Fab Five

So I love looking at other bloggers' favorites list for recommendations on Products, so I figured I'd start a list too! I'll warn you ahead of time, but the majority of my things are from TJMaxx. Just sayin'. And they're in no particular order.

1.) My Keurig Mini. Enough said.

2.) The best top coat out there. Seche Vite. Dries so freaking fast! And to the point of being able to do things. Not so great with preventing chipping, but I paint my nails so frequently it doesn't matter.

3.) My lia sophia Cubist ring. I bought this ring for graduation in May, and have gotten a lot of wear out of it. It sparkles beautifully whether its in artificial or natural light. I constantly get compliments on it!

(not my hand, Google Image. )

4.) The Body Shop Raspberry Body Butter- While in Baltimore for the weekend with the hubs, I stopped in The Body Shop to look around. More accurately, the hubs suggested it. I was going to just walk past. Anyways, they had a special going on with a GWP pink beach bag, so I went for it. Included was the body wash in Raspberry. Seriously, it smells so good you could drink it. Re says it smells like Sweedish Fish! Anyways, I picked up the matching Body Butter at TJMaxx for a great price. It makes my legs so soft and smooth and shiny after shaving!

5.) Essie Turquoise and Cacos. I picked this up at Target this week and have already painted my nails and toenails with it. It's a beautiful summer color! I think it's even prettier on nails, I'll do a manicure post later this week to show!

Fruit-Infused Water

I don't know about you guys, but I LOVE fruit infused water! While talking about it to a couple at church today, the husband made a valid point... it's chick food.  Well yes, it is girly, but it's so good! I love water anyway I can get it, with the exception sparkling.  So just regular water I guess.  Anyways, I wanted to make my own fruit infused water without preservatives, etc. and since I have the fresh fruit sitting here, why not??

I made two jars, one was cherries and pineapple, the other with strawberries and lemon.  The strawberry-lemon was a little strong, so I just added more water.  I thought they were perfect.  You can adjust the strength by the amount of fruit added, and could always add simple syrup to sweeten it to your preference.

Ingredients and Instructions:
-Water and fruit!
-Leave the fruit in the water overnight, strain and serve. 

It takes on a slight tint from the natural dye from the fruit, the cherry-pineapple slightly purple, with the strawberry-lemon pink. 

Home Office

This time last year we decided that I was going to drop to part time at work, and return full time to school.  Upon moving to VA in Spring of 2009, I was within a few classes of graduating, so the end was near.  I could TASTE it.  Believe me, I considered staying up in NJ to finish at Rutgers, but it would have meant another 6 months living away from mi amor.  And I decided that there was no worse torture, I wanted to be with him.  So as a result, my education was put on the back burner once again.  Upon moving down here I looked at a few schools, all wanting about 2 years minimum attendance, so I decided to shelve school and work full time.  This was a great decision though as we bought a house and the extra cash helped!

So, back to last summer.  When I decided to go back to school, the original plan was to go back up to NJ, finish up with Rutgers, live with my mom, and see the hubs on the weekend.  Well, the more I thought about it, the more anxiety I felt.  I didn't want to leave him to be honest.  So I went and talked to an advisor at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA.  She told me that I could graduate in May, and take the majority of my classes online.  BINGO.  So, that's what I decided!

We had already finished the office for Drew, and I admit I was a tad jealous.  Ok, a LOT jealous.  Green with envy.  I had an "office," one of the spare bedrooms that used to be a nursery.  Drew offered to help me renovate it, but I think it was just a little bit overbearing.  Look...seriously:

Yes, not only was the woodwork natural stain (like the rest of the original house,) the crown molding was mustard yellow.  Yuck.. Seriously.  You went through all the work to put up crown molding in ONE room of the original house ad you choose yellow?? Seriously?? Besides the work in general, I kept thinking, am I going to be repainting this again in a year or less for a baby? Then Drew and I decided to wait (indefinitely at this point,) for kids, so that excuse didn't hold wudder.  I mean water.

