Friday, February 28, 2014

Happy Little Friday [FIVE]!!

Happy FRIDAY!! An upcoming trip to visit my parents and family "back home" (3-4 hours, so not too terribly long but nonetheless long enough!!!) has inspired this week's Five on Friday....

Five things to survive a road trip!

1. CD or soundtrack. Or if you have USB or an AUX port in your car, you can play 
Pandora or I <3 radio from your phone!

2. Snacks and Diet Coke (But not too much Diet Coke or you will have to make frequent pit stops!)

3. Good book or magazine. Or if you're the driving, 
you and the passenger can both enjoy an audio book!

4. A game to help pass the time. I remember when I was younger we had "road trip bingo boards" and when we drove past something (like a cow or mailbox) we got to "cross" that image out until someone got a bingo! Other favorites are "In my grandma's chest" where everything in the chest must start with the same letter and everyone must remember each item before adding theirs to the list; the person who does not repeat them in the correct order or forgets to list an item loses.

5. Your camera. This is an essential because (a) you can document your trip and (b) you may want to stop along the way and take some pictures of some of the beautiful scenery! You never know what you may run in to!

Linking up with:
Five on Friday ladies: A. Liz, Darci, Christina, and Natasha

Happy Little Friday ladies: Mary and The Grits Blog
Little Friday

What is something that is a MUST for you on a road trip??
Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your weekend!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tortellini Sausage Soup

I mentioned when I posted a Ham and Potato Soup recipe that I LOVE soups and that still reigns true!! So, for this weeks recipe I will share with you one of my husband's favorite soups:
Tortellini Sausage Soup

 (This recipe was found on Pinterest and adapted from Lil' Luna with changes that I have made myself)

What you Need:
  • 4 Links of Italian Sausage (I like to buy the Hot because I think it adds more flavor without a too much spicy)
  • 4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 4-6 cups of chicken broth or stock (the tortellini at the end soaks up a lot of the juice so you may want to add more!)
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (I like to buy the one with sweet onion in it, again for a little more flavor.)
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce 
  • 1-1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tbsp parsley
  • 1 16 oz pkg cheese tortellini (frozen or refrigerated)

Make It:
  • Peel the skin off the sausage and slice sausage up. Brown in skillet. Then add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Transfer sausage and garlic (may want to drain the skillet) to a stockpot and add broth/stock, tomatoes, tomato sauce, carrots and spices (stir it all up!). Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
  • Add tortellini and cook for 7-10 minutes longer.
  • Top with parmesan and enjoy!!
The tortellini can really soak up a lot of the sauce so you may want to cook the tortellini separate and then add before enjoying. Or, you may want to add additional broth/stock, tomatoes and tomato sauce! I made this soup this weekend for a potluck at work so I made a double batch and then just kept it on keep warm in my crockpot. It is such a yummy, hearty soup!

Today I am linking up with:
  Eat Drink & Be Mary

Martinis & Bikinis

(Martinis and Bikinis and Green Fashionista).

Check them out for more delicious recipes!

Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hair with Michelle: Braided Bun

Braided Bun Hair Tutorial

Step 1: Start with hair to one side.
Step 2: Braid hair with a regular braid.
Step 3: Take middle strand of braid in one hand and the other two strands in another strand and push those two strands up in to a square.
Step 4: Picture of braid pushed up.Pull at strands to make hair "bigger" and fuller.
Step 5: Tuck extra strands in to a bun shape and pin with bobby pin. May need more pins depending on your hair type.
Step 6: Finished product!!

Here is a video of how to pull hair to make the square braid.

This tutorial was done with Michelle Marie from Bloom Beauty Boutique

Friday, February 21, 2014

Five on Friday #2

Tuesday I posted a delicious recipe (Shredded Chicken and Bacon sandwich with Ranch Slaw) and talked about establishing some consistency on my blog. Well, I had so much fun doing Five on Friday last week I think I may just make that a tradition around here too! Every now and then I may be mixing in five of my favorite things or trends or even doing holiday editions! I'm excited to see where it goes! 

