Most Popular Posts of 2016

2016: what a year! I know the world is ready to see it go, but I really liked 2016 for the most part! Christopher and I really had a lot of great things happen to us and our families this year, and it was such a year of growth. For us, 2016 was a great foundation for good things to come in 2017. I love that feeling of something huge coming up over the horizon.

Here's a quick look back on my 2016, through the lens of my most popular blog posts! Thanks as always to my faithful friends, followers, and readers, you really helped this blog make some huge strides this year! I set a lot of personal goals for myself and Starting Out Southern this year, and without you, they wouldn't have been reached. I'd love to hear some feedback in the comments about what you'd like to to see more of in 2017 or any questions you have about me/the blog/the life!

January: Being a Bride | Megan     My first "Being a Bride" post featured Megan, one of my Phi Mu sisters. The popularity of her post in January immediately helped me land more posts on the topic, and solidified the wedding theme for this year on the blog.
February: Being a Bride | Emily     Emily's post was another popular "Being a Bride" feature. I think it speaks to the fact that people come to blogs to get to know other people! It's a social setting, so don't hesitate to comment, email, reach out on social media, etc. If you'd like to be the next bride, click the connect tab at the top of the page to email me today!
March: Invited to Party     By March, the wedding festivities were in full swing. This post featured the best friend designed invitations to one of my showers and my bachelorette weekend. I have been blown away all year at the popularity of this post. It's literally been pinned over 100 times--that's amazingly high for a personal pin from my blog!
April: Prom 2k16     I'm not surprised this was the most popular post in April; with a prom dress like that, of course it would be!
May: Bridal Portraits     My first true peak into our wonderful wedding was my bridal portraits post. Shared just after our honeymoon recap, this popular post in May set the tone for the chronicling of our wedding weekend as a faithful summer post.
June: Wedding Video     I'm so glad our wedding video was so well received because I LOVED it. I sometimes go back and watch it randomly just to get some lovey-dovey feels for the day.
July: Our First Look     We did a non-traditional first look at our wedding, which I think aided in the high readership of this post. It was a truly unique moment! If you missed out, here's your chance to find out what it was all about!
August: Black Transitional Dress     This was one of my first true styled outfit posts. How scary! As much of myself as I put out there on the Internet, doing a self-styled post was truly nerve wracking. But the positive response encouraged a few more throughout the year, and I look forward to including more looks in 2017's post line-up.
September: Christmas List     I would have been sad if this one hadn't been a hit, as one of my top five posts of all time is a Christmas list! I guess I know how to pick good gifts!
October: Hurricane Matthew     A "real-life" blog post, Hurricane Matthew was a hot topic for a few weeks. I'm thankful we didn't sustain any structural damage to our home, and that all of our friends and family were safe through the storm.
November: Being a Bride | Lauren     One of my favorite "Being a Bride" posts was my sweet friend Lauren's. Isn't she stunning?!
December: Trimming the Tree with Walker Boutique     This post is one that I'm probably the most proud of from 2016. It had been my goal this year to develop relationships with some of my favorite businesses and to work with them to bring their awesomeness to the blog. I'm so grateful Walker Boutique was excited to work with me too, and I can't wait to do more posts like this in the future.

And again, thank you to my full time life photographers {the hubs and the bff}, the consistent Facebook promoters {you know who you are!}, and those newbies who have just started stopping by. I appreciate every page click, Facebook like, or post share--they really do make a difference in helping this grow!

Skinny Christmas Cranberry Mojito

This blog post is sponsored by Infinity Jars. All opinions are my own. 
I don't know about you, but I like a little Christmas cheer. With a few days of time off right around the holidays, it's the perfect time to kick back, relax, and celebrate with family and friends. I also like to save calories when and where I can, especially with a tray of lady fingers and other goodies covering my kitchen table. 

I'm trying to be better about stocking my bar and refrigerator with all the goodies that really make crafted cocktails pop. I love anything with mint, but absolutely despise how quickly they can deteriorate even in the coolest spots in the fridge. That's where Infinity Jars comes in. Infinity Jars are black, ultra-violet filtering jars of a variety of shapes and sizes that naturally preserve and rejuvenate freshness of any kitchen staple: herbs, teas, flour, just to name a few!

