Current Vibes

March 1, 2017

As I am writing this post, my husband and I are currently test driving our brand spanking new Belly Buds. We've loved playing music for the baby ever since we passed the 20 week mark when their hearing is fully developed. At 30 weeks, a baby's memories start to form and it is said that they can recognize voices or songs they heard in the womb when they hear them again after birth. So amazing, right? I'm certain that he has become quite fond of our dogs barking as well. The Belly Buds are made special so that you can attach them to your belly and music directly to your womb. As I was typing this post, my phone which is hooked up to the buds actually died and as soon as it did the baby starting moving a ton - I can't help but think he was asking for more music. I will report back on these more once we use them on the regular! (read on for all the vibes...)

1. WANTING // COREY LYNN CALTER: It seems that our weather in Dallas is consistently staying fairly warm, which may mean that Spring is here to stay. I’m finding that as time goes on in pregnancy, dresses become more and more appealing for both their comfort and ease. I’ve never been a “tight” fitting dress gal, so luckily a good amount of what I have will work. I’m also loving just about everything that Corey Lynn Calter has to offer in the dress department for spring. Many of which could work with a bump and beyond. How adorable is this style and color combo? So easy, yet put together. Also loving thisthis, and this. Really, I kind of love them all. Can you blame me?

2. LISTENING // TED TALKS: I’m always looking for podcasts and the like the listen to at the gym while doing cardio, so I was pretty excited to come across TED Talks, 10 Talks for When You’re Expecting a Child. They will be perfect for my next trip to the gym!

3. LUSTING // ULLA SLIDES: I own one pair of Birkenstocks that I actually bought the summer before my senior year of college (6+ years ago) while studying abroad in Italy. Birkenstocks are all over the place in Europe so of course my friends and I had to jump on the bandwagon and each brought a pair home as a souvenir. Since then, I have yet to buy a second pair even though they still seem to very much be “on trend” as well as quite practical. I personally cannot stop thinking about this glorified “Birkenstock” by Ulla Johnson (who can do no wrong in my book). The comfortable cork slide features a knotted suede bow that comes in a pale “rose” color or black. The “rose” pair is practically screaming my name and would definitely fill a void in my closet. I also think they seem pretty practical for my pregnant feet that seem to hate being shoved into most of my shoes these days. The color is the perfect pink that can act as a neutral and go with pretty much everything from jean shorts to dresses.

4. PLAY PREPPING // FINN + EMMA GYM: Babies love play gyms, but lets be honest, most of them can be quite an eyesore. They also often come attached to a mat so if any sort of spit up or accident happens to the mat, it could be out of commission while getting a good deep cleaning. Finn + Emma’s play gyms are amazing on a number of levels. First of all, in terms of function, they can be moved and placed easily on any sort of blanket or soft surface making them much more user friendly and easier to store or place against a wall when not in use. Aside from that, its clear to see that these play gyms are beyond aesthetically pleasing with their wood frames and darling wood and knit dolls dangling from sweet colored ribbons. Even better, all Finn + Emma products are created with 100% organic cotton, all natural wood, and eco friendly dyes making them as safe as they can possibly be for your little one who will surely be putting the little dolls in their curious mouths. If you already have a play gym in your arsenal, their toys and stroller sets are equally as adorable! Definitely going to order these friends for our car seat.

5. TABLE SETTING // CHILEWICH: My husband and I only own one set of place mats that were a wedding gift from a sweet friend and have already gotten lots of love. However, the set is pretty summery and I am thinking that we need something a little more year-round next. My friend Michaela who lives in NYC is a big fan of Chilewich placemats and has the best taste of anyone I know. In interiors, decor, clothing, you name it. So of course, I had to consult her on her love for Chilewich. After our discussion, I’m still deciding which I want to purchase first, but am leaning towards these. All of our china is white so we could pretty much go with anything. Thinking these napkins would look quite nice to add to the table, too!

6. READING // NON-TOXIC BEAUTYInto the Gloss is my go to place to read up on beauty products or search for something specific that I am wanting to invest in or learn more about. One of the latest write-ups on the site is a feature on non-toxic beauty products. It had been awhile since ITG posted on this topic, so I was pretty excited to see something more updated and current! I particularly like this write up because it is written by someone who considered themselves to be a true skeptic when it came to “natural” beauty, which makes her findings seem that much more genuine. As if the products truly caught her by surprise in how well they worked. Lately my skin has been so dry and I am convinced that I need to change up my cleanser, so of course I am now intrigued by the Aurelia Miracle Cleanser. I’ve been obsessed with every Aurelia product that I’ve tried thus far (I use this 3x a week), so I’m pretty certain I will love this one just as much.

