Friday, December 7, 2012

Diary of a Mom in One Line a Day

Many moms have grand plans of chronicling the life of their new baby. But when your days are full of diaper changes, feedings, laundry, stroller walks, and sneaking in some "me" time, that baby journal easily gets overlooked.

Before my baby was born, a friend got me this great book, Mom's One Line a Day. Just like the title says, all you have to do is write one line to document that day. So, since it takes all of 12 seconds to jot down a one-liner, it's easy to keep up.

"Today you had your first bath. You hated every second of it and Mommy cried." 

"You met your great grandparents and went to your first happy hour at their hotel." 

"The Nap Nanny that you love to sleep in was recalled. Shit." 

"You did Tummy Time for 15 seconds. We took 45 pictures."

Good times.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Newborn 101

Guess what? I'm a mom!

Three weeks ago I gave birth to an adorable baby girl (OMG still in shock that this really happened). My husband and I are totally smitten. We've never spent so much time watching someone sleep (and taking pictures of her sleeping). But even though she spends most of the day snoozing, there's still a ton to learn, do, and Google ("newborn and weird breathing", "how many times should newborns poop?"...).

In the whirlwind of the past three weeks, here's what I've learned so far: (I'm not an expert and spend my days bewildered so take this with a grain of salt.)

They make weird noises when they sleep:
"Sleeping like a baby" has taken on a whole new meaning. A more accurate term would be "Sleeping like an 80 year old grandpa and/or barnyard animal." From grunts to snores, squeals to sighs... newborns are very busy, loud sleepers. According to our pediatrician this is normal and we don't need to hover over her crib to make sure she's breathing. But this means while she's sleeping, oftentimes we're not. In addition to the noises, sometimes she flails her arms around like she's doing baby Tae Bo. Billy Blanks would be proud.

They poop a LOT:
The amount of diapers and wipes we've gone through in just a few weeks is astounding. And this little lady is full of surprises. It's mind boggling that someone who is so sweet and tiny makes sounds comparable to gunfire when going #2. We literally thought someone got shot outside our house the other night. I've just realized that she's going to hate me when she's old enough to read this blog. And with that, I'll conclude the poop section.

They need a lot of seating/sleeping options:
The couch in our living room is now in the good company of a Lamb Swing, a Rock 'n Play, and a Nap Nanny. We spend most of our day moving her to different sleeping contraptions to see which "infant recliner" she will be happiest in.  Babies really have it made.

They eat a LOT:
Newborns need to eat 8-12 times a day. Much like her food-obsessed parents, our little gal has quite an appetite. I think she'll be a great brunch buddy once she moves onto solid foods. Feedings are when we spend our best quality time. During our morning feeding today, she agreed that Kathie Lee and Hoda need to lay off the booze. She also told me (via spitting up) that she's not a fan of the kimono style nightgowns we've been having her sleep in.

They can make your heart melt in an instant:
There's nothing like having a teeny, tiny newborn sleep on your chest while you hold them. Or seeing your husband read her The Belly Button book. Or listening to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star play from the mobile while she sleeps and puffs her lips out like a mini Angelina Jolie. Or wrapping her up in a swaddle and then scooping up that tiny baby burrito to rock her to sleep. I could go on and on...

Newborns are just too damn cute. Sigh.  :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Frankenstorm Food Shopping Essentials

The last time I went food shopping for a hurricane, I ended up with six blocks of cheese, cheese doodles, a salami, a case of wine and pretty much one of everything from the cracker aisle. This spread was more suited for a party than a natural disaster, but at least we had flashlights and candles, right?

Luckily, Hurricane Irene turned out to just be a really good excuse to eat an exorbitant amount of cheese and watch enough SVU marathons to be qualified as an NYPD detective. But apparently, Frankenstorm will be an entirely different story. According to the interwebs, people are fighting over boxes of elbow pasta in supermarket aisles and there's one loaf of bread left in the state of New Jersey.

So, yesterday, we went food shopping to stock up on some essentials. (There are still a few similarities to last year in the cheese department.) If you have yet to brave your local grocery store, this list may come in handy should Sandy join for dinner...
  • A block (or four) of hard cheese
  • Crackers and/or chips - I'm obsessed with Trader Joe's Multigrain Pita Bite Crackers.
  • Apples, bananas, oranges, dried fruit (any produce that can handle not being refrigerated) 
  • Trail Mix 
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jelly
  • Bread
  • Cookies (I'm baking a massive batch of these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip favorites). 
  • Granola bars and/or protein bars 
  • Candles, lighters, flashlights 
  • Bottled Water
  • Wine (I can't partake this year because I'm preggers, but please have a glass or bottle for me.)
This list is lacking very important safety items. So, check out credible news websites for guidance on stocking up on the right stuff. Stay safe!

