Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Update

Hip Hip Hooray! It's Friday!

I have been so busy at work lately and that will likely continue until at least October. I've been trying my best to maintain my blog and get some posts scheduled in advance so it won't be dead air over here! And just as a reminder, you can click on the tabs located under my header to see any of my travel posts, recipes, bike stats, or to read more about me. You can also click on the flags in my header to be taken to my tumblr page (that I share with C, but it's mostly me using it) and my twitter feed.

I used to help choose a winner for my $25 Starbucks gift card giveaway. The lucky comment was 47. Congratulations to Laur from Sweets & Treats! Laur's go-to drink from Starbucks is black coffee and she will certainly be able to buy a lot of those.
So my mom, best friend, and I have made a lot of progress on Jenny's bachelorette party! I'm so excited with how everything is coming together, but I'm mostly excited about going home for a few days and seeing my family. My mom bought several glass apothecary jars, vases and bowls that will be perfect with the candy buffet. My best friend made the most amazing favor bags and invitations for the party, booked dinner reservations and found a place to paint our own pottery. And me? Well, I've ordered the corset cookies, found recipes for the dessert parfaits, and ordered most of the pink and black candies. Only 5 weeks to go!

Is anyone else really excited about Cowboys & Aliens this weekend?! We have plans to see this and possibly one other movie. Right now, we're thinking about Captain America, Horrible Bosses or Friends with Benefits. If you've seen any of these, what would you recommend (or not)?

If it's not too hot, we'll do a bike ride at some point. (Which reminds me, I have not been doing so well at riding my bike lately. It's a combination of the hot weather, getting up too late, and a slow-leaking flat tire. I did reach 700 miles this week...FINALLY! I guess that's still pretty good for less than 3 months.)

I hope that everyone has a great weekend! See you back here next week for a new recipe (yum!), my everyday essentials list, and Part 2 of my bachelorette party ideas!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Etsy Love

Today, I just had to share a positive experience I had recently with an etsy seller.

As you all know, I enjoy baking cupcakes. I have always used regular store bought frosting tips from Michael's (like the 1M star tip), but have wondered how bakeries and other baking bloggers made their frosting so pretty, fluffy, and tall. I stumbled across a tutorial from the blog Decorate This! that was all about frosting tips and the different looks you can achieve by using extra large tips.

From that point forward, I began my search for the tips. I found a couple of places that sell them, but either they were sold out of one style or their shipping was too expensive to make it worth buying from them. Luckily, I came across etsy seller, BakersBlingShop. I ordered the cupcake decorating set, which included all four styles of the the extra large tips, as well as 12 pastry bags (I think the cost was around $11)!

I was so impressed when I received my order. Not only was it packaged beautifully, but they also included a sample set of mini cupcake liners, a coupon code for my next order, and a personal handwritten note! On top of that, there was an extra tip included (not sure if this was a mistake or not).

I can't wait to try out these new tips and see what kind of different looks I can achieve with them. Hopefully I can decorate some cupcakes this weekend!

I've had many positive experiences with etsy sellers, but this is one of the best yet! If you are looking for unique cupcake liners, decorating tips, packaging items, sprinkles, etc. then please visit BakersBlingShop!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Will You Accept this Rose? Vol 4

This season's Bachey has had it's share of ups & downs (mostly downs), but I'm glad I watched! There were times when I wanted to shake some sense into Ashley, and other times when I was proud of the person she blossomed into, despite the constant invasion of privacy and inevitable criticism from the public.

Two weeks ago, Ashley went to each of the guy's hometowns to meet their families, and ultimately she decided to let Ames go. I was sad to see him go, but understood that their relationship had moved into the "friend zone" for Ashley. I was most confused by Constantine because from the very beginning there had been zero connection between him and Ashley.

