Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life Lately and My Spa Day at The Salamander

I'm sorry for the lack of posts lately. With a few new projects at work and crashing on my book deadline (which I promise to stop complaining about) the blog has had to take a back seat.

I knew things were going to get crazy toward the end of the summer so a few months ago I planned a little get away to reward myself and decompress.

I ended up doing a solo spa day at The Salamander Resort and it was exactly what I needed. This place is like a little piece of heaven 45 minutes away from my house. Amazing. 

Nick took on daddy duty all day and I booked a blueberry facial for 10:30am. I showed up a few hours early so I could use the other spa amenities.

Guys, I've never been to a spa before. I was actually a little bit clueless when I walked in but I think I picked the right one for my first experience.

I got my own soft cushy robe and a locker. I was able to shower first and shave my legs (I don't have time for even that lately, poor Nick). I soaked in this "vitality pool" for awhile and let the waterfall massage my shoulders.

My favorite part was the aroma steam room. It's right behind these "tepidarium loungers" (what?) which  means heated chairs that relax your muscles.

I was a little claustrophobic in the steam room at first but I tried my best to think meditative thoughts and stare into the glowy planetarium like lights on the ceiling and breath in the lavender mist. Eventually I was completely calm. I feel relaxed just thinking about it again.

Since I got there so early I had the place all to myself. It was quiet and tranquil and everything, I repeat everything, I've been needing.

This is the "relaxation room" at the Salamander. I sat in here while I waited for my esthetician to get me for my facial. They had cucumber water and almonds and other little healthy snacks and a view of the spa pool.

After my amazing 90 minute facial I sat out at the pool for a good 3 hours and read magazines. I forgot that 12 noon is nap time for Austin. I forgot about all the house chores I try to rush and get done during nap time. I forgot about making a million jello shots for the book or what I needed to plan for my work week.

I ordered a strawberry, watermelon sangria and totally zoned out.

After about an hour of laying there someone from the resort brought me a cold "summer scented" face towel. I felt like a queen.

Seriously people, everyone needs to really treat themselves to this type of experience at least once in your life. It was definitely a splurge for me but worth every penny.

Back to real life.

Austin has been loving bananas lately. If he could eat anything he wanted it would be cheese and bananas all day long.

He has been so much fun lately and loving to cuddle with me before bed and when he wakes up. It makes it harder to get out of bed when this little cutie just wants to lay his head on you.

I think I am going to continue my little blog break for the next week or so and spend some more time with Austin. We have been trying to soak up every last bit of summer.

School starts next week in our area. Can you believe it? Not ready to give up my tiki torches and sangria on the back deck yet.

Might have to work on a good fall themed sangria to take over for my mango moscato.

P.S. That's so Michelle is getting a MAJOR redesign. I am still a few months out from going live but I am super excited. Can't wait for you to see it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Siracha Vodka Guacamole

This weekend was spent recovering from a sinus infection/virus. There were a lot of tissues and cups of tea.

Groaning and coughing. There were no kisses and I had zero appetite. The worst.

But Sunday, when my taste-buds returned and I could get out of bed. I wanted a snack...

I had some avocados that were perfectly ripe and needed to be used and a new bag of tortilla chips.

I was clearing out the fridge looking for some wasabi to give it an extra kick and then I remembered the little bottle of Siracha flavored vodka I bought out of curiosity.


You guys, it was awesome. I know vodka and guac sound crazy but it was so right.

Not to mention that it totally helped clear out my sinuses.

Happy Monday!

Siracha Vodka Guacamole
4 small ripe avocados
1/2 medium sized red onion, finely diced
1 large tomato seeded and diced
1 clove minced garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2-3 tablespoons Siracha vodka
salt and pepper to taste

Place avocados in a large bowl. Mash and mix until desired texture (I like chunky gauc instead of smooth). Fold in the rest of your ingredients saving the lime juice for last. Lime juice will help your guacamole stay green longer.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Life Lately and a Starbucks Summer Giveaway

I haven't checked in with a personal post in a while and I thought it was time. Life has been pretty hectic lately but I guess I've been saying that ever since we had a baby.

