December 31, 2014

The Best Is Yet To Come

My last post of 2014. To be honest I'm not sad to see 2014 go ... it was a challenging year but not the worst on record. I guess I'm just ready to look ahead.

January brings a new twist on my job (all good) and a mini vacation may be in the cards. I start my second to last grad school course in February and Sassy turns 21. In March I'll celebrate my 28th wedding anniversary and April brings the promise of Spring as well as my birthday. Not much planned after that except finishing school and hopefully graduating in December, as well as Chunky turning 16 and driving (yikes). Looking forward to seeing where life leads.

My three resolutions are: practice more gratitude & compassion for growth, intentionally exercise for health, and see my BFF more frequently for my soul (road trips!).

Did you know Marsala is THE color for 2015? It's a reddish-brown, some call oxblood, and much more sophisticated than last year's Radiant Orchid. This is a good color for my skin tone and my favorite color is red ... looking forward to seeing more goodies available in this trendy yet timeless hue.

Here are a couple of my favorite things as we head into 2015 -

I bit the bullet and bought an Erin Condren life planner. Sort of wondering if I should have gotten a notebook instead but I'm committed now. There's a cult following for EC with hundreds of YouTube videos and blog references. I'm a planner by nature so this is right up my alley and I like the flexibility/customization - intending to use it as a planner/food diary/exercise log. We'll see where I end up. The inspirational quotes throughout are motivating and offer perspective on challenging days.

If you go to Outback restaurant you must order the Huckleberry Hooch. AMAZING! I was able to find the blackberry moonshine at my local liquor store and am drinking it at this very moment ... HAPPY new year to me!!! The recipe is equal parts moonshine, orange juice, cranberry juice and pineapple juice (or skip if two stores you sent kid to are out), plus muddled fruit (or frozen strawberries if that's all you have on hand). It's sweet, delicious and you won't know you're three sheets to the wind until you're too happy to care :) which I may or may not be right now

My new favorite pedi polish is OPI Bastille My Heart, a cranberry red (not quite Marsala). It's almost the same color as Bogota Blackberry which was my very first OPI polish ... I'm really good at branching out. NOT. I'm sure this is lovely on fingers as well.

A happy, healthy, successful and inspiring new year to all!!!

December 16, 2014

Merry Music

I believe I've mentioned my love of Christmas music here, here and here. I am a traditionalist for the most part and so the oldies by original artists tend to be my favorites. Here they all are for posterity:

White Christmas - Bing Crosby
No one does it better than Bing and according to Wikipedia/Guinness it's the best selling single of all time

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Andy Williams
Top 3 fave ... Andy's the original, but I will also accept Johnny Mathis or Amy Grant

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives
From the 1964 Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, enough said

Rockin Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
This is a much covered holiday ditty, but Brenda is the orginal and there is no substitute in my humble opinion

The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
Nat first recorded in 1946, but it is the 1961 version with the iconic string entrance that has my heart

Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
Another much covered song where the original recording artist has the definitive though LeeAnn Rimes' version is a distant seccond

Christmas Time Is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio
I love Jazz so this is in my top 5 for sure ... originally from the 1965 TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas, the choir version is my personal favorite

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Judy Garland
From the movie "Meet Me In St. Louis"

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas - Perry Como or Johnny Mathis
This song always puts me in the holiday mood

Silver Bells - Anne Murray
I'm not sure why I like it ... I think my mom sung it when I was little, or was that "Till There Was You"? Either way 'bells' are involved.

Home for the Holidays - The Carpenters
No Christmas song playlist would be complete without The Carpenters

Winter Wonderland - Dean Martin or Amy Grant
Happy, cheerful and sweet

Sleigh Ride - Johnny Mathis or Amy Grant
Johnny and Amy give it the perfect light, not too kitschy vibe

Silent Night - Martina McBride or Celine Dion
As traditional as it gets and the more powerful the voice the better

All I Want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey
A modern classic ... I have the CD along with most of the free world. Did you know Mariah cowrote the song?!

Wintersong - Sarah McLachlan
I have the CD by the same name and it's awesome

Do You Hear What I Hear - Carrie Underwood
Did you know this was written during the Cuban Missile Crisis?!

