Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bridier Baubles Giveaway WINNER!

I am THRILLED to announce that the winner of the fabulous pair of Pink 'Campbell Chandelier Earrings' from Bridier Baubles is Sonja from 'Running in Pearls!'

CONGRATS, Sonja and another HUGE 'thank you' to Kerry from Bridier Baubles for sponsoring this awesome giveaway!

Still have a Bridier Baubles wish list a half mile long like I do? Head on over and shop online today. Kerry has been adding more fabulous new pieces all the time!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Homemade Strawberry Cupcakes That Need No Explanation: The Recipe

I mentioned last week that I helped throw a baby sprinkle for one of my besties. Our theme was girly with pink, pink, and more pink! So, of course, to keep up with the theme, I filled my kitchen with pink desserts as well! 

And, what would any party (and my kitchen) be without some Pinterest inspiration?! It all started with this pin. A good friend of mine had pinned these cupcakes months ago. Naturally, I re-pinned them to my 'Kitchen Inspiration' board and never gave them a second thought. That was, until I had the pleasure of tasting them when she made the for our Super Bowl party! They are simply heavenly. A perfect blend of creamy, homemade icing, and fresh cake filled with ripe strawberries!

It's no secret that these babies will now have a permanent home on my party/dessert go-to list! And, like I always say, they are too good not to share.

Strawberry Cupcake Recipe

Cake Ingredients
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups chopped strawberries

Icing Ingredients
1/2 cup strawberries 
8 oz. cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (make sure you have at least 2 cups here, as I found I needed to add some for consistency)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line your cupcake liners with paper liners (I made 24 cupcakes, but had enough for about 30-36). 

Sift your flour, salt and baking soda into medium bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer (I used my Kitchen Aid here), combine butter and sugar until well blended (consistency should be light and fluffy). Then, add your eggs one at a time and blend well. Next, add buttermilk, oil and vanilla and blend well. 

Now, add your dry ingredient mixture and blend with mixer until combined. Then, add your strawberries and mix on low for a minute or so.  Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 of the way and bake for 20 minutes. When cakes are done, try the toothpick method to make sure the centers are cooked through. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack.

For the icing, puree your strawberries (I used a small food processor here). Strain berry puree through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds and set aside.  

Next, combine your cream cheese and butter with your mixer until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add powdered sugar and blend until smooth. Then, add your lemon, vanilla and strawberry puree. Adjust the amount of berry puree you use in order to reach your desired consistency. If needed, add a bit more sifted powdered sugar to thicken the icing up!

Refrigerate the icing for 2-4 hours (if possible) before icing your cupcakes. Top each cupcake with full or sliced strawberry and serve! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Scentsy Review: New! Dryer Bars

Happy Tuesday, lovelies! I'm sorry I've been a little MIA over the past few days, but I had the pleasure of showering my best friend with 'baby love' and spent some time with a client up here in NJ. I'll be headed back to Maryland tomorrow morning, and I'm beyond excited to get back to B and the pup! 

In my whirlwind of leaving-town-for-an-extended-weekend packing and travels, I finally got around to using my brand spanking new Scentsy Dryer Disk! The wonderful and fabulous, Laura, allowed me to review one of the new Layers products by Scentsy, and I was instantly sold.

The disks are small, lightweight and smell divine. I chose to review the scent 'quiver,' which Scentsy describes this particular scent as an 'innocent vanilla flower, warm sandalwood, and sultry night-blooming tuberose in a seductive scent, meant to cause a shiver of delight!'


In my opinion, the 'quiver' scent is perfectly pleasant, subtle, and scrumptious. I would use it as a body lotion, I liked it so much! 

The best part? You can leave it in your dryer for multiple uses, and each time, your clothes come out smelling fresh and yummy! This is especially useful for someone like me who does multiple loads of laundry each week of my husbands dirty work clothes!

