July 07, 2013

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay Watching the Tide

This summer, one of my role models will turn 80. Appearances alone will tell you age ain't nothing but a number, because she is nothing like how I picture 80 year old women.  She is lively, funny, and has the kindest heart I know of any person in the world. It is her impeccable handwriting, that I will forever have on my arm as a reminder how to live life. Wherever you go, go with all your heart.  That is exactly what she does - goes everywhere with her heart.

The season that most reminds me of my grandmother is summer. The salty sea breeze, the warm sand between my toes, and the ocean lapping at my feet remind me of my summers spent at the beach with my entire family - specifically my grandmother.  Her love of the shore was apparent as she often was only a tiny blip in the ocean as she bobbed along the waves for hours.  Even as a kid, I knew I wanted to be her when I grew up.

She will turn 80 in August, our family decided to put together a scrapbook.  Each person gets to design a page dedicated to this woman who brought seven children into this bright and beautiful world, which subsequently brought us, the grandchildren, into the same life.

I have two weeks to think of a way to write my heart on a page, but words don't seem to be enough. How do you wrap up how much you love and respect someone on a single scrapbooking page? How can I let her know how much she has taught me - not just how to play Backgammon, but how to love fearlessly, how to love heartily, and how to laugh even when it seems difficult. She seems to see the good in most, and when she doesn't, her humor takes over.  She comes from a generation of where women take the backseat to men - but she stands on her own. Independent and lively, she takes yoga, line dancing, and meets with her ladies to play tennis. Even through hardship and trials, these moments have not taken her spirit - but perhaps made it stronger.   She is who I continue to want to be.

Happy Birthday Grandma - a little early because you deserve the happiness.


July 05, 2013

Grilled Chicken with pineapple

Holy Heavens! I had the best meal today. We bought a giant pineapple and a ridiculous amount of chicken.  On the grill, we mixed the two and made a wonderful dinner baby.

There's something about grilling and a the little bit of charred that makes the food taste so much better! 
Pineapple Coconut Kebobs
pound of cubed chicken
fresh pineapple cubed
can of cream of coconut

We pretty much did the follow: diced the chicken and threw it in a bowl filled with cream of coconut milk overnight.
We like to buy whole pineapples - pretty much it's more bang for your buck and it's almost always super juicy. I am a little intimidated cutting it - but Mr. doesn't seem to have a problem. 

After cutting up the pineapple and cubing it, we then alternating sticking chicken and pineapple on skewers.  We only used half of the pineapple, and saved the other half for a sweet treat later in the day.
A pound of chicken and half of pineapple with 6-7 pieces each on a skewer made about 22.

We let them sit on the grill and flipped them every few minutes.  The pineapple juice ran a bit into the chicken so it was extra flavorful. 

It was a perfect quick (sorta quick) lunch and it was ultra healthy.
Happy 4th of July weekend!!

Ring a Ding Ding

With my wicker basket and my tomato bike bell, I feel like me and my baby blue bike can do anything. However, I recently took my bike out of the shed after a long winter, and realized the cute bell I would ring for no reason, didn't work. Instead of alerting people of my comings and goings, or getting Mr's attention, it now makes a sickening click....non-effective!

With one thing on my brain - I found a slew of different bells that would take the place of my tomato. Which is the cutest? You decide.

Flamingo Bike Bell - $8

Lief! bell - This is only sold in UK, and seriously is as cute as a button.

Bird Bike Bell - $30 (This is also a light which is great if you are coming home as it's getting dark!)

There are too many to chose from, but at least I know there are ones out there to replace my now dudded tomato bell. A moment of silence for the ol' chap.

Which one would you pick? 

Signed Sealed Delivered

There's something about opening up your mailbox and seeing a cardboard box with your name on it - which I guess that 's better than seeing someone else's name. What a disappointment that would be! You are all psyched because you see an BIG box, and your mind starts going - gee what did I order? Did someone send a gift? And then you  pull it out, and it doesn't even have your name on it - it's the lady two doors down who has a solid obsession with the home shopping network.
To prevent the potential theft of my neighbor's  Mighty Flexible Sealer (this IS a product on HSN. Don't ask.), I found the company Birch Box. I love surprises, mail, and samples. This company combines all three in one inexpensive box.

