Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Take Out Tuesdays: Cocktails edition


New Years Eve is a time to celebrate the past events of 2013 and say cheers to the new.  We countdown the clock til midnight, enthusiastically ready for a new beginning. Maybe, you are looking for a fresh start on your journey to weight loss or are trying to get back into the dating world. Or perhaps you are simply hoping to place less money in the swear jar. Maybe you want to make a better effort towards being on time or  arrange a plan to travel the world...whatever your resolution is, you toast at midnight to "another go at it." 

My resolution is for Creatively Lu  to be a place for you to come to realistically achieve all that you want. I thoroughly believe that it is you, yourself, who withholds the power to do great things. Every single moment up to now has prepared you for better moments to come.

Creatively Lu is a creative outlet for you to come to feel inspired to make ordinary things extraordinary. 


On Mondays, this means taking one of your routine meals and adding a little more oomph to it.  That being said, I don't expect any of us to debone ducks and become Julia Childs every night for dinner. This January, I will dedicate "Make it Monday" to easy, healthy meals. Meals in which are easy to store, can brown-bagged for lunch, and are freezer friendly. I want you to better your life this upcoming year and so I want the meals to feel as easy as picking up takeout. 

Starting next Tuesday, I will be running January's "Tone It Tuesdays" series, in which I will cover healthy workout plans, energy-boosting playlists, and other healthy tips. 



The Wordless Wednesdays series  will continue to share inspiring photos. These photos are chosen  and shared by the Creatively Lu community. So please continue to message me on the Creatively Lu FB page, tweet @Creatively Lu on Twitter, and email me: creativelylu@yahoo.com. Photos will be shared on the Creatively Lu Instagram account every Wednesday at 3pm. 

Thursdays will remain Thrifty Thursdays with DIY crafts, beauty routine tips, and other helpful, thrifty tips. 


 





Friday Favorites will continue to feature interviews with some of my favorite companies, musicians, blogs, people etc. I will also devote one Friday a month to a list of my favorite things such as beauty products. 

The weekends will remain Weekend Adventures with tips on how to unwind and fully create a beautiful life in your downtime. And as always, every post will end with an inspirational quote. 

I hope that you all have a wonderful New Year's  filled with lots of celebrating. Below are some healthy drinking tips for your New Year's party tonight, as well as a Champagne Mojito recipe perfect to make up with your leftover champagne.




Cheers to a healthy and happy New Year! Tonight, I will be toasting to you all! Below is your daily dose of inspiration...


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Monday, December 30, 2013

Make It Mondays: Champagne Countdown Cupcakes


Whether sipping on mimosas at a baby shower or toasting to a fabulous New Year with champagne flutes, champagne is synonymous with celebrating.  This New Year's, I wanted to take celebrating with champagne to the next level, by incorporating it as an ingredient for baking. From the frosting to the cupcake itself, I added in hints of champagne. The cupcakes are absolutely delicious and are very light. They have a smooth, very pleasant original cupcake taste with hints of orange and sweet Champagne.And to kick your New Year decor up a notch, I organized the cupcakes in the shape of a clock, as a sweet way to count-down to 2014.


 


Champagne Cupcakes, adapted from Party Bluprints, Inc.
Yields: 24 cupcakes

2 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cups of unsalted butter (melted)
1/2 cup of sugar*
3 eggs
1 cup of honey
1/2 cup of OJ*
3/4 cups of champagne
1 teaspoon of grated orange zest*
cupcake tins*

*I used Sugar in the Raw
*I used Simply Orange-no pulp
*I used Stellina di Notte Prosecco. It cost $9.99 and comes in a gorgeous bottle.
*Take an orange (with the peel still on), and with a cheese grater, grate the orange until you have 1 teaspoon worth of orange zest
* I used gold foil cupcake tins. 


In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, powder, & salt). Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed, gradually adding in the butter. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Next, add the honey, OJ, and champagne. 
On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients into the large mixing bowl until well combined.
Fold in the orange zest.

Pour batter evenly into the cupcake tins. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes at 350˚F, or until golden brown. 




