Friday, July 24, 2015

Fall Style Fix

Stella & Dot's Fall Collection launched this week and I am already in love! It's hard to shop for fall jackets and cozy sweaters when the temperatures are still rising, but jewelry and a cute clutch are all you need to start transitioning your summer wardrobe.

This season, Stella & Dot had some of their favorite fashion bloggers model the new styles, and Grasie Mercedes of Style Me Grasie has some great styling tips:


My fall line pieces arrived in the mail yesterday, and here are a few of my favorites:


Black and white is definitely trendy for fall. I like this small clutch (which can be made into a cross-body bag with the versatile chain), but the print also comes in a tote that's super fun if you need more room. 



I don't typically wear a ton of bracelets, but I think the layered look of beadsleather, and some edgy pearls is really chic.  

What are some of your favorite pieces? Beware: once you take a peek, there's no going back! You're going to want to SHOP!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Friday

It's the end of the work-week, and I am ready for the weekend! Saturday and Sunday are going to be filled with fun things:
What's on your to-do list this weekend? Whatever it is, enjoy it! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pack a Snack: Granola Bars


I try to pack my lunch most days, but no matter what I pack, I always crave a little something sweet around 3pm. Those mid-afternoon snack cravings are easily quelled by a tiny piece of candy, but a healthier treat helps me survive AND gives me the energy to make it to the gym after work.  This week I'm packing homemade granola bars. They were a huge hit with Neal, and since I made them myself, they don't contain any funky preservatives or ingredients.

What You'll Need:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut

Directions:
  1. Line a baking sheet or 13X9 in pan with foil and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Whisk the maple syrup, light brown sugar, and kosher salt together. Once the sugar is dissolved, stir in the olive oil. 
  3. Add the oats, pecans, pipettes, sunflower seeds, and coconut to the mixture.
  4. Spread the granola on the pan (pressing it flat) and bake it for about 45 minutes. 
  5. Remove the granola from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. 
  6. Slice the granola into bars and let them cool in the pan for another hour. 
  7. Using the foil, lift the mars out of the pan and transfer them to a cutting board. Carefully recut the bars following the original cuts.
  8. Granola bars can be stored at room temp for up to 1 week. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

RSVP Etiquette


I recently met up with friends for a few cocktails, and I got the scoop on all the things they wished they knew before they planned a wedding. The number one stressor? Lack of RSVPs. There's nothing worse than planning an event (wedding or otherwise) with a particular guest count in mind and then having RSVP "rebels" show up at the last minute!

If you've been invited to a Saturday soiree, a wedding, or a big event, let the host know that you're coming! Here are a few simple RSVP guidelines:
  • Do not wait until the deadline. Although the invitations may indicate a particular response timeframe, it's appropriate to RSVP within 24 hours of receiving your invitation. It lets your host know that you're excited to attend their event!
  • Attendance is not required. If you receive an invitation to an event that conflicts with your calendar OR if it's an event you simply don't want to attend, there's no need to feel bad. Simply indicate that you cannot attend and will be celebrating with the host in spirit. A good host/hostess won't probe for further details or pressure you to attend.
  • Do not RSVP for those who were not invited. Invitations are addressed to those who are specifically invited. It's not appropriate to include additional attendees on your RSVP unless your invitation stated that you could bring a guest. 
  • Expect a phone call. It is not appropriate to show up to a wedding or big event without letting the host know you'll be there. In most cases, the host will call you to confirm your attendance if they haven't heard from you in advance. Save them the trouble and just send in your response!
  • Plan ahead. For far-away weddings or big events, you will likely get a save-the-date or some information prior to invitations being sent. This is your cue to book your flights and confirm your travel details (or opt out of the event). Once you're fully booked, RSVP-ing is a breeze!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Birthday Cake

Cupcake Print from Society6.com
Birthdays call for a celebration, and what better way to celebrate than with a delicious dessert? Flour Bakery in Boston carries a delicious, moist chocolate cupcake with the most incredible "magic" frosting. It's one of my go-to recipes when I need treats for a crowd, and it always gets rave reviews!

