Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sparkling Negroni

Image from The Crepes of Wrath
My favorite cocktail is a Negroni- the bitter flavor of Campari mixed with sweet vermouth and gin is a perfect drink to sip on. This New Year's Eve, try dressing up this classic cocktail with a bit of bubbly. It's a quick way to make a delicious drink more festive, and since it's New Year's Eve, the sparkling drinks should be flowing!

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 ounces Gin (Your choice, but note that Hendricks isn't great in a Negroni)
3/4 ounce Campari
3/4 ounce sweet Italian Vermouth
Sparkling Wine/Prosecco
Orange for garnish

Directions:
  1. Shake the gin, campari, and vermouth in a cocktail shaker with ice. 
  2. Pour the cocktail into a glass (filled with ice if you choose) and top with a bit of bubbly. There's no need to use expensive champagne- a inexpensive bottle of prosecco will do the trick.
  3. Garnish with an orange rind or a wedge. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reflecting on 2014...

As the year comes to a close, I've been having fun reflecting upon the great things that happened in 2014. Among dinners with friends, weekend getaways, a fun trip to Florida with my sister, birthday celebrations, and family visits, here are some of the past year's highlights:


In early summer, we brought home Brady. I was ready for a dog, but I had no idea that I would fall so hard for this little guy. I absolutely adore him!


Early fall brought a big move- we packed up and headed from Boston to Austin! Life down south couldn't be better. We're enjoying the live music, amazing food, and all the new friends that we've met. 


Just before Thanksgiving, Neal proposed (with Brady's help).  I could not be more excited to become his wife in 2015, and we had an amazing time celebrating with our families in Austin over Thanksgiving.


Christmas was spent in Boston, and it was wonderful to reconnect with friends and relax as we wrapped up 2014.  

I feel fortunate to have had such a fun-filled and exciting year, and I look forward to everything that the new year will bring! What are some of your most memorable 2014 moments?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cooking for Luck

Image and Recipe from The New York Times
In the South, black eyed peas are a traditional New Year's Day dish that's believed to bring luck and prosperity in the new year.  The tiny beans cook to perfection after an overnight soak,  and they can be prepared with collard greens, ham hock, and a bit of onion for a simple and delicious meal. 

Ready for some good luck in 2015? Try this recipe, courtesy of the New York Times

What You'll Need:
2 lbs. black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
2 lbs. smoked ham hock or slab bacon
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 large onion, peeled and stuck with 2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 lbs collard greens, cut into 1 inch ribbons
1 bunch scallions, cleaned and chopped, for garnish

Directions:
  1. Drain the black-eyed peas and put them in a large Dutch oven. 
  2. Add the ham hock or bacon (cut into 2 inch chunks), cover with 10 cups water, and turn the heat to high. Add salt, onion stuck with cloves, black pepper, and allspice. 
  3. Bring the peas to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Skim away and discard any foam that rises to the surface. 
  4. Simmer for about 1 1/2- 2 hours until the peas are tender, adding water as needed throughout. The liquid should be kept at a level 1 inch above the surface of the beans. 
  5. Turn off the heat, checking the broth for salt and adjusting the seasoning accordingly. 
  6. Remove the meat with a pair of tongs and set aside. 
  7. Heat a large skillet and add garlic, red pepper, and vegetable oil. Add collard greens and stir to coat. Season with salt and 1 cup water, stirring to wilt greens. 
  8. Add the chopped ham to the collards and reduce heat to medium, then cover it with the lid slightly ajar. Cook for about 20 minutes until the greens are soft. 
  9. To serve, put greens and meat into soup bowls, then ladle the black-eyed peas over the top. 
  10. Garnish each bowl with scallions and enjoy the New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sparkle and Shine

New Year's Eve is a holiday filled with glitz and glamour. Make sure you look the part! Whether you're sporting a little black dress or just keeping it casual for dinner with friends, adding a little bling  is a great way to make you feel more festive and fun. Here are some of my favorite New-Year's-Eve-worthy pieces from Stella & Dot:

Casablanca Pendant Necklace; Wear it long or short!

