The Perfect Thanksgiving Appetizer: Bacon Wrapped Dates

Happy Thursday friends! How is Thanksgiving only two weeks away? It’s almost here and I’m over here planning what I’m cooking for dinner, how to watch the parade online and outfit planning, because priorities y’all! But I recently attended an event where the best small bites were served including theses bacon wrapped, cheesy goodness, dates.

I’m still not sure how in the world I had never had these prior to this event. I’m pretty sure I had been living under a rock. But dates have always scared me. Like I don’t know how they cook, I’ve never blended them up in smoothies and never ate them on their own. But man oh man was I wrong. Delicious! So with discussing the upcoming holidays I was/am determined to make these for Thanksgiving appetizers. Way more fancy than dip guys!

These are so easy to make (minimal ingredients and minimal work) and so yummy. Everyone will love the sweet and savory mixture.

WHAT YOU NEED:

Bacon

Dates

Goat Cheese

Toothpicks

Aluminum Foil or Parchment Paper

Set oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the dates open on one side and remove the pit.

Stuff with a small amount of goat cheese. I added garlic salt and parsley to my cheese.

Wrap with bacon.

Secure with toothpick. This helps in flipping the dates to get evenly brown bacon.

Place on lined pan.

Bake for 7-8 minutes. Flip the dates and bake another 7-8 minutes.

These can be served hot, warm or reheated!

ENJOY!

 

Also heads up! I found dates to be a struggle to buy. A local grocer Ingles had 4 dates in a package for $3.00. If making for a large crowd I would considering buying in bulk from somewhere. Because these little guys disappear from the plate fast!

Your Guide To A Carefree Holiday Season

I don’t know about all of y’all but I can’t believe that it is already November. Christmas is in full swing at stores, media and I suppose here on 30 Shades of Stephanie. The holidays can be the most stressful time of the year, but only if you let it. A few years ago, the holiday season became too much for me and it was miserable. I’ve never hated the holiday season as much as that year and I knew something had to give in order for me to enjoy my favorite time of the year, so the following year I made a few changes that immensely helped. So here are a few things I do in order to actually enjoy the holiday season and make the best of it.

Plan Holiday Travels, Outings and Make Reservations 

Now is the time to book your plane tickets and hotel rooms. It will be much cheaper now and you will actually be able to get a flight or room. Since it is November you can now start making reservations for any holiday dinners out especially on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day because those reservations tend to fill up fast. Living in a tourist town, trust me, book any December special event dinners now. Also go ahead and try to buy tickets now to any holiday events like the ballet, concerts or light festivals. You can generally get them cheaper now, get better times or seats and of course they aren’t sold out yet!

Make Your Christmas Cards

I don’t know how many times I have planned to take the perfect Christmas card photo and make those cute custom photo Christmas cards or buy the perfect witty and festive card to tuck the photos inside. I either never have enough time to take the photos, let alone make the cute photo cards or buy cards. Don’t even get me started on the actual mailing of the cards. Sometimes they get sent a few days before Christmas or they don’t get sent at all. Right now is the perfect time to get on the ball with this. Plenty of time to take the pictures and get the perfect picture picked out. Plenty of time to make those cheesy custom cards or buy cards and print out the photos. Plus if you by now you don’t have to be left with the unwanted card selections! Also now is the time to make sure you have everyone’s correct addresses and make a list of all the people you want to send cards to. You don’t want to leave anyone out. And last but not least, buy your stamps now. The lines aren’t as long and you can easily slip them in to your mailbox once you have everything filled out. Now who doesn’t love some snail mail, especially festive snail mail?!

Start Thinking About Meal Planning

So not only do you have to plan for Thanksgiving meals and Christmas meals but you are going to be busy, busy during the holiday season. I know I tend to work longer days and have more social events filling my free time that the last thing I want to think about is making dinner. I like to start looking for easy and quick recipes that are perfect for the long days I seem to have during the holiday season. I like to look for crock-pot recipes and one pan dishes on Pinterest and make note of those recipes for the season. But I have also recently discovered Seeds of Change thanks to Influenster, which makes dinners at home a breeze. Seeds of Change offers rices and sauce packs that are not only healthy but extremely easy. Win, win. I received a complimentary Sweet and Sour sauce pack and made an awesome stir fry packed with veggies and protein. The best part, it took hardly no time to make. I stir fried garlic, mushrooms, onions, green beans, asparagus, chicken and the sweet and sour sauce and served over rice. It was a hit in my house and I will be purchasing more of these sauce packets to make during the busy season. The full range of Seeds of Change products are available at Target!