Trust me, if you love the feel and smell of fresh-out-of-the-dryer laundry, you NEED to invest in these bars! You can get two bars in the scent of your choice for just $7 from Laura or your personal Scentsy consultant! Head on over to Laura's shop and order a few one right now! While you're there, definitely check out the other new products in the 'Layers' line. I definitely have my eye on the Washer Whiffs and Body Butters!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

DIY Baby Shower 'Rattle Wreath' How-To

Earlier this week, I posted about the 'Baby Sprinkle' that I helped throw for one of my very best friends. It's no secret that many of the ideas we used for the sprinkle were Pinterest inspired.

When my 'creative wheels' started turning, I quickly came up with a list a mile long of projects I wanted to tackle before the 'big day.' Naturally, I had to narrow that list down some, but there was one project that always stayed on my radar. 

I came across this pin when I first started my search for 'baby girl' shower ideas. Instantly, I knew I had to make one of these 'Rattle Wreaths.' I also knew I would most likely have to employ the help of my Mom. You know, since she's way better with a glue gun than I am!

DIY 'Rattle Wreath' How-To

What You'll Need
One (1) wooden dowel ( I bought the 10-12" ones)
One (1) 5" styrofoam ball
One (1) 2" styrofoam ball
One (1) spool of solid colored ribbon
1-2 additional spools of solid/patterned ribbon that go with your 'theme'
One (1) can of white spray paint
4-5 bunches of flowers (your choice here; we used pink and white hydrangea)
Glue gun
Glue sticks
Craft pins (optional)

Begin by spray painting your wooden dowel (note: you may need 2-3 coats for full coverage).

While the paint is drying, you can start snipping each of the flowers/buds off of their stems. We cut ours right below the actual flower, leaving just a touch of the stem attached to use to press into the styrofoam balls when gluing. 

Once your dowel is dry, wrap one of your solid colored ribbons around it to cover. Then, press the ends of the wooden dowel into the styrofoam balls. Once you have created an imprint in the styrofoam, fill it with hot glue and press the dowel into each ball (one at a time) and allow to dry for a few minutes (see picture below).

Once  your structure looks like the picture above, begin gluing you individual flowers on in a pattern of your liking.

Continue adding the flowers until both balls are completely covered, and the styrofoam is no longer visible. We used the same method throughout all of our gluing: add glue to flower stem and then stick stem into styrofoam for extra hold.

Once you are finished with adding your flowers, add a long piece of ribbon (or 2!) and tie into a pretty bow in the middle of the dowel. We also added a small, wire 'hook' onto our ribbon so the 'wreath' was easier to hang from your desired location.

The process is a bit time consuming, overall, but the end result is totally worth it! I even gifted my friend with the wreath so she could take it home and use it in her nursery!!

A special 'thank you' to my Mom for helping me recreate the pin that inspired this project - I just love the way it turned out!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bridier Baubles: Nantucket Inspired Accessories Review & Giveaway!

I have been so excited to announce this giveaway, and am so happy the day is finally here! 

I was first introduced to Bridier Baubles a few weeks ago by my SIL, AP. While I helped her grab some pics of the new collection, I couldn't help but swoon over the pieces; the colors and styles were just adorable!

I quickly connected with Kerry, and while ordering a gift, she offered to let me review one of her fabulous pieces! I was beyond excited, and quickly agreed to host a review/giveaway combo right here on OLN! 

Allow me to introduce you to the Campbell Chandelier Earrings ...

I fell in love with these earrings the moment I laid my eyes on them! I absolutely adore the color and the gold detail is perfect. The best part is that, although they may appear to be, the earrings are not heavy, so they're super comfortable to wear!

I'd be lying if I told you that I hadn't already created a list a half mile long of other BB pretties that I'm just dying for. You know, like any all of these!
Are you ready for the best part?! On behalf on Bridier Baubles, I'm giving away a pair of the Campbell Chandelier Earrings in Pink!

How can you enter? It's simple! Use the Rafflecopter widget below to 'Like' the Bridier Baubles Facebook Page and follow BridierBaubles on Twitter! Then, tweet about this givieaway with a link to this post for an extra entry!

This giveaway begins today, and expires Wednesday, April 25th. The winner will be announced on Thursday, April 26th!

