Friday, December 30, 2011

 it's the end of 2011... a time I like to use to reflect on the good and bad of the past year.  Here's an inspirational video to watch. It was created by Ben Breedlove, an 18 year old kid from TX who lived with a heart condition his whole life. In this video, he talks about the 3 times he cheated death...from when he was 4 years old, to an incident a month ago. This video was made by Ben on December 18, 2011. Sadly, he passed away on Christmas night.

To read's an ABC news story about Ben.  LINK

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

I can't believe it's only Wednesday..blame it on the post Christmas funk or the work days where the office is dead and time seems to go by so slowly....and to boot it's a short work week! The only plus...3 more days of work and another short week next week thanks to New Year's falling on a Sunday! Another good's also time for another installment of What I'm Loving Wednesday with !

I'm absolutely loving the after Christmas sales. While most people are running to Nordstrom's or the Gap or where ever they got gift cards butt was at Target at 7am. My mom and I have our little after Christmas tradition....we try to find the unconventional things that are marked down...our favorite place to hit...Target! Here's my stash...most people were sprinting to the wrapping paper and fake trees that were 50% off...however..I was in the household section scouring for packages with a snowman or anything Christmas themed because they're also half off. My favorite steal...the snow flake flannel sheet. Mostly because after Target I was headed to Macy's to grab us a second set so I don't have to sit there and wait for our only set to be washed and dried and throw them immediately back on the bed! Also..something else that got me very excited...I had coupons that I used too! Although my mom couldn't be there with me the morning after Christmas..we were calling each other after each stop to see who scored what!

Another sale I was so excited for...The LUSH buy one get one free! All their holiday products are buy one get one free. I love so many of their products..but it was time to stock up on some of my favorite soaps and bath bombs. Most of the holiday products are twists on some of their staple items. Some of my favorite scores...candy cane soap, gingerbread house bath bubbles, and the cinders bath bomb. I had the most relaxing and best smelling bubble bath last night. When I woke up this bathroom stilled smelled so delicious!

Bath and Body Works is also having their huge semi-annual clearance sale. Although I don't use a lot of their lotions and shower gels...I'm a sucker for their soaps. I scooped up a bunch of them at 50% off since they were discontinued scents. friend gave me this cute little soap sleeve from them...perfect for dressing up the soap in the bathroom or kitchen!

Hopefully you had a wonderful holiday and have a very Happy New Year! Don't forget to check out What I'm Loving Wednesday at

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things!

Every Christmas my sisters and I have a little gift exchange....Our Favorite Things...yes, a total knock off of Oprah's Favortie Things, but every year, it's the highlight of my Christmas afternoon! I love to see what each of us compiled and we have a ball opening each other's Favorite Things!!!!

So, here's what made my list this year...we have a $50 limit..although we always go over!

1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Every year I put in my favorite book. Both my mom and dad love to read and passed that love onto their kids as well! Last year's honors went to the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo...this year it goes to the Hunger Games. I picked this book because when I read what it was about, I immediately not my thing...and I was wrong..I loved it..even though it's a book written for teens! This is book 1 in a trilogy and the movie is out later this year!

2. Bananagrams
Best game ever! Especially for wordy competitive dorks like me! My sisters come to Martha's Vineyard during the summer with us. One day, when we were beached out and clouds came in...I introduced them to this! Maybe I just love it because I always seem to be winning it. Oldest sister yelled "Bananas" when she thought she won...only to find out that all her words weren't connected in a crossword puzzle fashion...nice try!

3. Chilmark Chocolates

My sisters weren't able to come to Martha's Vineyard for our whole week long vacation this year. We had a last minute cancellation and I was so excited when my friend, L, and her husband were able to jet down for a couple nights since we had a spare room with no one in it in our rental! L told us a story about when she was little and her memory of coming to Martha's Vineyard with her family, heading to a place called Chilmark Chocolates and eating the whole box of chocolate before they made it to the ferry to head home. So, everyone got all excited to head to Chilmark Chocolates to help her re-live this childhood memory! We hopped in the van, drove there and were devastated (mostly for L) that it was only open Thursday through Sunday...and L and her husband were leaving Wednesday morning!

