6.29.2011

what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. Berries
All my favorite, bite size fruits are in season and tasting sweeter than ever. I love blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries...you name it! I top my yogurt and cereal with them, or eat them out of my hand. Delish!

2. Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition
I've been tuning into this tear-jerker of a show every week. These people are truly inspirational when you see how they push through and the amazing outcome of all their efforts. What can I say? I'm a cheeseball.

3. Best Thing I Never Had
I'm not typically the biggest Beyoncé fan, but I am kind of digging this song. It's kind of a single girl's anthem for dealing with the jerks (to put it nicely) along the way. Remember, you're better than that.

6.26.2011

lucky paws

I absolutely love working at Free People. Yes, the clothes are amazing, and I love the girls I get to hang out with all day. But besides all of that, the company is unique. For example, we will be teaming with Lucky Paws Shelter to help some precious pups get adopted. The shelter is a no-kill, cage-free shelter, which makes me smile in the fact that I can be a part of something so great. We all know what a dog lover I am.

On July 23rd, we will be working alongside some of the shelter dogs that are up for adoption at Scottsdale Fashion Square. Come by the store and say hello, give a little lovin' to these sweeties, and make a donation. Any little bit helps! Maybe you'll even fall in love and take one of them home. Fingers crossed! You can make donations anytime from now until July 23rd. You even get a beautiful piece of jewelry for doing so.

Here is the flyer for more information..

sunday spark

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” 
-Morrie Schwartz

6.24.2011

magazine wall

While browsing Curbly for some DIY projects, I stumbled upon this amazing idea...walls made of magazines! The graphic design office of Oktavilla has 'em. That's in Sweden if you didn't know because I sure didn't. As if I didn't love magazines enough already, now this concept has me loving them even more. Now I feel a bit better about my habit of hoarding of magazines. Check out the office photos, courtesy of Curbly.

color [block] me happy

I am loving the color block trend and am so happy it's still heating up for Summer. I can't decide which color combination I like more, the neutral and neon or bright on bright. What I like about various colors in one shoe is that you can match more outfits. It's kind of like you're saving money. Make sure your toesies are pretty because you'll be drawing a lot of attention to your feetsies in these babies.


1. Elso Pump by Jessica Simpson
2. Futura Retro Color Block Booties by Christian Louboutin
3. Bellahh Pump by Steve Madden
4. 'Harlow' Sandal Jeffrey Campbell
5. Jeweled Heel Platform Pump by Miu Miu

6.22.2011

what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. Salty and Sweet 
My mama served me a Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel candy (Phew, that was a mouthful) and I fell in love! It's the perfect combination of salt and sugar. It would be a bad idea to have a box in my fridge. It sure wouldn't last long.
2. Summertime
It's officially Summer. The temperature is hot, hot, hot, but nothing beats lounging on a colorful floatie in the pool. My baby nephew, Luke floated around in his super cool one. I want one in my size and with cup holders.

3. Planners
The pages in my planner are nearing an end, so I picked up a shiny new one for the next 365 days. My planner seriously contains everything I do and I'm not quite sure what I'd do without it. It's nerdy, but I can't help but get excited to fill its pages with appointments and dates.

6.19.2011

diy: painted votives


I love candles. The way they look, the way they smell, and the way their little flames make any room a bit more cozy. When I stumbled upon these pretty, pastel votives on Once Wed I had to have them, but was even more excited to find that I can make them. For the record, I am not planning a trip down the aisle any time soon. Heck, I don't even have a date lined up for this week. I just like their decor ideas.

They're so simple to make, but look absolutely beautiful when lit. Just head to your local Target or Walmart for some clear, glass votives. Break out some water colors and dribble some watery paint inside the votives. Don't try too hard. It's a simple, creative process. If you try too hard for perfection, the paint will probably turn that icky brown color from messing with it too much. I highly suggest taking the website's advice and sipping on a glass of wine to loosen you up. Have fun with it!

carefree comfort food

Sometimes, on a lazy Sunday like today, a gal just needs some finger-lickin' grub. I like to call it comfort food. The kind that makes your tummy smile. Most of the time, this comfort food comes with loads of calories that makes fitting into skinny jeans uncomfortable. Do I really have to say goodbye to pastas, pizzas, and desserts? SELF magazine makes it so I don't have to. They have tons of delicious recipes that will still make your tummy smile, but won't make it chubby. Let's get to eatin'...


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups small-curd lowfat cottage cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound whole-wheat penne
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 oz) no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 400°. Combine cottage cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella, ricotta and parsley in a bowl. Cook pasta until tender but still firm; drain. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Add tomatoes, sauce, oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper flakes and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Add pasta; turn off heat. Stir in cheese-parsley mixture. Coat a 9" x 13" glass baking dish with cooking spray; transfer pasta mixture to dish. Top with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until heated through and cheese melts, 30 minutes.

