Friday, July 31, 2009

Fabulous Friday

Here's a round-up of what I'm loving this week:

Chelsea Handler...
I have been watching Chelsea Lately EVERY night, and I just love her sense of humor. Hilarious!

Ice Cream
Okay so I love ice cream every week, but because it's nearly August-- in my opinion it is PEAK time for ice cream. I was watching the Food Network last night and learned about eCreamery where you can create your own flavor of ice cream and they send it to you on dry ice! It's pretty expensive, but still pretty cool!

Also I ran across this little (AWESOME) gadget... It's a Play-n-freeze ice cream ball-- a fun way to make your own ice cream at home! I am totally getting one... read how it works HERE. And I think you can find these at most outdoorsy stores like Cabela's for about $25.

Hostess with the Mostest
I can't remember how I stumbled across this site but I LOVE IT. So many good hostessing ideas, recipes, giveaways, etc. Check it out!

A more modern sister-store to Crate & Barrel this shop has so much cute stuff at reasonable prices. Allow me to illustrate:
These Dandelion Square Plates are adorable! $4.95-$12.95These Cheers Wine Glasses have "Cheers" in 6 different languages, all for $19.95. So cute!

Of course I'm in wedding mode and I ran across these chic boutonnieres on Etsy (ekaminsk, Emily K Botanic Studio.) So different but still classy!
Books, Books, Books
Okay so I'm into books every week too, but this week I can't put down my advance copy (can you tell I'm excited I got an advanced copy?) of The Hunted by Brian Haig. It will be available in early August, is based on a true story, and is seriously action-packed. I'll have a book love post about it as soon as I'm done...

The Hunted is the complete opposite of the book I finished reading last week, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. A total girly, love story and I guess it's based on a bible story, too? I'm not really religious so I had no idea except for the fact that it was in the Christian section at Borders. It was so good! Again, I'll have a book love post about it eventually...

Symphony on the Prairie
Okay I know I wrote THIS POST a few weeks ago about my first trip to Symphony on the Prairie, but we went again last week to the Billy Joel show and it was even more amazing. Tonight we are going again to the Beatles show-- so I hope to see you there! I just can't get enough of that Prairie! And guess what!? I know a way to get symphony on the prairie tickets for only $10 instead of $20! You have to buy them today or tomorrow but they are good for any show in the rest of the season. If you are interested, email me: laurealism at gmail dot com and I'll pass the savings on!

That's all for now, what are you loving this week?
Have a great weekend, everyone... Live & Love!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chef Lauren (pronounced french-like)

Well I did it! I cooked for an ENTIRE week. And as I mentioned before, by entire week I mean four days in a row. And according to me if you cook for an ENTIRE week you achieve the highest chef-ly status and you are officially entitled to put Chef in front of your name and pronounce it all frenchly. And don't go getting all impressed by me, you can do it, too!

Yesterday we had Veggie Flatbreads and today we had Chicken-Mango Quesadillas, both were pretty quick and easy. Both again inspired from Better Homes & Gardens, though I did change a few things around. Sound enticing?

Both my rotary grater and food chopper that I pictured in THIS post got a lot of use with these recipes!

What you'll need for Veggie Flatbreads:
3 Tbsp-ish of Olive Oil
1 Yellow Squash
1 Zucchini
1 Green Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 Medium Carrot (or 8ish baby carrots!)
1/2 cup broccoli florets
Tablespoon of Garlic
2 Roma tomatoes
12 black olives, sliced or diced
Flatbreads (whatever size you will find will work)
Some kind of shredded cheese (I used mozzarella, ahem rotary grater)

Get cooking!
First of all feel free to use pretty much whatever veggies you want here-- the above is basically a combo of all the ones I like! Preheat the broiler. Chop up all the veggies (ahem food chopper.) In big skillet, heat the 3 Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add squash, zucchini, green pepper, red pepper, carrot, broccoli and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, olives and a bit of the olive juice and cook for a few minutes longer.

Place flatbreads on large baking sheets. Top with cheese. With slotted spoon add the veggies on top (sort of like a pizza.) Stick in the oven until cheese is melted and enjoy!