Once my sisters got on the island, we told them the story and said we HAD to make it to Chilmark Chocolates and bring some home for L. Were we glad we did! It's a tiny little building the size of a hallway with some good ass chocolates! My oldest sister carried on my friend L's she ate her box of chocolates before we hit the ferry! Mr. Allan and I went back to Martha's Vineyard a few weeks ago to help celebrate Christmas in Edgartown and on our list of must do things...hit up Chilmark Chocolates!

4. LUSH items
I love this store. I love that everything is fresh, all natural, handmade products. I only bought something from LUSH maybe 6 months ago and have fallen hard for this place! The only products I didn't immediately fall in love with were the shampoos and conditioners..mostly because I have a crap load of wavy hair. But, every other thing from the soap to the lotions to the bath bombs to the shower gel...I absolutely love! So, each sister got a little goody bag of some of my favorite things...including Honey I washed the Kids soap, Charity Pot body lotion, Snow Fairy shower gel, and a Buffy bar!

Snow Fairy...rumor has it some of the holiday line is buy one get one free now!
Charity Pot..proceeds go to Charity!
Buffy Bar..might not look like much but its filled with tiny beads that, well, buff you. I use this at the end of my shower and it leaves a moisturizing feel all over my arms and legs. I get out and immediately put on Lush Dream Cream lotion ...the perfect combo!

5. Woonsocket Rocket T-shirt

You might be asking yourself..what the hell is this? Well, Woonsocket is the great Northern Rhode Island town the three of us hail from. It's the city where my Dad and stepmom still live. It gets a really bum rap in RI. Lots of people make fun it, but I will say, growing up in a city with a lot of different ethnic groups and people from all walks of life is something I wouldn't all. Growing up in such a diversified city really prepared me for life beyond RI once I graduated high school and moved away to college. So..make fun of it if you will...but the only people that are truly allowed to crack on Woonsocket are those who were born and bred there. They're the people we like to refer to as Woonsocket Rockets.

Older sister emailed me and Oldest sister a few weeks ago. I'm not sure where she found this T-shirt..but she told us that a place in downtown Providence had this HILARIOUS T-shirt that she needed. It just so happened that this place was 2 blocks from my work office. I jetted over there and scooped them up. Although it might not fall under the category of one of my favorite things...I KNEW they'd laugh their asses off...and I was right. So, I fully expect the sisters to be donning this kick ass T-Shirt at every family function and I think I might need to hop over to CraftLand on Westminster Street in Providence and grab myself one!

If I didn't have a $50 limit..some of my absolute favorite things this year would have been my Kindle...I've been a reading machine this year and love that I can shove it in my purse and have tons of books at my disposal. Tory Burch flats...still having a love affair with these after our little breaking in period is now over. Hunter boots...they've made rainy days much more fun! Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! (and got good shit too!)

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Favorite Day after Christmas Tradition

hitting up Target for all the 50% off Christmas themed napkins, cups, plates, Ziploc bags, Ziploc containers, foil, parchment name it...even scored some snow flake flannel sheets! My mom taught me well!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quick Homemade Treats

One thing I love about this time of year is making home made treats for people. Whether it's a plate of cookies for some co-workers or some home made Chex Mix, I love creating little things to give out. So, here are so super quick ideas that don't take a ton of time to make or a ton of ingredients!

 Muddy Buddy Chex Mix
Warning...this stuff can be as addictive as crack!!! It seriously takes 10 minutes to make and it's so good!

