{Love the Home You Have} Book Launch

Hello, friends! Today I want to share with you the launch of a new book by one of my favorite bloggers (Melissa from The Inspired Room) titled Love the Home You Have:

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If you own or rent a house (or actually, any kind of dwelling) and you’ve never visited The Inspired Room blog, you must check it out immediately! Melissa is such an inspiration, and every post motivates me to make my house better. Her ideas are fresh,  modern and, most importantly, realistic.

I don’t know about you, but Pinterest has all but ruined my house for me. No matter how excited I am about a new piece of furniture or using throw pillows in a (genius!) new spot, one foray on Pinterest makes me gag at the sight of everything in my house. Ha, ok, that’s a little dramatic, but the Pin-timidation is real. This is a frustrating and exhausting cycle, and, as I’m sure my husband would agree, it needs to stop. I’m super pumped to read Melissa’s book because it’s high time that I love the home I have, not some unattainable Pinterest-worthy home. Besides, with our little toddler-nado on the move, things are never going to be “perfect” anyway. Well, maybe when he moves out and goes to college. But that is never happening because he’s always going to stay home with me foreverandeverandever! Right?!

Aaaaaanyway, to celebrate the launch of her new book, Melissa is hosting a 31 day Love Your Home Challenge. Thirty-three other bloggers – and many readers! – will be joining in as well.

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The book has all the daily challenges Melissa suggests, but ANY project that makes you feel great about your home will work for the challenge.

I can’t wait to read this book (my copy is in the mail!) and share my thoughts with you all. I’ll definitely be taking notes for spring and summer projects around our home. Let the home inspiration begin!

Love,

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Pregnancy Photo Fun

Three weeks from tomorrow, Ryan and I will welcome our little man into this world! I can’t even put into words how excited I am, but even with all the joy his birth will bring us, a big part of me will be sad to not be pregnant anymore. So, in honor of one of the most beautiful times of a woman’s life, I wanted to share something that makes me laugh no matter what – pregnant or not.

Enjoy these pregnancy photos I shared a while back, and some new ones (here and here) that are really something special.

Who needs Pinterest when you have these gems?
Who needs Pinterest when you have these gems?

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Why I love the Super Bowl

In just a few days, America will be celebrating its biggest sporting event of the year: the Super Bowl. This game is always a little bittersweet for me, as it marks the last hurrah of football season, but mostly, it’s just a lot of fun. How much do I love the Super Bowl? Let me count the ways…

1. Appetizers – “game day” is a favorite among appetizers aficionados, so the the ultimate game day – THE SUPER BOWL! – is the perfect time to pull out the best-of-the-best. Below are two of my favorite tried-and-true appetizers. Both are quick, easy and have been approved by numerous friends and family.

Hot pepper jelly bites

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Do not be off put by these – I swear they are delicious. I usually have to talk people into trying them for the first time, but when they do, 99.9% of the time they LOVE them! The only compliant I’ve ever gotten is that they are too spicy for some. But for me – the more spice the better!

With only three ingredients, they are so easy to whip together. All you need is:

– cream cheese (I use reduced fat, but I would not recommend using fat-free),
– hot pepper jelly (most grocery stores carry at least one brand. I’ve also seen it called jalapeno jelly. I love Reese’s red pepper jelly, but they also make a milder green one), and
– a “vehicle” (I’ve used crackers, Phyllo cups and tortilla chips – all with rave reviews).

One block of cream cheese is about enough for one jar of jelly – but it makes a ton of appetizers (50-60). The best part about this recipe: no measuring required! To make, cut off a piece of cream cheese (about the size of the last digit on your pinkie finger) and put on your “vehicle”. Add as much hot pepper jelly as you’d like (I usually do about the same size as the cream cheese). Set out on a platter and enjoy!

Mini chicken and waffles

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These are a newer addition to my appetizer rotation. I think mini food is so fun, so I had to try these when I read about them in a magazine last fall (I cannot remember which one I read it in, and I am sooooo sorry for not given credit where it’s due. Because someone deserves credit for these). Another simple three-ingredient recipe:

– mini waffles (I used the round Eggo ones),
– chicken nuggets or chunks (just make sure they are about the same size as the waffles), and
– honey or maple syrup

I used one box of waffles and one bag of chicken chunks – and it was just about right. Just be sure to check quantities on the packages and buy as many as you need. Cook the waffles and chicken according to package directions (this can be done at the same time). Assembly is easy: place mini waffles on a platter, top each with one piece of chicken and drizzle with honey or maple syrup. Inserting a toothpick through the center will help keep everything together. Serve immediately.

