Friday, April 30, 2010

Show Us Your Life -- Money Saving Tips

This week's Show Us Your Life topic over at Kelly's Korner is Money Saving Tips. Being a single girl, it's hard to be fabulous on a single income, especially in this economy. So I am always looking for ways to save money, especially when it comes to fashion and beauty.

My biggest tip is that in order to save money, you have to shop smart, and sometimes you have to hold out for deals. I of course always want instant gratification, so it’s hard to hold out until things go on sale, but it’s totally worth it in the end.

Coupons – I am a big fan of coupons, and am always signing up for email and mailing lists where I can get great coupons. I don’t think I ever go shopping for clothes, crafts, or even beauty items without a coupon.

Store Cards/Reward Cards – Store credit cards are great because you can get awesome rewards and coupons. Also, I think the sales people tend to treat you better and help you out even more when you are using a store card or coupon. Does anyone else ever feel that way?? It’s like, oh you have our card! Now I will be your best friend and show you amazing deals!! They probably think you will or have spent a ton, which I typically have!! Just make sure you pay them off every month, because paying interest kind of defeats the purpose of saving money =)

DIY – One of the best ways to save money is to do it yourself. I know sometimes it’s quicker and easier to pay someone to do things, but in the end it’s always costlier. I have been doing my own pedicures and manicures for years. I actually taught myself to do a French manicure, and it actually looks pretty good (years later!). I bought a lot of the True Blue Spa products at Bath and Body Works to do all of this at home and they have some great products for your feet. It all probably cost me the same amount as one really good pedicure, and the products typically last me all year. I also think it’s important to buy good quality nail polish. I only use OPI, and it’s what they use in the salon anyway. It’s a little more expensive but the bottle lasts a long time and it tends to not chip so quickly. I can typically get a week or so of my nails looking pretty good before they start to chip.

Mix expensive with inexpensive – By mixing expensive items with inexpensive items, you can still feel like you are being pampered, but at the same time you won’t be broke. One example of this is that I always mix my expensive scented body lotion with some inexpensive scent-free body lotion (like the generic brand of Vaseline Intensive Care). I am very dry, especially in the winter, and if I just used the expensive scented kind, I would go through a bottle every other week! By mixing it with an inexpensive lotion (which I buy in the largest bottle possible!), I can stretch out the scented lotion, and it’s actually more moisturizing for me. And I still smell good!

Hopefully you can use some of these tips, and I actually have even more tips here. You can also head over to Kelly’s Korner for even more money saving tips.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Recipe for a Girls' Night

So my girls came over Sat night and we had a SATC Girls' Night. Although it's funny, we only watched one episode of SATC. We spent most of the night talking and catching up (we hadn't seen each other in about a month!)

Anyway, just wanted to share a few things I made for the evening. I prepared most of it ahead of time because I spent the majority of the day at the Beth Moore So Long Insecurity similcast (which was A-MAZ-ING!). I will post about that later this week. I really need a few days to let it all sink in and process.

BTW: The first two are my versions of the recipes. You can click on the hyperlink for the original recipes

Easy White Pizza -- from 5 Ingredient Fix (so easy, and so good!)

1. Take 1 large pre-made pizza crust
2. Brush with olive oil
3. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese (I think I used about 1.5 cups)
4. Drop tablespoon sized amounts of ricotta cheese (I used the low fat version) all over the pizza
5. Add a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6. Sprinkle with italian seasoning
7. Bake according to the instructions on the pizza crust package (about 10-12 mins at 375 degrees, or until brown and crispy)

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade -- from Sandra Lee (I've made this before, and it's always a hit!)

