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Gift Idea for the Whiskey Connoisseur in Your Life: Choice of Connoisseurs Whiskey Stones

Disclosures: I received a complimentary set of whiskey stones from Choice of Connoisseurs for review purposes.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience using the product.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive commission from Amazon if you make a purchase using the links.
My husband loves whiskey.  In fact, he fancies himself a connoisseur of whiskeys and bourbons.  We had heard about whiskey stones and reusable ice cubes for chilling your drink on the rocks without it getting watered down, but hadn't tried it until recently.  Not wanting our entertaining game to be lacking, we were glad to have a chance to review Choice of Connoisseurs Whiskey Stones just in time for holiday parties.  After giving them a try, I can say that not only are these an essential for your home bar, but they are also a great holiday or host gift idea for the connoisseur in your life!

Choice of Connoisseurs Whiskey Stones are granite whiskey stones that are stored in the freezer (like reusable ice cubes) until ready for use.  Since they are not ice, they don't melt or water your beverage down.  They are non-porous and won't change the flavor of your beverage, which I wondered about when I first heard of them.  Another artisanal feature of the stones are the rounded edges, which protect your glassware from scratches.  At a price of around $20 for a set of 12, these are a great, inexpensive stocking stuffer or host/hostess gift.  Or why not kick the gift up a notch by giving them with a bottle of Maker's Mark?

The set of 12 is a great quantity for entertaining.  The set also includes tongs and a velvet storage bag.  After an initial freezing time of 4-5 hours, you can use however many you want of them at a time, whenever you'd like.  Then they are easy to clean and reuse by keeping them stored in their velvet bag in the freezer.

One thing to note: these do not make your beverage ice cold (which can add to a reduction in flavor).  Instead they lower the temperature in the old Scandinavian tradition of chilling a beverage with frozen pebbles.
Get your set of Choice of Connoisseurs Whiskey Stones from Amazon here, and get another to cross the whiskey lover in your life off of your holiday gift list! 



Easy Kid's Camping Craft: Leaf Rubbing Tree

We took our Camp Fire club camping this past weekend.  The kids had a great time exploring nature and getting dirty!  The younger kids especially love learning about nature through arts and crafts and interactive play, so we try to incorporate a few craft projects into the camping weekend.  Today I am sharing one of the crafts we did this weekend: a super easy leaf rubbing tree!

What you need:
Blank paper or a leaf rubbing book (see my printable below)
For the leaf rubbing book: brad, yarn, washi tape
Crayon (ideally a triangular or flat-edge crayon)
Brown yarn
Empty toilet paper roll

This is a lesson and craft you can do while camping, or at home if you want to get your kids exploring outdoors.  I started with this simple lesson on parts of a tree for the little ones who still needed to learn basic tree anatomy (our Little Stars 3-5 year olds are learning tree anatomy and plant lifecycles this year, but the older clubs already had this foundation).  All the kids at the campout participated in the main craft, which was inspired by this craft from No Time for Flash Cards.  I was looking for something different they could do with their leaf rubbings aside from the usual placemat.
Each kid received a leaf rubbing booklet at the beginning of the campout.  You can get the My Leaf Rubbing Book cover printable that I made here.  To assemble the books I printed the cover page and added three more blank pages, which we cropped in half so that we had a cover page plus seven blank sheets.  I fastened the booklets together with a brad.  Since we were doing this craft at a campout, I figured there was a good chance that the crayon would get lost, so I attached the crayons to the booklets with a string of yarn wrapped around the brad, and secured to a triangular crayon (like these ones here) with washi tape.  Triangular crayons are ideal for leaf rubbing!

The kiddos took their leaf rubbing booklets with them during our hikes and nature explorations during the weekend.
When they found leaves they liked, they rubbed them into their booklets.  They even shared cool leaves with each other.  They tried to get a few rubbings on each page so that they'd have more leaves for their craft.

At the end of the weekend, the kids cut out each of their leaves.  We found that having 10 leaves worked out pretty well for the craft.

Using recycled empty toilet paper rolls, we taped 8-10 small pieces of brown yarn inside one of the ends of the toilet paper roll (as the tree's roots). 

The final step was for the kids to tape each of their cut rubbed leaves onto the outside of the roll (the tree's trunk). 
The trees all ended up being unique based on the crayon colors the children each chose, all of the different shapes of leaves they found, and the unique ways they arranged them on the trunks.

This was a super easy craft with a simple but effective lesson on tree anatomy.  It also added a great bit of interactivity with nature throughout the weekend as the kids looked for different types of leaves.  I hope you have fun with this with your kids as well, whether you are camping or doing this at home!


Fall 2016 City Style: Travel Fashion for a Trip to London

Shopping for and styling wardrobe for a trip is one of my favorite parts of trip planning.  Our recent trip to London was no exception.  Today's post shares details on my looks from the trip with the city as a backdrop.  These outfits are a nice mini capsule of Fall/Winter 2016 city style, and from what I am seeing on the runways for the Spring 2017 ready-to-wear collections, these tops will transition right through to spring!  I hope you are inspired, and don't forget to pin these looks to shop them later!

