Holiday Sips: Hot Toddy Recipe

It’s cold out there. The holiday season is here. Flu season is here. You need a drink to fight off the cold (both the virus and the temps) and celebrate the season right. And though most people think you need bubbly or festive cocktail creations for this time of year, a hot toddy does just the trick for numerous occasions. It’s cozy and inviting. Jut like I like all my winter vibes. So here’s a simple, easy, make at home hot toddy recipe!

YOU NEED FOR ONE MUG:

Whiskey- shot per glass or like I do, just eyeball it

Lemons-2 wedges

Cinnamon- 1teaspoon

Cloves-three whole cloves

Honey- 2 teaspoons

Secret Ingedient- Homemade vanilla extract, just a splash

Hot Water

DIRECTIONS:

Put your cinnamon, cloves and honey in your mug of choice.

Add your shot of whiskey.

Squeeze one lemon wedge in with this.

If you want add your splash of vanilla extract.

Have boiled water ready to pour in and fill the mug with hot water.

Stir well.

Add last lemon wedge to the mug.

Drink slowly with Christmas music playing in the background!

 

CHEERS!

If you want a step by step of this recipe follow my InstaStories today for it!

Gift Guide For Experiences Instead of “Things”

We all know someone who literally has everything they need and want. So what do you get those people for a Christmas gift? With a world full of so many things, why not gift experiences. A great option that keeps on giving after Christmas Day and after the newness of a present wears off. Here are the options that I have come up with that would make great experiences!

Admission To Fun Activities

Gift a one-time ticket to any where your recipient loves to visit. Or some where the person may want to visit, but a little out of their price range. Museums, exhibits, the zoo, amusement parks, or local attractions. Or even a certificate for a massage for a day. I know I personally love visiting art exhibits, museums and amusement parks. These places always make for a great day.

 Food Experiences

Gifting cooking lessons isn’t saying that the person you love is a horrible cook. This would be such a fun experience. The ability to try foods you might not otherwise try to cook and learning to appreciate the process of cooking and the experience of eating the meal. I’ve been dying to try some of the classes that Hickory Nut Gap Farm offers. It seems enticing to try something I could never do in my own kitchen. If classes are not available or just perfect for the person you are gifting, try gifting a gift card to a restaurant the person has been wanting to try, their favorite place or something that may be out of their element.

Lessons To Learn Something New

Something you know someone has always wanted to try? Whether it be a new language, an art class or advancing on their hobbies.

Tickets To One Time Events

Think sporting events, concerts, plays, ballet and musicals. I have received tickets for shows, games and the ballet for several different holidays and they have been amazing. I’ve had to wait until the actual events and the excitement has only built. The only downside to this is that you have to choose a date for it, but most tickets you can get in enough advance that someone can plan for this event.

Getaways and Travel

In order to do this you must really know the person you are doing this for. You have to know where they would love to travel to, where they would love to stay and when would be a good time to book the trip. It doesn’t have to be a grand vacation. It could be a weekend getaway or a night away. Sometimes it’s just fun and exciting to get away from home for a while. This past year for my birthday, Andrew gifted me with a trip to Chattanooga. It was only for a night but it was amazing. And totally worth the drive.

Camping Adventure

If someone can handle a night or weekend away without staying in a hotel I highly suggest the gift of camping. To be one with nature, no cell service, to be in silence, sleep under the stars; all amazing things and can do wonder for your health. I have gifted this adventure before and though I got a kink in my neck, had to shower with shoes on and got extremely cold at night, nothing beats bourbon under the stars by a fire. Or how peaceful I felt.

Season Passes To Favorite Places

A gift that lasts for a whole year. A pass to someone’s favorite place or even just an extremely fun place which they can use over and over again for a year! I have annual passes to the Biltmore Estate and think they are well worth the investment. Most places it is cheaper than two visits. You can get them to just about anywhere that requires an admission fee. From the national park services to amusement parks to local area attractions. I have gifted amusement park passes before and were a huge hit. Plus it was a gift that kept on giving all Summer long. I would actually love to get annual passes to Grandfather Mountain!

Hopefully this got you thinking about gift giving in a different way. Go explore fun things that you can give to your loved ones that won’t be shoved in a drawer soon.

