Warm Weather Dreaming!

I woke up to a blanket of snow on the ground and big, fluffy flakes falling from the sky. Not quite what I expected after a pretty warm weekend. Also, not what I expected as I’ve been daydreaming of spring for a while now. We made the best of it and had a little fetch party before I had to start working.

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Since we’re all going to need warmer clothes for the foreseeable future, I decided it’s time for another giveaway!

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This gorgeous original Bostonian scarf (My2Shay) is up for grabs (and trust me, it will KEEP you warm!).

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Also, two fun sets of earrings are looking for a new owner (Painted Pearl), keep one for yourself and give one to a friend!

Simple rules: 

1. Donate $5 (or more! Feel free to be generous) to the Pretty in Pink Bucket List project (read more here)

2. Share the blog post on Twitter or Facebook with buttons

3. Comment on the blog that you donated (make sure your comment has your same name that shows when you donated)

This cause is near and dear to my heart and I would love to continue making dreams come true for some breast cancer champions. Last year, there were so many items crossed off of bucket lists because of generous people like YOU. Let’s do it again in 2015! 

Giveaway runs through midnight on Thursday (3/5/15). Only open to U.S. participants. Must do all three steps (will be verified) in order to win. *Entries from past giveaway will be honored for those who donated $25 or $50*

Weekend Wrap Up [Valentine’s Day]

I must say, this was one of my most favorite Valentine’s Days EVER. Mostly because we were involved in saving Stella, but also because we had lots of time together. Friday was mostly spent crying over dogs at the shelter but we did have a yummy dinner at a new local restaurant and ran into some of our neighbors (goal this year? Spend time hanging out with the neighbors).

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On Saturday, we started the day with a stack of pink pancakes, a side of eggs, and lots of smiles because I had confirmation that we could bust sweet Stella out of the shelter. Next time, I’ll add more food coloring to the mix. I was going for ombre but it was a little off; although, still delicious.

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My husband got a record player for Christmas, so he’s slowly been building his collection. We don’t usually do Valentine’s Day gifts (just a nice dinner and some quality time together), but I surprised him with two new albums: Bruce Springsteen (Tunnel of Love) and Percy Sledge (When a Man Loves a Woman). The Springsteen album even had a song called “Valentine’s Day” on it. I also got an adorable bottle of wine called “Monogamy”, which seemed fitting for newlyweds.

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After we got Stella out of doggie jail and to her foster’s house, we decided to stop in Ass Clown Brewery in Cornelius. We had a few flights of their super creative beers (I can’t believe how many they have!). Even more so, I can’t believe we ran into my husband’s cousin and his wife who live in Charleston at the brewery. Small world! We had a great time catching up with them and may have indulged in a few more beers while we chatted.

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My pretty pink Lilly Pulitzer “Elsa” top got RIPPED by the crate for Stella before we got to the brewery. Of course, I didn’t notice until we were in a public location and then I wanted to cry. But my hubs made it (somewhat) better when he told me our dinner was at Passion8, which has been one of our favorite restaurants to go to as a couple.

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They had a special menu for Valentine’s Day and only three seatings for the evening. My favorite courses were the soup (it was cold outside) and dessert. I passed on their creative cocktails because of the beer we had earlier in the day. Everything was delicious, as always, but again… that desert. It had NUTELLA. Always a winner for me.

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Like I said, it was a perfect Valentine’s weekend, with my perfect Valentine. I love this Walt Whitman quote (and print by Makewells). Hope your weekend was filled with love and happiness, too!

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Saving Stella

On Friday, I decided to meet my old neighbor at Char-Meck Animal Control to check out a dog she wanted. That was probably mistake #1. Animal control is a bad place for me to go for a number of reasons: 1) I will inevitably leave crying (which happened); 2) I will want to adopt/save all of the dogs – and won’t be able to(which happened); 3: I will feel helpless (which happened).

