Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Black Bean - Artichoke Heart Dip


So I saw someone on the Food Network make something vaguely similar a while back.  But of course I was doing something like ironing or whatever and didn't write it down.  Basically it was black beans in a food processor.  But I changed it up a bit from what I remember and added artichoke hearts.

I also note that this is not a pretty dip.  But don't go judging a dip book by it's cover.  Because this super low fat dip is super duper yummy.  And easy.  And inexpensive.  And yummy.  I said it twice because it is and that's the most important part about a dip.  It's sort of like an alternative to hummus.

Black Bean - Artichoke Heart Dip






Ingredients:
* 1 can black beans, liquid INCLUDED (do not drain)
* 1 can artichoke hearts, drained well
* 1 tsp minced garlic
* 1 tbls vinegar (I used apple cider but whatever you have will do)
* 1-3 tbls EVOO to taste and desired thin/thickness
* Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
* Dump everything into a food processor and blitz the heck out of it until nice and smooth.  That's it!
* Serve with chips, crackers, bread, veggies, etc.




A few notes...
** I again note that this is not a particularly pretty dip.  But neither is hummus.  And we all eat that by the bucket. 

** I used all the liquid in the can of black beans for a few reasons.  First is that it is already full of flavor.  Second is that it helps thicken the dip.  And third is that using that bean liquid means that I can get away with using just a tiny bit of EVOO for flavor.  It makes the dip sooo much healthier, but you don't miss the flavor. 

** If using bean liquid still weirds you out, just drain and rinse your beans and replace with EVOO to taste and desired thickness. 


Enjoy!


Monday, July 30, 2012

True Story...

True Story:  I have a stroller for my dog.  She's 10 and can't walk as far.  But I like/need the exercise for my body/to keep the crazies in check.  So I walk her and push the empty stroller for the first half and put her in it when she is tired.  I have no shame.

True Story:  Twice in this summer I have seen people walking a cat on a leash.  The first time was weird.  The second time was just super weird because it was a different cat/owner in the same park as the first one a month earlier.  I think a cat on a leash is waaaay weirder than a dog in a stroller.  But I am clearly biased.

True Story:  My new favorite summer sleep top is a breastfeeding camisole tank top thing.  You know, to breastfeed the baby I do not have.  But let me tell you something...this thing rocks.  It is hands down the most supportive built in bra tank I have ever found for my more than blessed chest.  The only downside is that the little latches are easy to open.  You know, to breastfeed the baby I do not have.

True Story:  It's not yet August and I am already dreading winter.  I love love love wearing summer Lilly Pulitzer dresses every day. 

True Story:  I will be hard pressed to accomplish much in the next two weeks with the Olympics going on.  Obsession is an understatement.

True Story:  A new boy is in my life.  And has been for about two months.  Though much of that time has been super confusing for me.  It would make for some awesomely hilarious blog posts, but I will not elaborate more.  For now, this is as clean as I come on the blog.  But please be happy for me and say a prayer that it all works out. 

True Story:  My life is one, big awkward moment.  I make everything more complicated than necessary.  Every.  Single.  Day.

True Story:  I still love me some Michael Phelps.  I think he's amazing.  I hope he takes home several medals this year.

True Story:  I have been coloring my own hair at home for more than six months.  Maybe close to a year, actually.  And I LOVE it.  It saves sooo much money and sooo much time.  I might be a life-long convert.  Seriously...this has been life changing for me.

True Story:  John Frieda conditioner has also changed my life.  It is hands down the BEST conditioner my hair has ever known. 

True Story:  We just got a frozen yogurt place in walking distance to my house.  And it brings me inordinate joy.  Fro-yo seven days a week...yes please!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Go Team USA!





Thrilled to bits that the Olympics begin tonight.  I am a total Olympic-aholic!  I've watched every one since birth and suddenly become an expert on sports no one has ever heard of.  It's OK.  This disease only lasts about two weeks and only appears once every other year.  Bear with me. 

Go Team USA! 



