Friday, July 29, 2011

Uncorked #15: 2009 Watusi California Zinfandel

Welcome to Uncorked! Where I feature a wine that I've tried and let you know my thoughts on it. There is a little disclaimer: I am by far no wine expert --I am just going to tell my thoughts on a wine. Some wine snobs out there might turn their nose up at my opinion and that's fine with me! Wine is meant to be savored and enjoyed! I might throw out some wine terms here and there and if I do, I will make sure that I give you the definition and try to explain them to the best of my abilities. My goal is to share some tasty wine picks with the world and hopefully encourage some of you out there to try a new wine. No bottle shall be discriminated against, price is no matter (with in reason), and this is just going to be all about exploring the world of wine.

This week's wine is:
2009 Watusi California Zinfandel

Description: Forgot to write it down
Price: $5.99 per bottle
Region: California

Talk about a great summer red wine! I picked up this little cheap bottle of zinfandel from World Market for just under $6. What a steal! This medium-bodied wine features fruity flavors of red berries and strawberries, with a hint of pepper. The wine also has a nice, but not too overwhelming, oaky finish.

Would I buy it again? At $6 it's totally worth the buy. If you can't tell by the empty bottle pictured, we finished it pretty quickly. If you are red lover like me, it's a good summer option. Some zins are too sweet for me, but I really enjoyed this wine. It's bright, not overly sweet, and well balanced to make a great summer drinking wine.

Fun Wine Fact: Red zinfandel should be served at around 65 degrees, which is NOT room temperature nor fridge temperature. It's somewhere in the middle.
Pairs Well With:
Ribs, burgers, and grilled steak. Really anything barbecued. Just another reason why it might be the perfect summer red!

"I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food"
– W. C. Fields


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kitchen Redo #1: Black Cupboards & Some Extras

This was the very first project I started when we bought our new house. If you missed it, we bought a 1970s house that needs some major remodeling. After getting a few estimates for a remodel, we found out it would be cheaper to bulldoze the place and build a custom home. Our plan is to pay off the mortgage on this home and then save up for a new house. Until then, my husband gave me permission to paint. Just to make this home a little more livable.

I love to cook and the kitchen in this place was so drab. Here are some of the pictures before:
The cupboards were a light beige with shiny brass fixtures.
We have cheap, white laminate flooring and old appliances. (At least they work I guess.)
I decided to paint the cupboards, paint the fixtures, and add in a few extras. This post is part one of the project. To start the project, I removed all the cupboard doors and the hardware. (Take note of the shiny brass light fixtures.)
I couldn't decide what color to paint the cupboards, I was thinking of a fresh green color or black. I know, totally two ends of the spectrum, but I have always loved green cupboards. They looks just so cute!
However, black looks so sophisticated and adds depth.
After painting a few samples I realized green added to the already 70s look of the house, which I did not want to encourage. I decided to paint them black.

Once the cupboard doors were off and the hardware was removed. I wiped down all of the doors and cupboard framework with a deglosser. You also have the option of lightly sanding the cupboards if you don't want to spend the money on a deglosser. I didn't want to deal with the dust and I honestly hate sanding. I thought the deglosser was the easy way to go. You apply it with a rag and let it sit for about 20 seconds. Then you wipe it clean with another rag. It leaves a somewhat tacky surface, which helps your new paint stick to the wood.
We live in a small town, so I had to buy paint at the local TrueValue and this is the brand they recommended. It's their store brand and has a built in primer, which allowed me to skip a step in the process. For the cupboards I chose the color Brimson Tide. The color is not all the way black, more of a chalkboard black. I also bought a light beige paint for the walls, called Encompass, that matched the swirls in the countertops. Overall, the brand of paint worked pretty good, but I still prefer Valspar paint as my painter's choice.
My little extras included a under mount wine glass rack ($30 at, which my wonderful husband cut down to fit my cupboard,

a shelf to go above the sink,
and these awesome hanging wine holders from Pottery Barn.
Just found out you can find a cheaper version of this here

So that is my teaser to the kitchen. I will have the results up next week and all I can say it that it is AMAZING what a little paint can do for a room. I absolutely love the results of my kitchen!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crock Pot Smothered Chicken


6 slices of turkey bacon, cooked and broken into 1-inch pieces
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms
1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
6 slices of Swiss cheese (or shredded)

