Holiday Gift Guide for the Fashionista

Have a mom / sister / cousin / BFF who is all about clothes and fashion? (My friends and family should all be nodding yes right about now. ;) ) Then this gift guide is the perfect place to start your holiday shopping list! The clothes-crazed ladies in your life will thank you.

 

fashionista gift guide

If you’re looking for a pricey gift, you really can’t go wrong with a classic designer item. J.Crew’s Cocoon Coat is super-chic and comes in ten colors! A pair of riding boots are also perfect for cold weather. Tory Burch’s Bristol boots are a great pick, and they’re currently on sale! Even if your favorite lady doesn’t collect watches, a glamorous Michael Kors watch is a timeless piece of jewelry. And a classic Kate Spade handbag, like the Cobble Hill Devin, will work year-round, regardless of the season!

 

fashionista gift guide

If she doesn’t already own the popular J.Crew Herringbone Vest, your fashionista is probably lusting after it. Faux fur is also another great less expensive gift option. Vests or a snuggly warm snood are perfect for this time of year! A great pair of sunglasses is always a safe bet too. These tortoise shell frames from Michael Kors are perfectly on trend.

 

fashionista gift guide

If you’re on a budget or looking for a smaller gift, you can’t go wrong with cold weather accessories. An adorable hat or trendy plaid blanket scarf is sure to be a hit. And a little glitzy statement necklace is a great pick for a girly girl. Does your lady love all things monogrammed? Then C.Wonder’s zip top pouch that doubles a clutch is perfect! And they offer plenty of prints to match your fashionista’s wardrobe!

Easy Christmas Dinner Recipes

easiest-christmas-dinner

Friends….hosting Christmas is sooo much easier than Thanksgiving. Trust me. On Christmas Day, faith, family and, let’s face it, gifts take center stage, rather than the menu. On Christmas Eve or Christmas evening, guests simply want something cozy and sort of special to fill their bellies.

If you are hosting this traditional winter feast and are not required to follow a familial tradition, here are some easy yet fully festive ideas to try.

main-courses

MAIN COURSES

Prime Rib Roast:  I always think prime rib is to Christmas what turkey is to Thanksgiving. It is such a treat and beloved by all carnivores. You basically throw most of your holiday dinner budget at this big, beautiful beef and can scrimp on all other dishes. Jen Tilley of How to Simplify’s prime rib recipe is the bee’s knees and oh-so-simple to follow.

Grilled Moroccan Lamp Chops: Succulent cuts of lamb with exotic spices make it look like you slaved and slaved, when really you were reading your new book by the tree all day. Jamie Oliver’s strategy for the baby sheep is a winner.

Osso Buco: This veal dish is classic Italian feast food and has a richness perfect for Christmas. As usual, Giada breaks down the old school Italian classics for the kitchen cook.

Wild Mushroom and Port Brioche: Make your vegetarian family or friend feel special with their very own brioche, stuffed with fragrant veggies. You can even modify this for vegans.

side-dishes

SIDES

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon: Skip over all those other Brussels recipes and go with Rachael Ray’s easy, excellent dish.

Perfect Roast Potatoes: Every time I make Nigella Lawson’s truly perfect roast potatoes I find grownups and kids at the fridge later, devouring them from the Tupperware…on the off chance any make it to leftovers. These are waaaaay easier than mashed potatoes, although if you need to have those with your roast you can always make them ahead.

Christmas Soup: This one dish stew has sausage, kale and potatoes, making it a heavy side or first course, or a perfectly casual main course meal. It is the easiest Alton Brown recipe I have made but it tastes complex.

Creamy Parmesan Grits: Minimal ingredients, maximum comfort food! This pairs perfectly with a meat main course.

treats

TREATS

Campari and Blood Orange Cocktail: I love a signature cocktail at Christmas. It tempts those who only drink on special occasions with something worthy, and reminds everyone else to keep it classy.

Herb Coated Goat Cheese: Fresh herbs and cheesy goodness combine for the perfect savory delight. After lots of fudge and sugar around the holidays, this non-sweet treat will hit the spot. Serve as an app or after dinner (a cheese course is so chic, no?)

