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! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Decor Inspiration: Bedroom Makeover

My home is filled with a random assortment of furniture that my fiance and I have either received as hand-me-downs or bought off of Craigs List over the years. Now that we're both working full time and about to get married, we're starting to shop around for pieces of furniture that are more reflective of our decor styles as opposed to whatever we can get on the cheap. We recently picked out this bed for our bedroom, which is the perfect combination of exactly what I wanted (ivory) and exactly what Brett wanted (anything but a fabric headboard). We still have a ways to go in making over our bedroom, so I've been searching high and low for decor ideas. My preferred decor style is one that sets a relaxing and warm mood and is filled with soft neutral colors and textures.

Photo credit:,,, pinterest, pinterest,,,,

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Warm Weather Retreat

Every year around this time when the post-holiday blues have set in and the weather gets colder, I find myself longing for warmer temperatures, sandy beaches, and beautiful sunsets. It's also this time of year that stores start displaying a large inventory of spring clothing and accessories. Seeing the bright colors, cute cutouts, and flirty pieces makes me long for a vacation, especially since D.C. is currently covered in a blanket of snow. Although I don't have a warm weather retreat planned for this winter I can at least fantasize about some of the things that I would bring on a mid-winter beach vacation.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On My Bookshelf

There's nothing better than the feeling that reading a great book can give you. Books that really resonate with me can impact my mood and outlook on certain aspects of life, and almost become a part of me in a way.  Over the past several months I've read a handful of great books over a range of genres. I suggest you add these to your reading list asap, and I would love to hear what good books you've been reading lately.

The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green - This is an epic love story about a terminally ill teen and a cancer survivor who fall in love. Don't let the genre (teen/young adult) turn you off, because this novel is really intended for people of all ages. This book is so intelligent and witty, be prepared to laugh hysterically one moment and to grab for tissues the next. The movie adaptation comes out this June.

The Cross In the Closet, by Timothy Kurek - This is the true story of a man who grew up in a very conservative Christian family and was taught to hate those within the LGBTQ community. When Timothy shuns a close friend who comes out as gay, Timothy begins to question his own belief system. He decides to come out as gay to his friends and family in order to understand the lives of those about whom he's always felt extreme disgust and hate. His personal quest to learn more about himself and those he's condemned all his life is eye-opening on many levels.  

The Glass Castle: A Memoir, by Jeannette Walls - This is the most recent book that I've read and I couldn't put it down. This memoir follows the dysfunctional Walls family as the parents choose to live an unconventional existence as impoverished nomads and the children begin to realize that they're entitled to a better life. Parts of the memoir were quite disturbing and made me that much more thankful for my family and the life they provided for me and my brother growing up.

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden, by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer - I actually read this book a little over a year ago but I had to include it since it's probably the best book I've read over the past several years, period. Everyone remembers that evening in May 2011 when the President announced the successful operation that resulted in Osama bin Laden's death. This book is the firsthand account of that operation as told by a member of SEAL Team Six who helped carry out the mission. You can't help but feel an overwhelming amount of pride and thanks for our servicemembers and veterans when you read this book.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky - I read this book after seeing the movie, which is something that I rarely do. The movie resonated with me so much, however, that I knew I had to read the book. This is a coming of age tale, reminiscent of my all-time favorite book, The Catcher in the Rye. It's uniquely written in the format of letters from the narrator to an individual unknown to us readers, and it captures the emotions, excitement, heartbreak, and insecurities all tied to growing up and finding oneself.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn - If you haven't read this book yet then I'm sure you've at least heard of it. This book is suspense at its best and will have you constantly questioning whether you can believe anything the two narrators have led you to believe. Hurry up and read it before the movie starring Ben Affleck comes out in October. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How to Style a Bar Cart

I've spent a lot of time lately dreaming of fun ways to update our home and make it feel more "us." One of my favorite decorating ideas is the styled bar cart, and if you follow me on Pinterest then you know that my love of bar carts is well documented. Even though my fiance and I aren't big drinkers, it's nice to have some drink staples on hand when friends come over and even better when they're presented in a glamorous, old-fashioned sort of way. One of my best friends recently added a perfectly styled bar cart to her place using this chic, yet affordable, bar cart, and I was inspired to dream up what my ideal bar cart would look like.

More styled bar cart inspiration...