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Travel Snacks. Or Things I Never Board A Plane Without.





Do you have must have take alongs while traveling?  Outside of things like travel sized sun screen and my full brigade of toiletries, I always always always travel with snacks.  Just.  In.  Case.

Just in case you get stuck in the airport for eight hours.  Like me last Wednesday.

Just in case you request gluten free but they serve you anything but.  True story: asked for my pre-ordered GF meal last week and the disgruntled waitress took away my gluten filled soup and replaced it with pasta filled soup. 

Just in case you don't like what's being served.  That's happened to the best of us.

Just in case you need a comfort treat.

Just in case!

So here are some of my favorites. 

Lara Bars.  I LOVE Lara Bars.  I have nothing bad to say about Lara Bars.  Did I mention I love them?  I do!

Simple Bars.  Similar to Lara Bars but not nearly as yummy.  But I got them free with coupons so...

Nuts.  This time I brought almonds but sometimes I opt for walnuts or whatever I have in the house.




Applesauce/Fruit sauce.  OK so these claim to be baby food but look at the ingredient list, they are just applesauce.  Or pureed fruit sauce.  In a super convenient travel container.  Perfect for a bag on the go.  A great way to eat a sweet treat without splurging on a big piece of cake.  Do note though that I only buy these for travel and with a coupon because good golly they are pricey otherwise.  You could buy a jar of applesauce for the same price!  I'd also never seen these until last year- so that's for the intro JJ!

Dried fruit.  Easy to eat, sweet, healthy.  Anything from raisins to dried cherries. 

Gum.  I rarely chew gum.  Makes my jaw sore if I chew it too frequently.  But I make sure to always have a pack with me on a flight for ear popping needs. 

Sometimes I toss in a candy treat or bag of GF pretzels if i have them on hand too. 


So what are your travel must haves?  Have you ever tried the baby fruit purees for your grown up needs?  Do you think I've lost my marbles for packing baby food?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wow! Total (And Easy To Do) Inspiration



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I had a different post planned for today, but then I found a link to a new (to me) blog on my favorite time-sucker, Pinterest.  And after reading (and perhaps crying, I'll never tell), I knew I needed to share with y'all. 

For those reading while say, putting my nephew Sammy Sam down to bed, let me re-cap.  This awesome gal decided that instead of moping around or receiving gifts for her 38th birthday, she would go out and do 38 little random acts of kindness.  All in one day.  To celebrated each year of her blessed life.  Is that not the BEST, most ROCKIN' idea ever?! 

Stealing it!  (Which I think was her hope, so I am quite certain she will be OK with my copy cat plan-o-action.)

My 35th (GULP...giant crocodile tears) birthday is in just a little more than six months.  And I have totally figured out how a plan to spend that once dreaded, black hole of a day.  This year, I will not wallow.  Honest to goodness eagerness is all I have now for my big day (The year, not so much.  But the day itself will be nothing short of amazing and fun.).

Making my list, praying for bonus finds and suddenly completely excited to do my own version of Little Random Acts Of Kindness: Birthday Edition on February 22, 2013.  Stay tuned...


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Monday, July 23, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things


My favorite building in the United States of America....


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The Library of Congress.  It's magical inside!


My favorite thing to bake and eat...


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Apple pie.  Homemade top to bottom.


My favorite clothing to wear...


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Lilly Pulitzer dresses.  They make me feel like me.


My favorite thing to shop for...


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Ribbon.  Oh how I love pretty ribbons!


My favorite daydream...


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Renovating, restoring and decorating a house. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Just A Little Happy





Last weekend I ran into the drug store to pick up some free after store reward bucks nail polish (on the list of things you can always get for free with coupons and store deals) and decided to use a few of them, plus a cute nail file and a lippy as a little nothing happy present for a sweet girlfriend. 

I am all about working to find my way back to joy this summer.  And last week was a little rocky in that area for me.  So I made a big, conscious effort to dig up lots-o-joy over the weekend. 

