Casey

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Happy Holidays! This time of year always seems to fly by SO fast. I’ve been extra busy at work and it seems there are plans every weekend. So to remind myself to take time and enjoy the moment, I’ve planned out a holiday bucket list of sorts. These are my must-do’s to wrap up the season. I’ve compiled some fun, inexpensive activities along with items that get you outside and some that involve giving back.

Here’s my Christmas Bucket List. Make sure to let me know what’s on yours!

Enjoy an Epic Christmas Light Display
In Cincinnati, we have the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo for an inexpensive and unique Christmas light display. You’re able to visit the zoo after dark and walk through all the lights and even take a train ride through the zoo. Even if you don’t have this available near you, there is always a neighborhood that goes all out with the lights. Make sure to visit them one night.

Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange


Afterwards, deliver cookies to neighbors, friends, retirement homes or anyone who needs their day brightened up. It’s impossible to not be happy when festive cookies are available. My tip for a stress-free cookie exchange or baking marathon is picking up some mixes, like these from Krusteaz. Using their pre-made mixes cuts down on SO much time and makes grocery shopping a breeze. Then you can dress up the cookies to make them your own.

I always add some sea salt flakes to my chocolate chip cookies (I love that sweet and salty combo!). And I go crazy with the sprinkles on sugar cookies. My take on Christmas baking doesn’t involve being in the kitchen all day. I much prefer to enjoy the sweets of my labor and share the goodies with others, so I’ll take all the shortcuts I can find. If you need some help deciding what cookies to enjoy, visit Krusteaz Holiday Cookie Helper. 

Binge Watch Harry Potter
The Harry Potter series is my go-to for entertainment during the holidays. I think it has something to do with the fact that a lot of the films would premiere right around the holidays and the Christmas scenes in the movie are so festive. The movies are always on when I’m home during the holidays.

And Marathon Other Christmas Movie Classics
For me, the classic is Love, Actually. That’s my end all, most favorite, classic Christmas movie. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s comforting to watch those movies that are familiar and predictable during this time. Other favorites are The Holiday and Christmas with the Kranks.

Donate Gifts to a Shelter or Volunteer
The best part of the holidays is giving back to others! Visit your local food bank to serve a meal or adopt-a-family and provide gifts to those in need.

Make a Gingerbread House
Even better is if you make this a contest! Have a party with friends or challenge your co-workers to see who makes the best gingerbread house.

Schedule a Skype Date with Out-of-Town Friends & Family
It’s not always possible to meet up with everyone during the holiday season. Instead of waiting until next time,

Send Holiday Greetings or Gifts To the Armed Forces
Learn how to do so here: http://www.ibtimes.com/how-send-christmas-cards-soldiers-overseas-2016-charities-collecting-donations-2446562

Make Hot Chocolate from Scratch
And load it up with marshmallows!

Attend a Christmas Tree Lighting
Your town square probably holds a special event for the lighting ceremony. I’ve actually attended one in New Orleans and it was SO fun. I loved the live music and the ceremony just kicks off the season.

Make a Christmas Music Playlist
…and sing at the top of your lungs. Please tell me Mariah Carey will be on your list?!

Get Pictures with Santa
Many places have free or donation photos with Santa. I would check with your mall, local businesses and if you have pets, Petsmart and Petco!

Donate Gently Used Clothes and Toys
Clean out your closet and donate your gently used clothes and stores to a local thrift store like St. Vincent de Paul. For some families, this might be where they do their Christmas shopping, so by donating your “forgotten” clothes might become someones new favorite gift.

Spend an Entire Day Home in PJs
I can’t wait for my vacation this holiday season. I’ll be staying local, but I’m really looking forward to just spending a day in PJs at home with my cats and boyfriend. Play board games, read books, watch movies and snack away. Consider it a mental health day. 😃

Throw or Attend an Ugly Sweater Party
It’s not the Christmas season until you don your ugly sweater. Host a party or find one to attend. There have been several Cincinnati bar crawls just for those in ugly sweaters so there’s no reason you can’t break out last year’s hideous sweater for another round.

Donate to an Animal Shelter
Animal shelters can always use extra towels, blankets and food. While I’d love to adopt even more kitties for Christmas, I know that’s not feasible. Instead, make a donation to your local animal shelter and stop in for some puppy kisses and kitten pets to get your feline fix and support those furry friends.

Thanks to Krusteaz for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands I use and love. 

