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

 

fondue chocolate valentines dessert

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?

Fashion + Style Loving Lately...

Rain, rain go away

January 20, 2017

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The amount of flash flood warnings and rain we’ve had over the past week have really put a damper on things. Weather like this reminds me that having some rainy day wear is truly essential. A classic trench is my No. 1 rainy day staple. And, I’m all about the classics. 😉

I own a similar trench from Banana Republic that I’ve had for years that will never go out of style. This trench from Anthropologie has a beautiful, feminine shape. If I didn’t have one already I would totally pick this one up! I also have this waterproof  jacket that’s great for running around on the weekends when the weather is blah. This handbag jacket is sort of the most ridiculous thing, but I kind of want one!

Although my mini me is a boy, I would love to have a little matching trench like this for a little girl. It’s just so, so cute. Braden has really been into doing things himself these days (shocker, for a 2.5 year-old, right?!) and I think it’s about time to get him is own umbrella. When I was dropping him off at school this week, he wanted to hold my umbrella which basically means he stays dry and I’m left damp.

Stay dry, friends! Here’s hoping the sun starts shining soon!

Home Design + Decor

Solid Wood Flooring

January 18, 2017

I’m finally getting around to sharing another update on the home front. I have held off a little because it doesn’t look like there’s been much progress since it’s just a lot of little things have been going on behind-the-scenes but if you catch up on my home updates, read here.  Painting prep is starting this week, but thought I’d give a little update on the wood floors since this was such a big milestone in the home building process. You may have seen me post a picture on Instagram about the wood floor prep.

Step 1: Fill in low spots on the concrete slab with self leveling concrete

Step 2: Cover concrete with hot tar to seal the slab from moisture and then lay down 2×4’s perpendicular to final wood floor orientation to provide a nailing surface.

Step 3: Plane (sand) 2×4’s perfectly level.

Step 4: Lay out wood floor and start nailing it down.

Step 5: Climatize house (let the air or heat run for two weeks in the house) to bring moisture in the wood down to what it will be while we live in the house.

Step 6: Sand floors, fill in any holes or imperfections and stain.

We need to be on step 5 at this point but we’re waiting on the gas line to be hooked up so we can have heat. A bit of poor planning on the part of our builder, and we’re a little frustrated to say the least.  As you can see, a lot of steps go into putting solid wood floors. I love the wide-plank floor boards we went with. I am a little on the fence regarding staining. I lean more toward a traditional stain, but the white-washed floor is so pretty, too. I have heard from many people they like this raw wood look. What do you think?

We’re testing out some different stains this week to figure out the look we want. So. Many. Decisions.

More soon!

Disclosure: My handy husband helped with explaining these steps to me so I must give credit. 😉

 

 

 

Wood Floor-3 Wood Floor-2 Wood Floor Wood Floor-5 Wood Floor-4 Wood Floor-7 Wood Floor-10 Wood Floor-8

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Fashion + Style

The Classics: Part 1 – the perfect white shirt

January 6, 2017
classic white shirt pleated cuff

white-shirt-3 white-shirt-4 white shirt pleated cuff

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white-shirt-10 I don’t like the word “resolution.” It makes me think there was some sort of conflict to overcome and that just sounds a bit negative. During the process of building our home and prepping for the move, I’ve realized I have too much stuff. So, a goal for 2017 is to focus more on the classics. I certainly gravitate more toward  classic pieces, especially as I’ve gotten older and invested more in wardrobe staples that may be a tad pricier but are higher quality. I have friend who would laugh at me when I’d talk about investment pieces and how I think about things from a cost versus use standpoint. I was saying this 15 years ago, and I believe it more now than ever! I’m also really good at taking care of those investment pieces. I will take the time to spray suede shoes with an all-weather protector prior to wearing, get shoes re-soled or have a handbag handle replaced if it starts to get worn. I’ve been a caretaker/mom my whole life, even to my stuff!  When it comes to style investment pieces, I think denim is worth the splurge if it’s a flattering dark denim that will not go out of style. Colored or distressed denim? Well, I’ll probably spend less.

