December 12, 2014

Traveling Holidays

It is that time of year again. The time of year where people often end up asking "Do we stay home, or get on a plane?" There is this luxurious (read: hectic) holiday stretch of time that is often a million times more popular to travel. (clearly I don't have the most accurate statistic, but go with me...)

There is the traditional stay put and the adventurous go somewhere scenarios that have their appeal. There is comfort in the known--the countdown and aftermath of the annual family holiday gathering at home, the menu planning, and the days of doing nothing around the house in fuzzy slippers. On the other hand, unless you are a nurse or someone who works around the clock, it is the one time of year when almost nobody is looking for you. Your inbox fills only with warm holiday wishes rather than demands for your presence at a conference call. Therefore, it is the time of year when you can skip town and create new traditions just about anywhere in the world....whether it be a two hour car ride or a 12 hour plane ride.

There was one Christmas where Kevin's parents took us to Hawaii for Christmas, otherwise, we have been more of the stay put for Christmas kind of people. Granted mostly it is probably because I work (I wasn't yet working when we went to Hawaii).

Now obviously some of us travel to see family and that is a nice cozy mix of the two, but I am curious:
 Which way do you lean around the holidays?

December 4, 2014

Have Yourself a Happier Little Christmas

Are you already stressing about Christmas? Four days into December, and I already am! I don’t know what it is about the holidays, but it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. There is just so much to do which puts on a lot of pressure, don’t ya think?

As I was trying to figure out how to manage some of these stresses, I realized that there are some easy solutions. Okay, maybe not as easy as I would like (as in, press the Easy Button), but still pretty easy. (that is a lot of the word easy for one paragraph!) And sticking to them would actually make my holidays way more fun and easy happy. Yay, right?

Maybe they’ll help you out, too. Here are my tips for having a happy littler (is that a word?!) holiday.

To be a little less crazed...
Stop obsessing about finding the perfect gift for everyone: I love gift giving, but I am terrible at it. I stress every holiday a gift is involved trying to find the perfect gift for the person I am shopping for. I spend a ton of time trying to come up with the perfect gift ideas for everyone on my list and then am let down if I don't find it, or it doesn't illicit the same reaction I thought it would. Sometimes a gift is just a gift. So it is okay not to totally go crazed over it. Yes, putting thought and effort into the gifts we give is great. But obsessing and stressing is not. So chill Lauren, chill!!

To be a little thinner....
Find a happy balance when it comes to food: Sugar cookies, puppy chow, cheese dips… a whole lot of awful-for-you-but-oh-so-good goodies are everywhere. And who are we kidding? They are part of the holiday experience. But they can make us feel not-so-great about ourselves...five pounds later. That is not little. So what is a festive girl to do? Well, instead of depriving ourselves of them completely or stuffing our faces until we feel sick, let’s just find a nice middle ground. Enjoy a cookie or some hot cocoa, but don’t overindulge. (Easier said than done!)

To be a little less stressed...
Don’t beat yourself up over every little thing: My Christmas light display isn't as my neighbor...My wrapping isn't as pretty as my coworker's...My cookies don't taste as good as my friends...AHH! Stop stressing! Do what you want each Christmas and enjoy yourself for it. If we all stop competing or caring to compete with each other, it will be a calmer, less stressful Christmas for everyone.

To be a little more happy...
Be thankful: Growing up, the best part of Christmas was the gifts. As kids, my sisters and I would spend hours creating our wish lists, dreaming about the cool stuff we would find under the tree. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us have focus on the gifts even as adults–both giving and getting. Instead of placing so much stock into the gifts we have given and received, let’s take the time to be thankful for the things we already own and the relationships we already have with those we’re giving to.

How do you deal with the holiday stress?

December 3, 2014

Design Lover Gifts

It is now the month of Christmas!
Now I am starting along with many others to think of gift ideas.
If you have some design lovers in your life, here is a quick list of ideas for them!




1. Sleek Humidifier
Sleek Humidifier
Found here.


2. iPad Nexus Stand
Forget the iPad! I will put my stylish Nexus on this stylish stand!
iPad stand


3. Trays
Some really cool trays that aren't a million dollars....these ones were on Joss and Main.
Cheyenne Tray (Set of 4)
4. Modern Clock
Banish your cell phone on your nightstand and replace it with this

5. Sleek Candleholders
I absolutely love these ones from Crate and Barrel! 
3-Piece Arden Candleholder Set

No but seriously, who wants to get me those candlesticks?!? So pretty!

