Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hotel Adventures with Miss T

So, finally here is the follow up to this post from when we were in Atlanta two weekends ago that I told you to stay tuned for....

This summer marks the first of staying in hotels with Miss T. Just to give you a background on Miss T, the world traveler, as some refer to her! She took her first flight with me when she was just 10 weeks old and just four short days after coming home to live with me. The days leading up to her first flight she was whining and crying all through the night and while I was at work during the day. Needless to say, Thomas was happy he hadn't planned to come with us while I mentally prepared myself for what I knew would be the flight from hell with all the passengers wanting to kill me for bringing this high pitched barking dog on board. And don't let her weight of 1 ½ lbs. (at the time, she now weighs a heavy 4 ¾ lbs.) fool you!

Thankfully, she proved me wrong! Miss T was an absolute angel in the airport and during the entire flight. No accidents, no barking, no whining, no nothing, not a peep! All of this was surprising to me because she had to be in a crate and stay underneath the seat in front of me for the duration of the flight. Not to mention, we were sitting in one of the last row of seats with loud roaring of the engines right outside our window. Since then she has flown over two dozen times in her two short years in this world! Oh and how could I forget all the road trips she has been on to NC, SC, GA, TN, MD, and the list goes on...

Although Miss T is petite, she is so full of energy and is very playful, she is still considered a puppy though, so what can you expect? Besides playing with all her toys, she loves her walks, chew sticks, her sister, Maggie (Thomas' black lab, who I am convinced she thinks is her mom), traveling preferably by plane as she has developed nervousness on long car rides and me, I hope!

My point for sharing such detailed history on Miss T's behavior and personality was so you could understand what her life experiences have been so far and that she travels a fair amount and seems to adapt to a new environment quite well or...... so I thought.

Since I know so many of you read my blog every single day (kidding), you probably remember this post and this post, when I told you about my birthday present from Thomas, tickets to see John Mayer in Charlotte. Most of my friends have moved away from Columbia I had no option but to find a hotel that accepted dogs in Charlotte. I don't trust kennels with a small dog like Miss T or the other dogs at the kennel. As I have heard many women say, no one loves your children like you do, well I guess the same goes for my furkid, Miss T because after one short visit at Thomas' parents she wore out her welcome.

So the researching began and I finally settled on the Charlotte Westin in Uptown because of the nightly rate for that particular weekend and they except pets at no additional charge. Sounds like a good deal to me, especially since I wasn't sure how Miss T was going to react staying in a hotel room.

Well as it turned out Miss T didn't think staying in a hotel with me and Thomas was as neat as I did. She started barking and whining just like when she first came to live with me the minute we shut the door to leave for the concert. Go figure.

You obviously can't leave a high pitched whining, barking dog in a hotel room to disrupt other guests. So now what do we do? I won't bore you with all the details, but thankfully she was able to stay at a friends house while we were at the concert, thank you, Lindsey! The next night, when we had plans to go out for my friend Lindsey's birthday, she let us leave without a problem and we thankfully never received a phone call from the hotel complaining she was making any noise. Who knows what made the difference other then she must have felt more comfortable in the hotel room.

Our second hotel experience with Miss T took place in Atlanta when we went down for the night for Hudson's 1st Birthday Party. We made reservations at the Westin since we had such a great experience at the Westin in Charlotte and knew Miss T could stay for free. Well things certainly didn't start on the right foot. During check-in I told the lady we had a pet and she immediately tells me there is a charge, I won't even go in to how much the charge was because it makes me sick just thinking about it for two reasons: 1. we are only staying for one night and 2. the events that occurred after I paid the outrageous fee. Beware: Not all hotel chains that are owned and/or managed by the same company have the same rules, regulations, and fees.

After check-in we headed to our room to freshen up before we headed to the birthday party. Of course we let Miss T sniff and run all around so she could get use to the room. I am sure you can already guess what happened next when we went to leave! Yes, she started her high pitched whining and barking just like our first night at the Charlotte Westin. Thomas and I stood quietly outside our hotel room door for several minutes and she never stopped. I went back in a gave her the pill we give her to relax her when we drive long distances in the car and that didn't work either.

To make a long story short, we had no choice but to take her with us and leave her in her crate in the blistering hot car and check on her periodically. I of course was irritated, but worried every minute we were in the party about her. Luckily we were able to find a heavily shaded parking spot underneath a huge tree to park the car.

After the party, we took her back to the hotel and tried leaving her again, so we could go across the street to the mall. She definitely wasn't going to let us do that either, so I let Thomas go to the mall while I stayed back at the hotel with Miss T and watched several episodes of Meet the Kardasians.