Champagne Frosting

6 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of unsalted butter (melted)
3 Tablespoons of Champagne
6 Tablespoons of Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon of Orange Zest*

*Take an orange (with the peel still on), and with a cheese grater, grate the orange until you have 3 tablespoons worth of orange zest.

In a large mixing bowl, whip together all of the ingredients at medium speed. 




Clock Countdown Arrangement

Champagne Cupcakes
Champagne Frosting
Gold Foil Cupcake Tins
Gel Icing
2 Twizzlers*

*For the clockhands, you can also use pretzel rods, pieces of cardboard or whatever you have lying around in the house.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, spread frosting onto the cupcakes. 
Write the numbers 1-12  with gel icing or print out numbers & insert paper into each cupcake with a toothpick.
On a large serving platter, align the cupcakes like a clock. 
Use a Twizzler stick for the large clockhand; for the  small clock-hand, cut a Twizzler stick in half. 





I hope you all enjoy the Champagne Countdown cupcakes. Even if you cannot find the time to decorate the cupcakes, the cupcakes are delicious stand-outs on their own.



Create a great New Year's everyone! Below is your dose of inspiration, inspired by New Year's.

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Weekend Adventures: 6 Essential Steps to Get Ready for New Year's Eve- Part Two


Now that you have your outfit planned, accessories laid out, and an incline-treadmill workout complete, you're ready to actually "get ready" for the big night. And in case you need something to listen to while getting ready, here is my music playlist featuring the best of the best of 2013.

4. Renew your Skin


It seems as though blemishes always magically appear around the worst times. From prom back in the day to the morning of a big event today, I'm sure that you have experienced waking up with a surprise "friend" on your face. Lucky for you though, there are few tips/tricks to have your skin feeling renewed for the New Year. Better yet, they can all be done with products already in the house or found at the grocery store.

1.Many toothpastes are filled with chemicals that can harm your skin. For instance, when brushing with a toothpaste that contains peppermint, menthol or flouride, the paste can make contact with your skin and cause itchiness, inflammation, and breakouts. When brushing your teeth, opt for a chemical-free toothpaste such as Tom's of Maine. Pictures: CrestTom's

2. Pour boiling water into a mixing bowl. Add 4-6 drops of lavendar oil into the bowl. Place a towel over your head and breathe in the vapor, keeping your eyes closed. Continue to breathe deeply for a few minutes, occasionally removing the towel and moving your face away from the bowl. Pictures: BowlKettleLavendar Oil

3. Pour 8 teaspoons of baking soda into a cup. Add in 4 teaspoons of water, creating a paste. Apply the paste onto the pimple. Leave the paste on until it dries over the pimple (roughly 15 minutes). Rinse the paste off. You can use the paste twice a week until the pimple fades. Pictures: WaterBaking Soda

4. Apply primer under makeup as a way to protect your face from the harsh winter months. Primer prevents that flakey look that can occur when you "cake on" your makeup over dried and cracked skin. The primer will allow your makeup to go on smooth, as well as serves as a moisturizer. Look for a primer with SPF for even further protection. My two favorite primers are from Nars and Smashbox. Picture: Nars primer  

5. Mastering your Makeup

1. Clean your brushes with a brush shampoo once a week. Allow brushes to dry completely before re-using. I bought my Elf brush shampoo at Target for $3. My makeup brushes were bought at the Body Shop years ago but have remained  in good condition thanks to weekly washes. (The disinfectant in the shampoo will prevent breakouts from occurring).
 Pictures: Make Up BrushesElf Shampoo
2. Try out different makeup looks on YouTube. I am a huge fan of Tanya Burr. Her makeup tutorials are easy to follow and all of the makeup products that she uses are basic items that can be found in any makeup bag. My go to tutorial by her, that I follow for a night out is her Birthday MakeUp Tutorial  
Picture: YouTube PinTanya Burr Pin
3. When you apply dark eyeliner to both the top and bottom lid lines, it will give you that raccoon/ dark eye look. On New Year's especially, you want to look wide-awake and refreshed. By applying white eyeliner to the bottom eyeline,  your eyes will look bigger. Apply a little in the inner crease to really make your eyes pop.
Picture: White EyelinerTanya Burr
4. If your lips are chapped, try to hold off on the lipstick until the big night, applying chapstick on the regular until then. When its time to go out, mix the chapstick with your lipstick and apply onto lips with your fingers. My favorite chapstick is by EOS, which can be found at Target for $2.99. I find that it stays on and the balm never runs out. I keep an EOS balm in my car console,  purse, and on top my nightstand. As far as lipstick goes, my favorite is NYX, which was actually suggested by Tanya Burr. I ordered it off Amazon and I absolutely love it.
 Picture: Eos Lip BalmNYX

