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5.31.2013

Friday Fashion: Brights for Summer

Is your wardrobe ready for summer?  Mine is not... so I guess that's the perfect excuse for a shopping trip!

Pops of bright color are uber hot this season.  Here are some hot, high-end looks that I love right now, as well as some budget-friendly alternatives.


Sophie Hulme Leather Tote
$900.00, Net-a-Porter.com


Marc Jacobs Antonia Rubberized Leather Tote
$1,495.00, Net-a-Porter.com


Jimmy Choo Agnes Degrade Leather Pumps
$695.00, Net-a-Porter.com


J.Crew Collage Crystal Drop Earrings
$78.00, Net-a-Porter.com

Some budget-friendly summer brights alternatives:


Neon Satchel Bag - Bright Orange
$19.95, Charli & Belle


Enzo Angiolini Shoes, Persist Pumps
$99.00, Macy's

5.28.2013

Kid's Ice Cream Social Birthday Party

I can't believe how much has happened since my last party blog post on my son Grayson's Jungle-Themed First Birthday Party.  Grayson is now three, and his brother Sawyer is now one!  Needless to say, I have a few party posts coming for their last few parties.  Today, I am sharing about Grayson's second birthday party, which was an Ice Cream Social theme.  I will follow soon with his third birthday party, which was Disney/Pixar Cars (and a lot of fun!), and Sawyer's first birthday party, which was a Rock n' Roll theme.  In the meantime, you can see inspiration for the planning of all of them, as well as some of the actual party pics on my Pinterest pinboards here.

Okie dokie, on to the blog at hand!

Kid's Ice Cream Social Birthday Party

Want a party that is enjoyable for both kids and adults alike?  Well, who doesn't love ice cream?!  It is also a nice unisex theme that can be adjusted with the kid's favorite color.  Most of the inspiration and editable/printable files (including fonts) came from this blog post on Eat & Drink Chic: DIY Ice-Cream Parlour "Make your own Sundaes" Buffet Concept for a Wedding or Party.

Welcome sign on the door
 
Topping buffet

Sauces with labels


Topping buffet from another angle

 
Banner made from blue card stock and twine. Sorry for the bad lighting!
 
 

Happy birthday boy!
 
Fonts (all free, yay!):
 
Printables:
These are all editable PDFs (if you have Illustrator or InDesign), so you can not only change the color, but the text as well.  Note that I even personalized them to include my son's name (Grayson's Ice Cream Parlour). This blogger made these available for free for personal use! Don't forget to credit her if you use them and blog about it.
 
Supplies:
  • Restaurant/food supply store (containers, scoops, etc.) - a more comprehensive choice of items than a craft store, and better pricing than the candy buffet supplies sold at craft stores.
  • Party City (napkins, plates)
  • Michael's (paddle sticks, misc. items)
  • Grocery store (ice cream, toppings, balloons)

Toppings:
  • Chocolate Sauce
  • Caramel Sauce
  • Strawberry Sauce
  • Whipped Cream
  • Shaved Coconut
  • Chopped Peanuts
  • Sprinkles (a must for a kid's party)
  • Crumbled Oreos
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Maraschino Cherries
You can also get creative with toppings to match a particular color scheme.  For example, in this blog she goes with a pink theme and even incorporates pink meringues, coconut ice with pink food coloring, and other pink toppings.

5.24.2013

Friday Faves: New Favorite Recipes Part II

A continuation of last week's post on my new recipe "keepers."  Click here to view all my favorite recipe blog posts.  Bon apetit!

Slow Cooker Jambalaya
From BettyCrocker.com


Photo Source: BettyCrocker.com

Ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
2 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 can (28 oz) Muir Glen® organic diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups chopped fully cooked smoked sausage
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper sauce
¾ pound uncooked peeled deveined medium shrimp, thawed if frozen
4 cups hot cooked rice

Directions:
In 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients except shrimp and rice.
Cover; cook on Low heat setting 7 to 8 hours (or High heat setting 3 to 4 hours).
Stir in shrimp. If needed, reduce heat setting to Low; cover and cook on Low heat setting about 1 hour longer or until shrimp are pink and firm. Serve jambalaya with rice.

