Thursday, February 25, 2016

Delayed


Travel delays and flight cancellations are never fun, but they happen. In fact, as I type this I am sitting in an airport waiting for my airline to determine if I'll actually get home tonight. It's not looking good...

I can't say that I've always handled flight issues with the best attitude, but the more I travel, the more I'm able to cope. Plus, airports have added amenities that make the waiting game slightly less miserable. Here are five ways to pass the time:
  • Get a pedicure or a glass of wine. Most of the airports that I've passed through have spa services and/or a wine bar. If you like getting your nails done on the weekend or relaxing with a big glass of merlot, then why not have a little fun and do these things while you wait?
  • Exercise. This is the simplest option. You don't have to sit in a chair and wait for your plane to arrive. Walk the terminals and get your steps in. 
  • Phone a friend. We all have friends that we've been meaning to call, so use this time wisely! Catch up with old friends, solidify your weekend plans, call your mother, etc. Bonus points if you combine it with suggestion #2 and walk the terminals while you talk. 
  • Tick off your to-do list. One of best tips I received when I started travelling is to try and squeeze in small errands while you're on the road. Need a birthday card for a friend? Grab it at one of the airport gift shops and check it off your list. Hoping to swing into Sephora and grab a tube of mascara over the weekend? Do it now while you're strolling past that Benefit Cosmetics kiosk in the airport. I find that I'm always less stressed when I'm getting things done.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday Workout

I'm travelling to a new location for work and I've been pleasantly surprised by my new home-away-from home. Of all the hotels I've stayed at, this one has the most AMAZING gym, complete with saunas, steam rooms, a full floor of cardio equipment and separate spinning and boxing studios. It's like a REAL pay-for-a-membership facility!

I've been taking full advantage of the spinning studio and getting in morning workouts as much as I can. The key to early-morning motivation is some awesome music, and I love this playlist from Skinny Ms.:


Take your workouts to the next level with these energetic, top rated pop tunes. #workouts #playlist:

Lace up your sneakers and get sweaty! If great music isn't motivation enough, just think- we're halfway to the weekend!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Neighborhood Rules

This adorable watercolor of us in front of our house was painted by Brittany at Golden Locks and Lollipops!
New neighbors moved in  recently, and I was so excited to get to know the new kids on the block. Like any good neighbor, I made a big batch of cookies and we marched next door to deliver the goods. Although it was lovely to meet them, I have to say that these new neighbors do NOT have great neighbor etiquette.Their bad habits have caused me to think carefully about good neighbor behavior, and here's what I've come up with:

  • Greet neighbors when you see them. A smile or a quick "hello" is the simplest way to show that your neighbors matter to you.
  • Be respectful of space. Our bad neighbors continue to park their car directly in front of our yard (despite having their own driveway, curb space, and garage), allowing their kids to trample our new landscaping on a daily basis. It's not great and we have a lot of plants to replace...
  • Be respectful of privacy. Don't assume that because a door is open you should just waltz in unannounced.
  • Lend a helping hand. Did your neighbor's trash bin get knocked over? Pick it up! If you're helpful, odds are that your neighbors will return the favor and help you when you need it. 
  • Have an occasional chat. I am convinced that the better you get to know someone, the less likely they are to step on your toes or take advantage of a situation. Be friendly, talk to your neighbors, and become friends! 
  • Don't take advantage of special talents. Do you live near a doctor, a landscape designer, or someone with a unique job? Being neighbors does not guarantee you free consultations. Try being friends first!
  • Say thank you. When your neighbor does something nice (ex. delivering your newspaper to your front door while they're out walking the dog), it's polite to acknowledge the gesture and say thank you. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

When Life Hands You Lemons

Image from Kate's Creative Space, because her beautiful centerpiece looked much more beautiful than my squeezed lemons!
I had a major craving for lemon bars this weekend, so I picked up a giant bag of lemons while I was at the store. I arrived home only to find that I didn't have all of the ingredients I needed, but I was so set on a lemon-y treat that I decided to make some fresh lemonade instead. It was 100x better than any lemonade made from powdered mix. 

What You'll Need:
2 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used about 15 lemons)
1 1/2 cups simple syrup 
4-5 cups ice water

Directions:
Easiest recipe EVER- simply mix all of the ingredients, using less simple syrup for a more tart flavor, and enjoy!