1. Brown chicken in a skillet.
2. Mix cream of chicken soup, 1/2 cup of water, and mushrooms in crock pot until somewhat smooth.
3. Place browned chicken in crock pot and cover with cream of chicken mixture.
4. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
5. When chicken is cooked, place one piece on a plate. Smother with one slice of Swiss cheese (or if using shredded put as much cheese as you want on it), some mushrooms, and bacon pieces.
6. Serve with a salad on the side and some crusty bread.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Easy Hairstyle for Long Hair and Bangs

I am always looking for an easy way to do my hair. I will actually search the internet for "easy hairstyles for long hair" and it usually comes up with cute updos that require no bangs. Well, I need my bangs. I have a HUGE forehead...really I do! I had a friend in high school who use to tell me that if I didn't have bangs I might "confuse pilots and they might try to land a plane on my forehead." With all joking aside, I have never had a problem with my forehead. It's what I was born with and I just have to work with what God gave me.

So when I was on Pinterest the other day and saw that my sister had tagged a cute hairstyle that was great for long hair and bangs. I was SUPER EXCITED! Anything that makes my hair look cute with minimal effort!

This tutorial comes from Keiko Lynn, who also has some other really cute hair things on her blog that I am going to check out at a later date. Here's a pic of the attempted style:

I picked up a cute scarf from Walmart for $5 which matched a couple purple tops I own. I started with my hair up in what I call a dewdrop, it's basically a ponytail that isn't pulled all the way through. I followed her tutorial exactly up to the part where she tucks the ends into the scarf. That just didn't work for my scarf or my head, not sure which one. I wrapped the ends around to the back of my head, below my ponytail and tied another knot. Then I hid the knot under the other layer of scarf. In addition, I used the ends (which are hidden below the scarf) to pin the scarf in place on my hair. It worked pretty good and it was super easy.

Here are the results:

Very cute, very easy, and will definitely do it again! Do you have an easy hairstyle that you would love to share?? Let me know in the comments below. I am always up for new ideas!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How To Make Your Own Baby Food

Hands down the most expensive thing to raising a child is diapers and second to that is baby food. Have you ever looked at the cost of baby food? Most jars are somewhere between $0.60 to $1.19! It adds up when you kiddo can start eating 2-3 jars for one meal.
So long before I had our little guy, I decided I was going to make my own baby food. Not only to save cost, but also to know what was going into the food. So here are are my tips on how to make your own baby food:
First off, I registered for these Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food Freezer Trays With Lids ($10.23 at


I already own a mini food processor; I highly recommend this one.

It's the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Processor, available for $29.56 at Amazon. I know there are magic bullets out there and other baby food making machines, but make sure you buy something you think you can use again after you are finished using it for baby food. You will be happy you did! I have had my mini food processor for about seven years now. have had to buy new blades and replace the plastic container a few times, but it's totally worth it and it keeps going strong.

To get started pick out your veggie or fruit. I chose carrots for this demonstration. If they are fresh or frozen, cook them in the microwave till they are soft - very soft. It will save the motor on your machine.
Add the squishy things into the machine with a little water and press go! You will end up with something like this:Once it is pureed, divide evenly into the food trays and freeze. SO EASY! After a day or so I take the food out and break it into individual cubes and store them in freezer bags. I have one bag for veggies and one bag for fruits.
You end up with fresh and healthy baby food made with love. (Not to mention the beautiful color!)

Home tips:
-Plant a garden and you basically have free food for you little one. You know where it's been and what chemicals have been added to it.
-Use your soft fruit. You know those peaches that have just gone too soft for you to eat. Obviously don't use them if they are moldy or rotten, but the softer the fruit the sweeter and easier the puree.
-Brown bananas add sweetness to anything. Once in a while you will get a very tart fruit that is a little too tart for your baby's palette. I like to throw in a spotted banana to add some sweetness to bland and tart fruit.
-Frozen veggies and fruits are cheap and easy! I can buy a bag of peas for about $1 and make 3-4 meals for my little guy.
-Canned fruits are a good option too. I usually don't like canned fruits, but you can get pears, peaches, and apricots on sale and as long as they are packed in juice I haven't had a problem using them for my little man.
-Sometimes when you make your own baby food it gets a little watery and becomes hard to feed to them without making a huge mess. I like to add in some rice cereal to the mixture to act as a thickener. It provides a little more substance to the food and adds iron to their diet.

