Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mint Chocolate Chip Muffins with an Ice Box Coffee Twist

I have to be up early each morning. I'm talking before the sun is out, it is literally still dark and you can sometimes see the stars. During the weekdays I'm working with a local sports talk radio show and on weekends I'm often training for my next half-marathon. Throw in graduate school classes and with a schedule like that, coffee is often necessary. Enter Ice Box Coffee. I love iced coffee so imagine my happiness when I found a brand that is not only delicious but fresh.
 
For my summertime recipe I wanted to create something that reminds me of warm weather and of course summers here in the South. I decided to create my own recipe for some mint chocolate chip muffins sprinkled with almonds and pecans. Oh and of course adding some Ice Box Coffee to the mix! Cupcakes are one of my favorite treats and a muffin is a little like a cupcake, right? So, for this treat we are going to make it sweet like a cupcake but a bit healthier.
 
Let's get started!
 
What you need: Mixer, 12 count cupcake/muffin baking pan, small bags of sliced almonds, small bag of crushed pecans,  9oz bag of dark chocolate morsel with mint filling (Nestle Toll House), baking cups, whipped vegetable oil spread (this one had sea salt) for butter, 3 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 12oz Ice Box Coffee (Madagascar Vanilla), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 cups of sugar, and 3 large eggs.
 
Optional: Butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips (can be used for additional flavor/sweetness or if you are allergic or don't care for almonds or pecans).
 
Step 1: To create your batter, combine flour, butter, eggs, sugar, mint chocolate chips, baking powder, baking soda, and the ice box coffee into your mixer. You can also manually mix by hand but make sure to get the batter smooth. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
Step 2: After you have mixed the batter thoroughly, pour into baking cups (as seen below). Sprinkle almonds and pecans on top. Can also place cranberries, any type of nut, and or semi-sweet chips you desire.
 
Pre-Baked Muffins
Step 3: Once all the muffins are in the pan, place them in your oven and allow them to bake for 35 minutes.


Muffins mid-bake


Step 4: Periodically check your muffins until they are golden brown on top. Stick a butter knife in one of the muffins if you are unsure they are cooked on the inside, When you pull the knife out it should not contain any uncooked, gooey batter. After it is established they are fully baked, take the muffins out of the oven.
 
Completed, baked muffins
Step 5: Let muffins cool for 10-15 minutes. They will be hot! You can also use this time to sprinkle powdered sugar, additional chips, nuts, fruit, or topping on muffins.
 

Step 6: Enjoy!

Final Product
This recipe is super easy and I love how the Ice Box Coffee mixed in with the batter adds a little extra kick! You can modify by adding other ingredients you deem necessary or that you personally enjoy. Mint Chocolate Chip is one of my favorite combinations and loved the pairing with a side drink of the New Orleans Blend to really get the morning started.

Hope you enjoyed the recipe! Be sure to check out Ice Box Coffee and see where it is sold near you! You can also always buy online.

Happy Baking!

XOXO,

Yellow Haze

 







Yellow has always been one of my favorite colors. I remember seeing Belle from Beauty and the Beast glide down the staircase in the most elegant of Disney entrances in her yellow gown and it instantly became classic. The sunny hue just seemed to pop off the screen. Yellow sometimes scares people, People think it will wash them out but it often can provide the exact opposite effect. Worn correctly and it can instantly brighten your complexion and if you want to stand out in the crowd, yellow is your color! I love this summery, sleeveless dress paired with a flowing, fringe, floral kimono. Kimonos are another one of my go-to accessories in any temperature climate. Adding a kimono can add flair to a basic black dress like this one (under $30). Another favorite look of mine is denim shorts paired with a graphic tee or a plain white tank topped off with a kimono like this. To avoid looking cartoonish I also like simple colors such as black (under $30) or pair a solid color like white or baby blue with a statement kimono. This ensemble is easily in my top 5 outfits I've posted so far. Oh yeah, those shoes? Under $20! The look very familiar to Free People but a fraction of the cost. Get sunny!

Shop the whole look below!

Happy Shopping!

