Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Favorite Gifts! 2015

Standard

Christmas is less than two weeks away!! Have you already checked-off everyone on your gift list? If so, maybe you’ll see something below you want to watch for post-Christmas sales for yourself :) If you still have a few people on your list to find gifts for, here are some ideas…

Spiralizer: This has been my favorite kitchen gadget of 2015!! I have had so much fun making all different kinds of zucchini noodle meals…two of my favorites are Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles and Zucchini Noodles with Chicken and Feta. It feels so good to fill up on a plate of vegetables instead of pasta! Something about the texture and shape just makes vegetables so much more delicious and crave-able! I love reading the Inspiralized blog and her cookbook for recipe inspiration.SpiralizerGap Modal Pajama Pants: I don’t think a softer pair of pajama pants exists! I’ve owned several pairs of Gap pajama pants (and shorts) made out of their modal material – best fabric ever! I’ve particularly enjoyed this pair with the cuffs at the ankles because when you stick your legs under the covers, the pants don’t ride up your legs!Gap Pajama Bottoms

UGG Ansley Moccasins: My mom surprised me with these moccasins the last time I went home and I have worn them every day since! They are the first thing I put on when I get home from work and I wear them all day on the weekends. The wool lining and rubber sole are very thick, so they provide warmth and the support you need to be on your feet on hard floors all day. I couldn’t love these more! I wish I could wear them to the office!UGG SlippersCrate&Barrel Cutting Board: I use this cutting board every single day. It’s beautiful enough to keep out on the counter all the time. You don’t realize how nice it is to chop up vegetables on a sturdy cutting board until you have one. It works great for serving meat and cheese too!Cutting BoardCable Knit Blanket: You might not anticipate how excited you can get about a blanket until you have one as cozy as this! One side of the blanket is a cable knit and the other is the softest faux sheepskin. I love snuggling up under this blanket. IMG_471728951Snow Boots: These were my favorite Christmas present last year – thanks Mom!! I love the furry top! They are very warm and functional, but also super cute! For any men on your gift list, try these boots.Sorel 'Joan of Arc' BootsThese are some of my favorite gifts that I’ve received over the last year – I basically love things that are comfy or tasty :) Hope you found some inspiration!

Stocking Stuffer Gifts 2015

Standard

Even at 28 years old, I still get to come downstairs on Christmas morning to an over-flowing stocking! My mom has kept the tradition going all these years and it’s still exciting! Here are some stocking stuffer ideas that just might excite the grown-ups in your life:

Mini Measuring Cup: For those who like trying out cocktail recipes, this is a fun little measuring cup to have! It is marked in ounces, so that you can get just the right ratio of triple sec to tequila when making a blood orange margarita! I use this ALL the time…Ounce Measuring Cup

That’s It!: My mom put this game in my stocking last year and we have had a blast playing it with family and friends. One player reads a category, such as “something you tie to the top of your car” and everyone else shouts out answers until they say the one that’s on the card, such as “a christmas tree”. The box is less than 4 inches wide, so you can fit it in a stocking AND in your purse to take to a party!That's It! Game

Soap Brush: This was the best $6 I could’ve spent! Andrew said it’s all we needed to get him to start doing dishes – he loves it! If only I’d known a few years earlier…You press the top to release soap into the dirty pan and then scrub with the bristles. It’s very sturdy for hard scrubbing.Soap Brush

Sweet & Spicy Tea: I LOVE this tea! My mom and sister, who order it on amazon by the case load, introduced me to it. This tea has a bold flavor of cinnamon that is both sweet and spicy. It is so warming and delicious – I can’t get enough of it!Sweet & Spicy TeaTravel Books: When I’m visiting a new city or country, I think it’s fun and interesting to get to read about the place ahead of time. Fodor’s travel books are my favorite because they have great information on both the culture and history of the city, as well as recommendations on what to do. If you know someone is going on a trip next year, you could get them a book about their destination.Travel BooksCandle in a Jar: Voluspa makes the prettiest candles in little tins and glass jars. I love the Bella Sucre scent, which I have in this little glass jar, and the Goji Tarocco Orange scent, which I have in this larger glass jar. You could give one of these candles with some decorative matches.Voluspa CandleVoluspa CandleCrabtree & Evelyn Hand Therapy: This is the best hand cream ever! It is so rich and creamy without any greasy feeling after using. I always keep a small tube of it in my purse or at my desk to have on hand when my skin dries out. The scent is light and herbal, not overpowering the way some floral scents can be.  Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Therapy

I hope these ideas gave you some gifting inspiration! For more ideas, here are links to my stocking stuffers from 2012, 2013, and 2014.