****This product was sent to me to test and review. All thoughts and ideas are my own.****

Start Planning Now 

One of the things I learned from the year I knew I was starting to despise Christmas was because I wasn’t using a calendar or planner. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but to me it’s a huge deal and it is for a lot of people. For me, if it isn’t written down or planned in advance it generally isn’t happening. I remember that year I lost the holiday spirit, the biggest bummer was double planning two events in one night (twice). One was an early Christmas present (the ballet, which I hadn’t seen since I was a child) and then a social media event. I got a message on the way to the ballet asking where I was for something I was supposed to be co-hosting. I remember yelling, crying, making up an excuse and not paying attention during the ballet worried I had let a few people down. Ohhhh and something similar happened the following week. Now I write down everything. Work, social events, blog post and social media schedules, dinners, freelance meetings and even when I am wanting to go and do certain Christmas events. I also like to write down a list of things I want to do like going to the ballet, seeing Christmas lights, Christmas at Biltmore,  the gingerbread competition at the Grove Park Inn or art events so I can prioritize and plan out those “Christmas Bucket List” things so I can actually do them. I’m telling you it makes a world of difference. So use the calendar on your phone, a standard calendar or a full blown planner to get it together. Plus you won’t miss out on the things you really want to do if you plan accordingly.

I have recently found this little holiday planner from One Swell Studio which is adorable for the holidays and perfect for keeping it together. The design is so chic and I love the large daily layout. It doesn’t start until December but perfect for the craziest month. This one is super unique because it acts as a keepsake of the holiday as well. Not only does it have a to do list for every day, but also spots for special moments from the day and a spot to write what you are thankful for. It also includes portions for budgeting, spending and gift tracking. I will use this in conjunction with my regular planner, this one as my to-do list and holiday memory keeper. How cute would it be to add a Polaroid picture to each page for each day?! Seriously considering this.

Block Off Downtime and Be Okay With Doing Less

Though I like to plan hardcore for the holidays I have also started to make sure that I have time where I haven’t packed the entire day with festive activities. During the holiday season you really need to focus on self-care more to avoid getting depressed or despising the holiday. Also if you can’t do everything, that’s ok. It’s fine to not do every festive activity in your town or go to every social event. If it doesn’t all get done, everyone around you and yourself will be fine. I like to pick a few days where I just do things I like, generally by myself, like getting my nails done or getting a massage. You deserve it girlfriend! Plus I will be sharing tons of self-care ideas here on the blog and on Instagram throughout the holiday season.

 

 

Merry Merry

And I can’t believe it’s almost here. I can’t contain my excitement as we grow closer. I can’t wait to put on some fun clothes and celebrate with those around me. So I’m not big in to wearing festive color dresses because an entire red dress does not look good on my pale skin and I can never find a green dress I really like this time of year. So pops of festive colors is my answer. Sadly this stole and shoes are sold out because they were on massive sale on Black Friday and I couldn’t resist either of them. These shoes are just amazing! And the fur just gives a luxe feel that Christmas is all about. So if you are like me, and don’t do the full on festive wear, dress up your #ootd with festive accents, you can’t go wrong and you will still look festive! Happy Holidays loves!

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

It’s the final countdown to Christmas. Am I the only one who can’t believe that there are only 6 days until Christmas? I know some of you have been listening to Christmas music for a while, but now is the time to really blare it. So I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites and let me tell you holy flash back to late 90’s early 2000’s!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Giveaways Recap

So I wanted to round up all the direct links to everything I am giving away for my 5 Days of Holiday Giveaways I’m hosting on Instagram. You will have until 11:59 on 11/17 to enter to win and the winners will be announced late on Sunday evening. So head straight over to my Instagram and get yourself entered.

The first thing you are eligible to win is a blush and ultra matte lip from ColourPop. Find this picture on Instagram or go here!

The second item is a $20.00 gift card from Target. Find this picture on Instagram or go here!

The third item is a Rachel Weisberg choker in your choice of brown or black! Go to Instagram and find this picture or go here!

The fourth item you can win is this kimono scarf from Charmed. Go to Instagram and find this picture or go here

The fifth and final thing you can win is two tickets to Painting With A Twist that can be used at any location but gifted by the Asheville location. All you have to do is find this picture on Instagram or go here!

All you have to do is find the pictures and follow the instructions which are easy peasy! Good luck y’all!

 

The Luxe Scarf + Rachel Weisberg Choker Giveaway

You’ve got to love when your friend is a fashion designer! You get to see and sample all the goodies. And Rachel Weisberg did not disappoint with this Long Scarf. The scarf is made of velvety, cupro fibers and hand dyed in her Asheville studio. The cupro fibers give the scarf an extremely soft touch and the hand dye job gives a unique flair to each scarf. You are literally getting to wear your own little original piece of art. Though soft it packs in the heat and is perfect for bundling up in and or dressing up a plain jane #ootd. It’s totally city chic. I already have a ton of ways I want to wear this. And one will be for my Christmas Eve dinner, probably Christmas day festivities as well.

You can get your own Long Scarf at rachel-weisberg.com or you can find them locally in Asheville at Embellish.

When you are a fashion blogger and your friend is a fashion designer, of course she participates in your holiday giveaways. So today on Instagram I am giving away a Rachel Weisberg choker (in your choice of the brown or black). All you have to do is find the picture below and follow the instructions (they are oh so easy)! 

