2/28/2014

A SIMPLE INDULGENCE + LINKS...


Simple things, like that perfect little scoop of vanilla gelato, really are the best right?? "Simple" is the theme of my weekend and I am so looking forward to it. Sleeping in, working out, reading and vegging out are pretty much the only things on my list this weekend. Oh... and I'm going to see what this whole "House of Cards" show is all about. Do you watch it?? From what I hear, I won't be disappointed... Of course I'll be watching the Oscars as well! I hope your weekend is just as enjoyable!

Five simple ways to stay healthy while working really, really hard... Loved this.

"You have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce." Loved this, too...

Morning routines... I find this to be so interesting...

She has a beautiful home, a fabulous blog and a great story...

And she has a beautiful new kitchen that I love.

I had this for dinner this week - twice. So good!

Perfect timing... Hilarious.

Classic and chic...

A good list.

Image via Savory Simple

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2/26/2014

I'M WEARING: BUSINESS CASUAL...


Well, I'm back with my next round of outfit posts and I hope you like them! I thought I would start this round off with some work wear. I have to dress up for work almost every day, so I thought it made sense to give you an idea of what dressing up looks like for me. I work in a corporate environment where "business casual" is the dress code. Does anyone know what "business casual" means yet?? I've seen it in so many forms which makes me believe that there is still no clear definition of the phrase. But I know what it means for me... It means simple, tailored, classy and crisp, yet fashionable and most importantly - comfortable. I like to mix classic pieces like classic black pants, dresses or pencil skirts with trendier tops or accessories to spice things up. That dress is super easy to mix and match, so it is in heavy rotation at the moment. Comfortable shoes are also an absolute must, but they have to be stylish! Gosh that combination is so hard to find these days...

I like to top off my work outfits with a good work bag. Fashionable work bags are also hard to come by, but I just happened to find the PERFECT bag a few months ago. I like structured, functional, yet stylish bags that hold the essentials like keys, iPhone, wallet, mints (a must), sunglasses, and a small cosmetic bag. It also has to have room for a small laptop and/or my iPad and portfolio. That Kate Spade bag has room for all of that plus some. It's durable, too! It's definitely a favorite of mine and something I will be carrying for a long time...



Dress: J.Crew | Shirt: Banana Republic (old, but similar here and here) | Bag: Kate Spade | Patent Loafer Pumps: Nine West via DSW (old) | Circle Necklace: J.Crew (similar here), Triangle Necklace: J.Crew (available in stores) | Stacked Rings: Banana Republic (similar here) | Watch: Michael Kors | Sunglasses: Dolce & Gabanna | Lips: "Burnt Red" by Bobbi Brown | Nails: "Bubble Bath" by OPI

All photos by the talented Paula Coldiron
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2/25/2014

SERENBE PART II: THE STREETS & THE HOMES


How lovely is that home with the red door?? I fell in love with it the moment I saw it, which is pretty much how I felt about every other home I saw in Serenbe... Yesterday, I showed you the farm in Serenbe and today I have to show you some of the gorgeous homes. As I mentioned yesterday, the community is focused on sustainable and healthy living. All of the homes have porches, which fosters community. To minimize toxic chemicals used in lawn care, the front lawns are minimal and only include all natural landscaping. The community is powered with alternative energy sources and the homes are built using energy-efficient products. All so very good. Here are some shots on the streets along with a few of my favorite homes. Some of them were open to the public, so I took a few shots of the insides. The homes were either traditional or ultra modern. All of them were lovely. I could live there - today. Forever. I just need to win the lottery first... :)








All images by me
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2/24/2014

SERENBE PART I: THE FARM & THE FOOD...

When I was younger, I had zero interest in the country. It was too quiet and too boring. But I'm older and have been living in big cities for over 10 years, so I appreciate the quietness and peacefulness of the country now more than ever. I love quiet atmospheres and quiet settings in general. I'm even at that point where I sometimes don't listen to the radio in the car (particularly at the end of a long day) because I just want to hear myself think about things I want or need to think about. Serenbe is certainly a place of quiet and a place that I have wanted to visit for a long time. I finally went over the weekend and had the best time! Serenbe is beautiful 1,000 acre planned community that is about 45 minutes south of Atlanta. It is a sustainable community that focuses on energy efficiency and green living. The shops, restaurants and gorgeous homes are all energy efficient and built in a way that preserves as much of the beautiful natural surroundings as possible. I love that... 

The farm in Serenbe was my first stop. Serenbe Farms is a 25-acre working farm that provides organic produce throughout Atlanta. There are also goats, sheep, chickens and horses roaming about the property. They allow people to just walk through their habitat (for free!), so it was fun to get up close and personal with animals that are typically kept in tight quarters in public places like zoos. 

