Thursday, June 30, 2011

Inspirational Women and Girls For A Change!!

The following is a post sponsored by Yahoo! Every time someone clicks here to make Yahoo! their homepage, they're showing their support for Girls For A Change.

I was selected for this opportunity by
Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Many of you may not know the nitty gritty details of where I came from, You know, because I only share certain things about my history here on the interwebs. Well, most of the time. What you may already know is that I grew up in North Jersey in a small town that I lovingly refer to as "Hometown, NJ." I was raised in what I would consider a pretty "normal" family (based on what I knew then!). I am the oldest of four children, hence my total type-A quirks glowing personality, and play the older sister role to two sisters, and a brother. There is only a two year gap between me and my next youngest sister, and then there are six years between her and our next sister. Tack on another two years, and you get my brother, the baby of the family.

While we were growing up, there were many times where it sort of felt like my closest-in-age sister and I were raised in a totally slightly different family than the two younger siblings. I could never put my finger on why I felt this way. We were all raised by the same parents and lived in the same house, but for some reason, they were able to sleep until ten minutes before school,  and wake up to a home-cooked breakfast, piping hot on the counter, prepared and served by our Mother. The same Mother that waved goodbye to me each morning from under the covers.

I have learned that most of the ground-breaking, road paving and lesson-learning is all done by the eldest child. This way, the younger kids have some sort of a "mold or "track record" to follow. I made my fair share of mistakes, but all along the way, I was paving the road for the rest of my siblings. Bringing a boy home first, getting caught drinking beer first, being the first victim to my Dad's "parallel parking lessons." But, the older I get, the more I realize that all of these things, the little things and the big, life-changing things, along with this incredible family that I was raised in, shaped me perfectly into the person I am today.

Something that most of you probably do know is that I got married last year. Another first for this, type-A, first-born. And trust me, it was a long road that brought me to where I am today, but I can look back at everything that I have been through and honestly say that I am proud of the "road map" that I set for my sisters. For my brother, too; at the very least, he will know exactly how to treat the ladies!

Some of the greatest compliments I have ever received have been over the last year. Through cards, party-planning and simple acts of kindness, my sisters have told me that I have "inspired" them, and that they hope to "grow up" to be just like me (or maybe a slightly better version). Words cannot truly express what their sentiments meant to me in the days leading up to my wedding, and what they still mean to me today as I try to use my new role as a wife to begin drawing another "road map" for them.

Is their pressure that comes with being the oldest? Sure. Does it totally stink sometimes? Like, when you realize that your parents made you wait until you were 18 to get a cell phone of your own, and your brother got one at 11? You bet. But, the best part? My job as an older sister sort of feels well done. And the even better than best (yea, I make phrases up from time to time, just go with it) part is that they are inspiring me all the time. It's amazing to see what strong, capable and successful women my sisters are turning into. One of them is living on her own in a new state, owns her own photography business and is a total fashion icon (in my world). The other is a newly twenty-one accounting major with a busy job and a killer singing voice! I may be a bit biased, but I think they're brag worthy!

As women, I think it's really important that we build each other up. Trust me, I am not the poster woman for making sure I tell my sisters how awesome they are nearly as much as I should, but I think that all of us have women in our lives that have inspired us to be better, and exemplified the kinds of women that we want to be. So, what can you do? I'm so glad you asked! Yahoo! is currently donating $10 to Girls For A Change (GFC) for each person who clicks here to make Yahoo! her homepage by July 1...up to an amazing $10,000! And, they're counting on people like us to help them find 1,000 people willing to make a change worth $10,000 toward this fantastic cause.

Want to know some more about Girls For A Change? Here's how they describe themselves: “Girls For A Change (GFC) is a national organization that empowers girls to create social change. We invite young women to design, lead, fund and implement social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods. GFC empowers girls for personal and social transformation. The program inspires girls to have the voice, ability and problem solving capacity to speak up, be decision makers, create visionary change and realize their full potential." How can you not be inspired by this organization? 

