Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crock Pot Cooking.

We are all well aware of my obsession with the Barefoot Contessa.  But sometimes you just need something a little simpler, using pantry ingredients and requiring very little effort.

Enter Crock Pot Chicken Tacos.  The original recipe idea came from good friend Carrie, who is the mastermind behind Deliciously Balanced Living - she's basically a health coach - teaching you how to achieve the healthiest you whether that's through diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, etc. 

I tweaked it a little and have not been able to stop eating it!  (Another friend pointed out that her family calls these Crack Tacos.) So delicious in tortillas for lunch, dinner (and even a little afternoon snack.)

3 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
2 green peppers, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 cup of salsa

Cook in crock pot on low for 6 hours and then shred chicken.  

I served these with rice, flour tortillas and all the taco fixins.  I also think you could probably sub in Rotel for the diced tomatoes for even more zing, but Carrie would probably point out the amount of sodium that adds to an otherwise healthy dish. Let's not tell her.

I will admit I ate 3 tacos the first night (The Texan ate 2) and we have plenty of leftovers.  So, my best guess is that it probably makes enough for 8.

So simple and tasty.  Perfect on this cold snowy day we are having.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Renting (and Wearing) the Runway.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that I "Rented the Runway" for the Inaugural Ball.  For those of you not familiar, Rent the Runway is an online dress rental site, where you rent designer dresses and accessories for a fraction of the cost.  For me, this meant I rented for $125, which is far better than the $400 I had spent on a dress at Nordstrom that I wasn't in love with. (And knew I would never wear again.)

The process is pretty simple - browse through current season options from more than 95 designers, select your delivery date (usually 1-2 days before your event), rent your dress and a back up size (options are important!) and anxiously await the delivery.  After the event, you simply toss your dress in the postage paid envelope they provide via USPS.  It's very easy.

I had a very hard time deciding on what to rent.  I wasn't sure how formal I should be and I also wanted something that was fairly simple and not too glitzy.  Given that I decided to rent less than a week away from the Inaugural Ball, my choices were somewhat limited as well.

My original choice was this navy blue David Meister gown.  It retails for $575 and rents for $100.

David Meister Patriotic Wonder Gown
One of the unique options with Rent the Runway is that they let you rent a "back up dress"  for $25.  This was a no-brainer for me as I love options!  So, I added this Halston Heritage gown which usually retails for $645 and rents for $125 for $25 (!!) to my order.
Halston Heritage Manhattan Night Mist Gown
While I ended up loving the Halston Heritage gown much more, the fit wasn't quite right on me.  Plus, all the layers and draping meant I was constantly fussing with myself.  I knew I wasn't going to feel good about my choice if I was worried about how everything was laying.
I ended up wearing the David Meister and loving it.  It's not normally something I would pick - I'm not really in to the one shoulder look.  Or rhinestones.  But it was quite pretty, very comfortable and I loved the unique-ness of the beaded shoulder.
Overall, I definitely recommend Rent the Runway.  I had high anxiety (and one sleepless night) over my order - would it fit, would I like it, would it FIT - but if you are a calmer person than I am, you will have no problem! 
The "details" about each dress are extremely helpful.  They list how the dress fits, in general if your back up size should be larger or smaller, how long the dress is and what undergarments you will need.  You can tell a lot of work has gone in to making the rental process as smooth as possible.
My best piece of advice - know your size!  And ask questions.  Their stylists are amazing and will help you put together a head to toe look.
Anyone else ever Rent the Runway?!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Inauguration Experience.

For those of you that follow me on Instagram, you know by now that The Texan and I had a very exciting few days attending the Inauguration and Inaugural Ball.  Regardless of your politics, this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that we enjoyed every minute of. 

We have a friend that works very closely with Mrs. Obama, which is how we scored our invite and tickets to the fest in our nation's capital. 

We woke bright and early Monday morning and started the 2 mile + trek to the Capitol to get through security and secure our seats in the "red" section.  We were seated just outside the grandstand that you see on TV.  We had a pretty good view of everything - including the President.  It is an awesome experience to see the President speak and be surrounded by close to a million people cheering, feeling empowered by the things he said and most importantly, celebrating this great country we live in. 

After a quick disco nap, we got gussied up for the Inaugural Ball.  Honestly, I was expecting a huge room filled to capacity with zero chance to see anything of significance.  Boy, was I wrong.

