Saturday, March 29, 2014

Some of My Favorite Things

I must admit, I am not the least upset that March is over. Actually, I am jumping for joy! Even though spring started on March 21st, here in New England it is still winter. We are still averaging 10 degrees below average.  With April around the corner, hopefully, spring weather is on its way … although I can’t shake the thought of Mother Nature’s cruel April Fool’s Day blizzard of 1997 (insert shudder here.) With the end of the month here, I thought I would share some of things I have enjoyed this month.

First item that I could not have lived without this past month is a quilt my mom had made me when I was in college. I love sunflowers and this quilt definitely brightened my mood while keeping me toasty warm.  One of the best qualities of this quilt is that it is bigger than the typical lap quilt, which means my two boys and I can cuddle underneath it to watch TV or read a book.  My poor husband couldn’t fit so he had to find his own way to keep warm.

Next, are my new glasses, besides the frames being stylish, just the fact that I finally got a new prescription and have not suffered from headaches due to staring at the computer screen all day makes them my favorite purchase this month!  And I do love the frames. I was looking for brown tortoise frame. I found the perfect pair, of course they were Gucci and a little out of my price range. The sales associate then pulled out a pair of Kate Spade glasses. Even though they weren’t brown, I actually like the red/rose color better; they seem to brighten up my face.

I’m not a hoarder and I am pretty good at purging items I don’t use (not as good as my husband as he throws away everything even items we need; Steve does not like clutter) However, I always have a problem throwing  away the empty glass Bath and Body Works Candles. This month I finally figured out what to do with them! I purchased metallic glass paint and stencils to decorate them. Now they are a stylish addition to my bathroom and a practical way to hold my makeup brushes. I also brought some to work to hold paperclips and pens.

I just started purchasing MAC products again. I used to buy them all the time and then when I moved to western New Jersey there was not a store that had MAC readily available. I forgot how nice their products are and that they are reasonably priced. They are a little higher than drugstore products, but not as high as the prices for designer makeup.  I have been wearing Mac Lipstick in Peach Blossom. I love their crème sheen lipsticks. The formula is nice and moisturizing and the texture is smooth. Peach Blossom is a nice nude color on me. Because of my pasty complexion, normally nude colors wash me out. Because of the peach tone it complements me well when I want a neutral color.

Let me know some of your favorite things this past month!!  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Movie Night

I’m a homebody.  While there is the occasional inclination to go out, I prefer to sit around in my PJ’s and relax with my family. Sounds glamorous right? We have developed a family movie night as a way to spend some time unwinding from the week.  

This weekend is especially memorable because we are having my parents and my aunt over for it. It was my Mom and my Aunt’s Birthday last week; however, as I was sick, so we never had a chance to celebrate.

In case you haven’t heard, Frozen was released on DVD this week. My Mom has wanted to see it, so I figured I would incorporate her birthday celebration with movie night. For something different, I found some special salty and sweet popcorn recipes…  this way it covers all cravings and if you want salty-sweet and can mix it together.

I also served some of our favorite candy along with the popcorn.

Toffee Popcorn

2 bags of microwaveable popcorn (popped)
1 Stick of butter
1 1/8 cup of light brown sugar
1/3 cups of light corn syrup
1 Tsp of vanilla extract
½ tsp of baking soda
1 cup peanuts
Preheat oven to 250F. Mix popcorn and peanuts in a bowl and remove as many un-popped cornels as possible. In a medium saucepan melt butter. Add sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda. Stir into popcorn and peanuts. Spread mixture onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Cool for 25 minutes and then break into pieces.

Parmesan Ranch Popcorn

1 bag of unsalted popcorn (popped)
1 package of ranch mix (Hidden valley is gluten free)
1/2 cup of canola oil
2 cups of gluten free pretzels
½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
In microwaveable bowl combine Ranch mix and oil. Add popcorn and pretzels and then microwave for 2 minutes. Added cheese and serve.

What's your favorite hanging in activity? 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pictures of Paris

I had a few request to post more pictures of Paris. So rather than doing my week in photos, I figured I would post some of my favorites from France. It was not easy choosing; we took upwards of 700 pictures!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


View from our balcony of the Jardin Des Tuileries

As a little girl I had always dreamed of living in Pairs; I think most little girls have this wish, too. Between the architecture, the desserts, and the sophistication, Paris is romantic. Who wouldn’t want to live there?  

Anyways, that dream never came to fruition; however, two years ago I managed to convince my husband to go there on vacation. Right before we were scheduled to go I had a moment of panic. What if it didn’t live up to my expectations? I am dragging my husband along, who doesn’t even want to go, and I am worrying that I won’t even enjoy the trip.  The worst of it came when we were at the airport waiting for our flight. Over a glass of wine and dinner, my husband decides this is the time to tell me all of his reservations about this trip. Needless to say this was not turning into what I was picturing.

