Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Taste{full} Deal Alert!

Unfortunately I can't afford J. Crew's regular prices. Heck, I can barely afford their sale prices as evidenced by my FAVORITE picks below. That's what's so great about thier summer sale! Head over to J. Crew and use the coupon code extra30 to get 30% off the sale prices! In addition get free shipping on a $150 purchase.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Southern Summer Supper

This wonderful summer weather has me craving a delightful outdoor dinner party with friends.  Delicious food, great conversation, wonderful warmth even after the sun goes down!  I came across this Ultimate Southern Porch Supper by Scott Peacock over at BHG.com, and I can just picture the spread across a giant rustic wood table.  Check out some of the offerings on the menu....





Throw in some sparkling tealights, a few rustic wildflower bouquets in mason jars, and a group of great friends, and you'll have a night to remember!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Parisian Chic Cheap!


I love this look of Jessica Biel's from over at The Budget Babe. It's the perfect outfit for shopping...which of course she is doing too (celebs, they're just like us!) except she is doing it in PARIS (in your dreams!).  Isn't the look so parisian chic?  I think part of its appeal is how easy it would be replicate from stuff currently in the closet.  And the yellow tote.  I WANT the yellow tote. 

Here's the breakdown on how to create it at a fraction of the cost, also courtesy of Budget Babe:
[1] Love21 Dual Buttoned Blazer, $29.80 at forever21.com
[3] Ruffle-Trim Jersey Camis, sale $10 at oldnavy.com
[4] Striped Watch Strap, sale $15 at jcrew.com
[5] Heritage 1981 Cuffed Denim Jean, sale $11.99 at forever21.com
[6] Deena & Ozzy Mixed Media Oxford, $48 at urbanoutfitters.com



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Primp like a Peacock

I love the colors cobalt blue, kelly green, and shimmering gold. Add to those any shade of purple and what do you get? The colors of a peacock! I recently reconnected with a friend from college and she, by her own admission is obsessed with all things peacock. She even incorporated the colors and feathers into her wedding scheme which I thought was ingenious. That got me thinking about what peacock inspired fashion finds I could blog about. Since I couldn't decide which to include I decided to blog...well everything. Most items are under $100 and there are even a few under $20!  Also be prepared to hear (or read) the word "Peacock" more than you ever have or ever will in one post, conversation, article etc for the rest of your life.  So here goes...

Dress like a Peacock


Eliza J. Print Dress.  Usually Peacock prints incorporate some shade of blue.  I love that this one is purple and pink!  Peacock print prom dress. I tried to keep all items under $100 but I couldn't resist including this $500 number.  Peacock feather print maxi dress.  The quintessential maxi dress...now in peacock.

One Unique Peacock



Lauren Moshi sweats.  Peacock sweats?  Are you kidding me?  So cute.  Strapless short jumper.  The brilliant blue color of this cute little romper had me even before I noticed the adorable peacock feather. Rescue Me Peacock Print Shorts. Hands down these shorts are the coolest ever. 

Dressy Peacock


Border Peacock Print Tunic.  This cute shirt is on sale for only $29. One of the best values in this post!  Smocked Peasant Top.  I love the screen printed look...casual yet easy to dress up with dark rinse skinny jeans.  Love Peacock Tube Top.  Just look at this adorable shirt.  Enough said.

Casual Peacock

Ringspun Peacock Tee.  The lovely detail (pleats and beading) make this tee stand out.  Sketched Peacock Racerback Tank.  How cute is this pop art tank?

Accessorize like a Peacock


Laser Etched Peacock earrings.  Forever 21 ALWAYS comes through.  Search "peacock" for a bunch of other adorable peacock items I ran out of time to include!  House of Harlow large peacock statement ring. I love this whimsical ring.  I can just see wearing a plain green tank, white jeans, this ring, and other gold accessories.  Triple peacock earrings. These are the typical peacock accessory.  But they prove that typical isn't always a bad thing.