Mix the following into a pitcher:
-- 1 (12-ounce) can frozen concentrated pink lemonade
-- 1 bottle (750ml) of white wine of your choice
-- 3 cups lemon lime soda (Sprite, 7-up, it all works)
-- 1/2 cup vodka
-- handful of frozen blueberries to make it pretty
(Recommended to let sit for an hour to let all the flavors blend together)

Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake -- from BHG April 2010 issue (FYI this is sooo awesome, and also low in fat and calories):

-- 1 cup whole wheat flour
-- 1 cup sugar
-- 6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
-- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
-- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
-- 1/4 tsp. salt
-- 3/4 cup water
-- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
-- 1 egg
-- 1 cup frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
-- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In blender combine water, blueberries, and the egg. Cover and blend until smooth. Add to flour mixture. Whisk until well combined. Pour into greased 8x8x2-inch baking pan.
2. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Invert onto serving platter.
3. In small microwave-safe bowl combine dessert topping and chocolate pieces. Micro-cook, covered, on 50 percent power (medium) 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Let stand 5 minutes. Pour onto cooled cake, spreading evenly.

Makes 9 servings.

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 230
Total Fat: 6 g

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pink Saturday - 4/24/10

“It's really hard to walk in a single woman's shoes -- that's why you sometimes need really special shoes!” – Carrie SATC

That is probably one of my favorite quotes from Sex and the City! And I thought it was very appropriate to share today since I am having a SATC DVD party tonight with my girls. We are going to watch our favorite episodes of SATC.

And of course I am totally excited about the SATC movie coming up in a few weeks. We are all planning on getting together for a girls night to go see it. This will actually be our 2 year anniversary of our group because our group's first meeting was 2 years ago at the first SATC movie premier. I hadn't joined the group yet, but we did have a SATC movie DVD launch party later that year, so I did get to watch the movie with the girls then.

Hope everyone has a great Pink Saturday! Check out Beverly's blog for more info on Pink Saturday and to find other Pink Saturday participants.

The blog that I choose to visit this week was Le monde d' Erika. Erika is from Europe, and she has a bunch of fun crafty things on her blog and some great photographs. I am loving the pink dress created in cross stitch in her blog header!

Image source

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Show Us Your Life -- How We Met

My boyfriend and I have been dating for about 10 months. It's crazy because it doesn't feel that long. Anway, we actually met through online dating. We both hate to admit it though. But as you get older it gets harder and harder to meet good quality men (especially when you are working all the time!).

So around the first part of June I had decided to give online dating just one more try. I had been doing the online dating thing for about 9 months, and I had gone out on a ton of dates, but just never clicked with anyone. For some reason I just kept finding things wrong with every guy I went out with. Part of me was worrying that I might have some type of commitment issue going on, and because of my ex, that wouldn't suprise me.

Anyway, so I decided to give it one more try for one more month and then see what happens. If I didn't meet anyone, then I was going to take some time off (online dating is actually a lot of work!) So I was searching for potential guys, and I came across this guy that was kind of cute. I think I "winked" at him, and then just went on. I don't normally like to make the first move with guys, but the "wink" option is a great way to let a guy know you are interested, and then they can make the first move by emailing you. He emailed me back a few days later, and we instantly hit it off.

It's interesting because we found out in the first couple of emails that his hometown is like 30 mins from my hometown. And then we found out that we both used to work at the same grocery store (in the same town!). He worked there until the Spring of 1995, and I started working there in the Fall of 1995, so we just missed each other by 6 months! We always say, wonder what would have happened if we met each other back then. We could have been together for 15 years!! (Ok wow, now I feel kind of old...ha!)

Anyway, so on June 17, we went on our first date to PF Changs. I remember watching him walk through the door and thinking, wow he is even cuter in person! We both had great conversation over dinner, and then after dinner he asked me if I wanted to go somewhere and get a drink. Of course I didn't want the date to end, so we went and had a drink at Adobe Gillas. We left around 10 pm, and he walked me to my car and told me he had a great time and then gave me a hug.

Of course I worried will he call me, but he did call me the next day, and I think we have spoken on the phone almost every day since then (there have only been a few times that we haven't spoken, but we typically at least leave each other voicemails if we can't get a hold of each other (usually due to traveling).

For our second date (if you can call it that), I actually went to one of his hockey games. I kept thinking to myself, I hardly know this guy, why am I going to his game, but I did and thought it was kind of cool.

I am so excited because we are going on our first vacation together beginning next weekend. We don't spend a ton of time together (usually because of my busy work schedule...we see each other a couple of times a week though), so it should be interesting to spend an entire week together! Wish us luck!!

