Wednesday, February 27, 2013

in {the rain}

After much debate, I decided to go with yellow Hunter rain boots. I've had them for about a month now and I LOVE them! I don't dread the rain as much as I normally do, knowing that my feet/pants will stay nice and dry now, and it's kind of fun clomping around in big boots not worrying about splashing up any water. We have been getting quite a bit of rain lately, so I feel like I've already gotten my money's worth. These are now my favorite things in our coat closet, and definitely my favorite thing for rainy weather. If you don't have good rain boots, I recommend purchasing some Hunter ones. (tip: several colors are on sale!)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Do or Don't: Words on Tops

I've always shied away from shirts with writing on them (save my t-shirts from college-they will always have a special place in my heart), but lately I've seen a couple that I wouldn't mind wearing.  It might be the combination of script-y writing and pretty words that makes them seem chic rather than cheesy, but I think they'd be perfect for a lazy Saturday morning. What do you think: do you have any tops with words on them?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Weekend

Caleb's birthday is on Valentine's Day, so each year we have several days of celebration mid-February. For his birthday he opted to stay home for dinner (he prefers my cooking to going out, which I take as a huge compliment!) and spend time just the two of us. Saturday we had plans to go hiking for our Valentine's Day, but snow and rain was in the forecast. It rarely snows here, so we assumed it would rain and tried to think of something else to do instead. Saturday morning we decided just to go for it. We started hiking in the bitter cold and had a wonderful time. About halfway through the loop, it started snowing! This is our second winter here and there's been no snow, so we were so surprised! It continued snowing and actually started sticking, so we had a beautiful hike in the snow. It was so fun to be outside in the beautiful snow just talking and spending time doing something different. It was perfect until it started lightning!! I'm really afraid of lightning, and there were in the woods on top of a mountain! We ran the rest of the way to get back to the car, so it made for an exciting end to our hike:) We had planned to go to dinner Saturday night, but with the snow we just decided to have a night in. It was such a treat to see our house in snow for the first time and have a mini snowday:)! How was your weekend?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Cake Pops

I miss the simplicity of Valentine's Day back in the day...cheesy little cartoon valentines and candy all around, and everyone in your class was happy. Valentine's Day for grownups is all "did you get reservations at the best restaurant in town" and "what expensive new piece of jewelry did you get", when I'm like "can I just get some valentine's colored m&ms over here?!" This year I decided to throwback and make Valentine's treats to take into the office for my co-workers. I  made red velvet cake pops over the weekend and really enjoyed making a fun little treat I wouldn't ever make for just Caleb and me. And who can resist those adorable little heart sprinkles?! 

If you're intimidated by the idea of making your own cake pops, don't be! This was only my second time making cake pops; they really aren't as complicated as they seem! You can read my cake pops for beginners tips here. I've followed these tips both times and have not had any troubles. This time I used a red velvet cake mix and cream cheese frosting. To make the heart cake pops, form the cake/frosting mixture into a thick hamburger-like patty. Using a small heart cookie cutter, cut out the center, making sure it's still thick enough to insert the lollipop stick in. 

P.S. If you want a fancy pants Valentine's day treat, try this red velvet cheesecake!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Weekend

This weekend was a must-needed break from a very busy week for Caleb and me. We started off Friday night pretty low-key by finishing season 3 of Downton Abbey...bittersweet because I'm sad that it's over but I just can't not watch it when we have it! While the northeast shoveled their way through snow on Saturday, we woke up to a gorgeous day in the 60s. We took advantage of the weather and went running, took a walk through the park downtown, and then celebrated Chinese New Year with takeout. Sunday I spent some time in the kitchen working on Valentine's cake pops before half-watching the Grammy's and catching up on some magazines. It was a wonderful weekend, which makes the sting of Monday morning a little less painful. How was your weekend?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chinese New Year In a Box

Happy Chinese New Year! Sunday is Chinese New Year so this weekend marks the beginning of the Spring Festival celebration. My family lived in China for several years while I was growing up, so Chinese New Year has been something we've celebrated for years. Caleb and I will get Chinese food to celebrate, but I wanted to send my parents a little something to remind them of our time in China. Mailing an authentic New Year's feast was out of the question, so instead I went to the Asian market and gathered a few of our favorite snacks and candies from our time in China. A little New Year's garland and some hong bao (envelopes used to give money to small children--just enough for all of the grandchildren:) completed the box and I shipped it off. Hope you have a wonderful weekend filled with Chinese food to celebrate the Year of the Snake! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Favorite Moisturizers

