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Help! This is my seventh year making the annual family feast, and our usual menu is feeling a little…tired. So, I’m looking to spice things up this Thanksgiving with some new side dishes & desserts. I’m a diehard traditionalist with some recipes (my dad’s dressing will always be my go-to), but I’m eager to find some new dishes to add to the rotation. I’ve done my fair share of Googling, but there is something particularly comforting about a personal recommendation, especially when it comes to The Biggest Meal of the Year.

So far, the only definites on my list are ham, turkey, dressing, and green bean casserole. I know I want a potato dish of some sort, since I’m bypassing our usual potato salad for the first year ever. (Yes, we usually have potato salad at Thanksgiving. We’re Georgians. Don’t judge.)

There are no real dietary restrictions or other concerns to mention, so any & all suggestions are welcome! Thank yoooooou! <3 <3 <3

Mint to Be

imageWheeeee, Christmas crafts! I wasn’t sure if this even merited a post since it’s so simple, but then I realized I’d never post anything if simplicity = omission.

As many of you know, I’ve been fighting the urge to deck the halls in our apartment lately. This is the first year I’ve ever had any autumnal/Thanksgiving-ish decor, so I’m trying to make it last until the designated holiday. But maaaan, is it difficult. So, to satisfy my Christmas cravings, I’ve been crafting. And shopping. (Aaand shopping some more, but let’s not focus too much on that.)

I honestly don’t remember where I first saw this idea or I’d credit the crafty bish who thought of it, but today I decided to make peppermint Christmas trees. Or holiday trees, if Christmas doesn’t tickle your fancy. I don’t judge.

They’re super easy & relatively inexpensive to make, so have at it.

Materials:

3 – 14oz bags of starlight peppermints
3 – styrofoam cones (I used two 2.8″ x 5.8″ & one 3.8″ x 8.8″, so increase your mint purchase if you go any larger)
hot glue gun
hot glue sticks (duh.)

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Not pictured: the glue gun / Optional, but highly recommended: a holiday latte

As you can likely guess, at this point you just…uhh, unwrap the peppermints & glue them to the cones. I know this is a very difficult concept, so I took this helpful photo just in case:

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Mints. Glued to a cone.

All smartassery aside, I do recommend starting at the bottom and working your way up. I also tried to stay consistent with where I started & ended my rows, so all spacing mistakes would wind up on the same side of the cone. You’re probably a better judge of distance than I am, so you may have a perfect tree from all angles. Congratulations…I hate you. (But seriously, kudos!) Mine have a definite front & back. So in the spirit of honesty, here is the back:

imageA little wonky, right? As a recovering perfectionist, I’m still learning to accept that crafts don’t have to look perfect to be fun & worthwhile. Because let’s be real – if I absolutely had to have something “perfect,” I’d probably just go out & buy it. The process is what makes this stuff so enjoyable. Sure, some projects turn out better than others, but they’re all fun! So don’t freak out when you need to use a broken peppermint to fill an awkward void, or when you have an un-fillable awkward void, or when you accidentally glue a peppermint to your thumb. (Whoops.) It’s all good. Seriously.

It took me a little over an hour to make all three of these, and I honestly wished I’d had more to make afterward. I still need to see if a spray sealant exists for something like this, but here’s the end result. It’s a little slice of homemade holiday happiness.

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I’m a Ho Ho Ho for the Holidays

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My name is Stephanie, and I am a Christmas addict.

I know, I know – it’s only November 10th, but the urge to put up our Christmas decorations is stronger than ever. In fact, I’m mainly writing this so I have an excuse to indulge my Christmas addiction without busting out the decor weeks early. I love Christmas, Christmas loves me, and my bank account (and boyfriend, I think) hates us both.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve just been enchanted by this season. The lights, the decorations, the food, the music! (And yes, the baby Jesus.) It’s glorious. Life can be so hard, but Christmastime just makes everything seem a little bit brighter. There’s so much goodness to go around, I feel like I need more than a day (alright, more than a month) to soak it all in. I usually start getting the Christmas itch in late November, but just like the department stores, my holiday dreaming happened even earlier this year. So here I am, alternating between admiring my first ever Thanksgiving decor and wishing I could rip it all down and get the Christmas party started already.

