Thursday, January 18, 2018

Discover Daily Holidays with National Today

Let's Celebrate

In 2018, I've made it my mission to enjoy life to the fullest and celebrate every day. It doesn't have to be a big to do, but I think just taking the time to smile about something is important. Enter National Today, a site that provides a listing of viral holidays. National Today is the perfect place for teachers to find fun classroom ideas, companies to get team-building inspiration, and social media lovers to discover days to curate content around. Each day has a "How to Celebrate" section that'll help you take full advantage of the holiday.

Let's jump into the fun days found on National Today!

National Cheese Lover's Day (Jan 20) - I mean, a day dedicated to my favorite food group?!
Celebration of Life Day (Jan 22) - A day to be grateful and reflect on you and your loved ones' lives.
National Hot Chocolate Day (Jan 31) - Fun for kids and adults alike.

National Wear Red Day (Feb 3) - Raise awareness for heart disease, the #1 killer of women.
National Random Act of Kindness Day (Feb 17) - A reminder we should all be good to one another.
National Clam Chowder Day (Feb 25) - I'm adding this to my list purely for my love of clam chowder!

World Wildlife Day (March 3) - Wildlife conservation is extremely important. Let's spread the word.
National Day of Unplugging (March 8) - Disconnecting is vital. We can do it one day a year, right?
International Day of Happiness (March 20) - Make it a point to have fun, smile, and laugh.

National Walking Day (April 4) - Grab a friend, or a few, and get walking. Make it fun and start a habit.
National Burrito Day (April 5) - Good thing we walked yesterday. Today's reward is a burrito!
Arbor Day (April 28) - Arbor Day celebrates nature. Join in and plant a tree.

National Paranormal Day (May 3) - Given my affinity for ghost tours, I'll need to visit a haunted house.
National Teacher's Day (May 13) - Show the teachers in your life how much they're appreciated.
National Mimosa Day (May 16) - Make 'em bottomless, please!

National Donald Duck Day (June 9) - I just discovered my great aunt drew Donald Duck's hands for Disney!
World Oceans Day (June 16) - Help clean a beach. If you're not near one, spread the word about recycling.
International Sushi Day (June 18) - Since it's my favorite food I will definitely be at an all you can eat joint.

National Mac and Cheese Day (July 14) - If you have a cook off, I volunteer to be a judge!
National Cheesecake Day (July 30) - Best celebrated by eating cheesecake and watching Golden Girls.
National Mutt Day (July 31) - As a proud mutt mom, this day is near and dear to me.

International Beer Day (Aug 4) - Beer. Need I say more?
National Underwear Day (Aug 5) - Also my bday, I was bound (pun intended) to love this day's holiday.
National Beach Day (Aug 30) - Perfect excuse to take in a beach sunset. Newport Beach is my happy place.

International Day of Charity (Sept 5) - Whether you give big or small, money or time - it makes an impact.
National Guacamole Day (Sept 16) - You bring the guac, I'll cover the margaritas!
World Tourism Day (Sept 27) - I've got the itch to travel. What destination do you recommend?

National Homemade Cookies Day (Sept 1) - Chocolate chip, PB, snickerdoodle...I'm not picky.
Global Handwashing Day (Oct 15) - Washing hands can literally save lives. Plus not doing it is gross.
National Pit Bull Awareness Day (Oct 28) - I've helped foster over 15. Breaking stereotypes is SO important.

National Singles Day (Nov 11) - If couples get Valentine's Day, it's only right to celebrate singles too.
National Happy Hour Day (Nov 12) - If National Singles Day was a bust, you can count on happy hour.
World Television Day (Nov 21) - Before binging on Thanksgiving, binge on your favorite TV shows.

National Brownie Day (Dec 8) - Cream cheese swirl cupcakes are my jam. Have you had them?
Answer the Phone Life Buddy the Elf Day (Dec 18) - This is the weirdest holiday, but I also love it.
National Call a Friend Day (Dec 28) - Seems like the perfect way to close out the year!

See any holidays on my list you're excited about? Head over to National Today to see them all and start plotting a year full of unique celebrations.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Bake With Confidence Using Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk

Caramel Cheesecake Bites

When baking, one ingredient has been a constant in recipes since 1856 – Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk. My mom uses it, her mom used it, and so on. Now that I am learning to bake, I'm carrying on the tradition.

There are so many uses for condensed milk, from fudge to cookies and cupcakes, and even as a beverage sweetener. No matter how you choose to incorporate it into your recipe, you can rest assured that you are using a quality product that has been in kitchens for well over a century. Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk has that rich, decadent flavor that many know and love.

I decided that I wanted to make holiday treats but didn't know where to start, since my background in baking previously consisted cookies prepared with pre-made dough scooped out of a tub. Enter Eagle Brand’s The UnCookie Exchange site, featuring incredibly easy recipes. As you can guess, there are no cookie recipes, but you will find various bars, truffles, and much more. I decided to test out the Salty Caramel Cheesecake Bites and they came out really, really good.

Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk

These cheesecakes were pretty easy to make, which says a lot coming from me. At first the ingredients list was intimidating, but the items needed were all pretty basic and combining them was simple. The directions were broken down into three steps. Head over to The UnCookie Exchange for baking instructions, or find out how to make a batch of mini cheesecakes below.