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A few weeks ago I had the joy of attending a Tablespoon Cooking Co. Class at the Findlay Kitchen in Over-the-Rhine. I attended the Soups & Sandwiches class and it was such a great introduction to the team and style of these classes. I learned how to make two hearty and flavorful soups, plus two indulgent and classic sandwiches. The class was taught by owner Chef Jordan Hamons along with several other assisting chefs.

If you’ve never tried a cooking class before, this would be a great one to start with. The team at TBSP does a great job of demoing the recipes bit by bit then allowing you to get your hands dirty and do the cooking yourself. I was really cooking everything on the night’s menu so I was able to work on my cooking skills, but the moment I needed some assistance dicing an onion, the team was there to help. I personally appreciate this style of teaching because I left feeling more confident in my cooking skills than if it would have been a less hands on class.

With the communal tables, casual environment and available craft beers and wines, the classes are a great place for a girls night, double date or a way to meet new people. Due to some scheduling conflicts I actually attended solo and never felt out of place, plus I ended up with SOOOO many leftovers. I had an extra half sammie of each type we tried and (seriously) several quarts of soup. This class sets you up for lunch for the rest of the week. And you’ll get a printed copy of the recipes to remake at home.

I’m a little shocked at myself for saying this, but my favorite dish ended up being the Reuben sandwich. I’ve never liked these, but by making it myself fresh in the class with the homemade thousand island dressing I finally got to try one that tasted how it should. Credit has to be given here to not just the chefs for teaching us how to best put the sandwich together, but also putting together a great recipe and sourcing quality ingredients. The meats, the produce, the breads were all sourced from local vendors (many from Findlay Market) and you’ll realize part of cooking a great meal is simply just starting with good quality food.

I also learned a few knife skills that I’ve been putting to use regularly since the class. I know I learned just a preview of what’s offered in the full Essential Knife Skills class, so I’m adding that one to my to-do list.

You’ll leave the class with SO many easy tips:
– When cooking you need to trust your own senses and not just what the recipe states.
– For a good soup you need to layer the flavors and so the entire body is flavorful and not just broth.
– Taste the soup as you go and adjust seasonings throughout the cooking process.
– If your ingredients are too big for your spoon, then they need to be diced up smaller. This way you can get a bite of all the ingredients in one spoonful.
– Mayo on grilled cheese is AMAZING, trust me on this.

How can you tell if the Tablespoon Cooking Co. class will be right for you? Well if you want to try a new skill, mix things up on a weeknight, leave with a full belly and some amazing leftovers, then you need to sign up asap. Visit the website for the current class lineup and check out their Facebook or Instagram to keep an eye on upcoming classes, like holiday pies & entertaining, bread baking, fried chicken and more. And what makes attending a class even sweeter is knowing you’ll be supporting small, local businesses. While you’re picking out a class for yourself, consider getting some for friends and family too!

I was invited to attend a Tablespoon Cooking Co. class at no cost; however, all opinions shared are 100% my own.

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Do you know how to have a productive week? It starts with the things you do on Sunday to set yourself up for success. Fulfilling these 7 tips every Sunday to start my week helps keep me motivated and accomplishing my goals. What’s on your Sunday to-do list for a successful week?

Exercise

This doesn’t have to be much, but just move. Preferably, get outside for some fresh air. It’s not so much that you need to burn all the extra calories you might have consumed over the weekend, it’s just that once you get up and moving and get in a quick workout or a walk, you’ll likely be motivated to get a little bit more done afterwards. And by getting in some exercise always helps with getting a good nights rest.

Meal Prep

Mondays are rough. But you make them a million times better by prepping out your lunch and breakfast. You deserve more than coffee and a pastry. Make it a goal to pack Monday’s breakfast and lunch at a minimum, but shoot for getting Mon-Wed ready and meals planned for the rest of the week. Take stock of the groceries you currently have so you can mentally plan out meals for later in the week and make your grocery shopping list of what you’ll need to pick up later in the week or head out to the store today.

Plan Out Your Goals & To-Dos

What would you like to accomplish this week? Take 10 minutes to write out your personal and professional goals for the week and then schedule it out. And take note of the items to add to your to-do list and schedule those out too.

For example, choose which days you’ll be going to the gym and what your workout will be. It’s much easier to fulfill these goals when you have them planned!

