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THE MOST LOVELY SPRING LUNCH

View More: http://laurenkonradphotography.pass.us/kgeastertableWell, hi friends! Remember that home tour that you were in love with? Well, it’s back & it’s hosting the most beautiful spring lunch we ever did see. Say “hello” to one of our favorite lifestyle bloggers, Katelyn from Katalina Girl, as she shows us how to throw a lovely spring brunch using the items you already have! Prepare to get inspired. – xoxo, LK
katalina_2Hello! Katelyn here from Katalina Girl. There’s nothing like a little spring soirée after a cold winter of hibernating.  The flowers are officially blooming, the birds are chirping and the sun is shining. What better way to welcome this cheerful season than a springtime party? So grab some stationary or shoot your besties an email. It’s time to celebrate the sunshine!View More: http://laurenkonradphotography.pass.us/kgeastertableThere’s nothing I love more than a sweet spring tablescape—the bright color palette, vintage décor, a rustic farm table (I made this one with Milk Paint), fresh greenery, beautiful blossoms and of course the crisp light from your kitchen windows. A new season doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to shop for new entertaining pieces.

I threw together a ton of items I already had to create the perfect blend of a mix-to-match table setting. I spent hardly any money on décor, just flowers, food and a few fresh serving ware pieces.

Most items are borrowed from Grandma’s kitchen while others are new from Anthropolgie. It’s the perfect mix of old and new. kataline_1If you don’t have access to your Grandmother’s kitchen I suggest searching for a few must-have entertaining items at Goodwill, flea markets and vintage stores.

 milk vases, jadeite plates or a cake stand, mason jars, patterned bowls, printed plates and tea cups, ornate drinking glasses and silverware.

You’d be surprised how much you’ll end up using those pieces year round. View More: http://laurenkonradphotography.pass.us/kgeastertableNow whip up your favorite snacks, pop open the wine and give yourself an excuse for a girl’s night of fun.

Cheers to spring!View More: http://laurenkonradphotography.pass.us/kgeastertable


Copy by Katelyn Cheek | Photography by Lauren Konrad

THROW A ST. PATRICK’S DAY HAPPY HOUR in 5 easy steps!

IMG_7621Hello, hello my lovely little leprechauns! Are you all gearing up for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations? Here is Chicago we take St. Patrick’s Day very, very seriously. If you aren’t Irish in Chicago, you are Chi-rish. This weekend is all about parades, parties, and the infamous green beer.

If, on the off chance, you are looking to class-up your St. Patrick’s Day celebration, might we suggest a fun happy hour with friends? The bars & restaurants are always packed, so bring the party home and celebrate from the comfort of your own living room. Not sure how to plan a shamrock-ing party? We can help!
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STEP ONE: Get the word out!

Send an email, mass text, write a note, or give your friends a call & put the word out that the real luck of the Irish is at your place this year. If you are nervous about having people over (which, you shouldn’t be, we’ve been over this, your place is amazing!) then ask you friends to bring their favorite beer or libation & that way everyone has a stake in the party.

Think you’ve got it handled (way to go! We are so proud of that party throwing confidence), we’ve got everything you’ll need.

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STEP TWO: Booze, baby!

It’s almost sacrilegious to not have a sip of Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day, but, I prefer to eat my Guinness rather than drink it…more on that later. So, if you guests aren’t big green beer people, it’s nice to have some other festive libations to consume!

Whip up a pot of coffee, throw some Bailey’s in there & voila – Irish Coffee!

Throw some food coloring in with a cup of refined sugar & rim your cocktail glasses in green or gold.

Really, if you whip up a gin & tonic, throw a clover or shamrock in there, you’ve basically warranted the right to re-name it in whatever St. Patrick’s Day saying of your choosing. Here are some of our favorites – the Erin Go Bourbon, Pot of Gold tonic, and Luck of the Irish Margarita. See? Easy!

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STEP THREE: Skip the green food!

As cute as green food is, it’s also mostly terrifying. So, let’s just skip it all together & have something that’s still festive, just not dripping with food coloring.

We talked about those of us who would rather eat their Guinness rather than drink it, so for all of my fellow St. Patrick’s Day rule breakers, this Guinness Cheese Dip with Soft Pretzels is so absolutely worth it. Hello, beer dip & warm carbs, what could be better?! Ooh, and did I mention it takes literally 5 minutes to make?

Prefer something a bit sweeter? How about this Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting? Everyone loves a good boozy dessert & this one is even better than you could imagine. Pressed for time? Buy an unfrosted cake at the store and whip up the icing at home. Technically, you made part of it, so I think you get full credit for the whole cake. *high five*

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STEP FOUR: Set the table up for success

As much as you love running around and serving people, it’s nice to be able to hang out and mingle at your own party. The key to being a happy host is having the table do all the work for you.