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and click here to get the donations started! And, while you're at it, try and tell one of the inspirational women in your life how special they are to you this weekend!

And, as always, thanks for supporting us in our little corner of the internet. We are off to the beach for the long weekend tonight, which is sure to bring fun stories, sun-kissed noses and more Riley pictures!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thirty~One Products and Wish List Wednesday!

Good afternoon, lovelies!! Things have been absolutely crazy around here this week, I can hardly believe it's already Wednesday afternoon!! A few things that are keeping us going this week:
  • We're headed to the beach for the long weekend TOMORROW! I can hardly wait to spend four full, straight days at the beach. Lord knows I have some serious reading to do and some sleep to catch up on!
  • We just set up a trip for two weekends from now to head to the beach with both sets of parents. I'm pretty excited to have everyone in one place. My parents came down to my in-laws beach house one weekend last summer as well, and we really enjoyed it, so maybe we'll try and make a tradition out of this?
  •  Those of you who follow me on Twitter may already have seen that I recently became a Thirty-One consultant! If you're not familiar with Thirty-One, you should definitely check them out here. One of the great things about being a consultant for Thirty-One is the fact that it gives women (especially Mom's) the opportunity to own their own business and do all of the work out of their homes! The items are unique, adorable and affordable. What more can you ask?!

    So, to kick things off, I am hosting an online event, and have just extended the event through tomorrow, Thursday June 30th! If you want to browse around or place an order, you can do so by clicking "The Store" link below or here.

    And, as an added bonus, receive this month's special with your order!! Get a Large Utility Tote for only $9 for every $31 you spend! Nine dollars?! That's a steal for one of Thirty-One's most popular items!!

    So, go ahead, browse around! And feel free to email me with any questions at ourlovenestblog (at) gmail (dot) com !!

    You can shop here: The Store

    Happy Wednesday!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You'll Never Go Back to Your Old Breakfast

Growing up in my house, as the oldest of four children, there never seemed to be enough of everyone's favorite foods. We were always fighting over who got the last helping of Rice 'A Roni or that third pancake. It was a wonder my parents could ever keep us all quiet happy when it came to meal time. But, there were a few things that were consistent crowd pleasers, one of them being the "special" way my parents made pancakes.

So, in lieu of our typical Tuesday recipe post around here, I thought I'd just share with you a creative twist from my family to yours.

Pancake Breakfast a la My Youth

There is really nothing special about the way we prepare the pancake batter, just your traditional Bisquik (or the Heart Healthy version) batter, made according to box instructions. Now, here's where you can change things up a bit.
  •  We cook each of our pancakes on a well-heated, non-stick griddle. Pour the batter onto griddle and spread into a thin layer. 
  • Allow the pancake to cook for about a minute on each side so that it reaches a golden color
  • Once the pancakes are cooked through, transfer to warm plate to keep the stack warm, or just prepare each on an as-needed basis
No for the "Magic." This is where it gets good. Instead of topping your pancakes with your traditional butter, syrup, chocolate chips. etc., go ahead and whip up a small batch of cinnamon sugar. It's pretty self-explanatory, but just take a small bowl of regular sugar, and mix in about a tablespoon or so of cinnamon (to your liking). 
  • Top your pancake with a light, buttery spread (if you'd like) and a thin layer of the cinnamon sugar
  • Finally, if you really want to get the full flavor of my favorite childhood breakfast, roll your pancake up  and slice into small, rolled slices (see picture below)
image via
 Trust me, this may be a bit of an indulgence for a Saturday morning, but it is well worth saving the calories for!! This was a tradition in my Mom's family, passed onto us and I plan on passing it on to my own family as well!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Talk About A Flashback!!

I love pictures. I love photography. One of my very best friends, and one of my sisters are both professional wedding photographers. Are you looking for one? If so, visit Amanda and Melissa's websites. Go on, check them out!!

