5/6/18

Win a copy of Giada De Laurentiis' new cookbook (and a $50 VISA gift card to start your own Italian pantry)!

Clarkson Potter is partnering with me for this giveaway!


Warm weather is finally here in Iowa. This past week, we (and by "we" I mean "my fiance" because he has the green thumbs in our relationship) planted our first garden at our home. I can't wait for those summer days when we'll have fresh tomatoes, onions, asparagus, and more! While we do a fair amount of grilling out during the summer months, I also love putting our fresh produce to use in pastas and other Italian-inspired recipes. Giada's my go-to ever since that fateful college day I made her cacio e pepe with pancetta and arugula.

In stores now, you can find Giada's new cookbook Giada's Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita. Along with that cacio e pepe pasta, it includes mouthwatering recipes for burrata with nectarines and corn, positano pizzas, spicy linguine with walnuts and mint, and asparagus with grilled melon salad. I'm envisioning warm summer nights dining al fresco with friends and wine. That's my "dolce vita."

I'm excited to share that the book publisher, Clarkson Potter (an imprint of Crown Publishing Group) has partnered with me to give one lucky winner a copy of Giada's Italy plus a $50 VISA gift card to stock up on Giada's recommendations for your very own Italian pantry! (Is there a better excuse for a summer dinner party?!)

To enter, scroll down and use the Rafflecopter widget below.

Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Clarkson Potter.




About Giada’s Italy

With photos shot on location around her native Rome, Giada's latest book is a lavish exploration of her food roots and the lifestyle traditions that define la bella vita, with the contemporary California twist that has made her America's most beloved Italian chef.

America knows and loves Giada De Laurentiis for her lighter, healthier takes on classic Italian fare. In her newest cookbook, she invites fans and home cooks to get to know the flavors and stories that have inspired her life's work. Here, she shares recipes for authentic Italian dishes as her family has prepared them for years while infusing them with her signature fresh flavors to make them her own, like in her Grilled Swordfish with Candied Lemon Salad; Spaghetti with Chianti and Fava Beans; Asparagus with Grilled Melon Salad; Bruschetta with Burrata and Kale Salsa Verde; and Fennel Upside Down Cake. Filled with gorgeous photography of Italy, peppered with family stories, and complete with more of Giada's tips and advice for cooking up fabulous meals with ease, Giada's Italy is a stunning celebration of Italy's flavors as only Giada could present them.





About the Author

Giada De Laurentiis is the Emmy Award-winning star of Food Network's Everyday Italian, Giada at Home, Giada's Holiday Handbook, and Giada in Italy; she is also a judge on Food Network Star, a contributing correspondent for NBC's Today show, and the author of seven New York Times bestselling books. She recently published the eighth in her series of books for young readers, Recipe for Adventure. She has a namesake restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip with a second location planned for 2018. Born in Rome, Giada grew up in Los Angeles, where she now lives with her daughter, Jade.

Visit GiadaDeLaurentiis.com, and follow Giada on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.






4/4/18

Photowall DIY Canvas Print | Product Review


Happy Friday, lovelies! Today I'm excited to share a little project I took on for my office. Since I started working outside the home, it's no longer my "home office." Now, it's more of a creative getaway for writing, blogging, reading, wedding planning, and wine drinking. A "lady cave" of sorts. :) Since the space was used so heavily for my work-from-home job, I've been making little changes to help change up its vibes. Art is one of the easiest ways to do that. Enter Photowall.

Photowall is a Swedish company that offers beautifully designed wall murals and canvas prints. Their products are designed to not fade in sunlight. Plus, they're environmentally friendly and fire-retardant in accordance with Swedish standards. And for bonus points, every time someone buys a product from Photowall, they're helping to plant trees in South Africa

The good folks at Photowall were kind enough to let me pick out a canvas print and try out one of their "build your own" canvas frame kits for myself. I'll admit the process took a lot longer than I expected, but not for the reasons you might think.

