What I Wore Wednesday - July Edition

I think I have made the decision to cut down to a once a month WIWW post. There will be lots of pictures, but I will only be posting once a month. So, without further ado, I am linking up to the Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday!

pleated poppy

Not such a great hair day. 
Outfit #1: Dress & Tank: Target 
Boots: Shoe Carnival
Belt: I really should remember, but I don't.
Necklace: Gift from the hubs on a mission trip to the D.R.
Feeling a little bohemian...
Outfit #2 Skirt: H&M
Shirt: Target
Scarf: World Market
Hubs told me that if I were a boy, I would look like Peter Pan this day
Outfit #3: Pants: Ann Taylor Loft 
Shoes: Target
Top & Belt: really not sure...
Necklace: World Market
I really don't regret buying this dress :)
Outfit #4: Dress: Maurice's 
Sandals: Target
Later that day for a movie date w/ hubs
Outfit #5: Frilly Tank: Kohl's
Jeans: Target 
Flippy floppies: Wal-Mart?
Take a frilly tank top to work!
Outfit #6: Tank: Kohl's
White sweater-thingy: Maurice's
Pants: The Limited
Shoes: Target
I have worn this skirt at least 6 times since I bought it... 3 weeks ago
Outfit #7: Skirt: Ann Taylor Loft 
Shirt: Forever 21??
Shoes: Target
Apparently Bohemian again....
Outfit #8: Skirt: Maurices
Tank: Target
Scarf: World Market
Sandals: Shop de Nana
I felt cuter than this actually looks....
Outfit #9: Skirt & Shoes: Target
Shirt: Maurices

Date night 2
Outfit #10: Pants: Ann Taylor Loft
Shirt: Target (like 3 seasons ago)
It's hot OK.
Outfit #11: Capri's: Kohl's
Tanks: Target 
Flippy floppies: Wal-Mart I think
Outfit #12: Jeans and striped tank: Target
Sweater: Christmas gift ala Mama Derry
Puppy: Sophie :)

Again- it was really hot...
 Outfit #13: Shorts: Charlotte Russe
Shirt: Target
Sandals: Nana
Off to a tapas (or topless if you are Nana) resturant
Outfit # 14: May be my fave :)
Dress: Charlotte Russe maybe...
Shoes: Victoria's Secret
Necklace: refubished by me! (actually that night... right before we left)
The camera loves Sophie haha


So, that is my obnoxiously long WIWW post. What do you think? What's your fav? Do I need to lay off the hippie-style? lol

Expirmental Cooking - dessert style

To go along with my scallops and pasta I made a lemon-raspberry quick bread. I was inspired by my favorite Starbucks muffin, which they have cruelly discontinued; The Raspberry Sunshine Muffin.

Ingredients:
Fresh raspberries from Trader Joes
Lemon Poppy Seed muffin mix

I mashed up all of the raspberries in a bowl and added about a tablespoon of sugar to them.

I made the muffin mix according to the quick-bread instructions and poured half of it into a loaf pan. Then I spread my raspberry mush on it. Like so...
Then I put the other half of the muffin mix on top and baked it according to the box instructions. It came out looking like this after I added the included lemon glaze:

We have been eating it straight out of the pan with forks. It is sooooo good. I will definitely be making this again. The raspberries are just tart enough in the middle of the lemon sweetness. It is awesome. Definitely a successful experiment.

Embracing the Pale - Skin Cancer Scare

So, I have recently had a skin cancer scare. The hubs and I decided to see a dermatologist since we both have quite a few moles. I had to have 2 removed to be biopsied. After nearly 2 weeks of stressing and trying to pretend I wasn't - I got the call.

One of my moles was normal. The other - abnormal or pre-cancerous. Basically, if it had been left alone, it would have likely developed into melanoma, the worst type of skin cancer. Nothing else needs to be done now, except keeping an eye on all of the bajillion other moles on my body, making sure they don't grow, change color, and that new ones don't pop up.

I do need to say a huge thank-you to all of you out there who were supporting me in prayer with this situation. A week ago or so, I just had a sense of peace over the whole situation, which was a huge answer to prayer and definitely from God.

