Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Target Beauty Box

I ordered my first Target beauty box at the end of last month. While it's not an official subscription as you can only order one box at a time, Target comes out with a beauty box each month full of products to sample. It's available online only, and they typically sell out in a day or two. You can see which products will be included, which I really like. And, like I mentioned, it's not a subscription so you're not locked in at all. The box was only $5, which included samples that were worth $17. Here's what I got:

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask // I prefer using masks that I can leave on and let soak in, so this was one of my favorite products in the box. My face was so smooth and hydrated in the morning after letting this sit on my face all night. 

Not Your Mother's Texturizing Sea Salt Spray // I've been using this before I curl my hair to give it a little texture and help hold the curl, and I really like it! If I'm planning on air drying my hair, I've also sprayed it in while my hair is still damp to give my hair a little more movement and wave. This is a product I plan to continue using!

you are AMAZING Juicy Grapefruit Body Lotion // The scent of this lotion was a little too fruity for me. BUT, I really liked the formula; it wasn't sticky, it was really moisturizing, and it was long-lasting. So I liked being introduced to the brand and I will definitely look at other lotions and body washes from this same line, just in a different scent!

Hair Food Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner // I hated both of these! The smell was so strong- it honestly turned my stomach. There was enough leftover of each product for at least one more use, but I couldn't handle the smell so I threw them both away. When I got out of the shower, I used a ton of leave-in product to try to mask the scent. Two thumbs down!

Banana Boat Sun Comfort SPF 30 Lotion // I haven't tried this particular product, but I'm pretty familiar with this brand. I prefer to use a sunscreen that's a little gentler on my skin, but I'm sure Caleb will end up using this one this summer, so it's nice to have!

Caress Adore Forever Body Wash // I was pretty neutral about this. The scent is initially a little strong, almost a musk-y scent, but I couldn't smell it on my skin afterwards. I highly doubt I will ever buy a Caress body wash in the future, but I didn't mind using up this sample. 

nügg Anti-Aging Face Mask // I've been curious about these face masks, so I was really glad to be able to try one! The one I received in the box was an anti-aging mask, which I could use as I've seen some fine lines pop up around my eyes. I don't think I could say I've seen any immediate results, but I liked how the mask felt, and there was enough product in the tub for at least two uses. I will be definitely be trying some of the other types of masks from this brand, too!

SinfulColors Professional Nail Color // I rarely try new brands of nail color; I'm pretty loyal to essieOPI, and Formula X. That being said, I was surprised did like this nail polish. I'm a believer in a quality top coat, which can make up for any possible deficiencies in a cheaper nail color, but I also found that this nail color went on pretty well. It's a good option if you want new colors for really cheap ($2).

Overall, I say that this was totally worth the $5. I only disliked one product, was neutral about 3 products, and liked 4 products. I really liked being introduced to a few new brands that I would continue to use, so that in itself was worth it to me. It's fun to get a box of random beauty samples, and even though it's not high-end products like you would get with Birchbox, there are more products included. 

If you're interested in trying the next Target beauty box, you can check here to see when it's available. They typically are available the last day of the month or the first day of the month, so check here tomorrow and Friday! 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Brown Sugar-Brined Chicken

Have you ever brined chicken or turkey? I never had until I came across this recipe last summer. It makes the most delicious and moist chicken, and I love having a bunch of grilled chicken on hand to make a variety of dinners. I brined this chicken a couple of weeks ago, and then Caleb grilled it all for me. On the first night we had just the grilled chicken breasts with roasted broccoli and baked sweet potatoes. Then I made this Greek yogurt chicken salad for another meal, and we also used some of the chicken for grilled chicken fajitas. It makes meal planning really easy! This recipe is going to be on a pretty regular rotation throughout the spring and summer since the possibilities are endless!

Brown Sugar-Brined Chicken
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp dried crushed red pepper
4 (4-inch) rosemary sprigs
4 garlic cloves, crushed
8-12 skinned and boned chicken breasts

Stir together first 6 ingredients and 2 quarts of water in a large stockpot. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and cool 1 hour. Place chicken breasts in brine; cover and chill 1-2 hours.

