Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pink Saturday - 7/31/10 (Love of Cardigans)

Happy Pink Saturday everyone! Can you believe it's the last day in July?!? Where did the summer go?

So for this week's Pink Saturday, I wanted to share with everyone my love of cardigans. So much that I am going to share with you my collection, in my closet!!

This is my collection, and my goal is to have one in every color. I am getting there. Since it's Pink Saturday, can you spot the pink ones??

Right now these are my favorites. I just received the pinkish/red one on the bottom right from Lands End Canvas this week. It's the Heritage Cardigan which I have been hearing so much about. It was on sale over the weekend for $20!!

The dark purple one and the gray one on the left are both from Loft, and the purple/blue/yellow swirly one I got at Macy's a few months ago.

I would love to pick up an orange cardigan for the fall, and I would really like to find a nice emerald green one, and maybe a fun yellow one. I also love cardigans with sparkles, or ruffles or flowers on them, so anytime I see one I typically pick it up if it's a good price.

For more info on Pink Saturday, check out Beverly's blog.

And the blog I wanted to feature this week that I visted last week was Anne-Marie with a dash. Last week she featured her childhood memories of ballet, and it brought back so many memories of my days of dance.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Show Us Your Life - Share Your Testimony

This week’s Show Us Your Life over at Kelly’s Korner is Share Your Testimony.

This is something I have wanted to discuss for some time, but it’s hard to share your problems with everyone on the Internet. But at the same time, you never know who might benefit from hearing what you have to say.

For some time I have struggled with the path my life has taken. At this time in my life, I expected I would be living in my dream home, married with kids, with a career that had really taken off. I felt that overall I was a good person, l went to school for my bachelor and master’s degree, I followed the law, paid my bills on time and did everything a good citizen should do. Although I don’t go to church on a regular basis, I believe in God and try my best to be a good Christian.

So why am I in my early-thirties, divorced, living in an apartment, with no kids, in a job where people who are 3 and 4 years younger than me are in positions above me? I heard a fellow blogger a few weeks ago mention “I plan and God laughs.” I thought how true is that?!?

I am a very analytical, left brain, OCD type person. I typically believe that if you do ABC, then XYZ will happen. For example, I go to school, get my masters, work really hard and a dream job should magically appear. Anyone else feel that way? I can control my destiny, I can control everything, or at least I wish I could.

I looked up online where “Man plans, God laughs” comes from and it is actually a Yiddish proverb “Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht

I then also found a bible verse, which I felt totally relates to this: Psalm 33:10-11 “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations."

We try to control our destiny, whether with good or bad intentions, but no matter what, God is really in charge of our destiny. He has a plan for each of us, and although we may not agree with the path our life is taking, God knows what is good for us, and in the end, he will make sure the what will happen is in our best interest.

I recently purchased the book Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn't Show Up the Way You Thought He Would by Pete Wilson. I haven’t had a chance to read it, but I have heard great things about this book which focuses on when your plans (Plan A) doesn’t happen, why God’s plans (Plan B) probably will work out even better than your original plans. Has anyone else read this book? What did you think? I can’t wait to read it and will be sure to share my thoughts.

It’s taken me a while to realize all of this, and to be honest, every day it’s a struggle to remember God’s plan for me. I keep reminding myself, I am now in a better relationship than I was in before, I recently got promoted and feel that even though I had some road blocks with my career, it is now back on track, and it is probably a good thing I didn’t have kids in my first marriage, because how awful would it be for my kids to deal with a broken marriage. My day will come, and all of my dreams will be fulfilled, I just need to practice having patience (yet again another trait I struggle with).

Thanks for hearing me ramble. Sometimes it helps to just get it all out. Also, I have had the opportunity to help a few women who have come in my life deal with the emotions and questions that come with going through a divorce, so if anyone ever wants to chat, I am totally open to that. Just feel free to leave me a comment with your email.

If I Die Young (song)

I heard this song yesterday on the radio for the first time and I loved it! But it was very emotional and thought provoking for me and I just kept thinking, wow, those are powerful lyrics, I wonder what it all means.