With your to-do list, try to set aside 30-60 minutes for those household kind of tasks. I’ll plan out my week and determine that Monday night is when I’ll clean the kitchen and clean out the fridge. Tuesday is when I’ll sweep and vacuum the house and so on. Just having these small chores planned out helps prevent them from piling on up and only takes a little bit of time each day during the week.

Plan Your Outfits

Check the weather for the week ahead and plan out your outfits. I personally would set out Monday’s outfit from head to toe so that you don’t even have to give it a second thought in the morning. Have a mental plan for the rest of the week and group those items together in the closet and make sure your laundry is caught up so you have that sweater you want to wear on Wednesday already cleaned and folded.

Set Aside Some “Me” Time

You also need to take time to do the things you don’t have time for during the week. Binge Netflix, read on your Kindle, give yourself a mani. Whatever it is you love, spend some time doing it and don’t feel guilty for just completely relaxing.

But Also Plan on Some Social Time

After a long and busy week I’m usually ready to stay in on weekends, get caught up on chores and work on my blog. However, I’ve realized that the Monday’s when I feel most revitalized are the ones after a weekend where I not only have some personal time, but also make an effort to visit my friends or family. Carving out some social time is important. Meet for Sunday brunch, run errands with a friend, or schedule some FaceTime with your parents. It’s important to connect with others too.

Set an Alarm for Bedtime

I struggle with this every night. I am terrible at winding down at the end of the day. I always feel like I need to do “one more thing” or read one more page. So, I’ve started implementing a nighttime routine that starts around 9 pm. I’ll put my morning alarm on my phone then put it away for the rest of the night. At this time I’ll double check that I have everything ready for the next day then go about my nighttime cleansing and beauty routine. I always make time to read for a short while in my Kindle and chat with my boyfriend. If I have a bunch of to-dos going on in my head, I’ll write them out on a post-it and quickly so I can focus on relaxing.

How do you plan for a successful week? What tips keep you motivated and on track to squash those goals?


These tips will make you successful, productive and keep you motivated all week. Do this every Sunday so you can reach your goals and cross off that do list like the girl boss you are.

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It’s time to start thinking Christmas shopping and stocking stuffers. I have over 100 stocking stuffer ideas to get you started! 

I can’t believe Christmas is just a few weeks away. The second half of this year has really flown by. I’m usually one of those people who has most of their holiday shopping done months in advance, but not this year. I come from a big family, so I’m usually getting a few small things for a lot of people during the holidays. I think this has made me quite the expert in picking out relatively inexpensive, but still useful and creative gifts that also make great stocking stuffers.

Check out the list below for stocking stuffer ideas for everyone on your list including men, women, teens, foodies, health nuts and more. I’ve used some affiliate links below meaning if you click through and make a purchase, I might receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Women & Beauty

Travel size beauty products
Bath bombs
Face masks
Nail polish
Lip Balm 
Travel Makeup Brushes
Invisibobble 
Wet Hair Brush
Nail Buffer
Hair Detangler 
Towel Hair Wrap 
Dry Shampoo
Makeup Remover Wipes
Makeup Brush Cleaner spray 
Beauty Blender
Keysocks No-Show Socks
Alex and Ani Bracelets
Coin purse 
Temporary tattoos (These are fun to have for music festivals!)

Food & Drink

Hot Chocolate 
K-Cups
Loose Leaf Tea 
Chocolate
Mini Liquor Bottles (+ 8 oz soda cans!)
Mini wine bottles
Whiskey stones
Food Huggers 
Unique Jams or Jelly
High quality or unique spices 
Candy canes
Collapsible measuring cups
Starbucks VIA 
Tea infuser 
Kitchen timer 
Fun Ice cube molds 
Coasters 
Coffee Tumbler 
Wine Stopper
Hot sauce
Whole coffee beans 

Health & Fitness

Protein Bars 
Exercise bands 
Protein powder packets 
Shaker bottles 
Running Belt or Fitness Belt 
No-Show Gym Socks 
Hickies 
Running Headband 
Massage ball 
Massage stick 
BlenderBottle GoStak 
Collagen Packets 

Pet Lovers

Dog or Cat Treats 
Lint Roller aka Fur Roller 

 

The Traveler

Passport Holder
Travel Makeup Brushes
Luggage tag 
Universal adapter
Earplugs
Eye masks
Portable water bottle
Waterproof Holder for cell phone
Mini Diffuser

 

