31.5.12

winner of the lax to yvr giveaway!

I am excited to announce that the winner of the LAX to YVR giveaway is Maegan! Congratulations! Please email me at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com with your information. 

And special thanks to Alice for sponsoring this giveaway!

{image via my pinterest}

summer bags

My go to summer bag is my large Longchamp. I take it to the pool, to the beach, and it slowly becomes my purse during the summer. There is nothing like pulling out your wallet in a store and getting a waft of beach smell because there is still sand in the bottom of your bag.

Sadly, my big black Longchamp died at the end of last summer. I started noticing a hole at the beginning of the summer but I chose to ignore it because I didn't want to believe that it was dying. The hole got bigger and the straps finally started to fail. But I beat that thing up. Not only did it do sand at the beach but it also did big textbooks for my last year in college. So for Christmas, my step-mom got me a big bluish-grey Longchamp so I could put the other one to rest.

For the market, I use a big wicker bag that I bought in Jamaica. I also lend it out to friends if they don't have a beach bag when they visit.

However, I am smitten with colorful summer bags and I wish I could buy all of them. I have to restrain myself though knowing that, once I fall in love with a bag, I rarely switch it out for something else I have unless there is a change of the seasons.
1. I still need to add a bag from the French Basketeer to my collection. The Cap Ferrat in Mango is still my favorite. Considering there is now a big farmer's market within walking distance of my house, I think it may be time. 
2. I am obsessing over this Coated Canvas Weekender bag from Anthropologie. The white and tan color combo makes it perfect for summer and it is super roomy making it perfect for a full day spent around town. 
3. I am so in need of a simple canvas tote and this nautical inspired one from the Etsy shop, handmade therapy, is super cute. This would be great to throw a book and some sunblock in for the beach. 
4. I am always on the fence about backpacks but with all these chic options out there now, who could resist? This one from Herschel Supply Co. would be great for all of my mom friends who need there hands free for all those mommy things they do. 

What is your go-to summer bag?

30.5.12

better-for-you beauty products, part 4

This is part four of my search for natural and organic beauty products. You can see the other posts here, here, and here.
1. Josie Maran Argan Color Stick: This color stick can be used on lips or cheeks but I have only used it on my lips. The organic argan oil hydrates well - I have used this in lieu of lip balm. I have it in Petal Pink and it gives a natural, sheer tint to my lips so it is perfect for the daytime. It is paraben and fragrance free and it lasts forever. I have barely put a dent in my first one and I use it all the time.
2. Pangea Organics Egyptian Calendula & Blood Orange Cleanser: I bought a discovery kit through Pangea Organics and this was one of the products. This cleanser is organic, gluten-free, and vegan. I haven't really found anything special about this. There isn't anything bad but I am not wild about the smell and I don't think it does anything super special for my skin. 
3. Kevin Murphy Motion Lotion: Although I am still in love with my DevaCurl gel, I wanted something lighter  for the winter months and the days when I don't have to worry about heat or humidity. This is great because it is weightless and lets my hair be more wavy than curly while still controlling frizz. I like the brand because the products are made from renewable and sustainable resources whenever possible, using pure essential oils, plant extracts, and natural antioxidants. This hair cream is paraben-free and has UV protection. 
4. Avalon Organics Aloe Unscented Body Lotion: I was afraid finding a new body lotion that was organic or all-natural would be a lot more expensive than what I was using. I was wrong. I love the aloe unscented lotion. I don't  do well with fragrances, especially on my legs after I shave. I get itchy and sometimes bumpy. I don't have any issues with this lotion. I can also use it on my arms which are super sensitive and have genetic red bumps on them. It is NSF certified and doesn't contain parabens and sulfates. Plus, the bottle is made with 100% recycled materials.
5. Tarte Amazonian Clay Pressed Mineral Powder: I like this powder. I like that it has SPF 8 and that it is free of parabens and sulfates. I also like that the mineral powder allows the skin to breath. I am still not sure I am totally satisfied with it though. I like powders that have a little bit of depth to them and are not completely the same color. However, I may not be totally satisfied because my skin has been dry lately. 
6. Inika Natural Perfection Concealer: I used this on my under-eye circles. I love it is light and mousse-like and it doesn't cake on. The only problem is, at times, it is too thin. I really need to make sure I shake and massage the tube before I squeeze any of it out and it doesn't seem to stay all day or it really gathers in fine lines. It is certified organic and can be used right on top of blemishes since it won't irritate them. 

