Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How Sweet...

is this picture?  This is from the latest wedding that I assisted Monica with (see "links" sidebar for her website).   Also, I've been MIA on Photo Fridays, so I owe ya'll one!  Or two.  Or possibly three by now.

This one was taken during the vows at the ceremony...a bit artsy fartsy, but more than a bit cute.

PS - I just posted a picture of Rose from our photo shoot on the Pioneer Woman's latest Holiday Bokeh assignment - hope it makes it on her website!  Ah!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole

First, can I say that I can't believe I've missed two Photo Fridays in a row?  How terrible!  I'm going to attempt to make it up to you with this recipe and a promise that I will knock your socks off with Photo Friday this week. 

This recipe is my Grandma Jones's.  I think everyone probably has some version of this recipe in their back pocket, but I promise you that this is the best of them all.  I'm sure everyone probably always says that too, but can everyone else make an onion-hater into an onion-eater?  No.  I hate onions.  And my grandma made this...and I ate it.  I did not ask questions, I did not complain, I did not pick through the pile of deliciousness on my plate in search of rogue onions.  So there.

2 pounds hashbrown potatoes, defrosted

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup chopped onion (chop this finely...mince it, even!)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup milk

1 cup sour cream

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

topping:  2 cups crushed corn flakes and 1/2 cup melted butter, combined

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 9x13 inch baking pan.  Spread mixture out evenly.   Sprinkle the corn flake topping over the top of the potatoes, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Hello, is any people pleasing recipe easier than this one?  No!  This is a super simple side dish to serve along with your Christmas dinner.  Or any dinner.  Or you can make it on its own and eat it out of the pan with a fork and...oops.  That was just between me and the potatoes.  Not anymore!   Enjoy, everyone!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

When I was at home, I filched a bunch of my favorite recipes that my mom has in her cookbooks.  When my sister and I were kids, she used to make this kick-butt casserole that EVERYONE loved.  It was special food and comfort food at the same time.  Also, whenever we had this, we also had crescent rolls.  And who doesn't love those? 

Try this.  Classic flavors, pure deliciousness, and it makes me think of my mom. 

1 head broccoli, cut into pieces (i usually just use the florets but you can probably use all of it)

6 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup mayo

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3/4 cup soft bread crumbs

2 tablespoons melted butter

Spread the broccoli pieces on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Layer the chicken on top of the broccoli.  Mix the soup, mayo, and lemon juice together and pour over the top of the chicken, making sure that most of it is covered.  Sprinkle the cheese, then the breadcrumbs over the top, and drizzle the melted butter over all so that the breadcrumbs will get nice and toasty.  Bake covered at 350 degrees for about an hour, until bubbly and very hot.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pecan Tassies

I think these little suckers are an aquired taste. They are like mini pecan pies. I never used to like them, but now I think they are delicious. This recipe is a little shoutout to Grandma, because these are one of her favorite cookies to make (and eat)...I give you the pecan tassie.

3 ounces softened cream cheese

 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon softened butter

1 cup flour

 1 egg

 3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar

 1 teaspoon vanilla

 dash of salt

 2/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter & flour. Mix thoroughly and chill for at least an hour (I usually let them sit in the fridge overnight). Cut dough into 24 equal parts, roll into little balls, and press into sides and bottom of 2 ungreased miniature muffin tins. Combine egg, brown sugar, vanilla, salt & remaining 1 tablespoon butter and beat until smooth. Sprinkle 1/3 cup pecans equally into the little tarts you just pressed. Divide egg mixture equally among the 24 cookies, pouring on top of the pecans you put in the bottom. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup pecans on top of the egg mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ginger Cookies - Amish Style

Oh, Christmas, I love how your warm inviting flavors let me forget about the chill of winter outside; the smell of delicious spices wafting throughout the house and the laughter of family and friends. These cookies have Christmas written all over them.

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 ½ cups flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg and molasses; beat until combined. Add flour, baking soda and spices, then mix until well combined. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar (please be festive and use red and green sugar). Place balls on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 7 - 9 minutes until very lightly golden. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet and then remove to wire racks to cool completely. This recipe makes around four dozen.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chocolate Mint Snowtops

Dear Chocolate & Mint,  Thank you so much for getting together and creating the most delicious flavor combination ever.  I have loved you two ever since I was little and I had my first after dinner mint at the Olive Garden.   Then my Gram made a cookie featuring both of you, and my Christmas became even better.  You are a delight.  Love, Jenny.