Crunchy Onion Pork Chops
From NibbleDish.com


Photo Source: NibbleDish.com

Ingredients:
2 cups (4 oz.) FRENCH'S® Original or Cheddar French Fried Onions
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 (1/2-inch thick) bone-in or boneless pork chops
1 egg, beaten

Directions:
Place French Fried Onions and flour into plastic bag. Lightly crush with hands or with rolling pin. Transfer to pie plate or waxed paper.

Dip pork chops into beaten egg; then coat with onion crumbs, pressing firmly to adhere. Place pork chops on baking sheet.

Bake at 400°F for 20 min. or until no longer pink in center.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
From AllRecipes.com


Photo Source: AllRecipes.com

Ingredients:
4ounces linguine pasta
2boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced into thin strips
2teaspoons Cajun seasoning
2tablespoons butter
1green bell pepper, chopped
½red bell pepper, chopped
4fresh mushrooms, sliced
1green onion, minced
cups heavy cream
¼teaspoon dried basil
¼teaspoon lemon pepper
¼teaspoon salt
teaspoon garlic powder
teaspoon ground black pepper
2tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add linguini pasta, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl, and toss to coat.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute chicken in butter until no longer pink and juices run clear, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add green and red bell peppers, sliced mushrooms and green onions; cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat, and stir in heavy cream. Season the sauce with basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper, and heat through.

In a large bowl, toss linguini with sauce. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce
From AllRecipes.com


Photo Source: AllRecipes.com

Ingredients:
1pound uncooked penne pasta
¼cup extra virgin olive oil
4cloves garlic, minced
½teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1(28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¾teaspoon salt
2tablespoons vodka
½cup heavy whipping cream
¼cup chopped fresh parsley
2(3.5 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage

Directions:
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

In large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat. Remove casing from sausage and add to skillet. Cook, breaking up the meat, until brown. Add garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring until garlic is golden brown.

Add tomatoes and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Add vodka and cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and add pasta, toss for 1 minute. Stir in fresh parsley and serve!

5.17.2013

Friday Faves: New Favorite Recipes Part I

I have found a few more recipe "keepers" to share.  There are so many that I am splitting it into two parts (Part II will be on the blog next Friday).  Enjoy, and let me know how it turned out if you give any of these a try!  To see some of my other favorite recipes, click here.

Chicken Breasts in Caper Cream Sauce
From AllRecipes.com


Photo Source: AllRecipes.com

Ingredients:
4boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1teaspoon lemon pepper
1teaspoon salt
1teaspoon dried dill weed
1teaspoon garlic powder
3tablespoons butter
½cup whipping cream
2tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

Directions:
Season chicken breasts with lemon pepper, salt, dill weed, and garlic powder.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Place breasts in skillet, and increase heat to medium-high. Turn chicken frequently, until brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, until breasts are cooked through. Remove chicken to a warm serving platter, and cover with foil.

Return skillet to stove, and increase heat to high. Whisk in whipping cream, whisking continuously until reduced to sauce consistency, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in capers. Pour sauce over chicken, and serve.

Beer and Bacon Mancakes
From BettyCrocker.com

This recipe has become a New Years Day tradition for us... My advice is don't hold back on the brown sugar when caramelizing the bacon.  I end up using much more brown sugar than the recipe calls for.


Photo Source: BettyCrocker.com

Ingredients:
½ lb bacon (8 slices)
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
2 cups Original Bisquick® mix
1 cup of your favorite regular or nonalcoholic beer
2 eggs

Directions:
Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with foil. Place wire rack on top of cookie sheet. Arrange bacon in single layer on top of rack. Bake 10 minutes.

Sprinkle bacon with half the brown sugar. Bake 10 minutes longer. Turn bacon over; sprinkle with remaining brown sugar. Bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until golden brown. Remove from rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Crumble bacon into small pieces; set aside.

Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat or electric griddle to 375°F; grease with vegetable oil or shortening.

In medium bowl, beat Bisquick mix, beer and eggs with whisk until blended. If batter is too thick, add additional beer until desired consistency. Stir in bacon. Pour by 1/2 cupfuls onto hot griddle. Cook until edges are dry. Turn; cook until golden brown.

