We have the opportunity on the daily to make a positive impact on the world around us.
Whether one goes through their day searching for good deeds to be done,
or simply takes advantage of random opportunities to spread love,
every action (or inaction) has a resounding impact.
The question is: Is your impact today going to be positive, negative, or indifferent?
I have been told that one person can't make a difference.
I affectionately call these people "dummies"...
Those who actively try to hold the rest of us down,
those who would rather watch you drown than help you soar, those who can't grasp the power of positivity to create change.
Whether it's a great recipe found, or an uplifting story to share, you can be sure to find it here.
Let's start a Positivity Revolution, and drown out the dumb!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Do you like to Do It Yourself?

Who else out there is a sucker for DIY?

I think creating something from nothing, even if it fails, appeals to my artistic nature. Plus, it appeals to my budget! I would much rather spend two dollars on a failed homemade sugar scrub then spend $20 on a delectable one at The Body Shop. I love The Body Shop! but good God, their prices are a bit sky-high for my taste. So, I will make my own (coming soon). My hair and face were in more need of some TLC than my bod, so I spent my gym time on Pinterest, searching for the best home made face mask and hair treatment.

I found one for both! For my face, I made my mask out of two egg whites, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Whisk this until blended and frothy, put on your pretty face. This takes about 15 minutes to dry, at which point you may rinse off. My skin felt smooth and hydrated, a great bargain at a cost of maybe 50 cents!

For my hair, I saved the two egg yolks from my face mask recipe, added 2 Tablespoons of EVOO, and added enough water to make one cup. I poured this into a water bottle and shook until blended (the water bottle technique also made it easier to pour onto my dome). I worked this mixture into my strands, and let sit for about 15 minutes while I showered. It took 2 shampoos to get the greasy feel out, but days later, my hair is still crazy soft and not so frizzy.

Hooray for DIY beauty regiments!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Everyone Should Smoke

I never knew what I was missing out on until I started smoking...Food, that is (of course it's food)!

Barbecue has never been my bag. It's messy, which offends my girly nature; not to mention greasy, fatty, doused in salty sauce, and it can't be truly enjoyed without an enormous side of potatoes, mac and cheese, and mayonnaise-y cole slaw.
Oh! and biscuits. With butter. So...not really part of my diet, haha.

I surprised Matt last year with a charcoal smoker, and we fell immediately and hopelessly in love with this slow-cooking phenomenon that is true BBQ. I'd like to make fun of the hardcore crazy smokers on all the forums we read, but these online cults provide just the most terrific tips and tricks, so I can't say much. We've also taken to watching hours of 300-pound chefs compete on BBQ Pit Masters, until the point I want to eat the TV.

We have learned a couple very important tips:
1) Smoking is all about your rub. If you have a tasty rub on your meat, you won't even need barbecue sauce.
2) Don't peek, no matter how much your moouth waters. This takes a lot of willpower, but we're getting there!
3) Decide which flavors you want the meat to take on, and soak wood chips in water for a couple hours.

4) Trim off some fat from your pork butt (shoulder). Most of the stuff you buy from the store has a large fat cap, you don't necessarily need all that!

5) Rub your meat (I can't help myself-haha) with a generous helping of rub. You can buy pre-made rub at the store, but we like to make a big bin of our own recipe that we use on everything. Yum!

6) Smoke the pork until it reaches an internal temp of about 165 degrees, then make an aluminum foil boat. Place the pork and about 1/2 cup of apple cider in the boat, wrap tightly, and place back in the smoker.
7) When your hunk of meat gets to about 185 degrees, remove it from the smoker and get ready to pull! You can use a fancy meat puller tool, but two forks works just fine.

The beautiful thing about this pulled pork is that it yields a ton, and is even tastier the day after! We made pork tacos, pork sandwiches, pork wraps...(I sound like Bubba in Forrest Gump!) Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Obsessed with Pizza

Last week, I found a simple no-knead pizza dough recipe that I fell in love with from Smitten Kitchen. Since I know that we are going to indulge in our pizza obsession at least once a week, I decided to give it another go, this time experimenting with a longer rise, substituting half whole-wheat flour, and adding Italian dried herbs to the mix.