Okay, but in all seriousness...these cookies are amazing.

1 and 1/2 cups flour

1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 ounces Nestle mint/semi-sweet chocolate chips

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl.  Melt 1 cup of the chips.  Add the melted chips and vanilla to the butter and sugar, and then beat in the eggs and the flour mixture.  Stir in the remaining unmelted chips.  Once mixed, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze until firm.  Then, roll the dough into 1 inch balls, then roll each ball in powdered sugar.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until the tops of the cookies begin to look cracked.

So yummy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Peanut Butter Blossoms

In honor of Cookie Week, I am posting the recipe for my favorite Christmas cookies ever!  My grandma is a stellar baker, and my Christmas is basically incomplete without these.  From the recipe, it looks like this is actually the Pillsbury version...so here you go!

1 and 3/4 cup Pillsbury flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

48 (approximately) Hershey's kisses

Combine all ingredients except for the Hershey's kisses and mix on low speed.  For each cookie, take a rounded full teaspoon of dough, roll into a ball and then roll in sugar.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Gently press a Hershey's kiss into the top of each cookie before they cool.  Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Happy Birthday, Jenny! (a little bit late)

I didn’t forget Jenny’s birthday, I swear – we celebrated over the weekend when she was in town, but it didn’t occur to me to announce to the world that it was her birthday yesterday! (terrible, I know. I’m sorry.) So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNY! (a day late) We had an awesome weekend of lots of good food and having the previously mentioned super fun photo shoot. I think I may have enjoyed Jenny’s bday weekend more than she did – being a model is awesome! :-) I can’t believe the photos turned out as well as they did – Jenny sure does have the magic touch because I don’t look like that nice in real life!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Rose is a Rose ~ Photo Shoot

There is really nothing more delightful than pictures of a beautiful person.  And as her best friend, I can tell you that Rose is beautiful both inside and out.  Here are some pictures from our fun photo shoot this past weekend - I'm sure there will be multiple posts regarding these photos, but these are just a few (probably will end up being about 10) of my favorites!


I like to call the above photo "Christmas Magic" - it was EVERYWHERE!!

That's all for now - more to come on this, and we have Kelli & Gina's photo shoots to look forward to as well!  Between these three girls, it's almost too much beauty to handle.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Photo Shoot Preview

I just got back an hour and a half ago from being at home for Thanksgiving.  BUT I couldn't resist checking out the  pictures from the photo shoot that I did with Rose over the weekend.  Rose was nice enough to be my model for the day...and it was a ton of fun, as evidenced by the photo below:

Isn't she lovely?  Rose and I love spending time together no matter what, but this was a blast.  Can't wait to get editing and add a full post of this!

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hot Chicken Salad

This post is for Rose who has been on me to post Hot Chicken Salad since the birth of this blog.  However, the recipe was at my parents' house, and I am bad at memorizing things.  So here you go - if you're tired of turkey leftovers, try this.  It's delicious comfort food that will leave you feeling cozy and satisfied.

3 cups cooked chicken breast, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup almonds

1 cup diced celery

1 teaspoon minced onion

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2/3 cup mayo or Miracle Whip

Topping: 1 cup grated cheddar cheese & 1 cup crushed potato chips

Mix all ingredients except the topping and pour in a buttered casserole dish.  Top with cheese and chips and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly.

Snicky's Photo Shoot

Gina and I had some fun with Snick yesterday at Grandma's house.   We followed her around with a camera for a pretty long time...and got some great pictures.  Some really funny, some really cute.  I'll do a full post later, but I wanted to post for Photo Friday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Puffs

[caption id="attachment_542" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Buffalo Chicken Puffs"]Buffalo Chicken Puffs[/caption]

Here's a delicious new twist on an old favorite. Buffalo chicken puffs. These are so addictive! I made lot of appetizers a few weeks ago for a party, and due to very limited space, I had to think of ways to condense. Instead of having a dip and then something to dip with, I turned all my dips into puffs and they were a huge hit! These were so easy and I think I'll be making these as a new standard. First, just roll out a can of Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust and cut into 24 squares. Fill with little scoops of buffalo chicken mixture, and make each one into a little pouch by pinching all four corners together and put the pinched part down into mini muffin tins coated in pam no-stick spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 425 degrees.


