Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Meet Molly

Molly is the newest addition to our family. She will be living with my parents back home as soon as they can make the arrangements to pick her up from her foster home. Sweet Molly is a 6 year old Wire Hair Fox Terrier. She is such a sweetheart, we can't wait for her to join our family!

We have been through a rough past year, we lost our beloved Welsh Terrier, Patches last November at the age of 16. My parents then rescued a 1 year old Welsh Terrier, Sparky with health issues, with what we thought were non life threatening. We unexpectedly lost Sparky in April when her health issues took her life. Patches and Sparky are now our littlest angels, who brought us so much love and joy.

We can't wait to get to know Molly and for her to spend many many years as a part of our family. Welcome Molly, we love you already!

More later...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mango Mania!

My obsession with mangos started a little over two years ago. I don't know what exactly it is about mangos but I love everything from the way they taste to they way they smell in a scented candle. There's something about summer and mangos that goes well together.

Like I said it all started two years ago when I first started working when one of my coworkers introduced me to a great place to enjoy a summer lunch called, Tropical Smoothie Cafe. They have a combo where you can enjoy half a sandwich and smoothie for $6.99. We would go here for lunch at least 3 times a week, if nothing else at least to order a smoothie to go. The first smoothie I tried was called 'Mango Magic' and after trying several other flavors over the course of two years, it is still my absolute favorite. Let's put it this way, after about two weeks of ordering different flavors, I gave up because nothing came close and now I don't even think about ordering anything different-trust me it's that good!

A less expensive treat and I am sure a little better for you, is Simply Orange with Mango. I had always seen the Simply Orange and Lemonade products in the grocery store, but never thought to try them, because honestly I really only drink water and milk, with an occasional sweet tea and then there are those nights where I can't stop at just one glass of wine, ssshhhh, but mostly just milk and water. Anyways, it was last fall when I was in Atlanta visiting friends who recently had a baby and I was still talking about my summer obsession, mangos, when Ashley told me about Simply Orange with Mango. It was all she craved when she was pregnant--I hope I have that craving! I've been hooked ever since, but only buy it as a treat (my sugar intake is high enough without drinking drinks with tons of sugar).

Remember this delicious mango margarita I enjoyed on our recent trip to St. Simon's Island earlier this summer. If I lived on St. Simon's I would be a drunk. Seriously. It was that good!

On the same lines of a smoothie, I saw an ad in a magazine for Haagen Dazs Mango Sorbet. Of course it was immediately added to my grocery list for the week. It is yet another reason I love mangos, the flavor is unbelievable and it certainly hits the spot after a very hot and humid summer day. Try it, I think you will be hooked and it's fat free too (good thing because mangos are very high in fat)!

And after you have indulged in all these delicious treats, be sure to light this mango scented candle, called Mango Tango, by Tyler Candles. It it sure to fill your house with a sweet and juicy dance for the senses!

Happy Summer!

Monday, June 28, 2010

At last!

This past weekend happened to be very special. One of my best friends from college was in Greenville for a wedding. There was no question in my mind that if she had time before her flight on Sunday to visit, I would make the trip to Greenville. She ended up not having anything planned on Sunday, so I made the trip. It was well worth the hour and half drive to see Ellie. We have been friends since our freshmen year of college, we spent a spring break together in NYC, studied abroad together in Florence, Italy, celebrated our 21st birthdays with each other, the list goes on, but for no apparent reason we started loosing touch at the beginning of our Senior year and especially after college.

After graduation Ellie moved to Austin, TX while I stayed in Columbia, but still there was no excuse. Spending time with Ellie yesterday was wonderful, it felt like we never lost touch. We spent lunch catching up, but of course there was not enough time before we had to leave for the airport. In just the few short hours we spent playing catch up, we promised each other that a visit every 2 years was a thing of the past and that we would plan a trip to see each other in Austin and Columbia. And let me tell you it is top on my list, I can't wait to plan a weekend to visit Ellie!

If you've lost touch with a good friend over the past few months, years, or decades reach back out to them, I promise you will both be happy you did. In the meantime, I'm starting to plan my trip to Austin!

In other news, how about those Gamecocks??? It was a great weekend in Omaha for the Gamecocks and I hope it continues tonight against UCLA! Let's go Cocks!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Protect Your Pup from the Summer Heat

Summertime is in full swing, which means outdoor fun in the sun with your pup! Do you know the signs of heat stroke and the treatments?

We all know not to leave your pet in a hot car. However, did you know that a running air conditioned car can be no match for that summer heat when parked. The sun has extra time to beat down on the car and the temperature can soar. So take extra precaution on those hot and warm days and leave your furry friend cool and safe in the comforts of your home while you run your errands.

