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2021 UNDER $50 GIFT GUIDE

2021 UNDER $50 GIFT GUIDE

Happy Thanksgiving!  Oh how I wish I could have gotten this gift guide to you weeks ago!  Time has definitely gotten away from me and I’m constantly feeling behind… but I think that’s what moving will do to you right?  There is nothing I love more after a full Thanksgiving belly than curling up on the sofa, listening to Christmas music playing, and doing some online shopping!  Like a lot of people online shopping has become an ultimate pleasure in life.  So today I decided to put together a 2021 gift guide for ideas under $50, and not only have I shared my $50 ideas for her, but for him too… which is always hard, plus home gifts and gifts for the foodie!  So if you’re looking for some ideas I’ve got them for you!

  1. Chess and Checker Board  |  2.  Belt USB Charging Cable  |  3.  Domino Set  |  4.  Bro Mask  |  5.  Decanter  |  6.  The Triple Play Set  |  7.  Ice Cube Molds  |  8.  Scratch & Sniff Whiskey Guide  |  9.  Leather Catch All Tray 

 

10.  Weekend in Paris Tea Set  |  11.  Pompom Beanie  |  12.  Golden Glow Brush Set  |  13.  Reversible Faux Leather Tote  |  14.  Stud Earrings  |  15.  Shearling Slippers  |  16.  Faux Fur Sleep Mask  |  17.  Drop Earrings  |  18.  Slip Hair Ties  |  19.  Deborah Lippmann Bed of Roses Set

20.  NEST Petite Votive Set  |  21.  Rosenthal Mini Vase  |  22.  Leopard Accent Plates  |  23.  This is Home Book  |  24.  Winterberry Soap & Lotion Set  |  25.  Cloud Throw Blanket  |  26.  Gold Rope Frames  |  27.  Gold Votive Set

28.  Petit Four 36-Piece Box  |  29.  Cheese Knife Set  |  30.  Olive Oil Gift Set  |  31.  4-Blade Spiralizer  |  32.  Stove Top Pop Corn Popper  |  33.  Classic Pie Dish  |  34.  Teak Wood Serving Board  |  35.  Starbucks Hot Cocoa Coffee Set  |  36.  Wine Decanter

How about sipping a cup of delicious apple cider while you finish your holiday shopping?  My slow cooker apple cider recipe is simple and delicious… plus your home will smell divine!  Cheer and happy shopping!

HOLIDAY HOME FAVORITES

HOLIDAY HOME FAVORITES

Who’s ready for some holiday decor??  I know I am!  This holiday season is bringing big changes!  Not only are we moving to a new state and a new house, a new design for the blog is coming soon making it even easier to access your favorite Everyday Laura blog posts plus easier access to shop my favorites!  Today I thought I’d share a few holiday home items that are perfect for making a holiday home!

When it’s time to decorate for the holidays I always start with a wreath!  This classic pine wreath gives the perfect pop of green whether inside or out, and this mini mistletoe wreath with berries is the perfect way to decorate small windows and furniture.  Every Christmas season I love to add a touch of sparkle and these pre-lit crystal trees come in three different sizes to work with, making the possibilities endless!

These stockings have amazing texture and add the perfect pop of red, but if you’re feeling natural they come in cream too!  These reindeer sculptures come in 4 different shades, zinc, brass, white, and silver, and in different sizes too.

When it comes to a cozy holiday home don’t forget about the bedroom!  Tis’ the season for flannel sheets, and these red striped sheets are so soft and warm but if stripes aren’t your jam they have lots of other great seasonal prints too!  Paired with this affordable pillow you’ve got a great cozy holiday bed.

This cozy indoor rug instantly caught my eye and would look perfect along or layered over a larger rug, and what can I say… I have a weakness for holiday mugs.  I buy new ones every year!  I know many of you like me love Nest home fragrances doing the holiday season, and the birchwood pine is hands down my favorite!  This large winter white candle also smells amazing and makes a great home accent.

I saved the best for last!  This 12 piece Spode dinnerware set is a black friday special for under $100!  I’ve used the Spode Christmas tree collection for years, it’s a true classic and I’ve honestly never seen a set at such a great price!

OUR GUEST ROOM REFRESH

OUR GUEST ROOM REFRESH

Happy Monday!  I’m so excited to share our guest room refresh with you!  When my daughter recently left for college she ended up taking some furniture and bedding with her so I thought that it was a perfect time to give this space a nice refresh!  I absolutely love this space… it might be my favorite room in the house.  The painted white tongue and groove walls have always made this space feel cozy yet clean and bright.


