Author Archives: Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper

About Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper is a freelance writer, editor and consultant who lives in Nashville, Tenn. A native of Indianapolis and a graduate of Samford University, she spent several years editing a music magazine in Nashville before venturing out on her own. Brittany loves all things magazine, especially Real Simple and Whole Living, and now finds that she spends too much of her spare time looking for great recipes on Pinterest.

Wrap a magazine gift subscription - frame it

5 More Ways to Creatively Wrap Your Magazine Gift Subscription

If you’re still not quite sure how to present that magazine gift subscription this year after our last post on the topic, here are five more simple and creative ways to say, “Get ready for the gift that keeps on giving.”

1. Piggy bank it. Pick up a piggy bank and a single issue of the gift magazine at a store. Remove the magazine cover and fold or roll it so it fits into the coin slot of the piggy bank and sticks up through it.

Wrap a magazine gift subscription - piggy bank

2. Create a snowman. Purchase the current copy of your gift magazine at your local newsstand. Roll the magazine longways and wrap white tissue paper around it. Place two rubber bands one-third of the way from top and bottom, and decorate it like a snowman.

Wrap a magazine gift subscription - create a snowman

3. Inspire a good year. Pick up three or four fragrant votive candles and a copy of the magazine you’re giving as a subscription. Roll the magazine into a tube and secure with tape. Place a couple pieces of tape across the diameter of the bottom of the cylinder. Stack the candles in the rolled up magazine and wrap in a wine bottle gift bag.

Wrap a magazine gift subscription - inspire a good year

4. Show off your good taste. Line a cookie tin or basket with festive tissue paper or parchment paper. Wrap a handful each of walnuts and apricots in plastic wrap and tie with a ribbon. Arrange a wedge of artisan cheese with the nuts and fruit and top with a note card announcing the magazine subscription.

Wrap a magazine gift subscription - good taste

5. Frame it up. Pick up a picture frame ornament. Then print a cover of the magazine you’ve given from and insert it into the frame. This way you give two gifts in one – a frame they can use right away and a subscription they’ll enjoy all year long.

Wrap a magazine gift subscription - frame it

Try these tips or come up with your own unique ways to present a magazine gift subscription this year. And remember, though the presentation is important, the best part about this gift is that the recipient gets to open the mailbox to more gifts from you all year long.

Costume Tutorial

5 Halloween Costumes From a Bandana, a Marker and a Belt

Costume TutorialHalloween is tomorrow, and whether you’re headed to a work costume party or just handing out candy at home, here are five costumes you can piece together from three versatile household items.

Halloween can be an awkward holiday for women when it comes to adult costumes, especially at work-related parties. It can be hard to maintain that professional vibe while also letting yourself be creative.

If you don’t want to look like a curmudgeon this year but also don’t want to be the only person who went over the top, here are five costumes that require no purchase and provide just the right amount of festivity. All you need are three basic things – a bandana, a (washable) marker and a belt – and you’ll be on your way.

1. A Pirate: Wrap the bandana around your head, tying it at the side to give it that signature pirate look. Throw on brown pants and a white or cream shirt (long-sleeved, flowing shirts work best). Then take the belt and wrap it around your waist to cinch the shirt. Take the marker and be creative, drawing a patch on your eye or a creative mustache and voila – all you’ll have to do then is perfect your pirate voice and tell everyone you meet to walk the plank!

2. A Hippie: There are several ways to tie a bandana to make yourself look like a hippie. You can either lay it out like a diamond, fold it in half and then wear it over your hair, tying the corners together, or you can continue folding until it’s folded into a headband. Wear a bright floral shirt or a flowing shirt (if you’re not using it for your pirate costume) and the most belled pants you have, tie your belt around your waist and draw a peace sign on your cheek or on your arm like a tattoo. Don’t you just feel the love with this one?

3. A Girl from the ’50s: To pull off this look, wear straight-legged jeans and white shoes if you have them. Put on a plain colored, short sleeved shirt and tie your bandana in a clean knot around your neck. Tuck the shirt into your jeans and wear the belt neatly.  Put your hair in a side ponytail if you can and use the marker to draw cat-eye eyeliner on your eyes.

4. A Gypsy: Wear your hair down and add curls if you can. Tie the bandana just like you did for the pirate, where the knot is on the side of your head. Wear a long skirt and a flowing shirt if you have them. Loosen up your belt and let it hang around your waist over your skirt to give it more of a Bohemian look. If you have gold jewelry or hoop earrings, wear them. You don’t need the marker on this one, unless you’re super creative and want to draw on some gypsy jewelry.

