Holidays in Atlanta

The temperature has finally dropped here in Atlanta. 🙌

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So much so that they’re calling for ‘snow’ tomorrow!

The cooler temps and Christmas lights in excess have put me in the mood to do all of the holiday things. Per my usual list-making tendencies, I’ve compiled a list of attractions to see and things to do before the holidays are over. If you’re an Atlanta local and know of any fun things I shouldn’t miss, please let me know in the comments!

Grab drinks at Miracle on Monroe (or the Buckhead location).

Walk through Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden Lights & Holiday Nights.

Drive over to Callaway Gardens for their Fantasy in Lights (you can never enjoy too many Christmas lights).

Catch a Christmas flick at Krog Street Market (& grab some popcorn to-go at Bar Mercado)

See a live nativity.

Attempt to ice skate at Ponce City Market’s Skate the Sky.

Wonder around Atlantic Station’s Christkindl Market in search of schnitzel.

Stop by Bella Cucina’s holiday pop-up at The Shops of Buckhead

Catch a showing of The Snow Queen at Serenbe.

Revisit Trap Wonderland (it was closed last time!) for some … people watching?

A Floral-Trimmed Christmas Tree

On today’s “episode” of tacky or tasteful. I’ve trimmed my Christmas tree with silk flowers.

Christmas Tree

Not a fan?

That’s okay…it had to grow on me too.

In years past, I donned a more traditional tree – the classic red with mercury glass ornaments were my go-to. This year, I felt like that look didn’t quite fit my current space. After perusing around the internet seeking inspiration, I came across this post by DesignLoveFest and my interest was piqued.

Christmas Tree

| tree & tree “skirt” | 

While this look is definitely unconventional, it’s fun, whimsical and temporary; so, don’t be intimidated! Not to mention, you won’t have to deal with broken ornaments or those pesky hooks and your silk stems can be repurposed throughout the year.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

It took a few rearrangements, multiple Facetimes with friends and two trips to Michael’s before I was happy with the result. But after a few days of letting it grow on me, I was in love with the installation. Whether you’re decorating your tree with faux flowers or a variety of ornaments, here are best tips for trimming your tree…

  • Coordinate the color scheme with the rest of your home so the tree feels like a natural extension to your aesthetic.
  • Always buy one more strand of lights than you think you will need.
  • Place large ornaments first, then fill in spots with smaller ones.
  • Weave lights up and down the side of each branch, as opposed to just stringing them around the outer branches. This makes the tree really glow.
  • Nestle some ornaments closer to the tree’s center “trunk” instead of just on the end of each branch. This will make your tree look fuller and give it depth.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

If you’re inspired to create your own floral-trimmed tree…

  • Choose flowers based on size and colors and don’t worry about the type. ie: No one will care that you have summer poppies on your tree in December. They’re red, festive and fit perfectly.
  • Arrange the flowers in their spots and leave for a day or so before you cut off any tags or shorten the stems. That way you can change your mind and rearrange or return stems for other better fitting options.
  • In fact, if you don’t want to cut the stems (in case you want to repurpose later), simply bend them in a spiral or wrap them around the branches.
  • Find silk flowers on sale (I purchased mine at Michael’s when they had all of their silk stems 60% off!) Ikea has affordable options too.
  • Save your prettiest, biggest flower for the topper.

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Christmas Tree

Note: My tree is 6 ½ feet tall and I used 31 stems. I separated some stems that had multiple flowers and used them to fill in gaps. To be more cost effective, I did not fully wrap the flowers around the whole tree and instead just kept the arrangement to one side as the other side wasn’t very visible.

Christmas Tree

Fave Five: Seasonal Snacking

We’re practically 10 days away from Christmas and I’m over here just hoping I can Amazon Prime my way through the 25th. 

I’m assuming some of you may be in the same boat. So for the third installment of Fave Five, I’m recapping some of my best holiday nibbles (& cocktail) to accompany your online shopping binge. And when the delivery man fails you – hopefully he won’t…but if he does – you can gift homemade treats and spread some Christmas calories cheer.  

| Winter White Martini

| Sissy’s Sausage Balls

| Christmas Crostinis

| Caramel Bacon Popcorn

| Chocolate-dipped Fortune Cookies

For more holiday merriment, check out this fun DIY.

Season’s Greetings

One of my favorite things about the holidays is the influx of snail mail, mainly in the form of Christmas cards.

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While my personal holiday greeting doesn’t include a family photo of a husband and kid(s) – I do love seeing everyone else’s. (Ones that include dogs always receive prime display real estate.)  So in honor of keeping the mailman extra busy this year, I’ve rounded up my top 5 favorite sources for personalized (& boxed) holiday cards…

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Paperless Post

I especially love their … Mr. Boddington’s Studio collection and complimentary addressing.  