1 can chicken breast, shredded

4-5 Tablespoons Hidden Valley ranch dressing

2-3 Tablespoons Frank's Red Hot

1/2 block cream cheese

approx 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

[caption id="attachment_543" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Out of the oven"]Out of the oven[/caption]


Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Confusion, Part Deux

I am seconding Rose's motion that Thanksgiving is the most forgotten and passed over holiday ever.  And it's one of my favorites.  Also, as a late November birthday, I can assure you that I do not appreciate Christmas things all up in my grill.  It's not time yet! 

But wait, it is.  We decorated my apartment last night for Christmas, because I think Christmas lights are magical and because I want to enjoy them for a good period of time since we'll be travelling back north twice in the next month for Thanksgiving & Christmas.  Here are some pre-pictures that I like to refer to as "Christmas Chaos."

Truly, the best part of decorating in this apartment is the vast collection of Kasey Kahne ornaments that Kelli has acquired.

I just love this little ornament.  Hello, preciousness.

Ah, the finished product!  It's okay to laugh at the super-duper-trianglishness of this tree.  It makes me smile.

Holiday Confusion

What holiday is it? Because I’m pretty sure we are 3 days away from Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving – full of autumn leaves, cornucopias, turkeys, and pumpkin pie. Where the heck did Thanksgiving go?

I love Thanksgiving, and every year it seems that Christmas is getting earlier and earlier. Next year are we not going to have a Halloween? It’s like we don’t have time for fall and it’s festivities, it’s just a prep-time for Christmas and then on December 26th it’s all over. I think we should have just as much time after Christmas to celebrate as pre-25th. Believe me when I tell you that I’m a Christmas freak. I love absolutely everything about the Christmas season and I think I need a DNA test to see if I’m part elf, but why rush Thanksgiving? It’s like the whole meaning has been lost to support a kick-off date for shopping.

As much as it bothers me, I’m done shopping, I put up lights, I watched Elf and the Grinch last night, and I have a 24-hour Christmas music station on my radio. In conclusion, I’m a holiday hypocrite. Even so, I hope everyone is getting their stretchy pants ready for a Thanksgiving feast, and that you all get to spend a lovely day with your families on whatever holiday it is. I wish you all friendship, family, generosity, thankfulness, kindness, love, joy, and peace…not only from November to January but year-round.

Friday, November 19, 2010


This week's Photo Friday is dedicated to my spoiled, misbehaved, adorable, delightful, scheming little dog Snicky.  I remember when my sister wrote her letter to Santa begging for a dog...and 12 years later, Snick is still as fun and as ornery as ever.  I love her little white face and I can't wait to see her in a week!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WEEN!

This is young Snicky, before her precious face turned white.  She was snoozing on vacation at Deep Creek.

This is older white-faced Snicky, hanging out in the backseat of Gina's car on our way to the park for a walk.  Isn't she the cutest thing?  Happy Friday, everyone!

**I realize that these are not the best examples of photography.  I took the bottom one with a cell phone and the top one with a disposable camera when I was 15.   But who can resist puppy pictures?  No one!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Dip

I’m pretty sure everyone has their tried and true Thanksgiving staples – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing. I really think that no matter how great a new recipe is, nothing tastes quite as good as the way your own family makes it. Thanksgiving is all about family and tradition and I don’t think you should mess with a good thing. That being said, I’m never against trying something new as long as it doesn’t replace an old favorite. Here’s a tasty treat that can be put out as an appetizer or a dessert on turkey day. Enjoy!

