a lovely living

Monthly Archives for December 2015

2015 Reflections


This post has yet to be written and I already love it. What was potentially going to be a lounging around the home outfit post (in large part due to the non-stop rain) has transformed into a reflection period for me. I’ll still give you the details at the end because these fleece leggings and super soft shawl jacket are worth mentioning, but what’s more important are these crazy characters that make up my family. I tend to keep things light and lovely on here because it’s my happy place. The place where life can stay pretty….and in my control. We all know life is messy though, and far from perfect. I’d love for my family to be healthy, happy and dressed to the nine’s on a daily basis, but if you could only see behind the camera, you’d see a lot of mismatched clothing, some fighting, some tears, some uncontrollable laughter and a messy home….except when everyone’s asleep :)


2015 was a crazy year. Much of it a whirlwind that I look back on and think ‘how did we do that?’ We started off the year in a continued battle to tackle Lyme Disease which Jack has been fighting (officially) for nearly two years now. He took a break from the harsh antibiotics at one point to try a few more natural remedies, but to no avail. We knew having a baby in the midst of everything wasn’t going to be easy, but neither of us let that get in the way. We also knew that adding a third child to our family was going to push us out of the condo we had comfortably been living in since we moved from Hoboken, NJ to State College, PA two years prior. Our house hunt commenced and we found our home a bit faster than we expected…or at least than I expected. We ended up closing mere days before I went into labor with Miss Audrey Grace.


This girl has brought such light to our family and she shares her joyful smiles every time you look at her. Already a pro-big brother, little Jack took on a bigger role of being mommy’s helper and Madelyn jumped on as big sister without batting an eye. It certainly wasn’t all easy though. I knew the role I was to play while Jack sought new doctors and found himself back on another antibiotic cycle. He needed his rest at night, so I took on full baby duty responsibilities and did my best to cut back on too much complaining…remember, I’m not perfect…and those post-baby hormones, oh my. 7 weeks post baby and we were packed up and moving into our new home. Like I said, it was a whirlwind! With the help of amazing friends and family we were moved and semi-settled in no time.


I’m still in the midst of furnishing and decorating our house, but regardless, it has most certainly become my family’s home. We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas surrounded by family and if it weren’t for both of our families being nearby, I don’t know what we would have done these past few years. I’m also thankful for all of our prayer warriors out there that have been raising up our family in prayer for some time now. Without a doubt, God has been guiding our lives and helping us get through the ups and downs one day at a time. I’ve found myself seeking this verse often, when any anxiety creeps in: Philippians 4: 6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.


I told you that this post began, as an outfit post, but behind the scenes…well, this is what you’d see. These crazy loves of my life. As the years continue to fly by, I’m resolving this year to slow down a bit and appreciate each of them for who they are at the stage of life they are currently in. I want to spend more one on one time with my husband and find a little more time for me. So if any of you can find these extra hours in everyday, let me know okay?? ;) And to end on a light and somewhat lovely note, here’s my husband. No matter what he’s going through, he does his best to keep a smile on his face and the laughter in our home. I think he’s tired of being behind the camera, don’t you?!!


And finally, a big thank you to all of you that continue to read along day after day and post after post. You make this whole blogging thing all the more fun!! Wishing you a wonderful and blessed New Year! See you in 2016!

Marisa’s outfit details: Lou & Grey jacket / Anthro fleece leggings / JCrew shearling slippers

Sherpa Vest


My family tells me I’m too difficult to buy for. I don’t get it ;) Over the years my husband has learned that it’s much easier to stalk my Pinterest board or ask me for a wish list that he can choose gifts from. Lucky for me, he selected this vest as a birthday present (which happens to be a week before Christmas). I love this vest. It’s thicker than I expected but makes it a great added layer, especially when we still don’t need heavy coats around here. And for all of you catching the post-season sales, this one is still in stock and has been marked down even further this week!







