Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top SUNSCREEN for 2011 (and sun tips too!)

Ahh, summer. We're so close to having some fun in the sun. As if you haven't heard this a ga-zillion times before, you need to play it safe and pack the sunscreen whenever you're outside. Not just on the sunny days. On those grey days too. If you have a cupboard filled with bottles from last season (or 5 seasons ago), it's proably best to toss them and get some fresh new bottles.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of sunscreen choices this past week. Do I go for the most expensive to be the most effective? The highest SPF? Is a spray better than a lotion? According to Consumer Reports, the best sun protection money can buy turns out to be the cheapest which is great news for us budget-conscious.

The magazine tested 22 sprays, creams and lotions, and for the second year in a row Up & Up’s Sport Continuous SPF 30 (a Target brand - but of course) is not only the best buy ($9.00/2 pack), but it's also one of the four most effective sunscreens as determined by Consumer Reports.

Other top winners:
*Banana Boat Sport Performance SPF 30
*Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof SPF 30
*CVS Fast Cover Sport SPF 30

But before you buy it and apply it, here are some tips fresh from the pages of Glamour Magazine's May 2011 issue;

1. It’s Not Just About the SPF Level: “Once you go higher than SPF 50, there’s not much difference,” says NYC derm Robert J. Friedman, M.D. For the best protection, look for SPF 30 sunscreens that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone or Mexoryl.

2. You Need More Than You Think: One bottle of sunscreen for vacation may not be enough. “It takes one ounce to cover the body, and if you’re in the sun for six hours, you need to reapply twice,” says Scottsdale, Arizona, derm Jennifer Linder, M.D.

3. “Waterproof” Sunscreen Really Isn’t: Updated labels will refer to SPF as water-resistant, which protects for up to 40 minutes, or very water resistant, for up to 80 minutes. Reapply accordingly.

4. Heads Need Sun Protection Too: “The scalp is a common location for skin cancer,” says Dr. Linder. Use a hair sun protector—it’s less greasy than a lotion.

5. We Can Do Better: Sad but true: “Thirty-five percent of women still aren’t wearing sunscreen at all,” says Dr. Friedman. Don’t let that be you!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, as well as the season of delicious fruits and light desserts. Although this particular one is Patriotic for the occasion, there are a million ways to make a delicious trifle dessert that are perfect for summer BBQ's and backyard pool parties. If you don't have a trifle bowl, you need to invest in one. You can find this Libbey Selene Trifle Bowl at Target for $15.99.

~Patriotic Berry Triffle~
Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home"

Yields: 16-20 servings
Prep: 30 minutes + chilling

1 package (3 ounces) berry blue gelatin
1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin
2 cups boiling water
1 cup cold water
2 cups cold whole milk
2 packages (3.4 ounces each) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 quart fresh strawberries, quartered
1 prepared angel food cake (8 to 10 ounces), cut into 1-inch cubes

In two small bowls, combine each gelatin flavor with 1 cup boiling water.
Stir 1/2 cup cold water into each.
Pour each into an ungreased 9-in. square pan.
Refrigerate for 1 hour or until set.
In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes.
Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.
Fold in 2 cups whipped topping.
Set aside 1/4 cup blueberries and 1/2 cup strawberries for garnish.
Cut the gelatin into 1-in. cubes.
In a 3-qt. trifle bowl or serving dish, layer the strawberry gelatin, half of the cake cubes, the remaining blueberries and half of the pudding mixture.
Top with blue gelatin and remaining cake cubes, strawberries and pudding mixture. Garnish with reserved berries and remaining whipped topping. Serve immediately.

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

Reader's TOP store (& Giveaway winner revealed!)

The Giveaway results are in and the top store amongst readers is...drum roll please...TARGET!!! Every one of the readers who entered the giveaway listed Target in their top three stores except for one. To be honest, I wasn't shocked. What person doesn't love a one stop shop?!? Besides Wally-world, there aren't many other places where you can pick yourself up a bathing suit, a kid's birthday gift, laundry detergant, a new hairdryer, inexpensive picture frames and bread. I think all you Target shoppers will be happy to know that new reports indicate that although Walmart has built its entire retail brand around the proposition that it "always" offers the lowest prices, Target is now the lowest priced powerhouse!!

According to a recent comparison that consisted of 22 common grocery goods such as milk, cereal and rice; 10 general merchandise products such as clothing and home furnishings; and three health and beauty items, Target's prices are now lower than the giant No. 1 retailer Walmart. This is the first time in four years that the Target's bullseye has had an edge over Walmart's happy face.

Moral of this post: Target is a fave for a reason. It offers the best "cheap chic" selection and it's truly a place where you can "Expect More. Pay Less."

For today's giveaway I thought it was only fitting to offer a TARGET GIFT CARD to the lucky winner. And that lucky win is.................................Lynnae Schneller!!! Look out for an email from me!

Have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend!


