Happy Howliday!

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

The holiday season is always the busiest time of year! It is so hectic running from one place to another, keeping the house clean for company while simultaneously decorating every inch with tinsel and sparkling lights. Even though the holiday season can be stressful on us humans, it can be just as hard on the mental health of our four-legged friends.

Although I have always had a dog in my life, I became a true dog mom in 2017 when my husband and I adopted the cutest little pup from the SPCA. Tilly is our spoiled little princess; we treat her as if she was our child. I have never loved a little creature more than I love her — she is the light of our lives. That may sound a little extreme, but I believe that all the dog moms and dads out there relate and understand: There is very little I would not do to ensure Tilly is happy and healthy. I always consider her well-being, especially this time of year when things get a little out of routine.

Dogs are creatures of habit. They generally wake up at a certain time, and get their meals, walkies, and potty breaks, all according to schedule. Growing evidence points to dogs having a rudimentary concept of time. They intuitively know what and when to expect things that are routine to go to plan. I cannot even begin to describe the dirty looks I get from Tilly when we are late on presenting her with her evening treat, but I get those looks because to her, something is different, or wrong. During the holiday season especially, a dog’s routine is really put to the test. There are new things in their space (aka trees, ornaments, stockings, wrapped gifts, etc.); visitors are coming in and out, and their people leave for an evening out to shop or attend a holiday party only to miss out on regularly scheduled snuggle time. Although these little changes can seem insignificant to us, they can send our pups into a tail-spin (pun-intended.)

The best way to help your pet through the holidays is to be aware and try to understand how small changes in routine and activities can impact their stress levels. You know your dog better than anyone else, so it should be relatively easy to pick up on the SOS signals when something is wrong or stressing out your fur baby. Dogs do have specific body language that demonstrates stress, including a tail that is straight and bristled, raised hair near their shoulder blades, ears forward and lips curled. These could all be indications of aggression. Many dogs become aggressive or defensive when they are stressed. It is important to understand in these situations the source of the stress, and to try to remove or modify it. After we hung up our stockings this year, Tilly became very agitated when walking by them— barking and growling. After we moved the stressful socks to a new location she was perfectly fine. Although it may not make sense to us, to Tilly, those stockings were out to get her. Once they were out of her territory she was back to being a happy girl.

Other common signs of stress include avoidance of people or other pets. This could mean that your dog is overstimulated and might need a time out away from the chaos to regroup. Dogs also show stress by not eating or having gastrointestinal issues. Just like humans, when dogs get stressed they are wound up, and do not feel the need to eat. Also like humans, when dogs are anxious, they can experience constipation or diarrhea. If it is the latter, and your dog has an accident inside, please remember it is an accident. Scolding them will only make the situation worse. Your dog also might be sleeping in excess. Be sure to keep an eye on your dog if they do develop any of these symptoms and the symptoms continue, or if your dog is losing weight or becomes weak or lethargic, follow up with your veterinarian.

Some surprising signs of stress in your dog include licking their lips and yawning. Lip licking is an early sign of stress that can be easily missed. If you start to notice your dog licking, examine the situation to see what could be bothering them. This can also be an indication of nausea! When it comes to yawning this can be a little subjective. Tilly has some of the most dramatic dog yawns I have ever heard, but she has done this since we adopted her at 10 weeks old, so this is her norm. It is important to weigh what is normal for your dog and what seems abnormal. If you notice your dog is yawning more than usual or opens their mouth extra wide, it could be a sign of stress. Really, if you notice any kind of behavior that is out of character, your dog could be trying to tell you something. For example, when Tilly starts stealing socks or chewing on things she knows are off limits, I know something is wrong. She might need attention or something might be bugging her. Part of being a dog parent is investigating, as dogs cannot come right out and say what’s going on in their lives.