The Lead-Up To Our Wedding

Standard

6 MONTHS (and 2 days) ago, Andrew and I had the best weekend of our lives…We knew that 1 day of wedding celebration wasn’t going to be enough, so we planned 4 days of activities – which all ended up being as much fun as the actual wedding itself! Since Andrew’s family drove in from Ohio and a majority of our friends flew in from California, we wanted to show them a good time…especially since I’m always boasting that Milwaukee is the greatest city ever :)

We kicked off Thursday night before the wedding with a Wisconsin/Ohio State tailgate at my parents’ house with our wedding party and families. I am a Badger and Andrew is a very proud Buckeye, so my mom and dad made us this football to represent the joining of teams:Wedding Football

We aimed to give everyone a taste of Wisconsin with grilled brats, cheese curds, Spotted Cow beer and Sprecher root beer floats with Kopp’s custard. It was such an exciting night to welcome all of our best friends to town and kick-off the wedding celebration!Wedding Tailgate

I absolutely loved sitting around the campfire after dinner with our wedding party, talking late into the night. My mom started a “game” where she passed a candle around the circle and when the candle came to you, the floor was yours to say anything you wanted. It turned into a bit of a roast session, with people telling some hysterical stories about Andrew and I…At this point, I keep thinking “I can’t believe our wedding weekend has arrived!”

Wedding TailgateFriday morning, after getting our nails done, the girls headed off to a gorgeous bridal luncheon with my best girlfriends and all of the “moms” I grew up with. It was so beautiful! The lunch was such a special time for me to get to thank all of the women who have been so important to me over the years with stories about them and gifts wrapped in gold sparkles!

Then, we were off to join the boys and everyone else who was already in town for the wedding at Sprecher Brewery, to sample their great beers and amazing homemade sodas. They gave us a private tour, which ended in the sampling room.Sprecher Brewery Tour

And before we knew it, we were in the church for the rehearsal! This moment on the alter certainly made it all feel very real.Wedding Rehearsal

After we all learned where to stand for the ceremony, we headed downtown for our rehearsal dinner at Trocadero in their private garden room. It was so beautiful and open in the 70 degree weather we had that weekend!Rehearsal DinnerDuring dinner, Andrew and I got up to share a funny story about each person in our wedding party and give them a silly gift to go with the story. Andrew had us all cracking up, talking about the night he played my brother in flip cup for my hand in marriage. He gave Mike a reusable Solo cup to remember that game.Rehearsal Dinner

Afterwards, we all went upstairs to the Red Star bar to join the rest of our wedding guests who were in town. It was an unbelievable sensation to have the entire bar full of people that I love! I kept bouncing from group to group overwhelmed by who to talk to next!IMG_6044

When our 11pm curfew arrived, Andrew and I kissed goodnight and the bar erupted in cheers. It was such a cool and exciting moment. I was instantly full of tears from all of the emotions! I had just had the best night of my entire life. And I knew that somehow Saturday was going to  be even better! Our last picture together before meeting at the alter…IMG_442634540

**Thank you Bill Krugler, our close family friend and reader in our ceremony, for taking all of the great pictures in this post. I’m grateful that you captured all of these moments!

To see more of our wedding details, you can find more posts I’ve written here!

