Monday, November 9, 2015

Gluten Free Lasagna Soup


I came across this recipe for Lasagna Soup on Momspark, which is one of my favorite pages to visit, and it looked so hearty and delicious that I had to give it a try. I love finding new recipes that I can add to my rotation, and in trying this one I can tell you, it is indeed a winner! Of course I made my version gluten free, but of course it was still yummy, and no one knew the difference. My recreations never look as pretty as the originals, but it sure did taste good! 

 I love Italian food, especially lasagna, but let's face it, making lasagna from scratch is practically an all day affair, and who has time for that? This twist on the classic gives you that authentic Italian flavor, but in a hearty soup that is super easy to make. This is one of my new favorites! You can link to the original Momspark post with the recipe here, and check out all their other great posts. Below is my take on the Lasagna Soup recipe from Momspark.

1 onion - diced
Olive Oil
1 lb. ground beef
2-3 cloves of garlic - minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Seasonings to taste - oregano, basil
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce - I used Bertolli Tomato Basil
5 cups of chicken stock
Shredded mozzarella cheese

One of my favorite things about this dish is that it can be made in one pot, which makes cleanup so easy, a big selling point for me. I used my Le Creuset Dutch Oven for this,and cooked the whole thing in it. First, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until cooked, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add your ground beef, and cook through. Drain any fat, and return to your Dutch oven. 

Next add your spaghetti sauce, chicken stock, and seasonings. Adapting things to make them gluten free requires some trial and error, so that's why I called for 5 cups of chicken stock, instead of the 4 from the original recipe. I actually only used 4 for this batch, but the gluten free pasta seemed to thicken the soup a lot more than regular pasta, so next time I will be using that extra cup for sure. Sometimes you just have to wing it and adjust things on the fly. :) 

Cook on medium low for about 15 to 20 minutes, then add your pasta and cook according to package directions. This is where your soup will thicken significantly and that extra stock will make a world of difference.

Add any extra salt and pepper you deem necessary, and serve with shredded mozzarella on top. Done! So simple! We served our soup with a green salad and Udi's Gluten Free Baguette. Yum!

This easy Lasagna Soup makes a great easy weekday dinner that the whole family will love! I can't wait to make it again! And make sure to check out Momspark for more great recipes, among other things!

xo, Summer

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Nordstrom Fall Clearance Sale Picks

It's that time of year y'all - the Nordstrom Fall Clearance Sale is happening, and it continues through November 15. There are some AWESOME deals to take advantage of! It's a great time to shop for yourself, and shop for all your loved ones. Christmas will be here before you know it! This is a great time to start checking people off your list! Here are some of my picks from the sale. MOST are under $100 as usual, but I did include a few higher priced items, only because the sale price is so great it's hard to pass these things up! Like this TO DIE FOR pink coat, and the Tory Burch tote. The links to everything shown here are listed below so you can shop directly. Don't miss out!

I mean, who else is ready to shop? If only I could......Have you shopped the Nordstom sale yet? What goodies did you snag?

xo, Summer

P.S. - I couldn't stop browsing, so I had to add some of the other great things I found! Shop here:

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

My Favorite Drugstore Concealers

When it comes to my makeup routine, I'm a quick and easy girl. I don't like to spend a ton of time layering and blending, and if I'm being honest, I'm really not good at it.....That being said, my favorite product is concealer. I have way too many on hand. Certain kinds for certain circumstances, depending on how made up I'm getting that day. And sometimes I just choose one based on my mood. Of course if you read this blog you know I'm a budget girl, so just about everything on this list is from the drugstore. There are a couple of concealers that are a little more high end that I absolutely LOVE, however I didn't include them in this post. We're sticking with drugstore brands today! I'm apparently quite the NYX and Maybelline loyalist. I didn't realize it until I actually started linking to all these products, but these seem to be go-to brands for me. 

My newest discoveries on this list are the NYX pots. I've got 2 different ones included, and they are both equally effective. The full coverage concealer is a little thicker, and doesn't apply QUITE as well as the other one, which is made with Aztec clay and coconut oil. It goes on like a dream and blends really well. I use Fair in both of these. 

The Maybelline Dream Lumi concealer is a great one for highlighting, and goes on really easily. I keep this one in my purse for touch-ups throughout the day. From what I hear it is a great affordable alternative to the YSL Touche Eclat. My absolute favorite out of all of these concealers, the one I use practically every day, is the Maybelline Age Rewind. I actually have it in 2 different colors, Light, and the Brightener, and I use them both as part of my routine. The squishy applicator makes it so easy to apply, and as I said, I'm all about speed and ease of use. I HIGHLY recommend this one. You definitely don't have to be makeup skilled to use it. 