2 cups (or a little more) of powdered sugar

1 can (8 oz) pumpkin

1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened (this is important! SOFTENED!)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

A little extra fresh ground nutmeg (depending on how spicy you like it)

Mix the softened cream cheese together (I mean really softened and creamy or else it will have weird white lumps that are impossible to smooth out later - I microwave mine for about 25 seconds) with the powdered sugar until very smooth. Add in the pumpkin ½ cup at a time and mix well. Mix in the spices and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving (it's better overnight). If you want to be really cute and festive, hollow out a little pumpkin (and eat the delicious scrapings and seeds, of course) and use that as your serving dish. Serve with ginger snaps or Nilla wafers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CPK opened in the ‘Burgh!!!

And the heavens opened and the angels sang. I loooooove California Pizza Kitchen. It’s so delicious and I try a new pizza every time we go. Finally, after craving this on every out of state trip, the big wigs at CPK headquarters listened to my plea. Ross Park Mall in Pittsburgh has now opened the best restaurant in the history of creating crazy pizza combos. Last time, I had the Thai Chicken pizza and we tried the Korean BBQ tacos. Both good, but this past week when I went (yes, twice in one week) I had my old faithful. The California Club pizza and Oriental Dumplings. Heaven on a plate. I’m going to try to make the pizza at home, because the ingredients are simple enough, but please get this if you venture out to CPK. You won’t regret it. Bacon, chicken, cheese, lettuce (with mayonnaise - on a pizza. crazy, maybe. delicious, yes.) tomato and avocado. MMM.

[caption id="attachment_514" align="aligncenter" width="219" caption="CPK club pizza"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_515" align="aligncenter" width="280" caption="CPK dumplings"][/caption]

I Heart NC

Two years ago today, I moved to NC with my super fabulous roommate.  And she was nice enough to decorate the apartment whenever I was [restlessly] snoozing last night before yet another 4 am shift.  In celebration, the following things are occurring:

1. Reese's peanut butter trees will be eaten.

2. Flowers will be gazed upon (see photo).

3. Frozen foods that you can bake in a conventional oven will be consumed in remembrance of the time when we had only Mr. Oven and a pizza pan to cook with.

I'm keeping this short & sweet since I need to hit the hay again, but prepare yourselves to be hit with some fantastic holiday recipes this week and next.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

Friday, November 12, 2010

For Mom

When mom was here in October, she kept asking Dad and I to take pictures looking up at the leaves with the sky in the background.  So, now that my new camera is in action, I took another few just for her...which turned out way better than they did on my camera from college.  

This is actually the background for my laptop right now :) Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Month of Milestones…

November is a big month in our little apartment.  Both of us were born in November, and our two year anniversary of moving is this month as well!  Post to follow with highlights from the past two years....but first, here is an ode to my roommate.

kelli, you are pretty

you brighten my day

and you are lovely in all ways.

Here's a picture of Kelli's cake from her birthday (marble cake w/ no icing - it's her favorite).  I promised her that I would not post any pictures of us from that night, seeing as it was midnight when she blew out the candles and neither one of us were really ready for a photo op.  But I took them anyway, for posterity of course. 

Happy Birthday, roomie!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bitten by the Travel Bug...

Do you ever get that itch to just go somewhere?  I used to feel like that a lot of the time, before I moved south.  Now that I'm here and I love it, I get bitten by the travel bug a lot less.  But sometimes it still hits me, and this week the itch to go back to California has been hitting me hard.  Just to visit, not to live...I don't need anyone getting upset!  Here's a small snippet as to why I wanna go back...

Cali is a little out of reach for me right now, but that's okay...there are plenty of place that are on my list for this fall/winter that are a bit closer to home.  Stay tuned for travel updates!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Melt In Your Mouth Shredded Beef

This stuff is AWESOME. I actually got this recipe from my mom's friend who I don't really like all that much (aka at all). I hate when crappy people make awesome food. Alas, I'll pass this gem along, because it's so good I wouldn't want to deprive you of it. This recipe is for a decent amount of food, about what we would make for a party (maybe 20 people). Here's what you're going to need:

1 stalk celery - chopped

3 onions - chopped

2-3 green peppers - chopped

1 1/2 thirty-two (32) ounce  bottles of Heinz ketchup

5 Tablespoons BBQ sauce (whichever brand your like, I use KC Masterpiece)

5 Tablespoons vinegar

2 Tablespoons worchestershire sauce (I can't pronounce this to save my life - soon as I get to sauce, it comes out "shaush")