Photo credits: Style Me Pretty, A Refined Outlook, Pinterest, Refinery 29, Swoonworthy 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

SAG Awards: Best Dressed List

{ Lupita Nyong'o in Gucci }

Growing up I always looked forward to watching the big award shows with my mom. We loved watching the glamorous celebrities strut the red carpet even if we hadn't seen the majority of the movies nominated. This weekend I made a much needed trip home to visit family, and I was thrilled to watch an award show with my mom for probably the first time since I left for college. Just like old times, my mom and I planted ourselves in front of the TV last night and picked out our best dressed celebrities. Here are our favorites of the night. 

{ Jennifer Lawrence in Dior }

{ Gretchen Mol in J. Mendel } 

{ Amy Adams in Antonio Berardi }

{ Cate Blanchett in Givenchy }
{ Helen Mirren in Escada }

Photo credit: EOnline

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter Pastels

Probably one of the most talked about trends this winter is a trend usually reserved for warmer months. Pastels exude such a soft and romantic vibe that when paired with silvers, golds, and champagnes, it's no wonder that this is winter's favorite trend. Typically I reach for anything in black or white, but a frosty pastel piece adds such a happy pop of color to any outfit. Here are a few things I have my eye on.   

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mini S'mores Cups

Here's an update on an old classic that I absolutely love. I've been making these mini s'mores cups for a few years now after discovering them on Pinterest. This has become one of my go-to desserts because they are so easy to make and the taste can't be beat. If you're looking for a real crowd pleaser, then look no further.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Golden Globes: Best Dressed List

Truth be told, the Golden Globes are like my Super Bowl. It's by far my favorite award show. I find the format of the show and the hosts - Tina Fey and Amy Poehler killed it again - to be much more fun than other award shows and it's apparent that everyone there is having the time of their lives. Not to mention, the red carpet is always spectacular. It's the perfect mix of classy elegance with a touch of risk taking, more so than you'll see on the Oscar red carpet. Yesterday I was glued to my TV as soon as the first celebrity's feet touched the red carpet and I was not disappointed. Here's a recap of my favorite red carpet moments of the 2014 Golden Globes. What were your favorites?

{ Olivia Wilde in Gucci }

{ Amy Poehler in Stella McCartney }

{ Lupita Nyong'o in Ralph Lauren }

{ Cate Blanchett in Armani }

{ Naomi Watts in Tom Ford } 

{ Elizabeth Moss in J. Mendel }

{ Zooey Deschanel in Oscar de la Renta }

Photo credit: Huffington Post, Huffington Post, E Online, Huffington Post, Huffington Post, E Online, USA Today

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Dip

When it comes to party food, to me nothing beats a delicious, savory dip that can just as easily be paired with vegetables as with bread. This past holiday season my fiance discovered this buffalo chicken dip that we made for two holiday parties and once just for ourselves (whoops!). Typically I'm averse to the flavor of buffalo chicken, but some how the flavor in dip form is absolutely addictive.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Office Supplies for the 9 to 5

Let's face it...the first full week of work after the holidays is always one of the hardest weeks to get through. After all the holiday fun and parties, visiting with friends and family, sleeping in and rolling out of bed way past your usual wake up call, and relaxing on the couch to the point of feeling guilty, it is a true wonder how we make it through this first week of the new year. Sometimes all it takes to put a spring in your step at work is to surround yourself with pretty supplies that make working fun. Whether you work in a corporate office or from your home, these accessories will quickly turn your workspace into a lux environment. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winter Wear

Chances are that if you live in the U.S. then you are currently experiencing below freezing temps and lots of snowfall. We're in the dead of winter so venturing outdoors in this bitter cold requires the proper gear to avoid feeling like you could turn into an icicle. Extra layers, fabrics like wool and cotton, and the winter coats, accessories, and snow boots below will keep you warm enough to enjoy your favorite outdoor activities even during the chilliest of days this winter. Bundle up! 

Most of these items are currently on sale so hurry up before they're gone!

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Resolution for 2014

I hope you all had a wonderful 2013, and I wish for you all to have the best year yet in 2014. I have a great feeling about 2014, and I'm looking forward to experiencing a major life moment this year - getting married!! Amazing things are in store for all of us!

I initially started this blog three years ago almost to the day, and my second post featured my resolutions for the year of 2011. It's funny to look back on that post because my resolution for this year is very similar to those I made in 2011. I often find myself consumed by the stresses of work or overwhelmed by a growing to do list. Sure, this isn't atypical in the world we live in, but it's certainly not the path to happiness. This year I resolve to focus more on the things that genuinely bring me joy and to devote more time to the causes in which I strongly believe. These are the things that will matter just as much 50 years down the road as they do now. So my motto for a refined life in 2014 is: do more of what makes you happy.

Photo credit: Pinterest

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