The only downside to this space is it’s small, so space saving furniture is a must.  Because of this we skipped a space hogging dresser and went with a storage bed for all our drawer needs.  Besides this one we have another one in our room.  I absolutely love our Pottery Barn storage beds and I’ve been meaning to review them on the blog for a while now.  It’s on my to do list!  One minor drawback with storage beds, though, is that if you plan on opening them often like we do you’ll need a floating nightstand.  If your storage bed is more for long term storage you can simply move a regular nightstand out of the way to open it, but that wasn’t an option for us.  I really love floating furniture, it is great for small spaces because it tricks the eye and gives the illusion of more space.

I wanted to introduce a bit more color and contrast into the room so I went with these 26 inch pink pillow covers from Etsy, they really makes the room pop!  I love pillow covers because they’re easily washable and easy to switch out when you need a change.  You can find pretty much any size pillow insert on Amazon so that’s my favorite home decor, pillow covers, and they barely take up any storage space when not in use.


I updated the wall art for a more modern look, black and white photos and prints are my jam, I can never get enough.  I love the clean, crisp,  vintage look to them.  Funny thing is in Scotland I actually got to see a highland cow in person and feed it a carrot.  He was adorable and he licked me with his scratchy tongue and guess what?  I didn’t get one photo!  Do you ever go on vacation, have an amazing time, and forget to get a photo?  We took so many great photos in Scotland and I’m just kicking myself that I didn’t get a cute cow photo too… I didn’t know how trendy highland cows would soon become!  I went with Art.com for this print, I’ve bought from them for years and they never let me down.

I’ve always loved rooms that are decorated with a heavy black and white scheme but I still need color here and there.  I don’t know what it is but ever since we moved into this house I’ve been obsessed with the color teal.  I’ve bought a teal sofa and painted my cabinets and doors teal so naturally when I was looking for an accent chair my eye kept catching teal.  This chair is such a great affordable price and it’s stunning!   It’s always scary buying furniture online, you never know what you’re going to get!  I love how the room came together with just a few simple changes!

It seems like we haven’t had a lot of home updates or projects going on, but soon I’m excited to share with you our progress in the loft!  We’re just waiting on carpet and in the final stages, the same with the kitchen too, knock on wood everything goes to plan!

Storage Bed | Pink Shams | Black & White Pillows | Black Pillow | White Quilt | Throw Blanket | Wall ArtWreath | Sconce Lighting | Chandelier | Chair | Chair Pillow | Sheepskin Rug

 

SKINNY BLUEBERRY LIME GIN COCKTAILS

SKINNY BLUEBERRY LIME GIN COCKTAILS

Skinny blueberry lime gin cocktails

Ever since we returned from Maine I’ve had blueberries on my mind.  First of all, if you haven’t read my Maine Eats blog post make sure you do!  We literally ate our way through the state, and much to my surprise the state isn’t only known for their lobster but also for their blueberries!  I will admit I ate an absurd amount of lobster and I did indulge in a few blueberry desserts but not the blueberry cocktails.

At nearly every restaurant I saw some sort of amazing blueberry cocktail creation, our waitress almost broke me one night but I held out strong!  It’s one thing to eat my way through Maine but once I start slurping 500 calorie blueberry cocktails it’s pretty much over for me.  I may have split some blueberry desserts with Brian, but as much as I wanted to I left those sugary blueberry cocktails alone.  But now cut to a week later and I’m still thinking about them.  So ahem… may I introduce you do my own skinny girl blueberry lime gin cocktail recipe?

Skinny blueberry lime gin cocktails

At just 125 calories per drink and 4 carbs this is my creation of Maine in a cocktail.  These delicious cocktails are purply and pretty, low in sugar. and full of blueberry anti-oxidants!

I cut out the sugar by using my favorite alternative, liquid stevia!  Mixed with a small amount of blueberry juice, there is a perfect balance of sweetness with no awkward aftertaste.  You can find blueberry juice at many grocery stores, this is the one I’m using.  I’m using regular juice but divided into a small portion per drink the calories and carbs are still quite low.

I made Brian do all the calorie and carb math… he loves math, so I often assign him math projects.  He was extra eager for this one because it involved getting a cocktail as a reward afterwards!

Skinny Blueberry Lime Gin Cocktail

Servings: 1
Calories: 125kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 shot Gin
  • 5 drops liquid stevia (add more if you prefer it sweeter)
  • 3 tbs blueberry juice
  • 1/4 lime wedge, squeezed
  • 2-4 oz sparkling water

Instructions

  • In a glass add gin, stevia, blueberry juice, and lime juice and mix together.
  • Add ice and top with 4 oz of sparkling water.
  • Garnish with fresh lime and blueberries.

