the year that could easily be translated onto an ornament and make copies at a print-in-seconds Kodak machine.  Mod Podge is my best friend when it comes to putting these photos onto the wooden ornaments or ceramic.   I’ll add gold glitter around the edges so you can’t see where the picture doesn’t overlap – most important part is adding the year!   With my wooden ornaments I drill a whole so the ribbon can string through to be hung.  For glass globes, I’ll fill with glitter or sequins, or even ribbon or string and write on the outside – from fun hashtags, to new homes addresses, these are classic ornaments that are so simple and fun and make a big statement.
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Creating special ornaments of friends kids or dogs, special events, or anniversaries – I use stickers, gold markers and fun ribbon to add the finishing touches to these unique ornaments year after year, and my favorite part of all of it all is seeing these ornaments on our friends trees each year.   On top of making ornaments I do love shopping Hallmark’s ornaments each year and finding fun keepsakes for my family or even for B and I to hang on our tree.

What’s your favorite ornament?

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My Hubby’s Surprise Party & Tips for Planning One

For the last 6-months or so I’ve been planning a surprise party for my hubby, B — this quickly turned into a bit feat as we got closer to the actual surprise date!  You see, I get really excited about presents I pick out, gifts, or surprises – I like to bait people and often can’t wait, just wanting to spill the beans.  Planning this party was definitely a test of that (that I passed!) but was also a bit stressful, yet very exciting!
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So here are a few tips and areas to focus on when planning a surprise party!

Plan a Date.  Since B’s birthday is a few days after Christmas, it often gets looped in with the holiday and overlooked – so I wanted to make sure we avoided the holiday but also wanted it to be close.  Since December tends to be a busy month for everyone I planned over the summer and sent out my digital Save the Dates.  I also picked a Friday night, thinking it’d be easier for me to sneak away on a work day than a regular Saturday.

Location.  This one can be tricky! I initially had the perfect place picked out with an ideal party room – then they closed over the summer.  The options got smaller and I got picker, so the fall back was our house, that way I could control the food, decorations, alcohol, etc.  I just needed to keep the hubby away long enough to get the house decorated and sneak 30-people inside.

Plan the Diversion.  I wracked my brain on this for months, until I finally reached out to MW to help with the diversion – he was all over it and a HUGE help to this all working out!  This started getting planned just a few weeks before, and then initiated with B the week of the party – drinks after work, and then getting back to the house in time for the surprise!

Pick a Theme & Decorate.  To keep a somewhat complex event, simple – I wanted to stick with a classic color scheme of gold, black and white! I kept decorations easy too,  with lots of balloons, big gold number balloons, fun themed thirty banners, some ‘Vintage 1988’ plastic cups, pictures of the birthday boy and a photo booth with polaroids.  Pro-tip: Buy a mini-helium tank, it’s easier and cheaper! 

Food & Drink Favorites.  Since I was hosting, I could pretty much pick whatever for the food and I wanted to make sure to incorporate some of B’s favorite things. To do this, I ordered chips and salsa from his favorite spot picked up dark chocolate pretzels, another favorite!  From a beverage perspective, I made sure there was plenty of B’s favorite Christmas beer – and our friends/families brought plenty of beer options for him too!
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My goal was to plan a surprise party for B to celebrate his upcoming 30th, while keeping it simple and intimate – which isn’t easy to do with big families and lots of friends, but somehow I think I pulled it off! B was DEFINITELY surprised and had no idea, I kept the charade up all day – even though I took a half day and had planning for months.  Another plus of planning so early is I slowly ordered decorations and party supplies throughout the months so I really only needed to worry about the food the week of!

It was fun, but I don’t think I’ll be planning another surprise party anytime soon!

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Latest Obsessions 12.18

It’s December! I think I’m almost done decorating our house… just a few final finishing touches and we’re in full on Christmas.  With the decorating nearly behind me there is all the other holiday fun to get ready for and obsess about! So here are my final latest obsessions for the 2018 year.
Latest Obsessions 12.18 - bee life blog
Adding a Little Sparkle.  From sequin sleeves to glittery heels, I always love a little sparkle especially at this time of the year.  I’ve had my eyes on these taupe block heels from Old Navy since I spotted them and love the subtle touch of the heel, which is perfect for a holiday party or four.  I’ll have more holiday fashion inspiration up next week!

