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!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Splitting Holidays

Neal and I are newly engaged (hooray!) and are looking forward to spending the holidays together. Our families live in different places, which makes it tricky- we have to make a decision about who we'll spend Christmas with! If you're in a similar predicament, here are some pointers:
  1. Discuss your priorities together. If your man can't go without his mom's turkey and stuffing, then maybe it's best to spend Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with yours.
  2. Talk to your parents. Here's a great tip: Ask you parents how they split the holidays when they were newly married/dating. Did they host? Take turns? Try to visit both families in one day? Their response might give you some insight into their mindset, but it's also a gentle reminder of the dilemma you're facing. 
  3. Be flexible. What you choose to do this year doesn't have to be your only option for years to come. Perhaps you alternate Thanksgiving locations each year, or maybe one year YOU host! If your families live close to one another, try visiting both on one day, or extending the holiday to span multiple days. 
Different circumstances will change the decisions you make. Perhaps your sister is in town with her new baby and this is the only opportunity you'll have to see them- make that a priority. Have an elderly grandparent? Spend time with them! The holidays are much more special when you can spend them with the ones you love and relax a bit, so keep that in mind as you make your plans. 

We're excited to have both families in Austin this week to celebrate Thanksgiving! Let the fun begin...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Doughnuts


My recipe for Spiced Cider Doughnuts is one of my absolute favorites. Gluten free doughnuts are hard to come by, but the baked do-it-yourself-at-home variety is incredibly delicious and perhaps a bit healthier. This weekend, I whipped up Pumpkin Doughnuts and they were a huge hit. I'm excited to indulge in these again after running a 5 mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day!

What You'll Need:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp All Purpose GF Flour
*Extra cinnamon and sugar for topping


Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. 
  3. Using a small scoop, fill doughnut pans 3/4 of the way full with batter. Don't have doughnut pans? Muffin tins will work too. 
  4. Bake the doughnuts for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  5. Remove the doughnuts from a pan onto a wire rack and allow them to cool slightly before dipping them in a bowl of cinnamon and sugar. Enjoy them warm!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stella & Dot Online Shop


It's rainy and cold today in Austin, and on days like these I can't think of a more fun activity than curling up on the couch with a big mug of hot tea and doing a bit of online shopping!

Shop my online trunk show and take advantage of exclusive trunk show offers this month:





Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 21, 2014

DeStress

Yoga is one of my favorite ways to relax and unwind after work. If the holiday hoopla is already getting to you, put on some comfy clothes and check out this yoga sequence for stress relief:


Don't have a mat? Check out my favorite non-slip mat here, or simply use a towel to get started. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cook Up a Feast!

Image by Inslee Haynes

Food is the focus of Thanksgiving, so a great menu is essential. This year, we're hosting our families in Austin, and I'm cooking up some of my absolute favorite fall recipes. Here's what's on the menu:

Cranberry Cocktails
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinegar, Dried Cherries, and Spiced Pecans
Spatchcocked Turkey
Butternut Squash Gratin
Crispy Brussels Sprouts
Smashed Potatoes and Pan Gravy
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Coffee
Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

As you start to whip up some of delicious dishes of your own, don't forget the wine! These simple wine pairing tips will help you to round out the evening's menu and make Thanksgiving an unforgettable event. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Recipe adapted from BakerbyNature.com
Last year I made a delicious Banana Pumpkin Mousse Tart that was the perfect end to a delicious meal. Although it was quite yummy, I've made it for a couple years in a row now and am ready for a change. This year I'm making a pumpkin cheesecake... read on if you'd like to do the same!

What You'll Need (Filling):
3 8oz packages of cream cheese, cut into cubes and very soft
1/2 cups Greek yogurt
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp GF all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

What You'll Need (Crust):
2 cups GF graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
7 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
  2. Combine the crust ingredients in a blender or a mixer and pulse/stir to combine. 
  3. Press the crust evenly into a lightly greased 9 inch springform pan and set aside while you make the filling. 
  4. Beat the cream cheese and Greek yogurt in a mixer until smooth. Add the pumpkin, eggs, egg yolks, sugars, and spices. Blend until well combined. 
  5. Add the flour and vanilla and mix just until combined. 
  6. Pour the filling into the crust and spread evenly. 
  7. Wrap the bottom of the pan in foil (do several layers) and then place the pan into a deeper pan. Fill the deeper pan with hot water until it's about halfway up the springform pan.  This water bath will help to prevent your cheesecake from cracking!
  8. Bake for about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow it to sit for 45 minutes longer IN the oven. 
  9. Remove the cake from the oven, run a knife gently around the edge, and allow it to sit in the pan for an additional 15 minutes before wrapping it loosely and placing it in the fridge. 
  10. Refridgerate your cake for at least 6 hours before serving. Then, slice and top with whipped cream. Yum!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Crazy for Cranberries

I'm not a huge fan of cranberry sauce, but cranberries are a Thanksgiving tradition, so this year I'm attempting to get creative as I work them into our meal.