1 cup brown sugar

2 3/4 cups water

8 pounds of chuck roast (I use two 4-pounders)

Mix all the ingredients together and pour the sauce over the roast. Cover and put in a 300 degree oven for 7 hours. I let this go overnight, and it's tender and delicious. When it comes out of the oven, shred the meat apart with two forks. All of the veggies turn to nothing-mush and just produce a wonderful sweet and tangy sauce. Let it cool to room temperature and lift off the layer of grease that forms on the top (gross, but no one wants to eat all this extra fat). Heat back up to serve. This goes great with a creamy coleslaw and my corn casserole.

Product Review: Tazo Tea Sampler

My name is Rose and I'm addicted to tea. I love trying new kinds and today I'm going to give you a quick review of the Tazo (the Starbuck's brand) tea sampler I got on a good sale a few weeks ago. This box is the assorted black and green teas/herbal infusions. There are 20 teabags, 10 different flavors: Awake, Calm, China Green Tips, Earl Grey, Chai, Decaf Chai, Passion, Wild Sweet Orange, Lotus, and Zen.

Awake: Black Tea "A breakfast tea of boldness, depth, and character, invigorating any time of day." I didn't find that I was perkier after this, which was kinda the point. Still, a nice flavor, very bold, and sturdy enough to hold milk.

Calm: Herbal Infusion "A comforting blend of chamomile, rose petals & soothing herbs." This description is on the money. It is very calming, and overall gives you a sense of relaxation. It's mild but flavorful and overall a nice blend.

China Green Tips: Green Tea "A light & lingering tea with a fine, fresh flavor." They could not have depicted this more falsely. It is not light, and it is not fresh. It's extremely vegetative in flavor and I find it to be over powering. I enjoy green tea, and while this is extremely authentic, it tastes very similar to what you would drink in China, I think it's too strong for an American palate. Also, the aroma is not pleasing. I'll give them this, the flavor is "lingering".

Earl Grey: Black Tea "A traditional tea scented wtih the essence of bergamot." Spot on classic Earl. It's lovely and one of my favorites.

Organic Chai: Spiced Black Tea "A satisfyingly rich blend of teas & exotic spices." This is a very nice blend that holds up to a distinguished chai drinker's expectations. It's bold enough to withstand a fair amount of milk and sugar and retain it's spiciness. Very nice.

Passion: Herbal Infusion "A magical blend of hibiscus, lemongrass, rose hips, mango and passion fruit flavours." This is a delicious blend with a lovely aftertaste. You don't get the full complexity until after swallowing, which is a nice change. I use just a bit of sugar and it brings out the full sweetness of the fruits. This is wonderful over ice and one of my favorites in the assortment.

Decaf Chai: Spiced Black Tea "A satisfyingly rich blend of teas & exotic spices." Really? You're going to count this as another flavor in the mix? Rip Off. Give me another one to try, not a decaf version of an original flavor.

Wild Sweet Orange: Herbal Infusion "A juicy blend of lemongrass, citrus herbs, licorice root and orange essences." While I enjoy this tea, the name is off. It's far more lemony than orange flavored and I find it to be more tart than sweet. If it was named some sort of citrus blend, I would have been more prepared for the taste. It's a brisk flavor, nice for an afternoon pick me up.

Lotus: Green Tea "A decaffeinated tea with the subtle essence of lotus blossoms." This is a very light green tea. It's not overpowering, but not a great flavor either. This one could go either way, depending on what I'm looking for in that cup.

Zen: Green Tea "A harmonious blend with lemongrass & spearmint." While this sounds like an odd combination, it's a very slight hint of lemongrass and a lovely blend of spearmint. This tea leaves a pleasant aftertaste and is my favorite of the greens in this box.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 30 - Thankful that it's pomegranate season

I love pomegranates – they are so interesting! I just took apart my first one of the season and it’s perfect – deep ruby and sweet.