Again, thanks to our White House connection, we were able to experience the Inaugural Ball in the privacy of a Friends & Family lounge.  Yes, there were a couple of celebrity sightings and The Texan even made friends with a few Senators, but the best part was all the entertainment!  Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson - all just steps away.

The Texan with New York Senator Charles Schumer

While everyone was concerning themselves with what Mrs. Obama would wear, I was more worried about myself!  I rented the runway and got myself this David Meister navy blue number.  More on that experience later...

A huge thank you to my sweet friend in D.C. for making the experience possible.  D.C. is an amazing, historical city that everyone should experience.  And if you can attend an Inauguration while you're there - even better.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bla Bla.

Maybe it's because I am blessed with a boy, who is most definitely NOT in to dolls, I had never heard of Bla Bla Dolls until this past week when shopping for a baby present.  

Lulu the Flower

Mirabelle the Bunny

Splash the Cat

April Girl Doll

Beyond obsessed with their cuteness!  Cats, cows, horses, sheep or just your every day doll - there's something for everyone.  I'm partial to the "quirky" animals  - squirrels, goats and donkeys. 

Billy the Goat

McNuttie the Squirrel 

Albert the Donkey 

There is nothing not to love about these - handmade in Peru, 100% cotton, super soft and cozy for your little gal.  Or guy - they even make boy appropriate dolls.  

Beauregard the Wolf 

Luigi the Frog

Wink the Owl 

Hercule the Elephant

The Bug's favorite...Socks the Fox.  

Do your little ones have a Bla Bla Doll?  I found mine locally at The Little House, in Fairway, where they have a large assortment of characters, in both the mini and large sizes.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Printed Denim Obsessed.

Based on my recent purchases, I'd say the printed denim trend isn't going away anytime soon....

J.Crew Liberty Toothpick Jean 

J. Crew Toothpick Jean in Polka Dot 

Based on my recent wish list, I'd say you are going to see A LOT of me in printed denim this Spring...

Gap Always Skinny Blue Floral Skimmer Jeans

Gap Geo Print Legging Skinny Skimmer Jeans 

It's just so easy - cute pant, chambray shirt or simple white v-neck and I'm dressed!

Who else loves the printed denim look?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ina does it Again.

A topic my girlfriends and I seem to discuss quite a bit is what to cook for weeknight meals.  It seems we all have a few go-tos, but we're always after something new and delicious.

For my birthday, I received the latest Ina Garten book, Foolproof.  (You may remember that it was on my Christmas list.)

As expected, it is packed with loads of tasty recipes, perfect for those weeknight meals.  A few of my new faves...

Winter Minestrone.   We are huge fans of soup around here.  It makes a big pot which allows you to freeze the leftovers for a quick weeknight meal later in the month.  

Chicken with Wild Mushrooms.  I was a little hesitant on this one as the combo didn't sound great to me.  But it was divine.  That mushroom, garlic, sherry sauce is heavenly.  I served it with Couscous with Peas & Mint.  So tasty when the sauce would mix in with the couscous. 

Penne alla Vecchia Bettola (aka Pink Vodka Sauce).  This might be my all time favorite Ina recipe.  I could have eaten the whole bowl, but I restrained myself.  The Texan was not a huge fan as it wasn't a "square" enough meal for him.  But it's something you could easily serve with chicken or shrimp for those who need a bit of protein.  

As the book says, the recipes are Foolproof.  Follow them and you are guaranteed a delicious dinner. 

I'm sorry to say that the recipes aren't available online yet, but the book is worth every penny.  I highly recommend getting it.  

Next week?  I'm serving Easy Tomato Soup (it has orzo in it!  Interesting!) 

Anyone else love Ina as much as I do?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Welcome, 2013.

Ahhh, 2013.  I am happy to see you and the slow, cold days of January after the CRAZY December we had. 

Christmas was so much fun this year - lots of visitors, parties, food and fun was had and I am glad to be back to a normal routine.

A quick recap of what you've missed...

A very fun holiday party in our home.  It's amazing what happens when you mix finance people + retail people.  Let's just say you could definitely tell which group worked where!

The Bug's Christmas Program, where he spent most of the performance ducking down and hiding behind the other kids (in between eye rolls, of course).

Priceless reactions to presents.

2013 will bring a couple of home projects, including an attempt at adding some storage in our finished basement, recovering my dining room chairs and attending a once in a lifetime formal event in our nation's capital.  Stay tuned...!