Cajun Spice Mix

February 28, 2014

Are you whipping up something tasty for Mardi Gras next Tuesday? Make this Cajun spice mix to kick up everything from blackened seafood and chicken to jambalayas, étoufées, gumbos, Creole sauces, and just about anything else you could possibly want to add some flavor to. Try mixing it into mayo for a spicy aioli that's excellent for sandwiches or dipping French fries into. Laissez les bons temps roulez!

Cajun Spice Mix
3 tablespoons salt 
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.  

photo by Angelica Golden

Friday Favorites

February 28, 2014

Both my girls and I have been battling colds all week (my husband was somehow spared), which has meant lots of time snuggling in bed and reading books. With my runny nose and watery eyes, I'm reminded of a time, years ago, when I had a nasty cold and was stuck indoors. I was single and lived alone so there was no one to take care of me; somehow I managed to drag myself out of bed to pick up food from one of my favorite Cajun joints in L.A., where the owner took one look at me and said he had just the thing to help clear me up.  He threw in, free of charge, a spicy vegetable étoufée that did the trick; he called it "lagniappe," a French Creole term that essentially means "a little something extra." I hope your weekend is filled with lots of little something extras! God bless!

A DIY coat I'd like to attempt when I'm feeling better. 

Important style lessons from the legendary Elizabeth Taylor.

The plethora of beignet recipes on Pinterest. 

A pretty champagne cocktail with colors that make me think of summer. 

The most adorable swimsuit for my bitty.

Easy Appetizers: Kettle Chips with Crème Fraîche and Caviar

February 27, 2014

There are some appetizers that are incredibly easy to make, yet look and taste so elegant, you'd be proud to serve them at your most formal gathering. Such is the case with these kettle chips with caviar. They take just minutes to make, especially if you use store-bought kettle chips, and even your guests who claim to not like caviar will eat them right up. And by the way, if you're hosting an Oscar party on Sunday, this appetizer is the fastest way to elevate your fete--just whip them up and serve with champagne while you watch the red carpet arrivals. 

Kettle Chips with Crème Fraîche and Caviar
1 10-oz bag Kettle Chips
½ cup crème fraîche
1 2-oz jar caviar
fresh chives, optional

Assemble all of the flat or slightly curled kettle chips on a serving platter. Add a small dollop of crème fraîche (about ½-1 teaspoon, depending on the size of the chip), then a small scoop of caviar (½ teaspoon or less) on top of the crème fraîche. Garnish with chopped fresh chives. 

photos by Angelica Golden

Must Have: West Elm Wood Topped Water Bottle

February 26, 2014

When I worked in downtown L.A. we would walk to Tiara Cafe, a sweet little restaurant where servers, clad in black and white striped dresses from Splendid, poured strawberry, cucumber, and mint-spiked water out of old wine bottles, a practice which I vowed to adopt in my own home (but have yet to do).  While the idea of using the wine bottles still appeals to me, I'm equally attracted to the sleek design and natural textures of this water bottle. It's going to be the perfect addition to a casual dinner party or brunch.

Best Mardi Gras Food Pins

February 24, 2014

Cajun food is something I get really excited about. My grandmother was Creole, and the Cajun flavors she created in her kitchen could rival any cafe in 'Nawlins. Since Fat Tuesday is next week I've been searching for recipes that are inspired by my Nana's cooking; these ideas from Pinterest have certainly piqued my interest. 

1. Miniature versions of a Cajun classic. 
2. Yummy crawfish flavors without the messiness of a crawfish boil.
3. King Cake for breakfast is always a good idea.
4. A sweet new take on traditional King Cake. 
5. Two Southern favorites in one bite-sized appetizer. 
6. Festive macarons that are almost too pretty to eat. 
7. Build-your-own jambalaya! How inventive (and tasty).
8. A Mardi Gras staple (that I could eat any day of the year). 

