Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Recipes to the rescue: SLIDERS

Entertaining this 4th of July weekend? Tired of the same 'ol boring BBQ menu? Step it up this 4th of July with these delicious slider recipes. These are a sure hit and perfect when feeding a large group. Everyone loves finger foods. Everyone loves sliders. Just make sure to make enough. Everyone goes back for slider seconds.

~Chipotle Sliders~

Chipotle Mayonnaise:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 chipotles in adobo sauce (ask man at grocery store on where to find!)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1/2 lime, juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck, 80/20
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cheese slices, your choice
Mini burger buns

Burger Bar (if desired):
Chipotle Mayonnaise
Red onion slices

Chipotle Mayonnaise:
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and puree. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill over medium-high heat.
Form the meat into 2 to 3-ounce portions, packed tightly. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the sliders on the grill. Wait until they are nice and crusty on the first side, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Flip and cook another 4 minutes.
When the sliders are about done, top with desired cheese and close the grill, allowing the cheese to melt.
Place the slider on mini burger buns and top with chipotle mayonnaise and any other desired toppings.

~Chicken Salad Sliders~

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 1/2 cups finely diced cooked chicken
1 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup slivered almonds
12 mini slider rolls

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, mayonnaise and salt. Toss with the chicken, celery, and almonds in a medium bowl.
Serve on mini slider rolls.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

PARTY STARTER: 4th of July Cocktail

Looking for a new concoction to kick off your 4th of July festivities? Give this red, white and blue spritzer a try.

~4th of July Cocktail~
Courtesy of The Food Network Magazine

1 ounce watermelon schnapps
1 big splash cranberry juice
1 slice lemon
1 slice lime
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1/4 ounce blue curacao
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Watermelon wedge, for garnish (optional)

Mix the schnapps and cranberry juice in a shaker; pour into an ice-filled glass.
Muddle the lemon and lime slices, tequila, blue curacao and simple syrup (to make a batch, dissolve sugar in equal parts hot water and chill) in the shaker. Slowly strain into the glass over the red layer. Garnish with watermelon, if desired.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Question: What is the best ANTI-WRINKLE eye cream?

Awhile back a faithful reader Lisa asked about the best under eye dark circle cream. Now I've been asked about the best eye wrinkle cream. Sorry Christy it's taken me so long. Ok so we've all heard the claims: "Younger-looking eyes in just 24 hours" (Avon Anew Rejuvenate), a "brighter, vibrant, refreshed" eye area (Clinique Repairwear). Americans must really want these boasts to be true since it's said that we spend more than a billion dollars a year on wrinkle removers.

Based on the research I did, I'm not going to tell you not to waste your money as there are some that are worth trying but just don't expect them to turn the clock back to your dewy-skinned youth. There were several studies done that revealed that after testing various creams; 1) results varied and 2) changes were minor. Products tested reduced wrinkle length or depth for at least some people and did nothing for others. Even among the best-performing products, wrinkle reduction around the eyes was generally pretty subtle. After six weeks of daily use, none came close to eliminating wrinkles. Basically showing that they really do not live up to their lofty claims.

A few tips when shopping and applying that I learned;

1) Price predicts nothing. The priciest cream that was tested in one study, Perricone MD, $95, was no better than cheaper drugstore brands.

2) If you apply a hydrating moisturizer daily, you will most likely get the same results as one that claims to reduce wrinkles.

2) If you choose to buy anti-wrinkle eye creams, you do need a little bit of patience. Regularly apply the cream for a few weeks to a few months before giving it your final judgement (unless of course you’re getting allergic reactions).

So to answer to you question Christy, here is a list of marketed "anti-wrinkle" creams that I compiled to help you out:


Perfective Ceuticals Anti Imperfectoin Eye Therapy Cream With Growth Factor
There is a lot of online positive feedback about this anti-aging eye cream. Users are reporting amazing results from fine lines fading to the disappearance of puffiness and black eye circles. Have a look at the list of ingredients and you’ll be amazed. It practically has almost everything you need to look for in an eye cream which includes Matrixyl, Palmitoyl Hexapeptide, Argireline, Vitamin E, Retinol and Olive Squalane. No wonder it helps so much with many eye skin problems.

Read customer reviews here. $90.00,

Shiseido Benefiance Concentrated Anti Wrinkle Eye Cream
If you’ve been reading a lot of eye cream reviews lately, you’ve probably noticed that Shiseido Benefiance Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream keeps propping up in many online forums. Many who use this cream have nothing but high praises for it and has in fact a 5 star rating at Amazon and many other online shops. This is good for brightening the eye area. It’s not the cheapest of eye creams however.

Read customer reviews here. $52.00,


MyChelle Eye Cream, Fabulous
This all organic and natural eye cream for wrinkles is so gentle that you will not feel any stinging sensation on application at all. This can also be used for creases around the lips which is great. Very highly rated by many customers.

Read customer reviews here. $29,

Burt’s Bees Naturally Ageless Line Smoothing Eye Cream
I am a big fan of Burt’s Bees products. It’s all natural and their products always smell delicious. Burt’s Bees Naturally Ageless Line Smoothing Eye Cream is definitely one I'm a fan of. It’s very moisturizing without being too heavy. Since it is very moisturizing, this is one of the best eye cream for wrinkle prevention.

Read customer reviews here. $25.00,


Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Ageless Lifting & Firming Eye Cream with Natural Shitake Complex
This is good value for money and you won’t be disappointed by it at all. Aveeno anti-wrinkle products have always been very popular among customers who buy eye cream over the counter. This one with Shitake mushrooms, believed to slow down aging, is great for firming the eye area and diminishing fine lines and wrinkles.

Read customer reviews here. $16.00,

Olay Age Defying Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream
You can't ever go wrong with Olay. They make a great product at an affordable price. They claim it will visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the delicate eye area where signs of aging are most likely to appear. I would agree it's very hydrating but is it any more hydrating than any other Olay moisturizer??

