a lovely living

Monthly Archives for December 2014

Still Shopping?

Happy New Years Eve! I hope you all have more exciting plans than I do. We’ll be having dinner with our family and spending some time downtown for the evening. My goal is to stay awake until the ball drops :)

I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to all of these after Christmas sales, but they are crazy. I swear, one of these years I’m going to delay our gift giving until post Dec. 25th! In case you’re home relaxing today, prior to any plans tonight, I’ve gathered a few things I’ve been eyeing. I may have placed an order or two as well, can you blame me?!


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Baked Blueberry French Toast


With two weeks off for Christmas break (for my son), we’re able to enjoy much more relaxing mornings than usual. With some extra time, it’s nice to break out of our normal bagel/oatmeal/cereal routine and step it up a notch. I love breakfast dishes that you are able to prep the night before and pop in the oven the next morning. This baked blueberry french toast was the perfect addition to our Christmas morning brunch. I also served my egg and sausage casserole along with some fresh fruit. It all paired wonderfully and this will be going on my ‘repeat’ list for sure!



Blueberry French Toast Bake via Mix and Match Mama:


1 loaf of bread (about 4 cups of cubed pieces), torn into bite-size pieces (I used Challah but you could use croissants too)
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups fresh blueberries
Maple syrup to drizzle on top, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange bread in a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan; set aside.

Beat with a whisk your eggs, milk, half and half, vanilla and cinnamon in a mixing bowl; pour over bread.  Sprinkle your blueberries down over the top.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, remove from oven and bake 45 to 55 minutes.  (Check after about 30 minutes and if it’s getting to brown on top, cover with foil and continue cooking.)

Remove from oven let stand 5 minutes before serving.  You can drizzle maple syrup down over top if you’d like.





I hope you all had a wonderful week celebrating Christmas, ate plenty of goodies and were able to spend much time with family and friends. Outside of one sick child, we had a great time! I know many of you have exciting plans as NYE approaches in a few days. Pregnancy tends to put a damper on that for me, but I’ll be doing my best to keep my eyes open until the ball drops :)

We have had somewhat mild weather going on around us lately and I’ve enjoyed the fact that I don’t need to be bundled quite as much, not that I bank on that lasting too long. I pulled out this lightweight sweater from last year and found it to be very forgiving for a growing belly. I believe ruffles and bows are in my genes, passed down from my mother and grandmother, I’m always drawn to their girly appeal. I paired it with python pumps to add just a bit of an edge. I also added two pieces of jewelry that were gifted to me from my sister and girlfriend for my birthday. I had been eyeing these 360 earrings for a while and I’m thrilled to now have them in my jewelry box! And this necklace that my girlfriend engraved with my initials is my new everyday go-to!






Details: AE sweater (love this and this option) / Gap maternity pants (similar non-maternity) / Pumps (similar) / Michael Kors watch / Stella & Dot necklace / Baublebar earrings / Kate Spade bag (similar)

Linking up with Style Sessions


I don’t know about you, but we have plenty of plans in the upcoming week. Fun, relaxing plans with friends and family, but plans nonetheless where hungry people will be involved! Spinach artichoke dip is nothing new, but recipes can often be hit or miss. I view it similarly to a chocolate chip cookie, there must be a million recipes out there but when you find one you love, you stick to it. A friend of mine made this particular dip over a year ago and since then I must have used the recipe close to a dozen times! It’s easy to put together, can be served with anything from bread to chips or vegetables, and is a hit with everyone that has tried it. If you don’t use it in the immediate future, you may want to bookmark it because it’s worth coming back for!


Recipe via The Girl Who Ate Everything:

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained well) OR 10 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons sour cream
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, or more to taste
dash of cayenne pepper, or more to taste

. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, warm cream cheese in microwave for about a minute to soften. Add spinach, artichokes, sour cream, mayonnaise, and parmesan. Mix all together and add garlic salt and cayenne to taste. Don’t worry, if using fresh spinach it will reduce down while cooking.
. Place in an oven safe dish and bake in the oven at for about 20 minutes or until the top is toasty. If you’re using fresh spinach bake for 20 minutes, stir, and bake for an additional 10 minutes if needed.
. Serve with bread, chips or veggies.

A Relaxing Day


Thanks to my husband’s family, we were able to enjoy a morning of massages on my birthday last week at a fairly local resort. If you live anywhere near PA, you should look into Bedford Springs Resort and consider planning a little getaway. The property is magnificent and not a single detail is left undone. They use water from their natural springs for all spa treatments and the few times we’ve taken advantage of their services we’ve been more than satisfied with everything. This was my first prenatal massage and although it’s a bit different than the usual, it was exactly what I needed. I kept my outfit warm, cozy and comfortable with a chunky turtleneck sweater and wedge booties. An outfit I plan on rotating this season!








Details: Free People sweater (other color options on sale here) / Target maternity jeans (similar non-maternity) / Sperry booties / Kate Spade bracelet (similar) / Michele watch

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday! It’s been a fun week leading up to the ‘week before Christmas’ and I’m looking forward to the week ahead. I had a fantastic day celebrating my birthday yesterday surrounded by lots of family. My husband took the morning off to be able to celebrate with me and my sister (who took off work to watch our children) joined me in wrapping up some Christmas shopping during the afternoon. It’s such a treat to get to celebrate your birthday on the actual day, which isn’t always something that can be pulled off! I’m so thankfu and am ready to jump into my 33rd year…what?!

