Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Putting Things Into Perspective

Somehow, the last ten days completely got away from me. These things tend to happen to me around extremely busy and/or stressful times. But, even though the last ten days have been a total whirlwind, I can't help but feel like I've been given a new perspective on some parts of my life.
  • When I'm busy, the first few things I tend to neglect turn into blogging, laundry and grocery shopping. Not necessarily in that order, but how is it that I choose to neglect anything having to do with cooking and eating?
  • When B is home, I think I some times take advantage of the daily time we have together. Too often I let a whole week slip by without making time for 'us,' and then I don't even realize it until he goes out of town for three days and I miss him terribly!
  • While we were in Florida over New Year's, I wanted to grab a copy of the new daily devotional book that the church we attend down there just released. In typical Pam fashion, I forgot to do so while I was there, so my Mom grabbed one for me. I picked it up while I was back there this past weekend and seeing the book gave me a brand new appetite for daily devotions! I have already let too many days go by while neglecting this, and I need to start holding myself accountable! How and when do you make time for your devotions? Waking up early? Reading over coffee while your family eats breakfast? I'd love to know!
  • My DVR. First of all, I still swear I don't know what I did without it, but now? It fills up week after week and I can never catch up. What do I record all of these shows for anyway? It's my total guilty pleasure to watch basically every reality program under the sun, but is it taking away from more important things in my life?
  • Meal Planning. This is definitely one of my favorite things. Cooking a meal that my little family enjoys is very close to my heart, but I have been lacking in the creativity section lately. So many of you awesome ladies post recipes and pictures of your amazing meals, and I think it's time to step up my game again!
  • Decorating my house. Oy. Does it ever end? I am bombarded every day with emails from Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel and the like, with coupons and images of items that I need want for our home. I never thought I would stop buying clothes in order to buy a beautiful set of Willow House wall sconces for our bedroom, but it happened :o)
  • But, most of all, these last view months have helped me to gain perspective on how lucky I am that God chose this life for me. Over the last year, I have been blessed beyond measure; a new husband, a puppy, a house and starting my own business, just to name a few. Over the last few weeks I have been trying to live in the moments where I feel like I have got to be one of the luckiest girls in the world, and for that, I try and remember to thank God each day.

Thanks for listening to my endless rambling on this Tuesday. What are you thankful for? Any new perspective that you've come to realize lately?
Happy Tuesday, Lovelies!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

How to Balance It All: The Newlywed Angle

Have I mentioned that I love the idea of guest posting for other fabulous bloggers just as much as I love sharing my space with other fabulous women?! I think this is one of my favorite parts of the blogging community, and today, I am lucky enough to be guest blogging for the always fabulous, Molly from Duchess of Fork!

Hi, Everyone! I'm Pam, a newlywed, late twenties girl from North Jersey who blogs over at Our Love Nest! I am so honored to be writing amongst all of these fabulous ladies this week, and even more honored that Molly asked me to hijack her little blog for the day!

For those of you who don't know me yet, I am married to B, we met in college, but didn't start dating until after we graduated (best idea ever, in my book). We dated for 3 1/2 years, got engaged in November of 2009, and were married in a beautiful fall, North Jersey wedding on November 5, 2010. B is one of the greatest men I have ever known, and, although it may sound a bit cliche', I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have married my best friend.

In the fourteen months that have passed since our wedding, we have lived together for the first time in a modest, one-bedroom apartment, started our family with the addition of an energetic black lab mix puppy named Riley, and bought our very first home. And, on top of all that? I have changed jobs twice, and started a business of my own. Life has surely kept us in the fast lane lately, and I hardly ever take the chance to sit back and think about how I am choosing to spend and manage the time I have.

You see, right now, we're a DINK couple. Have you heard of DINKs? I hadn't until my fabulous sistah-in-love introduced the term to me a few years back. It simply means, "Dual-Income-No-Kids." What does this mean for us? Well, we both work, don't have any kids (yet), and can basically spend our money the way we please. You know, after the bills are paid and the pup is fed. Right now, our time and money are pretty evenly divided into three categories: house money (for renovations/furnishings), fun money (mainly used for all of the clothes that I don't need) and money we spend going out with and hosting our friends.