I serve mine over ice with a fancy straw, but I bet it would be great mixed with your favorite iced tea or even a bit of vodka!


Friday, February 19, 2016

Dinner Tonight: Sauce Like Your Nana Made

Image from Pinterest
After a long week, our Friday nights tend to be pretty low-key. Tonight I'm looking forward to a little comfort food, and spaghetti and meatballs sounds perfect. My mother-in-law shared this recipe- it's easy, delicious, and authentically Italian.

What You'll Need:
1 can tomato paste
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, minced
Chopped fresh parsley
Olive Oil
Sugar, salt, pepper, dried oregano (to taste)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 egg
Grated parmesan
Breadcrumbs

Directions:
  1. Start with the sauce. In a heavy pot, add about 2 Tbsp olive oil. Once it's shimmering, add 3 cloves of the minced garlic. Simmer until it's golden.
  2. Add the can of tomato paste and cook it with the garlic for a few minutes, then fill the tomato paste can with water and add that to the pan. 
  3. Add a dash of sugar, salt, pepper, and oregano. Less than a 1/2 tsp of each is all you need- just eyeball it!
  4. Add the larger can of tomatoes and about 1 cup of water. Reduce heat and simmer while you make the meatballs. 
  5. In a bowl, add the ground beef, onion, remaining garlic, a sprinkle or two of fresh parsley, one egg, 1/2 cup grated parm and a palm full of breadcrumbs. Add a pinch or two of salt and pepper.
  6. With clean wet hands, mix the meat mixture until all ingredients are combined. Form 2 inch meatball shapes and drop them gently into the sauce.
  7. With all of the meatballs in the sauce, simmer for at 1-2 hours, allowing the meat to cook through. 
  8.  Cook and drain the pasta and add a bit of the sauce to the pasta to keep it from sticking. Serve with the meatballs and enjoy!
I'm going to whip up a simple green salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette and a nectarine and blackberry cobbler for dessert. We're kicking off the weekend with full bellies!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What I'm Reading

If you read my post yesterday, you know that I love to read. I don't know what I would do without my Kindle! Here's what's on my current book list:


The Nightingale, a novel about two sisters living in Nazi-occupied France, is full of World War II history and lots of intrigue. Told almost as two separate stories, the sisters are separated by ideals and passion but both play a dangerous role as women in the war. I finished this one recently, and I'd highly recommend it.



This book is really a guilty pleasure. Chick-lit at its finest, The Royal We follows the story of a fictional couple that seems a whole lot like Kate Middleton and Prince William. The story is definitely a page turner, and would be the perfect read for your spring break vacation. I finished it in just a few days!


This book is up next on my list.  In The Clasp, Sloane Crosley writes about three college friends who put their adult lives on hold to chase a mysterious lost necklace across Europe. I haven't read any of Crosley's books before, but I'm excited to dig in!


This is another new one on my list. I've got it queued up to read after The Clasp.  In Girl Waits with Gun, heroine Constance Kopp takes a stand against a gang threatening her family. I'm hoping for a bit of historical fiction and a few thrills, but there's a bonus: the book is based on the true story of one of the United States' first female deputy sherrifs.  Talk about girl power!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

In the Bag


Last week I posted about my new Lo & Sons Seville tote, so I thought it was only fair that I give you the run-down of what I stock it with for work travel. I like to pack as light as possible, so only the essentials make it into my bag. Here's what I'm carrying:


  1. Healthy Snacks. Fruit bars from Trader Joe's or Lara Bars are my go-to. They're healthy and will satisfy my hunger if I am running to make a connection and can't stop for food. 
  2. Kindle. I LOVE to read! If you'd prefer to watch movies, swap in an iPad for this one. But don't bring both- that just feels silly. 
  3. Laptop/Chargers. This is an essential, and having the chargers handy will keep you stress free if you need to recharge while you're waiting for a delayed flight. 
  4. Water Bottle. I carry a reusable Swell bottle with me that I can fill up when I get to the airport. Most airports have bottle filling stations now, which is a great perk and will save you from buying a $6 bottle of water. 
  5. Sanitizing Wipes. These Herban Essentials wipes are my absolute favorite. They smell nice, but not overpowering or chemical-y. Airports and airplanes are full of germs, so use 'em!
  6. Eye Brightening Cream. Many of my flights leave early in the morning. Like before 6am. Although I've already been up for a while by the time I land, I like to "refresh" my  look a bit and not look like a walking zombie. This does the trick. 
  7. Headphones. Earbuds, Bose noise-cancelling headphones... regardless of the type you have, pack them. They might come in handy when you want your seat makes to take a hint and stop chatting you up. 
  8. Lip Salve. I do not leave home without lip balm. Chapped lips feel awful, but they look bad too. Combat the drying effects of re-circulated air and apply often!
  9. Brush. I carry a travel-size Mason Pearson hairbush in my bag and it is like magic. One swipe through my hair and frizzy ends are gone, leaving glossy strands behind. Seriously: it's a miracle product. 
  10. Glasses. I tend to snooze on planes, and sleeping in contact lenses is no fun. I wear (or pack) my glasses instead. 
What's not on this list?