That's why I wasn't surprised when Constantine eliminated himself in this week's episode. You could tell that he was unsure of how he felt about Ashley and wanted to be honest with both himself and Ashley about where their relationship stood. I respected his decision and I'm sure any other guy in Constantine's shoes may have accepted the fantasy suite invitation before bailing. {PS - I'll be going home next month and am determined to meet Constantine at his restaurant...wish me luck!}

On a side note, back to the hometowns...don't you wonder what exactly JP's ex-girlfriend did to hurt him so much? His family was very concerned with him getting hurt again, more so than just not wanting the normal trauma that goes along with a breakup. Thoughts please!

Back to this week, what was up with the return of Ryan? I've heard rumors that he will be the next Bachelor and if that's the case, I won't be watching! I did feel bad that he had to go through rejection again, but he has to be crazy if he thought he stood a chance with Ashley. Even last night, you could tell how disinterested she was. I also found his twitching, fidgeting, rocking back and forth and the look in his eye kinda disturbing.

Between the two remaining guys, I think it's obvious who the winner is. While Ben has captured Ashley's heart and she seems truly happy with him, it pales in comparison to Ashley's happiness when she is with JP. She is unable to contain herself around JP and each look they share is filled with love and passion.

I'd be so surprised if it's not JP proposing next week.

What are your final thoughts on the Bachelorette? Who would you choose and who would you have sent packing?

Personally, I love JP and can relate to why he has made it so far. Ben, not so much. I really liked him at the beginning, but he is too sensitive for my taste. Not very "manly" if you will (which is fine, just not for me). What guy has to be asked twice to put suntan lotion all over a hot girl? Apparently, Ben does.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesdays at the Table (1)

I'm excited to do my first recipe link up with Cole over at All the Small Stuff! I've been reading her blog for quite some time and I love to scroll through all of her recipe ideas as well as the recipes of other bloggers who are linking up with her.


I've been lacking inspiration in the kitchen recently. Eating healthy can sometimes do that to you! Although the salad recipe I shared with you last week really is delicious, it can get boring when you are eating it two or three times a week.

That's why I bought the magazine that is on newsstands now. It's a compilation of recipes from several different sources like Better Homes & Gardens, Eating Well, and Family Circle.

I have a feeling I'll be sharing a few recipes from this magazine. They all look delicious!

Italian Market Pasta Salad
Makes: 4 servings at $2.04 each / Prep: 10 minutes / Cook: 9 minutes

I like this salad because it has pasta (love my carbs!) and reminds me of my favorite salad from California Chicken Cafe! It's super easy to throw together and enough of a variation that it doesn't feel like you're eating a salad, which is always a good thing!

You can see the official recipe here. The recipe below is how I chose to make it.

4 oz packaged pasta
6 cups spring greens
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 T olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and drain again.
2. In a large salad bowl, combine cooked pasta, greens, tomatoes, and cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Per Serving: 319 calories, 20 g fat (5 g sat.), 11 mg cholesterol, 246 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 10 g protein

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend Recap {tour de france}

July is one of my favorite months because of the Tour de France! This year's tour was really good! While the stages through the Pyrenees were pretty boring, things really heated up in the Alps! I was really rooting for two-time runner up Andy Schleck this year, but I would have been happy with Cadel Evans winning as well. Cadel sealed the deal during his amazing time trial in Stage 20 and totally earned the yellow jersey this year, no doubt about it! I have no doubt that Andy will wear the yellow jersey into Paris one day, probably in 2012.

Frank, Cadel, and Andy on the last ride of the tour

I love that Frank and Andy are brothers and finished together on the podium. It was really fun watching them work together this year. And aren't the team colors so fabulous?! Leopard Trek was my favorite team for this reason alone :)

In other weekend news...

C surprised me with flowers! Aren't they pretty?

I hope all of you are surviving the dreaded Monday blues! Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a $25 starbucks giveaway card by Tuesday.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Yummy Salad

I learned how to make the most delicious salad while we were in Rhode Island! It is so good and it makes eating salad easy. We have it as a side for dinner and we also have it as a main meal by adding grilled chicken.

Want to know the secret ingredient?


