Monday, December 5, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide | For the Entertainer

Tis’ the season for gifting and I’ve got a few gift guides lined up to help you find that perfect present. Today’s gift guide is for the entertainer. Most of these items are also on my personal wish list as well. I love receiving these types of gifts. You know, the ones you most likely wouldn’t break down and buy for yourself but welcome others to send your way. 

Click the individual images to shop.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Our Trip to the Islands | Part 2: British Virgin Islands

Remember the turquoise waters, fruity drinks and sunny days I shared with you a few weeks ago in my recap of our trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands? I didn't think our trip could get any better, but it did!  For those of you that missed it, Whit and I took a trip to the Virgin Islands to celebrate our three year wedding anniversary in October. Check out part one of my recap here
On day three of our vacation we said goodbye to St. Thomas and headed for The British Virgin Islands. A few ferries and cab rides later, we finally arrived at Scrub Island Resort, where an amazing room with a breathtaking views awaited us. 
After a day mostly spent traveling, all we wanted to do was jump right in that crystal clear Caribbean water. The colorful kayaks sitting in the sand on the resort's private pavilion beach immediately caught our eyes. We were told that we must go check out the coral reef a few yards away from shore. So, Whit and I popped in the resort's marina store, rented some snorkel gear and were on our way. Thank goodness I didn't bring my phone or camera with me, because the first thing we did was flip the boat. Aside from that, we saw some pretty colorful fish darting in and out of the coral.
After our snorkel adventure, we had just enough time to enjoy a few pain killers by the pool before heading to the room to get ready for dinner. We had a delicious meal at Caravela, one of the three restaurants the resort has to offer. 
Whit had arranged a boat excursion for us the next day, so we called it an early night after dinner. 
Of course, the first thing on my mind when I woke up the next morning was what we were going to eat for breakfast. A filling meal seemed suitable given we were about to spend the whole day on the water. We also had breakfast at Caravela, which was just a good as dinner. Eggs benedict for the win!
The boat excursion was scheduled to depart from the marina at 9:30 am and take us island -hopping for the day. Our first stop was at Sandy Cay, a beautiful beach known for its role in the Corona commercials. 
I was most excited for our next stop Jost Van Dyke to visit the famous Soggy Dollar Bar, home of the original pain killer.
We had a great lunch next door at Hendo's Hideout. A glass of island rosé with a side of fish and chips hit the spot.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day trip, making it difficult to leave. Knowing that we were going to back to our beautiful resort made it a little easier. 

We decided to join some new friends we made on the boat excursion and venture away from the resort for dinner that evening. We headed to Tortola for dinner, but in order to get there we had to take a ferry to Trellis Bay. I was most excited for the pit stop we had to make on the way. We arrived at Pusser's Marina Cay just in time for cocktails at sunset. Pusser's is a restaurant and bar located on this eight-acre island, surrounded by white sand and blue water.
Pusser's is also known for their popular red phone booth, with a camera located outside of it, snapping photos every fifteen seconds. You can log onto their website and search for yourself later — if you can remember the date and time you took the photo, that is. 
Once in Tortola, we made our way to dinner at a spot recommended by the locals called The Pub. This harbor-front restaurant has an easygoing atmosphere with a full bar and menu to match. I'll spare you another photo of pizza and just inform you that it's what I ordered. It was nice to have dinner away from the resort with new friends. Pizza and beer was the perfect way to end a long day of being on the water. 
Check back later for the final recap of our trip, which also happens to be my favorite part. It may or may not include more island-hopping! :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Popsugar Must Have Box | November

*POPSUGAR sent me this Must Have Box to try
The Popsugar Must Have Box strikes again! I loved the assortment of fun things that came in the November box. Here's a closer look at what I received below.

Kendra Scott Elaina Rose Gold Bracelet in White Pearl 
I love this dainty little Kendra Scott bracelet. I have really small wrists so the sliding closure helps create the perfect fit. 
I'm a sucker for cute party supplies like these star picks from Meri Meri. These would add the perfect flare to a Christmas or New Years Eve party. 
This palette from Stowaway cosmetics not only has a great selection of colors, but the best part is how small it is. The mini size is perfect for traveling. 
Toffee Butter Popcorn, need I say more? All I need is a bag of cheddar popcorn to go with this for a sweet and savory snack. These also make great stocking stuffers!
This runner is great for holiday entertaining. It's the perfect way to add a little something to the dining room table. I personally also love textiles like these to use when I'm taking photos of recipes for the blog. 