(A slightly embarrassing side note: We tried this pizza crust, and using the whole-wheat flour made it taste like cardboard, despite my best efforts. If that's your nag, then this is your recipe! Otherwise, sticking to regular flour will yield fantastic results.)

The recipe I used is as follows (this is for 2 12-inch round pizzas, although last week I just made one ginormous rectangle pizza):

~1 1/2 cups white flour
~1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
~1/2 tsp active dry yeast
~1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
~1 1/4 cup water
~1 Tbs dried Italian seasoning
~1/4 tsp sugar

The biggest "bowl" I had on hand was a large metal pot, so I mixed everything together using a large wooden spoon, and then covered with ClingWrap. I was planning on a half-day rise, but ended up allowing my dough to sit for about 18 hours. When I woke up this morning and took a peek into my pot, I was pleased to be greeted with a delicious yeasty smell, and saw that my dough had nearly tripled in size:

I floured a large Ziploc bag, and scooped the moist, pliable dough from my pot. To ensure it wouldn't stick too much to the bag, I tossed it around a bit for even flour coverage, and then squeezed the air out and placed lovingly in my refrigerator for use later today (hopefully). When we do decide to bake, the oven will be preheated at 500 degrees, and the pizza tray will be prepped with a splattering of corn meal. Carefully stretch the dough over your preferred cooking tray (we use one with holes in the bottom, which makes a mess, but ensures an unsoggy crust), and pre-cook for about 10 minutes. Then add your sauce, toppings, and cheese, and bake at 425 degrees until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown (15-20 more minutes, although ovens always tend to vary).

I can't say that my mouth isn't watering right now...Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


My dad and I had a terrific heartfelt, tearful conversation before he left The States for Portugal. We made sure to say all the things we wanted to, just in case his plane crashed and we didn't get to say it (true story).

The overall theme of our conversation was living every day like it's your last, and the fact that I've always put a lot of pressure on myself, ever since I was a little girl. I think this was meant to be constructive criticism, a suggestion to step back and smell the roses...I do smell the roses, I try to live in the moment, but I also believe in intense pressure making us the best that we can possibly be. You may hate clichés, but consider a diamond as the perfect example.

I've just recently begun to embrace my neuroticism, because there's no chance of it going away. My quirks make me, well, quirky. Instead of wasting energy trying to be something I'm not, it's much more fulfilling to be accepting of what others may view as shortcomings.

Below is a blend of ideas from Rocky, Charlie Sheen, and my ever-confident boyfriend. When my self-doubt starts to take control, and I feel myself spinning, reading this helps me remember that I am in control...

"Blaming shortcomings on this or that or someone is not what winners do. Life will always throw punches. It's not about how hard you can hit, it's about how you take the hits that counts. Winners overcome and no one can stop them, because there's no one to blame but themselves. WINNING!!"

(P.S.- if you're able to picture Charlie Sheen shouting, "Winning!" over and over again, it makes this much more effective, hahaha!)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summertime Cucumber-Tomato Salad

My lovely and talented sister is a caterer, and she is ever-patient and helpful whenever I call her looking for fab recipes. I feel like I'm stealing from her, taking her successful dishes and recreating them at home; but it's the only way to get a taste of her cooking from a thousand miles away. She never fails to supply me with an idea for something inventive and delish to try, like this Cucumber-Tomato Summer Salad.

This is super easy, a plus for me and my A.D.D. cooking style. Plus, Matt doesn't hold the same affinity as I do for tomatoes and cucumbers, so I get to hoard all this to myself (bonus)! I know this isn't exactly the recipe I was given, but it turned out tasting like summer, and was the perfect side to my barbecue chicken last night. I diced four Roma tomatoes and a half of a cucumber, julienned about an eighth of a large red onion, and tossed the mixture with some Greek vinaigrette I had in my pantry... Done!
I can't wait to eat this for lunch today, and next time I make Matt's office lunch, I definitely want to include this in the menu.

