Monthly Archives: September 2011

Sometimes You Have to Say No

My mom has taught me a lot of things over the years. How to cook with wine, how (and when) to get what you want, and how to drive a car, to name just a few. But today, I have one specific lessons she taught me regarding fashion in mind. “Not to wear anything that doesn’t fit or isn’t  flattering, no matter how cute it was on the hanger.” I was reminded of these words of wisdom today.


I’ve seen girls wearing shorts with tights lately and I like the look, but it doesn’t work with just any shorts.


Well today I saw the cutest black tweed shorts. I wanted them immediately and they were a good price….But then I saw them on me. My normal size was a little too tight in the waist so I went up a size, but this made them big everywhere else. That plus a few tiny pleats on the front (why pleats?! they don’t flatter almost anyone) just ruined them for my body. I stood in front of the mirror for probably five minutes, trying to decide if I could pull them off. But finally I had to realize that if I kept them, I’d be wondering if I looked okay the entire time I wore them. And if you’re not comfortable in an outfit, it shows. So sadly, these shorts had to go back to the store. There’s just no point in spending money on something that isn’t flattering or doesn’t fit. Sometimes you just have to say no.


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Bad Days

We deviate from today’s regularly scheduled programming to focus on something a little different.

I know everyone can relate to the title, we’ve all had bad days. Days that were so bad, it was almost like they were scripted.

But you know who’s had some really bad days?



I’ve recently jumped on the 24 bandwagon and I’m, well, obsessed. But with every episode I keep thinking, “Man, that Kim Bauer is having one heck of a bad day!”

**MAJOR SPOLER ALERT (Stop reading if you haven’t seen the series yet!)

Season one, Kim sneaks out of her house to party with a friend and is kidnapped by some crazy people, she escapes, then she gets lost in the wilderness with her mom for a bit, goes to a safe house that isn’t so safe, runs to her former kidnapper for help, gets caught up in the middle of a drug deal gone bad, goes to jail, is proven innocent and then on her way to see her mom and dad  is re-kidnapped. Eventually she is saved and reunited with her father, cause her mom died. All within 24 hours. Great day!

Season two (so far) Kim is an Au Pair for a family where the father is violent. She gets the kid out of the house and the father hunts her down, threatens and attacks her. She escapes and goes to her father’s office, where a bomb explodes before she can receive assistance. She then has to take the kid to the hospital for injuries sustained by her abusive father. He catches them at the hospital and threatens to have Kim arrested for kidnapping (IRONIC MUCH). Her boyfriend beats him up and they escape in the dad’s car, but are then pulled over and the mom’s dead body is discovered in the trunk. Kim is once again arrested. Oh, and there’s a nuclear bomb set to detonate in LA, which they were trying to escape from. She is in the process of being transfered back to LA when they cause the cop car to crash and she escapes into the wilderness, gets caught in a snare, spends quality time with a conspiracy theorist woodsman, and then tries to hitchhike to her Aunt’s house. The first car is a creepy man, then she gets a ride from a woman. She makes a phone call to her dad who says goodbye cause he is going to fly the nuke away from LA and will be killed in the process. He doesn’t end up dying. She then gets taken hostage in a store robbery….. that’s as far as I’ve gotten in the second season.

FUN STUFF. Man, If I was her, I’d stay home…forever!

Some of you might say, “Umm I’m pretty sure Jack Bauer hasn’t had a super day either!” Well to that I say, Jack Bauer signed up for this gig. He chose his profession. Kim Bauer just has the worst luck ever and can’t seem to catch a break!

Also I mentioned to Military Man the clothing budget for 24 must be extremely low. People don’t change clothes multiple times a day…pretty much a genius concept to cut down the production budget! Naturally, that fact never occurred to Military Man, shocking I know. 😉

Tomorrow we will back to your regularly scheduled programming of healthy food and cute dog pics 😉


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Crock Pot Thoughts

Nothing says comfort food like a crock pot. It brings back the nostalgia of the 70s…I always think of the Brady Bunch for some reason. (Even though I recall that Alice usually made their meals…)

I don’t even know if crock pots were around in the 70s…but for some reason, to me, that is the era they bring to mind.

Now I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t spend my day googling different crock pots and , by proxy, recipes.

But really…this is what I googled: “Crock pots causing fires”

I’ll be the first to admit, I can be a bit paranoid. I keep  a sticky note over my laptop camera so “they” can’t see me. I worry about Glade plug ins causing fires (oddly enough I never worry about candles, cause I have never left one burning) and I have to unplug the Glade air fresheners when I leave. And now I worry about crock pots going crazy.