Here’s a look back at my week:

1) I’m not a big ‘bump’ photographer, especially not on my third pregnancy, but I figured I should at least capture a few shots along the way. Follow along on Instagram if you’re not already.


2) My nugget decorating a Christmas ornament during a birthday party at Michael’s. Did you know they hosted parties? Such a great idea!


3) Pearl 360 studs gifted to me from my sister. Aren’t they fun?


4) I hosted a cookie exchange for the lovely ladies in my bible study group. I’m overly impressed at not only how good everything looked, but how amazing it all tasted! Such a great way to quickly get an assortment of cookies to share with your family over the holidays.


5) I realized yesterday that I may not be too old (or too pregnant) to shop at Abercrombie. Although I may not be walking around in tiny A+F tee’s, I did fall in love with this sweater, bought this one for my sister, while she also grabbed this great flannel! Oh, and the entire store is currently 50% off. So for anyone else who may have written it off, you may want to rethink ;)


Wishlist: The Girl’s Guide

It’s officially one week before Christmas, which also makes it my birthday :) I’m off enjoying a relaxing morning with my husband and have a shopping date with my sister later on, so it’s bound to be a great day!

Today I’m sharing with you one final gift guide for the girls. This post was strategically saved for the end because if you are anything like me, the girls are the hardest to buy for! Not because I can’t find anything, but because there are too many options and I can’t narrow anything down! Well, it’s crunch time and decisions need to be made, so here’s a round-up of gifts you couldn’t go wrong with. Chic cold weather accessories, adorable lounge clothes, some classy accessories (Michael Kors crossbody, yes please!) and a few odds and ends should just about cover all of the lovely ladies on your list. Now hurry up, time’s running out!



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Iced Sugar Cookies


When I can find the time, I love to sit and decorate sugar cookies. Time, well, and patience, being the main ingredients. Prepping the dough and baking the cookies is simple enough, but working with icing and it’s varying consistencies and colors can take a bit of time. However, if you do have the time and this sounds enjoyable (I know I’ve lost some of you already!), then these are right up your alley!


The key to the base layer of icing is to have it a bit runny so that it will dry smoothly. This means you may need to add a few teaspoons of water to your icing. Do this slowly, it won’t take much.  If you do mess up, you can always add more powdered sugar back into the icing to thicken it back up. Make sure you give the base enough time to dry before decorating. You’ll then want the icing a bit thicker when you’re ready to decorate (as I just stated, simply add some powdered sugar back into your bowl of icing and mix), otherwise your designs will be running all over the place.


After browsing Pinterest and magazines and playing with my own ideas…


…I narrowed this years batch to my favorite three designs…a snowflake and two types of Christmas trees.


A classic cookie that becomes all your own! My son wanted to help but when he saw things were getting a bit intricate he decided “Mom, you’re doing a good job on your own”, ha!

Here are the recipes for the Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing that I used both via All Recipies:

Sandy’s Super Sugar Cookies:


5 1 /2 C flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt
2 C butter at room temp
2 C sugar
2 large eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

Beat butter and white sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; beat in vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture on low speed until dough is just-combined.

Divide dough into 4 portions; refrigerate 3 portions. Roll remaining portion out on a lightly-floured work surface to 1/4-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shapes and transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet

Bake in the preheated oven until slightly golden at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking process with remaining dough portions.


Royal Icing III:


3 C powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 egg whites


In a bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar and cream of tartar. Using electric mixer, beat in 2 beaten egg whites for about 5 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to hold its shape.

Red Heels


I’ve been on the hunt for a bright pair of suede pumps for the winter. In my mind I was picturing more of a fuchsia,  but when I found these pumps on clearance for just over $30 at Macy’s I couldn’t pass them up. I suppose red is more seasonally appropriate  for the time being anyway. The pink will just have to wait!







 Details: JCrew shirt (similar) / Faux fur vest (love this option) / Paige denim / Baublebar necklace (similar here and here) / JCrew Factory bracelet (similar) / Alfani pumps (see similar options below) / Kate Spade bag (similar)

Linking up with Style Sessions.

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday, gang! I was scrolling through my phone and realized that I did a horrendous job documenting my week. Life happens, right? And so do Christmas cards, which I’ll be continuing to address once I wrap up this post. One of these years I’m going to have to cut back on the amount we send out, but it just feels wrong to do so! My husband claims they are only for the ‘wives’ anyway. To create, to send and to admire as they roll into the mail box. Is this true for your household as well? Even so, I love and appreciate each and every card that we receive :) Here’s one (of many) outtakes from our Christmas shoot this year…

outtake3 copy

Since I told you I slacked on the photo documentation of my week, I decided to give you a brief pregnancy update. Here’s where things are at 18 weeks along:

1) The baby is now the size of a bell pepper with a length of 5 1/2 inches and weighing approximately 7 ounces.

2) Up until around 16 weeks I was feeling nauseous every minute that I was awake. That sickness has finally subsided for the most part which is a huge relief.

3) Although I began feeling slight movement around 14-15 weeks (things happen quickly when it’s your third!), this past week the baby has really started to rock and roll. Feeling the life inside makes pregnancy much more exciting!

4) I haven’t had any crazy cravings but I certainly have more of a savory than sweet tooth. Not that it will stop me from baking cookies ;) Fruit, however, is something I can’t get enough of. I go through a pint of berries in no time!

5) We’ll be finding out the gender shortly after Christmas. I’m excited to know and honestly have no preference as to it being a boy or girl. I’m thankful to already have one of each, so this one is just an added bonus!

Have a fabulous weekend and I’ll see ya next week!