Monday, January 30, 2012

Jason Wu for Target

Jason sound familiar?  Jason was the young, relatively unknown designer who skyrocketed to overnight fame after Michelle Obama starting wearing his creations, most notably to her husbands' Inaugural Ball in 2009.

Next Sunday, the Jason Wu for Target collection will hit Target stores nationwide, and will be available online as well.  Expect to see lots of super-feminine dresses and skirts, along with tops, outwear and accessories, ranging in price from $19.99 to $59.99.  Check out the lookbook here.

To see if the Jason Wu collection is coming to a Target near you, "like" the Target Style page on Facebook and click on the "Jason Wu for Target Stores List" tab.


{photo credit:;}

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

National Chocolate Cake Day?  Okay!

You never really need an excuse to enjoy a sweet, rich slice of chocolate cake, especially when it's paired with a creamy frosting that's just sugary enough.  {None of that whipped-cream-frosting nonsense for this girl!}.  And if you're one of those I-don't-like-cake types ~ well, I just don't understand you.

But for the rest of us, today gives us an official excuse to indulge in a little bit of the sweet stuff.  I mean, you can't argue with a national holiday, right?  You could stop at the bakery and pick up a snack, pull out a box of your favorite cake mix, or... you could whip up a batch of these citrusy-chocolately darlings, courtesy of My Baking Addiction

Coffee in chocolate batters helps intensify the chocolate flavors, so you know these cupcakes will really satisfy those chocolate cravings.  Orange and chocolate pair like a dream, and it's a much lighter-tasting combo than the flavors that we're used to seeing in winter.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients ~ Cupcakes
1 3/4    cups all-purpose flour
2          cups sugar
3/4       cups good cocoa powder
2          tsp baking soda
1          tsp baking powder
1          tsp kosher salt
1          cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2       cup vegetable oil
2          large eggs, at room temperature
2          tsp pure vanilla extract
1          cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Ingredients ~ Frosting
16        ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
            zest of one large orange
3          Tbsp vegetable shortening
6          Tbsp butter, softened to room temperature
2          pounds confectioners sugar, sifted
2          tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.  In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just until combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Using a large scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full.  Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.  Meanwhile, make frosting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese, orange zest, shortening, and butter until well combined.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners sugar until thoroughly incorporated and smooth.  Add vanilla and mix to combine.  {For the faint orange hue seen in the picture, use a tiny amount of orange food coloring}.

Frost cupcakes using a metal spatula or piping bag with a wide tip.  Because of the cream cheese frosting, if cupcakes aren't being consumed the day of baking, store them in a sealed container in the fridge.  Remove from fridge about an hour before serving.



{photo credit:}

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pizza Dip with Fritos

Many moons ago, at my older brothers graduation party {or confirmation party...I can't remember ~  many moons ago!}, a family friend brought an amazing pizza dip appetizer, served with Fritos for dipping.  It.  Was.  Amazing. ~  the type of appetizer you just can't tear yourself away from.  I requested the recipe but never actually got it {some people are so stingy with their hit recipes!}, but with the Super Bowl coming next weekend, I figured now was as good a time as any to search for something similar.  The trick is, it has to be served with Fritos SCOOPS chips ~ the salty yumminess those crackers give {versus regular tortilla chips or a sliced baguette} is what really makes this dip so gosh-darn delish.

I just spent some time scouring the web for pizza dip recipes {and there are a lot out there}, and I think I've found a winner ~ the White Pizza Dip featured on designer bags and dirty diapers blog.  She served her dip with both bread and Fritos and said the Fritos were the runaway winner.

Pizza Dip with Fritos

1       envelope Lipton Secret Recipes Savory Herb with Garlic soup mix
16     ounces sour cream
8       ounces ricotta cheese
1       cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4    cup (1 oz) chopped pepperoni
         Frito's SCOOPS chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

In a shallow 1-qt casserole, combine soup mix, sour cream, ricotta, 3/4 cup mozzarella and pepperoni.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until heated through.  Serve with chips {or sliced baguette, if preferred}.



{photo credit:}

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Club: Kris Jenner...and All Things Kardashian {Review}

I guess I've been on a celeb-penned-tome kick after-Christmas reading of Ellen DeGeneres' Seriously...I'm Kidding was quickly followed up by Kris Jenners' 2011 release, Kris Jenner...and All Things Kardashian.  Whether you love them, hate them, or love to hate them {you know who you are ~ the one trash-talking the K-fam, rolling your eyes in disgust at their latest interview/product line/marriage, while simultaneously hunkering down on the couch every Sunday for the latest episode of KUWTK}, you have to admit that a family who can create their own multi-million, multi-genre brand must have a pretty interesting back story.