Thanks again to our fab London friends Katie (of Kalanchoe) and Ben (of Twenty First Century Gent) for being such great hosts to us during our trip to your great city.  I must also thank Katie for her great photog skills and eye for fashion photography.  Check her photography business out at Katie Heath Photography

This first look was shot in the main square of Covent Gardens.  I am absolutely enamored by this Angelay Double Ribbon Blouse from Storets.  It had the tailored-but-funky feel.


That bow detail, though!

Next, we find ourselves strolling along the south bank of the Thames, across from Westminster.  This is an extreme high-low top from Storets (I think it's sold out on the site though!).  I wore it with wide-legged denim culottes (similar to these from Forever 21), and Madden Girl Eezy Fabric Flats in navy from DSW.

I like the way the crisp look of the top contrasts with the frayed hem and creases on the jeans. 

For a morning out brunching and antiquing in Notting Hill, this Vivian Ruched Sleeve Top was a show-stopper!  Both the top and navy blue Anastasia Wrap-up Pants are from Storets.

This mixed chain swag choker necklace from Express was a delicate touch that didn't detract from the top.

My shoes for this look are gray Tahari Altar Pumps from DSW.  These are very comfortable for city wear. 

A London city style shoot wouldn't be complete without a pose by a red phone booth.  This easy, breezy off-the-shoulder poplin top from White House Black Market was great for the unseasonably warm fall day.  I styled it with jean leggings from Express, my JustFab Hadriel open-toe booties (one of my current footwear BFFs), and a floral lace choker necklace from Express.

For our last evening on the town, we did it up a bit for a posh dinner in SoHo.  Fall colors exude in this JustFab mock-neck flare midi dress and coordinating JustFab Jayla platform ankle-strap pumps.  The icing was this statement nested mixed chain and bead necklace from Express and JustFab's Donny handbag in grey croc. 

Is your wardrobe ready for fall? 


Travel Tuesday: A Romantic Long Weekend in London

The hubs and I recently went on an absolutely fabulous trip to London together.  While it was a short trip (a long weekend, three full days and nights), we managed to do a lot and have an awesome time.  Today I am sharing reviews of what we did to hopefully inspire you for your own quick, romantic London getaway.

First, some background.  My husband and I have a tradition of taking an international trip together each year (without the kids).  This began with our honeymoon in Thailand.  We had such an incredible experience that we decided we'd always prioritize travel.  In order to do that, we are always saving for our next trip, and have a practice of not getting each other big gifts for birthdays, Valentine's, anniversaries, or Christmas, as we'd rather gift each other with the experience of a trip instead.  After having children, these children-free trips together became even more important to us.  It is a chance, even if just once a year, for us to connect with each other as a couple and have adventures of our own.  We miss the boys like crazy when we go, but cherish the time together where we are not worried about bedtime routines, restaurant meltdowns, and age restrictions. 

Don't get me wrong, we absolutely love traveling with our kids too.  In fact we usually do a road trip and a few long weekend getaways with the kids each year.  We love experiencing travel through their eyes.  This year we even brought them along on their first big international trip (to The Netherlands and Kenya), and it was awesome.  But since we took the boys with us on what would have been our week-long couple's getaway, the hubs and I decided to plan a quick getaway for just the two of us.  After seeing a great European flight sale a few months ago, we were able to snap up some direct flights from Texas to London at a decent price! 

In addition to finding direct flights (which allowed us to maximize our time there without having to take too much time off from work), the other big reason we decided on London was the chance to see some friends of ours that live there.  On our trip to Turkey and Greece last year (through Sun, Fun, You: Mediterranean Voyages; see my review here), we met some kindred souls that we connected with immediately.  Katie (of Kalanchoe) and Ben (Twenty First Century Gent) became instant friends, and we were so fortunate to have them as hosts in London, sharing a bit of their fabulous little corner of the universe with us. 

London ended up being the perfect destination for a romantic couple's trip. 

Where to stay
We stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton London Hotel - Westminster.  The price was great considering the location right on the Thames, within walking distance from almost anything you'd want to do in Central London.  We enjoyed the hotel's complimentary breakfast each morning, as well as the hotel's Millbank Lounge each night.  The service was friendly, and the rooms were comfortable. 

Food and drink
We had some incredible dining in London.  Since dining is half the fun of travel for me, this was a prerequisite that was happily met.

How lovely is this rose latte from Farm Girl Café on Portobello in Notting Hill?  We had a tasty brunch there as well.

We went on a mission to find great fish and chips, and struck gold with Rock and Sole Plaice.  In addition to being famous for its fish and chips, the restaurant also has a long history, being founded in 1871. 

Katie and Ben introduced us to LIMA Floral in Covent Garden one night.