Buche de Noel Yule Log Cake: I do not often bake, but when I do I lean on Andrea’s Recipes for her clear directions and incredible-tasting confections! Her take on the Christmas table classic, the Yule Log Cake, is pure heaven.

Monster Cookies: You can find lots of fiddly, finicky, complicated Christmas cookies elsewhere. When you are pressed for time but nothing but fresh-baked Christmas cookies will do, Monster Cookies do the trick. Christy Jordan of Southern Plate’s recipe is almost identical to the one my grandma gave me.

What is YOUR go-to Christmas menu? Please share with us!

Chocolate Krave Peppermint Milk Shake

Ok, I admit it, we love Chocolate Krave Cereal.

It is not unusual for a box of it to disappear from our home in less than two days. That’s fair, I guess, when you consider that my husband and my daughter have both been known to go back for seconds AND to have it for dessert AND breakfast. In fact…as we roamed the grocery store aisles just yesterday, I asked my small girl if there was anything she needed…and she said, ‘Yes, Mommy…just one thing, Chocolate Krave. I only have one bowl left’. Admittedly, I’m impressed, not only that she had an answer to my question, but that the child who forgets to put her shoes and her backpack away each day knew EXACTLY how much cereal was left in the box AND knew enough to plan for the moment when she just might run out.

Krave has power as a double-duty cereal in our home, so I decided to see if I could give it yet another role: Milk Shake.

ChocolateKravePeppermintMilkshake3

In case you’re wondering? Success.

Chocolate Krave Peppermine Milk Shake4

Here’s how simple it is to make:

Ingredients:

1 Cup Chocolate Krave Cereal – Crushed

2 Cups Vanilla Ice Cream

½ Cup Milk (of your choice)

Whipped Cream (Optional)

Peppermint Garnish (Optional)

Directions: Crush the cup of Krave in a plastic bag using a rolling pin. Blend ice cream, milk and crushed Krave in a blender until smooth. Top with Whipped Cream if you so choose – we do. For the peppermint rim, wet the edge of the glass and touch it in to the peppermint sprinkles.

ChocolateKravePeppermintMilkshake2

Enjoy.

In our home – this is a not only a special treat around the holidays but we’ve decided there’s a big guy in a red suit who will be visiting soon who just might be in need of an extra treat.  The small people are excited to leave their new favorite for Santa with some extra special cookies we’ll be sharing soon. (Assuming Daddy doesn’t sneak down and steal it after the kids go to sleep!)

Disclosure: I have been a long time partner of Kellogg’s and am always excited to share new recipes, ideas and suggestions with you – ways to include cereal and milk in your world. As always, all thoughts and ideas are mine and mine alone.

Kiss 2014 Goodbye with CoverGirl and Rent The Runway #Giveaway


There is something magical about the moment the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Your slate is wiped clean, you leave the previous year behind you and start fresh. You have a brand new year stretched out in front of you. You can make resolutions, or NOT. You can decide to make changes, vow to exercise, get organized, learn a new language, stop saying ‘um’, travel the world, unplug on the weekends….

Or not.

Maybe you put on your fanciest dress, your best lipstick, you grab your husband, your best friend or your kids and you…

Kiss 2014 GOODBYE. 

Not because it was an awful year. Not because you hated it (though maybe you did) but because the fresh air of 2015 represents new and beautiful and good.

And you love a good party.

I’ve long worried that New Year’s Eve can be wildly overrated. Much like Valentine’s Day, we expect it to be AMAZING, and when it falls vastly beneath ‘the-best-night-ever’, we are disappointed and worried the tone of the year-to-come will follow. I now believe New Year’s Eve is simply what you make it. It is a day, an evening, that allows us to relax, dream or party it up….the best part being – YOU DECIDE.

