August 24, 2011

..Fall Wedding Fashions

I don’t really consider myself a go-to girl for fashion advice, but I recently received a request from a friend to do a post on Fall wedding fashions and felt up to the job (not to mention it was really fun putting the different looks together with the Paint program I haven’t used since 3rd grade). 
I also decided it was a fantastic time to do my first ever "co-post," so I have asked my very fashionable friend, Katie,  to do me the honor.  She always seems to be thinking outside of the box, yet manages to stay on trend.  I love being surprised by her wardrobe choices each day, so I thought it would be great to get her perspective on this particular topic. Everyone.. meet Katie :)

We’ve decided to tackle the job by each putting together two looks that we would actually buy and wear to a wedding this coming season.  It’s just too easy to hit, pick a great $500 Alice+Olivia dress with designer accessories to match, and call it a day. While it's great to visit fantasy-land once and a while, neither of us are residents, so it's not very probable that we would actually do that.  The choices we’ve made are more down to earth, sprinkled with some basic pieces here and there that you can probably find in your closet already (gold strappys, black suede heels) so the idea isn’t to go out and buy all new stuff.  See our choices below!
Erin's Picks:

I recently purchased my first “peplum” skirt from H&M and I am in LOVE.  They are so flirty and romantic (and manage to hide my booty) so I was immediately drawn to this one.  I also really dig the navy, pink, and gold combo. This look would definitely be more for early-mid Fall while the weather is still comfortable.

I love the little bits of color that come through in the fabric of this dress,  you can basically wear any color jewelry with it for that reason, but I have been seeing green dangle earrings everywhere recently and now feel that I must get my hands on a pair.   

It looks like a thicker warmer material that I would definitely pair with sheer tights and bring a wrap in case it becomes colder in the evening.  I also love that the ripples in the ring mirror the layers on the dress.

Katie's Picks:

Fall for me is about COLOR (red, oranges, green, mustard yellow, rich blues of any shade).
Choosing an ensemble with fall colors and lighter weight fabrics allows me to be festive yet comfortable – because, as we all know; summer heat likes to linger a little too long. I love the bold red printed dress with the chunky grey suede heel. Adding a touch of shimmer in the belt and jewels dresses it up… and I am always a fan of mixing metals.

I thought I would also throw in a long sleeved idea – for when it does eventually cool off. Love the cut and color of this dress. I would pair with funky statement earrings (this DANNIJO pair would be a splurge and a half even at the sale price, but you get the idea) and unexpected pop of color on the toe. So fun!

Happy dress shopping!

August 22, 2011

..Stuffed Mushrooms

This appetizer is ALWAYS a huge hit, I promise.  I guess you just can’t go wrong with something that mixes bacon and cream cheese together (if you can’t tell by every food post thus far...all my favorite dishes include cream cheese...I could live off of the stuff).  Even people who claim they don’t like mushrooms like this particular appetizer.  I get asked for this recipe 90% of the time after I make it for a party or bring it to an event.   There are so many variations of a stuffed mushroom but I really enjoy this combo. I seriously suggest you nab a couple before you put them out because they go fast.

I don’t work from any particular recipe, my first experience with this was in college trying to replicate something I had at a restaurant basically from what I assumed was inside, which wasn’t very good.  Since then I have varied/added/scrapped things until I settled on the simple combination below which I think tastes the best (but it can absolutely be altered to your own taste). The photos below show the recipe doubled because I was cooking for a large party.  I recently experimented with a less fattening version that was taste-test approved by friends, so just ask or E-mail me if you would like that variation.  I am happy to provide it :)

2 Packages of Mushrooms (I used regular white but have also experimented with the baby bella’s and they are just as delish).
6 Slices of Bacon (crumbled)
½ Onion (diced)
1 Package Cream Cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Garlic Clove (minced)
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese


1. Wipe off (do not run under water) any dirt from the mushrooms with a damp cloth.  Pop out the stems and set aside. This leaves the hole in the middle to stuff. Place all the de-stemmed mushrooms on a tin foiled pan and set aside. Cut off the dirty ends of the stems then mince and set aside.

2. Cook about 6 slices of bacon to a crisp. Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel and let it dry. Crumble or chop the bacon and set aside.  Reserve a couple tablespoons worth of the drippings from the bacon in the pan.

