Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Random

To keep with last week's randomness, here is your Monday random...

1. Go-go Juice
I was listening to the radio this morning and they were talking about Toddlers & Tiaras. I don't watch that show. I can't even watch the commercials for it on TV. I draw the line at Dance Moms. Anyway, on the radio, they mentioned pageant crack (pixie sticks), given to these girls to give them an edge to perform. WTF?!?! Then, there's this very, very special case, Honey Boo Boo Child. Pageant crack isn't enough for this kiddo. Oh no! She needs more. She gets this so-called go-go juice, which is a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew. Given to a child. Who is 6. By her mother. This, ladies and gentleman, is our future. God help us all. I have no idea how she's allowed to get away with that. But, they are getting the ratings, obviously, and the mom is being rewarded with the behavior and it is ok. I can't imagine my child on that go-go juice. Goodness, can you imagine the crash that ensues from coming down on that sugar high? eeesh! I don't even want to think about the health implications for that poor child. It just makes me wonder. I guess the upside is that she is moving around like a crazy person and getting some kind of work-out, although, her poor tiny heart...shaking my head.

2. Tracy Anderson
Speaking of workouts...I'm a nut for infomercials. This is part of the reason I have a queue of movies to watch when my insomnia kicks in, which is about 3 weeks out of the month. I was a sucker for Tae-Bo, Sham-Wow, the Magic Chop, and so on and so on. I didn't always buy the things on TV, but I did like watching the stuff. Well, my friend told me about Tracy Anderson. I'd heard of her and I'd heard of her Method. I wasn't ready to buy into the craze, until I saw her treadmill workout. Ok, I'd made up a workout similar to this, but not to the extreme. I don't like the treadmill because, well, it is boring to just run. But this, the dancing on the treadmill, is super fun! She gets down to business and makes it work. I want her strong body and I will be incorporating some of these workouts into my overall routine. Maybe I'll buy the Method, maybe not, but I definitely hope to find more of her treadmill routines. Do you all know of any other treadmill instructors?

3. Bridesmaid Turned Photographer
In my spare time (ha), I moonlight as a professional photographer. It's an amazing way for my husband and I to really connect and enjoy a hobby that has turned into a small business. I must say right now that we don't make ANY money on this gig. Whatever money we collect goes back into our equipment and taxes. We are lucky if we break even on things. This isn't a complaint, this is the reality. With that said, though, we have had the fortunate privilege to photograph some amazing weddings and events, which we would not have been able to attend otherwise. It's pretty awesome, indeed. Now that you know that, here's a bit more backstory...

When I got the phone call from one of my dear friends telling me he was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him, I was ecstatic! He and I have known one another since high school and became really great friends towards the end of my college years. For the past 12 years, we've talked at least a couple of times a week on the phone, just catching up with life and what not. You see, when I graduated, that was the last time that he and I lived in the same city. He was promoted a few times within his company and hopped around the country before landing in Rochester, NY. After the proposal, he called me up and very seriously, asked me to be in his wedding. I was truly honored. He then took it a step further and inquired if I was interested in photographing his wedding. Initially, I was hesitant. Talk about the pressure, right? But then, I had a long talk with myself. Thanks to Jasmine, I realized I had it within me to do this. Don will be there photographing the wedding, acting as the second shooter while I'm up on the altar. During the reception and portraits, we'll both be shooting. I've made a short list for Don of what to look for when I'm up there. But he doesn't need help from me. He's pretty amazing at capturing the details and true emotions, especially during the ceremony. He's a ninja like that! But getting back to my decision, ultimately, my buddy said something to me that stuck, "Bianca, you're the only one who has taken a photos of me that I actually like. You know me best. I don't ever force the smile, you just seem to capture it." You know, he's right. He's so special to me and I can't imagine not capturing the truest version of him. Seeing his face lit up and happy on his special day, well, that will be magical. For me to be able to capture it the best way that I know because, well, it's him, that's a wonderful gift! I feel so lucky to have this opportunity. I'm doing my best to get to know the bride so I can truly capture her essence. She's quite a beauty, too, so that will totally make our job easier.  I've never been to Rochester, and while up there, we hope to hop on over to Niagara Falls. I feel like I'm on some go-go juice when I think about it all...totally surreal. When the day comes, I will be sure to document it and share it with you all, for those of you interested. I know the sheer logistics of it all could seem daunting, but I'm not worried about it.

(and this is the reason for the Tracy Anderson workout. Not just to get healthy, but ohmahgah I need to fit into a bridesmaid dress.)

