Tuesday, January 31, 2012

{Decorating} Valentine's Mantle

Just a quick post showing a picture of my Valentine's mantle. It's so ridiculously simple....just pillar candles {one of them is pink for V-Day}, a homemade bunting and a sparkly heart. That's it.

I also added some dark pink and white hearts and XO that I cut out from felt to the shutter that leans against the mirror on my dining room buffet.

**Off to work on my mid-term presentation & paper for grad school and grade about a bazillion essays -- AHHH -- fun times :-\ Wish me luck -- I need it today!

Monday, January 30, 2012

{Invitations} Dean #2

My little mister is just about two years old, so birthday preparations have begun as of this past weekend. I started by making Dean's invitations, and as you can probably tell from the above picture, we're throwing a balloon themed bash. I'll be trying very hard to keep this party SIMPLE.

Since we had dinner last year for his Little Mister Mustache Bash, I wanted to serve a birthday breakfast this year.

I digitally created the invitation, except for the balloons, which I cut from scrapbook paper and tied twine around for the string. Stay tuned for all the simple details coming in February.

**I made a yummy dinner last week {chicken enchiladas & corn pudding}, which I intended on sharing this week, but I never took pictures AND never realized it until after the entire meal was eaten. Welcome to my world of forgetfulness ;-}

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

{Recipes} Lasagna Roll-ups

Good Morning! Since it has become increasingly difficult for me to meet my girlfriends out during the week for girls' nights, I hosted a small dinner at my house last night. Last year, Dean was in bed by 6:30pm, and I could easily put him down and still get to a restaurant by 7pm {every once in a while}. Now, my little sweetie doesn't hit the hay until 7:30-8pm, and after not seeing him all day, I'm reluctant to leave him again until after I put him to bed. Combine that with my hubby's later work schedule and grad school once a week and the girls' nights just aren't happenin'. So, I've had to re-adjust a bit and host my girls at my home.

I decided to make these little lasagna roll-ups...if they're not the cutest darn things I don't know what is {not a great pic...sorry!}. So easy and delicious! I served them with a green salad, crusty bread, red wine & let's not forget dessert...homemade cookie ice-cream sammies {one of my simplest yet most delicious go-to desserts}.

~ 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
~ 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
~ 15 oz fat free ricotta cheese {I used lite instead of fat-free}
~ 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
~ 1 egg
~ S & P to taste
~ 32 oz tomato sauce
~ 9 tbsp {about 3 oz} part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.
3. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, & salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
4. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.
5. Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out cooked lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
6. Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese.
7. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or until cheese melts.
**Makes 9 rolls.
8. To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

ENJOY this cozy little meal! It's healthy too!

**Another quick, easy and tasty meal coming soon.
**Recipe via Pinterest...click here for source.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

{Just for Fun} The Hunger Games

OH MY OH MY OH MY! I have no words for these books other than completely and totally ADDICTED! I haven't been this into a series for as long as I can remember {the Twilight series may have been the last one}. I literally can't put them down....

I even have a lot of my students now reading them, and they are so cute and funny about it. A few of them ask me every morning how far I've read the night before -- I think they're all in a race to finish before me -- LOL!

In your "spare time" {right}, you should really give them a try...you won't be sorry ;-}

**The Hunger Games is coming to the big screen on March 23rd -- so excited!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

{Restaurant Review} Capers & Lemons

Capers & Lemons = YUMMY!

FOOD: Contemporary Italian {everything from our appetizer to our dessert...yes, we were very bad...was delicious}.
DRINK: Nice bar but a tad on the small side. There was a nice lounge adjacent to it, which is where we waited for our table after getting drinks.
COST: We had drinks, app, salad, dinner, and split a dessert for $100. Not over-the-top expensive but maybe a little pricier than other date night spots.
ATMOSPHERE: NICE. Upscale casual with contemporary/modern design/decor and an inviting and cozy atmosphere.
LOCATION: Wilmington, Delaware. It took us about 35 minutes to get there {same as Philly} but off the beaten trail a little {seemed to be back in an industrial park or something of the sort}.

