Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sophistication Sundays - OPI Stranger Tides

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 I have to start out by once again thanking everyone for their patience in the midst of another hiatus. I'm telling you, working full time while getting your master's degree can result in periods of high stress and little time. Needless to say, I'm back for a little S.S. installment and am happy to report on one of my FAVORITE subjects: nail polish :)

With the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, OPI released a special collection complete with lovely pale shades and as always, clever names. Since I simply cannot afford to purchase every darling shade I settled for the mini lacquer set:

My favorite shade out of the mini set was without a doubt, Stranger Tides.

Now as usual the photos released by OPI are not always true to the color that ends up on your nails. This picture makes the lacquer look more gray than its true sage-green color of Stranger Tides.

The shade seems comparable (but lighter) to Essie's "Da Bush" (which I haven't seen anywhere in stores) and slightly grayer and darker than Essie's "Shore Thing."

Either way, I love the look of it. The color is a great neutral and brings a little something different to the table besides the typical pink or beige neutral shades. What do you think?

What is your go-to nail color this summer? Are you crazy like me and let it bother you when your toe nail color clashes with with your shoes? ;) (Okay this really only happens if my toes are hot pink and I'm wearing red shoes...)

Have a GREAT week.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Baked Artichoke Chicken

Yesterday I was in quite the rush. We had the repair guy out at our house, the bug guy spraying, I was moving things in and trying to feed my little guy at the same time. My grand plan for dinner was Chicken Piccata with Lemon, Capers and Artichoke Hearts but due to my crazy schedule, I just didn't have time to pound out the chicken. So searching on the internet for a baked chicken and artichoke recipe, I came upon a version of this one. I know it's summer and the thought of running the oven usually makes me cringe, but all I can say is that I am in love with this recipe and it was totally worth heating up the house with the oven! This was such a great recipe and it for sure will be a regular meal. It's just too easy not to make again! I know the pic doesn't make it look the most appetizing, but trust me it was DELICIOUS!

Baked Artichoke Chicken
1 (14 ounce) can water-packed artichoke hearts, cut
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, diced (I used the pre-diced garlic in a jar and used about a tablespoon)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.
3. Place chicken in pan and sprinkle with pepper (I didn't use salt because chicken already usually has enough salt)
4. Mix artichoke hearts, cheese, garlic, and mayo together in a separate dish.
5. Pour mixture over chicken and spread to cover.
6. Bake for 35 minutes.

Serve with a nice salad on the side and some crusty bread!

The Skinny: Serves 4 @ 302 calories


Friday, June 24, 2011

Uncorked #13: White Headed Robin Winery's Partridge in a Pear Tree

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:
White Headed Robin Winery's Partridge in a Pear Tree

Description: Experience the fragrant aroma, buttery texture, and succulent taste of ripe pear in our 'Partridge in a Pear Tree' wine. Roquefort or Gloucester cheese and pear wine are an excellent combination. This is a holiday favorite, or use white wine in cooking.
Price: $16.99 per bottle
Region: Viborg, South Dakota

This week was the first official week of summer! I celebrated with some nice pear wine! For some reason, pear beer and wine really always have just screamed summer to me. I picked up this bottle, not really realizing that it's a local wine, and was pleasantly surprised! I am not usually a sweet wine fan, but this pear wine was a nice change to the norm. First off, it has a nice lively nose on the wine, with floral* and fruity notes. They sure didn't skimp on the pears when making this wine, but it finishes with a nice buttery flavor. Be prepared though, when drinking this wine, it is sweet!

Would I buy it again? Yes. I think it's a great sweet summer wine. Serve it chilled on a hot day and it's quite refreshing! It also would be a wonderful addition to any wine and cheese party. Of course, it's a little pricey, but that is what you get when you buy things local. I am usually willing to pay the higher price to help out a fellow neighbor. Also, if you are a plum wine fan (Scott and Rob), you would love this wine!