I have been trying to "embrace my pale" over the past couple years anyway, but now am more than ever going to be more careful than I ever have been since I am clearly at such high risk.

When I was younger, I completely got caught up in the idea that tan = beautiful and pale = pasty/sickly. I got called Casper sometimes because I was so pale when I was in Jr. High and early on in high school. I wish I had a picture to upload from my freshman year homecoming - I was SOOOOO pale (which clearly wasn't that sickly, I had 2 dates!). I did get made fun of though.

So, I tanned before every high school dance and sometimes just to be tanner, no special occasion necessary. I wouldn't really wear a lot of sunscreen when I was outside and then I would be slathering on tanning lotion and getting into tanning beds on a regular basis. For crying out loud, in college I worked at a tanning place (it was also a laundry mat, but that's besides the point) and I could tan for a dollar, so I did. A lot. Not that you could ever really tell. My skin is stubbornly fair. I tanned before my wedding. Nana still tans! I don't know when society got caught up in the "tan is beauty" phase, but I am over it. So, in order to show myself and the world that pale is beautiful too I have gathered some pics of my favorite pale celebrities. They do set the standard for beauty these days and I am happy to see more of them looking less bronze and more porcelain.

HA - just kidding.... kind of :)
Christina Hendricks. Could this woman be more sexy?

Liv Tyler

Cate Blanchett

Meryl Streep - this woman is in her 60s and is FLAWLESS

Kate Winslet - so pretty

Nicole Kidman

Anne Hathaway
 Who's your favorite pale person? :)

Expirmental Cooking - take 1

Last week I took my first foray into creative cooking. It wasn’t a total failure. I was going for something like this:

It didn’t quite live up to my expectation, but it was definitely edible. I grabbed an easy recipe on allrecipes.com for sautéing the scallops (which I had never even thought about cooking before our Cincinnati trip) and making a sauce. The comments on the recipe said that it was super easy to add to and make your own, so I thought it would be perfect.

Here are my ingredients:


Frozen Scallops (bought at Aldi)
1 lemon
Garlic powder
Fettuccine noodles
Parmesan cheese
Peas
Butter, salt, pepper

I cooked about half of the bag of scallops in butter and garlic powder, adding some Parmesan cheese on top to give them a little crust. That was a massive fail didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. The cheese that didn’t land on the scallops very quickly burned in my skillet, ruining the butter base for my sauce. I gave up on cooking the rest of them.

I boiled the noodles like normal and cooked the peas in the microwave (lazy cook here!). I started over with the sauce. I melted butter and added the garlic powder, salt, and lemon juice. Then I tossed it all together in a big bowl with more cheese and got this:

I thought it tasted a little bit bland. The flavor was very light, which I liked, but there wasn’t enough of it. Brandon loved it though – I will deem this as a success!

I  baked the rest of the scallops the next night. I put them in a pan, poured melted butter, some garlic salt, lemon pepper seasoning, and some lemon juice over them. They held the flavor so much better! I threw them in the pasta for leftovers and the flavor really stood out.

If I do this recipe again, I might substitute the butter for olive oil and double the lemon juice, and maybe add some additional spices to give it a little more punch.

Stay tuned for my creative dessert too!!

No Spend Fails

$32 - maxi skirt from Maurices
$13 (originally $26) - dress from Maurices

I know, I know, I know. I do NOT need any more clothes. BUT they just opened a Maurices like 10 minutes away from me! I haven't been there in a year (except once in DeKalb)! Both pieces are versatile and I can wear them casual or dressy and in any season. AND - they were having a buy-one, get-one half off sale for their grand opening. I am trying to regret it, but I can't.

$7.54 (originally $34, marked down to $17) - floral tank from Kohls

More clothes... This was for good reason though. I had a $10 Kohls bucks that I had to spend before July 17th or else I would lose it. So I really saved $27 on this purchase. :)

$13 - 3 bottles of nail polish - 2 were crackle!

Ugh. Dumb. dumb. I thought I was getting a good deal on crackle nail polish. The OPI brand sells for $8.50 a pop, so I though $4 for a bottle was a great deal, so I buy 2. Only problem, I don't like the pink. I am going to try to take it back tonight. The black crackle is actually really cool, but I didn't need it... or the silver polish I bought to go under it.