January Review

Standard

After a white Christmas with my family in northern Wisconsin, full of lots of fun in the snow…

Andrew, my sister, and I flew down to New Orleans to ring in the new year. We had a blast on Bourbon Street – which I’ve never seen so packed! (Although that statement may change in a few weeks when I get to experience a little party they call Mardi Gras.) Bourbon Street on New Years EveAndrew would be upset if I failed to mention that we celebrated The Ohio State winning the Sugar Bowl January 1s…which our friend Ty claimed as “the best day of his entire life”. He’s a passionate fan…Sugar Bowl 2015After being on the road for most of December, it was great to be home in NOLA for two weeks. I love nothing more than spending an afternoon riding my bike around the French Quarter and stopping to listen to all of the different street musicians.French Quarter Music Then, I was off to visit Andrew in Toronto for a week, where I realize now that I didn’t take a single picture to share. Probably because it was too dang cold to get my phone out! This is me, severely over-dressed for the New Orleans airport, but somehow still unprepared for stepping off the plane onto the Toronto runway.

Winter Clothes

While I was up there, Andrew lost his wedding ring at the gym – I guess I should have let him get the $9.99 ring from the Wet’n’Wild Orlando water park that he wanted! 4 months ago there were three wedding rings, and now there are two…that was short-lived! Wedding RingsFrom Toronto, I went to Tampa, Florida for a few work days, then ended the month here in LA for work and stayed to spend time in my old neighborhood, Manhattan Beach, with some of my best girlfriends.Hermosa Beach

In the month of January…

Favorite meal I cooked: these Pulled Pork Tacos with Sweet Chili Slaw were incredibly delicious

Favorite movie I watched: Chef was a great feel-good kind of movie about a guy starting up a food truck

Song I’ve had on repeat: Vance Joy – Riptide

If you like that song, then here’s his other song I love – Mess Is Mine 

January was a great start to the year…and can’t believe that it’s somehow February already!! Time for the month of LOVE! Here’s a cute idea for Valentine’s that I made a few years ago :)

Wedding Highlight Video

Standard

Andrew and I have been reliving our wedding day all weekend by re-watching this video! We are SO excited with how it turned out! It perfectly captures all of the details that made our wedding day so special to us. I haven’t yet watched it without tears in my eyes. We both lose it watching my dad and I see each other for the first time. Andrew and I’s first dance was one of our favorite parts of the whole day – so we love getting to see it in the video! Watch how the bridesmaids dip when Andrew dips me – it’s so cute! It was also really fun for me to see the boys getting ready since I obviously wasn’t there. I could go on and on about how amazing this is!! (You can go here to watch it in full screen.)

When I watch this video, all of the emotions I felt on wedding day come right back to me. It’s so incredibly sweet and captures the day exactly how I remember it. Thank you Mark and Chris at Simply Love Films for such an amazing video, better than I could have ever imagined! We can’t wait to see the extended version :)

To see more of our wedding details, you can find more posts I’ve written here!

Moscow Mules

Standard

Have you heard of this drink? I LOVE a good Moscow Mule, any day of year! So does my family now – I’ve got them hooked! It is an incredibly refreshing vodka cocktail with a kick of ginger and hint of lime. These are so easy to make at home with the right recipe and ingredients. Why not mix up something a little different for your next cocktail hour? I know we will definitely be making these at Thanksgiving in a few weeks :)Moscow Mule / www.sarasfavoritethings.com

Ginger beer is a less sugary version of ginger ale and it is not interchangeable here. Over the last year, we have tried several different ginger beers and have found that Gosling’s is the best. There are some really bad ginger beers out there and because there are only 3 ingredients in this cocktail, it’s important that the ginger beer is good!Gosling's Ginger Beer

At our wedding, Andrew and I served our two favorite specialty cocktails. One was our all-time favorite: a freshly made margarita. We named it the “Maze-a-rita”, for my new last name – Maze! The other cocktail we served was this Moscow Mule, which we renamed the “Milwaukee Mule” that night.Moscow Mule

Wondering why drink a Moscow mule out of a copper mug? Mainly, because they are fun! But I have read that the copper keeps the drink cooler and enhances the flavors. Copper mugs can be found all over these days. I like these smooth mugs and this hammered finish. Are you looking for a fun hostess, wedding or Christmas gift? Put together a Moscow Mule basket with copper mugs, vodka, ginger beer, and maybe a lime juicer! Turns out I am behind the times here because Oprah had this Moscow Mule kit as one of her favorite things in 2012.Moscow Mule

Moscow Mules

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 shots vodka (2 shots if you like a strong drink!)
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (about ½ a shot)
  • ½ cup ginger beer* (1 can makes 3 cocktails)
  • ice

Directions:

In a glass or copper mug, combine the vodka and lime juice first, and then pour in the ginger beer. Add a big handful of ice and stir. Serve right away.