Casablanca Bracelet

Casablanca Chandelier Earrings; Wear them 3 ways!
Don't forget to the Champagne! Bubbles are just as essential as beautiful baubles on NYE. Check out this guide to help you choose the right bottle.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!


I'm sending warm holiday wishes to you and yours. Whether you were naughty or nice this year, I hope that Santa was good to you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hot Chocolate How-To

It's Christmas Eve and I'm looking forward to curling up on the couch with my honey tonight while we sip hot chocolate and soak up every minute of our blissful holiday vacation in Boston. If you're planning to do the same, check out these great ideas for kicking your hot cocoa up a notch!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Homemade Holidays

Image and Adapted Recipe from Half Baked Harvest
I don't love air fresheners, but I do love holiday scents. Spruce, cranberries, cinnamon- yes please! So, when I stumbled upon this homemade potpourri recipe on Pinterest, I had to try it. It's simple, and it makes the whole house smell like Christmas. Try it out before a holiday party or on a cold day when you need a little holiday cheer!

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
3 tangerines, halved
3 whole cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
1 inch piece fresh ginger
1 vanilla bean
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 small branch of fresh pine or spruce
1 cup apple cider or cranberry juice
Water

Image and Adapted Recipe from Half Baked Harvest
Directions:
  1. Combine all ingredients into a pot and top it off with water so that the pot is about 3/4 of the way full. 
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil on the stove, then reduce heat to a simmer. 
  3. Add more water as needed- simmer it for a few hours, then cover and reuse the next day!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Wine Party With a Twist

Image from InspiredbyThis
It's not too late to host a fabulous holiday party! I'm feeling inspired by this amazing afternoon soiree hosted by ONEHOPE and featured on Inspired by This. ONEHOPE's exclusive wine-tasting program raises money for the host's cause of choice. Combining wine tasting with some afternoon crafts and a little bit of charitable giving makes for the most wonderful holiday get-together!

Image from InspiredbyThis
Image from InspiredbyThis
Consider taking a cue from this party and inviting your friends over to gold-leaf some champagne glasses. It's a fun DIY project, so you can socialize while you create beautiful gifts or get ready for a glamorous New Year's Eve toast!

You'll Need: Flutes or Champagne Coupes, Gold Leaf, Adhesive, Sealant, and Paint Brushes. Using the brush, apply adhesive to the glass, wait a few minutes until it's almost dry, then press the gold leaf on. Wait for about 20 minutes, then remove the excess gold leaf (the part that wasn't touching the glue!). The final step is to brush the sealant over the top of the gold leaf, making the glasses usable.

Image from InspiredbyThis
Image from InspiredbyThis
Ready for a to host? Check out Hope at Home and learn how to host a party and raise money for a worthy cause. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On

Image by Inslee Haynes
Traveling around the holidays can feel a bit frenzied. Weather delays are common, airports are busy, and everyone is in a hurry to reach their destination. If you're hopping on a plane in the next few days, keep these simple tips in mind:
  • Weather delays are out of your hands. Nobody can control the amount of snow, sleet, rain, or cold weather that blows in. When your flight is delayed, find a coffee shop and curl up with a good book, or consider purchasing a day pass to your Airline's lounge. During significant delays (or if you're traveling with a large group), it's worth it! 
  • Pack light. Shipping gifts to your destination ahead of time and packing light will help you to avoid long lines pre-flight and the congestion at baggage claim. Plus, it will guarantee that your presents make it on time, even if you don't. 
  • Be patient. It's easy to give the evil eye to the kid screaming at the gate, but keep in mind that travel is stressful for many people, especially kids! The excitement and anticipation to fly on a plane can cause even the most well-behaved children (and adults, for that matter) to get a little wild. Put a smile on your face, keep calm, and carry on. 
  • Courtesy is key. Flight attendants and airport staff are trying to get places too. They understand that delays cause frustration, but often it's out of their hands. Be nice and try not to take your frustrations out on them. Plus, they may really appreciate a smile and some kind words (hello upgrade!).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Decor with Pursuing Vintage

Hi, I'm Kristen from Pursuing Vintage. I’m thrilled to be here at Delight & Decorum today!  Over at Pursuing Vintage, I explore on-trend vintage décor and style.  I love incorporating vintage pieces into today’s homes, and today I’m going to share with you some excellent examples of mixing a little vintage into holiday décor.


