gifts for the man in your life

Husband, boyfriend, dad, brother...guys are just hard to shop for!  To make your gift giving a little easier this season, enjoy the last installment of my gift guides...

gifts for the man in your life

Enjoy the weekend!

gifts for the hostess

It's almost the weekend!  Be sure to snag a few of these gift ideas and say a special thank you to the hostess of all your fabulous holiday parties!

gifts for the hostess...


mrs. howard sidewalk sale

Just a quick middle of the morning post to let all my favorite Jacksonville people know that Mrs. Howard is hosting a sidewalk sale this Thursday, November 29- Saturday, December 1.   Sorry Atlanta and Charlotte...Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach store only.

Mrs. Howard is my most favorite decorator...maybe EVER...so don't miss out on a chance to get some beautiful pieces at great prices!  Back tomorrow with more gift guides!


gifts for the little ones

Installment # 3 of my gift picks...
gifts for the little ones

Still to come...

Thursday: Gifts for the Hostess
Friday: Gifts for the Man in your Life



gifts for your mom

Good Morning!  I hope your shopping season is off to a fabulous start.  Just in case you need a little inspiration today, enjoy round two of my gift picks for the season...
gifts for your mom

Still to come this week:

Wednesday: Gifts for the Little Ones
Thursday: Gifts for the Hostess
Friday: Gifts for the Man in your Life



gifts for your best friend

Happy Monday!  
As promised last week, here is your first installment of my gift picks for the season... 
gifts for your best friend

Stay tuned for more gifts picks all week:

Tuesday: Gifts for your Mom
Wednesday: Gifts for Little Ones
Thursday: Gifts for the Hostess
Friday: Gifts for the Man in Your Life



black friday

Happy Black Friday!  
To help you decide whether or not to brave the crowds today, I have assembled a VERY scientific pro/con list regarding Black Friday shopping...

  • Getting started on your shopping early and avoid the last minute crush on Christmas Eve
  • Burning off all those Thanksgiving calories
  • Sales, Sale, Sales
  • Everyone else in America is starting their shopping early
  • Waking up from your turkey coma in the weeeee hours of the morning to get the best deals
  • Sales, Sales, Sales on things you don't really need or want

I will not be braving the crowds today, but stay tuned next week for my favorite gift picks this season....

Monday: Gifts for your Best Friend
Tuesday: Gifts for your Mom 
Wednesday: Gifts for the Little Ones
Thursday: Gifts for the Hostess
Friday: Gifts for your Guy

What is your plan today?  Will you brave the crowds or hide away at home?



happy thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy the day with your loved ones and remember:



preparing for house guests

With the holidays fast approaching (Happy Thanksgiving Eve!) I thought I would provide a little “mental wellness” today and give you my easy checklists for preparing for house guests.  (Be sure to check back for tips on being a house guest!)  In the midst of your preparations, remember to take a minute to be thankful for friends and family and use these lists to give yourself a mental break!



spiced pumpkin bread

I have made this Pumpkin Spice Bread for the past three years at Thanksgiving and it never fails to disappoint.  I don’t usually love cooking with pumpkin, but something about the spices and the citrus glaze helps temper the pumpkin flavor into the perfect seasonal taste.  Whether you whip some up for your family on Thanksgiving morning or you deliver a loaf to someone you are thankful for, I promise this won’t be the last time you make this treat.  Enjoy!

spiced pumpkin bread

Spiced Pumpkin Bread (Recipe from Southern Living)

  • 1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 C. all purpose flour
  • 5 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 C. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (1 1/2 C.)
  • 1/2 C. whole milk
  • 1/4 C. molasses
  • 1 1/4 C. confectioner's sugar
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (fresh lemons really do make all the difference here!)

  1. Heat oven to 350.  Butter and flour (I just use Baker's Joy) a 12 C. Bundt pan.  (I usually make this recipe using 3 bread pans so I can give the bread as a gift more easily.)  
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy (remember- 3-5 minutes to incorporate the air and make it fluffy!)  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in the pumpkin puree, milk, and molasses (the mixture might look curdled- see picture below.)  Reduce mixer speed to low; gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  (Don't over-mix or the bread will be very dense.)
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55-65 minutes.  (For bread pans, 45-55 minutes.)  Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.  (I keep my bread in the pan to ice.)
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and lemon juice until smooth.  Drizzle over the cake/bread and let set before serving.  

When step 3of the recipe says it may “appear curdled” don’t be alarmed if it really does!

A little glaze can go a LONG way if you don’t like particularly sweet bread.  I prefer more citrus flavor though, so I use lots on glaze on each loaf.



weekend recap

Happy Monday!  Josh and I are slowly recovering from a whirlwind weekend in Florida.  As is usually the case, we attempted to fit as much into the weekend as possible, leaving both of us feeling exhausted.  Thank goodness for a short week! 

We went home for the wedding of one of Josh’s childhood friends.  Josh was in the wedding, so he spent most of his time with the wedding party.  While I didn’t have much more time to spare, I did manage to squeeze in a trip to my new favorite store for home d├ęcor, try out a new breakfast spot  and even help my family pick out our Christmas tree!  (In case you are wondering about the EXTREMELY early Christmas tree excursion, this was the only weekend my sister and I were both in Florida until Christmas, so my mom asked us to go pick one this weekend.  Don’t worry though- it won’t be delivered until AFTER Thanksgiving!)