Just four ingredients is all it takes!

Red Wine+Clumsy Lady

I was too rushed to think of taking a picture of the spill,
but here's our couch mid-cleaning, after try one, and after a second run-through...Back to pretty!

My Italian blood dictates that I be passionate about pasta, talk with my hands, and have a love affair with wine.

Keeping in mind that all these things are true, you should also know that my boyfriend has a love of light-colored furniture, which is how this question arises...When red wine and light furniture collide, how do you maintain a happy house?

The internet has many tips on removing red wine from anything you can think of, and after many spills and many frantic "Googlings", I've found the best recipe for red wine wine spills. And the best news is that it probably won't require a trip to the store (every lost second counts when we're talking about red wine), and it WORKS .

I have a tendency to force myself to stay up and watch TV when I should just go to bed. This often means I fall asleep in a sitting position, and wake up in the middle of the night to move to the bedroom, alone and slightly embarrassed because

I. Am. Stubborn.

This last week at work has been particularly exhausting, and I once again insisted on staying awake when I had no business doing so. I was awoken at 12:30 a.m. by the clink of my glass tipping out of my relaxed hand; a glass that was half-full of Cabernet. As I mentioned, we have light-colored furniture, and this was no sprinkling of stain. I bolted up, grabbed my iPad (ie, my Googler), and started searching for remedies that could be found in my kitchen.

Without further adieu, here's my step-by-step for all my fellow red-wine-enthusiasts-who-may-also-be-clumsy peeps...
1. Grab a towel and blot the stain until no more color comes up.
2. Sprinkle a thick layer of salt over the entire affected area, let sit for at least five minutes.
3. While the salt is pulling up more moisture, mix together a few drops of liquid dish soap and 12 cup of white vinegar. Grab a clean towel.
4. Brush or vacuum the salt off your stain.
5. Using the clean towel, blot and rub (gently) both sides of the stain if possible with your vinegar and dish soap combo. Let this sit for at least 5 minutes.
6. Get another clean towel and fresh, cold water. After the five minutes has lapsed, rinse the area by blotting and gently rubbing with clean water until no more color comes up.
7. Let the area air-dry and hope for the best!
8. If the stain is still noticeable after drying, repeat steps 5-7.

I used this remedy on both a light microfiber couch and a tan shag rug (sadly, on two different nights in the same week), with spectacular results (hooray!). Although it would be amazing if I didn't spill in the first place, I think I'll be switching to white wine for the time being!

Please keep in mind that every fabric is different, and although this worked for me, it may not work for you. But best of luck, and if you find something better, please share it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chicken-Filled Mini Peppers

Trolling around the grocery store for on-sale meats and fish is one of my favorite activities (don't be jealous). There will usually be something inventive, organic, and out of my budget on sale, meaning I can indulge without breaking the bank.

One week, I found Sausage-Stuffed Mini Peppers for $2, so I snatched them up for plans on dinner that evening. Amidst my excitement at this value, I completely forgot that we were on a health-food kick and sausage was strictly outlawed. So I froze them with the intent of eating them after we were done dieting, but the funny thing is, it's never stopped and now I actually enjoy eating healthy food (drat). So I pitched those fatty nuggets and decided to remake them, in a healthy version.

I just happened to have picked up a giant bag of mini sweet peppers for the grill, and had ground chicken breast on hand, so this was a no-brainer recipe. I cooked my chicken with salt, pepper, ground red pepper flakes, minced garlic, diced celery, red onion, until it was nearly cooked through, then I tossed a handful of shredded Colby-Jack cheese to the mixture. In the meantime, I cut the tops off my peppers, removed the seeds, and arranged in a mini muffin tray (I didn't think we would eat all 24, but we sure did!). When I cook regular-sized stuffed peppers, I'll put a bit of water in the bottom of the dish, but since these didn't have flat bottoms, the mini muffin tray worked like a gem; I could still add water to each cup, and not worry about the mixture falling out.