6. Mastering the Bombshell Curls


One of my favorite sayings is "your hair is your best accessory" and I believe this to be incredibly true. New Year's Eve is the perfect time for bombshell waves. This simple bobby-pin tutorial is easy and requires no hot styling tools that can be very damaging to the hair. When finished unraveling the curls, just spray liberally with hairspray to get the curl to hold.

I hope you all have found these 6 tips (the first 3 tips can be found in Part 1) helpful for mastering the perfect New Year's Eve look. I would love to see your finished looks! Upload a photo of your mastered New Year's Eve look to Instagram, Twitter, or the Creatively Lu FB page, and tag @Creatively Lu. 


Create a great weekend everyone! Below is your weekend dose of inspiration.

Glitter Gold Chevron pattern: Pinterest
Quote by: Neil Gaiman


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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Friday Favorites: 6 Essential Steps to Get Ready for New Year's Eve- Part One

Tuesday marks the biggest party of the year- New Year's Eve.  Whether you plan to celebrate in your living room or out at a major night club, you want to look and feel your best in order to start the year off right.  I have prepared for you a list of the 6 essential steps to getting ready for New Year's. These steps are easy to follow, and can also be used to prepare for any night out. After all, 2014 is going to be your year, with so many reasons to celebrate!

For Part One, it is all about getting the essentials figured out ahead of time...

1. Choose Your Clothes

Searching for the perfect New Year's Eve outfit can be a little stressful. Maybe you have gone to the mall the day of or spent a fortune online trying to get an outfit  shipped on-time. Lucky for you, the four inspiration looks below are far less stressful and the items are on major sale right now.


 Jennifer Lopez Snakeskin Sheath Dress,  $24 (orig. $60), available at Kohls. Worthington Sequined Top with Cami, $11.99 (orig. $28)& Joe Fresh Fringe Sequin Skirt, $19.99 (orig. $29), available at JCPenney  Wayf Sequin Chiffon Wrap Top, $68 & Michael Kors Faux Leather Front Leggings, $59.70 (orig. $99.50) available at Nordstrom Rack; LC Lauren Conrad Sequin Sheath Dress, $51.80 (orig. $74), available at Kohls.

2. Choose Your Stand Out Piece

I firmly believe that the accessories make the outfit. Even if you wore a black top and pants or skirt from your closet, you can have a killer New Year's outfit by completing the look with a sparkly statement piece. I am all about the costume jewelry. It can light up your face and "fancify" nearly anything. Below are 5 statement pieces you can find at your local Kohls, Target, and JC Penney stores. 

 Jennifer Lopez Gold Tone Simulated Crystal Cheetah Bangle Bracelet,  $22.40 (orig. $32), available at KohlsCall It Spring Naponach East/West Studded Clutch, $25.99 (orig. $35), available at JC PenneyApt 9. Simulated Crystal & Bead Bib Necklace, $13 (orig. $20), available at Kohls; Lauren Conrad Crystal Stackable Rings, $11.20 (orig $16), available at KohlsWomen's De Blossom Nadine Jeweled Peep Toe Pumps , $44.99, available at Target.

3. Putting in the Work 

When I workout for even just a few minutes before I go out, I feel so much better in my outfit. I can't even begin to tell you the difference confidence makes. I know women of the same size and body type that look completely different in an outfit just based on how they "work it." Your confidence from the inside shines through and so the better you feel about yourself, the better you actually look. Below is a 30 minute treadmill workout that will give you the confidence boost you need. And don't forget to put on the Creatively Lu Energizing music playlist so you can rock out accordingly. (You know that anything by Beyonce will get you ready to "work it").