Do you know about Love Languages?  (insert Bestie laughing)  So one of mine is Gifts.  Not elaborate gifts or expensive gifts.  Usually homemade, to be honest.  But I find great bliss in giving a little something to friends and family now and then.  Just to let them know I love them. 

With my newly acquired and nearly free goodies on hand, I tossed a few in a cellophane bag and tied it with a bow.  I knew my girlfriend would appreciate a little sursey just because.  Just a fun treat to say happy summer to a sweet friend.

Also, those nail polishes are supposedly scented once dried on your nails.  I'll let you know next week after I use the two I kept for myself if Revlon is telling the truth or not.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stupid Pet Peeves


So we all have things that bug us.  Drive us batty.  But I'd like to share with you a few things that bug me for (seemingly) no good reason. 

Again, let me note that this is my silly list.  That I want to clarify is not a list of big time offenses, just things that occur daily that, for whatever reason, get my goat.


* Not picking up your feet.  Oh my word, it takes every ounce of my willpower not to scream at you when walking past me to PICK UP YOUR DAMN FEET if you don't walk normal.  That I'm too lazy to lift my entire foot up so I am just going to shuffle on down the road business makes me go nuts.  And is 33% of the reason I avoid all malls whenever possible.

* Wearing inappropriate shoes.  If we (total strangers) are at say a county fair and you show up wearing heels, it will drive me batty.  And that makes zero sense.  I am in sensible and appropriate shoes to walk around for many hours in dusty, dirty, rocky, crowded pathways.  If you trip and fall and break something, that's your own fault.  But I will see you and think about you and worry about your footwear choice all afternoon.  I will mock you too.  But also secretly worry. 

* Labeling something as special when it was never anything to start with.  Making a big sign to say that this pint of farm fresh strawberries (straight from the freshest farm thousands of miles away in a country from which we forbid humans to enter but welcome your berry-tastic gifts) is Gluten Free or Fat Free is ridiculous.  A little like stealing.  Dishonest.  Now if you want to make a big sign to say that your now seedless strawberries are sans seeds, you get down with your bad self.  Not sure what those itty bitty seeds did to you, but knock yourself out.  You are advertising that something every other berry peddler out there has, is inferior to your newly perfected thimble of seedless juiciness.  But if said berry never contained gluten or fat or cave people (Is that PC to say?  Are the cave folks going to come back to correct me if it's not?) have always eaten them, you should not be able to make a claim that this is something new and improved. 

* Vintage and antique.  Do not even get me started on how over the top I react (entirely in my head...none of this is an out loud reaction) when I see people label their Lilly items on ebay and etsy as vintage when they are only three or five years old.  That is not vintage.  Vintage what?  Vintage yesterday?  Stop it. 

* Not putting the toilet lid down.  Especially in photos.  Especially, especially in real estate photos.  If I were in the market to buy a house, I am completely serious when I tell you that I might stop looking at your house online if the toilet seat and/or lid were up in the photo of the bathroom.  That's how much it bothers me.

* Magicians and illusionists.  And their skimpy dressed assistants.  I find the whole kit and kaboodle to be sleezy.

* Anyone in the Baldwin family.  They all annoy me greatly, but for different reasons.

* The label Christian.  (Note that I said label and not faith.  Like seriously note that.  I just know someone is going to get on me for knocking down being a Christian.  I said label.)  I just cringe when people say things like "my Christian dry cleaner" or she is a "good Christian" or "we do/don't do/like/dislike/fillintheblank because we are Christians."  Here me out.  I know a lot of people who never see the inside of a church on a Sunday morning who are filled with God's love and high morals.  And plenty of folks who go to church every week and wear the right clothes and say the right things and belong to the right groups and are far from living any teachings of Jesus in their heart of hearts.  I just feel like that word is so over-used and honestly, very often empty.  In politics and the media, the label has even become a weapon, excuse for poor or hate filled behavior, and emotionless blanket statement to insinuate being better than.  Oh and let's not get started on the public debate over who really is and is not a Christian.  And so the value has (to me) been lost.  If you live your life in a way that I also esteem (yet regularly fail) to live my life, I will know.  Your heart will be visible.  Your standards and codes will be clear.  And you will be valued.  In my opinion, actions speak louder than words.  And any word that takes up as a part time weapon, is not a word I kindly employ very often.  As Nike preaches, just do it.  Just live your life and I promise those around you will know to whom you pray.