If you have your pup out and you notice excessive panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, staggering,vomiting, or swollen tongue, it's time to lower your pup's body temperature.
  • Take your pet to a shady area and pour cool (not cold) over the coat. You don't want to lower the temperature too quickly.
  • Apply ice packs or cold towels to your pet's head, neck & chest only.
  • Let your pet lick ice cubes, but limit access to cold water.

Heat stroke is life threatening for animals. Try to lower their temperature and then get them to a vet immediately.

Below are two neat products to help you help your pup fight the summer heat:

Pupcakes a local pet boutique has a great product to keep your pup cool when on walks or outdoors for lengthy times: The Cool Vest. This vest can keep them cool for up to 2 hours and it is easy to use. You simply soak the adjustable, easy to wear Cool Vest in water which provides a protective layer from direct and indirect sunlight and heat. And its laminated lining keeps your pup dry! The Cool Vest is made with a special fabric that absorbs and retains water and utilizes the simple scientific principle-cooling through evaporation! As water gradually evaporates, it takes the heat around it. This vest is perfect for a summer walk!

If nothing else and actually more importantly don't forget H20 for your furry friend. During my cousin Lauren's recent visit to SC, we shared several of our favorite dog products and tips. Lauren has an adorable Maltipoo, Baxter!

Laur introduced me to portable water bowl called the Water Rover which makes it easy to for pet owners to take water wherever they go. She was sweet enough to send us one in the mail, thanks Laur and Baxter! I can't wait to go for a walk at along the river this weekend and have Miss T use her Water Rover for the first time.

As pet owners we tend to underestimate how much water our pets need-don't let them dehydrate!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Leeward Fate

So here's a neat story for you. My cousin, Tom, moved to St. Kitts two years ago after marrying his wife Rachael who was attending veterinary school on the island. Tom has played the drums ever since I can remember and has been a part of several bands throughout his journey, but for different reasons they never stayed together for very long.

It was soon after Tom settled in on the island of St. Kitts that he met Daniel and Jack, two guys attending nursing school on the island at an open mic night. Call it what you will, but I truly believe this was fate for Tom, Daniel, and Jack as introductions like these don't come around that often. According to their website, it wasn't long after they met before they were producing original music under the name Leeward Fate. Their unique sound is compared to Jack Johnson, Switchfoot, and maybe some Dave Matthews Band.

Two years later after recording their debut album on a Caribbean Island, they have moved back to the States and have re-recorded their debut album, released it on iTunes and Amazon and have scheduled several dates for their US Summer Tour. Check Leeward Fate out on the web, preview their music and see if you can catch them on the road this summer when they come to a city near you!

I couldn't be more proud of my cousin Tom, Daniel and Jack who I have yet to meet, but I will hopefully have a that chance this summer when I meet up with them on tour. There is nothing more important to me then my family and their success. I truly believe Leeward Fate's dream is coming true!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Almond Joy!

I think it's safe to say over the years we all have read and heard that almonds are a great snack with lots of health benefits. What kind of health benefits you ask? Just a quarter cup of raw almonds has 41% of the daily value of Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps your body digest fat properly and a deficiency in Vitamin E can be dangerous and lead to miscarriages, heart disease, impaired vision and loss of muscle mass. Almonds are also rich in magnesium and dietary fiber. Magnesium regulates blood sugar, supports a healthy immune system, and promotes normal blood pressure. Dietary fiber, another great benefit of almonds, is necessary for proper bowel function and digestion.

The healthiest almonds are the whole ones with skins, of course, which I call plain, boring, and not very tasty. As much as I know almonds are one of the best snacks you can chose, they are not very satisfying to me, until now. Last week I was introduced to a new snack by a coworker, who knew work could be so much fun? Drum roll please...

Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds

Emeralds Cocoa Roast Almonds are lightly sweet with a hint of dark chocolate flavored cocoa powder which gives a light chocolate flavor with a big crunch without the calories and fat of chocolate dipped nuts. They are baked in flavor so there is no mess! And the best part they are only a 150 calories per serving the same number of calories as a handful of regular almonds!

So if you are anything like me, sometimes you just crave the taste of chocolate, despite the fact you really know you shouldn't eat any. These cocoa roasted almonds will satisfy those cravings while providing a healthy snack full of protein and healthy fats.

Almonds are great in salads, on top of ice cream, yogurt, in cereal, with chicken, or just by themselves as a snack. I buy the 38oz. container of Emerald Cocoa Roasted Almonds at Sam's Club, but I know several grocery stores carry the smaller 11oz. canister container.

I know you want to, but don't all go run out at once to purchase this delicious treat, but when you do, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Its Definite...