I covered the tray with aluminum foil, and baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Then I uncovered the tray and set the oven to broil, to add some nice color and texture to each pepper. These were lava-hot coming out of the oven, and we made a meal with just these and a glass of white wine. Matt pretty much dug out the chicken and left most of the peppers, but I felt good about "sneaking" veggies into our dinner, so I'd call this one a success!

How do you "health-up" your favorite recipes?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Whole-Assing It

My parents always told me growing up, "Don't do a job half-assed." (Typing this out, it actually seems like something my dad would say...)

Perhaps it's a little crude, but this advice always stuck in the back of my mind, and I've recently decided it's the (welcome) culprit of my obsessive behavior. When I take on a project, I try to throw myself into it, "whole-assed". If I can't, I stop, reassess, and decide if it's worth pursuing.

My ever-observant boyfriend was the one who pointed this out the other day, although it should have been long-evident (which I made sure to mention). If we're making food for a party, you'd better believe those recipes will be tested weeks beforehand. Presentations are practiced ad nauseam, Google is used with a passion for any and every unknown question, and blog posts are scrutinized before hitting 'Publish'. ;)

The point is, yes I may be obsessive, A.D.D., and a little neurotic...but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Best Pizza Ever Made

Did I say that we were going to the most amazing pizza in the universe last night? I think I did, but I have to reiterate, because we made the most amazing pizza in the universe last night!

Sundays are our pizza cheat day, so having the opportunity to combine our other favorite food, smoked chicken, was an event not to be missed! I didn't get to use my "Naked Tomato Sauce", but the pizza dough recipe from Smitten Kitchen turned out perfect; with a crunchy bottom and chewy crust (a first for me and my dough disasters). The dough rose beautifully to double the size of the morning, and I pre-cooked it at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, we mixed up a first-layer concoction made of Cocktail sauce, Chili Sauce, Sweet and Zesty Famous Dave's BBQ sauce, and a healthy splash of Wilbur's Revenge, which is just the hottest Famous Dave's sauce you've ever tasted. When the pizza dough was a little firmed up but not yet tan in color, we topped it with the sauce, sliced red onion, all the random shredded cheese we had in the fridge (Mexican, Cheddar, Italian, and Colby-Jack), and of course, sliced smoked chicken breast. And then more cheese.

I cooked this bad boy for about 15 more minutes at 375 degrees, until the cheese was bubbly and the edges were beginning to brown. I learned from a past restaurant gig to let the pie rest a few minutes to help with the slicing, but we barely lasted three minutes before digging in!

This is my new favorite pizza, but I might insist on making pizza from scratch every time now that we have this killer recipe!


...are hard. For most of us, it's the beginning of another set of forty hours away from our loved ones; spent sitting in traffic, taking care of rude customers, and tolerating negative coworkers. Even if you love your job, Mondays can be rough. I'm not implying that we should "work for the weekend", but I know that's what most people do. Otherwise, you'd see a lot more smiling faces at eight a.m. every morning!

Life is beautiful. Regardless of your specific situation, no one can deny this simple fact. But we easily forget, and take each borrowed moment for granted. I'll admit, I get a case of "The Mondays" far more often than I should. But you can't blame a day of the week for a terrible attitude...

Do you know what I do when I feel that mopey feeling coming on? I stop what I'm doing, and say out loud 5 things I am grateful for right at that moment. It's not for anyone else, it's just for me. By pressing pause and thinking selfishly if only what makes ME happy, I can turn my attitude around pretty fast, and usually what ends up happening is I can't stop at five! What kind of asshole would I be to continue pouting when I have five things in my life to be thankful for? (And it sounds kind of morbid, but things could always get worse.)

Quick! What five things are you grateful for?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

So Many Activities! (Also Titled, "Aren't Blogs Supposed to be Short?")