What you'll need for Chicken-Mango Quesidillas:
Shredded Chicken (I usually just cut chicken breasts in half and boil them for 8-12 minutes or until cooked, then shred)
Grated Gouda Cheese (ahem rotary grater)
Jar of Roasted Red Peppers in olive oil, chopped up
Mango-Peach Salsa- you may have to use some other fruity variations depending where you live and shop!
Flour tortillas

Get cooking!
If you have some kind of panini or quesadilla press you can use it for this recipe. Otherwise a pan set to medium-high heat with a little bit of olive oil will work too. Fold a tortilla in half and fill with chicken, cheese, about 2 Tbsps of salsa and 2 Tbsps of roasted red peppers. Either place on press for about 2 minutes, or in pan for two minutes (this is probably a little trickier because you will have to flip it, but I know you can do it. Your appetite, and perhaps family are depending on you!) Serve with extra salsa and enjoy!

Any recommendations on what I should attempt next week? Now I'm up for a challenge!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Phelps Loses"

Let me vent about something. Yesterday Michael Phelps "lost" in the 200 free to Paul Biedermann from Germany. It seemed like EVERY news site I looked at used some variation of the same headline. Allow me to illustrate using the top five circulation papers:

USA Today:
Phelps tries to move on after stunning lost
Phelps beaten, record broken by Biedermann in 200-free

Wall Street Journal:
Michael Phelps's Loss: Blame the Suits?

New York Times:
Phelps Rebounds Amid Suit Controversy
Biedermann Stunns Phelps Amid Debate Over Swimsuits

LA Times:
Michael Phelps: Turning Back the Page

Washington Post:
After stunning loss, Phelps Rebounds with Record (whose idea was this headline? Sounds like he is part of some tabloid Hollywood couple, just rebounding after a break-up.)
The Result Suits No One: Phelps Loses 200 Free (I think the result may suit the person who won. I'm just saying.)

You may or may not know, but I'm a swimmer-- I swam my way through college at Purdue and competed at my fair share of "big boy" meets, which is why it drives me crazy to see all the negative headlines. Firstly, Phelps did not LOSE, he came in second. Second people, not last! I'm not necessarily a huge Phelps fan, but let's give him some credit, he is one of the world's top athletes at the moment. But, that being said...

He is only human. Yes he is an INCREDIBLE swimmer, but everyone is entitled to a bad swim now and then. And it wasn't even a bad swim, just not his best. Do you seriously expect him to get a world record every time he gets in the water?

Next, please let's not blame it on the suits. Now I'm not really a fan of all the hi-tech-ness (I know that isn't a word) that is going into suit making recently because I like to think the swimmer makes the suit and not the other way around. But why can't we accept that maybe Phelps may not have had the best race, while Biedermann had a great one? That is all it takes, you know just one race! And sometimes there are no excuses.

Finally, keep in mind that this isn't your average meet either. It's the World Championships! All I'm saying is even the best athletes in the world can't ALWAYS win-- it's the nature of the game. I'm sure there were plenty of other American athletes with outstanding accomplishments that same day, yet somehow "Phelps loses" is what made all the headlines. Can we maybe try to focus on some positives? There are hundreds of amazing other stories and athletes out there-- all who put the same, if not more, time in the pool. Let's not capitalize on one not-so-stellar swim.

What do you think?

Okay, I'm done ranting,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cooking Week

After flipping through a Better Homes & Gardens magazine last week, I decided I need to cook more. Now, don't get me wrong I love to spend time in the kitchen, but usually I make sweet stuff... cookies, cupcakes, pies, etc. And though I usually make some semblance of dinner, my go-to meals tend to be pasta or sandwiches. Usually "fancy" meals only happen about once a week.

Which is why this week I am making it my goal to cook every. single. night. And not just cook, but make new, delicious meals. Oh, and by every single night I mean Monday through Thursday (What! I can't help it that we are a super-fun couple were invited out Sunday, Friday AND Saturday. Okay so two of those night we were invited out by family, but still we are really fun.)

So yesterday was day one and I made Corn & Chicken Chowder with Dumplings. And it was a success so I thought I'd share it with all of you. Inspiration came from Better Homes & Gardens, but I kind of made the recipe my own:

What you'll need:
2 boneless chicken breasts (cut in half)
4 ears of sweet corn
32 oz. container of reduced-sodium chicken broth (I ended up using about 8 oz. extra)
1/2 cup mango-peach salsa (this is where my creative genius came in)
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
2 1/4 cup Bisquick
2/3 additional cup milk
Salt & Pepper

Get Cooking:
1. Combine chicken, corn and 32 oz. broth in whatever-pan-is-big-enough on the stove. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. After you've reached a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 12 minutes. Check to see that the chicken is cooked. If so remove chicken and corn to cutting board.