  • A Makeup Bag. Being in the air can dehydrate your skin, so caking on extra makeup when you land will do you no favors. The eye brightener will help you look refreshed, but leave it at that. 
  • Gum. I hate gum-chewing. I don't mind if you chew gum, but personally I prefer to grab a cup of hot peppermint tea on my way out of the airport. It has similar breath-freshening effects and gives me some pep in my step before I arrive at my client's office. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

HitchSwitch


After getting married in September, it took me a few months to work up to changing my last name. I didn't necessarily intend on keeping my maiden name, but the process to change it seemed complex.

I used HitchSwitch  to kickstart things, and their helpful timeline and prepared paperwork made the basics quite easy. All I needed was my photo ID, my marriage license, and a few hours to wait in line at the social security office. Changing the name on your social security card should be your first stop, followed by a trip to the DMV to get a new driver's license. 

Tip: Before you do anything else, scan a copy of your marriage license... it will come in handy later!

After renewing my license, I mailed in the paperwork for a new passport. They require you to mail your marriage certificate in with your old passport, and it takes a while to get the original copy back, hence my hint above. 

According to my HitchSwitch checklist, the last "to-do" was to change my name on all of my credit card/ bank accounts. Your bank will make you come do this in person, and you'll need your new photo ID, but most credit cards simply require a call to customer service and some basic information. 


I was so excited when I had checked of the boxes, but my celebration was premature. We live in a world with so many virtual accounts, passwords, etc. and your name is on all of them! Often, it's not as simple as just logging in and changing your name- businesses want proof that you got married and that scanned copy of your marriage license will be your best piece of evidence. If you're working on changing your name, think about:
  • Frequent Flyer Accounts (I have a lot of these and they were a huge pain to change!)
  • Member Rewards Accounts
  • Health Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Magazines, Newspapers, and Other Subscriptions
  • Vehicle Title
  • School (If you will have a need for transcripts in the future, call your school's registrar and make sure your new name is added!)
  • Investment Accounts
  • Utility Accounts (Gas/Electricity/Water)
  • Fitness Studios
  • Voter Registration
  • Online Accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Hulu, etc.
  • Veterinarian/Pet Groomer
  • Doctor/Dentist
I'm still finding my maiden name on documents/accounts here and there, so this will be an ongoing process. With the social security card and driver's license squared away, at least it's official! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Bed for Brady

We had an awesome weekend, full of sunny weather, long walks around the lake, and good food. Although we did a lot of relaxing, I managed to squeeze in a little project too: sewing a new cover for Brady's dog bed. The original was a orange patterned crate pad from Jax & Bones, pictured below.

Before
Although it fits perfectly in his crate and the pattern is cute, the orange doesn't really coordinate with our bedroom decor. Rather than start from scratch, I decided to make a removable slipcover (like a pillowcase) in a comfy, washable fabric.

After
This was my first project on my new sewing machine, and I have to admit that I had no idea what I was doing. To keep things simple, I used an envelope closure rather than a zipper (which you can see in the picture above, since Brady is laying on it upside down).

Luckily, sewing straight lines is not overly complex and I looked at a pillowcase that I already had, reverse-engineering how I might replicate it for the dog bed. After I finished my project, I found step-by-step directions on Domestic Imperfection- those will come in handy next time!