All that changed once we were in Paris. The hotel was beyond our expectation. We were upgraded to a king size bed with a balcony. Granted the balcony looked onto the back of the Westin, but the building was beautiful and at night we could see the reflection of the Eiffel Tower in the windows. The City of Lights was stunning. The people were so friendly and nice, unlike what you hear. As we walked around Paris, my husband repeatedly said, “When we come back….” This began his love affair with Paris and only strengthened mine. Ok, I could go on forever about Paris, but I will stop here. I am sure I will write more in other posts.

I have recently found two things that have brought me back and I wanted to share them with you.

The first is a T-shirt from Piperlime (Here). I had a gift certificate for the Gap and saw this and knew I had to have it. I love the burnout on the T-shirt and the writing is in velour. I paired it with a blazer to dress it up for work.

The other find, to me, is so much more exciting and delicious. When I think France, rich pastries come to mind. While I was scouring the aisle of Trader Joe's, again, I discovered in the frozen section, Chocolate Croissants.  They are uncooked, so you lay them on a cookie sheet at night to let them defrost and rise and in the morning you bake them for twenty minutes. Mon Dieu!!!! Besides the aroma that fills the home, they taste amazing. Just sit down with a Café Au Lait, close your eyes, and you are taken away to a street café in Paris- I can hear the accordions now.  Whenever I am missing Paris, which is quite often, I break these out (not good for my waist line, but as the French say all good things in moderation.)

I can’t wait until our next trip.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What dark circles?

Concealer has to be one of the best inventions for those of us with things to hide. Whether it is dark circles, blemishes, or hyper pigmentation, with the right products, no one will ever know. Here are some of my favorites for hiding the results of little or no sleep.

I’ll start with my all-time favorite: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. This is a little miracle in a tube. It is perfectly pigmented and blends under the eyes without creasing. It not only is undetectable under the eyes, but also covers blemishes perfectly. Okay, I know this post if about under eye concealers but I want to give you the full picture of why I adore it. This product it not light reflective so it is perfect for blemishes too. When you are treating acne, the harsh chemicals and acid tends to dry out your skin; because this is creamy, it does not cake and flake off around the blemish.

Another great camouflage that’s a little more budget friendly is L'Oreal True Match Superblendable Concealer. This is a little bit thicker than the Nars, so it takes a little longer to blend out, but it is still a great concealer. It does not cake or crease either.

On top of these, I use Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer. I made the mistake of purchasing the brightener rather than a color that matches my skin tone. As the name indicates, it brightens the area… and it is extremely pink toned! Because of this, it does not work to conceal and requires me to use it over the concealer. The plus to this product (and why it made it into this post) is it does make me look bright-eyed and rested. Next time, though, I will buy the right color and see how it works to mask the dark circles.

Clinique Airbrush Concealer Illuminates, Perfects is what I grab when I have just rolled out of bed and need to be out of the house ASAP.  Lately, that seems to be case; the snooze button is my worst enemy!  I just swipe this on and dab it in and it looks good. It does not cloak the under cast of the eyes as well as the other two, but in a rush it works well.

What’s you favorite cover up for bags and dark circles?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What's For Dinner

Even though I am under the weather, I want to prepare a nice Sunday dinner for the family. Between soccer, Cub Scouts, work, and now baseball, we have not had any time to sit down as a family for dinner. You know drill, right? During the week, and even on Saturdays, we are pulled in all different direction, so I have decided this virus is not taking me down! I am making a nice dinner! We will all sit down together as a family and enjoy!

My go-to easy dinner is roasted chicken. It is amazing when cooked correctly how succulent and moist the chicken can be. My secret to the perfectly cooked chicken is my BonJour Meat Thermometer. The pop up “timers” that come already in the chicken do not work form me. The chicken always comes out dried and crumbly. But with a meat thermometer it comes out perfectly every time. When a chicken is taken out of the oven, it still continues to cook, so I always pull the chicken out of the oven when it has five degrees left to go. This helps me make sure it’s never overdone.

I season my chicken differently each time. I just drizzle olive oil on the chicken and then sprinkle with the seasoning of choice. Today, for the ease of it, I am using Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning. It is a great all-in-one mix of spices and I love the grinder. But you can season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and it would be delicious as well.   I normally cook the chicken at whatever temperature the side dish is being cooked at.

The side I am preparing is Bon Appétit Mini Herbed Pommes Anna. The boys love roasted potatoes, actually it is the only type of potato that they will eat. I still think that it’s odd, what types of kids, or adults for that matter, don’t like mashed potatoes. Everyone loves mashed potatoes. Anyways, I think this is a nice twist on roasted potatoes.

What is your favorite family dinner?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Best Medicine

Last weekend all three of my guys were sick; not just “I’ve got a cold” sick, more of the incapacitating flu sick. They were completely bedridden and slept most of the weekend. Even my mom ended up with it.

I thought I had lucked out. Should have know better, right? All this week I had been feeling fine, took my vitamins, and thought I was in the clear … then yesterday it hit me. It felt like I was run over by an eighteen-wheeler.  Luckily, it did not come on until late in the afternoon so I only had to suffer at work for a few hours.