Ingredients:
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour (I use a GF blend)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

For the frosting:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 2/3 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the chocolate and cocoa powder. In a saucepan, heat the granulated sugar, butter, and water over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally until all the ingredients are melted/dissolved. 
  4. Pour the hot butter-sugar mixture over the chocolate-cocoa mixture and whisk until all ingredients are melted and combined. 
  5. Whisk the egg, milk, egg yolk, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. 
  6. In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well mixed. Dump the flour mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and whisk the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture. 
  7. Let the batter sit for 1 hour at room temp (or store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days). 
  8. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched with a fingertip. 
  9. To make the frosting, whisk together the sugar and egg whites to make a thick slurry. Place the bowl over simmering water in a saucepan and heat, whisking occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes. It will thin out as the sugar melts. 
  10. Remove the heat and scrape the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Whip on medium high speed for 6-8 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a light, white meringue. 
  11. Turn dow the speed to medium and add the butter, a few pieces at a time. Beat for 3-4 minutes. 
  12. Add the confectioners sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla, and continue to beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and satiny. 
  13. Use the frosting immediately or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you sorted it in the fridge, bring it to room temp and whip it again to smooth it out before you use it. 
  14. Fit a pastry bag with a small round or star tip and fill it with frosting. Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake and serve ASAP! 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Sandwich


Sandwiches are Neal's favorite food- he'll eat just about anything that comes between two slices of bread. This weekend we cooked up a summer favorite: Turkey Reubens. Because this sandwich is riddled, it's best eaten right away (note: not a great choice for a packed lunch). Try it for dinner this week!

What You'll Need:
Bread (rye is a traditional choice, but choose your favorite!)
Butter or mayo (for grilling)
Smoked turkey breast
Swiss Cheese
Thousand Island dressing
Coleslaw

Directions:
  1. Heat a griddle pan over medium heat and spread either butter or mayo on the "grilling" side of your bread. Note that mayo doesn't have milk solids that burn like butter, so it will give your bread the perfect golden brown crisp on the outside. 
  2. Assemble the sandwich on the griddle: bread with the thousand island dressing, swiss cheese, smoked turkey, and coleslaw.
  3. Grill over medium-low heat for a few minutes, flipping so that each side gets crispy and the cheese melts on the inside. 
  4. Serve with chips, pickles, or your favorite side. Enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Get Out!

Brady's ready for some summer fun!
Warm summer nights are one of my favorite things, and I'll do just about anything to get out of the house and take advantage of the beautiful weather! Although a dinner al fresco is a great option, here are a few other get-out-of-the-house ideas:
  • Dog Date: One of my favorite things about Austin is that almost all restaurant patios are dog friendly. I'm looking forward to long walks around the lake followed by a quick bite to eat or a refreshing adult beverage while we lounge outside. 
  • First Thursday on South Congress: On the first Thursday of the month, South Congress is overrun with live music, craft vendors, and food. Take a stroll and enjoy the scene!
  • Catch a Drive in Movie: In Austin, the Blue Starlite Drive-In it the kitschy-est place to catch a movie- old or new. Bonus: they sell s'mores kits! 
  • Sunset Picnic at Mt. Bonnell: Even if you're not in Austin, you can use this idea. Pack up your favorite snacks (wine, cheese, crackers?) and head to the most picturesque spot in town. It's a budget-friendly and fun option! 
  • Improv at The New Movement: It's already getting hot, so although it's nice to be outside, a few moments in air conditioning are always welcome.  The New Movement is a talented group of actors, comedians, and writers who host nearly-free shows almost every week. 
  • Third Thursdays at the Blanton Museum: The museum stays open late on the third Thursday of every month. Enjoy a glass of wine and a bite to eat downtown and then peruse the rotating art collections as you digest.
  • Mini Golf: I'm no Jordan Speith, but I can definitely handle a round or two of mini golf. I got a hole in one last time I hit the greens at Peter Pan Mini Golf, and I'm ready to go back! Next time, I'm packing some tiny cans of Sophia Champagne- delightful!
Summer is full of concerts, BBQs, and other fun, but I hope that some of these ideas will inspire you to make every day count. Get off the couch and have some fun! What's on your weekend agenda?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Roasty Toasty Hazlenuts


While dining out recently, I enjoyed a delicious dessert that was topped with toasted hazelnuts. I knew that I liked Nutella, but as it turns out, I LOVE raw roasted hazelnuts. They're easy to make at home, and they have become my go-to snack at work.

What You'll Need:
1-2 cups raw hazelnuts (also called filberts) from you local grocery store

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts into a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until the skins start to blister. 
  3. Transfer the nuts onto a clean dish towel and gently rub them until the skins fall off (if they don't all come off, it's OK- they're edible). 
  4. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for snacking anytime!
In addition to eating them as-is, these little treats make a great topping for everything from freshly seared halibut to beet and goat cheese salad to ice cream sundaes!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Visiting Home

I can't wait to see these lovely ladies!
I've lived in several places in my adult life, which means that going home is always a welcome respite from the day-to-day. We've been spending time in Boston this week, which feels like a second home to me, and I am looking forward to catching up with friends!