To be honest, I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to do with this wire bowl just yet, but it would make a great fruit basket. I also think that there may be a way to potentially incorporate this into some holiday decorating. Either way, it makes a great functional and decorative piece. 
If you're interested in signing up for these fun monthly boxes, use this special coupon code SHOP5 to receive $5 off your FIRST Must Have Box!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Appetizers

Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week?! I feel like it came out of nowhere. I'm looking forward to spending time with family and friends and of course eating all of the yummy dishes that are associated with the holiday. Whit and I try to keep things fair with our families and spend Thanksgiving with his and Christmas with mine. Thanksgiving with the Smith/Jones family means no shortage of food, cocktails or laughter, and an emphasis on Clemson football. 

As for the food part, I normally contribute an appetizer as well as make my traditional frozen dessert. The frozen dessert recipe came from my mom and it's so delicious. For some reason we only make it during the holidays. You can find the recipe for it here

If you're looking for some mouthwatering inspiration to bring to the table this year, I've got you covered. Here are a few of my favorite appetizers and also a few I haven't made yet but they sound amazing! What's your go-to appetizer for Thanksgiving?

A recipe inspired by my grandmother and also a favorite of mine

I made these last year and they were quite the hit! I was really just looking for an excuse to use this deviled egg tray
A simple and delicious recipe from my mom. 

Whit's aunt made this last year and I immediately knew I had to save this one in the archives. Who doesn't love a good dip?

Here are a few others I've rounded up from Pinterest that sound amazing! 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Arctic Zero Fit Frozen Desserts | A Review

As I've mentioned before, I'm not one to really crave sugar. Now don't get me wrong, I do appreciate a good dessert, but I would much prefer to snack on a bag of salt covered, crunchy potato chips. But when I am in the mood for something sweet, ice cream is on the top of the list. I was so thrilled when Arctic Zero wanted to share some of their sweet treats with me! I've never had their ice cream before so I was excited to give a few of their flavors a try. 
I consider myself to be pretty health conscious in my food choices and wouldn't normally reach for a pint of ice cream on a weekday. I mean, after working hard in the gym, the last thing I want to do is blow it all by consuming an excessive amount of calories and sugar. At the same time, I also don't want to completely deprive myself, which is why I was thrilled when I read the label on these different flavored ice creams. Not only are they low in calories, fat and sugar, they are also free from artificial flavors, sweeteners and coloring. The perfect guiltless treat to occasionally reward myself with .
Here are just a few of the flavors they have to choose from. 

Brownie Blast: Only 75 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 8 grams of sugar in 1/2 cup. 
 Cake Batter: This one has only 35 calories, no fat and 5 grams of sugar in 1/2 cup!
 Poppin' Pomegranate: Again, 35 calories, no fat and 5 grams of sugar in 1/2 cup.
 Banana Pudding:75 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 8 grams of sugar in 1/2 cup. 
 Snickerdoodle Dandy: 75 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 8 grams of sugar in 1/2 cup.
I really did enjoy them all, but I think the cake batter was my favorite. It's recommended that they sit out for a few minutes before serving so that they have more of a creamy consistency. I'll be honest, I've had fat free ice creams, sugar free ice creams, low-calorie ice creams, you name it, and most of them seem like they are missing something, but not these. Don't get me wrong, it's not like diving into a pint of Ben and Jerry's cookie dough, but I didn't expect it to be. For an ice cream that prides itself as being a fit frozen dessert, without sacrificing flavor,  Arctic Zero delivers.  
These are great to keep on hand when I want just a quick bite of something sweet and not feel guilty about it. 

Have you tried Arctic Zero before? If so, what are some of your favorite flavors? I would love to give some of the others a try. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Heading Somewhere Warm....