Kris Jenner...and All Things Kardashian, as you can imagine, chronicles Kris' life pretty much from the beginning to present day.  The first chapters of the book quickly bring us through Kris' childhood in the San Diego area {her parents divorce; her mother and her grandmothers' entrepreneurial ways; the untimely death of her biological father} and into her late teens, when she met, was courted by, and married Robert Kardashian.  The next few chapters bring us through the birth of her first four children, the months-long affair that ultimately led to her divorce from Robert, followed by her whirlwind courtship with Bruce Jenner and subsequent marriage.  Throughout this first third of the book, stories, snippets and anecdotes of the relationship between O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson are woven in.  O.J. Simpson had been best friends with Robert Kardashian since their college days at USC, and Nicole and Kris became very close friends as well.

Kris in high school

The middle few chapters of the book focus entirely on the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and O.J. Simpson's subsequent murder trial.  It is fascinating {and sad} to hear an "insiders" account of O.J. and Nicole's relationship, and the tragedy and chaos that followed Nicole's death.  I told my husband he needs to read these few chapters ~ it really has very little to do with Kris Jenner or the Kardashians, but rather a behind-the-scenes account of what was going on before and during the "trial of the century" that we were all witness to in the mid-90s.

While submerged in this section of the book, I began to think that the real reason Kris penned it {perhaps on a subconscious level} was for therapeutic reasons ~ to finally put on record her observations of the tragic and extremely public murder of her close friend, to work through the emotions associated with that and to get Nicole's side of the story out to the public once and for all.  {FYI, Nicole's sister has gone on record ~ albeit with the National Enquirer ~ to dispute Kris' claims.}

The Kardashian/Jenner clan

The last third of the book returns the focus back to family life with the hybrid Kardashian-Jenner group ~ a family cemented together with the births of youngest siblings Kendall and Kylie.  Kris outlines the many, many relocations of the family {how many houses can one family buy in a 10-or-so year period?  A lot, apparently}, along with Kim's {first} failed marriage, Kourtney and Rob's getting-into-college experiences, and Khloe's hands-on role as a super-involved big sister to younger sisters Kendall and Kylie.  In other words, normal family stuff {well, except maybe teenage Kim's secret marriage}.  Kris also details the grieving, recovery, and moving on processes the family went through after the deaths of both Nicole Brown Simpson and Robert Kardashian {in 2003, of esophageal cancer}.  For them, part of that process included channeling their focus and energy into starting their two Calabasas-based clothing boutiques, Smooch {a now-defunct children's store} and DASH {a women's clothing store}, both of which were featured on the first season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Kris wraps up the memoir with info on how an upper class blended family living in LA went on to become America's First Family of Entertainment ~ how they wound up with their own reality show and built their family "brand" over the course of a few short years.  The book ends with Kim's engagement {ironically, now}, with the epilogue touching upon the plastic surgery Kris received before Kim's wedding {well, we are in Hollywood, here}.

Overall, I liked Kris Jenner...and All Things Kardashian.  It was more interesting than I was expecting it to be ~ with the Nicole/OJ insight, yes; but also hearing about her childhood, especially the example of strong, entrepreneurial women she had in her mother and grandmother; her relationship {at times heartbreakingly romantic, at times just heartbreaking} with Robert Kardashian; and a bevy of interesting {even when being name-droppy} tidbits about the everyday life of the family Kardashian ~ like when a teenage Kim, who was dating Tito Jackson's son, got to host her birthday party at the Neverland Ranch.

Bottom line ~ if you enjoy keeping up with the Kardashian's, you'll want to flip through this tell-all.


{photo credit:;;;}

Monday, January 23, 2012

S'mores Stuffed Brownies

Chocolate + Marshmallow + Graham Cracker = Perfection.

If all equations looked like that, I probably would have done a lot better in math.

Seriously, though ~ whoever invented s'mores was a genius.  The flavor combination of sweet chocolate {preferably classic Hershey's}, melty marshmallows, and crunchy graham crackers is infinitely satisfying.    Weather conditions don't always allow us to spark up the outdoor fire pit and make a handful of ooey-gooey treats, though.  Enter s'mores brownies ~ heaven!  Not all s'mores brownies recipes are created equal, me, I've tried them all!  {Or a lot, at least}.

