Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cranberry Goat Cheese Winter Salad & Grapefruit Vinaigrette



Hi Friends -  I hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas and are ready for the New Year!  I am so excited for 2015 - I have a feeling it will be great!  I recently read a quote that really resonated with me: "there are years that ask questions and years that answer."  I think 2015 will be full of answers - which is a good thing!  For my last post of 2014, I wanted to share a delicious salad recipe I have been loving lately - enjoy!


With the dreary weather and frigid temps that come with long winter months, I love to add a bit of color to my everyday by creating bright salads with seasonal ingredients.  Today, I am sharing a delicious recipe for a cranberry goat cheese winter salad.  I topped this yummy salad with a homemade grapefruit vinaigrette.  Typically, I purchase salad dressing at the grocery store, but have been loving experimenting with my own ingredients lately.  Do you have any favorite salad dressing recipes?  I'd love to hear them!  Ingredients and directions for salad and vinaigrette are below - I hope you give it a try!


Cranberry Goat Cheese Winter Salad:
Spring mix greens
Dried cranberries (I soaked mine in a mixture of grapefruit juice & water overnight, so they would plump up a bit)
Pecans, chopped
Red onion, roughly chopped
Goat cheese, crumbled

Combine above ingredients and toss to incorporate.

Grapefruit Vinaigrette:
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp grapefruit juice, fresh squeezed
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix honey, grapefruit juice, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper together.  Once combined, whisk in olive oil a bit at a time.  This recipe yields enough dressing for two hearty servings.  Pour over salad and enjoy!



Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year!  See you in 2015!

Love,
Aly

Monday, December 1, 2014

Gift Guide: The Cocktail Connoisseur

1/2/3/4/5/6/7

Happy Holidays!  I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Although I chose not to battle the 4am Black Friday crowds this year, I did get a head start on some of my holiday shopping.  I love thinking of unique gifts for family and friends, and wanted to share some of my favorite gift ideas for the cocktail connoisseur in your life.  I absolutely love the selection of cocktail and bar gifts found at Crate & Barrel, and they are having 15% off site-wide through the end of Cyber Monday! Happy Shopping!

Thanks for stopping by!

Love,
Aly

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Personal Sweet Potato Pies



Every year in the fall, I look forward to whipping up a batch of sweet potato casserole.  It's my go-to dish for family gatherings and always a hit with guests - even picky kids! This year, I decided to put a little twist on this classic dish, by creating personal sweet potato pies.  How cute are these?!


While the ingredient list and directions may look daunting, I promise - sweet potato pie is really hard to mess up! Don't be intimidated! My go-to recipe is below (adapted from Southern Living).

Ingredients:
  • 5 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (or 1/2 cup) softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • As many mini marshmallows as your heart desires!
Directions:
  • Wash and dry sweet potatoes and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake potatoes at 400 degrees for about an hour (or until you can easily slide in a fork).  Remove from oven and let cool completely (about 40 minutes). 
  • Once cooled, peel sweet potatoes and mash in a large bowl until smooth. 
  • Add 1 stick of softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup 2% milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Beat with a handheld mixer until your filling is smooth and fluffy!
  • Grease ramekins with cooking spray, and fill about half way with your sweet potato mixture. The potatoes will expand a bit while baking, so make sure you leave enough room for our cornflake topping and marshmallows!
  • In a separate bowl, mix crushed corn flakes, 2 tablespoons butter, brown sugar and chopped pecans.  Sprinkle atop your personal sweet potato pies.
  • Place ramekins on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Add a layer of marshmallows and toss back in the oven for and additional 7- 10 minutes.  Before removing from oven, I like to turn the broiler on low for a moment to get the marshmallows nice and toasted...seriously, do not look away while broiling! Those little marshmallows can go from brown to black really quickly.

Serve alongside smaller matching ramekins filled with mini marshmallows and brown sugar for added sweetness!


I hope you give these personal sweet potato pies a shot! What are you looking forward to making this season?



Love,
Aly

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Sausage Veggie Wrap



Happy Tuesday, friends!

Today, I wanted to share one of my favorite go-to recipes for an easy sausage veggie wrap.  A few months ago, my husband and I took a trip down to Florida to relax on the beach for a few days.  I was hoping to avoid fast food on the drive down and was so excited when I saw a roadside sign for a healthy dining option.  We stopped at Blue Moon Cafe in Eufaula, AL - where I tried a delicious goat cheese veggie wrap that I had to recreate at home.  I like to add in a bit of sausage for more substance - hope you give it a try!