We had plans to meet up with Matt and Ashley to grab a drink and a bite to eat that night, but it goes without saying that wasn't going to happen either. Thankfully Matt & Ashley were content with the idea of having a hotel party in our room. Thomas and I went to the liquor store and Whole Foods to pick up beer, dinner for us, and snacks for everyone to enjoy. When the night was all said and done it was a lot of fun, but of course I was a upset that I had paid all this money and Miss T wouldn't even stay in the hotel room by herself.

Moral of the story, check with each individual hotel on their pet policy and be sure to try staying in a hotel with your pet for the first time when you are visiting somewhere or someone with other options, for example if it the pet doesn't do well in the hotel, you can take it to a friends house, etc. I guess I am going to have to see if we can work on Miss T's hotel anxiety or move closer to my parents so they can watch her when we go away!

For more information on pet friendly hotels visit this website. I have also know that Kimpton Hotels advertise heavily as a pet friendly hotel. Next time, if there is one in the city we are visiting, I think I am going to try staying there with Miss T, maybe they will be more accommodating and understanding of her antics, of course after checking ahead of time!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Would You Use Swipely?

Swipely is the new Twitter for your credit card. It's a free online service and social network where members can share their purchases with their friends. Users post and recommend purchases, see where friends are spending and what their friends are buying. Basically, Swipely syncs with your credit card so every purchase you make shows up on your profile page.

Sounds somewhat terrifying, huh? Having everyone know exactly what you buy, when you bought it and what you paid. Well luckily, Swipely figured out an approval process, so nothing appears on your page that you haven't okay it first. Also, the site does not disclose monetary information associated with the purchases, whew! However, you do have the option to add it yourself.

Probably the coolest feature about Swipely is the ability to describe and discuss your purchases. I think many retailers would be interested in this information since they would be able to dissect how, why, and what consumers are buying.

The idea of sharing your wardrobe additions with others is neat, but I think the biggest catch for Swipely would be if they had stylish celebrities sign up for it. Who wouldn't be interested in knowing exactly where someone like Reese Witherspoon shops and what she buys? I doubt I'm the only one.

I must admit I was very leery when I first started reading about Swipely and I can say after doing more research on Swipely for this post, my leeriness hasn't gone away.

What are your thoughts and opinions? Would you use Swipely?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tomato Pie

This is another delicious recipe that was given to me by Thomas' Mom. Actually, when she first gave me this recipe she also handed me a bag full of all the ingredients needed for the recipe so I could make it right away! She is definitely one sweet and thoughtful lady. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Tomato Pie


9 inch deep dish pie shell
5 large tomatoes, peeled & sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. dried basil
3/4 cup mayo
1 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
optional: onion and/or bell pepper


Bake pie shell at 375 for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Layer tomatoes in pie shell (approx. 3 layers) Sprinkle each layer with salt, pepper, basil, and garlic. Combine mayo and cheese together. Spread mixture over tomatoes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Have a Love Hate Relationship...

with my hair that is! Have you ever felt the same way?

Since I can remember, I've always struggled with liking my hair. It was close to 4 years ago now that I stumbled upon my beloved hair stylist, Olga. One afternoon at work, when I had enough of looking at myself in the mirror and wanting to hide in a corner, I picked up the phone and called a reputable hair salon and asked to make an appointment the next morning. I didn't care with who, I just wanted to hear them say someone is available in the morning. That is the day I met Olga!

What you don't know is, starting in 8th grade my Mom's sister, my Aunt Joanie, a hair dresser before she had kids, started highlighting my hair. My natural hair color is a what I call "mouse-y brown" basically nothing you would ever like. To make this story short, I had my Aunt Joanie highlight my hair blonde, heavier and heavier each time. At the time I was in love with platinum blonde and in no time my entire head was that color. To say I loved the color of my hair then is an understatement, but it was time for a change.

It was that morning, 4 years ago, I met Olga and she transformed my hair from blonde to brown and I was in love yet again. It was such a dramatic change when I saw myself in the mirror I felt like I had a complete makeover. It was so drastic that some people had a hard time recognizing me!

From that day forward Olga was "my girl." I was in college at the time so I would plan my hair appointments during my visits home. I continued to schedule hair appointments with Olga up until recently due to the fact it has been harder for me to make it home exactly when my hair is acting up and I've had enough.

Finding a hair salon here was a huge task but six years later I was ready to take the leap. I did lots and lots of researched, talked to a few friends, and finally found a hair stylist here that is as talented as Olga.

Back to my hair, I have very thick straight oily hair. Sounds great, huh? I am the girl you see at the hair salon with enough hair on the ground to make 5 wigs and still plenty of hair left on her head. That might be an exaggeration, but it's pretty darn close to the truth. They have to thin out my hair a substanaul amount just so it with lay nicely otherwise it's this huge over powering hair ball for my small face.

