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Fashion + Style Holiday

Shades of grey to wear

February 7, 2017

I tend to gravitate toward grey items in my wardrobe.There’s an effortless quality about a soft shade of grey and it also goes from season to season making it versatile with other wardrobe staples like white denim. I have my eye on these items and most would make great Valentine’s Day gifts, too. Hint, hint. 🙂

I love the idea of wearing these grey earrings with an off the shoulder white top and white denim. And, you can’t have enough workout leggings.  I have a few pairs of high waisted Zella leggings that I run around all weekend in. Then there’s shoes: you just can never have too many!

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Food Holiday

Chocolate Fondue

January 31, 2017
valentines desserts

valentines day desserts

Fondue Valentines day

Chocolate valentines day dessert

 

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fondue valentines day dessert

I tend to be a savory over sweet person, but I certainly have my moments. I LOVE chocolate, and I also love my little mini-me who seems to be all about dipping lately. He loves to dip food into sauces. Ketchup, hummus, honey — you name it and he’s got his sticky little fingers in it. If that makes him eat more, I’m happy to oblige. I also love creating little traditions for holidays and other special occasions. Making fondue just seemed like the perfect Valentine’s day treat to make at home this year now that Braden is 2.5. Last year, we had a special Valentine’s Day family breakfast on the weekend where we exchanged a small gift or two (lots of Vday books for B) and ate  heart shaped pancakes. This is something I hope to continue for years even when it probably becomes annoying and embarrassing for him!

We actually received this fondue pot as a wedding gift 11 years ago, but we’ve never used it. (Yes, I was a child bride.) I’m glad I kept it!  You actually don’t need a fondue pot for making fondue. I think it makes it easier for serving and dipping, but I actually made the fondue in a regular pot on the stove then poured  into the fondue pot.

What you need:

  • 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (10 oz. bag)  – I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate but dark chocolate or white chocolate chips would be work well, too. I just thought semi-sweet would be better for a toddler.
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream – I usually shy away from using heavy cream in any recipes but since this is a holiday indulgence I decided to go big.
  • 1/3 cup milk – I used organic 2% because that’s what B drinks, and I had it handy.
  • Dipping options:
    • I found these adorable heart-shaped marshmallows and festive sprinkles. The sprinkles make it fun for kiddos. Braden also loves to sprinkle things on food when we’re making meals. He loves being a part of the cooking/prep! I hope that sticks around for life. 🙂
    • Fruit cut up in bite-size pieces such as apples, kiwi, pineapple, strawberries and blueberries
    • Angel food cake or brownies, rice krispie treats, etc. – my husband asked me where the angel food cake was when I was making this. :/ He has  a major sweet tooth. You can dip whatever your heart desires into chocolate but I tried to stick to fruit this occasion.
    • Suggestion: I think you could add a tsp of vanilla or hazelnut liquor to change up the flavor slightly. I’ve previously used Mexican vanilla and it was great.

Although I think Valentine’s Day is a bit of a manufactured holiday, I do love that it reminds us to take a moment to do something extra special for those we love. I prefer spending it at home rather than getting suckered into an inflated pre fixe restaurant dinner menu. And, I tend to have some pretty good wine at my house so that’s always a plus, too. 🙂

Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions you love?

Holiday Shopping

Last-minute holiday gifts for everyone on your list

December 20, 2016

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Now is the time to get your money’s worth out of that Amazon Prime subscription! If you’re like me, you may have procrastinated a little too long when it comes to holiday shopping. I have been known to give people photographs of what I’ve purchased them if it doesn’t get there on time. It’s the thought that counts, right?! The past few weeks have been especially stressful for me, so I have not dedicated much time to gift buying and will be doing some last minute shopping this week. But, I’m saving myself the headache of going to too many places and getting what I can online.

I’ve compiled a list that has some great items that are perfect for mom, dad, siblings, friends and the kiddos. And, many of these items I own, so I can honestly say they’re not only practical but also good gifts. Plus, most of them can still make it here in time for Christmas. There are also some gifts that keep giving like a monthly Birchbox subscription or this book, which is one I’m using a ton lately now that I have a chatty toddler who just says the cutest things. 🙂

What are some other items that are great last minute gifts? I’m still on the hunt! Happy holiday shopping!