Fun Wine Fact: In Britain, a very common drink is Perry, which is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented pears. Perry is made from pear juice which has undergone two different kinds of fermentation. The first fermentation is carried out by yeasts which have either been added deliberately or which are naturally present on the pear skins.
Pairs Well With: Brie, light seafood, and personally I found goat cheese.

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

*Floral- Suggests the aroma or taste, usually aroma, of flowers in wine. "Floral" usually employed as an adjective without modifier to describe attributes of white wine aromas. Few red wines have floral aromas.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Keeping the Faith

I was musing the other day about the challenge of staying positive and keeping faith in the midst of waiting for God's plan. I thought to myself, it is so important not to give up hope in God's plan but how do we get through these trying, uncertain times?

So often I say things to myself in order to keep trudging forward...

"God has a plan."

"He will provide for us."

...How I cling to bible verses, posting them at the end of my outgoing emails or on my status messages on Facebook/gmail...

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

"For I know well the plans I have in mind for you; plans for your welfare not for woe."

...or how I find a great quote and look to that for awhile....

"Faith in God includes faith in His timing."

I realized that throughout all of this, even if my heart wants so firmly to believe otherwise - I make myself say these words. And through their constant repetition to myself (and oftentimes to others) I believe them and so my heart does too. Then I saw this realization in written form on this woman's blog when she said,

"Make your mouth say what your heart will eventually catch up to, 'I trust even when I don’t understand.'”

That was IT. She absolutely nailed it.

...So my question is: How do you get through tough times and keep your faith? What can I learn from you?

Take time to see the tools God has given in order to draw you ever-closer to His side.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How To Remove Shower Doors

We have just moved into our new house (more like a 70s house than new!) and I have already completed a few projects. I know our plans are only to live in this place for a few years, with hopes of knocking it down to build a new one, but until that time there are a few things I wanted to do in the house to make it livable. Removing the shower doors was a HUGE priority in my book. I HATE shower doors, especially when they are probably the original 1978 doors that are completely disgusting!

Keep in mind, this whole bathroom is pretty bad. Brown tub, toilet, wallpaper, lighting...I mean they must have really loved brown. It looks like a dark cave, but none the less, I hate shower doors and need them gone. They weigh about 30 pounds each door and always are going off track. Also, have you ever tried to bath an infant with shower doors?? Totally impossible! Last night was bath night for my little guy, so it was time to get those doors off before he went to bed.
Here is the bathroom before:

Now I should start out by saying you need a few things to remove the doors: screw driver, bathtub caulking, rubbing alcohol, and maybe a blow dryer and scraper depending on how your doors are installed. Also, MOST importantly SAFETY GLASSES! I learned this the hard way, but first I should back up and tell you a story.

A few weeks ago, Thrifty Decor Chic had written a blog about a redo project gone wrong. She was attempting to paint her french door black and the project ended up with shattered glass everywhere. I remember reading that and thinking how horrible that must have been for her! Well, last night I had the same experience, with shower doors. This is why the importance is placed on safely glasses!

The first step to remove shower doors is to remove the shower doors from the track. They usually have some wheels on them and a little slot in the track where you can slide the wheels through it to unlodge the door. Be very careful while doing this. In my house in Omaha, I removed the shower doors and when I did it I pulled and pried and ripped the shower doors off the track no problem! In this house, probably because the doors are so old, I barely moved one and it shattered everywhere! I ended up with a mess like this:

I am just super thankful I moved my kiddo two minutes prior to this happening. He was in the sink part of the bathroom, barely divided by a doorway, playing on the floor. I at least had the forethought that the door could break and it would be a good idea to get him out of the way. I DIDN'T have safety glasses on (or shoes for that matter) and I am so surprised I didn't end up with some glass in my eyes! Anyways, I always thought that shower doors were made with some sort of plexi glass or something shatterproof. Well, not in 1978, maybe the new ones are, but it makes you think twice about shower doors. Imagine slipping in the shower and hitting these doors and having them shatter on you! Well, anyways, everyone ended up OK in the situation. My little guy heard the bang of the door braking and was quite upset by the sound and I had a few cuts on my hands and feet. Other than the hour it took to clean up the dust like glass, we were all fine.