First, I couldn't decide what print to order. They have soooo many gorgeous canvas prints. My creative wheels were turning as I tried to decide whether I wanted a print for my bedroom or living room or foyer or maybe even over my desk at the museum where I now work. But when I laid eyes upon this pretty. floral "Find Joy" print with its vibrant colors set against a dark, warm gray... it was love at first sight. I instantly knew I had the perfect spot for it in my "lady cave."



The shipping was quick and the product was well-packaged. The delay comes in where I let it sit on my dining table for more than a few days. You see, I had it in my head that putting together a DIY canvas frame would be difficult. As crafty as I am, I had myself convinced that this was a two-person job that would require special tools and the assistance of my handyman fiance. 

Finally, we both had time on a Sunday afternoon to put this thing together. We got out the tool box, cleared of the kitchen table, and gave the long cardboard box to our grateful cats. Not even ten minutes later, the canvas was put together. You guys, it was so easy. Everything we needed was included. The instructions were super clear. And I totally could have done it all by myself. I felt silly, but that silliness was quickly replaced by glee over my new lovely canvas art.

Step 1: Unpack your rolled-up canvas and DIY frame pieces.

Step 2: Unroll your canvas.

Step 3: Following the instructions, line up the appropriate frame pieces with the corresponding edges of the canvas.

Step 4: Stick your frame pieces to the back of the canvas. (The heavy-duty double-sized tape is already attached!) 
Step 5: Unpack the brackets and other fastening bits. (I'm using very technical jargon, I know.)




Step 6: Four screws and one bracket to a corner.

Step 7: Hold the bracket to the corresponding holes and insert/twist in the screws.

Step 8: We tightened them all loosely, then went back and tightened them up to be secure.

Step 9: Turn over your canvas and... Voila! 

Step 10: Hang it up!

Technically, we haven't yet completed Step 10. Photowall provides a super easy-to-use mount for hanging your canvas print, and I actually have the perfect place to hang it. But we have 100-year-old plaster walls, so we need to make time to drill a proper hole. That's basically where it's going to go, though—hung right over the radiator.

I'm so impressed with Photowall that I'll absolutely be ordering from them in the future. The quality of the canvas print and sturdiness of the frame is so much better than what I've seen in stores for the same price. Plus, you can customize it to whatever size you need and make a fun, easy do-it-yourself project out of it. I promise you can do one of the "build your own" frame kits on your own. :)

And if you really truly can't find an existing design that speaks to you, you can upload your own photo or illustration and Photowall will create a print for you. I'm thinking I might use Photowall for some wedding projects or for getting our wedding photos printed on canvases after the big day.

Want 20% your entire purchase from Photowall? They've generously offered The Lovely Side readers a special discount.

Just use this coupon code: thelovelysidecampaign2018

2/15/18

3 Ways to Pamper Yourself this Winter (+ claim your FREE personal care kit!)


Can you believe we're already half way through February? Between starting a new job, working outside the home, and planning a wedding, 2018 has been a blur so far. And to top it all off, G and I just celebrating my birthday / Valentine's Day / our 5-year anniversary—yes, they all fall within two days of each other. My life has been packed full of commuting, work obligations, birthday parties, meeting with vendors, and (yay!) wedding dress shopping.

Pampering myself in little ways has helped keep me sane this winter.

1. Head to the salon.

I'd put it off too long, but I finally got myself in for a fresh cut and color. (I know it's time for a salon appointment when I start wearing my hair in a bun everyday... and that had been going on for weeks.) There's just something so relaxing about having someone else color, wash, cut, and style your hair. And it's a such a refreshing feeling to look in the mirror and have a new 'do.


2. Upgrade your shower/bath routine.

I really miss the gorgeous, antique claw-foot bathtub I had in my apartment four years ago. Best baths ever. And while I no longer have that luxury, that's no excuse not to make the most of my showers. I've made it a point to slow down and enjoy showers rather than rush around in the morning or take quickies at night. Mrs. Meyers helps me do just that.