2. If you want to save time and just make quick biscuits (or buy some) you can skip this step. Bring chicken broth back to a boil. Combine 2 1/4 cup Bisquick with 2/3 milk to form dough. Drop spoonfuls onto boiling broth. Reduce heat and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Cover and cook ten minutes longer (so you see this part can add 20 minutes!) Remove dumplings to extra bowl. While you are making the dumplings, shred chicken and cut corn from cobs.

3. Bring broth to medium heat and add salsa. Stir in milk and potato flakes. Add corn and chicken. Heat through, add salt & pepper to taste. Serves 4!

And tonight, I continued my "Cooking Week" by making "Eggplant Parm but not really" which I got over at McMommy's Blog. I just served the eggplant/sauce/cheese combo over pasta, and it was delish!

Two nights down, two to go, I'll let you know how it goes!
In the meantime, enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Girl fun vs. Boy fun

Last week, many of the boys in my life (including fiance, Dad, brother, future brother-in-law, and half of my favorite couple) went fishing in Canada. Now, of course they are already manly, but this is manliness at it's finest: "hunting" for fish (and the elusive muskie), not many showers, eating what you catch, burly beards, etc. Allow me to illustrate:

Dad's big Walleye

Brother, David's Pike

Half of my favorite couple, Zac's Northern Pike

Future Brother-in-law, Matt's Muskie

Underwater shot of Mark's Muskie

Fiance (no clue how to get that "e" with the accent on it), Mark's Muskie

And they did this for a WHOLE WEEK! Very manly, huh? Well while the boys (ahem, Men) were having fun doing all that man-stuff, us girls (Mom, Future Mom-in-law, other half of my favorite couple, Kim and I) did very girly things. Like clothes shopping, shoe shopping, WEDDING DRESS shopping, etc. Okay so basically we shopped (though we did check out an amazing Symphony on the Prairie...)

I would LOVE to share the wedding dress pictures with you but, I can't trust that Mark won't peek online. He never reads my blog (whine) but the second I tell him he is not allowed to, well, I'm sure he'd be on here in a heartbeat. So you'll have to deal with looking at the adorable shoes I got at DSW:

Guess Flip Flops (though mine are gold)

Madden Girl Pumps in Purple

I guess I just love the juxtaposition of girly shopping to manly fishing! Great catches boys, and thanks for the great week, girls!



Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to look like a Rock Star in Vegas

In a couple of weeks I get to meet up in Vegas with some of my best girlfriends: Kim, Jennifer & Nicole. It's Nicole's birthday (she'll pretend it's her birthday the ENTIRE time we are there like we did on her 21st, so it's bound to be a great time!) Surprisingly, Nicole is actually from Vegas. I know it's hard to grasp that people are actually from Vegas... but she is, and you'll learn more about her and Jennifer eventually...

Anyways, every time I'm in Vegas it blows my mind. How do they manage to make you think that you haven't been up all night? It seems it takes some kind of rock star to make it out of there alive. Which is why I think I need all of the following accessories when I go in a couple of weeks:
Ring from Urban Outfitters
Purse from Guess
Shoes from J.C. Penney (sale! $49.99)

Very rock star don't you think? Regardless of the little extras I pick up before I go, I can't wait! What's your favorite (craziest?) story from Vegas? Any suggestions on what shows we should see?

Have fun!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wedding Invites

So, if any of you have ever planned or helped to plan a wedding, you know how many BAZILLION choices there are in the stationary/invite department. Well... I think I found the ones I want! But I'm not going to show you, because that would totally ruin the surprise for those of you who are actually coming! Instead I'll show you some of the other great designs from the same company, hello!Lucky.

Here are a couple of the wedding invites:

And they also have ADORABLE stationary and greeting cards! Nothing's better than getting a random note or letter in the mail!
The prices (wedding invitations at least) are also very reasonable... I can't wait to show you the design I picked out (and if I happen to change my mind, I'll be sure to show you anyways!)

Live & Love!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Find: Victoria's Secret Goes Back to School!

Victoria's Secret Pink line now has a collegiate collection of clothes, so not only can you be comfy and cute, but school spirited as well!

Here's a LIST of schools that Victoria's Secret currently has a clothing line for. And since I'll always be a Boilermaker, HERE's some of the Purdue Gear!
Prices range from $26.50 (for that adorable gray tee!) to $58.50 (zip-hoodie, not shown) -- not quite in the average college bucket, but I'm sure you girls will find the money somewhere. It's fun to see Victoria's Secret branch out like this-- are any other brands doing the same?