** I was given one (1) pair of Campbell Chandelier Earrings to review for this post. I was not compensated, and the opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Baby Girl Sprinkle & Estrea Giveaway Announcement

Well, the winner has been announced on Twitter already this morning, and I am happy to finally announce here, that the winner of my Estrea giveaway is Mandy from Mommy Musings!

Thank you all so much for participating. I had a great time hosting, and can barely wait to announce my newest giveaway here tomorrow!

I mentioned briefly yesterday that I had the pleasure of throwing a 'Baby Sprinkle' for one of my very best friends over the weekend. You may know Aliya, she blogs over at Double the Fun about her adventures in Mommyhood, her adorable son, and baby #2 on the way!

This was the first time that I tried my hand at throwing a 'sprinkle' that was 'baby girl' themed! And, I will be the first to say that, not only was it a blast, but it made me want a little girl in a bad, bad way!!

Obviously, I couldn't pull the whole thing off by myself, and was lucky enough to have another bestie helping me out along the way!

We started scouring Pinterest for ideas months ago, and I absolutely loved the way everything came together for the big day!

I have plans to share the details on that adorable little rattle wreath, inspired by this pin, as well as the recipe and love that goes into making these cupcakes later this week and early next!

I think it goes without saying that we went with pink, pink, and more PINK! What can I say, Aliya already has a baby boy, and since they know baby #2 is a girl, we just couldn't help ourselves :o) Pink tissue poms, lemonade, flowers, plates and so much more.

The sprinkle was the first event I've hosted in our new home, and I was thrilled that it went as well as it did. I swear I could have lived in that baby girl inspired 'wonderland' for weeks on end! 

Events and major life milestones like these really allow me to take the time to stop and focus on how lucky I am to have the girlfriends that I do. Each of these ladies have enriched my life in so many ways, and I'm so glad we captured these memories on Sunday!

Photo collage courtesy of Aliya's fabulous blog skills :o)

Happy Tuesday, lovelies!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Menu Monday & Giveaway Announcements!

Happy Monday, lovelies! I hope you all had as wonderful a weekend as I did. I got to catch up with lots of friends and threw a 'Sprinkle' for one of my besties at my house yesterday. Needless to say, our weekend was blissful and exhausting!

Last week, in preparation for this past weekend's event, I ran a bunch of errands (read: shopped at Target too much) and also came home with a huge grocery order. Obviously, a large grocery order called for a week's worth of yummy meals, so today, I'm linking up with Molly again for my 'Weekly Eats/Menu Monday' post! 

This week, I planned for a week chock full of savory meals, starting with my Mom's Vegetable Soup recipe. Do not miss it! I especially love making soup at the beginning of a week so we have the leftovers to eat all week long for lunches and snacks!

The rest of the week is rounded out with my new go-to or Spinach and Salmon Risotto, which really deserves a post all its own, followed up by a new pasta recipe I got from another friend. And, we'll finish off the week with chicken and veggie quesadillas; always a crowd pleaser! 

As always, thanks Molly for the inspiration, and for hosting! 

**Make sure to check back this week, we're announcing the Estrea Product Set winner tomorrow (4/17) and kicking off a brand new giveaway from Bridier Baubles on Wednesday!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Product Review: Fashion to Figure Summer Clutch

Recently, I was contacted by the lovely Jessica from Fashion to Figure about reviewing one of their products. At the time, I had not heard of FTF, so naturally, I started to browse their site. I paid particular attention to their jewelry and accessories, since these were the items that best fit my style and body type, and boy was I pleased with what I found!

Fashion to Figure is touted for 'bringing fashion to the figures' and specializes in women's sizes from 12-26. Although I do not fit into this category, Fashion to Figure has something for everyone, trust me! FTF's mission is to make people's lives better through the ultimate full-fashion shopping experience.

May I introduce you to the 'Woven Straw Clutch!

I chose this item because I thought it would be the perfect addition to my summer wardrobe, and the perfect clutch to bring out on weekends in the coming months!

I absolutely love the colors and the detail!

