Latest Obsessions 12.19

Christmas is just 5 short days away! It’s that last minute crunch to get everything perfect and ready for the big day and all the stops along the way. With last minute gifts popping up, a few more gatherings being hosted and attended, the time gets away from us quickly — so my latest obsessions are all about helping navigate threw the last minute pushes, while still enjoying the holidays and keeping yourself a priority.
LatestObsessions12.19(1)-beelifeblogEasy Brunches. We’re hosting a brunch with some friends this weekend, and then also prepping to have some easy food around for our holiday mornings — so I am pulling out the recipe for that super easy french toast casserole that I made for Easter brunch! You prep the dish and refrigerate overnight and all you have to do is stick it in the oven coming the next morning! It’s SO easy and SO yummy.

Last Minute Gifts. From stocking stuffers, to a few trinkets or two, shopping local is how I’m going to wrap up those last minute gifts that always seem to creep in. And if I can’t find just what I’m looking for at the local shops, I will break out the craft supplies and make an ornament – as that has been my go to gift the last few years and it’s so easy to make it personalized and special for whoever you’re giving it too!

Holiday Outfits. Usually I am on top of having a few of these figured out — but not this year! Everything has really creeped up on me. Luckily I have a nice variety of options to pull from and build upon.  My last minute holiday fashion guide has a mix of casual ideas paired with more party inspiration, especially if it’s a bit more dresser for work!
LatestObsessions12.19(2)-beelifeblog  Me Time. With having a bit extra time off around the holidays, I’m going to make sure to take a bit of time for me — and I hope you all try and do the same for you! I’m not going to slack off with my workout routine, in fact, my fitness studio is offering a Christmas Eve class and I am 100% pumped I’ll be able to get in a workout in time for the holidays.  On top of not compromising my workout routine, I’ll be making time to volunteer with a local dog shelter I’ve been volunteering at the last few months — the pups need a good Christmas too!

On top of prepping for brunch, getting all my last minute gifts purchased and made, I still have a lot of Christmas-ing left to do! I will be making a bunch of Christmas cookies this weekend (cut outs, gingerbread and peanut butter blossoms) and getting in a few more of those Christmas classic movies like Elf, Home Alone (for the millionth time) and even It’s A Wonderful Life (on Christmas Eve of course!).

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Bee’s Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Stockings have always been one of my favorite part of the holidays and something that I made sure B and I did for each other! We try to put a limit on it, but I know we always probably end up going over our stocking stuffer limit.  I blame my mom for always pulling together incredible stockings, that were sometimes more exciting that opening up the big presents! So if you’re looking for some last minute stocking stuffers, or ready to pick up your stocking game, here are some fun and easy ideas to get ready for Christmas.
StockingStuffers-beelifeblogSmall Incremental Gift Cards. Think like $10 to Subway, Starbucks or Whole Foods – easy day time, lunch items that come up and are nice to have a gift card on hand to cover a meal or couple cups of coffee! These are easy to stack together into a box or place throughout for continued surprises as they’re pulled out!

Something Sweet. You know those candy cane’s filled with mini reese cups or M&Ms? I always have to buy those for the stocking, it was something we always had in our growing up and was a yummy snack.  A box of Altoids, pack of gum or a reese cup tree — these can be a nice little pick me up.

Cotton Love. Think socks, a cozy winter hat, fun t-shirt or some gloves! These are fun fillers than take up a little more space and are also nice to haves that can be festive and useful.  I love throwing a few pairs of fun socks into B’s stocking, and I always love getting a fun throwback tee or Cavaliers winter hat.

Everyday Essentials.  Think the travel aisle in Target! A Tide To-Go pen, hand sanitizer, deodorant or even some body wash or bubble bath is another nice touch that is always useful, especially when you can snag the right scent! B will throw some packs of makeup remover wipes in mine and body wash and I’m always appreciative because I usually run out before I’m stocked up again.  I can also count on my mom for throwing in my favorite mascara!

Booze & Coffee. Mini travel booze bottles, a bottle of beer, or even a mini champagne bottle are the perfect size for any stocking! Have a few more coffee lovers? Throw in a few K-Cups, bag of coffee beans or even the mix quick mix packets are fun and small to help stuff that stocking!