Whether you're looking for a winter-friendly alternative to campfire s'mores, you want something new and delish to put on the dessert table at a party, or you're just craving a sweet snack that is downright scrumptious, you won't be disappointed with Picky Palate's S'mores Stuffed Brownies.

 Half the batter, then graham crackers, then chocolate

 Marshmallows everywhere, followed by the rest of the batter

Ready to bake!

S'mores Stuffed Brownies
1         box of your favorite brownie mix {I love Betty Crocker's Ultimate Fudge}
4 1/2   full graham crackers
3 1/2   full-size Hershey bars
16       large marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with foil and spray generously with cooking spray.

Pour half of the brownie batter into lined pan.  Layer graham crackers over batter, followed by Hershey bars and marshmallows.  Pour remaining brownie batter over marshmallows.  

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick comes mostly clean from center.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Carefully lift foil to remove foil and brownies from pan.  Peel any foil away from edges and cut into squares.

These are super delicious when cooled, but are even more amazing when they're still just a touch warm from the oven!  Serve with a glass of milk and get ready to smile!


{photo credits:}

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Football Pizza

I think at this point, we have all picked up on the fact that I love a themed party or get-together.  However, I'd been unsure of football- or Superbowl-themed treats ~ mainly because Superbowl parties or playoff gatherings are guy-centric, and I'm not sure those of the male persuasion would really appreciate or even want football-shaped cookies with brown frosting and painstakingly piped-on white frosting laces.  I would appreciate it, but I think the football-party crowd is more beer-and-pretzels and less Martha Stewart, no?

I did pause for thought, however, when I came across this Pillsbury recipe for Football Pizza.  Nothing too fancy schmancy here; just some good ol' fashioned pizza {which I'm told pairs very well with both beer and football}, with just a touch of "theme" thrown in.

Even better ~ this recipe calls for pre-made pizza crust, so your job is that much more simple.  Form the football with pepperoni, the laces with string cheese, and give this yummy dish the place of honor at the center of your party snack table.

Football Pizza

1       can {13.8 oz} refrigerated classic pizza crust
2       teaspoons olive oil
1/2    cup pizza sauce
2       cups shredded mozzarella cheese {8 oz}
1/2    cup chopped fresh parsley
2        packages {3 oz each} sliced pepperoni
1       stick {1 oz} string cheese
Heat oven to 425°F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Unroll dough on cookie sheet; starting at center, press out dough into 14x12-inch rectangle. Brush dough with olive oil; bake 7 minutes.
Spread pizza sauce evenly over crust; top with mozzarella cheese and parsley. Arrange pepperoni in football shape on center of pizza {see photo}. Cut string cheese lengthwise into 4 strips {save 2 for another use}. To make football laces, place 1 strip horizontally on center of football. Cut remaining strip into 5 pieces; arrange vertically on top of horizontal strip. 
Bake 10 to 13 minutes longer or until crust is deep golden brown and cheese is melted and bubbly. To serve, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows, making 16 pieces. 
Play ball {or something}!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Skinny Cow = Super Yum

I try to eat "clean" overall ~ I shop at Whole Foods and buy organic brands from my local supermarket; I avoid artificial sweeteners, additives and pesticides when possible; and my go-to snacks tend to be from Kashi, Bear Naked and Newman's Own.

I'm not perfect with my eating habits, though ~ I have the occasional Diet Pepsi {hi, aspartame}, I'd be hard-pressed to try to pass up a bowl of Cheez-its, and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese {spirals please!} is probably one of my top five favorite foods of all time.

My point is ~ I think balance is key in life, and that includes eating habits.  Treat your body right most of the time, but indulge a little too.  And if you choose your indulgences wisely, they can satisfy your cravings without canceling out your healthy habits.  One of my favorite "smarter" sweet treats?  Skinny Cow brand ice cream sandwiches and candies. 

The ice cream sandwiches have been around for years, and come in seven different flavors {including chocolate peanut butter, mint, and no-sugar-added vanilla}.  The Skinny Cow candy line has just joined the party in the past few months and features Dreamy Clusters {caramel and crispies covered in dark or milk chocolate} and Heavenly Crisp bars {wafers and peanut butter or chocolate creme filling, covered in milk chocolate}.  Skinny Cow also offers ice cream cups, cones, and bars, which I haven't tried. 