Read customer reviews here. $12,

Sunday, June 26, 2011


On our way home from a family day up at Lake Arrowhead (gorgeous!) as I was thinking about what my "Sweet Sunday" post would be, I received a text from Mia, my good friend and queen of desserts, saying she had an AMAZING Sweet Sunday dessert for me to blog about. Praise the Lord! Thanks Mia for making today's post so easy!

Although I've never tried this, Mia swears it's to die for. Super healthy and even if you aren't a peanut butter fan, she claims it doesn't even taste anything like peanut butter.

~Clean Eating Caramel Popcorn~

1/4 cup peanut butter (she used the natural pb, so there isn't any added sugar)
1/2 cup honey
8-10 cups popped popcorn

Tip: Read through the steps first so you know what you to. You’ll need to work quickly.

In a small pot, warm the honey on high heat. Bring it to a boil.
Let it boil up in the pot about 1 inch and then quickly remove from heat.
Stir in peanut butter with a whisk and whisk until smooth. Should be “pourable.”
Pour over the popcorn and mix with a spoon.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Friday, June 24, 2011


Looking for cheap fun in the sun? My little sis mailed Chase this Beach Ball Sprinkler and he spent hours running through it this past week.

All you have to do is inflate the beach ball, hook it up to a hose, and then water flies out of four sprayers on the ball. Children can roll and chase the ball around on the grass or fill pouch in the bottom of the ball with water to keep it stationary.

For $10 at Walmart, this is a must-buy if you're looking for an activity to keep the kids cool and occupied on a hot summer day! Available at, Walmart and Target.

Have anything that tickled your fancy this week? We'd love to hear!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

RAVE REVIEWS: Love it or Hate it?

If there's one thing that you'll never find my refrigerator without it's Spray Butter. Zero calories and zero fat...of course it's in my refrigerator. I recognize it's probably the most processed item on the grocery shelves but I figure a few squirts here and there, isn't going to kill me. Plus I did some research and there is nothing on the Internet claiming that it's harmful to your health.

Recently "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" came out with a few new products. One being the "I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray Made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil." Although they claim it's great for roasting chicken and vegetables and it's got the added benefits of the EVOO, this product, in my opinion, is hands down DISGUSTING!!! The olive oil taste is repulsive. I give this two thumbs DOWN.

While we're on the Spray Butter topic - Vons/Safeway grocery stores have recently come out with their own generic brand of Spray Butter. While I was stoked to be saving a few bucks, it too was a huge disappointment. The taste is nothing like the real deal.

So with all that said...if you're a Spray Butter connoisseur, stick with the straight up original "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Spray.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ON THE MENU: Tomato & Basil Pesto Pasta

Easy, fresh and ready in 15 minutes. My kind of meal. Similar to Margherita Pizza, this is so so yummy!

~Tomato & Basil Pesto Pasta~

Penne Pasta
Ripe Sweet 100 tomatoes (type of tomato - small and round; use as many as you prefer)
2 cups fresh Basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

What you'll need:
Food Processor

Cook pasta as directed
In skillet, add olive oil and slowly heat tomatoes

To make Basil Pesto Sauce: *Makes one cup
In food processor, combine basil with the pine nuts, pulse a few times.
Add garlic, pulse a few more times.
Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while food processor is on.
Stop to scrap down the sides with a spatula.
Add grated cheese and pulse again until blended.
Add a pinch of salt and ground pepper to taste.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Dave and I got married 8 years ago this August and a day hasn't gone by that I don't

MUST TRY: Beauty Makeover Tool

OMG. Carve out 15 minutes in your day to try out this new virtual makeover tool on Real Simple's website. Actually let's be realistic, don't dabble on this site unless you have a good 30 minutes. You'll get suckered in. Trust me. This is a free interactive tool that allows you to upload a photo of yourself and "try on" several different hairstyles and colors from short to long, curly to straight, black to blonde. It's so fun to see if that style you've always wondered about would actually look good on you.

In addition to hair, you can try different shades of makeup on your eyes, lips, and cheeks. Once you find a color that suits you, it will list the brand, color and price of what you chose. You can save it to your "favorites" or you can click and buy right there. Talk about amazing!

Click here to get started. I'm addicted. Are you??


If you can't view the after picture, click on this URL:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Motivating Monday: GIVE THANKS

I was caught off guard the other day when a women thanked me for saying thank you to her. Umm. Ok. She acted as if she hadn't heard those two simple words in years. Since that encounter, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to give thanks and how do I, as a parent, raise attitudes of gratitude.

The spirit of thankfulness is a complex one for young kids to grasp, but by modeling generosity in our everyday actions and by openly talking about the subject, your children will begin to absorb and emulate this emotion. And I’m not talking about the usual prompt, “What do you saaaay?” that we’ve all sung to our kids. Reminding kids to say thank you is simply a matter of politeness and doesn’t necessarily translate into a general attitude of gratitude.

So, how do we raise thankful children? According to Emily Geizer from Child Perspective; Real Parenting Solutions, here are four steps;

1. Make gratitude a habit. Spend time each day appreciating what you have (love, shelter, food, family, friends, courage). You might create a daily ritual or tradition to help you remember to be grateful and establish family traditions for thinking about what we are thankful for and sharing it with others. Maybe you have a thankful tree, journal, shoebox, tablecloth, calendar, or space on the refrigerator.

2. Adopt an attitude of gratitude. This means being thankful no matter what our situation in life. Thankfulness means that we are aware of both our blessings and disappointments but that we focus on the blessings.

3. Express your thanks out loud. Don’t be quietly thankful. Your children need to know you are thankful for them, for your home, for friends, mentors, and for the other good things in your life. Celebrate your thankfulness often and initiate conversations.

4. Be generous or giving and express how it affects others. Talk about being on both sides: giving and receiving. There are many ways to give: donating blood, money, food, clothing, time, and/or energy. Share these experiences with your children. Many community service projects are appropriate for elementary aged children.