What beauty products have you used lately? Have you found any good natural or organic products?

29.5.12

spicy lime shrimp

One of the first things I cooked for Rich in his first (and our current) house as a working man was skewered shrimp, couscous, and green beans. The combination really brings me back to being young, still in college, and being so proud of my newly-graduated boyfriend. And I love finding new ways to create it.

This is a healthy light meal, perfect for summer. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy it on your back patio.
SPICY LIME SHRIMP
serves 4
recipe from here

juice from 4 limes
1/4 c. sugar
salt, to taste
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 lb. peeled shrimp
cilantro, chopped for garnish

In a small bowl, combine lime juice, sugar, and salt. 

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet on high. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook until garlic is somewhat brown. Add lime juice mixture and cook until reduced, about four minutes. The mixture should be syrupy. 

Add shrimp, cook for about two minutes, and then stir the shrimp. Continue to stir until shrimp are all pink and cooked through. Garnish with cilantro and serve over couscous. 

Enjoy!

28.5.12

weekend: memorial

crabs at the red roost . . . a picture with the hubs outside . . . my to-go sippy cup . . . bags from outlet shopping . . . pizza for dinner saturday night . . . view from the pool on sunday . . . my pedicure poolside . . . mimosa . . . with niki and kathy
~~~~
a little inspiration for the coming week:

silhouette place cards

i would like one of each please

healthy banana splits

have a dollar to spare?

the world's nicest prison
~~~~
I had a nice four-day weekend. I took off Friday and we had off today for Memorial Weekend. On Friday, I went to the gym in the morning, had lunch with the Hubs, my sister-in-law, and her new boyfriend and then got a much-needed manicure and pedicure. That evening, the four of us went to the Red Roost for crabs and seafood. It was my sister-in-law's boyfriend's first time picking crabs but he picked it up quickly!

Saturday, Niki and Kathy came to town and we went to Rehobeth for a sushi lunch at Saketumi and then outlet shopping. Then we came, ordered pizza, and binge-watched Girls since Niki and Kathy don't have HBO. 

Sunday, we went to Green Hill for lunch and to hang by the pool. Then we came home, took naps, and headed to the in-laws for a barbecue. After that, Niki and Kathy headed home and then the Hubs, his sister, and her boyfriend and I went to Market Street for a drink. 

Today, I ran some errands and did some laundry. 

Also, remember I am now on instagram so go ahead and follow me - @lachapstickfanatique!

How was your weekend?

monday giveaway: lax to yvr

Today's giveaway is from the Etsy shop, LAX TO YVR. The shop has burlap wall decor that with letters and sayings that could be hung to give a room a rustic touch. The shop also has colorful garlands that would be great for party decorations.

Alice, the shop owner, says, "My passion for earth-friendly home decor inspires my work. I love decorating but it's important that I do it in such a way that's sustainable. Therefore, I try as hard as I can to use found materials and repurpose them. The products in my shop are mostly made out of recycled burlap rice bags that would otherwise be thrown away. I really love working with burlap not only because of it's rustic look and great texture but also because it's a natural and sustainable resource. Everything I make for my shop I make with the intention that it can be used over and over again and not be cast off quickly to the dump. 

I'm also a typography nerd. It's not uncommon for me to spend hours searching for that perfect typeface for whatever design project I'm working on. My love of typography and my love of burlap naturally inspired me to combine the two and create my wall decor products. I find that items featuring typography are a great way to personalize your home decor."
Alice is giving away her new "ME + U" painted burlap. The sans serif typeface gives a modern look to the rustic burlap background. It measures 8x10 and is ready for framing. This would go perfectly in my home with our decor. I think it would be cute to hang on my bedroom door. 