*If using copper mugs, stick them in the freezer an hour before serving so that they are frosted.

*I’ve tried several different ginger beers and some of them have been awful (don’t buy Reed’s)! The Gosling’s brand is my favorite and the most widely available. Depending on what city you are in, you might be able to find a great local or craft ginger beer. Because there are only 3 ingredients in this drink, a bad ginger beer will make a bad cocktail.

Cheers!!

Wisconsin Wedding Whirlwind

Standard

It has been a whirlwind around here! Andrew and I have been to 3 weddings in Wisconsin over the last 3 weekends….and will cap it off next weekend with our own! Sitting in yesterday’s ceremony, it really hit us: we will be the ones standing up there in exactly 7 days!! It was a very emotional and surreal moment.

Our Wisconsin wedding series kicked off for us September 6th in Milwaukee when one of my best friends and roommates from college, Rachael, married a tennis friend of mine, Ryan. I’ve never felt so much love in the air or seen such a stunning bride!Rachael Buck Wedding

Their photographer, Carl from Front Room, will be photographing our wedding as well. I love his great action shots!Rachael - Champagne Picture

Last weekend, we had a wedding in Lake Geneva for our friends from California, Betsy and Greg. Most of my bridesmaids were in town for the event as well, so we all went to work on crafts for my wedding. Even my brother jumped in to help decorate the votive candles. He came up with the best technique – finger painting the mod podge on!

Mike and votives 2

My parents’ house is basically dusted in gold at this point, you can tell there is a party brewing!Votive Candles

My mom got the “dancing shoes” ready, so there are no excuses for leaving the dance floor early!Wedding flip flops

Then we all headed to Lake Geneva for the wedding!betsy wedding group

The ceremony was outside looking over a lake – it was so beautiful!! Afterwards, Betsy and Greg drove off in a golf cart. I’ve never seen Betsy look so happy!!

Betsy's wedding golf kart 1

Yesterday, we got to watch my childhood friend, Jenny, marry the man of her dreams, Brock. It was such a lovely ceremony with a beautiful a capella performance.

Jenny's wedding church

Andrew and I can hardly wait for all of our best friends and family to join us in Milwaukee in a few short days! September 27th, here we come!Jenny's wedding - Andrew and I 3To see more of our wedding details, you can find more posts I’ve written here!

My Blog Turns 2!

Standard

Sara’s Favorite Things is 2 years old today!! It’s hard to believe I started sharing my favorite things in this space 2 years ago. This past year has certainly been an exciting one! I moved from Manhattan Beach to Baltimore last September, Andrew and I got engaged in December, we traveled to Aspen in February, we moved to New Orleans in March, we attended a California wedding in April, I spent 2 weeks on the lake in Northern Wisconsin in July, and now we are planning our own wedding for September 27th. It’s been an action packed year, to say the least. Along the way, I’ve still gotten to share some of my favorite things with you. Here are a few of the top posts in case you missed them:

Post with the most views: It’s pretty much a two-way tie between my recipe for Foil-Baked Tilapia and The Fishbowl Game. The tilapia recipe is an amazingly quick and healthy weeknight meal. The fishbowl game is an absolute blast – you have to try it out!Fishbowl Game

Post with the most comments: After living in Manhattan Beach for 2 years with some of my best friends, it was extremely hard and sad to say goodbye. I think it will always feel like a second home to me.Manhattan Beach

Post with most views in one day: My 21 Minute Killer Interval Workout will kick your butt! It’s a great workout for when you are short on time or don’t have access to a gym. I do this a lot when I’m on the road for work or visiting my family – makes sense that the most views in 1 day fell right around Thanksgiving!21 Minute Killer Interval Workout

My favorite post: These Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls are one of my favorite treats! I could snack on these every single day, guilt-free.Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls

1 year ago today, I wrote about my first year of blogging. 2 years ago today, I sent out my first official blog post on Sara’s Favorite Things and shared this quote: “An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break. May you be open to each thread that comes into your life – the golden ones and the coarse ones – and may you weave them into a brilliant and beautiful life.” Thank you so much for connecting with me! I absolutely love writing this blog as a means to connect with all of you! I get over the moon excited to hear back from people who have tried something out from My Favorite Things :)

 

Bye-bye Baltimore!