By establishing any one of these practices, you will raise thankful hearts that bicker less, need less, and whine less. Thankful hearts are always more content, more giving, and more joyful.

One of my favorite ways to emulate the above steps is to incorporate a "Thank Bank" into your household. All you need is a jar, some paper and pens. Make a rule that by dinner-time, everyone has to drop a note into the Thank Bank of what from their day they were thankful for. To liven up the dinner conversation, pull out the notes and have each person elaborate on why they were thankful for that specific thing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


This is an old, childhood favorite my aunt Cindy used to make especially for me. She always made it with chocolate pudding but you could do Banana, Vanilla, Butterscotch or Pistachio pudding and it's equally as tasty. This is one of my top five favorite summer desserts and a must make!


16 oz. Cool Whip (need 2 - 8 oz. containers)
8 oz. cream cheese
2 small instant pudding packets (whatever flavor you desire)
1 cup powdered sugar
3 cups milk
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)
*To double the crust, use 1 1/2 cups flour and 3/4 cup butter

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Spray pan with Pam cooking spray

Mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup nuts in bowl
Spread crust in 9" x 1-2" pan
Poke holes in crust with fork
Bake for 15 minutes

1st Filling:
Combine 8 oz. Cool Whip , 1 cup powdered sugar and 8 oz. cream cheese in bowl
Beat until fluffy
Spread on crust

2nd Filling:
Combine 2 small pudding packets with 3 cups of milk
Beat together and spread on 1st filling

Spread on remaining 8 oz. Cool Whip
Sprinkle with a topping of choice if you so chose (nuts, oreos, etc).
Chill overnight

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Friday, June 17, 2011


When it comes to finding the ultimate long-lasting, color building, eyeshadow that can work alone or as a base, it can be rather complex. Why? Because, there are so many eyeshadow products marketed to a standard, that simply make many promises they cannot keep nor they just cannot live up to. Christian Dior's Eye Show is different. I became hooked on this product after being stopped in my tracks by the sales women behind the Dior makeup counter at Nordstrom. Her eye makeup was A-mazing so I stopped to ask if she'd give me a makeup tutorial. She explained to me that the secret to long-lasting eye shadow is to apply a base. So before applying any shadow, she coated my lids with the Eye Show's "Undressed Beige/#622," a neutral peachy/beige that can be worn alone or as a base. Instantly, I saw a difference.

What sold me on this product is the soufflé texture that created a soft velvety powder effect on my lids. It acted as a color-building base as she applied it to my entire lid, making the shadow on top more vibrant. She also shared that to get an extra bright-eyed effect, to dot the color onto the inner corners of the eyes. Wow, my eyes came alive! So I bought it. Definitely 20 minutes and $32 well spent.

What I love about the Dior Eye Show is that it's long-lasting, blends effortlessly and is very wearable. Most of the time I steer away from all things shimmer but it's just the right amount. Plus I love that shimmer helps hide stray eyebrow hairs if I didn't have time to tweeze. This product's somewhat mousey,wet texture grips to the top shadow and prevents my shadow from ever creasing or fading and it has the ability to collaborate well with other shadow colors. My only beef with this product is that there are only a few colors available. But trust me, you can't go wrong with Undressed Beige.

If I didn't sell you hard enough on this, I did also read this last week on Glamour's website that a "super easy step to looking flawless fast" is to apply a shimmery eye base. They claim that to achieve pro-looking eye makeup in no time, you should apply a wash of sheer, shimmery cream shadow from lash lines to brow bones using your pointer finger. Tip: If your skin is fair, try a silvery white shade. For medium to dark skin tones, opt for a champagne color instead.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

HANGOVER CURES: What works, what doesn't

Most all of us have been there: the mind-splitting migraine, acute sensitivity to all things louder than a fruit fly, and the nausea to the point of throwing up inches away from the open toilet. It may not be the most glamorous way to wake up after a debauched night of drinking, but the hangover is something you have to experience firsthand to realize you never want to experience it again - until the next time, that is.

So, rather than shoot yourself to bring an end to the living hell that has become your life, why not simply end the torture instead?

Sadly nothing will heal you of that hangover other than time. If something really worked, you would know about it by now. As with Viagra, you'd be seeing TV commercials for this million-dollar blockbuster cure during football games. The pursuit of a legitimate cure is, in fact, purely commercial, for most medical researchers do not see the hangover as an ill to cure but rather nature's way of stopping us from abusing alcohol.

While numerous studies have revealed promising effects from extracts of this herb or that, such as asparagus leaves, and while electrolyzed-reduced water has helped drunk rats feel better, God bless them, we're still a long way from a hangover cure.

Here are some pros and cons of purported cures:

Hair the dog: Drinking a little more alcohol in the morning — be it a bloody Mary or otherwise — might provide the mild numbing effect to ease you back. But you should fight that temptation. According to the Current Drug Abuse Reviews in January 2009, drinking in the morning to forget the night before is a key indicator of a drinking problem. They said it. I didn't. Those who routinely reveled in the hair of the dog that bit them drank 2 to 3 times more alcohol than other adults in the study, and they had significantly higher rates of alcohol dependency. Regardless of the extent in which alcohol plays into your life, you're ultimately just prolonging your misery by hairing the dog. Your liver still needs to break down the hangover-inducing toxins in your morning brew.

Anything with "hangover" in the name: If it says it cures hangovers, it doesn't cure hangovers. Sorry to all you that get hooked by marketing. The best part of these pills and powders is the water you're drinking to chase them down. Some products recommend a full glass with each dose. The more water the better. Yet none of these potions are more effective than a multivitamin, which itself is only marginally useful.

A good breakfast: A good meal can do wonders, particularly if you have it while drinking. But there's still hope the next morning. Eggs contain cysteine, which in theory could help the liver breakdown the toxin acetaldehyde, a byproduct from the previous night's abuse. No studies support this, though. Bananas and kiwi replenish the body with the potassium it craves, lost during the many trips to the toilet the night before. The fructose in fruit and juice doesn't seem to be a magic bullet, but juice does hydrate, which is helpful. Burnt toast, often recommended, won't work. The burnt carbon isn't the same as activated carbon and doesn't filter alcohol.

