Friday Favourites: 5 Christmas Movies to Watch This Weekend

Hello Lovely,

It’s the first weekend in December, which means it’s an entirely appropriate time to get in the festive mood with some cosy, Christmassy films (if you haven't already). This weekend, whether you’re chilling inside, wrapping presents scored during cyber weekend deals or out enjoying the weather, you can’t escape the fact that the festive season is here.

I started playing Christmas music in October, so it’s never too early to get into the holiday spirit. And there’s no better feeling than cosying up on a Saturday evening under a blanket and watching your festive faves. Here are a couple available on Lifetime, Hallmark, Netflix and Amazon Prime that you need to watch right now.

A Very Nutty Christmas

A bakery owner has more cookie orders than she has time to fill this holiday season, and when her boyfriend suddenly breaks up with her, any shred of Christmas joy she had inside immediately disappears.Then, she meets a handsome soldier who may actually be a nutcracker that has come to life. Together, they rediscover the magic of Christmas. This movies stars Melissa Joan Hart and Barry Watson so it’s filled with 90’s feels! I sat there the entire movie trying to remember his name because he reminded me so much of Joel Mchale, but I knew he would never be in a Lifetime movie.

A Very Merry Mix-Up

A woman goes to spend Christmas with her fiance's family, but ends up at the wrong house. However, she instantly bonds with the couple who live there and becomes attracted to their son. When the mistake comes to light, she wonders whether she might be happier with her newfound friends than her partner and his relatives. The premise sounds really strange and I had a lot of questions on how she missed all the obvious signs that she was at the wrong house. But my mother really enjoyed this one and I like the actress in it.

The Holiday Calendar

In The Holiday Calendar, a photographer inherits an antique advent calendar—which predicts the future. “Will this magical calendar lead her to love this holiday season?” Netflix’s synopsis asks. I started this on Wednesday. Here’s betting the answer is yes.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas


It's bound to be a white Christmas with this classic! From creator Charles M. Shultz and producer Bill Melendez, it's A Charlie Brown Christmas. Not only does this timeless special have the distinction of warming hearts young and old, but it has won both an Emmy and a Peabody Award. Whether you are seeing this holiday masterpiece for the first time or the first time in years, you have doubtless heard of that ol' blockhead Charlie Brown and the little tree that could. Filled with mythology as the gang tries to put on a holiday play, kids big and small will end up with a pretty decent dance party, a lesson for the ages and some good old-fashioned fun. As for the tree -- it's amazing what a little love can do. Available here on Amazon Prime.

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A GINGERBREAD ROMANCE

With Christmas just weeks away, the architecture firm Taylor works for enters her in a contest in which the teams will design and build life sized gingerbread houses. After the contest, Taylor will likely be getting a promotion to a position in another city. The firm teams her up with Annabelle, a renowned French pastry chef with whom Taylor instantly locks horns. When Annabelle backs out, Taylor stumbles into a local bakery and meets Adam, a baker and single dad. In an act of desperation, Taylor convinces Adam to partner with her for the contest, arguing that winning would give the bakery and his designs much needed exposure. For years Taylor has been resistant to call anywhere “home” for fear it will only be temporary. But the time she spends with Adam and his daughter Brook in their cozy home, decorating for Christmas, and exploring Philadelphia at Christmas, fills her with a longing for a place to call home. Starring Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Duane Henry. Available on Hallmark Channel.



Fun Holiday Gift Wrapping Ideas

Hello Lovely

I’m so excited for Christmas this year. As you guys know we didn’t celebrate the holidays last year because my stepfather died on December 16. But this will be my niece’s first Christmas so we really want to make it special for her. So far she doesn’t give a damn about the tree. We practically shoved her face in it and she still walked away. I don’t know what to do with this child. That’s why I decided not to get her any gifts (that sounds so mean). She still doesn’t quite understand what’s happening and I got her a lot of gifts for her birthday in October, so she’ll be fine; she won’t even remember this. But I got gifts for other people and while I know exactly how I plan on wrapping them, some of you may not even know where to start. If you’ve run out of some wrapping supplies or you just like free stuff, download these holiday printables. And remember that the season is all about love and togetherness, and it’s the thought that always counts most.