Obviously, this is not so much a recipe, but more a basic outline that can be tweaked to suit your preferences so feel free to add & omit as you please!

salad mix (we like mixed baby greens & spinach)
cucumber (very thinly sliced!)
red onion
cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
fresh basil and/or mint leaves

olive oil
GOYA Adobo seasoning with pepper
(add all to taste, it will depend on how much salad you are making)

Mix all of your veggies into the salad.

all the veggies ready to go - no onion
this time because I didn't have any

Squeeze honey over the top, add a drizzle of olive oil, and season with the Goya Adobo. Mix well to combine, making sure that all of your greens have a bit of honey & oil!

Add the seasoning last so it sticks to
the honey and oil covered salad mix

Plate and enjoy! We had this as a main meal so I added thinly sliced grilled chicken to it.

The honey gives this salad the perfect amount of sweetness that is balanced by the savory flavor of the vegetables and the seasoning blend. This makes a quick and easy dinner, especially when it's hot out and you don't want to turn on the oven.

Tell me, do you already add honey to your salad or is this a new idea? If so, please try it because it is so delicious!

If you didn't see my post yesterday, please check it out! I need tips/advice for
putting together a candy and dessert buffet for a bachelorette party!

Enter my giveaway for a $25 Starbucks card here!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Party Time!

I am so excited to be going home over Labor Day weekend to help throw Jenny's bachelorette party! Our other best friend Megan has been doing most of the planning, and my main contribution will be the use of my parent's house (thanks Mom!) and the candy/dessert table! [As a sidenote, I've been a pinning fool lately trying to keep track of all of my ideas, my apologies!]

Here is my inspiration for the table:

I love the use of the apothecary jars for little candies and the cake stands to create height (I also love how the cake stands are housing ribbon candies and other treats besides cake!). I want to use flat white plates for mini cupcakes and decorated sugar cookies. My mom already has a lot of the serving trays and other stands that we can use (I gave my college best friend a bridal tea and we bought so many serving pieces for the buffet table that would be perfect for this event as well).

The color scheme has already been decided and it will be black and hot pink. I'm going to throw white in there as well because it's hard to find black candies that aren't licorice (yuck)! Oh Nuts is a great website to buy candies by the pound and so is Candy Warehouse so I'll probably be ordering the candies from both of those sites.

I'm going to have my mom start scouring Goodwill for some clear jars, but if we don't find any, this website has great prices on several different styles that would work perfectly.

Since I'll be flying in on Friday and the shower will be on Saturday, I won't have time to bake up desserts so I'll be taking the easy route on some of those. I'll buy mini cupcakes from the store and dress them up with cute toppers. (For those of my readers that live in the Cumming/ATL area, do you have any cupcake store or bakery suggestions??) I am also going to order decorated sugar cookies since I lack both the talent and time to get those done myself. I definitely think they are worth spending the extra money on! Etsy seller SweetTCookies makes the corset cookies pictured below...aren't they fabulous?

Source: via Angela on Pinterest

Source: via Angela on Pinterest

I'm thinking that I'll take on a couple of easy projects myself like making chocolate dipped pretzels which can be packaged up and tied with coordinating ribbon and making mini parfait cups and using 3 oz clear shooters to display them! (I saw this idea in a magazine I picked up recently and it looks so cute!)

There will be 15-20 guests and we'll already have been out to dinner prior to returning to my house for dessert and the lingerie shower. I think that I have selected a good mix of desserts (my friend is making a cake as well) so there should be plenty. In addition to the candy being cute, we're going to put out favor bags for the guests to fill up with candy when they leave! I'm pretty sure my mom doesn't want 15 pounds of pink and black candy lying around so this will get rid of it fast.

Source: via Angela on Pinterest

I only started planning yesterday so please feel free to share any ideas that you have or if you've done this before, what did/didn't work on your own candy buffet! I appreciate any and all ideas. Hopefully soon I'll share my decorating ideas for the party.

PS - Enter my giveaway for a $25 Starbucks card if you haven't already!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the moco-coco {giveaway}

Thanks for all of the sweet comments on my new blog design! I love it, and would definitely recommend Designer Blogs if you are interested in a new look for your own blog!

