Winter Essentials


Snowboarding at Wisp

Winter is officially upon us. I got an email today saying that the wind chills tonight are going to feel like 0 degrees or negative 10 degrees! Yikes. For Northern Virginia, that is absolutely freezing!

Winter Essentials

  1. Blankets, blankets, and snuggies! I love blankets at any time of the year, but now it’s perfect because it’s extra cold. As dorky as snuggies are, they’re actually extremely convenient, especially when you’re blogging on your couch!
  2. Aveeno hand lotion. They’re not joking when they say it lasts through hand washing and for 24 hours. This is the only lotion that keeps my hands moisturized and prevents cracking during the winter. It’s also good for the workplace because it’s fragrance free.
  3. Anne Klein boots! I actually just got those for Christmas this year and they are perfect! They’re lightweight, waterproof, fur-lined, and have a great grip for ice and snow.
  4. Eos Lip Balm. They have tons of different flavors and they give you great coverage without feeling sticky or oily. My favorite is the mint flavor because it tingles!Eos Lip Balm
  5. Starbucks Chai Tea Lattes. This is life.


    A post shared by Alanna | Chicago Life & Food (@alannaandco) on

What are your essentials for surviving the winter?


My Favorite Baking Recipe

banana bread

This is one of the easiest and my favorite baking recipe. Banana Bread! I feel like I almost always have the ingredients for it, especially since I have a terrible knack of letting my bananas get over ripe. Typically, I freeze my bananas as soon as they get too ripe. That way I never waste bananas! This is also a super easy recipe, no mixer necessary, and super easy to clean up. You will only need a mixing bowl and a fork!

You’ll need:

  • 3 very ripe bananas.
  • 1/3 melted butter.
  • 1 cup of sugar.
  • 1 beaten egg.
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda.
  • 1 1/4 cups of flour.
  • A pinch of salt
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
  • Optional: Walnuts (I hate having crunchy things in my bread so I usually don’t do this, sorry for no measurement).
I know, over ripe bananas never look appealing.

I know, over ripe bananas never look appealing.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. If you plan on removing the bread from the pan to serve, I would suggest putting Pam on it. I usually end up keeping my bread in the pan and just cutting slices out of it.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.
  3. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar and beaten egg. Optionally, you can add in some vanilla extract here. I like it since it makes the banana bread a bit sweeter.
  4. Mix in the flour. Option: If you want to add the walnuts, add them here and fold them into the batter.
  5. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour 350°F or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove and let cool.
  7. Eat!Banana Bread Finished Product

Thanks to my mom for first teaching me how to make Banana Bread!

On a second note! I’m having another giveaway. This time you can enter to win a $50 Amazon Giveaway through January 23rd!

Click below to enter the giveaway!
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Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

Slightly Late Hump Day Blog Confessions

I’ve been all messed-up this week since I usually only work from home on Thursdays, but I had a snow day and worked from home on Tuesday. So I’m using that as an excuse to post my hump day confessions one day late!

I confess that:

  • I just spent a day and a half redesigning the blog. The way the posts showed up as articles was really getting on my nerves. I also changed a plain white background as suggested by Venus Trapped in Mars. I love her website and her tutorials so I decided she probably knows what she’s talking about with the white background deal.
  • I am obsessed with the new look of the blog, the new social media buttons, my about me widget, and MY own button that you can grab at the bottom!
  • I just sponsored my first blog for April. It’ll be a surprise who it is!
  • I’m having another giveaway tomorrow! Check back for the details tomorrow.
  • I’m obsessed with blog link ups.
  • This will be the first week I’ve completed my resolution of “workout three times a week”. I’m going to Body Pump tonight. Les Mills for the win!
  • I watch MTV music videos every morning when I eat my breakfast!
  • I’ve danced with my dog every night this week. She loves it.

    "Yes, I can fit here," she says.

    A post shared by Alanna | Chicago Life & Food (@alannaandco) on

  • I’ve been playing Dragon Age Origins at every change I can steal my boyfriend away from the tv! #nerdalert. Notice the Xbox controller in the Instagram?
  • I haven’t worn make-up since Monday…whoops.Making Melissa

Thanks for checking out the new blog design! I hope you like it and please let me know if you notice anything wonky in the comments. Happy late hump day!

Review of 2014 Reading Challenge and 2015 Reading Challenge

For 2014, I challenged myself to read all the books of movies that were coming out in 2014. It was pretty entertaining, and then it was fun to compare the movies to the books when I saw them!

  1. The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel. I did like the book, however it was hard for me to really get into just because of how it was written. I actually preferred the movie over the book.
  2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I haven’t actually seen the movie yet. I am such a cry baby that I refused to go to the theaters to see it. The book was good, but a quick YA read.
  3. The Giver by Lois Lowry. For some reason I never had to read this in middle or high school! I actually really liked it and was surprised by how similar it was to the City of Ember. The movie was really good!
  4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman. It was okay…pretty sad. Quick read, I feel like I might like the movie better but haven’t had a chance to see it yet.
  5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. One of my favorite books this year. I couldn’t put it down. The movie almost as good, but not quite. I’m pretty sure my boyfriend doesn’t want to marry me because of this movie now. Whoops!

