Friday, June 28, 2013

Microwave Brownie

One of the best things about my Bean Pot is that you can make things in the microwave that you probably wouldn't think of.  Cake, brownies, corn on the cob, even a whole chicken! 

I finally have a microwave big enough for my Bean Pot.  The one we had before was so small that it wouldn't even fit when I turned the lid upside down! 

My friend, Anna, held a Pinterest Themed Celebrating Home party for me, and she decided to make a chocolate peanut butter chip brownie in her Bean Pot in the microwave.  (We have the same Bean Pot.)  It was SO yummy!  I decided to make it for my Celebrating Home team meeting a couple of weeks ago.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Brownie

  • 1 box brownie mix (plus ingredients listed on the back of the box- mine were 2 eggs & oil)
  • peanut butter chips
1. Mix brownie mix, ingredients from the box, and 2/3 of the bag of peanut butter chips directly in your Bean Pot.
2. Place the lid on the Bean Pot and put it in the microwave and bake for 8-12 minutes.  (I'm giving you kind of a large time window here.  Anna cooked hers for 12 minutes and stated that the edges were a little hard/overdone.  I tried 10 minutes.  The entire thing was a little crunchy on the outside, but while it was warm, it was super easy to scoop and eat, and it tasted delicious.  When it cooled, it was rock hard.  I actually needed to pour some milk in it and reheat it a bit.  Next time I make this, I'm going to try 8 minutes.)

Celebrating Home Bean Pot in Simply Summer $39.
3.  Remove the Bean Pot from the microwave, and sprinkle with the remaining peanut butter chips.

Do you like my Bean Pot???  This is a spring/summer exclusive pattern called "Simply Summer."  Celebrating Home has a lot of other patterns to choose from!  You can snag your own by using the link below to be taken directly to the Celebrating Home website so that you can participate in my Blog Party!  You have a chance to win FREE MERCHANDISE!!  Visit the Blog Party link for all of the details.

The party runs until July 8th!

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Style

Summer really makes me happy. 

My friend Joan and her baby, Abby, came to visit me on Monday.  We had lunch, and went shopping, and I scored some great stuff at Old Navy. 

Naturally, I couldn't wait to wear it.  (Is anyone else like this??  When I buy something new, I need to wear it as soon as possible.  I wore this Tuesday.)

Tank tops, Skirt, Flip flops: Old Navy // "Let's Dance Necklace": Penelope Ann

What you can't see from this picture is that there is a nude color tank under the teal one.  The layering worked well. 

If you like the necklace or want to see more jewelry, handbags, accessories, or home décor, be sure to take part in my blog party!  (This necklace is just $19.75 with a $55 order!)

Right now, this outfit is my summer favorite.  Do you have a go-to summer outfit?

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Mani

Before I get started, have you read about my Blog Party??  I'll wait......


I really do love painting my finger nails.  I get to do it more in the summer because I have more time.  I can't stand it when polish starts to peel and chip.  Then I have no time to take it off and repaint. 

I digress.

I've mentioned before that I'm a Julep Maven.

Julep is a fun company that offers you an opportunity to receive a monthly box of full-size nail polishes and beauty products for just $19.99.  The best part is that you don't have to get your box each month.  If money is tight, you can just skip the month.  To become a Maven, you take a style quiz.  I'm a bombshell.  :)  HOWEVER, you're not stuck with your style profile.  If you don't like it, you can change it.  Or maybe you like another style's nail polish colors better, you can try those for a month instead.  With each purchase, you earn Jules that can be applied to future purchases.

This was my Maven box for June:

The nail polish is wrapped up in a colorful paper bag and tied with the ribbon.  I love it.  :)  This box also had a few pieces of taffy.  There's always a little surprise in your box!

My colors for the month: Payton and Raegan

Though I probably shouldn't have (for budget reasons), I wanted to try the DD cream, and I really loved that green (Payton).  I have a few outfits I've been wearing that have a green that shade.  I thought it would be a great compliment to them.  It still will be, but that's not the first way I chose to use it....
Pink and green go great together! 
I'm going to try to be a little more adventurous next time, too.  I thought that if I paint the thumb pink, go around the outside of the nail with green, and paint on some black dots, it may look like a watermelon!  What do you think??
If you're interested in becoming a Julep Maven, use this link to sign up:  I get Jules if you join!  :)

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dinner Time Tuesday: Salsa Chicken

Hey y'all!  It's Dinner Time Tuesday.  I'm super excited to share this delicious recipe with you today!  I used my Bean Pot for this.  Have you joined my Blog Party yet?  You can get yourself a Bean Pot (and maybe even win one)!

