Blessed Brunette is now on Instagram!!

December 26, 2014

You can follow the account @theblessedbrunette (Pssst, I'll follow you back)!!

Holiday Wishes from One Very Blessed Brunette

December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Eve! Christmas Eve is just as exciting of a day for me as Christmas itself!  I truly wish you the most sincere and warmest wishes this holiday season. I can't wait to see all that's in store for Blessed Brunette in 2015! Until then, I'm off to finish my gift wrapping, do some last minute baking and then I'll head to church with my family.

Get ready people because tomorrow morning! 10 am! Santa's comin' to town!

I'm Like So Over It

December 22, 2014

Was anybody else shocked to hear about that cow in Idaho that jumped over a 6-foot fence at a butcher shop to escape his demise last week?  Turns out the poor guy went to farm animal heaven anyway-- he was shot by police after a wild goose cow chase. I know, I know, kind of depressing. But don't fret-- I have a point to make.
The cow jumping the fence ended up leading to some - believe it or not - fashion inspiration. I found this shirt online during one of J. Crew's many pre-Christmas sales for $15 and had to treat myself. Something about animals jumping fences got me feeling some kinda way.
And in the spirit of making a bold fashion statement, I picked up an equally extremely bold lip color from NYX (Electric Pink).  It's matte which has been all the rage lately in the beauty world so I figured I'd give it a chance.
Not every day is a hot-pink-lipstick-farm-animal-shirt-wearing kinda day, but there's something about the Christmas season that seems to make everyone a little wackier than average.
Sensitive person I am, I was really upset by the outcome of the cow story. I mean, the poor thing was doing the impossible. He was the superhero of the slaughterhouse. And just when you thought he beat the odds, BOOM! He gets shot! Just like that! 

But after a week of mourning this super-cow's passing, I guess you could say I'm like so over it.

Bagels + bSmart Guide + Bend & Snap

December 19, 2014

Since being away from the Northeast for college, I've developed an intense appreciation for how good our bagels are. Being home for the holidays, one of the first things I did since getting home is make a quick trip to my favorite bagel shop. I'm currently enjoying a pumpernickel bagel with taylor ham, egg whites and cheese, and it's safe to say I'm in my happy place as I write this post. Another thing making me happy on this lovely Friday morning? My first-ever article for bSmart Guide just went live!

I'm so excited to post about my latest adventure as a writer for bSmart Guide a community platform for young professional women featuring curated content to help you live your best life and provide the expert advice you wish someone had given you!

You don't have to be a member of the workforce to enjoy and learn from bSmart: after all, I'm just a college student with a blog!  Working with bSmart (and founder Meagan, an alumna of my college!) has been a great opportunity thus far and I'm excited to see what the future with bSmart has in store!

Check out my article, 10 Reasons Why Reese Witherspoon Is My Spirit Animal.  She's my favorite actress by far and just an all around great person. Here's why 

Merry Christmas!

Tree Huntin'

December 13, 2014

My family purchases a real Christmas tree every year. To me, fake trees are just not an option. I definitely see their benefits but there's something about the scent of fresh pine and the experience of picking out the perfectly imperfect tree that can't be beat.  Each year, we venture a couple of towns away to a "chop-your-own" tree farm and it is probably one of the things I look forward to most about the Christmas season.
Love this shot of my sister through the trees. You can't quite see her face but you can make out a smile pretty easily!
 They serve complimentary hot chocolate with candy canes out of this adorable little red shed.

 Crazy in love with my Jacqueline Bouvier bracelet by KJP!

What goes together better than tree farms and Bean Boots? 

Since we got our tree a little late this year, the chop-your-own selection was pretty limited so we ended up going with one that had just been freshly chopped by the staff.

So I guess you could call us tree huggers...? 

K sippin' on some cocoa!

There really is nothing more festive than tree shopping!! I'm officially in full-on Christmas spirit/elf mode. Off to go wrap some presents...

Merry Christmas!

Peppermint Cheesecake Bites

December 12, 2014

If you saw my post on the best holiday cookie recipes, you'll remember how excited I was to get home and in the kitchen!  I love baking so when I woke up I headed straight for the grocery store to work on my first Christmas recipe: Mini Peppermint Cheesecakes!  I made about eighty of them and as I write this, my entire house smells of sugar and's pretty wonderful.

I scoured Pinterest (what else is new?) for a good recipe and found this one for Candy Cane Cheesecake Bars and I converted it into mini cheesecakes by basically following the same instructions but putting 2 tsp of graham cracker crust into individual mini cupcake tins and baking them for about half the time the recipe called for.