I signed up for this program last week, and already received my box for June.
The company, BirchBox, sends you beauty and health samples every month depending on your profile. You have the option of then buying the full size product on the website. Each month has a different theme and June focuses on traveling - "Wanderlust".

Once I received this box, I ran up the steps and thew down all the other mail. Ripping open the container, I found a nice little selection of items. 

2. Wanderlust ColorClub Nail polish - Mod for Manhattan

Today was the first day I used this lotion and I have to tell you it was light weight , non greasy and didn't make my face shine like the sun. I put it on mid-day then spent the rest of my afternoon outdoors, and when I came in for the evening, I didn't have any redness.

Before I even received the June box, I bought the colors off the website because I LOVED the four colors. Unfortunately, the one they sent was my least favorite. They are smaller bottles, but they don't clump.  The colors are fun and summery.

3. Twistband Hair Ties
4. Wanderlust postcards
5. Couture La La sample perfume
The postcards came with 6 different universal "Hello" greetings.  These will be super cute to mail out when we are away for a few days, or want to send a quick hey to someone!

These hair ties were hands or hairs down my favorite product.  So much, in fact, that I bought the whole set online.  They are sold out right now - but I would continue to check in to see if you can order them.  The patterns are fun and nautical (great for the summer), and the company prides themselves on the fact that using these ties will not leave a crease in your hair. Awesome! I often have a few hairbands around my wrist for "just in case" moments, and these serve not only as functional but fashionable. Love love!

The perfume is sweet smelling, but not over powering.  I liked it but probably wouldn't spend the $90 a bottle. 

6. Eyeko Skinny Liquid eyeliner
7. Amika Hair mask

One of the neatest products was the skinny eyeliner. Mostly because I would never purchase this myself, but I found it fun and easy to use.  In addition to sending a full size liner, the company also sends you a youtube video through your email on how to actually use it the "correct" way - and by that I mean not turning out like a raccoon or a prostitute.

I have no picture of the hair creme because simply - I used it all. The sample got me through three hair washings, and I LOVED the citrus smell. I forced A to use it this weekend, as I raved about how smooth and silky my hair felt. I could have been a  walking flipping advertisement. I can't say enough good things, only I wished our time together lasted more than a weekend. The jar is mucho expensive, and at $40 a pop, I probably won't be buying it anytime soon -but I thoroughly enjoyed the samples.

Overall, I loved this month's selection and I can.not.wait. till July's box!!


A Salty Treat for the Salty Shore

Prepping for the 4th of July literally meant Mr. and I were in the kitchen all day - ALL day.  Today was the first truly sunny day in what I think we had in weeks, if not months, maybe even years. I feel like rain has been pouring down since as long as I can remember -and the one day the sun decided to peek out, we had to man the kitchen.  However, after looking at the five day forecast, it seems promising that we didn't miss out on the only sunny day. 

After visiting the local ice cream shop multiple times this week (and it's only Wednesday), I can't seem to get enough of the Salted Carmel Pretzel ice cream.  I decided to carry this sweet treat over in the form of a cookie.  Scouring the internet, I adapted the recipes I found from Ambitious Kitchen,  and created a salty goodness ready for the 4th of July. 

The one main ingredient that makes this recipe mind-blowing (maybe that's a bit exaggerated, maybe not) is Nutella. Now, if you have never in your life had the chocolate hazelnut spread that is Nutella, please run out to the store now,buy it and spread it on anything. Seriously - anything. A piece of bread, moldy cheese, anything. It will literally change your life in only the best way possible. 