What are your hurricane food faves?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Cookie Incident

Sometimes a gal that's nine months pregnant just needs to eat a cookie as big as her face. To satisfy my sweet-tooth, I waddled myself over to Potbelly for my late afternoon "feeding". As I was carefully selecting the perfect oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, I heard a voice behind me....

"You should try the mini chocolate cherry cookies."

I politely smiled at this man in line as he peered over my shoulder and pointed to a bag of two much smaller cookies. For a hot second, I toyed with the idea of downsizing my snack. I guess I didn't really need the big cookie... did I? I commend Potbelly for offering smaller portion sizes. But today, I didn't feel like making a good decision.

As if he knew my inner dilemma, he nodded towards my oatmeal monstrosity and said, "Get the smaller ones."

GET THE SMALLER ONES? And that my friends, is when Hungry Pregnant Woman Rage (HPWR) kicked in. Talk to me when you have to schlep around something the size of a watermelon 24/7. I'll eat a cookie the size of a Buick if I want to, asshat. I'm aware that I look like an elephant seal in leggings and an ill-fitting cardigan. By 4pm everyday, I truly feel like the one on the left:

Luckily, I kept my composure, bought my snack, and went on my way. But if that dude ever has a pregnant wife, he'll be sleeping in the garage in no time. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Purse Organization 101

Oversized purses make a big style statement. But they can also make finding what you’re looking for a huge pain. So how can you minimize the clutter and make the most of that fab bag?

Tip 1: Start Off With a Clean Slate

Plop down and dump out the contents of your purse. In the debris of receipts, loose change, and to-do lists that somehow transformed themselves into intricate origami birds, you’ll be reunited with your favorite lip gloss and perhaps some crumpled cash. Then, make a trash pile and toss coins in your wallet. Determine what to keep in your purse and figure out another place to put the non-essentials.

Tip 2: Designate Pocket Space

There’s nothing worse than digging around for your keys or cell when you desperately need them. Start using those 12 different little compartments in a productive way. And please, put the gum somewhere that it can’t get loose! How many times have you peeled melted gum off of your phone? Gross.

Tip 3: Rubber Band It

So, the 14 ponytail holders you found when you dumped out your purse? Put ‘em to work as a tie for loose pens. Keeping your pens fastened up prevents them from going rogue and ruining the lovely lining of your bag.

Tip 4: Store It

From dental floss to lip gloss, hand sanitizer to hand lotion, there are lots of little on-the-go-essentials us gals can’t live without. So, whether you want to invest in fancy cosmetic cases or use a plain old Ziploc bag, just use something to keep beauty and miscellaneous products organized and prevent leaks. This way, if you do switch bags often, it’s simple to transfer items from one to another. Clear or mesh mini-bags make it easier to spot your goods.

In the market for some super cute cases? Check out these Metallic Micro Mesh Cases from The Container Store. They’re only $6.99 each! Or how about this tribal print double zip clutch from Sonia Kashuk?
 If you’re looking to splurge, snatch up this funky, patterned style from Kate Spade.

Tip 5: Color Code It 

You’re much too young to be carrying around a flashlight to read restaurant menus. (But wouldn’t that come in handy when you’re searching around in your dark, cavernous tote?) Instead of resorting to a headlamp to find the cash to pay for your morning coffee, buy a wallet that’s a bright color, rather than basic black. You’ll never have a hard time spotting it if it’s hot pink or bright yellow. You can even color code your little purse pouches!

Tip 6: Clean It
Not to gross you out … but according to Everyday Health, our purses harbor some pretty nasty bacteria, both outside and inside. That’s not surprising when you think about all the places your beloved bag travels: floors, counters, office bathrooms, and public transportation just to name a few. Experts recommend wiping everything down regularly (even your phone) with a cloth or moist disposable towelette. Keep tissues and other items that come in direct contact with your body in their own tightly sealed containers or bags. Anyone else feel like bathing in hand sanitizer right about now?

This article was written for Check it out here!