Anyways, back to the shower door removal....Once you remove the doors from the track, remove the hardware holding them in place. Usually it is just screwed in, so pretty simple. The house in Omaha had the doors tract caulked to the tub as well. If yours are, just use a blow dryer to heat up the caulking till you can remove the hardware. Then in combination of blow dryer and scraping with a putty knife, remove the caulking. It's not fun and takes some time, but you will eventually get it all off. After the hardware is removed, you will be left with holes in your tub that look like this. You will need to fill the holes with some bath caulking. This will prevent ruining your tub with mold and mildew. If you have a white tub, like most normal people do, I would use white caulking. This tub is this awesome brown color and because they don't make bath caulking in brown, I opted with clear. Fill the holes with caulking.Dip your finger in rubbing alcohol (this is a trick I learned from my mom!) and smooth out the caulking. The alcohol helps so that the caulking doesn't stick to your finger and it smooths out the caulking nicely. (This also works great for caulking around a tub and counter tops.)
Finally, hang your shower curtain and rod. I chose this plain Jane white shower curtain to help brighten up the room. The bathroom may still look pretty bad, you know brown tub and toilet and the AWESOME wood toilet seat, but at least I don't have to look at those disgusting shower doors anymore!!Happy showering!!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day 2011!

It's that time of year already! I cannot believe it's Father's Day again already. Father's Day is a chance for us to reflect on the impact our father's had on our lives and if we are married and have children, to acknowledge the Father your husband has become.

I know that in terms of Dads we are abnormally blessed. My Dad is such a strong example of a good Father and a man of God. In light of this article I know how important this is for the development of one's faith and adulthood. He never left any doubt in our minds about what was truly important in life and how we were to grow to become good people.

In addition to this my Dad was a great example of what we should look for in a future husband and father of our children. No matter what our family needed my Dad would do whatever he had to do provide for us and be there for us. He is a hard-working man who regardless of his workload made time for his children. Whether I wanted to go outside and play basketball after dinner or just needed help on my homework my Dad was there to provide support and endless patience.

We are blessed with a wonderful Father and thank God for this gift! Remember to thank your Dad today for the presence he has had in your life.

Love you Dad!


A Breakfast Fit for a King, On Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there! To celebrate my husband's first Father's Day, I made him a wonderful breakfast! He requested stuffed french toast with bacon. I thought I would share the recipes.

I chose to bake the bacon, it will end up crispy, chewy and overall really delicious! First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lay thick sliced bacon out on a lined cookie sheet. Try not to make the pieces touch. Put the bacon in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.Next, take a somewhat dry loaf of french bread and slice it up. I do not use the ends of the french toast, so I cut those off. I cut my slices about 3 inches thick. Then I cut out a pocket in each slice so I can stuff it with the cream cheese mixture.In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 8 ounces of cream cheese until smooth.Stuff the cream cheese mixture into the pockets cut out of the bread.
In a shallow baking dish, make your french toast batter. Everyone's is different, mine is pretty basic: 2 cups of milk, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Use a fork to whip it all together.
Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter in your skillet. Get it hot! You want your french toast to brown nicely.
Dip your french toast in the batter on both sides and place in your skillet. Do not turn over till you get a nice crust on the bread. This is very important. The heat will warm up the cream cheese and prevent you from ending up with soggy french toast.
While your french toast is cooking, slice up some fruit. I went with raspberries and strawberries.
After 15 minutes of the bacon is cooking, I pulled out the bacon and covered half of it with maple syrup. I thought it would be nice to have two different kinds of bacon. Let it cook for a few more minutes until it looks done and crispy.
Next, assemble it all together. (If you aren't quite ready to eat it, you can place the french toast in the oven on a cookie sheet to keep warm.)
Cover the french toast with fruit and sprinkle with powdered sugar and ENJOY!!