My mom is the absolute best when it comes to giving random, out-of-the-blue gifts. If there's one thing I've learned from her, it's to practice self-less acts of kindness. And not when it's only convenient for you. This past week, I heard Chase yell "Box Truck." Sure enough as I looked out the window, the UPS man was running across our lawn, jumping back into his "box truck." Chase opened the door to find a Crate and Barrel box on our doorstep. I thought, "Hmmm that's an interesting store to get a baby gift from." Surprisingly it wasn't a baby gift. It was a set of 6 Popsicle Molds (12.95, Crate and Barrel) from my mother. Just for fun. Because she thought Chase would love to make them. Lick them. Spill them. And make my house a sticky mess.

I'm not sure what tickled my fancy more this week - my mom or the ear to ear smile Chase has when he opens up the freezer to find a "pop-a-cull" waiting for him? I'm thinking both. Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


The Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale for Women & Children starts today - May 25th - and lasts thru June 5th.

Shop in the next 4 days (May 25-28) and Nordstrom cardholders who earn the standard 2 rewards points will earn 4 points per net dollar spent on purchases made at Nordstrom.com and in Nordstrom stores.

ON THE MENU: Florentine Mac & Cheese with Chicken Meatballs

Food seems to be a blog favorite, especially those Chicken Enchiladas. Pretty freakin' d'lish right?? So here's a recipe from a fellow mom's club member that was prepared last week for our family. It was an absolute hit with Chase and definitely one I'll make again. And for all of you that are wondering how I'm still getting meals brought to me 6 weeks postpartum?? Between the families from our church - Grace Fellowship - and my local Mom's Club, it was truly a blessing to have home cooked meals 3-4 times per week for that long. I'm forever grateful for all the people that volunteered to do something so thoughtful.

Florentine Mac and Cheese with Roast Chicken Meatballs
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray, 2007 (with a few motifications)
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 servings

• 1 pound Rotini pasta
• Salt
• 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
• Black pepper
• 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, pressed
• 1 cup Ricotta cheese
• 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
• 1 egg
• 3/4 cup bread crumbs, plus more, if needed*
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 2 boxes, 10 ounces, chopped frozen spinach*
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 can of low sodium chicken stock - allows for 2 cups
• 1 cup milk
• 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg, eyeball it

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
-Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. When it comes to a boil, salt it and add the pasta to cook to al dente.
-While the water is coming to a boil, in a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, salt and pepper, rosemary, garlic, Ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, egg and bread crumbs. *If the mixture seems too wet, add a handful of bread crumbs and mix together.
-Form 8 medium round balls, about 2 to 3-inches.
-Coat balls in a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.
-Arrange balls on the baking sheet and roast 17 to 18 minutes until juices run clear.
-Place spinach boxes in a shallow dish and defrost spinach in microwave 8 to 10 minutes on "defrost" setting depending on the microwave. *It is recommended to do this step the night before or well ahead of time.
-While the meatballs roast, in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt butter, then whisk in flour.
-Cook 1 minute then whisk in 1 cup of stock and milk, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and thicken 5 to 6 minutes.
-Stir in the remaining 1 cup grated Parmigiano and reduce heat on lowest setting.
-Wring spinach completely dry in clean kitchen towel then separate as you add it to the sauce.
-Add the remaining cup of low sodium chicken stock.
-Toss pasta with the spinach-white sauce and adjust seasonings.

Serve Florentine Mac-n-Cheese with 2 meatballs per person along side. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I grew up in a household where my father never wore deodorant. He sweat very little and he never ever smelled. Humph. Wouldn't that be nice?! For many years because my dad didn't wear it and my brother was too young, I thought deodorant was strictly a feminine product. So I used it - thinking it was part of being female.

I'll never forget how shocked I was to see an entire aisle of men's deodorant. No joke. You would have thought I lived in the mountains completely isolated from any type of civilization. Between the rows of choices - deodorant or antiperspirant, gel or solid, spray or stick, white or clear - the selection of sticks on the market is enough to make you break out into a sweat just trying to decide.

Where am I going with this?? I honestly don't know except for that it's a relevant story to this MUST HAVE post on deodorant. The last time I was at my mom's I was reminded how much I love MY deodorant. In a mad rush out the door, I rolled her gel stick under my arms (is that gross?) and ran out the door. The entire night I was a wet mess. I swear the gel makes you sweat MORE. Had I been asked to raise my hand, I would have been "that" girl - you know the one that everyone feels bad for because she's pittin' out?!? Yeah that was me. Poor thing. But hey, it's like having a huge chunk of food stuck in your teeth - it happens to each and everyone of us. Even Fergie.

So why am I blogging about sweaty, stinky underarms you might be thinking? According to Dr. Han Lee, an assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Southern California, that you should switch up your deodorant every 6 months. But do you really know what's the best for you amongst the hundreds of sticks and cans? Keep reading...

