How to Host the Perfect Fall Brunch

Thank you to Dixie for sponsoring this post. Crush the fall with Dixie® To Go, the official cup for crushing it. 

The weather might be cooling down, but I find that this is actually one of the best times of the year to entertain. There's lots of festive decor in stores right now, and the chilly temps mean it's a great time to bring people together to enjoy some warm food and good company (as if we needed an excuse!...). 

I love hosting almost any gathering but find that fall is a particularly fitting season for a group brunch. After all, it's the perfect occasion to break out the hot cider and donuts, right? 

So what are you waiting for? Take advantage of the season -- and the fact that people are still willing to get out of the house and go outside.

Here are a few must-know tips for a successful fall fiesta to get you started: 

1. put a theme on it 

*Cue 'Single Ladies' audio*

If you like the idea of hosting a get together, you better think about putting a theme on it! As trivial as it may sound, a theme can make or break a gathering. It's a telltale sign of how much effort and thought the host put into a party, and coming up with a solid theme is one of the best ways to show off your creativity and event planning skills. Don't let the idea of coming up with a themed get together intimidate you though. For hosting a fall brunch, it's as simple as picking up a bag of mini gourds for decor and curating a selection of festive snacks for your guests. Some of my favorites are:

  • Hot cider with cinnamon sticks
  • Apples (Bonus: Turn this into a fun pre-party activity by going apple picking with a few gal pals or your SO!)
  • Dipping caramel
  • Pumpkin cream cheese and bagels
  • Fresh donuts

2. provide options

There's nothing I love more than going to a party where there are some options. Have you seen the different food bars on Pinterest that people set up? We did a candy bar for my 16th birthday, and it was a huge hit. I like to replicate this idea when I'm hosting events, but still keep it in line with my overall theme. For a fall brunch, one of my favorite ways to provide my guests with some options (and entertainment) is to set up a caramel apple bar. Apples are pre-cut and there is soft caramel for dipping along with a few other options like crushed Oreos and sprinkles. It's very easy to both set up and clean up, while also looking super impressive! 

3. keep it simple, stupid

Instead of focusing on slaving away in the kitchen all morning or going way over budget on flashy decor, keep it simple! One themed table with a cute (maybe even DIY) banner, some kind of food bar, and a few other festive eats and drinks is plenty. Set it up so that it's aesthetically pleasing (we all love a good Insta worthy gathering), and call it a day. You shouldn't have to do too much prep other than laying out the spread! 

4. Make cleanup easy

Setting up for brunch shouldn't take too long. Clean up on the other hand though? That can be the worst part of hosting a get together...but it doesn't have to be. That's where Dixie® To Go cups come into play. They require no effort, no cleanup, and no worries, which leaves you more time to focus on the things that matter. They also have leak-resistant lids and an insulated layer for the best on-the-go experience. This makes hosting brunch so much easier, because you never have to worry about any coffee or cider spills! It's also less dishes for you to clean up and allows your guests to take warm beverages to go. And let's be honest, everybody loves a good to go when they're leaving a party. 

5. think about your entertainment

Of all the parties I've been to, my favorites have always been those in which the host has thought about how to entertain the guests. You don't need to go overboard, but make sure that you have an idea of how you want this event you're planning to go down. I like to hone my party playlist the night before (keeping it in line with my overall theme, of course) and set out a few board games or activities to make sure that people have something to do. I never like to keep the TV on (unless that's fitting with the theme of the event -- like a Superbowl party, for example), because it gives people a reason not to talk to each other and socialize, which is what having a get together is all about! 

So, what do you think about hosting a fall brunch? Any party planning tips I missed? Let me know in the comments! 

I was selected for this paid opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here expressed here are all my own. 

How to Take Blog Photos That Will Get You Noticed

After getting such positive feedback on this post, I wanted to follow up with some more photography tips! These are geared towards blogging (though Instagram is a big part of that world now too), which I'll be covering more often through a new series called "Becoming Your Own (Blog) Boss" (BYOB for short...haha!). 

Though bloggers wear many hats, photographer is surely one of the most frequented. In a world where Instagram has over 500 million monthly users, there's simply no way of getting around taking photos if you're serious about the getting into the blogging scene. 

And guess what? No longer is a simple #unfiltered cellphone snapshot enough. You need actual photography skills. And they don't just earn you brownie points...they're an absolute necessity. 

The fact of the matter is that the blogging world has evolved. The space has become super saturated and, as with any market in which this happens, consequently more competitive. Though many feel threatened by this and even bitter towards the shift, I love the push to create higher-quality work. I've come a long way since posts like this, and so there's no more dimly lit, harshly edited pics for this girl. 

