Thursday, July 30, 2009

I PPH Nordstrom's Rack!

I'm on the hunt for adorable pink shoes to wear to my sister's wedding. I'm trying to find shoes that come as close in pink coloring as possible to my pink sash, are comfortable, are preferably a satin material and somehow won't make me hate them because they are pink. Basically, I want these, but there's no way in heck I'm spending $300 on a pair of shoes.

Especially since they are pink shoes and I'll most likely never wear them again.

So I sauntered down to Nordstrom's Rack today and thought I might walk out with a pair of shoes. Unfortunately, I struck out on the pink department, but these amazing Cole Haan shoes caught my attention. I first spied these shoes in Nordstrom's over the winter and quickly put them out of my mind because they were over $200. I'm more of a Nine West shoe budget type gal, so dropping $200 on a pair of shoes is well beyond the scope of my normal rational behavior.

You can only guess my excitement when I saw the sticker on these babies.

Seriously, normal retail price of $214.95 and they were on sale for an additional 65% off of the sale price. Yes, I had to whip out my cell phone and use the calculator to make sure my mind wasn't tricking me into buying these shoes. It's been a really, really, really long time since I've purchased any shoes that weren't of the working out or flats variety.



Retail Price= $214.95
Price I paid= $45.46 (plus tax)

Point. Set. Match. Me!!!!


Oh, PPH means "Pink, Puffy Heart." What can I say, I'm trying to open myself up to a little bit of pink related things.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Operation Surprise Bridal Shower

My sister is getting married in September and with each passing weekend she knew that she was getting closer and closer to her Bridal Shower. When I first asked my sister what type of shower she would like she gave the standard and gracious response, "well, I'd like to have a surprise shower, but I totally understand if that's too difficult to pull off."

Surprising my sister= piece of ice cream cake!!!

(JK sis, calm down)

I must tip my hat, if I wore a hat, to my sister's Maid of Honor. She came up with this elaborate plan that one of my sister's friends would invite my sister to this ├╝ber private Bridal Expo. The two gals would go to the show with the hopes of winning some fancy door prizes. Well, my sister definitely walked out with her share of goodies, but she had no idea she was going to her own Bridal Shower.

The MOH asked the hotel to put up this fake info on their tvs. My sister really thought she was going to a Bridal Expo. Ha!



While my sister and I may in fact be related, we have opposite opinions in regards to the color pink. I hate it with the fiery power of a thousand burning suns and she absolutely loves it. She's one of those ladies who actually wears pink Yankees stuff. Yeah, I don't even want to go there. For her wedding my sister is using pink as an accent color and for the shower the Bridesmaids decided to go on a pink overload. I even wore a pink dress! (to be fair, it's an old bridesmaid's dress that I wore in a previous wedding. Thank goodness for J. Crew re-wearable bridesmaid's dresses!)



Pink centerpieces- made by the Made of Honor


Pink tissue paper at every place setting- made by me the night before. Okay, slightly last minute, but in my defense I took mass transit up to New Jersey and I didn't think these babies would survive in my bag. So I pre-cut the paper and assembled each flower Friday night while watching tv with my Grandma.


Okay, that's enough pink for me! Must take a break from pink related things.


Of course all of the guests yelled the normal, "SURPRISE!!!" when my sister entered the room.

So it seems the pink break wasn't that long because my sister is carrying a pink purse and the hotel walls are indeed a light pink color. Blast!

I have close to thirty pictures of my sister doing this:

I think it's safe to say that the bride-to-be enjoyed her shower.

Even though it was a surprise shower, it still had all the ingredients of a traditional bridal shower.

Presents.


(I had to ask a guy at the fabric store for help because I knew I couldn't pick out pink fabric on my own)

Ridiculously good cake. Seriously, I may only order ice cream cakes from Cold Stone Creamery from now on.




Questionable headgear and slightly corny games.

Lots of family members and friends.












And of course a kick butt group of bridesmaids (I may be slightly biased on this one).


This one definitely wasn't traditional, but after the shower my sister started attacking all of the balloons. Her MOH and I objected to releasing the balloons into the atmosphere (hello, that's bad for the environment), so my sister took it upon herself to attack the balloons ninja style.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Artscape!

Eeek! I've been a bad blogger. Life has been a bit crazy lately and that hasn't left a ton of time for blogging, but I'll make up for it (I promise!).

There was this little festival in Baltimore over the weekend. It's called Artscape and I've never heard of it until two weeks ago. Then I heard it was a free festival and CAKE would be playing Saturday night. Wait, I get to see CAKE... for free? Count me in.