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan
This is the only Christmas song permanently on my iPod ... one of my dearest friends LOVES it when I sing the round part aloud in the car during our carpools

Baby It's Cold Outside - Idina Menzel & Michael Buble or Dean Martin & Martina McBride
A new old favorite thanks to current version by Idina & Michael 

December 14, 2014

Creative Juices

If idle hands are the devil's work, then I am a saint! We all know that isn't true, but suffice to say I've been busy.

I made more cookies - PB Blossoms, Pecan Teacakes, Pistachio-Cranberry Sugar and Candy Cane Mint Blossoms. The Mint Blossoms were fussy - add the Kiss too soon and they melted A LOT, too late and they didn't stick. I found with both type of Blossoms that a great hack is Betty Crocker cookie mix - super easy and tastes great. I will never make dough from scratch for these again.

I also made those blasted Strawberry Christmas Tree Brownie Bites Sassy saw on Pinterest. Note Sassy was not involved ... strep throat last weekend so banned from the kitchen, studying for finals this week with a lovely disposition this week. The concept was simple - bake mini brownie bites, hull strawberries and "glue" upside down to brownies with frosting, then frost with star tip to look like a fir tree. I found a great hack here as well, Betty Crocker Cupcake Frosting in a can with assorted tips!

The first one ended up looking like a landscape bush vs. a Christmas Tree. I found the right technique was to twirl the brownie around while applying even pressure to the frosting, working my way up to the top. Small strawberries were required for this project so there were a lot of left over brownies - these were frosted with twirl technique and look darn cute as well.

In non-Betty related news, I also made Paperwhites in Mason Jars for coworker gifts. I'm calling this a huge success - simple, sweet and cheap. Wonder how many odd looks I'll get for carrying flowers in a wine bottle box into the office tomorrow?

December 10, 2014

Favorite Things

I am doing my best to get into the spirit of the season. The tree is up. Evergreen swags are hung outside. Pandora's Traditional Christmas channel is on rotation in the house and the local oldies channel is playing Christmas music for my daily commute. I did some baking last weekend ... peanut butter blossoms, biscotti, mini brownies (prep for overachieving Pinterest creation) and pumpkin cinnamon rolls. More next weekend ... sugar cookies, pb blossoms again to replace the ones we've already eaten and pistachio/cranberry white chocolate cookies. I'm 99% done with gift purchases but nothing wrapped. I have a mini Avon Advent Christmas tree on my work credenza that my mother bought me in 1996.. you take a little ornament out of a numbered drawer each day. Awww, the cuteness. I even thought far enough in advance to make a couple of paperwhites in mason jar gifts for coworkers. Still not feeling it though.

So I will share a few things I'm obsessed with at the moment.

The quest for a face cleanser that does it all. I cannot be bothered to use a cleanser and toner and eye makeup remover. I barely have patience for the cleanser and if it weren't for the fact that I'd have pimples galore I'd skip it altogether. I have been remiss in using my Clarisonic which I'm ashamed of - it really works and my skin thanks me every time I use it. I've been loyal to Philosophy's Purity cleanser for years but my last batch wasn't up to snuff ... not sure if they changed the formula or if I've changed. Ah, maturity you wicked bitch. So I tried Peter Thomas Roth'a anti-aging gel cleanser because I was channel surfing one day and QVC sucked me into its vortex. I liked it okay and was thinking of reordering until Nordstrom happened. My mom and I went shopping and each bought an eyeliner from separate lines. She got a gift with purchase from Lancome and re-gifted it to me. I tried the mini cleanser while on mini vacation at my BFFs (who might as well be mini she's gotten so tiny) and really liked it. It's one of those formulas that foams/mousses when mixed with water. It smells super clean and removes everything with one application. SCORE!

I'm a creature of routine and was in need of a do-it-all makeup kit. This one from Bobbi Brown fit the bill. It's a little pricey and no mascara included (that mini tube from Lancome is about to dry up), but Bobbi's foundation in Sand is my skin's love language and the Black Chocolate eye pencil may be the best I've ever had. The shadow colors probably don't look too exciting but they work well with my skin tone and the shimmers are fun to use for evening looks (at least on the two occasions I have had to go out after dark in the past few months).