Pinterest
1. Make a cranberry cocktail. Vodka with cranberry is a go-to drink for many, but this recipe kicks it up a notch.

What You'll Need:
2 cups apple cider
2 cups cranberry juice (use the real stuff in lieu of cranberry juice cocktail if you can)
100 ml vodka (your choice)
2 cups ginger ale
Ice and cranberries for serving

Directions:

  • Mix the cider, cranberry juice, and vodka in a large pitcher. Add the ginger ale. Pour into glasses filled with ice and top with a festive cranberry skewer. 

Pinterest
2. Create a tablescape with cranberries. They look absolutely beautiful surrounding pillar candles in glasses vases. 

Pinterest
3. This is similar to my #2, but I love the way the cranberries complement the colors of fall florals. Try this option if you're adding flowers to your table or need a hostess gift. 

We'll probably whip up some actual cranberry sauce, just for tradition (and because it makes a tasty spread on your post-Thanksgiving sandwiches), but I think the cranberry cocktails will be the highlight for me!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Clean Out Your Cosmetics

Image by Lovisa Burfitt
As you stock up on some fun new cosmetics to prepare for the holiday parties ahead, take a look at what's currently in your makeup drawer. We're all guilty of hanging onto products for longer than we should, but how long is too long? Cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer published a helpful article in Harpers Bazaar that details the expiration dates you need to know. 

Mascara: 3 Months
This is one I actually knew. Liquid eye products are high-risk, so it's better to be safe than sorry. An eye infection can be very serious!

Lipstick: 1 Year
I'm obsessed with lip products- from lipstick to gloss, I can't live without them! However, I have so many different colors and formulas that I don't necessarily use them up in a year. This expiration date surprised me, but Jim writes that since lipsticks have oils in them, they can take on a weird smell over time and the texture can change. That sounds unpleasant, so I'm going to check mine out and make room for sone new ones!

Nailpolish: 1 Year (after opening)
You may have experienced this for yourself- after a year the nail polish can become thick and clumpy, which does NOT make for a beautiful manicure. Start fresh!

Moisturizers and Serums: 6 Months to 1 Year
This is an easy rule to follow. USE your moisturizer! It's what keeps your skin lookin' good. If you have some on your shelf that's been there for more than 6 months, you probably don't love it so toss it out. 

Makeup Sponges: Frequently 
Makeup sponges are a breeding ground for bacteria. Clean your sponges (and brushes) regularly, or replace your makeup sponges weekly (use a disposable variety). 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shop my avaHour and Enter to WIN

Don't forget: Shop my avaHour this weekend and you'll be entered into a giveaway for a FREE Ava Anderson Non Toxic product! You can browse the full line of products at www.avaandersonnontoxic.com/meadowbrennanEnter party #43172 as you checkout online. This giveaway deal expires fast, so shop before Sunday!

Ava Anderson Non-Toxic goes beyond skincare. While you shop, check out some of her household products too! Here's what Meadow has to say about some of the products she uses:


Check out the full line of Ava Home products!
The All-Purpose and Glass Cleaner Spray has become my general “go to cleaner”. I literally just spin around my kitchen and use it to attack fingerprints, rings, dust, and dirt on EVERYTHING made of wood, glass, stainless steel, or granite …. ALL of my kitchen surfaces. The smell of real spearmint is so much better than the icky stainless steel cleaner that I once used (which did not actually work, by the way!).


The Dishwasher Detergent Pods are my absolute favorite cleaning product ever! My glasses absolutely sparkle! Just put the entire pod into the trap and close. The plastic disintegrates on contact and everything is biodegradable. Ava's cleaning products are enzyme based, NOT detergent-based.  Also, you can empty a pod into your toilet, let sit for an hour, swirl, and flush for a super clean toilet. Another thing that I do is dissolve the ingredients in water inside an empty 16-ounce spray bottle.  It makes for a great all-around cleaner on appliances and other surfaces.  Just shake the bottle before use. It will last a long time! Notice that none of Ava’s products have a “warning” (i.e. “Call Poison Control”) label on them. There are no harmful chemicals and only common sense warnings are necessary.