When you are setting up your party make sure that you’ve got all the food in a central spot that isn’t difficult to get to and won’t congest the flow of traffic if people linger. People always congregate at the food table (I mean, I always do), so tuck in a room that has a lot of entry & exit points and you’ll be perfect.

Now the actual set-up of the table is key. Grab napkins, silverware, plates, anything someone might need to enjoy your delicious food (that you whipped up all by yourself because you are superwoman), and put in on the table. Do not run back and forth to your kitchen because people need salt or pepper, get all that back and forth business out of the way & have it all out and ready for people to use.

Booze table! I love setting up a bar because it let’s people go at their own pace. Make sure you have lots of cups (depending on the crowd, plastic is a great option), have a bucket full of ice, and extra bottle openers. How come those things are always disappearing?

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STEP FIVE: Celebrate!

Step five is key & many people don’t realize it. If you aren’t having fun at your own party, what makes you think anyone else will? Have a glass of wine (or weird green beer if you are into that) while you are setting up, put on your favorite record, and get excited. Who cares if the guest bathroom doesn’t have a candle in it or if you haven’t mopped the floors before your guests arrive. No one cares & neither should you.

You’ve got all your friends in one place, so have a freaking blast! The dishes & clean-up can wait until the morning. Just make sure you talk to your guests, help with refills, and ensure you have enough food & you’ll be hosting St. Patrick’s Day every year!

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SIMPLE SPRING MAKEUP so fresh & so dewy

IMG_1629Okay, so it might not be spring-time outside, but that doesn’t mean a girl can’t pretend. We are breaking down another super fun makeup look that is perfect for that dewy skin look that says, “I just spent a week at the spa and my skin is glowing form the inside.” Sadly, that isn’t my life right now, but a gal can dream, right?

Don’t worry, we aren’t talking about 50 shades of contouring or breaking down strobing (because who has time for that, really?) Just three simple steps and maybe a few new tricks to get gorgeous glowing skin in under 5 minutes. Now that is a makeup routine I can get behind!

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STEP ONE: The Base

Start with MAC’s Strobe Cream to add a dewiness to the skin and prep the skin for makeup. Just a little goes a long way, so don’t go overboard!

Next, apply foundation (we used Makeup Forever HD) and conceal where needed. Again, just spot treat.

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STEP TWO: Sassy Cheekbones

Next, it’s all about those fabulous cheekbones! Define your cheekbones by brushing Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder and a neutral berry blush (Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure) right under the cheekbone going upward.

To highlight, we used (and are obsessed with!) the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Champagne Pop on the cheekbones, brow bone, center of nose, cupid’s bow, center of forehead and center of chin. Highlighting sounds much more complicated than it really is. Don’t think contouring or strobing, just lightly dust the powder on the above areas and see play around with a look that works best!

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STEP THREE: The Finishing Touches

Last, but certainly not least, your eyes & lips!

For the eyes, we used the  Viseart Neutral Matte palette with some Champagne Pop in the center of the lids for added light. This is a soft enough color to wear during the day, but moody enough to transition to a fun afterwork activity.

For lips, Marc Jacobs New Nudes Sheer Gel Lipstick in Dusty Rose is the perfect match, as it’s sheer so it can never look too harsh on the lips!

Top it off with a simple three step Dutch braid crown & you are ready for just about anything!

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If you are like me & not very savvy with hair or makeup, I more than recommend my gal Mollie at Stylisted. It’s the most amazing service that allows stylists to come to your home & get your hair and makeup ready in no time, plus it’s insanely affordable! Trust me, you’ll love it.

So, think you’ll try it out? Let me know below!IMG_1487
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BLOOD ORANGE CAKE the perfect cake for a party

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Looking for that perfect cake to bring to a get-together, brunch, or shower? Well ladies, step aside, because Elizabeth is flexing her cake decorating skills and showing us how to master the most delicious cake known to mankind – the blood orange cake with honey mascarpone frosting. I mean, it’s pure perfection! 

It’s stunning, delicious, and a total showstopper! Get the skinny from Elizabeth below. Love what you see, tell us your thoughts below! – xoxo, LK

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INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 Cups of cake flour

1 1/2 Cups of granulated sugar

1 Teaspoon of course salt

1 Tablespoon of baking powder

5 Large eggs, separated

1/2 Cup of blood orange juice or your favorite citrus juice

1 Tablespoon of blood orange zest

1/2 Cup of vegetable oil 

+ extra flour & non stick baking spray for cake tins

 

HONEY MASCARPONE FROSTING

1 Stick of unsalted butter at room temp

8 Oz of mascarpone cheese or cream cheese

1 1/2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

1 Teaspoon of salt

3-4 Tablespoons of honey

4 Cups of powdered sugar

   *milk on an as needed base

2INSTRUCTIONS:

*For this recipe I used three 6-inch cake tins, two 8-inch will work as well. Spray cake tins with non stick spray and spread flour thinly on sides and bottom of tins, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl sift cake flour and add in salt and baking powder and set aside.