Some of the best ways to combat stress during the holidays and year round is to first, stay calm. Dogs are very intuitive and sense your emotions. If you are stressed, anxious or angry, dogs feel that and respond. By staying calm, you in-turn help your pup to relax. The next step is to make sure your dog is positively stimulated. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, especially leading up to a stressful event, like a Christmas party you are hosting at your home. If you are not able to go for a walk or play fetch due to your busy schedule, you can also hire a dog walker. I have used Rover and have loved their services! They can be a real life saver! Other ways to stimulate your dog include puzzle games—if they like them, that is…Tilly won’t go near one—or a special toy or treat, like a filled frozen KONG that will occupy their time. One final thing you should do to keep your dog mellow, is to develop a safe space for your pet that is out of the way of the ‘craziness.’ For some pets this could be a crate with a blanket over the top, or their bed in a cozy corner. Tilly goes to lay in our office when things get a little “too much” for her. She has her bed and baby blanket in there, and it is usually dark. She likes to look out the window in that room as well, which I think helps detach her from what is going on elsewhere in the house. Your dog might ‘tell you’ where their safe space is. For example, your dog might really want to go lay in the laundry room, although it might seem odd, that could be a place where they feel safe and protected.

Some final notes to keep your dog happy and healthy during the holiday, especially when entertaining, is to remember that this is your dog’s home, not your guests. Now, I am not saying not to be hospitable and welcoming to guests, but remember that your home is also your dog’s domain. It is important to talk with your guests about engaging with your animals. For example, not everyone knows that feeding pups leftover human treats can easily cause serious stomach upset, and many may be unaware of what foods are dangerous or poisonous to your animals. If you have kids visiting, make sure they are always supervised when playing with your pets- even if your dog is great with kids! Finally, remember dogs have sensitive ears and loud voices, or sudden sounds like fireworks or New Year’s Eve party poppers can startle and scare pets increasing their stress and agitation. If your dog is sensitive to sound, it is always okay to put them in their safe space with a yummy treat, even if that means they are not attending the party or ringing in the New Year with you.


These are just some little tactics that have worked for us and Tilly in the past. Again, you know your dog better than anyone else — you will find what works best for you and your fur babies during the holiday season! Hopefully some of these tips will keep you and your pup off the naughty list this year!

XOXO, Cait B.

Santa’s Speedy Christmas Cookie Plate


I cannot believe that Christmas is just days away! If you are like me, you have finished your last minute shopping but you still need to complete (or start!) your holiday baking. Baking is always the last thing on my checklist because one, I want it to be fresh for my guests, and (mostly) two–I generally don’t have time to spend during the week for baking! I have compiled four easy treat recipes fit for Santa’s Christmas plate that fit into my “last minute baking” time slot. These recipes are great for anyone short on time, or those who are not very comfortable baking!

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods
I have always loved chocolate covered pretzels. The mix of salty and sweet is absolutely delicious and is a classic combo. Making chocolate covered pretzel rods is one of the easiest and quickest treats to make.

You will need:
Pretzel Rods (amount will vary depending on how many guests. I generally buy two bags baking_3of rods to account for breakage (and since I will nibble on some as I go!)
Chocolate Candy Melts- these are not chocolate/baking chips. I used milk chocolate and white chocolate for mine, but they also come in a variety of colors like green and red
Sprinkles to decorate
Wire cookie cooling rack, paper towel for under rack
Foiled lined baking sheet

Heat your chocolate candy melts per package instructions. Once your melts are melted, start dipping individual rods. I use a spoon to make sure the pretzels are coated evenly. Once they are dipped place cookies on wire rack to let excess Baking_1chocolate drip off. Once the chocolate is tacky (not completely dry) you can add on your sprinkles! Make sure to transfer the pretzels from the rack to the foil-lined baking sheets before they cool completely. If you don’t, the chocolate will harden around the rod making it difficult to remove without breaking them. Let them cool completely on the baking sheet, then remove and keep at room temperature.
That’s it! Quick but yummy and festive! You can be as elaborate as you would like with your decorations. I have been known to add bacon bits to my milk chocolate rods, to add another layer to the sweet and salty combo. If you have more time, you can melt different color chocolates and drizzle them over your rods!