The clutch is large enough to hold my wallet, camera and iPhone, but still small enough to toss under my arm and head out the door! It has two magnetic snap closures and an interior zipper pocket to hold other goodies like lip gloss and gum :o)

It is a definite understatement to say that this clutch is my favorite new addition to my wardrobe. I can't wait to bring it out with me to my upcoming happy hours, showers and date nights with B!

Fashion to Figure carries an adorable and eclectic collection of accessories and jewelry. I've had my eye on the 'Oversized Satchel in Black' and the 'Rhinestone Horn Charm Necklace' for quite some time!

Head on over and browse their site - I promise you'll be pleasantly surprised with what you find!

*I was not compensated for this post. I was given a 'Woven Straw Clutch' to review, but all opinions expressed are solely my own.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

So WHAT! Wednesday is Back!!

It has been far too long since I've participated in Shannon's 'So WHAT! Wednesdays,' so I thought it appropriate to bring it back this week.

This week, I'm saying 'So WHAT!' if ..
  • I haven't done my hair since Easter - messy buns are totally back in style, right?!
  • I have gotten totally out of control with my spending for the 4 baby showers I have coming up? Tiny baby clothes and shower decorations are to.die.for. (Yes, I said FOUR.)
  • Despite my recent diagnosis of 'another cavity' I am still drinking my coffee with creamer and a dab of Truvia :o)
  • I have been so caught up in the baby shower madness that I may or may not have forgotten that I also need to budget for a birthday gift for B!
  • I saved the series finale episode of One Tree Hill on my DVR because I still can't deal with the total loss of the show :o/
  • Seeing my sweet little nephew-to-be's face on his sonogram with the SIL yesterday totally spiked the fevah in this house. It happens to the best of us, right?!

So, what are you saying 'So WHAT!' to this week? Head on over and link up with Shannon; it's such a freeing feeling!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Things That Make Me Moody. Other Than PMS.

Last weekend, B and I decided that it was the perfect time to head over to our local Lowe's and get our 'hands dirty' in the Gardening Dept. If you follow me on Twitter, you likely already know that we came home with a truck load of items to completely revamp our front yard. 

Just before we started this project, I had a surge of cleaning/organization OCD hit me, and decided to tidy up the kitchen before I headed out to really get my hands dirty. 

So, in typical fashion, I washed dishes, loaded the dishwasher and wiped down all surfaces. As soon as I started the dishwasher, I was on my way outside to help B.

About an hour or so later, I came back inside to find that the dishwasher had completely crapped out. I quickly tried a few buttons, and when I got no reaction (read: lights or sound), I called the Hubs in to scope out the situation.

One more trip to the hardware store later, and we've confirmed that, without explanation, our dishwasher has simply decided that it was done. Totally out of service. 

Oh, the joys of home ownership and having to drop a few hundred dollars on a random Sunday because you can't live without an appliance. This is especially annoying when you've been trying to save for things like basement carpet and master bathroom tile.

Our new dishwasher arrived today, and I think it's sad that I am so excited about the addition of a new appliance to our home. But, what can I say, I realized very quickly what a luxury a dishwasher is once I was hand washing every single items we used in the kitchen!

At least we got one good thing out of last weekend's activities, no?!

Happy Thursday, friends!!! We are headed home to NJ tomorrow for the holiday weekend. I hope you all have plans to spend time with your families, and that the Easter bunny makes n extra special trip to your house!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

There's Always Room for Soup: Vegetable Soup Recipe

A few weeks ago, I was visiting my family in Hometown, NJ. It happened to be a particularly cold weekend, especially for the winter we've had. One of these nights in particular, my Mom made homemade vegetable soup for dinner, and as we sat down to eat, she told me that this was her favorite soup, and that she used to make it for us every Halloween when we were kids.

Memories of early childhood Halloween's flooded back, but it wasn't until I took a bite of the soup that night that I remembered just how delicious and hearty it was. Instantly, I knew I needed to snag the recipe and add it to my rotation at home. Even if the weather was about to turn to Spring. 

And, that I did. I gathered up my fresh produce, and any ingredients I didn't already have in the pantry, and got to work on the recipe one Sunday afternoon. 

Sorry for the phone quality picture.