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin is a must read. In between my several loads of laundry this past weekend, trips to the pool, dinner dates, etc. I managed to start and finish Emily Giffin's Heart of the Matter. I am no book critique nor do I want to ruin it for those of you out there that haven't had the chance to read it yet, but I am here to tell you, you will not be disappointed. Are you ever with Emily Giffin's novels? Not me!

This novel definitely will definitely tug at your heart and through the emotions of the characters, but that's what I love most about Emily Giffin's characters, she makes them come alive. So hands down, without a doubt, whether you are an Emily Giffin fan or not it's a must read! Lucky for you if haven't discovered Emily Giffin before now, because she has written four other novels you can enjoy. Then there's me, who reads her novels faster then she can write the next, but I sure do hope her next novel is in the making, because let me tell you how hard it was at the bookstore on Sunday evening trying to find a book to read after a such a stellar story.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Tropical Treat

To say I'm obsessed with this candle would be an understatement. I will try to describe how it smells with the help of Yankee Candle's description on their website, it's a combination of fresh island pineapple served with a citrus touch of cilantro and sweet coconut. Basically it is heaven on Earth! I first smelled this candle one afternoon at the office. I was making my way to the copy room, when I stopped dead in my tracks from what I was smelling made me have flashbacks of being here...

Cinnamon Bay, St. John United States Virgin Islands

Instead it was the scent of the Pineapple Cilantro candle in my coworkers office. Later that week I picked up a jar up for myself. Ever since that day, the first thing I do when I walk in the door, is light this candle! mmmm smells so good in here!!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Plans for the Weekend? One Word: Laundry

So I know what your thinking, boring weekend, huh? Well after all the traveling I've been doing recently I really don't have a choice anymore. Trust me you'll want to keep reading...

If you're like most people then you probably don't enjoy doing laundry, call me crazy, I know, but I actually don't mind it. Starting loads of laundry in the wash machine and moving them to the dryer is easy. Its the folding and putting away all the clean clothes that is the hard part for me. Nevertheless, The Laundress has revolutionized my laundry experience. Especially when it comes to my swimsuits and hand wash only garments.

Swimwear Care by The Laundress is the bomb. After spending close to a week at the beach and almost every weekend at the pool, I'm almost out and a trip to Pout to replenish is listed high up on my to do list. In my opinion there is no better product that is delicate enough for swimwear while still having the capabilities to remove the buildup of sunscreen, chlorine, salt, and sand.

Besides wonderful detergents and fabric care, The Laundress has a fabulous accessories as well. One of my favorites is their wash basin and two different sizes of wash buckets. They are perfect for soaking or hand washing! They have made my life much easier when it comes to soaking your bathing suit one last time at the end of the season or for the perfect delicate blouse that can't go in the wash machine.

Whatever the case may be, visit The Laundress and check out their entire product line or better find the Laundress products locally. The Laundress revolutionized my laundry experience and I guarantee it will do the same for you!

And for those of you that were worried, don't be. I am not going to waste a beautiful weekend inside doing laundry. I have dinner plans both nights and pool dates each afternoon.

Have a great weekend and don't forget to honor your Father this Sunday for Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Banana Pudding

Banana pudding is one of my favorite summer desserts. There is something about a refrigerated treat for dessert in the summer time when you just can't escape the heat. I miss my college days when we ate lunch and dinner at our sorority house and Ms. Ali, our chef, would make banana pudding for dessert. On those nights, I skipped dinner and dove right in to the dessert!

I found this recipe for banana pudding a couple summers ago in my Southern Living Magazine. I feel in love with the recipe because for starters it is easy to make and it doesn't require you to make a large batch at one time. Because let me tell you there is nothing worse then the bananas turning brown in the pudding, very unappetizing! I think the picture below is a very creative way to serve the dessert.

Quick & Tasty Banana Pudding


Cool Whip
Vanilla Pudding (plus ingredients needed for vanilla pudding)
Vanilla Wafers


Cut bananas into slices. Layer glass with cool whip topping, banana slices, vanilla pudding, more banana slices and more vanilla wafers. Repeat. Dollop with cool whip topping.


Recipe from Southern Living Magazine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pet Tags

For all you dog lovers out there, you need to check out Red Dingo. They are an Australian based company that designs and markets pet accessories. Everything from collars, harness, leashes, dog bite clips, and most famously their pet ID tags.

