Leopard Beanie // Cold Shoulder Sweater

Willow & Clay Sweater // Citizens of Humanity Jeggings, similar HERE // Charles David Booties // Stella & Dot Choker // Betsey Johnson Beanie, similar HERE and HERE // Mittens, similar HERE // Yeti Tumbler

It was nice to have a white Christmas this year.  The snow may have since melted but the cold temps are back. There’s only one way to cope – cozy knits!

I picked this cold shoulder sweater up from Nordstrom Rack a few months ago but I have good news.  It’s still available and in other colors!  It’s not super bulky but still keeps you warm.

My last trip to the Rack ended up in a knit beanie buying extravaganza!  This leopard beanie isn’t available online but HERE and HERE are some other choices.

Oh and meet Lucy, our Daisy dog!  She’s the fuzziest, softest, sweetest girl.

Have you tried a Yeti tumbler yet?  It’s pretty much the best thing ever!  Pricey? Yes but totally worth it!  I’m notorious for taking hours to finish my morning coffee.  This thing keeps it hot, yes hot not warm, the entire time.  I even leave it in my car for an hour when I go to Pilates in the morning in freezing temps and it’s still hot!  It’s also fantastic for keeping drinks cold and keeping ice from melting fast.

Stay warm out there and bundle up!!

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Spinach Artichoke Dip

NFL Juniors Sweatshirt, similar HERE // Express Jeggings // Ugg Slippers, similar HERE // Stella & Dot Choker

We’ve had a wonderful Christmas season hosting our friends and family.  This year I focused on serving a variety of appetizers of each of our gatherings in lieu of a big meal.  It allowed me to prepare much of it in advance to have ready when our guests arrived.  I thought it would make it so that people could mix and mingle a bit more, including myself.  I love that my guests are so helpful and want to help with the dishes after a meal but this allowed people to simply throw their plate in the trash and enjoy each other’s company.

I featured some of the apps I made at our Christmas Cocktail Party recently.  One that I’ve made a few times this season is a spinach artichoke dip.  It’s recipe that I got from a dear friend years ago and have only slightly modified.  It’s actually on a recipe card!  Most of the recipes I make now are online so it was kind of special to dip into my recipe box and make this oldie but goodie.

It makes quite a bit so I usually always have left overs.  It’s one of those dips that can be served hot or cold.  I usually always serve it hot when I first make it and then have the option of serving hot or cold the next day.

It’s great with any sort of sturdy cracker or tortilla chips.  I used a variety of sesame rice crackers, sweet potato crackers, and multigrain tortilla chips all found at Costco.  It can also be served with chopped veggies.

I used light cream cheese and sour cream but full fat is fine as well.  The grocery store I last visited before I made my most recent batch was out of frozen spinach so I used fresh Power Greens that I had just bought from Costco (combo of spinach, chard, and kale).  I continued to add handfuls until I thought it looks green enough!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Time: 25 min

Preheat oven: 350 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 20 oz frozen spinach (thaw & drain)
  • 14 oz artichoke hearts (drained and chopped)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 C shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 C parmesan cheese, divided
  • salt

Directions:

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft (about 5 min).  Stir in spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, 3/4 C mozzarella cheese, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, and salt.  Stir until blended and heated through.  Pour mixture into a 8×8 casserole dish & top with remaining cheese.  Bake until cheese starts to brown or mixture is lightly bubbling.

Although Christmas is over, there are still parties to be had and this is a great appetizer to serve or bring!  We are headed to a friend’s house to watch football tonight and guess what I’m bringing?!

Football parties call for cozy, stretchy clothes.  My destroyed jeggings are 50 percent off only through today!  They have the perfect amount of stretch in them for lounging around.

I found this boatneck Detroit Lions sweatshirt at TJ Maxx.  It’s a great place to search for gear to support your local professional teams.  HERE is a similar sweatshirt and you can also search this site for your team.

Gooooooo Lions!!!