If I had to pick only one makeup/skincare product to use for the rest of my life, I would be super stressed out at the thought but moisturizer would be high on the list of possibilities. I have really dry skin, so I am very faithful at cleansing and moisturizing my face morning and evening--no matter what.  I've tried lots of different kinds*, but these are the four that I've been the most pleased with. They don't go on too thick and they make my skin feel soft and fresh. They also don't have a strong scent, they just smell clean, except for #3 which smells like cucumbers (and I love it!). If you're looking to try a new moisturizer, here are my recommendations, in a range of prices:

What is your go-to moisturizer?

*Note: When trying new skincare or makeup products, be sure to add only one new product at a time. After trying it for a couple of weeks, add one more new product. This way you will know which products you may have an adverse reaction to.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Spinach Tomato Orzo Soup

The weather around here lately has been fluctuating from cold and rainy to the mid-70s. I would rather stay with the mid-70s, but the cold winter nights are perfect for dinners of soup and warm bread. My mother-in-law made this soup over Christmas, and I immediately added it to my to-make-asap list. The original recipe makes a TON, so I've adjusted the quantities to serve 6-8. I also don't really like watery soups, so I decreased the liquid. The great thing about soup is that it's easy to play around with until you get results you're pleased with. 

Spinach Tomato Orzo Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1/2 lb frozen spinach, defrosted
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 lb orzo pasta
1/2 of a 19 oz package Italian sausage, casings removed, cooked, and crumbled
crushed red pepper (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender. Add garlic, basil, and oregano and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth, water, spinach, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat to medium.

Add in the cooked sausage and the orzo; cook for 12-15 minutes, or until orzo is tender. Season with salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste.

source: recipe adapted from babble

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Del Monte Southwestern Tomato Kick Off Sweepstakes & Giveaway

Superbowl is tomorrow! I'm not really a fan of either team that's playing, but I am a fan of all of the delicious foods that Superbowl brings:) I'm making a pot of our favorite chili (recipe here), and I'll be adding Del Monte's new diced tomatoes!

Del Monte has two new varieties of diced tomatoes available: diced tomatoes with green chiles & diced tomatoes with chipotle chiles.

Diced tomatoes are one of the main staples in my pantry; I throw them into just about every soup and chili I make, as well as dips, Mexican dishes, and more. Del Monte canned vegetables contain the same essential nutrients as the fresh varieties, so they are my go-to brand when stocking up. 

Giveaway:  Del Monte has offered to provide a gift pack to one reader that includes:
(1) Del Monte Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
(1) Del Monte Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes with Chipotle Chiles
(1) $25 Visa giftcard

Leave a comment on this post sharing what recipe you'd like to try using diced tomatoes, and you will be entered to win this gift pack. One winner will be chosen randomly and announced February 15. U.S. mailing addresses only, please. Updated: the winner is #10 Wendy Rozema. Thanks for playing!

Sweepstakes:  To help inspire creativity in the kitchen, Del Monte has launched the "Del Monte Southwestern Tomato Kick-Off Sweepstakes" on Pinterest. Check out the Tomato Kick-Off Sweeps board for recipes and entertaining tips to get ready for the Superbowl! To enter the sweepstakes, follow Del Monte on Pinterest, create a board named "Del Monte Southwestern Tomato Kick Off" to pin recipes and entertaining ideas, and register your board here. The grand prize is an entertainment package worth approximately $5000! Visit here to get started, and you can check out my Del Monte Southwestern Tomato Kick Off board here.

Disclosure: The Del Monte products, information and two gift packs have been provided by Del Monte. The opinions expressed in this post are my own, and Del Monte is a brand I love and use all of the time.

Friday, February 1, 2013

I'm Growing My Hair Out

I've always wanted to grow my hair out and donate it, and I decided 2013 will be the year. My hair is the longest it's ever been, so I'm going to hang in there and grow it out a little longer, and then chop it all off - eek! It really is quite long, and it's constantly getting tangled and in my way (how do the Amish girls do it?!). I've been looking for ways to keep it up and out of my face, and below is my inspiration so far. Have a great weekend! xx