Friday Faves {May 22, 2015}

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Hope your weekends are filled with sunshine, friends and family, food and drinks and relaxation. Today is one of my favorite days of the year because it’s the start of summer Fridays at work, which means summer is almost here, even if the temps aren’t feeling that way yet. To kick off the long weekend, I’m sharing my Friday Faves… and then I’m heading to catch up with my best girlfriends from high school – can’t wait!

Friday Faves on DailyKaty.com

1. Friendship in your late 20s, early 30s. I came across this post and felt like it was describing my friendships these days. Quick summary: You make your best friends before or during college, you’re with them all the time and friendship, put simply, is easy. You graduate, your friends move here and there for jobs or guys, you all start getting hitched, and then, before you know it, babies are on the way. Whether my girlfriends and I are busy with grad school or we’re a few time zones away from each other, the reality is we can’t see each other as often as we’d like.

But as this post puts it, “scarcity makes time spent with friends even more valuable — a treat I write delightedly into my calendar in hot pink pen so that it stands out among the staffings and the errands,” and we get to look forward to the weddings or our girls weekends where we are all reunited. And I’m sure that it will all come full circle, because “in another ten years, the babies will be older, the marriages will mature, and our friendships will be better nurtured by the increased time and energy we have to give them.” We’ll be getting old together, saying cheers over our favorite Pinot Grigio. {via refinery29.com}

2. Strike a pose. Learn how to work your angles and makeup to easily look better in photos. This post takes you through all of the steps, from using a primer to playing up your best features, and also recommends products to try out. {via intothegloss.com}

3. She shed = life goal. Um, I need one of these. I’ll wait ’til the day comes that we move to the ‘burbs, but if she sheds are really a thing, count me in. It’s described as “an anti-man cave, usually decked out in string lights and a comfy couch.” Perfection. {via brit.co}

4. Half yearly sales. Especially when they’re at Nordstrom, which very rarely offers sales worth mentioning. Get up to 40% off lots of items now through May 31. I’m shopping this sale tonight and so far I have my eyes on these espadrilles and this watch and bag, which also comes in tan and yellow. {nordstrom.com}

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts & Shallots Recipe

Once the snow melts and it’s finally nice enough to be outside, we do lots of grilling for dinner. And by we, I mean my husband does. On those nights, I’m in charge of the veggie side and sometimes a starch, but lately we’ve been trying to keep things healthier without the starch (let’s face it, brown rice just isn’t good). While I love an easy steamed broccoli, I try and mix it up with new sides, which I usually find on Pinterest and other blogs I read. So the other day I bought some brussels sprouts and went on the hunt for a new recipe, which led me to this recipe from Skinnytaste. If you haven’t tried her recipes yet, you’re missing out. This will definitely be one of our new go-to veggie sides – enjoy!

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts
  • 3 shallots
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp balsamic glaze

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Trim and halve brussel sprouts. Peel shallots and cut into thick wedges (I quartered them).
  • Heat an oven-safe nonstick 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil, brussels sprouts and shallots in one layer. (If you don’t have this type of pan, you can transfer to a baking sheet when it comes time to bake in the oven.)
  • Let the brussels sprouts and shallots cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes until they start to caramelize. Turn occasionally for an additional 2-3 minutes until golden all over.
  • Transfer to the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes, until softened a bit but still slightly al dente.
  • Drizzle with balsamic glaze, toss and serve.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Recipe on DailyKaty.com

 

What are your favorite veggie side recipes? Let us know in the comments below!

Carry-On Travel Bags

I’ve been taking lots of day trips and long weekend trips this year, both for work and play, and through that I’ve quickly learned the importance of having a good carry-on bag. Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite carry-on travel bags right now, all of which are perfect in their own way. Now I’m on the hunt for new rolling suitcases (both carry-on and larger with spinning wheels), so if you have any suggestions, let me know!