4. How much is a Homemaker Worth?
Mint.com does a fabulous job of breaking it down. Cheers to all the homemakers out there! You guys rock. Cheers to those who do it while holding a job along the way, too! I think we all deserve a drink!

y'all have a great week!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Night Eye Candy & a Challenge

A little eye candy, from my lens to your screen....

Oddfellows Family 1_12-21 Oddfellows Family 1_12-25 Oddfellows Family 1_12-15 Oddfellows Family 1_12-3 IMAG1443

Now for a bit of fun...
1. pic a photo that you like
2. write a story about the picture
3. share the photo and story with me
4. I will publish it right here for all to see.
 

You have a week! C'mon, I know there's gotta be one of you out there who will participate. In a week, I will share a snippet of each photo and what it means.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Semi Cheater Cinnamon Rolls

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It was 8PM and I was SOOO in the mood for some cinnamon rolls. I didn't have any yeast and I didn't really want to run out to the store. So I improvised. Best part, these cinnamon rolls were pretty freakin' amazing!!!

1 package Parker House Rolls (frozen rolls)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of flour

I set out my rolls to thaw for a separate meal. They were already rising and a giant mess in the plastic package. I threw down about a 1/4 cup of flour on the kitchen counter, tossed my blob of rolls, added another 1/4 cup of flour to the top and began kneading it. Then, I took out my rolling pin and rolled them out flat and as rectangular as I could. This is why they are semi-cheater because I didn't actually make the dough from scratch.

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I melted 2 tablespoons of butter and poured that on top of my dough. I added the sugar, brown sugar, craisins, and blueberries. I rolled it up like a log, then cut ever inch, and placed them in a buttered pie dish. I topped each roll with a tiny pat of butter from the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. I also sprinkled a tiny bit of brown sugar to the tops.

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I let it bake for 30 minutes, checked on them, and baked another 10 minutes to finish it off. YUMMY!! Here is the inside of one. Mmmm...not overly gooey, but absolutely delicious!


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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

HDMR:

I'm not feeling all that sassy with my remarks. Feel free to utilize IMDB for the summary. I have a few others I've seen, but these were the most recent three.

Dolphin Tale 
Remember when I told you the Sugarbean was sick? Well, that means movie marathons. I rented this one, courtesy of a free pass from Redbox. Verdict, halfway through she stopped watching it. Obviously, it wasn't a winner for her. I thought it was cute, in that cutesy Hollywood movie type. I do want to visit Winter someday. She's quite inspirational. I think this is a great movie for older kids.

The Ides of March
Hellooooo hotness. Sad that it is the first thing out of my mouth, but yes. This is full of yummy deliciousness. Oh, and George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, and Marisa Tomei...and yeah, it was nominated for some awards. No big deal. I wanted to see this one in the theater, but well, we didn't make it. I was really happy to rent this for free thanks to another Redbox gift (my anniversary of being with them! thank you!) It was an engaging movie and I caught myself getting really involved with it. I can see why it was nominated! You need to check it out and not just because Ryan Gosling is in it. That's just bonus!

Moneyball
As a self-confessed baseball lover, I'm frankly apalled that I haven't read the book. Seeing as how it took me 3 years to finish my last book, that's why I hadn't yet attempted it. I think I will make it my mission to actually finish it before the end of the year. Anyway, this, my friends, is dear to my heart. I want to own this movie. The movie line..."How can you not be romantic about baseball?" So.freakin'.true. Well, it is for any lover of the game. Brad Pitt, Johah Hill (ohmahgahholyacademyawardnominationdon'tsmokeajeffrey), Philip Seymour Hoffman (yes, again!) do a wonderful job in this tale. I love it! If you have any bit of respect and appreciation for the game, and you haven't seen it, stop reading this blog right now, go out and rent it! Go, shoo, go!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Coffee Makes My Heart Smile

Really? How could a heart smile? Well, maybe it flutters in a special way that only caffeine can trigger. Not in the jittery-ohmahgoodnezz way either. The aroma that makes my nose tingle. The warm cup that reminds of holding my mother's warm-hot hands.

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Cafe Mocha at Oddfellows
It's so warm, inviting, and soothing. I guess I should've said flavored coffee with foam and fancy designs. Yeah. That kind of coffee. Even better when it is shared with friends. Time slows down. You don't rush the moment. You can sit and sip, staring off into the distance, lost in thought...thinking about everything and nothing.
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Signature Latte at The Pearl Cup
Even if you aren't a coffee drinker, you can appreciate what a simple cup of joe can mean. It's happiness in a cup, right there. It's friendship. It's rainy nights. It's secrets shared. It's inspiration. It's love.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Random

This blog has absolutely no consistency. Do y'all even want that? A consistent routine of things? Me, I think I like the random. I tried doing consistency with my hump day movie review and well, we all know how that went. I am thinking of re-hashing it, though. Simply because I've given my opinions recently on some dvds I've recently watched. Enough with the ramblings, get on with the random!! ok, ok...sheesh!