Mixing vintage into your holiday décor can still be classically chic.  I made these antique Staffordshire dogs a focal point, along with a gilt mirror and live greens.

Image from Pursuing Vintage
A few vintage pieces mixed with modern elements create interest and a bit of whimsy.

Image from Sew a Fine Seam
Image from Chic California
Even just a small table vignette can bring a bit of vintage charm into your holiday home.

Image from House by Hoff
Image from Carolyns Homework 
As you can see, adding vintage into your holiday décor doesn’t mean making your home look like grandma’s attic!  Vintage pieces styled the right way are fresh, fun, and chic. 

To see more of the homes behind these great ideas, click the links and take the home tours.  My home is the first stop, and you’re welcome to pop over to Pursuing Vintage anytime!

Thanks for having me over today, Lauren!  Happy holidays!

 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks Kristen. You always have such amazing ideas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top 10 Travel Essentials

I'm packing up and heading to Boston tomorrow, and I am SO excited to reconnect with friends. Traveling light is key this time of year, so I'm only taking the essentials. Here's what's in my bag:
  1. Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream: This eye cream soothes dry skin around the eyes, but in a pinch you can use it as a healing balm for dry, cracked skin, or even as a way to remove eye makeup!
  2. Hair Ties: In a pinch, you can throw your hair up and look refreshed and polished. These little hair ties will be a lifesaver after a long flight.
  3. Skin Foundation Stick: This stick is a genius product. Leave your liquid foundations, concealers, and other products and home and pack this all-in-one, airport-regulation-friendly stick.
  4. Bobbi Brown Smokey Nudes Eye Palette: Rather than pack a giant makeup bag with your favorite products, try streamlining with a simple palette. This one has mix-and-match colors, as well as a darker pigment to use as a liner.
  5. Pocket Mason Pearson Hairbrush: I carry this little brush everywhere. It's incredible (and makes a great gift if you're still shopping!).
  6. MAC Lipstick, Twig: Lipstick adds instant glamour. I'm loving Twig right now- it's a universally flattering nude.
  7. Herban Essentials Towlettes: Keep hands clean and germ-free on the go with these all-natural aromatherapy hand wipes.
  8. Ikat Pouf: My toiletries and makeup fit perfectly into this adorable Stella & Dot pouf, so I can just throw it in my bag and go!
  9. Lip Balm: I can't live without this lip balm. I carry it everywhere, and it's especially important to have it handy in the winter. Rough, flaky lips are NOT ideal for under-the-mistletoe kisses.
  10. Kindle: Vacation is a great time to curl up with a good book. I'm packing my kindle, with a queue of novels at the ready, so that I can beat boredom on a long flight and have something to do while we relax at home with my future in-laws!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Amazing Baked Potatoes

Potatoes are a pretty basic and versatile food, and they're delicious. Although they're typically served with cheese, sour cream, chives, I love the idea of using potatoes in more creative ways. Check out these 5 amazing ways to eat potatoes for dinner:

1. Go with a classic combination and stuff sweet potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese. Check out this recipe on A Couple Cooks.
Image from A Couple Cooks
 2.  Fill your potato with spicy chili, sharp cheddar, some avocado, and sour cream- the Martha Stewart way!
Image from Martha Stewart
3. Whip up some balsamic caramelized onions and mushrooms to top your spud. Find the recipe on Makezine.com.
Image from MakeZine.com
 4. Like Indian cuisine? Try this samosa-inspired potato. Peas, curry, and mustard seed really kick things up a notch!
Image from FromAway.com
 5. Enjoy breakfast for dinner (or breakfast for breakfast) with eggs baked in potato skins. So yummy! Here's the recipe.
Image from The Village Cook

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Delicious Homemade Toffee

Recipe and Image from Damn Delicious
Heath Bars might be one of my favorite candy bars of all time. I LOVE toffee, and homemade toffee wrapped up in a beautiful little gift box is the perfect gift for your friends at work, neighbors, or even holiday party hostesses.