Nutrition

Calories: 125kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g

I did this cocktail recipe the lazy girl way, meaning I mixed all the ingredients in the glass, gave them a swirl and then added ice and sparkling water.  If you’re feeling fancy and want to get out your cocktail shaker you should totally go for it.  I get it… sometimes I feel cocktail fancy too.  Add all the ingredients except the ice and the sparkling water, shake, pour and add the ice and sparkling water while doing a twirl… you are truly fancy!

Skinny blueberry lime gin cocktails

This is the perfect skinny cocktail for a hot summer day!  It’s blueberry deliciousness!  If you try it let me know what you think!

 

OUR FAVORITE EATS IN MAINE

OUR FAVORITE EATS IN MAINE

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

As promised, I’m back and ready to share our incredible eats from Maine!  Brian and I love food and Maine was straight up a foodie paradise for us!

A little bit of history on how I became such a lobster lover.  Going to seafood restaurants growing up, my parents would scan the menu and say “Laura, order anything you want except the lobster.”  What happens when someone tells you not to do something?  Curiosity gets the best of you and naturally you want it, I was literally 6 years old begging for the lobster.  Most of the time I would get my way, dinners that just had the tail were a breeze.  On occasion as a small child I would order a whole lobster, literally have no idea how to eat it, and I would look up at my parents for help.  My dad would whack away at it, getting whatever meat out he could.  Growing up in North Texas we had no freakin idea how to properly eat a lobster, it was pre-internet, but we tried.  From my memories even the waiters didn’t even fully know how to shell and eat a lobster.

Naturally throughout my childhood and into my adult years if something said it had lobster in it I ordered it.  Ordering lobster was no longer a way to irritate my parents, I had actually developed a true love for the taste of it.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Cut to many years later and my cravings for lobster have only intensified and I’ve fully converted my husband into a lobster lover too.  I’ve learned that warm water lobster in my opinion isn’t good and that Maine lobster is the only lobster for me.

Living in Colorado, multiple times a year we have to order Maine lobster and it’s downright heaven.  I’m like a puppy dog wagging it’s tail waiting for UPS to arrive with my fresh lobsters.  I’ll get down my enormous lobster pot (it’s so big I store it in the attic) and we have a lobster cooking party, making our own stock from the shells and making every delicious lobster recipe possible.  Try Ina Garten’s Lobster Pot Pie!

So now that I’ve convinced you that I love lobster, let’s talk about the amazing food we devoured on our trip!  But first if you haven’t yet, be sure to read my Bar Harbor, Maine, and Acadia National Park blog post!

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

For those who love a good fresh lobster smothered in butter but just can’t be bothered wearing the bib or putting in the work then the lazy lobster is for you!  At the Asticou Inn you can order a lobster cooked fresh to order, completely shelled and ready for you.  Shelling a lobster is a fun experience but it’s also a bit messy so this is a perfect option when you want to be fancy.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Eating at Stewman’s Lobster Pound was one of my favorite places during our vacation.  The lobster cocktail was similar to the mixture of a lobster roll and the lobster claws weren’t just decorative, they still had the tender claw meat inside, yum!  Claw meat is definitely my favorite, it came with a cocktail sauce and buttery mustard sauce.

We also ordered a whole lobster and we’ve taught ourselves how to easily shell a lobster but we still have had some tricky areas.  When the waitress offered to show us her shelling tricks we were excited.  Previously the tail meat has slowed us down, she showed us a few tricks and we can pop out the tail meat in seconds!  I can completely crack a lobster in 2 minutes like a local!

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Shortly after arriving I discovered that Maine isn’t just known for their lobster but also for their wild blueberries!  You’ll find lots of blueberry cocktails, ice cream, desserts, and best of all blueberry pie!  Maine blueberries are smaller and richer in flavor and higher in anti-oxidants.  Our waitress told us that blueberry picking is such a big deal the schools will close so the kids can help pick the berries.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Feeling adventurous?  Then you definitely need to try the lobster ice cream in Bar Harbor!  It was unusual but all lobster lovers need to try it once!  It tasted like a rich creamy vanilla ice cream with as you probably guessed lobster!  Getting a large bit of frozen lobster mixed in ice cream was a little weird but I really liked the small lobster pieces throughout the ice cream.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Of course you’ll find lobster bisque aplenty around the island!  I’m pretty picky about my lobster bisque and I know the true labor of love it is to make a batch from scratch.  The bisque everywhere we went was downright incredible.  This Lobster bisque from Paddy’s Irish Pub had delicious pretzel croutons!

