11.09.2018

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

TGIF readers!

What a week it has been here!

I came down with a cold Sunday, had to travel for work Tuesday-Wednesday, took a sick day yesterday, and am finally feeling on the mend today! On top of that, Bryce and I have been ships in the night. He left Sunday morning for a conference, got home Tuesday (while I was traveling), we had Wednesday night together, and then he packed up again yesterday to head to South Carolina for a work shoot. He'll be back late tomorrow night.

I had promised my "Must Have Vests" post this week, and had planned to take photos and write that post on Sunday but was feeling too crummy. I always get requests for more recipe posts, though, so hopefully today won't disappoint.

Aside from bingeing The Affair (still can't decide if I like it or not) and snuggling Millie, the only thing I accomplished on Sunday was making a big pot of soup. Nothing brings comfort during a cold like chicken noodle soup and this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is the perfect spin on the classic. The original recipe was found on Good Life Eats and I'm sharing my slightly modified version below.



Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
For the chicken:
1 lb chicken (I used chicken breast tenderloins)
half of a lemon, sliced
handful of fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1 c water
1/2 c chicken broth
salt
pepper

For the soup:
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1/3 c white wine
3 carrots, sliced into rounds
7 1/2 c chicken broth
3/4 c orzo pasta, uncooked
3 egg yolks
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs fresh parsley, minced
2-3 large handfuls of baby spinach, chopped
salt
pepper

Directions
For the chicken:
Combine all ingredients in pot on stovetop. Bring to a boil and cook for 8 minutes.

Remove from heat, drain, and shred (this trick is life changing).

Set aside.

For the soup:
Add 1 tbs olive oil into large dutch oven. Saute the onion over medium-high heat until golden and tender. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more.

Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and carrot. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and lemon together. Add 1 cup of hot broth from the dutch oven very slowly to the egg yolk mixture, whisking as you pour. Then, transfer the mixture to the dutch oven. Stir in the orzo and the chicken.

Continue cooking over medium-low heat until the pasta and carrots are tender, 15-20 minutes. Add the parsley and spinach, and stir until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!



This soup was just what the doctor ordered! I ate it for dinner that night, shared some with my mother-in-law who watched Millie while Bryce and I both were traveling, and froze the rest for us to eat for dinner another night soon. In fact, making soup on Sundays has become a bit of a tradition this year. It's so comforting for a Sunday night, and perfect to freeze for a simple meal later.

What are some of your favorite soups?

What comfort foods do you crave when you're under the weather?

Have a great weekend!

11.01.2018

30th Birthday Inspiration

Happy November friends!

I can't believe November, and my birthday month (!), is already here!

This week has been a crazy one so I knew I wouldn't have time for a big post and polled y'all on Instagram to see what you'd rather see: Must Have Vests or 30th BDay Inspo.

Birthday Inspiration won with 59% of the vote, so I'm posting that today and will get to vests next week.

November 28 is my 30th birthday and believe it or not I am really excited about turning 30. While I have felt a little old here and there (hello forehead wrinkles!) and went back to a blonder shade during my last hair appointment, perhaps in an effort to cling to my youth, I overall can't wait to be the big 3-0. I've always thought my 30s would be my best decade. Bryce and I are in a great place and have settled into married life, my career is in a place I actually didn't anticipate even reaching before 30, and finally, we have our sweet Millie baby with plans to grow our family even more at some point during my early 30s. So, yeah, 30 is looking good!

Being a milestone birthday, I'm thrilled to report that my mother-in-law is hosting a 30th birthday party for me! I haven't had a true birthday party since my Sweet 16 surprise party, so this should be fun!

In an effort to guide her planning, RoseMarie, my mother-in-law requested some ideas and inspiration and pulling together a Pinterest board for her made me even more excited. I'll share the overall vision with you here.

The theme is a little Kate Spade-ish, with black and white stripes, gold, and varying shades of pink and red. I also decided some zebras needed to be thrown into the mix and lots of bubbly.

Here's a proof of the invitation that hit mailboxes a week or so ago:

It will be a traditional cocktail party with heavy hors d'oeuvres. My mother-in-law even has bought a bunch of ramekins to make my favorite Pasta in the Pink (recipe coming soon) to be passed! 

Those that have been following along for a while, know how much I love the iconic Scalamandre zebras (anyone remember this post from almost 6 years ago?). When thinking of a party, though, zebra print runs the risk of getting tacky really quick. That said, classic Scalamandre cocktail napkins add a subtle and chic pop of zebra, don't you think? 


You can't have a birthday party without cake, and I am loving this one! 


Bubbly and balloons are also a birthday must, and these photos are oh so feminine and chic:


Does a millennial even turn 30 without 
giant gold 3-0 balloons to document it!?