The Candles are handcrafted and poured by Ava in our Rhode Island facility. They’re made from organic coconut wax (certified organic, GMO-free and pesticide-free) and include organic cotton wicks.  Don’t be fooled by the size of the jar! Each candle burns 50 – 60 hours, depending on use, which is as long as many of the larger candles at a similar price will last. The best part is that Ava’s candles contain NO toxic petroleum products, bleaches, synthetic fragrances, or dyes. They will burn clean and safely in your home.

Happy Shopping...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Currently Coveting: Ava Anderson

A friend of mine recently launched her own business with Ava Anderson Non Toxic, and, after trying some of the products, I HAD to share more information with you! Ava Anderson Non Toxic offers quality skin care, cosmetic, bath and body, and home care 
products without harmful chemicals. This revolutionary line contains NO parabens or PEG’s, NO synthetic “fragrance” or dyes, NO hidden ingredients or contaminants, such as phthalates, nitrosamines or formaldehyde, NO Glycol, NO Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and NO Petroleum Byproducts and NO animal testing. Plus, all products are Gluten free.

Shop my avaHour this weekend and try some of these incredible products for yourself! You can browse the full line of products at www.avaandersonnontoxic.com/meadowbrennan. Enter party #43172 as you checkout online and you'll be entered into a giveaway for a FREE Ava product (I'm choosing!). This giveaway deal expires fast, so shop before Sunday!
My Favorites: Lemon Sugar Body Scrub and Body Butter
Not sure what to put in your cart? I am absolutely loving the Body Butter and the Lemon Sugar Body Scrub. The scrub has a slightly sweet, lemony scent and has improved the overall look and feel of my skin through regular exfoliation. I follow it up with the Body Butter- it's not overly thick and is now my go-to lotion!
4 Piece Skin Set, which Includes the Toner (see decryption below!)
When I asked Meadow for info on some of her favorite products, her's what she had to say:
The Diaper Cream is one of our top sellers, and is used for so much more than just diaper rash! Customers of ALL ages use it on scrapes, cuts, burns, dry/chapped skin, eczema, psoriasis, etc. Some use it as a night cream for the face, and it’s great for kids’ red/chapped faces during the winter (as a result of playing outside, and/or licking lips). It’s also safe for cloth diapers, too! Did you know that many traditional “baby products” on store shelves actually exacerbate the conditions that they claim to treat? Ava’s diaper cream is truly “miracle cream” in a tube.

The Hand Sanitizer is absolutely incredible! Natural anti-microbial ingredients kill germs WITHOUT any toxic pesticides or drying alcohol. Just a small drop is all you need to cover your hands. This sanitizer feels very different when it first goes on (more like a lotion, than a traditional alcohol-based sanitizer), but then air dries to feel powdery smooth and moisturizing. Ava’s hand sanitizing gel relies on organic essential oils to cleanse hands naturally and safely when soap and water aren’t available, without exposing them to harsh ingredients that can leave them dry or irritated. We go beyond sanitizer – this is a cleanser without water.  This product is also effective when used on acne as a spot-treatment, or as an anti-fungal application.

The Toner is NOT the usual skin-drying, alcohol or benzoyl peroxide-laced toner that I used to use as a teenager! Quite the opposite, Ava’s toner is the first step in the MOISTURIZATION process (it opens and primes your pores). Hold it about 8” from your face, close eyes and squirt a few times to cover your entire face, leave wet, and immediately apply moisturizer. You will feel the difference! I also use it to soothe sunburns and bug bites.

The Mascara has been named one of the top natural mascaras available today by several independent bloggers, and in November, all orders of $95+ get a free tube of it! I love the way that this Mascara goes on and stays on, but just remember, it is not waterproof. I have several clients who believe that Ava’s Mascara has made their lashes longer and stronger. Must be all of those ORGANIC and nourishing ingredients!



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pretty in Plaid

There's some thing about plaid flannel that makes me think of fall. I love the look, but I'm not sure that I can pull off a big flannel shirt. Scarves, however, I can definitely do. Here are some of my favorite looks:
From ThisSillyGirlsLife.com
From FashionJackson.com
From TheIrishRosebud.blogspot.com
From JustDandy.org
Ready to get cozy? Check out this post on How to Tie a Scarf. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dog Park Etiquette


