Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Hello! I hope everyone had a great holiday! I know we did. The month of December seemed to fly by. Probably because I was busy getting ready to host our first official Christmas Party in our new home. We moved in last year 2 weeks before Christmas! I did manage to get some decorating up before hosting my entire family. So, back to this year. This party was for my Hubby's co-workers and a few neighbors. It was a small group but of course I planned like there were 50 people coming over, lol. That's just my nature, go all-out! The house has to be perfect, the food has to be just right and a lot of it. I actually scaled down the food this year but boy did we put the food away! For Christmas this year we decided we'd head back to Florida to stay with my Parents and visit with family. We hadn't been back since we moved which was about 1 1/2 years ago! Again, time flies. We flew, which was great because it's a nice, short flight and because Hubby didn't have a ton of time off. The weather was great (actually too hot for my liking this time of year) and of course we had great food and good times with the family at different get-togethers, etc. No real plans for New Years. We don't really like going out because of all the crazies. We might end up out for dinner or just making it at home. I thought I'd share some of the various pictures from the entire month. There are more with Hubby and the Parents but didn't want to impose on their privacy. :)
Thank you so much to everyone that watches my Videos and follows my Blog and Twitter! Cheers to a great 2012!
The sports tree ~ UF and WVU
The 9' main tree aka "the monstrosity"
Place settings and decor
The Dining Room
Hillshire Farms Buttermilk Oyster Crackers ~ I got the easy recipe on Pinterest
(I always put nuts or small crackers in martini glasses to look more festive)
Dessert station ~ Christmas Cookies are my weekness *yum*
(cracker toffee, iced gingerbread, iced sugar)
The make shift bar as you walk in the front door. I was going to make a beautiful cranberry-champagne punch but ran out of time.
Keeping the outfit simple and comfy for our Christmas Party

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Review/Thoughts: Sigma Dry n Shape

Ok, let me first start off by saying this. If you would have told me I would be purchasing something to dry my makeup brushes I would laugh. After all, I've been cleaning them the same way for about 15 years. I've seen tons of reviews and posts about this product. I didn't even pay much attention to them to be quite honest. However, one day I paid closer attention than normal. It occurred to me that not only will this help speed up drying time for brushes but it will help keep the shape! Ding ding! That's what I wanted! Some of my brushes are getting old. I bought a Crown Brush set many years ago. I still use them and love them but they are starting to get frayed when I wash them. In comes the Dry n Shape by Sigma. Not only did it dry my brushes within a few hours, it kept their shape. Amazing! I'm the biggest skeptic out there folks and I'm sold. I have to say that the only trouble I found was with the small kabuki brushes. They are a wider brush anyway and with such a small handle were a bit hard to get into the holders and stay there. Other than that, I would highly recommend this to anyone. xo~C

 
picture c/o Sigma

Friday, December 09, 2011

Swatches: NYX Butt "Naked" Palette

Hi everyone. Here are the photos and swatches from my small review/first impression video about the new NYX Butt "Naked" Palette. If you did not see my video, please watch it as well since you will get a better idea of my thoughts. Please keep in mind that by no means am I saying this palette is on the same level as any other nude palette. However, if you like NYX products, you will like this one. It's available at Ulta for $19.99. The original price is $24. The palette has 15 eye shadows, four blushes, two highlighters and one bronzer. Top Row: Most of these do not show up on my skintone because they are mostly highlight/browbone shades. Middle Row: Again, pinks & lighter shades do not show on my skintone as well as the darker ones. Bottom Row: These are not the best swatches after already swatching two other rows. I think my arm may have been slightly damp but this gives you an idea. Bronzer & Highlight Blushes

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Italian Style Meatloaf

Hello everyone!  I've got a great recipe for you! Confession - I'm not real crazy about meatloaf but my Husband loves it.  This Italian Style Meatloaf recipe changed my mind though! Basically, if you like meatballs, you'll like this!

We serve ours with mashed potatoes and green beans. Still keeping it somewhat traditional. I always make this on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Cleaning is just easier that way. Also, I just make one big rectangle about an inch - inch and a half high. You can make two smaller ones if you'd like. Just adjust baking time if need be.

Italian Style Meatloaf

Italian Style Meatloaf


Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper, seeded, diced (I use orange or red)
1/2 onion, diced
2 teaspoons (about 3 cloves) minced garlic
2 pounds ground meat (I mix 1 lb each turkey and lean ground beef)
2 eggs
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried (you can also use dried Oregano)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup marinara sauce, divided

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add the peppers, onions and garlic. Saute until just soft, remove to a plate and let cool.