 

 

 

Gift Guide For Her Under $100.00

Back Packs Doubling as a Diaper Bag // Throw Blanket // Hat (This One Is On My List) // Wall Hanging (DIY Coming Soon) // Dry Shampoo Paste // Copper Mixing Bowls // Indie Brand Candle // One Question a Day Journal 

 

Another day, another blogger’s gift guide. However, I wanted to do something a little different. There’s no point in sharing silly things I know none of us will really use or overpriced gift sets that really aren’t worth the money. Or sharing the same things you have seen on every other blog. Gifts you will actually love to give, that your recipient will love or that you would actually love to get. All things you can actually use, most right after opening. From new brands I have discovered and am swooning over to brands I stand by. And something for everyone. Whether it be your fashionista, chef, homebody, explorer, the one who loves to savor moments and the one possibly obsessed with textiles. It’s all here and the best part, everything in the gift guide is under $100.00!

Happy Shopping! Happy Gifting! And happy Wishlist making!

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.

 

 

Cozy, Warm Layers + Halloween Traditions

Fall I love you. Layering I love you. Car rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway to peep leaves, I love you. Rolling fog I love you. Scarf season I love you. Chilly temperatures I love you.

I feel like I’m always running around trying to squeeze in as much of seasonal activities that I can.  Lately I’ve been trying to see as much of the autumnal foilage, cross off lists from my Fall bucket list and see as many misty, foggy mornings as possible. But when running around I just can’t fathom getting dressed up for chasing leaves and walking around in the clouds.  So I go for my trusty favorites.

If I’m going to be doing any type of hiking of course I dress accordingly and will wear leggings, etc. But when I’m not going on a lengthy hike I go with my trusty skinny jeans and a common pullover. I actually acquire a few of these pullovers every season. I wear these fore everything from work, to adventures, to lounge wear. For this particular day, I knew I needed to run a few errands afterwards and was also having a lunch date so I threw on my favorite leather jacket I purchased from Nordstrom a few years ago and a scarf to keep my neck warm. I’m loving all the different earthy colors, textures and layers I have going on in this outfit. And though it may not look the warmest, it kept me warm in the below 50 degree weather.

Stay tuned to next week because I will actually share in more detail how I love styling basic pullovers for every day wear so it doesn’t look like you haven’t changed from pajamas all day.

 

HALLOWEEN TRADITIONS

Like most holidays, we all have our own traditions. Some times they change, some times we don’t stick to them and some times we are trying to find something new to add to your traditions. So I thought I would share my old and newer traditions.

When I was younger we always had typical family traditions. My family was big in to Halloween. We always went to my grandparent’s house where we had some kind of homemade soup. Oyster stew, chicken stew, chili or chicken noodle soup. No matter which one it was always soup. We always went trick or treating in the same neighborhood and always ended the night with scary movies. As I got older, the soup remained a constant but the activities changed, like parties and haunted houses.

As I’ve gotten older, live on my own and start my own traditions, I have tried to incorporate some old things and some new. Every single year I no longer do the trick-or-treating but instead am the lady who passes out candy and comments on each costume. All while each child asks about my cat and some kids have even just walked in to my apartment. It’s interesting to say the least. It never fails, I always try to make a soup I like because honestly I’m not the hugest soup fan (even though I had it every Halloween, still doesn’t mean it was my favorite). So I have a few recipes for soups (love this one) I actually like or I try to make a crock pot meal (Winter staple in my house) or a casserole of some kind (easiest one I have ever made). Some thing easy but warm and hearty. After the trick-or-treating is over, I make a wicked cocktail or have a pumpkin beer and put on a horror film. But no Halloween night is ever over without watching Hocus Pocus. Since moving to the mountains I have actually stayed up extremely late on Halloween to wait for the first snowfall of the season, it has happened a few times since moving here.

Let me know what your traditions are in the comments!

6 Non-Scary Movies Perfect for Halloween

On Tuesday I shared my top 10 favorite horror movies to watch leading up to Halloween and on Halloween night. But if gore, paranormal activity and things that go bump in the night are not for you, I’ve still got you covered girl. So grab a cocktail, dinner, popcorn and dessert and enjoy all these movies. And I’ve got your back that you are never too old to watch these Halloween movie picks!

1. Beetlejuice

Image VIA

Your favorite dirty and hilarious ghost, ready to party! Just don’t say his name three times.

2. The Addams Family

Image VIA

Normalcy is overrated. Settle in with the craziest family around.

3. Edward Scissorhands

Image VIA

Have you been thinking about getting some landscaping done or going for a new hairstyle? Johnny Depp in all his weirdness with awkward hands. Plenty of laughs to be had with this one.

4. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Image VIA

I’m not big on cartoons or animations but how adorable is Charlie Brown. Plus you will get all the nostalgic vibes from this movie.