What You'll Need:
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Lightly toast the almonds by spreading them in an even layer on your prepared baking sheet and baking them for about 10 minutes. When they're ready, pull out the pan and set it aside. 
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the butter has melted and the mixture is light brown in color (like the color of the almonds). This should take about 7-10 minutes. 
  4. Immediately spread the hot caramel mix evenly over the almonds. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. 
  5. Wait 1-2 minutes for the chocolate to get melty, then spread the chocolate chips in an even layer until smooth. 
  6. Sprinkle the chocolate with pecans, then allow the toffee to cool for about 2 hours. Waiting is hard, but when it's completely cool, you can break it into pieces and start to package it up!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gift Giving Dilemmas

Inslee By Design
'Tis the season for gift giving, but it can be tricky to navigate the different expectations that come with the holidays. Keep you budget in check and read on for some handy gift-giving advice:

Q: My friends and I have been exchanging holiday gifts for the past few years, but it's getting expensive. How can I break the gift-giving cycle?
A: This is a common dilemma- you're not alone! This year, try suggesting that you celebrate the season with a fancy dinner together, combine your gift-giving budgets and make a donation to a cause you care about, or perhaps try an ornament exchange. Reigning in spendy friends can be tricky, but if your ideas don't go over well, there's no obligation to buy a gift! Consider a DIY item or a nice card and simply mention that you're cutting back on gifts this year because you're all so fortunate already. Nobody needs more 'stuff' laying around!

Q: I'll be with my boyfriend's parents over the holidays- do I have to give them each a gift? 
A: You should never feel obligated to give a gift, but it is nice to acknowledge the season with a little something. I suggest a joint gift for your first few holidays together. As you get to know the parents, you'll learn more about their individual interests, but in the beginning, consider a nice bottle of wine, a beautiful ornament for the tree, or something fun they can do together. I love the idea of gifting a cooking class, tickets to the symphony, or a movie gift basket full of everything they need to cozy up on the couch with their favorite flick.

Q: I want to acknowledge the holidays at work, but is it appropriate to give small gifts to coworkers?
A: The answer to this question will depend on your unique office environment. Typically, I avoid giving gifts to coworkers and instead opt for something that we'll do together. Adopting a family and buying their holiday gifts can be a fun and charitable co-worker activity, and it will get you all in the holiday spirit as you play Santa. As an alternative, try brining in breakfast or lunch for your coworkers, or tempt them with some homemade toffee or peppermint bark. You don't have to go overboard to make the season merry!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts with Bacon


Brussels sprouts don't exactly have a cult following- in fact, many people wrinkle their noses at the mere mention of the name. That being said, I'm a huge fan of these little green veggies and this recipe for Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts from Damn Delicous is so yummy! Serve it up as a holiday side dish, or pair it with a rotisserie chicken and a bottle of wine for a casual weeknight dinner at home.

What You'll Need:
1 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
2 pounds brussels sprouts, halved
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices bacon, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar with the honey. Set aside. 
  3. Place the brussels sprouts into a large bowl and toss with the remaining 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, olive oil, bacon, and garlic. 
  4. Spread the brussels sprouts mix out onto your prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the honey mixture and serve!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Q&A: Moco Photography

I recently received a piece from Moco Photography and I LOVE it! The photos transferred to wood are artsy, unique, and so beautiful that I just had to share them with you. Add them to your holiday wish list!

MocoPhotography on Etsy.com
Since I'm lucky enough to be the future sister-in-law of Molly Corbett, I got the inside scoop from the artist herself. Read on to learn more!

Q: What inspired you to start Moco Photography?
A: I've always enjoyed photography, and over the last handful of years I've been more interested in learning and experimenting with what makes a good photograph. Recently I decided that I wanted to do something different with my photos and I liked the idea of putting them on wood. I started researching the photo transfer process and decided to give it a try. I like the small 4x4 inch size and I love the look of a few of them on the wall together. A few people suggested I sell them so I went for it! 