You should probably order by … December 13th

Discount codes … 20% off with the code WINTERISCOMING

 

Minted

I especially love theirgold foil designs!

You should probably order by … December 9th

Discount codes … 15% off with code SIMPLE15HOL  

 

Rifle Paper Co. 

I especially love their … postcard options!

You should probably order by … December 13th

Discount codes … not at the moment, but keep checking back.

 

Paper Culture

I especially love their … mission of planting one tree for every order.

You should probably order by … December 10th

Discount codes … 50% off, no code needed (expires 12/7)

 

Postable

I especially love that … can print, stamp and mail each card for you.

You should probably order by … December 10th

Discount codes … not at the moment, but keep checking back.

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| Paperless Post – More Gin Please

Happy ordering!

xo Bree

Spiked Hot Xoco

Sometimes all you need in life is a warm cup of hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows and a splash of Baileys. 

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…Or a heavy pour of Baileys – it’s up to you and I don’t judge. 

While fall may be my favorite season, the holidays are my favorite time of year. As we pulled out the Christmas décor and blasted Glow in the living room it only seemed fitting that we sipped a hot toddy as well. So just in time for the cold weather, let me introduce you to your new favorite nightcap – Spiked Hot Xocolatl. 

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I chose to upgrade the standard hot cocoa ingredients with Xocolatl’s Vanilla & Cinnamon Spiced Drinking Chocolate and homemade marshmallows. (Bailey’s was a no brainer – anytime you have a chance to add Irish cream to anything, do it.) Homemade mallows are optional but I highly recommend taking the time to whip up a batch. They’re easier to make than you would think and keep well. They also make great treats for teachers, co-workers, neighbors… hell I’m sure the mailman even loves marshmallows. 

I followed Ina’s recipe and the results did not disappoint. Proof that when you have a stand mixer and a pound of confectioners sugar, you can accomplish anything.

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| ingredients include sugar, vanilla, corn syrup and unflavored gelatin |

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Spiked Hot Xoco
Serves 1
proof that everything is better with Bailey's
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup almond milk (or cow's milk)
  2. 3 tablespoons drinking chocolate
  3. splash of Bailey's Irish Creme or heavy cream
  4. optional: homemade marshmallows, candy canes, whipped cream
Instructions
  1. Warm milk and drinking chocolate in a pot on the stove. Stir well.
  2. Add a splash of cream if desired.
  3. Serve in a festive mug and top with garnishes.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

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May your holiday season be warm, bright and tad bit tipsy. 😉 

xo Bree

For The Hostess

Chances are you’re headed to Thanksgiving dinner or have a holiday party in the near future and with these social engagements come hostess gifts. While candles, wine, and flowers are all excellent choices – I wanted to share a few less obvious options. 

Have a friend who loves a good Netflix binge?  Get them the cozy blanket. Does your aunt treat preparing a charcuterie like an Olympic sport? A “cheese protractor” will be her new favorite kitchen gadget. Does the hostess literally have everything? I bet they don’t have a pillow with a reindeer smoking a pipe on it!  

Whatever their fancy, these 7 gifts will please any host…

hostess-gift

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 //  5 //  6 // 7

For more inspiration, check out my summer hostess gift guide

xo Bree

Good Fortunes

I don’t know if it’s the small thrill of not knowing what that little slip of paper will say or the sweet crunch of a hollow cookie – but fortune cookies have always been one of my favorite treats.

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With the holidays behind us, we just have one more obligation before the end of the year – ringing in 2016. Whether you’re hosting friends at home or celebrating elsewhere, these chocolate-dipped fortune cookies are the perfect treat. Plus, they pair well with champagne! 😉

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All you need are fortune cookies (you can pick up a box at the grocery store, international food aisle) and melted chocolate. With all the time spent in the kitchen over Christmas, I like to keep my NYE cooking fuss free and really easy. Dip half of each cookie in the chocolate and let them set in the fridge. Display them on a tray or pack them in a take out box for a hostess gift and you’re done. Now pop that bottle of bubbly and put on your party dress!

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xo Bree

Sissy’s Sausage Balls

Two recipes in one week…must be Christmastime.

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Every Christmas Eve we do the same thing – post-church and pre-presents – we feast on heavy appetizers in our best looking sweatpants. It’s probably my favorite part of December.  The lineup consists of everything from a cheese ring and homemade chex mix to meatballs and fudge – it’s a serious smorgasbord of junk delicious food.

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One of my favorite apps are my sister’s sausage balls.  Her recipe is very similar to Paula’s but she adds a touch of milk to help the Bisquick-sausage-cheese mixture combine. They couldn’t be more simple to make and can easily feed a crowd.