This giveaway is open worldwide. Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.
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25.5.12

winner of the loralyn designs giveaway!

I am excited to announce that the winner of the Loralyn Designs giveaway is Frances! Congratulations! Enjoy your wine charm set! Please email me at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com with your information.

And special thanks to Laura for sponsoring this giveaway!

{image via here}

24.5.12

glass chic

When I was younger, I wanted glasses so badly. I even bought a fake pair in middle school and wore them around my bedroom. They were black, rectangular glasses from the BP section at Nordstrom. 

Freshman year of college, I noticed myself getting a lot of headaches while studying. I soon realized how much I was straining my eyes trying to look at the tiny Chinese characters for my class. I went to the eye doctor and they prescribed me reading glasses. But honestly, they didn't really fulfill my lifelong  fantasy of glasses; I would only be wearing them when I was on my computer or reading so I would only be wearing them when I was in my bedroom - again. (I am pretty sure there are even some of my closest friends who don't know I own glasses. You can see evidence here.)

Well, seven years later and I decided it was probably time for another eye doctor appointment. And you know what he told me? I shouldn't be wearing my reading glasses anymore. My eyes are back to normal and if I keep wearing them, my eyes will start straining. (I had kind of already diagnosed that, though, when I realized wearing my glasses seem blurry compared to normally vision so I really didn't wear them that often.)

But he also told me I need glasses for long distance like driving, going to the movies, or watching a game. I picked out my beautiful tortoise shell glasses yesterday and I will have to go pick them up in a few days! Good thing is: I am not blind without glasses so there is no need to worry about having to wear them for special events or when I go out with friends. 

My life is now complete...

Do you wear glasses? What shapes do you like?

{images via here, here, here, here, and here}

23.5.12

by candlelight

Last night, our electricity was cut. It was planned for our entire community but I kind of forgot about it and didn't have enough time to write a full blog post for today - only for something quick. The Hubs was a little annoyed that the electricity would be cut right in the middle of his favorite show but I told him we would find something fun to do.

What do you do when the electricity goes out?

(Don't forget, today is the last day to enter the Loralyn Designs giveaway!)

{images via my pinterest}

22.5.12

ginger-carrot dressing

I almost always make my own salad dressing. I just don't like the way bottled dressings taste and making your own is super simple. However, a few years ago, I discovered a ginger-carrot dressing in the refrigerated section. There were only a few ingredients listed and it had an expiration date actually within two weeks so I decided to take it home. It was so yummy! I actually credit it for helping me lose weight before my wedding. It was only 70 calories for two tablespoons and it was so good that, every time I needed a snack, I just tossed it with some salad greens and it killed my cravings.

However, a few weeks ago I went to search for it again and it was nowhere to be found. I went back a few days later, convinced that they had just sold out of it. Sadly, it was never replaced. So I sought out to make my own...

GINGER-CARROT DRESSING
from here

1 large carrot
1 shallot, chopped
2 Tbsp. roughly chopped ginger
1 Tbsp. white miso
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/4 c. grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp. water

Pulse carrot, shallot and ginger in food processor until finely chopped. Scrape down sides, add the miso, vinegar, sesame oil and blend. While food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil and water.

Enjoy!

21.5.12

monday giveaway: loralyn designs

Today's giveaway is from the Etsy shop, Loralyn Designs, which has a unique selection of metal jewelry and gifts. The shop has necklaces, rings, magnets, pins, and more.

Laura, the shop owner, says, "Hey everyone! My name is Laura and I recently opened up my own business, Loralyn Designs featuring affordable, unique jewelry and gifts such as wine charms, magnets and pins. Everything in the shop is under $25 and custom color requests are very welcome! 