Happy Earth Day!

Image source

I have been trying my best to incorporate “Going Green” in my home. Some of these things are rather simple and easy, and actually not only helps the environment, but also helps save money as well!

Energy saving light bulbs – about a year ago, I replaced all of my light bulbs with energy saving light bulbs. Now my electric bill was never really high to begin with, but I did see a small decrease in my bill after the switch. Plus they last a really long time, so that keeps me from having to stand up on a ladder or chair to replace my ceiling lights =)

Turing off the lights – I am really good at turning off lights, but I do need to work on unplugging chargers. I have heard that this uses 5 watts of energy per hour when they aren’t recharging a battery.

Recycling – I have been recycling paper, plastic and glass for about a year now. It’s amazing how much this cuts down on my trash. I actually now have a little trash can under my sink for trash, and I only have to take it out a couple of times a week. I used to have a large trash can, but I found that the majority of my trash was recyclable, so now I just have a Rubbermaid bin that I use to hold my recycling. Luckily I don’t have to separate my recycling, so I just throw it all in together.

Water bottles – I installed a Brita water filter on my kitchen faucet, so I just keep filling up my water bottles instead of drinking bottled water. We also have water filters at work. This helps to save a TON of money on drinks throughout the day. I started buying those Crystal Light drink packets also to flavor my water. They are only about $2 or $3 for a pack of 12 and are very tasty.

Gardening – The last couple of years I have been growing my own tomatoes. Last year I attempted bell peppers and cucumbers, but they didn’t grow very well because I can only grow them in containers. This year I will try the tomatoes again for sure, and I am going to start my own herb garden as well. I love growing my own vegetables. It makes me feel proud that I can actually grow something that I can then eat!

Paying bills online – I no longer get any paper statements, which helps keeps the amount of mail I have to go through down as well. I actually pay everything online, and utilize to pay some of my bills. They have a wide variety of utility bills that you can pay online, and they email you when the bill is due. With only a few clicks, you can pay you bill easily each month.

I am sure there are a lot of other things that I can be doing to help the environment, but I feel that every little thing counts. If you have any "Go Green" tips, please share! I actually found even more tips on Southern Living's website.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

So Long, Insecurity

So I finally finished the book So Long, Insecurity and I loved it! And I just finished it in time because one of the churches not far from me is broadcasting the simulcast of Beth Moore's event in Atlanta this Saturday, and I just got tickets to attend it. I am so excited to hear her speak (somewhat) in-person.

So I'll admit I was a little skeptical of the book at first, but by the final chapter I really felt like I had not only learned something, but that I actually felt like I was starting to see some changes in my confidence.

I actually started this book almost 2 months ago. I was going through some tough times at work, which were starting to impact my personal life as well. I came across this book through another blog that I follow and I thought it sounded interesting. After researching it a little further, I finally decided to purchase the book. I actually debated on renting it from the library, but am so glad that I purchased it. There were a couple of times where I was so moved that I actually took notes in the book to refer back to.

The first couple of chapters were ok, but things started to really hit home around chapter 5 where it started to explain where insecurity comes from. This chapter hit me like a ton of bricks.

In this chapter Beth talks about dramatic change and how sometimes change can be so dramatic that it will impact you for years to come. I admit that I hate change, especially big changes, and the last couple of years I have had to deal with some big changes. I don’t mind little changes, but I always fear big changes like what if I lose my job, or my home, or what if something happens to my family, friends, boyfriend, etc. With the economy these days, there are a lot of changes that can occur that you just cannot control. I guess change that I cannot control is my biggest fear of all. This is where I start questioning, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”

Beth explains that “God uses change to change us. He doesn’t use it to destroy us or to distract us but to coax us to the next level of character, experience, compassion, and destiny.” I’ll admit that when I read these 2 sentences I just had to jump up and highlight this part of the book!