Maybe part of it is because I seem to go overboard at Christmas & feel like there’s just not enough time to get everything decorated. I’ve always admired those who can achieve the classy, refined holiday look, but that’s just not my bag. I want it bright. And loud. Old stuff with new stuff and red stuff with blue stuff and it’s getting a little Seussical, but you get the picture. I like it a little tacky. Of course, it never feels tacky to me, but I can be objective about it. It’s tacky. I want red & green everything with a side of glitter, plz. I want minimal blank wall space and pretty much zero blank tree space. I need to walk into my living room and feel like Santa is giving me a big, slightly drunk hug.

I’m thankful my minimalist boyfriend humors me in this department, because I know it’s not really his thing. Last year was our first Christmas living together, and I think my happiness exploded in the form of holiday everything. I wanted our first Christmas in our home to look beautiful & feel special, even though I know it would’ve been special regardless. But he embraced my festive nuttiness and let me go wild. So, for the second year in a row, he’s pretending to smile & nod while I tell him all of my decorating and baking plans. He’s also done a stellar job of pretending to look the other way when I sneak in yet another armload of Dollar Tree goodies. We’re freakishly similar in a lot of ways, but I’m so glad we can also celebrate the ways in which we’re (North) polar opposites. Mainly because I love celebrating. Also because I love him.

But I digress.

I’m a firm believer that it is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, so for all of my other Christmas lovers who are probably catching hell from everyone they know right now, fret not. Your people are out there. I see them gleefully pushing their carts through the Christmas aisles in department stores, pinning themed desserts & decor on Pinterest, and even putting holiday lights up in their front yards. (Praise be to you, my bold brethren.) So whether you’re decorating your tree tonight or waiting with bated breath for that last bite of turkey on Thanksgiving, it doesn’t matter. Celebrate when you’re ready, and how you’d like, regardless of the criticism you might get from the Scrooges of the world. Don’t waste your time trying to turn their lump of coal into a diamond. That energy would be much better spent making hot chocolate & trimming the tree.

Welcome to the Jungle

Have you ever walked into a store and noticed the proverbial stench of death in the air? Where the store is still open, but it feels like it should’ve closed years ago – or will probably shut down in a few weeks? (You could also call this #thekmarteffect.) For me, my old site (I Hate Dry Food) felt like that rather quickly. Looking back, starting a food blog in the midst of moving was a little foolish. I didn’t have the time to put enough energy into the site, so when I would revisit it from time to time, all I felt was that stench of death. I finally had to accept that it was over. Kaput. Dead on arrival. I Hate I Hate Dry Food. Etc.

Plus, as much as I FREAKING LOVE FOOD, I do have other interests, too. Interests that also seem suited to the blogosphere, as it were. So here we are, shiny & new, ready for the onslaught of content that I now get to create.

I want Bits & Peaches to be an honest reflection of my life and my hobbies, with an occasional glossy sheen just to make everyone jealous of how great I am. Isn’t that how lifestyle blogs work? Really though, I’m looking forward to sharing recipes, entertaining tips, craft ideas, and more. And part of that “more” will be a series of posts focused on my struggles with my weight, PCOS, body image/self esteem, body positivity, and upcoming conversion to a low(er) carb lifestyle. I feel like the issues I’m most afraid of publicly discussing are the ones I need to discuss the most, because I know that they’re not unique to me. If my dumb life can motivate or inspire anyone, then I’ve done something right.

It won’t all be heavy, though. (Horrible pun intended.) So thanks for suffering through the always awkward first post, stay tuned for actual content coming soon, and feel free to follow me on Instagram in the meantime.