Boiler Up!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Puppy Chow Goodness

If you got really, really excited just reading the title of this post... then it's safe to say that you appreciate all the goodness that is Puppy Chow. If for some reason you've never tried it-- well you HAVE to. It's the best spin on Chex Mix you'll ever taste.

What you'll need:

9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

First you'll need to melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter together in the microwave. I'd say check it every 30 seconds because chocolate burns pretty easily!

If you want you can pretend that when you stick all of this goodness in the microwave that the calories just melt away. That's how I think about it anyways! After you melt it all together, add the vanilla. Then pour onto the chex.

And mix it in the chex!
Pour the powdered sugar in a big zip-lock bag and then add the chocolatey chex mix. Shake it up so that every square is coated in powdered sugar, and either pour it into a bowl or fill mini-zip-locks!

Now it's time to chow-down on the puppy chow! (Warning: this tends to be an extremely messy recipe, so I wouldn't suggest attempting it after you just cleaned your kitchen!)

Enjoy folks :)

You wish you could double-date us!

Normally on Wednesdays we have our weekly double-date with our favorite couple Zac & Kim. Zim? Kac? Whatever you call them, we love them. I mean how cute of a double-date couple are we?
This week we checked our Conner's Prairie in Fishers, Indiana. It wasn't quite as fun as I remember it being when I was a kid, but it was still neat and we had a good ole time. We checked out an old time Inn, Doctor's house, Blacksmith, Carpenter, dipped candles, petted animals, and so much more. We even threw Tomahawks (of course Rambo LOVED this.)
The boys acted like... well, boys, but that's why we love them. (There were two holes in the outhouse!)
We also walked romantically across an old covered bridge. I practically had to bribe Mark to take this picture:
While Kim seems to have Zac a little more under control:
We even saw a few ghosts!
And Kim & I got the chance to practice being old ladies together:
Rambo was practically prancing for joy he had so much fun...
Afterwards we went to DQ where I finally satisfied my Tag-a-long blizzard craving. Yum. The boys proceeded to check out Gander Mountain (Boys-only fishing trip coming up) while we girls hit the mall. We met up back up at Dick's Sporting Goods. And this picture is a perfect illustration of why we all get along so well. While the boys take their sweet time looking at lures and rods and all that super fun man stuff, Kim and I enjoy ourselves as well.

Yes, all of our double dates are this much fun. It's okay to be jealous.

But now it's like you were there, too!

P.S. All of these photos are 100% unaltered, and all taken by Zac. Obviously, he's kind of good with photos.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jealous of an American Au-Pair in France

I have a small obsession with royalty. This includes anything and everything that has to do with royalty, courts, kings, queens, etc. And both fiction or history work for me! For example, one of my favorite authors is Phillipa Gregory and her historical fiction novels-- most surrounding the time period of Henry VIII. Her book was also the inspiration for the recent movie The Other Boleyn Girl (though I promise you the books are soooo much better! In one of them I actually had to put the book down for awhile because I was so mad at one of the characters!) Also because of my fascination with Henry VIII, I of course have also come to love the Showtime Series, The Tudors.

In addition to Henry VIII, another one of my favorite historical figures is Marie Antoinette (One of my top ten favorite movies is the 2006 Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst-- the sets and costumes are stunning.) In the movie Kirsten Dunst can be seen romping around Versaille. And every time I watch the movie, I want to go to Versailles!

Which is why I am extremely jealous of my friend Noah, who recently posted all of his pictures of his own rompings around Versailles and Paris and every other place in France I have ever wanted to go! Instead of evilly plotting against him (he is currently an Au-Pair in France,) instead I'll just show you the pictures:
Of course this is Versailles, and I assume you do all remember your Rococo lesson? And can't you see me in some big ballgown, all queenly, prancing around all of these castles organizing outrageous balls and parties? (If so you are definitely invited to my first extravaganza.) Just keep me in mind if we ever have to vote for Queen of America or something... I'm just saying.

I believe this is the chapel at VersaillesThe cottage Louis XIV gave Marie Antoinette after their first daughter was born.
Part of the gardens of Versailles. Noah in the Catacombs, kind of scary to imagine them all smiling.According to Noah this is a Roman Church built in the second century. And you thought you were old!Notre DameCormatin- another old castle!

So you can see why I'm jealous of Noah right? He was standing in some of the exact same places as some of the greatest historical figures, only HUNDREDS of years later. It's amazing! For more pictures and french stories you should check out Noah's blog!

Enjoy (and if you are going to France soon, please take me with you!)