There's one day of the week that I tend to spring from my bed in the morning, guns blazin': and that day is Sundays. Sundays give me one last opportunity to cram all the stuff I didn't get to do into one last glorious day before the work week begins. The possibilities are endless, but if you were to guess that I spend most of this day in the kitchen, you'd be spot-on! It's noon-ish now, and I'm just getting to the gym, but I've had such a fulfilling morning already! (I think I must have cleaned the kitchen six times.)

First, we decided that for dinner, we wanted to smoke chicken, but only had boneless, skinless breasts. Typically, bone-in, skin-on breast is best for the smoker, because the bone provides juiciness, and the skin protects the breast from becoming a shoe. Since neither of us felt like running to the store, I did a quick Google and found that by marinating our breasts for a few hours, we could prevent any leathery chicken. So I marinated six breasts in homemade Italian dressing (I have a dried mix that I keep in my pantry, then all you add is oil, apple cider vinegar, and a little water to reach desired consistency) for about four hours, then rubbed them down with our homemade spicy BBQ rub (I promise to share these recipes on a future post!). As I headed out the door to the gym, my other half was prepping the smoker, those babies will cook for about 2-3 hours at a low, slow temp.

Sundays also happen to be my favorite day because they are our designated "Pizza Night". We used to eat pizza 3-4 times a week, and realizing that's not possibly sustainable, changed to once weekly. Sunday is the perfect day for all those carbs and cheese, because we know we won't be getting into bathing suits until the following weekend, and can spend the week at the gym (it may be a vain reason, but it works). Tonight, we will use our smoked chicken to create what I think will be the most delicious BBQ Chicken Pizza in the history of pizza (at least, in our house)!

I don't plan on hitting the grocery store at all today if I can help it (I went almost every day last week), but I needed to make pizza sauce and dough from scratch to make this happen. I've had several failed attempts at making pizza dough, but keep trying, anyways. One note: I despise kneading, and will do almost anything to avoid that sticky, terrible activity. To my delight, I found recipes on a wonderful blog, The Smitten Kitchen, for both my no-knead dough and pasta sauce. This was truly meant to be!

Seven Roma tomatoes that were leftover from a recipe last Friday were to become my base for the sauce. The recipe that SK raved about was the simplest pasta sauce you could ever think of, with simply tomatoes, salt, garlic, olive oil, basil, and crushed red pepper. Amazing! This produced the perfect amount of sauce for tonight's pie (unless we get crazy and decide to use BBQ sauce instead), and the instructions can be found here.

The no-knead dough was even simpler, especially since I could mix it with a large wooden spoon and not mess with my hand mixer (I haven't the counter space to lend to a dough mixer, so I make do with my muscles). I added to the suggested ingredients my garlic, basil, and red pepper leftovers from the sauce recipe, and will let the dough just sit and rise over the next six hours.
I can't wait for dinner, now on to breakfast... Along with trying to cut back on the pizza, we have been increasing our protein intake. The easiest way that we both love is boiling eggs and taking them to work for breakfast. Two eggs is only about 150 calories, but keeps you full for hours. We've had major issues with the boiling and peeling, though. I feel like I can cook well a lot of different things, but somehow, boiling an egg to peel correctly has mystified me for months! We threw away many demolished eggs before I found the best "recipe" from Ruhlman's cooking blog: Salt before, and an ice bath after. Heavily salt the water that your eggs lie in (fill the water up a couple of inches above the eggs), turn the temp to high, and as soon as the water begins to boil, cover the pot and turn your heat to low, keeping the water simmering for 15 minutes. Drain the water, drop the eggs into an ice bath, and when they've cooled, you can peel and refrigerate for up to five days. The trick that saves me a lot of heartache is gently tapping all sides of the boiled egg against the sink, rolling gently between my palms, and then gently pulling the shell off. This produces near-perfect results every time!

I finally exited the kitchen after cleaning it one last time, and collected an unused vase and some decorations I had bought ages ago...Time to tackle a different kind of project: a new bamboo arrangement for our living room! My sister is the greatest at flower arrangements, and has a knack for making everything beautiful. I don't possess her same talent, and so I tried to imagine what she would do with this collection of bamboo twists, hanging white and yellow flowers, and burgundy accents. Long story short, I had to get her on the phone and send her pictures in order to finish the design, but it now sits in the corner of our living room, looking pretty!