Headache pills: Ah, your headache is gone. But your liver took some more abuse, particularly if you are using acetaminophen, as is found in Tylenol. Acetaminophen is by far the most common cause of liver failure in the United States, and combined with alcohol it can be deadly. One or two pills are usually safe, depending on the amount of alcohol in your system. Aspirin can be helpful before sleep and upon rising with plenty of water, but only in moderation. Aspirin, a blood thinner like alcohol, spares your liver but increases the risk of bleeding in your stomach and gastrointestinal tract. If your body is sensitive to aspirin, it will hate it while drunk.

Coffee: Well, you cured one of the symptoms. You're awake. Only now you're intensely aware you have a hangover. Coffee, a vasoconstrictor, temporarily can improve your headache by decreasing the size of blood vessels. This counteracts the effects of alcohol, bringing you closer to equilibrium. Then again, coffee can make you edgy and actually can cause headaches for some people. Also, like alcohol, coffee is a diuretic, making you even more dehydrated and increasing the severity of the hangover. When the caffeine wears off, you will be even more tired.

Better genes: If you're lucky, you might among the elite 23% of the human gene pool with a natural resistance to hangovers, according to a study published in 2008 in Current Drug Abuse Reviews. Then again, you might be worse off without the protective warning that hangovers offer. The same study found that people who overestimate the level they can drink without getting a hangover are more prone to alcoholism. No pain, no gain.

Propranolol: Propranolol is beta-blocker drug for hypertension that also is commonly used to relieve hangover pain. The bad news is that it doesn't work, according to numerous studies. The good news is that you wasted your money on Propranolol instead of more booze.

Sleep: Sleep is the best cure for a hangover, but for many people this is a luxury. Who has time to sleep when you have to work the next day or, worse, have to clean up from the party or be a responsible parent??

The punch line is that the day after heavy drinking will always be miserable, no matter what you try, and the only solution is to not get so drunk in the first place — well, at least until scientists get their act together and create a pill to end hangovers. But don't count on that coming out very soon. Best bet - HYDRATE and give your beaten bod a rest.

Monday, June 13, 2011

FATHER'S DAY gift ideas

While gifts certainly aren't the only way to show you care on Father’s Day, there's nothing like the sense of personal satisfaction you can gain from giving a thoughtful item to the most important man in your life. With the help of, here is a list of the top 10 most desired Father's Day gifts. Combine giving something in the list below with a day you've planned just for him, and you’ll make the old man very happy.

No.10 Grilling tools: The grill, like a man's office, is a personal sanctuary where mastery means everything. Your dad may not realize just how many useful tools exist now to help make the grilling experience that much better, so providing him with a practical tool belt or grilling tongs will both educate and impress him.

Why? Taking the time to upgrade dad’s grill equipment will give him even more joy out of the primal experience of cooking meat over an open flame. It'll also translate to better meals for you when you drop in on his next barbecue.

No.9 Alcohol: Sometimes nothing can take the edge off of a day of stress and work like a nice stiff drink. Buy your dad top-shelf booze like a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label, or more affordable Bombay Sapphire, and you'll give him a gift he can enjoy and appreciate with you on Father’s Day.

Why? It may be less permanent, but nice liquor is a luxury he's unlikely to give himself. Good quality liquor is also good to have around for when he’s having a few buddies over, and he’ll think of you even when you can’t make it.

No.8 Fishing gear: The traditionalist in your dad may lead him to believe that fishing is only about a rod, a reel and some line. Once he opens his gear, you're likely to see his vision of this age-old pastime expand to include his new toys.

Why? Besides looking absolutely amazing, owning a good reel is a must for the skilled fly fisherman hoping to keep his catch fresh for dinner.

No.7 Anything GOLF: If your father considers a round of golf as the closest thing he's found to heaven on earth, then enhancing his equipment to improve his game is an obvious Father’s Day gift idea. If you've got deep pockets, wow him with a new set of workhorse Ping G15 irons, or add yards to his drive with the Callaway FT-IZ and he'll think of you every time he hits a great shot. He'll also appreciate the necessities; golf balls, a new pair of shoes, a glove.

Why? No matter how good he is at golf, owning the latest equipment is sure to improve his game.

No.6 Leather wallet: A man rarely thinks about the quality or image his wallet projects. After all, it’s tucked out of sight most of the time. Feeling, smelling and looking at a good quality wallet will quickly make your dad realize just how shoddy his faithful standby is and show him it's time to retire it.

Why? The older a man gets, the more he appreciates craftsmanship and durability. Providing him with a fine new wallet is something he'll notice with every transaction he makes, which won't involve paying for you for once.

No.5 Wine: Good wine is a luxury most men only learn to appreciate and have the means to acquire later in life. So remind your father of the perks of being an experienced dad by supplementing his collection. If a wine shop's massive selection intimidates you, start with something full-bodied from California – Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley and Chardonnays from Sonoma are sure bets.

Why? A bottle or two of fine wine is an easy gift that can either be consumed on the spot to enhance a meal, or be stowed away and aged to enjoy at a later date, when he can recall your thoughtfulness on Father’s Day.

No.4 Driving gloves: Did your dad sell the family car for his own two-door roadster once you left the house for good? If so, then a pair of leather driving gloves will certainly add to his driving experience. BMW M driving gloves are perfect for those attached to German engineering, otherwise a set made of classic deerskin will do just fine.

Why? Your dad's 9-to-5 may not involve doing laps around the track, but with a pair of driving gloves, he'll certainly feel much more in tune with his prized toy while zipping along his commute.

No.3 Meat: Most men associate the chance to dine on high-quality meat as a luxury only provided by restaurants. There are some excellent mail-order meat establishments such as Omaha Steaks or Prime Chops that can deliver the same level of quality for your dad to use in his own special recipes to make grilling at home that much more of an experience.