In fact, my photos are one of the aspects of this blog that I am most proud of. I also feel like they play a huge role in landing sponsorships. After all, anyone can take a picture, but not everyone can make it look good. 

Here are a few of my best tips for improving your photography and using it to get your blog noticed:

1. get inspired

One of the best things that you can do as an amateur photographer is to gather inspiration for your photos. Whether it's by saving pictures you enjoy to a secret board on Pinterest or just to a folder on your desktop, it's important to do your research and determine a photography style that you'll aspire to. This can give you a better idea of what truly high-quality photos look like in the first place and also provide you with some motivation to better learn how to use your camera. I also like to save photos that give me good idea of how I might want to style/layout a set in the future. 

2. invest in a dslr

Maybe you're sick of hearing that you need a DSLR to take good blog photos. To be honest, that's not always the case. With good enough editing and photo placement (i.e. creating a collage of smaller iPhone photos instead of blowing them up individually to avoid grainy quality), you might be able to get away without a DSLR...for now. That being said, as soon as you can come up with the money, I'd absolutely recommend investing in a DSLR. This is especially true if you want to make money with your blog and acquire sponsors. You always want to be improving the quality of your work, and taking photos with a quality camera is pretty much an industry standard at this point. 

3. learn how to use manual

Okay, so you've got a DSLR. Now what? It's time to learn how to use the manual settings. Because, remember why you bought the camera in the first place? To take higher quality photos. Though you don't necessarily always need to shoot on manual, this setting is going to give you the most flexibility in terms of photo style and can also produce the best results. Shooting on automatic is almost NEVER recommended! The photos rarely come out well lit, which is one of the most important things you're looking for in a good blog photo. Here are the two big functions that I try to pay attention to when I'm using this setting (which is always):

ISO: ISO adjusts the brightness of the photo. The higher the number, the brighter the photo will be. You have to be careful though that you don't make this setting too high, which can lower the overall quality of the photo and make it look grainy once you get it on your computer. 

Shutter Speed: This setting affects how much light your photo gets. The higher the number, the higher the shutter speed. This can work well for photos that need to be taken very quickly to reduce blur (i.e. action shots), but keep in mind that this will also reduce the brightness of the photo. You can also lower the shutter speed to use more light and increase the brightness of your photo, but this does slow down the photo and can make it blurry if you lower this setting too much. I usually shoot at around 60. 

4. use natural light

Sometimes I hear people ask, how can I take a good photo at night? The answer is simple. You can't. The best pictures are taken in natural light. You're going to have to time your photoshoots according to both the time of day and the weather. You don't want to shoot in direct sunlight (photos will be too harsh), but you also don't want to shoot when there isn't any natural light (i.e. it's super cloudy and dark out). Yes, it can be a hassle, but if you plan ahead of time it's not too bad! Plus, any inconvenience is absolutely worth it in the long run when you have beautiful blog photos to accompany your posts. 

5. edit, edit, edit

Though the first steps to taking high-quality blog photos are investing in a camera and learning how to use it, you definitely want to familiarize yourself with editing software next. It'll be a rare occasion when you won't need to touch up a photo at all, even though you probably won't be making any major edits to any of your blog photography (if you are, unfortunately the photo probably wasn't the strongest in the first place or you might be over-editing). Photoshop is my favorite tool to use for my blog photos (I use VSCO for Instagram), and it's what most professionals use too! That being said, you can definitely look around on the web for alternatives. Just make sure that whatever editing software you're using is legitimate. You definitely DON'T want to be adding wonky filters to any of your photos. You might think they look good now, but trust'll change your mind later on! All you should really need to adjust should be the brightness and contrast. You can also sharpen the image if necessary, which I sometimes like to do. 

6. Practice makes perfect

Like most things in life, practice makes perfect! You definitely won't get any better at blog photography if you're not actively working on it, so try to take photos every day, even if it's just for ten minutes. 

What would you like to improve about your blog photography? Also, I'd love to check out some of your photos too, so leave your blog or Instagram link below! 

How To Have The Perfect At-Home Spa Day

Wow, I can't remember the last time I've taken such a long hiatus from blogging! I hate that I've been absent for the past few weeks, but I have been sick as a dog. I'm talking the full nine yards. Fever, sore throat, cough, you name it. 


However, being essentially couchridden for the past week has had at least one positive affect, since it's the inspiration behind today's post. Now that my immune system is finally starting to kick some a$$, I'm definitely in need of a spa day this weekend as a treat for such a rough time while I've been sick. Though feeling like CRAP is a perfect excuse for a little "me time", we all need to love ourselves a little more often. Am I right? 