$11 - Nivea Sun Kissed Beautiful Legs lotion

This is a lotion that gives you a gradual tan AND minimizes the need to shave so often. I am pale and the amount of hair on my legs almost makes me believe in macro-evolution. There has to be a gorilla somewhere in my family tree. You do the math here - Worth. every. penny.

So, grand total of $76 and some change for this edition of Spend Fails. :)

All in all though, I don't think I am doing to terrible. The clothes were bought on the same night in a moment of weakness. In the past though, I think I would have come home with 3 or 4 outfits, plus accessories - this is improvement. I have also noticed that I am trying to make my money count and buy items that will last and are more versatile. I am going to keep going with it for the next couple weeks and see what the grand total at the end of the month is... Hopefully its around $78 (remember my impulse itunes buy a couple weeks ago?)

Thankful.

This week is starting to look like it's not going to be so great. Lots of stuff at work is difficult right now and I am waiting for some news about my health, which is freaking me out... a lot. I thought that I should try to shift my focus and look more at some of the positive things in my life right now, rather than focusing on the bad and worrisome. So, in no particular order, here are some things that I am thankful for right now.


-air conditioning (crazy heat wave in Chicagoland!)
-My furry babies
-My hubs and his overall positive attitude and Pollyanna thinking. Sometimes I get caught up in the negative and it really helps to have a positive thinker around to pull me out of it.
-Good friends and emails throughout the week
-Prayer - both praying and knowing I am being prayed for
-New work out classes
-Ice packs and ibuprofen to ease the pain of aforementioned work out classes
-Crazy daily talks with Nana
-Amazing gas mileage (Thank you Toyota!)
-Trader Joes - thinking about dinner!
-Good books
-My job - I almost always love it :)
-Peanut butter
-Cracked pepper and olive oil tricuits (SO yummy!)
-Supportive and loving family members
-Supportive and loving co-workers
-Did I mention air conditioning? :)

Grey Poupon?


I have always been a picky eater. When I was a kid, I ate mac and cheese, tomato soup and grilled cheese, hot dogs, chicken nuggets (from McDonalds preferably), pasta, potatoes, PB &J, and desserts. 

That. Was. it. I didn’t like to try anything new. 

I vividly remember one Christmas when my dad forced me to stay at the table until I ate my green beans. As I recall, I didn’t actually have to finish them (Mom and Grandpa to the rescue!) and to this day I abhor green beans. 

Not much has changed in the past 20 years. I am still a picky eater – and I definitely blame this on my childhood eating patterns – my parents had other things on their plates than worrying about my food variety. I am trying to experience more foods now though. While we were in Cincinnati for the weekend, I fearlessly tried a scallop for the first time.  It was delicious! Who knew? 

This morning, after hearing about the delicious lunch that my friend packs every day, I had waffles with peanut butter, bananas, and honey. It was heaven on a plate. Fabulous. 

I don’t really know enough about food and culinary arts to pick out what things are going to taste good together, so I need some help. I can follow a recipe like nobody’s business, but need some guidance on what goes together. I often find myself making main dishes and having no idea what to put with them for veggies and starches.  Example: Two nights ago we had Trader Joes orange chicken with white rice. That’s it – that was my whole meal creation. Sad right? 

My new goal for the rest of the year (like a mid-year resolution) is to try to make 1 new complete meal per month – something we have never tried before. I need to add to my arsenal of recipes.  I also want to make them as healthy and well-balanced as possible.  I also really need them to be easy. I don’t want to put in more than 30 minutes if I can avoid it – it’s just too hard with work, dogs, squeezing in a work out, and then being faced with the daunting task of making dinner. Last night, I ate cereal for dinner, tonight is looking like a Ramen night – get the idea?

So now, with all of those parameters, what’s your favorite easy, healthy, well-balanced meal to make for your family? Or where do you find great dinner ideas?

Weekend Shenanigans

It has been quite the busy last couple weekends! I am currently winding down with what will probably be a mock-able movie, Beastly and some Trader Joes Moscasto.