O N E:
Living in West Michigan, we have so many local breweries it's hard not to start to fall in love with a good craft brew! There is this new local brewery called Mitten Brewery that is located in an old firehouse (such a cool vibe!) and their peach cider is SO yummy! Not to mention, they make some pretty mean pizzas too (I just enjoyed a Thai edition there a few weeks back and I've heard they make a Thanksgiving one!). One of my favorite limited release beers made by Short's Brewery is going to be released sometime the end of this month and I am super excited!!  They team up with Half Acre Beer Company out of Chicago and make this delicious guava beer called Freedom of '78.  I am going to be stalking grocery stores and local specialty markets for releases!! Do you like to enjoy a nice craft brew? If so, what is your favorite?

(image source)

T W O:
My name is Ashley and I am a shopaholic. Seriously, it's out of control (bigger, more elaborate post on this topic to come soon!). That being said though, I found some stellar Presidents Day deals on Monday and also received some adorable stuff via mail this week! I cannot wait to try it all out! I wanted to share some pieces with you below! I'm not the only one out there that enjoys, ok, indulges in some retail therapy, right??

(some awesome trends right now: leggings, lace, oversized sweaters, ankle booties!! I am in love!)

T H R E E:
I'm not too much of a follower of the Winter Olympics (Sochi 2014) but one story I found to be pretty cool and inspiring is of Lolo Jones. Lolo was a track olympian athlete in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics where she experienced the frustration of tripping over a hurdle in her race resulting in a seventh place finish. Some time after that hardship Jones was introduced to bobsledding by Elana Meyers (American bobsledder since 2007) and was chosen for the U.S. bobsled team (2014) in October 2012. This makes Lolo Jones one of very few athletes that have participated in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. I think it's awesome that she decided to take up a whole different sport in hopes of attaining her goals! She is an inspiration to others for although her career has taken some decent blows, she has never stopped fighting for her dream of an Olympic medal. It also shows us that sometimes in order to keep fighting for your dreams, you may have to take alternative routes to get there. These paths may have never even existed or been known to you at the time you set your goal but for some fortunate reason they are opened up to you! Keep fighting and never give up on YOUR dreams and goals!!
(more on Lolo Jones can be found here)

(image source)

F O U R:
I cannot tell enough people how delicious Oikos Greek Yogurt DIPS are!! If you love French Onion dip or a good salsa/cream cheese one... you have to try Oikos greek yogurt versions! You will not even be able to tell the difference; actually I think they taste better. And they are definitely better for you with the yogurt base instead of sour cream. I have found them at the local grocer by the sour cream. I could eat the whole thing in one sitting if I didn't have will power!

F I V E:
With my job as a nurse comes weekend work requirements. I work every third weekend; sometimes Friday rolls around and it feels like my Monday. This is my weekend so it will be three long nights in a row but what makes it all O.K. is that I love my job and I love my co-workers. Those are two things that I feel very fortunate to be able to say because I know most people cannot. Even though there are some mornings where I leave work after a crazy night where almost every little thing that could go wrong, did; I still love to be a nurse! I work with some of the most amazing, self-less, hard working people and I don't know if I would love my job as much if I did not work with these wonderful ladies and gentlemen. Thank you to all my co-workers for ALL that they do everyday!

Thanks for stopping by and have a GREAT weekend!!
Linked-in today through: The Good Life Blog

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Winterize your favorite skirt!

(image source)

Happy Friday eve!! In my Five on Friday post I mentioned that I had received some skirts via mail and was excited to style them. As promised here are a few ideas on how you can "winterize" your skirts!

With your favorite blazer and graphic tee

graphic tee: J. Crew // blazer: H & M // necklace: old // skirt: Old Navy  // tights: Target // 
ankle booties: Kohl's {similar here}

With your favorite sweater

[Left] sweater: Forever 21 // chambray: Kohl's // skirt: Old Navy  //tights: Target //ankle booties: Kohl's {similar here}
 //necklace:Our World Boutique
[Right] sweater: Target  // necklace: VeryJane

Add in some pattern(s)! I love me some stripes and lace!