My real passion is using my hands to create and design. I am thankful to have had a mom that encouraged crafting and creativity from an early age. She taught me the beauty of handmade items from sewing to painting and drawing, gift wrapping, jewelry making, and home decorations. At age 8, I was selling my jewelry door to door (OK, I was selling my fashion plate color drawings too). At 13 my mom invited me to join her in selling my 3D plastic canvas Christmas ornaments which did pretty well. I still have a few I put on my tree every year. 

 I branched out to woodworking and home improvement projects in my 20s. Now in my 30s, I have discovered a new passion with metal crafts. I hope you enjoy the collection!"
Laura is giving away a wine charm set which comes with six wine charms. That way you will have no confusion over whose glass is whose at your next dinner party. As someone who loves hosting parties and get-togethers, I am not sure why I don't own a set yet. 

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is open worldwide.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

20.5.12

weekend: atlantic hotel

old records . . . a cruiser . . . my outfit for dinner . . . drummer's café . . . the front of the atlantic hotel . . . a white cruiser with white flowers . . . my dessert and dinner
~~~~
a little inspiration for the coming week:

15 ways to stay married for 15 years

the kennedy wedding

excited for this new sitcom

need for the ocean
~~~~
First off, you will now be seeing instagram photos added into the weekend posts. The first reason is that the Hubs is annoyed with me always pulling my camera out during dinner. Ok, I get it. So last night, I finally downloaded instagram (second reason) so I could discretely take pictures of my food. You can follow me @lachapstickfanatique. I am still learning how to use it so if anyone has any tips let me know. I tried to go on my computer to look at my account but couldn't figure out how to look at my pictures or how to follow anyone - do I have to do all of that on my phone?

Anyways, onto the weekend . . . Friday night, the Hubs came home from his weeklong class and brought dinner with him. I was so tired from the pup being sick all week and barely getting any sleep that I went to bed at 7:30. 

Saturday, I had a nice leisurely breakfast at viva and then went grocery shopping. After that, I hung outside since it was such a nice day and read a magazine. I had a lazy afternoon, just doing a little laundry. Then the Hubs and I headed to Berlin, Maryland to walk around a bit before our dinner reservation at Drummer's Café at the Atlantic Hotel. There wasn't much still open. My grandparents got a gift certificate there for Christmas but we decided to wait to use it until it was nicer out. My grandparents always like to tell how parts of Runaway Bride was filmed there and how they saw Richard Gere there one time and another time they stayed in the same room Richard Gere had stayed in. They are so funny. The food was good and the ambiance was really cute. I would like to go back one time for lunch one time and then walk around and go in some of the shops.

Today, we cleaned and I finally got my office organized. 

How was your weekend?

18.5.12

francophile friday: rosanna

Looking for a gift for a fellow francophile? Look no further than Rosanna, a shop with a beautiful  array plates, platters, glassware, and accessories. They have a nice selection of pottery with French writing as well as French-inspired items. Also, if you fancy yourself from Italian or English inspired items, they have those as well. The company's mission is to cultivate community and family and inspire tradition.

Check the shop out. What would you want to bring home?

17.5.12

to dry clean or not

Ok I have to complain. Why is it that when I take a shirt to the dry cleaners, I pay around $7 while my husband pays around $2? I have done a little research and dry cleaners claim that women's shirts are more intricate and involve more human hand and time versus using a machine.

Ok, I understand that. But yesterday, I took button-up shirts that are just like my husband's. In fact, you can't tell me that they are not much different from a button-up shirt that a man, my size, owns (especially the men's slim-fit shirts.)
So, with just a few shirts, a couple sweaters, two dresses, and some women's pants, my bill was around $100. Is charging more for my female items discrimination? Or can they get away with this because they call my button-up shirt a "blouse" but my husband's button-up shirt a "shirt?"

I don't dry clean an item every time I wear it to save money (and they also claim it isn't good for your clothes to do it with every wear.) I just wish I had a better option because I really can't drop $100 for every trip to the cleaners but I don't like the way my nicer button-up shirts wear if I was and iron them - they seem to get faded.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you do something other than going to the cleaners?