You won't for a second think you're eating a "diet" dessert ~ none of the SC snacks I've tried have had the dry, cardboard-y texture or fake-sweet aftertaste that a lot of low-calorie/low-fat/low-sugar/low-whatever "sweets" normally have.  They taste perfectly yummy and indulgent, and they definitely hit the spot.

So while I won't find them on the shelves of my local Whole Foods market, these Skinny Cow treats are a low-cal way to satisfy my sweet tooth.  Chocolate + "Skinny" + Great Taste = I'll take two, please!  :)


{photo credits:,}

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Instagram -- My New Obsession

I just became a resident of Planet iPhone last week, and I have been loving playing with my new toy!  This little contraption is so much more capable than my BlackBerry ever was, and I'm discovering that the world of smartphone apps is a beautiful thing.  I'm still navigating all the different apps that are out there ~ games, music, organization and photo apps have been topping my list so far ~ but I'm becoming well-versed in my favorite one so far...Instagram.

I'm not sure if Instagram is an iPhone-exclusive app or if Droid users can download as well {I think it's just for iPhones though}.  When I was still stuck with my BlackBerry and watching friends and family members convert to iPhones, I was instantly enamored with friends' Instagram posts on Facebook.  Instagram is a FREE app used to subtly enhance your photos ~ you can take a picture from average to professional -looking with a couple of clicks.

 before instagram

after instagram

How it works:  take a picture; open up Instagram and select the picture you want to spiff up; center and crop the picture if needed; choose a "filter" to apply to the picture; and you're done!  There are about a dozen filters to choose from ~ black and white; filters with borders or with rounded edges; filters that brighten colors or mute them {for a vintage look}, and more.  With the right filter, you can make the most mundane or ordinary pictures look artistic and impressive.

 because even your empty lunch plate can look interesting

 what's more expressive than puppy eyes? {before and after}

 the "kelvin" filter roughs up the edges

the "x-pro II" filter rounds the edges and "bubbles" the picture slightly while making colors pop

I'm loving the way Instragram can make my ordinary photos pop or stand out.  Do you use Instagram on your pictures?  What other iPhone apps do I need to have?


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Parmesan-Turkey Meatloaf

So yummy.

So yummy.

So, so, soooo yummy! what you will be thinking when you dig into this yummy {in case you hadn't heard}, good-for-you meatloaf. Ground turkey replaces the ground beef that's found in traditional meatloaf recipes, so the fat content is lowered significantly; at the same time, a handful of spices keep the flavor factor at a high.

This recipe comes from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook {2006 edition}.  {It's 5 Weight Watcher PointsPlus per serving, or 180 calories, if you're counting!}

Parmesan-Turkey Meatloaf

1         Tbsp olive oil
1         onion, finely chopped
1 1/4   pounds ground skinless turkey
4         slices whole-wheat bread, made into fine crumbs
1/2      cup fat-free milk
1         egg white, lightly beaten
3         Tbsp ketchup
2         Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1          tsp minced fresh garlic
1          Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil, or 1/2 tsp dried
1/4       tsp dried thyme
1/4       tsp freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; spray an 8x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.  In a small nonstick skillet, heat the oil.  Saute the onion until tender, 4-5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the onion, turkey, bread crumbs, milk, egg white, ketchup, cheese, garlic, basil, thyme, and pepper; blend well.  Shape into a loaf and transfer to the pan.  Bake until browned and cooked through, 50-60 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes, then cut into 8 slices.

Makes 8 servings

We usually have ours with Near East Roasted Garlic & Pecan rice and roasted Brussels sprouts.  Enjoy!


{photo credit:}

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gel Manicure? Yes Please!

I started hearing a lot of buzz ~ positive and negative ~ about gel manicures a few months ago, well after I'd started indulging in the practice myself.  Outside of the cost {it's $25 for a gel manicure at my salon, plus $5 for French, which is standard..similar pricing to acrylic nails}, I don't really understand any negative gel manicure press.  These aren't gel nails {which are an overlay like acrylics}, just gel manicures ~ gel polish on your real nails.  There are several different brands for gel manicures {and different brands may have application processes that are a bit different than mine}; the salon I go to uses Harmony Gelish polishes. 