At first I thought was it about suicide, or maybe about a teenager who lost their life too soon.

After a little reseach online, I came across a video of the band explaining what the song is about. They claimed it was a statement of contentment, and right before they wrote the song they were discussing how great things have been for them in their lives, and if it all ended quickly for whatever reason, they would be ok because they were happy with their lives.

They also said that after playing the song for others, they have people come up to them and tell them that the song means very different things to them. Some people have just lost someone, and it makes them feel like everything is going to be ok.

I think a good lesson to learn is to enjoy everyday of your life, and make sure you are living your life in a way that makes yourself proud, because you never know when it will end quickly.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Help Book Review

While traveling earlier this week, I was able to finish reading The Help. I really enjoyed this book so much and highly recommend it.

This book is based in Jackson, Mississippi back in the 50's/60's and is all about segregation. There are really 2 groups of characters in this book -- the white ladies, and the African American house maids. The book goes into discussing the details of their lives -- how the white ladies live and how the house maids live.

The book's main story is about one of the white ladies, who is fresh out of college, returns home and decides she wants to be a writer. Although she lands a job at the local paper writing cleaning advice columns (which is ironic because she has never cleaned a day in her life), she longs to write something of more importance.

After finding out her mother's house maid, who basically raised her as a baby up until she went off to college, was fired, and is nowhere to be found, she started questioning segregation and why the white men and women think the African American men and women are so dirty and diseased and how they needed to be separated from the white folk.

The white writer decides she wants to write a book about house maids working for the white ladies, and she reaches out to some maids to help her tell their story. One of the maids decides to help her out and then they eventually recruit other house maids to tell their story as well.

Not to give away too much, but this book was an emotional ride for me. I truly connected with some of these characters, which is my favorite part about reading. There were moments where I laughed, wanted to cry, and got just plain mad at these white ladies.

Besides their stupidity and ignorance on the differences between whites and African Americans, I think the thing that bothered me the most was how some of the children were really raised by their house maids. One character didn't really act like she even wanted her child. When her maid wasn't around she was like "what do I do with this child??"

I think the parts that I liked best were when the white writer lady and the house maids started to form friendships and pulled together to form this sort of revolution by writing this book. I also really liked how some of the house maids had great stories to tell about their white ladies. Even though it wasn't publicized, the white families really became good friends with their house maids, helped them out when they were in trouble, and even sometimes considered them family.

The end of the book was a little shocking to me, and kind of made me a little angry, but you get the idea that even though it doesn't share what happens to some of the characters, you believe they are all going to be ok, and everything worked out as it should have.

This was probably one of my favorite books, and as I mentioned before, I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for an emotional story that you can really connect with.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

RHNJ & Bethenny Getting Married

Two of my favorite shows right now are the Real Housewives of New Jersey and Bethenny Getting Married (both on Bravo). As they are both coming to a close (BGM season finale is this week, and I am assuming RHNJ should be soon as well), there are many questions that keep me glued to my TV each week waiting to get answered:

1. Is Danielle going to have any friends by the time the show ends, and does she really think she is doing Ashley "a favor" by sending her to jail as a wake up call to get her life together?? I mean come on lady, you are not doing this to "help" the girl. And what is with her wearing her engagement ring right in front of her ex-husband and his wife? I would be completly embarrased if my ex saw me wearing my engagement ring. I mean LOSER...get on with your life!! And of course, could she hug him anymore in front of his wife.

2. Will Ashley go to jail? Part of me thinks she does need a wake up call, but part of me is like come on, she is 19, and it's not like she really hurt her. I think she hurt Danielle's ego more than anything.

3. Will Teresa and Joe lose everything on the show? Obviously there are rumors in the press about filing for bankruptcy, and foreclosing on their house. And you can see little hints in the show where they might be having money troubles, but the woman just keeps spending money. A few weeks ago when the fight broke out between her and Danielle and Teresa went home and told her husband what Danielle said about their house foreclosing, it looked like Joe was a deer in the headlights did they know!! And his comment to Chris (Jacqueline's wife) about the money trickling this a hint to what's to come? I just hope Teresa doesn't find out about her money problems on the show like Lynn did in the RHOC when someone came to their door with an eviction notice on the show and she had no idea they were having money problems. I keep waiting on someone to show up and take away their cars or her jewelry or something.