1. Cloth v. Disposables
I found this link and boy howdy is it an eye opener. You know we've done cloth for a while now. We aren't exclusive cloth users. Nope. I will admit, on road trips, we've relied on disposables. Additionally, rounds of antibiotics='sposies. Why? Well, convenience factor mainly. Yes, they are convenient. Especially when you are traveling and you don't want to bring the laundry "system" with you. Even more so when you know your child is going to have explosive, runny poo. Sorry guys, but that's the reality. Now you know our little disposable secret! AAACK! But in all seriousness, if you are new parent and you are struggling to make ends meet or money is a bit tight, forego the small convenience factor and give cloth a try. They aren't what they used to be. Yes, you have to clean up the mess. Yes, you have to do laundry. But you will save money. Lot's of money!! I've calculated the amount of money we have saved and let me tell you, I am in disbelief. We've saved at least $500 since Tesla has been alive. A celebrity recently launched her own line of "good for the environment and baby" diaper and wipes service. It's $80 a month to participate for the diapers bundle, which includes wipes and diapers. What is interesting to me is that they look like cloth diapers and the wipes are cloth, too. Everything happens to be disposable. I think it is great that there is this option, but I know some struggling families out there and an extra $80 a month could go a long way to put up with a bit of "convenience!" Just my opinion.


2. False Lashes
YES! That's what the inner, beauty voice in my head is hollering. You see, I adore the thought that the weekend "me" wears flowy dresses and skirts. She wears her hair down all natural. She uses vaseline as her lip gloss and yes, she wears fake eye lashes. If I could wear fake lashes every day and get away with it, I totally would. That scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's where Holly takes off her lashes at the end of the night...yeah, that's when I was sold. Check out another account of False Lashes hype here.



3. Still No Meat
Today marks the 4 week anniversary of my self-imposed "Mostly Plants" diet (I'm still eating eggs, butter, and a bit of dairy). Incredible. I haven't stepped on a scale, yet, but the goal of this wasn't to lose weight. It was just to see how my overall well-being was affected. So far, you know what...I have noticed a difference! I don't feel "heavy." Even after a full meal, I don't feel bloated and heavy. Which, actually, was opposite to what I was thinking. I firmly believed I would walk around feeling bloated. I don't. I actually have more energy. I'm tired, but that's because I don't sleep. When I work-out, play with my kiddos, or whatever, I have more energy and enthusiasm. Also, my skin feels different. I don't know what it is. Finally, in my waist, I feel slimmer. Thanks to Pinterest, I've found some great recipes. Also, I heard about Engine 2 and plan to try out their recipes, too. If you want to check some great ideas for yourself, this Tumblr is full of inspiration for workout routines and plants only recipes. Me, I'm shooting for Valentine's day or the evening when I go on my non-Valentine's-Valentine's day-celebrating-anniversary-of-being-parents date. The hope is to eat something incredibly amazing by either my Primo or a Lavendou. Either will be sure to please and an incredible treat. After that, though, I think I will try to stay with it. It is really starting to become a lifestyle and I sympathize with all vegetarians when going out to eat. It really has been quite difficult and a complete change of mind when we go out. I can always find a salad, but it bugs me to think a salad costs as much of an entree when the nutritional value just isn't there. Not worth the money, in my opinion.

That's it for this Monday's randomness. Y'all have a great week!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Balance

We've been hit with another round of the sickies. I've been running on low energy for the past week, but I just chalked it up to meat withdrawal. On Monday, the Sugarbean approached me and told me she wasn't feeling well. By Tuesday, she had a full blown fever and was feeling lethargic. We kept her home that day.

All week, the Sugarbaby was irritable at night. I figured she was so advanced, she was afraid of the dark. We would leave the bathroom light on for her and settled in for a LOOOOONG night of fussing. Well, this happened Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Thursday, I received a call from Mari's school. She was running a fever. Here's where juggling took place. I had two meetings in the afternoon that I had to postpone. The plan was to take her to the office with me in the morning and rely on the ol' iTouch to keep her occupied. (I know, I know)

Then her temperature crept up and Tesla's level of irritability went up. Off we went to Acute Kids. they were apologetic for the delay, but even with the delay, they were faster than any time we've ever gone to the doctor. I just love them. If your child has a minor emergency, definitely check them out. I really recommend them! Anyway, as I was saying, we were at Acute Kids. We opted to have Tesla checked out too, since she was having similar symptoms, just on a smaller scale with no fever. After the different swabs for strep, flu, and RSV for T, the diagnosis: Viral Upper Respiratory Infection for Mari, Double Ear infection for Tesla.