{lace shirt from here; button-ups form here}

15.5.12

chicken florentine

I have already professed my love for spinach. It is seriously one of the best vegetables out there. So I don't need to tell you why I think this dish is so yummy.

I have made stuffed spinach florentine before but sometimes that is just so time consuming to make sure the spinach stuffing stays inside the chicken. Plus, it usually takes longer to cook. This recipe is not fussy and you still get a rich stuffed chicken flavor.

(Sorry, this recipe does call for four chicken breasts but it didn't look as pretty to me on the platter. I also have an OCD problem with even numbers.)

CHICKEN FLORENTINE
serves 4
recipe from here

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and freshly cracked pepper
wheat flour, for dredging
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 shallots, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 c. dry white wine
1 c. whipping cream
1 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
2 10 oz. packages frozen spinach, thawed and drained

Season flour with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour to coat lightly. Melt two tablespoons of butter in large pan. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, about five minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan and wrap in aluminum foil to keep warm. 

Melt one tablespoon of butter in same skillet. Add shallots and garlic and saute until shallots are translucent. Add wine and scrape up any brown bits off bottom of pan. Increase to high heat and bring to a boil and reduce to half. Add cream and reduce to half. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken and accumulated juices and turn chicken to coat. 

Meanwhile, melt one tablespoon of butter in another skillet. Add spinach and saute until heated through. Season the spinach with salt and pepper. Arrange on platter with chicken on top. Pour sauce over chicken and spinach.

Enjoy!

13.5.12

weekend: sunny days

at the bbq with two of our senior students . . . peonies for my MIL . . . eggs florentine at brunch
~~~~
a little inspiration for the week:

loving these temporary tattoos 

tips on how to make a vegan cupcake

i went to verona when i was fourteen but this makes me want to go back
~~~~
Friday, I was not feeling that great and the Hubs was across the bridge for a lacrosse game so I spent the night snuggling with Peyton. Saturday morning, I got up early to get flowers for my MIL and step mom for mother's day and then headed home to make food for our work barbecue that we were having for the students who work in the office. After that I cleaned the house a bit and then headed to the barbecue. There were a lot of yummy treats (most of which were inspired by pinterest.) After the barbecue, the Hubs and I headed to his parents for dinner. This morning, we headed across the bridge and had brunch with my dad and step mom. After brunch we walked around downtown Silver Spring and went into some shops (I got fitted for some new running shoes.) After that, the Hubs headed to Virginia for his week-long class and I headed back home.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

How was your weekend?

10.5.12

winner of the ashton cooper designs giveaway!

I am excited to announce that the winner of the Ashton Cooper Designs tea party invitation giveaway is Lauren G! Congratulations! Please email me at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com with your information!

And special thanks to Sarah for sponsoring this giveaway!

{image via here}

9.5.12

taking a little break

I have been feeling a little crappy the last few days and I am trying to get the house finally organized so I am taking a little break for the rest of the week. If you haven't already, make sure to enter the tea party giveaway (it ends tonight) and be sure to look for the winners post tomorrow. Have a great rest of the week!

{image via my pinterest}

8.5.12

yogurt multigrain pancakes with strawberry sauce

I love a good stack of fluffy pancakes. In college, my friend, Kathy, used to make us pancakes with berries inside of them. She really didn't know how to cook much at the time but she made some of the best pancakes so that was her job every so often - to make us pancakes on weekends. This is a healthier version of our college pancakes, dedicated to her.

I love the idea of a healthier wheat or multigrain pancake but I feel like a lot of times they end up dense and too far from the comforting pancakes that I grew up with. However, I found a recipe for yogurt multigrain pancakes from one of my favorite food blogs about a year ago and, I have to say, I may enjoy them more than the classic pancake. The original recipe call for the addition of blueberries but, this time, I had some beautiful strawberries on hand so I made a strawberry sauce.

YOGURT MULTIGRAIN PANCAKES WITH STRAWBERRY SAUCE
makes 12 four inch pancakes
adapted from here

2 eggs
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
4 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. butter, plus more for buttering skillet
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c. rye flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt
8 oz. strawberries, chopped
1/4 c. good syrup
1 Tbsp. lemon juice


Melt half of butter. Remove from heat and stir in other half of butter until melted. 