  1. Birchbox subscription: Some sweet friends gifted me a Birchbox subscription for my birthday one year, and I loved it immediately. It was a fun treat to get a new box in the mail every month full of makeup and beauty samples. Often, they’ll give you full-size samples, too. I’ve discovered some fabulous products I now use, too. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, and there are several options such as 3-month, 6-month or 1 year options available for $10 per month.
  1. Elaine Turner wallet: I attended a fun event to kick off the new Elaine Turner fall line and received this wallet as a gift. It holds EVERYTHING and keeps me organized.  It’s pretty, too! Win, win.
  1. ET Wristlet: I love this snake print wristlet. This would be  a wonderful stocking stuffer. If you’re in Houston and can pop into an ET store, I’m sure you’ll find  even more gift items for family and friends. I love all the jewelry they have in the store!
  1. Custom stationary: I love customized stationary with my name or monogram. You can never have too much and Minted is my go-to for custom stationary and my holiday cards. I have used them for the past 5 years for all holiday cards and more.
  1. Crocodile Creek Rocket puzzle: My almost 2.5 year-old has graduated from the chunky wood puzzles we have and is now into these cute puzzles by a brand called Crocodile Creek. Braden loves these mini puzzles! He is challenged by them, but doesn’t get frustrated by the pieces and it’s pretty impressive to watch him think through where each piece goes. He can stay occupied for a long time with these, so they’re great to have on hand while you’re making dinner. He has 3 of them, and I’m sure I’ll be buying more.
  1. Amazon Echo: The echo  is like a mini-Alexa without big speakers. Think of it as an extra helper. 🙂
  1. Crocodile Creek Digger Puzzle
  2. Skinny Taste: Fast and Slow Knockout Quick-fix and Slowcooker Recipes: I love this cookbook! There are a lot of healthy versions of comfort food recipes that require very little prep.
  1. Shield Survival Multi-Tool: This would make a great stocking stuffer for any guy. It is basically 11 tools in one, including a beer opener. And, if you’re Mary Poppins and have everything in your purse, then get one for yourself or the gal in your life who likes to always be prepared.
  1. Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor: This cookbook was my first try at Skinnytaste recipes after following on Pinterest. I regularly make a lot of the recipes in this cookbook.
  1. My Quotable Kid: I received this as a gift at my baby shower and have just started using it. This book is an easy way to document the funny things kids say because there are SO many, especially at the toddler stage. Get this for the moms on your list!
  2. What to Eat Pad: I like to keep organized with my food shopping/meal prep lists and this is my go-to helper just for that.
  3. Knock Knock Pack this! Pad: Another list pad that helps when taking long trips. An ideal gift for your friend who loves to travel.
  4. Custom Address Stamp: I love custom stamps! I have a few of them, including one with the state of Texas on it. This Etsy shop, PaperPeachShop, has a lot of options. This would be a thoughtful gift for a new couple or friends who have recently purchased a new home.

 

 

 

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Fashion + Style Holiday Shopping

Black Friday Weekend Sales/Gift Guide for Her + the Kiddos

November 25, 2016

Gift Guide for Her + the Kiddos, Laureenloves.comWith all the carbs we’ve consumed the past 48 hours thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday, there is not much energy left except to sit on the couch with my phone and laptop browsing the Black Friday sales. Online shopping is just the way to go. It’s so much more efficient, and there are tons of great sales for Black Friday weekend that just kicked off.

I’ve rounded out some of my favorite picks for her and the minis. I’ve also listed some great deals going on at some of my go-to stores. It’s the perfect opportunity to buy family and friends Christmas gifts without the hassle of going to the stores that are often picked over. And, while you’re at it, don’t forget to treat yourself. 🙂 Happy shopping!

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Gap – 50% off everything through Nov. 26 at 11:59pm ET. Use code TGIF50 at checkout. Always a great place to stock up on everyday kids’ clothes. B has a whole pajama wardrobe from Gap Kids, and I love all their Christmas PJs.

Zara – 30% everything through Nov. 26 at 3am ET. I buy so many of Braden’s clothes here. I think they have the best boy clothes. I love how they have a good variety of cotton or twill pants that are perfect for pulling on really quickly —  a requirement for potty training, which we started recently.

Ann Taylor -50% off everything through Nov. 27 at 5pm ET. Use code CELEBRATE at checkout. I have shared my love for AT shoes here and here, but I get a lot of work clothes here, too.

Banana Republic – 50% off 5 regular-priced items with no exclusions until Nov. 26 at 11:59pm ET. Use BRFIVE at checkout.