Ah, how I love this day!
What's your favorite thing to do on a Sunday?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

8-Minute Makeup

My boyfriend might be the first to tell you that I take forever to get ready. I don't deny this; whether I'm getting ready for work, the pool, or a big night out, I'm SLOW to get out the door, and I'm usually running late. "Five more minutes" always means twenty! (Thank my stars he is a patient man.)

There are a lot of things that go into being a girl, and your morning routine shouldn't be the most difficult thing you tackle on a Monday morning. So yes, it takes me a long time to attend to all the things a lady must that shall remain nameless, but my makeup takes only 8 minutes. Whaaaa....???

(Just a note, the products and brands I use are my current faves, and are not endorsed)...

-Neutrogena Healthy Skin liquid foundation with SPF 20
-Clinique Super Rescue antioxidant night moisturizer (my skin has been terribly dry lately, so I use the night cream in the day)
-Garnier Skin-Renew under-eye rolling concealer
-CoverGirl matte powder
-Bronzer from Forever 21
-CoverGirl blush in Rose Silk
-Eyelash curler
-Revlon Overtime mascara
-CoverGirl LashBlast Fusion mascara
-E.L.F. eyebrow kit
-Vaseline for my smackers

I don't like to look like I have a ton of makeup on, but I do have sun spots and a stubborn red nose at times. For my base, I mix my foundation with the moisturizer so it's more like a BB Cream, for use all over. I highlight my cheekbones, cupid's bow, and just above my eyebrows with the concealer. Light dusting with the matte powder all over (if it's too heavy, it looks crazy-fake), bronzer in the hollows of my cheeks, on my peepers, and underneath my chin. Blush atop cheekbones in a "Nike swoosh" pattern. I love bushy-blush, and probably wear too much, but so do The Kardashians, so whatev. I curl my lashes, add two coats of each kind of mascara, and then pencil in my eyebrows. Did you know that properly-penciled eyebrows and highlights on your face can make you look more awake? ( Thank you, Pinterest! ) Vaseline may not taste amazing and fruity, but it lasts, it's super moisturizing, and lends a wet look to lips that is adorbs.

This is just the right amount for everyday and the office, plus I can play it up easily with just some eyeshadow, liquid liner, or lipstick.
Eight minutes...Boom!

How do you save time on your morning beauty routine? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chicken Baccoli (Bacon-and-Broccoli Stuffed Chicken Breast)

Omigosh, I love stuffed chicken. Actually, I love chicken period; because it's super versatile, so I can have it every night as something new. AND ...if I totally mess up a recipe, chicken breast is fairly inexpensive, so I can just start over!

I used to make chicken cordon bleus all the time, but with our recent diet shift to the healthy side, I've been experimenting with lighter, veggie-filled recipes. This one was found on skinnytaste.com, and I of course doctored it to our liking.

I decided to stuff my chicken with broccoli, cheese, and bacon, and mostly followed the recipe, which can be found here (I used a ton of parmesan and cheddar instead of Swiss, Panko crumbs instead of whole wheat bread crumbs, along with the addition of bacon).

I wish I had a picture of these before we started destroying them, but no one wants to see that! This one is going in our repeat recipe cue, and I can't wait!

Do you have a favorite stuffed chicken recipe to share?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rage Against...

Beautiful poetry always causes us to take a step back and try to feel what the writer is saying. Like a song, a poem can have a different but equally powerful meaning to each who hear it.

This poem, titled, "Do not go gentle into that good night", was written for the poet's dying father. When reading this, I feel his sorrow, hear his plea...This poem forces me to remember that I will not live forever, and so every second of life should be cherished...What does this poem make you think about?

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Love Affair With Food

Have you heard the story about Tupac's last words? According to the police officer who knelt beside him as he took his last breaths, Tupac looked him in the eye and said, "F*** You."