Heat grill to 350 - 400 degrees (medium-high) heat. Drain chicken, discarding brine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and sprinkle with desired amount of black pepper. Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, 5-7 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from grill. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

source: recipe from Southern Living, June 2015

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Girls' beach weekend

A couple of weekends ago I met my college roommates at the beach for a long-overdue reunion! Here are a few pictures, if you'd like to see...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Things I wanted but didn't buy // Anthropologie

This past weekend we spent part of the afternoon wandering around downtown, people watching and just enjoying the weather. I popped into Anthropologie, as one does, not needing anything and wanting pretty much everything. Here are a few of the things I wanted but didn't buy:

Friday, March 18, 2016

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Every now and then I get a very real craving for cake. I usually steer this craving toward cupcakes, since there's no need to make an entire cake for two people. Earlier this year I made classic yellow cupcakes with a rich chocolate frosting: that combo was my go-to birthday cake request for about 5 years in a row when I was a kid, so I know I just can't go wrong with it. I actually even halved both of the below recipes, which made for a more manageable number of cupcakes for two people to consume. Both recipes were delicious classics that everyone needs in their cupcake repertoire. 

Classic Yellow Cupcakes
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs plus 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and butter. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Blend in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. In a small bowl or measuring cup, blend together the sour cream and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake until the cupcakes are just set and pale golden, about 20-22 minutes. Let cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, frost as desired.

Chocolate Frosting
9.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
4 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp sour cream

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Set aside to cool until just barely warm. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Gradually mix in the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Beat in the melted and cooled chocolate and then the sour cream. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Frost cupcakes immediately before the chocolate hardens and the frosting sets.

source: cupcake recipe from annie's eats, adapted from Baking Illustrated; frosting recipe from annie's eats, slightly adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


r e a d i n g // I just finished My Name Is Lucy Barton , and honestly I didn't love it. Now I'm reading Along the Infinite Sea and it's really good! I've read Beatriz Williams' other books in this series (Schuyler Sisters) and thought they were all good.

w a n t i n g // Time to slow down. I've never been too sentimental, but becoming a mother has totally changed that. My girl is getting SO BIG. Just look at this picture! She is more and more fun every day, but part of me is really missing my baby.

w e a r i n g // "Latte Run": the perfect nude nail polish from the Cupcakes and Cashmere collection with Formula X. I don't typically wear the same color on my nails two weeks in a row, but this shade was worth repeating.

w a t c h i n g // Madam Secretary. I just started watching this show this year, so I've been catching up on the first two seasons. I love it! My degree is in international politics, so this show is right up my alley.

l i s t e n i n g  t o // Podcasts. I've never really been into podcasts, but with all of the driving I did this past week, I started listening to some. I might share what I'm listening to in a later post, once they've become tried + true favorites. Tell me which ones I should try!

e a t i n g // This salad. I have been making this all of the time since I first had it at Christmastime, and we love it! I use apples or pears, only use bacon if I have it on hand, and add in spiced nuts and croutons. The dressing combo is what really makes it so delicious! Also, these cinnamon rolls. It's all about balance, right?

e n j o y i n g // This beautiful weather! It's 72 degrees and it's not even lunchtime - yes please! I am not a winter girl by any stretch of the imagination, and I already feel like a completely new person with the sunshine, blue skies, and warmer weather.

n e e d i n g // To clean my office! There are piles everywhere that I need to sort through, and I need a better system for keeping my work stuff organized and easily accessible.

l o o k i n g  f o r w a r d  t o // A weekend at home! The past month has been pretty busy with traveling and events, so it will be really nice to just hang out at home as a family.

t h i n k i n g   a b o u t // What a great trip I had last week. I saw most of my family for a couple of days for a really fun event (more on that later), and then I was at the beach with my college roommates! It was such a great trip and I loved seeing so many people that mean so much to me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

On finding pretty stationery

One of my goals for 2016 is to send 50 handwritten notes. I love both receiving and sending mail, so this isn't a very hard goal for me to achieve. I also love all things paper, so my collection of notecards and stationery is pretty extensive. If you're hoping to start writing more notes to friends + family (do it! it's so fun and such a surprise in this day and age!), here are some of my favorite brands of notecards and places to find them.