So, I'm wondering if I'm the only concealer junkie, or are there others like me out there? What's your favorite? And if it's not concealer, what product are you hoarding?

xo, Summer

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Homemade Gluten Free Baked Macaroni and Cheese

One of the homemade dishes I make that I'm most proud of is my baked macaroni and cheese. I've been making it for years, and it's actually my mom's recipe. It's one of our family favorites, and I love making it because the recipe makes a large pan, and the leftovers are killer. When I discovered my sensitivity to gluten, this was one of the things I knew I was really going to miss. It's such comfort food! So when I found out my favorite brand of gluten free pasta made macaroni I was SO pumped! I immediately had to make mac n cheese, and even though it was a teensy bit different than my traditional gluten filled recipe, it was still a knock out. 

One of the great things about this dish is that it's easy to make ahead, and then just pop in the oven whenever you need it! That's what I did this time. Unfortunately, I was so excited about making it that I didn't really plan ahead and took no pictures of the process.....oops! All I have is a before the oven and after. But you don't need pictures to follow a recipe, right? :)


1 box of gluten free elbow macaroni, boiled (I used Barilla-you can buy it here)

1 large yellow onion, diced

About half a stick of butter

About 1 tablespoon gluten free flour blend (I use Cup 4 Cup-purchase here)

Maybe 1 cup of milk (OK, I don't measure, I'm sorry. You just kind of have to use your judgement. You can't really mess it up....probably,,,)

2 bags of shredded cheese (You can use any kind you want. This time I used a mac n cheese blend, but usually I just use sharp cheddar. Use your fav!)

Garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.

First saute your onion in the butter, and once those have softened, add your flour and mix to make a roux. Once that's done, add the milk, cheese, and seasonings and simmer on low heat until all the cheese is melted. Stir in your cooked macaroni noodles, and pour the whole thing into a large casserole dish. Then top with some extra shredded cheese. Super easy, yes? Here's the before...

Still looks yummy, but bake at 400 for about half an hour, and just wait for the after.....

I know, you're drooling, right? This really is the best mac and cheese on the planet. Would a little gluten probably make it better, well, maybe. Gluten makes everything better. You can of course make it with glutinous noodles and flour, and I'll be jealous. The GF noodles don't hold up quite as well, but maybe next time I won't cook them as long. Either way, cheesy goodness is always a win!

Another great thing about this recipe is that you can alter it in so many ways. We've added cubed ham or bacon (bacon makes everything better), one time we added diced green chills and used a Mexican blend of cheese, you could add in mushrooms, any veggies you want, hamburger meat, the options are endless. But I do have to say, I feel VERY strongly that the onions MUST be included. Otherwise I just feel like it doesn't have the same pizazz. Just my humble opinion.

Everyone has go-to comfort food recipes that just make you feel good, and this one seriously never fails. What's your comfort food?

xo, Summer

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall Boots

Boot season is upon us! I am so happy! My toes will be so much warmer, and I don't have to keep up with my pedicure as diligently (but don't tell anyone). There are so many different styles out there, and boots are a great way to add some interest to your outfit. You can play with fun colors or textures. I linked you to some of my favorites, and as always, they are super affordable. Like, under $100, and actually most are way less! I will definitely be picking up a few of these. My particular must haves are the Merona riding boots that totally look like a Frye knock off, and they happen to be from Target, so you know these are on my list! I also happen to love a great ankle boot. I could live in them, and I've found y'all some adorable options! I love my ankle boots with skinny jeans or dresses, and my riding boots with leggings (or dresses).

Just click on the pic to purchase any of these. What are your go-to boots for fall, and how do you wear yours?

xo, Summer

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Monday, October 26, 2015

The Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 3, Thank You

So now that 24 hours has passed since last night's episode of The Walking Dead, I think I'm ready to talk about it. I'm still pretty torn up, and it's obviously still on my mind, so I decided to write about it. I don't normally blog about TV shows, with the exception of the Bachelor franchise, which has kind of been boring me in recent seasons. The Walking Dead, however, affects me sometimes for days after I watch an episode, and I find myself still talking about it, so why not blog about it? I'm not sure if I'll continue to do it, or if this is a one time post, we'll just have to see how the season goes, but I just HAVE to talk about last night! In fact, it was hard to put all my feelings in writing, so here's a little video too. 