We are lucky enough to live close to many of our college friends, so we are typically never without Friday night plans, which I love, but it sure does begin to catch up with you. Is there a certain age you're supposed to reach when you'll finally be ready to "settle down?" You know, start staying home on Friday nights and planning thinking about continuing to grow your family? Well, if so, I think the age (for me) is now. I feel like I've been juggling life, love, work and a social life for so long, that some of the balls are starting to drop.

I think my dilemma is with how I am choosing to spend my time. Each morning, I want to wake up early, work out for 30 minutes, spend the next 30 minutes reading a daily devotion, and then catch up on my blog reading while sipping on my first cup of coffee. But instead, I often sleep in later than I planned, and get distracted with things like emptying the dishwasher or switching that fourth load of laundry, and before I know it, my morning is over and I'm being pulled into the next thing. I'd like to schedule a weekly or bi-weekly date night, but often times, when Thursday night rolls around, I've forgotten and am lucky if we have time to squeeze in a movie on the couch before we head to bed and start all over again.

How do you busy Mom's do it?! Even though I'm the type of person who takes pride in productivity, I find myself admiring all the wonderful women I've met via the internet, and wondering how they have the time to keep up with their children, blogs, emails and work, let alone making time for their husbands or themselves! I guess what I'm asking is: do any of you young Mommies have some advice for a girl who is making plans to start her family, but is hoping to get a handle on my schedule in the meantime?!

Now, don't get me wrong, I chose this life, and I love it dearly, but there are days when some advice from a fellow tech savvy and busy woman would do wonders for me. So ladies, how do you try to balance it all?!

Thanks again, Molly, and don't forget to pop over and introduce yourself at my little slice of the internet!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's FINALLY Here!! Our Home Renovation Process: Kitchen

As many of you already know, we bought our first home back in October. A fixer-upper in a beautiful, suburban town south of Baltimore. We had always talked about making our first place 'our own' by purchasing a property that needed some TLC. Well, I don't really think I fully understood all that would go into the painstaking process, but, more on that later.

I have been promising before and after pictures of the new 'digs,' and since the kitchen is one of the only rooms that is completely finished, I figured we could start there. Sound good?!

Now, when I say "fixer-upper," I really mean it, but, luckily, the kitchen was the one room in the house that had been updated before we bought it. Below are some 'before' pics of the kitchen. I love the dark wood cabinets, and the stainless steel appliances, but that paint color? Just no.

Sorry this one is blurry, must have been the night we closed!
We wanted matching hardwood floors throughout the main level that the kitchen is on, so we popped out all of the snap-in engineered hardwood, and saved it for reuse in another room. 

The kitchen obviously needed to be totally repainted, but it also needed some plywood floor repair, a bunch of drywall work, the sliding glass door needed to be replaced, along with all of the outlets and switches in the room.

In the grand scheme of things, this room didn't take as many hours as some of the others, but it was still a process! I am thrilled with the way it turned out. I think it captures my decorating style well, and it's become a very spacious and functional kitchen/eating area for us.

I wish the quality of these photos was better so you were able to see more detail, but that's what I get for taking 'after' pictures at night! 

We painted the entire room in Benjamin Moore's Shaker Beige, and I loved the color so much, we ended using it throughout the entire kitchen/dining/living room level! I think it's the perfect combination of subtle and chic, and it goes with everything! We replaced the flooring with natural, hardwood and I just LOVE how they came out! Hardwood floors are definitely tougher to keep clean, especially when you have a lab in your house, but they're SO worth it! We also replaced the old, sliding glass door with a double hung, french door, and added crown molding to the room.

They say that 'love is in the details,' right? Now that we own our home, that statement has never been so true. I already had some items that I knew I would use in our new kitchen, but I also hit up Home Goods, Hobby Lobby and Pottery Barn for some of my 'wish list' items.