Despite the fact that I have successfully used a Crock Pot before, I still worry.

(If I have Boo with me, I worry less about leaving a Crock Pot going or a Glade air freshener plugged in.)

Logically, I know this fear is irrational. If you do your research and read all of the reviews and reports before you make your Crock Pot purchase…all should be well. Besides, most people leave toasters, microwaves and blenders plugged in when not in use. Crock Pots are designed specifically with that purpose in mind; to do the work while you’re AWAY.

And the fact that I’ve even made food successfully, in a Crock Pot, just proves my paranoia wrong.

But I’m done rambling on about Crock Pots…I need your thoughts. Once I get my CP back I’ll be sure to whip up some special stuff, like BBQ Pulled Chicken and my Black Bean Sweet Potato tacos!

Have you ever used a Crock Pot before? Do you have a favorite recipe?


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Healthy Substitutes

today I’m joining Brittany in her observance of Salubrious September  with a post about healthy eating and dealing with cravings. You know from this post that I’ve been trying over the past year or so to eat healthier. Whether I like it or not, I’m heading into my mid-twenties (Brittany, no comments from you. You’re only a year younger!). Unfortunately, diabetes and obesity also run in my family. So I have to be very careful about that. Since I’ve started cooking more and making healthier choices, I have mostly lost my taste for fast food and actually prefer whole wheat pasta. But I’ll be honest with you, I still have a huge weak spot for soda, ice cream, and Starbucks. Maybe I’ll always want more of these things than I should, or maybe I’ll eventually lose my taste for them as well (my mom swears she really doesn’t crave sugar anymore). But in the mean time, I have to make sure I’m making healthy choices without depriving myself. It’s important to indulge in your cravings once in awhile or they’ll get out of control. But the rest of the time you just have to say no. Or…you can find healthy substitutes that trick your brain into thinking it got what it wanted. Read on to find out how.

I really really love soda. Unfortunately, it’s also really really bad for you. of course, diet soda is an option. But I have a sensitivity to all artificial sweetners except splenda, they give me killer headaches. And really, diet soda isn’t that appealing. Well I’ve come to realize that while I do like the taste of soda, sometimes its just the bubbles that I crave. So now, if I’m really craving soda I trying drinking ice cold club soda first. Usually, this satisfies my craving and I just saved 150 calories while also getting extra water.


Ice cream is my second most common craving. But this one is a little easier to find substitutes for. There are lots of healthier ice cream alternatives out there that are way more delicious than diet soda. One I highly recommend are Skinny Cow products. I had the ice cream sandwiches a long time ago and remember not liking them very much. But it’s possible that my tastes have since changed or they changed their recipe. Either way, two of their products that I do like and have had recently are the white mint truffle bars and the mint with fudge ice cream cones. The cones are 150 calories and the truffle bars are only 100! As long as you’re not having one every night, these are a perfectly reasonable dessert. And they don’t taste low-cal at all, I promise.

Starbucks is a slightly harder craving to satisfy with an alternative. I can’t make drinks like Starbucks does at home, even if I wasn’t worried about the calorie content. But I have found one thing I can make at home that’s slightly lower in calories (not to mention cheaper!). it’s not Starbucks, but it’s pretty darn good. Hot chocolate with cinnamon. Yum! Swiss Miss milk chocolate hot chocolate mix only has 138 calories, as opposed to the 438 calories in a starbucks’ White Chocolate  Mocha. The cinnamon hot chocolate can be made with water or fat free milk and will usually satisfy my Starbucks craving.


Question of the night: do you have any healthy substitutes that you reach for when you have a craving for something not so healthy?

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In my opinion, chicken is one of the most versatile meats. Or poultry, Most Versatile Poultry, if you like.

You can dress it up or dress it down, brine it, bake it, fry it, stuff it; the possibilities are endless!

This weekend Military Man and I went on a little trip to visit his family. And I managed to convince him that a trip to Trader Joe’s was in order (and his sister-in-law totally agreed) 🙂

Saturday night we whipped up Parmesan chicken (following Giada’s recipe) and made spice cake with cream cheese icing. Talk about a delicious dinner! I didn’t take any photos cause I was too busy chowing down. It was so nice to be able to just relax and hang out with great company! We’re going to try and make it a more regular event.

But I digress, the chicken recipe I will be sharing today involves a fantastic ingredient…Panko bread crumbs! We stopped at The Fresh Market and I grabbed some up along with one lovely Meyer Lemon. This is so easy and….you guessed it…versatile!

