Happy Valentine’s Day!

This year marks our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. We’ve been focusing more on our finances lately, so we decided to make a very “married couple” decision regarding gifts. We’re going to take the money we would have spent on each other, and also some of our tax refund, to open a retirement account together. Very romantic, I know, but in a way, we are showing our future selves some love by doing this.

Still, I wanted to do something sweet for my sweetie today to celebrate. I planned on waking up early to make him a valentine-themed breakfast.

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For us, a good breakfast is usually reserved for the weekends; Monday-Friday coffee and cereal will suffice. I made Belgian waffles and cut them into heart shapes. Then I made bacon (in the oven, 350 degrees for about 15 minutes) and criss-crossed them to make X’s, next to poached eggs, which looked like O’s on the plate. Yesterday I picked up a card and some heart-shaped doilies and arranged them on the serving tray. It was actually perfect timing because we just got this kate spade silver plate in the mail as a wedding gift two days ago, so I was able to surprise him with breakfast in bed. It all worked out really well, and he didn’t wake up while I was cooking, which is what I was afraid of the whole time. He was so surprised, looked at me in adoration and cleaned the plate. All worth it!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine’s Day spending time with those you love. Enjoy the weekend.

Voila! Stuffed Bell Peppers

When I’m in the mood for a hearty meal, stuffed bell peppers is one of my go-to recipes. It’s quick and easy to make, and there are always leftovers. There also aren’t a lot of ingredients, so it suits those of us who are mindful of their budgets.

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Ingredients for 4 stuffed peppers:

1 lb. ground turkey
½ white onion, diced
½ cup white rice
4 green bell peppers
Shredded Mexican cheese
Salt
Pepper

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 1 pound of ground turkey in mixing bowl and add in half of a white onion, diced.

Boil water and cook rice for about 8 minutes—not enough for it be done, just a little soft. It will finish cooking in the oven. Drain the rice and add it to the turkey/onion mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix it all together.

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Cut tops off the bell peppers (do not discard) and devein.

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Stuff hollowed peppers with turkey mixture. Put the bell pepper tops back on. Place peppers in a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for an hour and a half.

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Once they are out of the oven, top with your cheese of choice, such as the Mexican cheese mix you can find at the grocery store. Voila! Stuffed bell peppers.

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Now that figuring out Monday night’s dinner is checked off your list, enjoy the rest of your week (and all the ooey gooey cheese)!

Lots of Lovely: Lace

Perhaps it’s all the Valentine’s Day romance in the air, but I’ve really been gravitating toward lace lately.  Today I’m wearing a lace blazer to work and I feel like I should take a moment to enjoy some afternoon tea or some other Victorian lady activity. Isn’t it funny how an outfit can affect your mood? Even if it’s on a casual piece like a crop top or maxi dress, the delicate embellishment adds some sophistication and oomph to any ensemble. Today’s lace is not your grandmother’s–it’s everywhere now, especially in bright colors, and I suspect it’s not going anywhere for spring. For this Lots of Lovely collection I gravitated toward more neutral tones for a soft, dreamy feel with a cool modern edge. I don’t know about you, but those Anthropologie shorts are going on my wish list ASAP. Enjoy!

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1. ASTR Sequin Lace Layered Tank
2. Rhyme Los Angeles Alice Striped Lace Tank
3. Anthropologie Scalloped Lace Shorts
4. Free People Lace Bomber Jacket
5. ABS by Allen Schwartz Bust Collar Lace Dress
6. ASOS Jarlo Sienna Maxi Dress with Lace Hem

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Voila! Tea Valentines

This year I really wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving my friends a little treat. I remember when I was in elementary school and we would hand out cartoon-themed cards to our classmates. It was a day I looked forward to every year, but who says the fun should end in adulthood? Instead of cards, I got crafty and made some heart-shaped tea bags with a little note on the tag. I’ve been giving them away to people as I’ve seen them, but now’s the time to mail them out to far-away friends.

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To make them, here’s what you need:

  • Coffee filters
  • Heart stencil (made from cardstock and traced from a cookie-cutter)
  • Thread (red or pink)
  • Loose tea
  • Scrapbook paper (Valentine’s Day colors or print works best)
  • Scissors

First, cut two coffee filters into a heart shape the size you would like your tea bag to be. To be honest, I started out using the stencil, but as I went on I just cut the filters without it. They all turned out to be different sizes, but I figured they could reflect the uniqueness of each friend.

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Sew two filters together, stitching into a heart shape and leaving some room along the edge. Don’t sew all the way—you’ll need an opening for the tea. Try not to leave gaps in between the stitches or the tea will come out. After a few attempts at sewing by hand, I turned to the sewing machine.