I unfortunately have the type of hair you need to wash every day otherwise it looks like you could fry an egg on top of my head from the oil (not really, but pretty darn close) I am so envious of those of you who only wash your hair every few days and your hair looks better with every day that passes from when you last washed it. Maybe that will be me someday, I can only hope.

I've had my hair short and long, with and without bangs, several different colors, and the list goes on. Surprisingly enough, I'm really not picky when it comes to my hair! I usually tell the hair stylist to do what they think is best, afterall they're the experts, right? And we all know hair grows, so what's the big deal?

I am rarely that person that receives compliments on their hair style but rather compliments its color. Which leads me to believe I haven't found the hair style for me quite yet. Probably because I am always changing it. I am the client that every appointment wants to do something different with their hair, is that bad? I just see it as one of the few things that you can change about yourself and change quickly!

Well if you haven't guessed by now, yesterday was one of those bad hair days that lasted all day. I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think, "yuck!" And if you happen to get lucky like me, that really bad hair day happens the day before your scheduled appointment, thank ga! Because I know there is nothing that a hair appointment can't fix!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hotlanta, Holla!

This past weekend we traveled to Atlanta for our dear friend's son, Hudson's 1st Birthday Party! I can't believe it has already been a year since he was born! It was a bittersweet day for me when Miss T had her first birthday over a year ago, I can't even imagine what it feels like when its your baby!

We left mid-morning on Saturday and arrived around lunch time. We were able to check in to our hotel early (woohoo!) and quickly refresh before hearing to Hudson's birthday celebration. I guess this would be a good time to mention that Matt and Ashley asked Thomas and I to be Hudson's Godparents when we were together at the beach almost three weekends ago! Thomas and I are absolutely thrilled and completely honored to be Hudson's Godparents!

The birthday party was wonderful, lots of family and many close friends were in attendance which made for a fun time for all! As we all know, every child's birthday party requires a theme so there was no better choice for Hudson then Elmo--his favorite! Everything about the party was perfect, Thomas and I are so happy were were able to take part in the celebration and are so thankful for our friendship with Matt, Ashley and Hudson! Can't wait to celebrate many more birthdays for many more years to come!

The Birthday Boy!

Singing Happy Birthday!

Hudson and Matt!

Our plan after the birthday party was to go to the Georgia Aquarium. I have a slight obsession with aquariums, they are pretty much the only "museum" I enjoy. I have been dying to the visit the Georgia Aquarium after reading so many amazing reviews. I am sad to say Miss T had other plans and we weren't able to make it to the Aquarium, more on that later in the week, so stay tuned...

I think I forgot to mention we stayed at the Westin in Buckhead which happens to be right across the parking lot from Lenox Square Mall, I didn't plan that or anything! No really, in all seriousness I had no idea. All the times I have been to Atlanta I have never stayed in a hotel always with friends.

After the party Matt, Ashley, and Hudson stopped by the Westin and look what Hudson went right for!

So Atlanta, boy are you a huge change from what I experience and am surrounded by on a daily basis living in Columbia, SC! It wasn't until I went to college and experienced a different city that I realized all that Baltimore had to offer. I felt some of that same nostalgia when I was visiting Atlanta this weekend. What I like about a larger city is the abundance of opportunities and resources career wise, the hustle and bustle of city life, premiere shopping, the use of public transportation, and the endless possibilities when it comes to restaurants, bars, and entertainment. On the other side of things I don't miss the traffic and congestion of a large city, I can't think of anything more miserable then sitting in traffic each day.

In case you don't know, I love my little city of Columbia, I am so thankful for all the opportunities it has given me, its continual growth, the ability to shop and support locally owned businesses, and believe it or not its size. Although the City of Columbia is rather small it still has the look, feel and opportunities as other cities, without some of the negatives that come along with a larger city.

What do you enjoy most about where you live? What do you wish you could change? Do you miss anything about a a city/town you previously lived in?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday

Manic Monday by The Bangles describes exactly how I have been feeling the past few week day mornings and unfortunately not just on Monday's. Any one want to join me and sing along? Here it goes...

Manic Monday by The Bangles

Six o'clock already
I was just in the middle of a dream
I was kissin' Valentino
By a crystal blue Italian stream
But I can't be late
'Cause then I guess I just won't get paid
These are the days
When you wish your bed was already made

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it was Sunday
'Cause that's my funday
My I don't have to runday
It's just another manic Monday

Have to catch an early train
Got to be to work by nine
And if I had an air-o-plane
I still couldn't make it on time
'Cause it takes me so long
Just to figure out what I'm gonna wear
Blame it on the train
But the boss is already there

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it was Sunday
'Cause that's my funday
My I don't have to runday
It's just another manic Monday...

Wishing each of you a very happy Monday!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mandarin Orange Salad

Okay so you are probably thinking a whole bunch of different things after reading the title of today’s post and you might think the picture of the recipe below seems unusual, but trust me, if you like mandarin oranges, coconut, marshmallows, and a mystery ingredient, you will enjoy this recipe!