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PRINTABLE HOLIDAY HUG BAGS

I love fun holiday packaging and now is the season to get creative! These holiday “hug” bags are the perfect way to package candies, gift cards, or any other small gifts this year. They’re easy to make and a fun way to dress up any small treat bag. Make someone feel warm & fuzzy inside!

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PRINTABLE HOLIDAY STICKERS

There’s something super cute about these printable stickers that would make any wrapped gift look great! It inspired me to make my own, which I’ll share once I’m done.

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DIY SCANDINAVIAN PATTERN WRAPPING PAPER + FREE PRINTABLE GIFT TAGS

Sometimes simplicity is best and this do-it-yourself patterned paper is so easy, you can even get the kids involved. Feel free to customise it with your own colour and pattern design if you want. Don’t forget the free printable gift tags!

PRINTABLE: CHRISTMAS TREAT LABELS

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If you’re looking for a super easy-yet-stylish way to package up your homemade holiday treats this year, we’ve got you covered. Simply fill pint-size ice cream containers with your goodies and decorate with our printable treat labels featuring these wonderful and whimsical Christmas illustrations.

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DIY PAPER MACHE GIFT BOXES

These DIY paper mache gift boxes are really quick and easy to make, leaving you with more time to shop and decorate your home! Since they aren’t super Christmassy, you can use this wrapping style all year round or even use them as cute little party favours!

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? I’m almost done. What are you most excited about this holiday season?

My 2018 Holiday Bucket List

Hello Lovely,

It’s the first week of December and exactly 22 days until Christmas — a fact that both excites and terrifies me. Every year, it feels like the holiday season flies by at a quicker pace, and despite the fun and joy there’s also a little sadness at the things that I wanted to do that just didn’t happen. I’ve been spending some time this weekend thinking about which holiday traditions mean the most to me.

Enter: the holiday bucket list. It’s the perfect time to put pen to paper and choose a handful of things that will bring more joy to your life and fill you with holiday spirit. Things that you vow to make happen, no matter how busy life gets.

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Here’s what’s on my Holiday Bucket List so far:

  1. Buy a Christmas tree

  2. Decorate the tree

  3. Set the table

  4. Make Christmas wreaths

  5. Baking Christmas cookies

  6. Draw names for Secret Santa with our team at the office.

  7. Watch holiday movies with loved ones

  8. Sing Christmas Carols with my boyfriend

  9. Decorate the Christmas tree with mum - ever since I was little, my mum and I had the responsibility of picking out the family Christmas tree and decorating it together. It’s actually my favourite Christmas tradition. We put on Christmas music and spend hours placing the ornaments just right.

  10. Make a new signature Christmas cake - Two years ago I made my signature Milk and Cookies cake. Now I have two options. Make it again, or try something new. What do you think?

What’s on your list? Leave a comment – I’d love more ideas! And scroll on for a few great reads from around the web this week…

I Spent a Week Indulging in Self Care—Here’s What I Did

Hello lovely,

I love being busy. I usually tell people I thrive on busyness. I do my best work when there’s a little pressure on me to get everything done, and I’ve always been the person who puts a lot on her plate.

But lately, my balance has been off and I probably bit off more than I could chew. I knew something was wrong two weeks ago, when I found myself getting annoyed at every little thing. I even exploded on my boyfriend (more than once).

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I love my blog and I love having a full agenda. But… I’m exhausted and could use some much needed time away from the stress. So, I embarked on a week full of stress relief, self-reflection, and serious me-time.