I hope everyone enjoyed the 30 days of being thankful. I think it really helped remind us that even on the most stressful days, we need to look for the positive, because there is always something to be thankful for. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 29 - Thankful for Weddings

I love weddings.  I'm a hopeless romantic.  I don't really care who is getting married - odds are, I will get all misty-eyed and shed a few tears.  Weddings also give me the opportunity to watch television gems like Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings.  AND as a bonus, I love photographing weddings - something I thought I would like but wasn't totally sure I could handle until this year. 

Below is one of my favorite pictures from a wedding I assisted Monica with in August (see sidebar for her website). 

On a scale of 1-10, I'd say this is a full out "10" on the Romantic Scale.  Yes, there is such a thing as a Romantic Scale.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 28 – Thankful for Trick or Treat-ers

I love handing out candy to the kids – I dressed up like a witch, just like I do every year. So original, I know. I love to see all the different costumes. There were about 50 Mario and Luigis…not original. So here’s my top 3 costumes from Halloween 2010.

1.  A Whoopie-Cushion. If you bumped into him, he made a fart sound.

2.  A baby dressed like an egg and the dad was a giant chicken.

3.  A dollar bill. While this was just an ok costume, my friend said “oh there’s a dollar bill” and I bolted yelling “Where? I’ll get it!” This makes the list just because it made me look pathetically poor and cheap.

Day 27 - Thankful for Clean Sheets

Over the weekend (when I should have been writing this post), I changed the sheets on my bed.  Which I realize is normal, but isn't it delightful to sleep in cozy fresh sheets right after you change them?  They smell like Tide and fabric softener.  And it's getting cooler, so it's really cozy.  I can't wait to go to bed tonight!

**This should have been written on Sunday...forgive me!

Day 26 - Thankful for Comfort Food

I'm sorry, but whenever there is a chill in the air, I basically want to do nothing but sit here and eat delicious things.  And let's face it, most delicious things are not good for you.  So I'm thankful that on the weekends, I feel like I can eat whatever.  I don't order a sissy salad when I go out on the weekends.  I order things like Sunday Homestyle Chicken at Cracker Barrel.  Or Chicken Parmesan Milanese at Bravo.  And cinnamon melts at McDonald's. 

I can't wait until NEXT Friday.

**This should have been written on Saturday - sorry!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

These are so cute! I got the recipe from kevinandamanda and I think everyone in the office is really going to enjoy these. They are my little Halloween treat for my coworkers. First step is to use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe for the cookie dough, only substitute 2 Tablespoons of milk for each egg. Freeze 1.5 T balls over night, which keeps them from baking inside the cupcake. I just used Moist Deluxe yellow cake mix (with the pudding in the mix - can't go wrong with pudding) and filled the cupcake tins 3/4 of the way full.  Just plop the frozen cookie dough ball on top of the batter. No need to press down or anything, the cupcake will rise as the frozen ball sinks and it's a perfect little hidden treat inside - you can't tell at all! Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I used the following recipe for the frosting, and it tastes just like cookie dough.

Cookie Dough Buttercream Frosting

3 sticks softened butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Technically, you are supposed to cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy and then add the powdered sugar a little at a time, then beat in the rest of the ingredients, but I put everything in a bowl and just went to town. I find that it gives a sugary texture (still grainy) which I love. Then, decorate as you like and enjoy :-)

[caption id="attachment_463" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cookie Dough Cupcakes Inside"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_464" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cookie Dough Cupcakes"][/caption]

Friday, October 29, 2010

People are crazy

On the way to work today, I had to snap a quick drive-by photo. Who in the world thought this would be a nice decoration for a building? I think you'd have to see this gem in person to truly appreciate the insanity of it. This picture doesn't really give it justice. This creepy old man face with grapes on his head is a monstrosity. Look at the scale in comparison to the porches - it takes up a whole floor of this apartment building. Can anyone explain this? Because I can't.

[caption id="attachment_458" align="aligncenter" width="662" caption="creepy guy"][/caption]

Fall at the Lake...

Not a whole lot really needs to be said about this one...

It's okay if you want to be jealous that I see this every day.  Happy Friday, everyone!

Day 25 - Thankful to be so Blessed

What I'm going to say is maybe going to come across as bragging.  I'm sorry for that in advance.  But I have a pretty sweet life...and that's what I'm thankful for today.

