Monthly Archives: December 2013

Here & There with Julie Leah: DIY Ornaments

I am thrilled to announce a new monthly series with my good friend and fellow blogger, Julie of Julie Leah, a life & style blog. Julie lives in southwest Virginia and we first met when I was blogging and brand director of Sweet Lemon Magazine.  I always look forward to her visits when she makes the journey to DC toting along her adorable southern accent and perfect hair.

Our first post in this series of “Here & There” is about DIY Ornaments!

My take on the DIY ornament is below and warning: glitter is most definitely involved.







{Note: the “J” is for Julie, of course!}

Check out Julie’s beautiful & colorful DIY ornament below with the full post + instructions HERE.

 Oh and if you don’t follow Julie already on instagram or twitter, you’re missing out!

Stay tuned each month as we cover a variety of topics from DIY crafts to recipes, fashion, favorite spots and everything in between.

Happy Crafting!

favorite things party with nico and lala

Last night I hosted my annual “favorite things” party & gift exchange with the help of Nico and Lala. If you read my holiday tips & tricks post, I alluded to this party there as well as showed off the adorable invitations the ladies whipped up for me! This type of gift exchange is similar to a “secret Santa” except you bring along one of your favorite things aka it’s like shopping for yourself.

There were lots of bows, striped straws and naturally, toasting involved in last night’s festivities. Nico and Lala made my vision come to life with the design and party swag for us all. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves and more party details below.

The signature drink for the night was a little cocktail I created and appropriately named.


  • White Wine or Bubbly (up to you how heavy the pour)
  • Splash of cranberry juice
  • Splash of sprite + blood orange soda
  • Garnish with fresh rosemary & cranberries

To each champagne glass, I attached a number and passed out drinks upon friends’ arrival. These numbers were later used to help determine the order of the present picking…and stealing.

To accompany full glasses of Christmas cheer, I also served a few signature homemade desserts & salty snacks: red velvet mini cupcakes, peppermint marshmallow cheesecake bars, hand dipped chocolate festive pretzels and gingerbread truffles. Oh yes and a cheese board for yours truly.  (Email me for the recipes!)

After we consumed far too many sweets, the gift exchange began from a pile of very sought after “favorite things”.


1. A gift can only be “stolen” 4 times (there were 20-something of us, normally this is just 3).

2. You can’t steal back a gift or go home with your own.

3. Whoever picks first, can go again at the end.

What was my favorite thing? A 2014 Nico and Lala desktop calendar, of course.

(The Unofficial “Blogger Couch” with Heather of Pineapples & Pearls, Jenna of District Delights, Lacey of A Lacey Perspective & Cathy of Poor Little It Girl)

After the exchange, I brewed up some hot hot chocolate and we each made our own customized drinks from the “bar”.

(Cathy with her masterpiece of a hot chocolate.)

Probably not too surprising if you follow me on instagram, but one of my other favorite things is homemade hot chocolate. I wrapped up a single serving for everyone to take home complete with marshmallows & candy canes. These served as the party favors for the evening, however, I think I might be the only person past the age of 8 that still enjoys a good party favor.

Follow along on instagram for more photos from the night with the below ##.

Special thank you again to Nico and Lala for designing and providing all the fun party swag. If you’re hosting a birthday, baby shower, bachelorette weekend or getting married, these ladies should be your go-to! Plus, they have adorable stationery and other fun products.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the start of a new series + a DIY Ornament idea!

santa paws picks

After much naming debate amongst some of my close friends, #santapaws were born. Or otherwise known as holiday manicures.

In true holiday spirit, most Santa Paws are shades of red, burgundy and garnet, however, one can always add a little glitter here and there.

Essie Bordeaux // OPI Kennebunk-Port // OPI Malaga Wine // OPI Big Red Apple // OPI Miss O’Leary’s BBQ // Essie Twin Sweater Set

What are your favorite shades? Share them on instagram with #santapaws!

P.S. Stay tuned after the weekend for a full recap of my “Favorite Things” Party with NICO and LALA!

holi-tips & tricks

While we are all quite consumed and over-saturated with gift guides these days (not complaining!), I thought I would offer a few holiday tips and tricks that I use often this time of year.

Below are my top 10 suggestions.