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SUNDAY - FRIENDSGIVING

I began my week with a friendsgiving dinner by my best friend Richard’s house. It’s our second year doing this, and even with the usual delays we had a blast. It was great catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in over a month. Our group of friends love and fight like family, but the best part about this family is that I chose these people, so I’m happiest when I’m around them!

MONDAY - THE SIMS 4 AND QUALITY TIME

I’m really loving the new Sims 4 expansion pack: Get Famous. It’s probably the best expansion pack we’ve had since University Life in Sims 2. So I feel really relaxed and happy, when I can zone out for an hour or two and just enjoy it. I also got to spend some much needed quality time with my boyfriend. I finally got to watch the Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj and everyone needs to watch that show!

TUESDAY - TIANA AND A NAP

On Tuesday Tiana surprised me at work. It’s always great to see my bestie, and Tuesday was a really slow day for me mentally so it was a much needed break. We walked around the campus, talking to students and teachers as we passed them. It was a much needed distraction. When I went home, I took a nap without setting an alarm. I felt really refreshed after that nap and was still able to get much needed work done.

WEDNESDAY - HALF=EARLY WORKOUT

Working in a school comes with it’s perks, like half days. We had an early dismissal on Wednesday because the high school’s Carol Service was that evening. So with this extra time, I was really excited to squeeze in an early workout. No one was on the park (not even my trainer who got there when I finished my last set of squats). It was so peaceful and exactly what I needed.

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THURSDAY - NAILS AND A PARTY

I normally get my nails done every two weeks, but my last nail design lasted three weeks. This time I was super excited to get a winter design because I’m counting down the days to Christmas! I ended the day at the Elevation Awards Nominee Announcement Party where I was nominated for Blog of The Year for a 2nd consecutive year. I’m really feeling confident this year as a contender!

FRIDAY - A NAP AND GAME NIGHT

Friday was particularly stressful. The day before, the principal of another school on the island died of a heart attack and was found slumped over his desk. This was probably the biggest eyeopener because today everything continued as normal. I’ve always read memes about not killing yourself for a job that will replace you when you die, but this was real. All of the guidance counsellors at my school vowed to never take our job home with us and enjoy time with family this weekend. At work, I’m one of the people responsible for our school’s Christmas play and child actors are probably the worst. If that wasn’t enough, before leaving there was drama that had to be investigated only to find out none of it was true. After work I was pretty exhausted. I wanted to get sushi but that didn’t work out because I totally fell asleep. While I was sad about the sushi, I have to admit, that nap left me feeling really rejuvenated. I ended the night playing the Sims again and all was right with the world.

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SATURDAY - VOLUNTEER WORK, CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AND CHRISTMAS MOVIES

This was probably the best day out of the week, although the way it started, it didn’t look like it would end well. I stopped for gas on my way to a community service event and ended up in a fender bender at the pump. Luckily it wasn’t severe. After the community service event, my mum and I ran some errands. We went looking for ornaments and found six that we really liked, but the options here really aren’t diverse enough. After checking out two lots we settled on THE tree for $125. My beau lifted the tree like it weighed nothing and got it in the stand for us like a pro. We watched a Lifetime Christmas movie together (A Very Nutty Christmas) and then I watched a A Twist of Christmas by myself. It was such a relaxing end to what could’ve been a stressful day and the perfect end to a week of self-care.

My week of self-care is officially over as I write this, and I’ve never felt so at ease and ready for the next week to begin. I feel an overall sense of calm, through mind and body. I also feel more confident in myself. I have a deeper sense of self-awareness, and my beau and I are communicating better than ever now that I’m coping better with stress as it arises.

If there’s anything this week taught me, it’s that self-care is the most critical thing anyone can do for themselves. Each act will look different for everyone but it has to be done intentionally. Now it’s your turn. I challenge you to take a week of self-care. You don’t have to start on Sunday, just indulge in self-care activities for 7 days. Pay attention to what makes you happy and what stress you out. Adjust and make time for yourself.

