Uncategorized

Sweater Weather

Since I piece together a lot of my looks from stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx, my cute finds are not always linkable. BUT, I’ve searched the web for similar finds so you can piece this look together without breaking the bank! Scroll down 🙂

IMG_3645IMG_3658IMG_3660IMG_3650

You can snatch the same pair of booties I’m wearing from H&M for only $35! They’re super comfy and the rubber heel makes them easy to walk in all around campus.

Watch is Kate Spade’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere watch and Carsons has this color, plus navy and black. I scored this off the Dillard’s clearance rack in Tampa, FL for only $70, so keep your eyes out while strolling through the mall!

Black knee-ripped jeans – Forever 21 for only $30

You can also score a similar lace-up sweater from Forever 21 (mine was found at my local TJ Maxx).

My Nicole Miller bag was another clearance find at my local TJ Maxx, but I’ve linked a similar Calvin Klein crossbody that is on MAJOR sale right now at Macy’s!

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

XOXO

– LawandLooks

Uncategorized

Our Honeymoon – Clearwater Beach, FL

As many of you know, Matt and I tied the knot on August 5th, which was hands-down the single most magical day of my life.

pic1

See, there’s the magic. (More pics will be posted on the next blog post – stay tuned!)

Anyways, Matt and I decided from the early days of our engagement that we were going to budget extremely tight for this wedding – but still make our dreams happen. Did you know the national average cost of a wedding (as of 2016) is over $35,000??? Yeah, not happening. We didn’t want any of the money we received from the wedding going towards massive credit card bills or ridiculous wedding loans. We also didn’t want the typical house decor or kitchen appliances, since we’ve lived together for quite some time and have all that stuff already. Instead, we started a Honeyfund page, and raised money for our dream honeymoon – and guess what – we actually pulled it off! I’m sharing this post as a kind of half-personal-post and half-guide to honeymooning or vacationing in Clearwater Beach. Let’s start with the Honeyfund

Honeyfund.com is Wedding registry app/website that allows you to create your own personal honeymoon profile, listing all the activities you both want to do while on your honeymoon. For example, we created our profile for Clearwater Beach, Florida (our favorite vacation spot), and then we selected every aspect of the trip our family and friends could donate to – such as our hotel, airfare, drinks, food, jet skiis, a dinner cruise, shopping, etc.

The page is linked directly to your Paypal or bank account, so when a guest donates to your page, you get the money right away. This also makes it more fun for your guests, because instead of stuffing money into an envelope, they get to choose to help with specific aspects of your trip. The site also allows your guests to leave a personal note with their donation. Honeyfund does take a very small portion of each donation for payment of using the site, but it doesn’t make a dent in your gifts.

I highly recommend saying “screw that” to our new ridiculous national $35,000 average wedding, and taking a paid-for trip you’ve always dreamed of with your new hubby – guilt-free. The relaxation post-wedding chaos was a NECESSITY. Honeyfund made that possible for us. Of course, many people gave us money and checks in cards at the wedding, but we didn’t have a wedding registry loaded with gifts. When people saw that we registered on Honeyfund and only wanted donations to our honeymoon, everyone pretty much followed along.

Now for the fun stuff – CLEARWATER BEACH!

We stayed the entire week at the newly-built Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach. This Resort exceeded both of our expectations – you didn’t even have to leave the place, it was paradise in itself. It’s located right on the Gulf Coast, right next to the famous and popular Pier 60, with about 75% of the rooms having a breathtaking Gulf-view balcony (which means Gulf sunset views!).

The rooms were modern, spotless and gorgeous. They made me want to redesign our own bedroom at home. The 24/7 room service was not outrageously expensive, and the breakfast-in-bed was oh-so convenient when we slept in way too late. Their amazing “lobby bar”, Eskpades, serves Maui Mules in a copper (painted) pineapple mug (totally isntagram-worthy!), and their in-hotel restaurant, Ocean Hai, has the best vegetarian gluten-free sushi I’ve ever had (order the Roll with the Beet!). Matt loved his sushi and ribs, too!

The pool has a hot-tub, comfortable mattress lounge cabanas for two or more, and pool-side food and bar service brought right to your chair. Also, they’re one of the only hotels on the beach that actually have the fancy mattress beach cabanas. They will run you about $80 for a day – so if you’re gonna do it, make a day of it and get on the beach early!