Pictured Above
Hand-woven Providence Wool Rug from Overstock.com(2011)
HomeGoods kitchen accessories displayed on top of refidgerator (2010)
Red and White Checkered/Floral Hand Towels from Target (2012)

Fluer de Lis Hanging Wall Decor from Hobby Lobby (2011)
Pottery Barn Daily System Pieces in Espresso Stain (2011 - on sale this week!!)
Pottery Barn Hanging Plate Rack (2005)
Williams Sonoma Holiday Collection Large Poinsettia Plate (2010)

I am very happy with the way our kitchen turned out, and it is really helping our new place begin to feel like 'HOME.' 

Have you done a kitchen renovation you'd like to share?! I'm always looking for new ideas!!

Happy Wednesday, Friends!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hollywood Girl Crushes: My 2012 Golden Globe Review

Is it seriously Monday again?! This last ten days since we arrived home from Florida have been a COMPLETE whirlwind for me! 

In typical Pam & B fashion, we spent most of our Sunday watching playoff football, and since the Ravens won, all was happy in our household last night in time for the Golden Globes. Thank God for Twitter, because I almost forgot they were even on TV last night!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be friends with some of your favorite celebs?! Am I the only one? There are a few ladies in Hollywood who I think I'd get along smashingly with, and would just love the opportunity to sit down with each of them. Each time there is another awards show, I love fawning over the gowns, the jewels, and of course, a few handsome Hollywood hunks.

Last night,  I wasn't paying too much attention to who won what, although I was thrilled for Modern Family and The Help, but I was paying the most attention to who sat with who, and who seemed fabulous and down-to-earth. And my conclusions helped me draw my 'Top 3' celeb girl crushes; in no particular order ...


Aren't they all just stunning and flawless?! Now, can someone give each of them my phone number so we can set up a lunch date, please?!

Happy Monday, lovelies! Who were your 'Best Dressed' last night?!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Florida Vacation Recap

We kicked off the New Year down in South Florida with my family. My parents have a vacation home in Palm Beach, and for the first time in the 4 years they've owned it, my entire family was able to make it down for this trip! We also had B, Riley and both of my sisters' boyfriends there, so it was a full house and tons of fun!

The above picture was taken before we headed out to a local beach bar to ring in the new year. It was the perfect way to do it, and since I'm not sure how many more child-less New Years' we'll have, it was nice to share the fun and champagne with my sisters!

The rest of the week consisted of yummy dinners, time at the pool and beach, daily happy hours, movie nights and, of course, a touch of shopping! One of my favorite parts of the trip was the morning we brought Riley to the beach. Fortunately, Florida beaches are dog-friendly, so we were able to take her up there and let her enjoy the sand and ocean!

Riley absolutely loves to run and swim! It must be the lab in her :o)

Our vacation was exactly what we needed: rest, relaxation, some sun and lots of love. Coming back home was tough, but I think we were all ready to get back into our normal routines. But, if I'm being totally honest? I do miss the flip flops :o)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It Snowed Last Night, So We Ate Soup. It Was Delish!

 *UPDATED with Nutrition Facts!*

I had a number of requests via Twitter and comments for the Nutrition Facets on this recipe, and you're in luck, because I just so happen to have them!

Creamy Tortellini Soup Nutrition Facts (love 'em or leave 'em :o))
**This recipe says it yields 4 servings, but I think it's more like 5-6, so the nutrition facts may be a bit skewed, in my opinion.
  • 450 Calories
  • 18 g fat
  • 7g saturated fat
  • 34mg cholesterol
  • 1710mg sodium (yikes?!)
  • 53g carbohydrates
  • 2g fiber
  • 22g protein
So, there you have it - this may not be the healthiest recipe in my book, but it sure is tasty on a cold, winter night!!
Good Morning, ladies! Thank you all (again) for your visits, comments and the love you showed for each of my fabulous guest bloggers last week. I enjoyed each of them so much, and had fun each day announcing who would make their way onto this little slice of the internet. 

So, yea, we were in Florida last week, and now we're home, unpacked, semi-organized and back to reality. I will post a vacation recap with a few photos later this week!

