10.29.2014

Tale As Old As Time...



Since we are having a destination wedding, I knew that I wanted to have my bridal shower in my hometown so family and friends who may not make it to the wedding could celebrate with me a bit.  Celebrating with so many women from my life in the home where I grew up was so meaningful to me.

We all arrived Friday before the shower and my mom, my girlfriends, J's family, and I went to dinner.  After dinner my girlfriends, my mom, and I broke open a bottle of wine and set to work putting the finishing touches on the shower.  Most of the decor was done before we even arrived by my talented mother and a great family friend… They did an incredible job; everything looked beautiful!!

On Saturday morning I got ready in my old bathroom with my Maid of Honor… It was so surreal; for years we had gotten ready in this bathroom together and she mentioned something about it being the last time since soon there will be husbands and maybe even kids involved.  It was so bittersweet to think about, but it felt so comforting to have her there with me and going through this little primping ritual together.

You can find all the details on my outfit in my post here.



The guests arrived to chilled mimosas and mingled to the sound of piano music played by my childhood piano teacher.  The decor incorporated touches inspired from Beauty and the Beast as well as sentimental details like flowers displayed in my Welsh great great grandmother's dishes and my favorite Belle plate and cup from my childhood.

We filed into the dining room and guests went through the brunch buffet and sat down to a little game at their place setting.  Each person also had a little tag to write down wedding/marriage advice.  We went around each table and each person introduced themselves and explained how they knew me… I think this is a great ice breaker at any wedding event; it's nice for guests to get to know one another a bit, especially if they'll see each other at the wedding as well.







We had a brunch with fresh fruit, yogurt parfait bar, cucumber dill tea sandwiches, curry chicken salad sandwiches on mini croissants, and mini quiches.  There was even a cinnamon roll "wedding cake" which was my favorite!!

After brunch and our first little game, we settled into the fireside room to play a few more games and open gifts.  We did a What's in Your Purse? handbag hunt game, a How Well Do You Know the Bride? questionnaire game, and an adorable His or Hers game with little mustache and lipstick props.







After games and gifts, we went back into the dining room for tea and cake.  My mom designed the most gorgeous Belle-inspired cake… It was absolutely perfect!!  She is so detail oriented; she even found sugar cubes with tiny sugar roses on top.

Everyone stayed to chat and have a second cup of tea… It's always a good sign when people stick around after an event.  I could have spent days chatting and catching up with these ladies; they all mean so much to me. 






John showed up at the end of the bridal shower with our doggies.  It was so good to see them… I was happy he could chat with some of our guests and get to know them a bit better.



I gave gifts to my incredible hostesses.  For my Maid and Matron of Honor, I got these festive little Kate Spade wallets and relaxing facial masks to reward their hard work.  For my mom and family friend who did so much to prepare for this shower, I gave these wool and cashmere scarves and mini Philosophy hand lotion.  Each of our guests took home a little box of macarons and a Fall scented Bath & Body Works shower gel.





I hope you enjoyed this peek into my day!!  Don't forget to sign up for the first giveaway in my seven giveaway #TTWeddingSeries!!  I draw a winner Halloween morning.











The Details
Photography:  Shots by Abbey


Decor
Pearl Pens from The Breakers' gift shop


10.27.2014

Spicy Spaghetti Squash


This weekend I tested out my skills in the kitchen with another recipe.  This one led to some major misadventures… I promised you all that I'm a terrible cook!!

Long story short, I was cutting an onion and somehow started sawing through the side of my thumb.  I couldn't get it to stop bleeding!!  Since J was out of town working I was a little more freaked out and went to the ER.  Two hours later, I was back at home with my thumb in a really unattractive glove, and continuing on with my spaghetti squash recipe.

Moral of the story??  If you feel something soft while chopping up your onion, stop… It's probably your hand.

On a happier note, this recipe is delicious and another version of healthy comfort food like the previous recipe I posted.  It's satisfying, spicy, and the variety of textures is pleasing to the palate.  I kept the excess in a plastic storage container and reheated for the next 2 nights… It makes about 4 servings. 

Ingredients: 

1 cup cooked black beans
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 medium spaghetti squash
1/2 cup sweet corn, frozen or fresh
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Mexican flavored shredded cheese mix to sprinkle on top.

**You could easily add ground beef or ground turkey to this recipe!!  Just brown in a separate skillet, add some salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash seasoning.  Then mix in with the veggies and squash.


Directions: 

1.  Spaghetti Squash
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut squash in half lengthwise (this can be tricky… I would put a towel underneath to help hold it in place).  Then use your fingers to pull out the seeds and pulpy loose insides from the middle of both squash sides.  It will feel and smell like carving a pumpkin!!  Don't dig into the more solid sides of the squash… This will be your "spaghetti" after its cooked.  Put both seeded halves into the baking dish with the cut sides down.  Pour 3/4 cup water into the dish so that it just covers the bottom of the dish.  Bake until squash is tender; about 30-35 minutes.  Rake with a fork to remove squash insides in spaghetti-like strands, leaving the shell intact for stuffing.