I digress. Back in college, and even high school, I was always "that girl." Carried my camera everywhere, and was constantly asking my friends to pose for what would be the 305th time we took close to the same picture of the five of us. You get my drift, right? It wasn't until our senior year in college when one of my guy friends commented that "he wouldn't have memories of college to look back on without my documentation of the last four years." Wow. I will never forget how delighted I was to hear a compliment after the many complaints I had received when I pulled out my camera.

Sometimes, if work is slow or we're not busy on the weekend, I'll look back through my old Facebook photos for a good laugh, and let me just say, boy am I glad I documented all of those years! Mainly, because I get a kick out of seeing how much the styles have changed. My hair? Only changed a few times. My clothes? Changed all. the. time. I was all over the map. I still am, I guess, but I like to think my style is now moving towards "accomplished young professional." Ha. 

I can only imagine that our future children will think we looked as silly as I always thought my parents looked in their photos from their "glory days."So, enjoy these next few blasts from the past. Mockery welcomed.

The "it's Senior Week and there's a 90's beach party tonight, obviously!" look. This is undoubtedly one of my college favorites. Don't you love our off-the-shoulder Goodwill sweatshirts?!

The "we love lazy college Saturdays and block parties" look. With a Red Sox hat. That I still have and never wear. I mainly bought the hat because it was Irish green and rocked a shamrock. Sorry, Sox fans!

What would college be without a few formals? And a few shiny dresses?!

Senior year was full of fun and finding new reasons for parties. This one? "Take me back to Spring Break '06," appropriately paired with sunglasses and leis.

Apparently, we loved wearing our sunglasses "at night" and indoors? Please excuse my "kissy" face - it was a college staple.
Looking back through these old photos definitely makes me laugh, but it also reminds me how far I've come, how great those years were, and how tightly I hold on to the memories. 

I hope you enjoyed my public humiliation. Who's next?!

Happy weekend, lovelies!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why the Bachelorette Drives Me To Shop

image via

I know what you might be thinking: "is this girl seriously watching the new season of the Bachelorette starring Ashley?" And your answer is yes, yes I am. I thought I'd be ashamed to admit it, seeing as Ashley was the famously unpopular cast off from Brad's season last year as a result of her overly-bubbly personality and whiny voice. But, the truth? I am enjoying this season way more than I expected to. Sure, I am completely sick of hearing the name Bentley, but I do feel sorry for the girl, he made her look like a complete fool. "Sure, things could have been different if the Bachelorette was Emily." What a guy.

As much as I love to over indulge in the drama of reality TV, and subject poor B to countless hours of drama-filled Bachelor and Bachelorette seasons, I realized that one of the things that keeps me coming back for more (besides the glorious amounts of eye candy on the Bachelorette, can we say Mickey?), is the fashion. 

I will be the first to admit it, I'm a total clothes horse. Though I don't always pay top dollar for my threads, I can shop with the best of 'em, and have no trouble emptying and refilling my closet every season year. OK, so maybe I have a tiny problem with the emptying part.

Although I may not always be ahead of the "fashion" times, I like to consider myself to be pretty stylish, and open to trying new things. I love coming up with new ideas, and am the queen of purchasing a new outfit for most of our regular big events. I've gotten ideas from TV, from my sister (a fashion diva), from pictures I see on Facebook, and from the many seasons of the Bachelorette that I've watched. Like last year, on Ali's season? I was constantly stalking around Google searching for the many beautiful dresses she wore. Too bad most of them came with a $300+ price tag.

This season has proved to be no different as far as driving me to shop. It turns out that Ashley and I have some similar tastes in clothing. And, ever since I saw her adorable sequin tank, white blazer outfit? I was hooked. 

image via -  - I'm sorry for the poor quality photo, it just doesn't do the outfit much justice!!

I am now on a wild goose chase for a similar blazer. Tips welcome, just don't tell B!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

So What Wednesday?!

Today, we're linking up with Shannon over at Life After I Dew for "So What Wednesday?" Can I just say that I love, love, love this idea! There is something freeing about admitting all of those little things that you do or say that only you think are half normal. So, here goes nothing!