I first discovered, Red Dingo and their pet ID tags, at Pupcakes. It was when my dog was just a puppy and it seemed like every couple weeks I was buying her a new collar and dog tag, since neither were lasting very long. I finally found the perfect brand of collars for her small neck at Target and of course the best pet ID tags designed by Red Dingo. Unfortunately for right now you can't purchase Red Dingo merchandise off their website, so you will have to find their products at your local pet store. Do visit their website and check out their stainless steel with enamel pet id tags for both dogs and cats. They come in three different sizes, small, medium, and large and you can choose from 25 graphics and 10 colors to customize your ID tag. Not only will you be excited about the tags, you will be even more thrilled once you see how long they hold up. My dog has wore hers almost every day for the past two years and it still looks brand new!

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Reminder You'll Thank Me For Later

Don't forget this Sunday, June 20th is Father's Day! Be sure to plan ahead to make your Dad's day a very special one. I won't be able to be with my Dad on Father's Day, but I plan on sending him something special in the mail. So don't forget, if you need to send your card and gift via snail mail you only have a day or two left to guarantee delivery before Sunday!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Weekend in Review

No matter what kind of work week I am having, the weekend can never come soon enough, not like I worked a full week this week or anything, but once the weekend gets here it goes by even faster then it arrived. This weekend was no different.

Friday night was date night with Thomas since I was leaving for Charlotte Saturday morning. We had a enjoyable dinner for two at Cantina 76 on Devine St. We sat at a table for two on the side porch and started the evening with a round of margaritas. I ordered the strawberry basil margarita after it was highly recommended by a coworker at our company trip to the King and Prince last week. The margarita did not disappoint, it was the perfect mixture of strawberry, basil, and tequila. I have been on a basil kick recently: lemon-basil ice cream for dessert at Coastal Kitchen in St. Simons, homemade basil lemonade for a refreshing treat after a long hot day, and most recently the strawberry basil margarita at Cantina 76. I was enjoying my margarita so much you will have to ask Thomas when you see him about his! While we were unwinding from our long and hard two days at work, sigh, we ordered the "Tres Hombres" Sampler as an appetizer. The sampler consisted of salsa, queso, and guacamole. Let me tell you a little more about the guacamole at Cantina 76, it's heavenly. If the sampler seems to much for you, don't worry you can order the guacamole by itself.

After settling in to the start of the weekend, we ordered another round of drinks, Mexican beer this time and dinner. We both ordered tacos, I apologize ahead of time but, I didn't even pay attention to Thomas' order other then knowing he order the special taco of the day the Mahi taco along with two others. I ordered the chicken pesto and shrimp tacos, both were very tasty.

Our dinner was superb and we will be returning this weekend this time with a group of friends if you would like to join us!

Before I knew it Saturday morning was upon me and I was as far behind being ready to leave for Charlotte as one can imagine. As I scrambled to get ready to be out the door in less then an hour, Lindsey saved me, and asked me to come around 1pm instead of 12pm as originally planned. Whew! I was out the door right on time and on my way to Charlotte to see Lindsey for the night!

Linds and I met freshmen year when we joined the same sorority and have been the best of friends ever since. We lived together in the same house with eight girls for our Junior and Senior year of college and we also had the same major and minor. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time together and it never got old! Linds took a job with Belk in their corporate offices in Charlotte and moved their right after graduation. We still see each other quite often, but I was very excited for our weekend together!

I met Lindsey and her adorable Cocker Spaniel, Cooper at their house, which they just recently moved in to back in May and it was my first time there. Lindsey loves to decorate and her house certainly shows her knack for it! After a tour of her house, Lindsey took me to a place called Yoforia for an afternoon snack before we hit the ground running at South Park Mall, my favorite place to shop! Yoforia is refreshing twist to frozen yogurt, along the lines of Pinkberry, Fruiti Cup, Berry Chill, Fresh Berry, etc. Yoforia's frozen yogurt is made from organic milk and yogurt and is nonfat. I had a cup of the vanilla bean with mini chocolate chips, fresh raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, strawberries, and kiwi. It sure hit the spot! More on this later because I'm so obsessed it deserves a post of its own!

Next stop, South Park and as always we had tons of fun shopping, because let's be honest that's what Lindsey and I do best and everyone knows it including Ryland and Thomas, poor guys. They just know to let us be, that we love shopping and that is one thing you won't be able to change about us. We stopped by Harris Teeter on the way home to pick up a small snack and a bottle of wine to enjoy at Lindsey's before heading to a later dinner.

Lindsey and I never have a problem talking to each other, not to mention there is always a lot to talk about when we do get together, and before we knew it, it was late and we were out the door to head to dinner. Linds took me a restaurant called, Soul, for some tapas and sushi. It was another HOT day in the south and we couldn't wait to order us each a ice cold beer. We picked several different items off the menu to share: tzatziki, grilled shrimp skewers, gourmet grilled cheese, and a sushi roll. We ended up ordering a second of the sushi roll, it was just that good. We spent all of dinner catching up that time just flew by. Before we knew it we were yawning, after all that shopping, we should have been tired ;-). Off to bed we went...