5. Nightmare Before Christmas

Image VIA

My grandparents used to watch this movie every Halloween. So it’s kind of a tradition. And Tim Burton is a master of creepy animations. Are you the pumpkin king?

6. Hocus Pocus

Image VIA

You are never, never too old for some Hocus Pocus. By far my favorite Halloween movie. And I would be lying if I told you I didn’t watch this movie year round. “I put a spell on you, and now you’re mine”.

10 Horror Movies to Watch Before Halloween

It’s officially a week until Halloween. I love it. And one thing I have been doing to get in to the spirit and of course an annual tradition is watching scary movies. I have been trying to scope out all the newer and less known movies on Netflix, HULU and HBOGO and have found a few good ones but also there is nothing that compares to some classics. So here are my top 10 picks for horror films that you need to watch leading up to Halloween and on Halloween night. So grab your pumpkin flavored beer, PSL, pumpkin cookies, popcorn, Halloween candy bowl, fuzzy blankets and your girlfriends or #BAE and get to watching.

 

  1. The Exorcist

 Image VIA

There have been numerous remakes of this and spin offs. But nothing can top the classic. Head rolls, green vomit and walking down the stairs backwards. All of these things terrified me as a child and will honestly still give me slight nightmares if watched again.

 

2. IT

Image VIA

We all float down here. There is something about that clown totally different than the newer one that can give absolute nightmares. Be prepared to realize your deepest darkest fears watching this.

 

3. Halloween

Image Via

Would it really be the Halloween season unless you actually watched any of the Halloween movies. This will definitely make you jump and possibly yell at the t.v. Also it will make you try to figure out how in the world Michael always catches up to his victims without running. I wondering if I can drop the pumpkin cookie pounds with moving at a Michael speed?

 

4. The Shining

Image VIA

This is one of those movies that will keep you on your toes and also wondering what the heck is actually happening and how do these things really happen. Hopefully it isn’t going to snow where you are soon or that you are traveling to a creepy hotel any time soon.

 

5. Silence of the Lambs

Image VIA

Clarice, Clarice, Clarice. Getting in to the mind of a serial killer, probably not the smartest thing to do or think about. But watching this and after you’re going to be thinking about it. You will also think differently about putting lotion on all your skin after watching this movie.

 

6. Hannibal

Image VIA

If their is a sequel watch it. Just watch it. You need to know what happens.

 

 7. The Conjuring

Image VIA

Turn the lights off and be prepared for the paranormal activity to scare you enough to watch the movie with the lights on.

 

8. Saw

Image VIA

If you need a little gore in your night this is the must have horror movie for you to watch. You may gag, cover your eyes or squirm but one thing is for sure, you may be a little more aware of the things you take for granted every day.

 

9. House of 1000 Corpses

Image VIA

What appears to be a makeshift home made film makes this even more terrifying because it seems a little more real. This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat and possibly saying “WTF” several times throughout the movie. But nonetheless you will be a little freaked out and may steer you from heading on a road trip with friends.

 

10. Hush

Image VIA

What better way to evoke fear and make you feel like someone is watching you better than having you feel like every emotion and sense of privacy has been violated. Make sure with this movie you are not distracted by your phone or computer and void out all noise and light before watching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Affordable Restaurants in Asheville For Rent Week

It’s creeping around the weekend, rent is coming due. And if you live in Asheville you know how much of a stress giver, headache and drain on your bank account that can be. It also sucks even more if you are like me and most of my bills are due the last week and first week of the month. A fun two weeks of paying bills, paying bills. Whether you have a roommate, live with a SO or by yourself I know it’s hard and I understand the hustle. But we still got to eat. Sure there are some great affordable finds at Trader Joe’s and Aldi; and there are some great recipes for serious budgets, but sometimes you have to go out to keep your sanity in this dog eat dog world. Even if you are broke. So I’ve come up with two restaurants in Asheville that have an entire full affordable menu perfect for solo meals, splitting meals, date night or the just I’m tired of eating ramen meal!

 

DEL VECCHIOS

Del Vecchios is a newer Italian eatery in Asheville and really new to me. It’s a smaller restaurant on Merrimon Avenue with major cafe vibes, it’s small and quaint so perfect for solo dining when you don’t want to cook or perfect for a date or even a meal with your girlfriends. Offering pizzas, subs, salads and these delicious fries it earns the spot in one of my two affordable restaurants. All of their sandwiches and pasta dishes are under $10.00 and large enough portions to share or eat half there and half for left overs. Ohhhh and these garlic Parmesan fries are to die for and you get a huge serving for $5.99. Two people dined here both with entrees and these fries, plus tip for $30.00; plus we both had lunch for the next day. For Asheville this is a cheap meal. We could have gotten out cheaper because we had never eaten there before and could have shared. Ohhhh and did I mention the service is absolutely amazing! And I’ve heard their pizza is off the chain!