Friday Favorites

February 21, 2014

The weather in Phoenix is already warming up, and I'm starting to get that giddy feeling, knowing that something wonderful is going to happen: spring! It's always a busy season for me--with Easter and Mother's Day, plus my husband's birthday and our wedding anniversary--and I'm looking forward to planning some amazing celebrations with my family.  Have a fantastic weekend, and God bless!

 Lupita Nyong'o on Mindy Kaling's Instagram feed. 

The most delicious looking lemon chicken.

A sparkling gold wall that I'd love to recreate in my own home. 

Gathering ideas for my baby's first birthday this summer.  

A sweet video my mom shared with me. 

Homemade Crème Fraîche

February 20, 2014

Crème fraîche, by definition, is simply cream that has been made sour with buttermilk, though not quite as tangy as sour cream (think of it as sour cream's glamorous French cousin).  Like sour cream, crème fraîche is extremely versatile--it can be used in literally every course, from soup to nuts--but somehow it elevates any dish it's used in. You can find it in specialty and gourmet shops, and some grocery stores may carry it, but it's far less expensive to make it yourself and surprisingly easy to do--there's no cooking required!

Crème Fraîche
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk

Pour whipping cream and buttermilk into a clean glass jar and seal. Shake until well combined, then let it sit, covered, at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours, or until thickened. If you don't have a glass jar, simply mix the ingredients together in a bowl, then store at room temp in a covered plastic bowl. Give it a good stir, then refrigerate for 24 hours before enjoying (although I skipped this step as I couldn't wait to eat it with some gorgeous strawberries I picked up). Store in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.  
Serving suggestions:
Use it to top blinis then add caviar or smoked fish
Drizzle it on soups, like roasted red pepper & tomato, cream of asparagus, or pea
Blend it into mashed potatoes with fresh chives
Top fresh berries with it
Serve it with grilled or poached fish
Sweeten it and use to frost cakes or fill cream puffs

Citrus Crème Fraîche
Mix ¼ cup crème fraîche with ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon lemon zest.

Vanilla Crème Fraîche 
Split ½ of a vanilla bean lengthwise, then scrape the beans into 1 cup of crème fraîche and stir.

Herbed Crème Fraîche
Mix 2 cups crème fraîche with 1½ tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, basil, or mint.

Spiced Crème Fraîche 
Mix 1 cup crème fraîche with ¼ teaspoon each salt, freshly ground black pepper, ground ginger, and freshly grated nutmeg. 


Must Have: LEIF Gold Foil Printed Matchbox

February 19, 2014

For no reason in particular, I've never really kept matches in the house. I suppose it's because I've never had a need for them; I don't smoke and I don't need them for candles because I use one of those long lighters. But when I saw this matchbox I was immediately drawn to it. It's got two of my favorite things: hearts (and in gold foil!) and pink. Who knew a matchbox could be so cute? But then I noticed that it's actually two-sided (the other side is black with gold foil dots), and then I saw that it's reusable, and I completely changed my mind about keeping matches on hand. There's also another design that has the days of the week on one side and the word 'cocktails' on the other--I'm thinking it might be a sweet favor at my next cocktail party.

Take a Moment...

February 18, 2014

Have an awesome day!

image via Pinterest

DIY Cuticle Cream

February 17, 2014

No matter how often I get manicures, my cuticles always seem to be dry, and I find I'm constantly slathering them with lotion, oil, and sometimes even lip balm (whatever's handy really). The other day I decided to mix a few of my favorite dry cuticle remedies together and the result was a fabulously fluffy yet ultra-hydrating cuticle cream that I can carry with me wherever I go.

DIY Cuticle Cream
1 tablespoon Aquaphor (you could also use Vaseline)
1 teaspoon olive or coconut oil
1 teaspoon of your favorite lotion or body butter
1 vitamin E capsule
small, sealable container

Combine the Aquaphor, olive oil, and lotion together in the container, using the end of a small spoon or a skewer to mix thoroughly. Break open the vitamin E capsule and squeeze the oil into the container; mix until blended. Rub the cuticle cream into cuticles daily, or as needed. 

