Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Woman's Love For Shoes

I was late to develop the stereotypical love of shoes that women often have. I've always much preferred shopping for clothes or handbags, but lately I've gained a strong appreciation for how easily a pair of shoes can amplify an entire look. I’m constantly on the lookout for a high quality pair of shoes at a great discount (they’re out there if you look hard enough). To be honest, I think I've developed a shoe obsession and now there’s no turning back. Here are some that I’m currently coveting from afar.  

Clockwise from top left: Pierre Hardy Cube Cutout Pump / Jimmy Choo 'Hourly' Pump / Sergio Rossi Beaded Sandal / Christian Louboutin Crystal Mesh Pump / Kate Spade Bow Slingback / Bionda Castana Snakeskin Pump / Prada Square-Stud Suede Sandal / Saint Laurent Studded Pump / Charlotte Olympia Minx Leather Pump / Oscar de la Renta Metallic Jacquard Pump / Gianvito Rossi Embellished Pump

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Staples To Wear This Fall

{ mixing summer's mesh or eyelet with classic fall plaid }

August marks the end of summer and the point when everyone beings shifting gears to fall.  Every year around this time I get antsy to update my fall wardrobe, but at the same time try to find ways to incorporate my summer favorites into colder weather outfits. Here are some ways I plan to blend summer and fall trends together to get the maximum use out of key summer pieces.

{ adding a leather jacket over top a summer jumpsuit }

{ pairing a sweater with a maxi dress or maxi skirt }

{ teaming boots and a bulky sweater with a leather mini }

{ Photo credit: 1 / 2 /3 / 4 }

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Bucket List

It’s already August and I’m not sure where this summer has gone.  My new favorite weekend ritual this summer is to grab a coffee from a local cafe and sprawl out on a blanket with a good book in a park, choosing a different park each weekend.  Not only does this ensure some relaxation and reading each weekend (not to mention good coffee), but it has allowed me to explore neighborhoods of D.C. that I’ve rarely been to in the seven years I’ve lived in the area.  It leaves me feeling fulfilled and reminds me that this is what summer is all about - the great outdoors, exploration, and new experiences.  I’ll be sure to continue my weekend mornings in the park and plan to have just as much fun tackling the other items on my bucket list this summer.

A Refined Outlook’s Summer Bucket List

1) Make a summer spritzer using the lemoncello that my parents gifted to me ages ago

2) Clean and organize each room in the house

3) Update my work wardrobe

4) Join an online book club (a few favorites include: one, two, three)

5) Finish my Sex and the City marathon

6) Educate myself on home-buying and mortgages

7) Host a girls’ brunch

8) Create a summer playlist

9) Find new accent pillows for the living room

10) Dine al fresco in my own backyard

11) Experiment with hair styles for my newly short hair

What do you plan to accomplish this summer?

P.S. You can find my Fall bucket list here.

{Photos courtesy of Style Me Pretty and Project Wedding}

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summertime Peach Ice Cream

Last weekend I got the urge to make something for dessert that felt quintessentially ‘summery.’  Although I hadn’t decided what this dessert would be, I knew that it had to call for ingredients that are only in-season during the warmer months, not something that could be just as easily whipped up in the winter. Once I laid out the criteria, it took about five seconds to settle on my summer dessert - homemade peach ice cream.  

Fresh peaches have been a summertime favorite of mine since I was a kid and ice cream is a summer no-brainer.  My husband and I came up with the recipe below, and the outcome is beyond either of our expectations.  The rich peach flavor coupled with the sweet cream mixture is everything you could want in a dessert.  And a new go-to summer recipe is made!


Yields: 2 quarts (16 servings)

Time: Preparation 2 hours, ready in 6.5 hours

5 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
1 tsp vanilla extract
1¾ cups white sugar
¼ tsp salt