[Left] top: Flourish Boutique (tops 30% through Sunday, use code TOPS30 at checkout) // skirt: Flourish Boutique (no longer available but check them out!) // bubble necklace: Our World Boutique
[Right] top: Ruby Bloom //  flower necklace: Our World Boutique  // watch: local boutique // bracelets: Old Navy

All you need are some nice warm tights and a cute pair of ankle booties and the possibilities are really endless!! 
Have you "winterized" a maxi dress?? If so, what is your favorite way to do so?

Thanks for stopping by!!
Special thanks goes to Ms. Emily Read Mansfield from Floral Aorta and Yasi from Hello, Gorgeous for the picture taking tips! I have seen improvement already, Thank You!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shredded Chicken-Bacon Sandwich with Ranch Slaw

After much reading on some of my other favorite blogs I decided that I need to start making some trends around here; something that you can look forward to reading about each week. My blog needs some sort of pattern and an expectation to it. So, Tuesdays are going to start becoming Recipe Days!! I love food and I love trying out new recipes! I am excited to start sharing them with you too! Also, I will be linking up with this sweet southern girl, Mary from Eat Drink & Be Mary.

To start things off: a yummy, refreshing, packed full of flavor sammy! The best thing about it: it is SO easy!!! I love easy, especially when it comes to working three nights in a row: sleep, work, eat, repeat! On those days if I love it if I don't have to put much thought in to dinner. Recipe found on Pinterest and adapted from here.

What you need:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of chicken broth or stock
  • real bacon bits
  • 1 bag of coleslaw mix (I used a smaller bag because it was only the 2 of us)
  • Ranch dressing (to taste, approx. 1/3 cup?)
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)
  • hamburger buns
  • American cheese
  • crockpot

Make it:

  • Place chicken breasts in crockpot.
  • Whisk together chicken broth and dry ranch packet mix; pour over chicken.
  • Dump bacon bits over chicken.
  • Cook in crockpot on low for 6-8 hours; then shred chicken and stir to get all the juices incorporated.
  • Mix together Ranch dressing and coleslaw mix to taste; add salt and pepper to taste (optional).
  • (I toasted my bun prior to making my sandwich--- this is optional).
  • Place slice of cheese on bottom bun, add shredded chicken mixture, top with Ranch slaw and Enjoy!

We had ours with some Checkers' fries (can be found in the frozen aisle at Meijer)--- SO yummy!!!

Do you have a family favorite sandwich you like to enjoy??

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the yummy goodness!! Be sure to check out other yummy recipes at:

Eat Drink & Be Mary

Friday, February 14, 2014

Five on Friday

TGIF--- can I get heck yea!?!? Today is a Friday first and I am doing a link-up with some other lovely blogger ladies and sharing my "Five on Friday". Basically you just share five things that are on your mind. Anything is game! Also this week they are raising awareness about Menkes Syndrome. A terrible, terminal and RARE disease that has affected Mary and Alex Fish and their son Theodore (Teddy). Go #TeamTeddy!! (Back story can be found here)

Here goes anything!!

one: This is the second weekend in a row that we have little to no plans for the weekend and I am LOVING it!! Many our friends live in other areas of the state or out of state and neither of our families live in town so we are constantly on the road visiting them. I cannot even remember the last time we did not have any plans for two weekends in a row! I think I will get some cleaning done around the house, relax, and work on some future blog posts!

two: I enjoy leisurely reading although sometimes it may take me awhile from start to finish! I love curling up in a warm blanket, with a cup of coffee and enjoying an afternoon of getting lost in a book. The book I am currently reading is Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. Libby Day was seven years old when her two sisters and mother were murdered in her home. At seven Libby Day testified that it was her brother who killed the rest of her family. Now Libby is in her thirties and second guessing herself. The book is about her quest to find the real truth about what happened that night. It is rumored to be a movie later this year as well as Flynn's other book Gone Girl which will feature Ben Affleck.
Is there a book you're reading or recently finished that you would recommend??

three: Plain and simple--- doing taxes stinks!! We have been working on ours for the last week or so and learned that we are going to have to pay back in over $2500!!! BOO! Just makes me nauseous thinking about it. It comes as a surprise to us (thinking-- hey we got married we should do alright this year right!?!?) and I think not planning for it causes it to deliver a bigger blow!

four: Last week I purchased a couple skirts from Old and they just came in the mail the other day (side note-- I LOVE getting mail!).  I have seen some fellow bloggers do some super cute things with skirts and I am excited to try it out! I can't wait to see what I come up with. Stay tuned lovelies! What is your favorite way to style a skirt in the winter?

five: Since I have a few days off before I have to be back to work and no plans, I think I may paint my nails! My job does not allow me to have painted nails at work and I really miss it! I enjoy doing it myself and feel more feminine with them painted! I love Essie's nail polishes: they have such fun colors! Do you have a favorite nail polish??