Now with that being said,  if you aren't a fan of hazelnut chocolately goodness, then just omit it from the recipe. But don't hate it till you tried it :)

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies and Sea Salt

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks of butter (melted)
2/3 jar of Nutella
1 cup chocolate chips (let's be real - I use the whole bag)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon greek yogurt

  1. Mix flour and baking soda together and set aside. 
  2. With a mixer, mix the butter and sugars until well blended. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the flour mix and beat until completely combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips.
  3. Place dough in fridge for at least 2 hours. I left mine in for 4 hours, which worked out better with the Nutella. Place Nutella in fridge during this time to solidify a bit. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After dough hardens, take out of fridge and make into balls of dough.  Flatten them in the palm of your hand and spoon chilled Nutella in the middle. Be sure to fold dough around this gently and completely. 
  5. Bake the cookies 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the sheets and sprinkle with a little sea salt. 

I am NOT a fan of salt, but these cookies had a different type of taste that set them apart from most chocolate chip cookies I've made.  I think sea salt had a lot to do with that.  So yummy with a tall glass of milk!


July 04, 2013

An Apple a Day

To counteract all the sugar I recently devoured, a healthy lunch was in order. To go along with my deep seeded love for green apples, Mr. and I thew together this yummy salad. By Mr and I, I mean I told him what to do and he made it. Details.

Kale Apple Chicken Salad

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon of dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon honey
sea salt to taste

1 bunch kale
2 green apples - cored and cubed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 ounces crumbled goat cheese (we just used the entire container)
1 pound chicken - grilled and cubed

*As the chicken was grilling, we made the dressing. However, if you don't have the ingredients, you can always mix it with any dressing - I've used Newman's Lite Honey Mustard and Raspberry. Both so yummy!

This salad made enough for 4 helpings and still enough for another sitting.

*Thank you Domino Sugar for making an appearance in this picture. Your assistance in baking my desserts was most appreciated.  Too bad I am a jerk and used you for everything you had.

Try this recipe - you will not be disappointed!


Gimme S'more of that Mess

First off, I have a love-hate relationship with s'mores. I love the idea of them, but it somehow ends up not only on my fingers, but in my hair, up my nose, and once in my ear. I don't know. Clearly I can't control my hands, and I guess I touch my face more often than I realize...But a summer without the graham cracker, mallow and chocolate mix doesn't quite seem like a summer. 

To prevent the blinding marshmallow mess that usually ensues during the 4th day in July, I thought maybe I would make S'more bars to prevent any embarrassing facial messes. I adapted the recipe from Sally's Kitchen, and came up with a sticky mess. Somehow what I made, looked NOTHING like what she created.
 I felt like I am on Pinterest Fail (a wildly amusing site that I wished I thought of!) Basically, it's where  "good intentions come to die." With that motto, I wish I could squeeze the girl that writes this blog and call her my new best friend. I literally pee with laughter when I see the contributing pictures  ....well maybe not literally pee, but I'm peeing on the inside. Just thinking about the hanging string ball or the "Bake a heart into a cupcake" makes me giggle all over again. 
But I digress.....
This recipe did NOT in any way turn out the way I thought it would look....I guess that's mainly because I had measuring and don't fallow directions that well.  However, they taste AMAZING!! The additional peanut butter chip was a great  add-on. 

S'More Cookie Bar

1 stick of melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 and 1/4 cup chocolate chips
a whole bag of mini marshmallows (maybe this was my downfall?)
half bag of peanut chips
8oz of sweetened condensed milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line 8x8 tray with parchment paper and spray.  **This is important - I used a tray WAY to big, and ran out of mix......** This recipe makes enough for a family of four, or one person who has a serious addiction problem with sweet treats. 

  1. Cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed. Beat for about 2 minutes until smooth and combined. Add the vanilla extract and egg, beating until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl down as needed. Set aside.

  1. Toss the flour, graham cracker crumbs, and baking powder together until combined. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until combined.

I used a 9x13 pan because that's all I had at the shore - DON'T do that unless you make more mix

  1. Press 2/3 of the graham cookie dough into prepared pan. Cover the layer with the mini marshmallows. The sprinkle with chocolate chips. 