Here are a few pictures from the weekend.  Whether you enjoyed the weekend with family and friends, or just geared up for this coming weekend with your family and friends, I hope it was a great one!

To avoid the wrath of my sister, a shot from behind of us admiring the chosen tree.

Josh and I at the wedding reception.  I’m sporting one of my colorful finds from a few weeks ago!


Had to share this vignette from Crosby Designs for Hugo's Interiors with all of my favorite elements- capiz on the lamp, chevron stripes on the frame, gold accents on the mirror, studs on the tray, and animal print on the photo album!




Happy Friday!  Today I thought I would share one of my FAVORITE Thanksgiving treats with you- Cheese Popovers.  Really, there is nothing especially "Thanksgiving-y" about them except that I usually only make them for Thanksgiving dinners.  (And for the occasional Labor Day Lobster Fest...)

I should note that these turn out best if you have a popover pan, but I have made them on occasion with just a muffin pan.  When you use a muffin pan you won't get the "pop" of the popover, but they will still taste great.

Feel free to try different variations on the cheese.  I have used gouda, gruyere, and sharp cheddar- all equally delicious.  Enjoy!

Cheesy Popovers
Makes 16 popovers.  (My pan only has room for 12, so I usually save some batter for the next day...)

4 C. flour
1 1/2 Tbs. salt
4 C. whole milk (I have used skim milk too and didn't notice much difference.)
8 eggs
Cooking spray
8-10 oz. shredded cheese of your choice

1.  Place UNGREASED popover pan on a low rack of the oven.  Preheat oven to 350.  
2.  Mix flour and salt into a bowl and set aside.
3.  In a small pot, heat milk over medium heat until it just begins to boil.  In the meantime, mix eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer.  (I use a whisk attachment to add more air to the mixture.)  Slowly mix in the hot milk, keeping the mixer on low speed the entire time.  Gradually add the flour mixture and whisk until combined.  (I like to use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl here and make sure all of the flour is blended into the mix.)
4.  Remove hot popover pan from the oven and spray each cup with cooking spray.  (I put the popover pan on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet to minimize spills for the remaining cooking time.)
5.  Pour batter into the popover cups all the way to the top.  Add cheese to the top of each cup.  (This step should be done quickly to keep the popover pan warm.)
6.  Bake for 45-50 minutes.  DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR WHILE BAKING- it will make the popovers fall prematurely.




pomegranate seeds

I have a hybrid "thankful" post today from both me and Josh.  I asked him what he is thankful for and his immediate reply was "pomegranate seeds."  To fully understand this reply, you should know a few things:

1. Pomegranate season is relatively short and we are IN IT!
2. Pomegranate seeds take extreme patience to remove.
3. By the time we  (and by we I mean Josh) finish removing the seeds we have usually eaten more than half, leaving us little to show for the effort!

Now, to the part of this post that I am thankful for... a great tip from Martha Stewart.  She says an easy way to remove pomegranate seeds is:

1. Slice top and bottom of pomegranate;
2. Cut the pomegranate into quarters;
3. Hit the pomegranate with a wooden spoon until all of the seeds come out.  

We have about a 50% success rate with this method, but 50% is huge considering the work that goes into getting these little gems.  

So, today I am thankful for pomegranate seeds...and for tips to make removing them from the fruit easier!

The fruits of our labor...check back for recipes with pomegranate seeds!

changing the routine

I am a creature of habit and I tend to stick to things when they are part of my routine...like running.  Lately though, the only thing routine about my days has been the lack of routine!  I think it is just that time in the semester when things start to pile up, it gets dark before I even get home, and everyone is going a million miles an hour.  That being said, when I am doing a workout I really like, I find the time to squeeze it in.  Even if that means waking up at 4:45am to hit the gym...

Alas, I do not currently have a workout that gets me out of bed at 4:45am.  I am not able to run full time right now so my workouts have been a mix of spin classes, toning classes, masters swimming, and the occasional run on the treadmill.  While I enjoy each of these on occasion, none of them is enough to get me really excited to get up and go to the gym.

So, just in time for the end of the semester crunch (no pun intended), I am looking for new, quick workouts I can do at home.  My theory is that if I can take out as many barriers to a workout as possible I will have a greater chance of sticking with it.  (Hence, the at home workout v. the gym.)  Here is a contender from Shape Magazine  that I might try but I would love other suggestions!  What workout gets you out of bed on those early mornings?



banana bread

When Josh and I got on a banana bread kick last Spring and I found myself scouring the grocery shelves for overly ripe bananas.  On one such trip, there were NO ripe bananas to be found, so I walked away with fairly fresh, yellow fruit.  Despite my best intentions of waiting for the bananas to ripen a few days, I gave into the pressure from my sweet hubby and found myself making my usual recipe with the still VERY yellow bananas.  45 minutes later I held my breath while Josh performed a taste test... lo and behold the bread turned out great!  The bread was a little less sweet (the riper the banana, the sweeter the bread), but I made up for this with some brown sugar sprinkled on the top of the bread while it baked.  I was so relieved to know that I could make banana bread on a moment's notice and not have to wait for my bananas to fully ripen.  So, next time a craving hits, grab some yellow bananas and bake up a loaf of banana bread- you won't be sorry!

my secret ingredients- yellow bananas and brown sugar!
also, don't mind the spider looking thing on the countertop...
it is a reflection from the chandelier in our dining room!