7. LOVING // MK x MOTHER:  fell in love with Mother denim after purchasing this pair last spring. They are by far the softest pair of jeans I own making them the most comfortable, too. Miranda Kerr recently worked on a collaboration with the denim company, which has me already planning my first non-maternity denim purchase come this summer. The 12 piece capsule collection benefits Sydney’s The Royal Hospital for Women Foundation – a hospital that provides support for women and assistance for mothers and their babies. Kerr focused on positivity and uplifting messages when creating the collection and each piece has a hand written note in it to add a more personal touch. The collection favors lighter, more worn in washes and high rises which she prefers to wear in her day to day life. This pair might be my favorite – doesn’t it just look soft and comfortable?

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Sweepstakes – Escape Winter!

February 28, 2017

In case you missed it, a few weeks ago the Groundhog saw his shadow - which of course means six more weeks of winter for both him and us. The good news? We only have a little over 2 weeks left of the "winter weather." But let's be honest, spring just can't come soon enough. I for one am absolutely craving a warm-weather getaway...ideally something tropical and luxurious that involves sand, ocean water, and a true vacation vibe.

If you're nodding your head and also envisioning a similar situation, we're all in luck! Some incredible brand have partnered together to give one winner the ultimate winter escape to St. Barth's! The trip is almost too good to be true...a Caribbean trip for two complete with a 3 night stay at St. Barth's Le Guanahani, 2 roundtrip tickets from San Juan to St. Barth on Tradewind Aviation, and over $3,000 in prizes from Frances ValentineWhit NY, and SteamLine Luggage. On top of all that goodness, the winner will also get a 1 year subscription of AFAR Magazine - a most ideal way to satiate and inspire more travel wanderlust.

I've already mentally packed my bags and am crossing all my fingers in hopes that I win. And if I don't win, I would love for one of you sweet A Piece of Toast readers to be the ones to escape! Enter now with your email address - you have nine days to do so - and get as many as 21 extra entries by following the social media accounts of all the fantastic brands and companies participating. Easy peasy! (read more for additional details and info!)

 

Escape the winter with a trip to the Caribbean:

To enter, click here and submit your email address. All entries must be submitted by March 8th, 2017. One winner will be selected and notified thereafter. Good luck!

*One (1) three night stay for two guests to be redeemed anytime in the next calendar year. Blackout dates apply + partial travel voucher.

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Toffifay + Truffle Popcorn for the Win

February 24, 2017

Oooooh Sally and I just love award season! And of course, the grand finale - The Academy Awards - is this Sunday. Which means we have a special sister shindig watching planned. Everything just seems better when we watch together...we think it has to do with our complimentary yet different personalities and opinions. From favorite dresses on the red carpet to favorite presenters and which nominees we have picked to win - it's our ying and yang commentary that makes taking in the Oscars (and all the other award shows from earlier in the season) so fun.

To celebrate the big night we'll be donning cozy sweatpants (duh), gathering our pups (naturally), and indulging in delicious treats (necessary). This year our snacking spread is focused on sweet and savory. After some voting (it is award season, after all!) we determined that Toffifay would be the ideal something sweet to go along side truffle popcorn. A little test drive of the pairing while filling out our personal Oscar ballots (we downloaded ours from here) proved that it's a match made in heaven!

 

If you’ve never had Toffifay, let us tell you that it’s seriously one incredible candy…we’re girls who love chocolate but prefer it to pack a punch of flavor and Toffifay fits our criteria in spades. Nestled into golden trays are little caramel cups filled with a whole hazelnut and topped with chocolate. Chewy, crunchy and smooth…the combo is addictive and irresistible.

Toffifay is delectable on its own but eating it along side popcorn – especially popcorn topped with buttery truffle oil and parmesan cheese – just makes it even more yum. Here’s how we made our truffle popcorn:

  • 1/2 cup corn kernels popped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons black truffle oil
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • Directions: Melt butter (best done on the stove over low heat) and combine truffle oil. Pop kernels (we use this air popper!). Pour butter and truffle oil mixture over popcorn and toss. Add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and toss again.

Trust us when we say that this is one winning snacking pair! We highly suggest getting in on the Toffifay action while you get cozy for your own Oscar viewing!

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Kale Salad with La Laquita Queso Fresco

February 23, 2017

I've heard that one of the best ways to shop a grocery store is by focusing on the perimeter versus the aisles. Why? Because along the edge is where you find the produce, meats, dairy, deli...the less processed stuff. The aisles hold temptation like cereal (a former main food group of mine), frozen food, and all things already packaged, preserved, and or boxed and bagged. There's nothing wrong with hitting up the middle section - and believe me I have some frozen pizzas, pasta, peanut butter, and taco chips to prove it - but I do try to keep the perimeter technique in mind when I'm getting my groceries. Aside from it being more "healthy," it's also made me more curious about certain foods and ingredients and led to some great discoveries.