I have a dirty little secret. Every once in a blue moon I buy something 'on speculation'. This means I probably do not intend to keep it yet enjoy using it right up to the return deadline. Please note that I don't do this with clothing - it either works or goes back immediately I never look back, darling! It distracts from the now. The vortex channel has an extended return policy during the holidays so ... say hello to my friend the Vitamix professional blender. If I only made Baked Potato Soup with this magical instrument I think it would be worth it. That soup is delish and ready in 15 minutes including the time it takes to bake potatoes in the microwave (whole potatoes go in, skin and all y'all) and fry up some onions!!! I'm going to try smoothies and chopping next.

I'll throw in a non-QVC reference for good measure. I bought this scarf in gray leopard for a little bit of nothing a couple of months ago to go with my short gray coat AND my long black down coat. It has totally saved me this winter - I look cute and stay warm. ARCTIC BONUS!

In closing, I love me some Burl Ives but his "southern" version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town ... "Santa Claus is a-comin to town" ... is making me want to step away from the Pandora.

October 26, 2014


I'm a white wine fan, Riesling or Moscato in particular, but this article may make me a convert to reds. And I need to up my game as I only drink maybe once every two weeks.

October 12, 2014

Big IS Beautiful

I stumbled upon this article recently. I stop short of saying I've been the subject of discrimination because I'm "big". I have no idea what it feels like to be humiliated and shamed for something I cannot change. I do believe society's judgment for size is harsh - you should be able to control your weight and it's your own fault you are considered less beautiful. I think money spends the same no matter what your size, skin color, ethnicity or orientation.

October 3, 2014

Mea culpa

me·a cul·pa | noun |an acknowledgment of one's fault or error

Has anyone else noticed a trend in lack of apologizing? I think a good, old-fashioned apology is called for in many instances. It's a nice thing to do. Is it just me? An apology can be a flat out, I'm sorry or I'm sorry that happened or even I'm sorry you feel that way. I am definitely not talking about the the hollow, false I'm sorry followed by but .... You're not actually sorry, you just want to soften another blow or prove your point with sarcasm.

An apology extends an olive branch, acknowledging that someone was hurt by what you said and/or did and that you wish they hadn't been. Sometimes it isn't what you said or did, it's HOW that dealt the hurtful blow. I have a lot of pride ... too much at times. When I see that I'm being prideful, that's when I realize an apology is just what the doctor ordered. Softening someone's heart softens mine in turn, helps build (or repair) a connection and provides the basis for being able to clear the air and move on. Often people will accept the apology and be ready to forgive and forget. Other times rehashing the situation or going deep is called for. It's situational - depends on the people, relationship, circumstances, etc. 

A lot of people cling to the actual words and won't ever forgive or move on without hearing an outright apology. That seems self righteous. I do think apologies can take different forms - an act of kindness, an expression of love or gratitude. Again, it's situational and I'd like to think I'm capable of hearing and accepting an apology without hearing the actual words. I was crafting this post in my head when I came upon this from one my favorite bloggers - 

This gives a good perspective on the concept. On one hand it's taking the high road - giving the benefit of the doubt and letting yourself move on. On the other hand, it doesn't honor the [powerful] connection that may occur when openly and physically demonstrating regret, remorse or intent for the person to avoid the misstep in the future. 

I think what I struggle with most in lack of ability or willingness to apologize is not accepting accountability or showing empathy and humility. It also signals immaturity - incapacity of growth and understanding others' perspectives. We all fail, we all fall and we all have moments of insanity. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and confessional, we demonstrate our humanity. We're all human (though I have apologized to my dog as well). I'd bet 90% of the time the other party flashes to a time when they were sorry and apologized (or wished they had) as well.

September 8, 2014


It's been awhile since I've done a "favorite things" post ... just under 5 years. Time flies when you're having fun!

I have good genes in the skin department (not so much in the body type department, but that's another post) but time is not my friend when it comes to aging so I invest skin care. I've tried all kinds of lotions, potions and serums thanks to Birchbox but keep going back to two mainstays - Philosophy and Meaningful Beauty. I'm currently using MB and say what you will about Ms. Crawford, she has amazing skin. I like that I can mix-and-match my auto ship order to try new products ... the only thing that stays constant is cleanser ... otherwise, I might have a firming serum with intensive night cream one day and a glowing serum with regular moisturizer the next. I use the weather and the way my skin looks/feels to determine what I need daily. Or more likely than not it depends on what I remember to do that day.

I don't always use a daily moisturizer on weekdays because I use a BB cream for foundation. Moisturizer in addition tends to be too much (aka oily) unless we're in the middle of a deep freeze here in the arctic (aka January - March). I am loving Bobbi Brown BB cream ... just right coverage, good skin color match and all important SPF. 