Flax & Panko Breaded Chicken Breasts

Serves 4


-4 boneless skinless thin sliced chicken breasts

-1 tsp salt

-1 tsp pepper

-2 eggs

-2 TB ground flax

-1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In 1 bowl whisk eggs, in another mix the panko, flax, and saltNpepper.

Dip chicken breasts into egg mixture and then put them into the bread crumb bowl and coat.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. (I am adding the cooking spray suggestion now because when I made this I did not spray the foil…and the results could’ve been better!)

Pop those bad boys in the oven at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

(I cooked mine for 35 minutes and when I pulled them out I nuked them for 1 minute in the microwave, cause I’m paranoid like that)

The chicken was juicy and tender….with a little bit of crunch! I’m betting adding garlic powder to the batter would be awesome…I’ll test it out another time.

The best thing about this recipe is the versatility (word du jour I’m tellin’ ya!) You can cut the chicken into strips and make chicken tenders, dip in ketchup or mustard, top with marinara and cheese for a twist on chicken parmesan. Or you can do what I did and make this fantastic glaze.

Maple Mustard Glaze

Serves 2

-1 3/4 TB maple syrup

-1/2 tsp mustard powder

-1/4 tsp yellow mustard (I used French’s)

-1/4 tsp lemon juice

– pinch of salt and pepper

Mix the maple syrup and mustard powder in a small bowl and microwave for 10 seconds (this will help the powder dissolve into the maple syrup) Then add the yellow mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well and drizzle over the chicken.

**This glaze would also be delicious on pork loin!!**

I gobbled mine up with corn and peas on the side…and a little extra glaze. This was a light and healthy meal that was easy and fast to whip up! The glaze starts sweet but definitely has a spicy kick (putting the POW in powder!) Similar to honey mustard, but lacking the floral sweetness that is honey. This glaze is all about feisty flavor, enjoy!

And I have 3 more pieces for 3 more meals! I’m all about making enough to have leftovers and figuring out how to revamp leftovers is one of life’s little joys!

Hope you have a great rest of your week!

If you try this recipe, be sure to let me know what you think! What is your favorite poultry? Do you think any others are more versatile than my dearest chicken?

Bon appetit!



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The Perfect Grilled Cheese

For dinner tonight, I enjoyed grilled cheese and my one of my favorite soups (The Fresh Market’s elusive chicken tortilla soup if you’re curious). I love grilled cheese. But really, who doesn’t? Hahaha. I have a confession though, I used to be horrible at making it. I mean sure, I could slap cheese between two slices of bread and grill it. But the outside would usually be done before the cheese had even started melting, and I could never figure out how restaurants got their grilled cheese so crispy. maybe I was just slow on the uptake and you all know the solutions to these issues. But in case you didn’t, I decided to post some of my tips for the perfect grilled cheese.

1. Toast the bread. The secret to getting a crispy grilled cheese sandwich is toasting the bread before you butter it and grill the sandwich. A friend told me this once when I was complaining that my grilled cheese was never crispy. And it works!


2. Let the cheese sit out for a little while before you make your sandwich. if the cheese is room temperature when you make the sandwich, it will melt faster (although if you’re using Kraft singles, this probably isn’t necessary because they melt really fast)


3. Finally, cook on medium-low heat and flip often (tongs work much better than a spatula). then enjoy!


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Vanessa’s closet

I have a new post for you all that will also become a reoccurring feature on the fashion page. As I’ve said before, I get a lot of ideas for different ways to use what I already have in my closet just by watching the people around me. My city may not be a hot bed of fashionistas, but there are plenty of girls out there who really know how to dress well. So I decided that I would start ocassionally posting pictures of what I wore that day, not to tell you all what you should or shouldn;t wear, but to hopefully give you some inspiration when it feels like you’ve worn everything in your closet 1,000,000,000 times already. Sometimes it’ll be lumped in with another post and sometimes it’ll be by itself like today. I hope you guys find this feature useful. I usually won’t be talking much about the outfit, but if you have any questions feel free to ask. So without further ado, here’s the first outfit (sorry about the horrible picture quality, there is absolutely no natural light today):

Occasion: Work
Grey cardigan: JC Penney’s
Black dress pants: Kohl’s
Turqouise camisole: Maurices
Python belt: Anne Taylor, $19
Cross necklace: Maurices

I’ll continue to provide info on the price of items and where I got them like I have been, in case anyone is curious. But I keep my clothes for a really long time, so I may not always remember the price. Almost everything I’m wearing in this outfit is at least 2 years old and I honestly can’t remember any of the prices. And look, there’s that python belt again. I told you it was versatile!

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