a lovely living

Monthly Archives for November 2014

Toy Guide

Although we try not to overindulge our children, they have certainly ended up with their fair share of toys over the years. I can’t speak for the older ages yet, but for ages 0-5, I’m well aware of what their favorites have become. I put together 11 toys that have been played with regularly over the years and although I’ve arranged them from youngest to oldest, I can vouch that my youngest plays with the older toys just as much as my oldest continues to play with some of the ‘baby’ toys. So basically, these toys have been worth the investment. And even if you don’t have children this age of your own, chances are you you have nieces, nephews, grandchildren or friends that you’ll be buying for this Christmas. Hopefully this helps!



1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11

If you’re a parent (or a gift giver that wants to go one step beyond), please don’t forget to have your batteries on hand this season! We have certainly made that mistake before and it’s not a pretty sight since many of the above gifts require them. We tend to stock up on Duracell batteries in our home because I trust their dependency. So as your friendly reminder, don’t make the mistake of not having them on hand! You’ll thank me later ;)

*This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Duracell but all thoughts remain my own.

Veggie Soup


In my never ending attempt at getting as many vegetables as possible into my children (and myself, who am I kidding), I’m always on the lookout for recipes to add to my collection. Soups, which are extremely popular in our home,  are one of the easiest ways for me to accomplish this. We make a lot of chili’s and minestrone soups which tend to be a bit more substantial with the addition of beans, but this light soup was a nice change of pace. I love the flavors and fragrance that come out of simmering homemade soups. Absolutely perfect on these chilly evenings!

Vegetable Soup via Cooking Classy:


2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 medium)
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots (about 4)
1 1/4 cups chopped celery (about 3)
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
3 cups peeled and 1/2-inch thick diced potatoes (from about 3 medium)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped frozen or fresh green beans
1 1/4 cups frozen or fresh corn
1 cup frozen or fresh peas


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute 3 – 4 minutes then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.

Pour in broth (if you want lesser ratio of broth use 3 cans then only 3/4 cup of the 4th can) and add tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, bay leaves, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil, then add green beans, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 – 30 minutes, then add corn and peas and cook 5 minutes longer.

Serve warm.


Bow + Fur Detail


While browsing through Target the other week, doing my best not to get sucked into the black hole of shopping, I happened upon this blouse. I loved the neutral color and the playful bow detail. I paired it here with my fur vest and LOFT pants which have both been on heavy rotation in my closet lately. I realize I  don’t have all that much more time to continue exposing my ankles, so I’m taking advantage of these pants while I still can.








Details: Mossimo blouse via Target / BB Dakota sweater vest (similar) / LOFT pants / Snakeskin pumps (similar)


High Five for Friday

Happy Friday! Are you all adjusted from the time change? I’m sure those of you without little ones adjusted quite easily and the rest of you are still waking up an hour early :) Thankfully it’s not as bad as when my two were infants, but my 2 yo has most certainly been up early in her crib every morning playing ‘babies’. I’m very grateful for the extra hour she gives us :)

Here’s a look at our week:

1) Totally loving Madelyn’s new beanie from Lemons and Lace. Check them out for boys and girls alike!


2) Fire truck day at Jack’s school. We now have an official ‘family meeting spot’ outside of our building :)


3) Voting day with her obligatory cookie afterwards.


4) In case I wasn’t aware that Halloween was over it’s now been made very clear. No joke, this was all a part of yesterday’s mail delivery!


5) Sorry for the overload, but this girl is by my side all day every day. She was watching PBS kids waiting for me to get ready to leave the house yesterday morning. She’s nuts and I’m crazy about her!


Have a great weekend!

Pumpkin Time

I know that many of you are new readers since last year, so I wanted to share two of my favorite pumpkin recipes with you before you begin prepping your Thanksgiving meals. One is a fairly labor intensive pumpkin pie that is more than worth the work. Leave it to Smitten Kitchen to come up with this outstanding recipe that I dream of as each Thanksgiving approaches. Since I’ve given you plenty of time to prep, I highly suggest you give this one a shot and let me know what you think of the results!

The other pumpkin recipe I have to share with you is a super simple and fun way to create mini pie treats. These could be prepped at any point during the season to serve at a variety of get-togethers. It makes for a cute display and a very yummy treat!

Pumpkins(Pumpkin Pie/ Mini Pumpkin Pies)

What are some of your favorite pumpkin recipes?