2.  Squash Filling
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, jalapeño, and bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes or until veggies are soft.  Add beans, corn, and chili powder; cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute longer.  Add cooked squash, cilantro, lime juice, and salt, cook 1 minute until heated through.

**Spice It Up:
I didn't seed my jalapeño pepper because I love spicy foods.  Chopping rather than mincing the jalapeño and leaving the seeds is an easy way to add a little more heat to your recipe!!  You can also add a bit more bell pepper and onion.  I was able to find a can of "spicy seasoned" black beans at my Whole Foods and used those as well to spice up this recipe.

**Safety Note: 
Do not chop your fingers/hand during the veggie chopping portion of this recipe.  It will add a substantial amount of time to your overall preparation time.


3.  Make It Pretty
Fill squash halves with squash-and-veggie mixture, mounding it in the center.  I added a sprinkling of Mexican flavored cheese on top (because duh, I deserved it… I nearly chopped my hand off!) I put the plate with squash 


Happy Kitchen Adventures!!  Make sure you sign up for my hair essentials giveaway… I draw for the winner Friday morning!! 









Six Classic Autumn Essentials


I love trendy looks as much as the next girl… Each season, I get excited to see the new trends and anxiously search through the latest Vogue and InStyle to gain a little inspiration for my own closet.  

But sometimes when I purchase the latest trend I end up not wearing the item and before I know it, it's two years down the road and I'm packing it up with tags to send to the consignment shop.  So… Unless it's a trend I really love and want to splurge on, I try to find inexpensive trendy alternatives at places like Forever21, H&M, and Zara. 

I find myself gravitating toward classic, timeless pieces that I can wear for years down the road.  As I tell J, I'm "curating my collection".  But I really am.  Why have a closet full of dated pieces when you can have a closet full of classic ones and a small handful of inexpensive trendy pieces you change out every season??

So here are my classic essentials for your Autumn wardrobe; items I feel every woman needs to have in her closet.  To view details and shop, just click the little box under each item's corresponding number.  Clickable links are listed below the photo as well.




I view cable-knit sweaters as the number one Autumn classic.  Pair them with leather jeans for a more edgy look or throw on a peacoat (as pictured) for a classic, polished look.  

If you're looking to get the most wear out of your cable-knit sweater, opt for a neutral like the beautiful toffee color shown above.  You can give it a pop of color with jewelry, lip color, and accessories. 


Whenever I see a wool peacoat, I think of boots crunching through leaves and a steaming cup of caffeine in a mittened hand.  They are definitely a quintessential Autumn item.  They instantly add class and polish to jeans, leggings, boots, flats; you name it.

My favorite colors of peacoats are navy and ivory.  They are beautiful, timeless neutrals that you will never tire of… I bought my first peacoat from J.Crew almost ten years ago and I've worn it on a weekly basis every Autumn.


Don't get me wrong, I love the look of luxe chandelier earrings hanging just above the collar of a soft sweater… But without a doubt, I wear my jewel toned stud earrings a thousand times more.

Round or emerald cut are the most classic, in my opinion.  I'm fond of champagne, emerald, and ruby stones.  I find myself reaching for them throughout Autumn and Winter.


Riding boots are my absolute favorite style of boots… Number one, because they are so timeless and never look dated.  Number two, because they are extremely flattering on everyone.

You need them in a neutral color; black, gray, tan, or brown.  Take a look in your closet and see what shades make up most of your Autumn wardrobe.  Reds, oranges, and olives??  Go with a brown pair.  Grays, cool blues, and evergreen??  Go with a black pair.  

For the most part, any neutral boot will be versatile with most of the colors in your closet.  I love mixing brown and black, so don't worry about your belt and handbag matching!!


Steer away from patterns that are trendy and might be gone next year if you're going to invest in a great quality scarf.  Look for burgundy, navy, burnt orange, and chocolate brown in solid colors or classic patterns like paisley, plaid, or leopard

Scarves in warm colors like these make your complexion glow, even when it's seriously lacking in that golden Summer color!!  Choose a pattern or design that makes you happy but will also complement much of your Autumn/Winter wardrobe.

Bonus… From now until Oct. 28th Piperlime is offering 25% off your purchase of $200 or more using code WINWIN25!!  Hello, leopard scarf  :) 


This is something we often forget about, though I'm not sure why!!  We spend so much of our time on our phones, laptops, and tablets… They are front and center most of our days.  

So before you show up to a meeting or a coffee date with a friend, take a look at your tech accessory.  A good tech accessory will not only protect your device, it will send a message about who you are and what you're about.  Is your iPhone case battered and busted??  Is your bikini-covered laptop case a leftover from last summer??  

It might be time to invest in a polished, classic looking tech accessory.  My mom treated me to this chic little iPad Mini case, embossed with my soon-to-be initials.  




What essentials are important for you to have each Autumn??  Is healthy hair an essential??  Make sure you sign up for the first giveaway in my #TTWeddingSeries - a selection of my favorite hair products worth $107!!  



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10.24.2014

Wedding Series Giveaway #1: Hair Essentials!!











Products Mentioned: 
Total Value = $107


Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and my Torts and a Tiara Facebook page and stay tuned for when I announced a winner the morning of October 31, 2014!!  Good luck!!