I really don’t know the story behind this recipe other then my Mom always makes it for Thanksgiving dinner. I am sure she does this after seeing her Mom make it for so many years. In case you are wondering we have a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes (more then you could ever imagine), gravy, cranberry sauce, spinach casserole (another of my favorites), lima beans, corn, dinner rolls, green bean casserole, and the list goes on…and if you are thinking this is an interesting combination with a turkey dinner, you are right, but it works and makes for a delicious combination!

All the years I have enjoyed this recipe I have never thought to make it myself until last week. As you all know the summer heat has been extreme this year, most likely no different then years past, we just can’t seem to remember years past and like to talk about how the current summer heat is much worse then what we have experienced in summers past, but we all know that’s not the case. Summer in the South is hot and humid. Period. The End. The scorching temperatures have made me reluctant to do any kind of baking or cooking for that matter because nothing seems worse then heating up the house by turning the oven and multiple burners on the stove. So this lady has been on strike, but not for much longer (I hope).

Anyways, back to last week! I was attempting to plan a dinner menu to make for one of my girlfriends I was having over when I was racking my brain for refreshing dinner ideas. That’s when this recipe came to mind. I knew off the top of my head what all the ingredients were except for one, sour cream. Odd, right? But I will say it again; just trust me on this one because it really is delicious. I called my Mom to ask her about the ingredient I was missing, sour cream, and also for the exact recipe. She starts by saying, “well I really don’t use a recipe, I just eye ball it.” Good thing she kept talking because I was this close to saying, “I really don’t like when people say they don’t have a recipe for something that they’ve made.” Call me crazy, but I like recipes that list all the ingredients and step by step instructions. I am no Martha Stewart and I don’t like to experiment with food. I want to follow a set of directions and know the finished product will be just as delicious as I remembered it. Is that so wrong?

I am proud to say I survived the “eye ball it mandarin orange salad recipe” and it was just as delicious as when my Mom makes it. That is what I call success because my Mom truly is a Martha Stewart!

If you a wondering what pairs well with this “salad” according to my Mom chicken, pork, or turkey is best. I made pork tenderloin and string beans to go along with this recipe and both my girlfriend, who never had the mandarin orange salad before and I really enjoyed dinner!

Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe
4-6 Servings


1 ½ cup mandarin orange segments (chilled)

1 ½ cup marshmallows

¾ to 1 cup shredded coconut

? tablespoons of sour cream (just eye ball it!)


Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing bowl. Gradually add a tablespoon of sour cream at a time until you reach your desired taste and consistency. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I am not a big fan of any type of salad being saturated in any type of dressing or ingredient so I tend to go skinny on the sour cream in this recipe.


P.S.- This recipe makes a good snack!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eat Pray Love

I can't quite remember, but I would say it was close to two years ago that I first picked up Eat, Pray, Love. This was around the time when its popularity soared through the roof. I really enjoyed the first part of the story where Liz discovers herself in Italy. I spent a semester abroad in college studying in Florence, Italy and it was so neat to read this part of the book and be able to picture myself back in Italy. It was about half way through the pray section when the story just wasn't moving fast enough to keep my interest. In fact, it was moving so slow, it was boring me to death. So as I am sure you can guess I never was able to finish the pray section in order to make it to the love part of the story and therefore never finished the book. However, my terrible attempt at reading the book didn't stop me from seeing the movie!

Last night I went to dinner with my friend Katie and afterwards we went to see the 7:30pm showing of Eat Pray Love. I think I can describe the movie in two words: slow and boring; unfortunately just like the book. If you are like me and had a hard time getting through the book, to the point where you didn't even finish it (I usually don't put down a book without finishing it) then you will feel the exact same way when you see the movie.

The movie wasn't a total disappointment, but it definitely isn't one I would recommend to my friends or sit down and watch time and time again. However, Julia Roberts was fantastic and the beautiful scenery of Bali was incredible.

What are your thoughts and opinions of the novel and/or the movie?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer Sandals

Is it to late in the season for me to admire summer sandals? I sure hope not! Last Friday one of my coworkers wore these sandals to work and I fell in love with them and of course I have to share with you!

So, what do you think?

Honestly, I don't think the picture does the sandal justice, the color and style of the shoe really catches your eye in person, believe me, I noticed these sandals on my coworker when she had her feet tucked under her desk! You can find these sandals here along with a variety of other colors to choose from.

Now is a great time to find deals on summer fashions, as many stores and local boutiques are trying to make room for fall merchandise!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Doodle It, Doodlebug!

Have you heard of Doodle before now? If so, what do you think? Are you hooked? If you are anything like me and my group of girlfriends then it has most likely changed your entire social life/calendar, and if you haven't heard of Doodle before now keep reading because you are in for a real treat!