Getting a gel manicure takes only a bit more time than getting a regular manicure.  If you have gel polish on your nails already, they will buff the top of your nails first and then soak your nails for a bit to soften the polish.  The polish is then gently scraped off {not damaging your nails at all}.  Nails are shaped, filed and buffed, and cuticles are pushed back or trimmed {just like a regular manicure}.  Once you wash your hands again to get rid of the cuticle oil, etc, you'll start to notice the difference from a regular manicure.  A little UV-light box is used to dry your nails before, in between, and after coats of polish ~ this helps the polish adhere to your nails and dry/harden quickly.  After your final coat of polish, your nails will dry under the UV light for about five minutes.  Your nails will then be spritzed with...well, I'm not sure what.  I never bother to ask ~ it may be a setting spray or something that removes a film or something from your nails.  They are spritzed and wiped off {yes, your just-painted nails are wiped off...with a paper towel...and they still look perfect!} and you are done.

I absolutely adore my gel manicures, and will probably never go back to acrylics.  Here's why.

  • Long lasting. If regular manicures were even remotely long-lasting, I probably never would have started my decade-plus, on-and-off affair with acrylic nails.  Alas, manicures last a couple days at best {in my experience, anyway}, before they start to chip, peel, and look bad.  And isn't the whole point of painting your nails to make them look nice?  The second they start to chip, they look like you've been neglecting them anyway.  Gel manicures should last you at least two weeks.
  •  Fast drying.  When you walk out of the salon after getting your gel manicure, your nails will be completely dry to the touch.  For girl like me, who is about as graceful and careful as a newborn foal, this is an absolute Godsend.  I'm not sure there was ever a time in high school or college where I didn't ding or smudge a nail before even leaving the salon.  Gel manicures are dried using the same UV light boxes used for acrylic nails, but unlike acrylic nails they're completely dry when you're done.
  • Gentle on your natural nails.  As far as I can tell, anyway.  The acrylic-nail process, if you're unfamiliar with it, involves serious filing down of your nails with electric rotating filers and buffers.  And I don't mean filing the tips ~ I mean grinding down the entire surface of your nails, before spackling on a wet paste {the acrylic} across your nail surface.  Gel manicures require a light buffing down of your nail surface, but they use a hand-held filer {the square kind with a different grit on each side}, not electric tools.  And the only thing applied to your nails is the gel polish.  Which leads me to...
  • No commitment. Yes, the gel polish has to be soaked off.  {Although I almost always get French, and when I'm "over it" for a while or can't fit nails into the budget, I just let them grow out, clipping the tips myself...once the white tip is gone, all that's left is clear polish}.  With a light color or French polish you should be able to squeeze at least three weeks out of your gel manicure.  And if/when you are done with manicures for a while, let them grow out or go to the salon to soak them off {probably for a smaller fee}.  You don't have to deal with painful nail-removal, like with acrylic nails, because these aren't fake nails!

So, in neat and tidy bullet-point format, now you know why I love and recommend gel manicures.  They last a long time when you want them too, but are easy to be done with when you don't.  They don't require power tools to grind down your natural nails, or a removal process that leaves your nails tender for days after.  And I think they're relatively cost-effective, especially if you're already accustomed to getting your nails done regularly.  They cost the same as acrylic nails at my salon {$25 for gel manicure or an acrylic refill, plus $5 for French}.  Regular manicures cost around $12 {probably $15-$17 for French} at the salon I go to, and those last a week if you're lucky.  A weekly manicure for a month would equal $48-$68 {plus tip}; I usually get a gel manicure every three weeks if I'm going on a regular basis, which is once a month most months.

 Immediately after leaving the salon {with my hot-pink pedicure too!}

 A few days later ~ hands are a little dry, but polish still looks good!  No chips!

Don't believe anything you read that says gel manicures make your nails thick like acrylics ~ it's just polish!

Always go to a salon you trust ~ one that is clean, that sanitizes their tools and has their license to operate displayed.  Gel manicures aren't ideal for people who like to change their nail color frequently, because they are so long-lasting; I get almost exclusively French-style manicures whether I am getting acrylics, a regular manicure or a gel manicure {because they always match my outfit and because regrowth doesn't show as much}, so gel manicures are perfect for me.  {Gelish does have a large array of polishes though, for those of you who are more exciting than I am.  :)  I did get a sparkly red on short nails for Christmas, though}.