Today, I wanted to share my latest obsession with all of you. It's the Mocha Coconut Frappuccino from Starbucks, or as C & I call it, the Moco-Coco (or Moconuts if you like that better!!!). First of all, I despise coconut! It's not a flavor I like at all. Second, I can live without chocolate. I'm one of those people that prefers savory over sweet and chocolate has never really been my thing (unless it's covering bacon that is, or a Snickers bar).

Anywayyyyyyyyy.....back to the Moco-Coco:

It's delicious! There is a hint of coconut but the flavor is definitely not overwhelming. The chocolate is a nice touch and you can just barely taste the coffee mocha flavor. It has whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, and toasted coconut flakes on top. To me, it tastes just like a Samoa cookie!

Have you tried it yet? Well maybe now you can....

It's been awhile since I've done a giveaway so leave a comment on this post about your latest summer obsession, your thoughts on the Moco-Coco, your drink of choice from Starbucks, or anything else you want to tell me! I'll pick one winner to receive a $25 Starbucks gift card (funded BY ME!!) so you can get your drink on this summer!! Last day to enter will be July 26.

Oh, and PS - DON'T be tempted to look at the calories in this drink. It'll ruin your day. Or you can be like me and pretend that those calories don't count because it's a "beverage" and not real know, like I do with wine and tequila :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

{late} Weekend Recap

I was sick most of the weekend (boo!), but we did manage to do a couple of fun things:

  • Harry Potter is a MUST SEE!
  • C & I shared a chocolate caramel toffee cupcake from Frosted. It was delicious!
  • We ate lunch at Susan Feniger's Street and split the famous kaya toast and the dumpling sampler. It was all really tasty. Plus an added bonus was seeing Susan at the restaurant (she totally smiled at me)!
  • My gold glitter TOMS arrived, and they are truly awesome! The fit seems to be a little tighter than the regular ones, but they are stretching out a little bit.
  • My blog received a face lift! I had been contemplating a new design, but didn't want to do a completely custom look. I found some great premade designs over at Designer Blogs. I picked one out, paid, and had this new look within a couple of days. Please note that at the top of my header you can click the links to be directed to my tumblr page and my twitter page. I also have added travel and recipe links so you can find all of my posts related to those topics in one place. I hope to be organizing my blog and changing it in the next few weeks to reflect more of who I am now and what I want to post about. Change is good!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day Trip to Boston

Chris and I left bright and early Tuesday morning for Boston. Luckily there was no traffic and we were walking around the Fenway Park area by 10am. We didn't do an actual tour, but it was so neat to see the road lined with Boston Red Sox shops and even their newspaper holders were in the shape of a baseball!

Per the recommendations, we checked out Sweet at Harvard Square, and our peach cobbler cupcake was so tasty! We even went back at the end of the day (to the one on Newbury St) to pick up a dozen for the family.

We also stumbled across Finale while at Harvard Square so we decided to try the Boston Cream pie there (instead of heading to the Boston Park Plaza Hotel location). It was really delicious!

We went to Faniuel Hall and had clam chowder, then walked to the harbor to see the aquarium seals and the water of course.

I had wanted to try a lobster roll the entire trip, but didn't want to commit to spending $20 on one. We walked by this weird little shack and I was intrigued by the picture of the lobster and hot dog so I wanted to see what they sold. Turns out it was a hot dog shack that had lobster rolls. I quickly Yelp'ed it, and what do you know? 5 stars. For about $13, we had a delicious lobster roll from the most unassuming place.

We did a lot of sightseeing and really lucked out with traffic and parking! Boston is a really beautiful city. I could just imagine the old times with cobblestone streets and horse and carriages, especially when driving the narrow streets in Beacon Hill.

It seems like we ate a lot, but we were actually starving by the end of the day since we shared everything. Luckily, we made it home in time for dinner. Al's parents came up on Monday morning from Miami to stay for a couple of days, and they made a delicious Cuban dish of slow cooked carne asada and chorizo, black beans, and rice.

That's my trip in a nutshell! It was so much fun, and I'm so glad we had the opportunity to spend time with C's family this year.