4. Will Albie get into law school? I sure hope so! I think it is so great that he is taking this time to go through the Police Academy in order to continue to gain experience to become a lawyer someday. You can tell he is really passionate about his future career. And it's great that Caroline is his biggest cheerleader. You can tell she is so proud of her children (and they all seem to have their heads on straight, which is great considering the state of some of the other kids on the show).

5. I am so excited Dina will be on next week's episode. I really liked her, and felt that both she and Caroline are very geniune. The first season you thougth they were the trouble makers, but this season they are trying to stay out of trouble, and I respect them for that. Caroline just sits back and watches Teresa and Jacqueline deal with all the craziness. I think she finds humor in it all.

And of course on Bethenny Getting Married, I am so excited for all the success and everything that has come her way. In the beginning of the RHNY, I liked her for her witty comments. But after learning her background, seeing how she has built her success from nothing and how she had to wait until her late 30's to get everything she wanted, it makes you realize that this girl is real and she really appreciates everything she has in life.

I follow her on Twitter (@Bethenny) and it is amazing how many fans she responds to and how grateful she is her for her fans. On RHNY Jill and Kelly painted her as this fame whore, but I think she is pretty down to earth, and is just enjoying her business and her success. I mean come on, she allowed the paparazzi to photograph her in curlers on her wedding day (see above pic)

I loved watching BGM, and I think the wedding episode was my favorite. I am excited to see her baby and am curious if there will be another season. Maybe "Bethenny Married??" or something like that. If you haven't already seen BGM, the season finale is on tomorrow (Thurs) night @ 10 pm on Bravo.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tips Tuesday -- Homemade Kitchen Cleaner

Over the weekend I ran out of kitchen spray, and of course forgot to add it to my grocery list. After a little research online, I found a simple homemade kitchen cleaner using white vinegar and water. You just mix 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water, and put into a clean spray bottle. When you first spray it you do smell the vinegar, but the smell does quickly disappear.

White vinegar is great for cutting through grease in the kitchen, and cleans hard water stains in the bathroom. It's also a great deodorizer and you can actually use it to get pet smells out of your carpet (if you can stand the smell; you kind of have to spray a lot to get the carpet really wet, so it does take a little time for the smell to go away.)

I also found out from the May/June issue of Cooking with Paula Deen that you can freeze the white vinegar in ice cube trays, then put them in your disposal, turn it on, and it will help deodorize your garbage disposal. I tried it this weekend, and I belive it helped (the disposal was getting kind of smelly, and so far, so good.)

What's great about using white vinegar is that it is cheap, and I already had it on hand, so there was no need to go out to the store to buy anything. Sometimes just having things on hand is reason enough to try it. I am going to continue to try out my new cleaning spray and I recommend you to try it as well. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Kitchen Things, Home Goods Finds & Molten Lava Cakes

A few weeks ago, I came across this cute sugar and creamer set at Anthropology and just had to pick it up.

I then found this cute crock to hold all of my kitchen tools at Home Goods and thought it kind of matched. It actually was a canister and came with a lid, but there was only one, so I figured I would use it to hold my tools. This picture also shows my new Paula Deen salt box I got this week in the mail.

I also found at Home Goods these cute little ramekins that sort of matched as well and I had to make these fun individual Molten Lava Cakes. Boy let me tell you, they were delish.

I love when things sort of match, and you can mix and match things. I think I have a new theme going on in my kitchen, so I'll have to find other things to match. I would like to find some cute white place-settings and a platter in this same theme, so I'll be on the lookout for that next. Of course, who knows what I might come across next. I love a shopping challenge though!

Recipe for Molten Lava Cakes

Look at that ooey gooey goodness!

Recipe from Down Home with the Neely's
**Please note I cut this recipe in half because my ramekins were smaller and this gave me 6 individual cakes (which is more than I really needed anyway), but just so you know you can cut it in half if you don't want as many cakes..