Dry shampoos are all the rage and I am on the bandwagon. Go ahead and judge but I wash my hair every other day - every day would dry it out and day two hair has a good texture for holding curl or a low key updo. I've tried a couple of expensive dry shampoos (thank you again Birchbox) and have found that drug store brands - Suave or Tresemme - work just as well and are much easier on the wallet.

My hair is an enigma ... fine but lots of it, dry on day one and oily by end of day two. I'm constantly changing hairstyles - cut it short and flip up the ends then grow it long so I can put it up. I envy women who have a "signature" style that suits them and doesn't change much. I'm never satisfied. Ugh! I stumbled upon Wen Replenish Mist last summer and found it to be a great boost to my day one hair - use in the am to condition and add texture and use in the pm before bed to prep for day two. It's also a good light skin moisturizer, especially in the winter months. I spritz on (when I think of it) just out of the shower and don't feel so scaly. I gave the one I started with to my mom to try and found I missed it more than I thought so just reordered. It's worth the splurge - only used my first bottle six months and had at least one-third left.

Another rage is contouring and highlighting. There are million tutorials thanks to Pinterest and in theory it seems like a great idea but I can't be bothered to spend that much time or use that many products every day. My cheater product is a crayon concealer in a shade just a bit lighter than my skin color. I swipe under the eyes, down the center of my nose and around nostrils, above the lip bow, middle of the chin and a small triangle between the brows and up the forehead. Then I blend the heck out of it. I've thought of shading with a darker shade as well but haven't tried it yet. Baby steps.

I keep all my makeup organized in this adorable "bento" box - best $7 ever!

And finally a non-beauty product for good measure -
I frequently have only a few moments for lunch and eat at my desk so convenience is key. I'm also trying to watch my spending so have been forgoing the cafeteria at work and eating out only once a week. My current favorite lunch is pita chips and or veggies with hummus. I love hummus and am not picky about it at all, hence I haven't made it from scratch as I'll buy any brand available at Target (aka my home away from home when not at work). There are a wide array of flavors available these days, but the one I only just discovered two weeks ago and have bought three times is Sabra Olive Tapenade... olives + hummus = AMAZING!

I'm praying none of these go the way of the salad mist - it disappeared forever within months of my extolling its virtues.

August 31, 2014

Back to School

This has been a pretty good summer by my standards. Most just whiz by ... you wake up one day after school let's out and it's 4th of July and the next thing you know it's Labor Day. Not sure how I managed to get the most out of this one ... I'd like to repeat that each and every year.

Chunky's first day of high school (9th grade) is the day after tomorrow and Sassy's first day of her junior of college is the day after. How did that happen?! Chunky had orientation earlier this week and when I dropped him off I felt as if I had just brought him to the first day of Kindergarten last week.

I've decided to sit this semester out of grad school - I've been going non-stop for two years and was hoping to graduate next May but I think I need a break. My job is still fabulous, but we're about to enter the busiest time of year (open enrollment) and hubby has a surgery in three weeks where he'll be hospitalized for three weeks after and then bedridden at home an additional three weeks after that.

If you need a little humor while contemplating how you feel about back to school season, check out this awesome post by Scary Mommy.

I hope it's a great school year for everyone at my house and yours.

August 13, 2014

Pretty Princess

I've shared my royal obsession here before so it should come as no surprise that I've done my research on tiaras and crowns. I would love to rock a tiara some day, even a tiny one but let's face it, go big or go home!

This is said to be QE II's favorite: 

It's a little to plain and pointy for my taste. Speaking of pointy, check this out:
I'm partial to sapphires so this one goes to the top of my list:

It's owned by one of my favorite royals, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

I can't decide if this is my favorite or the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland.
UPDATE 8/31/14 - This is definitely in my top 3:

If you have diadem dreams, check here for a 101 and here for the ultimate collection!

July 10, 2014

World's Fair

The 80s are back! Neon, miniskirts, leggings, slogan t-shirts, big earrings and shoulder pads. I guess what's old is new again. I would be totally in style if I'd kept all my funky earrings and off-the-shoulder Flashdance shirts. The miniskirts would not be a good idea now ... I was a total twig in comparison to now.