When we got home, Mari just wanted to sleep, but was in and out of consciousness from her extreme coughing. She even had to utilize the sick bucket a couple of times. Tesla was much happier after I gave her some Motrin. We started her with some probiotics a couple of hours before giving her the Amoxicillin with Augmentin. So far, we don't think Tesla has the penicillin allergy like Mari. Last night was a bit of a blur for me. We were up and down for a good portion of the night. All of us slept together in our bed. It was nice having us all snuggled in, but this Mama didn't get much sleep.

When my alarm went off, I got up, got ready, and looked at my girls. Both of them were FINALLY resting. My heart ached. How could I go in to the office? They are absolutely miserable. If I took Tesla to school, I would probably get a phone call by the middle of the day. There's no way I should even think about moving Mari either. I made the call to my boss, praying he wouldn't be upset with me. I don't know why I think that because well, he's a really good boss. I still felt guilt though. Times like that, I wish I could split myself into two people. As a mother, though, you need to find balance. When your children are as sick as mine are, well, you have to wear you mommy cape more than your worker cape. If you are lucky/blessed (as I am, and I pray you are), then work will understand.

With that, I'm off to love on my littles. Hold your precious ones tightly! Bianca Mari Tesla Jan 2012-20 Bianca Tesla Jan 2012-7

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA

I participated to blackout SOPA. Learn more about why this is important by going here or here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dublin Dr. Pepper & Torchy's

If you aren't from Texas, then odds are, you probably don't know what Dublin Dr. Pepper is. On January 12, they settled a trademark dispute with the Dr. Pepper Snapple company. This marked an end of an era. Dublin Dr. Pepper is not made with high fructose corn syrup (corn sugar). When my best friends father passed away, at the funeral, they had a large cooler filled with Dublin Dr. Pepper. You see, Pop loved it! He wanted to be sure we all had one. Drinking it made it that much more special.

You can imagine my excitement when visiting Austin a couple of years ago, and I happened upon Torchy's Tacos, thanks to my Brother. It was glorious! Bonus that they served Dublin Dr. Pepper on tap!! Score! And then they opened shop in Dallas about a year ago. Again, Dublin Dr. Pepper on tap. (I found the bottles in the store at Market Street. When the announcement was made, they sold out of their 4 cases within hours.) My friend called me to let me know a local Farmer's Market was selling the stuff. We went by and they wanted $50 for a 6 pack or $10 per bottle!!!! How fortuitous that Torchy's Facebook page mentioned that they still had it on tap! That day we indulged a lunch out just for the drink. Because I'm still on the vegetarian kick, I ordered a Dirty Sanchez and a  Fried Avocado. Normally I get The Democrat. The names crack me up!! Anyway, they've divulged that they have three months of supply on tap. I hope to go next month before they are gone. If you haven't had 'em, so check them out. You will not be disappointed!

The simple thought of having my final drink brings a tear to my eye. Hard for me to believe that it'll be extinct. :(  I need a hug. At least I still have Mexican Coke. 

2nd Hand Home

A while back, Primo and I were having a conversation about kitchen tools. Somehow we got to talking about the Kitchenaid Artisan Mixer. I told him how I wanted to own the mixer, but could never justify the expense. I wanted to register for it, but I really didn't think anyone would have been able to purchase it for us. Mom, lovingly purchased a Bosch Compact Kitchen Machine. About a year after we were married, Lowe's accidentally marked their Kitchenaid Artisan Mixers to less than $200! I want to say it was closer to $150, even. It was a total screw up, but they were honoring the price. After much debate, we finally went to the store to purchase it. However, when the guy went to enter it into the system, the error had been corrected and there was no way for him to be able to offer the raincheck. Even he was in disbelief at the price and was going to purchase one for his wife! After trying and trying, he discovered that the system had put in the fix just half an hour before we arrived. I can't even begin to describe my disappointment that day. Home I went, and my little kitchen machine and I had many, many adventures over the past 6+ years. Primo looked over at me and told me that he would give me his. With eyes wide open, I shook my head and told him that I couldn't take it. He could only give it to me as a gift or something.

Fast forward to Christmas. Again, I said, don't spend more than $20 on us. Leading up to our arrival, he had a twinkle in his eye and a very particular chuckle that was sneaky and suspicious. He just kept telling me over and over again how much I was going to love my just because gift. I didn't know what it was. I was thinking maybe a bottle of wine or something food related. It was food related alright!
He'd gifted me his mixer. Really??!! There it sat on his counter with a bright red bow on top. All of the mixing accessories and bowl. Tears welled up and I had to leave the room. I know, I'm a dork!