XOXO,


 
One Way Ticket Kimono// Anjouil's Boutique  Yellow Cutout All Night Dress// Lulu's  Sunnies// Lulu's  Wrap Around Sandals// currently sold out but found at Old Navy check your local store, that's how I found them! Similar styles here  Leather Fringe Convertible Clutch// Rebecca Minkoff  Tassel Necklace// old but similar 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Music Wednesday

 
I love music. I always have. One of my biggest regrets is not learning how to play some type of musical instrument. I also can't sing which is like a tragedy for someone who loves music. Have you ever been driving in your car and singing along to a song and the radio or song skips a little and you just hear your voice? That's how I first realized I really couldn't sing. But this post is not about my inability to carry a tune, its about what music you need now! I think this will end up becoming a bi-monthly regular posting so I am always up for suggestions and artists you think I should check out.

Let's get today's list started!

1. Vaults

Sweet lyrics with a soft, almost romantic sound. A good friend from Atlanta first told me about this UK based band and I instantly loved their sound. Vaults were then featured on the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack (That soundtrack is amazing. The movie is well...you know. Take my word you will love the soundtrack!) with their song "One Last Night".  Visit their official Facebook page for more details on old music, new music, and any upcoming events/appearances.

Vaults
Photo Credit: Vaults Official Facebook Page

Check out their song and performance of "Mend this Love" here.

Can also listen and watch the video to "One Last Night" now.

2. Strangers by RAC

Electronic beats make this band one of my new favorites. I know some people are hesitant to listen to music that is considered "indie" because maybe they think they won't like it? Perhaps not mainstream enough? Or maybe too mainstream for others. I like this band because it has fast beats without the electro auto-tuning found far too often in music now. Their album Strangers is definitely worth checking out.
Strangers, RAC
Photo Credit: iTunes and RAC
Watch their video for Let Go featuring Kele and MNDR.

3. Walk the Moon

This band has gotten mixed reviews from my music loving buddies and I will be the first to admit I LOVE the title track from this 2014 album, you know the one...Shut Up and Dance With Me. I remember first hearing this song months before it became the summer staple of 2015. Immediately I thought of an 80's dance track and wondered at first if it was even a current song. Their album Talking is Hard is out now (and has been since November) and worth a recommendation!

Walk the Moon - Talking Is Hard.png
Photo Credit: iTunes and Walk the Moon

 
Go ahead and watch the 80's inspired video for Shut Up and Dance and just try not to sing along. Or dance. Or both.

4. Pearl Jam album 10

Ok, I know we are going back to the 90's on this one. I love the 90's. I was pretty much just a child throughout the decade but it is one of my favorite music eras. True, I am more familiar with the late 90's/early 00's pop boom (yes, I vividly remember buying Britney and Nsync's first cd's at Sam Goody) but the early 90's were a bit more rock. My older brother was into bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam,Oasis, and I think there was even a Limp Bizkit cd in the mix later (even though he tries to deny it). I remember hearing my brother play this music but I was more interested in other things (Spice Girls Wannabe was on constant replay). I first heard some of the songs from the Pearl Jam album 10 during a pop culture class two years ago in college.  I immediately knew I had to own this album. I think my favorite song just might be the first track, Once . Check out this classic!

PearlJam-Ten2.jpg
Photo Credit: iTunes and Pearl Jam

5. The 50 Shades of Grey Soundtrack

Please don't count me out on music just because you see this on the list! As stated earlier, this is by far one of my favorite albums of the year and a fantastic soundtrack for an "interesting" film. When I first saw the listing of the artists featured on the album, I was pretty shocked. Rolling Stones? Sia? BeyoncĂ©? Vampire Weekend? All there and many more. Apparently the director and writers of the film even met with some of the artists to show them the actual scenes from the movie which the music would be accompanying. Earned It by The Weeknd is probably the breakthrough song and even though they have been around for a while, this song has constant radio play now. Ellie Goulding also has the biggest hit of her career with Love Me Like I Do. The BeyoncĂ© remixes of her classic Crazy in Love and newer song Haunted are also very good. I have had this album on repeat since February. Don't let the movie deter you from buying this soundtrack!

Fifty Shades of Grey - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.png
Photo Credit: iTunes and Fifty Shades of Grey

That wraps up my first music selection post! Do you have any music that I need to know about right now? Let me know! I love hearing from you guys!

Go Listen to Some Tunes!