The hubs was skeptical as soon as I told him it was a free festival and he heard the word "art." He took an art history class in college and his professor was a bit on the wacky side and now the hubs is a bit nervous around anything art related.

Thankfully, my best friend came up for the day and the three of us headed down to the festival. There was a ton of exhibits. Seriously, me missed almost every major event because we were too busy just walking around and checking out all the little booths and side performances.

We watched a human game of Foosball for thirty minutes. My best friend insists on recreating this gem at her boyfriend's next pig roast. It was pretty impressive!


The main attraction, for us anyway, was definitely seeing CAKE. I was slightly disappointed that they didn't perform my favorite song, but I can listen to that on my Ipod whenever I want, so there's no love lost.


Heeeeelllllo John!

Unfortunately, the hubs and I weren't able to get tickets to the Virgin Mobile FreeFest later this summer, so this past weekend's concert will probably be the highlight of our free concert summer series. Oh well, it was a pretty good one.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My first cheesecake


The hubs joined me as a ripe, young twenty-six year old over the weekend.The guy is pretty silly when it comes to his birthday. He doesn't want presents, instead he wants to eat crabs, play golf, watch baseball and hang out with family and friends. Unfortunately, this year he had baseball games all weekend so he had to miss out on playing golf. No worries, we have an IOU round planned for later this summer.

When it comes to birthday cake the hubs has only one request- it be nothing but plain cheesecake. The guy loves cheesecake. Anytime he has the room for dessert at a restaurant, he's going to order cheesecake. It's just a simple fact of life for him.

Of course, there is one tiny problem when it comes to ordering cheesecake at home. I don't eat cream cheese and therefore I don't make cheesecake. It's nothing against the cheesecake itself, instead it's the massive amounts of cream cheese that make me want to gag. I'm not a cream cheese person, my bad.

Thankfully, I got over my intense hatred for cream cheese long enough to buy a few packages and make the hubs a cheesecake for his birthday. The guy puts up with a lot of my annoyances, so it really isn't that bad that I make him a cheesecake now and then.

Armed with my Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book (aka, my baking bible), I set off to make the Cheesecake Supreme. The description reads, "This is it- the rich, creamy, and traditional choice for the cheesecake purist." Yeah, that sounded perfect for the hubs.

- 1 3/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers (24 squares- which is much less than the two boxes I bought!)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel (optional- I skipped this)
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup milk

For crust, combine crushed crackers, walnuts, and cinnamon. Stir in butter. If desired reserve 1/4 cup of the crumb mixture for topping (I didn't do this either). Press remaining mixture onto bottom and about 2 inches up sides of an ungreased 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Set crust aside.

For filling
, in a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, and, if desired, lemon peel with an electric mixer until combined. Add eggs and egg yolk all at once, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in milk.

Pour filling into crust-lined pan. If desired, sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Place in a shallow baking pan in oven. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes for the 8-inch pan, 35 to 40 minutes for the 9-inch pan (mine took 40 minutes), or until center appears nearly set when gently shaken.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen crust from sides of pan and cool for 30 minutes more. Remove sides of pan; cool 1 hour. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Yell at hubs that he can't eat the cake until it has cooled for 4 hours. Threaten to put an alarm on refrigerator.

Okay, maybe those last two steps aren't needed for everyone, but I used them. Anyone want to share their go to recipe for cheesecake or just a really good recipe? I don't have to make them, but I can certainly pass them along to my hubs. Or any recipes that I can use my new springform pan???

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vegas?!?!?!?!?!

Confession: I am a self-proclaimed Vegas hater. I know loads of people that have been to Vegas and they've said they loved it. I just have no desire to ever go there.

For starters, extreme sunshine and me aren't the greatest of friends. Of course one could counter and say that in Vegas most of the festivities begin once the sun goes down. I see that point, but I'm more of a morning person. Staying up until the crack of down isn't really one of my favorite activities.

I'm not a gambler. I don't have enough money to "throw it away." I'd rather spend money on shoes or purses and not drop $300 on a craps table. I'm 26 years old and I've never even bought a lottery ticket.

I have absolutely no desire to ever carry around a three foot alcoholic beverage or try to drink the strip (both of which are favorite activities of my brother-in-law).

If I see the Paris hotel in Vegas I won't marvel in it's grand nature, instead I'll be wishing I was in Paris. The same thing goes for the Venetian. Except, there I'll just start reminiscing about the wonderful time I had in Venice.