5. A Bank Robber: For this one, wear the banana over your mouth like a bandit, color a black mask over your eyes with the marker and wear all black. Take your belt and sling it over one shoulder to make yourself look a little more like a nomadic highwayman (or woman).



10 Best Magazines for Halloween Ideas

HalloweenHalloween is just three days away, and that means it’s crunch time. Here are 10 go-to magazines for the best Halloween ideas on the block.

Sometimes Halloween sneaks up on you faster than a mummy in a haunted house. Boo! The big day is almost here and that means it’s time to think up a great dessert to bring to work, throw together a costume and buy some sweet stuff to hand out to the little bell-ringers who will be lining up at your door.

Where do you go for the best ideas of the season? This year, try one of these 10 go-to magazines for tricks and treats that will make it look like you’ve been planning for months (which we all know you haven’t).

Plus, to make things sweeter this season, check out the spooktacular savings we’re offering this season for $5 off these select magazines and more!

Martha Stewart Living

1. Martha Stewart Living - From spider-shaped pancakes to homemade costumes for kids, Martha’s got everything you need for a fun family fall.

Whole Living Magazine

2. Whole Living – In a season full of candy and cookies, this title offers a healthy and delicious approach to the season.

Family Circle Magazine

3. Family Circle - This magazine is loaded with family friendly tips like quick can’t-miss recipes and pumpkin carving ideas that will light up the night.

Food & Wine Magazine

4. Food & Wine - Get a more gourmet take on the season with this title, with chef-approved scrumptious menus for the season and party ideas that will make Halloween a holiday that even adults enjoy.

Everyday Food Magazine

5. Everyday Food - This title also comes from Martha Stewart, and if offers recipes on everything from the best cupcakes to new takes on comfort foods.

Parenting Magazine

6. Parenting - Halloween is a season full of kids, and you won’t want to brave it without the super creative ideas of Parenting magazine.

Midwest Living Magazine

7. Midwest Living - Pretzel sticks that look like ghosts? Butterfly-covered pumpkins? There’s no end to the fun Halloween-inspired things covering the pages of this one.

Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

8. Better Homes & GardensLet this magazine help you decorate your home to reflect the classy colors of the season.

National Geographic Kids

9. National Geographic Kids - This new title is chok full of facts and fun for kids of all ages. Find a costume idea or quiz yourself on some Halloween trivia to see how much you really know about the holiday.

Taste of Home Magazine

10. Taste of Home - Halloween recipes galore will have you tasting the best flavors of fall.


Chattanooga Featured

Destination Chattanooga: All in a Day

A family friendly city of bridges and boutiques, Chattanooga offers activities of all kinds — and you’ll be amazed how much you can do in just one day!

Destination Chattanooga 6

Sitting right atop the Tennessee/Georgia border, Chattanooga is one of Tennessee’s gems — a city populated with local haunts and places the whole family will love. Some of the most celebrated Chattanooga spots include their acclaimed aquarium, the Walnut Street Bridge, Tennessee Riverpark, the Creative Discovery Museum and the Museum of American Art.

I recently took a family trip to Chattanooga for just one day, and even without hitting any of the bigger Chatt attractions, we soaked up the local culture and had a fantastic time. Here are some of our favorite Chattanooga spots, captured in photos.

Destination Chattanooga 1

The Winder Binder Gallery & Bookstore (above) offers an array of funky artwork and used books. This charming spot is made even more appealing by its friendly communal aspects like the take a painting, leave a painting option.

Destination Chattanooga 2

Rembrandt’s Coffee House (above) is one of our favorite Chattanooga spots, especially in the winter when it offers a beautiful, inviting place to warm up with a hot drink. In the other seasons, their terrace looks like something straight out of Paris (below).

Destination Chattanooga 3

Destination Chattanooga 5

Some of the delicious and also quite lovely chocolates offered at Rembrandt’s (above).

Destination Chattanooga 4

Speaking of Paris … the Bluff View Bakery will make you feel like you stepped straight into a Parisian boulangerie (above).

Destination Chattanooga 7

The Walnut Street Bridge (above) is a beautiful pathway over the river that’s a great walk or bike ride into the Chattanooga Arts District.

Destination Chattanooga 9

At the foot of the Walnut Street Bridge, the Hunter Museum of American Art sits right above the river in all its modern style (above).

Destination Chattanooga 10

Rent one of these fun bikes at one spot, ride around the city for a bit and drop it at another spot when you’re done (above).

Destination Chattanooga 11

Destination Chattanooga 12

Destination Chattanooga 13

The Yellow Deli (above), located just beside the University of Tennessee Chattanooga campus, is a delicious spot for healthy and absolutely delicious food. Their selection of sandwiches, soups, teas and even house made root beer never disappoint!