In the meantime, combine all of the ingredients except for 1/2 of the marinara sauce. Add the pepper mixture once cooled and mix until just combined.

Pack the meatloaf onto a large parchment covered cookie sheet, approximately 1-1 1/2 inch thick. You could also use an oiled loaf pan if you'd like. Top with the remaining marinara making sure to spread evenly over the top.

Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Old Fashioned Classic Pumpkin Bread

 For as long as I can remember, my Parents have made Pumpkin Bread for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm not sure where this recipe came from (my parents do, I'm sure) but it's been in our family for over 30 years. I love anything Pumpkin ~ Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Coffee Creamer, Pumpkin Latte, you get the point. So, if you're a lover of Pumpkin like I am, you'll really enjoy this one!

Old Fashioned Classic Pumpkin Bread


Old Fashioned Classic Pumpkin Bread

Now keep in mind, this makes 3 loaves of bread. We usually give one or two away and keep one for ourselves. This year, I'll be sending one with my Husband to his office.  I'll often have a piece for breakfast as well. :)

Ingredients:
3 2qt loaf pans
 2/3 cup shortening
2 2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
2/3 cup water
 3 1/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs, pumpkin and water.

 Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the pumpkin mix. Stir in raisins and or nuts if desired. Pour into 3 2qt greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Toothpick will come clean when done.

 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Menu

Hi everyone! We just purchased our Turkey last night so I thought I might let you know what and how we'll be serving Thanksgiving at our home this year. A little background first. For about 10 years now, my husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We moved into our new home (in Florida) around that time and I was anxious to start a new tradition. Usually it would just be the four of us, me, hubby and my parents. Occasionally the in-laws would come to town, but usually just the four.

This year will be our first in our new home in our new state (we moved in last Christmas). I have to say that over the years I feel (and have been told) that I've become pretty darn good at Thanksgiving dinner and preparing the most beautiful turkey. I know to some, cooking Thanksgiving dinner sounds more like a nightmare than enjoyment. It's really not that hard. I'm going to share with you are basic menu. I would love to hear what your traditions are for Thanksgiving. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

The Turkey: I saw a picture of the most beautiful turkey in a Williams-Sonoma catalog years ago. I looked up the recipe. It was brined and had an herb butter. I skipped the brining but have done the herb butter for years now and couldn't imagine it any other way. It makes it so tasty and beautiful!

Herb Butter: 
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Directions:
Mix all together with butter and spread over turkey prior to roasting.

These aren't your ordinary mashed potatoes. Nope, they are Brie Mashed Potatoes! I found the recipe in a Betty Crocker Thanksgiving book years ago and made them that year. They were such a hit! They have just enough flavor to not be plain but still traditional enough for those that love mashed potatoes like me.

Stuffing: This is by far my favorite part of the meal. I use the Pepperidge Farm bag variety and use the recipe right off the back of the bag. They are great!

Green Bean Casserole: I have to admit that this year will be my first time making this. We typically just make a country style green bean with onion and bacon added for flavor. Earlier this year I had Green Bean Casserole for the first time in years and fell in love and became somewhat obsessed with it's creamy goodness.


Candied Sweet Potatoes: I admit, I don't care for these at all. But, my parents like them as do my in-laws who will be joining us this year. They're pretty basic really. Just one large can of yams or sweet potatoes (whichever the brand says), brown sugar, butter, cinnamon. That's it. Just pour all of it into a casserole dish and bake.

As for the rest of our menu, we'll have some sort of Hot Rolls, Pumpkin Pie, you can get the recipe for that here.  And of course Cranberry Sauce. Now, if you are a child of the 70's as I am or even the 60's like my hubby, then you had one kind of cranberry sauce. Period. The jellied kind that came out of the can looking just like the can. Because that's a tradition we grew up with, we've kept it that way ever since. We have a few laughs about it each year but never do we stray or get fancy with the cranberry sauce. :)

We also have what has over the years been affectionately called "The Thanksgiving Wine". Again, years ago I subscribed to Wine Lovers magazine or one of those types. It was a Thanksgiving article that caught my attention ~ What wine to pair with turkey? Ever since reading that article, pairing the right wine for this meal has been easy. Georges Dubceuf Beaujolais-Villages. Now, I can't remember if this was the exact wine, it very well could have been. But, the important thing is the kind of wine, a Beaujolais. I've often heard over the years that this is the perfect wine for Thanksgiving because it goes so well with the turkey and the richness of the side dishes. You can find this particular one in about every grocery store or wine store for around $10, which is even better. It's a great "starter" red wine in my opinion as well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: Redken Velvet Gelatine