December 2, 2014

Things I Love...gifs

When all else fails and you don't know what to blog about, blog with gifs.

Three things I love right now

Seeing my family!

That ski season is coming up!

That Christmas time is almost here!


What are you loving right now?
Is everyone still as full as I am from Thanksgiving?

November 29, 2014

Best Black Friday Deal EVER just for you!

I never post on the weekends.
And I am not a Black Friday type of girl, but my husband and I found a Black Friday deal that is just TOO good to pass up and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Cause I like money. Just like Jimmy Fallon and Capital One.
Free money.

So if you use the link below you can sign up for a Capital One 360 checking and savings account (both are no fee accounts), you can get $200 (and I'll get $40).

How do you do it? Sign up using this link:

1. Deposit $250 into a new checking account and then make 5 check deposits 
or 5 debit card purchases or a combination of the two within 45 days. 
They'll deposit the $100 bonus on day 50.

2. Deposit $1000 into a new savings account and they will immediately add 
the $100 bonus. You can withdraw the $1000 immediately and the bonus on day 30.

This is a Black Friday deal so you'll need to open the accounts by midnight on December 1st. You can do either or both. I did both last year when the bonus was only $75 each. Easiest $150 I've ever made. I transferred everything back into my regular checking account in less than 2 months. Pretty darn good return on investment. If you're married, you can double up on the deal by each opening an account.

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving! Let me know if you have any questions. 
Who doesn't like free money!?


**I am not being compensated by Capital One for writing this post, just the referral bonus I get from any of you lovely people who sign up. And you get even more money!**

November 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Sister



To the girl who rocks pink perfectly and amazes me,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
I hope your day is fabulous (just like you) and is filled with the best fashion, food, and family. I can't wait to see what this year holds and watch you dominate everything that comes your way. I'm so proud of you Elliephant!


November 27, 2014

Feliz Cumplianos a Ti

Happy Birthday Kevin!
And Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I am obviously very thankful for my better half in my life.
I really got lucky and caught myself a good one!

This is our 10th Thanksgiving.
WOW.

With that, I will take this day to truly marvel in how well you can get to know someone over the years and become so close to each other.

If you really knew Kevin...
You would know he played soccer up until high school.
You would definitely know that he loves electronics. {I think he is the electronics whisperer}
You would know that he will never own a minivan.
You would know that he is not a big breakfast guy.
You would know he has to sleep with the fan on.
You would know he likes jigsaw puzzles.
You would know he loves playing Dominion.
You would know he drinks insane amounts of mountain dew.
You would know he wants to be a dad someday.
You would know he said I love you first. :)


Happy Birthday to the person I am SO thankful for!
Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2014

Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is here! Heck for some winter is here...
Not here in Arizona, but everywhere else...

So since I can't have the fall weather, I will make the fall food.
Pumpkin muffins are an excellent alternative to anything you have to cut and share (pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, etc...) I love the ease of grabbing these muffins.

I always use my mom's recipe. It is the softest and most flavorful and as always....easy to make! ;-) You can make this into a loaf of pumpkin bread too if you wish. 


Ingredients:

4 beaten eggs
3 cups of sugar
1 16 oz can of pumpkin
1 cup oil
1/3 cup of water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 8 oz pitted dates, snipped
1 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions:

Combine eggs and sugar in an extra large mixing bowl. Stir in pumpkin and then stir in oil and water. It will take a while to combine the oil and water but it will mix! Then add vanilla.

Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into mixture. Stir until combined.

Fold in dates and nuts and put mixture into cupcake liners or into 2 greased 9x5x3 baking pans.

Bake at 325 for 22-25 minutes or 350 for about 55 minutes for bread or till a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool and enjoy! Store airtight to maintain optimal moistness!

What are some of your favorite fall family recipes?
yay alteration!

November 25, 2014

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

So who likes cranberries?
The traditional Thanksgiving dish seems to be either much loved or not.

Kevin made our cranberry sauce for our Friendsgiving. He did a good job! During the process of hosting, I had a lot of fun sharing the kitchen with Kevin. He adapts his recipe from the back of the Ocean Spray bag of cranberries.