But then I went to my Orientation in August and there was a current student talking about how she goes into her office and shuts the door and does her work undisturbed.  So I was sold. 

So we said so-long to "Meredith":

And we got to painting.  It was a hassle, and the woodwork took a little extra elbow grease, but the result was so clean looking! What do you think:

I know.. grey??? But I had this vision of grey walls, crisp white woodwork, and pops of bright pink/fuchsia... and it came out amazing!!! I am so happy with it.  If we ever move, the next house WILL have a room for an office for me.  It keeps me sane.  It's just MY room.  Now my husband would argue that the whole house is mine, but this is different.

I have since redecorated in there and got furniture, as seen in the pictures below.  The adorable Polaroid-like frames can be found here for only $17.99 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  Definitely worth it, they're adorable!  So, after purchasing some more shelves, and 2 futons (figured I should be resourceful, we have people here a lot!) I set out to finishing.

I then bought more shelves and decided to channel my inner 'Real Housewife' and picked out some of my favorite bags and jewelry to decorate with! Speaking of jewelry, the white frame on the wall above displaying my current lia sophia collection I made from some chicken wire and a frame from Goodwill.  I picked up some necklace displays at Michael's and had a blast decorating:


 I LOVE MY OFFICE.  It is my utopia.  Last week I rearranged some things for our spa night:

Oh, and I have to mention my newest fabulous accessory for my office available here:

FABULOUS zebra pencils with Swarovski crystals on the end! AHH! I of course did not pay $24, but $7.99 at Marshalls.  I HIGHLY recommend even if you don't have a room you can devote to an office, maybe a small area: a corner, or rebuild a closet:

Unusual Finds: HauteCurvture.com Jewelry

So as I was blog jumping last night, I came across this website, HauteCurvture. It looks like an etsy-type, with each piece of jewelry coming from a different screen name. Definitely some beautiful pieces of jewelry, but more unusual ones. Here are some highlights...

Seems like a common theme is taking cameos and making them skeletons instread of portraits of beautiful women...

An octopus fascination, I'm thinking as a result of the Pirates of the Carribbean movies:

Just unusual:

Cute gift ideas:

My favorites:

Too pretty for a collage:

And last but not least, for Re:

It was a fun use of an hour of time browsing, if nothing else! The prices are VERY reasonable, and I'm thinking there are some cute gift ideas on here. Wink!

Pantry Raid Week: Strawberry Pineapple Bread

So for breakfast this morning I wanted to do something special for Re other than Lucky Charms, before she makes the trek home to NJ. I miss her already. Horribly. But I won't go there right now. I remember seeing the recipe for this bread on AllRecipes, so I decided to try it this morning as it is highly recommended. The reviews RAVED about it. I don't know why though, it was not THAT great.

Pantry Raid Week: Strawberry Pineapple Bread
1 (10 ounce) package frozen strawberries
1/2 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 5x9 inch loaf pans.

2. In a bowl, mix the strawberries, pineapple, eggs, oil, and sugar. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix the flour mixture into the bowl with the fruit until evenly moist. Fold in walnuts and macadamia nuts. Divide the batter between the prepared loaf pans.

3. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.

-Being pantry raiding week, I was short a few ingredients and had to substitute a little bit. I only had one cup of vegetable oil left, so added 1/4 cup of olive oil.
-I used every last crumb (?) of flour! I thought I would have to dip into the wheat flour, but I was a-ok!
-I didn't have walnuts OR macadamia nuts, so I used pecans. And I only had 1/2 cup. They were still fabulous.
-I had pineapple chunks instead of crushed pineapple, but just did a few pulses in the bullet.
-I read on the reviews that a woman made a glaz out of 3 tablespoons pineapple juice and 1 cup confectioners sugar, so I tried it. Not that great. I like pineapple, but this just tasted weird. I added some vanilla and a little more sugar and it tasted a little better.
-So when I went to make the glaze, I realized I had no 10x sugar... I later saw that in my organizing fit last week I put it where it belongs, with other baking supplies... Anyways, I googled it and saw that if you take regular sugar and put it in the blender it turns into 10x. So into the bullet it went, and it worked!
-I won't be making this again. I sent the 2nd loaf home with Lyn for my mom to try. THe strawberries got mushy and I'm a texture-freak. It was also a litle too-cinnamon-y for my taste.