A Perfect Place to Snooze
Brady's a huge fan of his "new" bed, and I'm pretty proud of myself for learning something new and putting my sewing machine to good use!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sweet Valentines

This week, I had every intention of whipping up a batch of sugar cookies and decorating them with some flood-consistency royal icing to make beautiful valentines like these:


But my efforts were stymied not once, but twice! I discovered that my heart-shaped cookie cutter was missing, and I ran out of meringue powder for the icing. Luckily, I was ready to improvise and the result was just as sweet. 

What You'll Need:
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour (I used my GF blend)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
  1. Cream the shortening, butter, and sugar together. Stir in the eggs and vanilla.
  2. Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together in separate bowl, then add it to the wet ingredients. Mix well. 
  3. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 6-8 hours. 
  4. Once the dough is chilled, turn it onto a floured surface and roll it to about 1/6" thin. Cut out shapes using your favorite cookie cutter and place the cutouts on a baking sheet lined with parchment. 
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 6-7 minutes, then allow them to cool on a wire rack before decorating. 
Because my cookie cutter was MIA, I took a different approach: I formed a heart-shaped log of cookie dough and wrapped it in plastic wrap before refrigerating (step 3 above). Once it was chilled, I simply sliced the cookies. 


Although my hearts were not perfectly symmetrical, this was a much cleaner and efficient way of making sugar cookies. They still turned out cute!


I whippped up a quick batch of buttercream frosting (which tastes better than royal icing, in my opinion) and decorated with sprinkles that I already had in my cabinet. Yum!


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Frequent Flyer

Seville Tote, Image from Pinterest via Gal Meets Glam
I'm starting a new project next week, and although my commute will be longer than I'd like (connecting flights are no fun!), I'm excited to give my new Seville bag a whirl. I've written about Lo & Sons before- their bags are the BEST travel accessories and keep you organized on the go. The Seville is their new laptop bag, and it's like the Swiss Army Knife of travel totes. Check it out:


I have a blue shell on mine, but I love the versatility of being able to swap out the colors. Black is a classic, and red is a fun pop of color. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a camel color or brown in the future. 

Seville Laptop Bag, Image from Pinterest via A Piece of Toast

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Work It Wednesday

Long gone are the days of stuffy black suits with shoulder pads and panty hose- work wear has come a long way, but it's still tempting to stick to the boring basics when you're trying to dress professionally. I've been following Memorandum (formerly The Classy Cubicle) for a while now, and I love Mary's take on Monday thru Friday fashion. You don't have to dress like a man to get ahead! Here are some of my favorite looks:

Leather Lady, View the post HERE
Floral Skirt and Choker Blouse, View the post HERE
The Iconic Wrap Dress, View the post HERE
Ivory Plaid Sheath Dress, View the post HERE
Belted Cape, View the post HERE

What's missing from these pictures? Stodgy old pants-suits! I'm envious of Mary's closet, but my key takeaways are that neutrals and basics can be paired with fun accessories and interesting patterns to mix up the work week. The girl's got great style!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Baby Shower Etiquette

Baby Shower Invites, Minted.com
The past month has welcomed FIVE new babies into our circle of friends, so all things baby-related have been hot topics in our house. There are a few more babies on the way this year, and that means a few more baby showers to celebrate their arrival! I've gotten a lot of questions about baby shower etiquette:

Q: Is it OK for family members to host the shower?
A: Yes! Unlike bridal showers (it's a faux pas for the bride's immediate family to throw a shower), it's common for baby showers to be thrown by the grandparents or aunts-to-be.  It's equally acceptable for friends or extended family to offer to host a party for the expecting couple. The only real rule here is that it's bad form to throw a baby shower for yourself. 

Q: Are the men invited?
A: This one is up to the host. Co-ed showers are becoming more common, but many dads-to-be would prefer to skip out on a tea party or a casual luncheon with games. If you're invited the men, consider a less traditional baby shower and host a backyard bbq or something more casual to welcome the little one. 

Q: Do we need to throw a shower to celebrate baby #2?
A: Every pregnancy is exciting, but the purpose of a baby shower is really to equip new parents with all of the baby gear that they'll need for their first baby. A second baby shower may feel a bit superfluous for parents who already have a stockpile of stuff from baby #1, but if you're just looking for an excuse to party, go for it!

Q: Are games required?
A: It's traditional for baby showers (like bridal showers) to include games, but my own personal opinion is that they are ABSOLUTELY NOT required. Baby shower games often border on weird and uncomfortable, so keep your guest of honor happy and have a classy affair sans games (Note: if you're the guest of honor and games are on the agenda, be gracious and just go with it). 