I am not sure if the weather near each of you was as chilly and dreary as it was here yesterday, but around here the winter weather came back, and we even had some snow! Luckily for me, I had already planned on making soup for dinner, but as we sat down to eat as the snow flurries fell outside, I was thrilled at how it worked out! And, because it was scrumptious, I wanted to share the recipe with all of you! I must also give credit where credit is due, and let you know that I got the recipe from one of my besties, and she is a wiz in the kitchen!

Creamy Tortellini Soup Recipe

1 1.8-ounce envelope white sauce mix (I had trouble finding simple 'white sauce,' so I bought the alfredo instead)
4 cups water
1 14-ounce can vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups sliced, fresh mushrooms (I use these if I have them in the fridge, if not, I leave them out)
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I don't use every time)
1 7-to-8-ounce package dried cheese tortellini (about 2 cups)
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
6 cups fresh baby spinach leaves or torn spinach
Ground black pepper
Finely shredded Parmesan cheese (to taste)
Place dry white sauce mix in crock pot. Gradually stir in water, stirring until smooth. Then, stir in broth, mushrooms, onion, garlic, basil, salt, oregano and cayenne pepper.  Cover and cook on low heat for 5-6 hours or on high for 2 1/2-3 hours.

 Stir in dried tortellini. Cover and cook for 1 hour on low, or about 45 minutes on high heat. Then, stir in evaporated milk and fresh spinach, If desired, sprinkle each serving with black pepper and Parmesan cheese. Makes about 4 servings.
I hope you're able to make this some time soon! We have had it a few times in our house, and it is becoming a favorite! There is just nothing quite like a warm, home-cooked bowl of soup!

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy Friday, Lovelies!! I hope you have been enjoying this week full of 'Fresh New Year' posts, because I sure have! A HUGE thank you to all five of these ladies for taking over my little slice of the internet while B and I have been on vacation with my family in Florida. I have gotten to know each of these ladies even better this week, and am so happy to have had the opportunity to do so!
Well, last but certainly not least this week, is the lovely Lena from over at LeeLee and B! Lena and I met recently via Twitter, and I am so happy to have found another friend via the internet! Please show her some love! I am also lucky enough to be hosting her very first guest post - woot! Thanks, Lena!
Hi, friends!  A big thank you to Our Love Nest for letting me guest post today!  This is my first guest posting, so I hope you’ll show me lots of love, as I definitely have nervous jitters!
Now, for introductions…My name is Lena, or LeeLee, as I’m known on my blog, Life with LeeLee and B (www.leeleeandb.blogspot.com).  I’m happily married to my sweetheart, B, and we live just south of Music City in Tennessee.  We have an almost 16 month old daughter named Annie Louise, who definitely keeps our lives busy!  I started blogging in 2007 and was religious about it for a year or so, and I made lots of “blog friends”.  Then life got crazy, and I would occasionally blog every once in a while.  Not anymore!  I’ve made it my goal to write more regularly and connect with more bloggers (especially women)! So, I hope you’ll pop over to my humble little blog and join in the fun!

Today, I’m writing about New Year’s Resolutions.  

Christmas has come and gone…the decorations are down, or are coming down, and we are all trying to get our homes back in order!  I love giving our house a good cleaning once all the decorations are put away – it’s so nice to start the year with a CLEAN slate, or house!

I am not crazy about “resolutions” – I like to make a list of PROJECTS.  Resolutions don’t sit well with me, and I always feel so defeated when another year closes, and that resolution is still staring me down. I’m an avid list-maker, so I come up with a list of projects – some simple, some not-so-simple.  Then, I do what I can to cross things off.

So, without further adieu, my 2012 PROJECTS

1, The theme for 2012 for our family is ORGANIZE.  Since I started working full-time in August, I have noticed that I crave organization.  My time is limited at home, and I do not want to spend it looking for something.  I spent a good 2 weeks prior to starting my new job getting most of my house organized.  However, my “everyday spots” (i.e. my closet, bathroom, car) have gotten out.of.control.  So, I have 3 days off at the beginning of this New Year, and I plan on using those days to go through all of my junk, streamline and get everything in order.  I think this is important for everyone – take those top 3 places where you spend a majority of your time and make them as close to perfect as possible.
                                                                                                                           image courtesy of Real Simple

2. Create a home organization binder.  I have seen these all over pinterest and etsy, and my organizing heart has been lusting after one for quite some time.  My hope is that we will have a go-to binder with all of our important stuff in it.  I am always looking for so-and-so’s address, trying to find a manual for a certain appliance and don’t even get me started on our bill/mail situation.   If done well, our binder will house all of these things in a pleasing manner…if you have one of these binders, please leave me your tips for the “must haves”!  