Visiting with loved ones is nice, but it can get overwhelming if you only make a few trips home each year. Here are my tips for managing the chaos so that you actually feel rested and rejuvenated after your "vacation":

  • Plan ahead. Know who you're going to see and when. Plan out dinners, lunches, in-between activities and schedule in some down time! It might feel silly to create a schedule, but this way you're guaranteed to get what you want out of the trip.
  • Go out with groups. There are so many people that I want to see when I come to town, so organizing group events allows me to see multiple people at once. This is particularly useful when visiting family (invite all the aunts/uncles/cousins out to a big dinner!), but it works with friends too. 
  • Prioritize. It's not always possible to see everyone on your list. Think about why you came to town. Was it for grandma's birthday? Make that a priority. Spending 4th of July with the extended family? That's first on the agenda. Any other visits you can schedule/squeeze in are a bonus. Good friends will understand if you can't make time to do it all. 
  • Do something YOU want to do.  Everyone has special memories or traditions at home. If there's a restaurant that you love to go to or a coffee shop that has the BEST Sunday morning bagels, make time for it! Doing something for yourself will make the trip feel like the vacation that it is. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Life's a Beach

We've been spending the last few days blissfully tucked away in the New Hampshire woods, soaking in the sun and swimming in the lake. Although it's not quite the same as a Mexico beach vacation, the same rules still apply: Beach bags are a handy carry-all for your sunscreen, a great book, and a big fluffy towel so that you can stake your claim on the dock.


Beachin'


Brazilian bikini / Stella Dot Weekend Bag / Kate spade Beach Towel / Peter Grimm Sun Hat / COOLA Suncare/ Eight Hundred Grapes / Stella & Dot Capri Tunic

Eight Hundred Grapes has been on my summer reading list, and although I don't have a hard copy (I downloaded it to my kindle), my beach bag doesn't look a whole lot different than what you see here. What's in yours?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Curried Tuna Salad-as-a-Salad


I'm excited that we're heading to Boston this week, and it's making me nostalgic for all of our favorite things that we left behind when we moved. Flour Bakery & Cafe was a spot that I frequented, but I've been able to recreate my absolute favorite lunch recipe at home: Curried tuna salad as a salad. Since it can be prepared in advance, it's perfect for a packed lunch. My coworkers are jealous every time they see it, but it really is oh-so-simple!

What You'll Need:
4 cans albacore tuna packed in water, drained
12 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 large Granny smith apple, finely diced (about 2 cups)
7 Tbsp golden raisins, soaked in hot water for a minute, then drained
4 Tbsp red onion, minced
2 Tbsp curry powder
3 Tbsp lime juice
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Mixed greens
Shredded carrot
Sliced tomato
Micro greens (I used arugula micro greens, but sprouts would also be yummy)


Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, mayo, apple, raisins, onion, curry powder, lime juice and salt and pepper. Mix well. This mixture can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the fridge. 
  2. Scoop a big helping of tuna salad onto a pile of mixed greens and shredded carrot. Add tomato and top with micro greens. Enjoy!
Note: This tuna salad is served up as a sandwich at Flour. If it suits you, serve this tasty mix between two slices of sourdough or hearty white bread!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sleep In

I am a loungewear lover. My first instinct when I get home from work each day is to throw on a pair of my comfiest pajamas. Yep, you read that right: Pajamas! My dresser drawers are full of cute pajama sets, and I long for those lounge-y Sunday mornings that let me linger in comfort.

Even if you're more of a shorts-and-t-shirt kinda gal, a cute set of pajamas is a fun purchase. Pack them up for your next family vacation or a trip with your significant other- it will feel more special than your go-to college tee! Here are some of my favorites:

Sleep In


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lazy Girl's Weeknight Beef Bourguignon


When I grow up, I want to be just like Ina Garten. The Barefoot Contessa cookbooks are some of my absolute favorites- I haven't tried a recipe I didn't like! Although most recipes make food for a crowd, I've adapted some of my favorites for a smaller audience of two. This week, on a particularly rainy night, I whipped up what I like to call the "Lazy Girl's Beef Bourguignon" because it has a few shortcuts that are omitted from Ina's version. It's not exactly light and summery, but it will beat any pot roast you've ever made. Bonus: The recipe includes wine, which, in my kitchen, means you can indulge in a glass while you cook!