My little guy loves the homemade baby food. In fact, when traveling I've purchased some jarred food and he barely eats it. Have you ever actually tried it?? Most of them taste gross! The flavor is usually bland and terrible. I have found the food I make has more flavor and he enjoys it more. I know where the food has been because I made it myself. It tastes fresher, is naturally sweet and flavorful, and it saves me money! It's funny because when my little guy hears that food processor running, he knows that it's meal time. So good luck out there with the baby food making and happy blending!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Losing The Baby Weight Part 8

Well, it's official, my little guy is almost 9 months can you believe it?! He has grown up so fast! Since he was born, I have been working on losing the baby weight and I can officially say I have done it, well for now anyways! (Read previous posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7). I now weigh 124 pounds, that is a weight loss of 46 pounds and I couldn't be happier! My real goal is 120 pounds, but I am fitting in all of my pre-baby pants and shorts just fine. My guess is that my little extra weight is coming from the fact that I am still nursing. I am a little larger in a certain (uh-um!) area, to say the least.

Here's a nice before and after pic:

Losing the weight has been a constant yo-yo for me the last few months. Mostly because I have moved twice within the last six months and it makes it tough to stick to a diet plan. However, I lost the last few pounds with this last move because I barely had time to eat! I worked on cleaning the new house, painting the kitchen, and chasing around an almost 9 month old who is crawling faster and faster ever day! But when I did find time to eat, it mostly consisted of fast food and wine, which is so not healthy for me!

This week I decided to start eating healthy and exercising on a daily basis again. I feel that when I eat junk, I feel like junk and when I don't exercise I feel irritable, tired, and moody. It's amazing the difference in my confidence level and attitude when I workout regularly and eat healthy. So even though I am not really back to my pre-baby weight of 120, this will be my last post on the subject of losing the baby weight until I am finished nursing. Right now I plan to focus on eating right, exercising regularly, enjoying life, and doing it all while enjoying the little extra curves on my body!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Uncorked #14: 2007 Michel Picard Vouvray

Welcome to Uncorked! Where I feature a wine that I've tried and let you know my thoughts on it. There is a little disclaimer: I am by far no wine expert --I am just going to tell my thoughts on a wine. Some wine snobs out there might turn their nose up at my opinion and that's fine with me! Wine is meant to be savored and enjoyed! I might throw out some wine terms here and there and if I do, I will make sure that I give you the definition and try to explain them to the best of my abilities. My goal is to share some tasty wine picks with the world and hopefully encourage some of you out there to try a new wine. No bottle shall be discriminated against, price is no matter (with in reason), and this is just going to be all about exploring the world of wine.

This week's wine is:
2007 Michel Picard Vouvray

Description: No bottle description...bummer!
Price: $15.99 per bottle
Region: Loire Valley in Tourraine, France

I was so impressed by this wine, it might be my new favorite white wine! In fact, I went to a wine bar last week and was raving about it to the wine bar's owner. This wine was a perfect summer wine. I would categorize it as a demi-sec wine, that is light, sweet, with a dry finish. I have never heard of the grape this wine was made from, Chenin Blanc, but I am definitely going seek out more of this kind of wine.

Would I buy it again? For sure! This is a great summer wine and really the fruity flavors mixed with the dryness are a good combination for the heat wave. I find that though fruitier drinks are usually associated with the warmer weather, but I just can't stand to drink more than one.

Fun Wine Fact: Vouvray is a French region of the Loire Valley located in the Touraine district of France. Chenin blanc is the dominant and nearly exclusive grape of Vouvray. It has a wide range of sweetness styles, the wine labels may indicate the sweetness level by the terms Sec*, Demi-Sec*, Moelleux* and Doux*.
Pairs Well With:
White fish, veal or chicken

"Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy."
– Alexander Fleming (1881-1955),
the Scottish bacteriologist credited with discovering Penicillin in 1928

*Sec-French term for 'dry', as in the opposite of sweet.
*Demi-Sec-French for medium dry.
*Moelleux-French term which translates as 'mellow', but in the context of wine means sweet or medium sweet. You'll often find this term on bottles from the Loire.
*Doux-The French word for sweet. Usually refers to the sweetest category of sparkling wines.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sophistication Sundays - Beating the Summer Shine

My sophistication muse, Audrey Hepburn
Sophistication Sundays will revolve around my favorite beauty finds, techniques, fashion trends and anything else "pretty" that catches my eye. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you and hope to hear your suggestions and feedback as well! I am no expert at beauty or fashion by any means but perhaps that will make my thoughts more relatable. Simply put, I'm just a girly-girl navigating my way through the fabulous finds I come across.