The gym (which I sadly only glanced at) overlooks the pool and Gulf, and the hotel spa is spotless and five-stars, hands-down. We did a couple’s swedish massage package, where we had a private couple’s room, complete with a jacuzzi and champagne. Two steamrooms, luxury rain showers, complete privacy, and an actually relaxing relaxation room proved this place to be top-of-the-line. It was a little pricy, but totally worth it after a year and a half of stressful wedding planning, with the stress from the actual wedding day topping it off.

Aside from the resort, there was TOO much we wanted to do, but we managed to do it all. We’re basically professional Clearwater Beach tourists at this point, so we already narrowed it down to the TOP best things to do while visiting. Instead of going into detail for the rest, I’ll share our carefully-crafted honeymoon dining, drinking and activities to-do list with you all here:

1. Sunsets at Pier 60 

A nightly festival on the Pier. This is a tourist MUST. The Pier is filled with artists of all kinds, setting up a nightly craft show just in time for the breathtaking sunset. AND – I’ve seen dolphins swimming next to the Pier at sunset every time I’ve gone! Pro-tip – don’t forget to bring a couple bucks to get to the “fishing” side of the pier – aka the best view of the sunset (and dolphins!).

2. The Sea Screamer 

Speaking of Dolphins – this is my absolute favorite thing to do in Clearwater. It’s only about $25 a person, and you get taken out onto the Gulf looking for dolphins. When they’re spotted, the boat crew speeds the boat up, creating a wake, to see if the dolphins are up for some fun. Both times I’ve gone, the dolphins have body surfed with our boat – it’s unbelievable. Here’s my crappy snapchat I took while I was freaking out in awe!

 

3. Honeymoon Island 

Honeymoon Island is the perfect place to go if you like shelling. Matt and I woke up early one morning and drove a little north of CWB to get first dibs on the morning shells that washed up overnight. Honeymoon Island is actually a Florida State Park, full of wildlife and even rattlesnakes. It’s beautiful and quiet. Not tourist-filled, but you can swim and set up camp on the beach for the day.

4. Yacht StarShip Dinner Cruise

Matt and I were extremely pleased with our choice of dinner cruise this year at StarShip! Eating on vacation can be extremely difficult when you’re a gluten-free vegetarian. This cruise line has a gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly buffet, with salad, seasonal vegetables, and a delicious gluten-free citrus rice pilaf choice of entree. The drinks are enormous and worth their money, because you get to take the giant glass home as a souvenir. They go the whole nine yards, with dinner, drinks, dancing, and pictures printed on-site. Tickets are $50 a person, dinner is included, drinks and photos are separate. We both thought it was well worth the money for our “fancy” dinner night!

5. Crabby’s Dockside

This place is newly remodeled – and its views are amazing – but we primarily came back this year because this is where we went immediately after Matt proposed on the beach at sunset. The third-story open-air rooftop bar overlooking the Gulf is the best part – throw in the rum and margarita buckets and you’ve got a good night ahead!

6. Jimmy’s Crows Nest 

Speaking of sunsets, Gulf views and dranks, you cannot take a trip to Clearwater Beach and skip Jimmy’s Crows Nest at Sunset. Jimmy’s is a rooftop bar overlooking the Gulf, and they do a countdown to sunset with free sunset punch shots for anyone who’s there to witness it!

7. Spotted Donkey Cantina

Celiacs always take a risk when they eat at ANY restaurant – but I tend to be more risky eating at Mexican restaurants, because you can’t keep me away from tacos. This cantina restaurant is actually newish to CWB and it’s located on the little downtown strip. They are vegetarian-friendly as well. I ordered corn tacos with fajita veggies, avo, cheese, black beans, pico de Gallo, and more, and they were super accommodating, even though a build-your-own taco was definitely NOT on the menu. We both enjoyed our food so much that we went back for a second time during our one week stay! When I asked Matt what his favorite “place” was in CWB – this was his first response.

8. Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill and Bar

If you’re looking for a place to DRINK drink, but don’t want to end up at the CWB version of Molly’s (DeKalb people know), Palm Pavilion is perfect. It’s right on the beach; their drinks don’t break the bank; and they have music blasting all night. It’s an all-around great atmosphere, and let’s just say we didn’t even mind the loooong walk back to our hotel.