What You'll Need:
1 lb filet of beef
Kosher Salt
Black pepper
2 Tbsp good olive oil
Rendered bacon fat (or bacon, if you'd prefer)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup good dry red wine
1.5 cups beef stock
1.5 Tbsp tomato paste
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 pound pearl onions
1.5 cups of baby carrots, halved (you can cut up whole carrots if you have them)
1.5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp GF flour
1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick



Directions:

  1. With a sharp knife, cut the filet crosswise into 1 inch thick slices. Salt and pepper both sides (be generous!).
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, salute the beef in the olive oil until browned on the outside but very rare inside. Then remove the filets from the pan and set aside. 
  3. In the same pan, saute the bacon if you're using it. I omitted this step because I already had some rendered bacon fat from breakfast. If you cooked the bacon, remove all but 2 Tbsp of fat from the pan and set the bacon aside. If you're making the "lazy girl" version like me, add a Tbsp or two of your rendered fat to the pan.
  4. Saute the garlic for a minute or two until fragrant, then deglaze the pan with the wine (on high heat!). 
  5. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. 
  6. The Barefoot Contessa recipe says to strain the sauce at this step. I skipped it, but I DID remove the sprig of thyme. 
  7. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until tender. If the sauce gets overly thick, add a splash of beef stock (or wine!).
  8. While the carrots and onions cook, saute the mushrooms in olive oil and/or butter (or a combo). They should be slightly browned and soft. 
  9. Add the butter and flour to the sauce/carrot/onion mixture and whisk until slightly thickened. 
  10. Add the mushrooms and beef slices (and bacon if you made it) to the pan. Cover and reheat for 5-10 minutes, but don't over cook! When it's done, serve immediately and enjoy. Bon Apetit!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

4th of July BBQ

We are days away from a long holiday weekend, and I can't wait to jet out East to spend some time with (future) family and friends. Neal's family heads to New Hampshire each year, and it's a week full of relaxation and outdoor activities. The best part? The annual 4th of July BBQ! 



We're going to leave the cooking up to someone else, but I were to host a fabulous 4th of July event, here's what would be on the menu:

A cooler full of craft beer (If you're looking for some GF options, try Omission Pale Ale and Lager!)

Keeping things simple will give YOU more time to relax and watch the fireworks! Keep cleanup simple by providing festive paper plates, napkins and utensils. I like the slightly-more-environmentally-friendly versions from Susty Party, but you can't go wrong with whatever you find at your local grocery or party supply store. 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Break

Image by Inslee Haynes, via Pinterest
I woke up today and realized that we are already halfway through June! I have a lot on my summer to-do list, and if I'm going to accomplish it all then I need to get going! It's time for a short blogging break, but I'll be back in July. Until then, get off your computer and go soak up the sun! See you out there...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Wedding Shoes

I picked up my wedding dress this weekend and it's making it all feel very real! I can't wait to wear it! Alterations are the next step, but I still need to pick out the perfect pair of wedding-day shoes. Here are some styles that I've been perusing:


Wedding Shoes



Jimmy Choo high heels stiletto / Manolo blahnik shoes/ Kate Spade leather sole shoes / Manolo Blahnik leather sole shoes / Charles by Charles David high heels stiletto / Jimmy Choo nude pumps

A wedge might be the most comfortable for the outdoor ceremony, but I love the look of those sheer nude lace pumps! Decisions, decisions...

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Menu: Mason Jar Salads

Guacamole Greens from sweetgreen (Image from sweetgreen website)
I am a self-admitted salad hater. I know that salads can be a healthy lunch option, but it's just not the option I'd choose when given a full menu of both hot and cold meals to pick from. That being said, I LOVE the salad concoctions at sweetgreen in Boston. Maybe it's the fact that they're packed with tons of non-green items, or maybe they just have the perfect dressing-to-stuff ratio. I can't get enough!

Since sweetgreen hasn't made its way south, I've been attempting to recreate some of my favorites. I like packing mason jar salads for lunch since it's an easy meal to prep ahead and it's totally tote-able. This week, we're having "Guacamole Greens".  On the sweetgreen menu, it's described as: organic mesclun, red onion, tortilla chips, avocado, roasted chicken, fresh lime squeeze, and cilantro jalepeno vinaigrette.  Mine is a variation on this concept, and it's VERY delicious!