I used it for the first time to make banana bread. Since then, we've had many fabulous adventures. This not to say that I retired my Kitchen Machine. Oh no! I've been on fire using them both heavily in rotation. I think I have an addiction with whipping food. I'm enjoying myself so much, I think I want to buy one of these decals.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cheater Mini Quiche


Since I've been on this mostly plant diet, I've been eating quite a bit of breakfast. It seems that is what I'm most comfortable with cooking and eating, not to mention the most familiar. One of my friends makes a crustless mini quiche for her South Beach Diet. Every morning when she is heating up her breakfast, I'm salivating and jealous. We went to the store and this time, I was going to make my own to take in the mornings. Except, I want that carb-goodness. Instead of making my own crust, I used frozen store bought to see if I was adept at making such things. Turns out, they were amazing!! I'm definitely inspired to make these completely from scratch going forward! For this recipe, this is what I used:

Ingredients
1 package frozen tart shells (8 pack)
1 bunch of spinach
1/2 container of pre-sliced mushrooms
A bit of onion
2 tablespoons of butter
5 eggs

Prep Work:
Chop spinach
Dice Onions
Dice Mushrooms
Blend eggs...we use the Ninja <---parents, this is great for kiddos. The Sugarbean cracks the eggs and blends them on her own.

Bake the tart shells according to the box. Over medium heat, melt butter and saute onion. Add mushrooms. When they are both browned, add your spinach. You will notice the spinach significantly decreases in size when cooked. Add eggs. Cook up your veggie scramble. By now your shells will have been finished baking. I recommend having them cool near where you are cooking. When your egg scramble is finished, fill your tart shells. Top with grated cheddar cheese if you want. Serve.

Total time: less than 20 minutes. I know this because I was fighting to get the Sugarbean to bed at a decent hour. Plus, it might have been shorter had I not had to keep pausing to pull the Sugarbaby out of whatever shenanigans she was inciting.

You could also use broccoli, tomato, or even add jalapeno for some kick. It is a cheater mini quiche because A.) I didn't make the shells. B.) I didn't actually bake the egg mixture in the shells.

Verdict: delicious goodness. Mari declared it a success and asked to eat it every day or once a week. Tesla enjoyed the eggs and crust. I enjoyed the ease of eating it, as did Don, who ate it on the go last night.




Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dinner Time for Tesla

Guess who likes to self-feed now. Her favorite foods, scrambled eggs and whole wheat bread. A girl after our heart! 9 months and so happy!



And look how much she favors big sis. This is an 11 month old Sugarbean.

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 Beauty Resolutions

Thanks to Walgreens for underwriting this post. I was paid as a member of the Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all mine. Visit http://www.discoverbeautywithin.com/

New Year. New Routine. 
 We have all been there. Call 'em goals, dreams, resolutions, whatever, the dawn of a new year always amps people up into trying new ways to become the very best they can be. Last year I talked about goals that I had for the year. I kept up with them for the most part. I fell off the laundry bandwagon in December and reverted back to my old habits. I digress...

I've been inspired by many beauty bloggers over the past year, especially my favorite, MakeupMandiTX. She has done many fabulous product reviews. So good, that I've actually purchased many of the products she recommended. I was of the mind set that all beauty items had to be super expensive and bought through an independent consultant or a big box department store. I never thought that Walgreens would be able to fill the need. But you know what? I LOVE going to Walgreens and waiting in the store on a prescription. There's so much to look at and check out. I always find myself in the hair aisle. This year, I resolved to be more beauty-centric without breaking the bank. Thanks to Walgreens, this is achievable. Did you all know they have amazing coupons online for their products? Right now, all beauty and personal care items are an additional 20% off, even sale prices!! (good until Saturday) This year, I want to get my groove back. I want to be a better beauty guru. I'm not going to say this will turn into a beauty blog by any means. (there's a reason I have a whole label devoted solely to "beauty school dropout"), but I do want to embrace my pretty. Once upon a time, I was a pretty girl. I liked that gal. She's still around and is desperately trying to come out. I gave myself some goals to try out. Nothing big. C'mon, you have to walk before you can run.

Here you go, my top 5 beauty resolutions with a photo of the actual products I use:

1. Do my hair at least twice a week.
This doesn't mean that I actually have to curl it, but rather do a style. I've stuck with a clear schedule for my haircut regimen. What a difference that has made. Now, to rock it. I love that I can get up and go, but I heavily rely on bobby pins, spin pins, and hair ties. Bobby pins are my favorite and I even bought these awesome lovelies to fit in my purse. Thanks to Pinterest, I have many, many styles to choose from! So long everyday ponytail.