SO WHAT if ...
  •  I could and would eat pasta three meals a day, every day. Hence my new motivation for working out again.
  • I cannot leave my kitchen a mess when I leave for work in the morning. This fact has made me late to work on many several occasions, and I don't even feel bad about it.
  • I let our puppy lick my newly cleaned and lotioned after-shower legs? We are supposed to be training her not to lick. Any tips?
  • My ideal schedule would include sleeping until 8, having a leisurely morning filled with a workout and time to eat breakfast (with coffee), and heading into work around 10:30. Is that so wrong?!
  • I am the queen of DVR. I am not satisfied unless my DVR is choc-full of quality programming for me to watch. And? I never have time to catch up on it!

Do you have any "So What's" to get off of your chest this week?
If so, head over and link up with Shannon! Go on, you know you wanna!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

To Facebook We Go ...

Can't believe a weekend has come and gone so quickly again. We had a wonderful whirlwind of a weekend, and we were back to our regularly scheduled "hustle and bustle" first thing this morning. 

Since it's a brand new week, I wanted to share our brand, spanking new Facebook page with all of you!!!

If you feel like stopping by our new page and giving us a "Like," we'd super, duper love you!!

What did all of you do this weekend? I hope it was a great one!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Surgeries, Transmissions & Drop Dead Diva

Happy Friday, lovelies!! This week has been non-stop busy for us. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know that our sweet little pup had her surgery on Wednesday afternoon. Nothing crazy, it was just her time to get spayed. Since then, we've been home spoiling her, and trying to keep up with the demands of every day life at the same time. Overall, she is recovering well, but we hated leaving her to go back to work this morning!

In unrelated news, we had to drop my car back off at the transmission place to have them check it out. It hasn't been acting like itself since we had the new transmission installed, and has been making me nervous during my commute each day for the past few weeks. But, of course, two days before we're scheduled to drop it off, everything seems to be running fine. And now? They've had may car since Wednesday evening, have driven it a few times, and don't see anything wrong with it. So, we're picking it up this afternoon, problem hopefully resolved. Having one car for the last few days came with the added bonus of having to be up and out of the house extra early today to catch a ride to work with B. There's nothing like bumming a 7AM ride to work from your husband, and then arriving at a close to silent office. Maybe I could get used to this? And we could save some serious money on gas!

What's on tap for this weekend? We're catching up with good friends tonight. Wine, bonfire, heaven. Major cleaning at our rental property tomorrow and our nephew's baptism on Sunday! I also have about ten episodes of Pretty Little Liars hanging out on my DVR waiting for me. Because that's just what I need, another show to get into. Sure, why not? And, for those of you who care didn't know, one of my summer favorites starts up again on Sunday night. If you know me at all, you know that I'm a sucker for pretty much anything on Lifetime or Bravo. And Sunday, these ladies are back to fill my now somewhat TV-free Sunday evenings. If you're not already watching Drop Dead Diva, start right away! Think sassy, sweet, fun, and pretty clothes. That about sums it up. As far as the plot, you can check that out for yourself here.

image via

Now, please excuse me while I go find a beer to drink to help pass the rest of my time before the weekend "officially" starts. Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Surgery & Date Night Wednesday

Today is the day. We got up bright and early to spend a little extra time loving on our little one before her surgery. I don't think it really hit me that she was having major abdominal surgery until I was in the room with the surgery tech talking "surgery details" while Riley scurried around meeting new people and listening to all of the noises outside our little "patient" room.

Since this is my first time as a real "puppy Momma," there are things I worry about, and things I try not to take too seriously. You know, like shredded dog beds and forts made out of couch cushions. I scheduled her appointment weeks ago, just going through the motions of getting her through all of the routine checkups, vaccinations and growing pains of puppyhood. Once it was on our calendar I just moved on.

Now I'm at work and she's probably halfway through the procedure. I'm sure it's normal, but I felt awful leaving her. I'm not even sure she really noticed me say goodbye, to be honest. She was too busy meeting all of the nice people that were waiting to sedate her. Ha. We'll pick her up tomorrow morning and spend most of the day hanging with her and trying to keep her clam and quiet. Right.