LIMA Floral is a Peruvian restaurant that delights all of the senses, with ceviche as good as I've had since our trip to Peru a few years ago. 

The most romantic meal we had while in London is courtesy of my husband's own research.  I am usually the planner, but was feeling lazy on our final evening in London.  I am grateful that he convinced me to go out one more time and try Rules.

Rules, London's oldest restaurant, had a fantastic ambiance.  Before grabbing dinner, we had some cocktails in their upstairs lounge.  My husband says it was "the best measured Old Fashioned" he's had in his life.  When our table was ready in the dining room, it was worth the wait.  We had the Rib of Beef for Two, which was served with dauphinoise potatoes, spinach, and (my favorite) Yorkshire Pudding.  Bonus for my fellow Downton Abbey fans: the restaurant was featured in a few episodes of the show!

In the evenings we also found ourselves trying out some local pubs.  Always a good time, and always good conversations. What amazed me, however, was how old some of these pubs and the buildings they were in were.  As Ben pointed out, some of the buildings were older than our entire country (the U.S.).  Insert shocked emoji. 

Another of my favorite dining experiences of the weekend was afternoon tea at Dalloway Terrace, but more on that below.

Things to do
Being a big city, there are all types of entertainment options in London.  Only having a few days, we decided to mostly just explore and do whatever tickled our fancy at the time while prioritizing a few different historical attractions.

After having brunch with Katie and Ben in Notting Hilll, we walked down Portobello Road to shop at some of the boutiques and peruse some of the antique stores.  We loved hearing stories from the store keepers about the history of some of the items for sale.  I became completely enamored trying on this tiara and imagining myself as Lady Grantham entertaining at a dinner party. 

Portobello Road also has these adorable, candy-colored buildings down the side streets.  You'll see some more of these buildings as a backdrop for some of my fashion shots from London that will be on the blog later this week. 
We continued shopping a bit as we walked towards our bus stop to catch a double-decker to the Oxford Street and SoHo area.  It was on this walk that I had a shopping score that alone would have made the trip worth it.  Katie and I spotted some gorgeous Dolce and Gabbana pumps in the window of a designer consignment store, so we decided to pop in while the boys decided to grab a pint at the pub across the street.  This shop was wall-to-wall, impeccable resale designer accessories.  I happened upon the perfect pair of black patent leather Christian Louboutins, which just happened to be in my size.  Oh, and they were only 180 pounds!  I just had to adopt them.  The quality was still exquisite (as this shop has high standards for the quality of the items they sell), and price plus my plane ticket would have equaled the original retail price.  SCORE!
As I mentioned earlier, we went to afternoon tea at Dalloway Terrace.  Katie and Ben introduced us to this gem of a restaurant in Bloomsbury, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street.  We lounged for hours, both on the outside terrace for tea service, then inside at the indoor lounge.

Every course for tea was just as good as the one before.  I can't recommend Dalloway Terrace enough.

I don't know why afternoon tea is not a bigger thing in the U.S.  I could do this every weekend!
Being that we were staying so close to so many tourist attractions in Westminster, it was easy for us to spend some time just touristing.  We walked by Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Parliament, and also strolled along the Thames. 

It was so great to see this girl again!  Katie - my blonde long-lost sister across the pond!

We also did a few tours.  The first was a visit to the Tower of London.

Royal Guard protecting the entrance of the Crown Jewels display.
I was just awestruck by the Crown Jewels.  It took my breath away looking at these priceless pieces of history, and I had to keep myself from drooling over all the giant diamonds!
The Tower Bridge as seen from the Tower of London.
We also had a chance to tour Buckingham Palace.  
We couldn't take photos inside of the palace, but we did get to see the state rooms and a collection of The Queen's wardrobe as part of an exhibit in honor of her 90th birthday. 

The palace grounds were beautiful!
As I said earlier, we also spent a lot of time just walking around and exploring.  We walked around South Bank, Covent Gardens, SoHo, and Trafalgar Square during different points of the weekend. 
A skateboarding park in South Bank.
Ben showing Nik some art he participated in creating.

Me having an Eat Pray Love moment with some gelato in Trafalgar Square. 
One of my favorite moments of the weekend was when Katie and Ben took us to their neck of the woods in North London near their place in Belsize Park.  Before we retired for the night we walked up to the top of Primrose Hill.

At Primrose Hill we had the most stunning view of the city, and I felt that I was in one of those profound moments of appreciation for where I was in the world at that moment of life, and who I was spending that moment with.

While I know it sounds crazy to go so far for only a few days, we really had the most perfect, fabulous weekend. It was everything we needed and hoped for, and I hope you're not afraid to give a whirlwind weekend like this a try for yourself if you need a romantic getaway.  We will be back to London again before long, I am sure, and look forward to spending more time exploring, and getting to show the kiddos someday. 

If you are curious to know more about my outfits, stay tuned for Friday's post, where I'll post details on my style from the London trip.  In the meantime, you can see a preview of some of the looks on Instagram (@fabeverydayblog).