 I covered half with just chocolate chips and the other half of the tray with peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.

Drizzle the entire can of sweetened condensed milk on top. 

  1. Bake the bars for 22 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cuttng into squares.

*These taste amazing, but don't have the look appeal. But really, does it matter if it looks good? It doesn't look that fabulous once my teeth mash it up!*

Instead of neat little squares, they came out more like oblong misshapen messes - BUT they were fantastic.

July 02, 2013

Cayenne Margaritas and thoughts

One of my favorite places to spend my summer days is my parents' shore house.  There's something about salty air, the call of seagulls, and being able to catch your dinner right in the backyard that puts life into perspective.   Every weekend, we leave our troubles in North Jersey, as we drive down the Parkway to Exit 58. Seven of us, my favorite seven people in the world spend each (or most) Friday nights through Sunday nights together.  Between board games, fishing, eating (lots of eating), and drinking, memories are made.

This past weekend, A created a wickedly delicious margarita recipe.   

She always has the best concoctions - so we left it up to her to make the mixings. 

I've been on a super fruit kick, and before we left for the shore, A asked if I like grapefruit. I can say in all honesty, I find them irritating to eat because I can never open them like people say. Instead, I end up squirting myself in the eye.  With that being said, A decided to create a fun mix to ring in Saturday night :)

Cayenne Grapefruit Margaritas
Tequila 12 oz
grapefruit juice 22 oz
tonic water 14 oz
cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp
This should make 6 drinks!
(The original recipe she found called for simple syrup, but I'm not a fan - so she switched to Tonic water which is also no cal)

You can even see the pepper floating on the top. 

It had just enough pop to open your sinuses but not too much that you sneezed (maybe that's just me) or cause you to gag. 

You can either use grapefruit juice OR squeeze fresh grapefruit - which we tried but it was SUPER duper messy. 

Try and let me know what you think!


Last Summer's Conquest

I find myself obsessed with Pinterest - so much in fact, I have only allowed myself the hour before bed to look through the countless pages of recipes, crafts, home decor because I could literally waste away my entire day.
I saw a  fantastic piece of furniture - a cable spool table that I HAD TO HAVE.  It was my personal quest last summer. After researching how to obtain one without stealing it from a cable company, I posted my plea on Facebook, and a friend had in their garage, just taking up space :) They, too, had plans to make furniture out of it but life got in the way. She was happy to see it going to someone who would make it into a piece of love. Success! Who said social media was a waste of time? Not me! I picked it up, free of charge, and hauled it home.
It was a bit taller than I expected, but I didn't care - soon I would have my own spool table to organize some of my books.

We sanded the table top down, and I painted it white.  

After painting, Mr. screwed on caster wheels on the bottom.  Though I don't have any intentions of pushing it around, it added a little industrial flair (or made it easier if I wanted to push it around:) 

We had our security dog sit watch, or sit and sleep. Wherever we told P NOT to sit, that's exactly where she planted herself. Crafty lil dog. 

I hemmed and hawed over whether the table was too high. Before putting the spindles on, we put it in the spot in the dining room. It was actually above the chair - not really good for a side table, as it came up to your chest in the chair.   But Mr. said it wouldn't be a big deal to disassemble it, and cut the middle planks. Well, I think if he realizes it would take three people to hold the sides together , I don't think he would have volunteered. He took apart the boards and cut off about six inches.    The biggest challenge was putting it back together! After a few grunts and curses, we were able to place the top back on.    
  We wheeled it in the dining room and Voolah! I couldn't fill it with books faster!
It looked better than I could imagine!

I placed my aloe plant (yes, it's still alive!), one of my favorite games- Mancala, and a picture of Little. An afternoon of sawing and painting, and I couldn't be happier! 

Total cost: $16
We got the spool for free and used old white paint from trim.
At Home Depot, we bought 4 caster wheels for $12 and two 6 foot long dowels for $4.