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Velvet Bodysuit // Faux Leather Skirt

Express Bodysuit // Very J Faux Leather Skirt, similar HERE and HERE // BCBGeneration Shoes, similar HERE and HERE // H&M earrings, similar HERE // Stella & Dot Choker // Faux Fur Hair Tie, similar HERE

Confession – I have this velvet bodysuit on backwards – on purpose!  This was another one of my Cyber Monday purchases and after I hit “place order” I instantly thought I would be returning this item after it arrived.  Reason?  I thought the deep v plunge might be a bit much for me.

However, when I tried it on it fit so perfectly and my husband, of course, was a big fan!  It was fun for a date night and I wore it with another skirt.  I also wore it for our cocktail party a few weeks ago with fur vest over it to tone it down.  It’s currently less than $25 and I’m seriously considering getting the berry (a beautiful burgundy color) one!

The first time I wore it was the first time in a long time (many many years!) that I had worn a bodysuit.  I will admit that it wasn’t the most comfortable but I think it just takes some getting used to.  Every time since then comfort has not been an issue.

It occurred to me later that I might be able to wear it backwards and I was correct!  I love an open back and wearing this ribbon tie choker gave another fun element.  I don’t often wear my hair back but it was essential in this case to show off these pretty details.  I’ve had this faux fur hair tie for years but HERE are a couple others.

I love mixing textures.  The velvet, faux fur, and faux leather made a great combo.  HERE and HERE are similar faux leather skirts.  The flared A line is flirty and comfortable.

I bought these H&M tassel earrings on a super sale in Cali this summer.  Here is a similar pair also on sale for….wait for it….$3.99!

This is a look that could be carried into the new year for parties and date nights.  I love the versatility of the bodysuit that can be a little sassy or more reserved depending on your mood or event.  This would also be darling with some skinny jeans.

Do you have a New Year’s Eve party to dress for this year?  We are thinking of going out for a nice dinner and chilling after.

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Christmas Decor

This is our first Christmas in our new home!  I thought I had everything I needed until I set it out.  We have a little more space to fill plus it’s just fun to add to and update!  If you want/need to add a little more before the big day there is still time!  I’ve listed my sources below and I guarantee there is still cute decor to be had.

  • Stockings and holders – Pier 1 (a few years old)
  • Glitter initial ornaments – Michael’s (last year)
  • Greens – 2 swags from Trader Joe’s
  • Battery operated lights – Target
  • Reindeer – Pottery Barn
  • Lighted Birch Branches – Marshall’s
  • Santa w/copper hat – Homegoods
  • Tall tree – Homegoods
  • Small trees – Pottery Barn
  • Striped vase – Homegoods
  • Snow Globe – Marshall’s
  • Cinnamon Whisk – Trader Joe’s (add essential oil drops when scent fades)
  • Tree topper – Pottery Barn (last year)
  • Plaid pillow – TJ Maxx
  • Merry & Bright pillow cover – H&M Home (Australia)

I kept the Christmas decor simple in the kitchen and breakfast nook since they overlook the great room.  That’s my husband photo bombing making old fashions for our party a few weeks ago!

  • Birch candle holders – art show
  • Tree candles – Homegoods
  • Gold mercury glass bottles – Marshall’s
  • Pinecones – Michael’s
  • Cabbage roses – local farmer’s market
  • Mini Poinsettas – Trader Joe’s
  • Santa salt & pepper shakers – Homegoods

I keep forgetting about the mistletoe when I greet my guests!  Hugs only so far!

  • Mistletoe – Trader Joe’s
  • Reindeer – Homegoods
  • Swags – Trader Joes’s (I split 2 into 4 and made 2 additional bows)
  • Initial ornaments – Target
  • Glitter clothespins – Target

I married into a family with 2 children that have their own traditions and Christmas decorations that they are used to seeing in their dad’s home.  I have made an effort to keep those in the house and incorporate them into my decorating.  The tree in the great room is primarily filled with ornaments that existed before I came into the picture.

However, because we now have the room, I decided to put up a second tree this year that incorporates some of my current likes.  It’s funny how your tastes change.  The themes that I have used in the past (in my single days) are not at all appealing to me anymore!