So there you have it.  A few of the things that bug me for no good reason.  They bug me just because.  If you do those things, please do not go convincing yourself that I am writing this post to condemn you.  Because you know that you too have silly things that irritate you for no real reason.  These are just mine.  I mean seriously, how in the world does a toilet seat up in a photo harm me?  It doesn't.  But it works my nerves all the same.

In fact, go ahead and share.  What is one of your no-good-reason pet peeves?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Squirrel Camp



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Today I am leaving on a jet plane to head on down to Squirrel Camp.  If you are going too, please tell me.  I am very very excited to sit with my favorite squirrel blogging buddy all week, J!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Antiquing In Brimfield And A Few Creepy Finds


My family loves to go antiquing.  Driving all day in the mountains on twisty, curvy roads to find random barns on the side of the road selling antiques.  To find that beloved treasure, covered in at least a century of dust and cobwebs.

While I appreciate and love antiques, this is not exactly my idea of a fun day.

It usually concludes with me asking to pull the car over so I can throw up.

Nice.

So when asked by my cousins if I wanted to go with them to a large, all in one location, antique fair in Brimfield, MA last Friday, I said yes please.  After the 2.5 hour drive there, we were in one location all day.  Much better for my sensitive tummy.

This is a BIG antique fair.  Put on three times a year and frequented by the high end dealers and fans from Rhode Island, Boston and NYC.  My Martha loves her some Brimfield treasures.

This year seemed different though.  Less furniture, which is what we were searching for (for a cousin- not for me personally- the best way to shop- with someone else's checkbook!), and more littles.  A sign of the market?  Not sure.  But the furniture was much harder to spot.

If we are Facebook friends, you are aware that I managed to spot the teeny tiny little rack of vintage (and current) Lilly Pulitzer from across the road.  Honey, nothing stands between me and my Lilly love!  In the end, I didn't purchase anything.  The vintage stuff was about 8 sizes too small- teeny teeny waistlines.  And even if I lost 50 lbs (and was then hospitalized for an eating disorder), I would never fit into it.  Another day, another Lilly, I hope! 




So as fun as the antiques were, such as these cool croquet clubs (Is that what they are called?  Clubs?), I was more intrigued by the quirky, weird stuff.  Because frankly, it was just a good laugh.


Big hands, I know you're the one!  I just thought these looked so macabre.  Aaaah!


Creepy!  Some artist took tin cans and baby heads to make these treasures.  Priced at...wait for it....wait for it...$95 each!  Not even kidding.


Well this one just speaks for itself.  Clearly I needed to bring a photo home to show my blog peeps.  It was a classic, I need this for the blog moment.


And these are my legs and feet at the end.  FILTHY!  We have had no rain for too many days to count up here.  So everything is so dusty and dirty.  Add in me spritzing myself with sunscreen to protect my albino-like skin and then gallons of sweat because I was walking around in the direct sun for seven straight hours...and this is what you get.  Have I ever mentioned to you how much I hate to be dirty?  Like it's a physical pang in my stomach when I get dirty.  I'm sure I need therapy but I digress...


Can you seen where I stepped off the flops (that are black by the way- the dust made them look grey) to show you my skin vs. the dirt?  My legs were just as gross!  That is not a tan- it is dirt!


So when my cousin and I got out of the car to use the restroom at a stop at McDonald's on the way home, we didn't blink at putting our feet up in the sinks to take a mini bath.  Which really only removed one layer of filth but peaches, I would do it again in a skinny minute.  Not my proudest life moment but I have no regrets either.