Standard

When Andrew first told me that he wanted to take a job in Baltimore, I thought, why the heck would we want to move there?? Do we really want to trade living on the Pacific ocean for “crab cakes and football”? I didn’t know anything about the city at that point, except that it seemed dangerous and “The Wire”, a famous HBO cop drama, was filmed there. Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised to learn how beautiful the city’s inner harbor is and how friendly the people are. Our 6 month adventure on the east coast was full of excitement and gave us a taste of life in the “charm city”.Baltimore / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

One of the highest points was the steak dinner Andrew made December 6th, before asking me to marry him! We went out that night to one of our favorite restaurant/bars, Ryleigh’s Oyster, with our best friend Elaine and drank their infamous freshly made orange crush cocktails all night.Baltimore / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

The lowest point is pretty easy for me to pick-out: It was my first week visiting Andrew in June when he came home at 5am (he worked 3rd shift) and said “Don’t freak out, but I was just robbed at gun point.” How do you expect me to react to that statement?! I instantly started balling out of shock. However, if you ask him about this night, it was easily his high point. An officer in cargo shorts and bullet proof best showed up, Andrew hopped in the cop car shot gun, and they sped up and down the streets looking for the guys. He experienced the Cops TV show firsthand as they located the get-away-van, the cop yanked the driver out through the window, threw him to the ground, and got Andrew’s phone back. His story made the local news.Baltimore / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

I was surprised to learn how beautiful the city is. I really enjoyed going for walks/runs around the inner harbor, which sits in the middle of the downtown business district. We settled into Federal Hill, a neighborhood that bumps up right next to the harbor and downtown. The area is named for a grassy hill on the north side of town that looks out over the harbor and city skyline. Federal Hill is full of charming open-air bars, restaurants, and lots of young professionals our age. You can tell it would be easy to settle into a great group of friends here because everyone is so friendly and loves to talk. Over 20% of residents walk to work, so it was common to bump into the same people day to day. This was our street and our cute apartment.Baltimore / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

When I first arrived in fall, the streets were lined with beautiful trees just starting to change colors. And then winter came and it was a bit exciting to have to brush snow off my car for the first time in 5 years! That charm wore off as the polar vortex continued and a city with no experience in clearing snow continued to get buried! Overall though, the temperatures are much milder in Baltimore compared to the rest of the east coast, making it a much more manageable winter than I expected.Baltimore / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

I was saddened to give up my last claim to CA life when I was forced to convert to a Maryland license. There is clearly a stark contrast between my tanned, tank top wearing CA photo and my pale, scarf-wrapped mug shot on my Maryland ID! Little did I know, I would only be a true Maryland resident for another few months…Baltimore license / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

When I moved from Manhattan Beach to Baltimore 6 months ago, there were lots of tears and heartfelt goodbyes. But with this  next move, I could not be more excited! We are moving to the rajin’ Cajun city of New Orleans and looking forward to live music, warm weather, swamp tours, and delicious Creole food!Baltimore / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comI officially landed in the New Orleans airport for the first time last night, on my 27th birthday, and the flight attendant came over the speaker saying “Welcome to the Big Easy!!” I can’t wait to explore the south and learn all about this wild city :)

Manhattan Beach

Standard

Today is a very bittersweet day for me – it is my last day living in Manhattan Beach. I can hardly believe it! This pier and the surrounding town have so many memories that I will hold onto forever.

www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comThe last 2 years have been a dream, waking up every Saturday morning to a mini beach vacation.

www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comIt’s hard to imagine life without the amazing friends I’ve made here and spend every weekend with.www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

I’ve gotten to see sunsets of all different colors.www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

Each one is unique.

www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comAnd magical.
www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

So long, Manhattan Beach, my home away from home!www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

It is very hard to walk away. But, it’s time for the next life adventure…

I’ll be moving to Baltimore this weekend, ready to explore the Charm City and the east coast!