Why? Every dad thinks he holds the secret to the best grilling tricks on earth. Working with top quality ingredients will just add to his sense of confidence that his cooking is the best the next time he's called into action for guests or the family - for men, confidence is everything.

No.2 Sports tickets: It sounds sappy, but often great experiences and the memories they create are the only gifts that matter. A pair of tickets for you and your dad to go to a game and support his favorite team is a gift that will wow him and give him something to look forward to once Father's Day is over.

Why? Your father may be a sports addict from the couch, but getting him to the game will take things to a different level. It’s also a great way to spend some time together. Find great deals on sports tickets at

No.1 Landscaping services: The notion that a man enjoys mastering his domain by slaving away in the hot sun to cut grass, trim hedges and plant becomes less true as guys get older. However, frugal dads who never like to ask for help may not be too keen on admitting they'd rather have someone else step in. Give your dad the gift of a prepaid landscaping service and it will save his ego as well as his back.

Why? Signing your dad up for landscaping services will let him finally catch up on those relaxing afternoons he missed out on while carting you to Little League and make his outdoor space a truly enjoyable place to spend time in.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


A delicious sweet and salty low-fat "you can't eat just one" treat!

~Strawberry Yogurt Covered Pretzels~

1 large bag mini pretzels
2 cups strawberry yogurt
4 cups confectioners sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 250ºF.
2. Beat together the confectioners sugar and yogurt until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Add up to a cup more of confectioners sugar if necessary to make it thicker.
3. Stir in the pretzels.
4. Place the pretzels on a lined cookie sheet. Turn OFF your oven and place the pretzels inside, propping the door open slightly. This will help dry the frosting. Allow them to sit there for 3 hours before removing.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Friday, June 10, 2011


I've said this before but in case you missed it, I'm a jean girl. At one point I think I had like 25 pairs of jeans. Denim goes with everything and every color. Except I'll admit, I'm always hesitant to wear it with light blue for some reason. Dress them up. Dress them down. Pair them with a Zip hoodie. Wifebeater. Silk shirt. Flip flops. Running shoes. Stilettos. This week my fancy was tickled when I learned that there is alittle more variety of denim for this summer besides just jeans. Denim brimmed hats. Denim shorts. Long denim skirts. Denim jackets (yes, I wondered if I'd ever be able to wear those 4 jackets again!) Denim wide leg pants (finally something other than the boyfriend and skinny jean!) Denim shoes. Yep I said denim shoes. And I found them. Cuter than ever too.

I randomly wandered into DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) last week. I'd never been. Holy cow. Shoe overload. Rows and rows of help-yourself shoes. I beelined straight to the wedge section. I've been on the hunt for some time and had a feeling that this might be the end to my search. Sure 'nough, two pairs were calling my name. A cute black pair on sale for only $39.00 and a denim pair that was being fondled and drooled on by two Latino women. A sense of selfish urgency came over me. Those were MINE. I tactfully shimmied my way next to them and quickly snagged the last pair of 7.5's. Mission accomplished.

Of course when I got them home I questioned the whole denim shoe thing. My cute, trendy 21 year old babysitter eased my uncertainty with her enthusiasm towards them. She pointed out they will go with anything especially white (another hot summer trend). Done. These suckers aren't going back. Now if only I had the wardrobe of those Latino women to go with them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

MESS-ellaneous tips

You know how it goes….you have every intention of getting some cleaning accomplished during the day, only to find that by the time the kids are in bed, your house is no cleaner than when you woke up! How does time get away from us?

Everyone always walks in my house and wonders how the heck it's always so clean. Yes, I'm anal (and so is my husband. Deadly combo) and yes, I'm a perfectionist so if it wasn't this way, I'd be out of sorts BUT there is more to it. I'm all about "systems" -AKA an organized, purposeful routine to my madness. I am the most productive and am able to maintain order best when I am consistent in how I do certain tasks.

A crucial first step in trying to get organized is you must set up your environment for success. By establishing cleaning routines and stocking rooms with the appropriate tools, you’ll be able to take advantage of those precious few minutes every day to make a nice dent in those lingering household tasks.

Here are some quick cleaning tips that I find most helpful that you can easily incorporate into their daily routine to eliminate feeling like you are becoming a slave to the chores:

1) Beat the Clock: Believe it or not, most chores only take 10 minutes. Out of 24 hours, we ALL have 10 minutes. Set the clock for 10 minutes and see how much you can accomplish in that amount of time. It will keep you focused and you'll be surprised how fast you'll actually move. Best part: you'll benefit from a quick calorie blasting little workout.

2) Rock out: When you clean for 10 or 15 minutes, as opposed to an hour or more, cleaning doesn't seem overwhelming. Turn some music on and do this a few times a day so everything gets done. Choose CD's instead of the radio to keep you on track. No commercial interruptions makes it easier to keep the beat while cleaning.

3) Multi-task: Always do two things at once. For example, while on the phone, fold laundry, fluffs pillows, picks up stray magazines and books, do dishes, sweep or dust. If you need to do laundry and clean, toss a load in before you get sidetracked. Then set a timer so you don't forget to toss them in the dryer. Throw in new loads before you move onto the next project and you'll chip away at it little by little, eliminating the pile-up.

4) Know the Hot Spots: Papers, odd toys and other things usually pile up on the dining room table or kitchen counter. Once you’ve got your table cleaned off, file papers or toss them immediately.

5) Go Corner to Corner: When you’re vacuuming, begin in the farthest corner and work toward the door, using slow, repetitive front-to-back motions in an overlapping sequence. As you look over the freshly vacuumed floor, you shouldn’t see any footprints.
6) Extend it: Save time and aggravation by connecting a long extension cord to your vacuum cleaner. You can vacuum your entire house (or one floor if you have multiple levels) without having to unplug it for each room. If the kitchen, for example, is the center of your house, use a kitchen outlet to reach all of your rooms.