Details: Aritzia vest / JCrew shirt / LOFT denim / Stella & Dot necklace and bracelet / Boots (similar)

Mint Chocolate Macaroons


Oh the holidays. Christmas celebrations, family, food, presents, and cookies. Lots of cookies! I always have my favorite chocolate chip cookies on hand, but I like to play with new recipes as well. This year I decided to go with Mint Chocolate Macaroons. Chocolate Covered Macaroon’s are a favorite of mine and these were a delicious alternative. They are gluten free and paleo in case you are looking for those options. There’s a good chance you have all of the ingredients on hand, so if you need a last minute recipe, this might be it!

I served these at my cookie exchange this year amidst a sea of delicious-ness. I don’t think there’s anything much more beautiful than a table full of cookies, do you?!


Mint Coco 1

Mint Chocolate Macaroons via Danielle Walker’s e-cookbook Joyful:

Serves 2 dozen

▪ 3 cups shredded coconut
▪ ½ cup cacao powder
▪ ½ cup honey
▪ ½ cup coconut milk
▪ ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
▪ ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
▪ 1 egg white
▪ dash of sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric mixer, beat the egg white with a small pinch of salt. Beat for 1-2 minutes until soft peaks form when you lift the mixer out.
4. Fold the egg white into the coconut mixture and mix gently until fully combined.
5. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop out balls of dough and pack them together tightly either by lightly knocking the scoop onto the side of the bowl or pushing it down with your fingers.
6. Place the dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tray half way through.
7. Cool on a wire cooling rack for 1 hour. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
8. Optional – dip the bottoms of the macaroons in melted dark chocolate mixed with ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract for an even more decadent treat! (I did not use peppermint in the chocolate since my husband thought the cookie had enough peppermint flavor without it.)

A Little Bling


I enjoy getting dressed up every chance that I can. Be it a formal affair or merely an evening out, any excuse to step out of my everyday wardrobe is exciting. I love the holidays for that very reason. Not that I necessarily have to be formally dressed, but any added bling is deemed acceptable. I don’t enjoy sacrificing comfort, so for me it doesn’t get much better than a sequined sweatshirt. I’ve shown it a bit more dressed up here, but I’ve also worn it with jeans and booties to enhance my everyday outfit a bit during the week. You can’t beat the price on this one either. It’s kind of a no brainer.








Details: SheIn sweatshirt c/o  / LOFT pants (love these and these) / clutch (similar) / JCrew pumps (option) / LOFT pendant necklace (similar) / Stella & Dot monogram necklace and bracelet

Plaid + Stripes


Happy Friday guys! Today also happens to be my birthday…yay?! I love birthdays, but just as I’d love to slow the years down for my kids, I’d also throw that request in for myself. 30’s are kind of fun and I want them to stay around as long as they can. To start off my day, I requested to be able to (finally) get into the gym and get my butt kicked in class. This is an area of my life that I have been slacking in since Audrey came along. It’s been tough logistically (a nursing baby at home along with a toddler makes things tricky), but I’m dying to get back in. For those that are local, you should check out PYP studio and you’ll quickly see why I’m so eager to get back! I won’t likely be a regular yet, but it’s only a matter of time since it’s flying by!

As for the outfit…I call this my it’s kind of cold but I’m not ready for a coat so I’ll just layer up and run my errands outfit. I also just saw another video on the importance of buckling your kids into carseats without their coats on, and they also mentioned the same goes for adults. We are safer buckled in without the added layers which I never realized. So there you have it, my coatless looks are actually keeping me safe! Sorry for the tangents today, apparently my brain is a little scattered at the moment ;)







Details: Madewell sweater / LOFT denim / Madewell tote / LOFT hat / Scarf (similar) / Boots (similar)

So how’s everyone’s shopping coming along? I took inventory the other night on what I had gathered thus far and I think our kids will be happy. For me, what always comes down to the last minute are those pesky stocking stuffers! I’m still working on that here, but I’ve gathered some of my kid’s favorites for you in case it can be of any help!