**The pic above is from Capers & Lemon's webpage and is a neat bottle display you see when you walk into the restaurant.
**I'm finding it harder and harder to make time for blog posts. My New Year's resolution {reading for pleasure} has been taking the place of all my other guilty pleasures {aka facebook, blogging & pinterest....okay, I'm still pinning but the others have taken a backseat ;-}
**GREAT weekend -- that extra day off is KEY! Hope yours was wonderful, too!

Friday, January 13, 2012

{Fashion} Date Night

"Date Night" has become not only precious, precious time for me and my husband but something essential in our lives. They don't happen as often as they used to {pre-Dean era}, but they're something we aim to do at least once a month. I will always remember my mom telling me and my sister how important it is to carve out time for you and your husband as a couple, even if just for an hour to grab a burger, even in the midst of jobs, kids, and everything else, even if you're tired, etc. I always tucked that piece of advice away for the future, but it wasn't until I became a mother that I saw just how valuable that advice was.

This weekend we're headed to a new restaurant in Delaware called Capers & Lemons. We are always up for trying something new, but definitely have some old favorites that we frequent too.

So, what to wear on these rare occasions? Like most girls, I'm a bit of a clothes hound, but I'm most comfortable in something classy and cute yet comfy. I'm not big on trends -- not that I don't like some of them, but mostly because I think I'd look plain old ridiculous! I'm 34 going on 35...hardly 80 but not exactly 20 anymore either ;-}

First up, is one of my favorite looks -- it's what I call sexy classy. Jeans {I don't do skinnies}, heels or boots {NOT the ones in the picture}, a sparkly tank, blazer, and a little clutch. PERFECT.

Or how about this one? Another sexy classy look in my humble opinion. A pretty blouse, jeans, and daring red heels. Sassy.

What about this cute dress from JCrew? JCrew might be one of my all-time favorite stores -- they offer just the right combination of prep, class, cute, sexy, and comfort. Add subtle sparkles, and I'm all over it. This might be a little short for my liking, but I'd pair this over jeans in a heartbeat.

How about this look? Jeans, flats, a bright top and a patterned infinity scarf. Yes, please. Can't go wrong with this look in my opinion -- classic & stylish.

A spring date night? But minus the shorts for me. I probably need to be more daring, but if those pretty salmon shorts were pants in the same color {JCrew would probably have them...hmmm}, I'd go for it. Love the white tank, necklace, and blazer paired together A LOT.

I tend to stay away from dresses in the winter unless it's a special occasion, but I have to admit that I think this looks adorable. A simple black dress, skinny belt, black leggings and boots, and a cardi. Simple yet sophisticated all at the same time.

You had at me hello sparkly little flats...

Lastly, how about some fun jewels? I'm a sucker for simple bangles or even layering skinny bracelets to give the appearance of a chunkier bracelet.

**Hmmm....too many choices! I shouldn't spend too much time thinking about this because you know men....half the time they don't even notice ;-} I still love ya, RDP!
**All pics via Pinterest -- where else? Most of these looks came straight off my Fashion pinboard.
** TGIF -- Enjoy the three day weekend!

Monday, January 9, 2012

{Gifts} Cute Holiday Gift

I have to share this thoughtful gift my family received over the holiday break from our "matchmaker," Kandice. Kandice {and her hubby Casey} introduced me to my husband Bo when I was renting my first apartment from them back in '04.

She dropped it off on our doorstep, and what a sweet surprise we had that afternoon.

A homemade basket full of ridiculously cute, creative, and might I add, super DELICIOUS goodies. Dips and beer breads and chocolate dipped pretzels and white chocolate & cranberry cookies and YUM! And how cute is the presentation? Thank you, Kandice & Casey! Miss you guys!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

{Parties} NYE

Happy New Year {a few days late -- my apologies}! My hubby and I thought it might be fun to host Gourmet Night {our dinner group consisting of 5 couples} on New Year's Eve this year. Here are the details:

First up -- table centerpiece. I literally threw this together in about five minutes. I arranged all of our NYE party props onto a raised cake plate, scattered some confetti and 2012 glasses around the table, and called it a day.