7) Velcro Away Clutter: Label the bottom of each electronic game controller (Xbox, for example), and then Velcro it to the console. You’ll never waste time searching for them again.

8) Make a Lost-and-Found: Every house needs one. Use a cute vintage lunch box or lidded storage container to stash lost game pieces, stray screws and buttons, and similar small items. When you need the item, you’ll know where to look first.

9) Do Quick Rescues: Do a 5-minute sweep through each room, taking a laundry basket with you. Place in it anything that doesn’t belong in that room, then put away the stuff that does belong there.

10) Stash it: Keep a supply of cleaning products in each bathroom and in the kitchen. Store these in a bucket or basket with a handle, to make it easy to pick up and set down as you clean.

11) Top to bottom/left to right: I've said this before but it's the most effective way to clean. This method makes it difficult to miss anything.

12) Bag it: Keep a few extra trash bags in the bottom of your trash cans. When you pull out the full bag, a new bag will be waiting for you.

13) Don't skip over the hard to reach: Keep a supply of Q-tips, a toothbrush and a razor blade in your cleaning supply bucket. There is always some corner that your rag or sponge won't reach, such as that "gunk" that gets around the edge of the bathroom sink.

14) Do It Now: Put things back, rinse out that dirty dish, put shoes where they belong, and so on. When you think to yourself, "I'll do that later" you may find yourself in a panic later when you are running behind and so many things are not done.

15) No more up and down: If you have a two-story home, put a basket at the bottom of the stairs. Save yourself time consuming trips up and down by throwing the miscellaneous little things (toys, hair accessories, shoes) in the basket and bring them up one time at the end of the day and put away.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Did you know??

Sorry guys this post is for the ladies. Now that I've had two kids and am not nursing anymore, things just don't look or fit like they used to. I heard last week that sleeping in a bra keeps your breasts perky longer and it got me wondering if there is any truth in that statement. So I dug around the internet and found this answer from the ladies over at The Frisky who brought in an underwear expert (Is there a special degree for that??) named Brianna to answer that exact question.

Brianna responded like this:

"Here’s the deal with breast sag: there are no muscles in the breast. The Cooper’s Ligament is what keeps them suspended (aka perky). Over time, gravity and poor support can stretch the ligament beyond repair. Stretched ligament = saggy boobs. If you’re telling me you only wear a bra when you leave the house, then all the time you’re going bra-less, gravity is basically bungee jumping on your Cooper’s Ligament, pulling it down and stretching it out. If you want to keep your "girls" looking young, then you need to give them support all the time. As far as sleeping in a bra goes, it may be an old wives’ tale, but we’re not taking any chances. Once you enter Sagsville, there’s no turning back that doesn’t involve a visit to the plastic surgeon. Just pick a bra that’s comfortable, like a compression sports bra, bralette/bandeau or even a bra-top camisole (which is a clever combo of a bra sewn inside a cami). For a sleeping bra, it’s less about support and more about containment, so you can skip out on the underwire if you want."

I don't know about you but that answer really surprised me. Weren't we taught to take it off before bed? I sure was. And to be honest, I've always found the end of the day, when I finally get to take off my binding bra, to be a huge relief. Guess I might need to change my way to keep my "girls" from misbehaving.

While sleeping in a bra may be a good idea, finding your perfect-fit bra may not mean the end of your underwear woes. If you're one of countless women who stress over sagging and worry that their girls may head further south than an Arizaon-bound retiree, keep reading.

If you don't have the good fortune of getting a fitting with an expert like Freddie, don't fret. Brianna's got three simple tips for you guys to follow in case you find yourself in the lingerie department without a clue:

1. Your bra needs to "tack." Do you know that little piece of fabric between the cups in the front of your bra? The part that connects them? That should lie completely flat against your skin. If there is even a slight gap, it's not "tacking" and it's not the right bra for you.

2. The underwire should not touch your breast tissue. Take your hand and feel where your bra hits at the side of your breasts. It should be laying flat against bone, not digging into your tissue. It's healthier (and more supportive) for the underwire to lay behind the breast tissue, not on it.

3. The band should be snug and parallel to the floor. So much of the support of your bra comes from the band that goes all the way around you. You should barely be able to get your finger between your bra and your back. And once it's on, your bra shouldn't ride up, but should look like it's parallel to the floor. Wear the band on the loosest hook when you first buy it, because that's the tightest your bra will ever be.

So. I was definitely schooled in the art of support and I hope you girls got a little lesson, too! Have you had a fitting recently? Were you surprised to learn your true size? Are you able to throw the arbitrary idea of numbers out the window and just find a bra that looks great on you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A SIMPLE reminder

I needed this more than anything this morning. And God knew it. It was like he directed my hand straight to this verse in my devotion jar (thanks Lindsay). This verse is so simple yet so hard to come back to when you're in the trenches of life.

No matter what you're going through, I hope this brings you hope and a sense of peace that you aren't in this alone.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worr about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own."
Matthew 6:34-35

Monday, June 6, 2011

Get CRAFTY: 28 homemade tutorials

Although I'm not super crafty, I know a lot of you are so because I love to make all y'all happy, I thought I'd share with you the 28 most popular homemade gift tutorials from the Tip Junkie Homemade gift site.

I know that sometimes the words “homemade gifts” or "do-it-yourself (DIY) projects" conjure visions of construction paper and cheerios, but that really doesn’t have to be the case! There's nothing more heart-felt and personal than a homemade gift. Whether it's for a special occasion or "just because," they are unique and surprising which makes them all that more fun to give and receive.