  • Ingredients:
    • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 6 baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
    • 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
    • 1/4 link of sausage, sliced (pork, turkey, chicken...whatever your heart desires!)
    • Garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper
    • A handful of spinach leaves 
    • 1 spinach wrap
    • 1 tablespoon pesto sauce
    • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
    • A few crumbles of goat cheese
  • Directions:
    • In a small pan, heat coconut oil over low-medium heat. Season with a few dashes of garlic powder, onion power, salt and pepper.
    • Once coconut oil has melted, toss in sliced mushrooms, tomatoes and sausage.  Stir occasionally, until sausage is browned and veggies are tender.
    • Add in a few pieces of spinach and continue cooking for another minute or two.  Remove from heat.
    • Spread pesto sauce thinly on spinach wrap and top with sliced black olives. Layer on sausage and veggie mixture, then sprinkle with a bit of goat cheese.
    • Enjoy!

Hope you give this easy recipe a shot! What's your go-to meal during the work week?

Love,
Aly

Monday, November 3, 2014

On Trend: Edgy Earrings


While I'd consider my style to be quite girly, I do like to incorporate edgy accessories into my outfits.  Lately, I have really been loving pairing tougher jewelry pieces with more feminine looks and have put together a few of my favorite earring trends.  When purchasing super trendy pieces that I may only wear for a season or two, I love checking out Bauble Bar - they have such cute stuff and the prices are great!


I've been eager to try the ear cuff trend for a while, and this set from Bauble Bar is the perfect first piece... a gateway cuff, if you will.  I love how delicate this set is!


I own a simple pair of earring jackets that I picked up at H&M, but am excited to try a more intricate pair.  I love the idea of earring jackets, because the detailed portion that sits below your ear lobe is actually connected to the back of the earring - allowing you to swap out the post for any others in your collection!


Another earring trend I can't wait to try, is the 360 stud.  These pave spikes from Bauble Bar have just the right amount of edge! 

What are some jewelry trends you are eager to try? And where is your favorite place to shop for affordable pieces?

Have a great week!

Love,
Aly


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Berry Greek Yogurt



Hi Friends!

Today I wanted to share an easy, yet delicious and healthy Greek yogurt recipe.  I made this for breakfast over the weekend and love how it turned out.  Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
Plain Greek yogurt - 7 oz.
Blackberries
Strawberries
Agave Nectar
Unsweetened coconut flakes
Chia seeds

Slice clean blackberries and strawberries, and fold into Greek yogurt.  Add agave nectar and mix until you reach your desired sweetness and color - I love how pink mine turned out!  Top with a sprinkle of coconut flakes and chia seeds.


This recipe is perfect for breakfast... or anytime you're craving a guilt-free treat.  Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week!

Love,
Aly

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wise Words



Hi Friends!

I have been completely MIA from this little blog of mine over the last few months.  The past few weeks have been a whirlwind with work trips, a mini vacation and moving all in one month! I think the craziness has helped me realize what is important and what I do (and don't) want to do with my life.  I have a lot of work to do in order to reach my dreams, but am more ready than I ever have been to do it.  This quote by Tony Gaskin has been resonating with me a lot recently and I wanted to share it - "If you don't build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs."  Why not try to build your own dreams? :)


Love,
Aly

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Summer Cool

Summer Cool
PillowsBottle, Basket, Lamp, Dish Towels (here and here)

Happy Saturday!  My husband and I are looking to buy our first house and I am so looking forward to decorating and making it our own.  I seriously can't believe how excited I get about home decor these days...this means I am officially an adult now, right?  Lately, I have been loving different shades of blue and wanted to share a few items that are on my home decor wish list.  I love finding inspiration in designer pieces (like that $400 lamp -yikes!) and then looking for similar items at stores like TJ Maxx and HomeGoods.  You can usually find some great deals if you are willing to look!  What home decor trends are you loving?

Have a great weekend!

Love,
Aly

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Fresh Fourth



With the 4th of July just around the corner, I wanted to share an easy, festive and healthy fruit tray option that is great for upcoming parties.  While I am looking forward to eating some barbecue and delicious desserts, it's always nice to have a healthy option on-hand.  Most of my favorite fruits happen to be red or blue, and paired with a white serving tray, this spread is perfect for the holiday!



I have a mild obsession with watermelon and cannot get enough of it during the summer months.  I purchased a set of star shaped cookie cutters from Michael's for $5 and love how fun these festive watermelon slices are!