(I also added some sugar to the crust because we all know a little extra sugar never hurt anyone!!)

You basically use the teaspoon to pack down the crust to the bottom and edges of the cupcake tins.

Of course I had to use this (uhm, vintage) oven mitt because tis the season! #amiright

Toast the crust for about 5 minutes before adding the cheesecake mixture.

I had to resist some major temptation not to eat all this chopped up chocolate!

Add the cheesecake filling and into the oven they go!

The best way to kill time while your baked goods are baking? More sugar! I had to take advantage of the delicious creamer my cheesecake recipe called for by making some peppermint hot chocolate! 

Majorly obsessed with my monogrammed elf mug from Bordeaux Graphics on Etsy!

...just when you thought I'd monogrammed everything, I give you: monogrammed hot cocoa!

Took the cheesecakes out of the oven and garnished each one with a peppermint kiss. How adorable are these?
They were delicious! I was happy to send off a batch with my parents to the Christmas party they attended tonight. They'll be a hit, no doubt!

Not Your Grandma's Christmas Cookies

December 9, 2014

I could not be more excited to fly home for Christmas break. While I'm obviously looking forward to reuniting with family and friends, I have been super antsy to do some baking in a real kitchen (the kitchen for my dorm is terrible). I've compiled a list of my favorite Christmas cookies, most of which I'll be whipping up as soon as I get settled in back at home. Without further adieu, I give you: The Ultimate List of Christmas Cookie Recipes!
  1. Nutella Stuffed Gingerbread Cookies
  2. Christmas Magic Cookie Bars
  3. Candy Cane Oreo Cookie Bars
  4. Candy Cane Kiss Cookies
  5. Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
  6. Pecan Pie Cookies
  7. Christmas Tree Peanut Butter Blossoms
  8. Eggnog Thumbprints
  9. Christmas Swirl Sugar Cookies
  10. Gingerdoodles
  11. Cranberry Bliss Cookies
  12. Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Shortbread Cookies
  13. Chalkboard Sugar Cookies
  14. Holiday Monster Cookies
  15. Gingerbread Oreo-Stuffed Snickerdoodles
  16. Nutmeg Buttermilk Cookies
  17. Ginger Molasses Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies
  18. Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies
  19. Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies
  20. Spiced Gingerbread Man Cookies
  21. Tiramisu Sandwich Cookies
  22. Brown Butter Soft Batch Cookies
  23. Thumbprint Snowman Cookies
  24. Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter & Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
  25. Hot Cocoa Cookies with Marshmallows
  26. Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
  27. Perfect Sugar Cookie Cutouts
  28. Cinnamon Sugar Roll Cookies
  29. Peppermint Meringues w/ Chocolate Filling
  30. Double Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies 
Let me know if you try any of these out. They're all crowd-pleasers in their own rights and would be perfect for a cookie swap!

Merry Christmas!!

OOTD: Thanksgiving Travel Edition

November 25, 2014

I have a long day ahead of me. First, a shuttle to the airport, followed by security lines and a last-minute attempt to make an earlier flight home.  This in mind, I'm keeping my outfit chic and comfortable, with plenty of layers to adjust to the always bipolar airplane climate. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, everyone!

Chambray Shirt, Camp Socks and Quilted Vest: J. Crew Factory; Boots: L.L. Bean; Striped Shirt: TJ Maxx; Tote: Marley Lilly; Pearl Chunky Necklace: Forever 21; Pink Scarf: Amazon

3 Books to Read Before the New Year

November 23, 2014

I'm writing this post with the hope that if I publish a list of books I want to read on a public forum, I will actually own up to my words and read them.  As the New Year quickly approaches, I thought I'd share what's on my "to-read" list these days.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

"They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose..."

If that tagline doesn't make you wanna jump in bed with a cup of hot cocoa and a pair of fuzzy socks, I don't know what will. My friend has been raving about this book forever and I think it's about time I read it!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

"In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls."

I am a huge fan of The Office. And Kelly Kapoor wrote this book. Therefore I must read it. 

Nice is Just a Place in France: How to Win at Basically Everything by The Betches

"We didn’t come up with these life lessons. We’re just the ones who wrote it all down. This is not self-help. Self-help is for fat people and divorcĂ©es. This is how to deal with your problems when you have no problems. You’re welcome."

If you're not about that sarcasm life, this book's probably not for you. This book comes from the same fabulous people behind Betches Love This. I'm sure its a quick read so I'm hoping to read it on my flight home for the holidays.