Interesting, and not surprising…

It got us on the conversation of what our last words might be, or what we would like them to be. I would hope to go in the opposite direction of Mr. Shakur, and use my last breath to utter something beautiful. Merv thinks that my last words will be about food. Perhaps something like, "Pass the lasagna," or, "I couldn't possibly eat another bite"...Or maybe, "That was delicious" (fingers crossed!)

I do have quite a love affair with food; and Merv knows that although I adore a perfectly cooked medium rare fillet, that he'll always be my beefcake! (If I made you just throw up in your mouth a little, I'm sorry.)

I'm convinced I have an 800 pound lady living inside me, and we are constantly battling over healthy food and delicious morsels. Why can't it just be both? I realized this morning that more than half of the pictures I have posted on my #HundredHappyDays challenge have been food related. Great food and great wine can make every day a special event; and I think that's why I can't seem to get enough.

Having a rough day? Bet some bacon will turn that frown upside down!

Feeling miserable from your once monthly guest? Nothing that pound of chocolate can't fix!

How about taking all those leftovers out of your fridge and creating something new and delicious? poof, You're a magician!

I could go on for days but I figure I better wrap it up now… have a happy Tuesday!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Gym Addicts

I may go to the gym nearly every day, but I am NOT one of those people who loves going to gym, nor will I ever be "addicted" to it.

Sunshine is my drug of choice, and I despise being cooped up in a stinky room with a bunch of shifty-eyed side-glancers (you know those guys who stare at you out of the corner of their eye? Real sly, weirdo). I feel too jiggly in the fitted (read: tight) gym clothes for women, and I can never make my hair look not insane. If I put it in a high ponytail, it falls as I run; if I choose a low pony, my hair covers my sweaty neck...yummy.

So, long story short, I don't jump out of bed in the morning thrilled about my future hour-long endeavor on the treadmill, but once I get there and start moving, I never regret it. Most of the time, the place is too hot, the TV in front of my mouse wheel doesn't work, or I've forgotten my water bottle and have to pause every 15 minutes to grab a sip of water from the certainly-germ-ridden fountain, but all-in-all, I'm happy to be moving.

It's a miracle, the way our bodies work. We abuse the crap out of our bodies on a daily basis: eating terrible foods we were never meant to ingest, drinking too much alcohol, sitting on our bums all day, stressing about every single thing....but our body heals itself, regenerates to the best of its ability so we can do it all over again tomorrow. I've read this in the recent past, and I truly believe: You get out of your body what you put in, and what you see on the outside is a direct result of how healthy you are on the inside. Think about that as you look in the mirror at what you may not love seeing...those bags under your eyes are probably from allowing yourself only 5 hours of sleep instead of 8 last night...the cellulite on your thighs is the fried chicken you ate last week making an unwanted second appearance...that lethargy you feel might be from a lack of life-giving water, when was the last time you drank 8 glasses? Every time you feel bad, it's your body giving you back what you gave it. Emotionally and physically, our bodies are constantly telling us what we need, if we'll only listen. Instead of making excuses for how we look and feel, why not take responsibility, and change how we look and feel?

Found this little nugget on Ironanimal@Tumblr....

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

The fourth of July is one of my most favorite holidays, for many reasons. But the most important one is that it gives us the opportunity to take one whole day and celebrate our liberties as Americans. We have it so good, but you don't see an overwhelming number of happy people. We should be thrilled every morning to wake up and have the freedoms we have, afforded to us by the bravery of others. The courage I certainly don't have, to sacrifice my life for the sake of others...

This holiday always makes me think of my grandfather, who served his country and went on to love a long and happy life. Without men like him, we wouldn't be able to live the way we do today: selfishly and unafraid; confident and strong. As a woman, I feel fortunate to have been born in such a great nation, where I have the same rights as my fellow man, and I can pursue my dreams without persecution.

As we celebrate our nation's birthday, let's remember also the men and women who gave their lives so that we could live in a free nation. THANK YOU.