Clearwater Beach will probably always be our favorite vacation spot. From our engagement to our honeymoon, we’ve built such great memories there, and hopefully this guide helps anyone else planning a trip there!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for my next blog post full of wedding day details and pictures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Vegetarian Gluten-free Chicken Penne

IMG_6560ed

If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m all about quick, easy, but YUMMY dinners. No one likes to come home from a long, hot sweaty day at work and spend an hour+ slaving away in the kitchen. But I do know one thing… I come home with an enormous appetite. SO, I’ve learned to find a balance between saving time, making dinner easy, and making it yummy and filling!

Here’s one of my favorite dishes to make: Gluten-free penne with Gardein’s Chick’n Scallopini w/ spinach, tomato and vodka sauce.

For the pasta, I prefer Barilla gluten-free penne because it is the absolute best gluten-free pasta I’ve tried yet. The texture isn’t weird, it doesn’t cook weird, and it tastes just like the real gluten-filled yummy stuff!

Boiling Barilla GF pasta in a pot, add olive oil to a frying pan. Add the Chick’n Scallopini to the frying pan, add seasonings, and cover. The seasonings I used were thyme, Italian seasoning, oregano, black pepper and a pinch of salt.

When the Chick’n Scallopini is thawed through the middle, remove and slice into strips. Put back into the frying pan when sliced. Next, add a few handfuls of fresh, rinsed spinach and cook that down until the spinach is dark and shrunken. Finally, add freshly cut roma tomatoes and add more seasonings to taste.

Once I have all that in the frying pan, I like to crank up the heat to get a little sear on my Chick’n and tomatoes!

Add the cooked Chick’n, tomatoes and spinach to the drained, cooked pasta and add vodka sauce. Make sure to check that your vodka sauce is gluten-free! (I use Classico!) If you want to make this dish but VEGAN, choose a different sauce with no animal products. The vodka sauce has milk, but the Chick’n Scallopini is totally vegan!

AND NOW, enjoy with a glass of wine… Or two 😉

To find out where you can pick up some of Gardein’s amazing products, click HERE!

The Barilla GF pasta is at most of the grocery stores around me. Check your local grocery store for their products! If they don’t supply Barilla’s GF pasta, make sure to request it! 🙂

 

Uncategorized

5-Day Juice Cleanse

IMG_6320ed.jpg

Happy Monday everyone!

I’ve been juicing on-and-off at home for a couple months . I bought a cheap juicer to see if, MAYBE, this could be something that works for me. Turns out, it’s the only thing that stuck in regards to living a healthier lifestyle. Since I started my juicing expedition, I’ve done a lot of research on juicers, vegetables and fruits that are best for juicing, what each vegetable and fruit has to offer for your health, and additives for your juices that can make drastic changes in your daily life.

Today I’m starting my very first actual “cleanse” and I’m aiming to make it last five days. That means no food til Saturday, just nutrient-rich juices! I’ve experimented with many recipes and I’ll be using the ones that I like the most (obviously) because it will be easier to stick to. If I can stick to it, I’ll be doing a blog at the end of the week detailing how I felt throughout the five days.

Right now, I’ll be sharing my 4 favorite recipes that I’ll be using each day, Monday through Friday. I will not include amounts for some of the ingredients because each juicer is different and uses different amounts of produce to make a glass of juice.

  1. Breakfast Greens (breakfast) – spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, 1 lemon, 1 orange, locally produced honey, chia seeds, turmeric.
  2. Skinny Jean (lunch) – 2 grapefruits, 2 lemons, 1″ fresh, peeled ginger root, locally produced honey, fresh-picked basil.
  3. Snack juice (snack) – Watermelon & 2 limes
  4. Tomato juice (dinner) – Roma tomatoes, peeled carrots, 1 fresh bell pepper (orange, yellow or red), 1 lemon, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin, thyme.

If I get hungry after dinner, I will be making a variation of the breakfast greens with pineapple for my splash of citrus rather than the orange and lemon.