-- 2 sticks butter, unsalted, plus more for ramekins
-- 4 teaspoons sugar
-- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-- Pinch cayenne
-- Pinch nutmeg
-- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
-- 1 cup all-purpose flour
-- 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
-- 6 large eggs
-- 6 large egg yolks
-- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter 8 (6-ounce) ramekins and sprinkle each with about 1/2 teaspoon sugar.

In a saucepan combine butter, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, and chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth; stir frequently. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, confectioners' sugar, eggs and yolks, vanilla extract and almond extract until creamy. Add melted chocolate to the batter and whisk together.

Pour into prepared ramekins.

Bake cakes until the top is stiff and cracked and the edges are dark, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake with a small paring knife then invert onto plates while warm.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pink Saturday 7/24/10 (Pink Kitchen Tools)

The other day I was reading the May/June issue of Cooking with Paula Deen (I'm a little behind on my magazine reading) and there was an article that had a bunch of fun pink kitchen tools. I have a pink spatula from Williams Sonoma, but didn't realize all of the other fun pink kitchen tools and gadgets out there. Here are some of my favorites that I would love to have:

Too bad I already have a red KitchenAid mixer, or else I would totally buy this pink one!

I am in the need of a new blender, so who knows, maybe I'll have to get this one!

I do have this pink apron and a pink oven mit from William's Sonoma, which goes great with my spatula!

And for more Pink Saturday, check out Beverly's blog.

And check out this Pink Saturday participant, The Tablescaper. I just love her pink and green tablescape.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ann Taylor Loft Fall Preview

I received an email today announcing the Ann Taylor Loft Fall Preview (available now online and in stores). Here are some of my fav's:

I love not only the color of this cardigan, but also the ruffle. I will for sure add this to my collection.

I really like this pattern, and of course love the pink and puple. I would probably wear with a white or gray cardigan since I can't wear sleeveless to work (or I would freeze!).

I thought this top had a very unique neckline, and this bronzy/orange color just screems fall.

I really like the neckline of this dress, and the red color is so pretty. I could see myself wearing with tall black boots for fall (and a black cardigan of course!)

I really liked the watercolor pattern of this dress, but I think I would need to add a belt so I looked like I had a waist. Again, would be cute with black boots or heels.

Love these ballet flats. I really like the flower/feathers embellishment.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tips Tuesday -- Splenda Mint Simple Syrup

A few months ago I participated in a weekly blog hop called "Tips Tuesday." Each week, on Tuesday, we shared different tips about whatever the topic was of the week. I loved these posts, and although that blogger is no longer hosting it, I thought I would go ahead and bring it back and make it my own. Therefore, each Tuesday I am going to try and share a different tip of my own, or a tip that I have come across during that week.

I have also put together my own little "Tips Tuesday" button (I am sure you are all which is located in the upper right hand corner of my blog if you want to go back and reference any tips I may have posted.

Ok, so just to side track a little, the other day I was making potato skins, and I couldn't find  my recipe, so I just went to my blog and looked it up. I thought, isn't that funny I am referencing my own blog for something.

So this week's tip is making a mint simple syrup out of Splenda. I LOVE sweet tea, especially when it has a little mint in it, and I could probably drink it by the gallon. But sweet tea = like a million calories. Therefore I was curious if you could make, and get the same results, by making simple syrup out of Splenda which would cut the calories down to almost nothing.

After a little Googling, I found that you can make simple syrup out of Splenda pretty much the same way you make it with regular granulated sugar. Just heat up 1 part water and then mix in 1 part Splenda until it dissolves. Then add in a handful of mint and let it steep until it cools.

One thing to note, Splenda dissolves rather quickly and I actually just heated up the water in a measuring cup in the microwave until it was boiling (took about 2 or 3 mins), and then added in the Splenda, and it dissolved immediatly. Also, I think that Splenda is a little sweeter than regular granulated sugar, so I would start off by adding a little bit at a time. I think I only needed about 1/4 cup of the simple syrup (1/2 cup if you are making a really big pitcher of tea). I would make maybe a 1/2 - 1 cup but then add only a little bit at a time until you get the taste/sweetness you are looking for. You can keep whatever else you make in the refrigerator and use it later.