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

 

1. cinda b Traveling Bowler

This bag (bottom left) quickly became one of my absolute, all-time favorite travel bags as soon as I started using it. I’ve mainly been using it as a carry-on bag when I travel on short trips because it has a zip opening to easily slip over my rolling suitcase handle, so it makes carrying all of my bags much easier. Plus the interior of it is even bigger than it looks and it fits everything I need, from my laptop and magazines to my purse, cosmetics and more, especially since there are lots of pockets. I’ve also used it as an overnight bag – it has an adjustable cross-body strap and also regular handles. And one of the best thing about cinda b bags is the fabric – it’s so durable and comes in tons of fun patterns. I went with Noir (all black) this time, but I love patterns like Neptune (shown on this beach bag). {cindab.com, $129}

2. Hayden-Harnett Ibiza Flight Tote

I discovered Hayden-Harnett last year and now I wish I could have one of everything they make. They have a line of travel bags and accessories that are great for work, weekends and travel. The bag shown in the photos isn’t available anymore, but they have an even better bag, the Ibiza Flight Tote, which comes in black, silvered grey, orchid (pink) and olive. I actually had my eyes on this bag but it wasn’t available when I got my other one! The Ibiza can be worn in up to six different ways thanks to its unique strap/handle and snap system, so you can change it up based on your preferences. {haydenharnett.com, $198}

3. LeSportsac  Voyager Backpack

Backpacks are back in style and I’ll be the first to admit that I love them. In fact, I’ve been using a backpack as my carry-on bag for years and I needed them to come back in style so I could get one that didn’t look like I was back in high school going to class. I love the LeSportsac Voyager Backpack because it’s nice and roomy and easy to get things in and out of. LeSportsac has so many fun prints and patterns that they introduce throughout the year – this one is a floral print called Euphoria. The Voyager has a drawstring closure and lots of of pockets to store your on-the-go essentials. I think this might even make a good beach bag this summer! {lesportsac.com, $118}

4. Baggalini Village Tote

Another great options that slides right over your suitcase handle is the Village Tote from Baggalini, one of their best-selling bags. This bag also has lots of pockets for organization and also has a removable coin purse and a padded front zipper pocket that’s perfect for my Nook or iPad. The Village Tote has a nice shoulder strap so it’s easy to carry and the style is more like a traditional shoulder bag, not quite as big as the cinda b bag above. The fabric is lightweight and water-resistant and while the blue shown here is no longer available, it comes in black, which is perfect for anytime use. {baggalini.com, $94.95}

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

 Carry-On Travel Bags on DailyKaty.com

**While I was provided samples for review, all opinions are my own.**

Spring Sales & Mother’s Day Style {Shop the Post}

There have been so many great spring sales these past few weeks that I couldn’t resist picking up a few new outfits for spring. Today’s outfit is inspired by my Mother’s Day look – I wore this blue tank that I picked up on sale plus 40% off! It’s nice and airy, comes in a pretty blue and coral, and was perfect for the 90 degree day that Sunday ended up being. I actually paired it with these navy shorts (under $20 now!) because it was so hot out, but as soon as I pick up a new pair of white jeans I’ll be wearing this look, especially to work. Shop the post with the links below (p.s. everything is on sale!).

Spring Sales - Shop the Post on DailyKaty.com

 

Blue Tank (on sale + 40% off! also comes in coral)

Sandals (30% off) / Bag (under $100) / Bracelet

Earrings / Midi Ring Set / White Jeans

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Pepper Recipe

I love Cinco de Mayo, mainly because I love Mexican food, along with the occasional skinny and/or fruity margarita. My husband and I went to our favorite local Mexican restaurant for some food and margs on Sunday, but on actual Cinco de Mayo, I tried out a new recipe from Cooking Classy, Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers.

I made a few tweaks but basically stuck to the original recipe. After making it, I realized that I had essentially made exactly what I order when I get a burrito bowl for take-out Mexican: chicken, fajita veggies, black beans, corn, pico de gallo, brown rice, guac, cheese and sour cream (only the peppers were the “bowl” in this case). So with that said… feel free to play around with the recipe to include your favorite Mexican ingredients!

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Pepper Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dry brown rice (2 cups cooked)
  • 5 red, yellow, orange or green bell peppers
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 lb chicken, diced into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp Mexican chili powder (or combo of chili powder, ground cumin and a little paprika)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 (10 oz) can tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup canned corn, drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2/3 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole (I used the guac my grocery store makes, but here is my homemade guac recipe)
  • Jalapenos, seeded and chopped (optional, depends on how hot you want it!)
  • Mexican style hot sauce (such as Tapatio or Cholula, optional)