stocking stuffer

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

Lego’s and Hot Wheels continue to be a hit with my 6 year old, as they have been for years. Sophie la Girafe and the Winkel toy have been infant favorites for all three of my kids now and they’ve also each had their own Angel Dear ‘lovey’. I love classic games like Go Fish and Old Maid, and these updated versions are great. Snowmen at Night is a cute book that was gifted to them and we’ve been reading it now for years, during the summer as well ;) I grabbed this Strawberry Shortcake classic doll for my three year old daughter this year. Memories of my own rushed back as soon as I smelled her! And finally the multi-colored pen. Totally random, but when I asked my husband for some ideas for the kids this is what he came up with. It’s pretty genius, I love them!

The Perfect Wrap/Cardigan


I’ve had this cardigan since last Christmas when I gifted them to my mother and sisters in law and threw one into the basket for myself! I’m honestly not quite sure how it has not made it onto the blog yet. It’s more of a wrap/cardigan combo, but unlike a wrap, you’re able to move around without worrying about it shifting or falling off. Oh, and it’s fleece lined so it’s super soft and comfortable. A perfect added layer of warmth or it can serve as a light jacket on 60 degree December days (what’s up with this weather?!) If you’re stuck on any gift ideas for the gals on your list, this should likely check it off for you because it’s perfect for just about any age. The good news is that Nordstrom seems to keep these in stock and they carry a ton of colors. They also offer petite and plus sizes, so you’re guaranteed to get a good fit!

On another note, if you need to hint to your significant other/parent etc. about your pending wishlist, my tote is probably my most popular item on and off the blog. I’ve been wearing it for years and I continue to love and get compliments/questions about it regularly. Just last week I had a college girl approach me at Wegman’s asking where she could get it because she had to have it. Look at me, in my 30’s, 3 kids and keeping up with the college girls ;) Thank you college girl, for making me feel young. Just don’t hold your breath on getting me into a crop top and mini skirt ;)






Details: Bobeau cardi / LOFT denim / Madewell tote / Wool fedora /Sperry booties (similar)

Gift Guide: The Guys

Today I’m tackling the gift guide for the most difficult person on my list, my husband! Although this list won’t do me much good because all of these items are tried, tested and given full approval by Jack himself. But for all of you on the hunt for the perfect guy gift (be it your husband, father, brother etc.), read on!


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

These slippers are Jack’s official house shoe. He rarely takes them off and they have held up for years. They live up to the quality you expect from Ugg, that’s for sure.

This shave set gives Jack ‘the best shave he’s ever gotten’. It also lasts forever, very much worth the price.

The 4 Hour Chef is a wonderful gift for any guys (or gals for that matter) that enjoy cooking. One comment states, ‘If you crossed Jason Bourne with Julia Child, you’d end up with Tim Ferriss’. I’m great at following recipes whereas Jack is good at cooking (in other words, he can create a meal on the fly) and that’s only been enhanced after he went through this book.

Sweats. Where these may be seen as loungewear for most, they make the perfect work attire for any other work-from-home guys! These are Jack’s favorite. I’m thankful they at least come in an array of colors :)

This Jack Spade bag has held up for years and barely looks worn at all. Jack uses it to haul around his laptop and a number of miscellaneous items. The perfect, masculine, man-bag.

The Yeti. Jack was gifted this by his sister and brother in-law last year and it is used every, single day. It keeps your beverage cold or hot for hours on end, no joke. It’s also easy to clean, which I appreciate as I clean it daily. I’d love one of my own!

