a lovely living

Monthly Archives for December 2014

We don’t have any formal affairs to attend this season, but that doesn’t mean you don’t! And luckily I enjoy browsing all the bright and shiny cloths and piecing outfits together. From office parties, Christmas get-togethers, gift exchanges and new years shindigs, I’ve put together half a dozen outfits that should give you a little inspiration and carry you through the season. Any of the following calling your name in particular?




Outfit 1: Stole / Dress / Earrings / Shoes

Outfit 2: Jumpsuit / Necklace / Bracelet / Shoes

Outfit 3: Jacket / Necklace / Pants / Shoes

Outfit 4: Dress / Earrings / Shoes

Outfit 5: Dress / Necklace / Jacket / Shoes

Outfit 6: Sweatshirt / Pants / Shoes

Chicken Enchilada Casserole


I’m a sucker for Mexican food. I’ve previously shared a wonderful Chicken, Black Bean & Quinoa Bake and highly recommend it. This casserole, however is one of the easiest dishes I’ve prepared. It only has four ingredients, so how difficult could it be? Chances are you’ll be baking up a storm in the upcoming weeks, so you may want to keep this recipe on hand. Simple, quick and delicious so you can spend your valuable time elsewhere!


Chicken Enchilada Casserole via Jo Cooks:


1 14 oz jar or can Enchilada sauce
2 to 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
6 corn tortillas, 6 inch each
2 chicken breasts (I used 3)


Cut each chicken breast in about 3 pieces, so that it cooks faster and put it in a small pot. Pour Enchilada sauce over it and cook covered on low to medium heat until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. No water is needed, the chicken will cook in the Enchilada sauce. Make sure you stir occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Remove chicken from the pot and shred with two forks.

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.

Start layering the casserole. Start with about ¼ cup of the leftover Enchilada sauce over the bottom of a baking dish. I used a longer baking dish, so that I can put 2 corn tortillas across.

Place 2 tortillas on the bottom, top with ⅓ of the chicken and ⅓ of the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with ⅓ of the cheese and repeat starting with 2 more tortillas, then chicken, sauce, cheese. Repeat with last layer with the remaining ingredients, tortillas, chicken, sauce and cheese.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes uncovered, until bubbly and cheese has melted and started to brown on top.

Serve warm.

By now I’m assuming you are all realizing that December is quickly passing us by. It’s already the 9th for goodness sake! Today I am tackling a wishlist for the person I find the most difficult to shop for. My husband (or the special guy in your life). All items have been approved by my man himself, all, that is, except for the ‘hubby’ tee. When he saw this he said, “what guy is going to wear that?” I started laughing and told him he is because it’s already hidden in our closet!! Take that as you will, but I will not be making any returns ;)




1. Patagonia Coat: My husband has owned his for a few years now and continues to wear it endlessly. He claims it keeps him warmer than anything else he owns yet it’s extremely thin and lightweight. My son wears one as well and it’s thankfully lasted him two years! Well worth the money.

2. Wooden: Packed with powerful life changing principles and an all-time favorite of my husband.

3. Messenger Bag: I love the classic, masculine look of this messenger bag by TOMS.

4. The Art of Shaving: My husband is extremely particular about shaving products. He’s tried everything and swears by the Art of Shaving products. According to him, they are worth every penny.

5. L.L. Bean Duffle: If you’re familiar with L.L.Bean you know their quality is outstanding. This weekender is perfect for quick business trips or getaways with your guy (because we know you don’t have any room to spare in yours!)

6. Michael Kors watch: Granted, watches may not be anything out of the ordinary to gift to someone, but who wouldn’t be happy to receive a beautiful (I mean cool, awesome!) new watch? There are a ton of options out there when it comes to watches, but I own a Michael Kors of my own, I trust the quality and love the versatile look of this particular leather banded option.

7. Hubby tee: You saw what we both had to say above, so I’ll let you make your own conclusions. And just maybe I’ll coerce my husband into modeling for a post ;)

Winter Whites


Alright, technically I’m wearing ecru, not white, but you get the point. Whites or ‘lights’ can be very refreshing during the winter. Sadly, this may be the last time I’ll be squeezing into these pants until post baby, but let it be my reminder for all of you that are not pregnant to feel free, or even encouraged to break yours out. Balancing it out with a heavy cardigan keeps me warm and the outfit seasonally appropriate at the same time. For more inspiration search for ‘winter white’ on Pinterest. You’ll be sold for sure.








Details: Old Navy cardigan / Top (similar) / JCrew pants / Stella & Dot necklace / Kate Spade bag (similar) / Anthropologie bracelet (similar) / DV by Dolce Vita booties (similar)

Linking up with Style Sessions

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday, all! I’m thankful that my energy levels are creeping back up because life feels extremely busy and I don’t see anything slowing down until Christmas passes! Cookie baking and shopping have commenced (excited about this toy I found for Jack), decorations are up and most evenings we’ve been watching short Christmas movies with the kids before we tuck them in. I really do enjoy this season, I just wish it lasted a bit longer than it does!

Here’s a look at what went on around here this week:

1) Jack and Madelyn with their sweet cousin Max. I’m not going to lie, three kids looks daunting!!


2) Schools around here have off school the Monday after Thanksgiving for the beginning of deer season (like my 5yo would be out with his rifle?). We took advantage and had a movie date to see Madagascar in 3D. I’m behind the times, but this was my first 3D movie and I was blown away! How cool are they?!


3) I can’t say if these are new to Trader Joe’s or it was just my first time coming across them, but darn that store for their samples. I have no will power!


4) I decided to freshen up Madelyn’s ‘do. I think her new bob suits her personality perfectly.