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xo Bree

Caramel Bacon Popcorn

I really considered naming this blog post “How To Make Crack.”

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But I chickened out.

In need of a last minute gift? Give the gift of crack caramel bacon popcorn. I think it’s a Southern thing, spending days in the kitchen making Christmas candy and sweet treats to pass out to the neighbors, your hair dresser and UPS man. I’ve watched my mom and sister spend hours on end cooking everything from peanut butter balls and divinity to haystacks and fudge. I’m usually the self-designated taste tester but this year I think I’ll contribute…and it wouldn’t be a Bree recipe without bacon. 😉

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| scroll down for the recipe | 

I follow a simple recipe for the caramel, fry some chopped bacon, and pop (healthy, no butter*) popcorn. Before I pour the caramel, I meticulously sift through popcorn to make sure there are no unpopped kernels.  One caramel-covered unpopped kernel and you’ll end up at the ER (most likely the dentist) but still, pick those puppies out.  Once you mix the caramel and bacon in with the popcorn, spread the sticky mixture on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Every 10 minutes, remove the cookie sheet from the oven and “toss” the popcorn. This helps ensure that each popped kernel is covered with the perfect amount of caramel. After 30 minutes (3 “toss sessions”), remove from the oven and let the popcorn cool completely.

*I use the healthiest popcorn I can find because you are literally going cover it with 2 sticks of butter, lots of sugar and bacon. So save the calories with the popcorn because you’ll make up for it with the caramel.

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This caramel bacon popcorn is extremely addictive, so make more than you think you will need because I promise you’ll eat half of it before you can finish packing it out for gifts.  I chose to fill up different size mason jars, adorned with the classic red stripe string for my gifting getup, but you use good ol’ Tupperware or cellophane baggies too!

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Caramel Bacon Popcorn
Yields 16
warning: once you pop, the fun don't stop
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 bags of regular size microwave popcorn
  2. ¾ lb of thick cut peppered bacon
  3. 1 cup light brown sugar
  4. ⅓ cup light corn syrup
  5. 1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
Instructions
  1. Pop corn in the microwave and carefully transfer the popped kernels to a large bowl. You want to make sure no unpopped kernels make it into the bowl. (This is usually the most tedious step, but it's so worth it.)
  2. Chop bacon into small pieces and fry on medium heat until crispy and cooked. Drain on a paper towel and let cool.
  3. To begin the caramel sauce, melt butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a sauce pan.
  4. Bring sauce to a boil and boil for 4 minutes without stirring.
  5. While the sauce is boiling add about half the bacon into the bowl of popcorn and toss well.
  6. Once the caramel sauce has boiled for 4 minutes, take the sauce pan off of the heat and let the mixture cool for about 30 seconds.
  7. Pour caramel sauce over the popcorn and toss gently with a spatula.
  8. Add in the remaining bacon.
  9. Prep a backing sheet with parchment paper or foil and transfer caramel covered popcorn into an even layer on the sheet.
  10. Bake the popcorn for about 30 minutes, tossing/stirring every 10 minutes, for a total of 3 "tossing sessions."
  11. Let the popcorn cool on a parchment lined counter and then enjoy!
Notes
  1. The blandest, healthiest popcorn works best. Between the butter and the salt in the bacon, you get plenty of flavor. This piggy popcorn will keep for about a week or so if stored in an airtight container.
  2. *Yields about 16 cups
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/
xo Bree

 

Deck the Halls

There is just something magical about a 6 foot tree trimmed in warm white lights.

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Even when that tree is artificial and looks as if it’s been dieting. Still magical.

We’ve had our tree and Christmas décor up since November 15th and I don’t think I will ever get tired of it.  Since all of us stay busy and live on a budget, we went for a minimal yet festive theme with pops of red and some cheeky accents. Swapping out pillows and replacing fall scents with pine and champagne candles is cost friendly and super easy for a busy bachelorette. 😉

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| Stag Pillow |

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| Coffee Table Books // Candle |

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| Moscow Mule Mugs |

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| Claus Salt + Pepper Shakers |

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| Hand Towel |

Ornaments

| Squirrel Ornament // Merry & Bright Ornament |

 

xo Bree

Christmas Crostini’s

‘Tis the season for passed apps and gin + tonics!

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Abbye made these crostinis a couple months ago and it’s been on my “to-make” list ever since.  Extremely simple and very pretty on a platter, this 4-ingredient appetizer is perfect for holiday parties. I used prosciutto, blue cheese, pear and French bread but you could easily switch out any of the ingredients for a sweeter or savory option (ie: capicola, goat cheese and apple would be a delicious combination).

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Cheers!

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xo Bree