What You'll Need:
1 Jalapeño, seeded and diced
Juice of 2-3 Limes
1Tbsp honey
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cups Mixed Greens
1/2 Red onion, diced
1 Orange bell pepper, diced (optional)
1 1/2 cups Grape tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, pitted and diced
2 cups roasted chicken, shredded
Tortilla chips (optional)

Directions:
  1. Prepare the dressing by combining the jalapeño, lime juice, honey, cilantro, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until combined. 
  2. Pour the dressing into the bottom of four mason jars, dividing it evenly amongst them. 
  3. Add the red onion and tomatoes to each jar, again dividing the portions evenly among 4 jars. 
  4. Add the diced bell pepper next. This is optional, but it adds healthy crunch, especially if you forego the tortilla chips. 
  5. Layer in the roasted chicken, followed by the avocado.
  6. Top each jar with a big handful of greens. I used a mix of baby spinach, kale, and swiss chard. Tortilla chips go on the vey top before you seal it!
I find that the mason jar salads last for 3-4 days in the fridge, so it's a great option to prep ahead on Sundays. Plus, your coworkers will be jealous when you pull out such a healthy and delicious lunch!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Weekend Fun

I'm taking a day off of work today, so for me, the weekend has already begun (hooray!). If it's still just a regular ol' Friday for you, GET EXCITED! The weekend is almost here!
Hamilton Pool is a swimming hole that I can't wait to visit! Image from RealtyAustin.com
I like to pack my weekends full of fun activities, because it feels a little bit more like a break than just lounging around and getting chores done. Here are some low-cost ideas for Saturday/Sunday to-dos:

  • Check out a free festival or an outdoor movie. As the weather warms up, there will me more and more festivals, concerts, and movies in the park, so keep an eye out! If you're in Austin, here's a great list of some free ideas for fun date nights around the city this weekend. 
  • Visit a Museum. Many museums offer discounted tickets or even free admission at select times of the week. Plus, if you're a Bank of America card holder, you can get free admission into a selection of Museums on the first weekend of every month through the Museums on Us program.  A museum day is a fun way to beat the heat and take in some of the culture of your local area!
  • Head to the library and pick up some new books. Maybe this isn't fun for everyone, but I LOVE books. Plus, libraries often host book talks, book signings, etc. so you can do more than just peruse the stacks. If you're in a big city like Boston, the public library is a destination
  • Read those new library books outside while you sip a glass of wine! You don't have to go anywhere to relax and unwind. If I can't read a book with a fruity drink on a remote beach somewhere, then a book on a lounge chair with a glass of wine in my backyard will suffice. 
  • Take a hike with a friend. Kill two birds with one stone: exercise and catching up with a friend you rarely see. A "hike" up Mt. Bonnell or a slightly more strenuous trek through the greenbelt is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
  • Visit a local swimming hole. If you're in Texas, you're probably looking for a way to cool off. Check out this list of Austin's Best Swimming Holes and go take a dip! Not in Austin? Look for a swimming hole or even a ritzy country club pool near you and start swimming!
  • Host an impromptu potluck. Skip a spendy dinner with friends and invite everyone over for an informal get-together. You provide the essentials (cutlery, plates, drinks, and a main dish) and let everyone else whip up one of their favorite dishes. Bonus points if you make it into a fun game night! Everyone loves a good game...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Talk or Text?


Texting has been an integral part of our personal lives, and for many, it's the go-to method of communication. It's definitely faster to type out a quick message than it is to play telephone tag and then spend hours chatting on the phone, but sometimes an old-fashioned phone call is just better. Here are some rules I try to follow:

Text When:

  • You're meeting a friend somewhere. Want to let them know that you're running late or that you've grabbed a table on the back patio of the restaurant? A quick text is probably the quickest way to get your message across.
  • You're responding to a text. If someone has texted you, it's appropriate to text back (unless they've sent you some big news that warrants a follow up phone call).
  • You're just thinking of a friend and you want to say "hi". Send a quick snapshot to of your fruity beach-side drink to you favorite coworker to let them know that you're thinking of them, or send a supportive message to a friend who's about to interview for a new job. "I'm thinking of you today- you're going to ROCK that interview!" is a supportive, quick note that probably doesn't require a long phone convo. 
Call When:
  • Your friends call you! You have to be a friend to keep your friends, and one of the ways to be a friend is to keep in touch. If someone calls you to catch up, don't try to accomplish your update via text. Your friend wants to hear your voice, so find a time when you can call back. 
  • You're in an argument. Text messages can be misread and misinterpreted. If you've had a dispute with someone, don't let it fester with short texts. Pick up the phone and work it out.
  • Someone is experiencing a big life event. If a loved one has recently died, your friend is going through a tough breakup,  etc., it's appropriate to call. Your friend may not pick up, but they'll appreciate the thought. Similarly, if your friend has a new baby or is recently engaged, call to let them dish about it! They'll likely be eager to share the news...
  • You're under a tight deadline. If you have something due or need information fast, pick up the phone and get it! Sometimes people don't see their text messages until later in the day, or they don't respond immediately. A phone call will be less exhausting than describing what you need via text and waiting around for it.
These aren't hard-and-fast rules, but think about whether or not a phone call will be a more effective (or appreciated) mode of communications before you fire off your next text!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Links I Love: New House Edition