Happy Father's Day!!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Uncorked #12: Bodega Norton Malbec 2010

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:
Bodega Norton Malbec 2010

Description: Bodega Norton was founded in 1895 at the Mendoza River Valley. The estate winery is located at the foothills of the Andes, at altitudes ranging between 850 to 1100 m. above sea level. The climate at these altitudes is characterized by warm days and cool nights. This allows the grapes to mature slowly toward perfect ripeness, providing deep colour, rich aromas and flavors. This fresh and fruity wine invites you to discover the unique characteristics of its grape variety.
Price: $8.99 per bottle
Region: Mendoza, Argentina

I know, another Malbec right?? Well, this one has been sitting on my shelf for a while and after my two week hiatus of not writing any Uncorked, I went for a my default wine...a red one :) Normally I love me some cab, but today I thought I would choose something slightly different so I reached for this Malbec. I know I just reviewed a Malbec, but I just couldn't help myself. Tonight's dinner was pizza and I thought the spiciness of this wine would go great with our dinner. One thing I noticed right away with this wine is that I couldn't smell the nose of the wine. Maybe it's my allergies kicking in, but I was expecting the worst from this wine. Usually, no nose usually means no flavor, however I was pleasantly surprised by this wine. The taste is fruity yet spicy and there is something almost smoky* about the wine. It really went well with the pizza we ate tonight.

Would I buy it again? For sure! With the price of $9, I thought it was a pretty good little wine. I know I can't smell the nose, which really is most likely my allergies, but I was really overall impressed by the wine. The last Malbec I reviewed had to breath for 30 minutes before it was great to drink. This one was great just out of the bottle, with no wait! With the busy moving/cleaning/parenting going on in my life, being able just to sit down and enjoy a nice glass of wine with some pizza (delivered of course) is such a nice treat to start my weekend. And yes, it's Thursday night and the start of my weekend...No, I am not bragging, because my weekend will be moving the big stuff and unpacking :(

Fun Wine Fact: Malbec was originally grown in France, but a hard freeze in 1956 wiped out most of the plants. Malbec was introduced to Argentina in the mid-1800’s, and they now produce over 70% of the world’s Malbec grapes. Due to the increasing popularity of the wine, France has began to grow the grape again. Together the two countries produce over 90% of all Malbec wines.

Pairs Well With: Smoky meats, sausages, BBQ, (and pizza!)

"Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance."
– Benjamin Franklin

*Smoky- Some wines, either because of the soil or because of the barrels used to age the wine, have a distinctive smoky character.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Edamame

After eating out and not working out, my husband and I have been feeling very lazy and unhealthy lately. In my search for a healthy recipe (and vegetarian) last night, I came across this one from Cooking Light. Can we say "Yum!". The flavors of the feta cheese, spices, and couscous went great together. I used the multi-colored couscous to add some more color and served it with multi-grain toasted pita on the side.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup fresh or frozen shelled edamame (soybeans)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/4 cups water, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked couscous
2 cups coarsely chopped green onions
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add edamame, red pepper, and garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup water, basil, chickpeas, and tomatoes; simmer 15 minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups water and salt; bring to a boil. Gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in onions and feta; toss well.

The Skinny: Serves 5 @ 454 calories. (Really I thought it served enough for 6-7 though)


Monday, June 13, 2011

Black Hills Outdoor Adventure

As you can tell, our blogging has been quite slow for the last month. Well, it's summer and I think all of us would rather be outside enjoying the great weather, than inside on the computer :)
I thought I would share some recent photos of my outdoor adventure while on a recent trip to the Black Hills. Enjoy...
Our view of the Black Hills
The lone pine cone Richard's Alumroot
I just loved the color of the rust on the tree bark
Northwest Cinquefoil
Purple wildflower that reminds me of a butterfly
The remains of a dandelion
Curlycup Gumweed
Prairie Star
A white wildflower
Blue-Eyed Grass
White Beardtongue
The beginnings of pine cones on a spruce tree
Northwest Cinquefoil
Wild Blue Flax
Yellow Goats Beard
Enchanter's Nightshade
Dames Rocket
Poison Ivy we got into (luckily no reactions)
And a perfect double rainbow to end our day.


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