If you want to eliminate odor, use a deodorant. Wow, that's profound. The alcohol turns your skin acidic which fights off bacteria. Odor comes from bacteria reacting with sweat. Keep in mind that just as bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, your skin can become immune to the ingredients in your deodorant. Hence why you should switch it up frequently.

If you want to prevent wetness, use an antiperspirant. Chose one that contains at least 10% aluminum chloride which produces salts that clog your sweat ducts.

Better yet, fight odor AND sweat with an antiperspirant/deodorant. My personal all time fave - ARRID Extra Extra Dry in the Ultra Fresh Scent. Ironically, it's a MEN'S stick which I personally find works better than any other women's antiperspirant/deodorant I've ever used. Like I said, the gels made me sweat more. The spray cans never seems to last as long. That powdery women's scent was never strong enough. So if you're in the market for a new scent, I highly recommend the Arrid Extra Dry. And don't worry ladies, this scent is light and won't have you smelling musky like men's cologne.

You can usually find a 2 pack of the Arrid Extra Extra Dry in the Men's grooming aisle at most any Target for less than $3.75. Again one of the best bargains you'll find.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

MOTIVATING MONDAY: Small changes, big rewards

Can't lose those last 5 pounds? Can't fit into your shorts from last summer? Can't kick the sweet tooth? Can't. Can't. Can't. Enough. You CAN. It's a choice. A conscious choice. YOU choose what goes in YOUR mouth. YOU choose to drive your car through the drive-thru. YOU choose to order the burger over the fish.

From this point on - there are no more can'ts. You CAN get in those shorts, I promise. And you can do it with baby steps. No crazy diet. No juice cleanse. No starving yourself. Below are some easy tips on how to make small changes in your diet that can result in significant weight loss without having to even break a sweat. Read on...

1. Don’t eat in front of the TV. You’ll eat up to 288 calories more, according to research from the University of Massachusetts. Instead, eat at the table, and trade one hour of TV for a casual walk. Together, that’s 527 calories burned.

2. Get in tune with your tummy. Pay attention to how full you feel, and put down your fork when you’re satisfied. Listen to your body’s cues—instead of looking at whether the plate is clean—and save up to 500 calories a day.

3. Limit dinner guests. Eating with seven or more other guests can make you eat 96% more food, says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Mindless Eating. That’s like doubling your dinner! Dine with fewer guests to save 500 or more calories.

4. Limit salad toppings and always ask for it ON THE SIDE. A big salad might seem healthy, but all those goodies on top can make it more calorie-laden than lasagna or fettuccine Alfredo. Cheese crumbles, caramelized nuts, bacon, avocado, dried fruit, croutons and vinaigrettes can add lots of calories. Save 500 or more calories by having just one topping, adding flavorful but lower-cal veggies (roasted bell peppers, grilled onions, or mushrooms) and using half the dressing.

5. Don’t clean your plate. Leave 25% (or 4 bites) of your food on the plate at every meal, says weight-loss expert James O. Hill, Ph.D., author of The Step Diet. If you normally eat 2,000 calories or more each day, you’ll cut 500 calories.

6. Use smaller plates. Swap your 12-inch plate for a 10-inch one. You’ll eat 20-25% less and save up to 500 calories. You won’t feel any less full, either, researchers say.

7. Serve and sit. Family-style meals, with platters and bowls of food on the table, invite people to go back for seconds and thirds. Cut hundreds of calories by filling plates before bringing them to the table; leave serving dishes in the kitchen, too.

8. Make a swap. Use 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt instead of 1 cup heavy cream in a favorite baking recipe. Save 684 calories. Swap out butter for applesauce and save even more!

9. Make yours a mini. Check out menus for small versions of great desserts, so you can dodge calories and end your meal on a sweet note. P.F. Chang’s Great Wall of Chocolate is 1,440 calories. The Mini Great Wall? A chocolatey yet svelte 150 calories. You’ll save 1,290 calories.

10. Ditch that buttered movie popcorn. Yes, the large popcorn at the concession stand weighs in at a whopping 1,005 calories. Smuggle in your own (microwave-popped, 94% fat-free, of course) and save more than 700 calories.

11. Count your chips (and crackers) and put them on an individual plate/bowl. No, you can’t eat your snacks from a large bag or box because it’s waaaay too tempting to eat until the bag is empty. A chip-bender to the bottom of a 9-ounce bag is 1,260 calories sans the dip. So stick to one serving, about 15 chips—that’s 140 calories or pick up some 100-calorie snack packs and save 1,120 calories.

12. Step away from the nuts, especially if they’re in a big bowl. The bigger the serving bowl, the more you’ll eat, Cornell University researchers say. Nuts have heart-healthy fats, but they’re also high in calories: One handful (about 1 ounce) of oil-roasted mixed nuts has 175 calories; three handfuls have 525. Cut out nuts altogether and save more than 500 calories. Can’t resist ’em? Eat pistachios: Two handfuls are just 159 calories, and the shelling will slow down your munching.