The secret to the jars' impressive preservation capability is found in the deep violet glass. This type of pigmented glass blocks out harmful visible light rays which quickly degrade organic matter, while still permitting two beneficial light rays proven to preserve and extend the shelf life of these temporary and temperamental ingredients.  

Infinity Jars graciously sent me a 250 ml apothecary jar {perfect for storing my mint leaves!}, a liter square oil bottle with spout, and a 5 ml screw top jar. I can't wait to use the mini jar as a travel container for some of my skincare. For my Christmas cranberry mojito, I used the apothecary jar and the oil bottle. 

To make these mojitos "skinny," I simmered water and stevia extract together to create the simple syrup instead of using granulated sugar! I would recommend ten packets of stevia per cup of water, which is the perfect amount for two cocktails for the hubs and me. Simmer together the stevia extract, water, and two handfuls of cranberries for about ten minutes, or until the cranberries begin to burst. 

While the simple syrup is sweetening, muddle roughly 15 mint leaves and the juice of half of a lime. After muddling, toss the lime and some ice cubes into the glass. Once the simple syrup has become a bright pink color, strain the cranberries from the syrup. I then poured the syrup into the liter oil bottle. This Infinity Jars pour spout has a tiny strainer at the tip, which helps keep the syrup even more fine as I pour about two ounces into the glass. 

Top with equal parts white rum and club soda, stir, and serve with a beautiful garnish of fresh cranberries, a slice of lime, and a fun holiday mixer and straw! 

Skinny Christmas Cranberry Mojito {makes two cocktails} 
2 limes
Mint leaves
Fresh Cranberries
10 packets of stevia extract
1 cup water
White Rum
Club Soda 

Simmer 1 cup water, 10 packets of stevia extract, and two handfuls of fresh cranberries for ten minutes. Strain cranberries and set aside. Pour simple syrup into oil bottle for ease of pouring. While simple syrup is simmering, muddle 15 mint leaves per glass with the juice of half a lime. Once muddled, put ice cubes and lime in class. Pour two ounces of simple syrup into glass once cooled to room temperature. Top with equal parts white rum and club soda; stir, and serve with a lime and fresh cranberry garnish. 

Thank you, Infinity Jars, for sponsoring today's post full of Christmas cheer!

Pin it!

Ornament Review Round Two

In my dining room, I have a gold tree that I spray painted last year {you can read more about that experience, and the why, here} and decorate with white, gold, and silver ornaments. Also kind of known as my "marriage" tree, I have a lot of "M" ornaments, our engagement ornaments, and now first Christmas ornaments on display!

These gold mirrored personalized pet ornaments from Moon & Lola are my absolute favorite new additions. I gave them as gifts to a bunch of people for Christmas last year, and am doing it again this year! Almost everyone has a pet that they love, and you can pick from a variety of dog breeds, gold or silver, and script or block font to make it perfect for each person on your gift list. 

I spotted this Mud Pie "First Christmas" ornament at Walker Boutique a few months ago and had to buy it! Besides coordinating perfectly with my tree, it also coordinates with a lot of the look from our wedding and serves as a great token from the year. This is the perfect gift for the newlyweds on your list!

My mom gave me this ornament as a birthday gift because as she said, it's the most perfect shoe for me! 

One of my sweet Phi Mu friends spotted two boxes of Shiny Brites in a store last Christmas that were all silver and gold and graciously thought of me! I'm so glad to have such a classic addition to my themed tree. 

Ornament Review Round One

Keeping with tradition, I wanted to share with you a few of the new ornaments I've collected over the past year. Since I have two trees, and lots of ornaments, I'm going to break it up into two posts. Also, be on the lookout for an upcoming Christmas cocktail post with Infinity Jars, and check their site for any last minute gift needs!

 On our honeymoon, we picked up this beautiful pink and blue handpainted ornament from St. Thomas while we were shopping. I think that will have to be our "thing," purchasing ornaments from all of the different trips we take as a couple! Pink and blue {and glitter!} are two of my favorite colors, and this ornament represents the best week ever, so it's a new favorite for sure.

 I found this heart ornament at TJ Maxx last year and had to grab it because it's my family's china pattern. My Nana began collecting Old Country Roses years ago, and when I saw this ornament I had to grab one for her too!

My mom brought back this pharmacist ornament for Christopher for his birthday last month. It's so cute, and is the perfect reminder of the exciting year he's had!