So, tonight? I'm going to enjoy a quiet evening at home with just B. For the first time in months. I'm sure it will be an evening full of mixed emotions of missing Riley (for Daddy, too!), hoping she's sleeping OK in an unfamiliar place, and happiness that we get an uninterrupted night together. I guess this is good preparation for the roller coaster of emotions I'll experience once we have kids.

Will you do me a favor and say a quick prayer for our little furball tonight?!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An Adorable Shower Idea & Of Course, A Recipe!

My Mom, sister (MOH) and bridesmaids threw me a beautiful bridal shower last year near Hometown, NJ at none other than The Brownstone. Yes, that Brownstone (in case you were wondering). They thought of everything. I had already been to my fair share of bridal showers, but they surprised me with all of the little touches they added to make it a special day for me. 

One of the things that they asked each guest to do was to bring a recipe with them to the shower. They sent out recipe (or index) cards with each invitation, and included a note asking each guest to bring along a favorite recipe to add to the new "M" family kitchen! 

I received a ton of great, new recipes this way, some of which I have already shared here with you over the last several months. But, there are still more to come! Our schedule has been so crazy these days that I haven't had as much time as I'd like to get back into my kitchen and try some new things! But, when I do? This next recipe will be one of the first things I am trying! 

A sweet friend of mine (who also happens to be one of the most talented and creative people I know), not only came up to NJ from Virginia for the day, but brought along a wonderful, handmade recipe card for my collection. 

Is this not the sweetest thing you've ever seen? How talented is she?!

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips Recipe

Fruit Salsa
2 kiwis, peeled and diced
2 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced
8 ounces raspberries
1 pound strawberries
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
3 Tablespoons fruit preserves (any flavor)

Cinnamon Chips
10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
Butter flavored cooking spray
2 cups cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix together kiwi, apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill at least 15 minutes.

Coat one side of each flour tortilla with cooking spray. Cut tortillas into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with desired amount of cinnamon sugar, then spray again. Bake coated tortillas in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges.

Allow wedges to cool for 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.

Seriously, how simple and adorable is that?! I might be making an extra trip to the store for these ingredients soon. Err, maybe I'll ask B to go for me, since we all know how well I react to grocery stores!

ENJOY!! :o)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Do I Harbor "Rage?" The "How Slow Can You Be" Post

Rage is sort of a scary word, in my humble opinion. But, when linked with  the word "road," it becomes less threatening. What about when it's paired with grocery stores and parking lots? Am I the only one who gets testy when I find myself in one of these situations? 

You know the scene. You're rushing into the grocery store to grab some fresh flowers and fresh veggies to spruce up the house and get dinner going before your hubby comes home after being away all weekend, and you get caught behind every slow person in your county?

This was exactly what happened to me yesterday afternoon. I will admit it, I had spent a good portion of the day lazying around and getting some cleaning done (read: getting my DVR up-to-date), and it was 3PM before I knew it. A quick trip to the grocery store was warranted, you know, so we'd have something to eat for dinner that night other than pasta. I drove the 1.5 miles from our place to the nearest local grocer, grabbed my "mini" shopping cart, and took off, determined for this to be an easy 5-7 minute stop. Right.

Now, before you go telling me that I'm crazy for thinking I could be in and out of the grocery store in 5 minutes on a Sunday, keep in mind that I'm quick and can be sneaky in the aisles. You know, sort of like a slow motion car chase scene out of a movie? 

So, I grab my flowers, a bundle of asparagus and the items I need to whip up two batches of my famous penne vodka for this sweet little guy's baptism this weekend, and head for the nearest empty self-checkout line. En route to the self-check, I encounter not one, but two women standing idly in the middle of aisles (albeit blocking my soon-to-be-empty self-check) texting on their cell phones. I would cut them some slack if they had with them say, children? A grocery list? A cart or basket for said groceries? But no, they're just standing there to ... annoy me text their friends about what the scene at Giant looks like today? So, I politely ask them to excuse me (while muttering something frustrated sounding under my breath) and make my way towards the checkout.