Share your purse org tips and leave a comment below!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Chili Chicken Taco Night

There's nothing like uncovering a Crate & Barrel gift card from your wedding three years ago and using it to buy something totally random and awesome ... a slow cooker. Also known as a crock pot, this counter top contraption cooks food at a low temperature for a long time. Sidenote: I absolutely hate touching raw meat. And with the slow cooker, all I have to do is dump it in there, put the lid on and pray my house doesn't burn down while it's cooking.

If you have a crock pot, try this Martha Stewart recipe (listed below). It calls for chicken thighs, but I used chicken breasts. I also went with soft taco shells and added sliced avocado.
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup prepared tomato salsa, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 hard corn taco shells
  • Cilantro, shredded cheese, lime wedges, and sour cream, for serving (optional)
  1. In slow cooker, combine chicken, garlic, salsa, chiles, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and teaspoon pepper. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours (or on low, 8 hours).
  2. Transfer chicken to a serving bowl, and shred, using two forks; moisten with cooking juices. Serve in taco shells, with toppings, if desired.
Oven method: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In step 1, use a 5-quart Dutch oven or ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid; add 2 cups water. Cover; bake until chicken is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Proceed with step 2.

Do you have any slow cooker recipes? Share the below!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You Know You're Pregnant When...

Pregnancy is different for everyone. Some moms-to-be can't eat for the first three months, others can't eat enough french toast (who, me?). Some don't gain an ounce except for their belly, others need to be airlifted out of bed to make it to work. Some give 7th grade boys a run for their money in the zit department, others have gorgeous, glowing skin for nine straight months. But all women surely experience these 10 things:

You Know You're Pregnant When....

1. You literally cry tears of joy at the sight of an Outlook invitation for a co-workers b-day celebration in a cubicle. Because A) Everything makes you cry B) You love dessert more than your husband these days. C) Cupcakes?!?!? Ice cream? doughnuts? Happy birthday. Now get out of my way.

2. Happy hour is just "hour" when you can't partake in the boozing. Whoever invented the word mocktail is a jerk. Sucktail is more like it. And bartender, putting an umbrella in my seltzer does not make this experience more festive.

3. When people say, "WOW you got big!", you'll kindly smile and nod while envisioning punching them in the face. When people tell you about a friend of a friend that gave birth in a car, you'll actually punch them in the face.

4. Supermarket cashiers ask you more personal questions about your pregnancy than your best friends.

5. Your hubby will buy you anything you can tie back to the upcoming needs of the baby. "Yes, honey this Rebecca Minkoff clutch is a burp cloth holder."

6. You bring your lunch to work in a tall kitchen garbage bag, not a lunch bag.

7. Prenatal yoga is truly awesome, except when the teacher makes you do awkward partner stretches. Not cool, lady... I just want to tone what's left of my core, not straddle a stranger.  

8. You'll ask your doctor all sorts of crazy questions, like if getting a pedicure can induce labor because you read an article that claims it may. And she'll say, "If that was true, we'd just hire a bunch of manicurists instead of giving women pitocin." Or, you may ask if you need to change your usual skin care products, in which she responds, "Not unless you're planning on eating them."

9. That XXL t-shirt from 11th grade basketball is your new best friend and you really wish you could just wear it to work. Everyday.

10. "Is this normal?" are the three most commonly used words in your vocabulary. Get used to it, sister.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Beer Belly or Baby Belly?

Before there's "cute" pregnant, there's "fat" pregnant ... that oh-so-lovely stage in which people wonder if you've just eaten a large burrito or if you're potentially preggers. You have a hate-hate relationship with all of your pants. And you're still adjusting to the fact that all the cute summer clothes displayed in store windows don't apply to you. (Especially the shorts, sister.) So to accommodate my new "look", I decided it was time to do a little maternity shopping. 

Last weekend I hit up a few spots in the 'burbs and scored some budget-friendly things to get started. Target had slim pickings. But, I got a pair of white jeans for just $35. I picked up a few simple tees and tanks at Destination Maternity. And the best part, I stumbled upon the cutest flowy summer dress for literally $12 dollars at Marshalls. When you find a dress that's cheaper than your lunch, you just have to buy it. I can't imagine spending almost $200 on a maternity dress, but how cute is this Ella Moss style?

This is an adorable $29 alternative from Old Navy:

What are some other great bump-friendly places to shop?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Oh, Baby (On the Way)!

