Category Archives: Holidays

Holiday Gift Guide | For Her | 2014

All of these gifts are under $60. Enjoy!

2014 Gift Guide

1. Tartan Heavy Blanket Scarf from Tara Lynn’s Boutique

Scarves are a very popular gift for Christmas, but what about over-sized blanket scarves? These accessories are available in 11 different color combinations and are certain to keep their wearer cozy. ($39)

2. Tarte’s Kiss & Belle Lipsurgence Lip Set

Perfect for fun and festive holiday parties, this eight-piece set of lip tints and glosses is great for girls who adore color. Best of all, they’re formulated without parabens or phthalates. ($34)

3. Kate Spade’s Secret Garden Stud Earrings

Every girl needs a go-to pair of stud earring in their jewelry collection; Kate Spade has just the set. These navy stones are encircled with rhinestones that add an elegant sparkle to outfits. ($58)

4. Crowned Leaf Bakeware Rolling Pin from Anthropologie

Forget tired-looking wooden pins. Give this bright and cheerful handpainted rolling pin, which is made from handbone china, to the Martha Stewart prodigy in your life. ($18)

5. Personal Library Kit from Knock Knock

For the bookworm who is constantly running out of bookshelf space, this library kit provides a lot of nerdy, organizational fun. With this kit you’re able to sort who has borrowed what book. Plus, it comes with a date stamp that’s just plain fun to use. ($16)

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Goodbye 2011; Hello 2012

Goodbye 2011. Hello 2012. It’s the end of another year—a great year, in fact.

In 2011 I got the chance to travel around the states. I journeyed to Southern California for work and for pleasure; I vacayed in Minnesota with a great group of friends; I went on a road trip to St. Louis with two of my closest girlfriends; I gave presentations on making apothecary basics in Pennsylvania and Washington; and I discovered the great city of Portland, Oregon with my sister-in-law.

2011 also marked the first year of simply gina. I’ve enjoyed sharing my favorite local restaurants, recipes, styles, products, books, DIY projects and more with all of you. I hope to increase my blogging efforts in 2012. In fact, I hope to improve the quality of my blog posts—it’s one of my new year’s resolutions. I want to be more personal with all of you. Working at a magazine I realize that a lot of my writing tends to sound like it came from the pages of a consumer publication. And really, this is one of the reasons why I started a blog—to find my own voice and embrace it. So here’s to writing with personality!

My other new year’s resolution you ask? It may be cliché, but it’s to get into shape. I don’t necessarily want to lose weight, although that would be a welcome bonus, but I want to get fit and not run out of breath after just one lap around my neighborhood. In 2012 I would like to run a 5K (that would be a big deal for me!) and participate in the Kansas City Warrior Dash, an event I’ve already signed up for. Yikes! (My biggest Warrior Dash fear? It’s not the jumping over fire that terrifies me, but the diving into a mud pit. I really don’t like getting muddy.)

{I kid of course. *wink*}

So thanks to everyone who reads my blog. Hugs all around and here’s to another great year! I’ll leave you with my top ten posts of 2011. Did you have a personal favorite? Would you like me to write about something specific? Leave me a comment and let me know! Hearing from my readers truly makes my day.

10. What I’m Craving: 25th Birthday Wishes

9. What I’m Craving: Apothecary Jars

8. My Style: Final Friday Frills

7. What I’m Inspired By: Pinterest

6. Three Days of Valentine’s Day Fun

5. DIY: Construct a Frame Collage for an Infusion of Color

4. DIY: Revamp Your Bookshelves

3. Once in a Sunday Brunch: 715 Restaurant | Lawrence, KS

2. Fondue Fridays: Coq Au Vin and Gorgonzola Port Sauce

1. Daydreaming of Back-to-School Supplies

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Cute Cocktail: Candy Cane Cocktail

I don’t know about you, but my house is filled with sweets. Chocolates, candies, cookies and … candy canes. I love these peppermint-flavored delights, but I’m not much of a hard candy fan. I’d rather chew into something creamy and delectable, like red velvet cake balls, or munch on something crunchy and salty, like butterscotch dipped pretzels. But I won’t deny candy cane’s tasty goodness. So if you’re like me, enjoy this hard candy flavor in something even more delicious than a piece of chocolate: a Christmas cocktail.

I made this cocktail for the first time on Christmas day, i.e. the best Christmas ever. Did I mention that my Christmas day consisted of a movie marathon and numerous Christmas-themed cocktails with the hubby? Definitely the best Christmas ever. It’s simple to make although it does comprise of three different (somewhat costly) liquors, so save this recipe for a special occassion like New Year’s Eve, or for a random weeknight when you’re in the mood to splurge.

Candy Cane Cocktail

This cocktail goes down smoothly with peppermint rimming sugar around the glass. Recipe via Food Network.

• 1 shot vanilla rum
• 1 shot Godiva white chocolate liqueur
• 1 shot peppermint schnapps
• Ice
• Peppermint rimming sugar
• Candy cane, for garnish

1. Add all liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake well.

2. Strain into martini glass rimmed with peppermint rimming sugar and garnish with a candy cane.

For more delicious seasonal cocktails, visit one of my newest blog finds, Nutmeg Nanny, who recently finished a special Christmas series called The Twelve Boozy Days of Christmas. What’s not to love about that?!