3. Take your diced onion and cook it in one tablespoon of olive oil and the left over bacon drippings (this is the secret to infusing the bacon-y taste throughout!) After they cook for about two minutes, add the chopped up stems and garlic to the pan to cook with the onion until the onion is translucent but not brown (just a few more minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

4. In a large mixing bowl add cream cheese, the hot mushroom/onion mixture, chopped bacon, Parmesan cheese, and blend.  

5. I put the filling into a piping bag for easy stuffing but you can just spoon it into them if you don’t have one.   Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top when you are done stuffing.

6. Set temp to 400 and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms turn a darker brown color. YUMMY :)

August 21, 2011

..Easy Coiffed Hair

I always get questions about my hair when I wear it in loose waves.  The other day I was standing on line at H&M and the woman behind me couldn't get over the fact that it only takes under ten minutes to get the look (the one located on F street in DC has lines at least 20 minutes long so it's easy to make friends on your journey to the register through bins of bangles, lint rollers, and leopard print umbrellas).

I have naturally confused hair.  It’s not straight and not curly, it’s just bad.  So my options are:

1. Spend 20 minutes straightening it out (I have to blow dry it nicely, then section it off, and then run it over with the straightener).
2. Wear it up.
3. Wave/Curl it - this I will explain below.

The best part about this look is you don’t have to abuse your hair twice.  Just let it air dry, sometimes I shower the night before and don't worry about the blow dryer in the morning (huge time saver).  You can blow it out but if you do it doesn’t have to be perfect, I actually prefer some natural wave to come through.  See my icky before hair below.



Now all you need are two things to accomplish this, and to tell you the truth the two products I use for this are really inexpensive!  

1.   A ¾ inch curling iron.  I use Conair’s “Instant Heat” which you can get from CVS for under 15 bucks. 
2.   A non-hardening hairspray. I use Sauvé’s “Touchable Finish” which you can get at any grocery store for $3.

1.   Pull groups of hair (not too big we don’t want to be Shirley Temple), starting around your part and twist around the curling iron away from your face (the direction you would go if you were going to pin it to the back of your head). Just hold it there for about 10 seconds (you don’t need it to be super bouncy so don’t hold it down for much longer than that).
2.   If you have thick straight hair you might need to spend more time pulling smaller pieces to lighten the curling iron's load.
3.   When all of the hair around your part/crown is done just pull the hair from underneath that you think needs it, the idea isn’t to curl every single section of your hair.
4.   Shake it up with your hands and spray with non-hardening hairspray.
5.   You can loosen it up to your liking with a brush.
6.   All better!

August 20, 2011

..A Steal on YSL Heels

1. Okay yeah right.. I didn't really go out and buy YSL shoes. 
2.I knew this would be a recurring themed post but I didn't think it would be this soon after the first (oh my addiction..) anyway.. here we are again!   

I have longed to own a pair of sky high YSL heels ever since the celebs I love (lets be serious..stalk is a better word) started rocking them to all the fabulous events they attend, however,  I have decided that I will probably never own a pair due to the fact that 1.  I have no fabulous events to attend 2.  They'll put you back a cool $795 which is not an option for me at my present career level (the bottom) and 3. You can get a very similar style for about $700 less.  Let me explain #3. 
1. YSL "Too High Pump" in Beige Suede - $795

2. Pour la Victoire "Irina" Pump - $245
3. Kelsi Dagger "Linzy" Pump - $119
Featured in #1 is the real deal.  Now I always thought that the shoes in picture #2 were the next best thing..however.. I have found and even better priced version that is literally the exact same shoe (#3).  I wasn't exactly sure considering the price difference but now that I own both brands I can attest that you should just skip the contemplation and go for the Kelsi Dagger version. 

Now to be clear, my very first pair of fancy pants “Pour la Victoire” shoes came in today and I am smitten.  They are high enough to make me appear less stump-like and just the right little punch of color to brighten up whatever I wear them with (I featured the beige above to highlight their similarities but I got them in turquoise). YAY!  I originally wanted them in yellow (seen here) but I decided the bold blue-green color would be just as fun but more forgiving of my sun-deprived pale legs (even my favorite tan-in-a-bottle Sublime Bronze can't save them now). I also got them for a great deal (are you guys sick of me talking about what great sales I’ve been finding yet?) They were regularly $245 but have been reduced to $99 on (plus I got them on extra 10% off Tuesday = $90)  and although I did get them for a great deal, I got the beige Kelsi Dagger ones at DSW for only $54 (with coups) a couple months ago. Can you see the difference?  Well I have personally examined both of them closely and I cant either.