All the Greenery Wreaths.  Yup! I’ve obsessing over just plain old, classic green wreaths – but the fun part comes with the styling and finding different ways to hang them a little less traditionally.  Like hanging them in our dining room, as an accessory on the back side of the door facing into the living room – and even our main door having a large wreath hang a bit lower on the door than normal.  Styling simple pieces, with fun pops of ribbon in different styles or places can had a designer touch.

Pottery Barn’s Plaid Alphabet Mug.  I know it’s the season of buying for other people, but sometimes it’s hard not to shop for yourself!  I absolutely love these plaid alphabet mugs from PB – they’re classic and festive. B and I first spotted them when we were window shopping in Palm Desert – and said we’d order them online!

Christmas Jammy’s.  This year we’ll be having a quiet Christmas with my family, so I had a fun idea of couple-christmas themed pajamas, just to have a little fun!  I found these super cute and funny Elf Sweatshirts on Amazon and was inspired – and the rest of the family was game too.  Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

As I hinted – I’ve definitely been obsessing a bit over all the holiday fashion trends (like always!) so I’ll be sharing a few of my holiday fashion obsessions on the blog next week!

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Image Source: Wreath Photo 

Bee Holiday Hacks – Christmas Cards

With the holidays quickly approaching, I wanted to share one of my holiday hacks for Christmas cards!  I love creating and sending Christmas cards, and usually like to get a head start on these – but I really got a jump start on this year and also wanted to share some other ways I like to share the Christmas spirit in a thoughtful and personal way, so you can too!
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Plan Ahead.  Christmas cards can sneak up on you, so try to plan ahead whether it’s booking a portrait session with your honey or family at the end of Summer or early fall, or it’s getting ahead and ordering small batches of cards as you can.

Take Advantage of Freebies! 
I love Shutterfly – and luckily because I have the app and get notifications I can pick and choose which promos I want to take advantage of.  Shutterfly and Tinyprints were having 10-free cards throughout the month of October which can save you a ton of money when you’re only paying a few dollars for shipping!  You can also do this for address labels – I was buying Christmas patterns in the Summer!

Mix It Up.  Don’t be afraid to mix-up your Christmas cards.  Sometimes I can’t decide on which style, color or pattern I like – so I order multiple versions!  This is also a great way to use multiple photos for a gallery or one for more of a statement.  It’s also OK to not send photo-cards to everyone on your list, buy some fun Christmas cards to mix into your group, that way you won’t be breaking the bank!

Glam Your Envelopes.  Don’t be afraid to pick a colored envelope or add in a paper insert.  These can be fun surprises to recipients and pull the entire look of the cards together.  Also, if you use a darker envelop color it can be a fun way to write in gold when addressing your envelopes!

Personalize It.  Beyond sharing vacation pictures or memories throughout the year with friends and family that you might not see often, I always like to at least write our names or a little note on the back of the cards. Sadly, Christmas cards can easily be impersonal with the easy ability of printing/typing whatever you want to say!  So try and find ways to personalize it so you’re friends and family don’t feel like an after thought, or you just stuffed a card into an envelope.

Holiday Hacks - Cards - bee lifeIf you’re going the photo-card route, these can add up quick, so find ways to either use a promo code or take advantage of those promotions to get some free holiday cards!  Don’t be afraid to mix-up your styles or photos, my one go-to design pick is always trying to mix in some plaid and having a picture of Moz or two.  One last hack is making sure to purchase Christmas stamps in mid-November, AKA now, so that you can get the cute designs before they run out!