  • Ornaments – Pier 1, Homegoods, Marshall’s, Target, gifts
  • Garland – Homegoods
  • Bow – art show
  • Large antlers – Homegoods
  • Small antlers – Michael’s
  • Runner – Homegoods
  • Napkin rings – Homegoods
  • Glitter jingle bells – TJ Maxx
  • Angel – Homegoods

I’m so looking forward to celebrating Christmas this year!  That has not always been the case.  I’ve definitely had some “scroogy” years when I was not where I wanted to be in my life.  Last year was a little unsettling since our new house was not ready as we had hoped and the home we were living in was still for sale.  I feel very blessed to have my health and happiness this year.  I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas with your family!

Slouchy Sweater // Two-Way Sweater // Sorel Boots

Express Sweater // Citizens of Humanity Jeggings, similar HERE // Socks, similar HERE // Sorel Boots // Topshop Choker, similar HERE

Truth.  I had a hard time adopting the slouchy trend.  I have been so programmed to find items that fit me properly that it was a bit of an adjustment.  The key is to get just the right amount of slouchy so that you don’t look sloppy.  A lot of tops and sweaters are being made bigger so luckily you can just buy your normal size.  In this case I went two sizes bigger than normal to get the look with this specific sweater.

At first it was the smallest available when I was browsing the rack.  Later I revisited the rack again and the two smaller sizes had been returned to their home.  I debated which one to go with and ultimately wanted a slouchier look.  I was shopping with my hubby so I didn’t take the time to try it on. Oh and I should mention that it’s 50 percent off right now!

I’m so glad I took a risk on the medium.  It’s so comfortable and exactly the look I was going for!  The thumb holes were an unexpected touch for added warmth.  It’s a pretty soft sweater and I love the option to wear it two ways.  You can wear it with or without the infinity scarf-like accessory for a cowl neck look.  Express calls it a built-in snood.  I’ll be honest, snood is not a term I had heard of before today.  I’m envisioning some layered looks without it in the future.

I wore jeggings but leggings or skinny jeans would be other great choices to balance the look of the slouchy top.

It’s crazy how much of the year I don’t wear socks at all.  Gotta get my fix while I really need them.  I found these cute monkey pompom socks at Marshall’s recently.  HERE is a similar pair.

These were my first pair of Sorel boots purchased years ago and they are still in fantastic condition.  This style is available in THESE colors currently.

Are you ready for Christmas?  I’m almost there.  All gifts on hand have been wrapped.  Waiting for one more to arrive tomorrow!

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Cut-Out Trapeze Choker Dress

Express Dress // BCBGeneration Heels, similar HERE and HERE// Natasha Earrings, similar HERE and HERE // Kate Spade Clutch, similar HERE

I can’t say enough good things about this dress.  Not only is it 50 percent off (so is everything else at Express right now!!) it’s so darn comfortable.  I’m the first to suffer for beauty but you don’t need to with this little number!  The sleeves will keep you from freezing your booty off but the cut out keeps it a little edgy.  You know my love for chokers so having one built in is a major draw!  The trapeze style is cute and flowy.  No Spanx needed!

I had trouble deciding on a color but thought the green would be festive for the holidays and take me into the winter.  This is perfect for the girl who loves black but wants to try a little color.  It’s subtle and not too bold.

I could see wearing this more casually with tights and boots or booties too.  If you live somewhere where the temperature is mild you could also pair it with some cute sneakers.

I love gold with green so I went with my gold fringe statement earrings.  HERE and HERE are some similar options.  Who am I kidding?  I love gold with almost everything!  A gold shoe would have been a great choice but I kept it neutral with these lace-up caged nude heels.  They are no longer available but HERE and HERE are some close dupes.

You know you want to get this dress!  The question is which color will you choose??

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Lace Dress // Faux Fur Coat // Velvet Clutch

Dress Forum Dress, similar HERE, HERE, and HERE // BCBGeneration Shoes, similar HERE and HERE // Kenar Faux Fur Coat, similar HERE // Givenchy Earrings // Aldo Choker, similar HERE // Express Clutch

I was feeling a little nostalgic on our ride to the Detroit Institute of Arts for my husband’s work Christmas party last night.  In my single years before I met him it seemed like there were regular parties that my other single friend and I would get invited to and dressed up for.  One of them was at the DIA.  I don’t miss being single but I do find it fun to get dressed up for special occasions!