3. Cook more often and plan out our meals.  Now that we have another mouth to feed in our house, I have been making more of an effort to cook nice, healthy meals at home.  This is quite the task when you work 8 hours a day and travel nearly an hour each way to work!   Thus, the need for meal planning!  I find that when I plan out our meals for the week and have a plan, I am more likely to actually cook at home.  If I have no plan, or no groceries, then we are more likely to eat out…which isn’t good for our waistline or our budget!  I hope to use the handy-dandy home binder mentioned above to help me with meal planning, too!  Look at that…multi-tasking!

4. Take a photography/learn-your-camera class.  My hubby bought us the Canon Rebel digital camera this fall, and I was so excited to have such a nice camera.  But y’all, I have no clue how to use this thing.  I took a couple of photography classes in high school, but we used film.  I actually learned how to develop my own film and print from negatives.  Very cool process.  But I have no idea how to use my fancy-schmancy digital camera.  I know a lot of you will probably cringe at this thought, but I leave it on the automatic setting for all of my pictures.  I know that it’s capable of taking beautiful pictures; I just simply don’t know what to do.  So, I’m hoping to find a teach-me-to-use-my-camera class and get busy!  After all, I have a precious little subject that is just dying for me to take one more picture of her!

5. Take time for ME!  Yes, I’m going to be selfish this year.  Not really, I just want to try and time a little more time for myself.  Before our sweet Annie Louise came along, I had all sorts of hobbies.  I sewed adorable little outfits.  I read tons of books.  I watched all the new release movies.  Now, I don’t even have time to sew outfits for our own daughter.  I have all sorts of books collecting dust, just waiting to be read.  And some nights, I don’t even turn on our television.  Not that I’m complaining at all, I love being a mama and wife – I’m abundantly blessed.  It would be nice to make time to do things that I used to enjoy doing every once in a while!

So, there you have it…my projects for 2012!  What’s on your list this year?  I would love to hear your advice, tips, feedback, too!  And I hope you will stop by and keep up with our daily happenings (and make sure I’m staying on task) at Life with LeeLee and B!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Week of Fresh New Year Posts: Please Welcome Mommy Mandy!!

Today, I am excited to introduce you to Mandy from over at Mommy Musings!  Mandy is one of my favorite reads, and we've become fast friends via Twitter recently! I just love the resolutions that she put together to share with all of you today! Head on over and show her some love, will ya?! Thanks again, Mandy!

I am so very excited to be guest posting for the sweet Pam!!  Her blog is one of my absolute favorites to read. I love all her decorating, cooking, and newlywed stories!  Reminds me of my newlywed days.  And as two original Jersey girls we have a lot in common!  So I am just honored that she's letting me take up her space for the day!

So anyway, HI!!  My name is Mandy.

You can find me blogging semi-regularly over at Mommy Musings. 

I started blogging almost three years ago when I was a brand-spakin' new mom of a four month old girl.  I was a former teacher turned SAHM and really had no idea what I was doing.  Now I'm a seasoned not so new-mom of TWO little girls. 
Baby C is six months old
Little M just turned 3
I still don't really know what I'm doing, but I've resigned myself to the fact that I don't think it's going to change much.  I've been married to this former Marine, current cop for 6 1/2 years.

I'm constantly blogging, tweeting, and facebooking...and love nothing more than meeting new internet friends!  So that's pretty much sums me up!

So here we are in 2012.  I have to admit, I've never really been much of a New Year's girl.  I always wanted to be, but it always kind of turned into a let down.  So I've really tried to scale back to my expectations and that has seemed to help.