Ornaments. Whether it’s handmade, a Hallmark signature series, or a local find ornaments are unique, personal and smaller presents that can help fill your stocking while being a memorable keepsake to trim the tree with year after year.  I always buy an ornament each year for B, and love tucking it into his stocking for a fun surprise!
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Stockings are always a Christmas tradition that I’ve been fond of growing up.  Pulling out the stockings at my moms when I helped her decorate for Christmas was always one of my favorite parts that I looked forward too! B and I’s first Christmas together was 7-months after we started dating, and I bought us matching stockings for my little studio apartment – sure enough we still use those same stockings to this day and have them hanging by the mantel just above the fireplace!

Our Christmas morning starts with stockings and then we move into the big presents — but we always ease into it, to make the morning and magic savor. What’re your favorite traditions and must have stocking stuffers?

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Fitness Friday 12.19

OMG! It’s the last Fitness Friday of 2019! And as I’m not completely ready to throw in the towel on my 2019 Fitness Goals — I’d say I can only keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last few months to maintain my routine! So I’m going to do a little early reflecting on my goals… as I already know I did not do so HOT on them… I even graded myself on how I did, take a look!
FitnessFriday1219-beelifeblogGoal #1 = Run More | My Score = FAIL
Yeah, this was a complete fail. It started out strong getting our yearly 10-miler run in and then slowly trailed as the next day I literally threw my back off which ended up being a 5-month shut down. Not to mention, all the races we wanted to sign up for we were out of town or had prior commitments, so this just didn’t happen. I did get a few runs in but not nearly to the definition of ‘Run more.’

Goal #2 = Build My Core Strength | My Score = C+
As I just mentioned above and in my July Fitness Friday my back threw me for a loop this year and led me to PT. I honestly felt like it was the universes sick way of getting me to accomplish this goal for 2019 — going to PT and purposefully working on my core strength. Well, I held strong for about a month, and then completely fell off the PT train. However, I know have the tools to build my core strength – so this goal will be coming back for 2020, since my chronic back pain is not going away.

Goal #3 = Carbs | My Score = B
I didn’t do so bad with this one! Of course I had a few times when this was a bit heavier than others, but as I got back into my fitness routine this late summer, my eating fell more in line, even though I was lying to myself about being stricter on food in the months when I was out of commission.

Goal #4 = Remain Consistent with Boot Camp | My Score = A-
I was pretty good for the first 3-4 months of the year took a 5-month break because of my back and then have been in the game since September going strong and feeling great.  I’ve continued to take it easy, make modifications and get my ass out of bed each morning during the work week to maintain on track with getting my three days in. Because I’ve felt better and have been working hard, I’ve been more conscious about what food I decide to eat (and ruin my workout with) and also feel better in my own skin and my clothes. I feel more toned even if the pounds are staying the same!

I’m a firm believer of not only writing down your goals, but also reflecting on your goals and being honest with yourself on successes, opportunities and struggles.  This year was definitely not what I was hoping it would be — which often happens in life, so I’m happy that I was forced to be patient, try new things and also continue to rebound and accomplish my goals!

What fitness goals did you conquer this year?

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House Tour: $30 Christmas Front Porch

With consistently colder days during the Christmas season, and the inside being the main event — the outside decor doesn’t get as much love as I’d like it too. We also string some oversized colored bulbs along the back fence line and I always have intentions to do more, but usually run out of time.  This year I finally added a little more umph and switched up some decor to make a little more of a statement for only $30 – plus I got a warm day to finally put everything up!

My Decorations: 
(2) 6ft Red, Green & White Ball Garland (I got mine for 50%, they’re even cheaper right now!)
(5) 16″ White Snowflake Ornaments (I got mine 50% off!)

The Garland. I mixed in the ornament garland with extra greenery garland I had around the house, this helped fill it in and make it more lush.  I opted to do the garland as a 3/4 quarter around the door, because of our Ring and not wanting to get in the way of that especially during holiday delivery season.

The Statement Door. I initially had plans to hang the larger snowflakes along the front of the house under the porch, but didn’t have enough and didn’t want too much going on especially with the garland around the door. I then got the idea of tying the oversized snowflakes together to create a falling wreath — they really pop with our blue door, and I love how this turned out.