I decided to go with a neutral colored dress that I bought a few months ago from Sofi Stella.  Unfortunately they no longer have it in stock but they do have another long sleeve lace/crochet dress that is super cute.  The red one would be festive for the holidays and it also comes in nude (I’m kind of drooling over this one!) and black.  If you have your heart set on gray HERE and HERE are similar styles to choose from.

Last weekend I wore a pair of heels I haven’t worn in awhile.  They are my most expensive pair yet the most uncomfortable!  Two days later I ended up with a foot cramp so bad I couldn’t walk on it.  The next day I tried rolling it out with a tennis ball which left me with a giant bruise on the bottom of my foot that I discovered yesterday morning.  I can only assume it’s from the shoes.  My husband asked if I would be able to wear heels to last night’s party.  My response?  “Oh I’m wearing heels, I’m justing not wearing THOSE heels!”

I chose these BCBGeneration caged lace up heels for the party last night.  I love these shoes so much that I actually own them in two colors!  HERE and HERE are similar styles.

This faux fur coat added the perfect amount of winter glam.  This is a Kenar I bought years ago at Marshall’s but HERE is a similar one.

Probably my favorite part of this look was my burgundy velvet clutch.  I bought this on Cyber Monday and was pleasantly surprised when it arrived.  It is bigger and better than I imagined.  I love the size and the zipper closure.  It was a great pop of color against the gray.

Lastly, I chose these rose gold drop earrings that were given to me as a gift this fall for my birthday.  I also wore a rhinestone ribbon tie choker from Aldo.  It’s not available online but HERE is a similar style that I also own and wear quite a bit.

It was seriously 6 degrees this morning.  I am going to have to get some thicker skin for these outdoor photo shoots the next few months!

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Christmas Cocktail Party Decor // Party Appetizers

My husband, Todd, and I decided to host a small cocktail party with only a few week’s notice.  We were pleasantly surprised to have about 30 people rsvp with the short notice and the busy time of year.

We have entertained quite a bit since we moved in last February but we have mostly utilized the outdoor and first floor areas.  For this party we decided to use our finished basement.

While we have 4 bar stools (Restoration Hardware) and our theater seating, I wanted additional seating and places for our guests to set their food and drinks to mingle.  I rented 3 tall cocktail tables and linens from C&N Party Rental based on a recommendation from our neighbor.  They were reasonably priced and the customer service was outstanding.  I would definitely rent from them in the future.

I also brought down two snow leopard print side chairs (Cynthia Rowley, purchased from Homegoods) and a side table (Crate & Barrel) for a conversation area.  I added a copper tree tower (Target) with a string of battery operated LED lights (Homegoods).  I didn’t get a great photo but I also moved a leather storage bench against a wall with a few throw pillows.

My entire house has a bit of rustic glam as I like to call it.  The basement is no different with the horse farm fencing used on the front of the bars and the pretty lighting.  I decided to stick with this theme for the party decor.

Todd and I were at our town’s Winter Market a few weeks ago where I was inspired by the centerpieces they had that used red roses, hydrangeas, and pine in mason jars.  I subbed the pine with eucalyptus, added whole cranberries to the water, and added ribbon and twine for the 3 cocktail tables.  If you haven’t bought flowers from Trader Joe’s you need to!  They are great quality flowers for ridiculously reasonable prices: 20 roses $9.99, 3 hydrangea stem $5.99, and eucalyptus bunch $2.99!  I had the twine on hand and purchase the ribbon from Michael’s.  I used a spot of hot glue to keep it in place.  I used my mercury glass votives (West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Target) to accent the flowers in addition to mini gold glitter antlers (Michael’s).

I assembled 7 smaller mason jars with the remaining roses and eucalyptus.  They have chalkboard stickers on them from a previous party (Michael’s) that I wrote on with chalk several Christmas themed words (Merry, Christmas, Joy, Peace, Noel).  I placed these throughout the room.

On the bar that overlooks the theater area I added a buffalo check sash (Michael’s), gold mercury glass votives (Marshall’s), wood coasters (Target), faux antlers that I white washed (Homegood’s) and candy dishes (Homegoods) with white chocolate peppermint pretzel thins (Costco) and a holiday nut mix (Trader Joe’s).  I tied ribbon (Michael’s) around the bar stools.