Check that off the bucket list...bathing in a public restroom. 

It was a great, but exhausting, day.  Full of lots of laughter, one of a kind finds, a root beer float that made my year and a bubble bath ala Mickey D's.


Monday, July 16, 2012

A Night At The Theater: Cabaret


The thing about living in the North Pole and having six to eight months of hibernation due to cold and snow and my personal favorite, general grey yuck, is that we celebrate summer.  Like really, truly celebrate it.

So when summer finally rolls into town, we go festival crazy.  There is not a week around here that does not include at least three outdoor concerts and a festival celebrating something.  This past weekend was the pig fest.  Mmmm...pork!  My personal favorite!  But we can fest it out for anything from art, clam chowder, tulips, general it's summer and we like food and music along the Hudson River to blueberries and apples and more art.  We fest it up big in these parts!

Another favorite is community/outdoor theater.  And I think one of the best places for this treat is in the heart of downtown Albany (The NY state capital for those of y'all thinking that the state starts and ends on the island of Manhattan.) at Park Playhouse (not to be confused with Parker Playhouse...shout out to my Ft. Laudy peeps.).  They do these amazing summer Broadway-style musicals every summer and do you know what they charge to see their shows?  Guess.  Seriously guess!  Nothing.  Zip, nada, nilch.  They let the community come enjoy art under the stars and breezy trees for free!  It's fantastic!




So on Saturday night, I went to see Park Playhouse's production of Cabaret with a sweet Junior League friend.  It was such a delightful way to spend a summer night!  Even though the temps were in the mid 90's that day and there was no breeze to be felt, as the sun went down and the lights came up, a completely relaxing, cooling breeze blew in.  The cast was excellent and I thought the choreography was top-notch.  I will admit that I didn't read up on the show ahead of time.  And so I was surprised at how heavy the subject matter was.  It was not Park Playhouse's typical light and sweet style of show.  And actually, there was more talking than singing.  But over-all, I thought the production was excellent.  The addition of the tables and bar service was fantastic (Bobby was my server and completely fun!). 

I have nothing but praise for Park Playhouse and their awesome gift of musical theater to our fine region!  I can't wait to see Hairspray next month too.

If you are in the area, don't let the big bad scary city get in your way of a wonderful evening.  It's very easy to get to, with lots of parking available in Washington Park (though I do with the park had better signage to tell you which path to take).  Bring a picnic supper to share with your friends and family or support the local restaurants in the area before you get settled.  Then sit back, relax and settle in for a magical Broadway evening under the stars.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Left Behind


While I never felt like I completely fit in during childhood, I was always at the top of my class and had really great girlfriends.  College was so much fun for me.  I am still very close to all of my besties from both Butler and UGA.  After college was an adventure, but even then I found myself having such a great time in Indy and then DC with amazing friends.

But then my mid-twenties happened.

And friends started to get married.

At first it was so much awesome.  Every trip I took was centered around a wedding for a best pal.  I was in most of those weddings.  Perfecting my initially non-existent (sorry Bestie...that's the curse of being my first MOH gig) bridesmaiding skills. 

Even with half of my friends married and settled, I had no hesitations.  Or few.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't wince now and then that I was mostly single over those years.  But I was having fun with my friends and busy doing volunteer work and I just didn't let it bother me.

Then my late 20's hit.  Now my married friends were having babies.  Or trying to have babies.  Or having third babies.  Lots-o-babies.

Baby presents became my life's work.  I am not good at much but I can make a darn cute baby present. 

And there were friends who struggled to have babies.  Their hearts broken.  People were extra sensitive around them with certain subjects.  People understood their heartache and struggles and longing to join the exclusive parent club that seemed to come so easily for everyone on MTV and E!

But here's what no one really talks about when you are now in your 30's and still unmarried and it feels impossible to even imagine that you will ever earn entry into the parent club: your heart will break a little every time a 22 year old gets a ring on her finger and yours is still stark empty.

