Sweet 16: Basketball Terms to Know Now

March 29, 2013

 It's March Madness, and apparently, it's now down to the Sweet 16, which is huge. If you're not familiar with college basketball, or anything you've just read, here's a quick vocab list that might help you get through conversations about brackets and Cinderella teams.

Air ball: When the ball is shot, but misses the rim and backboard completely.
Assist: A pass to a teammate that results in a field goal.
Brackets: The diagrammatic representation of the series of games played in a tournament (in this case, March Madness) leading to a single winner.
Brick: An unsuccessful shot. It's not uncommon for spectators to yell out "Brick!" when this occurs. 
Cinderella team: A low-ranked team, usually from a small school, that is forced to play a stronger team and achieves at least one unexpected victory during the tournament. 
Elite Eight: The last eight teams in the tournament. 
Final Four: The last four teams in the tournament. 
Hook shot: A one-handed shot where the player arcs the ball over the head of the opponents.
Lay-up: A shot made by driving as close to the basket as possible, then bouncing the ball off the backboard and into the hoop.
March Madness: the period of the annual NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) college basketball tournament, with the majority of the tournament taking place in March.
Rebound: When a shot is made but doesn't go in, so both teams scramble to take possession of the ball. 
Seed: a team's ranking at the beginning of the tournament.
Sweet Sixteen: The final sixteen teams in the tournament; the regional semifinal round. 
Turnover: A loss of the ball without a shot being taken.

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Happy Friday {and Happy Easter}

March 29, 2013

For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful Easter holiday!

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March 28, 2013

A little inspiration for your Thursday...

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Hoop Dreams

March 26, 2013

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Hoop earrings are pretty much the perfect accessory--they look great no matter how dressy or casual an outfit and there are tons of different styles to choose from. I recently picked up a pair of classic silver hoops, which sparked a need desire to add even more to my collection. Here are a few pairs that have caught my attention, including a pair of yellow gold and diamond hoops from Cartier that will, sadly, remain in my hoop dreams for now. 

DIY Sugar Scrub Bon-Bons

March 25, 2013

The idea of sugar scrub in a convenient, single-use form is already extremely brilliant (no messy, sticky globs of sugar and oil to clean up and no shower water dripping into the jar) but when it looks like colorful little candy, it's even more appealing. With several birthdays, bridal showers, and countless other celebrations happening in the next few months, I’m thinking these sugar scrub bon-bons will be the perfect sweet little something to give to girlfriends. I’ll dye them different colors, then put them in candy boxes and tie a pretty ribbon them.

DIY Sugar Scrub Bon-Bons
1 tbsp oil (I used olive, but other oils, such as grapeseed or coconut, will work as well)
2 tbsp soap shreds (a steak knife works well to create the soap shreds)
4 tbsp sugar
essential oil (optional)
Heat oil and soap in microwave for 15 seconds, then stir. Repeat this step until the soap is melted. Slowly stir in the sugar and mix to create a crumbly, dough-like consistency. Add food coloring of your choice, or leave it white. If you're using essential oil, add it now, two drops at a time until you have the desired fragrance. I used a bar of Dove soap, which smells divine on its own so I didn't need essential oil. Now use a melon baller to shape into cute little bon-bons.  This recipe yielded 14 bon-bons, so you can double or triple as needed. 

photography by Angelica Golden

Perfect Pancakes

March 22, 2013

Breakfast is my family's favorite meal and one go-to that's always a winner in my home is pancakes. I've been using the same recipe for quite some time and the results are always perfect--light and fluffy, and just slightly crispy around the edges. With fresh berries, bananas, or the occasional smattering of chocolate chips, this no-fail recipe can easily be made exactly the way we want it. 

Perfect Pancakes 
¾ cup milk
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder 
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg

In a small bowl, combine milk and vinegar and set aside for about 5 minutes to sour. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl until combined. Whisk egg and melted butter into your soured milk, then pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Continue whisking all ingredients together until batter has no lumps. 