I bought this product on a whim several weeks back. I do go to a Redken Salon but picked it up at Ulta one day while browsing the hair products. If you read my review on the Phyto Relaxing Balm, then you aren't surprised by yet another hair styling product. I love this stuff! You know when you really love a product but you can't fully explain why? Well, that's how I feel about this. If you don't already know, I try to let my hair air-dry as often as possible. I have fine, slightly wavy/frizzy hair. It's also color treated. The Claims: Reinvent blow-dries with body and bounce. Light, airy gel melts into hair for a cushioned finish with natural looking shine. Now, you may be thinking a gel could only be crunchy and hard. Not this stuff. It really does what it claims. My hair feels soft and has bounce after drying. I feel I can style with my hands after it's dried and I get just enough volume w/out it feeling weighed down with product. It takes away most of the frizz as well. The only con for me (if you can call it that) is the smell. It has a men's colone smell that sometimes really bothers my already sensitive allergies. Some may really like that though. It truly is my go-to product right now and as far as I can tell, I'll be re-purchasing in the future. xo~C

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Poncho

I bought this poncho a month or so ago and this is the first time I've been able to wear it. I love it! It's so comfy and soft but yet kept me warm. Almost too warm while out to dinner. I'm glad the poncho is such a style staple this fall/winter because I intend to get a lot of use out of mine. xo~C Poncho: Kohl's Boots: Bandalino ~ DSW Jeggings: old T-shirt: Target Watch: Fossil Wrap Bracelet: I made Sunglasses: Jessica Simpson Nails: Mistletoe by Revlon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Makeup Storage

Hi everyone! These are the pictures from my updated makeup storage/collection video. Here is the link to the video. http://t.co/4KzoQWsn
I thought some may want to see the Muji drawers or vanity up close.
Vanity: KMart Online Bench: Bed, Bath & Beyond Mirror: Cosco Muji Storage: http://www.muji.us.com

Monday, November 07, 2011

White Bean Chicken Chili

I've had this White Bean Chicken Chili recipe for years and tweaked it several times along the way. I think it's finally the way we like it.

Since getting a new crockpot, I wanted to break it in with this one. There were only a few differences from making it on the stove that I want to mention. I do think it's a tad thicker when making it on the stove. Although my Husband likes to put lots of cornbread in his so he doesn't mind it being more thinned out. I do like the chicken shredded better (crockpot version). And overall, it was much easier this way. I hate to cook chicken on the stove. Both versions are listed, use whichever you like. Enjoy!

White Bean Chicken Chili


Ingredients:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2-3 breasts)
1 can navy beans
2 cans great northern beans – drained
2 14oz cans chicken stock (I use low sodium)
2 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 cup diced onion
1 small can diced green chilies
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch red pepper flakes

Crockpot Directions:
Add all the ingredients to the crockpot. No need to separate the beans, just add them. I do still drain the great northern beans. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours. With two forks, shred the chicken into the mixture and that's it. Super easy!

Stove-Top Directions:
Sauté chicken breasts in pan with a little olive oil. I sauté them whole and cut them into pieces after cooked. I think it makes the chicken more tender this way. Or you can bake them.

In a stock pot, heat butter over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and chilies and sauté for 5 minutes. Add flour and cook additional 1 minute. Add chopped cooked chicken to pot. Add all beans but ½ can of great northern beans. (I don’t drain the navy beans but do drain the great northern) Add the chicken stock, cumin, oregano, pepper, salt, red pepper flakes.

In a food processor, puree the left over ½ can of beans. (you can add some stock to it for easier pureeing) Add to the mix as a thickener. Cook on medium high heat until bubbly. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Serve with cornbread, if desired. I also add a dollop of low-fat sour cream and sometimes hot sauce.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Meet Pippa

Several weeks back, Michele1218 posted an outfit of the day where she showed a new bag called "Pippa". (It's popular because Kate Middleton's sister Pippa has been seen around London carrying this bag in about every color they make.) I knew right away I wanted this bag. Not only is there a waiting list for most colors (which always makes me want something), it's a very "me" bag being that it's structured. I love a good bag as much as the next person however, if you've been following me you know I've bought many bags lately and returned them ALL! I just couldn't find one I liked until now. This bag has so many zippered compartments. It's an OCD-organizational lovers dream. I'm even smiling as I type this. :)xo~C

Bag: Modalu "Pippa" in Toffee Jean Jacket: Target (old) Sweater: NY&Co (last season) Scarf: old Corduroys: Kohl's (last season) Clogs: old Sunglasses: Jessica Simpson Bracelets: David Smallcomb lg gold cuff, Pandora double wrap Watch: Fossil
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