Today I got maybe the most inspirational email ever from one of my close friends from college.  It made me thankful that I am blessed with not only friendships, but deep friendships that not only stand the test of time, and the test of distance as well.  I was so happy that she shared what she did with me, and it made me realize that I have been so incredibly blessed in my life that I actually got a little teary.  I have my sister, my oldest/best friend and blog co-hort, my close friends and roommates from college, and my current roommate/best friend.  And I can go to any of these women with anything, anytime.  Honestly, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

To all my wonderful friends, whether you read this blog post or not - I love you!  You make my life WAY delightful.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 24 - Thankful for Carmel Apple Kisses

Sooo delicious!  Have you tried Hershey's new fall kiss flavor?  If not - go to the store.  Right now!  I wouldn't steer you wrong.  These little suckers taste just like carmel apples.  If you have no self control like me, beware...because they are incredibly addicting and before you know it the entire bag is just full of empty wrappers.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 23 - Thankful for Weather Broadcasts

I know that many of us had some crazy weather yesterday.  However, when this weather interfered with my weekly NCIS fest on CBS, I was not too happy.  Until I realized that the weatherman was equally entertaining.  Have you ever noticed that meterologists get totally jazzed whenever they are talking about bad weather?  He was in the midst of telling people that if they lived in a mobile home to abandon it and run for a ditch...and he was excited.  Not nervous, apprehensive, or incredibly concerned.  Excited! 

He was also encouraging people to submit photos of anything that they had seen, but then was truly appalled when the photos came into the station.  There was one particular photo that showed a softball game being played while there was a funnel cloud in the distance.  Actual quote from Mr. Weatherman: "I have to say, I'm incredibly upset by this picture.  Why is the game still being played?  There had to have been lightning...there are people in an open field...this is not good."

I almost wish I was still under a tornado warning so that he was still on TV.  Almost.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 22 - Thankful for Philosophy

No, not the subject.  Please...I am no longer in school, so my synapses do not fire quickly enough to deal with philosophy.  I'm talking about the bath and beauty products.

I am in a great mood.  I am sitting here in my lovely room which smells of spiced cider (see one of our previous "thankful" posts on apple products).  And I just took a shower...using philosophy body wash.  My roommate's mom is a big fan of the QVC channel on TV (or "the Q" as she calls it).  She alerted us that Philosophy brand products would be on this weekend.  So we watched.  And now I am more addicted than ever.

I cannot actually tell you how in love I am with this stuff.  Do yourself a favor and go to their website.  And prepare to be in awe.  All of their new holiday products are out and they are adorable.  And I'm guessing that most of them smell like heaven.  The 3-in-1 bath and shower gels are phenomenal.  PHENOMENAL.  My skin feels clean, silky and smooth, and even though these products smell strongly delicious in the shower, you won't walk around smelling like a mimosa or a cinnamon bun all day.  It's indulgently fantastic.  Seriously.  I kind of feel like I went to the spa. 

Here are a few of my current favorites:

Pink Frosted Layer Cake 3-in-1 bath and shower gel.  This body wash smells exactly how it sounds.  Pure deliciousness, without being overpowering.  I used this yesterday.  It's in the permanent rotation.

Kiss Me lip balm.  This stuff is fantastic.  I'm usually a chapstick girl (my mom and roommate both cringe when I say things like that), but I can't get enough of this.  Beware: it's addicting.  But your lips will be lovely...so it's kinda worth it. :)

Pure Grace spray fragrance.  I have put my Ralph Lauren Romance on the shelf for awhile because of this.  I've even given up on my body sprays that I usually use.  I've been using this as an every day spray- it's amazing.  Read the reviews on the website - they are spot on.

