5 Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

October 31, 2013

Growing up, pumpkin pie  was never on my family's holiday dinner table (it was always sweet potato pie, which if you haven't had, you simply must try), so it wasn't until I became an adult and entered the workforce that I was introduced, thanks to various company picnics and office potlucks, to anything with pumpkin in it. Now it's one of my favorite flavors of fall, and this season I'm looking forward to sampling some new recipes, as well as a sweet twist on a pumpkin classic. 

 Penne with creamy pumpkin sauce (because I've never had pumpkin in a savory dish)

Talk About It: Me Time with No Limits

October 29, 2013

Even though I adore my two little girls, I, like all moms, need a  break sometimes. I recently read about a woman who took a month-long break from her family--an entire month. I could never, nor would I want to spend that much time away from my loves, but I wouldn't mind doing something just as extreme. If I could, I would go to Paris, just for one glorious, glamour-filled day. And if I had unlimited "me time" money, I would actually make the one-day trip a few times a year. I would charter a private jet stocked with my favorites--pink peonies, Veuve Clicquot, every Diane Keaton rom-com ever made, and a new favorite, irresistibly smooth Lindt LINDOR caramel truffles. I'd head to the City of Lights and spend my day enjoying macarons and cappuccinos, sampling different cheeses, and shopping along the Champs-Elysees. Maybe I'd pop into a museum or two, and buy myself an Hermès bicycle and explore Montmarte and the Left Bank. It would be nothing less than spectacular; a day straight out of a Dior ad! Then I'd hop back on my jet, fall asleep on 1600-thread count linens, and be back home in time for breakfast with my girls the next morning.  

If you could have unlimited funds to have your ultimate "me time," what would you do? No husband, no kids, no one--it's all about you, girl! Think big, and think no limits. 

This post is sponsored by Lindt and She Knows; my Parisian fantasy is my own.

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Happy Friday

October 25, 2013

I've got a crazy fun weekend ahead of me, including a trip to the pumpkin patch, where my three-year old will be dressed as Periwinkle (Tinkerbell's sister, if you're not in the know) and my three-month old will be the tiniest, cutest little Snow White ever. And since my oldest is turning four next week, we'll also be celebrating her birthday a little early. I saw the sweetest rainbow petal cake online and I'm going to attempt to make it--if it goes well, I'll definitely be sharing here.

Have a wonder-filled weekend and be safe. God bless!

image via Pinterest

Banana Nut Bread

October 24, 2013

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. When your husband hands you some overripe bananas he forgot were sitting in his office, you make banana nut bread. I typically don't like banana-flavored anything, but for some reason I really like banana nut bread. I've tweaked different recipes and made adjustments, including the addition of a sweet and crunchy cinnamon topping, until I came up with what I think is one of the best banana nut breads I've tasted. Bonus: it's actually super easy to make.

Banana Nut Bread
2 eggs, beaten 
⅓ cup buttermilk 
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup mashed banana 
¾ cup white sugar (this can be adjusted depending on the sweetness of the bananas)
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda 
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts 
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° and spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, blend together eggs, buttermilk, oil, and banana. In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients, except for walnuts, then add to the banana mixture. Stir in the walnuts, then spread batter in the prepared pan. For the topping, mix all ingredients together. Sprinkle the topping onto the batter and gently press it in with the back of a spoon. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

photograph by Angelica Golden

Chic Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

October 22, 2013

Halloween is just a little over a week away, and we don't have a pumpkin yet. Since I'm not all that into traditional Halloween decorations anyways, I'm thinking rather than carve a jack-o-lantern, this year I'll paint or bedazzle a pumpkin (or several) that I can use to decorate our porch beyond the 31st. Here are some très chic pumpkins that are inspiring me.

1. Here's a white and gold stunner! This edgy little gourd has rockstar appeal.
2. These ombre pumpkins are one of my favorite color combos; the exact shades of orange and pink that decorated my baby shower over the summer.
3. And of course I'm always down for gold spray paint.
4. Magpie me can't resist a sparkle. I'm dying over these sparkly confetti pumpkins
5. I think my little girl would appreciate ballet pink pumpkins.  
6. I did a blinged-out pumpkin for my 3-year old's first Halloween, but I didn't think to paint the pumpkin white first.
7. Chevron pumpkins look so cute and seem surprisingly simple to make.
8. I'm having a love affair with white and gold at the moment, so this ombre glitter pumpkin is rocking my world.

5 Favorite: Dainty Rings

October 18, 2013

I've always been drawn to big, chunky, statement-making cocktail rings, but lately I've been spotting the most beautiful, dainty rings and I find myself lusting after their delicate lightness. I think I might just want one for every finger, starting with these five. 

Happy Friday

October 18, 2013

Happy Friday! Here's to a gorgeous and colorful weekend ahead. Be safe and God bless!

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You Can Do Anything

October 17, 2013

Some days we need a reminder that we are only human, and there's only so much we can do. I think I can speak for just about every woman on earth when I say, we put far too many expectations on ourselves. There are only 24 hours in a day, and it's okay if we don't get to everything we thought we could within that limited span of time. I actually needed this reminder today, when I woke up feeling particularly overwhelmed by my to-do list, so I thought I'd share, in case you needed it too.