Brady loves to play with his fellow canines at our local dog park, and being a new dog owner has helped me to quickly pick up on the rules that govern dog park etiquette. If you're headed to a public play area with your pup, keep these simple tips in mind.
  • Know your dog. You spend the most time with your pup, so be realistic about his/her personality. Aggressive dogs don't play nice in dog parks, and new puppies may be too timid or not have all the vaccinations necessary to play with other pups. 
  • Be aware. Watch your dog to ensure that he/she isn't being a menace (or, on the flip side, getting bullied by other pups). Dogs like to play rough, so biting, slobbering, and wrestling are not an indicator that your dog is in trouble. When a dog has gone too far, the other dogs will yelp or whimper, so listen for that. If it's getting out of hand, break up the pack and move on. 
  • Watch play styles. Our puppy trainer gave us a great tip- when dogs like playing together, they mimic each other's play styles. This is a quick way to know if your dog is having fun at the dog park (and the dog park SHOULD be fun!). 
  • Clean up.  When your dog does his business, clean up! You wouldn't want your furry friend to step in a mess, so don't leave a mess behind for others. 
  • Play nice. This tip is for interacting with the other dog parents. Be friendly, make small talk, and if your dogs aren't playing nice, don't take it out on the owner. If your dog is the nuisance, remove him/her and apologize to your fellow dog parents. 
These tips seem like common sense, but there have been many rule-breakers at our local dog park. When one couple in particular shows up, the dog park empties out because they (the owners) just don't play nice with the other dog moms and dads. Don't be those people! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Butternut Squash and Kale Gratin

Image and Original Recipe from Martha Stewart Living
I look for opportunities to eat more veggies wherever I can, so when I stumbled upon this recipe for a squash-filled take on cheesy potato gratin in Martha Stewart Living, I had to try it.  Neal and I served it with some steakhouse-style steak and it made for an absolutely incredible meal on a cool fall evening.

What You'll Need:
1 butternut squash, peeled
1/2 bunch kale, stems and tough ribs removed, torn into large pieces
Coarse salt and black pepper
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp gluten free panko breadcrumbs

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash crosswise into 1/4 inch rounds. Cut the squash bulb in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Then slice each half into 1/4 inch half moons.
  2. Set a steamer basket in a pot filled with 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a boil, then add the kale and cover. Steam for about 3 minutes or until the kale is bright green and slightly wilted. Remove from head, allow the kale to cool, the carefully squeeze it dry. 
  3. Butter a shallow 13X9 pan or baking dish and arrange the squash in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Top the squash with kale, additional salt and pepper, plus 1/2 cup of the Parmesan.
  5. Add the remaining squash, overlapping pieces slightly. 
  6. Pour the heavy cream over the top and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese.
  7. Cover the dish with parchment lined foil and bake for about 40 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  8. Uncover the dish and sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan cheese on top. 
  9. Bake, uncovered, until the top is golden. This should take about 10-15 minutes. 
  10. Allow the gratin to cool before serving. Enjoy!
Note: Martha's recipe calls for sage, but after making the recipe by-the-book, I've decided to omit it. I felt that it overpowered the squash and the kale, which are delicious on their own. Another tip? Double the cheese!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Layer Up!

For Stella & Dot, by Inslee Haynes
In addition to my full-time job, I've recently started representing Stella & Dot as a Stylist. I LOVE Stella & Dot's jewelry and accessories, and I'm especially loving all of the layered looks that I've been seeing this season. Shop some of my favorites below. They'd make perfect holiday gifts or a great addition to your go-to holiday party outfit. Christmas is less than 8 weeks away...

Layer the Amelie Sparkle Bracelet, the Jacinthe Bracelet, and  the Christina Link Bracelet
Layer your favorite Engraveable  with the Pave Chevron Necklace and Daphne Pearls
Stack the Christina Link Bracelet, Inspiration Bangle, Strength Bracelet, Eden Bangle, and Renegade Cluster Bracelet
Layer charms for a totally personalized look
Ready to help your friends take their style to the next level? Contact me at StellaStylistLauren@gmail.com to learn more about the incredible Stylist opportunity. You can earn extra commissions around the busiest season of the year, all while you're out and about with friends. What do you have to lose?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Taco Town

Image from bonappetit.com
Neal and I have been having fun exploring Austin, and I thought we had sampled some of the best tacos the city has to offer, but I was wrong! Bon Appetit published this list of where to find the best tacos in Austin, and I'm ashamed to say that I've only sampled two of the ten. It looks like it's time for a taco crawl! Here's what's on the list:

  1. Barbacoa de chivo, La Fruta Feliz
  2. Carnitas, QC Meat Market
  3. Al Pastor, La Flor
  4. Smoked Brisket, Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ
  5. Al Pastor, Rosita's Al Pastor
  6. Birria, El Borrego de Oro
  7. Cabeza de Rez, Taco More (Parkfield Dr.)
  8. Tortas De Coliflor, Papalote Taco House
  9. Migas, Veracruz All Natural
  10. Akaushi PIcadillo, Tacodeli
I'm not sure that I can indulge in ten tacos all at once, but with a wide range of options on the list it seems reasonable to start the days with some migas (number 9) and work our way around the city. Challenge accepted!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Traveling Together

LMS + NEC- Our lock on the lock bridge in Paris
Traveling with a significant other is an important milestone in a relationship, and it's a great way to get to know your partner while you experience exciting new things together. What could be more romantic than kissing under the Eiffel Tower, watching the sun set in Santorini, or snuggling up by the campfire in the Grand Canyon?