If you haven't watched the episode yet, you probably shouldn't read this post. 

Spoilers ahead!!!!!

Ok, now that I've covered that base, we can move on. First off, I have NEVER been so emotionally invested in a television show. EVER. This damn show has made me cry way more than a zombie show should make me cry. And I am SOOO not that person that yells at the screen when I'm watching something. But that's what this show has done to me. I'm completely obsessed, and slightly embarrassed about it. Back to last night.

I'm not going to recap the entire show. I just want to give y'all my thoughts on some specifics. Such as.... HOW IN THE HECK COULD THEY KILL OFF GLENN!????!!! That was the worst character death so far in my opinion. The worst. I was so nervous that he was going to get killed off with all the action that was happening, but for some reason when he actually fell off that dumpster I was NOT prepared for it. Took me totally by surprise, And I totally had a jump off the couch and yell at the TV moment. It was rough y'all. Nicholas I was totally OK with losing, but did he have to be the reason Glenn died too? Ugh. I just can't guys. Really. It's too much. Herschel was a really hard loss, and so was Beth, but this one. Too much. 

And then to put us through that scene without any fanfare, just to move on to Rick being in a TERRIBLE situation, it's like they're trying to give me a heart attack or something. Rick HAS to be OK, whether he ends up with both hands or just one (comic book reference). 

So now that I've gotten that off my chest, here's my hypothesis:


Here is my supporting evidence:

1. References to season one. Glenn called Rick a dumb ass over the walkie, just like he did in the first season. LOVED that reference by the way. We fell in love with Glenn as a character from the very first time we met him on the series, and it was that exchange that did it. 

2. When Glenn and Nicholas fell off of the dumpster, Nicholas fell on TOP of Glenn. So it is entirely possible that when we saw the walkers tearing someone apart, it was not Glenn, but Nicholas. (TOTALLY possible, and this is what I'm choosing to believe)

3. If you continue to look back at season 1, you remember when they camouflaged themselves from the walkers by covering themselves in blood and guts. It was super gross, but it worked. So if in fact Nicholas' body is shielding Glenn from getting eaten, he would be completely covered in grossness, therefore, not noticeable to the walkers. This is totally possible too, right?

4. Steven Yeun did not make an appearance on Talking Dead. I can't remember another major character dying and not being a guest on that show. Hmm.....very interesting.

5. Glenn was also not mentioned on the In Memoriam segment on Talking Dead. Very interesting indeed....

6. Showrunner Scott Gimple made a statement saying that we would indeed be seeing Glenn in some way in the future. You can check out the details of that here. Could be in a flashback I suppose, or maybe Glenn as a walker, or maybe HE'S ALIVE Y'ALL!

Can we all just pretend like we know he's coming back, because otherwise it's just too sad. And poor Maggie! 

Anyway, I realize this post is kind of all over the place. I did not plan it out at all. I just started writing and this is what came out. I apologize. I know I'm rambling and probably not making any sense. Please tell me your thoughts on this season of The Walking Dead so far! I hope I'm not the only totally crazy obsessed one out there!

xo, Summer

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One Last Summer Jumpsuit Hurrah

It's the last days of warm weather (hopefully), so while every other blogger is posting cute sweaters and scarves, I had to give my favorite jumpsuit one last hurrah before I retired it for the winter. We don't follow seasonal fashion rules here in Vegas!

Jumpsuit - Target (similar here, other options below)  /  Sandals - Target (similar)  /  Clutch - Cole Haan /  Tassel Earrings - Bauble Bar (similar here) /  Necklace and Beaded Bracelets - Summer Smith Designs

I'm a sucker for a good jumpsuit. They can be dressed up or down, and SO, SO comfy! I styled this particular piece casually for day this time, though I've worn it both ways. This one was on serious repeat this summer!

I found this at my favorite place, Target, but since it's long sold out, I'm linking you to a bunch of other super cute and affordable options though, so shop your hearts out!

xo, Summer

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fall Fashion Essentials

Still waiting on the cooler weather here in Vegas....But when it finally does show up, I'll be ready! There are a few wardrobe staples that every girl should have on hand in her closet to make navigating what to wear this fall simple. These are a few of my favorite essential items, with the links to these specific pieces.