Splenda does have a slightly different taste than sugar (I am not going to lie there), but I think adding the mint to it helps a lot and makes it taste a little fresher. I am starting to get used to Splenda, so I don't automatically notice the difference. I think you do need to experiment with it a little and figure out the correct amount to get the sweetness you desire, otherwise it is going to taste a little funky. If you get it too sweet it just doesn't taste right, where as if you put in too much sugar, it just tastes even better!! =) Overall, if you are going to have people over, splurge on the sugar, but if you just want something to sip by the pool, try the Splenda, you might even like it.

Also, I have posted a few recipes using mint simple syrup, so I am sure you can use this for any of them. You can check them out here:

Mock-Mint Julip

Pomegranate and Mint Sorbet

I hope you enjoyed this tip, and I look forward to posting even more each week.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Body by Bethenny DVD Review

So about a month ago I purchased what I am calling the Bethenny Trilogy -- Naturally Thin, The Skinnygirl Dish and Body by Bethenny workout DVD. There was a special if you bought all three from Amazon, and of course included free shipping, and it all came to about $34 or so. I have read about 1/2 of Naturally Thin, and am prepared to review both books and of course share recipes with everyone. For now though, I would like to share my thoughts on the Body by Bethenny workout DVD.

This DVD is divided up into 3 parts: 40 mins of yoga, 10 mins of strength training and 5 mins of booty work. I have completed this workout 3 times, and I'll tell you, it's a great workout. I have tried yoga DVDs before, and sometimes I think they are either hard to follow along with, or completely boring.

This yoga workout is very similar to the class I used to take, and it focuses around the sun salutations, so it was pretty easy to follow along with. I will warn you, I don't think it is really for beginners, and if you are a true beginner, I would at least watch the whole workout before attempting it. It's hard trying to follow along when you are standing on your head, so really it would probably be beneficial for everyone to watch before trying (I actually did watch before trying). Also, I think it would be beneficial to learn the sun salutations first, get them down, and then tackle the rest of the workout since the workout is primarily based around those.

I think this is more of an intermediate level workout (although the DVD says it is for all stages). I think a beginner who has been to a couple of classes would be able to get through it, but I consider myself an intermediate, and there were a couple of areas where I struggled. Of course part of this is because I haven't done yoga in a few months, but there are a couple of areas where I need to work on my balance.

As I mentioned I have completed this workout 3 times, and each time I feel like I am getting a good workout and I haven't gotten bored with it yet. I think each time I like to try and focus on different areas, like getting a good workout in my legs or my arms, etc. I think that is what is great about yoga because you can focus on different areas each time and get a completely different workout each time.

The strength training and booty buster sections are quick, easy and I think do give you a little punch to your normal workout. The DVD is set up so you can just go to those quick sections if you only have about 5 or 10 mins.

One of the special features of the DVD is a video of Bethenny sharing her Spinach and Artichoke Dip recipe from the Skinnygirl Dish book. Also, when I purchased the DVD on Amazon, I got immediate access to the video on On Demand, so I could immediately watch it even before it shipped. I didn't know that until after I purchased it, but thought that was kind of cool.

I would highly recommend this workout. It was only about $10 for the DVD, and I think it is totally worth it. I haven't worked out enough to determine if I am going to get amazing results (I think working out to it more than 3 times in a month will be required to get amazing results), but I am hoping that if I can keep up with it, I will have some great results that I can share.

Also, just to give you a heads up, I am going to start posting a weekly "Tips Tuesday," so check back on Tuesday for this week's tip.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pink Saturday - 7/17/10 (My Fair Lazy Book Review)

Happy Pink Saturday everyone! I have been reading a ton of books lately (especially by the pool), so I have a ton of book reviews to share with everyone.

