Thursday, May 31, 2012

Getting Schooled... by my dog

Besides the fact that Aubrey doesn't really like absolutely hates Quinn, adding a pup to our family was one of the best decisions we ever made. (Don't get me started on the Aubrey / Quinn situation, it just breaks my heart)

In these four short weeks, I feel like having a dog has already made such a difference to how I live my life.

  • I live by a routine mostly because I have no choice
  • I have a heck of a lot more patience because after all, "she's just a baby"
  • I get tons of fresh air because that girl rarely tires of green grass and blue skies
  • I spend more time enjoying nature because you never really know how many bunnies are right outside until you get a herding hound dog.
  • I appreciate silence because there are few moments in the day when I have just that (though, what fun would a quiet world be anyhow?)
  • I get to socialize more because I have opportunities to run into folks I never would have met before -- the dog treat baker, everyone at the dog park, the active neighbors around the block, and the kiddies that are attracted like magnets to Quinn.
Now that she's done her job in helping me to improve, it's my turn to teach her a thing or two --
Love, compassion, dependability, and obedience.

no, our couch is not that putrid yellow color. we are simply protecting it from the beast :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sangria Fruit Salsa

Happy (almost) Memorial Day!

We are leaving in a little bit for a barbecue with best friends and I cannot wait. We haven't seen them in TWO MONTHS which is painful so I'm excited to just relax around the pool with the girls. Being that the Mr. will be the only guy around, I wanted to make something a bit healthier than the normal cook-out fare that us ladies could munch on guilt free.

I found a great recipe for Fruit Salsa on The Girl Who Ate Everything (one of my absolute favorite blogs... she is Uh.Maze.Ing). It reminded me of my favorite Sangria recipe and that's where the two ideas became one.

1/2 cup of white wine (this is not the time for a dry wine)
1/4 cup of lemon-lime sparkling water
1 Tablespoon of raspberry jam
1 kiwi fruit
1 small lime
1/2 pint of raspberries
1lb of strawberries
1 large golden delicious apple (I prefer Granny Smiths, but for this, you want sweet)
1 Tablespoon of white sugar (or 1 teaspoon of Splenda)

1. Reduce wine and jam in a small sauce pan over high heat (about 3-5 minutes); remove from heat.
2. Put raspberries in half and place in a large mixing bowl
3. Peel and dice the kiwi fruit and add to the raspberries
4. Dice the strawberries and add to the rest of the chopped fruit
5. Juice the entire lime and add to the wine reduction
6. Peel, core, and dice the apple and place with the wine/lime juice mixture (to prevent browning)
7. Add the apples (& juice), sugar (or Splenda) and sparkling water in the mixing bowl with the rest of the fruits and fold together gently
8. Let chill for about 30 minutes to 1 hour in the fridge.
Serve with graham crackers or cinnamon sugar pita chips and DIG IN!


  • Use a slotted spoon to move the fruit to a serving dish. Pour the remaining liquid through a fine mesh sieve to combine with the original bottle of wine. This will make a smooth sangria with some complex flavors. Or -- just add the entire bowl of fruit salsa into a gallon pitcher with 2 bottles of wine (white or red), a cup of cranberry juice, and a can of Sprite and it's as easy as that.
  • If you want a more "patriotic" version, use blueberries instead of kiwi and you'll have a great red, white, and blue concoction. Blueberries just won't be the best addition to sangria unless they are crushed first.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Skinny Caprese Salad

It's no secret that I heart Italian food. Be it fancy wines, rich tiramisu, crispy pizza, hearty pasta, fizzy prosecco, or refreshing gelato, I could have it all. My favorite combo by far is basil, tomato and mozzarella... great in a sandwich, topping a pizza (yum yum yum), or all by its lonesome as a salad.

my homemade caprese salad with red wine vinaigrette 

Unfortunately, the average Caprese Salad has over 300 calories!!! It seems like a crime to even call it a salad when you see that high of a number. I have been meaning to come up with a low fat version so I could enjoy them guilt free and today was the day. Yesterday I found some fresh tomatoes and basil at the farmer's market so it was as good a time as any to cook one up... Enter in, the Skinny Caprese Salad

100 Calorie Caprese Salad (2 servings)

1 & 1/4 cups of Cherry Tomatoes (halved) - 35 calories

1/2 cup of Mozzarella Pearlini - 100 calories
1 clove of Garlic (minced) - 4 calories
1 & 1/2 teaspoons of EVOO - 60 calories
10 Basil Leaves - 2 calories
Optional -- Salt & Cracked Pepper

1. Combine the halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, minced garlic, and olive oil
2. Slice the basil leaves into ribbons and toss with the rest of the salad
3. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Family Tree Embroidery Pattern

Firstly, I apologize for not updating more frequently. As mentioned in the last post, we just got the dog and I've been focusing every waking moment on making sure her transition has been smooth. It's important for the Mr. and I that Quinn and Aubrey have a loving and happy home. I've barely had a spare minute to even work on projects so here it goes...

