Three on Thursday

November 30, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.



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7 Ways to Help Charities Even If You're Broke

November 29, 2017

We're entering the season of simultaneous spending bonanza and serious desires to give back to others.  As much as you want to give more money to your favorite charities for Christmas, it's entirely possible that your budget is stretched to the max right now.  The good news is that you can still help without giving cash.




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A Quick Guide to Indian Food

November 28, 2017

It's been awhile since we stayed home on Thanksgiving and ate (relatively) traditional Thanksgiving food - we go to the Indian restaurant!  Personally, I prefer this tradition because I love Indian food.  Obviously since my dad is Indian, I was raised on it, so I love the flavors and spices.  But I know that it can be totally overwhelming for beginners.  Even those who have tried it before tend to stick to the same things on the menu, but I promise you it's safe and delicious to branch out.




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Minimalism, Clutter, Fire Life, and The Holiday Season

November 27, 2017

The long weekend was not long enough, that's for sure.  Anyone else feeling that way?  I mean, I got a lot of relaxing time in, which was nice.  I was able to declutter and clean up the house, and of course, put up our Christmas decor.  And my parents' decor.  I was also able to blog, which is fun for me - I like to write when I have downtime.  I had some thoughts swirling around in my head about balance and the holidays, but nothing concrete enough that I wanted to make into their own separate posts, so here we are.  Brain dump.





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Self Care and the Holidays

November 24, 2017

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Happy day after Thanksgiving, everyone.  I hope you're enjoying a day off, like I am.  I wanted to check in anyway, because I'm using this weekend not for shopping but for taking care of myself (and our house!)  A couple weeks ago I posted about some reminders for ensuring that you have a more simple holiday season this year.  Because in addition to being the most wonderful time of the year, it's also the most stressful for people.  Simplifying the season obviously goes a long way towards combating those stress levels, but it's still so important to take care of yourself.  A hallmark of this time of year is to take care of everyone else - and that's fantastic, of course, but you're not being the best version of you for anyone else if you aren't taking care of yourself too.




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Three on Thursday

November 23, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.



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What I'm Not Gonna Buy

November 22, 2017

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The deals weekend is almost upon us.  I'd say 'Black Friday' but it actually starts tomorrow and continues into next week.  I don't participate in Black Friday.  That's not to say I don't buy anything all weekend - in fact, it's one of the best deal times all year for Bath and Body Works candles, my obsession - but I do it online and don't obsess about getting to the store at midnight.


One of my favorite YouTubers, Kimberly Clark, started these 'anti-haul' videos in response to the rampant consumerism that surrounds the holidays.  I've mentioned how much I love them in a previous Three on Thursday post, but if you missed them, you can check out her entire playlist here.  These are just a few things I decided I definitely won't be buying right now.



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Zodiac Gift Guide

November 21, 2017

This post has been compensated by UncommonGoods.  All opinions are mine alone.

If you've followed me for any amount of time, you know how I love all things astrology and sun signs.  I think I'm exactly how you imagine a Scorpio to be, and everything I read about my sign tends to be correct.  I also think my friends and family members fall neatly into their sign descriptions as well, so when I think about what to get them for Christmas, I start by thinking about what suits their sun sign personality.  If you're at a loss on gift ideas for someone in your life this holiday season, here's my guide to help you shop according to their zodiac traits.




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33 Things I Still Haven't Learned in 33 Years

November 20, 2017

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Personally, I can't believe this day is already here, but it is - my 33rd birthday.  That seems like a big number but it's also my favorite number, and has been since I was little for no apparent reason other than it was Scottie Pippen's number even though Dennis Rodman was my favorite Bull.  I don't get it either.  But it's stuck with me over the years so I expect 33 to be a good year for me.



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10 Tips for a Satisfying Life

November 17, 2017

I'm in full catch up mode today, and have been all of this week.  Funny how vacation really messes with you like that - I even have a twitch in my left eyelid from not enough sleep and too much caffeine.  Not just vacation of course, we had all that drama last week.  My dad is all good now, thanks for the well wishes.  Obviously my aunt isn't recovering as quickly but that's to be expected.  Nothing like family members suffering serious illnesses to make you think about whether you're own life is going well, right?  Now, I certainly don't have all the answers, but in general, giving it an overall look, I'm happy and satisfied with my life.  Some days I wish my job paid more, some days I'm happy that means I can make my own hours.  Some days I wish the house would stay clean and organized, but mostly I'm happy about it because the mess is from my loves, John and Hawkeye.  (Mostly John, Hawkeye is actually pretty neat!)  So I'm sharing some tips that I think are helpful for living a satisfying life.



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Three on Thursday

November 16, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.



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101 in 1001 Reflections (90% Done!)

November 15, 2017

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Oh yes, you read that right - I'm 90% done with my 2nd 101 in 1001 list.  Not time-wise, I still have 5 months left, but goals-wise, I've completed 91 things on the list.  And I've already started thinking about the next few I need to finish and the next list I play on starting next year.  The next list will be my 3rd one, and since I try to make them pretty different, it's getting harder to come up with ideas.  It takes a lot of reflection on past goals and looking forward to what life might be like 2 years from now, but it's an interesting and fun process.  It'll definitely take me the next 5 full months to come up with all my ideas for the next list, but in the meantime, I thought I would share some of my reflections on my last list in case you're thinking about some goals of your own for 2018.




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Apple Pie Cocktail Cupcakes

November 14, 2017

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This post is from the archives, since I'm still playing catch up after last week.  But it's 5 years old because yeah, I've been blogging that long, so I figured it'd be okay to bring back now.  Plus, it's seasonally appropriate.