Aside from Chuck and Di's wedding, and of course the awesome music and movies, a lot of things happened for me in the 80s ... met my BFF, high school (the last two years were totally awesome, not the first two), and dating/marrying hubby (ahem, child bride). 1982 in particular was a pivotal year: Michael Jackson was moon walking, Prince was asking us to party like it was 1999, my dad and his second wife split and I went to the World's Fair. What is a World's Fair you ask? Why it's a large public exhibition (gracias Wikipedia). I think we should all travel to Milan, Italy for the next one, yes?! The 1982 World's Fair was in glamorous Knoxville, Tennessee. We actually stayed in North Carolina because no lodging was available in and around Knoxville but heck if I can remember where ... ironic because my mom just spent the past several years living in North Carolina (Dad's passed on so can't ask him). My dad and I road tripped it to TN/NC which considering I was 15 years old and alone with my Dad is some sort of miracle that we came out unscathed. I think we may have taken a long break after that trip however. I have a postcard souvenir that reads:
The energy-themed international event is the first World's Fair to be held in the United States since 1974 and the first fully sanctioned World's Fair ever held in the Southeastern United States. Are you in awe?! Wonder how much that postcard would fetch on ebay? 

July 7, 2014

Foodie 4th

We had a family and fun filled relaxing long weekend with lots of food - restaurant, homemade and pot luck.

I made festive cupcakes -
Photo: How cute are these cupcakes?!

I also made this amazing salad. Only I used spinach instead of arugula and pecans instead of almonds because that's what I had on hand. I also had some chopped tomatoes so they went in, along with leftover chopped rotisserie chicken. That's how I roll.

Blueberry Arugula Salad with Honey-Lemon Dressing - a colorful, fresh, delightful salad that's not only good to look at, but delicious and good for you too! 

And no pic but I made another summer "tian" which is a fancy term for layered veggies, herbs and cheese (I add breadcrumbs too). Don't let the fancy name scare you off - make this, you won't regret it! 

June 10, 2014

New Old Roads

Tomorrow is my last day at my current employer after 8+ years. I am going back to my former employer where I worked for 10 years. I am clearly a devoted employee. I am so excited to go back to an organization where I have tremendous respect for the people, leadership and ethics. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to stay true to your values. I am grateful for the knowledge and experience gained since I left ... it has been one heckuva ride where I've had the highest of highs and lowest of lows career wise ... but I am beyond excited to go back to a place where there will be a lot of familiar faces and my reputation has stood the test of time. It feels wonderful to be wanted back. I am also venturing into a new space after 14 years in product management ... operations. I'm looking forward to learning a lot, renewing relationships, making new ones and bringing my own "special sauce" to the mix. This change has been a long time in the making after much soul searching, ongoing assessment via grad school, harsh truths and rekindled relationships. I knew I had set a ball in motion a few years back and didn't know exactly where it would lead. Though the momentum would ebb and flow, just three months ago everything aligned and I am where I am meant to be. It feels good to be the master of my own destiny.

May 31, 2014

Apple Generation

Well, I did it. I finally joined most of the free world and got an iPhone. And it's lime green.
I had to do something as I will be leaving my current employer soon and they supplied a company Blackberry that I've also used as a personal phone. My new employer (which is actually my old employer - I was there for almost 10 years before joining my current employer 8+ years ago), provides reimbursement for using personal phone for business with an app for company email. I need to settle on a name though I'm not sure if it's a boy or girl yet. If a girl the name will be "Elphie" ... short for Elphaba, the green witch in the play Wicked ... if a boy the name will be Kermi ... short for Kermit the frog. I've already bought a wallet case with screen protector to ensure it's well taken care of. I'm looking forward to getting to know Elphie/Kermi on my upcoming trip to NYC. Lookout Manhattan, I have an iPhone!

May 29, 2014

RIP Maya Angelou

A gentle giant of a woman who offered inspiration, wisdom and activism through poetry is gone but never forgotten.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

- Interview for Beautifully Said Magazine (2012)

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them."

- Letter to My Daughter (2009)

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."
- Angelou's Facebook (2011)

"The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind."
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."

- Letter to My Daughter (2009)

"You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive."

- Interview from the April 2011 edition of O Magazine (2011)

"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

- Interview in USA TODAY (March 5, 1988)

"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."