Stay tuned for the last 3 steps of the 6 Essential Steps to Getting Ready for New Year's guide, which will be launched tomorrow. On Saturday, I will cover all things you need to know for getting ready day of. From skin to makeup to hair tutorials, I've got you covered.  Create a great Friday everyone! 


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Thrifty Thursdays: Christmas Detox Smoothie

Scroll down to bottom of the page for recipe

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas filled with lots of down-time spent with loved ones. This year, my Christmas was spent very differently than normal. It was the first time I was in Boston, while my entire family was in Indiana.

A typical Christmas Eve, for me, is usually spent at my Mamaw's house, where over 20 people gather in her living room, filling up every last corner. It is loud, chaotic, and joyful. As an only child, it is one of my absolute favorite nights of the year. 

During the afternoon of this Christmas Eve, I started to feel a sense of heaviness weigh on my heart. I grew sad as more and more photos and updates from my family were sent to me throughout that day. There was picture of my mom with the two new babies in our family, another of my cousin carrying out our tradition of baking Christmas cookies, and so on and so on...

I felt a tear start to form from the corner of my eye, as I began to feel sorry for myself that I couldn't spend my Christmas with my family. At this moment, out of the blue, my doorbell rang. I made my way downstairs, where I found two packages lying outside  my front door. One was a package from my aunt and another from my cousin Kristin.

I opened the gift from Kristin first and inside was a light pink scarf and a beautiful long gray sweater. Two things in which I had wanted and needed, but had never even told her about. I instantly put on the sweater and scarf over my workout t-shirt, tags on and all, and speedily started to open my aunt's package...
Kristin and me one Christmas Eve at our Mamaw's in Indiana
Kristin's gift

Inside the box were a homemade blanket and a photo album. The album contained hilarious old photos with a beautiful message written on the back of the cover. I immediately plumped down on the couch, placing my blanket on over the scarf and sweater, and began to flip through the photo album.


 Suddenly, I felt a new feeling spread over me. While my heart still felt heavy, it was a different sort of heaviness. One that was filled with love and so much appreciation. I truly felt that I had a piece of Indiana with me and no longer like I was missing out. In fact, later that night, I was able to Facetime with everyone at my Mamaw’s house, including the babies! As everyone, took turns to excitedly talk to me, model their outfits, show me their gifts, I felt truly loved and included in the traditional Indiana Christmas festivities.

And so while I think that social media can be a little bit alarming at times, I  firmly believe that it can be an incredibly comforting way to get to connect you’re your families and friends scattered around the world. 

Through social media, I was also able to see so many of my friends and family celebrate their Christmases. I loved all of their stories on their traditions at Christmas time, the "tracking" of Santa updates, the exciting proposals and baby announcements, and hilarious family photos.

When you "share" a beautiful photo or tweet an inspirational message, it  sends positive vibes out into the world. Unfortunately, the most eye-catching and highest-played stories on the News involve acts of violence and/or feelings of sadness. And while I think that it is very important to stay informed, it is disheartening that such stories are the ones that we are constantly discussing and sharing.

We read or hear a shocking fact and instantly throw it into our conversations. The sad news stories spreads like wildfire; yet, there is  so much good in the world that remains undisclosed. 

But in order to handle the "tough things" in our lives, we need to take time out to fully celebrate all of the good. To relish in the happiness, marvel at the successes re-tweet a positive message, and simply process what it feels like to "feel good."

I hope that Creatively Lu can provide such an outlet for you. Whether you read the blog on the train during your morning commute or stumble across it while pinning late at night, I hope that you find to be Creatively Lu a place where you can come to feel celebrated and experience bliss for a few moments out of your day.

 Every single time I receive a message from one of you, whether it be regarding how you connected with a specific story or simply really enjoyed a suggested product, I get that bliss feeling of "full on chills". To know that something written on these pages has impacted you for the better is the best feeling in the world. 

I promise to continue to create and write to the absolute best of my ability; and to remain raw and honest. While I admit that during this past month there have been numerous times when I have thought about hitting the backspace key on my computer in order to “tidy up” the post a little bit; I never, ever do.  Creatively Lu is an inviting community that encourages you to keep on expressing/exploring creative outlets. Creativity can be a messy form of art, but isn’t that the most beautiful and moving kind of all?

