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C A S O N | broccoli salad recipe

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I am a fall and winter girl through and through! I love my boots, a good fire, and a cup of hot cocoa over the sweat and bugs that come with summer. BUT…for some strange reason unbeknownst to me…I’m so ready for spring and summer this year! I’m dying to get to the beach, cookout, and spend time outdoors. That’s why I thought this broccoli salad recipe was the perfect post for today. With Easter, baby and wedding showers, and picnics right around the corner, you’ll need a good salad staple you can easily whip up. Kat served this broccoli salad at our last Bupper Club and it didn’t disappoint. Be sure to make enough for a crowd because I guarantee you your guests will go back for seconds!

Broccoli Salad

Dressing Ingredients:
:: 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
:: 1/3 cup sugar

Ingredients:
:: 2 large broccoli stalks (use tops only)
:: 1 apple, diced
:: 1/4 cup onion, diced
:: 1/2 cup shredded cheese
:: 1 cup mayo
:: 1/4 cup chopped pecans
:: 5 strips of bacon, crumbled

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1 | Mix together the dressing ingredients in a small jar and refrigerate overnight.

2 | Chop the tops of your broccoli stalks into small pieces. Add diced onion and diced apple.

3 | Stir in mayo and cheese.

4 | If you are serving immediately, pour dressing over the salad and stir in bacon and pecans last. If not serving immediately, keep refrigerated and add dressing, bacon, and pecans just before serving.

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Happy Thursday friends! Until next time…

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A U D G E | sun’s up, suits out!

It’s that time of year when I start getting catalogs in the mail with swimwear, and I’m like “SERIOUSLY?! IT’S FEBRUARY.” (ok, It’s technically March now, but barely.) As I’m flipping through this year’s swimsuit catalogs, I’m kind of blown away with how far “sexy” is going… Last year, I came across a company that I fell in love with called Rey Swimwear. I stumbled across them after somebody shared this video online (It’s a little over 9 minutes long, but I promise! It’s totally worth it.)

What I’m not saying: If you wear a bikini you’re a terrible person. I just think the history behind the bikini is fascinating, and Jessica brought up some really good points that just made me think… She states so eloquently in this clip:

“Modesty isn’t about covering up our bodies because they’re bad. Modesty isn’t about hiding ourselves. It’s about revealing our dignity. We were made beautiful, in His image and likeness – How will you use your beauty?”

PLUS. She’s the white Power Ranger (true story). So whatever she says goes.

Lucky for us ladies, there are some majorly cute modest options available as some retro styles are circling back around… and just in time! After having a second baby and embracing the changes that happen from making those sweet little things, I’m slowly realizing that these ladies really had it all figured out back in the day with the high-waists and more forgiving styles. Why change a good thing, am I right?

In the mean time, I’ll be dreaming of warmer weather and wishing I was on some beach somewhere… I guess for now, swimsuit shopping will just have to do. (*sigh*)Happy Wednesday! Until next time…

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J O A N N A | pampered chef brownie pan giveaway

Photo Mar 02, 9 44 57 PMIt’s time for another giveaway! Woohoo! Pampered Chef consultant Jessica is providing us with a brownie pan to give away to one of our lucky readers. I’m pumped about this giveaway because the options on how you can use this pan are endless! 

I recently used this pan to make brownies… duh, it’s called a brownie pan, but you don’t have to stop there! Using this pan is so easy and convenient and it makes your recipes look as awesome as they taste! At first, I was annoyed that I had to fill each individual square, it’s just like cupcakes so it can take a little time and be messy. BUT, when I pulled the brownies out of the oven and saw how easily they popped out of the pan, it was all worth it…plus they looked SO good! My brownies always look so ugly… I never serve them for special events because regardless of the taste, they look like crap. But, not anymore! Check out my B-E-A-UTIFUL brownies! DSC_0097DSC_0101DSC_0112These are just classic Ghirardelli brownies topped with Reese’s Pieces… everything is better with Reese’s Pieces.