XOXO,

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Walking on Sunflowers (and Romping Around Town)














There's just something about sunflowers that scream happy. I think it must be the sunny coloring that put a smile on my face. It also is a little reminiscent of 90's fashion, I think most of us remember Blossom and DJ Tanner's style on Full House. I started seeing 90's-esque fashion pieces last year (everything really does come back in style) at stores like Urban Outfitters. The price tag for a sunflower dress similar to this romper was close to $90...so that was a no. Imagine my surprise when I found this adorable print romper for under $20! I loved the carefree, flowy look which is perfect for outdoor concerts, day dates and just romping around town in the hot summer temps. I chose to make this piece a little more bohemian by adding fringe sandals, fringed bag and my favorite summertime fedora. Add a few wooden tassel bracelets and these adorable heart shaped sunnies and the look is set. One note on the sunglasses, I had been saving up for a pair of these Wildfox Lolita glasses (coming in at $189) until I saw this pair at one of my favorite local boutiques...for $12. Definitely uncanny and a great find!

Y'all know how much I love rompers! I know some people don't care for them and think they are unflattering but I see them as a cute alternative to a dress which provides more coverage and a little dressier option than just shorts. This blush colored romper (under $25) has a romantic touch in such a soft shade of pink, great for showers and wedding parties. For something a little more different I really like this self-tie knotted jumpsuit (under $33) in figure flattering black and paired with platform sandals makes a fun retro look for a night out. This blue, off the shoulder romper (under $32) looks like a mermaid on land, great for a trip to the beach or when you want to feel like your at (or in) the ocean. This green leaf/feather inspired romper has quickly become one of my favorites (only $12!) and I also love this long sleeve floral print romper (under $16) for when the summer nights get a little cooler. Try a romper if you haven't already!

Shop today's look below and have a wonderful Tuesday!

XOXO,

Laurel

Sunflower Print Romper// here (under $12) Heart-Shaped Sunnies// similar (only $12)  Wide Brim Straw Fedora// similar (sale! Under $10)  Gold Tassel Necklace// similar  Leather Convertible Clutch// Rebecca Minkoff  Wooden Tassel Bracelets// Accessory Concierge  Bangle// Bourbon and Boweties
 

Glow in the Night 5k Recap

 

Hello all! This past Saturday night I ran the Glow in the Night 5k, it was a themed race and looked like it would be a fun way to burn some calories before a sushi outing. Plus, I really need to start getting into the swing of racing again. I have two half-marathons in August and I haven't done over 13 miles since May. On that note, on to the race recap!
 

The race was held at a local baseball stadium (Hoover Met) and the start time was 8pm. This was the perfect location, spacious and lots of parking. The time was also ideal since it was so hot that day and even though it wasn't cool by any means it was still better than say, 9am. If I'm being truthful I thought this was going to be one of those races where the participants ran with glow sticks. It wasn't. Instead it was neon colored powder that would be thrown at designated "stops". I have done The Color Run (read my recap here) and although I'm all about fun running, I am not really into this powder/paint craze but I was doing the race with friends and I needed the training miles. I also really wanted a slice of cookie cake (Peachtree Road Race flashbacks).


Here's a shot of the neon powder. The race directors and volunteers were giving away little containers of it pre-race so you could toss it on you before the race even started. They also wanted people to line up before the start line so everyone could toss their powder in the air to kick start the race. Cute idea in theory, but it was similar to a huge mound of dust exploding. I think I overheard it's just colored corn starch but I don't really like the idea of breathing anything like that into my body. It was pretty though and everyone looked really festive and neon-y as the sun began to set.
 

One thing I noticed was how small the race was. After experiencing larger races, it's interesting to partake in smaller ones. Not that it is a bad thing. Much easier to get parked and registered, more laid back and if you are speedy you have a better chance of placing in your age group. The event staff was friendly and helpful and I always appreciate it when a race starts on time. We got started right at 8pm!
 

The race began and as we picked up the pace, I soon realized that I have not been training like I should be. The thing about running is that it takes time to build up stamina and endurance but it can be easily lost in what feels like two weeks. Keep up your training! There seemed to be a lot of new runners and first timers at the race which is always exciting to see. Talking during a race is hard at times (especially when it's humid and I feel like I'm out of breath) but it sure makes the time and miles fly by. The course was fine, nothing too special, like 3 loops around the stadium/parking lot. The "color stations" were located three times along the course, the volunteers were very energetic at these spots and kept spirits high. Like I said, I didn't really want a lot of the powder on me so I kind of moved towards the middle in between people to miss out on too much neon.