1. In a large bowl separate egg yolks and whites into 2 large bowls, reserve the yolks. With a stand or hand mixer fitted with a wire whip, whip egg whites until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Set aside. 

2. With a stand or hand mixer combine sugar and egg yolks. Slowly pour in vegetable oil and blood orange juice and zest, mix. Add flour mixture to wet mixture in three separate segments mixing until just combined after each one. Remove from mixer and gently fold in egg whites until incorporated.

*Whisking your egg whites separately and gently folding them in will ensure a light and airy cake batter. Pour evenly into cake tins and bake for 20-25 mins. Cakes are done when a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool for 30 mins. Take a knife and make a ring around the tin sides, if any of the cake has stuck this will help release it. With a serrated knife edge cut any dome tops off your cakes. 

3. In a large mixing bowl with a stand or hand mixer beat butter, mascarpone cheese, vanilla extract, salt and honey until light and fluffy, about 3 mins. Add in 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, checking for texture after each addition. Add in one tablespoon of milk as needed to thin frosting.

*Note dryer climates may need more milk for thinning, moister climates may need less. 

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HIS & HERS VALENTINE’S COCKTAILS

IMG_1932There are always a lot of His & Her’s round ups, gift guides, and the like around Valentine’s Day, and while those never really grab my attention, this pairing is something I can absolutely get behind – His & Her’s Valentine’s Day cocktails!

Something sweet and romantic for the lady & something a bit more bold for the mister. It’s a match made in heaven! So before your VDay plans are complete, make sure you add these lovely libations to the list. Can’t wait to see what you think. xoxo, LK

IMG_1979HER COCKTAIL – THE BLUSH

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup fresh squeeze grapefruit juice (trust me, it’s better fresh!)

1 cup sparkling water

4 tablespoons vodka

3 tablespoons St. Germain

Honey or a natural sweetener

Ice

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Add a handful of ice to your cocktail shaker & add in ingredients (wait until you’ve tried your cocktail until adding in the honey or sweetener).

2. Shake until shaker is cold & pour into a fabulous glass!

3. Garnish with a thin slice of grapefruit or another citrus (we used a blood orange from the recipe below!)

4. Serve, sip, repeat!

IMG_1966 HIS COCKTAIL – THE MISTER

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ ounces dry gin (we love Farmer’s!)
3 ounces blood orange juice (save the peel)
1 tablespoon thyme simple syrup
4 ounces tonic water
Thyme (for garnish)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. For simple syrup, bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add thyme sprigs, stir in gently. Allow to cool for 20-25 minutes and remove sprigs before serving.

2. In a low glass, fill it with a few cubes of ice, gin, blood orange juice, and thyme syrup. Top off with tonic & stir gingerly.

2. Cut off a peel from one of your used blood oranges, twist, and add in for garnish. Top cocktail off with a sprig of thyme & serve, sip, repeat!

IMG_1930So what do you say, lovebirds? Are these going to make it on your Valentine’s Day menu?! Since whipping these puppies up, I have to admit, they have been on repeat in our house. The are just so delicious! Anything with blood oranges has me weak at the knees already, but the two as a pair are out of this world.

Can’t wait to hear about your weekend & if you mix these up, let me know! 
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GRAPEFRUIT AND THYME GIN & TONIC

IMG_1774Well, happy February friends! ‘Tis the season of love and we decided to celebrate a little early with some festive cocktails. Today’s concoction is the Grapefruit and Thyme Gin & Tonic and my, oh my, is it divine!

Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, a sprig of thyme, and some delicious gin is just what you need to kick off a weekend. So my friends, grab a seat, scroll down, and enjoy!

PS – not a grapefruit fan? Don’t worry, we will have something fabulous & grapefruit free yet still festive & fun for you next week. Stay tuned!
IMG_1763INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 ounces (or 1 jigger) of gin
  • One grapefruit
  • Tonic
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • Ice
  • Shaker

IMG_1752INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Cut half of your grapefruit in half & squeeze it into your shaker. Add in a handful of ice & a few springs of thyme.

2. Shake until cold & pour into a your favorite festive glass. I like coupes, cause they make me feel fancy 😉

3. Cut the other half of your grapefruit into wedges, add wedge and sprig of thyme for garnish.

4. Sip, serve, repeat!

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