We took Cooper for a walk this morning and then grabbed breakfast together before I headed back to Columbia around lunch time. It's been tough for me the past few weeks since most of my friends have moved away from Columbia, so spending time with Lindsey made me feel a whole lot better!

I returned home early yesterday afternoon and spent the rest of the day at the pool with friends. And when I say spent the afternoon at the pool, I mean literally in the pool since the temperature was 100+ degrees!! Hello Summer!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The King and Prince

For the past week, Thomas and I have been enjoying my all expense paid company trip at the King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island. This is our second year on the trip and actually our second time at the King and Prince. There is something very special to me about St. Simons and the King and Prince and although I haven't quite figured that part out, the same feeling is there every time I return.

Our mornings began with a delicious breakfast buffet, and my favorite the fresh fruit, was so sweet and absolutely delicious! We sat at the same table every morning, right in front of floor to ceiling windows that looked out at the beach. I can't think of a more enjoy way to enjoy breakfast each morning, as I could tell what a calming affect it had on me each morning we were there.

Our days were spent relaxing on the beach reading and having fun in the ocean while enjoying a cocktail here and there. For the curious, their pina colada's were my favorite! There is something enjoyable about not having to worry about what day or time it is, instead you gage your plans for the day based on where the sun is in the sky and your next meal.

Speaking of eating, St. Simons knows a lot about good food. We enjoyed true southern cooking and Texas size steaks at Bennie's Red Barn, delicious heart healthy Italian cuisine at Tramici's, and mouth watering seafood with breathtaking views of the water at Coastal Kitchen. My favorite lunch was BBQ from Southern Soul.

Southern Soul is definitely the best BBQ I've had since I've lived down South and even my Southern boyfriend agrees that nothing down here compares to Andy Nelson's in Hunt Valley, Maryland, until we found Southern Soul. BBQ from Southern Soul was so good, we had to go back two days in a row for lunch. The other days we enjoyed lunch by the pool at the outdoor grill.

The steaks at Bennie's Red Barn were unbelievable in size, Thomas didn't eat lunch that day so he could make enough room for his 20z. Porterhouse steak, which for the record he finished every last bit. I on the other hand enjoyed an 8oz. fillet with french fries. We shared a variety of appetizers and desserts at dinner each night and Tramici's was no different. I had grilled salmon in lemon vinaigrette with fresh artichoke hearts, spinach, and white beans, it was delicious and just the right amount! I will definitely have to try to recreate this recipe at home. And to save the best for last, crab and lobster ravioli at Coastal Kitchen. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I loved Lobster Ravioli at Cosmopolitans. Cosmo's has closed it doors and in my heart I know no restaurants lobster ravioli will ever compare to Cosmo's although, I do like to see if I can find something close and Coastal Kitchen was as close as I've been able to find.

I can't think of anything much better then waking up each morning and looking out your french doors to your private balcony and seeing this...

When we checked out on Wednesday, I felt like I was leaving my heart behind. It hurt, but the hurt reminds me every day what I need to do to stay on track to reach my goal so I can be a part of our company trip each year.

Cheers to a wonderful trip, with wonderful people, and hopes of returning next year...

(this isn't just any margarita, it's a mango flavored margarita and was de-licious!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Staple: Jack Rogers

During the spring and summer months in the South everywhere I look I see women wearing Jack Rogers, or so it seems. Jack Rogers first rose to fame in the 1960s as the favorite resort footwear in towns such as Palm Beach, Newport and the Hamptons. Jack Rogers' most well know sandal is the Navajo, showed below.

On my cousin Lauren's recent trip to Columbia, she has a pair of Jack Rogers' wedges. I had never seen Jack Rogers' with a wedge, which I attribute to having all tall friends! I was never that crazy about Jack Rogers' because I always thought they were so much leather for my small feet, but the wedges are great! I love wedges because they give you height without hurting your feet and their wedge heel doesn't get stuck in small cracks on the sidewalk that cause you to ruin your heel.

If you are looking for the perfect summer sandal that are available in several different colors, look no further then Jack Rogers' whether you are interested in a flat or wedge sandal you are in luck either way!

I can't wait to get my hands on these...!

Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Ideas for Locally Created Sea Salt Blends

Beautiful Brainy Sea Artisan Salt Blends are the latest creation of Shuzi Sheffield, owner of El Burrito on Harden St. She has a line of salt blends that are chock-full of minerals. Each jar is filled with sea salt, pink Himalayan salt and organic herb and spices. The first three are lavendar, rosemary, and gourmet mushroom blend and several more are works in progress. You can find a jar of rosemary is in my kitchen right now and I am enjoying the heck out of it. They will be carried at Whole Foods, but if you can't wait til then and live in Columbia, make a trip to the Gourmet Shoppe where you can find all three.