13. Skip the whip or at least size it down. Dessert-like coffee creations can contain as many as 670 calories, with large sizes and options like whipped cream, whole milk and syrups. Craving whipped cream? Try it on a shot of espresso for a total of just 30 calories. You save 640 calories!

14. Kick the soda habit. A 12-ounce soft drink has about 150 to 180 calories. If you down two or three a day, you’re getting lots of extra calories. Quench your thirst with water and save as many as 540 calories.

15. Drink sugar-free. A 20-ounce tea with added fruit juices can have 400+ calories. And Southern-style sweet tea isn’t much better than soda: a 16-ounce bottle of syrupy sweet tea has 180 calories; three of those are 540 calories. Choose sugar-free sips and save more than 400 calories.

16. Skinny up cocktails. Syrups, sour mix, sugary fruit juices and creamy additions turn drinks into desserts: an indulgent Mudslide can have more than 800 calories. Order drinks mixed with club soda, tonic water, cranberry juice or a squeeze of citrus; or try distilled liquors on the rocks. You’ll save up to 800 calories.

17. Eat less pasta (or anything WHITE for that matter). One cup of pasta is just 220 calories. But typical dinner portions at restaurants can be as much as 480% larger than that 1 cup, according to New York University research. That’s 1,056 calories. Even if you eat 2 whole cups of noodles, you’ll still save 616 calories.


When I saw this twist on the traditional dessert on Bakers Royale, I couldn't wait to share them with you. The once large and messy banana split has gone marvelously mini for some bite size fun! And yes, there is actually a tiny scoop of ice cream inside these darling desserts. Whip these babies up for your next party or playdate. They are the perfect size for kid's to pop into their mouths without the melted ice cream mess. Little tip – make more than you think. They go FAST!


FIRM Banana
Ice Cream of choice
Whip Cream
Sprinkles or nuts
Maraschino Cherries

Cut bananas into 1 inch sections. Leave the peel on for easy handling.
With a melon baller, dig a well in the middle of each banana sections.

Melt chocolate in the microwave.
Dip the bottom portion of the banana in chocolate and then dip it once again in either sprinkles or chopped peanuts.
To quickly harden the chocolate, place dipped bananas in the freezer for five minutes.Fill each well with ice cream of choice.
Top with whip cream and a maraschino cherry.

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

Friday, May 20, 2011

DEAL ALERT: BAKE up some savings

Attention Bakers!! If you refuse to spend $3.50 for a cupcake knowing that you could make them just as cute and yummy - you'll love this deal! Michaels Craft Stores have over 200 new bakeware items that will help you achieve that WOW factor.

From this Sunday, May 22 through Saturday, May 28 if you buy two bakeware at full price, you get the third FREE. And if you click on the link below, you can print a coupon for an additional 40% off one item.


Happy Baking!

Graduation PAR-TAY

Yesterday I received several texts and emails thanking me for the graduation gift idea post. I'm so happy I could help relieve some stress on that end. From that post another cry for help surfaced - the graduation party. What to serve? Decorations? If you're looking for a little party planning motivation, here are a few ideas and websites I personally love;

For menu ideas and recipes; check out http://www.celebrations.com/graduationparty.
This site is also a great reference for recipes, activities, and fun drink ideas.

For tips on how to streamline your party planning; check out this article from Real Simple Magazine. Follow her advice and you might just enjoy the days leading up to the party! http://simplystated.realsimple.com/celebrations/2008/05/easy-party-plan.html

My absolute favorite party planning website however is Hostess with the Mostess. This site is truly inspiring - and a tad overwhelming. It is though the ultimate website if you want to replicate a party theme or need inspiration on how to display food or desserts. Their tagline: "Entertaining with a modern twist." Check it out - http://www.hwtm.com/.

Want to be a little more creative than a store bought sheet cake for dessert? I'm a big fan of an ice cream sundae bar. It serves as both a dessert and an "activity" for the guests. All you need is some chocolate sauce, nuts, whip cream and some candy in the school colors to make your dessert table a hit! The timing of ice cream and keeping it cold however is definitely more high maintenance than just plopping a cake down on the table. To eliminate this problem, you need to serve your ice cream in individual glass jars or glasses. To do this, you need to scoop small balls of ice cream the night before into tupperware (make a single layer) and put in the freezer. You will also need to freeze the empty mason jars/glass in the freezer the night before. The day of, place the ice cream scoops in the mason jars (really frozen ice cream keeps the jars clean from drips.) Then put the serving tray right back in the freezer until you are ready to serve. This fun twist on ice cream makes both preparing ahead and serving a cinch. Both kids and adults love concocting their own ice cream sundae.

Another creative idea and a fun twist on a guest book, is to make a Good Luck jar. This will leave the graduate with plenty of well wishes and encouraging words to send them into their next adventure.

All you need is a large mason jar (you can find at Target or Ikea) and decorate as you wish. Then supply your guests with a paper and pen to write their good luck wishes on. So simple!