Q: Can you share your favorite photo? What's the story behind it?

A: This is a tough one…a lot of my photos from vacations which bring back great memories but I think I'll have to go with the one of the California coast line. I took it at the halfway mark of a hike with friends near Point Reyes just north of San Francisco. I'm constantly impressed with the beauty of the California coast and this photo reminds me how lucky I am to live in such an amazing area of the country! 


Molly's Favorite- The California Coast

Q: Your photos make great gifts. What's on YOUR holiday wish list this year?

A: Honestly, I'm just looking forward to the two weeks off from my day job and a trip back East to spend time with family and friends. 


Q: Your photos are sold on Etsy. Do you also do custom orders?
A: I have done a couple custom orders for friends. I certainly won't say no to a custom order, but I've noticed that a lot of what is already on Etsy in this category is for custom orders and I wanted to stand out a little more by selling my own photos


A few works in progress
Molly, your photos are beautiful and I can't wait to collect more of your artwork! See you soon... xoxo

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Perfect Presents

As you pick out the perfect gifts for your loved ones this year, don't forget that presentation is everything! There's no need to go overboard, but a beautiful bow and some gift-wrap accessories (like an ornament or a sprig of spruce) can go a long way.  This year I'm keeping it simple with some red and white ribbon:
Image from Pinterest; I bought similar ribbon at Paper Source and ornaments at Hobby Lobby
Not so good at making bows? Try wrapping your gifts in paper and tying them up with twine. This is also a great option if you're shipping your gifts far away- the bows won't get squished in the mail!
Pinterest
Pinterest
Pinterest

Monday, December 1, 2014

Throw a Party

The holidays are the perfect time to call on your inner hostess-with-the-mostess and throw a festive fete. If you're prepping for a party this season, check out this perfect holiday hostess checklist created by Bren Underwood of Must Bring Buns:

My favorite item is the last one- don't forget the sparkly drinks! Champagne makes every party a little more fun and fabulous. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Be a Holiday Hottie

Did you over-indulge yesterday? Thanksgiving is a day of feasts, so make today an active one and work it off! Tone It Up is a site that posts daily inspiration, fitness routines, recipes, etc. to get you on your way to a healthier you, and I love this Holiday Hottie Workout:


Try it in the comfort of your own home and feel fit! If you need a little extra motivation, try slipping on some adorable activewear. Sometimes dressing the part is all it takes. Kate Hudson just launched a new line called Fabletics and your first outfit is only $25! Now THAT'S a deal!

Fabletics.com

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pinterest Printable

I have so much to be thankful for this year: My husband-to-be is amazing and supportive (even when I say "Hey, let's move to Texas!"), I have an adorable puppy who snuggles me frequently, and I have incredible friends and family that keep me laughing. Plus, I have a bittersweet chocolate pecan pie just waiting to be devoured this afternoon. What could be better?

I hope that you can all find something to be thankful for this year as you break bread at your Thanksgiving feasts later today. Happy Thanksgiving and cheers to a wonderful holiday season ahead!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Start a Tradition: Bowling!

The Goodnight
Thanksgiving is a day of food and fun, but after you're stuffed with Turkey, skip the nap and do something active! Bowling is a fun family activity that's not overly strenuous, so start a new tradition this year!

If you're around Austin, check out The Goodnight. Located on West Anderson Lane, this restaurant/bowling alley combo sports vintage lanes and has amazing cocktails. The kitchen is closed on Thanksgiving, but the bar is open! Drink responsibly because at this bowling alley you have to keep score by hand.

No in Austin? Find a bowling alley in your area, put on a slouchy sweater, and gather up your crew! Here's a Thanksgiving-friendly look that I'm loving right now:

From SouthernCurlsandPearls.com
The cozy cape/sweater will make the transition from table to lane and the comfy leggings give you a little extra room in case you've over-indulged, while still looking chic. 

I'll see you out on the lanes! Don't forget- three strikes in a row is a TURKEY!