Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Short Lamp Dilemma

When I was decorating the guest bedroom in our house,  my mom gave me a lamp and shade (from a thrift store, of course) that matched the rest of the room perfectly. The problem was, between the tall antique bed, the short nightstand, and the normal height table lamp, you could barely see the lamp peeking out from beside the bed. I didn't want to find a new lamp or nightstands, so I stacked books underneath the lamp base to give it a boost.

It was a quick fix that ended up working really well. To tie everything together, I strategically placed a few more stacks of books around the room.

(Yes, the bottom book is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and yes, it's a library book. I'd like to say it was a damaged one that they gave away, but I can't promise that that's entirely true. Shhh. Don't tell.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Blow Dryer Revolution

Product view

Until I borrowed my cousin’s hair dryer last summer, I didn’t know what I was missing. I thought not matter what, it was going to take me 20 minutes to get my long hair dry. Wrongo, my friends. Turns out, there are much better options than a crappy, scorching hot, slight-breeze-producing blow dryer. So finally, after dreaming of it since July, I decided to invest in a professional-grade blow dryer.

I bought a Sedu Revolution Pro Tourmaline Ionic 4000i. It was everything I’d dreamed of. I chose this model because it’s compact, has air speeds up to 80 mph, and is designed to reduce heat-styling damage. I have fine, easily-damaged hair. For me, the less heat the better. Also, it comes with a nine foot cord and a two-year warranty!

Comparing it to my last blow dryer was like night and day.  My old dryer took 20 minutes to get my hair dry, and was so hot I could see steam rolling from my strands. With the Sedu, my hair was dry in 10 minutes and straight and shiny enough to not have to use a flat iron afterwards (!!!). The most amazing thing was that it did it all without the scorching heat that has been damaging my hair.

Like I said, a professional dryer is an investment, but it already is worth it.

If you’d like to read other reviews for this model, click here.

Image via.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscar Fashion

Although they can be boring at times, I love watching the Oscars for so many reasons -- prime people watching, seeing what movies I need to go rent, watching Billy Crystal host, and of course, the fashion.

Michelle Williams was adorable in a coral Louis Vuitton gown. The small silver bow is quirky and cute and I love the textures the fabric creates.

Jesssica Chastain's Alexander McQueen gown was breathtaking. Between that and her perfect red hair, she has my vote for one of the best dressed of the evening.

Cameron (and her super buff arms) looked radiant in her skin-tight Gucci gown. Honestly, I only like the bottom half of the dress, but you must admit, it's a fantastic bottom half.

Gweneth also has my vote for one of the best dressed. I love the clean lines of her cream-colored Tom Ford gown and coat. She's glamorous and the dress was fabulous (did you see the adorable little shoulders?!).

I'm crazy over Glenn Close's stunning Zac Posen gown and matching blazer. The structure is so flattering and she looked radiant.

This Zuhair Murad dress is typical J.Lo style, but I'm not convinced she pulled if off. Cutouts, extreme cleavage, and a crazy stripe design ... I'd save that look for Halloween.

J.Lo can share the worst dressed title with Melissa Leo. Her two-toned sequin Reem Acra dress was awful. And, her shoes are ugly. While I'm at it, her clutch was ugly. OK ... the rant is over.

As much as I love Emma Stone, I'm not sure I love her Giambattista Valli dress. I can't decide my final opinion. I like the bow, but maybe if it were half the size it might be better. What do you think of it?

Did you watch the Oscars? Who had you favorite look?

Images via The Insider.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Have a Great Weekend!

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Hello! Were headed off to Illinois to visit my sister and her husband this weekend. My parents are going, too! I'm looking forward to time with them. It doesn't happen often enough.

Here are a few posts from around the Web.

Bright eyeshadow!

Look at these wings.

For Kevin.

OK... I know that was short. I'll make it up to you next week. Promise!