I've Been Nominated for Blog of the Year Again!

Hello lovely,

After six years of blogging (while getting a Master's degree and working a full time job), working several fashion shows, reviewing international products and services, photo shoots, partnerships, and two blue ribbon awards for original recipes, I've been nominated for the second consecutive year for the Elevation Awards Blog of the Year!

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It's been an amazing journey and I never get tired of it. I share this honour with last year's winner, Ianthia Ferguson, Rogan Smith- This Bahamian Gyal, Nik Barnes- Stylezine Magazine, Gail Hanna- Hard Work, Bad Employee and Renaldo Dorsett- 10th year services like senior.

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The night was hosted on LiveUp TV by the incomparable Rabs and Jerchovia with DJ Epic Forealz. The opening act was a hot new single called That's Why I'm Single by Leo. Then two nominee categories were revealed. The night had many hilarious moments including a new hashtag #LittyToTitty.

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Sacha the Duchess brought the house down with an emotional performance of her second single, Waiting to Exhale before sharing the epic music video for her first single, Mr. Lover. Then we had a performance from the dynamic duo of Johnny B and Eman.

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My high school scholar, Stephan Brown premiered his brand new app, Cameo Tunes. The app combines filters that highlight many aspects of Bahamian culture with Bahamian music hits from fan favourites like Wendi, Jonathan Farrington and Bodine. The app debuts on Android and iOS next Friday!

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I loved Kenique Marie's performance and I can't wait to hear more music from her!Of course I had a fan girl moment when Patrice Murrell took the stage to perform Feeling Good. From I first saw her perform I couldn't believe such a powerful voice came from such a tiny person and I honestly admire her and try to follow her music career.

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Sanjardo B closed out the show with a performance of his hit single, Hola. Last night was amazing. I finally got to meet Patrice Murrell, the room was full of positive energy and I'm nominated AGAIN! This year there are even more categories so there will be even more winners!

For a complete list of all nominees, check out the list below:

2019 Elevation Awards Nominees

I Bought a Mattress Online and Here's What Happened

Hello lovely,

There are a lot of major milestones in adulthood: completing college, buying your own car, starting your dream job, and oddly enough, buying furniture. Let me tell you guys how serious this was for me. I have had the SAME mattress since coming out of the crib. Let that sink in for a minute. It’s not that I didn’t I never thought to change it. I honestly never had the opportunity. For a long time I lived in Florida and even when I came back, I wasn’t trying to invest in anything, because I was always looking for my next escape. But I’ve been home for 6 years now and I just started another 2 year contract as a school counsellor, so I figured I might as well get comfortable. Last year I got a new bed (do you know how embarrassing it is to bring a guy back to a four poster bed in your mum’s house at nearly 30). So last month I began my search for a new mattress.

I went to two local furniture stores whose prices ranged from $400-$800 for twin mattresses. I called another and twin mattresses went up to $1000! I was ready to give up hope until leaving one of the stores and trying one more mattress. It was the perfect fit. I felt like Goldilocks (minus the white privilege). When the salesperson told me the price, I nearly leapt through the wall. I did not have $800 to spend on a mattress. I felt defeated. On a whim, I decided to check online.

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Enter the Zinus mattress:  one of the most popular memory foam options on Amazon (very reasonable price, lots of good reviews) so I was excited to try it for myself. .Like a lot of people, I wanted to get a memory foam mattress but I’m on a tight budget. The mattress layers include: 2 inches Memory Foam, 2 inches Pressure Relieving Comfort Foam, and 4 inches High-density Base Support Foam. Now priced at $119, I paid $149. I couldn’t believe a mattress could cost so little. Even with the fees associated with importing a mattress (100% in customs fees plus VAT) I still saved money by buying a mattress online. But was it worth it?