The skinny

410 calories per serving, 11 g fat (6 g saturated), 57 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 24 g protein


Ingredients

  • 8 oz lean ground lamb
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 medium plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 whole-wheat pitas (6 inches each)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 recipe Fennel-Arugula Salad

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 400°. Place lamb and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook, breaking up meat with a spoon and stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer meat and onion to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain fat. Blot with another paper towel. Wipe pan, then return meat and onion to pan. Stir in tomatoes; cook over medium-high heat until they soften slightly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, cinnamon, salt and pepper. (The lamb mixture may be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.) Place pitas on a baking sheet; brush top of each pita with oil. Divide lamb mixture among pitas. Sprinkle with feta and pine nuts. Cook until cheese is warm and pita is toasted, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with Fennel-Arugula Salad.

The skinny

416 calories per serving, 22 g fat (8 g saturated), 44 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 18 g protein

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup light vanilla ice cream (or frozen yogurt), softened at room temperature
  • 24 vanilla wafer cookies (1 1/2 inches in diameter)
  • 1 oz dark (or bittersweet) chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids), finely chopped

Preparation

  1. Line a shallow storage container with waxed paper. Put a small scoop of ice cream (about 2 tsp) on a cookie; top with another cookie. Roll sandwich in chocolate so chips adhere to ice cream. Place in container. Repeat with remaining ingredients until you have 12 mini ice cream sandwiches. Cover container and place in the freezer to set for at least 30 minutes, or freeze for up to 1 week.

The skinny

220 calories for 3 sandwiches, 8 g fat (3 g saturated), 35 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein

sunday spark

"Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad." 
-Proverb

6.15.2011

what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. FYE
I'm a huge fan of movies, so it's a wonder why I've never really perused this store before. It has tons of movies for super cheap prices. I stocked up on tons of comedies. Time for popcorn and snuggles!

2. Dance
I've missed attending my weekly dance classes. The last time I went was in high school, which makes me sad to think I pushed it aside for so long. Luckily, I've found a studio nearby to find my love for dance again!

3. Baby Blue Tips
I just purchased Essie's Borrowed and Blue and it's the perfect pastel for my nails. It looks just a like the sky on a clear day. Definitely brings a smile to my face when I'm drumming my fingers on my steering wheel.

6.13.2011

pretty in pink

On occasion, I've mentioned my undying love for Molly Ringwald, which makes me a fan of the new collection at Free People. The collection is properly titled, Pretty in Pink. Not only am I a fan of this romantic classic, but now I'm a fan of these pretty pieces.


While bright colors are huge for Summer, I still think a soft neutral is a good fall back. I know I like feelin' a little feminine every now and again. Here are a few must-haves for my wardrobe...



1. Easy Hi Low Tank Dress. I already own this maxi and swear by its comfy fabric.
2. Smocked Seamless Crop Top. Perfect for a fun day at the beach.
3. Nightcap Lace Bodycon Dress. I need this dress.
4. Cable Knit Shorts. A nice replacement for those boring ol' jean shorts.
5. Vintage Lace Bra. Comfy to lounge around at home.

A little tribute to Ms. Ringwald, who is oh so pretty in pink.

6.12.2011

sunday spark

photo source

“It's important to give it all you have while you have the chance.”
-
Shania Twain

6.08.2011

what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. Summer get-togethers
Lately the weather in the evenings has been absolutely amazing. When the temperature feels that good, there is no better way to spend your time than outdoors with friends. My favorite boys invited everyone over for a barbecue in their fun-filled backyard, complete with a skate ramp, a mini pool, and outdoor games. A little kid's paradise, and we sure did play.

2. Bridesmaids
I honestly can not get enough of this hilarious movie. I find myself always quoting it with my friends and even with my mom. Finally, a comedy that's about the women and not the men. I definitely need to go see it again!

3. Salads
I can't stop eating these yummy bowls of lettuce. They're refreshing on hot days and there are tons and tons to choose from, or make in my own kitchen. Lately, I've been partial to the Greek. I can't seem to get off this Mediterranean kick!

6.02.2011

bronzed beauty

Looks like it's time for a tan, since Summer is upon us. However, with that Arizona heat beating down, the outdoors isn't the most appealing place I want to spend my time. This is where bronzer becomes my friend and a trip to Sephora comes into my schedule. There are tons to choose from! Hellooo, sun-kissed glow.




1. LORAC TANtalizer Baked Bronzer. If you're looking for a major glow without the glitter, then this is the one for you. You don't need a whole lot, so the little pot of gold lasts a long time. It also works great as an eyeshadow! Warning: This is not for the pale at heart.

2. Too Faced Carribean in a Compact. My mom, sister, and I are fans of this one. We love this bronzer in the Sun Bunny. With a lighter side and a darker side, you can contour or blend to get your right color. With pink undertones, you won't look orange! All you'll have is a natural looking tan.

3. Benefit Cosmetics Hoola. I have adored Benefit since I was allowed to wear makeup. Their cute packaging and great products have stuck with me since the 8th grade. I wore this bronzer back then, and still do! The matte, brown shade is perfect for contouring with the little brush provided. When I want an all over color, I use my handy Kabuki brush.

4. Laura Mercier Bronzing Pressed Powder. I like this bronzer in the color Dune. It stays on for a long time and blends really well, probably due to its silky texture. I think what I like most is that it doesn't have a shimmer to it. It's matte, which looks more natural for daytime use.

