Thursday, November 27, 2014

See's Candies at Fashion Island and a Giveaway!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Since today is a day filled with delicious foods and being thankful, I thought it would be the perfect day to talk about chocolate.  I mean, I don't know about you, but I am thankful for chocolate!

Recently I was invited to a media event to check out the new See's Candies store at Fashion Island the day before it's grand opening.  If you can't tell, I L-O-V-E dessert so I was super excited to go.  To make it even more fun, I went with one of my very good friends and fellow bloggers, Amy.

Not only did I get to check out the new store, I got to sample to my hearts content, and did I ever.  If you have ever been to See's, then you know that you get a sample every time you go.  I'm not going to lie, sometimes when I'm running errands I decide I should pick up a Scotchmallow for Josh (those are his all time favorites and one of See's top 5 sellers).  Even though I tell myself it's for Josh, I'm the one who gets a yummy sample to eat right then so we both win.  This night I was welcome to enjoy unlimited samples...I was in heaven.  We also had a fun little head to head race where we packed our own 1/2 pound boxes.  We had two types to choose from but I filled mine with all Dark Butterchews.  If you haven't tried this one yet, I highly recommend it.  The Dark Butterchew is a chewy vanilla brown sugar caramel covered in dark chocolate and it is one of my absolute favorites.

I love dessert and I will happily eat the leftover Halloween candy in our house but there is no comparison between the preservative filled stuff in our Halloween bucket and the preservative free, aged chocolate heaven that you get at See's Candies.  See's make 100 delicious varieties of treats and sells over 1 billion pieces a year.  In addition to their standard fare, See's also has special seasonal candies and packaging.

I love the fall leaf on this packaging and don't even get me started on the seasonal pie truffles.  I'm not usually a fan of white chocolate, but the pecan pie truffle was OUT OF THIS WORLD!

See's makes it easy to celebrate any holiday.  Of course they have lots of great Christmas products, but they have Chanukah too!  Since we celebrate both holidays in our family, I love it when a store gives me one stop shopping like this!

While I was there the store manager brought this out for us to try and instructed us to eat it the way he handed it to us.

It was the See's Candies version of a peanut butter and jelly.  Seriously you guys, MIND BLOWN!

I'm not usually a fan of fruity chocolates so I never in a million years would have bought the Strawberry Cream but I am sooooo glad that he gave us this to try.  If you can't tell, it's paired with a peanut butter patty.  This combination was unbelievably good.  If I wasn't already super full I would have asked for another.

Now that I have you drooling over all of these delicious treats, See's and I have a little Thanksgiving treat for you.   Enter below for a chance to win a $25 gift card to See's Candies.  This can be used in any See's Candies store, the new Fashion Island location is great because it is located on the outside edge of the mall (near Macy's) so you can just run in and out.  You can also use the gift card online with FREE shipping, score!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was a guest of See's at this media event and received some See's products to take home.  The gift card for this giveaway was provided by See's.  All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What I Wore - Tunic & Leggings

If you follow me on Instagram (I just got started so if you don't, please do) then you may have seen this picture of me a couple of weeks ago.

The beautiful lady next to me is my dear friend Amy, and she and I were lucky enough to get a preview of the new See's Candies store at Fashion Island.  I'll be posting all about that fun event later this week, but for now let's talk about what I wore.

Since I knew that I would be eating a ton small, ladylike amount of chocolate I wanted to wear something that glossed over my midsection.  This tunic was the perfect solution.  I picked it up at Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale but hadn't had an opportunity to wear it until now.  It's by Caslon which definitely runs big.  I had to get an XXS petite which is definitely NOT my normal size (I wish it was).  I love the visual interest added by the zipper details on the shoulders.

I layered it over my new Assets leggings to help smooth things out underneath my tunic and then added these cognac wedge boots to help balance it all out.  If you are still trying to decide what to wear on Thanksgiving, this would be a perfect outfit.

Tunic - Caslon - Similar
Leggings - Assets
Boots - Cathy Jean - old

I'm linking up with Style Elixer.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Casual & Inexpensive Thanksgiving Tablescape

As you most likely know by now I am not a fan of dishes.  I love decorating, cooking, and entertaining, but I do not like cleaning up after it all.  So this year I decided to keep it simple and disposable.  I used this tablescape for our annual Friendsgiving and I'll be using it again with our family on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving and Autumn tend to bring to mind orange and burgundy but I wanted a more neutral palette this year.  I started out with a basic white tablecloth (I bought two at Bed Bath & Beyond recently for $12 total!).  Then I added this burlap runner that I picked up at Michael's (with a 50% off coupon naturally).   I wanted to be able to reuse it so instead of cutting it to the length I needed, I had it go off the edge of the table and used binder clips to clip the excess to the bottom of the table.

I had originally planned to make my white pumpkins into votive candleholders.  I have seen this idea all over Pinterest but when Josh busted out the drill to make one, the practice pumpkin exploded.  Needless to say we decided to just leave them as is.  I spaced them evenly on the burlap runner and then sprinkled some mini pinecones in between.