Here's what you need..2 boxes of plain Corn Chex cereal, 1 bag of chocolate and peanut butter chips (if you have a peanut allergy, plain chocolate chips will do the trick!) and some powdered sugar (you probably need about 3/4 of a cup..I have a mammoth bag because I buy it bulk for frosting.)

Separate the 2 boxes of cereal into 3 large ziploc bags. Melt the chips..I prefer a double boiler since I burn them in the microwave..just take a small saucepan, put some water in it, place a glass bowl on top. Throw the chips in the bowl, heat the water, and it takes about 7-10 minutes to melt them. Once the chips are melted, spoon melted chocolate into the ziploc bags. I use 1 bag of chips for 2 boxes of cereal. Once it's in there, seal the bags...make sure they're sealed to avoid a shower of melted chocolate cereal on your kitchen floor...and shake them to coat the cereal. Sometimes I'll do some melted chocolate, shake, them put more in vs. putting it all in at once. Once the cereal is coated, add some powdered sugar...seal it again and then make sure it's sealed!..and shake some more..the powdered sugar will help separate the cereal. You can choose how chocolate-y and how sugary you want it! I throw it in a huge bowl, let the chocolate harden a bit and them put it in a tin or little treat bags.

2. Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

I saw these on Martha Stewart's show a couple years ago..when she was on real tv and not booted to the Hallmark channel, which we don't even get. I loved this idea and these were pretty easy to make!

It starts off with some sugar, corn syrup, and water. Boil it in a small sauce pan. while it's heating up, you take some gelatin and water and get the mixer going! Once the ingredients in the saucepan are combined, add it to the mixer and let it mix...

Once the ingredients are combined, I took a 8 by 8 brownie pan. Cover it in saran wrap with an overhang. Spray it with Pam or another non stick spray..this is important or you'll never get the marshmallows out of the pan! Here's what mine looked like..

After about 2 hours, they should be ready to cut. You can cut them as large or as small as you'd like!
Then comes the powdered sugar bath....

Here are the real play by play directions! These are perfect for a hostess gift..or pair it with a mug, a container of hot chocolate and maybe even a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps!

3 (1/4-ounce) packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Confectioners' sugar, sifted, for coating


Lightly spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water; let stand for 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; boil rapidly for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and, with the mixer on high, slowly pour the boiling syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into gelatin mixture. Add salt and continue mixing for 12 minutes

Add peppermint extract and mix until well combined. Spray a rubber spatula or your hands with cooking spray. Spread gelatin mixture evenly into pan using prepared spatula or your hands. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place, spray side down, on top of marshmallows. Let stand for 2 hours.

Carefully remove marshmallows from pan. Remove all plastic wrap and discard. Cut marshmallows into 2-inch squares using a sprayed a sharp knife. Place confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Working in batches, add marshmallows to bowl and toss to coat. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Kick Ass Christmas Breakfast Recipe and My All Time Favorite Tradition

I complain constantly how I don't have a ton of hard core traditions, so in an effort to start making some of our own, Mr. Allan and I have some must do/make/see things we love at Christmas time. One of my favorites..since I love to cook and bake..making Mr. Allan and the cats a delectable Christmas morning breakfast. I try to keep it healthy and am constantly scurrying the baked goods and cookies out of our house and to the workplace kitchen area so we don't eat them, but, I found a little indulgent recipe that's not too too bad that we make every Christmas morning....

So, my friends, I give you the best Christmas morning casserole....Pannettone French Toast's sooooo good..and a can assemble it the night before, so you can just pop it in the oven on Christmas morning while the coffee is brewing, the Christmas tunes are pumping and, at least in our house, the cats are opening their gifts.

Panettone French Toast Casserole
courtesy of Whole Foods
6 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon water
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
6 (1-inch-thick) slices panettone (about 1 pound), halved
2 cups milk
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


In a small bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons butter, sugar and water until well combined. Spread mixture over the bottom of a 9- x 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer apples and their juices to the reserved baking dish and spread out evenly over the sugar mixture. Scatter cranberries over apples and arrange panettone over the top, overlapping the slices as needed. Set aside to let apples cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon then pour over panettone, being sure to coat all slices. Cover and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover baking dish and bake until just cooked through, puffed and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly before serving.