Friday Favorites

February 14, 2014

I don't know why, but I think I've been more into Valentine's Day this year than ever before. Perhaps it's because my little girl is so excited (all the hearts--so many hearts!) and her enthusiasm is contagious. Whatever it is, I've been compelled to go all out this year with sweet little gifts for my loves, fun crafts, and of course sweet treats. Happy Valentine's Day and have a wonder-filled weekend! God bless!

Donut cookies that seem ridiculously easy to make.

Heart-shaped lunches for my little one.

The sweetest quote.

This jacket from the Clover Canyon Fall 2014 collection.

Miss Piggy in a custom Vivienne Westwood wedding gown. 

Happy Valentine's Day

February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day, sweethearts!

photo by Angelica Golden

One Year

February 14, 2014

It's hard to believe that today this little baby I call The Savvy Girl's Guide to Life turns one year old. I never imagined how much fun I would have on this blog, how many fabulous new blogging friends I would make, and how many people would visit and love my little blog. It's truly been a blessing and I'm overwhelmed by the response. I hope the next year (and the year after that, and so on) will be just as much fun--for me and for you! Thank you, readers, for an incredible first year!

image via

My Date Night Essentials

February 13, 2014

Fragrance: Narciso Rodriguez for Her, Earrings: H&M, Shoes: Pour la Victoire (old), Mask: Boscia Luminizing Black Mask

Date night has taken on a new meaning since having my girls. My husband and I are usually more focused on just getting out the door, rather than spending hours getting gussied up before we go out. Still, I'm a girl, and I love feeling pretty and sexy, even if we're just going to Chipotle for burritos. Here's what I need to feel my best on any date night. 

A fabulous fragrance
Y'all know how I am about smelling good. For Valentine's Day, or any date night, I like to wear something soft and feminine, something that makes me feel all kinds of pretty.

Something sparkly
I'm all about sparkle, for any occasion. Since they're closest to my face, I always like to wear sparkling earrings that catch a lot of light when I move my head.

A great heel
I spend my days with a four-year old and a six-month old, so I'm basically running around in flats all the time. For a night out with my hubby I like to pull out the heels. Even if I'm wearing jeans, a good heel automatically ups the sexy factor.

Luminous skin
I don't dare do anything to upset my skin before a date, so getting a full facial or trying a new product is out of the question. Before a night out, I steam my face, then apply a luminizing mask to give my skin a healthy, sexy glow. 

photo by Angelica Golden

Kid-Friendly Valentine's Day Playlist

February 12, 2014

My four-year old loves to dance, so impromptu dance parties have become a thing in our house; a catchy song on a commercial can trigger a little jig, and it's not uncommon for an afternoon of coloring to turn into a living room rave. Since Valentine's Day is just a couple of days away, I've put together a little playlist of classic love songs that my little girl and I can tap our toes to while we bake and decorate heart-shaped cookies. There are no illicit lyrics she can repeat later, and most of them have appeared on some children's movie soundtrack or another so she can sing along too.

1. "The Way You Look Tonight" -- Frank Sinatra
2. "L-O-V-E" -- Nat King Cole
3. "Beyond the Sea" -- Bobby Darin
4. "Let's Fall in Love" -- Ella Fitzgerald 
5. "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" -- Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
6. "I Say a Little Prayer" -- Aretha Franklin
7. "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" -- Ray Charles

original image via

Must Have: Made by Girl Love Script Print

February 12, 2014

One of the projects I want to complete in our home this year is a gallery wall, preferably in my home office (which, by the way, is another project I want to complete). I'm a huge fan of Jen Ramos and her art, including all her fabulous prints, so I'm starting with one of her pieces. And since I'm a firm believer in the power of words, this print will ensure that there is always love in our home.