 

TAQUERIA MUNOZ

Taqueria Munoz is one of my favorite affordable Asheville eats. Literally everything on the menu is under $7.50 and who doesn’t love a good taco shop. This place is authentic and worth the trek to West Asheville. The tacos are huge portions and you can get anything from tongue meat to pork or chicken. And the best part is each taco is $2.50. And it’s no lie when I say I can’t eat two full tacos. There is that much meat on there. But they also serve other yumminess like tortas, soups and meals. I have only braved to try the tacos and tortas because when I say it’s authentic, it’s legit. I have gotten enough courage to try tongue and head meat tacos. Too good. And don’t judge it before you try. Budget friendly and leaving me in a food coma. Count me in! But take cash, because that’s all they accept there.

 

Ladies and Gents, it’s tough out there and rent is due on Monday! Let’s make the most out of living in our crazy over priced town!

A Real Statement Dress

Dress // Necklace (custom design) // Shoes

My style is ever changing, though consistent. I like to keep with blacks and neutrals but the cuts and prints I am attracted to are changing. I am not the biggest fan of the embroidery trend that is insanely popular, nor am I generally attracted to trendy pieces; but here I am in a dress with some embroidery on it. But the bodice, sleeves and bottom of this dress is what made me put this in my shopping cart.

I previously would have never put on anything that cut as deep as this dress or with two slits that go way above my knees in the front. And it’s not like I am not self confident and recently just discovered it. It’s more like I want to try something I would never do and if that means wearing a dress that doesn’t require a bra, I’m all in. But the winning factor of this dress is the fun details, it is comfortable and the dress was extremely affordable.

So this dress is not your going to the grocery store dress but a  dramatic statement piece perfect for date night, parties, weddings or even upcoming holiday events.

Hilton Head Island Travel Diary: The iPhone Version

So if you aren’t following me on Instagram (which you should because sometimes it’s funny) you may not have known that I took a much needed vacation last week to Hilton Head Island. It’s one of my favorite places for a ton of different reasons. I love the atmosphere, the scenes, the fact that it is a quiet community and the food! So here are some of the highlights of my trip!

For the first time in almost four years we stayed on the South end of the island, right down the street from Coligny Beach. We were walking distance from food and shopping of any kind; and the most important, we were on beach front so we could easily walk to the beach at any given time during the day. It was so easy to have a relaxing vacation when everything was at your fingertips. Plus it didn’t hurt that according to the FitBit, we got well over 10,000 steps a day. Plus you could constantly hear the waves crashing which is the ultimate sound for relaxation.

Being so close to the beach and the fact that this was a much needed vacation was a no brainer that all day, every day I was at the beach. I loaded up on the SPF and literally chilled. The beach was quiet after Labor Day Weekend and even more quiet with the threat of a hurricane. But still I relaxed. And swam in the ocean. And played with sea creatures. I’ve got plenty of questions about this hat, the striped bathing suit and the kimono cover up; so they are all linked here!

Hat // Striped Bathing Suit // Kimono

Hilton Head Island is known for their world class golf courses and food. And well let’s just say I prefer food over the links. I have been waiting 5 whole years to try this place. They shut down for a week before Summer and it just so happens that’s always the week I visit. But it was worth the wait. Perfectly cooked cajun southern food. I had the etoufee and it was amazzzzzinggggg! If you visit Hilton Head, I suggest visiting Kenny B’s.

I found Java Burrito Company on Instagram and I am so glad that I did. It’s like a local Chipotle but for every meal and a full coffee bar inside. I had a breakfast bowl and iced dirty chai. Hands down one of the best decisions I made on that trip.

Ela’s is becoming a favorite on the island for me to visit. A little swanky, quiet, on the waterfront and the service and food is outstanding. We visiting the day before the evacuation was in order for Irma and they were still open. We had the place to ourselves and the service nor food suffered due to being understaffed or the island becoming a ghost town.

Marley’s Island Grill was a first for me, but not a last. Sooooooo good! A Caribbean take on local seafood. I got chorizo almond crusted scallops which may actually be one of the top 20 best meals of my life. So good.

There is just beauty and magic every where on the island. Maybe it’s because you are on vacation or island time. Whatever it is, it works. My soul feels a little more full after my visit there.

Happy Travels!