Here are some other recipes I am dying to try with this Pampered Chef pan…

Omelets in a Panomelet1Mini Monkey Breadi.3.xxIgJ1oXDBMC7uM3m240SY-0KeoMS0MjUbciJ3l5ndA.Mini Apple Piesphoto 4Sweet Lime Tartlets lime-tart-41Mashed Potato Puffs e51d52693c68c9ae8aeac3a93699482b

To enter this giveaway just like us on Facebook and then enter below! The winner will be announced this weekend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy baking and good luck!joanna_crop

K A T | best beauty reads

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I am far from a beauty connoisseur. I’m constantly reading up on the latest beauty trends on blogs and in InStyle Magazine. I watch all sorts of videos on the cat-eye and how to get the perfect loose wave, so far be it from me to be posting any tutorials! BUT I can share with you my go-to girls, who seem to always have the best tips and advice.

I bought Lauren Conrad’s book, Beauty and it’s basically a little beauty bible with all the advice you need, from basics like how to apply foundation to tips on upping your game for a Girl’s Night Out! She has an effortless style that I covet and her step-by-step guidelines are so easy to follow. And, of course, the book itself is gorgeous so it makes the perfect coffee table book. Her blog is also a great way to keep up with her latest looks!

I stumbled across Emily’s blog, Cupcakes & Cashmere several years ago and I still read her daily! (That says A LOT because I get easily burnt out in the blog world.) Similar to Lauren Conrad’s look, Emily has such an effortless style that isn’t too done up. (People don’t really wear red lipstick and cat-eyes every day right?!) I will never be the girl who does a full face of makeup with my hair styled every day. Emily shares tips on how to finish your makeup in 5 minutes and cute ways to style a ponytail. Now that’s my kind of girl. She came out with a book several years ago, Cupcakes & Cashmere: A Guide for Defining Your Style, Reinventing your Space, and Entertaining with Ease. This adorable book is worth its weight in gold and also doubles as a cute coffee table book too! (If you can’t tell, I like to display pretty books.) Emily shares all kinds of things like how to organize your closet and the best way to update your wardrobe. I’m telling you, this little book is a gem.

If you are in need of some beauty help or just looking for an updated style- these books and blogs will be such a big help! Lauren and Emily have been helping me for years. Of course, you can always check out tips and tricks from our own style guru’s here a YCSWU. I personally adore the way Joanna styles her hair and don’t even get my started on Cason’s lashes. (She tries to claim mine are better but we all know the truth.) Hope everyone has a great week!

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C A S O N | flashback: how to priceline like a pro

Happy Friday! With spring break and summer vacation planning right around the corner, I’m bringing back tips for my favorite travel website. Whether you’re headed to the city or the coast, Priceline has a deal for you!

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Not only do I love to travel – I love planning travel. It’s a huge puzzle and I enjoy fitting all the pieces together to create the perfect adventure. How will we get from point A to point B? What will the currency be at point B? Is it within walking distance of point C? And is there a restaurant at point C with rave reviews?  (I already know I’m weird so you don’t have to tell me.) When I traveled to Europe for three weeks last summer, my travel companions teased me about the 3-ring binder I brought along but I think they were secretly grateful. If it involves research, making a reservation, or packing a suitcase, I’m so on it. I have an inner circle of websites that I’ve come to depend on. I can work Trip Advisor, Hotwire, Priceline, VRBO, Seat Guru, Luxury Link, and Better Bidding like a boss. I own those sites like Ke$ha owns glitter.  If you’ve been intimated to try Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” feature, have no fear – the expert is here!

Priceline Tips

Hotels want to fill their rooms to make money. If they have a significant amount of rooms available during your travel dates, they’d rather you pay half the price than to not make any money at all. They don’t want you to know they are willing to accept half the price so the hotel name is kept a secret until you’ve paid. It’s intimidating for first timers but once you know how to make this site work for you, you’ll LOVE it. Priceline has become like a verb for me, similar to Google or Chi. I’ve “Pricelined” hotels everywhere from Sedona to Spain and haven’t had a bad experience yet.

To place a bid for the “Name Your Own Price” feature, you’ll need to make the following decisions: destination, travel dates, neighborhood, star rating, and your bid per night. Follow these Priceline tips to ensure you are not only getting a good deal but placing an educated and informed bid.

Where will you be going? (First things first.)

Research the area! Is there a central location where you really want to stay? Do you want to be on the beach? Or downtown? Is there a shady area you want to avoid? Decide a couple of neighborhoods you’d be happy to stay in. I usually do significant research, then put all my eggs in one basket and fight to the death to get it. (If you’re not as type-A as me and can be flexible, then Priceline is your new best friend.)

Do some undercover work. This is where Better Bidding comes into play. This website is basically a massive forum where people are not only posting which hotel they won through Priceline or Hotwire but also how much they paid.