Image via.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Divine Consign

Here at the lake, we have a few consignment shops that not only do I buy stuff from, I take things to. One is fancy, the other is mostly a bunch of junk. Yes, I could set up a garage sale, put up signs and hope somebody actually shows up, or I can take my things to a consignment shop that gets traffic and moves product. I figure a few dollars for the stuff I'm not using is much better than it taking up space.

I know prom is coming up, so last week I took my old prom dresses to the fancier shop. My favorite dress from senior year went, too. It was a bittersweet moment -- bitter because I really loved it, sweet because it sold (for $350!) while I was still filling out the papers to consign it. I only keep half of that sales price, but I'll take $175 for a dress that's been hanging for six years! Between that dress and all the other nice clothes I took, I'll probably end up with over $300!

The junkier shop definately has its purpose, too. I've taken anything from old purses to a nintendo there. Over the last year, my junk has made me about $200. This proves the old saying - "one man's junk is another man's treasure."

Imaga via.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Anchors Away

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Ask anyone who knows me well, and they'll tell you I have an anchor obsession. My latest accessory crush: these Betsey Johnson anchor studs. I'm in love. They are summertime perfection.

Get a pair here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Valentine's Day Dinner

I always tell my husband how lucky he is I can cook, but I must say, when he gets in the kitchen, he's not too bad himself.

For Valentine's Day, he surprised me by preparing a candlelight seafood feast. Deeelicious.

We started off with two of my favorite things -- Boursin cheese and crackers, wine and seared Ahi tuna, complete with ginger and wasabi.

For the main course, he made shrimp scampi, brown sugar and honey glazed salmon, asparagus and his famous mashed potatoes. So. Good.

I already had dessert planned -- I made molten lava cakes (something I really only thought you could get from Applebees). They were amazing ... and so easy! The recipe from Food Network magazine is below, if you'd like to try.

It was a lovely Valentine's night. Thank you, Jeff. Love you.

Molten Lava Cakes

2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for the ramekins
4 t granulated sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 C all-purpose flour
2 1/2 C confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
6 large eggs, plus 6 egg yolks
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter eight 6-ounce ramekins and sprinkle each with 1/2 t granulated sugar.
2. Combine the butter, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. Coo slightly. Whisk the flour, confectioners' sugar, eggs and yolks, vanilla extract in a bowl until creamy. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture. Divide among the prepared ramekins.
3. Bake the cakes until the tops are stiff and the edges darken, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cakes with a small paring knife and transfer to plates while warm. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dream Pantry

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I am in love with the idea of a hidden kitchen pantry. No more
pantry doors that, in some kitchens, just look out of
place. If we ever build our own house, I will have this.

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I also imagine little doors to the hidden pantry where I could
scoot my stand mixer, food processor and blender in and
out of. The doors above are meant for garbage and recycling
(which is a good idea, too), but I think they might be a nice
solution for storing a heavy stand mixer and freeing up a little
counter space.

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I love the look of this library ladder, but I have to wonder how
practical it is for your everyday kitchen. Knowing myself, I'd
probably end up falling down from the top with an armfull of
nice dishes. I can't see it ending well. However, something like
this may be nice in the pantry. Falling down with an arm full of
canned goods would be much less devastating.

What are things you'd have in your dream pantry?

Photo credit: 1 2 3

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bits of My Week

This has been a busy week and I'm so excited to welcome the weekend.
Here are a few of my favorite things from the last few days.

February's Birchbox.

Low-cal (for cake) chocolate sponge cake.

Valentine's Day manicure.

My favorite French white wine for Valentine's Day dinner.
(Chateau de Montfort Vouvray)

Kevin rolling around, like the fat cat he is.

I hope you had a great week, too, and that you have an even better weekend.

Here are a few posts from around the Web.

Amazing pencil carving art.

This comic made me laugh.

Asparagus recipe I'm going to try this weekend.

A cute, cozy outfit.

Nice rugs.

I love type, I love cats. This makes me happy.

A great skirt for summer at the lake.

Beautiful things -- very fun to look through.