Right outside the farm was The Farmhouse, a fantastic farm-to-table restaurant where I had the BEST fried chicken. I don't typically eat fried chicken, but the chicken was award winning, organic and free range (I saw them freely running around), so I made an exception. And I'm so glad I did...

So here are my photos from this beautiful, quiet farm. Tomorrow, I'll show you the gorgeous homes there and you don't want to miss it! I'm still thinking about them...




All images by me
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2/21/2014

SIMPLICITY + LINKS...



IT'S FRIDAY!!! YAY! I hope you had a great week! This week sort of flew by for me which is exciting because I am really looking forward to the weekend. I will be doing something that has been on my bucket list for quite some time and I am so excited! I'll be sure to tell you all about it next week. However, I'm sure I'll be sharing a few things on Instagram, too while I'm in the moment... I hope you have a safe and wonderful weekend!

Speaking of Instagram, here are 7 good tips on how to make your Instagrams stand out above the rest...

If you need that extra push to start that blog you've been wanting to start, this might help...

18 surprising kitchen cooking tips - some are very surprising...

What makes your heart beat?? I absolutely loved this...

Something to think about the next time you encounter a stranger...

This will be my Sunday dinner for sure. It can't get any easier than this...

Dress your tech for spring...

Super cute...

This is, too...

Image by Amy Neunsinger 
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2/20/2014

KITCHEN SINK DU JOUR...

So... confession: I have a very weird attraction to kitchen sinks and fixtures. I will pin or save a photo of a kitchen that has a killer sink and fixtures even when I don't really like the overall design or style of the kitchen. I think that fixtures in addition to lighting are the most important elements of kitchen design. They literally stand out over the other features of the kitchen, so the eye typically lands on one of those two things first. That makes them very important...

One of the first things I changed in my house was the kitchen sink and the fixture (you can see it here). Both were builder grade and I switched them out to something more stylish and functional. That one small update made my kitchen look much more refined and updated. I have no idea what my next kitchen sink and fixture will look like, but I'm pretty sure that I will have lots of images saved for inspiration... :)

Images 1??/2/3/4/5



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2/18/2014

APRICOT OAT BARS...

This, my friends, is one of my all time favorite recipes. I made these bars for the first time a few years ago and have made them many times since then. Of course I love them because they taste amazing, but the main reason I love them is because they remind me of my childhood. I have loved apricots since the first day my mom fed me my first spoon of apricot baby food. Apricot baby food was my favorite! Its sweet and tart flavor trumped any other baby food, so of course there were many disagreements over me not wanting to eat anything else - so my mom says. :) 

These bars are so incredibly moist, sweet and easy to make. The sweet apricots are the perfect balance against the nutty and chewy crust. These are oat bars, which are often synonymous with being healthy. But that's all relative here... They have oats, nuts and apricots plus two very necessary sticks of butter. So.very.good... 

Here is what you need and what to do: (makes 24 bars) 

Crust

Vegetable cooking spray
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Filling

13 oz jar apricot jam or preserves
8 dried apricots, chopped into small pieces

Directions

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch metal baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper. Let the parchment paper hang over the sides of the pan. This will make it easy to lift the bars out of the pan once they are cooled. Spray the parchment paper with the cooking spray. Set aside.

2. To make the filling: Add the apricot jam and the dried apricots to a small bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.

3. To make the crust: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda together. Stir in the oats and the walnuts. Add the egg and the melted butter. Stir the mixture until just combined.

4. Add half of the crust mixture to the bottom of the baking pan. Using clean hands (they work best here) to spread out the crust. It may not seem like enough, but it is! Keep spreading... Pour the filling over the crust and spread it out using a spatula. Leave about a 1/2 inch border around the sides. Add the other half of the crust mixture on top of the filling. Gently spread it out using clean hands.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown. Cool in the pan for 1 hour. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Image by me

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2/17/2014

STARTING ON A BRIGHT NOTE...


Happy Monday! I feel like I should apologize for posting pics of tulips - again. But I adore them and each pic there has a little story. It snowed about three or four inches here last week. So I took a break from work to style and photograph some tulips in the snow. That was my idea of playing in the snow. Silly maybe, but I take any opportunity I can get to practice photography...

The pink tulips were sent to me by my dad on Valentine's Day, so they are quite special. I'm such a lucky daughter... 

I treated myself to some shopping for Valentine's Day. That crystal link bracelet is a favorite and proof that my taste is always evolving. My bracelets are usually really simple, but this one grabbed my attention. After a great workout on Sunday, I also treated myself to a marathon magazine reading session in bed with the Olympics on in the background and tea on the side... I'd give anything to have that time back. But on with the week! I hope you have a good one!