Because gold tinsel makes everything more fun!


Every birthday girl needs a crown right?

I'm pretty sure I need this?

Finally, on the docket, and of top priority for the evening, is my birthday suit...jumpsuit, that is! 


I scored this jumpsuit on mega sale a couple of weeks ago! It's price has since been marked up a bit, but it's still heavily discounted, and also available at less of a discount, but in more sizes here. If you do order, know it runs small! I am a typically a 4, sometimes 6, and the 6 was a bit more snug than I'd like. I've exchanged an am waiting for the 8 to arrive and am really hoping it fits nicely. 

See the full Pinterest board, including many other swoon-worthy cakes and fun details, here.

So what do you think? 

Any details I'm missing or recommendations?

How do you celebrate milestone birthdays?

Have a great day first day of November!

10.26.2018

Foo Dogs vs. Staffordshire Dogs

TGIF readers!

It's been a hectic few weeks over here and I'm excited for a low key weekend!

I'm also super excited for today's post: Foo Dogs vs. Staffordshire Dogs.

If you read Wednesday's Fall with Serena & Lily post, it will come as no surprise that I love Staffordshire dogs. The post features an antique pair on the mantle and a contemporary pair on the dining room tablescape.

What may or may not come as a surprise is the fact that I love foo dogs, too!

Dare I try to pick a favorite?

We'll start with first in the alphabet and history, foo dogs. These "dogs" in fact represent guardian lions and date back to about 200 BC. They can also be referred to as shishi which translates to "stone lion" and first stood in front of Chinese imperial palaces, tombs, government buildings, temples, and homes of the wealthy. In Buddhist culture, lions are seen to have protective powers, so your foo dogs could in fact be seen as guard dogs.

Smitten.

Double the foo dogs, double the fun!

How sweet are these little baby pink cubs/pups?

I sure do like things in pairs, but this guy can stand on his own.

A well styled bookshelf makes my heart flutter!

I was going to stop at 5, but can't resist- fancy me one more!

The holidays are right around the corner, and these two sure do look good with tinsel!

So now that you're obsessing over foo dogs / guardian lions / shishi...let's discuss Staffordshire dogs.

Staffordshire dogs became popular in 19th century homes, and too are meant to stand guard in homes. Manufactured in England and Scotland, the most popular favor the King Charles Spaniel, a favorite breed among monarchs. Designed to adorn the mantle, the canines were a quintessential Victorian bourgeois status-symbol. Fun fact, in the 1800s, children as young as 7 or 8 years old were paid two shillings a week to paint the gold chains on the dogs'  necks. 

Why have just a pair, when you can have a whole family?

Jessie Short of Oak City Interiors is one of my design idols - swoon!

Talk about making a statement!

Love the simplicity and elegance fo this neutral look.

Couldn't resist another #shelfie.

And to keep things even, Staffordshire #6:

Holiday style looks good on you, too!

So now, what's the verdict? Foo dog or Staffordshire dog? 

Is it even possible to choose a favorite?

I think it's a tie, and was oh so pleased when in my "research" for this post, I discovered this bookshelf that shows foo and Staffordshire can play nicely at the same dog park...errr, bookshelf.


What are your thoughts? Is one breed superior to the other?

Have a great weekend!

10.24.2018

Fall with Serena & Lily

Happy Hump Day readers!

Can anyone believe Halloween...aka the end of October...is just one week away?

Work has been busy, busy, but I luckily have a bit of breathing time before the last push of the calendar year.

I have a long list of new, fresh blog ideas I've been adding to regularly and am going to try really hard to knock them out, amidst the craze of year-end fundraising and the holidays.

First up, today I bring you a fall home tour. I'm excited to partner with Serena & Lily on this post.

The last few years when it comes to all holiday decor I have majorly simplified.

I used to pull out Halloween decorations, but made the switch to just pumpkins a few years ago and haven't looked back! I usually get a big pumpkin haul in late September and it lasts through Thanksgiving. Chic and simple!

I also pretty much only decorate the front of our home, living, and dining room these days. Our little cape cod is chock full of enough things, so I don't feel the need to add additional clutter to the other rooms.

We'll start first with fall curb appeal!


I can't get enough of our new-ish blue front door! It is Sherwin Williams Jetstream in high gloss. The corn stalks have become a tradition, but the hurricanes this fall have put a beating on them (it just makes them more rustic, right?). 


The candy corn sign is the only Halloween decoration I still put out. It's just so cute and was a Home Goods find years ago (similar)! I also always have fun putting together a pumpkin topiary.


Inside the mantle takes center stage. You may remember from this post that I restyled it a couple years ago to incorporate the collection of pewter cups. It's evolved over time, but what I still love about it is that I'm able to change it with the seasons. Hydrangeas in summer, pumpkins in the fall, ornaments at Christmastime, etc. 