It seems that just as we started to get the hang of things, Austin turned into a toddler and the game changed.

He walks everywhere now and has zero fear of anything. Stairs? He wants to tackle them head first. Pavement? Let's run as fast as we can. Basically our job as parents over the past few months has been to keep him alive and unharmed.

I feel guilty that I am constantly telling him no instead of letting him have fun, but we have to. (Actually he thinks it's really funny when I say no and then for the sake of discipline I have to try my hardest to keep a straight face). Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Anyway, with my cook book deadline approaching, weekends haven't been as relaxing as I would like them to be and that makes the whole work week seem longer.

Last weekend I got to get out of the house and meet up with Ericka for dinner and drinks. I really needed to unwind as much as possible. My drink had rose petals in it. I had two. That helped. 

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we went to the Outer Banks for the 4th. I got to go for my beloved vacation runs along Duck Road and on the beach. 

I feel like I can run longer distances when I am on vacation. I love that. Especially because I am usually eating more food. 

Austin liked the beach. This picture was on the first day.  Unfortunately our second night there he had a fever that spiked at 105.3. I was so scared, at one point it just kept getting higher and higher. We quickly jumped in the car and drove to the ER. We waited for our pediatrician on call to call us back before we went in.

We didn't want to expose him to more sickness if she didn't think it was necessary. She told us not to go in unless it got over 106. We blasted the AC in the car and luckily it started to drop.

He was not himself for most of the trip, but eventually got better. (Also, I forgot to mention a hurricane blew through the area) We stayed one extra day so we could try to unwind more.

You guys totally wanted to see a close up shot of my head right? I thought so. This is my "big hair don't care" selfie. I've given up on blow drying this entire month. There is no point with the summa time humidity. 

I have always disliked my wavy hair but I think I have made peace with it. It took 32 years. 

On the weekends we stop for iced coffee before we head to the park or pool with Austin. It's a nice treat to get through the late afternoon when we are starting to feel exhausted.

This is Nick's caramel frappuccino. It's delicious. I usually eat some of the whipped cream and caramel when he isn't looking but stick with my unsweetened iced coffee with a splash of almond milk. Stupid lactose.

Starbucks recently sent me this pretty summer gift box! I've been using the Pike Place Roast in my Keurig to make iced coffee at home. I brew it and then pop it in the fridge the night before, then throw in some ice in the morning before I run out the door.

Starbucks wants to send you some summer gifts too (A box of Pike Place Roast and a Tumbler)! Here is how you enter to win:

1. Leave me a comment below letting me know what the best part of your summer has been so far and your contact information. (Leave me your Instagram name and I can notify you there if you don't want to post your email)

2. For an extra entries, follow me on Facebook or Instagram (let me know in an additional comment).

Good luck! I will email the winner next Thursday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Easy Mango Moscato

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you know that if it's the weekend (or it's been a long, stressful day) this easy concoction is what I'm sipping on.

A friend of mine gave me a bottle of something called MamaMango (Moscato and mango juice) as a gift a couple times. I am obsessed with it but it can be a little hard to find, she got it here.

I'm sure other wine shops carry it as well but I decided to try and make it on my own.

Turns out this combo is delish and probably the easiest cocktail I've ever posted. All you need is one glass of your favorite moscato ...

 Add a splash of mango nectar and that's it. So simple but so good! I like to add some strawberries sometimes or peaches in the glass as well, kind of like a sangria.

I am aware that's a peach below and not a mango ... it looked pretty :)

Most grocery stores carry these Goya fruit nectar cans in their Spanish food section. I think I am going to try it with the strawberry banana nectar next.

Let me know if you like it! Happy half way to the weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Can I Have a Sip?

A weekly "all things boozy" series because sharing is caring. Cheers and Happy Friday!

 The Foodie Bride makes some mean margaritas! Check them all out. I'm making this blue one  for sure.
via Confections of a Foodie Bride 

Mango-ritas with Spicy Sweet Lime Salt -- Love the addition of the spicy salt 

Tequila Paloma -- Makes me want to tango. 