The reason my blog has been so sparse over the last couple months is that my recent nighttime routine consisted of this: booking it home from work, changing immediately into sheep patterned pajamas, and spending the rest of the night on the couch in a nauseous fog. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Luckily, my zapped energy and food aversions are for a good cause ... our baby is due in November!

I'm starting to feel like a human again. But let me tell you, even at this early stage, pregnancy is wacky. I couldn't stand the smell of coffee (my favorite!), wouldn't go near a vegetable, and avoided my friends like the plague. Until I could spill the beans, I knew I couldn't go out and pass on the wine without them catching on to my little secret. So I had to get clever to keep my cover. At a work goodbye party, I told my co-workers I was heading to yoga in an hour, so no sangria for me. The old me would skip out on yoga, not the happy hour.

But now that the word is out ... it's really fun. I'm already learning a lot about how to navigate pregnancy. Like, when you want a bagel and cream cheese, you need to have an enormous one (for the baby, right?). Here's what I know so far...
  • My friend told me that American Apparel makes awesome non-maternity high-waisted leggings. I'd like to extend a sincere thank you to all the hipsters who wear that look on purpose.
  • Babycenter has a great newsletter that tells you what's going on with you and your baby each week. They compare your baby to a similarly sized food for perspective. Today, I'm the proud mother-to-be of a "medium sized shrimp". Weird, but I'll take it.  
  • Snacking regularly helps keep nausea at bay. I basically have a mini-mart in my desk cabinet at work. If anyone needs a granola bar or a panini pressed, I'm your girl.   
  • Pregnancy makes you cry over everything, even episodes of Khloe and Lamar. 
  • A rubber-band will be your best friend in those early months when your jeans are a little snug, but you don't need maternity clothes.
  • The What to Expect When You're Expecting app is a good one. From healthy snack ideas to explanations of all those weird things happening in your body, I'm always learning something new from their weekly overviews and daily tips.
  • Sometimes I tell my husband I shouldn't do things because I'm pregnant (like all household chores, food shopping, etc.) and he listens. I don't think he believes me. But he's scared not to accommodate.

 Do you have any good prego tips? Fill me in! Especially if they're about snacking ... my favorite pastime. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

What's For Dinner? Recipe Roundup

Do you ever get into a rut where you find yourself making the same (a.k.a. super boring) weeknight dinners? Me too. Good news gals, here are three easy recipes to get you out of your dreaded dinner routine.  

1.) Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup
As far as I'm concerned, Giada can do no wrong. Yesterday I stumbled upon her recipe for spicy tomato soup, and promptly made it for dinner. It only calls for a handful of ingredients, and involves dumping a bunch of things into a soup pot and winding up with dinner. Now that, I can do. Simply saute onions, garlic and carrots in a pot, add chicken stock, a can of tomato sauce, cannellini beans, noodles, salt, pepper, red chili flakes and simmer. I added too many noodles, so it was more of a stew than soup - but quite tasty nonetheless. Whip up a grilled cheese and dinner is served. 

2.) Fish Tacos
I looooove meals that involve cheese and guacamole. My friend Lauren made these tasty fish tacos last night and highly recommended the recipe. (You know something is seriously good when it's the first news to grace your morning g-chat convo.)

 3.) Black Bean and Butternut Squash Burrito
For the record, I'm not a vegan nor do I ever plan to become one. Cheese is just too crucial to my overall happiness. But this vegan burrito recipe shared by my friend Rebecca actually sounds delicious. And it's pretty too!

Anything new and exciting in your dinner repertoire? Please share a link to the recipe below ... we need it!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reasons to Love the Weekend

It's a gorgeous Sunday morning, and there's still one more glorious day out of the office ahead of us. Just in case you need a reason to appreciate the weekend, here are seven:

1. Whether you're a person or a dog, it's perfectly acceptable to be incredibly lazy.

Could you be a doll and grab me a water?

2. You may even catch an epic Jim Walsh/Dylan McKay showdown on SOAPnet while doing so. (Someone was not happy about a secret rendezvous in Mexico...)

3. You can leisurely read the paper while sipping a cappuccino.

4. You can channel your inner Ina Garten and shop at the local farmer's market.

5. Flowers are finally in bloom!

6. You can enjoy cocktails in cute glasses and then sleep in the next morning.

7. You actually have time to make the recipes you just look at on Pinterest during the week.

If you need some more inspiration to ward off the Sunday Blues, click here. What are your favorite ways to spend the weekend?