Below is a Christmas Detox recipe to jumpstart a new year of feeling good and taking time out for yourself. 
ecards photo: Pinterest






I hope you all enjoy your detox smoothie. This makes a great breakfast and is perfect for whenever you feel you need a boost of energy and jumpstart to your body. As a non-beet lover, this is also a great way to sneak in the vital nutrients of beets, without having to actually taste them. Feel free to add in any extra smoothie ingredients such as 1/2 cup of grapes, a carrot, or a handful of spinach. You can also substitute the coconut milk for any other liquid such as coconut water, almond milk, etc. Below is your daily dose of inspiration. Create a wonderful Thursday everyone!

Photo Courtesy of: Jess Angelos

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesdays: A Christmas Story (in pictures)


And now for your dose of inspiration...

Colin & Brendon carefully hanging ornaments on their family tree, December 2013
Photo Courtesy of: Kelly Lennon, proud aunt
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Take Out Tuesdays-Holiday Edition: a Healthy Strategy for Christmas Dinner


The holiday season is a time of lots of merriment and spending cherished moments with family and friends. For most, this centers around a lot of food & drinks. We plan our family gatherings around what it is to be served and when. 

For me, this means waking up on Christmas morning at my Mamaw's in Indiana and preparing our customary Christmas breakfast of Monkey bread & Lumberjack eggs (a scrambled egg & ham dish). Once the breakfast is complete, we quickly clean up, and proceed to quickly move on to preparing our Christmas dinner. 

For my family, food is a way of showing our love for one another. In fact, this year, I have even given out many  homemade recipes to family and friends, such as the PB Sweet & Salty granola recipe & the Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe that was served in mason jars. I believe that food & the holidays go hand and hand because they can both provide us with the "homey," comfort feeling we all desire to experience again from our childhoods.

Therefore, I think it is very important to not be fearful of celebrating the holiday season with food. So what if you have one cupcake? As someone who grew up struggling with their weight, I can tell you firsthand that I was the heaviest when I deprived myself of certain foods. These past five years, I have maintained a healthy weight by living a healthy lifestyle, heavy on the LIFE.

 Below are 10 easy & straightforward tips to help you to enjoy a healthy Christmas Dinner & New Year's Eve...

Healthy Tip #1: Eat a Snack Before You Go.
 Do not arrive feeling famished. Instead, eat a healthy snack before you arrive, that is fibrous and protein-rich. My go to pre-dinner snack is an apple with peanut butter or almond butter. 

Healthy Tip #2: "Host Assist"
 Offer to help the party-host serve drinks, prepare food, or with whatever help they need. This way you can spend less time feeling tempted to eat the food. Perhaps, this is just a matter of positioning yourself away from the snacking table. For me, this would mean not sitting right in front of the big bowl of Christmas-colored M&Ms, because I know they would be calling my name.

Healthy Tip #3: Wear Your Sunday Best
 Avoid the elastic leggings/jeggings etc. and big, oversized sweater that will provide you with the room to eat like its Thanksgiving all over again. When your clothes fit to your body you can be more aware of when you are full & less likely to go HAM. (I often use this trick when working out, particularly yoga. By practicing yoga, in a tighter tank, I am able to become more aware of my body's movement and alignment). 

                           Healthy Tip #4: Use an Appetizer Plate for your Meal
Have you experienced this scenario before? You go into a grocery store just to buy  a few items, but grab a shopping cart anyway.Suddenly, you find yourself stocking up on a heck of a lot more than you originally intended. However, if you had gone into the grocery store and used a shopping basket, you would have been much more selective and aware of exactly what you wanted. The same things occur when you eat your dinner on a large plate versus a small plate. By using a small plate when choosing your foods, you are much more aware of just how much of the mashed potatoes you are scooping out onto your plate.

                                   Healthy Tip #5: Be Picky
Prior to arriving, think about what type of food you are most looking forward to. Is it your grandmother's wedding cakes, aunt's homemade biscuits, or uncle's famous ham? Determine what food you know you "have to" eat and be honest about it.This way you will have a clear plan for what you want to consume. For example, by identifying the biscuits as a necessary item on your list, you can develop a plan to consume just  just one biscuit. Such a plan will not only make that biscuit more delectable, but it will also place the control of your consumption in your hands, literally. 