Directions

  • Cook brown rice as directed on packaging. While that cooks, preheat oven to 375 degrees and start cooking the filling and boiling the peppers.
  • Boil water in a large pot of water. Slice peppers in half, top to bottom, remove seeds, then immerse them in the boiling water for 4-5 minutes (until tender). Drain and place in baking pans with insides facing up.
  • In a deep skillet or non-stick pan, hear 1 Tbsp oil, add onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds more, then move the mixture to a bowl.
  • Add the remaining 1 Tbsp oil to the skillet, add chicken and cover it with 1 Tbsp of the Mexican chili powder and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and chop the chicken into smaller pieces.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, put the chicken back in the skillet and add in the tomatoes, onion/garlic mixture, black beans, corn, cooked brown rice, remaining chili powder, cilantro, lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Optional: mix in cheese if you would like the mixture to stick together more in the pepper (or if you simply want it to be cheesier!). Cook until the mixture is heated through.
  • Fill each pepper half with the mixture (pack it tight enough so it stays put but isn’t overflowing into the baking sheet). Pour water into the bottom of the baking dishes (about 1/8-inch, avoid getting any in the peppers).
  • over baking dishes with foil and bake 30 – 35 minutes, until peppers are soft. Remove from oven, top each pepper with cheese then return to oven to bake until cheese has melted (about 3 minutes).
  • Serve warm topped with more cilantro, sour cream, guacamole and hot sauce if desired.

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Pepper Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Pepper Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Pepper Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Pepper Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Pepper Recipe on DailyKaty.com

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Pepper Recipe on DailyKaty.com

 

What are your favorite Mexican recipes? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Early Spring Work Style

It finally feels like spring here in New England, but it’s still been pretty chilly at night. And while I can’t wait for the days where I don’t even need a sweater or jacket at night, I wanted to share a lacey sweater that’s on sale right now for only $22 right now (shop it through the links!). It’s a great piece to add to your work style rotation, especially when it’s that time of year when you’re transitioning from chillier temps to spring. SheInside is a good site for trendy pieces that you don’t want to spend a ton of $ on – and if you shop using the us.sheinside.com site, you can usually get free shipping.

I’ve also had these American Eagle jeggings on repeat and this Hayden-Harnett bag is one of my faves for work (it’s no longer available, but they have similar options now). And then on my face I went with all bareMinerals for this look, including the new Complexion Rescue tinted face cream (my go-to for my speedy work makeup routine) and Pop of Passion lip oil-balm.

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 Shop the look:

Sweater (only $22!)

Necklace (old, linked to similar) / Booties (old, linked to similar)

Jeggings (under $40!) / c/o Bag (old, linked to similar)

c/o Lips, Face, Eyeshadow, Eyeliner & Mascara

Hope you all have a great week! Don’t forget to enter the $300 Target gift card and Spring FabFitFun box giveaways – there’s still time!

xo,

Katy

Spring 2015 FabFitFun VIP Box {Review & Giveaway}

Subscription boxes are the craze right now and they’re a great way to try out new products without paying full price for them. Plus, there’s an element of surprise (unless you check the spoilers online) because you don’t know what you’re going to get until it arrives. I love the FabFitFun subscription boxes – they’re sent out quarterly and cost just $49.99 for $200 worth of products, all of which are full size.

Spring 2015 FabFitFun VIP Box Review & Giveaway

Each FabFitFun box comes with a mix of beauty, fashion, fitness, wellness and home products. The Spring 2015 box that’s currently available came with items from Jules Smith, ORLY, Rifle Paper Co., Palmetto Derma, Merrithew, Ofra Cosmetics and Cosmos Creations, as well as gift cards from Hello Fresh, Vow to be Chic and Sprout It. Read on for more details on the Spring FabFitFun items – and scroll down to the bottom to enter to win this box for yourself!