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Most Extreme Wedding Diet

Wedding trends come and go, and hopefully this latest weight loss fad will soon end up where velvet tuxedos went to die. The disturbing (to say the least) K-E diet promises to help women shed 20 pounds in just 10 days. Rather than bothering with a healthy, balanced diet and exercise, brides looking for a quick fix are paying big bucks to have a feeding tube inserted into their nose, down into their stomach. They're "fed" a slow drip of protein and fat, mixed with water, totaling 800 calories a day.

Outraged? Me too. I'm about to go "Ashley Judd" on y'all ... so get ready...

There is something just so sad about women that choose to do this diet. (Don't even get me started on the doctor offering this service.) Of course brides want to look amazing on their wedding day. There's nothing wrong with stepping up your workouts or watching what you eat to look and feel beautiful.  During my own wedding prep, I begrudgingly cut down on my cheese and chocolate intake. I splurged and worked out with a trainer once a week. I hauled my tired butt to the gym when I soooo didn't want to go. But the key for me was moderation. A girl still has to go to happy hour and eat the occasional cheeseburger. Am I right?

Even though you get to dress like a princess on your wedding day, you're still you. Why go to such drastic extremes to not look like the you everyone knows and loves? And let's be honest ... could you imagine a guy schlepping around for 10 days with a feeding tube before his wedding? Didn't think so.

I don't have a solution at the moment for changing the unfortunate mentality of brides that want a feeding tube instead of food. But I can share this article I wrote for, featuring great tips, weight-loss strategies, and advice from women who walked down the aisle feeling fit, fabulous and healthy. Core Fusion classes, running, healthy food swaps (like substituting balsamic vinegar for full-fat dressings), spa treatments, and Weight Watchers are just a few of the totally normal ways women slimmed down to rock their dream dress.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cures for Chapped Lips

Although Spring has made an appearance, it's still so dry that I can't go anywhere without obsessively re-applying my Burt's Bees lip balm. I hate to knock Burt's, but it's just not working. Thanks to this post on Jezebel, Your Lips are Dry and Disgusting. Let's Fix That., I learned some tried and true remedies to prevent and cure chapped lips once and for all:

1. Don't make out with Adam Levine. Check. (Unfortunately)
2. Cover your lips in duck or goose fat. Whoever recommended that sounds like a quack. 
3. Go with good old Vaseline to lock in moisture. I love budget-friendly beauty options.
4. Raid the kitchen cabinets and try olive oil. Hmm, can I pair with a tomato mozzarella salad?
5. And my favorite, "Don't lick your lips, no matter what LL Cool J says." A rule to live by.

But, they missed the BEST cure of all: Aquaphor. I discovered this soothing secret in college to protect my lips from brutal Wisconsin winters. It also added a really fabulous sheen to my lips as I braved the walks to class wearing a wool face mask. Not my best look. It was about survival, gals.

It's time to go back to this beauty stand-by. Who's with me?

How do you combat chapped lips?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Best Red Carpet Commentary

During awards season, everyone and their mother is a "fashion expert." But sometimes the very best, spot-on commentary comes from the poor guy on the couch next to you, who's stuck watching three hours of red carpet festivities against his will. If your viewing partner is anything like my husband ... his comments range from asking the obvious ("When was the last time she ate?") to sheer bewilderment ("Is she wearing a bed sheet?"). He also had a real problem with Kelly Osbourne's E! coverage. "How can she be the one critiquing everyone when her hair is grey?" Anna Faris' arrival was the beginning of the end for him. All he could say in response to her dress/bangs combo was, "Oh, god." He had enough.

You'd think because he was such a good sport for the Oscars, I'd hand over the remote control last night. But The Bachelor was on ... and it was the final three! I married a real gem, folks.

And of course, Parenthood is on tonight. I hope he can handle Crosby's wedding ... and all of the crying I'll do throughout Crosby's wedding. 

I have a strange feeling after this week, there's going to be a lot of MSNBC, CSPAN and basketball in my future. 