Although vacations conjure images of fun and relaxation, there are definitely ways that a trip can go awry. Follow these five simple tips to make sure that the next trip you take with your sweetie meets all of your expectations.
  1. Plan together. Before you arrive at your destination, do a little planning together. Picking hotels, making reservations at restaurants you want to try, and creating a top ten list of sites to see will help to build excitement and anticipation. Plus, it's always good to have a plan!
  2. Don't get lost. This goes hand in hand with planning, but if you're traveling from place to place, get some maps and directions. Getting lost is frustrating for everyone, and it creates unnecessary tension on your trip. Plus, you'll be so excited to reach your designation, you won't want to be delayed.
  3. Refuel frequently. Neal and I have a special talent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When we're starving, there's not a restaurant in site. When we want to stop for a happy-hour drink, there's not a bar in site. Hunger can bring out the worst in people, so keep yourselves sane and eat frequently. In many places, food is a fun way to immerse yourself in the culture, so you can continue to explore your destination while you refuel!
  4. Put your partner's interests before yours. We all way to get the most out of our vacations, but your partner will appreciate it if you put his/her interests above your own once in a while. If you planned your trip together, perhaps there's enough on your site-seeing list to satisfy you both, but remember that your partner may not want to pop into every shoe store you see. So compromise! Buy some shoes and then go see that bull fight that he's been talking about. 
  5. Let the small stuff slide. You're on vacation. If the museum you wanted to visit is closed for the day, or you were unable to get into the restaurant that you desperately wanted to try, let it go! Enjoy the time that you have with your significant other and find something else to do- stressing won't help the situation. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Makeup Must-Have: Great Brushes

Image from TheEverygirl.com
I don't consider myself to be a makeup maven- I stick to the basics and don't venture out from classic color palettes and the products I know. That being said, I LOVE my makeup brushes and I think that a great set is something that every modern woman should have in her arsenal.  There's a great post on The Everygirl about The 6 Makeup Brushes That You Need. Don't want to shop for individual brushes? There are full sets available for every budget:

Sephora Full Face Brush Set, $49.00
Bobbi Brown Basic Brush Collection, $190.00
e.l.f. Cosmetics Processional Set, $12.00
Jane Iredale Professional Brush Set, $290.00

No matter which set you choose, brushes last longer when they get regular TLC. Clean your brushes regularly with a brush cleaner to keep bacteria from building up and your bristles in good conditions. I've had my Bobbi Brown brushes for about 8 years and although I continuously add to my set, they're in great condition!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Brownie Points


I whipped up a batch of fudge pecan brownies this week because my team at work earned some major brownie points. Let's be honest- real brownies are  always better than verbal kudos. These are rich, easy to make, and gluten free... give the recipe a try next time you need a reward!

What You'll Need:
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted


Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square baking dish and line with parchment, leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides. 
  2. Whisk together the cornstarch, cocoa, and salt. 
  3. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the butter and chocolate in 30 second increments, stirring each time, until melted and smooth. 
  4. Stir in sugar and vanilla, the add the eggs, one at a time. 
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir vigorously until the mixture is smooth. 
  6. Stir in pecans, then pour the batter into the prepared pan. 
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, or about 35 minutes. 
  8. Allow the pan to cool on a wire rack, then use the parchment overhang to lift the brownies out of the pan and cut them into squares. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Working Ahead

Image from Martha Stewart Living, November 2014
My weekend was all about working ahead. I got some work done for my full-time job, did a bit of cleaning, and cooked up some chicken noodle soup, cauliflower chowder, and marinara sauce so that our freezer is stocked and ready for some easy weeknight meals. I love to prep things in advance and get my week in order before Monday rolls around, so I was excited to see this recipe for Homemade Baking Mix in Martha Stewart Living this month. Having this mix on hand will let you whip up fresh-from-the oven biscuits, scones, or muffins at a moment's notice- no need to wake up early or slave away in the kitchen when you get home from work!

What You'll Need:
2 sticks frozen unsalted butter, grated
6 cups all-purpose flour (I use a gluten-free version)
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp coarse salt
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp baking powder

Directions:
  1. Sift the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder together. 
  2. Stir in the grated butter. 
  3. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 month or freeze up to 3 months.