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Pour ¼ cupfuls of batter into the heated skillet and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip pancakes with a spatula and continue cooking until browned on the other side. Enjoy!

photography by Angelica Golden 

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Happy Friday

March 22, 2013

I've always said it's a blessing to be busy, so this week I'm feeling extremely blessed. From work, to family time, to various appointments, I feel like I've had one of my busiest weeks in a long time. But the fun ain't over! My weekend is jammed packed with activities, including an Easter egg hunt on Saturday (where I will surely fill up on cupcakes) and an afternoon of shopping on Sunday. 

Whatever you're doing this weekend, I hope you have a good one!

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Write {Never Text} a Thank You Note

March 21, 2013

In the age of text messaging and tweeting, it seems that  actually handwriting a note has become something of a lost art; why bother locating a pen and notecard* when tapping out a text or sending someone a tweet is so much quicker? But when it comes to saying thank you, there is nothing more thoughtful, or more appropriate, than actually expressing your gratitude in a nice card. Here are three steps to writing up a quick, but sincere, thank you note.

1.  After the salutation, say thank you for whatever the specific gift or service was.
2.  Tell the recipient of your note how you have used, or plan to use the gift or how the service affected you. For example, if someone sent you flowers you can say how beautiful they look and how they brighten up your office. If a service was provided, like a website redesign for example, tell them how you've received or look forward to receiving a great response to the new look.
3. Reiterate your thanks with a simple, "Again, thank you so much!" Then end your note with the appropriate closing.

* By the way, how cute are these notecards? I got them from the $1 section at Target! 

photography by Angelica Golden

Happy First Day of Spring

March 20, 2013

It's March 20, the first day of spring! Celebrate the start of the new season with these must-haves. 

What to Wear
It's not entirely warm outside but you can still ditch your  heavy winter wares for lighter outerwear, like an on-trend utility jacket or this Zara Piqué Floral Blazer.  
What to Eat
Asparagus is in season now (yum!), which means you'll be able to buy it at more reasonable prices. Try this Asparagus Gruyere Tart recipe if you're looking for tasty new ways to prepare it.  
What to Drink
Spring is all about warmer weather and longer days to enjoy it.  Mix up a pitcher of  White Strawberry Lemon Sangria and invite friends over to watch the gorgeous spring sunset. 

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Talk About It: Dining Alone

March 18, 2013

I love dining out, and while I always enjoy good company, I'm not really one to shy away from eating by myself. Armed with a good book, magazine, or journal, I can eat at the places I like, and take my time doing it. And if I don't want to split an appetizer I don't have to; I can enjoy it all to myself!

Recently I discovered that I have a few friends who have never, and swear they will never dine in public by themselves. They have made a solemn vow that if they ever find themselves without a dining partner, then it's strictly takeout. There seems to be some stigma attached with eating alone in a public place, but I just don't know what it is or why. 

And so I ask, would you eat in a restaurant or cafe by yourself? Or is there some shame in enjoying a good meal alone? And if there is some shame, embarrassment, or shyness involved, what would it take to shake that fear and go enjoy a nice lunch or dinner on your own now and then? Let's talk about this, ladies.

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Homemade Shamrock Shakes

March 16, 2013

I have always been a chocolate milkshake kind of girl. Aside from the occasional sip of the vanilla bean shake my husband orders from a favorite burger joint, I have never bothered with any other flavor. But every year around St. Patrick's Day I start hearing about Shamrock Shakes, namely those from McDonald's. I'm a huge fan of mint chocolate chip ice cream so I figured I would give the mint milkshake a try. But instead of hitting the drive-thru I made the perennial green shake myself, and I'm so happy I did. The clean mint flavor added a refreshing element to the sweet creaminess of vanilla ice cream and I actually didn't miss my chocolate. It'll definitely be added to my list (of two) favorite milkshakes. 

Homemade Shamrock Shake
3 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
1½ cups of milk, plus more as needed (I like a really thick shake)
1½ teaspoon peppermint extract
green food coloring (enough to achieve your desired color)
whipped cream (optional)
sprinkles (optional)

Combine ice cream, milk, peppermint extract, and green food coloring in a blender, adding milk a little at a time if necessary. Pour into two glasses, top with whipped cream and sprinkles, and enjoy. 

photography by Angelica Golden 

Happy Friday {and Some Happy News}

March 15, 2013

This weekend I'm co-hosting a bridal shower and I couldn't be more excited. The bride-to-be is my younger cousin, who I lovingly refer to as "sisterdear" (we've always been more like sisters than first cousins), and we're having a lovely brunch in her honor. There will be crepes. And champagne. Plus, it'll be the first time I've seen my mom, aunts, and a few other family members since finding out {drumroll please}... my husband and I are expecting another baby girl! Bring on the virgin mimosas!