Happy Thursday! I'm jetting setting again today, off to somewhere warm and sunny. Well, hopefully it will be sunny! I'm off to celebrate my birthday with some of my best girlfriends. This is a big one for me, which I shared my thoughts on in a blog post a while back. It was also an excuse to do something fun and out of the ordinary. Follow along on Instagram!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

U.S. Virgin Islands | Our Trip to St. Thomas & St. John

Warm sunny days, turquoise waters, fruity cocktails, windblown hair and salty skin - all things that I’m currently missing after our wonderful vacation a few weeks ago! The moment we departed the islands to head home, I was immediately ready to go back. We had such an amazing time and I wanted to share with you a glimpse of the first part of our trip!
Whit and I tend to lean toward tropical vacations spots, so this year for our anniversary we decided to head to St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands, both of which neither of us had ever visited.
We were promptly greeted with a cold glass of rum punch upon our arrival at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas and shuttled to our living quarters for the next few days. Our hotel room had a nice balcony with an ocean view, perfect for sipping on a morning cup of coffee.
This guy was spotted at the resort! I steered clear and let Whit go in for the close up. 

After a long day of travel all we really wanted to do was have a low-key casual dinner, so that’s exactly what we did. Red Hook is a small part of town with restaurants and bars along the water that was accessible via a ten-minute cab ride from the hotel. I had done a little bit of research prior to our trip and came across the mention of a place called Island Time Pub
Not only was this a good spot for pizza, but it was also where many of the locals hang out. We had a delicious first meal and met a few people while we were there. We ended the evening at a quaint little wine bar across the street called XO Bistro. I wanted to go back for a meal, but we didn’t get an opportunity.
Our first full day in St. Thomas was cloudy, but it was nothing that a few fruity cocktails couldn’t fix. We spent most of the day hanging around the resort and enjoying the private beach.
It also happened to be our anniversary that day and I had booked a special dinner for us at Havana Blue, a restaurant that had come highly recommended. We enjoyed a delicious dinner in an open air dining room overlooking the ocean. By the time we arrived it was dark. My only regret was not catching the beautiful view during the day.

The mojito skirt steak was so flavorful, but one of the best parts of this meal was the manchego potato air. This creamy, cheesy mashed potato dish was unlike any other I've ever had. 
The next morning we were up bright and early to catch the ferry to St. John. I was so excited to go explore this island. It’s been on my list of places I’ve always wanted to visit. As soon as we arrived, we immediately hopped on a shuttle headed for Trunk Bay Beach. Note to those of you going to visit this beach, there is nowhere to buy food or drinks, so be sure to pick something up in Cruz Bay before you head that way. That’s where we went wrong. I was so excited to get there, that I got a little ahead of myself. We arrived on empty stomachs, but thankfully had granola bars in our bag and also found a shack that sold potato chips (for $6 a bag) so that is what we had to settle for. Most everyone on the beach had packed a cooler for the day and we were pretty envious.  
Just before the entrance to the beach there is a hut where you can rent beach chairs and snorkel gear. I found a nice spot for my chair in the sand while Whit went swimming with the fish!
This pristine beach erased all thoughts of food (at least for a few hours) and was so relaxing. If we ever make this trip again, we will now know to pack lunch and cold beverages, and plan to stay for the day. A few things to note for those making this trip: The taxi ride from town to the beach is around $20 each, beach access is $5 per person and a beach chair and snorkel gear rental was about $20. While the prices aren't crazy, the day can add up fairly quickly. Also, one of the great things about this beach is that they have showers there so you can freshen up before you leave. We had packed a change of clothes in preparation for exploring the town after the beach so it was nice to leave and not be covered in sand. This was valuable information we learned the night before from some of the locals in St. Thomas. 
Our first stop once we got back into town was a small local hot spot called Woody’s Seafood. A cold beer never tasted so good. We decided to have drinks and small bites in a few different places. We ordered the blackened shrimp, which came with a small side of coleslaw. I was so hungry that these disappeared before I could even think about a photograph. But I do highly recommend them!
Next on our radar was a trendy spot across the street called Umami. I'm really kicking myself for not ordering sushi! However, our food was still really great. I had one of the best cocktails of the whole trip while we were there. It was a lemon grass-infused vodka cocktail, and I could have easily taken down a few of these. 
We filled our bellies with a selection of fried chicken sliders, dumplings and edamame. 
The last stop on our feeding frenzy was Cruz Bay Landing. This was on our way back to the ferry pickup, so it was the perfect spot to end the day.
St. Johns was such a beautiful island bustling with people and full of several bars and restaurants. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting. I think it's definitely an island worth spending more than a few hours on. We caught the ferry back to St. Thomas and headed back to pack up our stuff for our departure to Scrub Island the next morning. 

Stay tuned for a recap of the second half of our trip, which was also my favorite!