What shows do you politely force your hubby to watch?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Bachelor: Crying and Cocktails

If you’ve ever watched a season of ABC’s The Bachelor, you know you can always count on the following:
  • Crying. It’s not The Bachelor without running mascara and unintelligible love-declaring sob-snorts for a man that’s dating lots of other women.
  • Tons of alcohol. We have yet to see anyone eat, but these ladies are never without a triple chardonnay.
  • Women overcoming their fears – primarily heights, deadly sea life and/or salsa dancing.
  • “The most dramatic rose ceremony ever.” Chris Harrison has the best job in the world. All he has to do is memorize three lines and put on a suit.
  • Hot tubs. Duh.
  • A predictable cast of characters including, The Good Girl, The Vixen, and The Hot Mess.
Season 16, featuring winemaker Ben Flajnik, has certainly delivered all of the above. Between the cattiness and painfully awkward moments, I spend entire episodes cringing, sometimes even covering my eyes, and feeling really bad for the women. They’re adults going on “group dates”, skiing in bikinis, and spearing live lobsters for dinner … all to literally “win” a guy they barely even know. Finding love shouldn’t make women act this ridiculous, right? But, it’s hard to turn away from a reality TV train wreck. And we just can’t seem to get enough of this cultural phenomenon … or the key players:

The Good Girl
Although cute 24-year-old Kacie B. recently started cursing while under the influence, she reigned supreme as The Good Girl. The sweet administrative assistant from Tennessee scored the first one-on-one date of the season, impressing Ben with her baton twirling skills (yes, really) as they walked the streets of Sonoma. She even declared she’d move anywhere for a man, because that’s how she was raised in the South. Aw, shucks. Let’s just say a second bout of baton twirling was the beginning of the end for her…

The Vixen 
This season’s beautiful, pouty, mean girl is Courtney, a 28-year-old model from California. She enjoys quoting Charlie Sheen (#winning!) and pretending to shoot the other girls with her finger guns. (You can watch a musical autotune mash-up of her most offensive lines here.) Despite her unusual social skills, she’s made Ben all googly-eyed by luring him into the water for a secret skinny dipping session in Puerto Rico and letting a gigantic tarantula crawl up her arm in Belize. Well, she seems like someone to bring home to mom!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Grandma's Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

There's something about a long weekend that just makes me feel like baking. So, when we were invited to our friend's place for brunch, I decided to make my Grandma Flossie's famous coffee cake for the occasion. I love any excuse to have dessert for breakfast, don't you?

Cinnamon, sugar, chocolate chips ... sold!
It's always a little nerve-wrecking to try a new recipe, especially the morning you're bringing it to someone's house. Luckily, Flos was available to coach me through a few things (okay, fine ... everything) over the phone. I'm so glad she couldn't see that my entire kitchen was covered in a layer of flour.

Here's the recipe:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Heart Day

Happy Valentine's Day to you and your "gravy".

created by Seltzer Goods

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Will You Be My Valentine?

It's time to upgrade from those cheesy e-cards ... because asking someone to be your Valentine is a lot more fun this year. Here are a few creative ways to spread the love.

Who can forget the emotional double rainbow sighting one man shared with the world on YouTube? ("What does this mean?") Send this card to the person that brings you that double rainbow kind of happiness.

Instagram fan? You'll heart Lovestagram, an interactive Valentine’s day card featuring Instagram pics of you and your love. As a surprise for her boyfriend (Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger) Kaitlyn Trigger secretly created this sweet app. Digital geeks will appreciate the story of how she learned code.

If you're really going for the wow factor, you could make a video for your special someone, like this:

Field Notes: Red Blooded from Coudal Partners on Vimeo. This video was actually produced by a notebook company. I will enjoy this kind of product placement any day (really, it's adorable!).

Lastly, if you are really serious about your Valentine, you could enter Pizza Hut's $10 Big Dinner Box Proposal. Ten lucky pizza lovers will be selected to spend $10,010 (plus tax!) of their own money on a night of unprecedented romance planned by the chain restaurant. Proposal package includes a red ruby ring, limo, flowers, a fireworks show, a photographer and videographer and a $10 dinner box.

There's just something not right about dropping 10K for Pizza Hut to plan your engagement.

What have you seen online that's a great way to say Be Mine?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bad Valentine's Day Gifts

Many moons ago, there was a Valentine's Day that I was absolutely certain would be the day my boyfriend and I got engaged. When it was time to exchange gifts, he handed me a small plastic bag from the Apple Store. I admired his creativity for trying to throw me off by putting the engagement ring in there. I slowly reached inside with my perfectly manicured engagement-ready nails and pulled out a small box. This was it. It was really happening.

But it wasn't a ring box. It was in fact, an iPod nano. A pink one. My heart sank. I tried to look happy and appreciative, but the last thing I wanted was music storage.