Have any of you used self-check? Normally, I love it. It's basically the only way I grocery shop anymore, but it can have it drawbacks. Like when the conveyor belt gets too clogged up, or when it decides to stop working completely and tells me to "find the nearest customer service representative for help." Some days? They have friendly staff members waiting around the self-check area to help you bag your groceries. Awesome. Other days, like yesterday? No one in sight. So, I leave my full conveyor belt to find someone to "unclog" it. It takes a few minutes to find a body that is both willing and able to help me out, so you can believe that I got out of there as quickly as possible to avoid causing some sort of scene. 

The moral of the story? I should never just "drop in" to the local grocer on a Sunday afternoon for any reason. And, maybe I should consider starting a support group for fellow "grocery store ragers" like me. 

Who's with me?!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wedding Snapshots: Bridesmaids

It's been a few weeks since I posted a wedding snapshot, and I've been wanting to share some details about the bridesmaids dresses!

I was in a few weddings before I started planning my own, and had worn a bunch of different styles and colors for the bridesmaids dresses. I got to wear some beautiful dresses, including a handmade two-piece Indian outfit for a traditional Indian wedding for a close friend. Once I started looking for what my girls would wear, I felt like I wanted to do something a bit different. Perhaps something short and versatile? I know every bride always claims to want their bridesmaids to "be able to wear the dress again," (Hello, 27 Dresses!), but I felt the exact same way. 

So, off we went on the hunt for the perfect bridesmaid dress. I had eight bridesmaids. One of my sisters was my maid of honor (lovingly referred to as "MOH"), and has great taste, so she was an integral part of the selection process.

Once I laid eyes on the dress, I knew it was the one. The best part? There were two versions, the exact same color, each with its own detailed embellishment so that my MOH could wear something a bit different from the other girls. We selected dress A15 from the Love by Enzoani 2009 Collection for the bridesmaids, and dress A18 for my MOH. We chose this plum purple after a bunch of searching, but I think it was perfect for fall, and the color really popped in pictures!

Don't you just love the detail on the embellishment? The bracelet pictured below was one of the gifts I gave to each of my girls. I fell in love with the bracelets immediately, and was very disappointed that I didn't order one for myself! (Bracelets from Spring 2010 New York & Company accessory collection) 

Who is this pretty lady, you ask? Well, none other than my beautiful SIL, AP over at ILYMTC!!
My sister's (MOH) dress was a bit different, with more embellishment around the entire waistline. The dress started out as a floor length gown, but she had it altered to be knee-length like the other girls. I think it turned out to be gorgeous!!

Each of the girls carried a small "wristlet" style bouquet of white calla lilies, and the MOH bouquet was accented with two of the midnight callas from my bouquet.

Overall, every detail came together beautifully, and made for some stunning pictures. 

Seriously? Have you ever seen a more beautiful group of girls? Each one of these girls means so much to me, and it made our wedding day even more special to have each of them by my side to share in it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Comfort Food Recipe

I have always been a comfort food lover. I love the aromas of a home-cooked meal or freshly baked cookies as they waft from my kitchen. This is probably one of the things I love most about the holidays as well. The smells of a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, or the filet mignon meal my Mom cooks every Christmas always bring back wonderful memories as they reach my nose.

I will admit it though. My all time favorite comfort food is macaroni and cheese. I know, how old am I? But, it's the truth. You may even catch me prepping a box of Kraft mac-n-cheese for myself here and there. Shame. So, when one of my besties passed on this new recipe for a slightly healthier homemade macaroni and cheese casserole, I knew I had to give it a try. 

Baked Macaroni & Cheese Recipe 

Image via
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup flour
2-2 1/2 cups milk
Shredded cheddar cheese (1 bag or shredded block)
Spices: oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, seasoned salt, pepper)
Dijon mustard (about a teaspoon)
1 box of pasta (your choice)
Plain bread crumbs

Begin by melting butter in pot. Combine flour and melt/stir the butter until it becomes fluffy. Slowly whisk in milk and stir until mixture begins to thicken. Turn up heat and add your choice of the spices listed above (to your taste). Add squirt of dijon mustard. Stir well.