I was going to write a post re-capping our adventures in Cincinnati, OH last weekend, but my girl AlliFerg beat me to it. So head over to her blog to read about that fabulous trip. Here's a couple pics to tide you over:



Now, fast forward to this weekend. Friday night I was able to tear my husband away from the books for a nice dinner in downtown Lisle. Randomly, there was also a parade of Beauty Queens and car show going on as well. It was actually all quite charming. We had dinner at a little Mexican restaurant called Yerbabuena and both really enjoyed the food and plan on going back.



Chicken Cheese Enchiladas!

Steak Fajitas
Saturday morning we started off with a trip to the dog park since it was so nice out. Izzie promptly got into the mud.
Needless to say - they got baths when we got home.


Later on Saturday I went grocery shopping. I went to not one, not two, but three stores! I started off with Aldi, then had my first experience at Trader Joes - which may possibly be my new favorite store-  and then finished up at Dominicks to get a few of our staples. I am really looking forward to trying some new dishes and pumped about all of the fresh fruit I got too!

Last night we grilled out and then hit up the IMAX to see Transformers. It was epic. However, it was a little  disconcerting to see Chicago blown to bits - even if it was by robot aliens. Look at how huge the 3D glasses are now!


Here's a little preview of the movie too! I totally enjoyed it - I can't believe that Brandon had to drag me kicking and screaming to see the first one and now they are some of my favorite movies.

$1.29

Yes, $1.29, that is how much my first no-spend fail cost me. I was kicking myself right after I did it. It was an iTunes purchase. iTunes! The thing is, I wasn't even considering it as a "purchase" until I received the receipt in my email. So stupid.
Would you like to know what song I purchased?
I Got You by Leona Lewis
Would you like to know why?




I do just get goosebumps.

But still - Stupid purchase.

No Spend July

I was reading a blog the other day and the author decided that she was enforcing a “No Spend July” for all of her DIY projects. Her blog is almost exclusively about DIY projects, so I was obviously impressed and inspired. Now, I blog about pretty much whatever I want, so I am extending “No Spend July” into all areas of life. From July 5 – August 5, I am only allowing myself vital purchases. My definition of “vital” is going to be something I must have to live (i.e. groceries, gas, dog food, regular bills, etc.). This is going to definitely be a challenge and an exercise of self-control, something of which I am lacking. If I do not stick to my “No- spend” rule for the month, my punishment is to blog about my frivolous purchases. Hopefully, this can make me see how absolutely silly some of the things are that I buy and that I will have a much bigger reward from saving my pennies. Brandon and I both have student loans to pay down, a new car payment for me, and every day expenses - a much larger portion of our finances should be allotted towards early pay-offs, rather than my ever-growing scarf collection. I need to re-learn the lesson of saving up money for a big purchase, rather than just swiping a credit card for something I want. A couple of things I would like to save up for:


1. A new, high quality straightener

2. A high quality, comfortable pair of nude high heels

3. Excursions for our winter vacation

4. Airline tickets for a destination wedding in January

5. A set of yellow dishes to add to our blue and white ones to have place settings for 12

I am going to try not to buy any of those items without intentionally setting aside money for them first.

One big-ticket purchase (for me at least) will be coming up this weekend. Brandon and I are both going to invest in a pair of high quality running shoes at a local running shoe store. Spending this past weekend with 4 marathon runners has definitely inspired my hubby to pick up running again and the shoe experts are strongly encouraging an upgrade in our shoes. I am going to look at this particular purchase as a vital one, since it likely will extend our lifespan in the long run (ba-dum-cha), if we continue to be healthy and active. (It’s a stretch, but I am technically blogging about it already, so I am following my rules… technically)

Now, why am I starting July 5th and not the 1st? We took full advantage of our holiday weekend and went to Cincinnati to see some friends. I knew that we would be spending moola on food, gas, and entertainment, so I didn’t bother starting on the first. I also may have squeezed in a couple last minute shopping sprees in the past week, since I knew I was starting this today. Whoops – those don’t count! (See what I mean about the self-control issues?)

The hubby is hoping that “No Spend July” turns into “No Spend Summer” and “No spend 2011”. We will see how far I can actually take it. Wish me luck! Join me for the challenge if you are up to it!!