I, for one, will be with both friends and family and will be more than a little fancy this year as I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to dress up. I’m excited to have partnered with both CoverGirl and Rent the Runway to share some ideas with you about that fancy part. (and I have a super-fun giveaway – keep reading!) How fancy am I going to be, you ask? I’ve created a shortlist of fabulous dresses – from Rent the Runway – which just so happens to be my favorite place to rent the most glorious dresses. Naturally, you can find black tie, cocktail or even casual options. I’ve used them before for a little bit of everything. You can even create ‘shortlists’ or categories, for different events you are attending…like NEW YEAR’S EVE. Excellent. (which one do you like best?)

Rent the Runway New Year's Eve

And just last night, I sampled the lipstick I’ll be wearing for the evening – CoverGirl’s Colorlicious in Caramel Kiss ( I also love Sweetheart Blush and Coquette Orchid).

Danielle #KissedbyCoverGirl Caramel Kiss

Each lipstick is infused with shea butter – it lasted all night on me – amazing. There are 36 different shades (how do you ever choose?) and are all available in WalMart.#KissedByCoverGirl Colorlicious Lipstick

And because I love the opportunity to play Fairy Godmother to YOU as well, I’m excited to be doing a giveaway to make your New Year’s Eve extra fun as well. Here’s the deal – I’m giving away a CoverGirl Colorlicious LipStick AND a $50 Rent the Runway Gift Card.

How do you enter? Easy. Comment below and tell me what you have planned for New Year’s Eve AND either what CoverGirl Colorlicious Lipstick or which Rent the Runway Dress would be a perfect compliment for your evening. The comment is your mandatory first entry which will unlock other ways to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I can’t wait to hear what you have planned AND how CoverGirl and Rent the Runway will be helping you to Kiss 2014 Goodbye and 2015 hello!

Thank you so much for entering.

This contest will be open until 11:59pm on Saturday, December 20th.

Rules: No purchase necessary to enter. ExtraordinaryMommy.com is not responsible for prizes that are shipped from outside vendors or sponsors. All entries will be pooled together and one (1) winner will be drawn. The winner will have two calendar days to reply via email. Unclaimed prizes will be placed for availability to newly chosen winners after that time. Giveaway is open to all U.S. residents only, must be at least 18 years old to enter. One entry per person, entries accepted through Saturday, December 20th, 2014 ending at exactly 11:59 CDT. 

Disclosure: I’m excited to be working with CoverGirl and Rent the Runway to bring you the post and giveaway. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

DIY Holiday Gift – Hot Cocoa In a Jar

Hi there.  Kasey from All Things Mamma back this month with another fun DIY for you.  This month it’s All Things Holidays for me!  I’m sharing my favorite Holiday related posts – so make sure to stop by to check out the latest.  Today, I’m sharing one of my favorite gift ideas – Hot Cocoa in a Jar.

How Cocoa Jar Gifts

OH yes! This is a fun project that you can do with your kids. It can be gifted to neighbors, teachers, grandma and grandpa and friends.  So much fun and it doesn’t cost much.  The good thing about this recipe is that you can personalize it to your taste with different flavors of cocoa by using different flavored coffee creamers. Today I used Peppermint Mocha – yum!  I love peppermint and chocolate in the Winter.  They just go together.

Here’s my simple recipe for making this delicious chocolaty treat.

1. Gather your ingredients: Baking chocolate, powdered milk, confectioners sugar, flavored (or plain) coffee creamer and mini marshmallows.

hotcocoa1

2.  Add 1 cup of powdered milk, 1 cup of confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup of cocoa and 1/2 cup of coffee creamer to a bowl. Mix well. Next, throw in 1/2 a cup of mini marshmallows and stir.

Hot Cocoa Jar Gifts Hot Cocoa Jar Gifts Hot Cocoa Jar Gifts

3.  Add the mixture to various Mason Jars.  I like all kinds of sizes for this – pints for a friend and quarts for a family. It’s completely up to you. This recipe will make about 2 quart jars and you can just double or triple the recipe to make a bigger batch.

Hot Cocoa Jar Gifts

4.  Decorate your jar with a pretty label, fabric or twine and add directions for use – Add enough cocoa mix for about 1/4 of your cup – fill with hot water or milk (I like it with milk) and stir well.