Mara-Mi // You can find these at Target, Homegoods, TJ Maxx, and I'm sure many
other places. If I'm in one of these stores and find a box of notecards 
that I just have to have, it usually ends up being Mara-Mi.

Target Dollar Spot // Seriously! There are always tons of options to choose from,
and it's usually only $1 for 8 cards. Because I do send so much mail, it's nice
to have some cheaper options in the mix. And they really are super cute.

Rifle Paper Co // Such pretty pieces! The cards are really thick and high quality, 
and the illustrations are always beautiful. 

Carlton Cards // These are just your basic notecards that you can find 
at Hallmark, Target, etc., but they have some really cute designs sometimes. 
Because I like to have notecards and stationery on hand for every
occasion, I can find some good filler pieces to round out my collection.

I also really love the notecards + stationery that I have from Kate SpadePapyrus, and greenroom.  If you haven't sent a handwritten note in the mail recently, I encourage you to first go buy some really cute stationery, and then make someone's day by sending them a good ol' fashioned letter.

Friday, March 4, 2016

the dearly box

Have you heard of the dearly box? It's a jewelry subscription box run by Lauren, who also is behind Elisabeth Ashlie jewelry. I've often perused her site and love the simple, everyday pieces she has. When I heard that Kate from The Small Things Blog (who also happens to be Lauren's sister) was curating an edition of the dearly box, I knew I needed to jump on that. I love Kate's style and love the jewelry from Elisabeth Ashlie, so it was a no-brainer!

This time I opted to purchase just one box instead of committing to a monthly subscription. I love that you can choose whether you want the classic + casual box or the glam + chic box, because I'm definitely in a stage of life where I need classic + casual pieces. You can also select your metal preference (gold, silver, or blend); I chose gold.

So let's get to the good stuff - here's what I got! 

Included in my box was a crossed bar necklace, three pairs of studs, and one pair of dainty teardrop earrings. I LOVED IT ALL. I'm pretty picky about everything (home decor, clothes, jewelry, you name it), so for me to have a box of surprise jewelry show up in my mailbox and actually like it is pretty impressive. I know I'm going to be grabbing these pieces all of the time. Especially that necklace! That is definitely my favorite of the bunch. 

The verdict: loved the pieces, loved getting a surprise box in the mail, and definitely think it was worth the money I paid. I can't wait to order my next one! This would be such a fun gift to give or receive, or just to treat yo self (duh). You can order yours here!

(top image from Elisabeth Ashlie's Instagram)

disclosure: this post is not sponsored. I just love sharing about the things I find + love.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

5 Products I'm Using Every Day

Popping in on this Wednesday with another 5 Products I'm Using Every Day post... agenda // Back in the fall I wrote a post on my favorite agendas, and I just have to say that I am loving having a planner again! I keep it on the desk in my office, and I am using it each day for reminders, plans, upcoming appointments, etc. I also am using it to keep track of my yearly and monthly goals, which is a great place for it.

The Honest Company multi-surface cleaner // I am a fanatic about wiping off my countertops, and I am loving using this spray. I can rest easy knowing it's safe for Madeleine, and I also use it on her high chair tray. It smells good, which is a big factor to me in whether I will actually use a product or not.

babyganics face, hand, & baby wipes // Again, I love using a product that I know is safe for Madeleine. I use these wipes on her face and hands after she's finished eating. Side note: why do babies absolutely hate having their mouths wiped off??

Urban Decay Original Eye Shadow Primer Potion // This eye shadow primer is amazing. It keeps my eye shadow looking fresh all day, but the biggest difference I've been able to tell is that my eye liner doesn't fade away and look smeared. A little touch of this goes a long way in helping my makeup's staying power.

Sharpie Pens // I've been using these pens for years. They write smoothly, but I really love them because they don't bleed through pages. I am one to frequently underline in the books I'm reading, so I love that it's colorful but doesn't bleed through - even on the thin pages of my Bible!