Images by me

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2/14/2014

A PINK POTION + LINKS...


You'll have to forgive me, but I'm feeling meh about today... I don't know what it is, but I'm just not into Love Day this year! Regardless, today does serve as a great reminder to tell the ones you love how much you care about and appreciate them. It's also a great excuse to eat lots of chocolate and have a cocktail, or two, or three, like that pretty one above. Those are all good things... :)

I hope all of you have a great weekend ahead. I've been iced/snowed in my house all week, so I look forward to sunny skies, warmer temps, some outside exercise and perhaps a little retail therapy. Now that is something for me to be happy about... Enjoy the links!

A sweet reader recommended this book to me and I am so thankful she did. If you need a some inspiration and direction, it will give you just that.

This blogger's husband is building her a house. This is the shoe closet he built for her. What a man...

And speaking of good men...

One stunner of a home. Even the laundry room is elegant...

Easter brunch dish- check. This looks so good!

Street style - one of my favorite things about NYFW...

Flat and very fashionable...

Truth. Very true.

So fierce...

Image via Honestly Yum...

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2/13/2014

INSPIRED BY...


That bathroom that is fresh looking, but very rustic at the same time... I love the sliding doors, too.


Her coat. Her sunnies. Her style. Just her. Sorry if you've seen that pic of her 100 times already...


That feminine, organized wall of tools. Makes me want to be crafty...


Those pear, bleu cheese and honey tartines. Pears, bleu cheese, fresh honey, and a crusty baguette are now on my weekend grocery list...

Images 1/2/3/4


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2/11/2014

BLOOD ORANGE & ROSEMARY COCKTAIL


A few weeks ago, I went ate at this restaurant (one of my new faves) and had a blood orange cocktail - at the bar - by myself. There are lots of firsts are in that sentence. It was my first time at that restaurant, it was my first time eating or drinking anything with blood oranges and it was my first time drinking at a bar completely alone. Granted my friend showed about about 30 minutes after I sat at the bar, but that's beside the point. :)

Let's discuss blood oranges for a moment. Have you had them before?? They are DELISH! They definitely taste better, to me, than regular oranges. They have this really sweet, tropical flavor that makes it perfect for cocktails. And that color... The flesh is this beautiful deep red color which is the result of anthocynin. Anthocyanin is a red pigment that develops in certain citrus fruits that ripen in environments with warm days and cooler nights. Anthocyanin is also a powerful antioxidant, which makes this fruit highly nutritious. It's cancer-fighting and a great source of Vitamin C, fiber and potassium...

I have been on the hunt to find recipes with blood oranges since I had that cocktail a few weeks ago. I thought I would start off with this simple little cocktail that paired blood orange juice with rosemary. Those two together are a match made in heaven I tell ya... This cocktail is really simple to make and extremely refreshing. The sweetness of the juice tastes perfect with the woodsiness of the rosemary. The vodka just kicks everything up a notch. It's really good and possibly the perfect little cocktail for Valentines Day... 

Here is what you need and what to do: (yields two cocktails)

Cocktail

1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice
1/2 cup rosemary simple syrup (see recipe below)
2 oz vodka, or more to taste
ice
Rosemary sprig and blood orange slice, for garnish

Add the orange juice, simple syrup and vodka to a cocktail shaker. Shake to combine the ingredients. Pour into a glass and add ice. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a blood orange slice.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2-3 rosemary sprigs

Add the water, sugar and rosemary to a saucepan. Bring it up to a boil. Let it boil for one minute or until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it steep for 20 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprigs and store in a container in the refrigerator. It should last up to a month. It's obviously perfect for cocktails, but you can also use it to sweeten tea, smoothies and coffee.

Images by me
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2/10/2014

COCONUT OIL: HOW I USE IT & WHY I LOVE IT...


I hope you all had a great weekend! I got lots of fun things done (more on that later), but one of my most relaxing days was Sunday. Right before my Sunday nap, I took a hot shower and then covered myself in coconut oil. That is something I've been doing every day after each shower for about a month. What it has done for me prompted me to do something odd like photograph a jar of coconut oil. :) But I have to tell you what its done for me lately!

This winter has been particularly brutal on my skin. My skin has been extremely dry over the last few months. My eczema flair-ups, which had decreased significantly, have returned with a vengeance. My everyday unnatural lotion nor my prescription creams alone were not doing the job and I was desperate to find something that worked. In comes coconut oil...