Remember the rules:
1. Follow me via GFC or Bloglovin'
2. Grab the button to use in your post.
3. Snap a picture and tell us what you had for dinner and/or share a recipe.
4. Link up below from now until Sunday night at 11:59 PM EST.

This recipe is so easy and so yummy.  You're going to love it!

Salsa Chicken
  • 1-2 lbs. chicken breast tenders*
  • 1 can rinsed black beans
  • 2 c. chunky salsa
  • 1 bag frozen corn (10-12 oz.)
*Or 6-9 chicken thighs or drumsticks (use 1 to 1 1/2 c. salsa)

1. Put your chicken in the Bean Pot.  (Chicken CAN be frozen)
2. Top with black beans, salsa, and corn.
3.  Cook at 300* for 6-7 hours.**

**Cooking times can vary greatly.  One variable is if your chicken is thawed or frozen.  I thawed my chicken a bit in the microwave, but parts were still frozen.  The original suggestions for cooking were 250* for 6-9 hours or 350* for 4-5.  Mine was just a little overcooked, but it was still super yummy.  Mine ended up cooking for 7 hours at 300*.

The chicken is super tender and juicy.  It pulled apart really easily, which isn't necessary, but it was a bonus!

Anything good cooking in your kitchen this week?  Remember, you have until Sunday night to link up!

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Local Adventure: 1,000 Steps

Last Monday, Scott and I took the motorcycle for a little ride, and we decided to stop and climb the Thousand Steps.

All photos were taken by me (or Scott) with an iPhone 4s.

First of all, if you didn't know this was there, you wouldn't know it was there!  Seriously, it is located along Route 22 here in Pennsylvania, and it's just a pull-off on the side of the road.  The sign for the trail leading to the steps is barely visible.  What you probably can't see from this picture is the history of the Thousand Steps.  (I made it x-large for you.  So maybe you can...)  Essentially, the steps were carved in 1936 as a way to help workers commute to the Ledge Quarry.  This quarry housed an abundant supply of sandstone that was used to make silica bricks.  These products were useful to the steel, iron, glass, railroad, and other industries.

One would think that doing Insanity would have prepared me for this.  Not so much.  A little over 100 steps in, I was out of breath, sweaty, and tired.  I now fully appreciate my 30 minute commute to work.  I also understand the oasis in the desert thing because we came across a spring somewhere between steps 600 & 700, I think. 

This was seriously the most delicious water I have ever desperately cupped my hands to drink.  In fact, it may have been the best water I have had to drink in any manner.
After a lot of a few stops and near death, we got to the 1000th step!
I'm not sure who noted the count every 100th stair, but either they were wrong somewhere, or they should really call this the 1000+ Steps.  Because as you can see, that was not the last step.  There weren't a ton more, but seriously.
However, once we did finally reach the top, we were treated to some beautiful scenery:

At the top, we came to a couple spots that we thought were "the view."  (At the top of the steps, there's a sign that points to the right and says "the view".  A friend of Scott's told us it was about 100 yards from the steps.  He either has no clue what 100 yards is, OR he didn't make it to the actual view.) It was probably another half-mile (of flat, level terrain, thank God) to where you couldn't go any farther.  That's where the last two pictures above are from and where we took these:
P.S. If we hadn't been on the motorcycle, I would SO not have been wearing jeans.  Sweaty + Jeans = YUCK

My handsome husband :)

Going down the steps was SO much better than going up, although, toward the end, my legs were really shaky.  We did stop and drink from the spring again on the way down.  Then I made Scott stop for ice cream on the way home.  :)
Even though the trek up really sucked, I felt awesome about it once we got to the top.  We plan to do it again some time, but I can assure you, there will not be jeans involved next time.  And I'm probably taking a water bottle to bottle up that spring water. 
Tomorrow is Dinner Time Tuesday, and I'll be sharing a recipe with you!  Be sure to come link up!
Sharing at Monday Mingling

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's a Party!!

Hello, Blog Friends! 

Do you like free merchandise??  Do you like WINNING contests??  Then please read on....

Many of you know that I am a designer with a company called Celebrating Home.  Celebrating Home is an amazing company with products for home décor, decorative Stoneware items for cooking, and accessories like jewelry and handbags for YOU with Penelope Ann!  I've shared many of recipes for my Bean Pot.  See my Celebrating Home tab for my recipes.


Not only do I think you would all love a Bean Pot in one pattern or another, I also need your help.  My business has been down lately, and I have a personal goal to reach $1000 in sales during the week of July 7-13.  By reaching this goal, I will achieve special recognition at a national Celebrating Home rally that I will be attending in July!  So starting today, I am having a Blog Party Mystery Hostess Event!

What does that mean to you?

It means that you can win the hostess benefits of having a Celebrating Home party.


