Monday, December 19, 2011

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

I don't know about you, but when it comes to dinner, I love potatoes as a side. Potatoes can be done in so many ways and I have experimented with a good handful of them. This week I came across a recipe in a Paula Deen cookbook for Twice-Baked Potato Casserole. I have made twice baked potatoes before, but they can be so time consuming! This sounded great because it had all the ingredients of twice baked potatoes, but you just threw everything together in one dish! It turned out great and other than the time consuming part of baking the potatoes, it was really quick and easy! Paula Deen even recommends making this the day before, refrigerating, and then baking it right before dinner the next day. Hope you like it too!


8 medium potatoes

1(8-ounce) package cream cheese (room temp)

½ cup butter (softened)

1 pint sour cream

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 cloves garlic

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ cup chopped chives

6 slices bacon-cooked crisp

Baking Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Pierce each potato and place on baking pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until very soft. Mash potatoes in large bowl. Add cream cheese, butter, sour cream and 1 cup of cheddar. Stir well. Add garlic, salt and pepper, and stir again. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F and bake casserole 30 to 35 minutes until hot. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheddar over casserole and return to oven for about 5 minutes, until cheese melts. Garnish with chopped chives and crumbled bacon before serving. YUM!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The BEST cookies I have ever made!

I love all sweets, but there are 2 flavor combinations that make my mouth salivate every time...dark chocolate raspberry and milk chocolate orange. So, when I came across this recipe for Orange Chocolate Cake Cookies I had to try them!

I have such fond memories of my grandma taking us shopping at the mall and she would always want to stop at See's Candy Store. The one thing I ordered every time were those chocolate orange bars. They were filled with orange gel and covered in milk chocolate. Mmmmm!

These cookies have the exact same flavor and are even better than those bars! So, if you like Chocolate Orange, you MUST try these!


1 box triple fudge chocolate cake mix

2 eggs

1/3C vegetable oil

*Mix together in bowl until a ball of dough forms. Scoop out 1" balls, roll in your hand, and place on cookie sheet (if they are sticking to your hand, rub a little butter on your palms). Bake at 350 for 7 minutes. Stick a toothpick into the center of one of the cookies, if it comes out almost clean then take them out. They will continue to cook on the cookie sheet. Allow them to cool 10 min on the sheet and then 5 min on a cooling rack.

Orange Filling:

1/2C Butter (softened)

4T Milk

1 1/2 tsp. Orange Extract

2C Powdered sugar

2 drops yellow food coloring

2 drops red food coloring

*Mix together with a mixer until you get a smooth frosting. You can add more milk a tablespoon at a time to thin it out if needed. Spoon onto each cookie covering the surface.

Chocolate Topping:

2C Hershey's Chocolate Chips

1/2C Butter

*Melt together and then spread over the orange filling on cookie.

These cookies are so incredibly soft and gooey even after they cool and harden. I've never made anything like them and they turned out to be a big hit in my house!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Entry Way: CHECK!

So I know I mentioned last week that the entry way was almost complete and I was anxiously awaiting a runner rug I had ordered. It finally came and I was able to take photos of the room totally finished! I pulled out the photos we first took of our home 2 years ago when we were finished building, so these truly are before and after photos.

When designing, I love to work in layers. I normally always start with curtains and textiles. They are a great jumping off point for style and color palette. But, in an entryway you don't normally have windows that need curtains so in this case I started with the faux wallpaper paint finish in the niches. You can read my 'how to' post on that here...

Once that was complete, we did the wainscoting on the opposite wall. This was very simple and done with MDF boards. I then painted it all white to give it that beachy look and feel. This really helped to give the space some detail.

From there I began to decorate with furniture, decor, photos, lighting, rugs, etc. It is all about balance and playing with a mix of height and texture. The entry table I found at Home Goods on clearance for under $200 because it had a small chip in the glass. The lamps were also Home Goods at only $30 each! JoAnn's is also a great store for half price home decor...not many people think about JoAnn's when it comes to home decor. The chandelier was under $200 at Home Depot. The rug was only $30 on So you can see that I got everything in the room for a steal! One thing I pride myself on is how good I am at bargain shopping and I use that skill with every client I work with! It feels that much better decorating a room when you know you got the best deal on everything in it!

We are so happy with the way this room turned out. Our entry way is not only the entrance into our home, but it also acts as a hallway into the front of the home where most of our bedrooms are, so I walk through this room many times a day. I love the feeling I get just walking through this room. It is such a good feeling to not only know that it is complete, but that it is decorated in a style that my husband and I both love. We also worked together on completing this room and added some personal touches that makes it that much more special.

I hope that you can take some decorating tips away from this space and also learn that you don't have to have a ton of money to spend on decorating to make it feel warm and inviting. It's amazing how having a nicely decorated space can make you feel so good. And remember, if you are in the Dallas area I would love to help!