Just a couple notes...I just cube the Pannettone vs. putting slices on top and I used skim milk last year and probably almond milk this year since we're on a non dairy kick...the type of milk doesn't really affect this recipe at all!

And...for my all time absolute favorite Christmas must be good if it beats the Christmas the annual Briggs sisters Christmas Exchange...or as we call it Our Favorite Things.

Yes, this is an absolute knock off of Oprah's Favorite Things. I was the brainchild behind copying Oprah. Every Year we spend around $50..although I always go way over...and purchase our favorite things of the past's so much fun to come up with the list and it's easy since there are 3 of us..each of us just buys duplicate things for the other two. So, it's 2 for the price of 1 Christmas shopping with a lovely traditional twist. While I can't reveal this year's Favorite Things...since I know my two sisters best be reading this's a LINK to the items that made it on last year's list..and I must say, this year's list is so much better!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

Twas the Wednesday before Christmas...and here's what I'm loving for this week's edition of What I'm loving Wednesday with !

Reigniting my major girl crush on Kate she is in a black Alexander McQueen gown looking stunning as usual...

Although I thought this was cute...Mr. Allan thought it was hilarious. I heard him cracking up on the couch and he kept rewinding the tv to see this over and over again....why it's the monkey that rode a dog during the halftime show as our beloved Patriots kicked the Denver Broncos butts!

I'm also loving these....they are the most amazing flats I've owned..yes, they're pricey and yes, they did take a little bit to break in...but now they so soft and so comfortable and I find myself wearing them all the time!

Tory Burch Reva Ballerina flats (LINK)

I'm also loving this hand cream by Burt's Bees. Besides the amazing smell, it's helping out my poor dry hands..this time of year with all the baking, the cold weather, and constantly washing my hands..they've taken a beating!

Happy Wednesday! May you enjoy your Christmas week!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cards

I love sending them and love receiving them. There's something about the whole process of buying them, filling them out, addressing them, and running to the post office for cute Christmas stamps and putting them in the mail box that I love. I also love getting home from work to open the mailbox and have tons of them to open and then hang in our hallway. It's usually about this time that the little Christmas Card rack from Pottery Barn barely has a hook left on it!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Tradition #2...

Now that the tree has been chopped down and came another weekend and more fun little traditions. Yesterday was cookie baking day! usually I love to make a million different kinds and fill tins with an assortment of treats to deliver to friends. But, I went a different route this year..and instead made all sugar cookies and decorated them with royal icing.

Decorating sugar cookies takes a lot of patience..something I don't have. It's somewhat of a long process as well...since I jammed it into one day, the morning was spent making and chilling the dough, the afternoon was baking and cooling the cookies, and night time was set aside to get them decorated so they could dry overnight. My husband probably heard more four letter words come out of my mouth during the icing process...royal icing can be messy and is sometimes like glue, since it hardens up pretty quickly. But, once you get to the end's all worth it!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Things that are exciting me today

1. Finding a dress in the back of my closet that I forgot I had and can't remember where I wore it last to find out it fits and is perfect for the Holiday Gala at Oceancliff tonight! Not too shabby of a venue for a little Christmas dinner with friends!

2. Christmas shopping is 95% done thanks to a sprint to the mall at lunch and dodging lots of 14 year old girls toting Chanel and Louis Vuitton purses. Two thoughts came to mind..1) why aren't they at school and 2) what parent in their right mind buys a kid a purse with a price tag well over $1000...but I digress...

3. My hair came out kind of good today

4. Tomorrow is dinner with great friends and Cirque du Soleil's Holidaze..I love a good dinner and a Cirque show after makes for the perfect night!

