Happy Friday! I can’t believe that Christmas is only 11 days away! I am horribly unprepared this year. I have just begun shopping, nothing is wrapped yet, & we have holiday parties almost every night. I only managed to get the inside of the house decorated, the outside decorations & lights are still in boxes in the living room. Does anyone else have years where nothing seems to come together? This is my favorite time of year & I’ve decided to just embrace the chaos & enjoy the time with friends, family, & co-workers.
We had our annual Rotary Holiday Potluck this week & I made my mother’s pumpkin bread for it. Pumpkin bread was a holiday staple around my house when I was growing up & I still love it when my mom makes a few extra loaves for me. This recipe easy to make (if I can make it, anyone can), travels well, & is always a hit at parties. You can’t beat that for a holiday recipe!
Happy Valentine’s Day! I know that some people view this holiday as nothing more than Hallmark holiday, or a cheesy couples’ day, I love Valentine’s Day. In elementary school, I loved decorating a paper bag with hearts & flowers to hang on my chair & collect cartoon cards & candy from my classmates. In middle school, the cards were fewer, but I could always count on candy from my family. In high school, my friends & I celebrated each other by purchasing the roses sold by student council & there was always the fear that you wouldn’t have a boyfriend to bring you something at school. It’s no secret that pink is my favorite color & that I love getting all dressed up, so is it really a surprise that I love a holiday centered around pink, lacy, & ruffled dresses?
But Valentine’s Day isn’t all about the clothes, the flowers, the gifts, the cards. At its core, for me, it’s a day to celebrate relationships of all types. I’ve been lucky to have the same core group of girlfriends for most of my life (going on two decades now – are we really that old?!?) & we love our girls’ nights. While we aren’t having an official Galentine’s celebration this year, we try to catch up as often as we can & celebrate each other’s victories, large & small. It can be a huge, themed birthday party, drinks to celebrate a new, or a phone call when things are tough, we are always there for each other. Over the years, we’ve become more like family than just friends & I think it’s important to take a moment today to really appreciate how rare & special relationships like that are.
I’ve also been lucky enough to have the most amazing man by my side for the last 5 years. In the fall of 2011, I had been out of law school & living in my hometown of Shreveport for one year. I had just finished a one-year judicial clerkship & was beginning my first year of practice with a law firm. I had just gotten out of a pretty awful relationship & wasn’t really looking to rush into another one. I told myself that I would be open to something if it came my way & that I wouldn’t close myself off, but I wasn’t actively searching. On September 9, 2011 (yes, I still remember the date, I’m a dork like that), my friend Angie offered me tickets to an art opening, so I recruited one of my BFF’s, got dressed up, & headed out for a girls’ night. We ran into an old friend of mine, Ian, & his super cute friend, Patrick. Ian, Patrick, Angie, & I ended up going to dinner later on that night. We talked, we flirted, we had a great time! Then, Patrick & I were just friends for several months. Looking back, I am so glad that we took the time to slowly get to know each other. By Christmas, we were dating & have been together ever since! When I walked into an art opening over 5 years ago, I never imagined that I would meet the love of my life, but I am so glad that I was open to the possibility. There are so many reasons that I love Patrick, but I thought that I would open up & share my top 5 for Valentine’s Day.
He is the most supportive man that I have ever known. I am involved in so many activities, probably too many, & even though he gets frustrated with my self-inflicted lack of free time, I know that he is always behind me, 100%, ready to help in any way that he can. He takes the majority of the pictures for this blog & never complains! Can’t beat that!
He pushes me to be the best person that I can be & encourages me to push myself. He has been so encouraging of this little adventure in blogging. I honestly don’t think that I would have had the guts to put myself out there without him. I love that he continually challenges me & helps me to develop new skills.
His ambition & dedication are inspiring to me. I really hope that just a fraction of them have rubbed off on me. I love that he takes such pride in everything that he does, even the smallest things around the house. He truly is “all-in” in everything & never gives up.