The end of the book wraps up by once again focusing on fear. Beth quotes the following verse (and changes “he” for “she” for more impact):

“[She] will have no fear of bad news; [her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. [Her] heart is secure, [she] will have no fear; in the end [she] will look into triumph on [her] foes.” Psalm 112:7-8

Beth translates this passage by saying that no matter how bad things may seem, God will help to work things out to our advantage in the end. One exercise she explains is to think about one of your worst fears. And think about how this will impact your life. You may grieve, you may be very mad, and it may really impact your life. But then think what you would do to get through it, and think about 6 months or 1 year, or even 5 years later, how do you think you would have gotten through it and how would your life be different. She says it’s important to think about more than just the immediate changes and impacts on your life, but to think about how chances are you will get through it, and your life will move on. One of my favorite quotes is “If God took you to it, He’ll get you through it.”

There are many more things that I took away from this book, but I won’t bore you any longer. I highly suggest this book to anyone who may have insecurities, or really to any woman out there whether you think you are insecure or not. This book really causes you to think, and of course Beth is so encouraging and empowering that just a few chapters in you already feel so much more confident as a woman.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pomegranate and Mint Sorbet

A few weeks ago I got the new Giada at Home cookbook and was so excited to try out some new recipes.

Image Rights

This weekend I tried her Pomegranate and Mint Sorbet and it was sooo good! If you have an ice cream maker you have to try this. And if you don't have one, run out and get one (I think you can get them for less than $30).

Pomegranate and Mint Sorbet:
-- 1 cup Mint Simple Syrup, recipe follows
-- 2 cups 100 percent pomegranate juice (recommended: Pom Wonderful)
-- 1 cup orange juice
-- 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
-- Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
Special equipment: an ice cream maker
In a glass pitcher, combine the Mint Simple Syrup, pomegranate juice, and orange juice. Pour the pomegranate mixture in an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last 10 minutes of freezing time, add the mini chocolate chips.
Scoop the sorbet into dessert bowls and garnish with fresh mint sprigs.
I have a Rival ice cream maker, and this only took 40 mins. After 30 mins I added the chips.
Mint Simple Syrup
-- 1 cup sugar
-- 1/2 cup water
-- 1 packed cup packed fresh mint leaves
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and mint leaves over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool for 20 minutes. Strain before using.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Savannah Style and Coffee Table Decorating

I love love love Paula Deen, and I also love Savannah, so when I found out about Paula Deen's new book Savannah Style, I immediatly ordered it from

Image Rights

The book is full of beautiful pictures of her home, as well as other beautiful homes around Savannah. I think my favorite section was the section on gardens. Oh what I would give to be able to get lost in some of those lovely gardens. I will be in Savannah in a few weeks on vacation, so hopefully I'll run into some of them!

In addition to getting lost in the style of Savannah, I also worked on my coffee table centerpiece this weekend. Last week I made a post about working on a display for my coffee table. I had asked for some comments/ideas, and this is what I have come up with (for now) =)


I kept the white tray because I thought it would be fun for spring/summer. I also hadn't used it in a while, so I thought it would be a nice change. Using inspiration from the Savannah Style book, I came up with a fun flower arrangement using some peony's that I had from a long time ago, and I added some hydrangeas and some other greenery to fill it in. This vase is from my crystal collection, which I love!!


I also included this fun purple flower plate that I found at Target a few weeks ago. At the time I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but I figured I would find something. I added a B&BW's candle, and ta-da!

Thanks everyone for your comments, and I am sure in a few weeks I'll change it up again!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pink Saturday - 4/17/10

Happy Pink Saturday!


I am really enjoying all of the flowering trees this spring. I don't know if it is because we had snow on the ground for 3 months, and I am just totally ready for spring, or what, but I am really starting to notice all of the flowers and buds on all of the trees and they are just beautiful and seem to be everywhere!

This pink tree is outside of my building at work. Everyday I walk past this tree and the other day it just all of the sudden bloomed with these beautiful pink flowers. My boss's office actually over looks this tree, and the other day we were telling him how jealous we were of his view.

Last weekend I took some more pictures of some trees and flowers around my neighborhood, so feel free to check them out here.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far! Check out Beverly's blog for more info on Pink Saturday.

And the blog that I checked out this week was Happier Than a Pig In Mud. I admit, I just loved the name of this blog!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Samoas Bars

My all time favorite Girl Scout cookies are the Samoas. I also like the Thin Mints, but if I had to choose, I think I would choose the Samoas.