A few notes on some of my chosen ingredients:

  • Locally produced honey is said to help with seasonal allergies because it contains the local pollens and allergens of your area. One spoonful a day may help your daily struggle! Check your local farmers markets or local farmstands to find some close to your home!
  • Chia seeds are packed with nutrients and are associated with multiple health benefits, including lower cholesterol, stabilized blood sugar levels, improved digestion, higher energy levels, reduced risk for diabetes, increased fiber intake, stronger teeth and bones, improved insulin response, and appetite regulation.
  • Turmeric! My dad calls this one the magic cure-all spice. It contains a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps reduce enzymes in the body responsible for pain and swelling of arthritis. My nifty juicing bible also cites studies that say turmeric may help prevent colon cancer and Alzheimer’s!
  • Ginger, while best-known for its anti-nausea properties, also helps stop the production of free radicals. It also is associated with decreased blood pressure, reduced cancer risk, and relief from arthritis pain.
  • Cayenne pepper is derived from a pepper that is known to contain high levels of Vitamin A. The pepper is also linked to pain reduction and congestion relief.
  • Cumin is a great source for your iron needs, which is essential for your immune system! It has also been linked to improve digestion and prevent cancer.
  • Thyme is a great source for Vitamin K, and has been historically used as a natural remedy for respiratory illness. My nifty book also states that it may also provide antioxidant and antibacterial benefits! Lacking calcium? Thyme is also a great source for it!
  • Basil: my awesome book cites a study where a tea made from basil leaves may have helped shrink tumors in mice. How cool! It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It may also help protect cells from free radical damage.

If you’re thinking about getting into juicing, I highly recommend you snag the book linked above! It’s my go-to for everything juicing! It even breaks down the difference between types of juicers!

As a side note: obviously fruit juices taste better than vegetable juices. The problem with juicing too much fruit is that your juices will be very high in natural sugars and calories! Try to do vegetable juices, but counter the taste with a little citrus, as you’ll see in my juices above.

Comment with any questions you have about juicing!! I’d love to put this knowledge to use outside my own kitchen 😊

 

Uncategorized

Gluten-free Cast Iron Deep Dish Heaven

pizza1

I’m an Italian with Celiac Disease.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

I was so devastated when I finally figured out what was making me so sick, because that meant my normal diet of bread, pasta, and pizza was going to change drastically. No more Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish downtown, no more Olive Garden breadsticks…

Even though my options of eating out at my favorite Italian places are still limited, I’ve learned to adapt and use my kitchen to recreate all the things that I miss. Some things I make from scratch, others I use gluten-free kits to help me out. One of my favorite lines is the Betty Crocker Gluten Free line.

The Betty Crocker Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix is my favorite. It’s only like, $3.99 max, unlike the other overpriced GF alternatives (that don’t even taste good).

I decided to try and recreate my vision of the perfect Chicago deep dish with the Betty Crocker crust and a cast iron pan, and I was amazed at how close I got to the real thing! Here’s how I did it:

  • Prepare Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix according to box directions. You’ll notice that the last step says to bake the crust for 13-18 minutes or until golden brown before you add your toppings. I skipped this step because I was cooking a deep dish in a cast iron pan.
  • Use olive oil to grease the cast iron pan and spread the dough in the pan, making sure to cover the inside of the pan’s sides with dough as well!
  • Use an entire package of sliced mozzarella cheese and layer on top of the dough.
  • Place any toppings you’d like on top of the cheese. I used sliced roma tomatoes, sliced red onions, and fresh spinach.
  • Cover with pizza sauce. Make sure you check that the sauce you’re using is gluten-free! (If you’re new to the gluten-free life, here’s a handy list of ingredients to watch out for).
  • Add spices on top to taste. I used thyme, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and fresh-picked basil leaves from my basil plant.
  • I cooked mine for 30 minutes at 425 degrees and I loved how it turned out! It’s the closest I’ve gotten to Lou Malnati’s or Rosati’s since I realized I had Celiac Disease.
  • ENJOY YOUR LITTLE SLICE OF HEAVEN!

I checked the Betty Crocker website to see if I could find stores that have this product, but I couldn’t find it in their list of GF products yet! By google search, I found it should be at Walmart and Hyvee. I found mine at my local Butera. You can always talk to your local grocery store and request products as well! This would definitely be one to request if you’re GF!