Are you still trying to thaw out from the weekend?? Geez it was cold over in these parts! But I have to say that I'll take cold air over stifling hot air any time...  Anyway, today I'm here with four things that I'm loving at the moment. Scroll all the way down to see why I think they are quite special... 

{What's Gaby Cooking on Snapchat }

{ Skinfix Ultra Rich Hand Cream }

GT's Gingerade Kombucha

The older I get, the more I need help with digestion. Sorry - just keeping it real here. Taking a daily probiotic supplement and drinking Kombucha a few times a week really helps. Kombucha is a natural fermented drink that contains enzymes, b-vitamins, and probiotics. All of that provides a natural source of energy, improved digestion, and immune support. They come in lots of different flavors, but the Gingerade is my favorite! You can find these at most grocery stores and health food stores. They run about $3-$4 per bottle, but I typically only drink half a bottle at a time. It really does help!

GapFit Activewear

So I am a Lululemon fanatic, but lately it's been really hard for me to justify spending over $100 for a pair of pants and about the same for a top. So I started shopping around for other activewear and I have landed on GapFit! I bought a few pairs of pants and tops and I have to say that I love the quality! It's thick and stays in place when I'm working out. It can be pricey, but not as much as Lulu and not as much if you catch a good sale. It seems like the Gap has a sale just about every day. I got this top, this top, these pants, and these pants all for 40% off!!

What's Gaby Cooking on Snapchat

I am obsessed with Snapchat, particularly those accounts where people post genuine and helpful moments. Gaby is a food blogger who does an awesome job at that and she is hilarious! You can tell that she is genuinely herself. She also Snapchats recipes, which I love. She hosts what's called "Snapisodes" on Fridays where she will make an entire recipe in her kitchen from start to finish. It's so helpful and the food is easy to make and always looks so good!! You can follow along with her @WhatsGabyCookin.

Skinfix Ultra Rich Hand Cream

Thankfully my eczema has pretty much subsided (thanks in part to age, the product in this post, and coconut oil), but I still have really dry hands, especially in the winter. Moisturizing my hands with a potent hand cream at night always seems to help. I picked up this Skinfix hand cream a few months ago at Target and I really like it! It is all natural, paraben free, and fragrance free. It is really thick and creamy, so a little goes a long way - and it's definitely not something I would wear during the day due to the texture. My hands feel really soft in the mornings, so I know this is some good stuff! 

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Happy Friday!! Did you have a good week! My week started off good and ended the same way, so I have no complaints in these parts...  This weekend shall be a continuation of that. There's not much on the agenda other than cooking dinner for a friend, tidying up around the house, and staying warm! I hope you have a great weekend!

Good Spaces
Dream home. Period.
Getting work done here would be lovely...
She has the cutest twin babies and a beautiful new kitchen...

Good To Know
What a fun little trick...
Want to learn something new??
If you have or want a duvet, this will change your life...
Like this page and you'll know how to do pretty much anything. I love it!

Good Food
I am obsessed with this page, too...
How to pretty much freeze anything...
The prettiest - and healthiest- lasagna I've seen...
I'll have one of each of everything on this beautiful blog...

Image via Wit & Delight
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The sites and the food in NYC were really great, but let me tell you about the most surprising part of the trip. A little background first... So my favorite type of person is someone who is genuine and keeps it real - no matter what. I don't have to guess how they feel or what they are thinking all of the time. They just say it like it is and I can therefore be myself around them, too. I don't know Hoda Kotb personally, but gosh I know that if I did, we would be best friends forever. Hoda has been on TV for years, but I started I listening to her show on SiriusXM consistently about six months ago and that's when I really got to know her and love her. She's always happy and she's always open about those little personal things that you might think of or ask yourself in the back of your head, but never say out loud. Her happiness always seems to rub off on me and she just keeps it real... And that's my favorite type of person to be around - or listen to in her case. 

So my dad and I were hanging out outside Rockefeller Center one day last week when we decided to duck in an NBC gift shop to warm up. It was totally empty in there! An employee came up to us and told us that it was empty because everyone was in another gift shop in the building meeting Hoda. I screamed, "Hoda Kotb????!!!" My dad said, "Who is Hoda Kotb??" Ha... We jetted down to the gift shop and there she was. She was having a book signing for her new book, "Where We Belong: Journeys That Show Us The Way." I snatched a book (more on the book below), stood in the modestly long line, and the next thing I know she was giving me a big hug. We chatted about how much I loved her show and she signed my book... 

Just in case you can't tell how excited I was... :)

Her book "Where We Belong: Journeys That Show Us The Way" is a collection of inspiring stories about how people weaved their way through unexpected experiences only to arrive at their sole purpose in life. These people followed their gut, their heart, and path of most resistance in pursuit of the one thing or things that made them truly happy. Some of the stories are those of celebrities (Laila Ali, Mark Burnett & Roma Downey, Margaret Cho). If you still have no clue why in the world God placed you here (as I often feel sometimes myself) then this is one of those books that might shed a little light on your situation and give you hope. Super good...

I'm just still so excited that I met her! :)

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{ Best Bagel & Coffee }

So since I had been to NYC a few times before this trip, I was most excited about the food as opposed to the sites. I started researching restaurants before anything else, so you know I was excited! It seems like there are MILLIONS of restaurants in NYC, so the three ways I was able to find some really good eats were:

1. My friends

2. Yelp and Open Table

3. The size of the crowds or length of lines inside of the restaurants...

Obviously it was easy to ask my friends who lived there or who travel there often about their opinion on the best places to eat - and they had some great recommendations. But I have to say that I found some really great places by relying on Yelp and Open Table. I simply filtered my searches by popularity and location and found some good eats that way. The other way a good restaurant was obvious was by the size of the crowds and the lines inside or around the restaurant. If I saw a place with a huge crowd and a long line, I would make a note of it and research the details and reviews on Yelp and Open Table. 

I honestly didn't take many photos of the food we ate. It was either too dark inside or I was too impatient to take a photo! But below I've listed out each place we ate along with my review in case you are interested! 

{ ABC Kitchen }

{ Balthazar }

{ Don Antonio by Starita }

1. Best Bagel & Coffee: If I had to rank my most favorite meal while I was there, the bagel from this place would almost be 1st... SO GOOD! I found this tiny little place by searching breakfast spots on Yelp that were near our hotel. When we got there, the line was out the door, so I knew we hit a goldmine. The bagels and cream cheese are made fresh in-house daily and they had so many different varieties of each. We each opted and egg, cheese, spinach and avocado bagel and a cinnamon raisin bagel to snack on during sight-seeing. They were so fresh and good! I'm still thinking about that dang egg & spinach bagel! The place is super tiny with very limited seating, so getting food to go is best. They have the ordering process down, so the line moves pretty quickly!

2. Tony's Di Napoli: My dad loves Italian food and requested we eat that before going to our play on Broadway. This restaurant was located in the Theater District - and it was packed! All of the dishes were served family style (although smaller portions are available upon request), so we ordered the Caesar salad, which was made table-side, and the seafood pasta. It was really fresh and delicious. But my favorite part of the meal was dessert. We had a classic NY cheesecake and it was quite divine. It was really light and fluffy - yet very rich! I would definitely eat here again. Reservations can be made using Open Table and I suggest you make them ahead of time to avoid the massive line that I saw on our way out!

3. ABC Kitchen: This was my second time going to ABC Kitchen and I already know I will go again the next time I'm in NYC. It was probably my most favorite meal that I had during this trip. The only food they serve is GMO-free seasonal food that is cultivated properly, and free of pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, and hormones. That may sound boring to some, but let me tell you - it's the BEST. I don't eat beef often, but when I do, it has to have those characteristics. We were there for lunch and I had the Akaushi burger (i.e. Kobe beef) with fresh hot fries and I about died. I ate every last crumb of it! My dad had the Kasha Bowtie Pasta and he loved it as well. Oh and we shared and scarfed down a bowl of the best Brussels sprouts I've ever had at a restaurant. The restaurant is right next to ABC Carpet & Home, which if you love interior design, then you'll pretty much be in heaven. Note that this place is always packed, so making reservations via Open Table is highly recommended.

4. Balthazar: Two of my friend recommended this wonderful little French bristro, so I knew I had to try it. And I'm so glad that I did! I think I may have had the best brunch of my life there... My dad and I both ordered the apple cinnamon pancakes and we shared a side of eggs and breakfast potatoes. It was HEAVEN ON A PLATE! It is pricey (the eggs and potatoes were $21!!), but I promise you it is well worth it! I made reservations via Open Table (highly recommended on weekends) for Sunday at 9AM to avoid the regular brunch crowd. And I'd go again in a heartbeat. So good...

5. Don Antonio by Starita: If you love pizza, then you can't be in NYC without eating a slice of NY style pizza! This place kept popping up on my Yelp searches, so we tried it out. Again - another winner of a restaurant. The pizza - specifically the ingredients on the pizza were super fresh. We kept it simple and ordered a margarita pizza with prosciutto & mushrooms and a white pizza with burrata, cherry tomatoes, and basil. The dough was thin and crispy - as a good NY style pizza should be. But I just remember thinking about how fresh and authentic everything tasted. Super good...

6. Buddakan: My dad had a taste for Asian food one night, so at a friend's recommendation we tried Buddakan. Wow is this place is fancy - but really fun!! The atmosphere and chic decor inside blew me away. The food was super tasty, too. They offer so many different types of dishes, but we kept it simple by sharing the General Tso dumplings, lobster fried rice, and vegetable fried rice. All of that came out to the table pretty quickly and it was really good!! Just a side note - this was the restaurant that Big and Carrie had their engagement party at in Sex & The City the movie.

7. Pret A Manger: Dad and I mostly had only one big fancy meal each day (with the exception of maybe one day), so this was a place that I retreated to a few times to get something quick, light, and healthy that would tide me over to our big meal of the day. Pret A Manger is just about on every other block in Manhattan and it is really good. I noticed my first day there that all of them always seemed packed. So one day I ducked in there to see what was going on. Their food is made fresh daily and is all-natural if not organic. And gosh it was delish!! I stocked up on a few fresh green juices and had a small lentil soup for a quick lunch one day. That was honestly one of the best lentil soups I'd ever had. It was hot, fresh, and not too salty (like most take-out lentil soups are).

What are your favorite NYC restaurants?? I'm already taking notes for my next visit! :)

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{ Dad & I in Central Park...}

Gosh I can already say that this is probably going to be one of my favorite weeks here on the blog! My dad and I recently took a trip to NYC and I have to say that we had the best time... I've been there a few times, but this was my dad's first time there! So we thought we would take a little father-daughter trip there together. We walked a lot, talked a lot, ate a LOT, and pretty much did that on repeat for 4 days. We bought a CityPass (which I highly recommend for first time visitors) that gave us discounted tickets to all of the top touristy places like Top Of The Rock, Statue of Liberty, the 911 Memorial, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We saw The Lion King on Broadway, which was absolutely amazing. We hired a guide to show us around Central Park. And since we have similar personalities, we even made time for afternoon naps. :) 

Naturally I took a ton of photos! Since I have so many of them that cover different things, I thought I would take this week to share them with you. Today is all about the sites we saw and tomorrow is all about the food we ate. I have so many good recommendations for food! Later in the week, I will give you the details on one of the MOST exciting and surprising parts of the trip for me. It was such a fun time!

{The Flatiron building never ceases to amaze me... }

{The new One World Trade Center Building is so beautiful - especially from a distance. The saddest part of my trip was visiting the 911 Memorial right next door to the building. It was so beautifully done, but I  was so totally unprepared for how emotional it would be. There were things like actual fire trucks, plane parts, shoes, workpapers from desks, wallets, helmets of responders - all kinds of things from the rubble that were preserved and put on display. It's one thing to have seen all of that on TV, but to see it in person is a whole other thing. Goodness! Despite that, I think it's definitely worth seeing. Just be prepared! }

{A view in Central Park of the prestigious San Remo apartment building on the Upper West side... Apartments in the building range from $5.3M to $75M. Cheap right??}

{The architecture of the buildings in Manhattan is stunning... I don't think they make em' like that anymore... }

{After only seeing her in photos, I found it breathtaking to be this close to her in person. She's a beauty... }

{This was an atrium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dad and I knew the museum was big, but it's actually HUGE. We may have made it halfway through. It's totally a whole day experience. Of course my favorite exhibit was at the the Anna Wintour Costume Center. It is currently featuring the wardrobe of Countess Jacqueline de Ribes from the 1960s. It was gorgeous! She was WAY ahead of the game in the 60s... }

Images by me
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Hi there!! I had every intention of getting my first Links post of the year up today, but this week has been crazy! I was catching up on work and home stuff after my NYC trip, which I will tell you all about next week. And yesterday, I found out that I got tickets to the Ellen Degeneres show!!!! That's one of my many reactions in the photo... I've been trying to get tickets for years, so to say that I'm excited is a huge understatement. Planning for that has definitely started!

What's up for the weekend? I'll be working on a very personal blog post that I will share in the coming weeks, making this soup (so good and I'm still detoxing after NYC...), getting in a workout, and definitely catching up on some sleep!!

Have a great weekend!!

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Well now lets just say I win the lottery tonight... If I do, you wanna know some things I would do? I would probably donate my current home to a family whose dream is to have their own home, I would travel a LOT, and then I would circle back around at some point to buy or build the home of my dreams. It wouldn't be a big mansion or anything like that, but it would be me. It would be personal and very personalized. I could totally see one of the bathrooms looking something like this. The beauty is definitely in the details here... The geometric tiled floor is offset my simple subway tiled walls and beautiful bath brass fixtures. The black door and moldings add even more character to the space. I love it. Crossing my fingers tonight! :)

Images by Aubrie Pick via Katie Martinez Design

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I'm from the south and I grew up eating my aunt's and my grandmother's biscuits on Sunday mornings. I still think about them and I want my kids to be thinking the same about my biscuits when they are my age. So I thought it was high time I learn how to make a homemade biscuit! Yep, what you see there is my first ever homemade biscuit and it is DELISH! Even though they are super easy to make, I have always been horrible at anything that involves dough and rolling out dough. But I took a sugar cookie class right before Christmas and was able to apply a few dough rolling skills I learned there to this biscuit recipe. This biscuit is buttery, cheesy, and honestly tastes like a southern cheese straw in the form of a flaky biscuit. I love cheese straws... It's certainly a biscuit that would be perfect for breakfast, brunch, and beginner biscuit makers... :)

Here is what you need and what to do (makes 6-8 biscuits):
Adapted from Ina Garten's "Back to Basics" cookbook

2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
2 eggs
1 heaping cup extra sharp cheddar cheese (freshly grated is best here)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Place the flour, butter, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Turn the mixer on low and mix until the butter resembles the size of peas.

3. Add the buttermilk and one egg to a small bowl and whisk them together. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Mix until the mixture is just moistened.

4. Add a few pinches of flour to the grated cheese and mix it up with your fingers. The flour will keep the cheese from sinking to the bottom of the biscuit. Add the cheese to the mixer and mix on low until the cheese is just combined.

5. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface. Bring the dough together and knead it 5 or so times. Kneading might sound intimidating, but it's not hard! There are tons of short YouTube videos out there in how to do it... Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll the dough until it is about 1/2 in thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 6-8 rectangles and place them on the lined baking sheet.

6. Add an egg and a few drops of water or buttermilk to a small bowl (I used the same small bowl I used earlier) and mix them together to create an egg wash. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the egg wash. Bake the biscuits for 20-25 minutes until they are browned and cooked through.

Serve hot! Enjoy!

Images by me
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Stacked Apple, Parmesan, and Walnut Salad | Savor Home
Yep. My first recipe of the year is the requisite salad. BUT my reasons for that are beyond the fact that it's "Get Your Life and Diet Together " month. I personally don't resolve to eat healthier this year. I've thankfully got that down and things are on track in that department. However, I do often get bored with healthy food and tend to make the same things over and over, so this year I want to diversify my stash of healthy meals. And I want to host a few dinner parties/brunches. And I want to sharpen my food styling skills. So this post for me is my way of working on all of those things together. This post for you is a way of showing you a menu item that looks really pretty and would take you 10 minutes to prepare just in case your goals are similar to mine... :)

Dinner parties should be underwhelming and fun and this salad is definitely those two things. It has the simplest combination of ingredients that go so very well together. The crunch and freshness of the apples pair incredibly well the creaminess of the cheese. The amazing apple cider vinaigrette is really what brings it all together. It's homemade, takes 2 seconds to make, and it's sweet and tart all in one. And isn't the salad pretty??!! I served it with some homemade cheddar biscuits that I will tell you all about soon, so stay tuned!

Stacked Apple, Parmesan, and Walnut Salad | Savor Home
Stacked Apple, Parmesan, and Walnut Salad | Savor Home

Here is what you need and what to do (makes 2 salads):

2 apples (I used Red Delicious)
2 big handfuls of arugula
Shavings of Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Walnuts, chopped or whole

2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Add all of the ingredients for the dressing into a small bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

2. Use a sharp knife or a mandolin (I used this one) to cut the apples into 1/8in slices. Squeeze some lemon juice over the tops and bottoms of each slice to keep it from turning brown. The lemon juice also adds great flavor, too! Place a handful of arugula on to each plate. Stack a few slices of apple on the middle of the salad. Sprinkle the salad with shaved Parmesan cheese and a few walnuts. Pour a few spoonfuls of dressing right over the top.


Images by me

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{One of my favorite Christmas gifts - the gift of a beautiful photo of Paris taken by a good friend, my new notebook of the year that states one of my goals for the year, and mags that I never got to during my time off... :)}

Happy New Year! I hope things are off to a good start for you. They certainly are for me. I had a great two weeks off complete LOTS of downtime that I really needed. My consistent days of binge watching trash TV shows that I never have time to watch, cooking, sleeping in, and hanging with friends have me feeling totally relaxed. I am so not ready for real life to set back in, yet I'm really excited to get going and see what this new year has to offer. Even numbered years for some reason make me feel more confident. Ya know? The writing down and visualization of the things that would make my year most exciting and productive has been done. Now comes the reliance on God, faith, and good works on my part. So excited... I'll be sharing some of those things with you soon. In the meantime, here are a few photos of life as of late... Have a great first week of Sweet 2016! 

{I cooked the entire dinner from scratch on Christmas Eve and most of the dinner on Christmas day, so cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning from the refrigerated section of the grocery store it was! Fresh is best, but it's our tradition and we LOVE them! }

{I made a standing rib roast for the first time (this recipe is fabulous!) and this scalloped potato gratin for our Christmas dinner, and my mom cooked these turnip greens that were fresh from our neighbor's garden... Our meal couldn't have been any better... } 

{Right before the Christmas morning festivities... }

{And under the tree for me were a few gift cards... When you're a kid, you get so excited about the latest toy that Santa brought you. When you are an adult, you're just excited to get gift cards and coupons from the parents that pay for all the errands that need to be completed after Christmas... #adulthood }
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