Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick

Do you wear lipstick? I have always been more of a lip balm + lip gloss girl, so receiving this Rimmel London Moisture Renew lipstick to try out was a bit of a stretch for me. I don't like wearing lipstick because I hate that caked-on, sticky feeling, and I always feel like a bit of a clown with lipstick on. I tried this lipstick and it solved one of my two problems: there was no caked-on, sticky feeling whatsoever! This lipstick is incredibly moisturizing. Apparently they updated their formula to make this new version even more moisturizing than before, and I really loved that aspect of it. I still felt like a clown (see below), but that was more of a function of 1) not being used to wearing lipstick and 2) the color did not suit my skin coloring. This shade is not going to be making a regular appearance on my face, but I am interested in checking out the other 17 shades they have available to find something a little more tame :) 

Disclosure: I received the Rimmel London Moisture Renew lipstick in "As You Want Victoria" complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake

I've never been a huge fan of Greek yogurt, but the new Yoplait Greek blended yogurts are something I can get behind! I used their Greek vanilla blended yogurt in this coffee cake, and it was so delicious! The coffee cake was super moist, and I loved the extra vanilla-y flavor. The other blended flavors would be delicious in smoothies, especially the pineapple or coconut! Happy Monday :)

Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

for the topping:
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla extract, beating until combined. Add in the flour mixture. Add the greek yogurt and mix until just combined.

To make the topping, stir together all the ingredients until well combined.

In a lightly buttered loaf pan, pour in the batter. Spoon the topping mixture over the top of the batter. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. You'll notice that a lot of the topping will end up at the bottom of the coffee cake. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

source: recipe from a beautiful mess, originally from here

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided to me by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rosemary Peach Lemonade

I'm so happy that spring is finally here! Yesterday was the perfect first day of spring, too. There was no need for a jacket, I drove home from work with the windows down, Caleb and I went for a nice long walk before dinner, we ate dinner outside, and I sipped on this delicious lemonade. I ordered this lemonade at Tupelo Honey Cafe about six weeks ago, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't been thinking about it since then. I found the recipe and made a pitcher earlier this week. It is so delicious and full of the promise of sweet summertime. Happy spring and happy weekend!

Rosemary Peach Lemonade
1 1/2 cups peach nectar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a 2-quart pitcher, combine the peach nectar, water, rosemary simple syrup, and lemon juice. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled before serving.

Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 1/3 cups water
1 cup sugar
4 (5-inch) fresh rosemary stalks

Combine the water, sugar and rosemary in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour the syrup through a wire mesh sieve into a container to remove the rosemary stalks and store in an airtight containter in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

source: recipe from tupelo honey cafe

Monday, March 17, 2014

Creamy Caramel Fruit Dip

Some of my favorite snacks are those that include dipping: veggies + dip, chips + salsa, cookie dough dip + graham crackers, etc. I also love a fruit dip. For summertime I love making this piƱa colada dip, but my other favorite is this creamy caramel fruit dip. I would say this as more of a dessert, but it's delicious and quite addicting. Happy Monday! :)

Creamy Caramel Fruit Dip
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 (4 oz) package vanilla instant pudding mix
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon juice

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the sour cream, milk, pudding mix, vanilla, and lemon juice, beating well after each addition. Chill, covered, until ready to serve. Serve with assorted fresh fruits. Makes approximately 4 cups.

source: recipe from family friend Giesel N.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

House Tour: New Front Door

I have been quite remiss in sharing a house tour, but I promise I have a few rooms on the way! There's a couple of things I want to finish up in several rooms, so once they're all the way done I will share them! In the mean time I realized I never posted about our front door transformation! A couple years ago I wrote a blog post about how much I loved brightly colored front doors, and at the end of last summer we finally painted ours! I chose red because I like the pop against the white front porch and black shutters. It makes me happy to see our bright front door every day when I drive home :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Breakfast Biscuits

About halfway through my morning at work, I step into the kitchen for a little snack. Sometimes it's a granola bar, sometimes it's a fruit and yogurt parfait, and lately it's been these Nature Valley breakfast biscuits. They contain a ton of whole grains but aren't quite as crunchy as granola bars. I guess they're kind of like breakfast cookies, which is something I can totally get on board with! The blueberry ones are my favorite, and right now they're on sale at Publix (get extra savings with this coupon). Let me know what you think if you decide to try them!

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Reading, Lately

This past week I finished reading The Goldfinch. I had been hearing a lot about it, so I had to buy it and see what the hype was about. (Also, I just really love the cover. I am a total sucker for a good cover on a book, and this one got me.)

First, let me say that this is a long book! But there's something so cozy about snuggling in and committing to a good, long book in the winter. I like longer books that I can read over several weeks and really get into them and savor them, rather than shorter books that I finish in two nights. So, if you're going to pick this up, get ready to settle in.

Whenever I share about books I've read, I hesitate to say too much. I hate book reviews and recommendations that completely ruin the story. So! I will share my thoughts and what I loved about the book without discussing to much of the plot and ruining it for anyone who's interested in reading it.

I really, really loved the beginning of this book. The writing is just so poignant, and I love that in a book. Theo, the main character, experiences the death of someone close to him, and several sections in the beginning resonated so deeply with me regarding loss and grief. This is how the author describes Theo's struggle with remembering the date of death:

"Even my hand balks at the date; I had to push to write it down, just to keep the 
pen moving on the paper. It used to be a perfectly ordinary day but now it sticks 
up on the calendar like a rusty nail." 

And as the book continues, the author crafts the most fitting description of how grief leaves you feeling so raw:

"And maybe I was coping awfully well, I don't know. Certainly I wasn't 
howling aloud or punching my fist through windows or doing any of the things 
I imagined people might do who felt as I did. But sometimes, unexpectedly, grief 
pounded over me in waves that left me gasping..."

I mean you can just feel exactly what Theo is feeling, and I loved that about the entire first section of the book. The other thing that I really loved about this book was the way that the plot connected characters throughout the book in unexpected ways. That happens so well in long books, yet I always seem to be surprised by it. Even though it is a long book, the story held my attention, and I was eager to see how things would conclude. 

All in all, I would recommend this book. There is a section in the middle that I found to be a little dark and depressing, but beyond that I really enjoyed the book. The writing was just so good! If you've read it already or if you end up reading it, I'd love to know your thoughts! 

(image from my instagram feed)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Italian Meatball Bites

I made these little meatball bites last month for the Superbowl party we had at our house, but they were just too good not to share. These would be delicious for any type of gathering where you need an easy appetizer, or they would also be a good little lunch for kids who are tired of eating pb+j. They are super easy to put together but are very flavorful and filling.

Italian Meatball Bites
12 frozen bread dough dinner rolls
1 (12 oz) package frozen fully cooked Italian meatballs, thawed

Let dough stand at room temperature 25-30 minutes or until softened. Cut each roll in half. Wrap each portion around a meatball, enclosing meatball completely; pinch dough firmly to seal. Place on greased baking sheets, seam side down. Cover with kitchen towels; let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with marinara sauce. Optional: Once finished baking, brush tops with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Makes 24.

source: recipe from Taste of Home, September/October 2013