So now that you have made your trip to the Gourmet Shoppe to pick up your favorite if not all three, here are my ideas of ways to incorporate these salt blends in to your recipes:

Rosemary and mushroom blends will make the perfect rub for pork chops and sprinkled over popcorn. Lavendar sounds delicious sprinkled over asparagus. I recently made a batch of sugar cookies and sprinkled rosemary salt on top before they baked and I think next time I will have sprinkle half with rosemary salt and half with lavendar salt, because they were that delicious!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

You are probably wondering why I am writing about my New Years' Resolution when it is almost the middle of June, but its because I've learned through the years in order to keep your resolution you need to make it something enjoyable and beneficial that will change or improve something you feel strongly about in your life.

As an adult I have continued to struggle with acne, sometimes I think it is worse now then when I was a teenager. I have tried everything from different types of prescription medications, topical creams, and face washes to over the counter products I've read about or friends have recommended. Some have helped improve my acne temporarily others have instantly made it worse, but nothing has caused it to stop completely.

On a trip home over the holidays, my Mom and I spent some time researching natural remedies for adult acne. The more research we did, the more I understood acne at my age is hormone related. It was from that day forward that I altered my diet to exclude certain items all together and a limited amount of others.

Since I was making these adjustments to my diet, I also decided to treat myself once a month to a deep cleansing facial. A facial a month is something we all should be doing, but if you are anything like me, I treat myself and make a commitment to set an appointment for next month and somehow it never happens.

I am very happy to say just shy of 7 months later, I have kept up with my New Years' resolution each month and am truly happy with the results. I still suffer from breakouts, but they are much improved.

What's your New Years resolution for 2010? Have you stuck with it? It's never too late to start...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fruit Dip

We are having a very relaxing and enjoyable time at the beach thus far. Although we were just in Spain, it is always nice to get away. If you are anything like me or most people, when you are on vacation you tend to over eat and eat unhealthy or a combination of the two. This vacation definitely has it fair share of eating unhealthly, but for the most part, we are enjoying spa food.

For Breakfast I fill my entire plate with fruit and a small almost bite size bagel. Fresh fruit is always something I look forward to, espcially in the summer. Nothing is better then a plate full of watermelon, cantelope, strawberries, pineapple, honeydew, blueberries, raspberries, and the list goes on. I was enjoying my breakfast so much, I started daydreaming about a dip I made a few summers ago that goes great with fresh fruit, especially strawberries, and the best part is it super easy to make, takes no time, and has hardly any calories! From memory, here's the recipe...

Vanilla Cool Whip Fruit Dip

1 (6oz.) instant sugar free vanilla pudding
1(12oz.) container of fat free cool whip

Let cool whip thaw for 1 hour.
Mix in pudding mix using a mixer until well blended.

It will be the texture and color of soft butter.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Beach Essentials for Summer 2010

We are leaving for our first trip to the beach for the summer this weekend, so I thought I would share with you what you can find in my beach bag.

I can't leave home without my straw beach bag from J.Crew. Here is a picture of one similar to mine, also from J.Crew ($44). It's the perfect size to fit all my beach necessities.

Most importantly is my sunscreen. I use Banana Boat Sport SPF 30 on my body ......

.....and Banana Boat Sun Wear Faces Oil Free SPF 30 on my face. Be sure to check the expiration date on all your sunscreen. As sunscreen past its expiration date is less effective.
Speaking of SPF don't forget to coat your lips with chap stick that has SPF as well to prevent burning. Blistex Silk & Shine is my favorite chap stick no matter what time of year or my plans for the day. It adds the perfect smooth feeling to your lips while adding subtle shine to your lips, all while moisturizing and protecting.

My polarized Ray-Ban sunglasses are perfect for reading on the beach or watching the waves hit the sand. I think it goes without saying, but freshly manicured nails and toes are a summer essential. And if you can't do both, well manicured and painted toes are a must. Note: This is not a picture of my feet! I would like to think my feet are much prettier (probably not).

I'm always on the hunt for the perfect beach towel. One that actually absorbs water, is just the right size, and washes well. Who would of thought this could be so difficult? Needless to say, I am still on the hunt for this perfect beach towel that I have created in my head!

Staying hydrated is critical for your body's health and as we all know being out in the heat and humidity causes dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of water, more then usual, since you are perspiring more then normal.