- Angelou's Facebook (Jan. 11, 2013)

May 23, 2014

The World Today Infographic

The World as 100 People
by JackHagley.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

May 14, 2014

Hippie or Pippi

All I wanted for Mother's Day was Chunky to get a haircut. See exhibit A to the right - lovely locks flowing in the wind at last week's track meet.
We have a family friend who is a stylist and generously comes to our house once a month to cut Hubby's hair. It's a geat deal - her hubby and mine visit, she gets caught up on the latest goings on around here and I get to see the second cutest baby boy ever (Chunky being THE cutest baby boy ever of course). I think I get the long straw.

You'll have to wait for the big reveal. Needless to say it wasn't cut as short as I'd like - everyone keeps reminding me it's only hair - but it's a start.

May 5, 2014


I cannot believe I didn't blog once in the entire month of April. That's a first for me. I'm sure you missed me so I will do my best to make up for my lack of productivity this month. Let's start things off with a fashion post ... man style.

Chunky's stint at our K-8 parochial school is almost over. He is looking forward to high school and I am looking forward to the end of fundraising events and Christmas/Spring concerts that start with beginner band (the word cacophonous comes to mind). It is bittersweet however as it is the end of an era as we've had a child at this school since 2000 and I am very much looking forward to Chunky's stint as Captain Hook in the end of year school production of Peter Pan. In less than a month he'll be starting the summer before his freshman year of high school. How did this happen?! Before the summer begins however we have to get through graduation events ... nothing too crazy but of course we'll mark the occasion with photos and so I asked Chunky to "dress up". What to wear should be less dramatic for a boy, but Chunky is not your average boy ... he has particular tastes and likes to express his individualism. I made a deal with him ... I'd find clothes that were him and he'd get a haircut more on the hair later. So here's what I came up with:

The lobster tie is a nod to the role he had in last year's school play, Alice in Wonderland. I intentionally got Vans without laces because it reflects his laid back surfer style. And for some odd reason he's been talking about wanting red pants for the better part of a year. Mission accomplished. Stay tuned for official photos

March 27, 2014

Over/Under Debate

Love this! I'm definitely an over ... organized, take charge sometime over-achiever

March 14, 2014


This story is interesting - from both perspectives.

March 10, 2014

Comfort stew

I have to share one of my favorite recipes of the moment ... Tuscan Chicken Stew. This is comfort food at it's best - hearty, flavorful and looks great. I'd serve it to guests in a heartbeat. It all started when I came across spices in a bubble pack at the grocery store for about $1 - McCormick's Recipe Inspirations. I love cooking with spices and have quite a few at my disposal, but don't want to spend money for only one recipe. This caught my eye and I thought I might have everything on hand but wanted to buy it for the recipe. I also love that it's an Italian dish without pasta as hubby doesn't like pasta so it can be challenging to connect with my roots through cooking. It turns out I do have all the spices on hand so it's become a frequent go-to. The recipe calls for spinach but I substituted with kale the first time I made it as that's what I had on hand. I used spinach tonight and it was just as good, though I think I like the kale a bit better. I used wine the first time but used water tonight as I didn't have a bottle open and it seemed silly to open one just for this - I definitely like the depth that wine gives but water didn't detract from the tastiness at all. This could easily be made vegetarian by omitting the chicken and would cut down on the prep time as well. I took a picture but it did not do it justice - I won't be winning any awards for photo journalism in the near future.

March 7, 2014


Yes, I am the lamest blogger ever. And at this point I'm going to have to say I'm ok with that.

In honor of the Oscars earlier this week and the newest little princess of Sweden I am sharing two of my favorite "royal" blogs. Some people stalk celebrities, but I have always been a royal watcher ... just ask my BFF who had to get up at some ungodly hour in July 1981 to watch Charles and Di marry (I may have even made scones or crumpets or something).

This one is just photos and focuses on style, including Hollywood stars and runway fashion.

This is a bit more focused on history, especially tiaras.

Have a royal day!

February 22, 2014

Who knew?

All these years and I didn't know there was a national margarita day!

Mark Feb 22 on all your future calendars!

February 17, 2014


I am not old. I am not old. I am not old. I. am. NOT. old!