And my last tip: HAVE IT CATERED!!!! You may spend a little more but it will save you on the stress. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Mexican is always a hit and pretty cheap too. Best of luck in planning a smashing Graduation party!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


If you have a summer road trip planned or a camping trip on the horizon Target's Daily Deal - ONE DAY ONLY. ALWAYS FREE SHIPPING - features two products you might want to check out!

Product: Quick Shade 64' Weekender Canopy Shade
Color: Midnight Blue
Original price: $99.99
SALE price: $74.99 plus FREE shipping
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Product: Travelchair with Footrest
Color: Grey/Black
Original price: $59.99
SALE price: $44.99 plus FREE shipping
Rating: 4.5/5 starts

Buy together and you'll save $40.00! At midnight (PST), today's deals will be gone. Act fast.

Gifts for the GRADUATE

Stumped on what to give the graduate that has everything? Or better yet, nothing? Consider these ideas ranging from practical to elaborate:

1. Personalized Stationery: Custom stationery always makes a nice gift because it's both useful and personal. Three of my favorite stationery sites are suitorlife.com for a very simple, professional look and I love http://www.minted.com/, thebutternyc.com and Chloe B. for Crane for clean, modern designs.

2. Jewelry: Jewelry makes a lovely graduation gift. If you want the piece to have "meaning," the butterfly is representative of change and rebirth into a new life.

3. U-Haul rental: Moving costs pile up with an uncommon ease. Bestow a grad with an U-Haul rental for $20-30.

4. Gym Membership: The end of college or high school means an end to amenities - like well-stocked college gyms or mommy and daddy's auto-pay membership. A Bally Total Fitness membership is roughly $20/month with no enrollment fee right now. Pool together your money with a few family members and give the gift of health.

5. Bulk Store Membership: For a $50 Gold Star membership to Costco, you can help a poor graduate save a few bucks by purchasing massive amounts of Top Ramen.

6. Leather Agenda: A leather agenda is elegant and timeless. And even better if it comes in an orange box. Browse Hermes agenda covers here. Beware: Don't even bother clicking on the link unless you have deep pockets and/or you LOVE the graduate more than yourself.

7. Money (and wallet or money clip): Let's face it, every graduate really just wants one thing: CASH. If money feels a tad impersonal, dress it up by tucking a few bucks inside a classic wallet or engraved money clip.

8. Mattress: One shock of adulthood is realizing how expensive mattresses are. Help a grad out with a good bed so they are well rested for college exams or a hard days work.

9. Alarm Clock: A heavy-duty one is preferred for those newfound early mornings.

10. Laundry Gift Basket: Okay, so it's not the sexiest gift. But laundry - especially for laundromat-goers - requires many components. A basket, detergent, dryer sheets, fabric softener and a stock of quarters might encourage a grad to take care of his or her hygiene. Empower your grad by equipping them with the keys to personal cleanliness.

11. Hip Kits: These clever little care packages make a fun gift for the graduating student. Check out the Freshman Survival Kit or the Career Kit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DOUBLE TAKE: Adirondack Chairs

The Adirondack chair has recently made my "Love List." They've been around forever but I've been noticing them more lately in all sorts of eye-catching colors from fire engine red to canary bird yellow. They are making their appearances at outdoor cafes, around fire-pits at the beach, alongside tree swings on the front lawn. They're simple. Chic. Functional. And they even come in kid's sizes too!

As I looked into some Adirondack chairs for myself (and no I'm not talking the cheap-o beige or hunter green plastic ones from Home Depot), I learned this wooden piece of furniture comes with a very interesting history. The original Adirondack chair was made with eleven pieces of wood, cut from a single board. It had a straight back and seat, which were set at a slant to sit better on the steep, rural mountain inclines. It also features wide armrests to set food and beverages on, which became a hallmark of the Adirondack chair. Hence why we'll be seeing more and more establishments embrace the Adirondack. It's versatility to provide individual seating without tables is gaining momentum in restaurants and cafes.

So imagine yourself sipping wine, engulfed in a juicy convo with your girlfriend in her new patio chairs. Would you be able to tell a diff between the steep and the cheap? My guess - probably not.

(LEFT: $99.99 -currently on sale for $79.99,
Cost Plus World Market. Available in 9 colors and kid's sizes too. RIGHT: $199.95 - currently on sale for $169.95, Crate and Barrel. Available in white only)

(LEFT: $124.00, currently on sale for $89.00. Target. Available in 4 colors and kid's sizes too. RIGHT: $249.00, Pottery Barn. Available in 3 colors and kid's sizes too.

Shocked that Pottery Barn was the most expensive? Not for a second. Shocked that Cost Plus came in less expensive than Target? I was. But that's good. Target can't always be the cheapest. And I personally like the look of the Cost Plus chair better. Soooo in short - if you're looking to make a quaint outdoor space, add a punch of color to your front porch, add a classic chic touch to your backyard patio or just want a place to curl up and watch the birds fly by, this season is all about the Cost Plus World Market Adirondack chairs!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Thanks to my girlfriend, Lori, this has become a staple in our house and a fan favorite with guests! I'm not gonna tell you how good it is - you're just gonna have to make it and see for yourself! Tip: Save some for left-overs. They are even better the next day!!