Have you read any of these titles? Any suggestions?

Letting Go & Moving On

November 21, 2014

We've all been there: failed friendships, tragic breakups.  Sometimes relationships aren't meant to work out.  In the wise words of my mom: "People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime."

This statement, while poetic, is not always easy to accept.  It can be heartbreaking to lose someone you are close to after a falling out or a dispute.  I have suffered a few of these losses in my life, but only recently have I been able to say that I have allowed myself to let go and move on.

My senior year of high school, I had a pretty big fight with two of my closest friends.  Long story short, our four year friendship ended badly and bitterly.  I went through a variety of confusing stages before finally reaching where I am now.

At first, I felt betrayed, angry and most of all, hurt.  I couldn't believe what had happened, nor did I want to accept it.  Out of defense, I let my emotions get the best of me, leading me to say things I didn't mean, many of which caused me a tremendous sense of guilt and regret in the months following.

The summer came and went, and all the while, I felt lonely and still very upset by everything that went down.  I lost sleep over the situation and often felt nauseous at the thought of the whole thing. With much self-reflection and advice from other friends and family members, and after exchanging heartfelt apology notes and good wishes with these former friends, I can finally say I am at peace. 

If you had told me I'd be writing this post when the fight first happened, I would deny it.   I didn't ever want to be content with the way things ended because, competitive person I am, I felt as though accepting the outcome would mean I lost the battle.  However, I can now tell you after going through various emotional stages in the past five months, that when you open yourself up to forgiveness and moving on, you'll be overwhelmed by the sense of calm you feel.

To clarify, I don't think we will ever be friends again. Depressing as this may sound,  I have learned that the end of a friendship is not always a bad thing. These girls were in my life for a reason but our friendship unfortunately evolved into one that was toxic and would no longer serve a good purpose in my life in its current stage.

I am a living example of the fact that, as sad and confusing as losing a friend (or even a boyfriend) can be, things will become clear in time. I am so beyond thankful for the good memories I have with these high school friends and all the positives we contributed to each others' lives, but I am confident in my decision to let them go. Maybe one day we'll meet for lunch and laugh the same way we did as giddy girls at a Sweet Sixteen, but for now, I am content with saying that I am letting go and moving on...and it couldn't feel anymore refreshing.


November 19, 2014

I hate turkey. I can eat chicken till the cows chickens (?) come home, but for whatever reason, the thought of turkey grosses me out. I can't seem to get the image of feathers and a gobble out of my head. I'm weird like that about a lot of can judge me. One might think that not liking turkey could pose an "Achilles' Heel" of sorts when it comes to Thanksgiving, but despite my quirky distaste, Thanksgiving remains one of my favorite holidays.

This Thanksgiving in particular will be a special one for me. It's my first time going home and the first time I'll see my brother and sister since August, when I moved into college! They say distance makes the heart grow fonder (cheesy, I know), and I have found this to be really true when it comes to being away from my family at school. It's kind of poetic that I've spent this extended time away from them and our reunion will be on the holiday when you recognize and appreciate all you're thankful for. I am also super excited to be spending Thanksgiving with my cousins this year. A couple of my cousins are also freshmen in college, so it'll be so fun to hang out and exchange stories from the semester.
Me and some of the best people on earth (aka the sibs)
Traditions are also one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving. Most of my family's Thanksgiving traditions revolve around food. No matter what time of year it is, my mouth is sure to water at the thought of my Aunt Merry's twice-baked potatoes or my family's generations-old stuffing pie recipe (sounds weird, but its to-die-for). I am a big baker so I am definitely looking forward to trying out one or two of the 3,736 (and counting) recipes I've collected on my Pinterest recipe board.

I've been celebrating Christmas since Halloween ended, but Thanksgiving definitely marks the official start of the holiday season. It's when Christmas songs start playing on the radio, and it becomes socially acceptable to order daily peppermint mochas from Starbucks (however, social norms have not stopped me from doing this for the past three weeks)! One of the things I'm most looking forward to this year is a tradition my brother, sister and I started a few years back of watching Elf on Thanksgiving night to mark the start of the Christmas season. I'm all about living in the moment and appreciating one holiday at time, but there's a reason the last float on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is Santa Claus every year.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (on Thanksgiving)!

Do y'all have any unique Thanksgiving traditions?  Anyone wanna make me feel more normal and confess to having turkey problems too? No? Okay, that's cool. I get it. I'm an odd one...