1) In a saucepan, mix together the egg yolks, heavy cream, half-and-half, and vanilla extract on medium heat, stirring often.  Do not allow the mixture to boil.  Once, the mixture is hot, add the sugar and salt to the saucepan, and mix well.  Continue to cook on medium heat for approximately three more minutes so the sugar and salt dissolve, continuing to stir often.  Remove from heat and allow to cool in the saucepan, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on the surface.  Once cool, strain the mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap touches and lays across the surface of the mixture.  Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.  (The plastic wrap trick prevents a skin from forming on the surface of the mixture while cooling.)
2) Puree the peaches in a food processor until smooth.  Cool in the refrigerator for an hour.
3) Add the peach puree to the cream mixture, and mix well.  
4) Turn on your stand mixer to the slowest setting and pour the mixture into the frozen ice cream bowl attachment.  Mix until the mixture thickens, or approximately 25 minutes.
5) Transfer the ice cream to a storage container and freeze for at least five hours.  
6) Enjoy a bowl-full (even better with fresh peaches thrown on top) and save the rest for up to two weeks!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back At It

You guys, I’m back! A new job, a wedding, and a honeymoon all had me tied up and overwhelmingly busy for the past few months. While the job is still busy and going great, the wedding and honeymoon (I’ll be sharing more on those soon!) are behind me, so now I can devote more time to the things I love, including this blog. I have a great roundup of posts ready to go, so check back tomorrow for the first of many.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wishlist: Spring Forward

To say that this has been a brutal winter would be an understatement. Even those who love winter and snow are begging for spring at this point. After a fantastic run along the Potomac and a cookout this past weekend, I'm reminded of all the fun and happiness that warm weather brings. The number one thing on my spring wishlist is that these warmer temperatures stick around. The rest of my wishlist is packed with furniture, florals, and light pastels and neutrals.    

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Orleans Style Shrimp Po'boys

Happy Fat Tuesday! New Orleans is one of my favorite cities, and one of the many things I love about it is its food culture, which is so unique from anywhere else in the country. From seafood gumbo to beignets, there's no shortage of rich decadent flavor when eating your way through New Orleans. The first thing I ever ate in New Orleans was a shrimp po'boy and it remains one of my favorite meals to this day. My fiance and I have nearly perfected this New Orleans staple, and it's been on heavy rotation in our house for several years. There's no better time than Mardi Gras to try the recipe for yourself.


Yields: 4 Po'boys

Time: 25 minutes

1 egg
2 cups flour
salt and pepper
2 cups canola oil
1 pound of uncooked shrimp, peeled
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
pinch of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon lime juice
2 French baguettes
1½ cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 large tomato, sliced

1) Crack the egg into a small bowl. Fill a mixing bowl with the flour, mixing in a pinch of salt and pepper.
2) Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Once warm, dip the shrimp first into the egg and then into the flour, coating the shrimp completely. Place the shrimp in small batches into the frying pan until golden brown, roughly four minutes. Remove shrimp from pan and place on a drying rack.
3) Mix together mayonnaise, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and lime juice in a small bowl, then spread mayonnaise mixture over each half of the baguette. Top with shrimp, shredded lettuce, and sliced tomato. Your New Orleans Style Po'boy is ready to serve!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Academy Awards: Best Dressed List

{ Kate Hudson in Atelier Versace }

The fashion gods were at work at the 2014 Oscars. I have never been so floored by award show fashion than I was last night. From everyone's new girl crush, Lupita Nyong'o, to seasoned "best dressed list" veteran, Cate Blanchett, there was no shortage of jaw-dropping moments on the Oscar red carpet. To top it off, Ellen was hilarious, Lupita danced with Pharrell, and Jennifer Lawrence fell on the red carpet...what more could you ask for out of an award show? Anyway, back to the fashion, here are my favorite looks of the night.

{ Lupita Nyong'o in Prada }

{ Olivia Wilde in Valentino and Jason Sudeikis in Prada }

{ Naomi Watts in Calvin Klein Collection }

{ Cate Blanchett in Giorgio Armani }

{ Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Couture }

{ Camilla Alves in Gabriela Cadena }

{ Emma Watson in Vera Wang }

{ Portia de Rossi in Naeem Khan }

Photo credit: E!Online

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fun Valentine's Day Cards

Valentine's Day is this Friday, and in case you're still looking for the perfect card to express your feelings for your loved ones, here are some fun options to brighten someone's day.

P.S. These digital Valentines are so great, I wanted to include them all.