In order to break up all the white I bought some craft paper and cut placemats out of it.  I'm not going to lie, this was more of a pain than I thought it would be.  Cutting them out was fine but since my craft paper was on a roll my placemats wouldn't stay flat.  I ended up ironing them with a burp cloth between the iron and the paper.  Even though it took a little more effort the result was exactly what I wanted.

As you can see in the pictures we used disposable everything; napkins, plastic silverware, plastic cups, and plastic plates.   This tablescape ended up being casual yet festive, rustic yet elegant, and most of all easy to clean up.  If you haven't figured out how you plan to decorate your Thanksgiving table, give this casual and inexpensive tablescape a try.

I'm linking up with Thrifty Thursday, Creativity Unleashed, Pin Junkie, Link Party Palooza, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Bakerette, PinWorthy Projects, Happy Holiday Linkup, Saturday Night Fever, Moonlight & Mason Jars, and The Weekend Social.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What I Wore - Practically Pajamas

So... Luke has decided that he doesn't take naps and that the 5 o'clock hour is a perfectly reasonable wake-up time.  As you can imagine, this results in one very tired baby and an equally tired (not to mention frazzled) mama.  After a particularly tough morning all I wanted to do was sit around in my pajamas all day, but we had a PTA meeting to get to so I had to get dressed.  I decided to wear the next best thing, clothes that feel like pajamas.

I picked up these pants at Old Navy a few weeks ago and while I think I probably would have been better off in an XS, they only had a S in this color and I really liked them so I bought them anyway.  The marled pattern makes them look a little nicer than sweatpants and they honestly could not be more comfortable.  They also have pockets which are perfect for slipping your phone or your keys into while running around at the park.  Old Navy doesn't have this exact pair anymore, but these are similar with a zip pocket which gives them sort of a moto vibe.

I paired it with a basic white tee and my favorite sweatshirt jacket and then slipped on some glitter TOMS to glam it up a bit.  If I'm totally honest, I'm not sure if I'm cool enough to pull this outfit off, but it's just so comfortable that I'm wearing it anyway.

I'm linking up with Style Elixer, Shopping My Closet, Pleated Poppy, and Get Your Pretty On.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Happy Family Baby Food Review

I received free products to try but all opinions are my own.

If you follow my blog then you know that I mostly make my own baby food.  That being said, sometimes, it is just easier to buy it.  When Luke was 7 months old we went to England for my younger sister's wedding and I couldn't exactly pack my Beaba Babycook so off to Target I went to stock up on pouches.  By the way, I think we can all agree that pouches are pretty much the greatest invention in baby food.  They make it so easy to bring food on the go.  Anyway, I spent about 45 minutes in that baby food aisle because there were just so many choices.  Ultimately I came home with a variety of choices from a variety of brands because I just couldn't decide.  I should have just stuck with the one brand I had experience with, Happy Family.

Back when Jake was little I discovered the Happy Bellies cereals.  I liked that they included DHA and probiotics.  Since DHA is good for brain development and probiotics keep your digestive system on track this puts them a step above the other baby cereals out there in my opinion.

In addition to their high quality cereals, Happy Baby has a wide variety of products for your little one.  From puffs to teething wafers to pouches, Happy Baby has you covered.  Luke looooves their puffs.  I'm pretty sure he has an extra sense because as soon as someone opens a puffs container he is a man on a mission.  I have to prevent him from accosting other mommies if they have puffs in hand.

If I'm not making the food that goes in my little one's mouth, I like knowing that I'm giving him the best there is and Happy Baby definitely fits the bill!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Salted Caramel Blondies

We have officially entered the season of potluck celebrations and homemade gifts.  If you are like me and love to bring desserts to dinner parties or give baked goods at the holidays, you NEED to add these blondies onto your list of goodies to make.  They are out of this world good, unbelievably easy, and are made in one bowl, well actually one saucepan.  Every time I make these, I set a couple aside for myself before I serve them because otherwise by the time I go to eat one they are already gone.  You will definitely be asked for the recipe, though you may not want to share because then people will know that they aren't nearly as fancy as they look. 

Start out by melting 2 sticks of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat and add in some brown sugar, white whole wheat flour, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir it all together until its completely combined.  Then pour the batter into a baking pan sprayed with baking spray.

Now for the tricky part, just kidding, there is no tricky part.  Sprinkle some Maldon sea salt all over the top.  You want to use a nice flaky salt for this.  Table salt is not nearly the same thing.  The Maldon salt is so worth the price.  If you want another use for it, try these Salted Caramel Brownies.  Better yet, make both and serve them together as two sides of the salted caramel coin so to speak.

Anyway, back to the blondies.  Bake the blondies at 350 for 15-18 minutes.  These were baked for 17 minutes.  Let them cool completely before you cut them into bars.  These Salted Caramel Blondies are deliciously rich.  I recommend enjoying them with a tall glass of cold milk.