Simple to Finish It Off. To finish off the look, but still keeping it simple, I stacked our lanterns underneath the main box. This helps fill the space by giving it the finishing touches it needs — plus these are the lanterns I usually have on our back patio, so they’re getting another season in use and not out in the elements under the covered porch. We added a spot light on the door, so it can be viewed day and night in all it’s glory!

After the Christmas holiday, the falling snowflake wreath will be perfect into the winter months especially with the lanterns! I grabbed these items earlier in November when the holiday decor was just getting out and still 50% off — not to mention I had a few 20-25% off entire purchase that I tacked on top of those. Making a statement can truly be affordable especially if you’re thinking ahead, like I finally was this year!

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DIY – Holiday Snow Globe Place Settings

Spoiler! I love decorating and hosting get togethers and I especially love transforming our house into a Christmas wonderland.  Included in that Christmas wonderland is playing around with our dining room decor and making a statement with our tablescape. I love shopping on Pottery Barn, we registered for our wedding there and I always find a few gems, especially seasonal ones that I grab when they’re on sale or occasionally splurge on. So long story short, I saw these Village Snow Globe Place Card Holders and was about to splurge — until I was like, wait it would be super fun to make those!
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What You’ll Need:

Plastic ornaments
– Mini wire brush trees, animals or houses – shop Christmas Village decor at Michaels. I bought (2) mini white trees and (2) green tree set
12×12 Glitter scrapbook paper/card stock, silver glitter and glue
Craft sparkle pipe cleaners, same color as glitter/paper, I used silver
– Cotton balls
– Uline knife
– Hot glue and mod podge

Estimated total project cost: $25

Step-by-Step:
1. First things first, you’ll need to cut a opening in the bottom of your plastic ornaments. This was a bit tricky to figure out, and should be done very carefully!  I used a sharp mini philips head to poke a hole in the bottom. Once I had a hole, I used a Uline knife to cut a smaller circle for the opening, go slow and wear gloves to protect your hands. Repeat based on the number of place settings you’re making – this is the least fun part of the whole project!
SnowGlobeDIY-beelife(1)2. Woo! We have our openings, so now it’s time to cut our our bases and start planning our wintry scene. I used thicker card stock, that I ended up painting and putting glitter on — I would highly recommend buying scrapbook 12×12 glitter paper. This would’ve saved time and a mess. *smiles*  So using your thicker paper, trace a circle using a drinking glass that is rounder than your ornament, trace and repeat to cut the same number of circles as you have ornaments. These are your bases!

3. Working from the center of your circular base play around with your mini trees/houses or animals. Once you have your scene figured out it’s time to glue in place! I started with my larger wire brush tree in the center, and flanked either side with smaller ones. Pull a cotton ball apart and shape around the base of the trees and glue into place. Wah-la, snow! Repeat, or switch up to have different variations.

Pro-tip: Don’t go to far from the center, so that you’re ornament can fit around your wintry scene especially the cotton ball snow

4. Once you have your bases decorated, glued and secured — place ornaments overtop, making sure everything is fitting within the ornament.  Glue and secure the base of the ornament with hot glue!
SnowGlobeDIY-beelife(2)5. Now, depending on if you bought glitter paper or not, this step may not be needed.  Using mod podge glue I painted the top of the white paper bases and then covered in silver glitter over a paper plate to catch the excess. I had to touch up a few spots once the glue dried and I dumped the remaining glitter off to see emptier spots.  If you bought glitter paper, you are 10-steps ahead of me!

6. Time for finishing touches! Get that hot glue back out and glue the pipe cleaners around the base where your ornament meets the base. You’ll most likely need to trim for an even meet at the back.  I then used the left over scraps of the pipe cleaner to create a circle to loop into the top of the ornament to hold place cards for guests! I used old place cards that we didn’t use from our wedding, but you can cut and customize as you want or not include!

7. Once your mini snow globes are created, it’s time to set the table and get ready to host a delicious meal with close friends and family!

This was such a fun DIY and I love how they turned out. For $25 I created 8-mini place setting snow globes compared to spending nearly $60 at Pottery Barn — plus I made them! I must admit figuring out how I was going to cut and create this using ornaments had be puzzled for a while, and it took a few trial and errors before I figured out how to cut the hole in the bottom. And I really wanted to use ornaments vs. mason jars or other types of glass cylinders I saw online.  So once I figured it out and put it all together I was so excited! The best part is you can keep and use year after year or send home with guests as a little keepsake <3.