Can't forget a good book or magazine to read, while enjoying the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. To me there is no place I rather be in the summer than on the beach sitting in a chair down by the water with my feet in the sand the ocean water rushing up under my chair as I get lost in a book.

And last but not least, I always like to put a travel size deodorant in my beach bag, just in case I need to freshen up. There is nothing worse then the smell of body odor, even at the beach. So spare yourself and others and add deodorant to your beach essentials for 2010.

What can we find in your beach bag this summer?

Friday, June 4, 2010


TGIF! On a warm summer evening I love nothing more then to enjoy an ice cold margarita on the rocks in a salt rimmed glass. It wasn't that long ago that I was on a margarita kick and was drinking them year around. It was during this time that I found this recipe for the margarita you love, only 100 calories!

The Skinnygirl Margarita!


2 oz of clear premium tequila (count one, two while you pour, no need for measuring)
Tiny splash of orange liquor
Juice of 4 fresh lime wedges


To serve on the rocks, combine all ingredients over a glass of ice and garnish with a lime wedge.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Symphony Bar Brownies

I've always loved brownies and Hershey's Symphony candy bars (chocolate bar with toffee and almonds), so what could be better then two of my favorite sweets in the same recipe? It wasn't until my junior year of college that I first discovered these delicious brownies. It was my roommate at the time, Bess' birthday and her mom came to visit and brought us symphony bar brownies. Needless to say, I've been hooked ever since and they are one of my favorite treats to make for a football tailgate, summer cookout, family vacation, or just to have around the house. I promise once you make these, you will never make brownies again without adding Hershey's Symphony candy bars to the recipe!


1 (17.6 oz. box) of brownie mix with walnuts (plus ingredients needed for brownie mix)
cooking spray
3 (6oz.) Symphony candy bars


Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions.
Line a 13x9 inch cake pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Spoon in half the brownie batter and smooth with spoon or spatula. Place the candy bars side by side on top of the batter. Cover with the remaining the batter.

Bake according to directions. Let cool completely, then lift from pan using the edges of the foil. This makes it easy to cut the brownies in to squares.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lauren Visits! Day 2 & 3

Rise and shine! We woke up early this morning to take Miss Tilley for a long walk to tire her out before we left for Charleston! We started our walk at Starbucks and then made our way through the Vista before returning home to take showers. Our chauffeur, Thomas, arrived right on time at 9:30am and had to wait for me of course to finish getting ready. Minutes later we were out the door and on our way to Charleston!

Our trip there seemed like it flew by and made it back in record time. Lauren had visited Charleston before, but only for a weekend in college and hadn't been back since. As you might already know, Charleston has always been one of my favorite cities and I always enjoy sharing its charm with others.

We started our day walking through the Charleston Place lobby, my favorite hotel in Charleston, as we were heading to King St. We arrived in Charleston just as the stores were beginning to open. We spent the beginning of our day going in and out of most of the shops on King.

Before we knew it, it was early afternoon and our stomachs were telling us it was time for lunch. One of the best places for lunch in Charleston is at Blossom on East Bay St. I can't say enough good things about this restaurant and how wonderful it is to be able to eat outside in their courtyard.

Since it was Sunday they had a special brunch menu, which I had never experienced before. Lauren and I both ordered salads while Thomas took advantage of the brunch and ordered chicken biscuits. Everything was delicious and we had a very relaxing lunch while we were recharging for the rest of our day.

We left Blossom's and headed down to the water. The Battery and the houses that face it are absolutely beautiful. Note: If anyone who lives in historic Charleston close to the Battery and is need of a housekeeper and/or nanny, please get in touch, as I would love love love to live there! We walked through the Market and of course made a stop at Market Street Sweets for a sample or two of Pralines, before we purchased a bear claw each for ourselves. YUM!

After such a delicious treat, it was time to do some more walking and shopping to burn off our sweet treat. After all, it was about time we let our very patient, non complaining, chauffeur, Thomas enjoy a few Men's stores, so that's just what we did! After we covered most of the shops and several others were closed because it was Sunday or a Holiday weekend, we headed to the Roof Top Bar at the Vendue Inn for drinks.

It was here at the Roof Top Bar that Lauren introduced both Thomas and me to Mojitos and let me tell you it was love at first sight! Don't get me wrong, I have heard of Mojitos before and how much people enjoy them, but I always thought I wouldn't like them because one of the main ingredients is mint. I don't know what it is about me and mint, because as I told you before I was apprehensive for about the first 20 years of my life about trying my Aunt Jul's Mint Brownies, but I absolutely love Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (the green kind), Junior Mints, Peppermint Patties, etc. so I don't know what made me think I wouldn't like these other delicious treats and drinks that include mint. I am here to tell you I will never question when mint is included again in sweet treats and drinks, however mint ice tea and mint in food dishes is an exception.