Pretty soon we were at the finish, I think we finished around 33-35 minutes, I don't really know since there wasn't a clock at the end but this is what my watch indicated. I was sweaty and glad to be done but happy I had participated. Would I do it again? I'm not sure.
 

Themed races can be a blast but they are pricey. I registered for this race at the event and it was $50. That got you a t-shirt, a "swag bag" and some neon powder. Summer races are scarce in the South so this was one of the only choices available in July. It wasn't bad by any means! I'm just not sure it was worth $50. I probably should have registered earlier when the price was $35 which was about what the price should have been. For a lower price, I would for sure do the race again. I think I'm good on the whole color powder race thing for a while. Next time I definitely want to try a Hot Chocolate 15k/5k or the Firefly 5k!
 
One last thing, I was pretty much the only one "dressed up" per usual and I got so many compliments on my Sparkle Athletic skirt! My favorite comment of the night (maybe of all time) is when a girl told her friend and I quote "oh my God Becky look at her skirt". Yes, just like the beginning of a Sir-Mix-A-Lot song. It was amazing. I also recommend wearing a simple, cheap fanny pack. I got this one on Amazon like a year ago to wear during themed races so you don't mess up your actual running belt. That way you can keep car keys, gels (if you need them), medications, and your phone in one easy spot.
 
I am definitely stepping up my training and planning my fall race schedule. Help me find some new races. If you have one you absolutely love let me know! I'll share my picks in an upcoming post.
 
Happy Running!
 
XOXO,
 
 
 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Blues and Pinks

 
 


 
 
 
 
Happy Monday! Mondays can be hard. I mean you look at the alarm clock and don't want to move hard. That's why I always try to be a little brighter than normal on the first day of the week. It doesn't get much brighter than Lilly Pulitzer, am I right? This festive, almost Picasso/60's-esque dress caught my eye with it's mixture of bright blues and pinks. The fact that it is a pull on style is also a plus (sometimes you just don't want to deal with zippers) and the shape of the dress is super flattering. The style of the fitted bust that pulls in tighter at the waist creates a lovely hour glass shape but the material is stretchy so you don't have the uncomfortable tightness that are more evident in clingier dresses. Lilly has done a great job in making pieces more affordable and this particular style of dress is more budget friendly coming in at under $100. Since it has been so humid and sticky lately, I love reaching for items like this which are as comfortable as pajamas but still look fashionable. Color is a great fashion ally in my opinion. I know we are most likely to pull a black dress or skirt but sometimes color is the answer.
 
Don't be afraid of color! It instantly brightens up your features and can make you look lively even if you got one hour of sleep. When I was in college, I kept a stack of Piko 3/4 length dresses and tops in colors such as fuchsia, turquoise, lilac and mustard. Piko's are AMAZING, they are budget friendly (under $21), flattering and offer a wide selection of styles. Pairing one of these bright dresses or tops (I often wore Nike running shorts with the tops) with a scarf in the cooler months or a statement necklace (layering necklaces is also a good choice) always made me look polished and put-together. Even if I had been out late the night before or just pulled an all nighter for an exam. I still reach for this staple which is perfect for work, class or can even be dressed up for a night out.
 
Color can often break up your wardrobe choices, sometimes I feel like pulling out my trusty off the shoulder, bell-sleeved LBD but I also like mixing it up. Brightly covered prints like this sea blue dress and this giraffe print (look closely!) are two of my favorites. Prints can often draw attention away from a small bust and can equally camouflage a large chest since you are more focused on the graphics, you don't look at specific areas of the body. I will suggest to go with an outfit that is a little more form fitting or a style that offers the ultra flattering hour glass shape (as seen in today's dress). Some dresses that are perfect for all body types and boast bright colors are this blue off the shoulder peplum dress (under $17), the ultimate red long sleeved dress (under $16) and a beautiful rose red long sleeve leopard print maxi dress (only $12!). Go find the rainbow!
 
Happy Shopping!
 