Salted Caramel Blondies
Recipe adapted from iVillage
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Maldon sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 11 x 7 baking pan with baking spray.
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Turn off heat and add sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir together until completely combined.
  4. Pour into baking pan and smooth with a spatula.
  5. Sprinkle sea salt all over the top from high above the pan.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting.
I'm linking up with Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Whimsy Wednesdays, Wednesday Whatsits, Create It Thursday, and Pin It Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Cook it Craft It Share It, Weekend Social, Best of the Weekend, Link Party Palooza, Best Recipes, Weekend Potluck, Celebrate It, and Pinworthy Projects

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

The other day at Costco I saw Krusteaz pumpkin spice quickbread mix and I snapped it up.  I love pumpkin bread and since Halloween marks the start of my busy season (Halloween, Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and all 4 of our birthdays in a 74 day period) I like to make things easy when I can.  As a teacher myself, I know that it's always nice to get a little token of appreciation from the parents so when I volunteer in Jake's class I like to bring treats for the teachers.  This pumpkin spice bread was the perfect seasonal treat, but I wanted to make it a little fancier.  I decided to make it into a bundt cake and add a maple glaze.

This couldn't be easier.  Take 2 packages of Krusteaz pumpkin spice quickbread mix (the Costco box comes with 4) and mix it up with some water, vegetable oil, and four eggs.  Then stir in some chopped pecans because they are oh so good.  Pour the batter into a bundt pan sprayed with baking spray and bake at 350 for about an hour.

Let the cake cool in the bundt pan for about 10 minutes and then put it on a cooling rack to cool completely.  Once your cake is cool, whip up your maple glaze.  In a small saucepan melt together 2 tbls. of butter and 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup.  Once your butter is melted, whisk in a cup of powdered sugar until combined.  Pour immediately over your cooled bundt cake.  I recommend pouring the glaze on once it is on the serving plate.  I did it on a separate plate and then moved it once the glaze had set.  This left me with a few cracks in the glaze but it still tasted delicious. 

If you aren't feeling the maple glaze, I also made this quickbread as a snack cake for a little Halloween party (1 package of mix and 1/4 cup of pecans baked in an 8 inch pan).   To make it more festive I used my silhouette cameo to cut out a little pumpkin stencil.  After cutting my snack cake into squares I laid the stencil on each and sifted a little powdered sugar over the top.  Lift off the stencil and you have pumpkin decorated pumpkin bread.

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake
  • 2 packages Krusteaz pumpkin spice quickbread mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  •  2 tbls. butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1.  Preheat your oven to 350 and spray a bundt pan with baking spray.
  2. Mix together quickbread mix, water, oil, and eggs until combined.
  3. Stir in pecans and pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-65 minutes (until a tester comes out clean).
  4. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. To make glaze melt together butter and syrup.  Whisk in powdered sugar until smooth.  Pour onto bundt cake and let set.

I'm linking up with Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Whimsy Wednesdays, and Wednesday Whatsits,  Thrifty Thursday, Cook it Craft It Share It, Weekend Social, Best of the Weekend, Link Party Palooza, Best Recipes, Weekend Potluck, and Pinworthy Projects

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What I Wore - Black & White

We are finally experiencing a little bit of fall weather, of course it's supposed to be back in the 80s later this week but I'll take what I can get.  I had a super busy day so I wanted to be comfortable but still pulled together.  If you've been following my blog for a while you have probably noticed that comfortable yet pulled together is sort of my thing. 

During Nordstrom's anniversary sale I tried all of the Spanx leggings and none of them worked for me.  I was super sad because my sister has a great pair that she picked up at a great boutique by her house.  That pair was not available at Nordstrom.  It turned out to be lucky for me because I found the Assets leggings at Kohl's.  If you aren't familiar with the brand, Assets is the less expensive line from Spanx.  These ponte leggings are great.  They aren't like wearing a pair of Spanx (I wouldn't call Spanx comfortable), but they do have a high rise and help smooth things out a little bit.

This tunic top is a super old one from H & M.  I wore it before, during, and now after my pregnancy with Luke.  The downside is that it is drapey so it can sometimes show a little more cleavage than I'm comfortable with.  I usually solve this problem with a little Hollywood Fashion Tape (love that stuff), but since I'm nursing that wasn't going to work.  Enter the Coobie.  What looks like a layering tank is actually my favorite new bra.  The Coobie bra is amazing!  I'm wearing the lace trim v-neck coobie in black.  These bras are super comfortable.  They are sort of like a sports bra in that there is no clasp, it's just one piece.  They are also super cheap and almost always have coupon codes, check RetailMeNot.

I topped my outfit off with my new favorite sweatshirt jacket, previously seen here, and the Payless dexflex Claire flats seen here, here, here, and here.  This outfit was the perfect combination of black on black.  The dalmation spots on the top break it up just enough to add some visual interest and made my comfortable outfit perfectly stylish for my busy day.  Speaking of my busy day, sorry for the poor quality of photos.  When I got home at 9:30 I realized that I had never gotten around to taking outfit photos for today's post so I had Josh snap a few quick pics.  Just focus on the outfit and not the poor lighting or my tired face.