Serves 4 - 6

6 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 large cans of Green Chile Enchilada Sauce (likely have a little leftover)
2 cans DICED/MILD Rotel tomatoes w/ green chilies
2 cans of black beans
1 packet of enchilada seasoning
2 bags of shredded “Mexican Blend” cheese (or cheese of choice)
1 package flour tortillas


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Boil chicken breast for 10 min, shred with 2 forks.
Season shredded chicken with packet of enchilada seasoning.
Add tomatoes & green chilies, black beans, desired amount of cheese.
Add 3/4 of can of enchilada sauce to mixture.
Mix all together.
Pour 1/2 can of enchilada sauce into casserole dish.
Put mixture into tortillas, wrap tightly, lay into casserole dish.
Once dish is full, top with remaining enchilada sauce.
Top with layer of shredded cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes uncovered.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Now that the sun is finally shining and everyone's donning their warm-weather attire, what better way to channel our need for a summer manicure fix than by showcasing the season's freshest lacquers? This season's trends give you two options: go bright or go nude. Brighter than ever, neon shades of pink, orange, blue and lemony yellow are pool-party perfect and have summer written all over them. And on the pale end of the spectrum, taupe, beige and pale pink give a modern, monochromatic look against tanned, summer skin.
Can't decide between the two? Then wear both at once: nudes on your fingers, and brights on your toes. Sonia Kashuk Nail Color (available only at Target) has you covered with a variety of bright and nude shades (for just $5 each) including Jammin (shown), Ohh La La and Tutti Fruitti and Tickled Pink and In the Buff for the minimalistic, bare look.

Don't see a color you like from Sonia? You're sure to find a favorite summer hue amongst OPI's collection of 270+ polishes.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


In need of a quick chocolate fix? No need to get the shakes. You're just 60 seconds and three ingredients away from your own, personal mug of ooey, gooey chocolate heaven. Talk about quick, easy, and scrump-didily-umpious. And it's just enough to get your fix but not have the leftovers sitting around to tempt you.


1 egg
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. cocoa powder (depending on how chocolatey you want your cake)
1 standard-sized mug

In mug, crack the egg then add powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
Whisk together until well mixed.
Microwave for 50-60 seconds, until the cake is cooked through (but not overcooked!)
Top immediately with a handful of milk chocolate chips, hot fudge or caramel, whipped cream, or ice cream.

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

Friday, May 13, 2011


Fuel costs are ridiculous as of late. And I've heard that they will most likely rise over $5.00 this summer. Yikes. I'm wishing now we had a Vespa and a Prius instead of two gas guzzling SUV's. Yeah, with two kids, strollers, diaper bags, and all the other crap I lug around, that will never happen. My alternative? Get really savvy on what gas stations have the cheapest gas.

Side note: I flippin' HATE getting gas. I'll run my tank with the red light on for so long I am biting my nails wondering if I'm going to make it to the nearest gas station. Then I end up kicking myself for being forced to get the most expensive gas in town. Usually at some Chevron right off the freeway. Not the place you want to stop if you're looking to save $$$.

This past week my husband discovered a cell phone app called GasBuddy. In just one click, you can locate gas stations nearest you and see their current gas prices.

How it works: GasBuddy is a community of users working together to update gas prices to help everyone save on gas (Gas prices for USA and Canada only). This guarantees up to the minute accurate gas prices. This is a FREE app that according to the Apple iPhone store, has received 5/5 stars from 7,177 ratings. You can either just use it to research the best prices nearest you or you can go one step further - If you become a member and you update or report a gas price, you can earn points toward prize give-away entries. You could win a $250 gas gift card every week.

My take on the app: I'm a fan. Great for travelers, especially now that spring is in the air and happy families and adventure seekers are hitting the road. And while it’s good for what it does, it does have a few flaws. All of the GasBuddy price updates are submitted by users. If no GasBuddy member updates the system with price changes, then the info will be inaccurate. That leads to numerous stations in the search results with wrong prices or no prices listed whatsoever.

GasBuddy does give a good representation of prices in a general area, and the mapping features available are very handy, especially for a traveler is in a strange area. For people doing a lot of traveling, this app will pay for itself…and that’s good, cause it’s FREE! But the average user may not see much use in it. Does it really matter that a station three miles away has gas that’s 2 cents per gallon cheaper? A 15 gallon fill up will save you 30 cents. That will make a difference over time, but people who have gas sipping cars or who drive little, this will be meaningless. But all in all, given the price of the app, the price of gas, and the potential to avoid running out of gas somewhere and getting the cheapest gas around, this is a worthwhile app to have on your mobile device. So save some coin and make GasBuddy your buddy!!