They also make adorable drink garnishes! What are your plans for the 4th?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

Love,
Aly

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Beauty: Storing & Cleaning Makeup Brushes




Nice makeup brushes are key to applying your makeup well and can often be pretty expensive.  A few brush sets at Sephora cost over $200 - yikes!  While nice sets can be found at more affordable price points, brushes are something you should definitely not cheap out on, as they can really make a huge difference in your makeup application.  Cheaper brushes can leave bristles on your cheeks and absorb make up, in turn forcing you to use more product.  Nice brushes are a great investment and can last a long time when you care for them properly.  I like to store my brushes standing up, as seen in the picture above.  I picked up these cute purple tumblers at an antique store a few weeks ago and filled them with acrylic beads from Michael's.  They're perfect for keeping my brushes clean and organized!

While storing your brushes vertically can help keep the bristles clean (as opposed to tossing them in a dirty makeup bag or drawer), it is definitely important to clean your brushes on a regular basis.  Most dermatologists recommend shampooing brushes at least once a week - which doesn't always happen for me! When I do shampoo my brushes, I like to use Sephora's Purifying Brush Shampoo.




Cleaning brushes is easy, but here are a few pointers - Always hold your brush with the bristles pointed towards the floor when wet - otherwise water can seep into the base/handle and cause your brush to deteriorate.  First, dampen your brush under cool water (bristles down, ladies!) and squeeze some shampoo onto the palm of your hand (a clean hand, obviously).  Swirl your brush in the shampoo to lather, then rinse and repeat until the water runs clear.  Gently squeeze bristles to remove excess water.  Pat your brush on a lint free towel to further dry and gently shape bristles into their original form.  Lay brush flat on a clean cloth to finish drying.


When I don't have time to shampoo my brushes, I like to use Sephora's Daily Brush Cleaner.  Just spray a bit onto your brushes and gently swirl on a clean lint free cloth to get rid of excess makeup.  The spray is super easy to use and only takes a moment - no rinsing required!

How often do you wash your makeup brushes?  Do you have a favorite brush cleaner or favorite brush brand?  Let me know!

Love,
Aly

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Fun: Accessories

Summer Accessories


I love colorful, girly accessories and find that summer is always the best time to add fun pieces to my wardrobe.  After finally convincing myself that I could indeed pull off heart-shaped sunglasses, I found the perfect pair at Nordstrom for just $12 - what a steal!  I'm also a huge fan of small handbags and tend to love anything from Rebecca Minkoff.  Her bags are amazing quality and come in so many fun colors -  perfect for summer. My tip - check discount department stores first (like Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off Fifth or Neiman Marcus Last Call) before paying full price.  I picked up a mint green Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mac last summer for half price at Saks Off Fifth!

What accessories and beauty products are you looking forward to rocking this summer?


Love,
Aly

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Simple Chia Seed Pudding



Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal of the day.  A good breakfast - that is!  Most mornings I am in a hurry and end up eating a previously frozen breakfast sandwich in my car on the way to work, so any yummy recipe that can be made the night before gets a thumb's up in my book.  One of my current favorites is chia seed pudding.  It's super easy and healthy too!  Chia seeds are high in fiber (42% of your daily fiber in one serving) and are also high in calcium.

All you will need:
2 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon (or however much you prefer) agave nectar
Fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries & raspberries are my favorites!)

Combine chia seeds, almond milk and agave nectar in sealable container and mix well.  I like to do this by closing and shaking my tupperware, but whisking works too!  Seal and chill in the fridge overnight. Top with fresh fruit in the morning and you're all set!

This recipe makes one serving. What's your go-to breakfast recipe?  I'd love to hear your favorite!

Thanks for stopping by!

Love,
Aly




Thursday, June 5, 2014

Work It Out



Happy Thursday, friends!  These past few weeks have been super busy and I am definitely looking forward to a relaxing weekend.  I work full-time in the land of digital advertising, and since I first started my 9-5 at an agency about a year and a half ago, I have really struggled to find time to work out.  Ok, maybe more-so struggled to find motivation rather than time.  I have an hour + commute to and from work, so by the time I get home, I am usually exhausted and don't feel like hitting the gym.  I recently started getting back into the swing of working out at home and wanted to share a few of my favorite YouTube channels for great workout videos!



After seeing these fun workout tops pinned everywhere, I finally decided to see what Blogilates is all about. Cassey is a certified fitness instructor and one of the most motivating people I have ever come across. Her workout videos are so fun and inspiring! She also has monthly calendars on her website, detailing which workout videos to do on each day of the month.  Each set of workout videos is designed to take about an hour and they are are super effective - you'll definitely be sore the next day.