Click here for a Stylelist summary of a few different gel brands, although I'm not sure how accurate it is with all the brands ~ it says the Gelish brand doesn't require filing before application {it does, lightly} or soaking for removal {it does, and you can see on the bottle in the picture they show that it says "soak-off gel polish"}. 

Happy Pampering, ladies!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Bold Colors to Brighten Up Winter!


It is my birthday month, and for that, I love it ~ but to most people, January means cold, dreary, gray winter days.  The glittery red-and-green December days are over, the temperatures have dipped just a bit lower, and the fresh, green days of spring seem a little too far away.  While there isn't much you can do about the weather, and you'll be hard-pressed to speed up time so spring gets here faster, you can brighten up your winter wardrobe.

Stick your plain black, gray and neutral duds back in the closet and slip on one of these bright and cheery pieces instead.

Just because winter requires cozier clothes doesn't mean you can't work in a warm burst of color.  Pair these toppers with skinny jeans and boots to take your cold-weather outfit from drab to fab.

From top:
Old Navy Cropped Softest Sweaters in pink euphoria and serpent, on sale for $16.99
Express Marled Chunky Hi-Lo Hem Sweater in orange, $49.90
Madewell First Frost Sweater in deep royal, on sale for $49.99

Feeling adventurous?  Slip on a bold skirt or a colorful pair of pants to brighten up a winter day and stand out from the crowd.  {Pair skirts or dresses with tights, of course!}

From top:
Gap Seamed Mini Skirt in killer tomato, $49.95
American Eagle Jeggings in blue, $44.50
Charlotte Russe Pink Denim Skinny Jeans in bright pink, $29.99

Unsure about incorporating Crayola-inspired hues into your wardrobe?  Start small with shoes, scarves and other accessories.  Even just a splash of color can perk up your whole outfit.

From top:
Charlotte Russe Neon Patent Platform Pump in neon green, $30
Charlotte Russe Removable Ankle-Strap Wedge in fuschia, $35.50
Steve Madden Audrinaa Platform in raspberry suede, on sale for $53.98
Banana Republic Morgan Floral Scarf in yellow, $39.50

Bright, bold and candy-colored fashion may not make the springtime come any sooner, but they can at least perk up those gray and chilly winter days and bring a smile to your face!

Happy Shopping!


{photo credits:  all photos courtesy of retail stores named, except american eagle jeggings,}

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Club: Seriously....I'm Kidding {Review}

I just love Ellen DeGeneres.  Sometimes I think that all I need in the world to make me smile is to watch Ellen dancing on her show.  I've also been a fan of her HBO stand-up special Here and Now for years {if you haven't seen it, you need to check it out....start to finish laughs}.

As soon as I heard about Ellen's newest book, Seriously...I'm Kidding, I knew I had to put it on my Christmas wishlist.  Whether it was written in the style of a memoir or simply just for entertainment, I knew I could count on Ellen to put out a book that was worth my while.  {For the record ~ it's extremely entertainment-based, and I couldn't be happier}.

The chapters in Seriously...I'm Kidding jump around from topic to topic, much like a comedian's stand-up show.  Nothing is written in chronological order or even related to the chapter before or after it, and it doesn't need to be ~ it's more like a collection of thoughts and anecdotes on topics ranging from the lack of social skills in todays society to the importance of sleep; from strange dreams and dream interpretation to her judging stint on American Idol.  If you read through the book imagining Ellen's voice reading the dialogue {or if you have the audiobook}, you will be completely entertained from beginning to end.