I'm kind of the same way about resolutions.  Sometimes I make them, sometimes I don't.  But this year I've decided to make some changes and January 1st seemed like the perfect time to start!  I'm hoping these goals are reasonably attainable and that I'll be able to keep up with them all year!

2012 Resolutions

1. Get back into pre-baby shape. I know, I know, how terrible cliche of me to put in an eat right, exercise more resolution first.  But now that I'm done being a baby-making machine it's time to reclaim my body! Armed with plenty of work-out DVD's and a gym membership, there is no excuse for me to not get my pre-baby abs back!  I am determined to rock a bikini in this last summer of my 20's!

2. Organize and de-clutter the house. This is such a "first world problem" but we have sooo much stuff in our house it's ridiculous.  The toys are just taking over everything!  And I really need to start to go through the baby clothes:(  I can't hold on to every single thing the girls have ever worn {or have, but never wore!}  Time to figure out what to keep for sentimental reason, what to hang on to for when my sisters have babies, and what to donate.

3. Take more pictures and videos. Real life seems to get in the way of me documenting things via my camera recently, and I definitely want to change that.  My girls will only be little for so long and I want to be able to look back and remember these times when they are teenagers and slamming their doors in my face.

4. Take more time with Skip. Life with two kids seems to be a little more overwhelming than I anticipated and alone time with Skip seems to have fallen by the wayside.  Our marriage is stronger than ever, but I want us to spend more time going on dates and just relaxing at home with a movie!

5. Be more in the moment. This is such a special time in my life right now.  I'm not working and able to stay home with my girls, neither of whom are in school yet.  I want to make sure to soak up each and every moment we all have together and not let myself get too stressed. 

6. Make sure those around me know how much I love them. As I have gotten older, my group of friends has gotten smaller, but tighter.  I've gotten rid of all the 'dead weight' in the friends department and I want to make sure to show my friends {and family!} how much they mean to me!

I'm pretty confident I can accomplish all of these.  What about you?  What are your new year's resolutions??

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Week of Fresh New Year Posts: Today, Lindsey Stops By!

Today's 'fresh new year' post is coming to you straight from Lindsey over at Love to the Moon and Back Again. Lindsey and I have become friends via Twitter and the blog world recently, and she is just the sweetest! I would be lying if I said her post didn't inspire me to sign myself up for a 5k this Spring! Head on over to her blog and show her some love, too!

When the lovely, Pam, asked me to guest post for the new year, I was so excited!! I guess I am more excited because this year I have really set forth many goals/resolutions for myself! Many thanks to Pam for having me, and many hopes that everyone's 2012 is off to a great start!

Hi there, I am Lindsey from this little blog, I am a SAHM to two toddler girls (almost 3 and 16 months) and wifey to my super hardworking husband, and I have some big goals planned for 2012...how about you?

Every year I usually say " I'm going to diet, I'm going to exercise more, I'm going to quit cursing (who am I kidding on that one!)" but this year I really want to set attainable goals for myself. The first of many is that come May, I want to be able to run a 5k! I know, I know- pretty insane goal right? And that is what I think too, but I've solicited help from twitter friends and the support of my in-real-life friends and family to try out the "couch to 5k" program. Now mind you, I'm not exactly a couch potato, I mean in the winter it is tough to get exercise in but I have my double jogger and in the nice weather, you will definitely find me outside quite often, but I thought this program would be fabulous to try out and see if I can build enough stamina to do it!
I informed the husband of this goal and he said that he would be thrilled to do it with me, so I am pumped to have a running buddy to do this with because I always find that exercise doesn't feel like a job so much if you're doing it with someone else.
I am hoping with enough prep for the 5k, that I will feel toned and "in shape" enough to do other things. I have a few obstacles standing in my way with autoimmune issues and my two lovely daughters who are always begging for my attention, but I am a fairly determined lady so I have high hopes!

Another one of my goals for 2012 is to stop stressing as much as I do-and most probably think-"Ok crazy lady, everyone has stress- deal with it!" But I've heard incredible things about yoga and its ability to relax the body enough so that stress doesn't manifest itself in other physical forms, so...I'm going to try it! Now..I really should have put a yoga mat on my Christmas list...that would have been a good one!