And by the way, this is actually a desktop wallpaper; go to Design Love Fest to download.

Chocolate Caramel Pretzels

October 16, 2013

Just being honest here, I don't do much to celebrate Halloween (which I'm certain will change as my children get older). For starters, I'm a big scaredy cat and I hate being spooked. But mostly I'm just not a fan of all the ubiquitous orange and black decorations and goodies. I do, however, love the purple and black combo I've started to see; it's so much more chic. Since the best part of the whole Halloween business is the treats I decided to make a few over the weekend--chocolate caramel pretzels. And since it's nearly Halloween, I decorated them with purple, black, white, and silver sprinkles and sugars--my 3-year old was thrilled.

Step1: Dip pretzel rods in melted caramel and place in fridge to harden. Instead of making caramel, I melted a bag of store-bought caramels with about 4 tablespoons of almond milk.
Step 2: Dip pretzels in melted chocolate. I used lavender candy melts and Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips.
Step 3: Decorate with sprinkles before chocolate hardens. 
Step 4: Enjoy! 

photography by Angelica Golden

Ridiculously Amazing

October 14, 2013

It's Monday, and most people do not enjoy Mondays. Here's a little encouragement to help you get through the day.  

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Happy Friday

October 11, 2013

TGIF! I've had a particularly exhausting week and have been waiting for this day since Monday morning. It's finally cooling off a little in Phoenix, so this weekend I'm looking forward to exploring my new city a little more and maybe having a nice dinner out with my hubby.

Here's to a fabulous three-day weekend! Enjoy, and God bless!

image via Pinterest

Easy Ways to Score 'Me Time'

October 10, 2013

Us ladies have a lot to juggle--family, work, friends--and with all that we do and everyone we take care of, it's easy to forget to make ourselves a priority. I'm totally guilty of this, especially since having my girls, but I'm learning that taking care of myself is just as important as caring for my family. Here are three easy ways we can show ourselves some love, even if we've only a few minutes, which is usually the case. 

At Work: Take solo lunch breaks.
Eating lunch with co-workers is fun, but conversation inevitably turns to office talk. Once in awhile get out of the office by yourself. That 30 to 60 minute period is valuable time to recharge your batteries without worrying about deadlines or reports. And if you're lucky, you may even be able to squeeze in a little retail therapy (I know all about this; I used to have an office across the street from a Nordstrom Rack!). 

At Home: Splurge on good bath oil or shower gel. 
Between work, husband, kids, etc. it can seem like we never have a moment alone. Your shower may be the only ten minutes you have to yourself all day, so make it as luxurious as possible with fantastic-smelling bath products--it'll be like a mini spa experience at the start or end of your day.

Anywhere: Take a moment to do something just for you, every day.
For me, this almost always involves chocolate. I recently discovered new LINDOR caramel truffles, and their irresistibly smooth melting center has made my "me time" even more special. Whether it's squeezing in a five minute walk, reading a few pages of a favorite book, or enjoying a bit of chocolate, find something that you love and give yourself a moment each day to enjoy it. 

Do you have other tips for scoring a little "me time?" I'd love to hear about them! And if you've got a minute, peruse Beauty Splurges & Indulgences on SheKnows--it's loaded with more ideas.

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Must-Have: Tinley Road Vegan Leather Mini Skirt

October 8, 2013

Leather is a huge trend for fall and, while I'm really into it, my bank account has some reservations. I've been looking at some faux pieces, but I'm pretty particular when it comes to faux leather; it can tend to be too shiny or flimsy, and can easily fall into the cheap, tacky-looking category. This vegan leather skirt, however, is so spot on it's hard to tell that it's not the real deal. And since it's only seventy-nine bucks I can actually afford both colors (it also comes in a fabulous camel color) and get the leather moto jacket I've had my eye on.

Happy Friday

October 4, 2013

We know it's not true, but enjoy your weekend (and every last calorie you consume) anyway! God bless!

image via Pinterest

5 Favorite: Breast Cancer Awareness Style

October 3, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Month hits particularly close to home because I have family members and friends who have battled the disease. I'm shopping to support the cause, and I've found five pieces that not only benefit breast cancer research, but are so cool I'll be using them well beyond this month. 

Talk About It: Best Beauty Advice

October 1, 2013

When I was in high school, my best friend Alicia's older sister, Debbie, said to me, "Leave your eyebrows alone." Clearly the thin, upside-down-U shaped brows I'd created (I was a major over-plucker) were not working for me, and Debbie wasn't afraid to tell me.  This was, hands down, the best beauty advice I have ever received. Ever. I still remember Debbie's words every time I give my brows a little maintenance, and I've long gotten over my plucking addiction.

We've all gotten beauty advice that was priceless, perhaps even life changing, at some point, whether it was how to choose the right lip color, which hair products to use in humid climates, or when to *ahem* put down the tweezers. So of all the advice you've been given over the years, what was the best you've ever gotten? I can't wait to see your answers!

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