All that said, a timeless staple that every woman should have is the perfect white button-up shirt. This is something that you don’t have to spend a ton on! The versatility of a white button-up shirt is infinite. I love this shirt I picked up recently because it had a modern twist with the pleated cuff. And, I love it even more because the sleeves are actually long enough for this long-limbed lady. I can wear this to work with a blazer and swap out my bag to go to dinner/happy hour on a weeknight. No outfit change=less laundry. I currently have 5 unfolded loads sitting in my gameroom right now taunting me. The laundry fairy was off during the holiday break.

Bottom line: 2017 the year to truly live by the mantra that less is more. I know myself and that doesn’t mean I’m going on a spending freeze. Let’s get real. (Sorry, Ben.) But, I will aim to be more thoughtful, focusing on the timeless pieces I’ll wear for years instead of just a few months.

I’ll be back with more on the topic of  ‘Classics’ soon! 🙂

Outfit details:

Banana Republic shirt | Current/Elliott jeans (old), similar found here | Ann Taylor shoes (old) – another classic in my opinion! Similar version here  | Ann Taylor clutch

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Home Design + Decor

Tile, tile and more tile

January 3, 2017

Master Shower: We used snow white marble which is similar to carrara marble, but it has a higher quartz content so it makes it more durable and the color is more uniform, which I realized I liked more and more after staring at tile for HOURS. We used 3×6 subway on the ceilings and walls, 1×2 herringbone on the lower walls and 2 inch hex on the floor, which isn’t pictured. I’m really happy with the look overall. The showers are covered and taped now so all the sanding and painting mess doesn’t get on them.

Hello 2017! Well, I thought I’d be in the #lucasfamilyhome  by now, but by early Dec. we were getting the sense it was not going to be until after the first of the year. It’s a moving target at this point, but I’m guessing mid-February now. It’s frustrating to say the least, but I’ll save that for another day. I wanted to share a quick update on tile progress. Much of this was installed a few week ago and if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some  snapshots of tile here and there, particularly on Instastories, which has become my way to document Braden’s cuteness and mood swings. Follow me  – reenlucas – on Instagram to see those shenanigans and other behind-the-scenes home adventures/frustrations.

Tile selection was something I was quite opinionated about, much to my hubby’s dismay. My goal was to pick classic finishes so I could have a clean slate to choose paint colors or include other personal touches to make the room feel like my own. And, of course  – we were always trying to keep budget in mind. My husband was so kind to constantly give me that reality check every step of the way.

I’ll be playing some catch-up with my next few home posts, so stay tuned for more on the home front soon!

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Braden stepping into his bathroom. This bathroom has two shelves flanking it from the game room entry way making it accessible for people lounging upstairs.kids-bath-tile-hex

For this jack and jill style bathroom,  we wanted  durable, classic materials. The  cabinets will get some color to give the room some personality. We chose ceramic tile in a classic white 2 inch hex. The shower is a white ceramic 3×6 subway tile in a crosshatch pattern. Ben was skeptical about this at first, but liked it afterwards. Pretty much the story of my life. 🙂

herringbone-laundry-in-progress

My original vision for the mudroom was to do a ceramic tile in a fun pattern, but sourcing that was difficult with the timing we were up against and not budget friendly. With it being a relatively small space, it just seemed silly to spend that much on tile that was going to be covered in dirty laundry. So, we went with 12×24 ceramic tile cut to 6×24 and laid that in a herringbone pattern.

downstairs-guest-bath-3-inch-marble-hex

Funny story with this. Look very closely when picking the grout color. We made a mistake and accidently chose a brown grout vs. a grey because we didn’t look at the names that closely. We were able to get it fixed and cover it with a grey grout. It seems like I’m obsessed with hex, but I just fell in love with the look of this hex, which is 4 inch marble so it gives the room a different look.  This is the tile in the downstairs guest bathroom which has a door making it accessible from the outdoor living space.