2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup butter, melted
Coarse sea salt
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk, divided
1 1/4 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons pancake syrup
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Baking Instructions:
1. Heat oven to 300°F. Line 48 mini muffin cups with mini paper baking cups. Combine graham cracker crumbs and 1 tablespoon sugar in small bowl. Stir in melted butter until evenly moistened. Divide evenly into prepared baking cups using about 1 1/2 teaspoons for each. Press to form an even layer. Bake 5 minutes. Cool while preparing filling.
2. Beat cream cheese, flour and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, sour cream and vanilla until smooth. Spoon over crusts until baking cups are almost full. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool in pans 15 minutes. Chill 1 hour or until cold.
3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in brown sugar, syrup and remaining sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Cook until mixture bubbles, about 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool 5 minutes. Spoon onto centers of cheesecake bites. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

*The one amendment I have to the recipe is the amount of caramel that it calls for. You can cut it in half and it'd be perfect. As is, too much caramel gets produced and they need to melt a little before eating. 

My mind is blown that I made something so delicious! In fact, I'm planning on making these again for a Super Bowl party.

Caramel Cheesecake Bites Recipe

I also discovered that Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk tastes delicious in hot chocolate as well. You can go by the hazelnut hot chocolate recipe, or do as I do, and simply add a few spoonfuls to your mug after you've heated up a pre-packed mix. It adds a nice creamy flavor.

Disclaimer: I was provided with product in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed here are accurate and my own, and not influenced by the company in any way.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

On the Set of Young Sheldon

Iain Armitage on set of Young Sheldon

With the force of The Big Bang Theory behind it, it looks like Young Sheldon is in for a wildly successful ride. Already picking up the coveted number one new comedy spot (and number two comedy on TV, behind BBT), in it's first season the show is a bona fide hit. The audience may have tuned it because of their adoration for BBT, but they've stuck around for the TV magic that is Young Sheldon.

A recent set visit gave me insight to the Cooper family and the actors behind the characters  who are all a little unsure of what to expect in terms of celebrity. They seem to look out for each other though, so I am sure they'll navigate those waters together. In fact, it was charming to watch the interaction between Iain Armitage, young Sheldon, and Zoe Perry, Sheldon's mom, Mary, who displays a motherly bond with Iain in real life.

Side note - I didn't realize Zoe is the daughter of Laurie Metcalf (of Roseanne fame) and Jeff Perry (who plays Cyrus on Scandal)! Metcalf has guest starred as Sheldon's mom on BBT, making the mother-daughter duo a pretty special opportunity for the two. AND Zoe was a guest on Scandal playing Samantha, the mystery woman who was controlling Rowan and the presidency last season.

On the set of Young Sheldon
On the set of Young Sheldon
On the set of Young Sheldon
On the set of Young Sheldon
On the set of Young Sheldon

The afternoon ended with Iain showing us some toys in the Cooper garage and gushing about how great his real mother is. Literally the sweetest. This young actor is quite intelligent, reminding me of a little adult throughout the day. His answers to reporters' questions were charming and often chuckle evoking. That mix of charisma and being grounded is a winning combo that will hopefully lead to a long, successful career for Iain Armitage.

Iain Armitage plays Young Sheldon

Young Sheldon airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS. If you haven't tuned in yet, there's no better time than now!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Giveaway: Join the Gossip is 10!

While all of my friends have kids that are around the 5-year-old mark, I'm just over here like, "my baby turned 10!" OK not the same at all, but a DECADE is a long time. Over the years I've had ups and downs with this little site of mine, and do I have strange blogging stories, but overall it's been a fantastic journey. From travel opportunities, to Hollywood events, to making life-long friends, it has brought me so much joy. In return, I wanted to return the favor with a little giveaway.

To thank you for visiting my blog, or following along on Instagram, I am giving away an Alex and Ani North Star charm bangle to one lucky winner!

I'm making it real easy, with three ways to enter:

1. Comment on this post.
2. Visit IG, follow my account @jointhegossip, and leave a comment on the post (must do all three steps for this entry)
BONUS entry - in addition to steps one and three:
3. Tag a friend on the IG post.

Do any of the above, and you will be entered. Do all three to triple your chances. Good luck!

Giveaway Rules
The giveaway runs from 1/7/18-1/12/18. One winner will be selected at random and notified on 1/13/18. If winner does not claim prize by 1/16/18, new winner will be selected. Open to U.S. residents only. No P.O. Box addresses. This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram or Alex & Ani. By entering, entrants confirm they are 18+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram's term of use. Giveaway accounts are automatically disqualified. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. One winner will be selected, at random, on 1/13/18 and notified by email. Winner will be given three days to claim prize. If winner does not respond in the three-day period, a new winner will be selected.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Unleash Your Design Skills With Basic Invite

Basic Invite Wedding Invitations

In a day and age where texts replace notes and a physical bid is swapped out for an electronic invitation, receiving a nice note on stationary feels more meaningful and special. It shows the sender has taken the time to personally reach out and request your presence or wish you well. I am guilty of sending invites via social media; however, for bigger events I always turn to quality invitations. That’s where Basic Invite comes in handy.

A site dedicated to giving customers the look and feel they are seeking – be it through 180 different card colors to choose from, free recipient address printing on Christmas cards, or a range of foil options available – Basic Invite empowers everyone to create unique, personalized stationary that represents their aesthetic down to the littlest detail. These customizations are what set them apart from other invitation websites.

Basic Invite Kids' Party Invitations
Design Your Own Bridal Shower Invites

My favorite thing about Basic Invite are the custom samples. Customers can order a printed invitation sample to see exactly how it will look and feel before placing an order. Game changer!

From a playful birthday invitation for kids to the gorgeous wedding announcement brides dream of, Basic Invite has it all. Check out their selection and use the coupon code 15FF51 until the end of February to receive 15% off everything. Or, take advantage of 30% off holiday cards with coupon code HOLI30. Great for New Years cards or to get an early jump on 2018 Christmas cards!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Basic Invite. All opinions are my own.