He makes me feel appreciated & beautiful, even when I’m not dressed up for a photo shoot & or at my best. It’s so easy, especially in the fashion industry, to get wrapped up in outward appearances, but it’s still nice to have your significant other make you feel sexy & beautiful. It’s also nice to know that he appreciates all of the hard work I put in around the house to make our lives run smoothly.
Finally, he never fails to make me laugh. Seriously, he is one of the wittiest, funniest people that I know. His dry sense of humor & one-liners cannot be beaten! I love that we can be goofy & silly together.
And now, on to the really good stuff…
I love this cookie recipe because it allows you to change it up each time depending on what mix-in you add. Try it with candy sprinkles (aka funfetti in my house), M&M’s, chocolate chips, raisins & oatmeal, chocolate & marshmallows, etc. Check out even more options by clicking the link above! Last night I mixed funfetti sprinkles into the batter, then topped each cookie with vanilla icing & more sprinkles. I know it’s Valentine’s Day, but all I could find were star sprinkles. 🙁 It’s also super easy. I am not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, so if I can make these cookies, anyone can! Here’s what you’ll need:
1 cup Country Crock Spread
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1-2 cups mix-ins
1. First, preheat your oven to 375°.
2. Mix the Country Crock Spread, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, egg, egg yolk & vanilla in large bowl until well mixed.
3. Then stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda until blended. The dough will be soft and creamy.
4. Add in your favorite mix-ins until every spoonful of dough has some of the mix-ins.
5. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets 3-inches apart. I use Reynolds Baking Sheets to keep the cookies from sticking to the pan. They are pre-cut sheets of parchment paper that fit perfectly onto a cookie sheet. Amazing!
6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until edges are lightly golden. Cool 1 minute on wire rack; remove from sheets and cool completely.
7. Decorate! I used vanilla frosting & extra sprinkles, but you can use whatever floats your boat!
By now, almost everyone has heard of The Zoe Report’s Box of Style. Every season, it delivers over $400 of exclusive Rachel Zoe picks for only $99! I started receiving the Box of Style this past fall & was immediately hooked! The soft, color-blocked poncho was a game-changer. And let’s get real – if Rachel Zoe says that something is a must-have, then you have to have it. Plus, it’s a chance to get pieces that can’t be found anywhere else. In case you’re undecided, I thought that I would share what was in the Winter 2016 box. Click here to get $10 off your first box!
Everything comes packaged in a chic box. Usually, the box is black, but I like that they changed it up for winter. Each item is individually wrapped in tissue paper, so you the excitement of unwrapping each little gift! It’s the small things in life, lol. Included in each box is a guide with tips on how to use each item.
Dylanlex Zoey Custom Necklace ($200)
How gorgeous is this crystal necklace?!? I tend to lean toward more delicate jewelry, but I cannot resist this statement maker. The length is adjustable so you can wear it as a choker or more of a collar. I wore it recently with jeans & a white button down for some instant glam! I’ll also be pairing it with a cocktail dress later this week. The necklace was designed exclusively for the Box of Style, so you can’t get it anywhere else!
Soia & Kyo Olivia Cable Knit Hat ($50)
We don’t get many days where it’s cold enough to need a warm beanie, but this soft knit one will come in handy when it does! Subscribers got the choice of three colors – black, winter white, or burgundy. I went with the winter white because it’ll go with just about everything in my closet.
Sunday Riley Tidal Enzyme Brightening Water Cream ($65)
Winter weather can be so harsh on your skin. My skin is more dry & breaks out more during the winter, so I’m always on the lookout for something to give my skin a little TLC. I was excited to see this cream included in the winter box. It’s a water-based cream that will soothe & hydrate the dryest skin. It also helps fight wrinkles & brighten dark spots. You can layer it on for a deep hydration mask at home, or wear a thin layer under makeup during the day to protect skin. I love how light it is & it smells sooo refreshing!
D.L. & Co The Zoe Report “Birch” Custom Candle ($50)
I am a candle-hoarder. Seriously, I can’t walk out of Bath & Body Works without a new scent. This black & gold candle is perfect for a winter night, with a woodsy “birch” scent. Right now, it ‘s sitting on the desk in my home office, ready for me to buckle down & do some work! I was really impressed by the quality of the candle, it holds a ton of scent & the jar is heavy glass. Once I’m down with the candle, the jar will make a great holder for makeup brushes!