Q: If I can't attend, is it expected that I send a gift?
A: Gifts are not a requirement if you can't attend- a shower invitation is simply an invitation to a party, not a demand for a gift. If you want to send something to the new parents-to-be, you can order off of their registry or simply wait and send a gift when the baby is born. If the registry is picked over, don't panic- out-of-the box gifts like homemade dinners or a gift certificate for a cleaning service will be appreciated just as much as cute baby duds .

Monday, February 8, 2016

Resolution Update: Decorating

My Pinterest Inspiration
I've been making progress on my 2016 plans to decorate our house, although those bedroom shelves still aren't quite done. This weekend I focused on our entryway. I started by looking for inspiration on Pinterest, and although the tables were styled beautifully, they didn't feel overly functional to me. Our entryway table is a place that tends to collect keys, lip balm and spare change out of Neal's pocket, etc. but it's also open to our dining room. I needed the two spaces to flow together and not feel overly cluttered (my nightmare!). Here's the concept I drew:


I kept it simple. A decorative bowl would be perfect for keys and all those small things that tend to accumulate here, and a cute container of dog treats by the front door means that we no longer have to line our pockets with tiny pieces of liver in the event that a "teachable moment" presents itself (dog training is an ongoing process, people).  Here's how it turned out:


I'm still looking for a big bin to go under the table- that will hold all of the cozy blankets and throws that are currently tucked away in a cabinet. The art is really the centerpiece- a custom painting by Debra Corbett (my oh-so-talented mother-in-law). You can't see the dining room in this picture, but the painting picks up on some of the colors in the rug and really ties the space together without being overly match-y.


This Allegra Centerpiece Bowl from Crate & Barrel was the perfect piece to complete the look. It's big enough to hold several sets of keys and miscellaneous things, but it still looks decorative and pretty. While I was shopping for just the right piece, I stumbled up on some cute marche baskets that ended up on some other shelves in our house:


These shelves live near our back door, leading out into the back yard. Brady treats are another essential here, but the cute baskets helped me to organize the dog toys, bug spray, and sunscreen that we like to keep handy.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Favorites



It's Super Bowl weekend- are you ready? I'm looking forward to some good snacks and fun with friends. But before we close out the week, here are some links that I've been loving:
  1. Harlow and Indiana. These cute Instagram personalities (follow HarlowAndSage) meet a new family member and it is oh-so-cute. 
  2. French Girl-Inspired Classic Chignon. My friend Anna is convinced that I can do more fun things with my hair than put it up in a ponytail, so I'm going to test this look out tonight. It seems easy enough...
  3. Building the Ultimate Nachos. You're going to need some good football-watching snacks on Sunday, and these nachos are sure to be a crowd-pleaser (unless you keep them all to yourself!).
  4. My Boyfriend Dressed me for a Week and This is What Happened. Neal has pretty excellent taste in clothes, but i'm not sure I'd let him dress me for a week. This woman is brave, and the results and supporting commentary are pretty cute. 
  5. Skimm The Vote. If you haven't been paying attention to the election, now would be a great time to start getting informed. This Skimm site covers the basics so you know just enough to feel informed when someone brings the political race up at your next cocktail party. Need more and want a daily digest of the news? Click here to sign up. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Stovetop Mac & Cheese


I love mac and cheese. Not the out-of-the-blue-box processed stuff, but REAL homemade mac and cheese. This recipe is one of my favorites, and since squash supplements the cheese, I don't feel quite as guilty as I heap a second helping onto my plate.

What You'll Need:
½ pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
½ pound pasta (I use a brown rice spiral shaped pasta)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup finely chopped onions
¾ cup finely chopped red pepper (about 1 red pepper... use two if you love veggies)
6 ounces chorizo (or other sausage of your choice), crumbled or diced
2 Tablespoons rice flour
1 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated

Directions:
  1. Cook the squash either in the microwave or oven. To cook in the microwave, place the squash in a bowl with ½ inch of water in the bottom. Cover the bowl with a plate and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. To roast in the oven, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the squash cubes in olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread on a baking sheet. Roast until the squash is very tender, stirring halfway through, about 20-25 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium. When melted, add the onions and red pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, just until it breaks down and releases moisture, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add the flour and stir until it is incorporated with the vegetables and no white spots remain. 
  6. Add the roasted squash, broth, and the reserved ½ cup of pasta water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. If large pieces of squash remain, use a spatula or spoon to gently press them against the sides and bottom of the pan to break apart. (You want most of the squash to dissolve into the sauce, with just a few small pieces remaining.)
  7. Turn the heat off and stir in the pasta and cheddar cheese until evenly combined. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pretty Flowers


Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and that means that florists have already started preparing beautiful pre-made arrangements of roses, peonies, and other romantic blooms. I love Valentine's Day just as much as the next girl, but I hate the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on flowers that won't last more than a few days! Here are a few tips as you shop for the perfect bouquet this year:
  • Go for less traditional blooms. Unless your Valentine is a fanatic for roses, you can probably get away with equally pretty options at a fraction of the cost. I picked up two dozen tulips (pictured above) at Trader Joe's last night for under $10! 
  • Order in advance. Companies like Bouqs.co offer beautiful bouquets delivered for a flat $40 fee (even roses!), but you have to schedule delivery in advance. I've ordered from Bouqs.co a few times, and once you get the flowers into water they bloom beautifully and last for days. 
  • Make your own bouquet. Most florists will ship their flowers in a vase, but there's extra markup for that and it's not always necessary. Use a mason jar that you have lying around or simply tie up a bouquet of fresh flowers with a beautiful ribbon. Even if you're not feeling creative, any florist or grocery store will wrap the flowers you choose in tissue and tie them with a ribbon upon request. 
  • Pick a plant. My Valentine loves succulents, so he's easy to shop for. But plants are a great gift for anyone! Plus, they'll last a lot longer than freshly cut stems. 
  • Try a fresh-flower alternative. If you're crafty, then try making your own flowers. It doesn't take much effort, and your Valentine is sure to appreciate the thought you put into the gesture! Here's a tutorial:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Perfect Studio Apartment

Carrie Bradshaw's Sex and the City Studio Apt, Image from Pinterest
I live in a house now, but I didn't always have such sprawling living space. In fact, my first post-grad-school apartment was a tiny studio in Boston that was exorbitantly overpriced, had lots of "vintage" flair (a nice way to say it was old), and even came with a gaping hole in the bathroom floor. But I loved it, and with some careful decorating it felt cozy and awesome.
My adorable studio was in this building!
As I've been working to re-imagine our guest room (part of my 2016 goals to decorate our house), I've been reading The Haven, a blog from the creators of Havenly, and this post on maximizing your studio living space jumped out at me.  If you're stuck in a tiny apartment (I'm looking at you, Boston friends), there are some great tips. Even if you have TONS of living space, some of the design principles might come in handy. I like "bringing the outside in" and using natural light influence the vibe of the room.

Here's my favorite studio layout from the post:

Separation of the bedroom and living area is key in a small space- I'd be interested to see how the designers at Havenly would decorate the one above. Haven't heard of Havenly? It's an online interior design service that will help you pull together any room in your house at a totally reasonable price. I think I'm going to try it out as we continue to work on our guest room- I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Super Bowl Party Snacks: Pick-A-Chili

Next weekend is a big weekend for football fans, but even if you're not rooting for the Panthers or the Broncos you can still enjoy the snacks!

Image from PickAChili's Facebook Page
Austin is full of unique food trucks, and PickAChili just screams "Super Bowl" to me.  The concept is simple: you choose one of 5 different types of chili, and then choose how you want to eat it. Options include: chili dogs, chili mac, fruit pie, chili cheese fries, or simply chili in a cup. You can also get your chili scooped over hash browns with a fried egg on top. I tried a beef and pinto bean chili over fritos and topped with cheese (that's a frito pie) and it was delish!

Beef and Dark Beer Chili, Image from Epicurious.com
Even if you're not in Austin, this would be a simple menu to recreate for your Super Bowl party. Create a chili bar with all the fixings! I've collected a few recipes below to get you started.

Make 2-3 Different Kinds of Chili:
Beef and Dark Beer Chili
Cincinnati Chili
Green Chicken Chili
Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
Ultimate Chili

Serve With:
Baked potatoes
Fritos
Hot dogs
Pasta
Sour Cream
Chives
Shredded Cheddar
Cornbread

Make sure you have plenty of beer and fizzy drinks on hand- this makes for a heavy meal, but your guests are sure to love it!