Thanksgiving Outfit #2: Cozy Knits

Comfort food, pie, cuddling by a fire and cozy sweaters; exactly what any holiday should involve especially  Thanksgiving. To top it off, sweater weather is in full force around here! I love that they are tons of ways to incorporate knits in to your wardrobe these days but I have finally bought an actual sweater. Generally, I lean towards knit cardigans because I’m so hot natured, but this year I took a leap and invested in a nicer sweater to get me through the Fall and Winter.

A sweater is just the most simple way to put together an #ootd, making it especially great for Thanksgiving day! To make the outfit look less frumpy, I paired the sweater with light skinny jeans and over the knee boots. Now pass the pie!

Also sweater dresses and cozy cardigans would be great for some fun layering for Thanksgiving. These sweaters will help create some dimension to your look and add some texture, making your holiday style that much better!

Missed yesterday’s post where I styled athleisure for Thanksgiving dinner? Read it here.

Stay tuned for more outfits this week!

Shop This Look:

Sweater // Jeans // Boots // Bag // Similar Necklace

Florals For Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and planning outfits for the day have already been on my mind. Everything about Thanksgiving is so hectic from cooking, traveling and starting the holiday rush, so our outfit shouldn’t be a hassle. I’ve been trying to come up with outfits that are extremely simple yet festive or unique or fun for the day. Something to take you from lounging watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to traveling to see friends and family to feasting on comfort foods to being in a food coma afterwards to hitting the stores for Christmas shopping after your food coma breaks.

I love the idea of wearing a subtle floral for Thanksgiving. It’s so festive for a day of thankfulness. This is technically a dress worn as a cardigan paired with stripes and skinny jeans for a laid back look. Perfect for staying comfy yet feeling a little dressed up for the day. I paired the outfit with a fringe necklace, hat and mules to kick up the fun factor and to pull everything in the outfit together.

I love that this outfit screams Fall and is great to wear before being decked out in glitter, sequins, plaid, red or green. But this comfy easy outfit is so easy you can wear something similar to this throughout the holiday season.

Stay tuned next week for more Thanksgiving outfit ideas and the real start of the festive season here on 30 Shades of Stephanie.

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.

 

 

Your Guide To The Holiday Season

It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year!! Now I know you think I’m crazy because it’s only November 1st but let’s face it, I’ve been planning holiday posts since early October. Plus we all know the moment the clock strikes midnight after Halloween it is full force Christmas. Now mind you my pumpkins are going to stay put for a few more days but I’m ready to dive head first in to the holidays here with all of you.

Now I’ve been in a creative rut for both fashion and the blog lately. I know I’ve said that before but this time it’s a little different in the fact that I’m not seeing or feeling enough diversity in the blogging world. I feel like we are constantly seeing the same things over and over and over again. To the point where I get tired of seeing the same sweater styled essentially the same way by 15 different bloggers. And the holidays are no different. It’s the same decor, the same wrapping paper, the same items in the gift guides, the same necklace to spice up a holiday outfit, the same sales and the same Christmas dresses. So I want to make my mark for something different. Something we may not have seen a million times (okay over exaggeration) over.

So here’s what to expect: unique gift guides leading up to Black Friday, unique and affordable home decor ideas, DIY ideas, style and outfit inspo, traditions, self care ideas, Asheville happenings and so much more. These sound like a million blog posts you have already read around the holidays. But I promise you I have tried to make mine a little different. Also social media is going to play a bigger role this holiday season (thank the phone lords for that new phone this year). I’m wanting to do “special segments” on Instagram Stories like how to shop locally, gifts I love to give, shopping for Secret Santa gifts, day in the life Christmas edition and maybe even trying all the insane peppermint flavored product. Even though I have a bunch of ideas scratched out I love hearing from you! What would you like to see on 30 Shades of Stephanie for the holidays?

My goal is to have 30 Shades of Stephanie be on the top of the list of websites you visit during the holiday season. I want you to feel inspired, feel the Christmas spirit and included! The world is in shambles lately, a lot of negativity going on, and the holiday season is a time of happiness, cheer and unity for me. So I want us all to feel that and share it.

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

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

2. The Addams Family

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

3. Edward Scissorhands

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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

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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

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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

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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”.

This Is Halloween + Spooky Playlist

The week leading up to Halloween is amazing! If you are a die hard Halloween lover the whole month of October could be amazing for your wardrobe. But leading up to Halloween you can literally just about get away with wearing anything. If you look crazy no one even bats an eye.

So since you can get away with just about anything I wanted to test out a few new items and see if I was going to keep them. Like these striped pants! A very bold statement piece. A very funky piece. So I threw on a blazer, mind you that I didn’t pair with a top or bra because testing out y’all. And two things I’ve come to realize. I love these pants and will be wearing them to a few events this winter. I can’t wait to style these for the holidays. Yes I love them. And secondly this blazer cape thing needs to be altered before I wear it again.

But I got to try out an insanely wild outfit and if anyone had said anything at dinner I would have simply told them I was Beetlejuice or Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas.

So since Halloween is a little under a week I also wanted to share a “spooky” playlist. Play this to get in the mood, play it while your passing out candy or play it while your dressing up. Either way it will add some Halloween fun to your life.

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

 

 7. The Conjuring

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Styling Summer Dresses For Fall + Fall Playlist

So I think it’s officially time to start packing away all the Summer clothes here in the Appalachian mountains. Or is it? Starting this year, I had this genius idea to start buying pieces I actually love. More quality over quantity kind of pieces. And for the most part it actually worked out. So I’m not wanting to pack up every piece of clothing I bought for the Spring and Summer because I invested more money in these pieces than I ever have before. Including this dress I picked up from a local boutique.

The dress is essentially sleeveless, but I love the long line and the added fringe detail on the side. And the neutral color doesn’t scream Spring or Summer like a lot of seasonal dresses. So while I’m packing away some shorts, tanks and really seasonal dresses, some are not being packed away like this number.

The easiest way to transition a dress to cooler temps is with layers. But since this already has some added fabric and texture from the waist down I wanted to keep it more simple. Like with a leather jacket. It creates a block in the heaviness that could be added to this outfit, it keeps the outfit a little more edgy and city chic and it adds a great component of warmth.

The final two steps to transitioning a Summer dress to Fall is with booties and a hat. So simple and effortless. There are countless other ways to transition a dress like with tights, leggings, scarves and even more layering. But if you have a jacket, booties and a hat, you have your bases covered and can keep that dress in your closet for longer; even until next Summer.

 

SIDE NOTE!!! I have been really in to transition my closet for Fall and have been spending a lot of time at home prepping for the craziest two months of my year (more on that after Halloween). So I have needed a soundtrack for all the evenings spent at home that make me feel warm, cozy and at ease. So here is my Fall playlist. Hopefully you get some Fall isnpo from it.