Thomas' first Mojitos of course lead to a second and I do not blame him one bit! I am so thankful Lauren made us try Mojitos and Thomas and I can't wait for our trip to the beach this weekend, where we plan to enjoy a Mojitos or two while relaxing on the beach! Lauren loves Mojitos so much it was her and Brian's signature drink at their wedding last year. Wish I knew then how much I would love a Mojitos if I just gave it a chance.

We enjoyed the view of the Battery and the Charleston skyline from the Roof Top Bar. After just a few drinks, and a responsible driver, it was already early evening and we made our way back to our car to get on the road to Columbia.

We made it back safely and needless to say the dogs were very happy to see us! We quickly freshened up and took care of the dogs before heading out to Flying Saucer for a late dinner. I have only eaten dinner at Flying Saucer one if I am remembering correctly, but they have a great menu for a bar. We had another enjoyable dinner, although every other sentence was being followed my a yawn it seemed! It wasn't long after we were heading home to hit the bed.

Without a doubt I was sad that another awesome day with Lauren had come and gone and tomorrow would be our last day...

The next day began pretty much the same way the day before did, with a walk. This time we took a walk on USC's campus and around the State Capitol. Boy, was it humid! After our hour walk, we returned home to watch the Today Show, it is both of our favorite morning show, while we took showers and Lauren packed up. Before lunch we made a trip back to Gourmet Shoppe, so Lauren could pick up a jar of Suzi Sheffield's locally made rosemary sea salt to put on her popcorn! DiPrato's was suppose to be our spot for lunch, however they were closed for Memorial Day, so we migrated to California Dreamin' for one of their delicious salads.

Lauren entertained me and Thomas at lunch telling us stories about all of her crazy travel experiences. Boy, did she jinx us! As we got on the road to head to Charlotte, we hit a long line of backed up traffic, which of course sent me in panic mode since I was responsible for getting Laur to the airport in time for her flight. We were lucky and made it there just in time, but once Laur board the plane, they sat on the run way for a little while before they could take off. Hey, it could have been much worse right?

We had such a fabulous weekend together, I can't wait to do it again! I hope we can make it a annual trip and have Brian and Baxter join us next year.

We miss you, Laur!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lauren Visits! Day 1

My Memorial Day Weekend was a fabulous start to summer! So fabulous, I am sad it is over. My cousin Lauren came all the way from Baltimore to visit me for the weekend. Our weekend together started with lunch on Saturday at the Gourmet Shoppe. The Gourmet Shoppe is one of my favorite places for lunch in Columbia. Lauren and I enjoyed walking around the store while we were waiting for our table. We share a love for baking and in my opinion there is no better place in Columbia to admire bake ware then the Gourmet Shoppe.

For lunch, Lauren enjoyed a plate of shrimp salad over a bed of lettuce while I ordered one of my usuals but favorites, a plate of pesto pasta with a side of fruit. Note: During my parents recent visit and lunch at Gourmet Shoppe, my Dad informed me that the shrimp salad at Gourmet Shoppe is missing a key ingredient, Old Bay seasoning, therefore it just wasn't the same. Being a fellow Baltimorian and knowing these things, I had to warn Lauren that the shrimp salad at the Gourmet Shoppe isn't made exactly like how me make it in Baltimore. However, Lauren was agreed it wasn't the same, but was just as delicious.

After playing catch up over lunch, it was time to hit the ground running doing what girls do best, shopping! We started on Saluda Ave in Five Points and worked our way to Harden St. and finally up Devine St. We had a wonderful afternoon strolling in and out all of the shops! Lauren was able to enjoy what I refer to as "shopping locally" to support locally own shops and boutiques instead of spending your money at big box stores.

Our afternoon ended with a ride through Shandon, where I hope to buy a house one day, a tour of the Greek Village. Lauren and her husband Brian are saving their money to sell their house in Baltimore City and move to the County and I thought it would be neat to show her my favorite neighborhood in Columbia.

Lauren attended college at the University of TN where she was a member of Tri-Delta. She is the reason I was involved in Greek Life at USC and was amazed by our Greek Village.

An afternoon in Columbia is not complete until you have made a stop at Cupcake. We ordered two cupcakes: German Chocolate and Black Bottom and shared them both. After our sweet treat and brief break at Cupcake while the storm passed, I took Lauren to one more shop in West Columbia.

Evening was on us, so we returned to my apartment to freshen up before our dinner reservations at Blue Marlin. Thomas joined us for dinner and our evening was full of delicious food, wine and hours of delightful conversation!

Stay tuned as our adventure continues in Charleston...