Several months later, he popped the question in a much better way than via plastic Apple bag. And the nano ended up being a great gift that I still use everyday. Point is, when it comes to Valentine's Day gifts, you need to know your audience. If they think they're getting engaged but you have other plans, don't give them anything in a small box. 

Here are some other gifts in which one should proceed with caution:  

The Love is Art Kit: According to their website, it's "everything you need to safely make an abstract painting while being intimate with the one you love." Need I say more, other than eeeew. My work friend's friend actually bought this for her boyfriend.

A Wine Monkey: Great hostess gift ... V-day, not so much. If a significant other gives you this (and only this), you're getting dumped soon and will need a wine monkey. Womp. Womp.

A Stuffed Animal: This means he forgot about V-day and went to the Hallmark store next door to his office during lunch. Hopefully he had the good sense not to buy you one of those creepy musical snow-globes too.
What's the worst Valentine's Day gift you've ever received?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Entertaining Idea: Chalkboard Menu

Yesterday was cold and rainy - the kind of day to curl up on the couch in over-sized sheep patterned, flannel pajamas, peruse Pinterest, and then make Superbowl chili. We had dinner plans at our friends' house later in the evening, and I was so looking forward to a cozy Saturday night in, enjoying good company and a home-cooked meal.

When we arrived for dinner, I immediately noticed this vintage style chalkboard on the wall, displaying the evening's menu. I especially loved how the hostess structured the meal in Italian courses: antipasto, primo, secondo and dolce (all of which were amazing).

My friend bought her chalkboard from a vendor at D.C.'s Eastern Market. But if you search "vintage chalkboard" or "kitchen chalkboard" on Etsy, you'll find tons of options. If you're a DIY girl, pair a cool frame with a piece of frameless chalkboard.

FYI - potato mushroom gratin is the most wonderful thing in the world. Here is a recipe from Smitten Kitchen that sounds delish. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Best Lasagna of Your Life

If you love cheese as much as I do, this Barefoot Contessa lasagna is one for the books. It's made with four kinds of cheese (yes, really), chicken sausage, and homemade sauce. First, I have to show you the finished product:

 It might look like portion control, but my plate is actually 4 feet in diameter. So, anyways...

First you make a sauce. I'll post the recipe at the bottom. But the gist is onions, garlic, chicken or turkey sausage (I did chicken), a huge can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, fresh basil, salt and pepper. You could actually call it a day right here and pour this over noodles. But I digress ... back to what is sure to be the best lasagna of your life. As I mentioned before, the cheese to everything-else ratio is sort of appalling, but you'll just have to get over it. Hello, fresh mozz....

Then there's this mixture of part-skim ricotta, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, an egg and parsley:

Okay, calm down. Pretend it's fat-free.

Layer it all, bake for 30 minutes and dinner is SERVED. If you feel like sharing, this lasagna could easily feed eight people. Here's the full recipe and directions from Ina. Jeffrey probably looooves this.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Food Blog Favorites

Thanks to Pinterest, I'm always starving. Anyone else? Since joining, I've learned I need a crockpot, a lifetime supply of marshmallows and serious self-control. Just looking at the drool-worthy recipes my friends have pinned actually makes me feel like I've gained 10 pounds. Between the s'more cups and hash-brown-egg-bacon breakfast cups, all I want to do is whip up a batch of, well, everything. So, I thought I'd share the love. Here are some great food blogs I've pinned and pined over on Pinterest (say that three times fast.)

These beyond delicious looking s'more cups are from Texas Cottage, a super cute blog that covers everything from cooking to crafting.

I'm really loving Skinnytaste for healthier recipes. I just bought the ingredients to make these Asian Turkey Meatballs one night this week. If you're doing Weight Watchers, all recipes list point values.

Okay, back to the desserts... Rolo Cake Mix Bars? OMFG. For more recipes that will make you thankful for pants with elastic waistbands, check out Cookies and Cups.

I've always loved stove top mac and cheese. Here's a healthy, easy way to ditch that fluorescent powder mix and make it with American cheese and fat free Greek yogurt. Thanks, Confections of a Foodie Bride!

What food blogs do you love? Share the recipes you're planning to try out!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Are You a Nag?

Are you a nag? Of course not! Me neither. We are a dream to be in a relationship with.

Okay, fine. Maybe we gently remind our significant others to do things. Sometimes more than once. It's not like we're slipping post-it notes in between the ham and cheese of his sandwich like this lady. Whether it's via lunch bag or in person, there are lots of reasons behind those eye-roll inducing, annoying reminders both women and men are guilty of spewing.