Anthropologie – 30% off everything with code LETSGO. Perfect place to get tons of gifts for friends and family. I love all of their kitchen accessories.

Shopbop – 15% – 25% off depending on how much you spend through Nov. 28 at 11:59 PT. Use code GOBIG16

Pottery Barn Kids – 20% off and free shipping using the code OHWHATFUN through Nov. 28. For Braden’s second Christmas (he was 16 months) we got him a personalized workbench from PBK and it was the BEST toy we’ve ever purchased. He still plays with it all the time (he’s now 27 months) and it keeps him occupied while we’re cooking dinner, cleaning downtairs, etc. The one we have looks a little different, but the one I’ve showcased is pretty similar, and I love that you can get the name or monogram on it.

J.Crew – 40% off through Nov. 27 at 11:59pm ET. Use code HOLIDAY at checkout.

 

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Food Holiday

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

November 20, 2016

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I’m always in charge of making the desserts for my family holiday celebrations. My husband is a really great baker and will often make an amazing apple pie. I think his love for baking is something  he inherited from his grandmother who had amazing recipes her grandchildren often talk about. He makes a few like her famous pepperoni rolls. Maybe I’ll share those in a few weeks since we’re smack in the middle of holiday binge season! We don’t shy away from carbs around here. Since he is a big fan of desserts, I’ve inherited that from him and started experimenting with a lot of baking over the years. We are pretty healthy eaters in my house, but I don’t like to skimp when it comes to desserts and holiday favorites!

One of my go-to recipes around the holiday that always goes over really well is this chocolate bourbon pecan pie I discovered a few years ago. It’s a recipe from Food and Wine magazine, and I’ve adapted a little over the years. My version is listed below but I’ve linked to the original version here.

If you’re out and about doing your Thanksgiving holiday shopping, definitely try this one. People will gobble it up! I think guys really like it, too, especially if they’re bourbon lovers like my husband. I think the hint of bourbon (and my other alterations to the recipe) make it the BEST pecan pie. The biggest changes I’ve made include using a Pillsbury ready-made pie crust. When you can cut corners like this without sacrificing quality and taste, then I’m all for it. My choice is chocolate chips is important, I’ve found so I really recommend the mix and brand I’ve noted below in the ingredient list. I typically serve pie with Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream because it’s Texas, y’all. Bluebell is definitely a favorite in my house.

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This beautiful pie pan is from William Sonoma, and I just love it. It was a gift we received a few years ago, and I actually went last week to the store to try to buy another one in white, but they were all sold out so I’ll have to buy one online.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Ingredient List

1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust

2 cups (about 7 ounces) pecans

3 large eggs

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

2/3 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons bourbon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips.

I use this total amount but I mix together Ghirardelli chocolate chips – ½ semisweet and ½ 60% cacao bittersweet chips. (I’ve found them at Kroger and World Market.)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the pecans for about 8 minutes, or until fragrant; coarsely chop.

Note: I only need to toast them in my oven for about 4 minutes, otherwise they burn really quickly and if you over toast them it definitely changes the flavor. I recommend monitoring this really closely and check after 3-4 minutes and add more time if necessary since ovens differ.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the brown sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla, melted butter, bourbon and salt until blended. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 55 minutes, or until the center of the pie is set. Tent the crust with foil halfway through the baking time if the edge is browning too quickly. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Note: I cook my pie for about 45 minutes because my oven cooks fast. I tent the crust about halfway through, around 22 minutes to prevent it getting too brown and crusty.

Make Ahead

The pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day. Rewarm at 325° for 15 minutes.

Note: I make my pies either the night before I need them or in the early morning day-of to help free up my oven before I need it for all my other holiday cooking.

 

Family Gifts Holiday

For the Dads

June 11, 2016

We’re nearly a week away from Father’s Day so I’ve been searching online for the best gift Amazon Prime has to offer. I kid (sort of) but most of these gifts are available on Amazon or online retailers that will ship to you in time for you to give to your dad or husband. I am SO thankful for my hubby and appreciate all he does for us. So, in honor of him I’ve rounded up some gifts that are right up his alley.  Many of these he already has (it’s a little insane how many Yeti products are in our home),  but I know a few are on his wish list, too. My husband has a lot of outdoorsy hobbies and likes to make an old-fashioned almost daily. So, I give you the best gifts for  the dad who likes to hunt, shoot guns and keep his drinks cool all while practicing these hobbies.

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