Serena & Lily was kind enough to send me this Ojai Mirror and it was just the finishing touch the mantle needed! I love that it's neutral, but also bold, and seems to make everything else on the mantle pop. It can be hung horizontally as shown here, or vertically, and is truly versatile.


(Side note: Does anyone else struggle as much as me to get good photos straight on like this? No matter how hard I try, mine always wind up looking crooked as shown here...)


The Staffordshire dogs (similar) were an anniversary present from Bryce and they make me happy every time I see them. We jokingly named them Charlotte and George after the princess and prince.


This picture gives you a close up of the detail on the mirror. I love its contemporary bamboo look. I also love, love, love these striped bright orange and yellow pumpkins and thought they were much prettier displayed upright as shown. Finally, these trumpet vases were another mantle addition since my original post and bring the symmetry I crave. They're currently on sale and a great price point for an authentic look.


These velvet pumpkins were a Marshall's find a couple years ago and solved my dead orchid dilemma. While they're not as luxurious as the real deal made with true pumpkin stems, I'll take the plastic stems for the savings! Since I posted these years ago, I know many of you have also had luck finding them at Marshall's/Home Goods/T.J. Maxx, so if you want the look for less, keep your eyes peeled! I also love this affordable option, where you choose your own Set of 3!


To me, decorating for fall is also about creating a cozy feel. This Linnea's Lights Reserve candle in "Earl Gray" has been adding just the right amount of cozy! It has a subtle, clean scent that I love. The pom pom throw has been a comfy cozy favorite for years now, as well. It's no longer available, but I've found similar ones here and here.


And now for the pi├Ęce de reistance: the dining room! Serena & Lily was also sweet enough to gift me these napkins. I mean, hello! Pom poms AND gingham! A match made in heaven! They inspired me to put together fun new fall tablescape on Saturday. In fact, the table is still set, because it's too pretty to clear! Who wants to come have dinner?


Those who follow along on Instagram, know that we gave the dining room a face lift this summer. I thought the new lighter and brighter look called for all white pumpkins and gourds, so it was fun using the napkins and other elements to bring some color onto the table.


Staffordshire dogs make an appearance here, too! These little guys are so fun and were a steal from my all-time favorite home design shop, Dwelling. I've used them in quite a few tablescapes and think they added to the neutral vibe I was aiming for. The candlesticks are an Ikea steal and I zhushed them up with these napkin rings that were a bridal shower gift.


I mixed and matched everyday and fine dinnerware here, as well. Originally, I set the table with my Tobbacco Leaf dinner plates, but instead of complementing the gingham, the patterns competed. A quick swap with my everyday Emma dinner plates did the trick! The white added a clean feel and the border complemented the pom poms on the napkins perfectly. I also found that the Tobbaco Leaf bread plates added just the right pop of color and pattern play, while still keeping with the neutral theme. The chargers are from Target (similar here), and I actually bought them in college for this dinner with girlfriends in 2010(!) that made an appearance in the very early stages of the blog. I only wish I'd had the foresight then to buy a set of 12 instead of 4. The napkins rings were a gift from our wedding registry, and I selected them because the gold pairs well with the gold edge on the Tobacco Leaf.


The table runner was a Home Goods find (similar here), and the bowl (similar) is one Bryce actually uses to make bread, though I borrow it every year for pumpkins. Finally, can we talk about the rose tinted wine glasses!? I am obsessed and bought 4 at Crate & Barrel on clearance years ago. Well, one broke while I was washing it, so I'm down to 3. Talk again about wishing I'd had the foresight to buy 12. Since I'm down to 3, I often will set the table with two pink and two clear, his and hers, if you will! I did track down two that are nearly identical here (with gold trim!) and here (love the shape!).


And last, but not least the bar area got a little attention with the addition of a single white pumpkin!


As part of our dining room refresh, we had this table painted high gloss in the same color as the front door, Sherwin Williams Jetstream. The tray is Home Goods (similar) and bamboo wine rack is from a  favorite local boutique Van der Wolks (similar and like this one, too). The ALLIEgator bottle opener was a stocking stuffer from my parents, and I ordered the monogrammed napkins for Bryce's 30th through Gracious Bridal



Garden stool is from an amazing Norfolk shop with great authentic blue & white deals called Three Swallows. Millie is not for sale. 

Big thanks again to Serena & Lily for partnering on this post. If you're in the market for bedding, be sure to check out their sale!

Shew, now I'm exhausted! I forgot how much work this blogging thing was...

How do you decorate your home for the seasons?

Have a great day!

10.15.2018

Ravioli with Roasted Veggies

Happy Monday friends!

Did you have a good weekend?

Ours was fabulous: It was the first weekend we've had here with crisp fall weather and I was in heaven!