XOXO,
 
 
 
Windsor Strapless Pull On Dress// Lilly Pulitzer  Rayne Necklace in Yellow// Kendra Scott  Tori Burch Sandals// old but new version  Turquoise Alma Bag// super old but can be found online for sale Sunglass Ring// Kate Spade  Pink Wood Bead Tassel Bracelets// Accessory Concierge

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Blogger Event and Consignment Tips

Hello all! I hope everyone is having a fabulous Sunday Funday! In case you might be getting an early case of "the Mondays" I have something that will cheer you up...a post all about finding designer treasures on a budget. Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending a Birmingham Bloggers event put on by the wonderful See Jane Write. The event was held at Collage Designer Consignment (yes, located in Alabama but you can also order online!) and I will say I was amazed at the quantity and quality of designer items for sale. The great thing about designer consignment stores is you get high-price, high-fashion clothes at half the price. I'll give you a recap of the event and give you a few tips about consignment shopping!
 

 
The event took place after 6 so that meant it was after hours. It was so much fun getting to browse around looking at cute clothes after a particularly long day. Jewelry can be a major find at any consignment boutique so definitely keep an eye out, you never know what you may find!
 
 
Of course I am going to mention the snacks. At blogger events, you just know the food is going to be completely photo-worthy (hello we are all bloggers so obviously we are taking pics) and this event had some of the best snacks! Just look at the set-up.
 

Strawberries, cookies, and little brownie bites? Heaven.
 

A little wine to go with the hor d'oeuvres. If you haven't joined your local blogging community...DO IT! You will meet so many new people and walk away with new friends. If you don't have a local community then I would highly suggest starting one. Then you get to have events, meet new blogger friends, and get delicious snacks. Win/win/win.
 

Collage was filled with name brands like Brighton. While looking for items, most of the time they will come with some certification that the product is authentic. You can normally tell by certain stitching, labels, etc. if it is the real deal, this is especially true with brands such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. If the item doesn't have some type of evidence it is authentic, I would advise not purchasing the product. To me it is senseless to pay over $100 for something that may not be real. This is most common with handbags and jewelry. Shoes can be another big find at Consignment stores. I once scored a pair of light blue Manolo Blahnic heels for under $100. Yes, I have even seen Louboutins...they weren't my size!
 

I noticed giraffe inspired tunic which immediately caught my eye. The fabric was super soft and thought it would make the perfect fall transition piece. I was thinking of how to style it and if it would make a good fit for my closet. Then I got distracted by more jewelry.
 

Look at all the bangles! For accessories you may have to hunt a little more since clothes are all out in the open and more likely to catch your eye. Definitely go when you have time to look. Plan it like you would a place like H&M or Forever 21, lots of good items and different styles so you need time to sift!
 

Are these rain boots not adorable? I think I may go back and pick these up if they aren't already gone. That blush bag isn't too shabby either. If you see something you like, I encourage you to purchase it then. This isn't like a boutique or department store where they re-stock items, once it's gone, that's it. The good thing is the prices aren't too bad and most places have a return/exchange policy but make sure you know what the deal is before you purchase.
 

Just in case the guys are feeling left out, don't worry! Consignment shops carry men's items as well. Collage had a VERY nice assortment of men's apparel and snapped a few pics to showcase some of the products.
  

 
Designer jeans are another big find, I have seen brands like True Religion, 7even, Paige, and Joe's all at my favorite local places. I loved all the trendy set-ups in the store and staff was very helpful and friendly. They made it seem like a real "girl's night".
 
 
Oh and if you're wondering about that giraffe tunic, no need for concern. It found a new home with me! I think it will look great in the fall with tall boots and I styled it now for a summer bohemian look. My all time favorite purchase from a consignment shop is my purple David Yurman ring (pictured below). These large rings go for either close to or at $1,000. I got mine for $175. It was a little older and there was a little (I'm talking tiny) scratch on the inside of the band but it was an amazing find. I actually was there when the lady brought it into consign and bought it right after they put it on display moments later after they cleaned and checked it. Like I said, go consignment shopping! Also, thank you to the wonderful staff of Collage and Javacia from See Jane Write for putting together such an excellent event!
 
See how I styled the tunic and I've also listed my favorite places to find new, old treasures here in the Ham!
 
 Favorite Consignment Shops in Bham
 
Collage Designer Consignment (online shopping option)
 
Renaissance Consignment and Marketplace (online shopping option. Where I found my David Yurman ring.)
 
 
Second Hand Rose (one of my favorites for years! Two locations)
 
Zoe's in Forest Park (very cool store! Truly vintage clothing. Found an authentic, vintage Valentino coat for $90. Amazing finds!)
 
Happy Hunting!
 
XOXO,