                                 Healthy Tip #6: Move On
Whether you are sitting down at a formal table or forming a line around a buffet-style table, put a little bit of the foods you want on your plate and move on. Eat each food once, and enjoy it. Once its over, move on to enjoying your company, or helping with the clean-up.

Healthy Tip #7: Be Last in Line 
This is a tip that I tend to follow, whether at a wedding or even at a store at the mall. You know how a store at the start of Christmas season can look so pristine and beautiful? You see all of these beautiful and flashy items lined up in front of you when you walk into the store. As your eyes drift over each good, you mentally add each item to your list. However, if you went back to the store the day after Christmas when everything is marked down to 75%. You notice that the boxes look slightly squished and that a heated towel warmer is not something you really need, even when priced for only $3.  This is the same occurrence that happens when you are gathered around a buffet-style table for Christmas dinner. You begin to salivate as you look down at all of the delicious food laid out so beautifully onto crisp linens. However, once the meal has received many "spoon-mark beatings" your mind becomes much clearer and you are be able to decipher which foods you actually want prior to sampling.

Healthy Tip #8: Drink & Stay Merry
 Make water your drink of choice. If you want to consume alcohol, alternate 2 glasses of water for 1 alcoholic beverage. Skip the soda entirely. In particular, the artificial sweetener in Diet Soda, will make you crave more sweets. Club soda & lime make great drink mixers. 

Healthy Tip #9: Bring Something Healthy
Whether you stop at the grocery store on your way for a veggie platter or bring a wine spritzer, you can be better prepared for the holiday party by packing a healthy choice. This could even mean slipping a luna bar in your purse. I may  have even broke off pieces of a Luna bar during Christmas Eve church services last year...

Healthy Tip #10: Enjoy Yourself
The most important tip of all is to enjoy yourself today. Do not beat yourself up for having a cupcake. Try not to allow the holidays to feel like a time in which you have to enter the "danger-zone." It is ok to eat outside your house, where you have far less control. In fact, it is even an essential aspect of living a healthy life. Just come up with a game plan before you go to your party and stick with it. Remember that no one wants/needs to  hear about it. Instead, focus all of your time and energy on celebrating the present moment. 

I hope these 10 healthy tips have prepared you for your festive events to come. Create a great Tuesday everyone! 

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Make it Mondays: Mini Pumpkin Cake Loaves with Maple Sugar Glaze

*Printer-Friendly Version
Its Make it Mondays and in honor of Christmas, I am covering a recipe that can be served in ramekins on breakfast morning, be given as a very thoughtful last-minute gift,
 and is just sweet enough to be served as a dessert for Christmas dinner.




The mini loaf is much more cake- like then bread. It can be eaten with a spoon and has hints of pumpkin spice that gives it that delicious winter-comfort feeling. It is definitely most delicious when served warm. *When reserving, wrap bread in heavy foil and reheat in the oven at 350 for 15 min.
 
The maple sugar glaze gives the pumpkin cake that rich, winter-comfort feeling that makes it feel "homey." This icing can be whipped up with just 2 common ingredients in your house and can be used on nearly anything. From pancakes to dipped in pretzels, it is sure to taste delicious.
This recipe can also be used to make delicious muffins you can serve on Christmas morning...



It can also be packaged in mini bread loaf aluminum container that you can get at your local grocery store for packs of 3 for under $2. These containers can be personally gift-wrapped and given as a great little gift for a holiday party.

You can even add a cute card with a clever message to go with it...

I hope you have enjoyed these past few Make it Mondays involving holiday recipes. Below I have organized all of the Make-It Monday recipes with their links in order to inspire your holiday menu.

Christmas Eve Desserts
Christmas Breakfast

 I'll see you all tomorrow for a special edition of Takeout Tuesdays where I cover healthy tips for survivingChristmas dinner & your New Year's Eve party. 
Create a great Monday Everyone! Below is your daily dose of inspiration...

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