I walked through the kennels and let the dogs sniff/lick my hands, all while my heart was breaking. I did a pretty good job of holding it together until I met Stella. She couldn’t make eye contact with me. She looked like she was ashamed of being there. Hopeless. Lost. Confused.  Sad. Her eyes were the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. I lost it right there.

I made another loop through the kennels, falling in love with Casper, the white boxer, Cooper the small shepherd mix, Jimmy, the border collie, Choppa, the big bully mix and Calley, an adorable pointer mix (all pictured above). I stopped to talk to Stella again. I wanted to hug her and tell her it would be alright. She leaned into the kennel to let me touch her as I sobbed about the situation these dogs were in. I promised her I would do all that I could for her and I would be back. That was a big promise, especially for a dog that I knew nothing about. I had no idea how she was with kids, dogs or cats. She wasn’t overly friendly. She wasn’t a puppy. She was a pit bull, for Christ’s sake. I got it together long enough to walk back through animal control, past the officers and then sobbed all the way home. Falling into my husband’s arms when I walked into the door and mumbling some non-sense about quitting my job to save dogs full time.

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I posted the video publicly on Facebook and asked friends and family to share her story far and wide. I tagged my friend, Laura, who founded a foster non-profit in Charlotte, (Dog Days of Charlotte) who I know loves pit bulls and she immediately started helping me find rescues to save Stella. We had a rescue (Catering to Cats and Dogs) within half an hour of posting and then we just needed a foster and/or donations for medical care. Some incredibly generous soul donated $160 right away. While a wonderful lady volunteered to foster and/or adopt Stella. We worked until about 11 PM solidifying details and once the plan was set, I cried some more. We were going to get this sweet girl out!

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On Saturday, my husband and I drove to animal control and busted Stella out. I had prepped him that I had no idea how she would be out of the kennel. I told the foster she would probably need a few days to decompress in a quiet place and realize she was safe before introducing to other dogs/kids. She probably wouldn’t want to give attention or play much those first few days. And then she came out, and she was… amazing.

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She gave us hugs and kisses. She took treats gently and let us put the collar and leash on her with no issue. She even played with the leash for a minute. She walked happily out of AC and hopped in the car and I swear she knew she was free.

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She took lots of opportunities to give us more kisses and rest her head on us. I may or may not have cried a million more times.

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We stopped at Petco to grab something from the rescue and let a few gals meet her and I grabbed her a stuffed squeaky toy and a bone to take to her foster’s house. She LOVED her toy.

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She was super sweet when meeting her foster family (and they hope to adopt her, too!). She was gentle with the kids, and didn’t want to put her toy down. The hardest part was saying goodbye. She kept pulling on her leash to come with us, which made me run back and hug her a few more times and tell her to be a good girl. We waved from the window and then drove off and as soon as we were driving, she turned and walked happily with her new family into their home. And yes, I cried again. Happy tears, though. I am so grateful for everyone that helped save her and that she will now live a happy life. I encourage everyone to check out your local shelter or rescues and adopt instead of buying from pet stores or breeders. There are a million dogs like Stella out there.

Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” ― Karen Davison

Also, I know spending the morning at Animal Control, saving dogs, transporting, stopping by an adoption event and meeting fosters wasn’t my husband’s idea of a great Valentine’s day, but to me, it was perfect. I’m so glad he was with me for all of those moments yesterday. I think Stella was glad he was there, too. <3

Find these amazing rescues on social media: 

Dog Days of Charlotte: Facebook and Twitter

Catering to Cats and Dogs: Facebook and Twitter

Guy Day Friday [Shrimp Tacos]

I discovered this delicious shrimp taco recipe a few weeks ago (thanks, Pinterest) and thought it would be PERFECT for a guy who wants to make something a little more involved than a single protein + a veggie + a starch. It’s delicious AND healthy, so a real winner in my book.

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I altered the recipe slightly to make it a little spicier. I like to serve it with 1/2 cup black beans or refried black beans (organic!). This is pretty close to ‘clean eating’, except for the tortillas. I usually get wheat tortillas, but you could skip them all together and just do taco salad. It would be yummy either way!