5) We took a ride on a local Santa train. Jack seems to be overcoming his ‘santa fear’ but Madelyn wasn’t giving him anything more than a smile and a wave….from a safe distance ;)



Linking up with High Five for Friday



Cold weather always leaves me longing for warm, cozy clothes to snuggle up in. Granted, I dressed this one up a bit for church, but you can believe that I switched to leggings and slippers when we returned home. I grabbed this sweater during our NYC trip a few weeks ago knowing it would get wear for months (and years) to come. A perk you can enjoy by wearing a sweater that makes a statement all on it’s own is that very little effort is required to put together your outfit! Always a plus in my book.







Details: Anthropologie sweater / Gap maternity pants (similar non-maternity) / Pumps via TJMaxx (exact shoe in different colors), also love this option


Homemade Samoas


It’s December and very obvious that the holiday shopping season has commenced.  You’ll be excited to realize that’s it’s also cookie season! Oh, and diets don’t count in December, especially if you’re pregnant ;) This year I started out with a slightly less typical Christmas cookie, the GirlScout Samoa! This is my absolute favorite of theirs, although frozen thin mints come in second. When I came across the recipe I had to give it a shot. Although slightly time consuming with the melting etc., these cookies are totally worth it. I even had my husband helping me in the kitchen as the clock approached midnight one evening, but you should have seen how proud he was to serve them to his family. He made sure each cookie was appreciated!


Homemede Samoas via Just A Taste:


For the cookies:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the coconut topping:
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
15 ounces store-bought or homemade soft caramels
3 Tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces dark chocolate (I needed 10-12 ounces)


Make the cookies:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In three increments, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter, mixing between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the milk and vanilla extract, blending until combined and the dough begins to come together in large pieces.

Use your hands to divide the dough in half, pressing it together to compact it into two disks. Wrap the disks securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate them until firm, about 1 hour.

Once the dough has chilled, roll each disk out onto a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8-inch thick. Cut out as many cookies as possible with a doughnut-shaped cookie cutter (or a cookie cutter and a spice lid etc.). Place the cut-out cookies on a Silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half-way through, until the cookies are pale golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire wrack to cool completely.

Make the coconut topping:

Spread the coconut flakes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the coconut for about 10 minutes in a 350ºF oven until toasted, stirring frequently to ensure even browning and so that it does not burn. Remove the toasted coconut from the oven and set it aside.

Melt the caramels, milk and salt in a double-boiler by placing the caramels in a medium saucepot set over a large saucepot of simmering water. Cook, stirring, until the caramels are fully melted. Remove the saucepot from the heat and combine 3/4 of the caramel with the toasted coconut in a large bowl.

Carefully spread the remaining 1/4 cup of caramel atop the cooled cookies then press on a portion of the coconut mixture. Let the cookies cool for 30 minutes. If the caramel-coconut mixture thickens too much at any point while pressing it onto the cookies, return it to the double-boiler and warm it until it’s spreadable again.

Melt the dark chocolate in a double-boiler or in the microwave. Dip the bottoms of the cookies in the chocolate and place them on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Use a fork to drizzle the tops with chocolate. Let the cookies sit until the chocolate hardens fully.



I love that I have a daughter to dress up. She certainly has a mind of her own (at age 2) but thankfully she approves of most of the clothing I buy for her…thus far. I’ve always kept her style similar to my own which is not surprising I’m sure. Most of the time I think she pulls off outfits much better than I do! It must be that carefree attitude of a 2 year old. Could you image not looking into the mirror at all and looking absolutely adorable regardless? I wish! I came across this sweatshirt for myself and as soon as I saw the mini version I knew Madelyn had to have it. I can’t compete with her cuteness but I can be one proud mommy!







Details: Hello Apparel (on me and Madelyn sold out currently, but check out all their awesome merchandise / Gap denim top (similar)/ Madewell leggings / Dolce Vita boots / JCrew Factory necklace (similar)

Linking up with Style Sessions

Time to SHOP!

Happy Cyber Monday! I hope you all enjoyed a fantastic Thanksgiving and had a chance to spend time with family and rest up! Did anyone brave Black Friday? I did not, but I am most certainly looking forward to finding a few deals today! I’ve done my best to gather as many shopping codes for you to use today in addition to selecting a few of my favorite items. You all catch a few deals for yourself in addition to shopping for others like I do, right?! I hope you get some fab goodies!

Ann Taylor Take 50% off everything with code CYBER50. Card members get free shipping


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ASOS 30% off everything with code ILOVEMONDAYS


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Banana Republic 40% off with code CYBER


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BaubleBar Receive 20% off everything with code CYBER20. Or, play the BaubleBar Insta Steal digital game for a chance to win 20%, 25%, 30%, or $100 off of your purchase


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Gap 40% off with code CYBER


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H&M Take 30% off your entire purchase and enjoy free shipping on all valid orders over $50


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JCrew 30% regular priced items and extra 40% off sale items with code HOLIDAY


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Kate Spade 30% off sitewide with code CYBER30


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LOFT 50% off everything with code MONDAY


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ModCloth Get 25% off everything with code CYBERMONDAY


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Old Navy 40% off with code CYBER


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Piperlime 30% off sitewide plus extra 40% off of sale items with code CYBERSALE


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Shopbop 15% off if you spend $250, 20% off if you spend $500, and 25% off if you spend $1,000 with code GOBIG14


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A few others to note:

Anthropologie 20% off all sale items plus free shipping on all orders using code EXTRAJOLLY

Francesca’s 30% off sitewide

JCrew Factory 50% off everything plus an extra 10% off and free shipping with code YOUVEGOTSALE

Lord & Taylor extra 25% off regular and sale items with code MONDAY

Madewell 25% off entire purchase using code GIFTON