So many people told me the numerous benefits of coconut oil, especially when it comes to the skin, but the thought of putting a form of cooking oil on my skin sort of freaked me out. But I recently broke down and ordered this coconut oil and BOY am I in love! Through word of mouth and research, I learned that pure, unrefined, extra-virgin, organic coconut oil yields the largest benefit, so that is what I use. Apparently it serves tons of different purposes, but for now I only use it in four very beneficial ways:

1. Body Moisturizer: Right after each shower, while my skin is still slightly damp, I put the oil all over my skin. It comes in a solid form, but melts as soon as you rub it between your hands. My skin is oily right after I put it on, but it completely absorbs in my skin after about 10 minutes. Not only does it smell divine, but it leaves my skin feeling so incredibly soft and moisturized!

2. Eczema Treatment: When my eczema flairs up, it takes a really long time for it to go away and it often leaves dark marks on my skin as if it is marking its territory. I H-A-T-E it, but it is something that I've dealt with my whole life. But coconut oil has been extremely helpful. I apply it directly to the affected area a few times a day. It soothes my skin and has greatly reduced the time it takes for the breakout to go away. If I have a really stubborn breakout, I use it in addition to my prescription cream. Before I started using the oil regularly, I had some dark spots from older eczema flair-ups. After applying the oil every day for a few weeks, the dark spots faded significantly!

3. Dry Scalp: My scalp is extremely dry as well. I have little dry patches in certain areas of my scalp and I have been treating them with coconut oil. I melt some oil in my hands and dip a Qtip in the oil. I then rub the Qtip over the dry area. It stops the itching and moisturizes my scalp. Grapeseed oil works well here, too. I plan to take this a step further and completely condition my scalp with coconut oil right before I wash my hair. I hear that works wonders.

4. Smoothie Ingredient: When ingested, coconut oil can increase the body's resistance to illness-causing viruses and aid in the prevention of heart disease. It can also increase metabolism and energy and lower cholesterol. Sign me up! So I now add a spoonful of it to my daily breakfast smoothie to get those added benefits.

We will see how this works in the summer, but I highly doubt I will go back to my regular lotion that was full of all kinds of crazy ingredients. I love that the oil is natural and that it smells so good. As I mentioned, the pure, unrefined, extra-virgin, organic coconut oil is what is best. I purchased the Nature's Way Coconut Oil from Amazon, but you can also find coconut oil at health food stores like Whole Foods.

Do you use coconut oil?? If so, how do you use it??

Image by me


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2/07/2014

CHIC STYLING + LINKS...



It's Friday and already seven days into February. I swear this year is going by too fast!! Or perhaps that means I'm having lots of fun thus far... So what's up for the weekend? Work will be super busy for me starting in a few weeks, so I'll be making the absolute most of these next few weekends. This weekend, I'm up for a mani/pedi, some time with my photographer to work on some fun things for the blog (very excited about that!), maybe a trip to the movies to see this, and a good ol' Sunday N-A-P. It's been a while since I had one of those... I'll also be watching some of the Olympic events - events I don't watch or find interesting until the Olympics... :) Can you relate to that?? Anyway, I hope the weekend treats you well! Enjoy the links...

A beautiful guy's beautiful home...

Quite the stylish bachelor pad...

15 most counterfeit foods... Crazy!

Of course her new kitchen is a beauty...

Could you do this??

These just might be my Valentine's Day gift to myself...

This will be my Sunday dinner. Can. not. wait.

Weekend reading...

Image via Simply Seleta...
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2/06/2014

THE BEST $6 I'VE EVER SPENT FOR MY KITCHEN...

Yes, I'm dedicating an entire post to that little brush you see there, but I promise it's for good reason! Let me start by saying that if there is one household chore I dislike the most, it would be doing the dishes. After making a meal, the last thing I want to do is the dishes. I assume some of you feel the same way?? I can't stand to have a sink full of dirty dishes - or one dirty dish for that matter, so the dishes always get done. I heavily rely on my dishwasher to wash the majority of my dishes, but there are times when it just makes more sense to do things by hand. That's where this dish brush comes in. Hand washing dishes has become about 10 times easier since I bought this little $6 beechwood dish brush. This thing is SO much better than any other dish brush I've had. It gets anything - and dare I say anything - off of dirty dishes without having to exert extra energy. I literally just apply light pressure to a soapy wet dish and whatever is on the dish, tough grime included, just comes right off. So if you don't have a dishwasher or need something to occasionally hand wash your dishes, this would be the best $6 you've ever spent for your kitchen and maybe for yourself. I just wanted to take the time today to tell you about it... 


Beechwood dish brush via Terrain

* not a sponsored post
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