This post is not to complain about how I feel; rather, I figured I would share what I’ll have at my bedside while I am laid up. Even when sick, I am not one of those people that can sleep the day away, so a book and some magazines are always important. Lucky for me, my Glamour magazine and Everyday with Rachel Ray both came in the mail yesterday. It’s like the mailman knew I needed them!

I love to read and always have books on-hand. So I pulled out The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene- it’s a period piece set during WWII. From the description on the jacket, it sounds like it has everything in it- Espionage, romance, suspense…  Cannot wait to curl up with it! I will have to fill you in on how I liked it.

Because I am a Type A personality, my mind is constantly running  -even at night while I lying in bed.  My mind runs through the day, going over what I did and what I should have done differently, then it shifts to what is in store for me the next day. On my nightstand, I have one of my favorite things for relaxation, Thisworks Deep Sleep Pillow Spray. Infused with Lavender, Vetivert, and Wild Camomile, one sniff of this tranquil scent helps my mind calm down and my body relax.

Like with any cold, you’ve got to stay hydrated, so I will also have a big glass of water by me. I use my fancy, rose gold tumbler from Starbucks always cheers me up. Cannot find the rose gold one on line, but here is the link to the champagne colored one.

What are your favorite comforts when you are under the weather? Any suggested reads?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Getting Organized….

Does anyone else become overwhelmed managing family and work? It seems like I am the most scatterbrained person in the world and it is not because of my blonde hair - Although that can be the excuse for many other things I do.  I am constantly feeling like I am running in circles and getting nowhere.

I have decided that I have had enough and this is the year! My goal this year is to get organized in many aspects of my life.  So I am starting with coming up with a plan to keep track of all the appointments and activities so things do not sneak up on me. For example a month ago, I received a call from my husband to remind me that my oldest had an appointment in 10 minutes. It was a 20 minute drive and I cannot stand being late. Usually, I show up 30 minutes early to places just to be on time.

My phone may seem ideal, but I have tried keeping track of all the appointments and activities, but find that I never get a chance to go into my phone to review the calendar while at work. Even when I set reminders, I tend to dismiss them right away because I am in the middle of something else and as they say, out of sight, out of mind.

I have deicide I am going back the old-school way of doing things.  I am pulling out my paper planner. Are you techies cringing? A few years ago, I had purchased the Staples’s Arc System. I have the smaller, weekly planner version as it is easier to throw in my bag. It is also the perfect size to keep open on my desk and my kitchen island without taking up to much room.  It’s nice to be able on a Sunday evening to look over the week all on one page.

My planner setup also has a section for each child, a to-do list and a note section that I can jot down ideas and thoughts as I think of them. 

How do you organize you schedules? Input on ideas is always welcome!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mascara Showdown

Is its so hard to find good mascara? Either my eyelashes come out clumpy and look like I stuck a hairy spider on my eye, or there is no noticeable difference between the before and after. Does anyone else have this problem?  

I think mascara is one of those must have items. A good mascara can not only make your eyes look bigger but also gives you a wide awake appearance and as a mother and an insomniac this it extremely important. I find when I don’t wear mascara I get the, “oh, are you sick” or “you look tired,” comments. I am always tired; I just try to trick myself and others with makeup. Although it is not a confidence booster when people think you are sick when you don’t wear makeup.

I have tried everything from Dior Diorshow to Maybelline Great Lash, which are supposed to be two the greatest products ever; however, none of them have impressed me. That is until now.
Finally, I have discovered two perfect mascaras for me. I have to admit I have been blessed with nice full eyelashes. Nothing like my older son’s lashes, life is so unfair giving a boy those lashes!  My two miracle mascaras are Yves Saint Laurent Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils Babydoll and the Cover Girl Clump Crusher Mascara.

They both have similar wands; they are plastic and spikey which I find perfect for separating my lashes.  The Cover Girl one is curved. They also have great lengthening power.

So which one do I like better? That depends.  The YSL works perfectly. I do not need to curl my lashes and I can accomplish the length I want in just one coat. And even though it is not waterproof it does not smudge on your under eyes (again as an insomniac, not need to draw attention to the bags.) The only drawback to this is it carries the hefty price tag of $30.00.  I hate to see the look on my husband’s face when he reads this. He probably thinks I have lost my mind!!! I did buy it when Sephora had their VIB sale so it was 20% off, but still pretty pricey.

Now on to the Clump Crusher… The name of this just draws me in and it does exactly what it says it does! Nothing compares to the Babydoll mascara, as I need two coats to obtain the same effect and I need to curl my lashes. Again, this does not smudge during the day and lasts for the ten hours that I am at work. To me, and probably my husband, the 8.99 price tag makes this my favorite mascara. I can deal with putting on two coats and curling my lashes to save $20.00.

I would like to try L’Oreal’s Butterfly mascara. As anyone tried it? What’s your favorite mascara?


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Week in Picture #2

Lego Magazine and Catalog came in. 

I didn't have a chance to take as many pictures as I would have like to, but I was able to stop one morning and take a few.  Hopefully next week I will have a more for you.