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Fill the bag with loose tea, then stitch it up to complete the heart shape. The tea I used was raspberry-flavored–yum!

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Attach a longer piece of thread to the bag. At the other end attach a small tag. You can get creative and personalize it with a cute note. For my friends, I wrote, “Your friendship warms my heart.” My husband got “Te amo” because “te” means tea in Spanish, and I really like puns. I plan to sneak it into his lunch bag that day.

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Voila! You’ve got yourself some valentines to share and enjoy. What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Do you do anything special for loved ones?

Super Bowl Party: Getting in the Spirit with Small Details

Yesterday I had some friends over to watch the Super Bowl. Thanks to Pinterest, I was able to gather some inspiration from around the Internet to put together a spread that appeals to my husband’s love of sports/food and my love of details/themes.

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You can’t really tell from the photo, but the fabric I put down on the table had a grass print to make it seem like a football field. Apothecary jars serve many roles at a party (as seen at my bridal shower), and for this event I filled mine with popcorn and Chex Mix. To make it Super Bowl-worthy, I tied ribbons with the two team  colors around each.  SNAP! provided free printouts online, which I used to make paper cones, and guests were able to scoop their snacks into them.

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HGTV Magazine offered these penalty flag printouts, so I cut one out and taped it to my napkin basket–yellow napkins of course.

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Desserts were football-shaped cake pops (without the stick) and peanut butter truffles.

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Regular tortilla chips transformed into “Champion-Chips” with a simple sign.

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My favorite touch was the football goal post make of PVC pipes, spray painted yellow. We had people make their final score predictions on the footballs and gave a prize to the winner. The only problem is now my husband wants to keep it up all year.

DSC_0004Let’s face it. Not everyone likes watching the game. So I print out some bingo cards so we could stay engaged for the commercials, and gave out prizes to the winner. We were able to play two rounds (1st half, 2nd half) as more people showed up.  I got them for free from Style Me Pretty  and Coordinately Yours.

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Overall, I’d say the party was a success because we all had fun watching the Super Bowl, but our entertainment didn’t depend solely on the game. By the way, the prizes were Ring Pops (names switched to Super Bowl rings). Who knew football could be so cute?

New Orleans

Last week I took a business trip to New Orleans. I’d been there before, and the thing I was looking forward to the most was definitely the food. I remember even the street hot dogs tasting like heaven, so the thought of trying out some new restaurants was pretty exciting. Here are some of the dishes I ate and places I visited:

 
 
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I liked Port of Call because it was away from the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter, and it looked like a place locals frequented for burgers.
 
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I think this was my favorite meal of the trip: Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill‘s signature red fish dinner. The plate was cleaned.
 
 
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Cochon was a Southern foodie paradise, and offered several delicious plates such as fried alligator and wood-fired oysters. 
 
My co-workers and I got a chance to walk around Bourbon Street a little, so we were able to experience the vibrancy of the city. Its culture is so unique, and I can’t wait to go back again.
 
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This was my second time going to Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar, which actually has a revolving bar. Unfortunately, it was also the second time the seating was completely full, but it was still pretty cool to just hang around and listen to the band.

Lots of Lovely: Black and White

This week I was watching the Golden Globes when I was inspired by Zosia Memet to create my next Lots of Lovely collection. Aside from her amazing new haircut, which I think looks great on her, her Reem Acra gown really stood out to me for its classic look. Black and white is simultaneously timeless and modern, and I think it’s always a good answer to the “What should I wear?” conundrum we all face from time to time.

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1. Carolina Herrera
2. Madewell sweatshirt
3. Dolce & Gabbana Miss Sicily
4. Paul Andrew Zenada Pointy Toe Pump
5. Vince Camuto watch

10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Incredibly Happy

voilalovely:

Some food for thought to go with my morning cup of coffee. I’ve decided to take a class with my girlfriends so we can see each other on a regular basis and do a fun activity together. I think that’s something you take for granted when you’re in college. After graduation, friends disperse all over the world, and life just gets busier. But, I truly believe positive friendships are worth cultivating, and that means putting in the time and effort to see them. Let the social time begin!

Originally posted on Business & Money:


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources, and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

It’s easy to think of happiness as a result, but happiness is also a driver.

One example: While I’m definitely into finding ways to improve personal productivity (whether a one-day burstor a lifetime, or things you should not do every day), probably the best way to be more productive is to just be happier. Happy people accomplish more.

Easier said than done though, right?

Actually, many changes are easy. Here are 10 science-based ways to be happier from Belle Beth Cooper, Content Crafter at Buffer, the social media management tool that lets you schedule, automate, and analyze social media updates.

Here’s Beth:

1. Exercise: 7 Minutes Could Be Enough

Think exercise is something you don’t…

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