2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
I have dry skin by nature. Much of it has to do with the fact that I don't drink enough water. However, I've never liked being ashy and well, I've been ashy 9 times out of 10 for the 5 years. Awful. Because I'm allergic to all fragrances, I can't use those fun smelling lotions. I can, however, use Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion Fragrance Free! This doesn't leave my skin feeling greasy. It feels great! Also, I've been adding a bit of Walgreens brand petroleum jelly to my heels at night and wearing socks. It's worked wonders since I haven't been able to get a pedicure.

3. Extra attention to my eyes & lips.
I think my eyes and my smile are two of my best features. Yet, they haven't felt the love for a long time. I've gone to bed with eye make-up on. Because I hardly sleep, I have these dark circles or bags under my eyes. So.Not.Hot. Really, Bianca? Really? Yeah, I shudder at the thought of my appearance sometimes. Just because I'm a walking Zombie doesn't mean that I actually have to look like one. Thanks to the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Brightening Eye Perfector Liquid with SPF 25 Light, my eyes look more awake and alert. I even received an unprompted "Bianca your eyes look pretty." compliment the other day. Wowsers! ::blushing:: At the end of the day, I use the Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover. I don't find it heavy at all. Also, at the end of the day, I slather on a bit of Walgreens brand petroleum jelly to my lips.

4. Leave-in conditioner for my hair!
Ok, I can't take credit for this one. My hairstylist pretty much insisted that I use a leave-in conditioner. She wanted me to get in the habit of doing it before making me commit to a higher end product. I opted to use a Pantene product. There are many days where I just put this on after my shower and let my hair dry naturally. My curls have been rockin'!

5. Shave my legs.
Let's get real. After having two very small people, between work, home, laundry ohmygahtheneverendinglaundry!!!!, friends, and sleep, you find your shortcuts. I was very much pregnant the last time it was cold, so there was no reaching to shave. Since we are being brutally honest, I didn't shave all the time during the summer. (yes, putting a bag over my head) I only did it when I was swimming. Well, no more. It's a brand new year and I can honestly say that I've stuck with it. Thanks to EOS Vanilla Bliss shave cream, this has been something I actually look forward to!

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There you have it! Great products that won't cripple your bank account. What about you? Do you all have any beauty resolutions for the new year? How about any tips?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tiny Dancer

Remember when I had grand plans of teaching my daughter the basic principles of ballet at home? Thanks to Pinterest, I captured many beautiful visual aides. Thanks to YouTube, I saw many fine videos with tutorials I could emulate. We did well, I think. When it became time for me to re-enroll her in soccer, I knew her heart was not in it. Without fail, every game, she wanted to do a ballet performance, not soccer. Instead of trying to fit the square peg in a round hole, I gave in and opted to feed a dream. She's only 3, but very nearly 4. She's already very opinionated. As Don pointed out, she's been doing the dancer "lead-in" start for as long as she could walk. Even before she could walk, she would extend high en pointe. Case in point, here she is at 6 months:

On Thursday, we took her to go sign up. Before going, I explained to her that we were NOT staying for a lesson. Despite my best explanation, she still had a very explosive emotional breakdown when we left and she was not allowed to stay. She thought she was more than ready to jump on in with the 15 year olds. They did give us a tour of the studio and they let her stay a bit to watch. She was mesmerized!
Cinderella & Ballet=favorites
I like to be prepared. I'd long since purchased tap and ballet shoes for her. Well, the night before and I realized she'd outgrown her shoes! Aaack! On the way there, we headed to Payless and picked up a pair of each. After the month's tuition, the registration fee, the costume fee, these shoes were an ouch! YIKES! Ballet and Tap is exponentially more expensive than soccer. It was worth it, though. She was positively giddy and physically vibrating with excitement.

Black leotard, pink tights, hair in a bun was what the rules said. It wasn't until after the fact that I realized those rules were more for the advanced dancers, not my little one. Still, if she is going to be the part, I want her to dress it! Thanks to the sock bun and spin pins, I was able to wrangle that curly mess into a perfect ballet bun.
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For one solid hour, she was focused and involved. I was proud and couldn't help but think this was the beginning of something bigger. We will see! Check her out:






Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Turning Goals Into Dreams

A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.
I don't just want to talk about it in concept. I want to put it down here so it is real. I want to make it a reality. This summer, I'm gonna learn how to surf. I've been surfing before and folks, it wasn't pretty. I'm not sure you could call what I did surfing, but I was out there on the North Shore doing my best. I tried my hand at it again when out in California. And now, well now, with the support of my husband, we are going to go on a family adventure to Costa Rica and learn how to surf! 