2. The Puppy Bowl – I always try to watch a little bit of this game, shown on Animal Planet, but this year I learned something new about it from a dog blog I follow, Marking Our Territory. Besides being an overload of cuteness, the game supports a cause near and dear to my heart: animal adoption. All dogs playing the game are shelter dogs, and Animal Planet provides the adoption information of each dog. Click here to look at the starting line-up.

And the cutest news of all: this year you can pick a “fantasy” puppy team. Here is our team:

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August looks just like our Sarge did when he was a puppy. My heart is melting!

3. The commercials. Yes, the game is entertaining, but so are (most of) the Super Bowl commercials! Millions and millions of dollars are spent on these commercials, so it’s no surprise that there are some real good ones every year. I saw this preview of Budweiser’s ad and wanted to share. It made me tear up…but that might have been pregnancy hormones at work.

And here is a teaser of another awesome Budweiser commercial. Can’t wait to see this one!

On a side note, I have come to the realization that Budweiser’s commercials are probably my favorites. This one from last year really got me…

 

4. The “gambling”. I’m not a traditional gambler. The only times I’ve ever been to a casino, I’ve only played the quarter slots, and I consider that a huge risk (I do not waste silver change!). So the gambling I’m talking about is the easy, don’t-really-need-to know-what-you’re-doing kind of gambling – like Super Bowl Squares or just picking a winner and the score of the game. It gives me something to cheer for because, once again, my beloved Browns are not in the Super Bowl. Next year, boys…

5. The actual game! I love football. No, I do not know all of the players – or even all of the crazy rules – but I do truly love to watch the game – high school, college or pro. When the two best teams in NFL are playing each other, there’s a good chance for some excitement. 

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, everyone!

Red, White and Blue-tiful

If you’ve spent any amount of time on Pinterest, chances are you have seen those lovely fashion boards created on the website Polyvore. I have no idea what took me so long to try out the website – but I finally did. My inspiration was the approaching Independence Day holiday and the desire to wear something festive without a) going overly star-spangled-banner-y and b) not buying anything new.

I started by “shopping” my closest for red and blue pieces. If you haven’t tried “shopping” your closet, you should definitely give it a go! The concept is to go through your clothes, shoes and accessories and try as hard as you can to put new outfits together. For me, this can be tough, since I get into such a routine when it comes to clothes. As silly as it sounds, I have actually asked my husband to help me put together outfits. His “fresh” eyes see combinations I never would have. So, while I certainly do not have the exact items of clothing on Polyvore (I mean, who can afford that?!), I do have items like them.

So, by being a little creative, I put together several outfits on Polyvore that I think are the right combination of chic and Americana, or what I am calling Red, White and Blue-tiful. Check them out below, or on my Pinterest board! And don’t forget about your nails – try this polka-dot trick with any combination of red, white and blue!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Independence Day weekend! And THANK YOU to all those who have served or who are currently serving to protect our beloved freedom!!

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What I plan to wear for the Rib, White and Blue festival in Akron this weekend.

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For the Indians game this weekend. Topped off with a Tribe hat and it’s perfect!

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I won’t be wearing this outfit anywhere near food. redwhiteblue3

And finally – what I wore to work today 🙂 It transitioned perfectly to wine-night with a friend.

P.S. Polyvore is amazing! I’m already addicted. It really reminds me of Cher’s computer program she used to put together outfits from her closest in the movie Clueless. Does anyone else remember that?! It was the coolest thing ever! My inner 11-year-old’s dream has finally come true!

Tuesday Ten – 7/2/2013

Happy second day of the best month of the year. : )

We are half-way done with 2013! I can’t believe it. Life has been a little crazy lately, so I wanted to post a little something today about my 10 favorite recent purchases that gave me joy. Luckily, none of them cost a lot, but they definitely make me smile. : ) It’s the little things!

1. Tone It Up! Perfect Fit Protein – I am in l-o-v-e with this vanilla-flavored protein powder. It’s made from brown rice and is raw, organic and vegan. Most importantly – it is GOOD! Even my protein-powder-snob husband loves this stuff.