What  are your favorite seasonal cocktails? Got any special drinks planned for the new year? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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My Favorites: 5 Favorite Christmas Movies


I love end-of-the-year lists. I gobble them up like turkey on Thanksgiving. So I decided to make one of my own: My five all-time favorite Christmas movies. Now please keep in mind that I have not seen every Christmas movie ever made; I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of great classics. But for me, these five movies are what Christmas is all about.

5. Love Actually. Before there was Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, there was this movie. A collection of mini love stories set in England perfectly packaged for the holiday season. There are adorable kids, handsome prime ministers, unrequited love, aging rock stars and Alan Rickman. What more could a girl want for Christmas?

Favorite line: “Hiya kids. Here is an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don’t buy drugs. Become a pop star, and they give you them for free!”

Best moment: The scene after Emma Thompson’s character, Karen, discovers that her husband Harry, Alan Rickman’s character, is cheating on her. She goes to her room, cries and manages to pull herself together as Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” plays in the background. She straightens her bed and puts on a brave face for the remainder of Christmas. Emma was amazing in this scene. I love how she handles the situation. (Let’s just say that’s not how I would have handled it.)

4. A Christmas Story. This movie is a classic and the premise is simple: A young boy is determined to get a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. My husband and I never grow tired of its repeat Christmas showings on TBS. We’ll watch bits and pieces of it throughout the day. Also, it inspired the television series The Wonder Years. I think I’ve made my point.

Favorite line: “You used up all the glue on purpose!”

Best moment: There are so many to choose from, but what I love best is that after all the endless warnings from adults that he would shoot his eye out with a Red Ryder BB Gun if he owned one, he actually shoots his eye. Kids.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life. If A Christmas Story is a classic, then this movie is a super-duper classic. A love story with alternative realities and clumsy angels, this film is probably the sappiest title on my list, but I love it nonetheless. Jimmy Stewart is great as always and I love its message: everything happens for a reason.

Favorite line: “What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”

Best moment: The ending. It’s pretty wonderful.

2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. There are songs by Burl Ives, singing elves, glowing reindeer, bouncing bumbles and claymation. What’s not to love? Actually, looking back, this movie is pretty horrible. Santa is a grumpy mess who yells at elves and judges reindeer for being different. And instead of the adult teacher  in Rudolph’s flying class lecturing the other reindeer about bullying, he joins in! But despite all that, I still love this movie. I watched it so much growing up, it’s become a habit of mine to watch it every year. And in the end Rudolph perseveres and his elf friend Hermey becomes a dentist, so there’s that.

Favorite line: “I’m cute! I’m cuuute! She said I’m cuuuuuuuute!”

Best moment: When the misfit toys sing “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year.” I love singing along and learning how each toy is a “misfit.” I mean, who puts square wheels on a train set?

1. The Santa Clause. This may not be the best Christmas movie ever made, but it’s definitely my favorite. And I’m pretty sure that between my mom and I we could quote the entire film in a moment’s notice. Yes the premise is silly, and it’s a little disturbing that after the original Santa dies no one seems to be concerned with where he disappeared to and that none of his elves seem sad about it. But Tim Allen is on top of his game in this movie. Let’s just pretend the second and third film never existed, okay?

Favorite line: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! When I get home, I’m getting a CAT scan!”

Best moment: When the “elves with attitude” break Santa out of prison. Didn’t you know that tinsel’s not just for decoration?

Honorable mention: Die Hard. No one messes with John McClane. Especially on Christmas.

So what did I miss? I’m sure I missed quite a few, actually, so please share your favorites in the comments section below. Merry Christmas, dear readers!

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My Favorite Things: Cherished Christmas Decorations

No I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping this year. So stop asking me—the pressure is just too much!

I kid, I kid. Although I do feel the pressure weighing down on me when I talk to people who finished their Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. I haven’t even started mine! I have, however, finished writing my Christmas cards (mailing them is a whole other ballgame) and decorating the house (with lots of help from the husband). So to celebrate this triumphant achievement, I thought I’d share my favorite holiday decorations with all of my readers.

What I love best about the Christmas decor parading around my house is that it’s an eclectic mix of modern pieces my husband and I personally chose as newlyweds and vintage pieces passed down from my childhood. Here are my absolute favorites. Enjoy!

{Our mantel decor was hand-picked from thrifty shops like Hobby Lobby and Target. One stocking for me, one for A.J. and one for Alex, of course.}

{A.J. and I picked these stocking holders up at one of our go-to-stores a couple years back: Target.}

{Our Christmas tree is decorated with a mixture of Hobby Lobby ornaments and vintage ornaments.}

{One of my all-time favorite ornaments is this red rocking horse, dated for the year that I was born. I’m so happy that I have something like this in my Christmas collection to pass down to my future children.}

{I don’t really know the history behind this ornament, but I remember  insisting that I hang it on our tree each year. I adored the cute little horse and his bearded, Hershey’s chocolate delivery man.}

{This adorable reindeer is ready to greet our guests. I loved putting this dashing deer together. It was like a mini-puzzle I got to solve each and every year.}

{This copy of The Night Before Christmas was published in 1972. It has been passed down through a couple generations and I plan to do the same. Until I have little tykes to read this classic story to, its vintage pages will adorn my fireplace.}

What are your most cherished Christmas decorations? Tell me all about them in the comments section below!

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