I came across this recipe on Baking Bites and just had to try them out. They were sooo good! I actually took some into work the other day, and they were gone very quickly! Everyone loved them. I admit though, they are kind of time consuming, but were well worth it!


Samoas Bars

Cookie Base:
-- 1/2 cup sugar
-- 3/4 cup butter, softened
-- 1 large egg
-- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-- 2 cups all purpose flour
-- 1/4 tsp salt

First, make the crust. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepapred pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

-- 3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
-- 12-oz good-quality chewy caramels (or I found some baking caramels in the baking aisle which worked out just fine, no need to unwrap!)
-- 1/4 tsp salt
-- 3 tbsp milk
-- 10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.

Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled. When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).

Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper (actually I just spread the chocolate onto the base, the shortbread bottom was a little crumbly so it was easier to just spread; I then turned the bars upside down onto a baking rack).

Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off (wonderful idea!!) and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 bar cookies. (although I cut mine into larger bars and got 16 bars)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pictures From My New Camera

So over the weekend I purchased a new digital camera. My old camera was about 8 years old, and was a 3.5 MP. I had been debating for a while how much longer this camera was going last, and was a little afraid it would die on me during my upcoming vacation.

Well the other day I noticed the battery was getting ready to die, and so I thought, why don't I just look online and see how much cameras were going these days. I was shocked that I could get a 12 MP camera for under $100! So I thought, maybe now was the time to break down and buy a new camera.


So of course after I purchased said camera from Tar-jay, I had to go and try it out. There are some beautiful trees around my neighborhood, and every day as I passed them I thought, I need to take a picture! So here they are!





Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pink Saturday -- 4/10/10

For this week's Pink Saturday, I wanted to focus on decorating. And I need your help!

I have been looking for centerpiece/decorations for my dining room table and my living room coffee table for some time now, and can't seem to figure out what I want to do.


This is a fun pink/purple orchid (faux, because I would probably kill a real one in a matter of days) I found for my dining room table, but I am not sure I am 100% happy with it. I left the tag on it, so let's see if it makes it through the weekend. I have paired it with a cute green table runner (with cute butterflies and fireflies) and my crystal candle holders with sage green candles.

At first I was looking to either buy or make a topiary, but I already have 2 in my house, so I was trying to find something a little different, and I think orchids are very pretty.

I have 2 options so far for my coffee table.


This has been on my coffee table for a couple of years now. The base is from Southern Living at Home, and I filled with some ivy and then the glass hurricane is from Pier 1. I like it, but I am just kind of bored with it since I have been looking at it every day for a few years (I just keep changing out the candle and the ivy depending on the season).


I had this on my coffee table about 6 years ago. The tray is also from Southern Living at Home, and I weaved some ivy in the little holes on the side of the tray. It's a little big for my coffee table, and I can't seem to figure out what I want to put in the tray. Right now I have one of my crystal vases (matches my candle holders) and a Southern Living at Home planter with a candle. I like the tray, but am not 100% happy with what's in it. (I also think I need to straighten out that's the same ivy I had from way back when I used this tray...ha!)

I am open to ideas that can either improve my options or even some new options as well. Let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy Pink Saturday. To find out more about Pink Saturday, check out Beverly's blog.

The Pink Saturday participant that I visited this week was Mary Beth at live. laugh. make something. I just loved her "Peep Show" post from last week! Check out her blog.

Friday, April 9, 2010

My Style - 4/9/10

I was really happy with my outfit today. This doesn't always happen, which I think most women will relate to! =) Anyway, just wanted to share a little bit of my style with you.


Jeans, belt and cardigan from Ann Taylor Loft

Shoes (you can't tell but they are dark blue peep toes with a little silver accent) and top from Macys (from a few years ago)


Here is a close-up of the top. It is a really shiny fabric, with puffy sleeves, and has a lot of fun blue and green colors. I adore this cardigan. I got this over the winter at Loft, and it has some fun fabric flowers on the upper left hand side (you can't see in the pic), and it has fun sparkly buttons. I wear cardigans almost all the time. Even in the summer because my office is always cold and you have to wear lots of layers to keep warm. I am also lucky because I get to wear jeans almost every day (unless I have a client meeting).