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

When you talk about food in Maine lobster rolls probably come to mind and there are plenty with lots of variations.  Below, this delicious lobster roll was found at the Otter Creek Market and I loved the addition of fresh minced basil!

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Shh… please don’t spread the word but honestly when it comes to a lobster roll I’m team Connecticut style, served warm and toasted without mayo and dripping with butter.  Having said that, I will never say no to any sort of New England lobster roll.  Below, this roll was toasted and a lot dryer with less mayo but still not a true Connecticut style roll.  Not complaining at all… it is lobster and I am in Maine not Connecticut after all.

Oh I need to give a shout out to all the french fries we ate, they tasted better than I’ve ever had.  Extra crunchy, extra crispy, and extra good in every way.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

“What’s with all the whoopie pies everywhere?” I asked Brian.  Well it turns out whoopie pies are the official dessert of Maine and freakin good!  You’ll find traditional ones everywhere, and we even had a blueberry one that was to die for!

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Traditional New England style clam chowder is everywhere along the island and a true classic.  This one here was picked up at a small roadside restaurant and is the best I’ve ever had in my life!

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Inside Acadia National Park near Jordan Pond you’ll find the adorable Jordan Pond House Restaurant.  If it’s a nice day ask for a table outside with lakeside views.  They’re famous for their afternoon tea and popovers.  Who doesn’t love a good popover?  They also serve seafood and many other meals.

A bit of a warning, as of July 2021 they do not take reservations and the line to get in was the longest I’ve ever seen in my life at 11 am, right at their opening time.  The line actually went all the way down the stairs by the trailhead.  Available parking was also non-existent, nearby full parking lots were full on traffic jams.  We returned later in the day at 3pm and it was much calmer and we luckily found a good parking spot.

Jordan Pond Restaurant Popovers

Feeling like some tacos?  Have no fear lobster lovers, you can find lobster tacos too!  We enjoyed these delicious tacos at the Nor’Easter Pound and Market.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

I don’t know about you but I love a good eggs Benedict!  Of course, in Maine you can get an amazing eggs Benedict with lobster on it at The Looking Glass Restaurant while looking at panoramic coastal views!  It’s the ultimate breakfast luxury and was walking distance from our hotel.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Craving something lighter like a salad?  You can get a variety of garden and cobb salads with a delicious stack of lobster.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Move over crab cakes, lobster cakes are here!  At the Terrace Grill you can have lobster cakes topped with grilled pineapple and a horseradish scallion remoulade… you’ll forget crab cakes ever existed.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Besides lobster, Maine is also home to lots of fresh fish including haddock.  Another favorite from the Terrace Grille, these fish tacos include the freshest caught haddock with a cilantro lime slaw.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

They add lobster to everything here, so be sure to try lobster pizza!  This delicious lobster, smoked bacon, and jalapeño pizza was from Getty’s.  You can dine indoors or grab it to go.

Lobster pizza in Bar Harbor Maine

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Did you know there is soft shell and hard shell lobster?  I did not know this and it blew my mind!  Hard shell lobster is much more common, so if you’ve ever eaten lobster it’s probably been hard shell.  Hard shell meat is firmer and contains about 20% more meat, and they’re also sturdier lasting much longer outside of the water.  If you’ve ever ordered Maine lobster online it’s 100% been hard shell.

Soft shell lobsters have recently molted and are growing a new shell, which tends to happen July-September.  Soft shell lobster has less meat but it is softer and a bit sweeter.  They’re also more fragile, and even shipped during ideal conditions they have a high mortality rate.  I held a soft shell lobster for the first time during this trip and I although it looked the same I could feel the shell was much softer and bendy, almost like a fingernail.

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

Soft shell is much easier to crack open too, I was able to crack open the claw with my fingers.  This soft shell lobster at Thurston’s was the best we’ve ever eaten in our lives!  This rustic restaurant is right along the water and has an incredible variety of seafood to choose from, and the best whoopie pies!

Soft shell Maine lobster

This was my first time eating lobster stew, I was expecting something tomato based with potatoes and vegetables.  So I was quite surprised to find lobster stew to be creamy and rich, with just lobster meat and a splash of sherry.  We tried it at several locations and Thurston’s won for our favorite lobster stew!

Things to eat in Bar Harbor Maine

If this hasn’t got you in the mood for lobster or wanting to travel to Maine then I don’t know what will!  As I sit here writing this blog post in my Colorado home my mouth can’t help but thirst for the taste of lobster.  Dear sweet Maine lobsters… steamed, boiled, and dipped in butter, I will think of you every day until we meet again on my plate.