Bedroom Inspiration from Loft Home
Everything is unpacked and life is returning to the (new) normal in our new house. Our commute to work is shorter, Brady has more space to run around, and we have neighbors! I've been trolling the web as we decorate, clean, and settle in, and here are some of the links that I LOVE:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Suit Up

Images from Pinterest
The woman in white is typically the center of attention on the wedding day, but this doesn't mean that the groom's attire has to be generic! There are so many different suit options that range from beach-y casual to black-tie formal, so ask yourself a few key questions before you start shopping:
  • How formal is the wedding? An indoor, evening event may call for a suit or a tuxedo, but you should skip the 3 piece suit if you'll be outside in the backyard. There are stylish options no matter which direction you choose to go in, but you do want the groom's attire to reflect the overall feel of the event. 
  • Is matching important? Often, the groomsmen will wear coordinating colors or even the same suit, but it's important to consider whether you'll be renting or buying the outfits. Consider allowing the groomsmen to wear suits/tuxedos that they already have (and save a little money!) or shop around for some good deals (like the Nordstrom half-yearly sale!).  I personally hate the idea of renting formalwear because the fit will never be quite right on a borrowed suit, but this may be another cost-effective option.
  • What's the color scheme? Consider how the suits will look with your overall color scheme. I don't mean that your groomsmen need to wear colored suite, but a pop of color on a tie or a pocket square will complement the flowers in the bride's bouquet and add a bit of style to a solid color ensemble. 
  • What "extras" will we have? Shirts with French cuffs require cuff links, or maybe you want everyone to have the same tie or some funky socks. Even if everyone's wearing their own suit, a piece of flair that all the groomsmen have will add some uniformity to your lineup. Plus, these little "extras" make great gifts!
We bought Neal's suit last week, and I'm almost just as excited to see him in it as I am for him to see me in my dress! He's going to be a very handsome groom!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday Menu: Blue Apron



I love to cook, but it's easy to cook the same things over and over again (and that's not very fun or adventurous!). Blue Apron is a meal-delivery service that will deliver all the ingredients that you need to create a few new recipes each week. We decided to try it out this week, and I'm excited to get the NEXT delivery!

Here's how it works: Each week you log into your account and choose a few dishes from the weekly menu. Blue Apron packs everything up in the perfect portion sizes and ships it straight to your door in refrigerated boxes. In our last shipment, we tried:

  • Pan roasted pork with smashed potatoes and spinach
  • Seared cod with aromatic curried rice and snow peas
  • Steamed turkey buns with quick kimchi

Although I probably could have made any of these dishes on my own, I like that Blue Apron packed up all the ingredients for me. Some of the dishes had more "uncommon" ingredients like bean paste and a special kind of Korean spice. Getting the pre-portioned amounts was a lot more cost-effective than going to the grocery store and buying the ingredients in mass quantities. 


This is also a great option for the infrequent or novice cook. If you plan to eat out frequently but want just enough for  2-3 meals at home, then Blue Apron will completely substitute your weekly grocery shopping (how convenient).  Plus, each recipe comes with illustrated, step-by-step directions, so you can whip up a 30-minute-meal with ease! 

It is important to note that they do NOT cater to food allergies/preferences aside from offering vegetarian options. You can choose options from their menu that meet your requirements and/or make substitutions on your own. 

*This post was not sponsored by Blue Apron. I simply had a great experience and couldn't wait to share it with you!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fashion Friday: Stella & Dot Fall Preview (and a GIVEAWAY!)


Summer is just heating up, but this week Stella & Dot launched their Fall Preview collection and it is gorgeous- I couldn't help but share! I am loving the beautiful blues and geometric shapes/patterns, and the pieces are all so versatile (read: two-way earrings, a statement necklace that can be worn six different ways, and multiple delicate layering necklaces all in one).