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Ingredients:

  • Raw (or frozen) large shrimp (remove tail) *you’ll want about 5-7 per taco
  • Tortillas (flour, corn, you pick!)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 1 lime or lime juice
  • Small head of lettuce or red cabbage
  • Fresh salsa (not salsa from a jar, should be found in the produce section)
  • Optional: jalapenos, cheese, salsa
  • 1 6 oz. container of 0% greek yogurt

Spices needed:

  • Cumin (1/2 tsp) + 1/4 tsp for sour cream
  • Paprika (1/4 tsp)
  • Crushed red pepper (1/4 tsp)
  • Cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp)
  • Garlic (1 clove – minced)
  • Salt (dash – OPTIONAL)

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Directions:

  1. In a large skillet with a TBS olive oil, put thawed shrimp flat on one side over medium heat
  2. Cook shrimp on each side for 3 minutes
  3. Mix garlic, cumin, cayenne, red pepper and salt in a small bowl (if you have time to marinate the shrimp, mix these items before, add 1 TSP olive oil and put shrimp in bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes before cooking)
  4. While shrimp are cooking, chop your avocado, tomato, onion, lettuce, and lime (and jalapeno if you have one)
  5. Once shrimp are pink on both sides, cover with spice mixture and 1/4-1/2 cup of water (depending on how many shrimp you have) and turn heat down to low-medium to let simmer (for 2-5 minutes)
  6. Mix yogurt, juice from 1 lime (or 1 TBS lime juice), 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp paprika and 2 TBS chopped cilantro together to make Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream
  7. Heat tortillas just before serving
  8. Serve and top with items of choice + a side of black beans or refried black beans

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This is an EASY dinner and delicious to top it off! I like to use the leftovers for taco salad the next day. Enjoy!

Happy Spring!

The past 5 days have felt like Spring and have gotten me wishing that winter was really over. Alas, we are right smack dab in the middle of winter and according to our trusty groundhog friend, it will continue for 4 more weeks? (I know it’s six, but I’m about two week reporting on his shadow being seen). So, I’m making Spring happen anyway! On Sunday, we went hiking at the USNWC (whitewater center) and then I took our older dog, Bud, for a quick run.

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The sun felt amazing as we trekked through the trails. It was almost 70 degrees! In February! Reminds me of when I lived in Florida and it was so warm on my birthday in January that some of my sorority sisters and I went to sit on the beach and just enjoy the beautiful day.

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We are so fortunate to have the USNWC so close to home. It is such a great place to go for a run or hike or even mountain biking (although I’m far too scared of the drop offs to try it!). Plus, I love escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city. The USNWC is like a whole different world.

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Since it feels so much like Spring, I ordered a new workout which is going to help get me ready for the beach. I loved the original 21 Day Fix so much. I’m super excited to see how 21 days with Autumn Calabrese and the #21DFX go! (PS, if you want to join in, leave a comment and let me know! We have a great accountability group that will start on 2/16 and keep you on track with others who are doing the same program!).

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Yesterday, I scooped up these beauties to brighten up the dining room and also put a vase of them in the kitchen. Tulips are always our first sign that spring is right around the corner. Since we still have 37 days until it’s ACTUALLY spring, I’m going to spend my time enjoying the sunny days by being outside, enjoying bright flowers inside and dreaming of warmer weather.

GuyDay Friday [PieDay]

When we went to Key West in January, I fell in love with chocolate-dipped key lime pie on a stick. Ha, you’re drooling now, right? Me too. It’s seriously as delicious as it sounds – or maybe even better. Upon returning home, I found that Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Shoppe will ship 12 of these heaven-on-a-stick treats to you… for a price: $79 + overnight shipping. I weighed this in my mind as the thought of having 12 of them in my hands was amazing but HOLY COW, that’s a lot of money for some pie.