In an article from The Wall Street Journal, Scott Wetzler, a psychologist and vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Montefiore Medical Center in New York says, "We have a perception that we won't get what we want from the other person, so we feel we need to keep asking in order to get it."

Asking your husband to unload the dishwasher is no biggie. In fact, it's required. But some experts say constant badgering is toxic to a marriage. Why? Because the cycle of nagging can lead to resentment, annoyance, frustration, and fights about fights.

I only nag in extreme situations ... like when my husband left six boxes of papers from his old job in our kitchen for months. I asked him on a daily basis to get rid of them, to no avail. So, anytime he nagged me about doing something (like putting away the four pairs of boots I left in the living room), I'd say, "I will when those boxes are gone." Oh, snap.

What I learned is that it's all about compromise. Today, our kitchen doesn't look like an episode of Hoarders, and I maturely deal with my shoe pile.*

*my husband said, "FALSE!" And then pointed to my shoe pile. 

Are you guilty of nagging? Leave a comment!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Desk Decor

If your job is anything like mine, you probably spend a lot of time sitting at a desk. So, to counterbalance the fluorescent lighting and filing cabinets, it's important to add a little personality to our work spaces. Actually, throughout the first year of my current job, my desk had zero personality. Aside from office supplies and five industrial sized tubs of antibacterial wipes that were there when I started, my little pod was a bit sterile (in two ways, apparently). Then one day, it dawned on me that my co-workers probably thought I was a germaphobe with lots of paper clips and no friends. So, I've been sprucing it up with fun pictures, and an over-dramatic plant that dies and comes back to life without fail every Monday.

If your desk is in need of a little something, here are some fun ideas:

This adorable monogrammed mug ($8 from Anthropologie) is a great pen/pencil holder. I just bought one!

If you have lots of magazines and binders, organize them in this cute set from See Jane Work.

Fill up drab wall space and keep track of upcoming vacations with a calendar. For just $9.99, you can meet a "nice jewish guy" (and make your co-workers uncomfortable) every single month!

Or perhaps Ron Swanson is what your desk has been missing all this time. Is anyone else completely obsessed with Parks and Rec? I'm one click away from ordering this poster, and a side of bacon:

Fabric thumbtacks - sure, why not?

Pictures of family, friends, and pets are always nice reminders of life outside the office. Check out stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx for cheap (but really cute!) picture frames. Need some free wall art? Add pops of color to your bulletin boards by tacking up pretty cards and stationary you've received. 

What are your desk decor essentials?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Warm January Saturday

It was 65 degrees in DC today. Birds chirped. Flowers bloomed. Al Gore and the science community headed to their bunkers. My morning started with the creation of a 102 point word in Words with Friends that I'm pretty sure I made up. So, the day was destined to be awesome. I put away the puffy coat and set out to enjoy the late April January weather. My husband and I took a nice long walk, followed by lunch at Commissary. Then we decided an afternoon bloody mary was necessary to ponder the effects of global warming.

But instead, we opted to watch the pilot episode of The Wonder Years on Netflix, where I proceeded to cry throughout the entire thing. Then we took another walk to enjoy the weird weather.

How did you spend your unseasonably warm Saturday?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Chili of Champions

One of my new year's resolutions is to cook more often.Ya know, maybe take the Cuisinart I've had for two years out of the box? At the top of my to-make list is this delicious chili, the perfect warm meal to whip up on a cold Sunday afternoon when you have zero desire to watch another Kardashian marathon or leave the house. It's from Cooking Light, so it's (sorta?) healthy. I love the combination of using spicy turkey or chicken sausage and ground beef. Plus, the recipe calls for red wine and tons of great spices which definitely takes the average chili up a notch. 

A few helpful tips:

1) First chop up all of your veggies and put them aside.
2) Be careful with the jalapeno! If you touch the seeds, the skin on your hand could feel like it's burning. Not fun. Trust me. And if you don't like things super spicy, don't add the seeds.
3) Measure out all of your spices ahead of time too, and put them together in a bowl. This way you can just dump them all in at once, rather than frantically doing it as you go.
4) Obviously top with heaps of shredded cheddar cheese and serve some cornbread on the side. 

Not only does this chili make for amazing leftovers, it will seriously impress your friends if you choose to invite them over to partake in the deliciousness. It's a one dish wonder ... works like a charm.

Click here for the recipe.