Eye Candy: Diane von Furstenberg Fall 2014

February 10, 2014

Diane von Furstenberg had some sublimely pretty neutrals, pinks, and blues on her Fall 2014 runway, but there were also these moments of gold, glittery goodness.

images via

Be Happy

February 8, 2014

It's a great day to be happy! Enjoy your Saturday!

image via

DIY Candy Love Shack for Valentine's Day

February 7, 2014

I'm big on tradition and I'm always looking for new ones to start with my little girls. Since we didn't make a gingerbread house for Christmas, the idea struck me to build a Love Shack for Valentine's Day, and of course my four-year old was on board. It was a fun process, and even though our Love Shack is more messy than pretty, I know making one every Valentine's Day will be something we'll look forward to from now on.  

Since we didn't have instructions or a template, we thought it would be good to use graham crackers to construct the shack. We dipped one side in melted milk chocolate, then used cookie icing to "glue" four walls and a roof together. The cookie icing was also the glue for the decorations; we used Valentine's Day M&Ms, shredded coconut, edible glitter, and pink and red candy hearts (made from candy melts and a heart mold). Conversation hearts would have been cute too, but we're chocolate kind of girls. Plus I forgot to buy them...maybe next year!

Friday Favorites

February 7, 2014

We're only a week in, but already I'm feeling a little anxious about how quickly the month seems to be flying by--a clear indication that I need to just chill out, right? I'm hoping to steal a few moments to myself this weekend to read a few pages of a book or magazine, and daydream about a tropical getaway. Have a fantastic weekend, and God bless!

DIY heart crayons. These are so cute I'll make them even when it's not Valentine's Day.

This Edith Head quote on celebrity stylist/designer/rockmom June Ambrose's Instagram.

Pink, red, and milk chocolate hearts.

The ridiculously glamorous Vanity Fair Hollywood issue.

New York Fashion Week! (Above is a look from the BCBG Fall 2014 collection.)

How to Be an It Girl

February 6, 2014

Being an It girl isn't just about having confidence to the nth power (although it does play a huge part), it's also about being smart, charismatic and having an enviable sense of style. Sephora recently sent out a newsletter titled "The Secret Life of an It Girl" that was meant to advertise new beauty products, but actually had some great tips for anyone trying to achieve Beyoncé-level heights of swag. Here's my interpretation.

Start schmoozing
Don't confuse schmoozing with kissing up or being phony. Schmoozing is simply making nice with people who are in a position to help you build your network, and vice versa.   

Make an entrance
Whether it's the boardroom or a birthday party, walk in with your shoulders back, chin up, and a smile on your face. And by all means, don't slink away to the back of the room or stand in the same corner all night.

Never reveal your age
Easy enough, right? Keeping an air of mystery will instantly up your 'It' girl status.
Get dolled up
It girls don't wear sweats. They just don't. Even if they're just running out for a coffee they'll look like they spent a couple of hours getting ready. And by the way, It girls have a talent for putting together a photo-worthy look in minutes.  

Erase signs of an all-nighter
Make no mistake, every It girl knows how to party, but she also knows all the tricks to looking like they had a decent night's rest when they show up at the office the next day. An It girl never looks haggard or disheveled, at least not by accident.

Be a fashion chameleon
Everyone gets stuck in a style rut once in awhile, but It girls know how to recognize it and remedy it immediately. Change up your look and never be afraid to try new trends; if something doesn't work for you, just try something else.

Command the crowd 
Whether it's your charm and wit, the fact that you're so well informed, or even just the fantastic new lip color you're wearing, the goal here is to have your friends, date, colleagues, potential employer, whoever hanging on your every word. Be the most interesting girl in the world.   

image via

Must Have: Peter Pilotto for Target Belted Dress

February 5, 2014

The Peter Pilotto for Target collection hits stores and this Sunday. Come Saturday night I'll be sitting at my computer, index finger poised over the mouse, so that when the clock strikes twelve this lovely little frock will land in my cart with no fuss. I. Must. Have. It! Which pieces from the collection are you hoping to score?
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