Mardi Gras at Home

Mardi Gras at Home

Mardi Gras celebrations around the country have been cancelled or scaled back this year because of coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate safely at home. Since I’m married to a New Orleans boy, we will keep the good times rolling by bringing Mardi Gras and quintessential New Orleans treats to our home. From King Cake to beads and balconies, we will have it all here.

In lieu of Mardi Gras floats this year in New Orleans, many people are decorating their homes instead. My in-laws have been sending us the coolest pictures from the homes in Uptown and it has been great to see the spirit of the city living on even though one of their main events has been cancelled.

For our celebration at home, I’m focusing mostly on the food. I’ll be making red beans and rice and I ordered a King Cake for dessert. One of my husband’s favorite meals is red beans and rice and since he was born and raised in New Orleans, I had to do a ton of research to get the recipe right. The consistency was tricky to achieve, but after a few tries, I finally got it and I am so proud. To add a fun little twist, I served our red beans and rice in miniature bread bowls.

Red Beans and Rice served in mini bread bowls.

Brit’s Red Beans and Rice

Ingredients:

2 ham hocks 

10 cups water

2 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. Crystal Hot Sauce

1 tsp. Worcestershire

1 lb. red beans (soaked overnight and drained)

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onions

2 cloves minced garlic

3 tbsp. olive oil

¼ lb. hot sausage, sliced

¼ smoked sausage, sliced

3 bay leaves

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. pepper

To Make:

  • Place ham hocks, water, garlic, salt, Crystal hot sauce, Worcestershire and beans in a large Dutch oven and cook uncovered on low heat. 
  • In a separate pan, sauté celery, onion and garlic in olive oil.
  • In another pan, cook sausage.
  • Add sautéed vegetables and cooked sausage to the red bean mixture.
  • Add bay leaves, salt and pepper to the mixture. Cook over a medium-low flame for four hours. 
  • Remove ham hocks and bay leaves.
  • Serve over white rice.

Haydel’s Traditional King Cake from New Orleans.

I don’t think it’s possible to have a Mardi Gras party without a King Cake. Our absolute favorite is from Haydel’s Bakery, but if you’re not in New Orleans and ran out of time to get a cake shipped, Whole Foods actually makes a pretty good King Cake.

While I didn’t bring the house float trend to Austin, I did build a balloon arch inside! This arch was so easy to assemble and I think it turned out really well. Call me crazy, but I’m still throwing beads off of my stairs and pretending I’m on Bourbon.

How will you be celebrating Mardi Gras this year? However you do, I hope you are all safe, happy and healthy and as they say in New Orleans, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

XO,

Brit

Hitting Reset for 2021

Hitting Reset for 2021

Happy New Year, friends! Although not much has changed this week from what happened in 2020, I am excited for the fresh start that a new year brings. Rather than lumping unrealistic expectations on myself and calling them “resolutions,” I have decided to do a modest reset as I begin the new year.

In many ways, I still can’t believe 2020 is over. It feels like it was the longest year of my life and the shortest at the same time. At the beginning of last year I never would have predicted what was to come. After years of working toward my goal of getting an MBA, I had finally started my program and I really thought I had life figured out. I had a great job, was getting my MBA part-time, had amazing friends, a wonderful husband and a supportive family.

By March my world had completely flipped…my husband and I moved to Austin for his job and as we were unpacking the boxes in our new home, the coronavirus pandemic shut down the world as we knew it. Without a job and confined to my home for quarantine, I decided to start this blog.

The Austin Motel in April 2020.

While 2020 was an incredible year in so many ways, it was also pretty tough. Because of the mental toll moving, leaving my job and friends took on me, I fell into some bad habits that I would like to break in 2021. To start 2021 off differently than 2020, I decided to give my life a metaphorical and literal reset. For the first two weeks of the year, I’m focusing on not drinking, not getting a spray tan, eating well and walking every day. I’m also de-cluttering my life by cleaning out closets and my digital spaces.

I’m not one to throw definitive blanket statements on anything so I don’t want to say that I’m done drinking forever, but throughout this past year I’ve realized I really don’t like who I am or how I feel when I am drinking so for now, I’m taking it out of my life. That might be two weeks, two months or indefinitely…I’m not sure.

It’s very Marie Kondo, but I’m also cleansing phone contacts, unfollowing people who do not bring me joy and deleting apps I don’t use to create a more positive mental space for 2021.

I am hopeful that by making these small changes I will become a better version of myself in 2021 and that the world can become a better place too. There has been a lot of hurt and hardship over the past year, but I really believe that our darkest moments lead us to brighter days than we ever could have imagined.

What are your hopes and goals for 2021?!

XO,

Brit

COVID-Friendly Holiday Presents on a Budget

COVID-Friendly Holiday Presents on a Budget

2020 has been a tough year for all of us. Record unemployment numbers and a volatile stock market have made finances hard for everyone. With the holidays coming up, you might be wondering how you will be able to show others around you that you care about them without breaking the bank.

Miniature Tate’s Chocolate Chip cookies are the perfect gift for your co-workers and neighbors this year. Not only are they delicious, but when bought in bulk, they come out to be $1 per bag on Amazon. In addition to being budget-friendly, these individually packaged goodies are also COVID-friendly. While baking is a lovely thing to do for your friends, I wouldn’t recommend it this year. Whether it’s a possible exposure to COVID or Salmonella in the eggs you use, you just don’t want to risk spreading illness through baking. So save yourself the hours of work in the kitchen and buy pre-packaged goodies this year.

Photo courtesy of Tate’s.

Whether you’re on a budget or not, these crispy cookies make a wonderful treat that I know your acquaintances will enjoy. I love them because they are already packaged in adorable green bags so all you need to add is a red ribbon and a hand-written note to share your appreciation for the recipient and you’re all set!

Last year I gave mini Tate’s cookies to my co-workers as well as my husband’s and they were a hit so I figured I’d do the same thing this year. It took me about 20 minutes to cut the ribbons and tie the bows on each bag and in total, I spent less than $30 to create 24 gifts.

For a full video on how I assemble these treats, check out my instagram page. I hope you love this budget and COVID-friendly idea and let me know what your friends think about it!

XO,

Brit

Back to Brunching

Back to Brunching

Depending on where you live, you might be able to go out to brunch this weekend! Here in Texas, restaurants started opening last week and this weekend, I am ready for brunch! I’ve already made reservations at Clark’s in Austin and I’m a little too excited about getting a frozen cosmo and oysters.

Since it has been more than two months since I last had brunch, I have already started planning my outfits for this weekend. From flowy dresses to pastel-colored shorts, I’m sharing my favorite outfit options for this weekend!

Pink Dress, Bucket Bag, Necklace, Bangle, Wedges
White Dress, Earrings, Clutch, Belt, Shoes
White Top, Pink Linen Shorts, Earrings, Pink Sunglasses, Fendi Bag, Bow Sandals

Are you brunching this weekend?! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the looks and how it is to get back into the swing of things!

XO,

Brit