My newest favorite pieces from Lia Sophia. I finally got these earrings a few days ago from when I attended one of my friend's parties a few weeks ago. The picture doesn't do them justice, but the teardrops are a really deep blue, and the stones at the top are a real sparkly lighter blue. And I love this bracelet. I wear it almost every day!

Thanks for taking a look at my style today!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Margarita Chicken Recipe

I made this for dinner tonight for my boyfriend, and not only was it delicious, but super easy!

Margarita Chicken -- from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking

-- 4 bone-in chicken breast halves
-- 1 can (10 ounces) frozen margarita mix (recommended: Bacardi), thawed
-- 2/3 cup tequila
-- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
-- 2 tablespoons chicken seasoning (recommended: McCormick's Grill Mates)

Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Place the chicken and marinade in large resealable plastic bag. Squeeze out the air and seal. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

Set up the grill for direct cooking over medium heat and oil grate when ready to start cooking. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place chicken on hot oiled grill and cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until done.

INDOOR: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare chicken breasts as directed. Roast chicken breasts in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

I actually only used the margarita mix and the chicken seasoning (forgot the tequila at the store, and don't really like cilantro) and it worked out just fine. I put the chicken and margarita mix in a bag this morning to marinate in the fridge. I then put the chicken in a baking dish and sprinkled with chicken seasonging and ended up baking the chicken because I get a little nervous about grilling chicken.

The chicken had a very strong lime taste, and needed a little salt, but it was so good. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Movie & Book Reviews -- Alice in Wonderland and The Time Travelers Wife

I saw two movies this weekend. On Friday my Mom and I went to see Alice in Wonderland. It was really good, but we both felt that we needed to see it again because there were a few things that we probably missed.

(Image from Google)
What I didn't realize is that this movie picks up from the cartoon movie. In the cartoon movie Alice is a little girl who falls down a rabbit hole and ends up in Wonderland. In this version, Alice is in her early twenties, and returns to Wonderland. I didn't realize this until the movie was almost over. I thought she was younger in the first movie, but it had been a while since I had seen that version. Overall, it was a good movie, and I recommend you check it out.

On Saturday, my Mom and I watched the Time Travelers Wife. I had just finished the book, and actually bought the movie about a month ago when it first came out, but wanted to wait until I finished the book to read it.

(Image from Google)

I liked the book, but thought it dragged on a little too much. I thought they could have cut out about 1/3 - 1/2 of the book and it still would have been pretty good. The movie actually was about 1/2 of the book, so I did like that part about the movie. The movie cut out a lot of her childhood, but that was part of the book that I thought could have been cut out anyway. There were a couple of things I wish the movie would have shown, but I think the movie did a good job of showing the main parts of the book.

Overall there were things about the book and the movie that I liked better than the other, but in the end I enjoyed them both. It's funny because typically I like the book version better than the movie version, but there were things I liked about both of them in this case.

I am glad that I read the book before watching the movie. The endings were both similar but different. I think I liked the ending of the movie better than the ending of the book. Of course I cried during both endings. I highly recommend at least watching the movie.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Mocha Brownies

For our cookout this weekend, I made the Pioneer Woman's Mocha Brownies. They were so easy to make, very rich, but very good. I loved the actual brownies. The mocha icing was good, but almost a little too rich and sweet for me. I think the brownies would be great with some ice cream and some hot fudge syrup. I highly recommend you try this recipe, and I will for sure make it again sometime.

One tip, slowly mix in the coffee. I put all of it in at once, and my icing turned out really runny. I would add in a little at a time, or else you will have to add more powdered sugar. I had to add a ton of powdered sugar to thicken up my icing, and that might have been why my icing was a little too sweet. It does thicken up a little when you put it in the fridge, so that did help out a lot.

Pioneer Woman's Mocha Brownines

4 1-oz. squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Mae’s Mocha Icing:
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh-brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature

For brownies:
Preheat the oven to 325ยบ F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick baking spray.

To make the brownie batter, place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second increments, being careful not to let it burn. Set it aside to cool slightly.