Kale happens to be something I love ordering at a restaurant but have never bought myself. I was thinking this the other day when I was making my grocery list and craving a salad different from the arugula and tomato variety I had been eating for weeks. One of my fave cheeses - La Vaquita Queso Fresco - was already on my list so I did a little Googling for "kale + queso fresco" and found a yummy recipe to inspire me. Bonus, the easy salad included another ingredient I never ever buy but like: radishes. I took some liberties with the original recipe - deciding against using pipitas and swapping in this dressing (from one of my favorite spots in Dallas) then I hit the store.

 

Grocery shopping was once something I loathed but now really enjoy. I think it’s because I’ve made myself familiar with where to find things I need and am not afraid to ask questions when I need help. Case in point: years ago when I made my first recipe requiring Queso Fresco  I was looking for the cheese it in the area by the meats/deli area. Nada. I finally asked where I could find the crumbly cheese and was directed to the dairy section – near where you find all the milk, yogurt, etc. Alas! Queso Fresco. There were a few brand options to choose from but I went with La Vaquita because I saw that it was made locally in Texas. I might not be a Texas native but that doesn’t keep me from buying locally-made goodness. After using La Vaquita Queso Fresco that first time (I think it was for brisket tacos) I was hooked on the super fresh, creamy cheese and have been buying the queso and creamas since. They’re great for Mexican style dishes but I’ve used them in non-Mexican recipes, too.

Lucky for me, La Vaquita is sold at all my go-to grocery stores (Tom Thumb, Central Market and Kroger). And I just have to stroll the perimeter of the store to land on it. Ok…now it’s time for the Kale Salad recipe that is the purpose of this post!

Fresh and Light Kale Salad: As we all probably know by this point, kale is a super veggie. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense commonly eaten vegetables and contains high amounts of vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Eating it raw (like in a salad) is the best way to keep all the vitamins intact. It doesn’t have an overly strong taste (maybe just a little peppery) so it’s easy to dress up and pair with other ingredients. As I mentioned above, my inspiration for mixing the kale with radishes, avocado and Queso Fresco came from this recipe. But I wasn’t super keen on using lime in the dressing as suggested and decided to use this dressing recipe for one of my favorite kale salads in Dallas. Though the lime may have made for more of a “Mexican” flavor, I found that the lemon and garlic went perfectly with the other fixings and the whole combination was super delicious!

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 4 medium radishes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup La Vaquita Queso Fresco

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Slice kale into thin ribbons
  • Thinly slice radishes
  • Cube avocado
  • Crumble La Vaquita Queso Fresco
  • Combine dressing ingredients in a salad dressing mixer or whisk in a bowl
  • Layer kale, radishes, avocado and Queso Fresco in a large bowl, top with dressing and gently toss.
  • Add additional crumbled Queso Fresco if desired and/or serve with with some on the side to be added after plated.

Sally – being the lucky sister that she is – got to enjoy this yum salad with me after we photographed it and she was just as into it as I was. We’re definitely going to make it again (and again, and again). It’s super filling on its own and we decided it would be great with some grilled chicken, too. Of course, we added extra spoonfuls of Queso Fresco on top of our servings because the cheese is always our favorite part!

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Current Vibes

February 22, 2017

Well this week has been flying by. Monday holidays tend to do that. I'm not complaining...especially because I'm eagerly anticipating the weekend and my visit to Chicago! One of my besties is having a baby shower for the twins she's expecting this summer and I can't wait to pet her bump and see all my other friends. This week my vibes are all about newness...all the Spring/Summer 2017 collections have been launching and I couldn't help including two favorites (Mansur Gavriel and Loeffler Randall) along with one great collaboration collection (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley x Paige Adams-Geller) and a fab brand re-fresh (Renée Rouleau)! (keep reading and enjoy)

1. ADMIRING // MANSUR SS17: We all know Mansur Gavriel for their simplistic bucket bags and totes (I happen to have two of the tote bags and can attest to their greatness and versatility). But as lovely as those styles – and the subsequent designs that have been added over seasons – I have to say that the new Spring/Summer 2017 collection of handbags is the stuff of MG dreams. Like all Mansur designs, the new pieces are clean, minimalistic, and un-fussy. But the addition of circular goldstone hardware and new shapes are the most noticeable departure from the thin drawstrings and ties that have been the brand’s embellishment calling card. I’m having major feelings for the Metropolitan and Posternak bags…so sad that the cammello leather is already sold out in both!