I recently just finished the book My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster. I have read all of her books, she has 5 total, and I love them all. She is very fun, and very sarcastic. All of Lancaster’s books are memoirs, so they are supposed to be reflective of her life. I am sure there is some embellishment thrown in, but they are hilarious and you can only imagine some of this stuff happening to someone.

If you love reality tv, you will especially love the book My Fair Lazy. To give you a little background, in the first book Bitter is the New Black, Lancaster loses her job, and is unemployed for a very long time (maybe 1.5 years or something like that). Anyway, she ends up writing her first memoir about losing her job, and so now she is a successful writer, with a few books under her belt. Because she is now self-employed and likes to spend the majority of her time watching reality tv with her dogs and cats, she has found that she is having trouble socializing with people. She actually thinks that she has never been very good at this, but was successful enough in her past job (due to hard work, not her personality) that she never really noticed. She is finding that she is unable to carry meaningful conversations at dinner parties because she knows nothing about history, culture, politics, or really anything other than reality tv.

In order to overcome this, Lancaster starts on a journey of "Jenaissance" where she "attempts" to be more cultured (emphasis on attempts). While on her book tours, she again “attempts” to go to museums and try out different types of restaurants and sometimes she makes it, and sometimes things happen like good reality tv that keeps her in the hotel room (hey you can't always teach an old dog new tricks...not that I am saying she is an old She also starts attending dinner parties and operas with one of her good friends, which she finds out is a Chicago socialite and gets into tons of parties and gets free tickets all the time.

Of course this journey is full of mishaps, lots of sarcasm, with maybe just a little bit of bitterness thrown in. It’s a great book, but I highly suggest starting with the first book Bitter is the New Black and read them in order because each of the books do reference previous books. You could start with any of them, you won’t get lost, but to get the full effect, it’s best to read in order.

And if you want a daily dose of Lancaster, check out her blog Jennsylvania. You can get a taste of her writing style as well as a daily laugh fest.

For more info on Pink Saturday, please check out our lovely host Beverly.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lowcountry Book Review

Ever since my trip to South Carolina, I have been into reading books about the Lowcountry. Dorothea Benton Frank has written a few books based around the Lowcountry, and I have read 3 of them so far and have loved them all!

Sullivan's Island
The first book I read was Sullivan's Island. This book follows the story of Susan, who has just caught her husband cheating on her, and follows her story of dealing with her ex-husband and going through a divorce, her daughter who is not only dealing with typical teenage things but also the breakup of her family, having to date for the first time in way too many years, and to top it all off, a mediocre job with a creepy co-worker. She begins her process of healing by making many visits to see her sister who lives in their childhood home on Sullivan’s Island. They have such a great bond together that they are almost like best friends, but they still have that bond of being sisters.

What I liked most about this book was that it not only focused on Susan’s present story, it also discussed her past growing up on Sullivan’s Island. Some of my favorite parts were the chapters that talked about her past growing up with a housekeeper who taught the kids all about the Gullah culture (which for those of you who don’t know is an African American culture from the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia). I had never even heard about the Gullah culture until this book, but thought it was kind of fascinating.

Return to Sullivan’s Island
The second book I read was of course the Return to Sullivan’s Island. This book was actually about Susan’s daughter, Beth, who after graduating college is asked by her family to spend a year living at the family’s house on Sullivan’s Island while the family takes off in different directions. At first Beth is not interested in spending a year alone on the island, and feels like she is putting her life on hold. She soon begins to love being back at home on the island, and being still young and carefree, gets into a little trouble during this time.

This book had a little more younger-feel since it was focused on a college graduate-aged main character. It was still a good read, but had a little more of a 20-something chick-lit type feel than the first book. It was also a little predictable, which I won’t really go into because I don’t want to ruin the story.

Lowcountry Summer
I just finished this book last week, and I think it was my favorite of the 3. This book’s main character is Caroline, who is living on the plantation that she grew up on, with her brother living next door. She is divorced, with a son in college, and is currently enjoying her flings with several men from around the town.