Here's to an amazing and memorable weekend. I hope yours is equally fabulous!

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Get Gorgeous with Vaseline

March 14, 2013

Good old Vaseline--it's simple, unassuming, cheap, and has been around forever (over 140 years, actually). There's nothing particularly glamorous about it at first sight, but it can totally transform a look and instantly glamorize you. Here, ten uses that'll surely up your glam quotient.

1. Dip a clean mascara brush (pick some up at beauty counters or in Sephora stores) in Vaseline and apply to lashes for a naturally lush and soft look.
2. For DIY pedis, slather your feet in Vaseline and cover with plastic wrap for a few minutes. Think of this as an at-home paraffin wax treatment.
3. Mix a dab of it with lotion to make a rich hand cream. 
4. Swipe over eye shadow for a sexy sheen.
5. Another tip for DIY manis and pedis, use a cotton swab to coat around your nails. The nail polish won't stick to the Vaseline, making cleaning up mistakes a cinch. 
6. Swipe a little Vaseline on the apples of your cheeks for a dewy effect.
7. Use as a base for DIY lip balms and glosses. 
8. In a pinch, use to tame flyaways.
9. Use Vaseline to groom unruly eyebrows.
10. Rub a little bit on pulse points before spritzing them with perfume to help the fragrance last throughout the day.

photography by Angelica Golden

10 Essentials for Welcoming Houseguests

March 12, 2013


Your home is not a 5-star hotel but that doesn't mean guests can't feel welcomed and pampered when they come for overnight visits. Here are ten things you can do to ensure your houseguests have an awesome time when they stay with you.
1. Have a pretty serving tray with beverages and cheese and crackers or some other little nibble ready for when your guests arrive. 
2. Spritz sheets and pillow cases with linen spray.
3. Have scented candles burning in both the guest bathroom and bedroom when your guests arrive...
4. ...And keep pretty matchbooks nearby so they can relight when they need to.
5. Lay out bath sheets for your guests--they're much bigger than regular bath towels.   
6. Instead of the usual lavender or lilac, offer guest soaps that have unisex fragrances, like almond or tobacco (which is surprisingly nice).
7. Leave a chilled glass bottle of water and a clean glass on the nightstand for guests before they retire.
8. Keep current issues of magazines on hand for guests to peruse before bed or when lazing around the house. A pretty basket will keep them organized.
9. Set the timer on your coffee maker and keep clean mugs out so your guests can help themselves if they happen to wake up before you.
10. A small parting gift, nothing too extravagant, will make their stay with you even more memorable.

Neon Pop

March 11, 2013

Neon brights were huge in the '80s, and they might be an even bigger hit for Spring 2013, with everything from designer duds to drinking glasses in bold pops of fluorescent color. I'm totally on board with this colorful trend, especially since it's so much more chic and fresh than in decades past. Here are a few things on my radar:
A look from Diane von Furstenberg's Spring 2013 Ready-to-Wear collection. 
Strappy platform sandals from Forever 21 that offer just a touch of neon pink.
Martha Stewart's Neon Meets Neutral party theme.  
Neon note cards from Anthropologie.  
Make Up For Ever Eyeshadow in Neon Pink 75
Neon pink and orange stones that look just like candy.
Crate and Barrel's take on the neon trend--the Pop Acrylic Drink Glass.
A bold neon floral print from Nasty Gal.
A so-cute neon green heart pillow I spotted on Etsy.

Happy Friday {and Don't Forget...}

March 8, 2013

It's easy to forget sometimes (because we're too busy to remember), but we girls really are amazing creatures. This weekend I'll be reminded of just how amazing I am when I take care of my two-year old niece, who, with the help of my own three-year old daughter, really keeps me on my toes. Chasing after two bubbly, adorable tots is enough to make any woman feel like Supergirl! My Saturday will no doubt be filled with dress up games and Disney movies. And of course, double the hugs and kisses, which is totally fine with me. 