1. From the Better Bidding homepage, scroll down until you find the state you are traveling to. There is an international section at the bottom if you are traveling abroad. Let’s say I’m traveling to New York.better bidding 12. The next page allows you to choose between Priceline forums and Hotwire forums for New York. I usually book through Priceline so I’m going to click on the Priceline forum.better bidding 2Here you can see travelers posting the neighborhood they booked in, the star level, and how much they paid.

3. At the very top of this message board, click on “Priceline Hotel List – New York”better bidding 34. Click on the city you are traveling to.better bidding 4This will bring up a list of neighborhoods in that city that are available through Priceline.

5. Click on the neighborhoods you are interested in. Let’s be bold and say I want to stay in Times Square.better bidding 5

6. Now you can see every hotel available through Priceline depending on the star level. If I bid on a 4.5 star hotel in Times Square, I know I’ll get The Intercontinental because it’s the only 4.5 star in that neighborhood available through Priceline. Let’s say I’m happy with staying in a 4 star hotel – then we’ve got 9 options! At this point, I usually pull up every single option on Trip Advisor and check out their rating and read reviews. If I’d be satisfied with any of them, then it’s time to move on to the next step. If there are a couple I really don’t want to stay at then I might go up or down a star level to guarantee I’m staying at a hotel I want. The 4.5 star and 5 star in the Theater District both have great ratings on Trip Advisor so I’ve narrowed it down to 2 hotels I’d be thrilled to win.better bidding 6Decide the maximum amount you are willing to spend per night and stick to it! This can sometimes be like a Wheel of Fortune slot machine for me. It’s bad. To help you have a better understanding of what you’ll pay, check travel websites that will reveal the name of the hotel like Travelocity, Hotels.com or Priceline’s regular booking system. I can usually count on paying at least 30% cheaper than what it’s currently priced at. I can see that for my travel dates The Intercontinental is priced at $354/night. This will make my starting bid around $175. I usually start around 40-50% off the standard rate just in case. I’ve snagged some great hotels by lowballing it!

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Place your bid! If you don’t win your bid – this is just the beginning! I almost ALWAYS lose my first bid due to extreme lowballing. One of the downsides to Priceline is you can only place a bid once every 24 hours. In typical Cason fashion, I’ve found a loophole. Priceline will let you immediately place another bid if you are willing to add additional neighborhoods and/or change the star level you are willing to stay at. Because I definitely want to stay in a 4.5 or 5 star hotel in Times Square, all I need to do is find a neighborhood that doesn’t have a 4.5 or 5 star hotel available. If I’m not changing my star rating, and there isn’t a 4.5 or 5 star hotel in the neighborhood I’m adding, there is absolutely no way I won’t get a hotel in my original location. You following me? Totally okay to read it again slowly if you need to! Let me show you an example.

Open up a new tab and go to Priceline. Go through the same exact steps you did before (enter the city, travel dates, # of rooms, etc.) When I have Times Square checked, it shows 4.5 and 5 star hotels available. When I only have Brooklyn checked, there are no 4.5 or 5 stars available. So if I check that I’m willing to stay in Brooklyn or Times Square in a 4.5 or 5 star hotel, it’s not possible to get anything in Brooklyn. Every neighborhood you find that DOESN’T have a 4.5 or 5 star hotel available = another bid!

Priceline Secrets

There are no 4.5 or 5 stars available in Brooklyn, Hell’s Kitchen, Long Island City, Lower East Side, Madison Square Garden, Morningside Heights, or Upper West Side so that means I have 7 additional chances to win a bid. Increase each bid by small amounts ($5 – $10 max) and as long as you started your original bid around 40% off the regular rate, you’ll most likely win!

Viola! Have any questions? Email me at hello@sitwithusblog.com and I’ll be happy to answer any travel questions you have! Do you know any insider travel secrets or websites? Leave a comment below so that all YCSWU readers can take advantage of your knowledge. Happy traveling!

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A U D G E | sweet potatoes for breakfast

Mornings are rough for me and food. I love love LOVE eating a good breakfast… but I hate getting up and having to cook first thing in the morning. It’s a real dilemma, right? Most of the time JoJo will feed me something in my vulnerable state before he goes to work while I’m feeding our little ones (bless him) – but I will say, when we’re trying to do Paleo I’ve got to put in the extra effort to make breakfast happen or else I start food freakin’ fast. This was an easy Paleo breakfast that I stumbled upon the last go round we did, and man! It was almost so good I didn’t hate doing the dishes afterwards! Ok, I might’ve still hated doing the dishes. But atleast I wasn’t hungry while I was hating it.