Super fun chair and ottoman.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thrifty Decor

I can safely say that 90 percent of the decorations in my house are from thrift stores, auctions or were at least purchased while on sale. Here are a few views of my living room that feature some of my favorite thrift store finds.

Everything you see here was either from an auction, a thrift store or was
 on sale when purchased (even the candles and the picture!).

This mirror clock was a Christmas gift from my parents - found
at Goodwill for $50 (a little pricey for Goodwill, but if you remember what
my living room looks like, you'll know it matches perfectly).

Have you found anything good at a thrift store lately?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Child's Own Studio

Disclaimer: The following site is swamped with orders and has asked that nobody blog about it ... I can't help it, it must be shared. However, if you continue reading, you have to promise me you won't order anything ... yet.

OK. You're still here. This is the cutest thing I've ever seen. I look at the pictures just for the huge smile it gives me. Actually, they're so cute I teared up the first time I saw them.

They're real life dolls designed after characters kids draw. Ahh! Adorable. I need a child to order one for. Wouldn't they make the sweetest keepsake? Way better than Hallmark, if you ask me.

Have a look.

Aren't they magical? See more at Child's Own Studio.

Photos via.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

So Sweet

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I'm not expecting much more than a kiss and some snuggles for Valentine's Day, but if I came home to this, I'd be very very happy. You see, I have a controlled candy addiction. I say controlled because I won't buy it, but if it's anywhere near me (and free), I can't help myself.

Did you get anything fun for V-day?

Image via.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm so Proud ...

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This made me laugh. Have you ever had this moment?

I did once, on a regular night out. And, let me tell you, it's awkward at first, but then you're happy about it. I recommend the experience.

Image via.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Have a Wonderful Weekend!

Hello! This weekend "the world's largest pub crawl" is happening here at the lake. We've normally avoided it, but this year we're not so much going to crawl, as we are squat. The thought of going bar to bar on a cramped school bus with a bunch of drunk strangers doesn't sound that great to me. But, hanging out with friends at one of the bars on the route? That sounds like a good time. So that's the plan. It's a Mardi Gras themed pub crawl ... I doubt we'll dress up. We'll see.

I  hope you have a great weekend! Here are some fun posts from around the Web.

An awesome sweatshirt for cat ladies (I want it ... bad).

Neat DIY spoon pendant light.

How to use spices.

One of the best feelings.

Some banging heels.

A stylish Forever Lazy.

Target shopping tips (including the markdown schedule!).

If I can't have the real thing, I'll take this.

Lunch for a rough day.

Look at this hair!

p.s. If you've been following The 17-Day Diet, the final weight for cycle two is in! 145.2. Total lost in two cycles: 13.2 pounds (Yaaaaaaaay!!!).

Image via.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Keeping Produce Fresh

I can't tell you how many times we've thrown away spoiled fruits and vegetables, but I know it's quite a few. Just the other day we threw away an entire stalk of celery because it wilted before we could use it.

I read a post from The V Spot about how to keep produce fresh, and hopefully now I'll be able to keep the food wasting to a minimum.

Here are a few things I didn't know.

First, I didn't know that some fruits and veggies produce ethylene gas that can spoil other foods near it.

  • Apples produce lots of ethylene and shouldn't be stored near anything else. Also, to keep them fresh, store them in a plastic bag in the fridge and don't wash them until right before eating.
  • Berries shouldn't be washed until ready to eat. Washing them removes their natural preservatives and can make them begin to break down faster.
  • I wish I would've known this about celery. Wash it when you get home from the store, wrap in a paper towel, then wrap it tightly in foil and store in the crisper. Apparently it'll stay fresh for weeks!
  • A whole head of garlic will store at room temperature for over a month. Once separated, it'll only last about 10 days.
  • Onions store for months in a cool, dry place, but don't keep them next to potatoes -- they'll spoil faster (I ALWAYS keep them together ... maybe that's why my potatoes seem to shrivel so fast).
  • Potatoes can also store for months in a cool, dry place. But, keep them away from the onions!
For many more fresh-veggie tips, view the whole post from The V Spot  here.