To celebrate the launch, I'm hosting a "Mystery Hostess" trunk show. Buy your favorite piece using this link and YOU will be entered to win all the hostess rewards ($250+ in free product!). 

Any purchase, no matter how big or how small, will earn you an entry into our raffle, but for every $50 you spend you'll also earn $25 back in Dot Dollars (for MORE shopping! hooray!).  

Buy yourself something pretty to end the week and update your wardrobe, and share the link with a friend! The raffle closes on June 10th at midnight. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Recipes to Try: Lemon Icebox Pie


Gluten free pie crust is a tough one to master, but a crumbly graham cracker or cookie crust is simple to make and tastes amazing. I'm always on the lookout for recipes that take advantage of this easy-to-prepare crust, and icebox pies are the perfect thing to try this summer. It's like the casserole of desserts, and with the right ingredients an icebox pie can be delightful and sophisticated. 

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 cups crushed cookies or crackers (for the crust)
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted
Dash of salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp loosely packed lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 large egg yolks
 1/4 cup buttermilk

Directions:
  1. Prepare the crust by processing the crushed cookies or crackers in a food processor with the 1/4 cup of sugar and the dash of salt until finely crushed. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined.
  2. Press the crust mixture on the bottom, sides, and lip of a slightly greased pie plate. Freeze for 30 minutes to 1 hour while you prep the filling. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
  4. Whisk together the condensed milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl. 
  5. Beat egg yolks in a medium bowl with a handheld mixer for about 5 minutes, then gradually whisk in the condensed milk mixture until combined. 
  6. Whisk the buttermilk into the filling and pour it into the prepared crust. 
  7. Bake the pie for about 25 minutes or until the filling is set around the edges. The pie will still be a bit jiggly. 
  8. Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, then cover it with lightly greased plastic wrap and freeze for 4 to 6 hours. 
  9. Serve the pie with sweetened whip cream- delish!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Denim Update

I pulled on my favorite jeans last weekend and Neal told me they were looking a little bit big in the backside. Obviously, it's time for an update to my denim! I love the look of boyfriend jeans on other people, but to be honest I haven't been quite sure how to wear them myself.  Pinterest is the perfect place to find a little bit of inspiration, and here's what I found:

Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest
A pair of Paige Jimmy Jimmy Skinny Boyfriend jeans are on their way to me, and I'm looking forward to trying out some of these looks!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Busy In the City

Image from Scribd.com, via Pinterest
We all have busy schedules these days, but there's no reason that weeknight can't be as enjoyable as a Friday or Saturday evening. Gather some of your favorite friends for a weeknight dinner party. Keeping it casual will minimize both the prep and cleanup, and a memorably evening of conversation will make you feel like you've made the most of your week.

Table Setting
Don't go crazy trying to curate a special tablescape. Simply pull out your favorite plates and some flatware and call it a day. Make sure to have wine glasses and water glasses on the table- if your friends are like mine, the wine will be flowing!

Centerpieces
If you have time on your way home from work, pick up a bunch of whatever's seasonal. Fresh flowers instantly add an air of sophistication, and a low vase spilling over with beautiful blooms will add to your home decor even after the dinner party is done! Missing a vase? Fill a few small glasses with small blooms.

Menu
You have a couple of options here. Grab some carryout from your favorite local spot (there's no shame in outsourcing the cooking!) or pull together something simple that you can make ahead. Pasta is always a hit, and a lasagna will make your home smell incredible as it cooks.

  • Giant green salad with freshly shaved parmesan and balsamic vinegarette 
  • Homemade lasagna
  • Wine- lots of it!
  • Gelato or ice cream served with a variety of toppings (I have chocolate chips, buttey caramel sauce, homemade hot fudge, fresh fruit, and rainbow sprinkles on hand)
Music
Turn on something that will create a bit of ambiance and background, but will still allow for easy conversation. Anything from Dave Matthews to Train will work- make sure it's something YOU like!

It's hard to break up the weeknight routine, even for something fun. BUT, you eat dinner every night anyway. Make an ordinary night a celebratory occasion- you won't regret it!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday Menu

If you've read by blog before, you know that I love getting some of the weekday prep work done on Sundays. Preparing the ingredients for a few simple weeknight meals and packing up a bunch of lunches frees up time during the week for other types of fun like a weeknight barre class or movie with friends.

Here's what on the menu at our house this week:

Breakfasts

Lunches
My mason jar salads are all ready to go! I just used veggies, but some quinoa or garbanzo beans would make this even heartier!