Whisk egg and yogurt together in medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter, lemon zest, and vanilla. In another small bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until dry ingredients are moistened. 

Preheat oven to 200º F and have baking sheet ready (to keep pancakes warm.)

Heat skillet to to medium. Melt a pat of butter in skillet. Ladle batter into skillet, keeping enough space in between pancakes. When pancakes are dry around edges and bubbles start to form on top, after about 3 minutes, flip pancakes over and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer pancakes to warm in the oven as you cook other pancakes.

Meanwhile, warm strawberries in a separate pan for about two minutes. Add syrup and lemon juice and simmer until desired consistency is achieved.

Enjoy!

7.5.12

monday giveaway: ashton cooper designs

You all know how much I love tea, and especially tea parties, so I am really excited for today's giveaway.   The Etsy shop, Ashton Cooper Designs, has a collection of tea bag invitations and party favors. They are great for bridal showers, baby showers, or a tea party amoung friends.

The shop owner says, "Hello Everyone! My name is Sarah and I'm the mother to two beautiful boys, Ashton and Cooper and most recently a little girl. My children are my inspiration behind the shop, Ashton Cooper Designs. After doing numerous invitations for family and friends, my Sister in Law asked me to come up with a Kitchen Tea invitation for her Bridal Shower. I came up with the Tea Bag designed featured in my store. We had an overwhelming amount of feedback from family and guest about the invitation, that I decided to sell them on Etsy. Love is brewing!"


Sarah is giving away a fully personalized Tea Bag which can make a great invitation or favor. Each Tea Bag case is personalized and sent to you as a PDF file. The cases are intended to enclose a real tea bag with a personalized tag. The invitation color can be altered to any color theme. There are 3 Tea Bag templetes per A4 sheet that can be printed out at home or professionally. Each Tea Bag measures 6cm tall by 5cm wide. A full set of instructions for essemble will be sent with order. Order will be sent via email. If you are not confident in making these favor/invitations but LOVE THEM you can convo Sarah for a quote to have them made for you and shipped to your door!!

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is open worldwide. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

6.5.12

weekend: cinco de derby

drinks at the Gibson . . . with the king of ghana . . . henna at the embassy of bangladesh . . . at brunei embassy . . . food from the nigerian embassy . . . urban croquet . . . kentucky derby contenders . . . cucumber sandwich . . . our kentucky derby attire . . . watching the race . . . a chicken burrito
~~~~
Friday, I left the office a little early to drive across the bridge to Kathy's house. We took her dog, Billy for a walk on a trail near her house, and then we went out to dinner at Bistro du Coin in Dupont with Conlon and Pamela. I had the mussels marinière with fries. After that Kathy and I had a drink at the Gibson.

Saturday, we headed out with some friends to the Around the World Embassy Tour. We decided to go to the embassies in the Van Ness area. We visited Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Brunei, and Pakistan. After that, we got dressed and headed off to a Kentucky Derby party. When the race was finished, we headed off to a really yummy Mexican and Salvadoran resto. After that, we headed out for a few drinks and then headed home. I was beat by the end of the day. 

This morning we slept in very late. Kathy and I grabbed dinner at Fudruckers and then I headed home. I am so sleepy but it was a great weekend.

How was your weekend?

3.5.12

the shops at target

I am so excited for The Shops at Target to come to stores on May 6th. I have been a fan of the company reaching out to high end designers for clothing, makeup, and bedding and now they will be bringing a boutique feel by searching out the best this country has to offer.

I think I am most excited for the Privet House from Connecticut. The items they are bringing to Target are somewhat rustic, french chic and, might I add, will fit in perfectly in my home.
Peyton is most excited for Polka Dog Bakery from Boston. She loves that the treats are yummy but still healthy and she thinks the toys look so fun and colorful. I already promised her a toy and treat from there.
What shop are you most excited for?

{images and more items from here}