Banana Bread  (Recipe adapted from Addie's Kitchen Favorites.)


  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. butter, softened
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 C. milk
  • 1/4. C. sour cream
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Brown sugar (if you use yellow bananas...or if you just want to make your bread sweeter!
1.  Preheat oven to 350
2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer cream butter and sugar together until they are fluffy.  (This process should take 3-4 minutes.)  Add the bananas, milk and sour cream and mix well.
3.  Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl and set aside.
4.  In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Slowly add flour mixture to the banana mixture until combined.  Add vanilla.
5.  Fold the egg whites into the batter.  (Do not over mix here- it will make the bread tough.)
6.  Pour batter into a greased bread pan and sprinkle the top of the bread with brown sugar.
7.  Bake for 45-55 minutes.



monday monday

Goodness knows it's already Monday AGAIN!  I must admit that I am feeling mighty behind on my studying, my blogging, and my life in general.  AND, since I am in the mood to confess, I should also confess that this feeling of being behind has lots to do with too much football on Saturdays!  The SEC has been a roller coaster this season and it has left me exhausted while taking up an entire day of the weekend when I could have been catching up on my work and life.

The Saturday football schedule usually just includes the Florida game and a quick review of College Football Final on Sunday morning.  BUT, the past two weekends I have wound up watching the better part of three games.  In case you aren't a football fan (you have probably stopped reading by now if you aren't) that means 9 hours plus of game coverage in one day- and who really has that kind of time or stamina?!  This weekend I was planning to keep the Florida game on in the background of my computer (our network wasn't showing the game) but it turned into a nail bitter and I had to watch.  Then, I was planning to get some real work done but Texas A&M had other plans when they decided to upset Alabama- not watching that would have been a crime.  Feeling like upsets were in the air, I had to watch Georgia v. Auburn and yell War Eagle.  Unfortunately there wasn't another upset and Georgia beat Auburn to earn a spot to the SEC Championship over my Gators.  My tears have almost dried up...

And so I leave you with the highlight reel of my football weekend.  I only ask that you remember:



friday SALE finds

Today I bring you "friday finds" the department store sale version...

From Saks Fifth Avenue:

1. Hunter Dixon dress.  2. Coral skinny jeans by James Jeans.  3. A perfect sweater for Florida by Design History.  4. Nanette Lepore Top.  5. PJs by Natori. 5. Snakeskin flats. 6. Snakeskin tote

Hurry though, the sale ends tonight at midnight!
As a bonus, free shipping with code: SHPNOV

From Nordstroms Half-Yearly Sale:

1. Neutral sandal. 2. Patent wedge.  Two-tone boot by Stuart Weitzman.  4. Trina Turk top.  5. Kate Spade necklace.  6. And since my search for new pillows is never ending, a chain link embroidery pillow.  

Enjoy the weekend!



thankful for...

All of the coverage of Hurricane Sandy and now this crazy snow storm keeps making me think about how many things I really have to be thankful for everyday.  So, today I present you with my list of the "little" things that have made me so very thankful this week:

1. A husband who will eat ANYTHING I put in front of him.  

just kidding...but he is a good sport when I make lasagna with monterey jack cheese instead of mozzarella :)  

2. Clean sheets- is there anything better?

just makes me want to snuggle down

3. Light outside at 6am!

a little extra daylight in the am never hurt anyone trying to wake up

 4. SNL weekend update- Seth Meyers is my favorite!

love it

5. Great friends and a chance to catch up over drinks- for three and a half hours.

west end wine bar on franklin street

What are you thankful for this week?


workout motivations

I hope you all survived the marathon that was election season and that you are having a great "wellness wednesday!"  It has been a long week already and with crazy schedules it can be so easy to skip a workout because you are too tired, busy, bored with your routine, etc.  So today, I thought I would share some of my favorite "motivations" to work out...

1.  A workout gives me more energy.  As frustrating as it is when I am tired and don't want to work out, remembering this always ruins that  "I'm too tired" excuse for me and I get myself out the door.

2.  Working out gives me a justification for eating that bowl of ice cream after dinner.  AND, if we are honest, I am going to eat it anyway so I might as well workout so I don't feel quite so bad about it.

3.  When else can I listen to my favorite pop songs that I am too embarrassed to play in any other setting?  (One Direction, what?!)

4.  Because I am a list-maker, sometimes just putting a workout on the calendar/to do list and then having the satisfaction of "checking it off" will get me out the door.

5. And when all else fails, I resort to the fact that I chose workout clothes as my "outfit" at least 3 days a week and that always makes me feel like I should hit the gym.

What do you do to stay motivated?