I have been wanting to incorporate the acrylic home decor trend into my home in some way.  I recently found this table (Homegoods) and decorated it with a gold antler (Homegoods), copper tree tea light holder (Homegoods), and glass cloche (Homegoods) with battery operated LED lights (Homegoods) on top a wood trivet (Bed Bath & Beyond).

I hung swags from the sconces in the theater area that I made from one bunch of greens (Trader Joe’s) and ribbon (Michael’s).

I used a beverage tub (Bed Bath & Beyond) to create a bucket of winter goodness that included a bundle of birch wood (TJ Maxx), faux birch lighted branches (Marshall’s), bunches of boxwood (farmer’s market), and decorative spheres (Pier 1 and Homegoods).

We have a lovely subwoofer that sits in the corner so I added some Christmas flair to that with a feathered tree (I’ve had for years and can’t remember where it’s from!), on a cupcake stand (Homegoods), with a copper reindeer (Homegoods).

I had slowly added to the decor over the two weeks leading up to the party as I would get ideas.  It occurred to me just nights before that, while I had decorated the stair rail on the first floor, I should add something to the basement stair rail as well.  I found these darling faux grapevine stars (Target) and silver and gold mirrored ornaments (Michael’s) and decided they would be perfect hanging from the rail tied with ribbon (Michael’s).

Don’t worry I didn’t forget about the food!  Here are just a few shots of what I made.  I made a hot spinach artichoke dip recipe that a friend gave me years ago and I hadn’t made in awhile.  You know, the days when we actually wrote recipes on cards and didn’t have Pinterest?!

I also made a rosemary wreath with a variety of olives, mini pickles and pearl mozzarella balls.  So pretty and simple.

An easy and delicious appetizer is prosciutto wrapped asparagus.  Simply cut a piece of prosciutto in half, take one half and wrap it around a piece of asparagus, and repeat until desired amount.  Place wrapped asparagus in frying pan and flip each piece after a few minutes.  That’s it!

The prettiest thing I made was an ice bowl to serve shrimp cocktail in.  I’ve seen this on Pinterest many times and finally took the time to make it.  So easy!  Just take 2 bowl that fit inside on another about an inch apart. I put a couple ice packs in the center bowl to weigh it down after putting a little water in the bottom.  You can tape the tops of the bowls together to keep them in place. Drop whole cranberries and rosemary in between and fill with water.  Set in freezer.  Once frozen let it sit on the counter until you are able to pull both of the bowls off the ice.  Set it on a tray and place back in the freezer until ready for use.  Be sure to set it on a tray with a lip when you use it to trap the water as it melts.

The wooden garland was purchased after Christmas last year (can’t remember if from Target or Homegoods).  I recently found the mirrored Noel plaque (Homegoods) and mercury glass globes (Target).

Not pictured but also served were a charcuterie tray, sushi, baked brie with fig butter, caprese skewers, candy, cookies, and Godiva chocolates.  I’m kind of mad I didn’t get a shot of the front of the bar with all of these goodies and the decor.  Oh well, such is the scattered life of the hostess!

I’m hosting a few more smaller gatherings in the next few weeks and I will definitely be using some of these ideas again.

Hostess Gift Ideas

Chances are you’ll be paying a visit to the home of a friend or loved one in the next few weeks.  While it’s not necessary to bring the host/hostess a gift, it is a thoughtful gesture.  I hosted a cocktail party with my husband this weekend and while we assumed some people might bring a bottle of wine or liquor (because our friends our awesome like that!), I wasn’t expecting some of the sweet gifts that others brought. (See photos above)

You don’t have to spend a lot to make someone feel special and appreciated.  I’ve picked out some gifts that I have received, have given, and would like to give and receive to give you some ideas for your hosts and hostesses!  Scroll down for shopping links for each one.

  1. Mercury Glass Tree

One of my besties handed me a Pottery Barn box when she walked in and I immediately put it under the tree after thanking her, figuring I would open it later after I was finished greeting all of our guests.  As she walked into our great room she shook her head after she saw the mercury glass trees on my coffee table.  One was from Pottery Barn.  She felt bad because that was what she had gotten me and didn’t realize I had one.  Here’s the thing….I love it and love that I have another to add to my little mercury tree forest!  These are great because the bottom is hollowed out so you can stick a flameless candle underneath it to light it up!