Fried Eggs + Turkey with Sweet Potato Noodles:

IMG_7024This is so simple, I don’t even know if this really qualifies as a recipe… but hopefully it’ll atleast inspire your breakfast options!

You’ll need:
::2 Eggs
::1 Sweet Potato
::2 Slices of Turkey Deli Meat (Get the fancy kind! It’s so much better for this)
::1/2 an Avocado
::Olive Oil
::Paderno Spiralizer

1) Start by prepping your sweet potatoes. These take the longest to cook, so give them a little bit of a headstart. Wash + peel, then make em into noodles! Set aside in a bowl while you heat a couple tablespoons of Olive Oil in a large frying pan.

IMG_7022I made these sweet potato noodles with this Paderno Spiralizer – this thing is the JAM! I got it mostly to make noodles with. You can use zucchini, sweet potatoes, the possibilities are endless really! (I just stumbled upon this blog recently if you need some more inspiration!) It also has other blades that come with it, so you can do “chips”, thick noodles, or thin noodles. It’s kinda fun to play around with… we’re still experimenting.

2) Once you add your sweet potatoes to the hot pan, stir them well to get them nice and coated in the oil. You can also add in a little coconut oil if you want a little extra flavor and another fat source in there. Cover them and let them cook on medium-high heat until soft, stirring occasionally (usually anywhere from 5-10 minutes).

3) While your sweet potatoes are cooking, slice up your avocado. Slice up some fruit too if you’re feeling extra frisky, go on now!

4) Heat another pan (if your sweet potatoes are still cooking). Once it’s hot, throw your turkey slices in and heat them around 1-2 minutes on each side until they brown just a little bit on the edges.

5) After you cook your turkey, turn the heat down to medium and start cooking your fried eggs. I’m not even gonna act like I know how to cook these, most of the time I just pray that I don’t break the yolks and I wait as long as I can before I start food freaking. I like mine a little runny, but mostly solid in the middle so I’ve learned that it’s better to get them that way on a lower heat.

6) Season your eggs and potatoes if you wanna, plate everything, and then devour!

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Happy breakfasting! Until next time…

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J O A N N A | target fashion

Photo Feb 24, 1 27 40 AMY’all, my fingers are crossed and I am so ready for winter to hurry up and be over. I know some of you may think my complaint is ridiculous, especially considering Georgia only has like one real month of winter, but what can I say? I want what I want. I’m already on the prowl for some items to transition into spring and, as always, Target is one of my go-to spots. I recently grabbed a beautiful cream blouse and some trendy flats that I’m obsessed with; and to top it off, I snagged a classic black blazer to replace the one I’ve been wearing for like 8 years. I got all of these pieces on separate trips (I may or may not have a Target addiction), but it just so happens that they all go together perfectly!Photo Feb 24, 1 24 32 AMPhoto Feb 24, 1 22 07 AMBlazer: Target | Cream Blouse: Target | Jeans: Joe’s Jeans (TJ Maxx) | Flats: Target | Necklace: ℅ Bricks & Baubles | Watch: Michael Kors | Bracelet: C. Wonder | Clutch: Aldo (last season)

The temps probably need to rise a bit before I start sporting this look around town, but I am waiting patiently! Are there any other stores or brands I need to check out for my spring time prep? Let me know!joanna_crop

K A T | diy rose sugar scrub

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For all you lucky ladies that received roses on Valentine’s Day, odds are that bouquet isn’t looking quite so stunning anymore. DON’T throw them away! Save the petals and make a homemade rose petal sugar scrub. Talk about a perfect post-Valentine’s Day DIY. I made a batch for myself and it smells (and feels) divine!

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[ WHAT YOU’LL NEED ]

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:: 1 1/2 cups of plain white sugar
:: 1/4 cup baby oil
:: 12 rose petals
::  a couple drops of your favorite essential oil
:: food possessor
:: jar

[ DIRECTIONS ]

Pour sugar into food processor. Toss in the rose petals then add baby oil. Next, add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil, this definitely helps enhance the scent and makes it smell fabulous. My recommendation would be a scent like lavender or vanilla that would compliment the smell of roses. Blend until rose petals are broken down and all the ingredients are mixed together. Once you’re done, store in small mason jars. Now the hard part- find some “me” time and enjoy a nice, relaxing bubble bath with your homemade sugar scrub!