Party Read With A LBD + Target Gift Card Giveaway

Holiday parties are in full swing. I actually have an event to attend this weekend, plus a few things next week. So when looking for party dresses, a little black dress is the way to go. A little black dress attracts me because it can be worn for plenty of other things and doesn’t just scream Christmas dress. And that’s why I love Target. I can find affordable dresses that are going to be perfect for my holiday party and that I can get a few other wears out of. When picking a dress for a Christmas party look for personality in the dress. I picked this one because of the cutouts in the sleeves. You can look for lace detail, ruffles or fringe.

I hate dressing in red or green for holiday parties. It’s cliche. So to make the dress feel more festive I added pops of the holiday colors. Like this green shrug and a red lip. Also the fur adds a festive, warm vibe while dressing up the casual dress.

Lastly to make the little black dress work for holiday parties I add personal touches to make it more fun and me. Like these earrings which are perfect for the holidays and will be perfect for New Years. Plus making my hair a little funky adds a little more sass to the picture.

So for the second day of giveaways you can enter to win a $20.00 Target gift card. All you have to do is find the picture below on my Instagram and Like and follow me! The instructions are on the post!

Low Key Holiday Glam + Instagram ColourPop Giveaway

I am super simple when it comes to my make up. Even when the holiday events and parties roll around. I can’t do crazy dramatic eyes because I have extremely watery and sensitive eyes. So to avoid a mess and styes I keep it simple every day. I have been loving my Kat Von D palette for eyes and it goes perfect for the holidays as well since that rusty color is very popular. I kept my wing simple since I was going for a more dramatic lip. And by dramatic I mean sparkly. I love playing with make up just as much as the next person so thought I would go for a shimmery lip. I added Bad Blood by Urban Decay and then went over it with this new NYX Lip Of The Day Art Pen in a rose gold. I topped the entire look off with Bardot blush from ColourPop Cosmetics because it gives an equal part glowy goddess, equal part wind kissed cheeks.

So I have recently fallen in love with ColourPop this year. After hearing all the hype I decided I would give it a whirl and fell in love. **Most of the products are vegan (a few products are not), the entire line is cruelty free and all the product is made here in the USA. Plus let me not forget to mention the entire brand is affordable. So you think it might not be great. Nope way wrong. The quality is amazing for the price you pay. The matte lips I have purchased have stayed on longer than any liquid lipstick I own. You can find anyone some goodies from ColourPop for gifts; almost everyone I know is getting something from the brand for Christmas. (SHHH don’t tell)

So I wanted to share the love with all of you. I am giving away a Bardot Super Shock Cheek and a Ultra Matte Lip in Mink from the Blues Baby collection. All you have to do is find the picture below on my Instagram and follow the instructions there:

P.S. It’s really simple to enter! All you have to do is like the picture and follow me!

Also make sure you check back here and Instagram daily because I will be giving away a product from different companies all week!

Happy Glam Holidays!

Bah Humbug

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Top // Leggings // Similar Booties // Bag // Necklace

I hate to be the Grinch, but I really have been lately. I put my tree up before Thanksgiving because I was in the spirit (plus let’s face it I knew I wouldn’t have time), I had Christmas music blaring on Thanksgiving, I have all my presents bought and am in the process of wrapping. But I haven’t been in the mood. I have cried because I love Christmas and it just doesn’t feel right (cue this Christmas song). Life and mother nature have both got in the way. My heart has been broken by the tragic fires throughout WNC and Eastern TN so when it rained I did a happy dance, but also cried because I needed blog pictures for the week and couldn’t get them. Some things have happened in work and there is the possibility of receiving a promotion so I have been killing myself trying to prove myself. I’ve literally worked and slept. On Wednesday I didn’t even eat all day because I worked a long shift, forgot lunch and passed out hardcore when I got home.

But it changed on Thursday. Andrew and I normally do a secret santa situation for a child in need, but this year the opportunity hit closer than we thought. A former coworker was in need. We decided to help this individual other than someone we don’t actually know. It’s the first day in almost a week and a half I put on clothes that weren’t jeans and work shirts, put on make up and actually fixed my hair. Oh it was photo worthy because I hadn’t seen myself like this in a while. Maybe it’s because I finally felt festive, or maybe because I was heading to Target.

A giving heart is always stylish and something every person, even the #fashionistas need to have. I got in the spirit. So as planned for this week, but dampened by the rain and lack of photos, I will be doing a week of giveaways on the blog from some awesome boutiques and companies. Because I truly want to give back to you guys!

Gift Guide: For The Homebody

Gift Guide: For The Homebody

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 (can find at any lawn and garden store)// 6 // 7

We all have that one friend, family member or coworker who likes to stay home a majority of the time. Cough, cough, cough; me! These people may be a little hard to shop for, especially if you want your gift to be unique. I’ve rounded up my favorite items for the home that are drool worthy, Instagram worthy and under $75.00. These are gifts your homebody is sure to love. From unique cookbooks, to art (yay to shopping small), funky dishes in the most popular print this year and items to make the home cozy!