Happy Holiday Hosting!

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Local Love: Home for the Holidays Pop-Up Shop

Looking to shop local this holiday season? Look no further — the Home for the Holidays Pop-up Shop is back! Going into it’s fourth year open, it’s found various homes in the neighborhood over the years.  And this pop-up shop supports all things local, by sourcing gems from small business makers in one place!

The best part is you’re not only supporting one local business you’re supporting 40! Home for the Holidays has a variety of gift options for everyone on your list, from baby, to dog mom, to husband or dad, coworkers, and of course your bestie.  Gifts include home goods, local snacks, honey, skincare, christmas themed, barware, and local gear, Home for the Holidays is truly a one stop shop!

With sections throughout the store it’s easy to navigate based on whoever you may be shopping for.  I personally gravitated to the pet section where there was a mix of goodies for your favorite furry friend, like toys and treats and then treats for mom like dog-themed candles and dog mom wine glasses!  And if you’re a human mom, or have a few sweet babes in your life you’ll be trying to decide between some adorable nursery or baby decor from lovefrombrooklyn or handcrafted blankets from Unsalted.
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Moving on to the men in your life. With plenty of amazing hand crafted options like CLE themed beer steins or leather coasters, key chains and valet trays from William & James Leather Co. (William & James also has some pretty amazing earrings available at Home for the Holidays shop, too!) You can also snag a Great Lakes Brewery bottle opener made from actual beer taps.  There are local tees, sweatshirts and winter gear with all his favorite local teams that make for a home run gift.

Speaking of jewelry, beyond unique one of a kind pieces from William & James — there are also copper and ceramic Ohio state necklaces, inspirational bangles and bold earrings that will truly make a statement.  There are also customizable pieces for a more personalized gift and even better stocking stuffer!
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HomeHolidays-beelife(4)To kick off my holiday shopping I stopped in to grab a few items and get inspired for more gifts, the best part is they are continually restocking and adding in new pieces. I grabbed a few handmade ornaments from GGDorothy Art, one of a Cleveland sky line (for us!) and then an Indians ornament for my aunties (shhh! it’s not Christmas yet).  I also grabbed a fun NYE card for a dear friend, a tea towel from Tart Boutique and sweet baby bows from lovefrombrooklyn.  I can’t wait to head back in the coming week to grab a few more goodies and see what new items are in stock at the shop!
HomeHolidays-beelife(1)Home for the Holidays is open Thursday – Sunday until December 23rd, so make sure to plan your trip for any and all of your holiday shopping, last minute gifts and something truly unique for your favorite people.  So if you stop in be sure to say hey to Maureen, the awesome owner behind Home for the Holidays, she is so sweet and hospitable!

Stay up to date with the latest from Home for the Holidays on Instagram and Facebook.

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Happy Thanksgiving – 2019

Happy Thanksgiving to all my amazing bee readers! What’re you thankful for this year?  Every year, I’m always amazed and reminder at how lucky B and I are for our life and all of the amazing people we have surrounding us.

I’m also thankful for winning a fun little portrait mini-session earlier this month (see below) by the talented MML Photography, Michelle Loufman. B and I did a quick little session and the photos just captured so much of our love and personalities while being timeless photos for us to have for years to come.
Em and B Mini Session 2019
Photo by Michelle Loufman at MML Photography

I’ll have to admit that I’ve been a little jaded over this Thanksgiving holiday, especially this year — all the demands of family wanted me to shut it all off and just hide.  But all of my amazing friends listened to my stresses, frustrations and as much as they supported me, they also worked to share a different perspective for me to maybe change my mind… which ultimately ended up happening (yes, I know I’m being cryptic – what else is new?!)

So, I’m heading into this holiday with patiences and gratitude — Happy Thanksgiving!

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Bee’s Holiday Party Check List

It’s no secret around the bee life that I love planning and hosting parties! We’ve slowly started a tradition of hosting a Christmas Party each year, that started in our old apartment hosting a Christmas Ale themed shin-dig and has turned into a larger party now that we have a home to entertain in.
HolidayCheckList-beelifeblog(2)With hosting a Christmas party nearly 4-years in a row (last year we substituted B’s 30th surprise party in place of it) — I have a lot of the fundamentals down that are my go-to party planning check-list.