I don't know about you guys, but I'm constantly go, go, go. That's why being so sick was so sucky. I mean, I literally almost fell asleep at my internship (and NOT because it's boring or I don't enjoy it -- because I do!). My body was just not functioning properly. Next time I need to recognize when it's time to use a sick day rather than push through when I'm feeling terrible. After all, who's really that productive when they're feverish and falling asleep? 

Anyways, it's great to be back, and I'm actually feeling quite re-inspired. Sometimes a little break can actually be a good thing. 

Now, here's the lowdown on everything you'll need in order to have the most kicka** spa day ever -- this weekend. >> Because there's no sense in putting it off until later. I always like to say (physical AND mental) health is the greatest start investing in yo' self! 



If you're going to be treating your face, you might as well go for your whole body while you're at it. Scrubs are great for renewing skin and nixing dryness, and can be a great tool to use after dry brushing. My favorite is this Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk Scrub, but I'm also lusting after this, this, & this too. 

P.S. You can also make your own (easy AF) coffee body scrub w/ my recipe here. It's AMAZE. 



Until recently, I've been super wary of hair masks. Since I have pretty thin hair (tips for managing it here), weighing it down and creating more problems than I'm solving is a huge concern. In fact, most of the time when I see a "moisturizing" product, I run in the other direction, just because I'm so afraid it will make my hair greasy. However, I really love this repairing mask from Briogeo (more details here -- 7:32) and this Garnier Whole Blends repairing mask. Both have left my hair so soft, and skipping them just wouldn't feel right if I were spending a day pampering myself! 



Okay, so face masks are pretty much the most #basic necessity for a spa day. However, I'm so over the typical clay masks right now. They're boring and overrated. Anyone else with me? If so, try this foaming apple cider vinegar mask. It's unlike anything else I've tried before, and I'm totally obsessed. You can also really kick it up a notch if you own a Clarisonic. I just got one sent to me (review coming soon), and I'm in love

P.S. Try this yummy DIY Chocolate Face Mask for an easy, cheap, & calming at-home remedy! 



Just like a good body scrub, the perfect bath bomb is a another great way to treat your entire body. I'm a huge fan of LUSH (their bath bombs turn the entire pool of water a different color AND have glitter in them), but I'm also loving this adorable Tub Truffle Gift Set. It's so cute! These Jane Rx Bath Cubes are also cool, because each one has a different use. Love it. 



If you guys have read this post, you know that I love my oils. They're so great for relaxing, and they also have a whole list of health benefits to accompany them too. Not to mention, most spas use aromatherapy in their treatments, so this is the perfect way to really get the full experience. Prices vary depending on what diffuser you buy, but there's SO many options, a lot of them being very budget friendly (I'm lusting after this bamboo diffuser ATM). Essential oils can also be amazing tools when you're sick or having trouble falling asleep, so you'll definitely get your money's worth! 


So, now that you know my go-to essentials for the perfect at-home spa day, what are yours? Which of the above do you want to try? 

5 Podcasts You Need in Your Life


Boy oh boy are you guys in for a treat today. We're talking about *drumroll*...


I kid you not, every person I start talking to about this literally looks at me like a deer in the headlights and is totally thinking WTF are you talking about Holly? 

But guys, I promise you'll be just as in love with podcasting as I am by the end of this post; just hear me out. 

First things first. WTF is a podcast? 

If you've already gotten the lowdown on podcasts, sweet deal. For those of you who are totally lost, here's the quick & dirty: 

Podcasts are essentially downloadable talk shows. you can find them on the pre-installed app if you own an iphone, They're free, and anyone can start their own show. They're THE  thing to be listening to when you're driving in your car, working out, cleaning the house, etc., because they're informational and basically help you be extra productive while you're doing a somewhat mindless task. 

Podcasts are also the up and coming medium for content creation. If I had more time on my hands, I would SO start one. There's something about them that's just fun. They're also cool because they give you something to think/learn about while you're doing tedious tasks. For someone like me, who barely has time to read through Instagram comments or my Twitter feed, it's a great way to stay connected.

Not sold? I honestly had no clue what podcasting was for a long time and, even once I found out, I wasn't into the idea at first. It actually wasn't until one of my favorite bloggers started a show that I finally decided to give it a shot, and it was only because of my loyalty to that brand that I gave it a try. Overall, I would've rather blasted my latest playlist and gotten on with my life. However, what I didn't realize that there are podcasts for pretty much everything, so it's totally different than listening to the radio. The whole format of podcasts is also pretty different from morning talk shows, and the content is just generally a lot better since the topics are narrowed down into niche interest groups (beauty, health, business, blogging, etc.). 

The biggest challenge with getting into the podcast game is knowing where to start. There's a lot of content to sort through! I find a lot of new shows simply by looking at the top charts, but I wish that I would have had a comprehensive list of some of the best shows when I first started listening to podcasts so that I didn't have to sort through all of the noise to find something that I was actually interested in. 