Marinated Tortellini Skewers

Creative appetizers could not get any easier or more delicious than marinated tortellini skewers...Perfect for any gathering, whether it's a picnic, Independence Day party, or dress-up dinner, these are simple yet creative, and will be gone in a flash!

The only items I had to pick up at the store were grated parmesan cheese, tortellinis (the dried Bertolli kind is just the right size) and cherry tomatoes, the rest of the ingredients I had in my pantry: balsamic vinegar (you'll only use a splash), EVOO (again, a splash), dried Italian seasoning (about 1 Tbs), salt (pinch), pepper (to taste), garlic powder (to taste, but I use a ton), and black olives (1 can large pitted olives). You can also get a little crazy like me and add some crushed red pepper to the mix, if you'd like a little zip!

Cook your tortellini according to the package directions, al dente. Drain, and place in a large Tupperware container.
Cut your cherry tomatoes in half, add to your Tupperware (you'll want to have a ratio of 1 tomato half to 1 tortellini).
Add your black olives to the container (again, 1 olive to 1 tortellini).
If you feel like splurging a little, pick up a container of mozzarella balls...these are little mozzarella nuggets that can be found in the same area as your specialty meats and cheeses. You can also use a block of mozz, cut into cubes. Guess what? Add this to the Tupperware. (I made it this time sans cheese, and they were still amazing!)

Mix your seasonings, oil, and vinegar together, and pour over your ingredients to marinate. Place a lid on your Tupperware and toss, then set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Skewer a black olive, halved cherry tomato, and cooked tortellini on a toothpick (if you're also adding a mozzarella ball to the mix, you may need to pick up those extra-long toothpicks). These will be quite saucy, so I like to use food service gloves (available at CVS). In the picture shown, I actually skewered first, and then marinated. Whatever you'd like.

Arrange your skewers on a pretty platter, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and fresh parsley, and watch out for your fingers, because these go fast!

I suggested this recipe to one of the ladies I work with for an Italian potluck event she was attending, and she was excited to tell me on Monday morning that they were the first appetizers gone! ~Enjoy~

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Living Spherically

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that my favorite quote of all time comes from a chick-flick (only the best chick-flick EVER!)..."Under the Tuscan Sun". Ah, Diane Lane at her most adorbs, this movie makes me bawl every single time I watch it. If I feel like I need a good cry, I'll pop this baby on just to get the waterworks flowing (my boyfriend just loves this, BTW).

One of the hot-mess old ladies in this film gets hammered drunk and climbs into a fountain...not really the point, but funny nonetheless. Before this fiasco, she tells Diane Lane this quote by Frederico Fellini: "You have to live spherically - in many directions. Never lose your childish enthusiasm - and good things will come your way."

This quote hit home for me, and made me feel goosebumpy and wonderful. You know that look of awe in a baby's eyes, just taking everything in and being amazed at every bit of it? Notice a child's unabashed excitement in, well, everything? Somehow as we grow older, we also grow more dull, trying to hide any eagerness whatsoever. Why does being a grown-up mean being boring? When you're doing a happy dance on the inside, why do you have to remain stoic on the outside?

It's so easy to get caught up in the seriousness of our day-to-day adult lives, but we have a magical weekend coming up, with its many carnivals, pool parties, BBQs, and of course, fireworks...Why not revisit the days not so long ago when all these things were special and amazing?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sports Sick Days

I don't dig soccer. At all. I don't understand the rules, I can't get excited about a 2-hour game that ends in a score of 1-0, and the fans are a bit cuckoo. (Sorry, Archie!)

I do, however, LOVE watching the United States kick some booty, especially when we weren't expected to make it this far. It's exciting to think that we can excel at most everything because of the great country we live in, and this is a true-life example of excelling to your true potential, in spite of what anyone thinks or says.

So, even though I wouldn't understand what was happening, I think I want to watch the game this afternoon. Sadly, I'm stuck in the office, and asking for a half day to go watch soccer is somehow frowned upon. But why can't I have a half day to display my patriotism and show my support for a team that shouldn't have made it?

Everyone should be a soccer fan today.