Dagne Dover Leather Card Case ($50)
Does anyone else have trouble finding a wallet small enough to fit into a clutch? I have so many cute, tiny bags that I love to carry out, but I end up just tossing my ID & cards into the clutch & hoping that I don’t lose anything. This card case holds just the essentials – ID, credit card, some cash – & fits perfectly into my smallest bag! I carried it several times over the break to keep everything together & organized while out & about. When you aren’t using it as a mini-wallet, it’s a chic alternative to a business card holder.
Clinique Lip Color + Primer in Berry Pop ($18)
A deep berry lip is a great winter alternative to the classic red lip. I’d been looking for the perfect color & it turned up on my doorstep! This formula has a built-in primer to make the lipstick go on smooth & last for hours. Anything that combines steps is a lifesaver in my book. The berry color is universally flattering & is saturated to stay true as it goes on. The color + primer also comes in 15 other shades, so I may have found my go-to formula.
Juciy Couture Viva La Juicy Fragrance (bonus!)
As a bonus, each box contained a trial size of Viva La Juicy, a fresh & fun fragrance. It blends berries, vanilla, & jasmine for a floral, fruity scent that will be amazing for spring!
Christmas is hands-down my favorite time of year! We always spend the day after Thanksgiving drinking hot cocoa & decking out the house for the holidays. Over the years my mother has passed down some of my favorite pieces & I’ve started collecting some of my own. When I was young, my mother used to visit a friend who made the most beautiful ceramic decor. I remember sitting in the studio & helping to paint the pieces. I always think of Miss Opal when I put out my Mary & Joseph, Santa, & boot. I also have a gorgeous nativity, but I’m way too scared that Cat will destroy it, so it’s staying put away for now! One of my favorite ways to decorate is to sprinkle a little bit of the holidays throughout the house. In the foyer, I add greenery & some small items to the photographs that are there year-round. I throw a holiday pillow on the couch & fill a jar on the coffee table with tiny ornaments. I display holiday plates in the kitchen & add cinnamon candles to the bathrooms.
I love the look of a coordinated, designer-inspired tree, but I also love the idea of collecting ornaments that have a special meaning. This year, we solved the dilemma by putting up two trees! I know, I know, a little overboard. Our living room tree is in traditional red, green, & gold. My small, apartment-sized tree has been sitting in the attic for the last few years, so this year we pulled it out & covered it in colored lights & eclectic ornaments! As soon as the tree goes up, Cat makes a nest underneath. I’ve been surprised that he doesn’t try to climb the faux tree, like he did when we had a real tree. Cassie is scared of the tree for some reason, so she leaves him alone under there! I’ve linked up some of my favorite decor below!
On the Tree
Around the House
On the Couch
On the Mantle
Today I wanted to share some of my favorite ways to decorate for fall. These are ideas that will work throughout the season, I’ll share some holiday-specific decor later on! One of the easiest ways to decorate for the season is to change out throw pillows. I also love a leaf & berry garland across the mantle & some filled lanterns on the fireplace. Once you have a base, you can add in a few holiday specific items without having to redo the whole fireplace! While my focal point is generally the fireplace, I can’t resist scattering items throughout the house – pumpkins on an end table, a bowl of gourds on the counter, & fall-scented candles in every bathroom.
Here are some of my favorite items to get your home ready for fall!
I love a good dip! And an easy to make dip is even better! I first had this tomato, avocado, & feta cheese dip at a friend’s house & was immediately hooked. It’s now my go-to when I need to bring something to a party & am limited on time. It is seriously delicious & pretty healthy, too. I usually bring tortilla chips with it, but I could eat this stuff straight from the bowl with a spoon!