2. Wine Markers

I bought a set of wine markers recently (from Amazon) and love them!  They are a great way to personalize your drinkware in addition to keeping track of which glass is yours.  They wipe off easily with soap and water.  I plan on giving these as gifts.  They would make a great addition to a bottle of wine and/or a bottle stopper.

3. Bottle Stopper

Speaking of bottle stoppers….here’s a cute one. I like that is more wintery than holiday so that it can be used throughout the winter.  Again, a cute gift on it’s own or in addition to a bottle of wine or other accessories.

4. Mr. & Mrs. Double Old Fashion Glasses

There is something so kitchy and sweet about anything Mr. & Mrs (maybe because I’m still sort of a newlywed) but add a santa hat and it’s just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!  I was given these glasses by another bestie last weekend.  HERE is a similar set.  I joked with her that now I have to start drinking old fashions but really these drinks can be used for anything with or without alcohol.

5. Monogram Mugs

I’m pretty much game for anything with a monogram and these mugs are no exception.  I also have a thing for drinkware with gold accents on it.  I held off on owning any for awhile because they require hand washing but cuteness overruled!  Friends of ours brought us a “J” and a “T” mug this weekend.  The gold polka dots are an adorable touch.

6. Anthropologie Candles

I know candles can be a generic gift but not if they are good ones!  At least that is my opinion.  I have given and received a few of these glass and copper candles.  They smell amazing and the jars are beyond pretty!

7. Copper Bar Accessories

Copper is so on trend right now and I can’t get enough.  Any of these bar accessories would be a cute addition to a liquor or beer gift.  I, for one, am eyeing the bottle opener and I don’t even drink beer!

8. Pineapple Candle

Another big trend in home decor are pineapples.  I recently did some research on why that is.  To me, pineapples seem sort of summery so I couldn’t figure out why I was seeing them everywhere in stores this fall.  There are a variety of versions of how pineapples became incorporated into home decor originally but a common explanation is that they are a symbol of hospitality and welcome.  So, of course I had to buy a couple for my house!  Anyone who likes to entertain would want to have something to welcome their guests and this certainly has a nice story to go along with it!

9. Mirrored Ornament

I was given a beautiful crystal gem ornament by one of my guests.  It’s a nice, simple way to make a personal gift to your host.  Choose something that goes with their style or that is neutral if you aren’t sure.  This mirrored ornament is neutral yet on trend and I’m sure any host/hostess would be grateful to receive it.

I’m going to my husband’s work Christmas party tomorrow.  I’m excited to get dressed up but guess what?  I have no idea what I’m wearing!  Don’t worry I have a few options in mind and will make a game time decision tomorrow.  Hopefully we’ll get some good pics so I can share with you later!

Off the Shoulder Knit Sweater Dress // Pompom Cable Knit Knee Socks // Leopard Print Choker

Missguided Dress // Muk Luks Socks // Topshop Choker

Well this is not my typical Monday!  Normally I’d be in my Pilates gear as soon as I jumped out of bed.  Not today.  About 10 inches of snow last night resulted in our local school district being closed today which in turn meant my Pilates studio also cancelled my morning class.  I’m going to try to get a workout in later today in our home gym but for now…..cozy knits and puppy snuggles are on the agenda!

I just got this super cute off the shoulder knit sweater dress in the mail this weekend.  I was in the middle of preparing for a party when it arrived so I never really got a good look at it or tried it on until this morning.  It is so cozy I decided not to take it off!  The color is labeled “khaki” but it’s actually a soft olive green which is what I was hoping for.

All I needed to get a bit more warmth and a dose of cuteness were these cable knit pompom socks!  I just picked these up at TJ Maxx last week but found them for you HERE.  I thought these pink and cream striped cuties were so stinking cute!

Even though my goal is not to leave the house today, something I can’t remember the last time I did, I still had to accessorize!  My newest choker is leopard print and I’m slightly obsessed.  I recently ordered it from Topshop but it looks like it already sold out.  HERE is a similar style.

Now what can I whip up for dinner that doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store?

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