Tell me, what do you have going on this weekend? I hope you have an awesome one!

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Tips for Hosting an Afternoon Tea

March 7, 2013

Every girl should attend a proper tea at some point in her life, whether it's at a fancy hotel, a tea room, or a friend's place. With Easter and Mother's Day rapidly approaching, consider hosting a tea for your friends and family. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind.

1. Put your pinky down.
It's a huge misconception that pinkies should be up when sipping tea. The proper place for your pinky: down, on or near the handle of your teacup.

2. Dress up!
While afternoon tea is a fun, relaxed occasion, afternoon tea attire is not so much. Jeans and shorts are out; a dress is your best choice, and hat and gloves are optional.

3. Keep teacup and saucer together.
When you lift your cup to take a sip, lift the saucer as well. The two were made for each other and never want to be apart.

4. No forks allowed.
A proper tea is not the time to serve up your amazing osso bucco. Light fare--small finger sandwiches, cookies, tarts, and scones--is the norm; basically anything that doesn't require a knife and fork. The only exception to this rule is if you're serving clotted cream and jam with the scones.

5. Lemon OR milk.
Lemon and milk don't mix--the acid in the lemon causes the milk to curdle and look extremely unappealing. It's a good idea to offer guests their choice, just make sure you let any new tea drinkers know not to mix the the two.

6. Use sugar cubes.
Keep your table as tidy as possible by setting out sugar cubes versus granulated sugar. A tiny spoon or, better still, tongs can be used for serving them. To make your party even sweeter, look for sugar in heart or flower shapes

7. Finish with a flourish.
A good tea ends with fresh strawberries and champagne. Sometimes good chocolates are served, and very much appreciated.

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The Gold Standard

March 6, 2013

For a long time I was over anything gold, but I've since had a change of heart and suddenly find myself a little obsessed with the color. Recently I've been incorporating shimmery golds into my beauty look, whether it's a glittery nail polish or a bit of gold-flecked illuminizer to make my skin glow. It's the perfect way to look subtly sparkly and glamorous, even on days when I'm feeling anything but.

Be Happy, Be Pretty

March 5, 2013

This has always been one of my favorite quotes from Audrey Hepburn, and it really is so true. We look so much prettier when we're smiling and laughing, and we feel prettier too.  So how happy are you today? If you need a little boost, try one of these tricks.

Give yourself a timeout
Step away from your desk, have the hubby take the kids, do whatever you need to do to give yourself some time alone to decompress.

Fake it.
Smiling, even when you don't feel like it, is proven to boost your mood. So even on your crummiest days, keep smiling and eventually you will actually start to feel better. 

Eat chocolate.
As if you need a reason, but eating chocolate causes the brain to release endorphins, endorphins make you feel good, etc., etc.      

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Bacon and Date Scones

March 3, 2013

Pancakes and bacon are a weekend favorite in our house, but recently I spotted this recipe for bacon and date scones and thought they would make a great alternative to our usual Saturday morning fare. The combination of bacon and dates is a classic salty and sweet pairing, and the crumbly yet moist texture and buttery taste of these scones was the perfect accompaniment to a strong cup of coffee.

Bacon and Date Scones
10 ounces thick-cut bacon slices
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¾  teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
¾ cup coarsely chopped pitted Medjool dates
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter
cup buttermilk
raw sugar (also called turbinado)
Cook the bacon until cooked through, but not quite crisp, then drain on paper towels, reserving the bacon drippings in a heatproof bowl. 

Whisk flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Coarsely chop cooled bacon and add to flour mixture, along with chopped dates; and toss to coat.  Coarsely grate butter into flour and bacon mixture and use a fork to stir it in. Add the buttermilk and stir until large, moist clumps form. Now use your hands to knead the mixture in the bowl until dough forms.

Transfer dough to a floured work surface, pat into an 8-inch round, and cut into 8 wedges. Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover, and chill for 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 400°. Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved bacon drippings and sprinkle with the raw sugar; bake for 16-18 or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serve warm.

photography by Angelica Golden
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