Begin adding handfuls of shredded cheese and stir as they melt. Reduce heat and stir until cheese sauce forms. 

Boil & prepare pasta.

Mix drained pasta with cheese sauce until the pasta is fully coated. Add mixture to casserole dish and sprinkle with more cheese and bread crumbs for topping. 

Bake 15-20 minutes at 350. 

I think you'll find that the combination of paprika, cayenne pepper and dijon mustard really set this recipe apart from your normal macaroni and cheese dish. I have already made this for new friends, cookouts and side dishes at home, and it's become a favorite of ours!


Monday, June 6, 2011

On "Real Housewives" and Reality TV

I'm sure you all know who I'm talking about when I reference "Real Housewives." Whether they're from NJ, OC, NYC, or are of the Army or Desperate nature, I am an avid viewer of every one. This got me thinking about how different the TV that I watch these days is from what I watched back in high school or college. Back in my "glory days." Sigh.

On an average day, our DVR is filled with the likes of the Sister Wives, The Real Housewives of NJ and The Secret Life of the American Teenager; throw in a little Bachelorette and call that my perfect Friday night! As much as I love how many shows there are that depict strong, independent, family-oriented women, I can't help but wonder if the trend is causing me to shift the spotlight onto my own life. If these women can "have it all," why can't I? 

How young is too young to get married? To start a family? Is my biological clock really ticking away now that I'm a "late twenty-something?" How many days per week should I be working out to keep my beach body womanly shape in check? Is my dream of being a stay-at-home-Mommy a thing of the past?

Don't get me wrong, I love my life, and this journey we're on as "newlyweds." I try to remember to tell my husband all the time how lucky I am to have him as my husband, and how happy he makes me. Maybe I'm just lost in the fairytale of what I always thought "growing up and getting married" would be like. Or, maybe it's all the babies being born lately that have "baby fever" too close for comfort in our house? Thank goodness for all of the lovely ladies I follow on Twitter for keeping me grounded most of the time.

I'm destined to find my place between the "Real Housewives" and the "Real Mommies" that I admire so much. Some day. And to stop comparing myself to these "real life" and "made for TV" Mom's. Until then, keep up the good work, Mommies, and keep the regularly scheduled housewives programming coming!!

Or maybe I should just start watching baseball to take my mind off of all this?!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Finally Friday and the Recipe!!

Phew, another busy week! Despite it being a four-day work week, it didn't really feel shorter than normal. I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! We had a great, long weekend. My parents were in town for two nights, we attended three BBQ's and got to catch up with lots of good friends. The best part? It actually felt like a long weekend for a change!

Well, I promised that french toast recipe this week, and I am going to deliver! I actually ended up making it twice last weekend. That's how yummy it was! It is also super easy, and a perfect Sunday morning treat (fattening and all; we can all splurge here and there, right?)

Super-Easy, Scrumptious French Toast

1 loaf of soft, white bread (4-12 slices depending on number of servings desired. I used white instead of challah because it was all I could find that day)
3-4 eggs (I used half eggs, half egg whites)
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Extras (optional)
Powdered Sugar
Fresh Strawberries

Begin by spraying a large frying pan with olive or canola oil to coat, and turning to medium heat to warm throughout. Beat eggs in shallow, round baking dish. Whisk in milk, vanilla and cinnamon until well blended.

Place one slice of bread into mixture, soak lightly and turn over to soak both sides. Let the excess run off and place into heated pan. Brown on both sides, about 2 minutes each. Repeat for all slices to meet your serving quantity (I made about 4 slices).

Cut each bread slice in half, corner to corner and serve hot! 

I served ours on B's birthday with fresh strawberries and light syrup and it was an instant hit in our house! Didn't I mention that homemade food was the way to my man's heart?!

(Note: I took pictures of the spread and will add them shortly!)