In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. With the mixer on low speed, drizzle in the melted chocolate. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the flour to the bowl and mix just until combined; do not over mix. Pour the batter in the baking pan. Spread it to even out the surface. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the center is no longer soft. Set the brownies aside to cool completely before icing.

For icing:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Mix until slightly combined, then add 1/2 cup of the brewed coffee. Whip until the icing is the desired consistency. If the icing is overly thick, add 1/4 cup more coffee. It should be very light and fluffy.

Ice the cooled brownies, spreading the icing on thick. Refrigerate until the icing is firm, and then slice the brownies into squares.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!


One of my favorite things about Easter are all of the beautiful Easter lillys and other pretty flowers that are all over the church. Today, the sanctuary smelled wonderful. Of course, it totally set my allergies off, but I didn't care. It was a great church service today as well.

Yesterday our family all got together (since my brother had to work today), and had a cookout. We also hid eggs for Jack to find, and colored easter eggs. Below are some fun pictures from the weekend.

Hope everyone had a very nice Easter holiday!


Jack found all of the eggs (twice!!)


Jack and Grandma reading one of his new books from his Easter basket.


Jack coloring eggs. He dropped the eggs in the cups and then pulled them out of the cups (with only a minimal mess!)


Jack and Bella posing with their eggs. Jack was learing to share his eggs with his little sister.


Miss Audrey posing for the camera.


Bella posing with some eggs. She really loved those bright colored eggs!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pink Saturday -- 4/3/10

Happy Pink Saturday everyone! And Happy Easter!

Easter is one of my favorite holidays, really mostly for the meaning of Easter. Typically we go to church and then have a nice lunch with the family.

One of our Easter traditions is that we have to wear a new outfit for Easter. I have had a new outfit I believe every year (except one year I remember it snowed, so my spring dress wasn't going to keep me warm, so I had to break out a pair of dress pants). The tradition is if you don't wear a new outfit, a bird will poop on your head!! My Mother claims that happened one time to her Grandmother, so it is a must to have something new!

This is my Easter dress from last year

This is me and my nephew Jackson. Isn't he adorable. I got this dress last year from Ann Taylor Loft and just absolutly loved the blue in this dress!

This is my Easter dress I am planning on wearing this year:

This is a Lilly Pulitzer dress that I got off of Ebay a few months ago. I had been looking at Lilly dresses for some time, but couldn't bring myself to paying full price for one. When I found this dress on Ebay for $39.99 (including shipping), I immediatly placed a bid. I figured I would be outbid, but no one else placed a bid, so in a few short days, it was all mine. I was so excited when I got the dress, because it fit perfectly!

I also got these sandals last weekend at DSW. They are wedges, and they look very cute with the dress. I am so excited that it will be in the 70's this weekend so that I can actually wear my dress and sandals and will still be comfortable.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and is having great weather as well! And please check out Beverly's blog for even more Pink Saturday!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Frugalista Fashion Finds

This week I found some great items, at awesome prices!

I found this dress at Ann Taylor Loft. It was originally $89.50, and I got it on clearance for, get this, $4.88! It is a petites, so it's a little short, and I had to add a belt, but I think it will work out just fine.

I also got these sandals at Target for $17.99

They look to me like knock-offs of Jack Rogers Navajo sandles. I love the white gold color and think they will go with many things. Just love them!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tail Waggers Recipe

Just wanted to share my dog treat recipe that I talked about the other day. This recipe comes from my Southern Living Incredible Cookies cookbook -- yes a dog treat recipe came from a cookie cookbook =)

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
3/4 cups uncooked regular oats
1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine first 7 ingredients (dry ingredients); make a well in the center of dry ingredients.

Whisk together broth, oil and 1 egg; add to dry ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms.

Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut with a 4 inch dog bone-shaped cookie cutter, and place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Whisk together remaining egg and Worcestershire sauce; brush on cookies.

Position oven racks to divide oven into thirds. Bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours, placing a baking sheet on each rack. Turn oven off, and let cookies stay in oven with door closed 2 more hours.

Makes 40 (4-inch) canine cookies.