Image via.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The 17-Day Diet - Cycle Two - Day 17

I have arrived! Two cycles down, one to go. I'll take my final cycle-two weight in the morning. I'll let you know how it goes.

I'm still contemplating officially doing the third cycle. The third cycle is similar to the second, but with expanded natural starch and fruit lists, and you get to eat pasta and bread! In moderation, of course.

Even though I haven't lost as much weight this cycle, I'm still feeling good. My pants are huge, my stomach is flatter, and to put it politely, my digestion is in order. I've made a habit of eating better, and am getting more savvy about low-fat cooking. Now I'm just over a pound away from weighing what I did in high school and 6.6 pounds away from my goal! My next goal will be to tone ... I guess I better start working out.

Many of you have given me nice words of encouragement and congratulations on my success so far. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Starting weight: 158.4
Current weight: 146.6

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom, me and my stepdad on my wedding day.

Happy birthday, Mom! You're the strongest woman I know (mentally and physically), and I'm so grateful for you. Thank you for everything you've done for me. I could never repay you for even a little of it. I hope you have the best birthday ever -- you deserve it.

See her birthday gift after the jump!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Your Life in Lists

As a wedding gift from some of our best friends, we received a book called Listography: Your Life in Lists. It's a genius little journal for logging events in your life, from your firsts and lasts and the closest friends you've had, to your drunkest moments and the things you'd like to change about yourself.

While on our honeymoon, we filled out the first half of the book. Filling it out as a couple was so fun -- it brought up some things we never thought to talk about, like bad things you did as a kid and the most memorable friends from your past.

I can't wait to fill out the other half on our next road trip. I think it's going to be so fun to look back at the things we wrote.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The 17-Day Diet - Cycle Two - Day 15

Well, Super Bowl Sunday killed my diet. Sunday morning I weighed 146.8, this morning I was 149.4. Word to the wise, you can't get away with eating pizza and buffalo chicken dip while on a diet. Who knew?

I did well today though. It may take a few days to get back to 146.8, but at least I made it there once and know I can get back quickly.

Here's tomorrow's higher-calorie menu.

  • 1 C lean granola mixed with with 6 oz. sugar-free, fruit-flavored yogurt
    (note: 1 C of lean granola gives you your 2 servings of natural starch for the day)
  • 1 medium peach, sliced
  • 1 cup green tea
  • Fruit salad: 1/2 C LiveActive Breakstone cottage cheese with 1 C diced fruit served on a generous bed of lettuce
  • 1 cup green tea
  • Grilled pork chops
  • Steamed or boiled cabbage
  • 1 cup green tea
  • 1 medium apple or pear
  • 2nd probiotic serving of your choice
Starting weight: 158.4
Current weight: 149.4 :(

Get Skinny Using a Big Fork

If you're looking to lose a few pounds, consider using a bigger fork. During a recent study, two sets of diners ate using two different size forks, one of which held 20 percent more food. Those who ate with the larger utensil ate less of their meal. Researchers believe the smaller fork appears to make less of a dent in the meal, delaying hunger satisfaction.

Neat, huh?

Please excuse me while I go shop for a gigantic fork...

Source: University of Utah
As seen in: Food Network Magazine

Photo via.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The 17-Day Diet - Cycle Two - Day 13

The plateau seems to have broken a little! However, I'm sabotaging my diet as we speak. I'm having cheese, crackers and wine for dinner. I am ashamed. (It's delicious though!) Tomorrow isn't looking good either.

Once again, Monday will be a fresh start.

If I were to stick to it, here's what tomorrow's menu would be.

  • 1 Dr. Mike Power Cookie
  • 1 medium peach, sliced
  • 1 cup green tea
  • Low-carb Primavera Delight

    1 spaghetti squash
    2 C chopped fresh broccoli
    1 small onion
    2 diced garlic cloves
    1 T olive oil
    Marinara sauce

    DirectionsSpaghetti squash is a great substitute for pasta. To prepare it, cut it in half (lengthwise). Scoop out the seeds and pulp, as you would with any squash or pumpkin. Place it in a baking dish with about 1/2 inch of water, rind side up. Bake 40 to 50 minutes at 375 degrees. You can also microwave the squash for 8 to 10 minutes per half, on high. Let the squash stand for a few minutes after baking or microwaving. Separate strands by running a fork through in from the "from stem to stern" direction. Place strands in a separate bowl.