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Nothing like making your Valentine’s Day present last a little longer. This homemade sugar scrub would also make the perfect gift!

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C A S O N | etsy beauty finds

As if it’s no surprise, I’m a total fan of Etsy. I think it’s incredibly amazing the platform that is available for artists and creators to sell their goods on. People no longer need a storefront, trade show booth, or thousands of dollars to start a business. If you’ve got a camera, a computer, and passion for making something, you can open your own business. The actual numbers fluctuate, but Etsy reports anywhere from 300,000 – 450,000 Etsy sellers! Think about that for a moment. Imagine how many guest bedrooms, basements, attics, and spare desks have people working their tail off in hopes of growing a business! Maybe it’s the business side of me (and I’m obviously biased), but I think it’s incredible what Etsy has done for the small business world.

We all know Etsy has shops for paper goods, embroidery, jewelry, and artwork. What people don’t know is how far their categories expand! In the food and drink category you can find anything from pet food to coffee and tea. (I’m obsessed with the cookies from this shop.) There is also an entire bath and beauty category with shops selling soaps, cosmetics, oils, skin care, lip balm, and tons more! These aren’t mass produced goods, these are handmade! Here are some of my favorite beauty finds on Etsy…

Black Sheep Soap Company | Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Ginger Lime bath bombs – need I say more?! Price range: $2.50 – $16

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Frostbeard Studio | Soy candles inspired by famous books and novels. Price range: $6 – $16

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Crimson Hill Soapworks | Natural artisan soaps in scents like lime mint, lemongrass, and peppermint. Price range: $3 – $24

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Orange Thyme Bath Apothecary | Handcrafted lip balms made from avocado oil, cocoa butter, candelilla wax, shea butter, and essential oils. These creative flavors range from Cherry Gingerale to Marshmallow Peep! Price range: $3.50

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Sweet Sally’s Soaps | Lotions and scrubs handmade from organic olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter. At only $8, the Coffee Butter Sugar Scrub is definitely calling my name! Price range: $3.50 – $26

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Kat wrote a great post about tips for shopping on Etsy. Take a peek around at these shops and consider supporting the smallest of small businesses! You’re not supporting million dollar ads and golf outings. When you shop small, you’re actually putting gas in their car and food on their table. Oh, and you’re supporting the American dream. No pressure!

If you’re feeling extra generous today, wish our very own Joanna Thompson a happy birthday!

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A U D R A | flashback: headband up-do tutorial

Who’s got something fun planned for the weekend?? One thing I truly appreciate is a hairdo that you can spend not a lot of time, that’ll last you all day, AND still look bangin… you know the ones I’m talking about. This headband up-do tutorial Joanna posted is seriously all that and a bag of chips. I’ve got CRAZY thick hair, and even I could pull this one off! And the best part? Even if it starts loosening up and getting a little sloppy, it’s one of those forgiving do’s that looks like you meant to do it that way (translation- the lazy woman’s secret weapon). I found a cute headband at DSW randomly, so bust out a cute band and give it a go! You’ll be so glad you did… take it away, JO!

flashbackfriday_edited-1IMG_6133It’s time to learn a new do ladies! I personally love this style because it’s perfect for when you want to look fancy but either a) don’t have the time to do something more extravagant or b) don’t know what the HECK to do with that mop of yours. Seriously, anyone can do this up-do!

We posted this video not too long ago and the idea of the style is the same… instead of putting up half of your hair, do your entire head of hair… easy enough right? Check it out, try it out, and then let me know how it goes! (What? I’m nosy.)


T I P S |

*Be sure to select large sections of hair when looping hair through headband.
*Pull pieces of hair semi tight. If you have any little pieces you want to pull out, try to do it first.
*Go back and forth between each side of head to make sure it’s even.
*Once you get to the back of the head tuck in all the left over hair throughout the entire headband…this will make sense when you watch the tutorial.
*Use mirror to check the back, tuck and pull as needed.
*Use bobby pins to pin down any crazy hair.

IMG_6130IMG_6131Headband from Loft, no longer available (but these are super cute!)

YCSWU reader Megan pulls this style off so well… she sent me these pics per my request, isn’t she cute? You can do it too!

photo-1Alright people, be fabulous and have a great week!joanna_crop