  6. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. For what the book is about it is hilariously written. I couldn’t stop laughing at parts. Also haven’t seen this movie either. I really need to get on watching these movies!
  7. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This just came out in theaters so I have an excuse for why I haven’t seen it yet. Very well written non-fiction and I’m not a big non-fiction person. A completely honest memoir that is humorous and suspenseful. Can’t wait to see Reese Witherspoon in this role.

  8. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Wow, just wow. A must-read. Again, a true story that is heart-breaking and heart warming all at the same time. The movie was really good too.
  9. Serena by Ron Rash. Intriguing book, there were parts that I had to go back and re-read. Movie is coming out in 2015 with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, so I’m sure they’re going to do a great job illustrating the book.
  10. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. This was an amazing book too. This movie is actually going to come out in 2015. Flynn is a really dark writer, but just the way she write drags you deep into the character and the story. I highly suggest her books!
  11. Honorable Mention: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro. This actually came out in a series on Fx that my boyfriend and I watch. They did great, but I actually think season one covered the first and second book so there were things in the tv series I hadn’t read yet!

Lastly, I am joining the Modern Mrs Darcy 2015 Reading Challenge. The challenge is to read 12 different books in 12 months from 12 different genres. Considering that my reading goal for this year is 100 books, I think I can accomplish this pretty easily and it should be fun!

Modern Mrs Darcy Book ChallengeCurrently Reading: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. #1 book for 2015.

What did you think about the books that were made into movies this year? Were you able to read them before the movie came out?

Tuesday Talk Link-Up!

Tuesday Talk Link-Up!

Rememberlutions Jar

Okay, so I said my last post was going to be the last New Year’s post….but I lied. I had to post this because I’m proud of the fact I actually crafted something since being in a sorority and it’s really cute!rememberlutions mason jar craft

This is my one of New Years resolutions. I made this “Remember-lutions” jar. Decorate a mason jar to represent yourself & your life. But instead of saying I’m going to be healthier, diet more, workout more, etc…make it your goal this year to fill the jar with things you want to remember. Do thing that excite you, thrill you & make you happy. Then write it down & put it in the jar. At the end of your year you’ll have an entire jar filled with wonderful memories that you can open up on next New Years day.

Rememberlutions Jar

I also ended up getting a couple extra mason jars because apparently you can make tons and tons of crafts with them. I ended up making a cute candle jar with one of the other ones and I think I’ll try and craft the last one into a vase!Mason jar Candle Holder

H/T to Buzzfeed for the great idea!

My Word for 2015!

Now, I promise this is the last New Year’s post I will have. I’ve put up my resolutions, and I’ve made my 101 in 1001 list, so I’ll make this short.

After taking a look back on this past year and thinking about what I want to do for the future. I’ve decided to focus on a word for 2015. And my word is Yes! I want to do more and grow more and I want to be able to say “Yes, I’ve done that,” much more.

I’m also doing this cute thing called a “Rememberlutions Jar.” I’m decorating a mason jar and after something big happens, I’ll write it up on a little note, stick it in, and at the end of 2015 I can look back in and see all the great things I’ve accomplished. I actually got the idea from buzzfeed! I’ll post a photo of it once I find my glue gun.

Yes! Word for the Year

Do you have a word for 2015?

Lastly, Happy New Year from us to you!

New Years

God I Love Chick Flicks & Cash Giveaway!!

Recently I realized that I rarely ever watch chick flicks. Maybe it’s because I’m not a super girly girl or that I’ve had a boyfriend for a pretty long time and we tend to watch most movies together. And no, I’m not saying that boyfriends can’t watch chick flicks, it’s just that mine doesn’t. See below commercial. This is my boyfriend, except instead of accidentally showering with Summer’s Eve, it would be him walking in to see me watching a chick flick.

So I decided, screw this I need some goddamn chick flicks in my life. And I’ve cried in all of them.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. God the scene where Bailey….Don’t make me relive that moment again.

Bridget Jones’ Diary. Never. Gets. Old.

A Walk to Remember. Literally watched this on #NickMom late Tuesday night. I should probably be more embarrassed that I’m actually watching programming for mothers, but I’m not.

Love Actually. I felt that I needed to watch this due to the holiday season and the fact that pretty much every girl I work with is obsessed with this movie. I still don’t like it. Sorry not sorry.

The Sweetest Thing. I guess this is a bit more of a comedy than a true chick flick, but still!

I also added in a few girly TV shows. I caught up with Kourtney and Khloe’s lives. Had a sick day and watched a Sex and the City marathon.

So there you go, here’s my complete estrogen-filled post. Now, back to NickMom and ice cream (just kidding…only about the ice cream part)!

Last but not least here are the giveaway details!

New Year's Rocking Cash Giveaway


Prize: $500 (via Paypal)

Co-hosts:  Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog  True Story Book Blog Allisonleighann. My Fashion On The Rox Mae Amor Bohemian Babushka Finger Click Saver The PinterTest Kitchen Polished Closets Blog by Donna Misadventures with Andi Nicole to the Nines Stacy’s Savings Palmtrees and Happiness My Starlight Blessings Mommy on the Money

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 1/31 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway