Buffalo Plaid

buffalo-plaid-vestI want to take you back almost 7 years ago…(mostly) before Miley Cyrus went crazy, to remind you that she had clothing line. I had a purple and black buffalo plaid shirt from said clothing line, and I got so many compliments on it. Like, random people would stop me in the high school hallway to tell me how much they liked my shirt. Since then, I’ve always had a thing for buffalo plaid, and of course,  J.Crew does it so well.

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This outfit has a super low key, running errands, everyday type of look that I like. You can switch out your accessories to make it more or less formal, but the vest is definitely the statement piece here.

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I’ve seen multiple ways to style it on Pinterest – most of which I’m too scared to try! (Stripes with plaid? Definitely a J.Crew move but I don’t think I could pull it off!) There are a few I might test out, including a chambray top or a cream sweater with a statement necklace. We’ll see how it goes, but at least for now, I’m loving the black 🙂

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Vest – J.Crew  // Jeans- J.Crew // Top- Target // Boots- Steve Madden // Watch- Target // Bracelet- J.Crew // Earrings- H&M

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Guest Post: Valentine’s Day

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Hey friends! I shared some ideas for Valentine’s Day in the DC area over on Le’nae’s blog Fancy and Fearless. I’ve copied them here for easy reading, but be sure to visit her blog and share some comment love!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and provides the perfect excuse to dress up and have a fun night, whether that’s with a significant other or a group of close girlfriends. With the vast DC restaurant scene it can sometimes be hard to know where to start. Enter this helpful little guide! I’ve broken up the recommendations into four different neighborhoods, so feel free to choose the one that suits you best!

Georgetown 
Georgetown is the ideal neighborhood if you’re looking for the classic Valentine’s Day experience. Catch an early movie at the AMC theater, then head for tapas at Bodega on M Street. End the night with a cupcake and chai at Baked & Wired, the local favorite.

Old Town Alexandria
Old Town is a great alternative to Georgetown: it still has that classic red-brick feel without all the tourists and traffic. Think of it as the more family-oriented, suburban version of Georgetown. And quite honestly, its waterfront views are much prettier!
Plan on Geranio for a nice Italian dinner and then a more casual ice cream dessert at Kilwins. Afterwards, take a stroll along Potomac in one of Alexandria’s many waterfront parks.

Logan Circle
Logan Circle is the young professional’s dream neighborhood: hipster with enough of a mainstream undercurrent that gives a “cool” vibe without being too out there.
Try for a reservation at Le Diplomate or for something more casual, The Pig. Enjoy walking around afterwards- Logan Circle is a fun neighborhood to explore. Dolcezza is a must-visit for dessert. Enjoy a scoop of gelato or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, an affogato (gelato topped with shot of espresso).

Bethesda
Bethesda is a charming suburb just northwest of DC. Head to Bethesda Row with a group of friends and enjoy the shopping before getting Tex-Mex at Uncle Julio’s. Finish with a roast-your-own smores dessert to share at Max Brenner, a dessert bar themed around chocolate.

Looking for a fun, last-minute Galentine’s day idea? Check out my post from last year, here.

 

 

Top 5 Skincare Products

 

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I love discovering new beauty products. I always shop for makeup online at Sephora so I can get the free samples (and free shipping!) I’m not very adventurous when it comes to makeup, but I’m a sucker for any new skincare product. I love getting inspiration from bloggers who share what they use on a daily basis! Today I’m sharing some of my tried & true favorites:

  1. Herbal Essences Dry Shampoo– I love this product! This is the only dry shampoo I’ve ever tried that 1) works and 2) doesn’t leave white chalky streaks in my hair!
  2. Neutrogena makeup wipes– I’ve been using these as long as I can remember. They’re great for traveling, removing stubborn eye makeup, and using at the gym after a workout.
  3. Jergens Tanning Lotion– This is soo helpful in the wintertime. Or the summertime if you’re like me and don’t get to the beach often enough!
  4. Spin Brush– There’s a lot of different brands, but I love the Spin for Perfect Skin set. It comes with a variety of different brush heads, but the general cleansing one I use every night and helps me feel like I’m getting all my makeup off!
  5. Cerave moisturizer– Another product I’ve been using forever. If you need a deep moisturizer, this is for you!

Would love to hear what some of your favorite products are in the comments below!

Pretty Up Your Home: Free Printable Graphics

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Today I’m sharing some of my favorite prints from around the internet that you can download and print for free! Just add a frame and voila- easy home decor.

Click through the slideshow to see five of my favorites I love them all, but I’m partial to the botanical prints (there’s 4 total)- I purchased some wooden frames from Target and hung up the chamomile and thyme prints in our living room.

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Anchor // Lobster // Botanical // Pineapple // Monogram

 

 

Winter Classics

Thankfully it’s been a mild winter in DC, but I can’t help but miss the beautiful hues of autumn. While I took these photos in late fall, this outfit features classics that work year round: black tee, pearls, dark wash jeans, and a simple heel. And in these dreary winer days, it’s easy to add some red lipstick or a pretty headband to jazz up your look!

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Top- Target // Jeans- J.Crew // Shoes- Payless // Necklace- Etsy // Earrings- H&M // Tote- Sole Society // Nail Polish- Essie, No Place Like Chrome

We had a busy holiday season, and things haven’t slowed down much. The blog is on the back burner right now (between being a wife, new mom, working full time, church events, spending time with friends…who has time to blog?), so I’m not making any promises about regular posts, but will try to update every now and then. I keep reminding myself that this is just a season and the blog is a hobby, so there’s no need feel guilty! I’m hoping to a “coffee date” update soon. Until then, stay warm and enjoy the snow if you have it!

Cooking with Kate: Macaroni and Cheese with Shrimp

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Ah, Southern comfort food. There’s just something about it, especially when the air gets cold and you can see your breath in the morning. I had never thought of adding shrimp to the classic mac and cheese, but it is so good! This dish makes six servings, so it’s great for having people over.  It’s pretty heavy, so serve with a salad or other light side. The recipe is adapted from Y’all Come Over, which is filled with amazing Southern recipes!

Ingredients:

  • 2 C elbow macaroni
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 C uncooked shrimp
  • 4 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 C shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/4 C dry bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with oil and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the box, adding 1 T of butter. Drain.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the milk, egg, a few dashes of salt and pepper, and the cheddar cheese. Peel the shrimp if needed and cut lengthwise before adding to the bowl. Stir in the macaroni and then pour the mixture into the baking dish.
  4. In a small bowl mix together the pepper jack cheese and bread crumbs and layer on top of the macaroni. Drizzle with 2 T melted butter and bake for 30 minutes.

My notes:

  • I couldn’t find shredded pepper jack cheese at the grocery store, so I went with monterey jack cheese instead. Mistake! While the recipe was still good, I think it would have been much better with the kick of the pepper jack. If you can’t find shredded pepper jack at your grocery store, buy slices and layer it over the pasta and then add the bread crumbs on top.
  • I also didn’t drizzle the butter over the bread crumbs in an effort to try to “be healthy”. Another mistake. When you’re cooking Southern food (especially mac and cheese!), don’t skimp on the butter. It makes the bread crumbs extra crispy, and other than the shrimp they are the highlight of the dish!

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Pinterest Inspired: 3 DIY Sprays

Hey friends! This is my first post in a new series called Pinterest Inspired. Today I’m focusing on something super exciting…spray bottles. Okay, it may sound boring, but once you take away the wedding and fashion pins, isn’t most of Pinterest DIY or home tricks? I know I have a whole board dedicated to this on my Pinterest, and I’ve only tried about a quarter of them. Recently I put two of them to the test, and also wanted to highlight another spray that I’ve made.

Two Ingredient Instant Car De-Icer

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Graphic from Pinterest, click for original source

I got a spray bottle at target for about $4, and I love that it has a section to label what’s in it. Though it’s not too cold in DC yet, my car windshield has been frosted over in the morning which adds an extra 5 minutes to my commute time waiting for the car defroster to work.