The secret is the juice that he has every morning. Trust me, it makes the cranberries far more tolerable. ;-)

Kevin has lots of practice with Thanksgiving foods, it is usually his birthday meal and once again this year it will be!

Ingredients:

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of Dole Orange Peach Mango Juice
1 12 oz package of fresh or frozen cranberries

Directions:

Combine sugar and juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the cranberries.

Return to a boil and boil gently for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Cover and cool completely (or as long as you can) at room temperature and refrigerate until serving time.

Enjoy!!

What are your favorite and least favorite Thanksgiving foods?


November 24, 2014

Black Friday

People either love or hate Black Friday Thursday Weekend. I seriously think that stores are hurting their own awesome promotion they have by making it last longer or starting earlier.

Leave it Black Friday!! 

And why are people shopping on Thanksgiving and not getting it on with the wine bottle?!? (Two things not to do together....shop and drink. Trust me!) I would imagine you would have more sales for people trying to clamor over a deal that one day than if they know the deals will be there more than a day. But I digress...what do I know about sales...I am over here in the medical field far away from all that.

The Savey Greedy Games premieres tonight 8/7c. May the Prices be ever in your favor
via

That being said I guess you can tell I don't like Black Friday. It is crowded and I far prefer nursing a hangover watching TV after being filled to the brim on Thanksgiving.

Here are some tips however if you decide to venture out:

Get a game plan: Don't just run around looking for things. Make a list of stores you wanna hit and what you want to get from them. Otherwise you will miss all the best deals and may get trampled.

Trust no one, except one person: people may seem nice, until they swipe the last TV or won't let you back into a line. But do bring a buddy to do Black Friday with. They are good for standing in lines while you shop and you can vice verca do the same for them. 

Wear comfortable shoes: And don't wait to buy them on Black Friday. Start out with them.

Resist temptation: Gotta make sure you are still on that game plan I mentioned! Stores make everything look extra good! 

Bring Snacks: Don't bring a huge purse to weigh you down while your shopping, but please remember to eat before and possibly bring snacks during. No one wants to see you hungry and stressed and getting trampled and not sticking to a game plan because you are hypoglycemic.

Bring Lauren something: Cause....yeah! Especially if it is a beautiful Swarovski Crystal ornament. Love those. PleaseAndThankYou!

"First rule for Black Friday shopping, there are no rules." // #Fashion
via


Who is doing Black Friday this year?

November 21, 2014

I Believe

I believe everyone did this post a year ago but I am getting to it just now cause I can.
I Believe In Pink  - Audrey Hepburn

I believe watching football counts as a productive Sunday.

I believe crisp fall air awakens the soul.

I believe that chocolate in any form can make a bad day feel better.

I believe that a good hug is about the only thing better than chocolate.

I believe that having a night-in with a few great girlfriends and copious amounts of wine is a necessity at least once every couple of months.

I believe that you can never over-tell your husband how much you love and appreciate him.

I believe that a great pair of heels can make an outfit and can increase your confidence dramatically.

I believe in everything Christmas related and taking all of it in while it lasts! Even when you are in the desert!

I believe that blogging is good for the soul - that even if you don't hit 'publish' it helps to write out feelings.

I believe in blasting and singing to your favorite song over and over again.

I believe in the power of a good pedicure.

I believe in great views and traveling often.


What are some things you believe in?

November 20, 2014

A Day In The Life

Just another Thursday. 
Thursdays bring us Fridays and Fridays bring us weekends.
Thursdays also have football.

A couple of Thursdays ago, the Browns even won!
Thursdays must be full of magical powers.

I think everyone did this years ago. But here goes. Cause my life is a real thriller...