I first encountered Doodle back in the Spring when my girlfriends and I were attempting to plan our Girls Beach Weekend. Needless to say 12 girls responding a single e-mail is always a disaster, let alone several e-mails with multiple different dates per girl that fit each one of their schedules, is what you call a scheduling nightmare!

That's when my friend Katie in Chicago, saved us all from the mayhem. She sent us an e-mail with a link to Doodle. If you are like me, you are probably thinking "Doodle? What is this all about? I thought we were just trying to figure out dates to go to the beach for a weekend." Guess what, you are wrong, Doodle is life changing and makes scheduling easy for everyone!

So what is Doodle? Doodle takes the pain out of finding a suitable date and time for a group of people to meet. It can be used to schedule meetings, appointments, movie nights, a group event or family reunion, the possibilities are endless! Doodle is simple, quick, requires no registration, and is free! What is there not to like about that?

Here's how to schedule an event with Doodle!

On the home page
Click "Schedule event >>"

General information
Provide at least a title and your name. Use the optional description field to add further details, e.g., location, agenda, or duration.

Select dates
Select at least one day to be voted on by clicking on its day. A click on a selected day removes it from the selection.

Select times
If you want, you can refine the selected dates by providing a time, a place, or anything else. Click on "Add further time slots" if you need further time slots. And click "Copy and paste first row" if you want to enter the same time for all days.

You can click on "Finish" at any time to reach the next page. You can leave all the time slots empty if you prefer to vote on complete days only.

Your poll is now complete. If you have provided an e-mail address in the first step, you will receive two e-mails with one link each. Please forward one to the people who are supposed to participate in your poll. Please do not forward the other link (the so-called admin link), but use it to edit, export, or delete your poll if necessary.

If you have not provided an e-mail address in the first step, the two links will be displayed on the page

Voting (my favorite step!)
Your participants can now use the link you sent them to visit the poll and cast their votes. You can use the same link to cast your own votes if you want or to observe the poll's progress.

Now you can't tell me after reading this post you're not already thinking of an event you can use Doodle! To make you feel better you aren't alone, I was the exact same way and I think I can speak for most of my girlfriends and say they were just as excited about using Doodle as I was! Well get to planning and be the first of your friends or coworkers to send out a Doodle link to schedule your next get together or office meeting, they'll be thanking you for making scheduling easy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Help

After reading so many rave reviews on The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I finally gave in and purchased it in hardcover two weeks ago. Gosh two weeks ago, already? Where does the time go? To be honest, I am not a fan of hardcover books, not to mention they are more expensive, so I usually only purchase a novel in hardcover if it is by an author I absolutely love, such as Emily Giffin, but I just couldn't resist this one! Needless to say, I am very excited to start reading this novel! For those of you who aren't familiar with this particular novel below is a synopsis of the novel courtesy of Barnes & Noble.com.
The Help by Kathryn Sockett

"Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town..."

Are you intrigued? Not to mention I love a story that takes place in the South! I will be sure to share my thoughts with you as soon as I am finished reading. In the meantime, what have been your favorite reads so far this summer?

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mint Filled Brownie Cupcakes

My Mom came across this recipe last year in one of her magazines and sent me a copy of the recipe to try. I have made these cupcakes several times over the last year and they have always been a big hit! This recipe is from Martha Stewart's Cupcake Book.

Mint Filled Brownie Cupcakes


8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (1 stick unsalted butter), cut in to pieces, room temperature

1 cup sugar

3/4 tsp. salt

3 large eggs

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa, sifted

12 small chocolate covered peppermint patties, such as mini York Peppermint Patties


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard tin with paper liners. Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally just until melted, 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove bowl from heat. Whisk in sugar and and salt until mixture is smooth; whisk in eggs to combine. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa just until smooth (do not over mix).

Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of batter in to each lined cup. Place one peppermint patty on top, gently pressing in to batter. Top with 2 tablespoons of batter, covering patty completely. Bake, rotating tin about half way, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted halfway in centers (above mint patty) comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in an air tight container.

Tip from my Mom: For bite size use a mini muffin tin and since there is not a peppermint patty small enough for the mini muffin tin I used Junior Mints for the mint candy. You can't go wrong with either size tin, these cupcakes have the perfect amount of chocolate and refreshing mint!

I'll be honest, I'm not always a fan of Martha's recipes because it seems as though many of her recipes over complicate what should be a simple recipe that can be finished in a reasonable amount of time, however I have found that is not always the case with the recipes in Martha Stewart's Cupcake Book!

I haven't been able to find many of the recipes out of this book online but the next time you are at bookstore, check it out! Also, check with one of your girlfriends to see if they happen to have the book and are willing to share.

