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.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Birthday Cake Diet?

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Slimfast, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #14daystoslim

This summers vacation in the Outer Banks is coming up fast.  I'm feeling a lot of pressure this year to look good on the beach. This will be the first time since I've had Austin that I will be in a bathing suit.

Last year Austin was with us and he was only one month old! I've lost about 40 lbs since then so that's great, but ... I would still like to lose a few more.

My clean eating diet hasn't been going that well (sad face). Clean meals means a lot of meal prep and cooking. With a full time career, a beautiful son that I love spending time with, a book deal and a blog ... I don't have a lot of extra time.

So when Slimfast reached out to me I decided I should give their 14-Day Slimdown a try. I can throw a shake or a bar in my bag and go. Carrot sticks in a bag as a snack? Easy.

Six pounds in 14 days if I stick with the plan. That's perfect.

The plan: Swap two meals daily with a Slimfast Protein shake or meal bar. I'm thinking breakfast and lunch. The third meal (dinner probably) must be 500 calories.

In between meals, I can have three 100-calorie snacks. As long I you consume under 1200 calories each day, and do 30 minutes of light to medium exercise (my morning runs) I've got this in the bag.

The most important part of this whole deal is that these bars are actually really good. Kind of tastes like a cake pop. Really... I'm not just saying that for the blog. It's going to be like having cake pops for lunch.

There is one dilemma.

We know I like to have a glass of wine (usually mascato mixed with mango juice) after Austin goes to sleep and it's time to unwind.

I will probably have to run an extra 15 minutes or so to work in an extra 100 calories a day but I came up with an alternative to my sweet and fruity wine fix.

This champagne and watermelon cooler is only 100 calories. Recipe posted tomorrow!

UPDATE: Recipe here

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pineapple Margarita Punch and a Hot Dog Birthday Party!

As much as Nick and I said we weren't going to make a big deal about Austin's first birthday (you know "just a few friends and some drinks and hot dogs on the grill") I couldn't help myself.

I am head over heels in love with my little man and even if he won't remember this party, I had to make his first one special. With help from Nick and Austin's nana, I think we pulled it off! (I'm actually pretty proud of myself)

Austin used to love hot dogs. About two weeks before his party he changed his mind (of course) and will only eat fruit and cheese, but that was why we picked the theme. 

He also loves to dance to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse's "Hot Dog Dance".  Cracks me up every time. He wiggles his little butt and claps his hands. 

I used free hot dog free printables that I found on Pinterest. The signs from here and the hot dogs that I glued on sticks for the topping labels here

I have always wanted to make those cute veggie cups too. They were really cute, but I don't think that many people ate them.

The streamer backdrop was just made with red and white streamers taped to the wall and I bought some rainbow construction paper, alphabet stickers and string to make the rainbow bunting banner. 

And here is the Pineapple Margarita punch bowl I promised you. We finished THE WHOLE thing. I had a handful of people ask for the recipe too. It was really, really good. (recipe below)

Here is my little guy holding one of his popscicle stick party invitations waiting for his guests to arrive. He was just about to go down for a nap.

We actually had a few hours to hang out with our friends while he was napping. It was really nice!

My mom made these cupcakes. (!!!) They were so awesome. My mom loves Pinterest too (she found the idea here). She will be putting together a step by step pin soon. I will make sure to come back and link to it.

The cupcake frosting was key-lime flavored. Another one of Austin's favorites. 

He had his own key-lime smash cake. You should have seen his face light up when we all started singing Happy Birthday. He loved it. 

We love you Austin Dean. You are so very special and you make everyone around you so happy. I can't wait watch you grow another year.

Pineapple Margarita Punch (from Food Network Magazine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
750 ml bottle of white wine (I used Moscato)
2 cups tequila
2 cups pineapple juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup orange juice
3 cups seltzer
lime and lemon slices

Ring Mold 
3 cups water
lemon and lime slices

1. Pour your water and some lemon and lime slices into a ring mold (I used a bunt pan) and freeze over night. Save the rest of the lemon and lime slices to float around in the punch.

(To remove the ice from the ring mold, before you serve the punch, I just ran some hot water over the bottom of my bunt pan. It made a loud crack and popped right out. Make sure to catch it!)


1. Simmer 1/2 cup each water and sugar until the sugar dissolves; let cool.

2. Combine in a punch bowl with one 750-ml bottle white wine, 2 cups each tequila and pineapple juice, and 1/2 cup each lime juice and orange juice. Chill. Add 3 cups seltzer and some lime slices.

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