  • 5:45 AM Alarm goes off. Press snooze 
  • 5:50 AM Groan about needing to get out of bed. 
  • 5:51 AM Stop groaning and get up. Grab my phone because I don't believe it could possibly be time for me to wake up yet. I need more sleep! 
  • 5:52 AM Brush teeth, wash face. 
  • 5:55 AM Start applying makeup 
  • 5:57 AM Shrug at myself in the mirror because that is as good as it is going to get. 
  • 5:58 AM Look at my hair and think about straightening it. Then think better not... 
  • 6:00 AM Brush it and put it in an ugly ponytail 
  • 6:03 AM Head to the kitchen 
  • 6:04 AM Make something unhealthy and unconventional for breakfast like a quesadilla. 
  • 6:06 AM Stare at the fridge waiting for a lunch I didn't pack to magically appear. 
  • 6:08 AM Shut the fridge since aforementioned lunch is not appearing. 
  • 6:10 AM Leave for work without a lunch and with a messy quesadilla. 
  • 6:45 AM Get to work and get bombarded with questions. 
  • 7:30 AM - 11:20 AM Start thinking about the lunch that I don't have. 
  • 11:30 AM Just eat some chocolate and call it lunch. 
  • 12:00 PM - 3:20 PM Be excited to go home. 
  • 3:30 PM Get bombarded with all hell breaking loose.
27 Reasons Why Nurses Are Secretly Angels Living Among Us

  • 4:30 PM Finally leave and drive home. 
  • 5:00 PM Get home, get the mail, and realize I need to make dinner and I am hungry now. 
  • 5:05 PM Grab a quick snack...while thinking of what to make for dinner. 
  • 5:12 PM Say "F this, I don't even need dinner" and start watching Grey's Anatomy or Bones. 
  • 5:30 PM Realize that Kevin will need dinner 
  • 6:00 PM Stand in front of my fridge magically hoping something will appear and make itself. 
  • 6:03 PM Realize it will not and start making dinner. 
  • 6:15 PM I am literally starving to DEATH. Like seriously my stomach is eating my insides. 
  • 6:30 PM Kevin comes home. We have whatever slop I have made. 
  • 6:31 PM- 8:30 PM Watch TV shows and talk. 
  • 8:31 PM- 9:15 PM Kevin goes and studies. I clean. 
  • 9:20 PM Brush teeth, shower, and lay in bed. I wonder if it is too early to just fall asleep... 
  • 9:30PM- 10:30 PM Watch the news with Pinterest on my Nexus. 
  • 10:30 PM Talk to Kevin again. 
  • 10:35 PM Count how many hours until I need to wake up. Set my alarm. 
  • 10:40 PM Fall asleep.


Occasionally groceries, filling up for gas, miscellaneous errands, and exercise happen. 
What do your typical days look like?

November 19, 2014

Hectic is Perfect

I think there is an assumption that marriages are perfect. And maybe they can be for some – the perfect jobs, house, pets, children, cars – the list goes on. But what makes my marriage so wonderful and perfect for is this hectic thing we call life. For my husband and I, hectic IS perfect – because that means we are living our life and living it together.

Would we want a romantic date night once a week? Sure! Does it happen? No, but what we do love is our nightly routine of a quiet dinner catching up on TV. Yep, there it is – our romantic evening! But for us, it’s so perfect. To sit and share our day, toss back a glass of wine and relax is the perfect evening. We do love our random date nights though and, to be honest, we need one soon! Life happens and we’re constantly paying the bills, seeing friends, seeing family, being spouses and it’s hard sometimes!

 But in the end, it’s this hectic-ness that brings us together and makes us a good team. Life has always been busy. Not just lately. I feel like everyone adds the word lately to busy like it is some sort of excuse. I don't feel guilty or the need for an excuse. I love my life with my husband hectic or calm.



Aww. He is so cute!
Have a great weekend!

November 18, 2014

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I cannot believe that I have not shared this recipe. It is a huge STAPLE in my house. Heck I even found out at one point it was Kevin's favorite meal! Possibly still is! Haven't asked him lately...

Anyway, we love sharing this meal together with a nice glass of wine. I don't ever usually attempt Chinese food at home, but this one, NO PROBLEM.

Final product. Enjoy with a nice glass of chardonnay.


Ingredients:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten
Flour (enough to coat, I never measure it)
Canola Oil Spray

2 cups granulated sugar
8 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup of white vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

Cut the chicken pieces into bite sized pieces of chicken. Dip the pieces into the egg then into the flour to coat. Once coated place in a big skillet and cook until lightly browned. Then place the chicken into a greased baking dish. 

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Cover the browned chicken with the mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes at 325! Enjoy!