I've been using Mrs. Meyer's honeysuckle body wash, hand lotion, and bar soap for about a year now. I love the fragrance, especially in the winter. It's reminiscent of summer afternoons and a lovely little bottle of fancy honeysuckle perfume my grandma gave me when I was little. Now, Mrs. Meyer's has rolled out the body lotion. I'm delighted—and so is my dry, flaky winter skin, which now feels soft and smells like summertime.

Want to try out the body wash and body lotion for yourself? My friends at Grove are offering this free Personal Care Kit. When you place your first order of $20 using my link, you’ll get:

  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s body wash
  • Free Mrs. Meyer’s body lotion
  • Free Grove loofah
  • Free Shipping & 60 Day VIP Trial

If you’re an existing customer, you’ll receive a free Grove lip balm—perfect for soothing chapped lips! Speaking of which...

3. Swipe on some bright lipstick.

I've been experimenting with different reds and berries lately to see which lip color I want to wear on my wedding day. I'd forgotten how just a little bit of bold lipstick can boost your confidence and make you feel more pulled together.

(Pssst! Grove carries some fabulous Burt's Bees gloss lip crayons. Pacific Coast is one of my go-to colors.)

There you have it: salon, smell-good shower, and some bright lips... my three favorite ways to feel like a lady amid frigid Iowa winters and hectic schedules.

But don't stop there. Grove Collaborative is stocked with some awesome products to pamper yourself this winter—from the Burt's Bees gloss lip crayons to Acure Organics to Mrs. Meyer's products for your house and your body.


You’ll get the above pictured set (body wash + body lotion + loofah) FREE with your first order of $20.

Here’s an example of what your cart might look like:



You’ll get all those products + Mrs. Meyer’s body wash and body lotion + Grove loofah for around $20! Plus, you’ll get free shipping and a free 60 day VIP trial. Grove really pampers their VIPs, from free shipping to free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales, and personal service. I love the customer service and free shipping that I get as a VIP.

This offer is only available until February 18, so don’t miss out!

How it works:

  1. Sign up for Grove Collaborative here. You will receive the personal care kit for free when you sign up!
  2. To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive your first box within a few days.
  3. You made it! Click Finish & Pay and place your order. 


Happy pampering, lovelies!

11/27/17

3 Easy gift baskets + more ideas to inspire your Gordmans gThanks shopping trip tomorrow on Giving Tuesday


When it comes to holiday gifting (or actually, any gifting), gift baskets are my go-to. It's a chance to give something useful, something delicious, and something just plain fun—all at once! But running all over a town or even a mall can be time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. So I love a one-stop shop where I know I can find something unique and affordable for everyone on my list—from my family and fiance to co-workers in a Secret Santa exchange. Gordmans is always my #1 stop.

11/14/17

Quiz: Which Mrs. Meyer's holiday scent suits you? (Plus, claim your FREE holiday set from Grove!)



It's officially here, lovelies: The season for eggnog sipping, gift shopping, Christmas tree trimming, and scarf wearing. And along with all the holiday cheer and Christmas songs, Mrs. Meyer's holiday scents are back: Peppermint, Orange Clove, and Iowa Pine.

10/27/17

Help me pick out holiday cards/engagement announcements (...and get up to 15% off at Minted)

This post is sponsored by Minted. I may receive compensation if you click on or make purchases through the affiliate links below. The opinions in this post are 100% my own. 


I have exciting news, lovelies—and an excuse for my blogging absence. I've been busy with the beginning stages of wedding planning. :) A couple of weeks ago, G popped the question on the last night of our little road trip vacation—at a gorgeous, Italianate bed and breakfast. It was perfect and he completely caught me by surprise. (Impressive!)

By now, most of our family and friends have heard the good news in-person, on the phone, or via Facebook. But I'd love to send something official to our closest peeps. I remembered that I also need to get moving on Christmas cards so I'm not last-minute this year. And a brilliant idea hit me: Why not officially announce our engagement with our Christmas cards?!

9/29/17

3 Steps to a Cheap & Easy Outfit for Oktoberfest


It's that time again, lovelies! It's become tradition for us and friends to go to a local Oktoberfest. Sometimes we dress up. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes we eat in the festhalle. Sometimes we host our own pre-fest feast.