My firstborn turned 20 two days ago - no longer a teenager and officially an adult. How is that even possible?! Um, I'm only 29. I'm actually not one of those who say they're younger than they are or hate their birthdays I love ME days! It's just that I think I'm younger than I am ... likely a hallmark of immaturity. But hey, attitude and positive thinking go a long way, right?! There's that whole mind-body connection thing. Work with me

I love my daughter ... she is the best of my and hubby's qualities plus her own sweet sassiness. She is confident, motivated, loving, bubbly and bright. She is currently a brunette, but was born a tow head and it comes out in her many "blonde moments". She's fiercely loyal to those she loves and has a soft spot for animals, kids and the elderly. Studying to become a respiratory therapist, she will undoubtedly achieve everything she sets out to and make the difference in countless lives. She is my buddy in movies, Olympics watching, mani/pedis and shopping.

Favorite eats: Caesar Salad, Fettucine Alfredo, steak, broccoli and junk food
Favorite people: bestie Abby, boyfriend Steven and her baby, Mittens
Favorite shows: Kardashians (sigh), Game of Thrones, Walking Dead and True Blood
Favorite places: her room, Chipotle and the mall

I am excited to see what lies ahead for Sassy's 21st year!

February 16, 2014

Busy baker

I have been in my happy place the last two weekends ... baking. First I was inspired by this post to make something special for one of my valentines (Hi Mom!). These turned out delicious but next time I'll make them much smaller ... they were about 2" in diameter and so addictive you couldn't just stop at one or two. Before I knew it they were gone! It didn't help that Abbie the wonder dog had a nice big snack while I turned my back for three minutes gee whiz, a girl can't even go to the bathroom around here without having to lock up the goods ... she was literally in the doghouse.
Yesterday I whipped up vanilla cupcakes with Nutella frosting for Sassy and then because I had a whole bunch of frosting leftover I made vanilla macarons.

 I have been trying to perfect the macaron for over a year now and finally achieved success! I would feel incredibly accomplished except I know this could be fleeting ... macarons are notoriously temperamental. While I was at it I made a batch of cranberry pistachio biscotti. A certain someone has dropped some not so subtle hints that they needed restocking. And finally I made hubby a special treat with this recipe for copycat Shamrock Shake... fantastic!

January 25, 2014

Camelback Vortex

The Polar Vortex is back ... for the third time. As I write this the temperature is -3°F with a windchill of (feels like) -22°F.
I can't believe I left this to come back to the arctic!
I was in Scottsdale, Arizona for a work conference earlier this week. It was also a mini getaway ... beautiful resort and awesome food. I went with a work colleague and she convinced me to hike up Camelback Mountain the first day we were there. Holy moly rocky is that climb a beast and going down isn't any easier! The view was beautiful when I was able to catch my breath long enough to look at it (the following photo is my coworker Jen, not me).

I made it half way up ... someone  told me I was 3/4 up but I finally saw the markers and was pretty pleased that 1) I made it up as far as I did and B) I hadn't seen the markers before I did or would have stopped sooner. Jen made it all the way to the top and said it was really hard as you had to climb jagged rocks with your hands. Maybe I'll go back some day and make it up even higher. For now I will let the memories of a warm beautiful sunny day climbing a mountain carry me through the latest vortex.

January 21, 2014

Bullets & Links

What I'm loving:
  • My treadmill ... I do 30-60 minutes a day with a break here and there for commitments/laziness. This is major for me. I even broke out in a jog ... twice ... on two separate occasions. Who would have ever thought?! Yay me and since today is Tuesday I'm counting this as my first Take It Off Tuesdays post of the year because this is my blog and I can do what I want here (within reason of course)
  • A smart, sexy man who loves his wife and kids, isn't afraid to show it and knows how to use curse words to emphasize a good point
  • Only 15 days until the XXII Olympics ... where's the torch
  • I made homemade caramel sauce and feel like I conquered Mt Everest ... how beautiful are my apple crostatas with salted caramel?! They taste even better than they look if you can believe it.

What I'm not loving:
  • Cancer ... my friend's mom has it, two of my friends have it and it sucks. Big time.
  • Food waste ... this is provocative and I am on a mission to be more conscientious. On that note, I used leftover half & half singles and sugar packets from a recent catered office event for the crusts of my crostatas above ... I sort of feel like my great-grandma who took sugar, creamer and jelly from restaurants

January 6, 2014

Trouble on the Tundra

This was the title of a local newspaper article about our weather. We're getting hit hard here in the Midwest, but so are lots of folks (except the coasts).

On the bright side, the winter Olympics are in 32 days and summer is only 166 days away!