Handpainted Peacock BangleAll Eyes on Me scarf. Natasha Accessories Feather Detail Headband.  Would it be wrong to wear all three of these accessories together?  Because I want to.







Saturday, June 12, 2010

Just ONE More Nail Polish, I Swear....

Yes, I'm stuck on nail polish, and I'm sorry if you're bored.  BUT..... I happen to have found perhaps the most beautiful neutral shade.  EVER.  Granted, I do think that you need to look around and find the right neutral for YOUR skin type... but this is a darn good place to start.  My new love....
Essie Secret Affair

I picked this up at TJ Maxx back at Christmas while visiting my in-laws in Tennessee.  It sat, somewhat forgotten and overlooked, as I have recently been obsessed with more bold shades and all the gorgeous summer options out there.  But just yesterday I picked the bottle up and decided I'd try a quick swipe on my thumbnail... and three coats later,  I. Was. Obsessed.

The incredible opalescent taupe-y pink shade makes my whole hand somehow look more elegant, polished and just plain pretty. It reminds me of the neutral shades you often see models or celebrities wearing in magazine advertisements or covers.  Even doing simple household chores, I keep pausing to admire my newly chic nails.  This is a neutral I'll be keeping in my nail arsenal for good!

Purchase Essie Secret Affair at your local Target, online (found it here for only $2.99 a bottle + $4.95 shipping), or wherever Essie nail polishes are sold!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

DIY- Cupcake or Cake Stand

A while back Megan posted about making a cake stand out of a vase (or glass) and a plate. I was obsessed with how cool and simple the project seemed. Genevieve's dedication lunch proved to be the perfect excuse to try it. Check out my results:



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The New Neutral Nail

I am a HUGE fan of bright and bold nail colors, especially for toes.  However, for lack of drying time due to a crazy life, I tend to paint my fingernails far less than my feet.  Neutrals tend to work better so I don't have to worry about my bright electric blue clashing with my outfit for work.  But nude colors can sometimes be boring, so here are two of my most recent favorites that I believe qualify as neutrals but are far from ho-hum.  Both are from Sally Hansen's Complete Salon Manicure line, which I love for it's great consistency and short fat brush.  The first is Pedal to the Metal, which is a metallic-y silver with a slight lavender sheen. (It is not as dark as it looks in the image below!) The second is Commander in Chic, which is a peculiar mixture of grey and brown that results in the most wonderful mushroom color.  Pick them up at your local Target for only $6.49 this week!



Monday, June 7, 2010

Cupcake Virgin


How on Earth I reached the age of 30, er I mean 29 and have never made cupcakes is beyond me. I'm probably the only female over 15 who hasn't. Nevertheless it's true. At least it was true until Genevieve's dedication luncheon. Despite my fear of baking, I couldn't help but try my hand at them...It was only a matter of time, given America's latest obsession with cupcakes. Since I am not a baker at heart and had zero experience I decided to amend a basic store bought cake mix and make the icing from scratch rather than make everything from scratch. I found a good recipe in "Women's World":

Perfect cake-mix cupcakes:
1 pkg cake mix such as classic vanilla or devil's food
1 cup buttermilk in place of the water called for in the package
Vegetable oil (the amount on the pkg)
4 eggs in place of the number called for on the package

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin cups with paper liners. Prepare cake mix according to package directions in a large bowl, using the buttermilk instead of water, the oil, and the 4 eggs. Beat with an electric mixer until moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer.
  • Spoon half the batter into a large ziploc bag, press out the excess air and seal. Snip a 1/4" corner from the bag and fill the paper liners two thirds full. Repeat with the remaining batter. Bake until golden (if using a light colored cake mix) and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the baking pan, place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Makes 24 cupcakes.
A few notes: This recipe is SUPER easy. If I can do it; anyone can! Secondly, I'm not sure why it calls for putting the batter in the ziploc bag half at a time. That was annoying. Next time I'll put all of the batter in at once. Lastly, I didn't want to waste money on a quart of buttermilk when I only needed a cup (and my mom insisted that I could make it with milk and vinegar). After googling it to make sure my mom wasn't making it up (why I doubt her I have no idea. She knows everything about homemade cooking.), I followed her advice and added a TBS of vinegar to a cup of milk and let it stand for 5 minutes).