I really hope to gain more patience in the new year- I find myself having a short fuse with cleaning up, making meals and carting around two toddlers all day, but I love them and am so blessed to be their mother, that I need to focus more on that, rather than the extra work that is put in as a result of being a mom. I also want to gain more patience with my husband's long hours. While I am over the moon grateful to be a SAHM, I miss my darling husband when he is working 16 hour days. I am prepared to start having to say "no" to friends and family who want to get together with us on the weekends, in order to insure more family time, or heck- even a date night here and there!

Well, there you have it- my *hopefuls* for 2012...now if you'll excuse me while I start stationary biking :)

Happy 2012 Everyone!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Week of Fresh New Year Posts: Please Welcome The Duchess ... of Fork!

Happy Tuesday! Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to Molly from over at Duchess of Fork! Molly and I met recently via Twitter, and we hit it off right from the start! She is a new Mommy and the kind of at-home chef I aspire to be! Please make her feel welcome here today, and head on over to her blog, too!

Hey y’all! I’m Molly, the girl behind Duchess of Fork. I’m so excited to be Pamela’s guest today. I’m a teacher-turned-stay-at-home-mom to my precious 5 month old daughter, Julia. I love creating meals for my family and try to keep it as flavorful and healthy as I possibly can.

 If you’re anything like me, you probably had one too many slices of cheesecake during the last couple of weeks.  And if you’re anything like me, you probably enjoyed every last bite! ;)

Here are some of my favorite recipes that will get you off on the right foot in 2012.

                            2 cups uncooked whole wheat rotini or penne pasta
                            2 medium zucchini, cut into large, thin slices
                            1 medium yellow squash, cut into large, thin slices
                            1 1/2 cups fresh button mushrooms, quartered
                            1 tbsp. olive oil
                            pinch salt and pepper
                            1 (7 oz) jar diced pimentos, drained
                            1/4 cup Romano or Italian dressing
                            1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
·         Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then cook pasta according to package
instructions; drain.
·         Bring a grill or a grill pan up to medium heat. While grill heats up, toss zucchini, squash and mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill veggies until they get a nice char and are cooked through. Remove from heat and cut into bite-size pieces.
·         In a large bowl, toss pasta with grilled veggies and pimentos.
·         Stir in dressing and Parmesan cheese. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 8-10

                            1 bag of lentils (about 16 oz)
                            1/2 large onion, chopped
                            1 stalk celery, chopped
                            1 cup frozen corn kernels
                            1 package taco seasoning
                            5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided
                            1/2 cup salsa
                            4 cups cooked brown rice
                            salt and pepper to taste
·         Place lentils, onions, celery, corn, taco seasoning, 4 cups of broth and salsa into the bowl of a large slow cooker. Stir to combine ingredients.
·         Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.
·         After 6 hours, add in the remaining cup of broth, and adjust flavor with salt and pepper as needed.
·         Return cover and cook for another hour or two.
·         Serve over hot cooked brown rice and top with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, or other desired toppings.
Serves 6

        1 lb ground turkey
        1 tbsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
        1 ½ tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
·         Place ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix in Montreal seasoning and Worcestershire sauce until all ingredients are combined.
·         Portion the turkey mixture into 4 equal patties.
·         Heat a grill, grill pan or skillet over medium heat. Cook burgers for about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
·         Serve on wheat buns with your favorite toppings.
Serves 4

Recipe from Taste of Home

                            1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
                            1/2 cup canola oil
                            6 tbsp. vanilla soy milk (I used almond milk)
                            1/4 cup sugar
                            1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
                            2 tsp. vanilla extract
                            2 1/4 cups flour
                            1 tsp. baking soda
                            3/4 tsp. salt
                            1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
                            1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

·         In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, canola oil, soy or almond milk, sugar, applesauce and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, and then gradually add to sugar mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
·         Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
·         Drop dough by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on pan before moving to wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 3 dozen

Thanks so much to Pamela for having me on Our Love Nest today! I’ve enjoyed sharing some of my favorite recipes and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. Please come visit me any time at Duchess of Fork. In the mean time I’ll be sure to save you a bite. J