I’ve gifted Jack a few watches over the years, but the one her prefers the most has this style of wrist band. He gets annoyed by metal and even leather bands. Comfort is the name of his game…in case the sweats and slippers didn’t already give that away ;)


Crockpot Beef & Cheese Pasta


I use my crockpot all year long because I love the idea of having dinner ready and clean up complete before evening sets in. Especially with young children, those late afternoon hours can be some of the most hectic of the day. It’s typically when everyone decides they ‘need me’ and ‘hanger’ creeps in…it’s not pretty. The busy holiday season also leads me to turn to the crockpot as often as I can. I know there are tons of Pinterest boards and a gazillion crockpot recipes out there, but I honestly only have a handful that my family really loves. This being the case, I’m always on the lookout for another really good one to add to my file. We’ve now made this Beef and Cheese Pasta dish three times, so I think I can safely say, I found another. This isn’t your typical meat sauce and noodle recipe, the flavor surprises me each time we make it and the kids have even asked for seconds. Try it out, save yourself a hectic evening and enjoy this one ;)

Crockpot Beef and Cheese Pasta via The Cooking Jar:

2 lb. lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
15 oz. marinara sauce
15 oz. stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Red pepper flakes to taste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
10 oz. frozen spinach, cooked
1 lb. penne/rigatoni/bow tie pasta, cooked al dente
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1½ cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Over medium high heat, brown the beef until cooked. Drain any fat
Remove beef and saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent
Transfer onions and beef to a slow cooker and pour in marinara sauce, tomatoes, seasonings, sugar and crumbled beef bouillon cubes
Stir to mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste
Cook for 6-8 hours on low
Cook the pasta till al dente, according to package instructions. Drain well and add cooked pasta, Parmesan and Mozzarella to the meat sauce and stir to combine
Cook on high for 30 minutes
Mix in cooked or raw spinach leaves and stir well
Dish and serve hot

Sweaters and Coats


It’s no secret that I love to shop. But I also do my best to stick to budgets and take pride in scoring deals. I also keep my closet in check by selling and donating clothes as I sort through it a few times a year. When I was looking through my sweaters at the beginning of the season I realized I was so ‘over’ the majority of them. For some reason, sweaters are harder for me to let go of than most articles of clothing, so I end up keeping them thinking ‘I’ll wear that again someday‘. Right. Well, this year I finally purged a number of them which left my sweater drawer looking empty. But like decorating (I’m learning) you don’t want to rush your purchases. It’s best to take your time and find those that you really love. Where’s this rambling going? Well, I really love this sweater. And I really love that I got it under $40 (still on sale). I love the fit and the fact that it can be worn with jeans, leggings, dress pants etc. Transitions perfectly from lounging around the house to heading out with friends.

The temps are certainly dropping so I layered up in my blanket scarf. I’m pretty sure this plaid has become the most popular ever, at least here in the blog world it has certainly blown up! And also let me mention my coat. When it comes to wool coats, JCrew has and continues to be my go-to. They aren’t cheap, (although it does help to get them on sale) but they are more than worth it. I have this trench coat, a pea coat and a cocoon coat, all of which I have had for many years and they all still look brand new. I get compliments on them frequently, which is likely because other than this grey one, my others are mint and a kelly green….it’s fun to make a statement during the dreary months! So, if you are in need, might I suggest browsing their coats and adding one to your Christmas list. Fingers crossed you’ve been good this year ;)






While I’m on the subject of coats, I’ll also give a shout out to Patagonia (which my son is wearing, and no this is not a sponsored post). Their coats are made of down, yet very thin and lightweight. I find big bulky coats on kids to be rather annoying, especially on those that you still need to buckle into car seats. Talk about breaking a sweat! My son never complains of being cold when he wears his, nor does my husband who also owns one. So far, I’ve been able to get two years out of my sons coats, which has been great. I also plan on passing his old coats on to his sisters, so the price is totally worth it. It’s great when you can get an end of season sale, but be warned, the kids sizes sell out quickly. With adults, however, you can often find past season colors at a good price.


Marisa: JCrew coat / Sweater / JCrew pants / Dolce Vita boots (similar) / scarf (similar)

Jack: Patagonia coat