Well now that it's July we are in full-force humidity and heat! Nope I'm not complaining one bit (Okay... maybe the humidity is a little annoying when it comes to my hair). While Moroccan Argan Oil has been helpful when fighting this humidity there is still the fun issue of skin care. Unfortunately I am one of those people who has to deal with the annoying T-Zone. It's one of my most irritating beauty issues and it only seems to get worse during the summer. So today I'm going to share a few products that really seem to help cut down on that mid-day shine during the dog days of summer.

1. Clean and Clear Finishes:
Mattifying Cleanser and Moisturizer
I am a fan of Clean & Clear because it is always kind to my pocketbook and gets the job done. Sure I could pay more for Proactiv and Neutrogena but... I would just rather not. These latest products prove that I don't need to pay big bucks to find satisfying products.
The Cleanser

One of the first things I love about the cleanser is that it leaves my face feeling clean but not at the cost of abrasive exfoliation. The feeling and texture reminds me a bit of their Daily Pore Cleanser that I'm already fan of. It provides light exfoliation that is gentle enough for everyday use. It really seems to help cut down on the usual amount of shine and kind of reminds me of a mineral mask.

The Moisturizer

When I first looked for this in the stores I came away disappointed because I couldn't find it! I was looking for the bottle and didn't realize it came in a little box (unlike the rest of clean and clear products). Since I brought it home it has definitely become my favorite facial moisturizer. Again, it cuts down on the shine but still provides and appropriate amount of moisture. The SPF 15 is simply another added bonus when using it during the summer months. I will have to see how it works during a South Dakota winter because I have a feeling that even though it's perfect right now it may not provide enough moisture when the snow starts flying.

2. Blotting Sheets
While I've been a fan of these for awhile now I simply cannot emphasize how much I love them. They are great for a mid-day touch up and take care of shine without wiping off your make up. I was a fan of Clean & Clear's oil-absorbing sheets for awhile until I came across my new FAVORITE find: E.L.F. cosmetics (more on this later). I loved the Clean & Clear sheets but at almost $5 a pop I just had a hard time purchasing them. E.L.F. sells them for $1 a package which means I can stock up and stash them not only in my purse but my desk, car etc. What can I say, a girl likes to be prepared!

3. Translucent Setting Powder
I can't count how many times I've heard (and read) people praising the wonder that is Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder. Ladies flock to this wonder dust for its ability to lengthen your makeup wear and keep the shine down. Now I have not tried this due to its oh, $35 price tag but sought out similar products in the hope of stopping shine in it's tracks. My two current favorites are once again products from E.L.F. Cosmetics.

The first product is E.L.F. Studio Translucent Mattifying Powder.

After I'm finished with my daily makeup routine I simply take the sponge and apply some of this to my T-Zone. It keeps the shine down and definitely extends the life of my foundation.

Ever since I started using this loose powder I keep the compact (above) for on the go touch ups. I apply a light dusting of this to the T-Zone when I'm done with my makeup application and it leaves me a happy & non-shiny!

These are my current favorites for cutting down on shine. What are yours? Do you have any go-to products or beauty tips and tricks that might help? Please let me know below :)

Happy Hot, Steamy Summer!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Best Ever Chex Mix

A few weeks ago one my co-workers who was leaving the system brought a bag of chex mix as a "thank you" and departing gift. It was easily the BEST chex mix I've ever had!!! Absolutely delicious. Below is the recipe and the great thing about it is that you can tweak it to your tastes. I didn't want as many wheat thins so I took it from 3 boxes to 1 and upped the quantities of gold fish, vegetable thins, combos and cheez-its. An added bonus? NO baking required. This makes A LOT of chex mix so if you have a family event coming up it works perfectly! I made it for our weekend away in the Black Hills.

2 pkg Gold Fish
1 big box Chex Cereal
1 box of wheat Chex
1 boxes Ranch Wheat Thins
1 can of cashews (or more if you like more nuts!)
2 boxes Vegetable Thins
2 boxes of Cheez-its
3 bags Combos (pretzel with cheese center)
1 bag pretzels (sticks or whatever shape you prefer)
1 pkg oyster crackers

1 bottle Orville Redenbacker Flavored Popcorn Oil
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion salt

Directions: Put all ingredients in 2 tall kitchen garbage bags. Add flavoring. Mix the bags 3-4 times in 5-6 hours. Remember: this makes A LOT of Chex Mix and it Freezes well!


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