Luckily for you, I've done all the grunt work! Here's five podcasts that are definitely worth a listen:

1. the skinny confidential him & her podcast

Remember that blogger I said that is totally responsible for piquing my interest in podcasts? Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential launched a show with her fiancee Michael last spring, and it is by far one of my favorites. Lauryn and Michael are absolutely hilarious and are willing to talk about pretty much anything (blogging tips, boob jobs, sex/dating, etc.). It's quite fun. Both Lauryn and Michael are total bada$$ entrepreneurs, so this is the perfect podcast if you're looking for some solid biz advice. They're also not afraid to get a little saucy and talk about taboo topics, which makes it way more entertaining than the purely business podcasts out there. Listeners can even submit questions to be answered on the show too! 

2. beauty inside out with kimberly snyder

Beauty Inside Out is another one of my favorite podcasts that I listen to on a weekly basis. The host, Kimberly Snyder, is a celebrity nutritionist and author of several books. I love her all-natural, holistic health approach, and she's always bringing on experts to complement all of the knowledge she has to offer. She's super well-traveled, experienced in the nutritional/health field, and has a lot of creative recommendations for developing a healthier diet. Overall, it's a great podcast for anyone who's looking to learn more about living healthfully. In addition to the weekly interview formatted shows, Kimberly also does separate segments for Q&As! 

3. Being boss

Being boss was one of the very first podcasts that I started listening to. In fact, I don't think I even really knew what a podcast was when I downloaded the first episode. However, I was totally hooked. Being Boss is exactly what its tagline states: A podcast for creative entrepreneurs. These ladies do an amazing job of bringing positivity to the show and providing real-deal, tried and true advice that they've used to build their own business empires. And the best part about this podcast is that, even though it's business-oriented, it's never dry or boring! Instead, it's empowering, and really makes you want to get up and do something. 

4. happier with gretchen rubin

Have you guys read The Happiness Project? At the very least, you've probably heard of it. Am I right? For those of you who don't know though, The Happiness Project is a book that tells the story of one woman, Gretchen Rubin, who sets out on a year-long project to become...happier. It's an interesting read, and the book was so popular that it spiraled off into a series of other projects, including this podcast. I'm a big proponent of this show because it's lighthearted and offers great tips for maximizing happiness on a daily basis. Gretchen has also done extensive research on the psychology of happiness, so she's definitely an expert in the field. This is something that I look for when I'm trying to find a new podcast, because I know that I want to learn something while listening. Like the shows listed above, this podcast also takes questions from listeners.

5. Sophia Amoruso's #girlboss Radio

Like Happier With Gretchen Rubin, #Girlboss Radio evolved after the huge success of, founder of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso's book #GIRLBOSS. Sophia has many high-profile entrepreneurs on the show to talk shop each week, not to mention the fact that she's also the founder of a multi-million dollar company herself. I don't necessarily listen to this podcast on a weekly basis, but it's definitely a great resource for business inspiration and advice!

So tell me, what do you guys think about all this podcasting biz? Love it or hate it? Do you have a favorite show that isn't listed here? Let me know in the comments! 

The Skinny Pumpkin Frappe Recipe That Won't Ruin Your #Healthkick

If you guys saw this post from last week, you're well aware that pumpkin spiced latte season is upon us. Though a #psl is often my drink of choice this time of the year, I recently had a killer frozen pumpkin chai while I was home a few weeks ago that absolutely rocked my world. Basically anything that includes pumpkin & caffeine is a go, right?  

As much as I love all of the fall drinks that are available in stores right now, I'm doing my best to get back on track with eating healthy and working out. You guys saw my food diary from last week, right? It was ridiculous!

So, this is where my new favorite at-home, skinny girl drink comes in. It's got all of the deliciousness of fall coffee beverages, minus all the not-so-clean-eating ingredients.  


There's a few more ingredients in this recipe than I'd normally like (you guys know I'm all about keeping it under five), but I promise it's SO worth it! I also already had all of the ingredients except for the pumpkin puree and unpitted dates in my pantry :) 

  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1/2 cup frozen bananas
  • 3 whole unpitted dates
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 handful of ice


  • Put all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth & enjoy! It's that simple. 

I have to admit I was pretty proud of myself when I nailed this recipe on the first try. Sometimes things don't go as planned in the kitchen, so I have to start over and perfect the measurements of ingredients and such. But this skinny pumpkin frappe was amazing! And the best part was that it took no more than 10 minutes to make, which you guys know I love (because really, who has time for anything more?). 

Let me know what you guys think of this recipe! I'm kind of obsessed. Also, are you a fan of fall drinks like me, or do you prefer to stick with the classics?