Choco-Scotch Bars
The second easy Christmas treat is a riff on your traditional Marshmallow Krispy Rice treats. Whether you call them Scotch-A-Roo’s or Choco-scotch bars, these little treats are addictive! My grandmother used to make these all the time and they have continued to be a family tradition!

You will need:
Cooking spray
9″ x 13″ pan
6 cups crispy rice cereal (Kellog’s Rice Krispies or store brand)baking_6
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 16oz. bag mini marshmallows
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
Sprinkles (optional)
Spray a 9″x 13″ pan with cooking spray

Although the normal recipe for marshmallow treats tells you to melt the butter over the stove, I utilize my microwave–after all we are trying to save time! In a microwave safe bowl, melt your butter. Add in your marshmallow and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each time until the marshmallows and butter have combined and marshmallows are smooth. Next, gradually stir in cereal until all is combined. I use a spatula that I continually spray with cooking spray to make it easier to stir. Once the ingredients are combined, spoon mixture into your prepared pan and squish it down until it is even. Next, melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between times, until melted. Pour choco-scotch mixture over marshmallow rice and spread to cover surface evenly. Add on sprinkles to make your treats more festive. Let the chocolate set at room temperature, then cut and serve!

Christmas Crack
The next recipe that is a Christmas tradition in my family is Christmas Crack! It is given such a “loving” name because this is another addictive sweet! It is slightly more time consuming than the other recipes but is totally worth it!

You will need:
Foil lined baking sheet (standard full size)
Cooking spray
1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 cup salted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional toppings (chopped pecans, sprinkles, mini M&Ms, toffee morsels)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spraybaking_10
Place crackers on baking sheet in a single layer. Next, melt the brown sugar and butter in sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and stir constantly for three minutes, watching the mixture closely. Do not overcook the ingredients they will crystallize and you won’t be able to pour over the crackers. Pour melted sugar over crackers, be very careful as this mixture is extremely hot and will cause severe burns! Once your crackers are covered, bake Baking_11them for 8 minutes. Once they are done baking, sprinkle chocolate chips on the top and let them melt. Once they have started to soften, use a spatula to spread chips into a smooth layer. You can leave your toffee like this or at this point you can add your toppings! Place your baking sheet in the fridge (or freezer if you are trying to speed up the process!) Once your crack is solid, gently break it into pieces. This is really cute as a gift for friends or neighbors when it is packaged in a cute holiday tin! If you do not have saltines you can substitute these for regular graham crackers, chocolate graham crackers, or Ritz crackers.
The final easy Christmas treat is the always popular delicious peanut butter and chocolate Buckeye! If you are a fan of Reese’s peanut butter cups, you will love these!

You will need:
Wax paper
Baking sheet
1-1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar
4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chipsbaking_12

Mix together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar. The dough will look crumbly and dry. Using your hands, roll dough into 1 inch balls and place them on wax paper lined baking sheet. Place a tooth-pick into each ball. (This makes them easier to dip later!) Chill the balls in the freezer for 30 minutes or until the balls are firm. While the balls are cooling, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds at time, stirring between each time. Dip frozen peanut butter balls in chocolate using the toothpick as a holder. Leave a small bit of peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like buckeyes. Once they are dipped, place the buckeyes back in the fridge and keep them in the fridge until it is time to serve. You can roll your buckeyes in sprinkles before the chocolate dries to make them more festive. Then enjoy!



These are just some of my quick and easy treats to get you through the holiday craze! Let me know if you attempt any of these recipes. What are some of your holiday treat traditions? Are you interested in more complex baking recipes?

XOXO, Cait B.

Christmas Table Decor



I have always loved planning for parties. Organizing the menu, the playlist, and the theme was one of my favorite things to do growing up. Even when I was very young, I would plan “parties” that took place in my bedroom, complete with made-up party games, music and drinks (Dixie-cups filled with water from the bathroom sink.) I would invite my parents and my sister and all my stuffed animals, and they would all put on a charade, acting like it was the event of the year.  As I grew older, my love for planning continued to grow, even as my love for attending parties faded.