August 18, 2011

..J.Crew Dresses

If you are an avid J.Crewist like myself you might want to mosey on over to their sale section right now because it is AMAZING.   One of the things l love most about J.Crew is when they have a sale, they do it up right and are basically giving away all their stuff by the end of it.  The key is to try to hold out as long as possible because the prices go down each week.  I have a weekend trip planned for a wedding and a 25th anniversary party coming up int he next month so I stocked up on dresses.  See my purchases (and insane savings) below.  I got three for the price of one and they even threw in free shipping!

1.       Cotton Taffeta Shelby Dress - 225.00 now 99.99
2.       Alannah Dress in Silk Organza – 250.00 now 69.99
3.       Belinda Dress in Cotton Gauze – 138.00 now 69.99

August 16, 2011

..Bright Punchy Lipstick

Left - "Orange Flip"  Right- "Love that Pink" (both Revlon)

I don’t know about you guys, but my world became completely void of actual lip color as soon as I came out of my experimental middle school years.  It actually makes me cringe to think that there are pictures out there of me rocking white eye-liner, blue sparkle eye-shadow, and baby pink lipstick that may or may not be lined with brown (I can’t remember who or what started that god awful trend but 11 year olds are very impressionable.. that is my excuse and I’m sticking to it).  These days my lips are lucky to get a simple swipe of Chap Stick.  Even on the rare occasion that I use a little lip gloss, its usually just a transparent pink color of some sort that closely resembles my natural lip color.  Well, I have had a major change of heart.

I love lipstick!  There is something so classically beautiful about a woman who can wear it comfortably. I think that’s one of the main reasons why it’s totally won me over; you just can’t help but have your confidence boosted while sporting the look. I was standing in CVS one day and saw this color I read about on one of my favorite blogs.  It was something I would normally NEVER look twice at but I was in the mood to step out of my element a little so I purchased the lipstick and was really pleasantly surprised.  I liked it so much I went out and got another color the next day.   Of course it’s not for every day but it definitely adds a little pep to my step on the weekends.  I am wearing Revlon’s “Love that Pink” below.

Would you rock these colors?

August 15, 2011

..Easy Peasy Homemade Cream Cheese Icing

There are few things in this world that bring more happiness to people than cupcakes.  I am a lover of all things cupcake and I must have this in common with the masses or there wouldn’t be a new cupcake boutique going into business every other day to torment my waist-line.  As much as I like to sample different bakeries’ confectionary concoctions (and have my favorites amongst them - I’m convinced Curbside Cupcake’s “Tequila Sunrise” cupcake is made with crack), I don’t think it can ever get much better than a homemade one.

I really feel that all vanilla cake is pretty similar no matter where you go.  Even if you decide to make it from scratch, some of you may disagree, but to me, plain white cake is plain white cake.  For this reason I've decided that when this is the flavor of choice--you can cheat and buy the box, which is what I did for this recipe (I will forever have a special place in my heart for Funfetti flavor even though it’s the same exact thing with the addition of some sprinkles).  I do make cake batter from scratch but only when it’s a special flavor like pumpkin or Oreo.  

As much as I appreciate the quick store bought cake mix, I am a serious hater on store bought icing. It's not that I wont eat it (better than no icing), but you can just tell it’s not made with real butter and mass produced. Everyone should have an easy icing recipe in their back pocket to whip up instead and in my opinion, cream cheese makes everything better, so this one is a great one to start with (and it's white so you can dye it if desired).

1 Package of Cream Cheese
1 Stick of Slightly Softened Butter
Vanilla Extract
Confectioners’ Sugar

Bake cupcakes according to box directions.
Blend whole package of cream cheese, butter, and splash of vanilla together  (I have doubled the recipe here because I needed it for two boxes worth of cupcakes).