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Quick Cleaning Tip

I don't like to think of myself as someone who is easily grossed out, but there is something about dirty kitchens, especially stoves, sinks, ovens, and microwaves that make my skin crawl. When I just a little girl, I loved helping the hostess of the party get drinks, refresh appetizers, set the table, prepare the food, and the list goes on! There was a particular time when we were at one of our family friend's house for dinner and I was helping in the kitchen and went to open the microwave to heat something up and thought a science experiment was growing inside! No joke. Keep in mind I was probably between 8 to 10 years old at the time. It was from that day forward that I appreciated my Mom's thoroughness when she cleans.

If the inside of your microwave resembles a science experiment or you struggle to keep it sparkling clean, I am here to help! Because think about it, if I was grossed out by the inside of a microwave when I was just a little girl, imagine what goes through your guests mind when they go to use your microwave and loose their appetite!

Tip: Let lemon infused steam do the work of cleaning your microwave.

Here's how it works:.

Place about two cups of water into a microwave safe bowl. Squeeze juice from half a lemon into the bowl and place lemon half in the water. Microwave on high 5 to 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes with the door closed. Wipe inside of the microwave clean with a dish cloth or paper towel--the work is done!

How easy is that?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

National S'mores Day!

Who doesn't want to be a kid again, at least sometimes? S'mores are one of those treats that makes me feel like a kid again. My parents were never interested in taking me camping or to the mountains when I was a kid, but there were plenty of times at our family picnic with my Mom's side of the family that we would all stand around the fire and roast marshmallows to make s'mores. Then there were other times where we wanted to make s'mores, say in the middle of the summer when there is obviously no campfire to be found! So we would make our own version of the campfire treat in 30 seconds in the microwave by taking half a graham cracker, a square of Hershey's chocolate bar, and a marshmallow and put it in the microwave just enough time to soften the chocolate and marshmallow. Once it was finished in the microwave we took it out and used the other half of the graham cracker to smash down the softened marshmallow. Our s'more was now complete and ready to eat!

In honor of National S'mores Day I thought it might be neat to add an addition to traditional recipe of graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, and chocolate with a smear of peanut butter. What do you think? You could also top this treat with slices of bananas or your favorite summer fruits, a dash of coconut, or better yet replace the square of chocolate with a Reese's peanut butter cup or your favorite hot fudge and the graham crackers with chocolate chip cookies! The possibilities are endless...Oh and don't forget a large glass of cold milk to go with!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Favorite Summer Sandwich

Two Sundays ago when I returned home from my girls weekend at the beach, I was tired. Tired from the work week, staying up later then I normally do on the weekends and of course the three hour car ride back home. Although, I was tired, I hadn't seen Thomas since earlier in the week since he had been working late every night, so of course I asked him to come over for dinner! As you might have guessed neither one of us felt up to making an elaborate dinner that required lots of time and effort. So as we stood in the aisles of the grocery store staring in to outer space trying to come up with ideas for dinner. Then it hit me, tomato sandwiches! Tomato sandwiches are my favorite summer sandwiches. There is something about several cold slices of tomatoes piled high on fresh bread with a tad of mayonnaise and lots of salt and pepper. Yes I like it that plain.

However, I knew when I said tomato sandwiches Thomas would look at me and say, I want meat. That is a constant battle between us. Thomas won't even go one meal without having meat. I am not a big meat person, I could honestly take it or leave it, but Thomas on the other hand can not live without it. I understand completely though, he is guy that loves his meat. I just don't understand how one meal without meat once every blue moon will kill you? He certainly acts like its the end of the world, you catch my drift?

Before Thomas could reject my tomato sandwich idea, I quickly interjected, how about BLTs? His eyes immediately lit up! SCORE!!! I was so excited, nothing sounded more tasty then a tomato sandwich for me and a BLT for Thomas! I won't lie, I actually put one piece of bacon broken in half on my sandwich, but there was more slices of tomatoes then anything. Of course Thomas didn't stop with just a BLT, he also heated up a can of New England Clam Chowder.

Thomas' BLT!

When I'm in the mood to "doctor up" my tomato sandwich I like to add pesto or a tad of chipotle mayonnaise for an extra kick!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tax Free Weekend!

So it's that time of year again! Are you ready? Back to school is around the corner and this weekend kicks off tax free shopping in many states! If you live in or nearby a state that offers a tax free weekend (or week) you can save a considerable amount of money by planning your back-to-school shopping or large purchases around these dates.

I have listed below each state that offers sales tax holidays and the dates the events are offered in 2010. If your state is listed for a tax free holiday, be sure to check what items in your state qualify for the savings.

2010 States Sales Tax Holidays

Alabama-August 6-8

Conneticut-August 15-21

Florida-August 13-15

Illinois- August 6-15

Iowa-August 6-7

Louisana-August 6-7

Maryland-August 8-14

Mississippi- July 30-31 (just missed it!)