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Shop My Cards: Merry Colorful Holiday Card from Tinyprints | Diagonal Wishes Holiday Card from Tinyprints | Gradient Scripted Merry Christmas Card from Shutterfly | Cheerful Foliage Christmas Card from Shutterfly

Hot Whiskey Sours – The Recipe

Towards the end of the summer I shared my Granny’s famous Whiskey Sour recipe – that I mentioned my family is game to drink cold anytime of the year, it shows up at Thanksgiving and at summer parties.  But I thought it would be delicious to try this family famous recipe out with a twist as the colder days start creeping in and make it a hot drink for fall parties and winter gatherings!
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What You’ll Need:
– Ten High Whiskey
– (2) Frozen Lemonade Mixes
– Water
– Maraschino cherries for garnish
– Lemon slices for garnish

Step-by-Step:
1. Dump your frozen lemonade mixes into the pot on the stove.  Fill up empty lemonade canister with water and pour over top – repeat this one-to-one for each frozen lemonade mix being used.
2. Stir lemonade mix and water together and bring to a boil on the stove top, once to a boil, let it simmer and eventually turn off heat.
3.  Pour your whiskey into your glass first, a large shot or a 1/4 of the glass – then pour your water/lemonade mix over top.
4.  Garnish with cherry juice, a couple cherries and a slice of lemon and enjoy!

It was a delicious twist on a great refreshing drink and definitely helped warm us up handing out candy on Halloween!  I’ll always love the cold version, but mixing in this new, super easy hot cocktail will definitely be making a few appearances at our house – plus B really liked it.  Looking for other festive cocktails – get some inspiration with these.

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6 Pieces To Expand Your Wardrobe for under $30

Who doesn’t love a good accessory? As the seasons shift and the days get cooler, layering and switching up options for versatility is always a goal for me.  I like having outfits that work daytime and can easily be updated for an evening look for those week after work happy hours or last minute date nights.  The best part is you don’t have to spend a fortune to expand your wardrobe options!  Here are a few key pieces I always like to add to my wardrobe to help switch up looks – plus I’ve found pieces that are under $30 to help you expand your wardrobe too!Expand Wardrobe - bee life(1) More Scarves, Please!  Expanding your scarf collection with patterned and neutral scarves can expand your wardrobe options dramatically.  If you’re working with a  patterned scarf, like this Leopard Print Scarf from Gap  – you can stick to a neutral color palette as your base canvas versus a neutral scarf with a patterned dress or sweater.  Scarfs can also help you transition summer pieces into fall!

(2) Classic Booties. And buy multiple colors! Once you find a good classic pair of booties, stock up! You will quickly find that you’ll be switching these in and out all season long.  A great pair of booties can go with a variety of looks from a dress to jeans, plus they keep your tootsies warm!  Check out these booties from TJMaxx that come in both camel and black… and yes they’re under $30.

(3) Statement Necklace.  A statement necklace can change a whole look taking it from basic to glam.  I love taking a more casual look and adding a necklace making it feel more complete and ready to take on the day.  This is also another easy way to transition an outfit from daytime (no necklace) to nighttime (necklace!)  Pro-tip: Stock up with sales, like this sale at New York & Company happening right now!

(4) A Nude Handbag (or four). You should probably have like four nude handbags in different styles from over the shoulder, to a structured tote, to a work bag.  A nude bag can help make a statement when paired with fun colors, and is also professional for the work week! Aldo has a handful of nude stunners on sale, for under $30.

(5) A Neutral Jean Jacket. For under $30?! Hell yeah! The key is finding one that is classic and neutral both in colors and embellishments like this Jean Jacket from Target.  With the right jacket your wardrobe can be styled from casual to evening and from summer to fall.  Pro-tip: if you plan to layer a lot with you jean jacket, consider going up a size, or you may be somewhat limited to your seasons!  I love styling my jean jacket with a fun dress or styling it down with a t-shirt.

(6) Layering Vests.  Adding a few vests to your wardrobe will not only be functional, but will also give you a variety of options for switching out looks for continued versatility.  Having a few key vest types can help whether you’re dressing up a look (like this Vest from Nordstrom Rack) or being more casual on the weekend for a quick trip to the store or a walk with the pup (shop this Puffer Vest from Old Navy)!
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Shop the pieces: Leopard Print Scarf from Gap | Vest from Nordstrom RackJean Jacket from Target | Booties from TJMaxx | Structured Tote from Aldo | Statement Necklace from New York & Co.

I am always looking for easy and budget friendly ways to expand my wardrobe while making sure my looks and pieces are functional!  A lot of these may seem like basics, but the key is to expanding and adding to your wardrobe expanding outfit options for all occasions.  Happy Shopping!

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