My blogging and PR friend LeAnn who lives in Germany brought me this handcarved ornament from a German Christmas market, along with a good luck charm: a pink, gold polka dotted porcelain pig for my desk which is another German tradition!

 My mom brought this "Just Married" ornament back for us from a Christmas show in Charlotte, NC, just a few weeks ago. It's so cute! It reminds me of the ones we had growing up with my name and my brothers' names on it.

 This intricate Georgia Southern ornament is the one I gifted Christopher last year. Growing up, my brothers and I exchanged ornaments instead of gifts, which is how I have developed such an eclectic collection. I wanted to carry that tradition on to my family, and have been giving Christopher ornaments in his stocking ever since!

 The local Phi Mu alumni chapter does an ornament exchange every year, and I am always so lucky to bring home a beauty. I love this red and green plaid one!

I am transitioning our main tree this year--usually it's a lot more pink--but am waiting to do a major overhaul until next year. We really want to get a flocked tree, but since we might move houses in the next year, we wanted to wait to buy a tree not knowing what size we would need. As a happy medium, I rounded up a bunch of gold picks from Hobby Lobby to start my topper, and stuck a gold tiara from a bachelorette party last year up at the top! I love including little trinkets from the years in my trees; I've even included my bachelorette sombrero in this tree's branches!

2016 Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are in the mail, and I'm only looking for one more gift with 18 days to spare! I love checking things off  my list, and with December being a busy work month in addition to holiday festivities, the list sometimes seems to grow daily.

Christopher actually picked out our Christmas cards this year. I truly value his input in decisions, even if sometimes it doesn't always seem like it! I also can't tell you how much of a difference it makes to get the return address pre-printed on the back. Life saver!!

Don't fret, there is still time to get your pictures together to order some awesome cards! And of course, you could always send out New Year's greetings to give you a little more time. Shutterfly is one of my favorite places to do additional ordering like wedding albums and gifts to give. They're helping inspire this holiday season by providing an interactive set of 100 Christmas photo ideas. It includes curated photos from photographers and bloggers in addition to helpful filters so you can sort by ages, style and props. I absolutely adore their idea of your Christmas card being an ornament to hang on the tree and cherish for years to come! How sweet. 

Some of these picture poses don't require a lot of props, and could be taken quickly using your local downtown as a beautifully decorated backdrop. Or head out to your local tree farm to find the perfect fir for the season, and take a quick pic as well! In Georgia, you can visit any one of these farms to find the right tree.  Thank you, Shutterfly, for inspiring readers! 

Trimming the Tree with Walker Boutique

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or any related social media platforms, I may make a commission from it. I will always disclose if a post is sponsored. 

Everyone knows that my absolute favorite place to shop in Statesboro, and maybe in the whole world, is Walker Boutique. They have the absolute best selection of clothing, jewelry, and home goods, that are totally unique. It's one of my favorite places to shop for game day clothes, wedding gifts, birthday surprises, and anything monogrammed, too.

So of course I was thrilled when Walker Boutique approached me about collaborating on a post for the blog! I knew they would be getting some great holiday gear, and was so excited to showcase a piece for them. When I spotted this beautiful Buddy Love tunic, that comes in white or black with the gold polka dots, I knew it would be the perfect top for any Christmastime celebration!

I recently went way out of my comfort zone and ordered these faux leather leggings. I wasn't sure how I would feel about them, but they turned out to be an awesome investment! They're super long, {and make a weird noise when you walk...that's something other "fashion bloggers" won't tell you!} but I was able to just tuck them under to work with my flats. I like the ability to control the length depending on the shoes! 

This shimmer top paired perfectly with my favorite Lisi Lerch gold tassel earrings, which would be a great Christmas gift for the fashionista in your life! The length of the top works great for any kind of leggings, and is loose and flowing, and would be a great top to wear to any party.

Walker Boutique is a one-stop shop to fulfill all the items on your Christmas list! Give them a call today to order my Buddy Love gold polka dot shimmer top, or stop by their website to find the perfect something for everyone on your list. And of course, thank you to Walker for sponsoring today's post!

Outfit details: Buddy Love gold polka dot shimmer top | Faux Leather Leggings | Studded Flats | Lisi Lerch Tassel Earrings | Kate Spade Bow Bracelet