At-Home Spa Night

So my two friends Audrey and Katie and I have been talking about doing an at-home spa night for awhile now. Our lives are so hectic between the pool, shopping, going out for Starbux, etc! So this week for our Bible Study meeting, we chose to do a spa night at my house. Audrey brought an amazing Spinach dip, Katie brought luscious fruit and a caramel dip, and I made Raspberry Bars and Fruit Punch. We started at 6 which we usually do, and went past 11pm as we usually do... And as if it couldn't get any better? My sister Re was able to partake with us!!

My office is in one of our spare bedrooms, which is right across from the guest bathroom, which was the perfect spot for a spa night. Here are some of the highlights of preparation and decoration:
Of course before anyone got here I had to take stock of and organize my nail polish collection:

I then organized them according to brand, with my current favorites outside the box: Mattese Elite and Sally Hansen Crackle.

Here are a few close-ups of the polishes, practicing some shots with my P&S:

And another...

And another...

Once the nail polish situation was under control and looking stellar, it was time to move on to the other important "stations," like pedicures:


And more candles:

Fresh roses of course...

Yes, they smell as good as they look:

Pillows for lounging:

Cotton balls, rounds, and q-tips:

Spa "Breathe" lotions and sprays:

And of course, GIFT BAGS for the girls!!

And the contents (minus fuzzy socks), photo courtesy of Katie:

After eating our snacks and discussing our chapter for Bible Study (on Rahab,) we started off with brown sugar masks:

The next morning at the pool we got to discussing doing this as a ministry for women. New moms, stressed moms, women who are stressed, or just women wanting to fellowship together. It was a simple set-up and oh-so-relaxing! I HIGHLY recommend an at-home spa night!

I found recipes and tips for an at-home spa night here online, with the majority of the ingredients already on hand. I still have the Rose Stringent in my refrigerator, hoping to try it tonight! With a few rearrangements, litte out0of-pocket, and a little planning, we were able to have an awesome, relaxing spa night!

Pantry Raid Week: Texas Mac n' Cheese

So this week I decided that instead of going food shopping, I'm going to raid hte freezer and pantry and use up a bunch of food sitting in there! Hence the name, PANTRY RAID WEEK! So far it's been a success! I'm either running low or am out of some essentials (milk, eggs, bread, meat, etc.) but I will make up for it somehow.

Tonights dinner was out of this world amazing. The hubs went ballistic over it. I usually get a "10 out of 10 babe" on everything I ate, but this time went WAY beyond. I will try to write the recipe as I made it, but towards the end was throwing randoms in.

Texas Mac n' Cheese

½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1.3 lbs Ground Turkey
1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.25 can whole kennel corn, drained
4 Tbsp. Taco seasoning
16 oz. (jar) of salsa
4 boxes mac and cheese dinner mix

1.) Heat oil in a large pan/pot (this makes a LOT,) then add onions and garlic. Continue to cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until the onions become translucent. Add ground turkey, breaking up as it browns. Depending on the fat percentage of the meat, drain excess fat. I am a ground meat snob, so I always pay more for the less fat %.

2.) While meat is browning, drain and rinse black beans, add can of corn to strainer as well. Once meat is browned, add the taco season, salsa, beans and corn.

3.) Meanwhile, prepare macaroni and cheese according to package directions.

4.) Simmer the taco mixture for approximately 5-10 more minutes, mixing frequently. Once macaroni and cheese is prepared, mix the macaroni and cheese with the taco meat mixture. Serve in bowls. YUM.

-As I stated earlier, I am short on essentials, so instead of milk, I used heavy whipping cream. Wow, indulgent!! Of course made it creamier and silkier...
-Sorry for the sub-par picture, couldn't wait any longer to eat!!