Thanks for stopping by!! 
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Day Date Night Inspiration

Happy Hump Day!!

In honor of Valentine's Day Friday I have five outfit ideas for a Date Night! Whether you and your significant other are getting fancy and headed out for a special dinner or just a burger and a beer; I hope I have some ideas here for you!

one-- A cute top or blouse with a statement necklace, black leggings/pants and some ankle booties!
Shirt: Lauren Conrad for Kohl's (Similar here)
black pants/leggings: Simply Vera for Kohl's (Similar here)
Booties: Forever 21 (Similar here or here)
Necklace and Bracelet (sparkle): grab-bag from Jane (boutique: Neon Cactus)
Bangles: Exact-- old (Similar here)

two-- A dress with a blazer and some tights!
 Blazer: Forever 21 (Similar here)
Dress: Target (Similar here or here)
Tights: Target (Exact here)
Booties: Sears (Similar here)
Necklace: Our World Boutique (Exact here)
Bracelet: Lauren Conrad for Kohl's

three-- A blazer, cute top/blouse, dressy slacks and ankle booties! Don't forget a statement necklace!
 Blazer: H&M (Exact here)
Lace shirt: Express (Similar here)
Black pant/leggings: Simply Vera for Kohl's (Similar here)
Booties: Macy's (Exact here)
Necklace: VeryJane
Watch: Fossil at Macy's
Bracelet: Lauren Conrad for Kohl's (Exact here)

four-- Blouse/dressier top, scarf, jeans and boots. Pops of jewelry here and there to finish the look!
 Shirt: Express (Similar here)
Pants: Old Navy Rockstar Jeans (similar here)
Scarf: Charming Charlie's
Boots: Payless
Earrings: World Market (Exact here)
Bracelet (sparkle): grab-bag VeryJane (boutique: Neon Cactus)
Heart Bangle and multi-bracelet: Lauren Conrad for Kohl's

five-- A cardigan with a statement necklace, jeans, booties with just a little heel
Cardigan: Target (cute options here or here)
Jeans: Banana Republic Factory Outlet Store
Booties: Nordstrom Rack
Necklace: Our World Boutique (Exact here)
Watch: local boutique (Newb's)
Heart bangle: Lauren Conrad for Kohl's (Similar here)

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the rest of your week!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas For Him

When it comes to Valentine's Day I feel like the guys kind of get left out. Sure, it is easy to buy your wife or girlfriend some flowers and a card if you're on a last minute ditch effort to get something, but what do we get our boyfriends and husbands? I have put together some ideas for you ladies! A few of them are "home made" gift ideas because I love that you can personalize it to fit your guy!

one: A "Big Hunk" or "Tall, Dark and Delicious" candy bar from World Market

Find these candy bar ideas and a store location near you here
Pair your candy up with a coffe/tea mug:
Find these and other great ones on etsy: Lenny Mud

two: Put together a basket or "bouquet" of your guy's favorite things. Whether it be his favorite candy, some beef jerky sticks, lotto tickets, pistachios and/or peanuts, gum, possibly a favorite liquour! Just have fun with it!
Man "Bouquet":
image source

three: Get your guy a phone charger that he can charge his phone anywhere with! Also perfect for when the power goes out and you need to charge your phone! (Works with iPhone and most USB connections)

Found here on Amazon or here. Also can be found at your local cell-phone retailer.

four: Bake him a favorite dessert and pair it with a bottle of wine!
Find this recipe here

five: Keep him warm this winter with this "trapper hat" from Target! Pair it with some cute gloves!
Link to hat here

Do you find it hard to come up with ideas for the man in your life?

Thanks for checking out the blog and for stopping by today!