Recipe: 1 Part Rubbing Alchohol + 2 Parts Water

I tested it out one cold morning and it worked to clear the ice as soon as I sprayed it- hooray!

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But the mixture contains water, so as soon as I pulled out of our parking spot it fogged up again and I had to wait on the defroster. No fun. I mean, seriously – did the person who made the pin ever test it out?? Maybe if I try rubbing alcohol without water it would work, but I’m giving this pin a failing grade.

Magic Stain Remover 

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Graphic from Pinterest, click for original source

I saw this spray for baby stain remover on a laundry tips pin and immediately wanted to try it, as Allie’s outfits get stained fairly often and Shout is too strong to use on her clothes right now. I’ll spare you the before and after pictures because let’s be honest, who wants to look at a poop-stained onesie?

Recipe: 2 parts hydrogen peroxide + 1 part Dawn dish soap (I didn’t add the optional baking soda)

I made it in an identical spray bottle to the car de-icer. And it worked! I sprayed it and let it soak in for a few minutes then ran the clothes in the wash. This is a cinch to make and I’m pretty sure this works well on normal clothing stains also.

Lavender Linen Spray 

lavenderSo this isn’t from Pinterest, though I’m sure you could find similar pins if you wanted an exact guide. After getting lavender essential oil, this is one of the first things I used it for. I just mixed water with a few drops of the oil and then spray it on our sheets and pillows before going to bed. You do need to shake the bottle before spraying to mix the oil in. This is so easy to make and you can use lavender or substitute in lemon for a Febreze-type spray for couch cushions and pillows.

I have more things to say on essential oils that probably should get its own blog post, but I’ll mention a few here. I do like them for diffusing and I’m trying to incorporate them into more things, like cooking. I do think they are vastly overblown and would never use them in place of medicine or even cleaning (I like my Windex and besides, who has time to make all these DIY cleaning sprays? I barely had time for the things mentioned in this post). I think DoTerra and Young Living are overpriced and you can get oils cheaper at places like Mountain Rose Herbs or Etsy (I got my lemon oil from a local Virginia company here). You have to be careful and make sure they are pure and high quality though- I wouldn’t trust anything that doesn’t have a statement about that or oils that you would buy at a mass merchandiser like Walmart. Lastly, I would never use them on my kids’ skin without mixing them first with a base, like coconut oil. I haven’t used essential oils on Allie and I’m not planning on it, though I will diffuse them around her. Overall, I think they smell great and are helpful but are overrated right now. If you have anything additional to add or want to share your own experiences with essential oils, I’d love to hear in the comments!

 

4 Easy Ways to Decorate Your Apartment for Christmas

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Living in a small one bedroom apartment and going out of town for Christmas, I have little incentive to decorate for the holidays. There’s no sense in putting up a tree or buying Christmas decorations you have to store year round as there’s hardly any storage space! However, I have found that a few small touches are enough to make our home seem more cheerful and cozy.

  1. Hang a wreath on your door. I bought this one on sale at Target and added some glitter for a touch of sparkle. The great thing about it is you can change up ribbons on it and make it work for longer than just December. Bonus points if you have a welcoming door mat!

holiday-wreath2. Buy holiday scented hand soaps and candles. These are two of my favorites that we have in our bathroom right now- mulled cider hand soap and a Christmas cookie scented candle.

3. Add small decor pieces, like a nativity scene. I love this one from World Market because it’s simple and blends in easily with most decor. A former co-worker bought me a similar one when she found out we didn’t have any Christmas decorations up!

driftwood-nativity-scene4. Read an advent book. This is less decor and more practical, though it does make a pretty coffee table piece! We’re going through The Expected One  by Scott James during our daily family devotional time (If you have kids, it has great discussion questions for them!)  I also recommend John Piper’s The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, which you can download for free here. I find it helpful going through an advent book to avoid that “Christmas is next week?!” feeling that always seems to creep up, and prepare my heart for Christmas through a book that guides you through reading God’s word and praying.