Of course, we are going to enjoy the beautiful scenery there. Take in a few zip line tours and conquer my fear of heights by crossing bridges like this one. Oh yes, I want to feel that excitement!


I want to go deep sea fishing. I've never done that. Seems like something invigorating thing to do. I want to dig my toes in the sand and build a ridiculous sand castle with my daughters. I want to have lazy days, get an obscene tan, eat well, and if I'm lucky, really, really lucky I'll not only get to do all those thing with my beloved and daughters, but MAYBE, just maybe I'll get to do them with more of my family and some of my friends. 

What are your dreams? Will those dreams become goals? 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sticking with It

We had the opportunity to go to the Cotton Bowl this year to cheer on my beloved's Alma Mater, Kansas State. While the outcome wasn't in our favor, we still had a great time! Everything was awesome! It seemed that many of our favorite people answered our plea to the universe for a night out without breaking the bank. Those of you involved, and you know who you are, thank you, thank you, thank you!!! There was NO WAY we could have afforded to have gone to the game otherwise!

We made it to the game and we were both starving! Well, I'm sticking to my no animals, and what do you, there really isn't anything there to eat that is veggie friendly. I could've had the french fries or the ice cream. Instead, this is what I came up with:
IMAG1464
ice cream and Chandon campagne
I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but goodness! This is tough. I've elected to push it to Valentine's day. Call me crazy, but this is working! I really do feel like I'm having more energy! We'll see. If I was able to do it at Jerry World and able to do it amidst my Tapas outing, I know I can stick with it!

By the way, check out our view!
IMAG1465

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ideal Saturday

When you are younger, you don't realize what a treasure a lazy, unplanned day is. If you are lucky, you had friends that would go make memories that lasted well beyond those few hours shared. Me, I'm beyond blessed! I'm so lucky, that my best friend since I was 11 is still in my life. He and I share many, many of these memories when we were younger. We imagined the days of when we were grown, not realizing that when you grow-up, your responsibilities multiply. Totally not a bad thing, just a reality. It is a real treat when everything lines up right and we are able to spend many uninterrupted hours talking, laughing, and reminiscing. I'm so grateful to the special people in our lives that stepped up so that he and I could have our date to celebrate his birthday. We went to Cafe Madrid and La Duni at Northpark. I have to ask, isn't My Michael getting more and more attractive as we grow older? Jealous! (grateful to the teens lingering in the courtyard who were willing to take our photo.) Here are some images from our day:

Best friends Cafe Madrid table Patatas Fritas Spanish Potato Omelette with Alioli Grilled Portobella Mushroom in Garlic Sauce Sauteed Veggie Medley with a Fried Egg Spinach and Cheese Croquettes Fried Goat cheese with Caramelized Onions drizzled with Honey Cafe con leche Cafe Mocca coffee and conversation Warm Milk Chocolate Cake Pudding So happy, so handsome Lemon 43 and Dona Margarita

I love you Michael! Thank you for sharing your day with me! It was very, very special! Easily in my top 5 best days. ;)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

NYC Restaurant Review: Daniel (65th & Park)

I had to go to NYC for a work trip. While there, I treated myself to an especially indulgent meal, a type of Merry Christmas to me sort of thing. Have you ever taken yourself out to a fancy meal? I found it rather empowering, albeit lonely. Armed with my camera, notebook, and pen, I set off for my dinner. This post includes my words and images from that night. NOTE: The photos aren't the greatest of quality because of the low, low, low light and my refusal to use flash. You may have to use your imagination in some of them.

                        _____________________  .  _______________________


The evening was brisk, but not cold. I was hungry and needed to get out and experience a good meal. I did a quick search for 5 star places nearby and opted to go on an adventure. I didn't bother checking the dress code. I figured my new dark skinny jeans and a nice top with a draped scarf would do. 

Beautifully decorated, the hostess table set about twenty five feet from the door, I realized this was a place for lovers. A high-end French culinary experience, I chose to come here because of the high rating. I did NOT have a reservation. *gasp* However, they were graciously accommodating nevertheless.

I was seated in the corner of the lower end dining, near the curtain partition. I was warned that I would be sharing my couch-seat since another couple was expected. Had I browsed the actual menu, I would have noticed that they only offer two seating times during each evening. Essentially, I was seated in the casual (if there was such a thing) area near their "bar" area. You have to understand, their bar area is fancier than any bar I've ever seen! I had a view of this piece of art. When I think of Europe, I think of open spaces like this one. Crawling with people doing all sorts of things. It makes me think of the dance of life, so at initial glance, I just see lots of people dancing.