The recipe was an instant success in our house, and it makes so much that we had leftovers for a whole week! I absolutely couldn't help but share it here, because it's too good not to pass around!

Homemade Vegetable Soup Recipe

1 lb. stewed beef
2 16 oz. cans stewed tomatoes
2 16 oz. cans tomato sauce (I used one large can of crushed tomatos here)
4-5 16 oz. cans of water (reuse your empty tomato cans for this)
Handful of pasta (your choice; I used Orzo)
1 bag of frozen, mixed veggies (you can also sub fresh, but I chose a frozen mix of carrots, corn, peas and lima beans)
1 head of cabbage
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt

Begin by cutting your stewed beef into 1/2-1 inch cubes. Brown meat in large pot in olive oil.

Then, add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce and water and stir well. Next, add your sugar and salt.

Allow pot to simmer on low while you prepare the cabbage. I chopped the whole head up into wedges as best I could. Then, add your mixed veggies and cabbage to the pot and stir.

Bring everything to a boil and then allow to simmer on low for 2-3 hours (your house will smell AMAZING.). Add your handful of pasta when there is about 15 minutes left.

Serve hot with warm rolls or bread. ENJOY!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Bangin' Review & Estrea Product Set Giveaway!

If you're a frequent visitor around these parts, then you probably already know that I love an awesome skin product, and I love a good giveaway even more! When I was contacted to review Estrea body products, I was over the moon excited to get my hands on them!

Have you heard of Estrea? I wasn't familiar with the brand until I was contacted, but once I checked them out, I knew this would be a partnership match made in heaven! Here's a little more about the company:

  • Since its proven success in the mid 90s, Estrea’s Skin Care System has been the number one choice of European women. Now, for the first time, the Estrea product line is available to the U.S. market, so that American women can experience the benefits of Estrea’s unique European Skin Care System.  
  • Estrea’s twelve cleansing and moisturizing products for the face, hands, body and feet, bring together modern science and the restorative properties of nature to create a rejuvenating skin care regimen. 

I received the Body Care Set and the Intensive Care Eye Cream, and started using the products as soon as they arrived. 

After about a week or so of use, I would say that my favorites of the group would be the Hydrating Hand Cream, Intensive Eye Care and Refreshing Foot Balm. 

I used the eye cream first as a night time solution and applied before bed. I liked it because the cream is light and the scent wasn't at all overwhelming. And, what girl doesn't love an eye cream with a little collagen in it?

Coming in at a close second would have to be a tie between the hand and foot creams. I loved the moisturizing finish of both creams, and the mix of natural ingredients including aloe vera, collagen, coffee, olive oil, citrus extracts, chestnut and Vitamins A, C, E and F. Even better, the hand cream has been touted to promote fingernail growth! 

A good quality hand and foot cream is important to me because my skin dries out quickly, in my opinion. Simply cleaning up the pots, pans and dishes from one nights' dinner in hot water can leave my hands feeling chapped. I started leaving the Estrea Hand Cream right next to my kitchen sink and those troubles were over! And, since this girl only pays for a pedicure about two times per year, I was in desperate need of a good foot cream to keep my heels and the balls of my feet from turning completely callas on me during the summer months!

Now, are you ready for the best part? Estrea is also sponsoring a giveaway right here at Our Love Nest! The winner will receive a Body Care Set (like the one I mentioned above), and their choice of a Face Care Set in either Oily or Dry/Combination Skin! That's a total of over $150 in FREE products! 
Estrea Face Care Set in Oily Skin

Estrea Face Care Set in Dry/Combination Skin

There are lots of ways to enter this giveaway! Make sure to spread the word: every person that follows Estrea (@EstreaUSA) on Twitter between now and April 15th will receive a $5 store credit to be used towards your favorite Estrea product All online orders will also receive free shipping!

Simply use the widget below to enter my giveaway. 
The contest is open until midnight on Sunday, April 15th, and the winner will be announced Tuesday, April 17th!

*This is an Estrea sponsored post. I was compensated for this post and given one (1) Estrea Body Care Set and one (1) tube of Intensive Care Eye Cream in return for hosting this review and giveaway.

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