No one seems to take into account the heartache that comes with being a 30-something and unmarried. 

Actually, no one seems to take into account the hurt that comes with a friend or family member telling you that you might be just too picky.  Or worse, that they know of someone who finally found her right match in her 60's.  (True story...did happen to me in March...and I nearly threw up right there in the middle of a party.)  Or that they would never want to wait until 35 to have children.  (True story...happened this week and about every six months...conversation curse of having young friends.)

When I find out friends are engaged, I am very sincerely excited for them.  Ditto on babies.  I think both are such blessings in life.  When I offer my congratulations, it is honest and from the heart.

And I have learned to live my life and be happy without certain dreams coming true.  No one ever tells me to hold on to my dreams these days.  They stopped saying shit like that several years ago.  They know that some girls have to give up on dreams and just live in reality.

But it still stings when I find out a 22 year old becomes engaged.  Not because she doesn't deserve it (though I do think that's way too young), but because I am more than a decade past that point and no where near being in that same position. 

In a little more than seven months I will be 35.  The point where women don't want to have babies.  And less than 30 years from possibly finding my right match.

I feel so very left behind. 

Even when I am happy, which I am most of the time, I still know that my biggest goal each day needs to be learning to honestly let go of dreams.  And hoping that the rest of the world will be a little more sensitive to the plight of the habitually single, un-married, no hope of ever becoming a mother because science will label her as old in a few weeks woman.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Don't Get It

This post is a bit of a copy cat on MCW's post yesterday.  But I figured she wouldn't mind if I confessed a few popular things that I don't get either.  You don't need to agree with me.  Just simply letting you know a few things that always make me wonder why they are so well loved.




* Stacked platform heels.  Or whatever you call these shoes.  I'm sorry, but I think there is just absolutely nothing attractive about these types of shoes.  Nothing. 




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* Gone With The Wind.  Yawn.  It just does nothing for me.

* The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.  Or as I call them, Polygamist Porn.

* Cross Fit.  What the what?  Jumping on boxes and rolling tires?  Someone please explain the popularity of this fad.


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* Funny photo booths at weddings/formal events.  OK, I can see where this would be fun at a casual event such as a child's birthday party or a summer cook out.  But why would you want to muck up pretty formal/cocktail outfits with stupid giant sunglasses and a paper mustache on a stick?


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* Not watching TV.  I don't understand what you do in the evenings or when you feel yucky on a Sunday afternoon in January if you don't watch any television.  Should I feel dumb because I do watch TV?  And sometimes a lot of it?  Are you implying that you are better than me or smarter than me or that you find more fabulous ways to fill your extra hours?  I honestly do not know how to react when someone tells me they don't watch any TV. 

How Do I Stop Following?

Quick question:

How do I unfollow a blog using this new Blogger?

One of my blogs was taken over by some other strange blogger.  And is filling up my inbox with all sorts of weird stuff.  I'm over it. 

In the past, I would go to Dashboard and then click on Manage blogs I follow.  But now I can't figure it out.  I'm sure it's obvious but for the life of me, I can't figure out how to stop following someone.

Help!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Secret Lilly Dress Sale On Rue


I promise I am working on some real posts.  But I just noticed that there are a bunch of cute Lilly Pulitzer dresses on sale on Ruelala right now

Go to Women.
Then One Piece Wonders: Dresses
Then Printed Dresses.

And there you find a bunch of cute dresses, including lovely Lillys.  Way to be all hide the Lilly, Rue!








OK and I promise a decent post is coming soon.  Maybe tonight if I can get my act together.

I hope everyone had a lovely 4th of July!

Monday, July 2, 2012

FREE 3 Year Subscription To Town And Country Magazine





Town and Country is one of my favorite magazines and I want to be sure to pass along the link in case y'all are interested.  These offers tend to disappear without notice though, so be warned.  Even if you already get a subscription, I advise that you sign up anyway.  If two start arriving in your mailbox, just call them and ask that they subscriptions be processed back to back.

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