My roommate and I are heading to the mall this weekend, and I plan on splurging on a few new ones/buying some early Christmas gifts.   I've heard (from Rose) that you can also find these products at TJ Maxx and Marshall's.  Now, go forth and pamper thyself!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 21 – Thankful for a beautiful night’s sleep

Here's what I realized this morning: I haven't got a good night's sleep in...well...years. I got a 4-inch very dense memory foam mattress topper for my old lumpy mattress...and OMG.  How did I sleep without it? How did I ever wake up feeling refreshed? I woke up this morning and I wasn't tired. I hopped out of bed (even though it was so fluffy and comfy I didn't want to) and got ready for my day. No groaning, no stiffness, no yawning. I am so rested and delighted with my new favorite item! It's like cuddling up on a cloud :-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 20 - Thankful for Visitors

October has been a busy month for me down here in NC - we've had delightful visitors every weekend for the past 3 weekends.  First my parents, then my sister, and then my wonderful friend from college.  My roommate and I had such a wonderful time with all of them!  It's going to be quiet around here for awhile since things will be pretty low key in the weeks to come.  I miss and love all of you! <3

Day 19 - Thankful for Emails

Ah, email.  Remember the days when all everyone had in terms of an internet provider was America Online?  Whenever I open my email inbox, and I have new mail, I always mutter "you've got mail!" to myself.  I realize this sounds crazy, but email is fun.  Email is even more fun when it's a non-facebook update, non-spam, non-automated bill pay confirmation email.  And personal emails...well, they are simply the best.

I got a fun note of encouragement via email from one of my friends this weekend and it literally made my day.  I encourage you to send an unexpected/surprise/thinking of you/just because email to one of your friends this week - they will definitely appreciate it! 

PS - yes, I cheated by posting this a day late.  I had company here this weekend...forgive me! :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 18 - Thankful for Flowers

I was taking a walk today and  I happened to have my camera on me - Fall is gorgeous here, and I didn't want to miss an opportunities on this beautiful day!  I took this when I was walking quickly past a (still!) blooming rose bush.  How pretty!  Flowers make me happy.  And so do Fridays. 

Sidenote:  I'm also happy and thankful that Night at the Museum is on TV right now.  Love that movie!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


[caption id="attachment_411" align="alignnone" width="112" caption="Where the Wild Things Are"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_417" align="alignnone" width="112" caption="Where the Wild Things Are - King Max"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_416" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Cannibal"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_415" align="alignnone" width="112" caption="Wizard"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_414" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Spider"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_413" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Spooky House"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_412" align="alignnone" width="112" caption="Dragon"][/caption]

I love carving pumpkins and I can't wait to start on this year's designs...here's a little flashback of last year's delights to get you in a Halloween-y mood :-)

Day 17 - Thankful for being "normal"

I got screamed at and berated yesterday by a crackhead (no, literally a crackhead - I'm in the social work field) and suddenly everything in my life seemed pretty darn good. It made me upset because I hate confrontation of any kind, but it got me thinking.  I don't have to rely on other people for assistance, I live in a nice neighborhood, I have a loving family, and basically have my crap together. It kinda puts everything into perspective when life gets hard and bills get overwhelming and relationships get strained. So internet, there you have it. I'm happy for being happy, healthy, and somewhat normal. Somewhere in the middle doesn't seem all that bad afterall...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 16 - Thankful for Apple Items

Disclaimer:  This post is NOT about my love for Apple brand products (iPads, iPhones, iMacs, iPods, etc).  No, no it's not.  I actually own nothing that Apple has created.  It's true.  I don't even have iTunes on my computer.  But I digress.

I think we've established that I love seasonal items, what with the explosion of pumpkin recipes a few weeks back.  Pumpkin isn't all I love about Fall though - I also love anything that has to do with apples.  Here are two of my current absolute favorite things:

1. Spiced Cider 3-wick candle from Bath & Body Works.  I am convinced that this is what Heaven smells like.  Or at least a really nice Hallmark store (which is pretty close to Heaven, if you ask me.  I know, I'm crazy...but this is my blog.  I'm allowed).  If you don't want to spend the 20 bucks on the 3 wick, the store runs sales on the smaller candles, and you can try them in a whole bunch of scents.  But trust me...this is the way you want to go.

2. Apple Butter.  Of any kind.  You can get this at a farmer's market, an orchard, at Cracker Barrel, or on the table at Bob Evans.  Or in the jam aisle at the grocery store - Smucker's makes a darn good commercial apple butter.  And it's delicious.  I've been using it instead of jelly on my peanut butter sandwiches as of late, and that's a trend that will most likely continue until...well...forever.

Try these things - you will love them.  You'll get the warm fuzzies.  And you're welcome in advance.