1.  Don’t forget “tree food”.

If you don’t have a green thumb and an extra watering can lying around, no fear. To water my tree, I save and use empty wine bottles and San Pellegrino glass bottles instead. They have the perfect neck to fit in a tree stand and water won’t spill all over the place. Appropriately so, I also label mine so they don’t get thrown away (see below). Water often.

2. Fill the house with “fresh balsam” air freshner.

Whether you have a real or faux tree or no tree at all, this scent plus candles are my favorite to make any room feel and smell a lot more like Christmas. I don’t really think this is cheating either, do you?

3. Scatter scented cinnamon pinecones.

Along the same lines, I pick these up at Whole Foods every year and place around the house in vases and baskets. Most grocery stores have them for purchase near the checkout aisles.

4. Host a “favorite things” party.

This is a big one and one that orginally started with my high school girlfriends and I years ago. We used to do a “Secret Santa” every time we were all home for the holidays throughout college. Well, this soon turned into “favorite things” instead and is a tradition I follow with my DC friends now too. Spoiler Alert: I am hosting my party this weekend with the help of the lovely ladies at Nico and Lala so you’ll get a full recap soon. The idea behind it is that everyone shops for their favorite thing, wraps up their gift sans a tag and brings it to the party. We play a game and at the end of the night, everyone leaves with someone else’s favorite thing. In years past, I have toted along Drybar products, jewels, candles and beauty products that I already own. (More details and photos from the party next week!)

5. Order Holiday/New Year’s Cards.

I posted earlier some of my favorite places to order holiday cards. However, if you’re late to this train, another great idea is a New Year’s card instead. Tiny Prints offers adorable customizable ones that fit any style with super fast shipping.

6. Hang personalized stockings.

This should not be a surprise that I prefer mine monogramed. Right now, Pottery Barn is having amazing sales on their stockings and you can personalized them too. Quick shipping! One of my roomates just ordered hers!

7. Decorate the tree with bows.

If you don’t have time to gather and buy 100 complimentary ornaments or aren’t the best at decorating, the bow tree is for you. In fact, I picked up a few dozen gingham and gold bows from Target this year and turned our real Christmas tree into a bow tree with lights. No ornaments for us.

8.  Order magazine subscriptions with airline miles.

As the end of the year approaches, some airline miles will expire and a few like US Airways and Delta let you redeem unused miles for magazine subscriptions. I stock up in December on all my favorites from People to Southern Living and even Vogue. This is also great to do if you don’t have enough miles for a flight, you probably have enough for a magazine or two and you can “gift” them to friends and family. It makes for a easy and thoughtful gift that lasts all year.

9. Purchase and decorate with real wreaths.

If you don’t have room for a tree or don’t want to be vacuuming up pine-needles until June (like myself), a real wreath is a great way to add a little festive-ness to your house or apartment. They smell just like a Christmas tree and are easier to maintain. No “tree food” required.

10. Light those Holiday candles.

The Ralph Lauren Holiday Classic Candle is worth every penny and lasts forever. We get a few each year and it’s by far one of my favorite holiday scents.  I also love the Rewined holiday scents (“Spiked Cider” & “Wine Under the Tree” – post coming soon on those!)

What Holi-Tips & Tricks do you use this time of year? Share below or email me! fotostrap

Naturally when you’re blogging, a lot of photos are taken – from instagram to blog posts and Facebook, I am constantly snapping photos. I had been looking for awhile for the perfect strap for my DSLR camera and finally found it from Fotostrap!

Fotostrap is literally the camera strap that gives back. They donate 10% of each purchase to Fotolanthropy, a nonprofit that gives portrait sessions and short firms to inspiring people who are overcoming adversity.

Their straps come in an array of colors and patterns made with genuine leather and yes, you can even add a monogram to them (shocker I love this part!).

(Images via Fotostrap – c/o camera strap)

 I couldn’t think of a better time to partner up with them than during the holiday season. Right now, you can get a FREE monogram until Wednesday, December 11th with code: FancyFont in honor of their new font style. Also, Hosting & Toasting readers will receive 15% OFF all purchases with code: HostingToasting until Monday, December 16th at NOON. (December 16th is also the last day to order a non-monogrammed strap to receive by Christmas Eve.)

These make perfect gifts for family and friends too. I can’t wait for mine to arrive in the mail (I’ll let you guess what color I picked).

Follow on instagram as there will inevitably be a post of it with more than enough ##.

P.S. Don’t forget! You can still get $50 OFF all Kirribilla dress orders until December 20th – promo code here.