Anyway, I could go on a total Debbie Downer rant and list a million other reasons I'm not a Vegas person. Unfortunately, my hubs is a Vegas fan. He goes every year with his brother and every year he tries to list a million reasons that I should go with him. Until now, he hasn't been successful.

That all changed yesterday. We've talked about going to Vegas in November. There was an actual adult discussion and it didn't include me huffing and puffing and crying, "I don't want to go!" Instead, we agreed to go with one very big condition. I would take my hubs away from the Vegas glare for a day, while the two of us spent eight hours on a bus so that we could visit the Grand Canyon. Give me an amazing natural formation and I'll hang out with you in Vegas for a few days. I'll even put on a smile.

Oh, Southwest pushed us toward finalizing our Vegas trip. Fares are on sale right now (until midnight). I believe fares start at $30 and head on up to $90. We're flying to Vegas for $90 each. Then, we're flying to Phoenix from Vegas for $30. We're spending a few days with my mother-in-law, which should be a nice time. Then, we're flying back to Baltimore from Phoenix for $90. I don't fly all that often, but those prices sound pretty frickin amazing to me!!!

So, if you've been teetering on whether or not to go somewhere this fall- head over to Southwest and make up your mind already! Who knows, I might see you in Vegas.

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July recap

I ditched the hubs this past weekend. My family was having a little shindig up in New York and all the hubs wanted to do was play video games and veg out for three days. To be fair, he's insanely busy at work and we have plans every weekend from now until mid-September. The guy is definitely entitled to some peace and quite every now and then. Nothing says "take some time for yourself," like being left home alone.

Thank goodness I no longer have to drive up to New York by myself. I can now tag along with my brother, who unfortunately suffers from male-fall-asleep-as-soon-as-he's-not-driving-syndrome. That guy has got it bad!!! Seriously, he used to fall asleep all the time when we were kids, I'm amazed that he can stay awake long enough to drive his car.

Instead of boring you with all the standard family get-together hoopla, I'll just share a few things. One, my Grandpa Joe turned 90 and as anyone who is that close to 100 years young gets to do, he imparted some health advice. Unfortunately, his advice was to give up coffee. Yikes! Well, it doesn't look like I'll be living till 90 in this life time. Maybe next time. Two, never, ever show off to a 9 year old and throw a bocce ball up into the air and catch it. The kid will try to replicate this action and it may or may not split his or her lip open. (Thank goodness Denzel just split his lip open and didn't break a tooth or anything like that.) Finally, always have a hoodie in your car. I was freezing all day and had to bum a hoodie off of my sister. As did my Aunt Ev and a few of my sister's friends.

I left my camera stashed in my bag most of the weekend so I only have a few pictures to share.


A Sonic opened in Wilkes Barre, PA and I begged my brother to take a small detour and stop on by. I've never had Sonic before and after years of seeing their commercials I wanted to give it a try. The verdict- eating fast food while parked is kind of weird, but the Peanut Butter milkshake was divine. Plus, it was pouring, so it was nice to park the car and try to wait out the rain (like that ever works).

Great Danes like to roll themselves into the smallest balls possible. Jasmine wouldn't pose for any pictures and it seems she isn't a fan of cameras in general. I can't wait for Christmas this year and see how Jax and Jewels react to such a big dog. Oh, it's going to be so much fun.

One of my lifetime goals is to have a little cabin in the woods somewhere. Specifically, it could look like my grandpa's old cabin


or it could just have a view like this.
Either way, I think I need to have a house on a lake. Plus, the hubs wouldn't have to go far to go fishing. It seems it has rained almost every day in the Hudson Valley and this past weekend was one of the few nice days in a really long time. Sweet!

Of course it wouldn't be a trip to the woods without a wildlife encounter. As my brother and I were driving away I saw something move in the woods and I immediately shouted, "bear cub!" My brother instinctively jammed on the breaks, asked where and then threw the car in reverse. There are two things to keep in mind when you're within 20 feet of a bear cub: don't get any closer and have plenty of eyes keeping a lookout for mama bear.

Sure, this picture is horrible, but you can clearly tell that's a bear cub and it's not a fuzzy picture of Big Foot. In my own defense, the cub was hanging out in a dimly lit part of the woods. I was wearing flip flops and I wasn't about to enter said woods. And the little guy started to move once he realized I was there and I wanted to jump back in the car before the little one made that terrible bear cub cry and mama bear came over and showed me that it is rude to take pictures of a kid without asking mom for permission first. There are a few animals I don't mess with in the woods: rattle snakes, copperheads, raccoons, coyotes, and ticked off mama bears. That's just practical logic in my mind.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday weekend.