2. Mason jar tumbler – I can’t think of anything more perfect to drink my smoothies out of. It’s fabulous.

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3. Star-shaped ice pop molds – just in time for Independence Day, these star-shaped Popsicle molds will be getting a lot of use this summer. I love the combination of functionality and adorableness!

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4. I’ve been eyeing this maxi dress I saw on Pinterest for a while, and I’m so happy I broke down and bought it. It’s so comfortable and can be wore about a trillion different ways.

5. This congratulations card we bought for my mother-in-law when she recently became president of the American Dental Hygienist Association (ADHA). I am so proud of her amazing achievement, and I hope she does exactly what this card instructs everyday!

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6. “The Whippoorwill” by Blackberry Smoke. We saw this southern rock/country rock band open for The Zac Brown Band last year, and I’ve been a fan ever since. I just adore this group – long hair and beards and all.

7. I guess this really does’t count as a purchase, but it was inside a recent purchase. How funny is this fortune? It makes me laugh! I guess I am a crispy noodle!

 

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8. An iPhone 5. Big smiles : ) My old iPhone 4 was on its last legs – it wouldn’t charge and the main button wouldn’t work. I held out as along as I could, but I’m so happy with my new phone.

9. This entire ensemble:

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I wore this as part of a 5K scavenger hunt in downtown Cleveland with three other ladies. Collectively, we were the bearded team called “Duct Dynasty”. The whole day was so much fun, from running around looking for clues to posing with some of our fans for pictures. My first (and probably only) experience as a “celebrity”! That beard was the beast $7 I ever spent.

10. Dinner for my wonderful husband on his 30th birthday. Any time spent with this guy is worth every single dollar spent. : )

P.S. Like the new look of the blog? I’m feeling the lighter look for summer!

Friday Favorites – June 21

Hooray, it’s Friday! To celebrate the end of another work week, I’ve collected a few world-wide-web gems that made me smile this week.

1. My favorite “screw a diet and enjoy life” shirt.

Truth.
Truth.

2. Prancercising. This woman’s seriousness while prancing makes me smile. And whatever her age, she’s glamorous.

3. Even dogs make decisions they later regret. I was crying while reading this. So funny!

"Oh - I didn't expect you home so soon."
“Oh – I didn’t expect you home so soon.”

4. Taylor Swift’s hilarious (but fake!) tweet about the new Kardashian baby:

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[Here’s a little reminder of when Kanye interrupted Taylor’s acceptance speech at the VMA’s in 2009. Payback!]

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Olive My Heart – Hudson, Ohio

I’ve been remiss in posting about a wonderful gem in Hudson, Ohio called Olive My Heart. I heard about this olive oil and vinegar tasting room while reading akronlife magazine probably about a year ago. The concept intrigued me: the entire store is filled with different gourmet olive oils and vinegar that patrons can sample.

Ryan and I visited the store not too soon after I read that article, and our first visit lasted well over an hour. I had no idea how many different types of olive oil and vinegar there are – or how different they taste. The exotic names and flavors kept getting better and better with each taste. The staff was amazing and very knowledgeable.

The olive oils there included many EVOO’s from both the northern and southern hemispheres, and various flavor infused oils, including basil, garlic and wild mushroom & sage. The vinegar is all balsamic and comes in both dark and white. There are a TON of flavors, including champagne, fig, honey ginger and pineapple. Being the spice lovers that we are, we purchased a chili pepper-infused olive oil called Harissa. We also bought a dark vinegar flavored with maple.

Now, I understand that sounds incredibly weird. I thought so too, but I have become a complete and total believer in flavored vinegar. This stuff has a mild acidity and a sweet, delicious maple taste. I use this on my salads – and nothing else.

That’s right – a no fat, low-calorie salad dressing that tastes divine.

I have added a drizzle of the Harissa olive oil for a little extra kick – and that just takes it to a whole new level. We have also used this as a marinade for grilled chicken. A-mazing.

If you are in the area and want to try out Olive My Heart, stop in and do a taste testing. They have bread to accompany the olive oil and vinegar samples – and plenty of water. It’s a fun – and free! – date or girls-day-trip that isn’t run-of-the mill. And you might even find a product (or two) that you want to take home.

If you’re not in the area and are interested in purchasing some of the store’s products, they do take orders online. The website also has some recipes. I think you will really enjoy their products. I’m certainly hooked: this wonderful store has captured “olive” my taste buds.