Here are a few excerpts that made me chuckle.  This one is from the chapter "Social Skills"...
Nobody writes letters anymore, which means nobody has pen pals.  I remember when I was probably about ten years old I had a pen pal, and writing letters back and forth with him was one of my favorite things to do.  His name was Steve and he lived in one of those huge mansions that's so big it has a name.  It was called the Louisiana State Penitentiary, and he told me it was even bigger than the mayor's mansion.  We'd send letters back and forth and he'd ask me to send him my favorite books and small pieces of metal or wood that were lying around and all the money I could find in my house.  And I'd gather them all up and put cute little stickers of cats on the packages and send them away.  It was so fun.  Eventually we stopped writing because I moved to another city and he moved out to live on his own.  He called it "solitary confinement".  I was always so impressed by his vocabulary.
From the chapter "Gambling Tips"...
I used to love going to Las Vegas.  What a clean, healthy town that is.  Here is a fun fact about Las Vegas:  You can literally do anything there.  Anything.  You can smoke in casinos, you can drink four jugs of tequila at once, you can try to spin yourself around on a roulette wheel while wearing only a piece of string on your bottom if you so desire.  But what you cannot do under any circumstances ~ and I found this out the hard way ~ is eat almonds at a blackjack table.  That is a true story.  I once tried to eat almonds at a card table and I was told by the dealer to put them away because I wasn't allowed to eat them there.  Sexual encounters with an escort?  You got it.  Wildly inappropriate public intoxication?  Anytime!  Having a little protein while doubling down?  How dare you even think about it, you stupid, stupid fool.
And from the chapter "Sleep"...
After you yell "Shoot!" your wife or husband or son or daughter will wake up from all the commotion.  Your son was probably awake anyway because he just got home after sneaking out of the house to meet his friends in the mall parking lot.  That's always been your greatest fear.  You worry that he goes there to cause mischief but really he's a good kid who just wants to fit in and hang out with his friends.  He's actually never even touched a cigarette let alone smoked one, or smoked anything for that matter.  I mean, one time he tried cocaine but that was only because his friends told him it was sugar and who doesn't love sugar?  Especially after sleeping with a hooker.  I'm not saying your son slept with a hooker, I'm just saying everyone loves sugar.

If you love Ellen DeGeneres, or if you just love to laugh, I think you'll love this book.  It took me a week to read it {or, really, a few hours ~ an hour here, a half hour there over the course of a week} and it was great to get a laugh in before bed.  Plus, when the back cover of the book makes you laugh out loud as you stand looking it over in Target, I think it's a sign that you're in a for a great read.

Have you read Seriously...I'm Kidding, or are you planning to?  What are your thoughts?


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Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking to Shape Up and Slim Down After the Holidays?

The holidays are officially over {well, unless my upcoming birthday counts as a holiday...which it kinda does}.  If you stayed on track with good eating and exercise habits over the past few months, or if you're part of the New Years' Weight Loss Resolution Gang ~ it's never a bad time to be reminded of smart ways to drop pounds or maintain a healthy weight and body.

People are always looking for a magic pill or latching on to a crazy fad diet {no, you should not eat nothing but grapefruit or cabbage soup for a least, not if you like a regularly-functioning metabolism}.  No one wants to believe the plain, simple, scientific truth ~ it all boils down to making smart food choices and carving out time for exercise. has compiled a four-part list to get you started on your way to a fit and healthy 2012.

1.  Don't get discouraged by weight gain.  Even if you overdid it, it won't destroy your health goals.  In fact, you may unconsciously reduce your intake as the holiday season winds down.  "When you don't realize you're eating all those cookies, that's automatic eating,"  says Wendy Wood, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Duke University.  But when those cocktail party invitations stop coming, so do the temptations.

2.  Up your fruit and vegetable intake.  Ideally, you should consume at least five fruit and vegetable servings per day now.  These vitamin-rich foods boost your fiber and antioxidant intake and help you feel full.  A tip:  Replace that mid-afternoon 16-oz cola {200 calories} with an orange {65 calories} as a nutritious snack.

3.  Pre-arrange exercise time.  You'll stick to a regimen if you schedule exercise ahead, says Brad Cardinal, Ph.D., associate professor of sport and exercise psychology at Oregon State University.  Try to get in 30 minutes almost every day.  Wear a low-cost pedometer {it counts footsteps} or sign up for a charity walk/run to stick to a plan.

4.  Resist depriving yourself. Focus on what you're going to eat rather than what you're not.  "It sounds indulgent," says Colleen Thompson, R.D., a nutritionist at the University of Connecticut.  "But concentrate on ways to feed yourself now.  It helps you to stick to healthy eating habits."  For example, don't skip a nutritious, fiber-rich breakfast, like oatmeal or a half of a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter.  It can help prevent overeating later.

And that's how to lose those pesky second-serving-of-mashed-potatoes-chased-with-a-Santa-shaped-Reese's-cup-washed-down-with-some-spiked-egg-nog pills, no gimmicks, and no "drop a dress size in a week" promises; but I can promise you from personal experience that making smart food choices and eating on a regular schedule, mixed with regular exercise and the promise to not beat yourself up over past, present, or future overindulgences {you are human...only human}, plus the allowance to smartly have a reasonable portion of your favorite "treats" once in a while, will have you feeling good, and on your way to a positive, healthy year. 

Happy New Year to you all!


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