Over the past few years I’ve become quite a fan of making bundt cakes. In part, I’d say it’s because they look beautiful, but in all honesty it’s mainly because they are much simpler to prepare than making full blown cakes, and taking the time to ice and decorate them. I’ve also been fascinated by the Mix and Match Mama’s list of 100 Bundt Cakes. I literally want to try 75% of them. This week we’re celebrating my mother’s birthday which provided the perfect reason to try this Chocolate Cherry Coca-Cola Cake that I had been eyeing. I adapted the recipe a bit by adding some chopped moschino cherries, a fav of hers and a perfect addition to this cake. And since I didn’t have grenadine on hand, I used cherry juice which seemed to work perfectly as a substitute. If you’re a Cherry Coke (or Pepsi) fan, you’re going to love the subtle yet delicious flavor of this cake!


Recipe adapted from the Mix and Match Mama:

Chocolate Cherry Coca-Cola Bundt Cake:


1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding
1 small box of instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup of veggie oil
1 1/4 cups Coca-Cola, plus an additional few splashes for the frosting
4 eggs
3 tablespoons Grenadine, divided (optional)
1 dozen (approx) moschino cherries, chopped
4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a 10 inch bundt pan

In mixing bowl, combine cake mix, puddings, oil, 1 1/4 cups Coca-Cola, 2 tablespoons Grenadine, cherries and eggs with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cake rest on counter in pan 10 minutes. Then, invert cake onto serving plate to finish cooling.

To make the frosting, beat butter with powdered sugar, cocoa powder and a few splashes of Coca-Cola and the remaining tablespoon of Grenadine until creamy. Stir in vanilla. Spread on cooled cake.


Wardrobe Revamp

I recently had a college friend reach out asking what key pieces I would add to a closet for the fall/winter seasons. Last year she was wearing maternity clothes before she gave birth to a beautiful son, and this year she feels like her closet needs some refreshing. Whether you’re working your way out of maternity clothes or find yourself looking into your closet wishing you had a few key pieces, I have a list of items I feel would give any closet a good revamp. I based these selections on a business casual work week as well as weekend casual.

1. Classic Wool Coat: It’s great if you’re able to have a variety of styles on hand, but if I were to chose one essential coat for the season it would be a classic wool coat. They can be worn over casual to semi-dressy outfits and the tailored look really pulls an outfit together.

2. Chambray Shirt: This has been a closet staple for a while now and I find myself turning to mine multiple times per week.

3. Shift Dress/Sweater Dress: The versatility is endless. You can wear them with flats, heels, boots, leggings, tights, layered up with a vest, scarf and/or some necklaces.

4. Shoes/Boots: I threw in booties, a high shaft boot and a pair of flats which should get you through the season. If you have yet to try leopard, do it. It’s much more versatile than you’d think!

5. Pants: A great fitting pair of skinnies are key to have on hand. They can easily be dressed up for a business casual look, and you could also have a distressed pair tucked away for the weekends. I also threw in my polka dot knit pants below which I have been wearing over the past few months dressed up, down and in between. It’s fun to keep your outfits interesting by using prints/patterns.

6. Sweater: It’s good to have at least one or two sweaters that you can turn to on those blustery winter days.

7. Accessories: Necklaces are often the finishing touch to an outfit for me. And when the wind is blowing I reach for my bin of scarves which not only complete my look but do a great job keeping out the cold.

8. Bag: I’m not sure this list would be as authentic if I didn’t include the classic tote that is typically by my side.



1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15

Hopefully some of these items resonate with you you. What else would you add for your closet revamp?

Adding Some Fur


Sometimes I love change and sometimes I despise it. When it comes to hair, I tend to change it up quite frequently. I get bored. I can get carried away going short and then when it’s time to grow it out a bit I literally want to rip the hair out of my head. I have thick hair and a lot of it, so when it starts growing it gets heavy in all the wrong places and makes it impossible to work with. I do have an appointment this week to clean it up a bit, but it’s hard going in for a cut when all you want is to have more hair! Oh well, I’ll live, and deal, and realize there are much bigger problems out there.

So, as for the outfit, I’m still wearing this shift dress which was last seen here (yes, note the change of hair yet again), layered up for much cooler temps that we experienced this past weekend. Tights, fur and boots are great pairings to throw on over top of most shift dresses, allowing you to extend their wear through the seasons.






Details: Madewell shift (similar, similar) / BB Dakota vest (similar) / Seychelles boots (similar) / Target bracelet / JCrew factory necklace