I also really like the Tone It Up girls - Karena and Katrina.  They are personal trainers who are both in phenomenal shape.  They have great workout videos, which all begin with a Victoria's Secret-esque opening sequence... pretty motivating! 

I really enjoy working out at home, but definitely need someone to tell me exactly what moves to do - which is why I love both of these programs.   Do y'all do either program? Or have another workout guru that you like? I'd love to hear from you :)

Love,
Aly

Monday, May 5, 2014

Bartender: Lavender Honey Simple Syrup



For as long as I can remember, I have had a mild obsession with lavender.  From the color to the scent, I can't seem to get enough of it.  Recently, I had an amazing lavender infused cocktail at a local bar in Atlanta and have been dying to recreate it.  I started with a lavender honey simple syrup.  It is seriously delicious! It may be frowned upon, but I'm pretty sure I could just drink this stuff out of a glass.

Ingredients:
  • Dried edible lavender (1 tbsp)
  • Honey (1 tbsp)
  • Granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • Cold water (1/2 cup)

Directions:
In a small pot, bring lavender, sugar and water to a boil.  Lower temperature to a simmer and stir until sugar has completely dissolved.  Stir in honey.  Place in sealed container and chill in refrigerator until you are ready to use - this syrup should keep in the fridge for about a week.

To recreate the cocktail I recently had, I mixed the lavender honey syrup with champagne, fresh lemon juice and a bit of gin.  Delicious! I think this drink is perfect for a spring or summer get-together.  

Do you have any favorite lavender drink or food recipes?  I'd love to hear them!

Love, 
Aly









Sunday, May 4, 2014

Vanity Makeover Part 2



A while ago, I shared the process of re-painting an antique vanity that my husband gave me for Christmas (see it here). Well... I ended up hating the color I chose - I was hoping for turquoise but got more of a nauseating greenish blue.  I guess it's just a testament to always test paint in your own home and under your own lighting before committing (don't trust those Home Depot lights, for real).  Anyways, I finally got around to re-painting the vanity and love it now!  I went with a much lighter blue this time.


I took over a spare bedroom in our home and am turning it into my own dressing room - I can't wait to do a room tour once it's finished!  The vanity did not come with a bench, but I was able to find one at a local antique store.  We found some great fabric at Jo-Ann's and re-upholstered the seat.  It was actually really easy to do.


I love the idea of keeping this photo of my grandma near -she is the best.


I'm so glad this project is finally done and I can't wait to get ready here every morning! Next, I am hoping to add a clothing rack to this room.  I love the idea of displaying a few of my favorite dresses here.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

Love,
Aly



Sunday, April 27, 2014

DIY: Not So Lazy Sunday

Hello Friends! 

Hope your weekends are going well.  I love a good DIY project and wanted to share 3 easy home decor items that can be crafted in a Sunday afternoon.  Enjoy!


Yarn Wreath

No front door is complete without a wreath - at least, that's my motto!  To me, having a wreath on your front door makes your home look much more inviting.  Last year, I went on a yarn wreath kick and made one for just about every holiday.  They are SO easy to make! You'll just need a styrofoam wreath, glue gun & glue sticks, decorative flowers (or maybe a letter for your last name?) and of course, yarn! I really like Vanna White's yarn collection... I know, who knew she made yarn? - and yes - I promise I am 24 years old and not 74.
Simply wrap your yarn around the styrofoam wreath in a desired pattern, hot gluing the yarn to the back of the wreath as you go.  Add fabric flowers for some extra interest and you're done!


Reclaimed Wood Coat Rack

I've always dreamed of taking an old palette and turning it into an awesome shelf or some unique home decor item - but, let me tell you, it is much easier said than done.  My husband and I started with 3 palettes and aspirations of creating an amazing wine rack.  Pulling old nails out of old wood is a lot harder than it looks!  After accidentally cracking most of the wood, we finally wound up with a suitable piece that was nowhere near large enough for our project.  We decided to make a simple coat rack by just adding some hooks.  While it's not the wine rack we had hoped for, I do like how it turned out!


EAT Kitchen Sign

This is definitely the easiest DIY of them all - the only supplies you will need are cardboard letters, acrylic paint and a sponge brush. Once painted, you'd have no idea the letters are actually cheap cardboard!  I love the fun element this adds to our little breakfast nook area. 