Here’s all you need:
4 small or 2 large avocados
Crumbled feta cheese
Start by cutting the avocado into cubes. The easiest way that I’ve found is to halve the avocado & remove the nut. Next you slice them length-wise & width-wise, without cutting through the skin. Then, all you have to do is use a spoon to scoop out the cubes into a serving bowl. Then slice the tomatoes into cubes & add them to the avocado cubes.
Add the crumbled feta cheese to your mixture. I like a lot of feta cheese, but you can add as little or as much as you’d like. Finally, pour a little olive oil & a little balsamic vinegar over the mixture. Stir so that the cubes are mixed thoroughly & coated with olive oil & balsamic. It seriously could not be easier!
La Maison Maille was founded in 1747 by Antoine-Claude Maille, who opened a boutique in Paris to sell his range of aromatic mustards. He quickly became the official supplier to the court of Louis XV. Today, Maille continues to preserve that excellence in a wide range of high-quality mustards, oils and vinegars. In its shops, Maille sells mustard freshly served from the pump. Maille uses only the finest ingredients in all products, giving their products a rich & vibrant flavor.
I recently had the opportunity to try Maille’s summer-edition Rosemary Honey mustard. It’s a mild mustard, which combines a light rosemary scented honey with Maille’s dijon mustard. It is so delicious! Plus, how beautiful is the green sandstone jar that it arrives in? I have plans to thoroughly clean mine once I finish the mustard & use it in my office. The mustard has a sweet note that perfectly balances the dijon. I have been using it in salad dressings, marinades, & on it’s own. It’s amazing with fruits & cheeses!
My first meal using the Rosemary Honey mustard was a simple mustard vinaigrette dressing over a grilled chicken salad. We eat lots of salad in the summer, especially once the temperatures start topping 100 degrees. For this salad, I used lots of fresh, summer ingredients, including Gala apple, black olives, red grapes, and baby spinach. I sprinkled almond slivers over the top to give the salad a little extra crunch.
A honey mustard vinaigrette is my favorite dressing & this one is perfect for a summer salad, with it’s bright flavor & slight tang. I mixed 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp Rosemary Honey mustard, 2 tsp Herbs de Provence (thyme, fennel, rosemary, lavender), & a pinch of sugar in a jar. I loved the extra depth that the rosemary honey mustard & herbs added to a traditional dressing. For the chicken, I didn’t want a strong flavor to take away from the dressing, so I just baked boneless breasts with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, & Herbs de Provence. Voila! An easy, & light, summer meal! I’ll also be sharing a recipe using the Rosemary Honey Mustard as a glaze on fresh grilled fish soon!
My mother’s six-layer Mexican dip was a childhood party favorite of mine. I’ve started putting it together when I need something quick & delicious to bring to a party. It is so easy to make & is always a crowd pleaser. You can use store-bought ingredients that are already put together (huge timesaver!) or more fresh items. I typically serve the dip with tortilla chips or Fritos.
Here’s what you need:
8 oz sour cream
8 oz guacamole or other avocado dip
8 oz salsa (I love Target’s ‘corn & black bean salsa’ or another chunky salsa)
2 slicing tomatoes, diced (I like using fresh tomatoes, but canned will work too)
2 2.25 oz cans sliced (or diced) black olives
Shredded cheese (I prefer a blend of several cheeses)
Extra: Add a layer of refried or black beans, corn, jalepenos, etc
This dip could not be easier to put together. Simply layer your ingredients in a casserole or glass baking dish. I listed them above in the order that I use, with the heavier, creamy items at the bottom & the chopped items on top. Voila! You’re ready to go with a dip that everyone will love!
We eat a lot of Mexican food in my house. If possible, Patrick would have chips and salsa with every meal. Over the last year or so, he has perfected his homemade salsa recipe. I love that it’s so flavorful, without setting your mouth on fire. I’m a wimp, so he always sets aside a portion for me, then adds extra jalapeno to his.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 can Rotel
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 large jalapeno (diced)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp vinegar
1.5 Tbsp black pepper
Juice from 3 limes
Fresh cilantro to taste
Dump all of the ingredients into a blender. Blend until the tomatoes are pureed. I like a pretty smooth consistency, but you can blend less if you’d like a thicker salsa.