5. Sunday is a day dedicated to singing Christmas carols while baking cookies and wrapping gifts.

Happy Weekend...hope yours is as good as mine!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Come join up at for another edition of What I'm Loving Wednesday....

This week, I'm loving that Christmas is around the corner....

the Allan tree is trimmed...

The Allan cats are in their Christmas collars

Tis the season for spiking your hot chocolate

and it's also the season for baking Christmas cookies! One of my tasks included in this much anticipated chock full packed of activities weekend ahead! Here's a little tray I made for work last year...

Some of my favorites recipes...Rolo Cookies, Espresso Thumbprints, Banana Chocolate Chunk Walnut Cookies, Cranberry Orange Cookies, White Chocolate Gingerbread Blondies, Peanut Butter Kisses

Enjoy this last weekend rush before Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A much needed weekend away....

in a lovely little town called Edgartown. Located on the island of Martha's Vineyard...a favorite place of ours to visit each and every single summer. So, we mixed it up and did a wintertime visit to enjoy Christmas in Edgartown....the view from the hotel couldn't have been more beautiful.
There were so many events going on this weekend. From the lighting of the Edgartown Lighthouse to wine and cheese tastings to open houses at all the local inns. But, one of my favorite events...the Holiday Parade. It seemed like everyone on the Island was there..the holiday excitement was absolutely contagious...some highlights...

I just liked the little chicken this guy was holding...

The biggest pie ever...

What's a parade without the Island's alpacas?

 the handsome Mr. Allan...being a traitor hanging out in Martha's Vineyard while wearing a Nantucket hat!

Rainbow colored dogs...

what made the weekend really fun....

spiking our hot chocolate whenever we had the chance to!

After this weekend that was filled with holiday festivities...I finally feel like the holiday season has begun!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Old Fashioned Pancakes, a Day off, and weekend away!

I am so ridiculously excited to have a day off today. So's, well ridiculous! This day off is even sweeter since yesterday was a day from HELL! Sometimes defending juvenile delinquents takes a toll on me...especially when you and your co worker are covering court together and you each have about 17 clients in one day. Maybe the juveniles aren't that bad but add in their very unhappy parents and it's just a treat! Also making this day off even better...Mr. Allan has the day off too.

While I envisioned us sleeping in, snuggled tight under the down comforter as the temperatures finally drop in Rhode Island...our cats had other plans. Starting at 5am, they decided they were hungry. Around 615, I bit the bullet, got up, fed the fur kids, made coffee, and shut the bedroom door to let the Mr. sleep in.

I also thought it'd be nice to make some breakfast for Mr. Allan. During the week I'm usually eating toast with almond butter or steel cut I decided to make a treat...some pancakes from scratch.

This was a pretty easy and adaptable recipe from for some Old Fashioned Pancakes that don't require too many ingredients!

Even Davie...a lover of fish, chicken, pita chips and ice cream, wanted to hop on the pancake train

Old Fashioned Pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk*
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1 tsp vanilla

* I used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all purpose flour. I used Almond Milk since that's what was in the fridge and also added 1 tsp of vanilla

Beat egg and milk together just until the egg is slightly beaten. For super fluffy pancakes, leave this mixture out on the counter and allow it to come to room temperature. Melt butter and add butter and vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients. For fluffy pancakes, use a sifter...if you don't care, just sift together with a whisk. Add dry ingredients to wet and have your batter!

Now that my belly is full of's time to pack up because we have a weekend away! I haven't been this excited for a little getaway in a long time! We're big fans of Martha's Vineyard...we go every single summer...and even though we love the beaches of the Vineyard...I'm excited to check it out during the winter months for Christmas in Edgartown. There's a huge list of activities for the weekend!

Here's the Edgartown Lighthouse with the Harborview Hotel (where we'll be camped out all weekend) in the background. Photo courtesy of

Mr. Allan and our cat heart melts when I look at this picture