All you need to do is visit from now until July 8, 2013 and place an order.  I will be notified with only your name and the items you've ordered.  If you place an order, you will be entered into the mystery hostess drawing.  The party will close on July 8th, and I will contact the winner no later than July 10th. 

Our hostesses ALWAYS earn 20% free merchandise.  So the more orders I receive, the more FREE merchandise YOU can win!  There are also hostess-exclusive items you will be eligible to add to your purchase.  The mystery hostess will also receive our July hostess promotion from Penelope Ann: My Main Squeeze handbag.  (IF we reach $300 in sales!)

I want to thank you in advance for your help, and I wish you luck in winning the drawing!!!

Happy shopping!

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy

I received The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling for Christmas.  I am ashamed to say that it was only the third book I've read this year.  The first book I read and reviewed here was The Little Book by Selden Edwards.  Then I was asked to read Most Unlikely to Succeed by Nelson Lauver for work.  That was an amazing memoir written by a man in a county not far from where I live.  We were also fortunate enough to have him come to speak at an in-service day, which was totally amazing. 

This brings me back to The Casual Vacancy.


Here is the book description from Amazon:

When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

I'll be honest. I wanted this book because J.K. Rowling wrote it. I'm pretty sure every adult Harry Potter fan hoped that this book was secretly "Harry Potter: The Adult Years." I knew it wasn't. That made it hard to get into at first. I really do not think the plot is interesting. We are introduced to many characters, and the story bounces around between them. It was confusing at times. As I read, I started to enjoy making the connections between the characters and how they all weave together to tell the story. What kept me reading is that I really did want to see what happened in the end. I would have liked the book more, perhaps, if there had been fewer characters (some of whom seemed rather unimportant) AND if the story was about something interesting.

Don't let the election part scare you away, though.  This wasn't overly political.  It didn't center on the election itself.  There was a lot more to the story than that.

Overall, I didn't dislike this book, but I didn't love it either. I would recommend that J.K. Rowling's grown up fans read this, though, because it is SO different from anything even remotely related to Harry Potter....except maybe that it takes place in England. ;)

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Friday, June 21, 2013


I don't think words can truly convey how much I LOVE lasagna.  It is one of my favorite meals.  Though it is a bit time consuming to make, it is quite simple.  The fact that it takes some time is probably good, or I'd end up eating it WAY too often.

This recipe is not ingenious or of my own creation.  It's right from the back of the box of the Barilla lasagna noodles I buy.  I decided to share it for two reasons: 1) I thought you'd like to know how I make lasagna.  2) Barilla changed the recipe on the back of their box, and I like this one! (Sorry the photos are a little blurry.  I didn't realize until after the lasagna was long gone....

Lasagna (From Barilla box with my adaptations)

  • 1 Box Barilla Lasagne No-Boil noodles
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 jars spaghetti sauce (I use Francesco Rinaldi Three Cheese sauce.)
  • salt. pepper, garlic powder (to taste)
1. Brown ground beef and drain.
2. Season ground beef with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
3. Preheat oven to 375*, and spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray.  (FYI: My casserole dish is only 2 inches deep.  The directions for this lasagna will be for this dish.)
4.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs.
5. Stir in ricotta, 2 c. of mozzarella, and the Parmesan.
6. Stir ground beef into cheese mixture.  (This will save you a layering step.)
7. Spoon half a jar of sauce onto the bottom of your casserole dish.
8.  Layer with 3 sheets of lasagna noodles.  (This was from the new box.  I used to use 4, but the three sheets expanded nicely, so you can leave space between each sheet.)
9. Spread half of the cheese/beef mixture onto the noodles.
10. Add the remaining sauce from the first jar.
11. Top with 1 c. of the mozzarella.
12.  Layer 3 more sheets of lasagna noodles.
13.  Spread the remaining cheese/beef mixture on those sheets.
14. Add half of the sauce from the second jar.
15. Place 3 more lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.
16. Use the rest of the sauce to cover the noodles.
17.  Top with the last cup of mozzarella.
18.  Cover with foil and bake for 50-60 minutes.  (I only need 50.)
19.  Uncover and cook for about 5 more minutes.
20.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.  (If you can.  I can't ever do that....)

I almost always serve mine with garlic bread.  It's carb heaven.  :)

And the lasagna looks like that because I can't wait 15 minutes before cutting....
Variations I have tried:
-Add spinach to the cheese mixture.
-Layer pepperoni on top of each cheese/beef mixture.
-(And I have done both of the above at the same time.)
-Use 1 lb Italian sausage instead of ground beef.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Influenster Spring Fever VoxBox (part 5) Schwarzkopf Professional OSiS+

We have arrived at my last post for my Influenster Spring Fever VoxBox products.  I have had so much fun getting to try all of these great products, and I hope you've enjoyed reading about them.  Tomorrow, I share a recipe!