Missouri- August 6-8

New Mexico-August 6-8

North Carolina-August 6-8

Oklahoma-August 6-8

South Carolina-August 6-8

Tennessee-August 6-8

Texas-August 20-22

Viriginia-August 6-8

Now that you have marked your tax free holiday on your calendar you have an excuse to go shopping! Don't you live for weekends like these? I sure do!

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eloise Gets Her Own Suite at The Plaza

One of my favorite characters, Eloise, from the children's book series "Eloise" by Kay Thomspon has finally has her own suite at The Plaza! My mom first introduced me to the series of books when I was a little girl and I of course fell in love with Eloise! The "Eloise" series was first published in 1955 (something I didn't know until I was doing research for this post).

Eloise is a lovable six year old girl who lived in The Plaza with her nanny, her pet turtle Skipperdee and pet pug Weenie. Millions of copies of the books have been sold and have caused readers to fall in love with Eloise due to all the trouble she caused by making prank calls to the guests, befriending the butlers and braiding her pet turtle's ears!

Eloise: "I absolutely love the Plaza!"

The suite at the Plaza was designed by Betsy Johnson who is known for her whimsical creations. The elaborately decorated room on the 18th floor features pink striped walls, zebra print carpet, and a king size bed with Eloise bedding and lots of pillows just in case you have the urge for a pillow fight! Eloise's room also has a small kitchenette stocked with pink glasses and plenty of candy, a flat-screen TV, DVD player, and of course plenty of Eloise books!

Pictures of Eloise's Suite!

Eloise: "Think Pink. A better way of life!"

The suite officially opens August 16th and according to The Plaza they have already received numerous reservations. With that being said, are you ready to be sticker shocked? The cost for the room is $995 per night!!! Then again, maybe that isn't that shocking to you if you know the cost of everything in NYC is through the roof! If you have ever spent the night in a hotel in NYC then you know first hand how much money you will fork over to stay the night in what I refer to as a budget hotel! In case you are wondering what parents are to do while their daughter (s) are spending the night in Eloise suite, don't worry the suite is attached to two adult rooms. The price tag for all three rooms is $2,000 a night. No big deal, that's pocket change, right? Wishful thinking!

If you are like me and will not be fortunate enough to stay the night at The Plaza hotel in the Eloise suite, do know that in the lobby of the hotel there is an Eloise boutique (opened in December 2009) featuring Eloise toys, dresses and of course books! If you have a little girl of your own or know someone who does, anything "Eloise" makes a great gift, but especially the books.

The Eloise Boutique at The Plaza!

Most of you reading this blog are well past the age of reading children's books unless you have daughter of your own, however I kid you not these books will put a smile on you face no matter your age. Not only is the Eloise series a great story the illustrations make the story even better and more real! The next time you are in a bookstore, pick up an Eloise book and take a look. You will quickly find out what I am talking about and I promise it will make you wish you were a little girl again!

Eloise's Bedroom was always a mess!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Girls Beach Weekend!!!

This past weekend I met 11 of my best girlfriends at Wrightsville Beach, NC for a girls weekend at the beach! And what a fun and fabulous weekend it was!!! Since we graduated college it has been tradition to get together in the mountains over Martin Luther King weekend, boyfriends included. After our annual trip to the mountains this year we decided we wanted to plan a girls weekend at the beach this summer. We settled on Wrightsville Beach because it was within reasonable distance for everyone to reach for a weekend.

So let the weekend begin! Everyone had arrived at the Blockade Runner Hotel in Wrightsville Beach by Friday evening. We settled in to our adjoining hotel rooms and started getting ready for our first night! The entire weekend was just like being back at college and the fun of getting ready with everyone brought back lots of memories. An impressive hour and half later all 11 of us were showered, dressed, and out the door.

The first night outside our hotel!

Side Note: Let me just tell you about the staff at the Blockade Runner Hotel. Everyone was magnificent! They drove us to dinner each night, picked us from the restaurant when we were finished, dropped us off downtown, and picked us back up at the end of night (multiple pick ups since not all of us wanted to go home at the same time). It was so nice to not have to worry about calling taxis! The staff brought us extra towels and ice whenever we called and also promptly came to turn back on our electricity after we blew a fuse from all the hair dyers and straighteners. I highly recommend this hotel for stay in Wrightsville Beach.

One of our drivers, Chris!

Friday evening we had drinks and dinner at Dockside. Everything was delicious and our waitress did an amazing job keeping everything straight!

Group picture at Dockside!

It's a Katie Picture!