November 17, 2014

Friendsgiving

I hosted a friendsgiving dinner this year. You know, just my first major thing. Just 12 of our closest friends. Haha, in hindsight, I did not plan enough. Sure I had hosted Easter, but that wasn't a crowd, just my parents.

My mother always hosts Thanksgiving dinner, and it has always been a pretty small affair for us- just our immediate family. Family is not nearby for us. This year I wanted to host one for our friends. I am thankful for them and we know how to eat, so this seemed like the best holiday to do. Plus as a nurse, I have no idea what holidays I won't get to spend with family or friends.  I learned a few things from this year's hosting experience...

Keep it simple. My table setting was beautiful, but practically effortless. I got some roses and candles and a table runner. That. Was. It. Easy. Peasy.




Get creative and resourceful. Not stressed out! I fretted for a bit about the size of our dining room table. I made a creative buffet of the food and had a friend bring over a card table. People didn't have to go far to get seconds and everyone had a spot to sit. Problem solved!




What I learned about the menu. You have can never really have too many sides or pies for that matter. My friends brought all brought over a dish each. Everyone was super happy to have plenty of choices!

And you can never have too many chairs. Period end of.

The internet can be a dangerous place. Looking up how to do a turkey. Seems simple right?! People have differing opinions and blah, blah, blah. I should have just asked my mom from the beginning. But I didn't and I got majorly lucky picking and choosing what to do in the turkey department.

I'll did find some major success with my turkey this year, so what I did is down below...



And no matter how many people you have coming over or how big of a dinner you are making, make sure you set aside time to take a few photos from the day. You don't want to look back on a fabulous holiday and regret not snapping a few pics.



First annual Friendsgiving was a total success!

Rosemary Thanksgiving Turkey
Adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon black ground pepper
2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
1 teaspoon of dried basil
2 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder
Turkey (I had an 18 lb one)

Directions:

Take your turkey out of the fridge. Ensure that you have given the turkey enough time to thaw. It literally takes 4-5 days!

Preheat the oven to 475.

In a small bowl, Mix together the olive oil and spices. Set aside.

Using your hand, spread the rosemary mixture on the breast and down the thigh and leg. Rub it all over that turkey.

Place the turkey on the rack in the roasting pan. Add a small amount of water (just enough to cover the bottom. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, turn down temperature of oven to 325 and continue baking for another 3.5 hours.

OH and....get your own meat thermometer. Mine didn't even have a pop-up timer. But another thing, most websites will tell you the temp has to be 180. EW. Unless you like overcooked turkey....we took ours out at 160-165. The thermometer should be stuck in the thickest part of the thigh where it meats the breast. Push the thermometer in until you feel it slide into the thigh meat.

Your turkey should sit out for at least 15 minutes. I prefer 30 before eating and carving.

Oh and if you know someone with an electric carver. Be their best friend. Or just invest in one yourself. Makes the carving so much easier (so says my husband. I absolutely did not carve that bird)

Serve and enjoy!

Happy Holidays!
What have you learned from hosting during the holiday season?

November 14, 2014

Five Things to Look Forward to This Weekend

1// Catching up on emails, blogging, Pinterest, etc...

2// Watching football and hopefully dominating at Fantasy Football. (I have had some rough weeks)

3// Spending time at home after seeing friends tie the knot.

4// Getting in a nice bike ride since I will stuff my face at Friendsgiving.
(more on that later...)

5// Fall weather (just kidding! I wish, but I live in Arizona...getting closer though!)


Have a great weekend!

November 13, 2014

Guacamole Tostadas

My obsession with guacamole never sleeps.

Make my classic guacamole. Only changes made is that you need to make sure the tomatoes are extra chunky and add some cooked corn and cilantro leaves to the mix. Add this mixture to the top of a fried corn tortilla and top with some shredded cheese. So yummy!

This is pretty much one of those recipes you make when you want dinner fast.
This is also what you post on your blog when you are short on time...

You win some and lose some.

Ingredients:

Lots of Lauren's Guacamole
Corn Tortillas
Frozen corn, cooked per directions
Cilantro, optional

Directions:

In a pan, warm the corn tortillas. Once warm, place on a plate and top with guacamole, corn, and cilantro if you would like. It is seriously just that easy!

Enjoy!


Have a happy Thursday!!

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