So here ya go. There are some wonderful craft projects in this list – and you don’t need to know how to sew or even consider yourself to be the “crafty type” to dive in and attempt one:

1. Fabric Flower Pin {No-Sew}
2. Long Stemmed Fabric Flower Tutorial {diy}
3. How to Make a Fabric Flower Ring
4. How To Make a Pom Pom Bib Necklace {anthropology}
5. Mini Scripture Bag {Tutorial}
6. Fabric Flower Wall Hanging {Tutorial}
7. Fabric Flower Clock {Tutorial}
8. DIY Fabric Flower Bouquet
9. Fabric Flower Vase with Berries

10. Surprise Tags {Free Printable}
11. 40 Yummy Homemade Gifts {recipes}
13. You Were ‘Mint’ To Teach! {teacher}
14. DIY Sweetie Pie! {edible gift}
15. S’more Kit {tutorial}
16. Make Your Own Brown Sugar Scrub! {recipe how to}

17. Pretend and Play Restaurant Set: Today’s Special Board
18. Old MacDonald Felt Finger Puppets {Free Pattern}
19. Monster Doll Tutorial {free pattern}
20. Mermaid Tail Doll Dress Up Clothes {Free Pattern}
21. Anthropologie Knock Off Ile Saint-Louis Bag {Free Pattern}
22. MP3 Player Pocket Pillowcase

23. Crochet Bangles {Jewelry}
24. Farmer’s Market Journal {Paper Craft}
25. How To Business Card Holder {Sewing}
26. DIY Pedestal Bowls
27. Game Night In A Bag {Free Printable}
28. Painted Rain Boots {Drab to Fab}

Thanks Tip Junkie for the great ideas!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


As if tiramisu weren't already decadent, this recipe has added dulce de leche ice cream to the mix. With a traditional ladyfinger base and loads of java flavor (thanks to coffee ice cream and liqueur as well as the standard brew), this frozen variation may be your new go-to version.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours

~Ice Cream Tiramisu~


3 oz bittersweet chocolate
18 soft ladyfinger halves
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup coffee liqueur
1 pint coffee ice cream
1 1/2 cups whipped topping
1 pint dulce de leche ice cream
Garnish: Chocolate Curls

Line an 8-in. square pan with nonstick foil, leaving a 2-in. overhang on two sides.
Grate 3 oz bittersweet chocolate (1 cup).
Arrange 18 soft ladyfinger halves on the bottom of pan, slightly overlapping.
Mix 1/4 cup each brewed coffee and coffee liqueur in small bowl; brush the ladyfingers with half. Place 1 pint coffee ice cream in large bowl; stir until smooth but not melted. Spread over ladyfingers, then sprinkle with half the grated chocolate and 1 1/2 cups whipped topping.
Place in freezer 30 minutes. Repeat layers using 1 pint dulce de leche ice cream. Cover with foil; freeze 3 hours until firm.
A half-hour before serving, place in refrigerator to soften slightly. Peel off foil; place on serving plate.
Garnish with chocolate curls and cut in squares or freeze until serving.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Friday, June 3, 2011


Ok you'll have to bear with me as my world as of late is consumed by everything baby. But hold up - even you aren't a mom or plan to be a mom, you too must read on. These make for a unique baby gift that any expecting mother of a little boy will thank you a million times over.

Ever heard of the Tinkle Topper? I hadn't until a high school friend of mine sent me a package of University of Washington (yes, I am an Alum) toppers recently. Were they Christmas ornaments? Game pieces? A party hat? I honestly had no idea. But then in dawned on me - they are intended to cover the tinkle before he sprinkles!! Duh. Yet another "why didn't I think of that?" product. I didn't put two and two together because based on how it was packaged I thought "Tinkle Topper" was the cutsy company's name who made them.

For a mother expecting a boy, these are an essential must have. If used correctly (one hand holding the tinkle topper over the wee-wee, the other one trying to hold down his flailing legs while putting on the diaper) they will trap the pee in the tip of the topper and you'll avoid getting hosed by your 'lil guy. I can't tell you how many times they have saved me at 4:00 AM of having to strip him of his pee soaked pajamas. And because they saved me one less load of laundry, these have tickled my fancy.
Sorry I couldn't resist this picture I found online...:)

You can find at Tyler and Me Boutique or you can search "Tinkle Toppers" or better yet the "Pee-Pee TeePee for the Sprinkling Wee-Wee" on Google or Etsy and you'll find several to choose from.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

In style: DRESSES

It's my favorite time of the year - when the sun is shining and getting dressed becomes a no-brainer.

Casual dress + Flip flops or wedges = cute and comfy for almost any occasion

I walked into Target a few days ago to get diapers and a gift card. And sadly I walked out $300 later with six summer dresses (all under $18.00), four tank tops, three bathing suits and a pullover hoodie. Shhh don't tell Dave. Before I hung the dresses in my closet, I tried them on again and began to second guess my purchases. Buyers remorse or just not the right fit? Right color? Right style? Sadly it looks like I'll be returning a few.

If you're wondering how to make summer dress shopping easier and return free, read on for the latest in dress trends for 2011...

Color: While white is a perfect color to wear in summer, you can't be afraid of color. Vibrant colors like yellows, blues, reds, corals, pinks, mint green and lavender are showing up all over department stores. Ethnic prints as well as fresh florals and cool stripes are big this season too.

Style: Free-spirited dresses in comfortable fabrics are what's expected for everyday summerwear. The summer dress famously known as the “Sundress” (an informal or casual dress in a lightweight fabric, most commonly cotton, and usually loose fitting) are something you don't want to miss. They are easy to fit and stylish making you look casual yet trendy. With added floral embroidery, floral prints, or lace on these dresses make them fun and flirty.

Another perfect summer dress would be the long Maxi dress. Although the Maxi has been around for a few seasons, it's hotter than ever. What I love is it's super versatile - one you can wear to a summer wedding or at a pool side BBQ. These dresses are usually simple in design and free-flowing which make them flattering and comfortable.

Fit: If you're CURVY, ROUND or PLUS SIZE: Opt for a V-neck. Fashion truth: V’s help elongate your body. Make sure your dress goes in at your waist—it’s the smallest part of your body. Not working? Add a belt! Showing off the curve of your legs is always hot. Dresses with v-necks will help in elongating the neck and makes it look a little bit slimmer. Never attempt to wear dresses that will cling to your body. This would lead and draw people’s attention to your large middle instead to your legs. Do not wear small strapped dresses. The thicker the straps, the better.