Hot Cocoa Jar Gifts

That’s it!  It doesn’t get much easier than this. The perfect gift to make with your kids and give as gifts. Everyone loves a hot cup of cocoa during holidays so you’re sure to impress.

See you back here next week when I share an adorable DIY Keepsake Ornament for your tree!

Baby Gear: What You Need, and What You Don’t

baby gear must haves

When I found out I was pregnant for the very first time, I could hardly wait to fill my home with all things baby. I wanted the swing, the bouncy seat, the Exersaucer, the tummy time mat, the wipes warmer, the jogging stroller, the everyday stroller, and the umbrella stroller, and the list went on and on. And on.

Flash forward eleven years to when I found out I was pregnant with our (surprise) fourth and you see an entirely different story. My first thought (after the initial panic attack) was I can’t believe my house is going to be filled with baby stuff again!

Luckily for me, and for my baby, the gear available for small people is so much cooler than it was eleven years ago. Also, I’m wise enough to understand at this point that I need most of this gear for such a short time that it makes much more sense to either borrow it, or purchase it used.

In an effort to share my baby gear wisdom with all of you, I’ve compiled a short list of Baby Must Haves and Don’t Needs.

 

Top 5 Baby Gear Must Haves:

1.) The Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play

This is #1 on my list for a reason. My two month old daughter is now officially sleeping through the night, and part of the reason for that is because this miraculous little contraption is so comfortable.

The Rock ‘n Play keeps baby slightly elevated, which helps with reflux, and keeps her from kicking her legs and waking herself up. It’s like a little nest, and when she burrows into it, she goes into a trance.

In my most humble opinion, the person who invented the Rock ‘n Play should be sainted.

2.) The Fisher Price Cradle Swing

Evenings with infants are difficult. When the witching hour hits around 5:00 you generally have to settle in for the ride until bedtime arrives. The cradle swing has become our saving grace during those long evening hours. With the ability to swing in multiple directions, and the soothing sounds of the mobile spinning above, this is the perfect place for my daughter to get that little cat nap that carries her (and the rest of us) through dinnertime.

3.) Infant Activity Floor Mat

I didn’t think we would need one of these at first, but quickly reconsidered when I realized that I couldn’t hold my child all the time, and laying her on her back in the middle of the floor was both boring and a little dangerous in a house full of rowdy children who sometimes forget they have a baby now.

The activity gym gives her something to look at while kicking around on the floor and it gives me some hands free time to prepare school lunches, make dinner, or help with homework. It also provides enough bulk in the middle of the floor to remind passing children to watch where they’re walking.

4.) The Miracle Blanket

I have a love/hate relationship with this blanket. I love it because when she is wrapped up tight, she sleeps amazingly.

I hate it because it’s ridiculously complicated, and for the first few minutes after I finally get her wrestled into the blanket, she fights against it like the Incredible Hulk trying to tear himself from his clothes.

That said, I place this on the must have list because I’ve tried every swaddle blanket on the market and this is the only one that keeps her wrapped up through the night. Though she may resist, she cannot break out of it, and ultimately that is a good thing.

5.) The Wrap

I was most excited to try wearing my baby this time around. Baby wraps were just gaining popularity the last time I did this, so I never had the experience of wearing my child close to my chest. The wrap has been our saving grace at soccer games and gymnastics meets. I’ve tried several different kinds and have found that I love the Moby Wrap the best. The material is thicker, which allows me to wrap her more snugly against me and, in turn, allows her to sleep more soundly.

It’s a win for everyone.

Top 5 Baby Gear Don’t Needs

1.) Wipes Warmer

It’s just not necessary. Your baby will survive the cold wipes on her bottom.

2.) The Bouncy Seat

This is a tentative add to this list. If you can borrow a bouncy seat, I highly recommend you do so, because you use them for such a short period of time. And the fact is, if you have the swing and the Rock ‘n Play, then your child most likely will never sit in the bouncy seat. This is an easy one to pass on, in my opinion.

3.) Lots of toys

Your baby won’t play with half of them. Keep the toy box sparse and invest, instead, in a lot of good board books.

4.) Receiving blankets

You won’t use them. Invest in The Miracle Blanket, and in a package of Aden and Anais muslin blankets. That is all you will need to keep your infant cozy and secure.