Friday, December 9, 2011

No Junk in the Trunk...

Today I wanted to share with you something from the other side of Style with Wisdom; Wardrobe! Apparel is where I first began many years ago...long before I knew I was even interested in interior design or cooking and baking. At 16 I had my first retail job at Wet Seal (yea baby!), at 18 I was majoring in Apparel Design and Textiles, by 20 I was designing my first fashion line in school, and then spent the next 5 years wardrobe styling for photographers, leading visual merchandising for a few major department stores, and working in Fashion Wholesale. So you could say I've done my share in learning the fashion industry. Now I want to share everything I have learned with you all!

A major part of my new business 'Style with Wisdom' is wardrobe consulting. I offer everything from Event Styling; where I style you for one single event, to a complete wardrobe overhaul; where I go through your own closet and put together a personal look-book of your own clothes! How great would it be to wake up every morning and flip through your own look-book to pick out your outfit for the day? All you have to do is call!

Ok, ok, enough of that boring self-promotion. Let's get to the FREE advise! I have tried on every denim brand under the sun (ok, maybe not every brand, but close!) From $20 jeans to $300 jeans, skinny to wide leg, dark to light washes. You name it! But I have recently stumbled across a fantastic brand worth sharing. You might call it one of my Favorite Things of the season! Too bad I'm not filthy rich like Oprah or I would be sending you all a free pair!

The brand is called JOLT. I have found it at Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. They have styles in every size, color, cut, etc. I now own 3 pairs; a dark wash skinny, a black riding style skinny, and a dark wash boot cut. Here are the two main reasons why I love them! 1. They are made mostly of cotton so they feel like sweat pants when you are wearing them. 2. They are all under $50

If you find them at Nordstrom Rack they are normally under $30! They have all kinds of different pocket styles as well. I happen to be that girl with absolutely NO junk in the trunk and jeans tend to make me look even flatter. But not JOLT. They use specific pocket placement as well as specific stitching to give the illusion of the perfect butt lift!

I can't tell you how much I love this brand of denim. I hope that you have the opportunity to at least try a pair on and I would love the hear your feedback on the brand as well!

This link will take you to Nordstrom's website and my favorite pair of JOLT Jeggings!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mission Re-Decorate: The Office

If you read my post on re-decorating our entry way, you know that we are in the process (the slow budget-conscious process) of re-decorating our home in the style we now know we love. The entry way is one runner rug away from being complete. I have ordered a rug and hopefully I can show you the before and after photos next week when it gets here!

So, now that the entry way is complete, it is on to the next room! The Office! Well, this room is actually our formal dining room. After much consideration, we decided to re-purpose the rooms in our home to make the house more functional for our needs. We NEVER used our formal dining room...EVER! I hated that! What a waste of space! It is an open room that is off the main hallway in our home and I thought why not turn it into an office. Especially now that I have started my business up again, we really needed a space where I could work and entertain clients. My husband and I both agreed that this was the smartest way to use that space.

One thing I can't stand is when a home builder "tells" you what each room is suppose to be or where you have to put your bed, TV, etc. just by the layout of the room or house. Who says this room HAS to be a formal dining room? Even our living room is designed with a small cut out in the wall next to the fireplace that "tells" you to put your TV here. I ignored that too and put it on the opposite wall. I challenge you to design your home the way it works for you and your family. Ignore what the builder/architecture tells you to do!
The first thing I wanted to put in the office was a desk. I looked all over for a simple, Hamptons style desk and guess what?! I found NOTHING! Or if I did find something I liked, it was over $500. I didn't even want a desk with drawers. Just a table top with 4 legs! Is that too much to ask? I guess so. And after weeks of feeling frustrated and hours scrolling through Craigslist, I came across these 2 table bases. I was instantly drawn to them because of their style and then I saw the price...only $30 for the pair! I had to have them!

Once they were in my possession, my creative juices started flowing. What could I use for a table top? I scoured Craigslist again, went to Ikea, and then ended up at Home Depot. I liked the idea of using 1x4's to build a table top. We bought 4 of them along with some dark brown/black stain. I thought I would just stain them, lay them side by side and nail them down to the bases. The boards were already 6' long and they were only $5 each!

I painted the bases white to give them a more fresh, beachy look. Then I stained the boards. I had never stained anything before, but it was so easy. I just used an old rag to rub on the stain until I got the color I wanted. It only took one coat since the stain was so dark. I wanted to boards to have a beach wood or reclaimed wood look. Once everything was dry we nailed them down to the bases with a nail gun.

I am so happy with the way it turned out and it literally only cost $60 to make!! This type of project could be done with your dining table, coffee table, end tables, etc. And if you can't find table bases sold by themselves, I would just look on craigslist or at garage sales to find an old table that you could remove the base from and re-purpose it with a different top! I hope this inspires you to make something creative!