After dinner one of the guys from the hotel picked us up and made a stop for us at the gas station for 5 hour energy. This stop turned in to a nightly tradition! I have seen 5 hour energy plenty of times and obviously never had a reason to pay any attention to it, but Lindsey swears there is no way we can go out without it, as we are now old. Disclaimer: 5 hour energy tastes horrible no matter what flavor you buy. The orange it very bitter and the pomegranate and berry taste disgusting, almost like cheap sugar, if there is such a thing.

Picture of an empty 5 Hour Energy from Friday night that we found in the Yukon on Saturday night, oops!

From the gas station our drive was short to down town. Our first stop was Loggerheads followed by 22 North which I renamed Catch 22 because I could never seem to remember the name 22 North.

Everyone at Loggerheads, Cheers!

So I guess we forgot how much attention eleven girls draw. Everywhere we went people were asking us what we were celebrating, I think someone finally said "ourselves". Which is absolutely true, no we are not celebrating a bachelorette or some one's birthday, we are spending the weekend together like the good ol' days. And I know you have been probably thinking there is no way eleven girls are really that close, well you're wrong. We are all the best of friends that all get along with hardly any drama and are as close knit as if we saw each other everyday when in actuality we are spread across several different States!

The entire night was tons of fun, I wish we could go out together like this every weekend! And I should mention that everyone returned to the hotel safe and sound which always makes any evening a success!

We woke up bright and early Saturday morning, that's apparently what happens when you are old!We ate a communal breakfast and then headed to the beach where we stayed the entire day, literally.

Lindsey and Katie-love their swimsuits!

Two Katie's!

We couldn't have asked for better weather, the sun was shining, there was a nice breeze and the water temperature was perfect. Seven hours later, we decided we had enough sun and needed to start getting ready for our last evening. However, before any one could head inside, we of course had to have a group photo shoot! The guy who was kind enough to take our picture(s) did a great job and I can't say that about many guys, not even our boyfriends!

All 11 of us!

Our weak attempt at a pyramid!

We made reservations for Saturday night at Blue Water. Everything about Blue Water was fantastic, The AMAZ-ING view, AMAZ-ING drinks, and AMAZ-ING seafood made for the perfect evening! Lindsey and I split fried calamari and each ordered our own shrimp cocktail. Everything was delicious, but I have to say I wish I would have ordered the scallops. Bailey was kind enough to share one of hers with me and I almost died and went to heaven. The scallop pretty much just melted in my mouth!

Outside the hotel on our last night!

View from our table at Blue Water!

Everyone at dinner!

The events that took place after dinner were the same as the night before, driver arrived, stopped by the gas station for more 5 hour energy, and got dropped off downtown at Loggerheads and eventually made our way to Catch 22 I mean, 22 North!

I know this post doesn't sound nearly as exciting as the weekend truly was, but there is no way I could possibly share jokes and stories here because 1) they stories are way too long 2) they wouldn't be nearly as funny and 3) you just had to be there! (Please don't take offense.)

I am so thankful for the opportunity to have attended the University of South Carolina and join a sorority where I met my best friends! I know our friendships will continue to grow as we journey through our lives, but I know one thing that will always stay the same and that's each one of us. I can't imagine my life without any one of these girls, they are not only my best friends, but they truly are the sisters I never had!

Best Friends!

I miss you all already and can't wait for next year! (Although I know I will see you all WAY before then!)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Spicy Chicken Spaghetti

This recipe was given to me by Thomas' mom. She made it for us once because it was one of Thomas' favorite dinners growing up and it was definitely love at first bite for me. And don't worry, I am a big wuss when it comes to spicy food, so trust me when I say this recipe is not spicy, it just has great flavor!

Spicy Chicken Spaghetti


(1) 8oz. package of spaghetti

Vegetable Cooking Spray

1/4 cup margarine

1/2 cup large onion chopped

(1) 8oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed

(1) 10oz. can tomatoes & chiles (Rotel)

4 cooked chicken breast halves, chopped

(1) 10oz. can cream of chicken soup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spaghetti according to directions, drain. Place in 13x9 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute 3-5 minutes until tender. Add cheese and tomatoes and chiles, storing until cheese melts. Stir in chicken and soup, blending well. Pour mixture over spaghetti in baking dish.

Bake at 350 degree for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Tip: I think it is easier and the recipe tastes better if you split the amount of spaghetti and mixture in half and bake it two separate dishes. Otherwise, you will have trouble fitting everything in to one dish and the finished product is saturated in the mixture and can be quite overwhelming.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Sushi Etiquette

Anyone who knows me, knows my love for sushi! I have been enjoying sushi since middle school and granted it started with california rolls and years later has expanded to almost anything as long as it doesn't include cream cheese. Don't get me wrong, I love everything about cream cheese, but just not with my sushi.

I thought the illustration below is great information for all the sushi lovers out there including myself!

So, how many people have you offended by not adhering to proper sushi etiquette?