For the last time, here is my Spring Fever VoxBox:

The products I received with links to the posts in which they were reviewed are listed below:
OSIS Rough Rubber

Last but certainly not least, I am reviewing Schwarzkopf Professional OSiS+ "Rough Rubber."  Like the TastyKake product, there were three possible products you could receive.  I am SUPER glad that I got this one. 


My hair is very thick and wavy.  I don't typically use products on my hair.  I shampoo, condition, and let it alone.  Hairstylists usually exclaim over how healthy my hair is because I don't color it, and the only heat styling I use is a straightener.  (AND I don't even use those all of the time.)  The only other product I use on my hair is mousse....occasionally.  I use mousse to scrunch my hair. 

What I'm trying to say is that I was at a loss for what to even do with this stuff.

Then I got an email from Influenster with suggestions on how to use OSiS+ products, and I discovered that I could basically use this product to scrunch my hair instead of mousse.  So after showering, I combed out my hair:

P.S. I apologize for the poor quality of these "selfies."  I was having lighting trouble with my iPhone.
Then I got a scoop of the Rough Rubber, flipped my head upside-down and got to scrunching.  This was the result:

I'm always a little weirded out by the pieces of hair around my face when I scrunch my hair.  They NEVER lay right.  So, I pulled them back and bobby-pinned.

And then I spent about 5 minutes try to get the following picture to show you the back.

I really, really liked this product.  My hair didn't feel sticky or crunchy.  The waves looked natural and lasted all day.  It was easy to use, and I didn't need nearly as much of this as I do mousse.  When I use mousse, I typically scrunch my hair in three sections: bottom, middle, and top.  I didn't do that with this.

What I don't like (and this is my problem with most hair products) is that I needed to wash my hair the next day.  With hair this thick, I do not wash it every day.  I usually wash every other day, and sometimes, I go longer than that.  I don't like using hair products because you usually need to wash it out the next day.  I was hoping that this would be different.  The smell is a little odd, but it's not overwhelming enough to discontinue use.

If you're a hair scruncher, I totally recommend this product!  Has anyone else out there used OSiS+ products?  Any hair styling tips or suggestions for Rough Rubber??  (Please keep in mind that I'm totally hair-styling impaired...)

Again, a huge thank you to Influenster for selecting me for a Spring Fever VoxBox!  I had SO much fun with this, and I can't wait to qualify for another one! :)

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
These are my opinions only. I am not compensated by Influenster or Schwarzkopf Professional OSiS+ for my thoughts on this product.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Influenster Spring VoxBox Part 4 (TastyKake Kandy Bar Kakes)

I am almost done reviewing the awesome products I received in the Spring Fever VoxBox from Influenster!  I'm so excited to share these last two products with you, so I will be reviewing one today and one more tomorrow. 

Here's my box again:

Just to review, here are the products I received (with links to the ones I've already reviewed).
OSIS Rough Rubber
TastyKake Kandy Bar Kakes- Peanut Butter

Today, I am reviewing TastyKake Kandy Bar Kakes- Peanut Butter.

Yes, this is my desk at work.  I took it for dessert with lunch.  :)

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned a million times once or twice that I love all things Chocolate and Peanut Butter.  So you can imagined that I was thrilled to have gotten this particular TastyKake Kandy Bar Kake with my VoxBox.  There were three different ones you could have received.  It was fate, I think.

The packaging is pretty clear about what you're getting, and I really loved that they specifically used Reese's.  I suppose that IS the point of the candy bar cake, though! ;)  The "Kake" itself is also appealing.

I really like the chocolate base with the peanut butter swirls.  Unfortunately, though, that is where my likes end.  The most important part of a food item is its taste.  I'm not sure if it's because my expectations were so high or what it was.  I like TastyKake as a brand.  As far as snacking baked goods, they're at the top.  I particularly love their Butterscotch Krimpets.  Mmmmm.  But this was so disappointing.

The cake was dry.  There wasn't NEARLY enough peanut butter.  The picture on the package shows a thick layer of peanut butter in the center.  This did not have that.  The swirls on the outside didn't even taste "peanut buttery."  It just kind of had a strange taste overall.  The other drawback is that just this one bar had 240 calories!!  I'll admit, I don't obsess over calories.  If I like something, and I really want it, I'll eat some.  BUT to put this in perspective, I eat PopTarts for breakfast almost every day, and two of those are 400 calories.

Maybe this was just a bad sample.  Maybe the other Kandy Bar Kakes are better.  Maybe it was just me.  But based on my taste test, I'll stick to my Butterscotch Krimpets.

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
These are my opinions only. I am not compensated by Influenster or TastyKake for my thoughts on this product.

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