2. WANTING // RHW x PAG: Sally and I have a mutual girl-crush on Rosie Huntington-Whiteley…kind of hard not to. No surprise, we have a crush on Rosie’s collaboration with Paige denim. The collection isn’t huge – a couple dresses, pants, tops, skirts, shorts,  jumpsuits and a jacket – but it is co-dsigned by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Paige Adams-Geller. I’m really liking the super light wash denim pieces with fringed edges (this dress and top are amazing) and the tie-dye goods. The silk Flo Bomber jacket embroidered with “Forever & Ever” on the back is definitely my favorite. It’s so borderline cheesy that it’s cool, amIright?

3. MIXING // GOLD-TONE BOWLS: Ohmigawd I just adore elevated basics. Especially for the kitchen. There’s nothing like a cute set of measuring spoons or whimsical cooking tools to make daily kitchen activity a little more fun. When I saw this 6-piece gold mixing bowl set on CB2 I was 1) shocked that they had such a functional offering, and 2) super into the look and price. $50 for three stainless steal bowls that have a luxe gold finish on the outside and matching lids that have a silicone gasket for keeping stuff fresh? That’s kind of a deal. Not many mixing bowls can go from prep to the table but I’d happily mix a salad in one of these and use for serving.

4. USING // BOY BROW: My eyebrows have not always been “on fleek.” It wasn’t till a co-worker told me that I desperately needed to start filling my very light and naturally sparse brows in about five years ago that I even took notice of them. Since that fateful day I have been very aware of my brows…and humbly admit that they are never going to be the bushy, full caterpillars that Sandy Cohen Cara Delevingne has. And I’m cool with that! At least I can use products to help give them a little definition and oomph. I first used a pencil, then determined it took a lot of time and focus to get a natural look – so I switched to a brow brush and powder. Of course I took notice when Glossier released their Boy Brow product back in October 2015. The buzz and fanatical feedback across the beauty industry was impossible to ignore…but I figured that it was just hype and not a product for me. For some reason (probably all the Into The Gloss reading I do) I decided to order the Boy Brow in “blond” for myself a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been trying to simplify my beauty routine more and more and wanted to see if the one step “fluffer, filler, and shaper” would give me the natural look and easy application I was wanting. I don’t know why I was surprised that I absolutely loved it. It really is that good. The product distribution gives the ideal amount of tint and flexible hold and though it took me a little bit of practice (after being so used to a powder), it’s pretty foolproof to use. And I find that it looks much more natural than anything else I’ve tried! Which is the whole point of beauty…at least in my book. Believe the hype and bow down to the #1 best seller!

5. CRUSHING // RACHEL COMEY TIE TOP: Anddddd my white shirt obsession can’t stop/won’t stop. Rachel Comey is one of my favorite designers because her aesthetic plays into my basic sensibility (re: mostly solids and lots of white and black) but she mixes feminine and edgy, and I love the unique yet timeless silhouettes she designs. Anyway, I’ve seen her Meryl Tie Front Blouse on so many sites that I’m convinced that it’s following me…and that it’s a sign I need to splurge and buy it. I love a white blouse but this one decidedly different than anything in my closet with the black skinny front ties (no buttons!) and slits on the sleeves. Gimme.

6. OBSESSING // LOEFFLER RANDAL SS17 INSPO: In my humble opinion, Loeffler Randal can do no wrong and my love for the brand runs so deep, I’m basically an unofficial stalker/ambassador. Seeing each new season is like Christmas morning and I get googly eyes every time I take in the seasonal mood boards and read Jessie’s notes via the LR Stories blog. Of course, the Spring/Summer ’17 behind-the-scenes inspiration did not disappoint. An “explosion of texture” with “new neutrals” and “conversational pieces” – each shoe and bag in the collection totally slays. Don’t even try to make me pick a favorite…becuase I just can’t and would probably need to visit the LR Showroom in NY to properly do so. But I will say that I find the raffia Cruise Tote and Zip Pouchette to be both be particularly phenomenal.

7. LOVING // RENÉE ROULEAU REFRESH: I’m a girl with many lady “spirit animals.” These women are more than girl-crushes…they are real-life acquaintances and friends that I admire and strive to be like. Sometimes I even want to wear their skin. This is the case with my skin spirit animal, Renée Rouleau. Renée’s 25 years of skin care experience as a celebrity esthetician and trusted skin care expert makes her a guru when it comes to treating and advising on all things skin. Her name-sake skin care line is based on a “one size does not fit all” philosophy and includes products to treat nine skin types. Recently, Renée did a beautiful re-branding and released new products (14 to be exact)! The new site, packaging, and branding is beautiful – which I fully expected considering how thoughtful Renée is with all she does – and the new products are equally wonderful. I’ve been using the Moisture Infusion Toner and Redness Care Firming Serum and both are so nice! Make sure you visit the site and take in the newness…

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