We kept our menu very simple, and I didn't cook one thing! We ordered Chinese and sushi for dinner, so I also added some sparkly silver and gold takeout boxes to the table to play up the theme. In addition, I created some very simple black & white signs that I adhered to some fun sparkly papers I bought at Michaels.

Aerial view...

The horns never even were used b/c by midnight I had a sleeping baby upstairs. Those are the breaks when you're a mama ;-}

The dessert buffet was incredibly simple. My mom lent me a big clock from her living room, which I leaned against the mirror. I love silver and gold for New Years and anything shimmery catches my eye, so I added some of those touches as well.

The shimmery papers from Michaels came in so handy -- I used them for almost everything I made, including the 2012 patterns I quickly sketched, cut out, and clipped to the shutter which previously displayed all my Christmas cards.

Next, I made a sparkly banner to drap across the mirror. I don't have a circular punch {really need one!}, so I used the bottom of a glass to trace the circles and cut them out by hand. I used double-sided tape to attach them to jute. Easy.

The confetti packs were simple too. I bought confetti mix from Micheals, dumped a little in some clear bags, and then used the sparkly papers again to create a little topper for each bag.

Then I spread them out on one end of the buffet.

I served a non-alcoholic punch for all my pregnant Gourmet Night ladies {I am not included in that mix so don't get any ideas ;-}

My mother-in-law bought me these beautiful metallic cake plates for Christmas -- they fit in perfectly with the silver/gold palette. I stacked them and served some simple desserts on each.

First I made "Ball Drop Shooters," which I served in little cordial glasses. They were nothing more than pudding, brownies, and coolwhip with a shimmery ball topper.

Next, I made vanilla cupcakes and frosted them with cream cheese icing and dusted edible glitter on each. Then I added sparkly cupcake toppers.

Appetizers :: mini egg rolls and pot stickers/dumplings with soy sauce for dipping. Like I said before, I was in no mood to cook, so my hubby ordered Chinese & sushi from Mandarin Court, our favorite local Chinese restaurant. The night was busy, so I never snapped any pics of the meal, but we had General Tso's chicken, vegetable lo mein, egg roles, California rolls, etc.

We call this Gourmet Night, but I served dinner on Chinet plates -- ha! So much for gourmet ;-} I found pretty plasticware at the dollar store and silver napkins at Target. And guess what? Clean-up was a sinch!

As a favor, I gave each of the girls a 2012 mini-desk calendar.

I added some simple decor to my bookcase by using sparkly silver & gold Christmas balls from the dollar store.

I also added a touch of NYE to my mantle.

Last but not least, my little NYE party crasher was MY FAVORITE ACCESSORY of the night. He hung with our guests for about a half hour or so and then off to dream sweet dreams he went.

**Hope you had a blast ringing in the New Year!
**I used this Silver & Gold pinboard I created on pinterest as my inspiration for our NYE party.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

{Holiday} Chef Dean

Good Morning! The holidays are officially over, and it's back to reality for much of the world. Kind of depressing, but life must go on, eh?

We had a wonderful holiday and very much enjoyed seeing our little man on Christmas morning. I think Bo and I loved it more than he did ;-} My hubby & I opened our gifts to one another on Christmas Eve {a tradition we started when we began dating}, so Christmas morning was all about Dean.

We decided not to go crazy with gifts -- Dean is not even two years old and really doesn't quite understand any of it yet. Not to mention, I absolutely REFUSE to go into debt over buying Christmas gifts EVER.

His big gift was a kitchen. And let me tell you....I received a lot of flack about buying my son a kitchen {I won't mention any names!}. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the fancier ones have, but he loves playing with it, and I'm all for a man that can cook. My future daughter-in-law will thank me one day ;-}

Because of space, I had to go small. After searching for quite a while, I finally found a cute one in Bed, Bath & Beyond {the last place I was expecting to find a children's kitchen}. It was wooden, so I painted it gray to look more boyish.

Needless to say, Chef Dean has been making us coffee and all kinds of treats for the last week. I could get used to this kind of treatment ;-}

**Check in tomorrow to see all the details from our New Years Eve Gourmet Night celebration!