So today I bring you Apple Pie Cocktail CupcakesApple cake, cinnamon whiskey ganache center, whipped cream vodka buttercream frosting with caramel drizzle.  Full of shortcuts like boxed cake mix, because the end product is the most important.



You're welcome.

The Cakes
1 box white cake mix.  3 eggs.  1/3 cup vegetable oil.  20 oz can apple pie filling.


Preheat oven to 350 and line your muffin tins.  Combine all 4 ingredients in a mixer and beat until smooth.  The apples should be very broken up.  Bake for 20 minutes but only cook them until a toothpick in the middle comes out barely clean for nice soft cakes.  Cool completely.  (No really. Completely!)  Then use whatever tool you have, even a spoon, to remove the cupcake centers.

The Filling
8 ounces white chocolate.  1/2 cup heavy cream.  1 tablespoon butter, room temperature.  3 teaspoons cinnamon whiskey.


Finely chop the chocolate into a heatproof bowl.  Simmer the cream on the stove and pour it over the chocolate.  Let it sit for one minute and stir until smooth.  Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.  Cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped or spooned into the centers of the cakes.


The Frosting
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature.  5 cups powdered sugar.  6 tablespoons whipped cream vodka.


Whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.  Reduce the speed and slowly add the powdered sugar until all of it is well mixed.  Add the vodka, increase the speed to medium-high, and whip until it's light and fluffy (3 minutes).

Making alcohol infused frosting is all about balance.  You don't want it to be too watered down and thus melt right off your cake.  If it's going to be kept inside always, at room temp (never leaving your house) then you will have no issues.  If you travel with them, I recommend frosting on location.  Don't overdo the vodka, that's how it'll become too thin.  You can slowly add powdered sugar to thicken, but it may get too sweet so start with small amounts of vodkaOf course, mine went to boys on football sunday, no one cared whether my frosting was pretty.

Frost away, drizzle some caramel on top, and enjoy your creation!  (responsibly)




 
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Simple Reminders for a Simple Holiday Season

November 13, 2017

And just like that it's mid-November.  Practically to Thanksgiving and then we're right into prime holiday craziness time.  For me, the season starts with Halloween, but I know that for many people, it's just starting now or at the Thanksgiving weekend.  Although I can feel the intensity of the season ramp up, I still like to keep things relaxed, even in December.  If you're like me and don't enjoy the holidays when they're stressful, here are a few reminders to help you keep things simple.



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Three on Thursday

November 9, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.



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Advent Calendars for Adults

November 8, 2017

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Who else had and totally loved Advent calendars as a kid?  They were usually chocolate ones in our house, where there was a little cardboard flap with the day's countdown to Christmas on it that you pushed open and behind it was a piece of chocolate hiding behind.  I loved those things.  Obviously they're still around, a still a huge hit, so if chocolate is your thing, than go for it.  But if you're looking for something a little different this year, you wouldn't believe how many advent calendars exist for adults.



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Don't Gift a Puppy For Christmas

November 7, 2017

aka things Tara learned getting Beau.  If you read my post yesterday, you know I wasn't quite sure what to post this week, if anything, so I dumped up a post that Tara had written for me that I was going to post closer to Christmas.  But seeing as how every other advertisement is Christmas related already, it's relevant.  And something we both feel very strongly about!



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On My Mind

November 6, 2017

This post is going to have absolutely no direction, you should probably know that in advance.  I'm just going to ramble a bit, because this past week has been a whirlwind and there's so many thoughts swirling in my mind.



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Birthday Wish List: Then and Now

November 3, 2017

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We are officially approaching my birthday.  It's November 20, in case you haven't noticed that all my social media accounts are 'stephs1120.'  Something about that switch of the calendar from Halloween to November makes me totally get into birthday mode.  I know November also has Thanksgiving but since I don't care at all about that holiday, it's just birthday month in my book.  As a kid, I would have spent the first week of November making a combined birthday and Christmas wish list complete with a color coded map of the mall for my mom.  I was a greedy little only child, what can I say!  Times sure have changed though, because now when people ask me what I want for my birthday or Christmas my answers are more like 'please give me a gift card to the grocery store and by the way this is the $25 a bag brand of dog food Hawkeye eats.'  #adulting.  As a total 90s kid, though, I thought it would be fun to look back at exactly what I used to request for gifts:



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Three on Thursday

November 2, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.



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2018 Planners That Aren't Just Calendars

November 1, 2017

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Already researching your 2018 planner?  I'm not surprised - it's coming up quicker than you think and once the calendar changes to November 1, people start thinking about how close the new year is.  And there's so many planner options, so I know that planner people start researching and ordering really early!  Makes sense, because with all the fancy planners available now, it's a good chunk of change you're going to be spending.  Gotta get the best one.  I actually think I'm going to stick to my paper-free planning process for 2018.  If you remember, I made a list of 18 goals I was going to work on before the end of the year (I update that post with my progress instead of making new posts about it.  I've still got a lot to do!), and one of the goals was to look into paper planners for 2018 and determine what I was feeling on that front.  At the end of the day, I think the digital stuff is working too well for me right now to add a paper planner on top of that.  I just don't need it.  (I reserve the right to change my mind, because pretty.)

But in my hunting around, I found a ton of fun options that really caught my eye.  Mostly because they weren't just calendars.  Some people enjoy that, having a planner that just has months and days like the Erin Condren or Simplified Planner.  On some level, I get that - it's easy to see your schedule at a glance and check things off your to do list.  But do you really need to be shelling out that kind of cash for something that you can essentially pick up at Target for $10?  If you're going to be spending more, I think you should be getting more.  If you're in that same boat, here's what I found of interest that you might want to look into too:



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