(PS: sorry for my excessive use of diptic in this post...all of us iPhone users got obsessed with the app while on the trip!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rhode Island Recap (Part 2)

We all went to breakfast at a place called Sweet Berry Farm. They served delicious, fresh pastries and had a cute little market with all local products. It threatened to rain all day so we had a lazy day at the house. Some of the girls went shopping and some people napped. I decided it would be a good time to do the prep work on the American flag cake I was making. When everyone reconvened, we had Happy Hour and snacks. For dinner we had lasagna and then went on a walk around the neighborhood. Uncle Jeff took some of us to get ice cream from Frosty was really good!

Al, Danny, Uncle Jeff, and Katy at breakfast

Jeff, Chris, me, Evy, Lizzie, and Ana

the cakes were cooling and Mishi & Kathy wanted to eat them!

Lizzie helped me make frosting

assembling and frosting the cake

one of our many walks around the neighborhood

Chris, Jeff, and Uncle Jeff went to the shooting range on Monday morning. The girls and I cleaned up the house while Danny and Katy went shopping for our dinner. Somehow the day passed us by, and I honestly can't remember what all we did. We had a great dinner of hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, grilled corn, and much more. I was really excited and nervous to see the outcome of the cake, but luckily it turned out amazing! It was so easy to do, and the reaction was priceless.

I'll recap our trip to Boston tomorrow!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rhode Island Recap (Part 1)

I'm back!

I have a ton of pictures so like always, I'll split my vacation into a few recaps. As usual, this is mostly for my own sake so I can remember everything we did, but I hope that some of you enjoy reading about it.

Just an FYI - there were a lot of people there so here is the general breakdown:

Chris and me
Kathy - Chris' sister
Jeff & Danny - Chris and Kathy's parents; our hosts for the week
Uncle Jeff & Katy - Danny's brother and his wife (this is Chris' uncle, so I stated that just to clarify between Dad Jeff and Uncle Jeff...confused???)
Jeanie & Al - Danny's niece (Uncle Jeff's daughter) and her husband
Mishi, AJ, Ana, Evy, and Lizzie - Jeanie and Al's kids
Rocky - Jeff & Danny's family dog
Soldier - Jeanie and Al's family dog

We arrived early and C's parents picked us up from the airport. Most of the family had arrived a couple of days earlier so we chatted with everyone for a few minutes, but we were all so tired and had to take a nap. We woke up in time for Happy Hour on the back deck (a regular occurrence every day at 5 pm!) and I handed out the goodie bags I had made. Everyone really enjoyed them so the effort was well worth it. C's dad, Jeff, made delicious pulled pork for dinner! It was so good!

Lizzie with her watermelon cookie.

Al, Uncle Jeff, and Kathy with Soldier

Uncle Jeff & Katy arrived a little later than us

Mishi, me, Chris, and Evy

Ana, Kathy, and Evy

Much of our time was spent on the back deck!

Pulled pork, baked beans, and fresh salad

After breakfast at the house, we headed over to the Cliff Walk to enjoy the views. We also went into Newport and walked around for a bit before heading back home for Happy Hour and a homemade spaghetti dinner (SOOOOOO yummy!).

Chris and I

Chris & his cousins doing their traditional family pose

All of us on the Cliff Walk

Heading to Newport in Danny's convertible :)


Chris and I went to breakfast with Danny, Katy, Uncle Jeff, and Jeanie. Afterwards, we headed over to the private airport because Jeff (dad!) had offered to take me up in his plane to see the island. It was so fun! We also watched a bunch of skydivers jumping and are thinking about doing it next year. After that, Chris and I went back to Newport to check out the shopping on Thames St and we met up with the family a little while later for polo. I had never been before but it was a lot of fun watching the USA play Kenya (btw, we lost). Afterwards, we had family time on the porch and watched a movie.

(L) Danny, Katy, and Jeff; (R) Chris and me

A little nervous...

Ready for my flight with Jeff!

At the polo fields watching USA vs. Kenya

Back deck time! So relaxing!