5.) Shopping Cart Cover

It’s a hassle to get out and put in the cart, and after a while you’ll realize it’s just as easy to wipe the cart handle down with a wipe and be on your merry way.

We need a lot less for our babies than we think we do. Stick to the basics, and spend the time enjoying your sweet bundle of joy while she’s still easy.

Because when she starts walking, it’s a whole different ball game.

 

God Made Light: Creating Reading Magic for Adults & Kids

Let me tell you a little story…one about a friend, a book and some astonishingly happy children.

Not that long ago, this beautiful book arrived in my mailbox. It was a children’s book, I was expecting it and I suspected that I would love it. But what I didn’t know was the impact that one little book would have on the people around me.

Here’s the thing – Matthew Paul Turner is husband to my beautiful friend, Jessica. He wrote this lovely book called God Made Light, but as it was not initially picked up by a publisher, Jessica and Matthew, believing in the power of this story, decided to find an illustrator and self-publish.

Good move.

The result is magnificent.  God Made Light is lovely and gentle, it is inspiring and good-hearted and will be one that will turn ragged in your hands and the hands of your small people as the pages are turned and the story is read over and over. I have always loved watching my children read to each other, but there was something glorious about hearing Delaney annunciate, “Light glared and glimmered. It flared and sparked. And wherever light shined, it stopped being dark.”

God Made Light - Kids reading

God Made Light is both poetic and smile-inducing. It is impossible to read the words and NOT feel light in your heart.  As my kids read, I knew I wanted the book in more hands…so I purchased a dozen of them to give to our school during a recent Trivia Night Fundraiser. A few ended up in the hands of parents and children, while others made their way in to classrooms.

God Made Light Books

But the beauty has existed in the way both teachers and moms and dads have sought me out – at school drop off, during after-school meetings and at sporting events simply to tell me how God Made Light has been magic. Families have read it together and passed it on to other families to share the experience and teachers have been thrilled by classrooms full of attentive listeners, question-askers and requests for a re-read.

And to make it all even better – the book has accessories to accompany it – a floor puzzle, a night light and encouragement notes.

GodMadeLight Accessories

As I’ve seen so many people moved by their experience with this book, I’d be silly not to suggest you add it to your family library as well – or give it as a gift for the holidays. As someone who is so proud of the work Matthew and Jessica have done, I am an affiliate for their book and accessories, but you also have the option to purchase God Made Light through Amazon… either is good – for your little readers and for my friend.

If you’ve had the opportunity to read the book, I’d love to know what you thought – or if you are simply thinking of sharing it with someone – who is the perfect recipient?

Thank you for supporting my friend Jessica and her family’s dreams of spreading a little light around the world.

Disclosure: I was given an early copy of the book but all subsequent purchases were my own. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

 

The Hottest Accessory: Hot Jewels – Styling & Using with Ease

You know what’s amazing? Having friends who share. Even better…friends who love something so much, they just can’t wait to make sure everyone they know has the chance to experience their new-found-favorite. That’s what happened to me while I was traveling in Costa Rica in September. My friend Ciaran came with the intent to give…and just what was she sharing, you ask? Hot Jewels: the most beautifully designed temporary metallic tattoos. And now, I’m sharing my affection for them with you.

Hot Jewels in Costa Rica

Now, before you start to think, “temporary tattoos are just for teenagers”…let me take a few minutes to expand your horizons. My love affair with Hot Jewels may have begun in Costa Rica (they are water resistant – amazing for the pool and beach AND they keep you accessorized without having to wear heavy jewelry while you are in and out of the water – though sometimes I combined both. Clearly.), but it is most certainly a long-term relationship. And I’m definitely not a teenager.

Hot Jewels are easy to use – it takes just minutes to apply.

  • They come in six different Collections – from Classic to Tribal and one of the newest ones you see on my arm in Costa Rica above – Weave.
  • You can share with everyone from your best friend, to your mom, to your daughter – there are THAT many options to suit different personalities.
  • You can design your own style without purchasing expensive sets of jewelry.
  • Think necklaces, bracelets, rings – even arm bands or anklets.
  • They are incredibly reasonably priced – only $10 for each set – and each set comes with four sheets. (Stocking-stuffers, anyone?)