  • Jules Smith Scarf: Spring is finally here and I’ve been dying to ditch the jackets and start wearing things like blouses and t-shirts with fun scarves like these. I received this scarf in Watercolor (love it!) and it also comes in Modern Art. They were designed specifically for the FabFitFun box and are also available on the brand’s website. They’re great because they are made from a nice, lightweight cotton viscose, so they can be warn even in warmer temps. This is definitely my favorite item in the Spring 2015 FabFitFun box! Jules Smith also makes lots of great jewelry – love this layered necklace set and these earrings. {julessmithdesigns.com, $42}
  • ORLY Nail BB Creme & ORLY Nail Polish in Cake Pop: I’m a big fan of BB and CC creams for my face, so I was excited to try out this BB creme for my nails. It smooths, moisturizes and brightens your nails, while also giving them a sheer peach tint that is the perfect natural mani. And more often than not, I go with a light pink shade on my nails, so this “Cake Pop” color is right up my alley. {orlybeauty.com, $15 BB creme, $8.50 nail polish}
  • Hello Fresh $40 Gift CardIf you haven’t tried out any of the delivery meal services yet, this is your chance! I’m looking forward to trying this one out, as I’ve heard great things. Hello Fresh gives you everything you need to create three simple yet delicious meals at home for either two or four people – and they do all of the shopping for you and deliver it right to your door. The recipes are nice and easy to follow and they’re made with farm fresh ingredients. {hellofresh.com, $69/week for 2 people, $129/week for 4 people}
  • Vow to be Chic $125 Gift CardWhy wasn’t this around when I was getting married?! I’ve used a similar service in the past to rent dresses for special occasions so I don’t have to spend the money on something I’m only going to wear once. And aren’t bridesmaids dresses exactly that? My bridesmaids probably would have loved renting a dress instead of buying one, and this site has lots of nice ones to choose from in a variety of styles and colors. Since this gift card gives you a free dress rental with the rental or purchase of another, I’ll either find two occasions to use this for, or I’ll give it to one of my soon-to-be bride friends. {vowtobechic.com}
  • Sprout It App Card & Miracle Grow Gro-able Seed Pod: I’ve been wanting to grow my own veggies and herbs, but city living presents some challenges… plus, I have no idea where to start! I can’t wait to try out this all-in-one seed pod, and if all goes well, I’m definitely going to need more. All you have to do is remove the lid and place it in the soil. And then the Sprout It app makes it even easier by giving you reminders and tips, customized to your location and garden. {miraclegro.com, $1.49 per seed pod}
  • Rifle Paper Co. Cities Coasters Set: These coast to coast coasters make a great gift! In true Rifle Paper Co fashion, the illustrations of each city – New York, London, Toyko and Paris – on each of the coasters are beautiful. And they come in a nice keepsake box too. {riflepaperco.com, $16}
  • Palmetto Derma Collagen Booster and Restoration Serum: This free radical fighting super serum promises to keep your skin safe and fresh from the bad stuff your skin faces daily, like sun, smoke and smog. I’ve been hearing lots about Vitamin C serums, and this one increases collagen growth, rapidly slows down the aging proces, fills in fine lines and minimizes wrinkles, while also fighting to make sure they don’t come back. The best part? If you love this product and want more, or if you want to try out some of the brand’s other products, you can get 25% off your purchase now through August 31 with code FABFITFUN25. {palmettoderma.com, $48}

GIVEAWAY! You can enter to win this FabFitFun VIP box below, now through May 25, 2015. Open to US residents.

For more on the products featured in the Spring 2015 FabFitFun VIP box, visit FabFitFun.com. From there, you can also sign up to receive your own quarterly FabFitFun boxes.

Spring 2015 FabFitFun VIP Box Review & Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Thanks to FabFitFun for providing samples for this review & giveaway. All opinions are my own.**

Guest Bedroom Inspiration

This summer will mark three years living in our city condo, which has the perfect amount of space for us and is also very close in distance to our friends, jobs and some of our families. Someday we’ll have to give up city living and move to the ‘burbs, but for now we’re loving where we are.

When we first bought our condo, we had to furnish more rooms than we previously had in our tiny one-bedroom apartment, so we decided to buy a bed for our new spare bedroom and use all of the decor from our old bedroom in that room. I love all of the decor in that room but was just ready for something new for our room, plus it allowed us to cut back on the amount of things we had to buy when we first moved in.

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Flash forward to today, and it’s time for a slight update to that room. And by that I mean changing up a few simple things to make it truly feel like a guest room – adding a nightstand, adding nicer bedding and pillows, etc. I’ll be sharing the completed room in the coming months, but in the meantime wanted to share some of my guest bedroom inspiration that I’ve come across on Pinterest.

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{image via Lemon Stripes}

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{shop this bedding via Nordstrom}

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{shop this bedding via Kohl’s}

bedrm3

{image via Decor Pad}

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{shop this bedding via Garnet Hill}

bedrm4

{shop this bedding via The White Company}

What are your favorite home decor or bedding websites? Let us know in the comments below!