5. NARS Bronzing Powder. Have to give a shout out to my favorite makeup brand. I love their bronzing powder in Laguna. The sheer color creates a great base tan, and the gold shimmer gives off a pretty glow.

6. Anastasia ILLUMIN8 With Youthful Synergy Complex Bronzer. Sheesh! Is that a mouthful, but at least you get a bang for your vocab. Already an avid fan of brow products by Anastasia, this hydrating and smoothing bronzer is just as good. With tons of oceanic ingredients, like green algae and sea whip extract, it's no wonder my face stays hydrated and soft!

6.01.2011

taste life twice

Ever since I was young, I have received journals as gifts. My family and friends know me well enough to know that I will never tire of ripping through gift wrap to get to my new treasure. It's the place where I can write down all my thoughts, dreams, and secrets on its empty pages. Through the years I have accumulated a huge collection of these little, bound books. They sit neatly in their comfy hiding place. A place I sometimes visit when I want to go back in time.

Sometimes it's embarrassing to turn the pages, sometimes it's saddening, and sometimes it brings a smile to my face. Every page holds a lesson. Every page holds a captured moment in time, so perhaps if my memory fails me, the words will paint a vivid image or give me the feeling all over again. I fell in love with writing down my thoughts and my experiences due to this reason, and also for the way it's therapeutic for me.

My latest journal was from my mom. It's a little blue book with this quote on the cover, "We write to taste life twice." Author, Anaïs Nin is the mind behind the words. It's simple, yet describes my love for writing better than I ever could.


So tonight, I climb into my bed, turn on my twinkly Christmas lights, and write. Who knows when I will want to look back on this chapter in my life?

bbq burgers

Summer is officially here. Time for barbecues, laying by the pool, and sipping icy beverages. But how are we supposed to look good in our swimmies when we're scarfing down burgers fresh off the grill? Luckily, Women's Health has us covered with low-cal recipes. Introducing...Bikini Friendly Burgers. I'm liking the sound of that!


1 lb lean ground turkey
3 oz Gorgonzola cheese, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp vegetable oil
6 100% whole-grain buns
6 Tbsp barbecue sauce
Shredded cabbage (optional)

1. Preheat grill to medium. Combine first five ingredients and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Lightly mix together and form into 6 patties. Brush them with oil.

2. Grill burgers for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until internal temp is 165°F. Toast buns for 2 minutes. Serve burgers on buns; garnish with barbecue sauce and cabbage, if desired.

Makes 6 servings . Per serving: 293 cal, 11 g fat (4 g sat), 27 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 545 mg sodium, 26 g protein


3 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled
1 medium zucchini, peeled
1 lb lean ground chicken breast
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
6 flatbreads or naan
1 cup arugula or baby spinach

1. Warm 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper; cook for 1 minute. Stir in mint and remove from heat.

2. Preheat grill to medium. Using a box grater or mandoline, shred carrot and zucchini, then chop into small pieces. In a large bowl, lightly mix shredded vegetables, ground chicken, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, egg, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Form into 6 patties and brush with remaining vegetable oil.

3. Place burgers on grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Meanwhile, toast bread for 1 to 2 minutes per side.

4. Line flatbreads with arugula, add burgers, and top with strawberry sauce, then fold bread over burgers.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 387 cal, 8 g fat (2 g sat), 54 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 497 mg sodium, 27 g protein


1/2 cup quinoa
1 can (19 oz) lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 gloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp cumin powder
1/3 cup cilantro Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tsp vegetable oil
6 100% whole-grain buns

1. In a saucepan, combine quinoa and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes. Let quinoa cool.

2. In a bowl, combine half the lentils, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, cumin, cilantro, lemon juice, cooked quinoa, and salt and pepper to taste. Place in a food processor or blender; process until well combined. Add remaining lentils and walnuts; pulse until they're incorporated. Form into 6 patties.

3. Preheat grill to medium. Meanwhile, melt butter in skillet over medium heat; add sliced mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in wine and cook for another 5 minutes.

4. Brush burgers with oil and cook for 4 minutes per side. Toast buns for 2 minutes. Serve burgers on buns and top with sauteed mushrooms.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 445 cal, 15 g fat (3 g sat), 62 g carbs, 13 g fiber, 305 mg sodium, 19 g protein

what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. Fresh starts
It's the first of the month, which makes me feel like taking a new approach on life. Sounds kooky, but once I see a new month beginning in my planner, I feel like it's a white blank page for me to fill up with what I want. It's time to focus. Focus on finding a career, staying healthy, and most of all, being happy.

2. Boyfriend in a bottle
My sister cheered me up by showing me these fun-filled glass bottles on Etsy. Boyfriends in bottles! They dress well, don't argue, and are all yours. If only it were that simple. It would be nice to have a boyfriend shipped to you in two business days. Until that day comes...I guess I have a few more frogs to kiss.

3. White nails
I like the clean and crisp look of whited out nails. They still pop like the popular neon colors for summer, especially with a tan. I love Blanc by Essie.
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