  1. Simple but inclusive menu. For our parties, I really like to stick with the basics and easy snackable items. Like a nice charcuterie board, pizza, peanuts, popcorn, and chips and dippy items. Also work to be conscious of dietary restrictions, since I’m an offender of that and have a few friends who are meatless.
  2. Don’t forget the booze. We always like to have a variety of beverages for our guests available, as everyone is always good about BYOBing. So we always have plenty of options and variety for everyone!
  3. Something Sweet. It is important to ALWAYS have dessert – especially something chocolatey. I love having m&ms around in little dishes and then other yummy treats like brownies, cookies and even a few Christmas cookies if I really get my butt in gear.  Let’s be honest — I’m going to be drinking champagne and eating desserts.
  4. Party Games. With our holiday party, I like to bring in some of my family traditions and games to our friends.  As we’ve had these parties over the years, games have been requested and even demanded and it’s fun to see these new tradition started.  We even do a white elephant ornament exchange!

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I’ll be a busy bee elf next week getting ready for the party, especially with Thanksgiving falling so late in the year — our house is not yet Christmased. So it will be fun getting everything set come December 1st for our party! Do you have any party planning hacks that you swear by? Do you stick to the same general game plan when you host parties or switch it up each time? Leave me a comment below, telling me your hacks!

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DIY – Wooden Couch Sleeve

Ever have those pins that you saved at the beginning of Pinterest-time and have always wanted to make? I’ve wanted to make a wooden couch sleeve for a long time — it seems like an easy, practical solution without having side tables everywhere.  But our main living room furniture has rounded arms and these wooden couch sleeves definitely seem better suited for a squared off arm.
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I knew I would be able to make this fairly inexpensively as long as we had some scrap wood laying around — and luckily we did! I was able to utilize tools that we already had, so this project cost me $0.  And with our basement makeover, our furniture downstairs had squared off arms with a lower side table that only serves part of the seating, I thought this would be a perfect addition to our ‘finished-unfinished’ space especially with the natural rustic wood piece.

What You’ll Need:
– Scrap wood
– Table saw
– Sandpaper
– Satin/Gloss Clear Coat Spray Paint
– Nail gun
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Step-by-Step:
1. Determine the length of your main top piece based on your furniture. I decided on 13″ long and kept the original width of the board. You’ll want your sides to be the same length, width of sides can be all equal or shorter.

2. Using a tape measure and straight edge, draw a straight line for your top piece, then cut with table saw. For the sides because my scrap wood was older, I cut the same length and it pretty much split down the middle to make two smaller pieces.  I liked the more unfinished, raw edges as I wanted to keep the integrity of the older wood.

3. I then sanded the pieces on both sides and all of the edges.  Again, I liked the color of the wood – I just needed to work out a few rough spots and clean it up. After sanding, be sure to wipe down the pieces with a cloth to get rid of extra dust.
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4. I then did a top coat with Satin finished spray paint — that I happened to have at the house already.  Spray top coats are a little trickier to see full coverage until dry – so for that reason you may need to do a few coats depending on the finish and coverage you want (above picture before spray, bottom after spray).  I did two coats on the main top and sides, and one on the underneath part.

5. Once I was content with the top coat it was putting everything into place with the nail gun.  I opted NOT to use wood glue for two reasons (1) being lazy (2) we don’t have clamps, so we would’ve nailed in place shortly after gluing like we did for our floating shelf. This was a two person job to ensure the nails went in securely.  We put the sides in a bit so they would be snug against the couch, since I opted to keep the top the original width of the wood, avoiding too many cuts.

Pro-tip: I made sure all my cut edges were in the back of my piece, so the original rough edges would be facing out. I also determined my top early on when measuring and cutting pieces.
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This is the perfect addition to the space, and it’s sturdy for an afternoon cup of coffee, the remote or a glass of beer watching the game! Although we have a super cute trunk side table in this space, it’s much lower than the couch and chair so it isn’t exactly convenient for ongoing sipping. This couch sleeve is also portable, so it can move around depending on which spot you’re in or who needs it. I love how it turned out and it’s imperfections!  Plus — this could also be a sweet Christmas gift for just about anyone.

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