Whisky Caramel Donuts -- Shut up. 

Cheeseburger Bloody Mary  -- Just look at this thing!

Leave your boozy creations or what you are craving below!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Red White and Blue Jello Shots with Cherries

The fourth of July means so many fun things for me. It means some time off with family and friends, swimming pools and sunshine, morning runs along the shore, crab feasts, bbq's and cocktails.

This year Austin gets to play on the beach for the first time. The very same beach that Nick and I got married on (pretty much in the same exact spot) two years ago.

I've been saving most of my jello shot recipes for the book but because this holiday is so special to me I had to do something a little special on the bog too!

Cheers to all things red, white and blue my friends. Enjoy!

Red White and Blue Jello Shots with Cherries (Makes 15-24 Shots)
1 box red jello (3 oz box)
1 box blue jello (3 oz box)
Maraschino Cherries with stems
3 cups alcohol of choice (cherry vodka, whipped cream or cake flavored vodka are all tasty options)
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup Thai coconut milk or regular milk
3 Tablespoons sugar
4 envelops Knox gelatin
9x13 pan
mini cookie or fondant cutter (I recently bought this clay cutter because I wanted a perfect mini square))

Step 1: Pour 1 box red jello (cherry is the perfect red color) and 1 cup water in a medium sized sauce pan. Sprinkle 1 envelope Knox gelatin on top and let it sit for one minute. Whisk until combined and turn on medium heat. Bring to a light simmer. Add 1 cup cold vodka or alcohol of choice. (I had some left over watermelon puckers from this recipe so I used that!)

Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Refrigerate for at least two hours or until firm.

Step 2: Slice 12-15 cherries with stems in half so the stem is on top. This way they will sit flat in the jello shot.

Step 3: Pour 1/2 cup Thai coconut milk (regular milk will work as well but coconut milk tastes better) and 1/2 cup water in a medium sized sauce pan. Sprinkle 2 envelopes Knox gelatin on top and let it sit for one minute. Whisk until combined and turn on medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons sugar and whisk until combined. Bring to a light simmer. Add 1 cup cold vodka or alcohol of choice.

Let it sit until it comes to room temperature. If it's too hot it will melt the red layer. Pour on top of red jello. Place cherries into the coconut jello layer. Refrigerate for at least two hours or until firm.

Step 4: Pour 1 box blue jello and 1 cup water in a medium sized sauce pan. Sprinkle 1 envelope Knox gelatin on top and let it sit for one minute. Whisk until combined and turn on medium heat. Bring to a light simmer. Add 1 cup cold vodka or alcohol of choice.

Let it sit until it comes to room temperature. If it's too hot it will melt the white layer. Pour on top of coconut jello.

Step 5: Using a mini cookie cutter or fondant cutter very slowly push through your set jello layers around the cherries. If you push too fast the jello will break. Use a mini spatula to carefully lift out each shot.

Cut out additional shots (they just won't have cherries) with the left over jello.

Here is a pin-able step by step!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

100 Calorie Watermelon and Champagne Cocktail

Summer dinners on the back deck just aren't as relaxing after a long day without a glass of wine or a cocktail.

Warm breeze. Sunset. Patio furniture. Tiki torches. Grilled salmon. Don't all of these things sound better with a glass of wine in hand?

I decided to come up with a low calorie swap for my usual mascato and mango mix.

Because watermelon is naturally sweet but low in calories (due to the high water content) and champagne has a lower calorie count than wine the two worked perfectly.

I added a little splash of lime as well for some acidity. The mix should be about half and half. Wait for the bubbly to settle and top it off with some more champagne so you have the right ratio.

Happy bathing suit season!

Watermelon and Champagne Cocktail
1/2 cup Champagne
1/2 cup Watermelon juice
splash of lime

1. Slice and puree watermelon in a food processor or blender. Using a fine mesh strainer push the watermelon puree through with a spoon and make sure all of the seeds are removed.

2. Add 1/2 cup strained watermelon juice to a wine glass. Add a squeeze of lime. Top with champagne (something not too sweet). Let the bubbly settle and top it off again.

Serve and drink right away.
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