Just look at my necklace! Love.

Hot Jewels Necklace ClassicHow to Style and Use Hot Jewels

Naturally, I couldn’t wait to share them with you on video since I wanted you to see JUST how quickly you can apply them – and how I like to combine different sets to get the look I like the best. Take a look.

Now, what do you think? Have you tried Hot Jewels before? And do you have a favorite?

My next purchase will definitely include the Royal collection – I think the blue is gorgeous.

I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Disclosure: I’m thrilled to be working closely with Hot Jewels on this post and as an affiliate to share my love for them as an accessory. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

 

 

Thoughtful Gift Giving: My Love Language

Black Socks. Nope. I don’t want to give you socks for Christmas. Even if you say you need them.

Gray gym shorts. Not on my list.

White socks? I’d rather not.

Danielle and Jeff

This guy right here? Always gives me his ‘top 5 needs’ for his holiday wish list. *sigh* This includes stunners like the aforementioned socks, tennis shoes, and sweat pants. *double sigh*

I know, I know….this definitely shouldn’t be about me, but every year, I work hard to make sure the gifts I give to the people I love are thoughtful, that they are ones that they will love.  I’m giddy every time I see ‘the face’….you know the one – the combo surprised-you-shouldn’t-have-how-did-you-know-this-is-the-best-ever face? It’s my goal to see that face each year from my kids, my parents, my in-laws and yes, even my husband….though he is notorious for wanting ONLY what he asks for….you know, the black socks.

You see…gift giving is my love language. It is what brings me joy.

You know what doesn’t bring me joy? Gift cards. It physically pains me to give them. They feel like a cop-out. If I hand you a gift card, I feel as though there is an invisible note attached that says, ‘I’m so sorry, I just couldn’t think of anything to get you, straight cash felt awkward, so here’s a card that you will inevitably put in your wallet and forget you have.

You think I’m joking? I’m not. And this holiday season Cafe Press is ALSO speaking my language since they have launched a new (hilarious) campaign dedicated specifically to motivate you (and me) to gift creatively, to consider the recipient, to think beyond the gift card. Why? Not only because it feels a touch lazy (they call it GiCLS – Gift Card Laziness Syndrome. That’s funny.) but truly because of the LOSS OF CASH. I’ll admit, I don’t LOVE the title of the campaign – #GiftCardsS*$! (not a word we use in our house or on this site even when I don’t like something) but I DO like what CafePress stands for – customized design – and that means creating something specifically with a recipient in mind.

Cafe Press Kid's Baseball Jerseys

Cafe Press Personalized iPhone Case

You can create T-Shirts, kid’s baseball jerseys and baby bibs or go for iPhone cases, monogramed wine stoppers, personalized totes and even….Design your own Monopoly Game. Seriously. Personalized Monopoly.

Cafe Press Personalized Monopoly

There will be absolutely no doubt that the gift you are giving is specifically for your grandfather, your best friend, your mom or your brother. Better than a gift card, right? Just in case you need a touch more convincing….Are you ready for the gift card numbers? (they made me ill).

Each year, an estimated $1 Billion dollars in gift cards go unredeemed.

Somewhere between $5-7 Billion are lost or expire before they are redeemed. (I know I have personally contributed to that number).

Between 2007 and 2013, there was a 48% increase in gift card sales – from $80 Billion to $118 Billion.

Billions and billions and billions of lost dollars.

That is just crazy-talk.

This year, the average American consumer will spend $163 on gift cards….and sure, I know the origin of gift cards was to make gift giving easier….but it certainly seems to be costing us. I’d rather do my best to be a thoughtful gift-giver than have my gift-card-gift end up forgotten in the bottom of your purse or in some odd section of your wallet.

Right?

So, tell me…. since we know gift-giving is my language of love, whisper… is on your list this year? And are you making the effort to seek out the ‘perfect’ gifts for the people on your list?