Lord & Taylor Sale {Shop the Post}

I’ve had the luxury of having a Lord & Taylor across the street from my office for the past five years, so I’m always quick to jump on their big sales. The current Lord & Taylor sale is no exception – get 25% off almost everything and 10% off cosmetics and fragrance during the Friends & Family sale (now through April 27) with code FRIENDS. Shop some of my picks using the links below – I’ll be picking some of these up tomorrow for sure. I already have the jean shorts and love them, and some of below are already on sale… so double sale!

Lord & Taylor Sale {Shop the post on DailyKaty.com}

Black Bag / Dress (left) / Dress (right) / Jean Shorts

White Jeans / Nude Bag / Watch / Pink Wallet/Wristlet

Gray Sneaks / Gold Sandals / Black Sandals / Black Booties

 

DailyKaty & Beginner Photography Tips

Way back when I was finishing up high school, I really wanted to be a full-time photographer, but I just didn’t have the background and expertise for an art-based college education. I was always the girl carrying around a camera, borrowing my mom’s DSLR whenever I had the chance. But the truth is, I never really learned how to take beautiful photos aside from having a nice camera and letting it run on auto mode.

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One of the reasons I started this blog was that I was so drawn to the artistic visuals I saw on other blogs I was following. I never made it to photography school (business and marketing were a better fit for me), but I’m using this blog as an opportunity to learn. My photos have come a long way in the past year or so, but I have so much to learn. I’ve signed up for a few classes and I’m so excited to take this blog to the next level with what I learn.

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As I build my photography skills, I’m excited to share that Samsung is giving me the opportunity to try out their Samsung NX3000 camera for a few months! I’m already seeing a big difference in my pics and I’ll be sharing more about my experience using this camera in the coming months. I was drawn to this camera for a few reasons:

  • Great feedback from other bloggers and online reviews
  • Nice and compact but doesn’t sacrifice the features – fits right in my bag
  • Screen that flips out for fun selfies or pics taken using a tripod
  • Wifi connection for easy uploading to my computer, Instagram, etc.

And while we’re on the topic of my photography journey, I wanted to share a few beginner photography tips that have already made a huge difference in my pics. Lots more to come – and full disclaimer that I am certainly no expert and have a lot to learn!

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1. Lighting is important. Trust me, paying attention to this will drastically improve your photos. I’ve been finding it best to stage photos outside, a couple hours within sunrise or sunset, not in direct sunlight. This can be challenging during the winter months or when shooting home decor indoors, so I’ll be purchasing a ring light soon to help with those situations.

2. Aperture = that professional, blurry background look. Aperture is measured in “F numbers” – the lower the number, the more blurry your background will be. When I’m shooting portraits, recipes or products where I want the background to be blurry to focus on the subject, I tend to use f/4.0. If I’m taking a scenic shot, then I have f value higher, so it lets in more light and the whole frame is in focus. And since I haven’t quite learned how to use the manual settings, I’ve been using “Aperture Priority” setting, which allows me to select the aperture and the camera automatically picks the appropriate shutter speed.

3. Composition is where you can get creative. There are a few standard tips to keep in mind, but for the most part, this is how you make your photos your own. Composition basically is how you arrange items in your photo. In general, the rule of thirds will help – picture a 3×3 grid and then position the main subject at one of the corners of the center rectangle. From there, you can get creative and develop your own photography style.

4. Shutter speed + ISO sensitivity are also key. They’re the other 2/3 of what’s called the “exposure triangle,” along with aperture. I’m learning more about these, but I do know that shutter speed controls how quickly the shutter opens and closes – and the amount of light that is let in. ISO sensitivity is a bit more challenging to explain, so I plan on sharing examples in future posts. Usually, you’ll want the ISO to be lower to prevent “noise” in your photo unless you’re shooting at night or in the dark.

5. A little editing can go a long way. This is another area I have a long way to go on, but I started playing around with the basics on my iPhone using the VSCO Cam app and now I have Adobe Lightroom 5. It’s pretty amazing how easily you can transform your photos to make them so much more visually appealing. Changing the contract and composure are the two things I’ve been focusing on.

Example below! The top photo was taken indoors using Aperture Priority setting on f/4.0 with no photo editing. The bottom was taken with the same aperture setting but was taken outdoors in natural light and then I edited it just a tiny bit in Lightroom.

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What photography tips do you live by? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to include links to your favorite tutorial posts!