Best Spanish Rice
From AllRecipes.com

Super easy and a perfect side dish to any Mexican meals.


Photo Source: AllRecipes.com

Ingredients:
2tablespoons oil
2tablespoons chopped onion
cups uncooked white rice
2cups chicken broth
1cup chunky salsa

Directions:
Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Mix rice into skillet, stirring often. When rice begins to brown, stir in chicken broth and salsa. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed.

5.10.2013

Friday Faves: Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips

 

Photo courtesy of SallyHansen.com

This Friday Faves review is a long time a-comin.'  I have been addicted to Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail polish strips for almost two years now.  I first noticed them when a friend was wearing the zebra striped ones.  I thought she had Minx nails (a good $55 an application - but allowed for some really cool colors and patterns, and lasted up to two weeks without chipping).  Turns out they were instead a product that cost between $8.50-9.50, which also didn't chip and could be easily applied and purchased at any drug store.  I had to give them a try - what was there to lose?  It is cheaper than a manicure.

Upon first use, I was hooked.  Not only were they ridiculously easy to apply, but they did not have any dry time, making them much more fool-proof and convenient to use than regular nail polish.  Since they are made out of real nail polish (even though they are sticker-like strips), they apply nicely and professionally, and come off easily with nail polish remover.  While these traits are awesome enough, I haven't even mentioned my two favorite aspects! 

First, they really do last 10 days to two weeks without chipping (usually just very minimal wear of the color on the tips by the end of the stretch)!  For someone who had given up on manicures and fingernail color in general because I was sick and tired of having chips in two days after all the effort of doing your nails, this was an absolute revelation.  A busy mom of two with a full-time job now does not have to have chipped, or in my case, bare nails!

Second, you can choose from all sorts of awesome patterns and colors.  I became known as the girl with the cool nails around my office, because every week or two I had a really detailed pattern on my nails (my favorites are leopard, zebra, giraffe, snake, houndstooth, fishnet, argyle), or a really bright or bold color.  They are even staying on trend currently by offering ombre color/patterns and colored French tip strips.
 
My current fave Salon Effects Strips, The Bold Rush, along with my
preffered clear top coat, Sally Hansen Hard as Nails UV Top Coat
 
All of this awesomeness for just $8.50-9.50 a box!  A box, by the way will easily accommodate two manicures, however, if you learn how to be frugal with your strips (using both ends of the long strips), I have found that I can do two full manicures AND pedicures with each box!  A piece of advice though: these do not have a long shelf life.  You will not be able to use the strips from an opened packet (there are two packets in each box) after a few days, as they will dry out.  Similarly, even sealed packets do not last a terribly long time on the shelf, so do not stock up on boxes.  I just get one or two boxes at a time as needed.  Also, I recommend finishing with a clear top coat (my preffered is Sally Hansen Hard as Nails UV Top Coat) to add some shine and additional protection to help the strips last.

That is my heartfelt recommendation of this product!  Give it a try, and I promise you will not be disappointed as they are really easy to do (difficult to mess up), cheap, fun, and long-lasting!

5.03.2013

Friday Faves: Moby Infant and Baby Wrap


Photo Source: MobyWrap.com

I had a sling wrap with my first baby, which worked out nicely when I needed to use two hands to do something.  While my baby liked it sometimes, he did not seem to always like it.  This time around, I decided to try the Moby Wrap, as I had some mommy friends who really loved it and swore by it. 

The Moby became a product I used daily (and even used by my husband on occasion - though he is also a fan of our Ergo Baby Sport baby carrier, which is another great product).  It acts as both a baby carrier (yay, I can do things with both hands while still holding my little bean tightly against me) as well as a swaddler of sorts for my newborn, as it cradles him nice and tightly against me in a fetal position.  Sawyer loved it, and would become comforted almost instantly when in it up against my chest.  And for me, I got to rest my arms a bit, or use my arms while still holding my little one. I also feel that it is pretty ergonimic (moreso than the sling), as it doesn't hurt my back, and actually allows me a decent workout as I move about with my baby on me.  I also feel like it is even safer for the infant than the sling, as I can more easily see his head and adjust him.

I have the chocolate one pictured above, and wish it came in the option of more patterns.  I am sure they will add more over time, as these things are awesome!