Dinners
  • Grilled veggie kabobs with baked potatoes
  • Hot Italian sausage and peppers with homemade marinara sauce
  • Chicken tacos with fajita veggies and guacamole
Need a taco seasoning? Skip the packets that you buy at the grocery store and whip up this recipe at home. 
Snacks
  • Apples with almond butter
  • Cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers with guacamole
  • Freshly toasted pecan halves and dried cherries
  • Honeydew melon (it's SO good right now!)
I didn't plan enough for EVERY meal, which gives us a little bit of flexibility to enjoy a lunch out with coworkers or dinner at a restaurant as we continue to explore our new neighborhood. What's on the menu at your house this week?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Cheers! It's Friday


It's Friday, and although it was a short work-week for me, it has felt incredibly long. I'm ready for the weekend, and my plans definitely include a glass of wine.

I recently visited Apothecary Cafe and Wine Bar in the Rosedale area in Austin, and it was worth recommending. We sipped a lovely white wine we dined on fresh oysters and an heirloom tomato salad with creamy blue cheese.  The wine list is wonderful without being overwhelming, and the dishes are perfect for sharing. It's a great spot for a date or light bite with friends.

Not in Austin? Whip up some small shared plates at home to pair with your favorite glass of wine. If you're not quite sure about wine pairings, check out this post.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Behind the Curtains

Despite the crazy rains and floods this past weekend, we successfully moved into our new house and are fully unpacked. Now the decorating fun can begin! Although paint was our first stop, window treatments are next. Between plantation shutters, valences, cellular shades, roller shades, venetian blinds, and drops, there are SO many options.

We've got a particular style in mind, and there will definitely be drapes in a few rooms. I found this short video from West Elm to be helpful as we start to peruse the different options and make a selection:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Watermelon Recipes

It's not quite summer yet, but I've already had some of the most delicious watermelon and I can't get enough! It's only going to get better as temperatures rise, so I've been making a list of watermelon-centric recipes to try.


From left to right:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bridal Beauty: Hair

We're getting settled into our new home, and I'm finally breathing a sigh of relief that the move is behind us! Now I can return my focus to more fun things like decorating and wedding planning for our September nuptials. I've got hair and makeup booked for the big day, but now the hard part beings: picking just the right style. I've rounded up some of my favorite styles below.
Image from ModWedding.com, via Pinterest
Image from The Wedding Chicks, via Pinterest
Image from Style Me Pretty, via Pinterest
Image from ModWedding.com, via Pinterest
Image from blog.hairandmakeupbysteph.com, via Pinterest
Next step: make a decision about the veil. I'm on the fence! 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer Book List

We've had thunderstorms on the forecast for weeks in Austin, but sunshine is on the way and I'm getting my summer book list ready.  Here's what I'm reading:

I'm excited to dig into this fresh, contemporary revision of Jane Eyre. Re Jane, Amazon.com
This is a "below the stairs" version of Pride and Prejudice- from the servants' point of view. Longbourn, Amazon.com
This story is billed as an insider's look into the ever-changing world of fashion, and it sounds like the perfect poolside read! The Knockoff, Amazon.com
I can't wait to be transported back to the vineyards of Sonoma as I read this one. I have high hopes! Eight Hundred Grapes, Amazon.com

Friday, May 22, 2015

Long Weekend Ahead!

It's Friday and that means we're on the brink of a glorious three-day weekend. I'd love to get away, but we're staying in town and we've got a lot on the agenda:


These beautiful baubles are all on sale! Shop Stella & Dot and you earn Dot Dollars too!
  • Shopping Sales. Whether you're looking for a new lawnmower or new accessories for your summer wardrobe, this weekend is a great weekend to shop! Memorial day brings tons of sales, so if you're around town (or just have an internet connection), start shopping. 
Rudy's BBQ Image from Goodtaste.tv
  • Barebecue. We might not be attending a Memorial Day picnic, but we'll still be enjoying some barbecue this weekend! Rudy's is at the top of my list, but we may opt for Lambert's if we want a more upscale evening out.

  • Packing. We're making a move across town, and even though it's not  long distance we still have to pack everything up. I've been following a compressed version of this moving checklist and hopefully by the time I head back to work next week we'll be feeling settled in our new home!
This guy did't come from Austin Pets Alive!, but he DID turn me into an animal lover. 

  •  Wine Tasting. This is a funny one to put on the list along with all sorts of moving activities, but I'm looking forward to taking a break from packing to attend a wine-tasting event benefitting Austin Pets Alive

What's on your Memorial Day weekend agenda?