Salted Caramel Shortbread Final Step

DIY for the Average Jane: Salted Caramel Shortbread

DIY For the Average Jane: Salted Caramel ShortbreadThe salted caramel craze is taking over Pinterest, cooking blogs and dessert menus everywhere, and these sweet and salty treats are well worth the time they take to make at home!

Ever since the first time I tried kettle corn at a street fair, I have been smitten with absolutely any sweet thing that finds balance in just a pinch of savory salt. Yep, I’m one of those people who dips Wendy’s French fries into my Frosty to achieve this equilibrium of all things sweet and salty. But you don’t have to go through a drive-thru to get the perfect balance between the two.

As I was browsing Pinterest looking for an idea for this week’s tutorial, I kept seeing the same photo of salted caramel shortbread pinned again and again. The original pin was from the food blog Erica’s Sweet Tooth, who had amended the recipe from the salted caramel bars on the blog What’s Gaby Cooking.

So, yesterday, with my in-laws in town as the perfect tasting audience, I gathered the supplies and set to work making these delectable little shortbread bites. In the end, I think I could have let the caramel boil just a tiny bit longer, as mine began to melt a bit when out of the fridge for too long, but other than that, these were just right. Here’s how you can make your own:


For the shortbread:

5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

5 tbsp salted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg yolk

1-2/3 cups flour

For the caramel:

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top

4 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp heavy cream

1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Step 1: Line an 8×8″ pan with parchment paper or greased tin foil, letting the edges hang over to make it easier to remove the shortbread in the end.

Step 2: Mix butter, sugar and salt in a large bowl with a fork. Then, add the egg yolk and mix well.

Step 3: Stir in the flour and them combine the dough with your hands until it’s coarse and crumbly. Transfer the dough into the pan you prepared, and use your hands to press it into one layer. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Salted Caramel Step 3

Salted Caramel Shortbread Step 3-2

Step 4: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake the shortbread layer for 25 minutes, or until the top begins to look golden brown. Set the pan aside to cool as you prepare the caramel.

Step 5: For the caramel, mix the butter, brown sugar, salt, sugar, heavy cream and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and stir until the caramel reaches the “soft ball” stage on a candy thermometer (about 230 degrees).

Salted Caramel Shortbread Step 5-1

Salted Caramel Shortbread Step 5-2

Step 6: Remove pan from heat, stir in the vanilla and pour the caramel evenly over the shortbread layer. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and then sprinkle with sea salt and cut into squares. Since these can get a little melty, it’s best to store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat them.

Salted Caramel Shortbread Step 6-1

Salted Caramel Shortbread Step 6-2

Salted Caramel Shortbread Final Step


Six Fabulous Fall Party Ideas

Six Fabulous Fall Party Ideas

Six Fabulous Fall Party IdeasYou don’t want to dance to “Monster Mash” or bob for apples, but you can plan a fun (and classy) fall party for your friends with these six suggestions.

It’s easy to throw a fall party for kids–think up some games and make sure there’s candy involved–but how do you entertain adult guests during the autumn months? Here are six suggestions that will help you host a party your friends won’t want to miss.

1. Select Good Candles – I can’t think of a better time than fall to invest in really great-smelling candles. Choose scents with hints of vanilla, spice, pumpkin or cider, and you’ll set the tone for your gathering with just the flick of a match.

2. Mind the Music – When you’re hosting a party, it’s important to think about how you want the event to feel and then select music that will play into that ambiance. Instrumental or folk music is a great complement to a fall party, and with your candles burning in the background, you’ll have people relaxed the moment they walk in the door.

3. Indulge the Appetite - Fall is a nostalgic time for most people. The change in season brings thoughts of caramel apples, spiced apple cider, pies and pumpkin desserts of all kind. Plan your menu around the season and include foods like squash, apples and pumpkin.

4. Bring on the Beverages - Put away the ice bucket and bring out the tea kettle. Warm up your gathering by offering up an assortment of seasonal teas (pumpkin spice, apple cinnamon, etc.) as well as hot fresh cider or hot chocolate. Something about enjoying a warm drink together makes a party feel extra cozy and relaxing.

5. Venture Outside - If the weather’s nice, take the opportunity to host a part of your event outside, where people can enjoy the natural sights and smells of autumn. String up some white lights or place candles in assorted lanterns and add to the beauty.

6. Sport something Seasonal - If you’re hosting a fall party, dress for the occasion in a warm knit or a pair of leather boots. If you look the part of fall, it will add to the overall theme and feel of your gathering, letting people enjoy the season and all its charms.