10.22.2014

Healthy Comfort: Rosemary Beef, Tomatoes, Beans Over Polenta


At this point, it should be known that I am no domestic diva.  I struggle with even the simplest recipes.  Shout-out to my girlfriends who have sent me crockpot recipes because those are usually my favorite and I mess them up the least.

J has been crazy-busy at work lately and I've found that creating healthy, delicious breakfasts and dinners really helps both of us feel a little less chaotic and a little more fit.  I'm just a not-so-domestic girl trying to navigate the kitchen quickly and easily.  

This is a recipe I altered a bit and tried out the other night.  It's delicious and perfect for a chilly night when you want something warm and comforting.




Ingredients:

1 (17-ounce) tube of polenta, cut into 9 slices.  (I used the Italian flavored kind.)
Lean ground beef (I used about half a small package)
Cooking spray or olive oil.
2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half.
Minced garlic
1 (15-ounce) can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained.
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Sprinkling of salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Directions: 

1.  Brown the Beef
Heat a little olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, then add lean ground beef and break up into little pieces with a spoon.  Sprinkle the meat with salt and ground black pepper.  You'll stir this occasionally throughout meal prep to make sure the meat is browning evenly (and not blacking… Because that means it's burning, trust me).

2.  Heat Up Tomatoes/Garlic
Get another medium nonstick skillet out (I hope you have a lot of these) and pour in a drizzle of olive oil.  Heat it over medium-high heat.  Add your halved grape tomatoes and a sprinkling of minced garlic, depending on how much kissing you're planning on doing later.  Sauté about 4 minutes or until tomatoes and minced garlic soften.  Stir this occasionally with a different spoon than your raw beef spoon to make sure oil and tomatoes/garlic combo is evenly mixed.

3.  Add Beans
While you're waiting on the tomatoes/garlic to soften, open the can of beans and drain them into a strainer over the sink, then rinse water over them to remove any residue.  Turn the tomatoes/garlic heat down to low… Then add the rinsed beans and another sprinkling of salt and ground black pepper.

4.  Add Rosemary
Take sprigs of fresh rosemary (you should be able to find this packaged neatly in the produce section at your grocery store).  Turn the sprig upside down, pinch at the top, and run your fingers down the stem over a cutting board.  The little leaves should come off as you run your fingers backwards against them.  Then take a giant chef's knife and chop, chop, chop.  Your hands will smell lovely and herbal after.  Add the chopped rosemary to the tomatoes/garlic/beans mixture and stir.

5.  Grill Polenta
While your yummy rosemary mixture heats up and your ground beef continues to brown, spray a grill pan with cooking spray and add polenta slices to the pan over medium-high heat.  Cook 2 minutes per side.

6.  The Final Step
Once you've flipped your polenta slices and are grilling them for 2 minutes on the second side, add the browned beef to the tomatoes/garlic/beans/rosemary mixture and stir together.  Place grilled polenta slices on each plate (3-4 is a typical serving) and spoon the beef and veggie mixture on top.  Sprinkle a little fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top of each serving.



Happy cooking!!  Let me know if you're interested in seeing more easy, healthy recipes like this!! 














10.21.2014

Pumpkin Glamming


It all started when one of my friends posted this article about no-carve ways to glam out your pumpkins on my Facebook wall.  We were reminiscing about our annual sorority tradition; spending an evening roasting marshmallows around the campfire at the pumpkin patch.  

After a Sunday afternoon spent at the pumpkin patch (outfit here) I stocked up on paints and set to work glamming our pumpkins. 



I set up a covering of newspaper, magazines, and paper towel on the porch - the spray paint drips everywhere, so watch out!!  Wear old clothes and put on latex gloves to protect your hands.

I started out by spraying the bottoms of each pumpkin with the corresponding paint color.  As you go down the line, the other pumpkins can dry.  The painted bottoms of the pumpkins will stick to the covering a bit; the magazines were the best, but still stuck.  

After I was completely done painting and let the pumpkins dry about 10 minutes, I carefully lifted each pumpkin and placed them on the concrete sidewalk to completely dry overnight.  You may get a tiny bit of paint on the sidewalk, but it will be minimal and you can remove it with paint thinner.


A closeup of my favorite pumpkin… I sprayed it with the ivory paint all over, then dusted the top with a heavy coating of the gold glitter paint.  I think it looks like a Cinderella pumpkin.


Some of the pumpkins had such beautiful colors; I didn't want to completely cover them with the gold or ivory paint.  So I gave them a clear coat, then dusted the tops with the gold glitter paint.


The smaller pumpkins in the front have a clear coat and are topped with gold glitter paint near their stem area.  The ombré pumpkin on the left has a thick coat of ivory paint all over, then I lightly sprayed the metallic gold paint down from the top… I love how it looks a bit speckled as it turns to ivory.  The gold pumpkin in the back has two thick coats of gold metallic paint with a light dusting of gold glitter paint on the top. 


I got my paints from Walmart.  I used Krylon Dual Ivory, Krylon Dual Gold, Krylon Clear Glaze, and Krylon Glitter Blast



Happy Pumpkin Glamming!!