Gradually add confectioners’ sugar little by little as you mix until you’ve dumped in roughly three cups worth.  Add dye if you want (I used blue here) at the end and you’re done!

Scoop mixture into a piping bag and ice the cupcakes.  For this recipe I used a Wilton bag and 1M tip.  I made these for a surprise engagement party this past weekend.  Since they are the future “Mr. and Mrs. Mattens,” I ordered little “M” toothpicks from Oriental Trading that also came with 100 of those cute cupcake holders all for $5.00…such a steal!  Here is the end result.

August 12, 2011

..A Steal on Heels

There are two things in this world where if I was forced to leave the house without.. I would seriously consider just not going.  Those things are mascara and heels. I once had an epic fall in Dewey Beach that left me with bruised, blood-stained legs, a seriously injured toe, and little dignity the next morning.  I detest the thought of wearing flats out to a public bar so much that come the next evening I slapped a band-aid on it, put on my turquoise strappy’s, and suffered through (with the help of LOTS of tequila). I would work out in them if that were acceptable.  This is due to the unfortunate fact that I was born with stumpy legs and always admired the long leggy modelesque look.  Since this is completely unattainable for me (I’ve only been able to grow to 5”2 on my own), I get by with a little help from my shoe friends.  Stilettos, platforms, wedges, I don’t discriminate, the higher the better.  Sometimes I plan what I’m going to wear entirely around the shoe I have in my head (I know there has to be others out there that do the same!).  For this reason this post’s theme will likely be a recurring one.

I take pride in being one of the best bargain hunters around. Whether I’m shopping for apparel, home goods, or groceries, I usually know how to shave off a little dinero from the final bill.  I’m not exactly an “extreme couponist” yet, but my last trip to Harris Teeter did result in $100 worth of groceries for $40 (baby steps). I know some of the readers of this blog will think this is totally cringe-worthy (because well all of the readers of this blog are my classy friends) but I found the steal of a lifetime at...(here comes the part where you cringe)… WET SEAL.

I live across the street from the worst “mall” (if you can call it that) in America.  Sometimes I end up meandering around in there because it’s so close and I like to explore the “As Seen on TV” store.  However I ended up in there, I found these super cute heels that were marked down to $21 dollars from $30!  Yes I know you’re thinking these are your run of the mill Forever21ish-quality shoe so that’s not the GREATEST deal but it gets better.  I went to pay for my bargain purchase and was pleasantly surprised when the cashier informed me that I get another pair for just one penny!  I deemed the other shoes in there completely unacceptable to be seen wearing in public so I just snagged the same ones in black and brown.  Check ‘em out! 

August 9, 2011

..A Beachy Bachelorette

As I previously mentioned, this past weekend was my friend Brittany’s bachelorette party in Ocean City, MD.  The weekend was so incredibly spectacular I actually felt somewhat teary eyed Monday morning when some of the songs we played over and over again came on my iPod while on my way to the metro for work.  Yes, I already miss those memories that much.  It was just one of those weekends where we enjoyed every single second that the weekend had to offer us from sunrise to well.. sunrise (with the help of some 5 Hour Energy).  Here are my favorite highlights in no particular order:

1. I can’t resist any reason to do something crafty and cute and this was definitely a great excuse so I decided to assemble some fun mini beach pails that fit the mixed theme of extreme girl-ness and the beach. My girlfriend Sumner helped me fill them.
·         Hot pink mini sand pails personalized for each guest
·         “Dare scratch offs” which were very fun!
·         Pink party beads
·         Giant diamond rings that double as shot glasses
·         Lollipops
·         Zebra print bows that also match the zebra streamers.
·         Lei and hibiscus flower clip for bride to be

2. We got there a little early so the bride to be could walk into her decked out condo for the weekend.  It was actually one of my favorite parts of the trip! So much fun just playing music and decorating the pad. In my opinion it looked absolutely perfect. Here are some shots of the entire condo (pre risqué paraphernalia of course).

3. Champaign toasts in the afternoon sun.

4. A three course personalized meal (yes you read that correctly.. it just kept getting better..).

5. Adorable gifts for all the guests (the bag is filled with a fun lip gloss, eye shadow, and makeup setter).

6. More toasts to great friends.

7. Most importantly -- great friends (and making new ones).