The only problem in her life at the moment is worrying about her son who she finds out later is dating an older woman while away at college. That is until her brother’s estranged wife almost kills her youngest daughter (Caroline’s niece) in a car accident in which she was driving drunk. Caroline, with the help of a few friends, has a “come to Jesus” moment with her brother and forces him to take charge of his 4 girls, and send his estranged wife to rehab to get better. The story then focuses on dealing with these 4 girls, 2 of them who are out of control themselves, and all of the changes that this now does to the family.

Caroline is just a fun character to follow. She can be really sweet, but she can also hold her ground, all while wearing pearls and being Martha Stewart picture-perfect. I also like her brother’s live-in girlfriend, Rusty who is super sweet and takes a lot from the 4 girls who obviously hate her because she kind of in a way broke up their family.

This was by far my favorite of the 3 books, although I highly recommend all of them. I will probably continue to read more of Frank’s books as I believe most, if not all, are based around the same type of story in the Lowcountry.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Paula Deen's Watermelon Granita

A few weeks ago, Paula Deen was on The Rachel Ray Show showing fun recipes to celebrate the 4th of July. One of the recipes was a Watermelon Granita, and I just had to try it (especially since I had just purchased a watermelon!)

This recipe was rather simple, but also a little tricky. I'll explain in a min, but the recipe goes like this:


-- 8 cups chopped fresh watermelon
-- 1/2 cup water
-- 1/2 cup sugar
-- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In the work bowl of a food processor, process watermelon until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve, reserving 4 cups juice. Discard solids.

In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Let cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine reserved watermelon juice, simple syrup and lime juice. Pour into a 13x9-inch baking pan, and place in freezer. Freeze for 6 hours or until no liquid remains, scraping with a fork every 2 hours.

My advice:
So, first of all, I had a smaller watermelon, and I only got about 4 cups of cut watermelon and 2 cups of juice, so I just halved the recipe, and it worked out. Also, I substituted Splenda for the sugar, and you could not tell the difference, and it's basically now sugar free (except for the natural sugar in the fruit). Also, the Splenda dissolves very quickly, so I just heated the water in the microwave (about 1 min for the small amount I had to use) and then added the Splenda, and it dissolved immediatly (thus saving the time to boil water). 
The tricky part is that you need to continue to scrap the ice mixture. The recipe says to scrape every 2 hours, but it froze rather quickly, so I had to actually scrape every hour. I really only needed to scrape it about 2 or 3 times and it was pretty frozen.
It is very tastey, and a great light, summery treat. I highly recommend you try it!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pink Saturday - 7/3/10

Happy Pink Saturday everyone! And Happy 4th of July!!

So I have a question for everyone...does anyone know anything about growing hydrangeas in a container? I found out last week that you can grow them in a container, and therefore immediatly went out and purchased one. I LOVE them, they are my favorite flower, and I have been bummed that I don't have a garden to grow them in. When I found out they could be grown in a container, I thought this will be great, and then when I do get a place where I can plant them, I'll just transport them.

From what I have heard, they actually do better up north in a container because then you can take them into an unheated garage or basement during the winter so they don't freeze.

I just love these hydrangeas! I thought this plant had really unique petals...kind of like little flowers all bunched together. Anway, if anyone has any tips, please share them.

Also, last weekend at the Easton Arts Festival, I came across this cutie, and just had to get it! It's a little hound dog.

Hope everyone has a great 4th of July! Enjoy the fireworks!

Also, please check out Beverly's blog for more Pink Saturday.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Buttermilk Chicken

A few weeks ago, I tried this recipe, which was in the June 2010 issue of Everyday Food, and it was so easy and was very tastey! I actually simplified it by using store-bought bread crumbs, but if you would like to make your own breadcrumbs, you can find the original recipe here.

Source: Everyday Food

-- 1 lb chicken (I used thighs)
-- 2 cups buttermilk
-- breadcrumbs (enough to coat chicken)

Place chicken thighs and buttermilk into a dish (so buttermilk covers chicken) and marinate for at least 30 mins, but up to 8 hours. Then take each piece of chicken out, shake off the excess buttermilk, and coat with the breadcrumbs. Then place on a baking sheet and bake at 450 for 45 mins (or until chicken is cooked through). Then enjoy!