{ Etsy }

{ Etsy }

{ Etsy }

Friday, February 7, 2014

Summer Dreams

My distaste for the polar vortex has already been revealed here and here, so rather than harp on that fact I'll just pretend to be anywhere sunny and warm. I love these photos of a glam day at the beach from Elle Singapore. The floral prints and classic black and white suits and coverups will serve as great inspiration for my spring/summer shopping. Overall this editorial happily reminds me that beach days will be here before we know it.

Photo credit: Elle Singapore

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cold Weather Treatments

According to our groundhog friend, Punxsutawney Phil, we have to suffer through six more weeks of this unbearably cold winter. I honestly can't believe that I haven't packed my things and headed out west to the beautiful and always warm SoCal. My skin and hair have really taken a beating in these severely cold and dry conditions, so I've had to up my game on moisturizing routines to keep my skin and hair healthy. Here are a few of my favorite moisturizing products to use year round, but especially in the colder and drier months.

Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo & Conditioner - I recently discovered this combo at my hair salon. The shampoo and conditioner leave your scalp feeling tingly (in a good way), and they smell so fresh like menthol. They are great products for both men and women and will treat dry scalp in no time.

Chapstick, Classic Original - An oldie but a goodie. I've tried a ton of lip moisturizers, but nothing tops the original.

Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream - Keeps cuticles healthy and prevents nails from drying out and chipping. It doubles as a lip moisturizer too.

Dr. Hauschka Moisturizing Day CreamGoes on light but keeps your face moisturized all day long without making it oily. This moisturizer is perfect for people with dry skin or combination skin, like myself. 

Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Night Cream - This is the best beauty product I've discovered in years because it has completely cured my dry and itchy eyes. Even though it's labeled as night cream, I use it in the morning and at night. A little goes a long way, so this container will last you a while.

St. Ives Naturally Soothing Body Lotion - Fantastic for getting rid of dry skin, with a pleasant but not overpowering scent. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Nail Polish Shades for Spring

One of the quickest and easiest ways to update your look and feel put together is with a mani and pedi. I love catching up with girlfriends on a mani/pedi date, especially as the weather gets warmer and our toes get more exposure. I tend to have the most fun with my nail color in the springtime and I can't wait to try all of these fun colors this Spring.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Wishlist : Wonderful World of White

Maybe it's because I constantly have wedding planning on my mind or because the older I get the more I like calming influences, but I just can't get enough of the color white. I now prefer classic shades of white, black, and metallics to the bold bright colors I adored in the past. Whether it's housewares or wardrobe, my current wishlist has been overrun by all things white.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Super Bowl Snacks

The Super Bowl is just a few days away, and whether you're hosting a big party or having a low key viewing, it's no Super Bowl without a variety of snacks. In fact, the snacks are the best part! Here are a couple of my favorites that would be perfect to munch on during the Super Bowl.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

I'm pretty sure the first time I ever had barbecue chicken pizza was at California Pizza Kitchen, and it's been one of my favorite varieties of pizza ever since. Nowadays I'm more likely to make homemade pizza than get it from a pizza shop, so I decided it was time to learn how to replicate CPK's version. This is a quick and easy weeknight meal, and so yummy that I guarantee it will become a favorite in your house as well. 


Yields: One 14 inch pizza

Time: 30 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
¼ cup barbecue sauce
1 ball of fresh store bought pizza dough
¼ cup flour
⅓ cup barbecue sauce
1½ cups shredded mozzarella
½ cup shredded cheddar
¼ small red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (*optional)

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees with pizza stone inside.
2) Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once warm, cook chicken until done, approximately 5 minutes. Coat the chicken in ¼ cup barbecue sauce and set aside.
3) Sprinkle flour on clean surface, then roll out pizza dough using both hands or a rolling pin. If dough begins to stick to your hands or the rolling pin, then add more flour. Work at it until you've created the pizza size you desire.
4) Take the pizza stone out of the oven, being careful to not burn yourself. Transfer the dough to the pizza stone. The next steps must be done quickly so as not to burn the dough before the pizza cooks in the oven.
5) Using a large spoon, spread the barbecue sauce all over the pizza, leaving room for the crust. Sprinkle cheeses on top, followed by the cooked chicken and chopped red onion. If you have any extra cheese, sprinkle a handful or two on top. Pop the pizza into the oven.
6) Bake for approximately 8 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.
7) Once cooked, remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with cilantro. Slice and serve! 

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