Download the GasBuddy app on your iPhone, Android and Windows. Don't see your device? Visit m.GasBuddy.com from any mobile device!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

DEAL ALERT: Frappucinos

Did you know that Starbucks is offering 1/2 Priced "How-Ever-You-Want-It" Frappucinos during happy hour (3pm – 5pm)? You decide if you want to add extra coffee or go decaf. Choose non-fat or soy. Top it off with syrup, whipped cream, or nothing at all. Get yours however your little heart desires at 1/2 the price! Promotion runs until May 15th. Love this deal! Go HERE to offer page.

This or That???

I'm obsssssessed. And you will be too once you get your hands (or boobs) on this bra! I've never been one to spend big money on workout clothes. Especially when I don’t think it really makes a difference whether you have the expensive stuff or the affordable stuff. Honestly the girls at the gym all done up aren't there to work-out, they're there to look good. Ummm leave please.

Wait. Time-out. Is it bad that I just said boobs????? I guess breasts are politically correct but that just sounds too formal. Anyway, moving on.

So you could spend $42 on this Lululemon Flow Y Bra IV...

Or you can spend $16.99 at Target on essentially the same thing - the C9 by Champion Fashion Seamless Cami.

I'll take the C9 in every color!! Everything about the C9 by Champion Fashion Cami is perfect. Why they call it a cami is beyond me. It's a bra. It's extremely versatile and the stretchy Nylon/Spandex material is uber comfortable. It even has adjustable straps so you can get the perfect fit. Most all other sports bras are too bulky and don't breathe well. This is just the opposite. It's surprisingly supportive and has a moisture wicking, dry duo material that doesn't make you feel like sweat is puddling up in between your boobs. Breasts. Whatever. The seamless, stretchy fabric is even comfortable enough to wear all day, everyday if you chose. It also looks A-dorable under a little tank top and yoga pants if you're wanting to rock the "Sporty Spice" look. (Whatever happened to her anyway??)

So now that I've talked this bra up like it's the best thing since sliced bread, you've got to go pick yourself up the C9 by Champion Seamless Fashion Cami ($16.99, Target).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Splurge vs. Steal: DRY SHAMPOO

Touted as a water and timesaving way to stay quote-unquote gorgeous on the go, these wildly popular shampoo substitutes allow the busiest exec to head straight from the bedroom to the boardroom without a pesky shower in between.

Americans love to shampoo. We lather up an average of 4.59 times a week, twice as much as Italians and Spaniards, according to shampoo-maker Procter & Gamble. But that's way too often, say hair stylists and dermatologists. Daily washing, they say, strips the hair of beneficial oil (called sebum) and can damage our locks. An alternative between washes: Dry Shampoo, the convenient, quick fresher-uper for your hair! No water or blow dryer required. Although there are a wide variety of dry shampoos on the market - ranging from the very affordable to the very expensive - all spray-style dry shampoos are essentially a starchy mixture containing a basic set of ingredients used to clean the hair when it is not possible or practical to use water and traditional shampoos; on camping trips - after sports - when ill - any time you can't (or don't want to use) water. The idea behind dry shampoo is to absorb and remove excess oil from hair follicles to refresh, revive, and rejuvenate the hair in a matter of minutes. It thoroughly and effectively soaks up oil, removes product buildup, and boosts volume.

The market for dry shampoos, which are sold in both spray-on and powdered formulas, has exploded over the past few years. Name a high-end hair-care brand; Frederic Fekkai, Bumble and Bumble, Oscar Blandi, Rene Futerer; and the chances are good that a revolutionary new dry-shampoo product is one of the top-selling items in the company's inventory. Their average price hovers around $20 for about 3 ounces - not exactly a bargain. Two very recognizable dry shampoos are Bumble and Bumble Hair Powder and Oscar Blandi's Pronto Dry Shampoo. Although the Bumble and Bumble offers a line specific for each hair color (black, brown, blonde and red), it will run you around $40. Allure magazine's favorite, Oscar Blandi, is a less expensive option but it will still set you back $11-19 per bottle. As an inexpensive alternative, people started using baby powder to achieve the same effect. Unfortunately baby powder does not give you the same volume as the actual dry shampoo. I also do not recommend it as it leaves the hair looking gray and you walk around smelling like a baby's bootay all day long.
So what do I recommend? In my opinion, no need to pay extra $$$ for brand recognition. You need to pick yourself up some Pssssst Dry Shampoo, a STEAL, costing you only $7.00 at most any drugstore. In the December 2010 issue of Lucky magazine, Psssssst Dry Shampoo was named one of the Top 10 Best Beauty products of the past decade. When Psssssst was relaunched, they claimed their hair got "1,000 times better looking - bigger, cleaner and with more texture." With a circa 1970's logo, you can't miss it on the shelf. I even saw a travel size of Psssssst at Bed Bath and Beyond last week.