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I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!

Fall Favorites

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Sweater- Gap (similar) // Scarf- Old Navy // Jeans- J.Crew // Earrings- H&M // Bracelet- J.Crew (similar)// Boots- Steve Madden // Clutch- The Pink Azalea 

Comfy sweater, plaid scarf, riding boots, Starbucks peppermint mocha – these are a few of my favorite things! I love fall, and style is definitely a huge part of that (the beautiful leaves don’t hurt, either!) My “fall uniform” usually consists of boots, jeans, a sweater, and a scarf.

I have a lot of scarves, so I held off on buying a blanket scarf for a long time. I was ordering online from Old Navy and needed to buy an additional small item to qualify for free shipping, so I decided to see if they had any reasonably priced blanket scarves. They didn’t in the women’s section, but the girls’ department did. After reading reviews (pretty much all which said that the scarf was full sized and was like a dress on their seven-year-old), I decided to buy it! I absolutely love it, and it pairs perfectly with a v-neck sweater I already had. New fall favorite? I think so.

Cooking with Kate: Red Pepper Jelly Chicken with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes & Peaches

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Welcome to the first Cooking with Kate post! With sweet potato and cinnamon this dish is perfect for fall and best of all, it’s easy! It serves two which is great because most recipes are designed for families, and I’m not a huge fan of leftovers.  Below is the recipe and then my personal notes follow- I hate when blog post recipes make you scroll all the way to the bottom after photos and commentary just to see the directions!

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I adapted this recipe from Relish: An Adventure in Food, Style, and Everyday Fun by Daphne Oz. I love this cookbook- in addition to recipes it has entertainment, style, and beauty tips and is so fun to read!

Ingredients for Chicken:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 T red pepper jelly
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice

Ingredients for Sweet Potato and Peaches: 

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 peaches
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • Salt

Directions for Chicken:

  1. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on one side, about 10 minutes. Flip and brown for about 7 minutes on the other side.
  2. Lower the stove to medium-low heat and spoon the red pepper jelly over the chicken, cooking for about two minutes and then flipping and repeating on the other side. Remove the chicken from the skillet and pour any sauce remaining in the pan over it.
  3. Drizzle lemon juice over the chicken to heighten and enhance the flavor.

Directions for Sweet Potato and Peaches:

  1. Melt the coconut oil and add to a bowl with the cinnamon, maple syrup, and a dash of salt. Slice the peach into several wedges and the sweet potato into 1-inch chunks and place in separate bowls. Pour 3/4 of the cinnamon mix over the potato and the remaining 1/4 over the peaches and toss.
  2. Put the potatoes on a cooking sheet and bake for 10 minutes in the oven at 450 degrees. Move the potatoes around with a spatula so they don’t stick and cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Quarter the onion and bake on the cooking sheet with the potatoes for 15 minutes. Move the potatoes and onions around and add the peaches before baking for a final 8 minutes.

My notes:

  • I like to use the thinly sliced chicken breasts as they cook faster.
  • You can use a regular skillet, but I used a cast iron skillet which works well to crisp the outside of the chicken.
  • Use a minimal amount of oil in the skillet- hot oil pops and really hurts if you get too close!
  • You can choose to leave the skin on the sweet potato and the peaches, or peel them. I chose to peel the potato but leave the skin on the peaches.
  • I found it easy to switch between the two dishes- browning the chicken while prepping the glaze for the side dish and putting the sweet potatoes in the oven.
  • The onion is just for flavor, so I tried distribute it across the cooking sheet and place the potatoes and peaches close to it.
  • To add a light side and some color to the dish (everything is brown and orange), I made a side salad of spring greens with blueberries, pumpkin seeds, and Annie’s Goddess dressing.

Also I’ve mentioned this before, but I am not a food stylist, nor am I particularly interested in arranging food until it gets cold and is no longer edible. So please pardon the less-than-Pinterest-perfect food photos for this series. At least they’re not Martha Stewart quality 😉