All around me, I'm surrounded by the French, with their airs about food pretension and overly enthusiastic public displays of affection. Maybe I'm just jealous because I sit here alone wishing I were independently wealthy so my beloved could join me. Jaded a bit, but I sat and pretended that we were all at a big party and these were all new friends to make. Me, the Contessa Bianca, wife of Meeester Sias, our alter egos from our Napa adventure. Those of you who were there know what I'm talking about.

I ordered a glass of the "Daniel" chardonnay. Yes, a shock considering I don't like whites. But after the first taste, I was sold!! Could be the lack of sleep or the hormonal imbalance. Mostly, I think it reminded me of my love. He so loves a good white.

$108 3-Course Prix Fixe BUT....you could choose your courses.

I ordered the $51 foie gras appetizer and the $77 duo of beef. With that alone, I feel like I'm getting my money's worth.

Now, my mouth is watering and I do hope that I am not disappointed. After all, it is French cuisine, so I'm certain I'll leave here hungry, unfortunately. However, I will have eaten three days worth of awesome gut-busting calories! Sidenote: I still have my coupon for my "free" cocktail at the hotel. #winning
The servers here all wear black Armani suits with fancy-fancy ties. Even the women wear form fitting black suits, minus the tie, with their hair tightly pulled back and large ornate dangly earrings.

Amuse Bouche: Celebration of Beets (canape)
Beet puree was delicious!!!  Mini crabcake (the size of a dime) wrapped in celery with apple shavings. Beet with cardamom and Beed with something else. What a positively horrible photo. :(
White truffle with artichoke soup and heavy cream. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!!!!!
The bread came out. I chose a sour dough roll and the garlic roll. They served it with fresh/awesomely delicious butter. These were like regular french breads, flavorful and hard. I can't get past the butter. I need a moment. I have a tear in my eye. This butter is so good.

Before my next course, my flatware is changed out. The French don't care about dirty dishes! This is my first every experience with a flat spoon. Check it out...


 Appetizer: Foie Gras

Sweet potato fried wonton
Cranberry chutney with pistachios
Foie gras on a bed of that chutney

Foie gras perfection!!! So far I'm SOOOO NOT disappointed. My soul is happy and so is my heart, kinda. I still miss my love. I take another sip of my wine.

Next Course: Beef Duo

Short ribs are not my Primo's short rib. They are very fatty. The potato cake with bone marrow. The potato was overcooked, the bone marrow great! Waygu beef was very good, but not OMG WOW. The accompanying red sauce was runny. The cauliflower, grilled cauliflower, was uninspiring.
This main course is delicious and flavorful, but not mind blowing amazing as the others. Call me a die-hard Texas gal, but the beef duo lacked the creativity. I've had many similar things back home. Heck, I've had better fajita meat than that short rib. That's unfortunate. Like I said, good food and against other places, superb, but just not compared to places I've been, nor can it hold a candle to my cousin's cuisine. (Call him or email him if you want to set up your own (and affordable) private and personal dining experience. Yes, his short ribs are TODIEFOR!!!)

Before I go on to dessert, I have to pause to note the music selection playing overhead. I've really enjoyed the selection and felt that the music was paired with the food perfectly!! Chris Isaak's "Never Fall in Love" covered by a foreign wispy voice. "Ain't to Proud to Beg" hehe...chill music, if you will.

Dessert: Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse


More flatware, of course! I opted for the hazelnut chocolate mousse with rice crisps and horchata ice cream. It was good and rich, but the ice cream was outstanding!
And then.....my server surprised me with a bonus dessert!! The Bosc pear special with hazelnut pear foam. It was light, airy and absolute perfection! (kissing my fingertips like they do when food is awesome!)
Again, the ice cream is divine. Accompanying them are fresh baked madeleines!! Mmmm. I've never had fresh made ones and wow! No really, wow!
 Above all, the service was extraordinary! Not at all pretentious for the prices they charge. Here you pay for great food and you will equally greater service. I felt so welcomed here, I know why it was highly rated.

When in NYC and you have quite a bit of spare money for a fancy night out (yes, even in this soft economy), doll yourself up to the 9's and come on out to Da-nel (trying to pronounce it all French-like)

You will not be disappointed, nor will you regret it!

BUT WAIT!....

To finish the evening, my server brought me a set of 6 petit fours:

  • praline macaroon*
  • chocolate with lime zest
  • coconut pearls
  • raspberry crumble
  • lemon tart*
  • coffee chocolate with caramel


*these were my favorites
To finish, finish, totally finish the night, chocolates made in house. Blueberry and peanut butter. Both were bite sized culinary smiles.

Daniel on 65th and and Park in NYC...mark it on your list of must-see/do while in the City.

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