For Him

Beard Oil
Shoe Polish
Manicure Kit

Everyone

Gloves or mittens
Scarf
Hat or Wrap
Playing Cards 
Favorite magazine
Candle
Tarot cards 
Cedar balls to keep drawers smelling fresh
Earbuds or headphones
Portable charger
Phone charger cords – because I am always losing or breaking mine
Headphone splitter
Bluetooth speakers
Scented Wax Melts
Sunglasses
Bleach Pen
Mini sewing kit
Hand scrub
Vaseline Intensive Hand Cream
Emergen-C
Essential Oils – Lavender is a great one to start with. So relaxing!
Pop-It Socket
Sweater Fuzz Remover
Phone stand + Bluetooth photo taker
Phone stand for the car
Glasses or sunglasses case
Wool socks
Camera memory cards
Writing pens
Magnets – Funny & positive quotes for the fridge or office
Mini Umbrella
Phone Camera Lens
2018 Calendar
Cash!
A donation certificate in their name

What’s your favorite stocking stuffer to gift? If you need more holiday shopping tips, check out these articles too:

10 Black Friday Shopping Tips
6 Tips to Save for the Holidays

Over 100 Stocking Stuffers for Everyone. These stocking stuffer ideas are for men, women, teens, boyfriends, mom, and adults, plus many are cheap.

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This post contains affiliate links meaning that if you click through the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thanks for supporting my work!

Happy almost Halloween! This is my personal favorite time of year. I love the fall weather, the crisp air and crunchy leaves. The return of fall fashion with boots and jeans and sweaters or flannels. I love pumpkin-flavored everything and carving Jack-O-Lanterns. Plus, Halloween is the best holiday. It’s the one time of year when we can dress up in crazy costumes and it’s completely normal, and basically expected.

I’ll be traveling this year during Halloween, and returning the afternoon before any festivities. So, I haven’t planned out a very elaborate costume. Instead, I will try my hand at one of the amazing Halloween makeup tutorials below and add a simple costume to finish off the look.

Have you planned your Halloween costume yet? Whether you want to go for a comic book look, a creepy doll, a cute Cheetah, the classic Wednesday Addams, a simple Scarecrow or quick Skeleton, there’s a tutorial to help you along below!

Comic Book Tutorial – I’ve always been intimidated by the comic book look, but this DIY makes it seem SO easy and dramatic.

 

3 Easy Latex-Free Wounds – Sometimes, simple is best and these easy wounds can finish off a simple look with a very creepy effect. Or you could use these wounds to make another costume even more dramatic like a zombie or werewolf.

 

Wednesday Addams – Always a classic! I love this Halloween look because if you’re like me, the outfit is something you could put together using what you already have in your closet.

 

Easy, Last Minute Looks – I love these three, especially the creepy zombie look and the super simple, but always cute cat costume.

 

4 Last-Minute Halloween Makeup Ideas – The deer look shown here is ADORABLE!

 

Leopard/Cheetah Makeup – I usually have at least one piece of leopard print in my closet so I love the idea of wearing that along with this stunning makeup look.

 

Easy Mystical Fairy – This tutorial is so dreamy! I always wore glitter when I was a kid. #90sBaby So I love having a reason to go glitter and shimmer crazy with this look.

 

Easy Zombie – Even though there’s some zombie appropriate tutorials above, I wanted to include this one because it’s SO easy and it uses products that are easy to find if you don’t already have them.

 

Creepy Doll – A few years back I was a creepy doll for Halloween. It was a last minute decision, but really fun. To finish off the look, I carried around a stuffed teddy bear.

 

Easy, DIY Skeleton Look – I made this look last year when I was passing out candy to the neighborhood kids. I was able to use makeup I already had on hand and didn’t have to purchase anything from the store. In fact, I started out using that white cream makeup for my base, but it was smudging and irritating so I removed it and started over with primer and white eyeshadow which held up much better. Click on the image below for my step-by-step DIY.

 

Easy Scarecrow Costume – This was my costume for work one year and I got so many compliments! It’s basically eyeliner and a long lasting lip color plus setting spray to create this look. Click the image below for my step-by-step instructions.

 

What will you be for Halloween this year?!

18 Easy, Step-by-Step Halloween Makeup Tutorials for Cheetah, Scarecrow, Zombie, Skeleton, Fairy, Skull, Doll and more for a Last-Minute, Simple Halloween Costume #halloween

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