I was so blessed to grow up with my mom. Our house was always brilliantly decorated for every holiday in a way that was beautiful but still ‘homey.’ I was so in awe of her inventiveness and her eye for combining simple silk-flowers with other house-hold items and dollar store signs. To this day, I get so much inspiration from her, and her superior hosting skills. I like to think, just as we have similar personalities, we also have similar aesthetic.

When it comes to setting my holiday table, I prefer rich jewel tones. Many people lean toward wintry blues, whites, and silvers or the even more popular farmhouse faded whites and muted greens and gray; but for me, Christmas is all about tradition and nostalgia, and my table reflects that. I like to start with a neutral base. Our table has a light brown tablecloth on it from Walmart. I like this tablecloth for two reasons. First, although the color is brown, it is not one dimensional. It has some gold to it which catches the light, which was a pleasant surprise! (I won’t lie, I had low expectations as it came from Walmart! Sorry WallyWorld!) The second reason I like this tablecloth is because it only cost me about $10.00. If I was to get a similar tablecloth from a home decor store, like Pier 1, it would be three to four times that price! On top of our base, we added neutral placemats which are also from Walmart. These are a chocolatey brown color, but again, have a metallic finish which works well with the gold in the tablecloth. These were about $10.00 for a 4-pack ($2.50 each.)

Next, we add in our plates and flat-ware. The plates and utensils that are pictured are our ‘every-day’ serving-ware. We did not put fancy China on our wedding registry, honestly because it seemed like such a waste! We like our every-day plates, and find that they go with almost everything! (During the times that it does clash, we have plain white square plates from Walmart.) Our current dishes we received as a gift for our wedding. They can be found at Bed Bath and Beyond and are called Noritake® Colorwave Coupe in the color Graphite. (Currently, you can get the four piece place setting for $27.99.) Our flat-ware is also from our wedding registry at Bed Bath and Beyond. They are Artisanal Kitchen Supply® Edge 20-Piece Flatware Place Setting in Satin and are currently $49.99. To finish off the place setting, the glasses on the table are from Bed Bath and Beyond, as well and are Bormioli Rocco Dailyware Bodega Glasses (set of 16) currently priced at $29.99. Be aware that diningware could change with the menu. For example, if you are planning to serve salad make sure you set the table with salad-forks (if you’re all about proper etiquette.) This is the same for glassware, if you are serving wine or special cocktails, be sure you have appropriate glasses (;

Finally, the really fun part! Since the base of this table is very neutral, it is very flexible. It’s the little details that you add to it to change it up that makes it special for your theme or special occasion! For this specific table, I added in red tartan fabric napkins from Marshalls. Marshalls and HomeGoods are in my opinion, the best places to find adorable and affordable quality home decor! For a set of 4, these cost me $6.99, that’s about $1.75 per napkin! I also found a bag of 10 metal cookie-cutters when I was at Marshalls for $8.00. For a cute and unique holiday touch, I placed one on top of each napkin. Not only is this pretty and simple, it is a thoughtful nod to many peoples holiday traditions and memories! (Even if they were not the ones making the cookies, I can guarantee they have memories of eating them!) These cookie-cutters are also great because your guest will have a little something to take home after their visit.

For the center piece, I had a small faux potted fir tree I got years ago from IKEA. If you wanted to recreate this look, you can find faux baby fir trees at Walmart or even the dollar store during the winter months. (You can also use a real baby fir!) I will say, if you are entertaining this tree is a little tall. You could exchange this for a shorter tree, or a simple center piece of fresh holiday flowers. You can also make your own center piece by arranging a display of candles and cranberries or holly. If you are still looking for inspiration, here are 28 Best DIY Christmas Center Pieces, you can do yourself!


Be sure to iron or steam your tablecloth! (oops)

I hope this post gives you some ideas for your holiday table! Like this post if you want to continue to see easy table-scapes and home decorating tips! Share your favorite table decorating tips in the comments! Do you decorate your table for holidays?

XOXO, Cait B.



Adorable little bag that the cookie-cutters were package in!