If you're PEAR SHAPED (ie: BIGGER ON THE BOTTOM): Bare your shoulders. It gives the illusion of width on top to balance your lower half. Cinch your waist. Wearing a dress, which, has a wrap top, or a belt will be perfect. Choose those maxi skirts that are made up of flowing fabrics in order to shift the attention from your bottom but to your waist alone.

If you're BIGGER ON TOP (ie: BUSTY): Pick a wide neckline. It’s a great way to show a bit of skin—yes, even at work—without OD’ing on the cleavage. Find a same-color belt or tie. It shows your shape but doesn’t make you look short-waisted, as a contrasting color might. Work a shortish hemline. Longer-looking legs bring focus away from your chest.

Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Deal Alert: NEIGE

Plum District offers some amazing deals but this is definitely a favorite of mine! NEIGE, a french word meaning "snow," is a clothing line you will FALL IN LOVE WITH!!! Adrienne, a dear friend of mine, has designed a children's line that is wearable, modern and playful. The quality is out of this world and the simplistic designs are practical for any occasion. From solid and simple prints to stripes, their separates can be mixed and matched. Quite simply, the Neige Collection is understated and timeless.

Today on Plum District, you can get $50 worth of Neige clothing for $25! Deal is good for ANYONE, ANYWHERE!! You better buy one for yourself and one for a friend! Need to buy a baby gift?? Get that baby decked out in head-to-toe Neige!

And what makes this deal even sweeter - Neige's Spring Sale is going on right now so you can get more bang for your buck if you buy this deal! And it keeps getting better - if you buy it, you share it with friends and 3 of them buy it, yours is FREE!!

Click on the link and get shopping!!


We do our fair share of entertaining and I can not for the life of me remember how to set the table correctly. I always have to stand over the table and think hard about what goes where. Maybe it's because I am out of practice. Nowadays the extent of my table settings consists of a truck fork, an Ikea animal placemat, a plastic divided train plate and a sippy cup. Regardless, these are things I need to know and remember even if I am sleep deprived and ready to pull my hair out come dinner/entertaining time.

Do you know how to properly set a table?

According to Emily Post's Etipedia (Etiquette + Encyclopedia), setting a table is not as difficult as it seems. The basic rule is: Utensils are placed in the order of use, that is, from the outside in. A second rule, with only a few exceptions is: forks go to the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right. A third rule of thumb: utensils are placed one inch from the edge of the table.

Here are some table etiquette rules that will help you or your kids remember how to properly set the table;

For a basic table setting:

1.Picture the word "FORKS." The order, left to right, is: F for Fork, O for the Plate (the shape!), K for Knives and S for Spoons. (Okay - you have to forget the R, but you get the idea!)
2.Holding your hands in front of you, touch the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your forefingers to make a lowercase 'b' with your left hand and a lowercase 'd' with your right hand. This reminds you that "bread and butter" go to the left of the place setting and "drinks" go on the right.

Some other things to know:
•Knife blades always face the plate
•The napkin goes to the left of the fork, or on the plate
•The bread and butter knife are optional

For an informal table setting (ie - casual dinner party with friends, etc):

This illustration shows how a table would be set for the following menu:
•Soup course
•Salad or first course

(a) Dinner plate: This is the "hub of the wheel" and is usually the first thing to be set on the table. In the illustration, the dinner plate would be placed where the napkin is, with the napkin on top of the plate.

(b) Two Forks: The forks are placed to the left of the plate. The dinner fork, the larger of the two forks, is used for the main course; the smaller fork is used for a salad or an appetizer. The forks are arranged according to when you need to use them, following an "outside-in" order. If the small fork is needed for an appetizer or a salad served before the main course, then it is placed on the left (outside) of the dinner fork; if the salad is served after the main course, then the small fork is placed to the right (inside) of the dinner fork, next to the plate.

(c) Napkin: The napkin is folded or put in a napkin ring and placed either to the left of the forks or on the center of the dinner plate. Sometimes, a folded napkin is placed under the forks.

(d) Dinner Knife: The dinner knife is set immediately to the right of the plate, cutting edge facing inward. (If the main course is meat, a steak knife can take the place of the dinner knife.) At an informal meal, the dinner knife may be used for all courses, but a dirty knife should never be placed on the table, placemat or tablecloth.

(e) Spoons: Spoons go to the right of the knife. In our illustration, soup is being served first, so the soupspoon goes to the far (outside) right of the dinner knife; the teaspoon or dessert spoon, which will be used last, goes to the left (inside) of the soupspoon, next to the dinner knife.

(f) Glasses: Drinking glasses of any kind -- water, wine, juice, iced tea -- are placed at the top right of the dinner plate, above the knives and spoons.

Other dishes and utensils are optional, depending on what is being served, but may include:

(g) Salad Plate: This is placed to the left of the forks. If salad is to be eaten with the meal, you can forgo the salad plate and serve it directly on the dinner plate. However, if the entree contains gravy or anything runny, it is better to serve the salad on a separate plate to keep things neater.

(h) Bread Plate with Butter Knife: If used, the bread plate goes above the forks, with the butter knife placed diagonally across the edge of the plate, handle on the right side and blade facing down.

(i) Dessert Spoon and Fork: These can be placed either horizontally above the dinner plate (the spoon on top with its handle facing to the right; the fork below with its handle facing left); or beside the plate. If placed beside the plate, the fork goes on the left side, closest to the plate (because it will be the last fork used) and the spoon goes on the right side of the plate, to the right of the dinner knife and to the left of the soupspoon.

(j) Coffee Cup and Saucer: Our illustration shows a table setting that would be common in a restaurant serving a large number of people at once, with coffee bieing served during the meal. The coffee cup and saucer are placed above and to the right of the knife and spoons. At home, most people serve coffee after the meal. In that case the cups and saucers are brought tot he table and placed above and to the right of the knives and spoons.