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Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Mattress Online

  • Before buying, make sure you’ll have all the necessary items like a proper bed frame and sheets that fit. I knew that I needed an 8 inch mattress because that’s what my last one was and I was not about to buy new sheets.

  • You can’t try before you buy with many online mattresses so pay attention to the reviews. Some allow free returns so find that out before you buy.

  • Many memory foam, hybrid, or latex mattresses arrive compressed and vacuum-sealed in a box. As a result, the mattress may take a few days to fully expand to its full shape and be comfortable to sleep on. Also, keeping the mattress sealed for longer than it should be can permanently destroy the foam’s contouring abilities. I didn’t know it’s supposed to be opened within 72 hours. When we have to wait for third party couriers to bring our stuff on the island, it could take a week to receive it after the initial delivery. I had to sleep with my mum the night we opened my mattress to allow it to fully expand.

  • Zinus first started in 2004 in Seoul and now operates bi coastal US distribution centres.

  • Try to avoid using a knife when opening the box because you don’t want to puncture the mattress.

MY EXPERIENCE

  • The box isn’t very heavy because the mattress is vacuum-sealed.

  • Getting the mattress out of the box is the easy part.

  • Taking the mattress out of the bag so that you can unfold it is the hard part. We tried rolling it down and it would not budge, so eventually we carefully ran down the seam of the bag with a scissors until the mattress sprang free.

  • I loved the cards that came tucked into the mattress. The personal touch was so simple but so thoughtful.

  • Once you take the plastic off, the mattress will immediately begin to inflate. IMMEDIATELY! You may think it’s ready within a few minutes but let it rest overnight.

  • My mattress is SUPER plump (more than I expected) but after a week, there’s an indentation in the middle of the bed where I sleep in the same position every night.

  • The edge of the mattress is the softest. It’s taken my back a few days to adjust to the new mattress as some days I would wake up feeling a little sore, but it’s getting better each night.

Overall, I’m glad I bought my mattress online. I saved over $400 on my memory foam mattress and sleeping on it has been really nice. It’s not that much of a hassle to set up so this purchase was totally worth it! If you want to get your own, you can check it out at the link below and read more reviews for yourself.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH & BACON STUFFED SHELLS

Hello Lovely,

Let me start this post by saying, I really hate making stuffed shells. They are by far one of the most tedious recipes I can think of. Having to cradle al dente pasta shells, while stuffing them without tearing them is just not my idea of fun. That’s why there’s only one other stuffed shell recipe on this blog. I made this recipe about two weeks ago during the week for lunch. The original calls for sausage, but I had more bacon and wanted to quickly use it before it went bad in the fridge. This recipe has a lot of steps so I would recommend saving it for a Sunday dinner.

Despite the hassle, it’s very delicious and filling. Other than the carbs in the pasta, it’s still a relatively healthy dish that is sure to give everyone perfect Autumn feelings.

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH & BACON STUFFED SHELLS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

  • 1 onion, sliced

  • ¾ cup milk

  • ¾ cup vegetable broth

  • 1 pound bacon

  • 2 cups spinach

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 pound jumbo shells, cooked al dente

  • 15 ounces ricotta

  • 1 egg

  • ¼ cup parmesan, shredded

  • Additional parmesan, shredded

  • Olive oil

  • Salt & pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Arrange onion and butternut squash in an even layer on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Roast for 40 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, cook bacon over medium heat. When bacon is mostly browned, add spinach and garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat.

  4. Place roasted butternut squash and onion in a food processor.

  5. Pulse until a smooth puree forms. Allow to cool. Stir in milk and vegetable broth. Pour butternut squash sauce into base of a 9x13 baking dish.

  6. In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Add bacon and spinach into ricotta and stir until evenly distributed.

  7. Fill cooked pasta shells with 3-4 tablespoons of filling. Arrange shells in butternut squash sauce in the 9x13 baking dish.

  8. Bake for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil followed by 15 minutes uncovered. Top with additional parmesan.