For Mother's Day I wanted to make a family tree for my mother-in-law. She is not only the most caring mom ever, but she's also the most sentimental. I had searched far and wide for a unique pattern that I could use to put her boys and their families but I couldn't find any. It seems like those tree murals are all the rage, but I wanted to embroider mine so I needed something dainty and pretty.

Combining elements from my favorite clip art trees into one gave me the result I really wanted. If you would like the pattern, click here! I printed my pattern onto tissue paper pinned it to the fabric and stitched directly through it. Afterwards, simply rip off the paper (or use tweezers to remove teeny pieces) and that was it. I used some high quality natural linen and basic embroidery floss.

For the trunk and main branches I used a chain stitch. The smaller branches are done in the stem stitch; everything else is done in a back stitch. There are 5 leaves on the tree: one for the Mr., one for me, one for his brother, one for his brother's son and another for his fiancee.  Next to the leaves for the Mr. and his brother, I put French knots to signify how many people are in that family unit (2 for us, 3 for them).

Why I love this pattern:
  • 100% Customizable
  • Easily updated when there are marriages and new arrivals
  • Really simple once you learn the basics of embroidery
  • Stunning finished project
  • Heirloom quality gift 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Quinn-tessential Family of Four!

This has been a whirlwind week for the Mr and I. I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but we had been tossing around the idea of getting a dog (well, mostly it was me doing the tossing and him doing the ignoring, haha). Finally the Mr came around because for as much as I love animals, he has an even softer spot in his heart for them than I do. Once the decision was made, there was never a doubt in my mind that we would turn to a rescue for our newest baby and that we did.

We ran across this listing on for a dog named Quail and her story just broke our heart.
After going through with the entire process (thankfully they don't hand out dogs to just anyone) and having her meet with Aubrey, she finally came to live with us on Friday night! This is our little dog-ter, Quinn:

While a lot of her life to this point has been a mystery, what we do know is that she is a little spit fire but the biggest cuddle bug. Quinn is such a doll and we are so excited to make the rest of her doggy-days better than she could have ever dreamed.

Aubrey and Quinn being civil to one another (this didn't last long, unfortunately)

If you are considering being a pet-parent, resolve to contact a rescue or shelter. Refrain from buying and resolve to adopt. After all, pets are not an item, they are part of your family.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ombre Gift Tag

I got a few crafty things done tonight and am utterly exhausted. One such project was a bit basic, but I'm really digging it:

A couple of weeks ago the Mr. thought I was being a tad eccentric when I walked out of Wal-Mart with a handful of paint chips, but I knew I'd use them in one way or another. Seeing as the other gift-giving season is upon us: graduations, weddings, showers, etc., this gift tag is so perfect because it can be completely personalized to whatever the event. 

 Easy enough, right? I will definitely be doing more of these soon in other colors because it's oh so cute. Simple? Check. Purdy? Check. Green? Check check check!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reese's PB Cup Pretzel Bites

Last Thursday the president of my company came up to me with an empty jar and a dramatically sad face and asked if I could make him "more snacks". It's difficult to say no to your boss's boss, if you know what I mean. After throwing around some ideas, I decided to do those "turtle pretzels" that are all over everywhere (pretzel + rolo + oven + pecan = turtle pretzel). Of course my attention to detail was a bit off and I accidentally purchased a bag of kisses/rolos/reeses so I had to come up with some alternatives... then it came to me: Reese's PB Cup Pretzel Bites. Hells yes, delicioso!!

Each treat needs: 
  • 2 Snaps (square shaped pretzels) 
  • 1 Reese's peanut butter cup
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  2. Lay out pretzels on a sheet of parchment paper
  3. Place unwrapped pb cup upside down on each pretzel
  4. Bake for 7 minutes
  5. Remove from oven and immediately squish another pretzel on top
  6. Chill for 1 hour on counter or 30 minutes in the fridge

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