How to use it: Shake can well. Hold can 6" to 8" from hair. Lift sections of hair and lightly but generously spray scalp and roots of each section. Fluff. Wait a few minutes, then brush hair well. Style hair as desired. Voila! Fabulosity achieved.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Decorating: CANDLES

I personally have a love/hate relationship with candles. HGTV is notorious for making you think they need to be on every window sill and table centerpiece. I do agree they are an inexpensive way to accessorize a home but c'mon - how many candles does one house really need? I'll admit though, I fall victim to the candle craze. I've got a house-full of candles that have never even been lit. Mainly because I'm scared sh*tless of fire. Let me take you down memory lane...

Three years ago, I was back visiting my hometown. Staying at my parents and putting the final touches on the house as I waited for my girlfriends to arrive for a night of purse shopping. As I greeted the first guests at the door, I looked down the hallway and saw flames of fire shooting out of the bathroom threshold and a 2 ft. cloud of black smoke billowing throughout the upstairs. Without any hello, I run outside in a panic yelling "FIRE, FIRE!!!!!" My father, who at the time, was just pulling out of the driveway yanked his car in park, ran like a bat out of hell into the garage, grabbed a fire extinguisher and not knowing exactly what was on fire, stepped one foot in the house and started spraying water EVERYWHERE!!! He proceeded to the bathroom and within seconds, the fire was contained. Everything in the bathroom however - ruined. By this time, many more girls had shown up at the door greeted by a puddle of water at their feet and a host (me) that was a trainwreck. Luckily the purses were untouched and so the party went on.

As the girls shopped, I investigated how on earth this could have happened. Come to find out, I had lit two small votive candles on the vanity that sat on both sides of a synthetic flower arrangement. Although the greenery of the arrangement was a good 6-12 inches higher than the wick, the heat was enough to set the arrangement on fire. Once engulfed in flames, it fell over igniting the shower curtain up in flames which then spread to the towels and within seconds destroyed everything in site....

Hence my fear of fire. Just like water, fire will always win.

So back to candles. If you're looking for some creative ways to decorate with candles outside of the traditional hurricane holder and candlestick, I thought these were fun, inexpensive display ideas:

Create a candle centerpiece to light up your wedding (or your dinner table) by using cake stands as platforms for votive and pillar candles in assorted sizes.

If you find yourself with a mismatched collection―or without bubbly―flip thick-walled Champagne flutes upside down to create a beautiful grouping of candle stands for a shelf or a mantel. Use heavy wineglasses for table centerpieces, as the wider mouths will provide more stability to withstand bumping.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Between church friends and Mom's Club members, we have been so fortunate and blessed to have such special people in our lives that have volunteered to bring us meals since Lance was born. This has been a tremendous help over the last four weeks. And I still have three weeks to go! This is something I could get seriously used to...in my next life. This past week my neighbor brought over these tasty little desserts that sounded easy-peasy and perfect for the kid's on a hot summer day!

~Ice Cream Pudding~

1 (3.4 ounce) package instant pudding mix, any flavor
1 cup cold milk
2 cups softened ice cream, any flavor
Fresh fruit

*If you're looking to make this ultra low fat, substitute the above ingredients with fat free/sugar free pudding, fat free milk and frozen yogurt.

In a mixing bowl, beat pudding mix and milk on low for 1 minute.
Fold in ice cream until smooth.
Spoon into dishes.
Chill for at least 1 hour.
Garnish with fruit if desired.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! And HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! xo

Friday, May 6, 2011


After three straight days to the pool this week and temperatures in the high 80's/low 90's, there's no denying that "summa summa summa-time" is just around the corner. In my mind, summer is the best time of the year. Everyone always has a little more spring in their step and a smile on the face when the sun is shining. Hence why I live in beautiful, sunny Californ-i-a.

So with pool/beach time on the horizon, it's time I add yet another bathing suit (or three) to my collection. And what better place to find one than my old faithful - Victoria's Secret. As I clicked on the VS website last night, I was happy to see that they currently have a Swim Sale going on until this Sunday, May 8th. Score. What did not make me happy was the brutally honest realization that my body is light years away from looking this good in a swimsuit. Thanks Victoria for the slap in the face.

As I went deeper into the pages of ooh'ing and ahh'ing over beautiful bodies...I mean cute suits...I realized I was going to tailspin into a depression (ok not really but for lack of a better term) if I wasn't careful. It was at that moment, Chase pulled me away from the computer. As I sat helping him put on his shoes, I had a much needed heart-to-heart with myself.

The conversation went something like this:

"Hailey, STOP IT. Stop comparing. Stop breaking yourself apart. Stop. You're 31 years old, have had 2 kids, don't have the time, money, nanny, cook and/or trainer to look this good so gosh darnit, buy a suit that you like and wear it with confidence."

So with that, it's beach or bust regardless of what this body looks like!

See any suits that tickle your fancy?? Hurry up - sale ends Sunday! And if you buy by today, May 6th by 11:59 PM EST, you can get a free pair of flip flops. Enter code VSFLIPOUT at checkout.