patio-tile

Porch tile we chose is a slate tile called  montauk blue. The tile came in 12×12 and 12×24. Originally, I picked out a different  pattern for this tile, sort of a versaille pattern, but then discovered that was going to be an incredible amount of labor when the tile folks were trying to lay it all out. Each tile would need to be trimmed to accommodate the correct amount of spacing for the grout lines, so it was going to be $$$$ . Lesson learned here: if you have a cool tile pattern in mind, talk through that thoroughly before buying the tile to make sure it will really work for the space, type of material, etc.

 

 

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Holiday Shopping

Last-minute holiday gifts for everyone on your list

December 20, 2016

procrastinators-gift-guide-laureenlovesdotcom-12-20-16

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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Family Thoughts

An unexpected family update

December 5, 2016

I’m sharing a message below from my personal Facebook page. I wasn’t sure how to share this info. as it was something that caught me totally off guard.

I wish I wasn’t writing this right now but I felt like it’s needed not only for me, but also for all the people who have always been there supporting our family. Ben and I are heartbroken right now, as we’ve lost the baby girl we were expecting. While we didn’t know her, we felt like we did & we were so excited to find out we’d be giving Braden a sister. It has been an unexpected, devastating experience to be in this situation after being more than halfway along in my pregnancy. It may seem odd to some that I’m sharing this on social media but both for Ben and me, it’s emotionally exhausting repeating this news over and over again so sending an email or via SM is just the easiest thing for us right now.

While I may not be able to respond to every call, text or message from everyone, please know both Ben and I appreciate your kind words, prayers and support. 

I’ve had so many people tell me they follow along on my blog, so I feel that I would be inauthentic by not being honest about something that has impacted my life so greatly. When I shared the news that  I was expecting, never did I imagine I would be in this position now. It pretty much knocks the wind out of you and it’s hard to articulate right now because it still feels like I might wake up one day to find out this isn’t actually happening since it’s still so fresh.

Thanks so much for your support. I’ll be back soon.

-LL

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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Home Design + Decor

Carpentry details

November 23, 2016

I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving holiday has started off great! It’s been awhile since I’ve shared an update on the Lucas family home front. In some ways it seems like a lot has happened but in other ways it seems like not much has. So many decisions have to be made on the back end and a lot of work in one area has to happen before the next piece can start. I’m share what I’ll call a carpentry update.

Carpenters have been creating the cased openings, crown molding, door trim, built-ins, and cabinets in every nook of the house. You may have seen a few posts from me here and there on Instagram but I’ve been slacking on the blog front with the #Lucasfamilyhome updates. Ben goes over there pretty much daily to see the progress and measure things to make sure they’re correct and catches things we see that might need to be changed. For instance, we realized we forgot to put an outlet in an area of the kitchen that really needed. It was a relatively easy fix, but walking through the house and thinking through all of this once or twice isn’t enough; some things just seem to get overlooked and I was actually the one who pointed this out last week. It’s like we have to make a weekly or bi-weekly punch list. Are we micromanagers? Probably. But, we’re invested in this home in every way possible, and it’s better to be as thorough as possible in my opinion.

How far are we from completion? We are probably looking at late December or early January to be totally realistic. We wanted to get in by December 1 and that’s not going to happen, and we REALLY wanted to move in by Christmas and that’s looking unlikely as well.

I’ll be back more frequently since we’re just a few weeks out. Next up, I’ll share a tile update, including my top picks if you’re going for a neutral, timeless look.

 

carpentry-1, Lucas Family Home

Cased opening into dining room

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Built-in bookcases upstairs

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Reading nook/built-in bench seating with storage at top of staircase

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Cabinets in kids’ bathroom

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Kitchen cabinets

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Master bathroom cabinets

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Kitchen area cabinets

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Entryway in the making

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