I'm excited to share a new go-to recipe with you. We cooked this on Thursday night and I had planned to post on Friday, but our power went out due to storms from Hurricane Michael.

We actually made it for friends who recently had their second baby, and I have to say it was one of the easiest meals we've ever taken to friends. I feel like we're always scrambling when we take meals to friends. It's tough to get everything cooked, packed, and delivered at a reasonable time after work and this recipe made it easy peasy! I also love how versatile it is- you could easily use different veggies depending on what's in season and also could mix up the sauces. Pesto is a favorite, but I think it would also be good tossed with balsamic and olive oil or with a cream sauce.

Furthermore, those that have followed along for a while know that I love recipes that are a happy medium. The ravioli, pesto, and cheese makes this feel like a splurge meal, but it is filled with veggies which take away some of the guilt! One serving is 516 calories.


So without further adieu, here you go!

As always my notes are italicized.

Ravioli with Roasted Veggies
Generously serves 6
Recipe by Jacyln Bell

Ingredients
2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed sliced into half moons
2 medium  yellow squash, ends trimmed sliced into half moons
1 red bell pepper, diced into 3/4-inch squares
1/2 large red onion, diced into 3/4-inch squares
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced thick (we used shiitake)
2 tbs olive oil
salt
pepper
1 (10.5-oz) package grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups fresh spinach
1 (20-oz) package refrigerated cheese ravioli
2/3 cup pesto
finely shredded parmesan cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 425F

Place zucchini, squash, bell pepper, onion and mushrooms on a rimmed 18x13-inch baking hseet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast 10 minutes, then remove from oven. Add tomatoes and garlic to pan, and toss. Roast 10 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender (we roasted about 20 minutes longer). Add spinach to pan and toss. Roast 1 minue longer or until spinach has wilted (We skipped this step and just added the spinach during the next step. The ravioli and veggies were warm enough to wilt the spinach as you mix.)

Cook ravioli according to package directions (We put the water on to boil when we put the second round of veggies into the oven and the ravioli then was ready just as the veggies were finished roasting.); drain. Pour ravioli into a large bowl. Stir in roasted veggies and pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste then toss to evenly coat. Serve warm topped with cheese. Enjoy!

This spoon is sure to send the message 
"Made with love!"

And those that follow along on Instastories, got a kick out of my his and hers comparison. This is Bryce's plate topped with a mountain of cheese!


What are your go-to meals to deliver to loved ones?

Have a great day!

9.21.2018

5 Design Coffee Table Books on My Wish List

TGIF readers!

How have the last 8 months been?!

2018 has been an ahh-mazing year, here! But no need to waste time updating on that--the holidays and New Year will be here before we know it, so I might as well write about my year then.

As I've said a lot in my posts over the last couple years, this blog is still a space I treasure, but it's a space that just hasn't been a priority.

That said, I've been getting the creative itch a lot lately. Those who follow on Instagram know that Bryce and I "holidayed" in England last month. While sharing all our adventures on Instagram, and answering followers' questions there, I realized just how much I needed to blog about the trip. Since then, blog post ideas have been coming at me from every direction.

Last night, I polled you on Instastories to ask if people would even read here. I know that much of my time is spent following all my favorite bloggers not on their blogs, but their Instagrams. You all almost unanimously voted for "Yes, please!" to bring the blog back, though. I also appreciate all the messages letting me know which posts you love most.

I decided to ease back in today with a quick post.

Those who follow on Instagram, also may have seen this post. I was featured in RHome Magazine!!! I was listed as a Favorite Local Design Instagrammer. While it's just a mention, the fact that this little (neglected) blog has now been recognized in print has me over the moon excited! A follower actually sent me a picture of the mention while we were in London, so once we were back in town I knew I needed to get a copy.


While we were at the Barnes & Noble, Bryce, per usual, wound up in the Gardening section, which just so happens to be next to the Design section. I browsed Design Coffee Table Books while he browsed books on heirloom vegetables, mushrooms, and weeds (yes, these were literally the topics of the 3 books he purchased).

While browsing, I, of course, added a few to my wish list.

Meg Braff is one of my absolute favorite designers, so it's
no surprise I love this book..plus a foreword by Charlotte Moss!

This one is oozing with glamorous, traditional design!

This is an oldie, but goodie. 
Erin is actually working on her second book now, coming May 2019! 
(And, if you don't follow her on Instagram, you should! 
I follow her as much for her personality and
wit, as for her design acumen.)


Look at that cover! Need I say more?

Saved the best for last! This one is at the top of my wish list
and was trendy and modern meets traditional perrrrfection!

And here are a few favorites I already own:



Any other design book must haves?

What's on your wish list?

Have a great weekend!