    In a medium frying pan, saute broccoli, onion, garlic and oil until vegetables are crisp tender. Add squash and heat thoroughly. Serve on plates topped with heated marinara sauce. Makes 4 servings.
  • 1 cup green tea
  • Plenty of London Broil
  • Tossed salad with 1 T olive oil mixed with 2 T vinegar and seasonings
  • 1 cup green tea
  • Yogurt Shake (blended with fruit)
  • 2nd probiotic serving of your choice
Starting weight: 158.4
Current weight: 147.2

Friday, February 3, 2012

Have a Super Weekend!

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I know this isn't the usual weigh in time, but I'm excited to announce that I'm back to my exact wedding weight! When I ballooned up to 161 six months the wedding I never thought I'd see 147.6 again. My new promise to myself: never go over 150 again.

And now I'll tell you that I'm looking forward to, but also dreading Super Bowl Sunday. Did you know it's the second biggest eating day of the year? (I recently read that somewhere.) We're all doomed.

Enjoy the big game!

Here are some posts from around the Web.

Classic Barbie bathing suit.

Gorgeous coasters.

Skirt I'd love to own.

A leopard print wall!

Cutest butter dish ever.

What to wear to a Valentines Day party.

If this were my office, I'd get so much work done (because I'd never leave).

A kitchen with turquoise back splash tiles (I'm in love).

February naughtycessities.

Lovely latte art.

I'll leave you with this (it probably will make your day).

Image via.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The 17-Day Diet - Cycle Two - Day 11

Slowly but surely, a little more weight is gone. Honestly, this is the point where I want to give up -- weight isn't coming off as easy and it's less fun to step on the scale. I'm not giving up yet (but I kind of want to).

I'm a little afraid of Super Bowl Sunday. So far, the menu consists of pizza, chips, cheese dip and cocktails. However, I made myself some homemade hummus and have my air popcorn popper ready. I'll really try to stick to the healthier stuff. As bad as I just want to gorge myself on the fatty foods, I don't want to be mad at myself on Monday.

Do you have any favorite healthy snack foods?
Here's tomorrow's higher-calorie menu.

  • Kefir smoothie (blended with 1 C berries)
  • 1 cup green tea
  • Plenty of broiled hamburger
  • 1 medium baked potato
  • 1 cup green tea
  • Plenty of roasted turkey breast
  • Steamed asparagus
  • Tossed salad with 1 T olive oil mixed with 2 T vinegar and seasonings
  • 1 cup green tea
  • 6 oz. sugar-free, fruit-flavored yogurt
  • 1 medium orange
Starting weight: 158.4
Current weight: 148.2

Thrifty Thursday - Happy Hour Dates

It's that time of year ... the time when I get cabin fever and NEED to get out of the house. Lately, instead of going out for a dinner date, we go to happy hour. Why? Specials, my friend!

Most happy hour specials include discounted drinks some even offer BOGO or twofers! Another popular happy hour special is half-price appetizers. By going during happy hour instead of for dinner, we only spend about $25. If we go out for a nice dinner, we'd spend $50 to $100 for the same amount of food. Yes, there are cheaper options, like Steak and Shake, but even they have happy hour specials!

Even if you only go out to eat once a month for a year, you could save $300 to $900 by having cocktails and apps during happy hour, instead of going during dinner. Want to see your savings add up? Put what you would've spent in a jar, count it at the end of the year, and go buy yourself something nice (or even better, pay off a good chunk of debt).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You Look Great

How lovely is this? Wouldn't you love to have one in your closet or near the bathroom mirror? Even if you don't think you look very good, the gold mirror does :)

Photo via.