Happy Sunday and let me know if you try any of these DIYs :)

Love,
Aly


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wise Words

Cheesy as they can be, I am a huge fan of inspirational quotes.  I typically find myself taking screenshots of inspirational messages that I find on the Instagram (p.s. follow me @nosyla27) or elsewhere on the internet.   I figured I'd compile a few screenshots for a little end of week inspiration! Enjoy!









Love,
Aly


Monday, April 21, 2014

Beauty: Favorite Skincare Products

Hi There!  Hope you had a great Easter!  I definitely enjoyed my three day weekend, but it sure does make Monday mornings all the more brutal :).  To kick off the week, I wanted to share some of my favorite tried and true skincare products.  I am a total beauty junkie - could literally live in Sephora - and have tried many products over the years in hopes of finding the perfect skincare routine for my dry, yet breakout prone, sensitive skin.  


First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser and Ultra Repair Cream.

I recently picked up this trio of First Aid Beauty products from Sephora and have been seriously impressed.  I've always used drugstore cleansers, thinking there wasn't a need to spend more money on face wash, but I think the FAB Face Cleanser has changed my ways forever.  All FAB products are free of harsh chemicals and safe for sensitive skin.  The cleanser is incredibly gentle and removes every last bit of my makeup - even eye makeup.  I am also really loving the Ultra Repair Cream.  As I mentioned, I have pretty dry skin and this cream moisturizes my skin without leaving it oily.  My forehead is particularly dry and this is the first moisturizer I have found that remedies even my driest area!  It is gentle and hasn't clogged my pores at all.  A definite fave.


First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads

I must admit, I was a little skeptical about these pads - with sensitive skin, anything with the word "tone" in it kinda freaks me out.  I'm happy to report that these pads don't contain alcohol and aren't harsh at all!  I use them after washing my face and before moisturizing - I haven't seen any brightening effects yet, but do like the way they make my skin feel. 



I started using oils about a year ago and don't think I will ever go back!  I was skeptical at first - I mean, putting straight up oil on your skin is a little scary, right?  Well,  I've learned that so long as they are used in moderation, oils can definitely improve your skin's health and appearance.  The two oils that I use are Maracuja and Argan.  I believe Maracuja oil is sold exclusively by Tarte - and according to their website - is extracted from a fruit in the Amazon that contains high levels of Vitamin C.  Fancy, huh?  Rather than applying all over my face, I use the Maracuja oil at night as more of a spot treatment on red marks from pimples and the blemishes themselves.  I swear, it helps heal pimples just as fast as a prescribed topical cream from the dermatologist - and is much less drying! I have seen improvement with discoloration, but wouldn't recommend putting the oil over your entire face - I find it can block pores when used in excess.

On the other hand, I regularly apply Josie Maran's 100% Pure Argan Oil and Argan Infinity Cream over my entire face and do not notice any negative effects.  Compared to the Maracuja Oil, Argan moisturizes my skin more effectively.  I really like the results I see when using these products together with one another.  The Pure Argan Oil is also light enough to wear under makeup.  The Infinity Cream is a thicker product and should be used at nighttime - it is incredibly hydrating!


Elta MD Sunscreen

Last, but certainly not least, is a great sunscreen.  I must admit that I am somewhat of a sunscreen freak - definitely the 'mom' of my friends who is always making sure everyone puts it on when we are out in the sun.  What can I say?  I'd rather be pale now and look good when I'm older.  Not to mention, it helps prevent skin cancer!  All sunscreens are definitely not created equal - when shopping around, you want to choose a product that protects against both UVA (rays that age us) and UVB (rays that burn us).  You also want a product with at least 4% Zinc Oxide - this is the ingredient that protects you from damaging rays.  One of my favorites is by Elta MD.  It's more expensive than your drugstore sunscreen and a little harder to find, but it is well worth every penny.  The Facial Sunscreen is sheer and very lightweight, making it perfect for wearing underneath makeup.

What are your favorite skincare products?  Have you tried any of my faves?  I'd love to hear from you! 

Have a great week!

Love,
Aly

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


Happy Sunday!  I figured I'd do a little baking on this beautiful April day and decided to try some Lemon Poppy Seed muffins.  I used a wonderful recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod and love how they turned out!


These muffins would be perfect for an Easter Sunday brunch.  I feel like they would also be delicious with a glass of Lavender Lemonade... which I've actually never had.  I just imagine it would be awesome!  Anyone have a recipe they are willing to share?


Edible flowers and adorable cupcake liners are from Michael's.


Have a great week!

Love,
Aly