For the icing, I wanted something creamy and sweet but not store bought. I used Magnolia's recipe. There are a few different versions of it online but I trust foodnetwork so I used theirs. Click here for recipe.

I added a few drops of food coloring (ok, I asked my little sister to do it for me) and voila! They came out perfectly. They were light, fluffy, and sweet! When my adorable nephew Luke tasted one, hugged my neck and said "Aunt Tiffany you're the best" I knew I'd accomplished my mission!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cook Up Some New Mama Love

Those of us already with children remember those first few days/weeks home from the hospital.... the amazing excitement at this new incredible miracle (that they actually let you take home... BY YOURSELF!!), and also the crazy feelings of being tired, sore, emotional and overall just overwhelmed with this new way of life.  In those first weeks of trying to establish some semblance of a "routine", there is usually nothing more appreciated than the kindness of a friend dropping off a home-cooked (or even store-bought!) meal, a thoughtfully chosen gift for baby or mom, or even just a quick visit and the chance to let someone else hold the little one while you take a moment for yourself.  

I was blessed with an amazing sister-in-law who coordinated a bunch of meals for our family when my daughter was born.  The kindness of those ladies meant so much to me and made the transition much easier.  Want to bless someone in your life with a bit of new mama love?  Here's a few tips to keep in mind!
  • If someone is not coordinating meals for the family, make sure to call mom or dad ahead of time to coordinate what day would work best for them, and to see if they have already received meals, so you're not duplicating and bringing them their fourth lasagna of the week!
  • Find out if the family has any food allergies.  Though your enchiladas are to die for, that won't matter if mom's allergic to cheese!
  • If possible, bring a complete meal... protein, starch and a veggie.  Dessert is bonus!  This completely takes any prep work out of the hands of the new mom (or dad!) and doesn't leave them to have to supplement your main course.
  • Bring a meal that can be stretched into several meals with leftovers, such as a casserole, or whole chicken, and something that re-heats well.
  • Meals that can be refrigerated or frozen are also great, in case for some reason the meal is not able to be eaten that night.
  • If possible, provide meals in disposable containers and dishes, so the new parents aren't left with a stack of Pyrex dishes to return.
  • Label food with the contents, date and heating instructions if necessary.  
Not a cook?  No problem!  Find out the couple's favorite take-out spot and menu items for a fun surprise.  Or, try one of the meal assembly centers such as Dream Dinners to provide delicious freezable meals to be eaten whenever is convenient for them!  Even better, give a creative and thoughtful baby shower gift of a Dream Dinners session and let mom and dad stock up even before baby's born!

Just last night I was able to drop off meals to both my wonderful sister-in-law and another family friend who recently had babies.  This time it was one of my favorites, homemade Mac & Cheese, Martha's to be exact. It makes a HUGE portion, reheats well and is just plain delicious.  Enjoy it for yourself, or pass it along to a new mom YOU know!


Image via Smitten Kitchen

Martha Stewart’s Creamy Mac-and-Cheese

When it says it serves 12.... it means it.  Feel free to halve it!  Also, I use an Applewood Smoked Gruyere and add Applewood Smoked Bacon, about 6-7 slices, finely chopped.  If you ever wondered how to make homemade macaroni and cheese even better... it's bacon, I swear. I also substituted Cavatappi pasta for the elbow macaroni, as it just looks more fun. :)  This is particularly delicious with a big, crunchy salad and a steamed vegetable, like green beans or broccoli. - Meg


Serves 12
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.


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