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So, instead of splurging on a shipment of heaven-on-a-stick, I decided to make my own. Easy, peasy, right? Well, kind of. I got a recipe from The Food Network and altered it to be dark chocolate. Also, I found it to be a little unclear on what kind of bowl exactly to use to melt the chocolate (I’m thinking for the average person, you don’t just have large bowls that fit over top of pots of boiling water). I used a glass mixing bowl and it didn’t break. Not saying that’s the best option but it was what I had to work with and the outcome was pretty good  (and tasty).

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Frozen Key Lime Pie (or, make your own pie and freeze it)
  • Popsicle sticks (I suggest Michaels or SuperTarget to find these)
  • Two 16 oz. bags of dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips (or one of each)
  • Empty large yogurt container or something similar (should be deep and not too wide)
  • Wax paper
  • Heat safe bowl (think silicon or ceramic)
  • Rubber spatula

Directions:

  • Freeze the pie if not already frozen
  • Cut pie into even slices (recipe called for 10, I got 8)
  • Insert popsicle stick into crust and about 1/2 way into pie slice (be gentle so as not to crumble the crust)
  • FREEZE until rock hard (this may require making your freezer colder for a little bit!)
  • Bring a pot of water to boil and place a heat-safe bowl over top of the pot (try this bowl!) without touching water
  • Once water is boiling, turn off heat and place 2/3 chocolate chips in bowl and stir with rubber spatula until melted
  • Once melted, remove bowl from pot and stir in other 1/3 of chips until melted (may need to use a hand mixer)
  • Pour chocolate into empty (clean) yogurt container
  • Dip each piece of pie into the container getting a thin labor of chocolate all over (thin is key!)
  • Place pie slices on wax paper to dry and then return to freezer once chocolate has hardened
  • Serve on a hot, summer day (or a cool winter day when you want the taste of summer)

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Lessons learned: My chocolate was far too thick on the pie slices, causing it to be difficult to bite into and then requiring us to use forks. If you think there’s excess chocolate on the pie, use a rubber spatula to remove before cooling. Otherwise? It was absolutely delicious and I will 100% be making these again. I would recommend pie without whipped cream so that you can dip the WHOLE slice of pie. I didn’t use the yogurt container so my bowl wasn’t deep enough to get the whole slice.

I have a feeling I will one day order Kermit’s Key Lime Pie bars and have them specially delivered; but for now, this recipe is about $70 cheaper and pretty close to being the same. Definitely worth giving it a shot. I shared with my friend who has two kids (4 and 2) and thought they would love to make these – and eat them. Happy Pie Day!

#NONEWFASHION in January

I’ve mentioned once or twice how much I love shopping and new clothes. I’ve probably also mentioned how much my husband hates this shopping addiction of mine. So, I made a commitment in January to not buy any new clothes (inspired by Katie’s #NONEWFASHION post). Katie’s post is more about the ethics of the fashion industry (with stats to back it up), and I’m all for that, but I also wanted to try to just refrain from buying new things because I can.

Truth be told, I have more clothes than anyone needs. Especially since I “clean out my closet” every 4-6 weeks and take items to the shelter. The only compromise with this was of course, necessities. Which happened to be snow boots for those trips I was supposed to take to Boston and new tights.

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Instead of shopping online or in retail stores, I visited a local consignment store and bought two pair of Banana Republic pants (wool!) – and one pair was brand new, a Gap cardigan, and a super cute blue dress with the tags still on it, all for $52. Definitely a successful day of shopping, for me and my bank account.

So, I made it through the month of January without buying anything NEW, which was the goal. Consignment shopping is the way to go. Do you know how many people take NEW clothes to consignment stores? While I don’t think I could go the whole year without grabbing anything, I do plan to continue practicing some discipline when it comes to my wardrobe and ignoring those impulsive buys, so-called “good deals” and instead, seeking out only things that I need and checking out consignment stores more often. Will you hop on board with #NONEWFASHION, too?