You'll probably notice that most of my must-have list is on the casual side. That's just me. I'm rarely in heels these days, and I like it that way! :) You could easily dress up any of these items though, which is why I'm considering them staples. 

The utility jacket is a great piece to layer over a casual jeans look, or throw on over a cute dress. I'm totally obsessed with the blanket scarf trend-they are the absolute best. I know some people are off the skinny jean bandwagon and have moved on to flares, but I am keeping my skinnies. I love the flares, but I just don't feel like they're as versatile as a good skinny jean. And invest in some good quality leggings. If you cheap out on this one, it's noticeable. Hope I didn't miss anything!

What are your fall wardrobe essentials? Did I leave anything off the list, or do you have any favorite brands or styles? I'd love to hear from you!

xo, Summer

Here's some more options you may like!

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Lilly For Target Jumpsuit

I'm loving rompers and jumpsuits these days, and this Lilly Pulitzer for Target number is one of my favorites. It won't be in season for much longer (like, at all), so I'm squeezing the most out of it that I possibly can! I love navy, and this jumpsuit is so versatile. It can be dressed up like I did here with strappy heels, and it can also be a great casual look for day with sandals. Plus, it's SOOO comfy!

Green clutch options here and here / Shoes / Necklace

Of course you know the Lilly Pulitzer for Target items are long gone, but I found a few I really like that are linked below.  

1. / 2. / 3.

One more pic, just because it's pretty. :)

xo, Summer

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Some of My Favorite Gluten Free Products

I'm relatively new to the gluten free thing. It's been about 4 months I think since I figured out through process of elimination that I have a pretty strong gluten sensitivity. I won't lie and tell you it's been an easy road so far. There are highs and lows. I'm such a carbs girl, that not getting to have bread whenever I feel like it is tough. I have a pretty busy life, and there are many times we have to eat on the go. That has proven to be the biggest hurdle to overcome. Health wise, feeling so much better makes it worth the sacrifice for sure, but that doesn't mean I don't want to eat a freaking donut every now and then, know what I mean? If someone could just come up with a gluten free clone of Krispy Kreme I would love them forever. 

Anyway, even though I've been living gluten free for several months, I haven't experimented that much with a lot of homemade recipes. I'm more of a semi-homemade girl. I have discovered some really amazing items out there that I probably couldn't live without, so I put together a few of my favorite gluten free products for you. You can link to these brands under the photo. Also, FYI, I am in no way compensated for these suggestions. They're just some of the staples I've come to rely on. :)

If you haven't tried any of these, I highly recommend each and every one of them. The immaculate fudge brownie cookie dough is TO DIE FOR. and I eat the Thai Kitchen soup several days a week for lunch. So yummy. The Udi's granola goes great with Greek yogurt for breakfast. I've tried several different pasta brands, and Ronzoni is definitely my favorite. 

There's a ton of other stuff out there I still want to try, and I'm determined to try to make my own gluten free bread and baked goods from scratch. What are some of your favorite GF items? I'd love recommendations!

xo, Summer

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

White Jeans and Gold Pineapples

I get such pleasure from being able to buy clothes from the little girls' section sometimes. I love it when there's something super cute that fits, because it's also so much cheaper than shopping in the women's section! My daughter can't stand it of course, because she's now at the age where if our outfits are even remotely similar, much less matching, she's appalled. This pineapple tank top from Target was just too cute to pass up, so I snagged one for each of us. Pineapples were so big this season, and I loved the gold print with the gray tank, and everything goes with white skinnies, right? Since summer's almost over, this particular top isn't available anymore, but I linked you to a couple of other cute alternatives below. 

Pineapple Tank - options here and here / White Jeans - similar / Clutch -option here / Sandals / Earrings / Necklace and Beaded Bracelet / Lipstick

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday Wish List - Back to School for Grown-Ups!

The back-to-school grind can be so overwhelming! New clothes, shoes, and school supplies for the kids, getting back into a normal routine with earlier bedtimes, trying to manage hectic schedules. But I look at this time of year as a new beginning, and I love kind of "starting over", and getting organized. Back-to-school shopping doesn't have to be just for kids! For me, I love organizing my desk area, which means new supplies, and I'm a sucker for planners and notebooks! I put together some items that are on my list to help streamline our routine. Many of these are from Target (surprised?) - Nate Berkus has a super cute collection. And of course there's a fair amount of Kate Spade thrown in if we're talking planners.

xo, Summer

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