Bad Case of the Mondays…

rainbootsHappy Monday!  Today has already been a really weird day, beginning with a call from one of my girlfriends who is currently on Safari in Tanzania.  It’s not every day that you start with a voicemail saying “I am calling you while in the middle of the Serengeti Desert.  You should answer your phone”  THEN I was in the twilight zone when I got on a bus that was mislabeled as my everyday but that took me on a very strange ride to work.  Not to mention the 5 voicemails and 15 work emails I had to sort through the second I finally got to work today.  So here it is, a case of the Mondays, I know I am not the first person to get this kind of feeling.  However, I have put together 5 things that are helping me through this Monday Madness….

Screen shot 2013-02-18 at 8.59.22 AM

Let’s start with these rain boots.   I had an amazing pair for the last 5 years until one fateful day, the entire lining ripped from the heel to the top of the boot.  It was time for new ones.  I found these babies at Macy’s.  They were part of the Presidents Day sale so I got a pretty sweet deal…  Either way, these are a good way to turn that frown upside down.

Buy them here for $90: Bootsi Tootsi, Buckle Riding Rain Boots

beyonce-life-is-but-a-dream-cover

Then after work, go home and watch this.  Beyonce’s documentary: Life Is But A Dream.  In case you have been living under a rock, this puppy was finally released out into the world on Saturday night.  It has gotten some serious praise and I think it is going to be interesting to get a glimpse into her life.  She has always been so intensely private and I think this was a brilliant move on her part.

Watch the trailer here: Life Is But A Dream

the-real-housewives-of-beverly-hills-kim-richards-camille-grammer-dancing-white-party

After you watch Beyonce, then you can watch tonight’s episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to see all of the drama unfold at Kyle’s annual White Party.  Apparently Taylor gets extremely intoxicated and Adrienne Maloof makes herself look like an even bigger bully.    There really is nothing better than getting snuggled in to watch some trashy TV.

broccoli-rice-ck-l

While watching all of this fun stuff, I am going to have this Broccoli chicken and rice casserole cooking in the oven.  Today is a comfort food kind of day, and since I can’t have pasta, I had to think outside the box.  This recipe from Cooking Light seems to fit the bill.

Get the recipe here: Broccoli and rice casserole

31+1wbDnhWL._SL500_AA300_

Finally to wrap things up, I am going to have a glass of wine.  I don’t know if you know this, but today is National Wine Day.  It’s true just Google it!  I got some good advice at a party this weekend.  I met Tanya and Flavio Gentile, the owners of the Printers Row Wine Shop. They were sort of the most fun couple ever, they had supplied all of the alcohol at a fabulous party that my cousin was throwing.  One of the girls asked me if I needed a drink and I said “sure any white wine that is NOT Chardonnay”  Of course she brought me a glass of Chardonnay.  Let me tell you now…. IT. WAS. AMAZING.  Flavio over heard me saying that I hated Chardonnay but loved the one at this party and he told me it was Rombauer Chardonnay.  HE called it “Cougar Juice” and that it is my friends.  It usually retails for about $35 a bottle (which is pretty steep in my book) however, I found it on Amazon for $25.

Get it here: Rombaurer Chardonnay

 

Roses are red, Wine is too, I’ll have a glass, how about you?

I love wine.  I do.  However, I don’t know a whole lot about it.  My husband and I went on an amazing wine tasting in Tuscany during our honeymoon, and that was really our first brush with wine awareness. Through the years I have always liked wine, but I was never very educated on it.  I still don’t really know what kinds of wine I really like. Pinot Noir? Cabernet Sauvignon? Chianti?  Pinot Grigio? Boxed wine? Screw Top?  It was all the same to me.  So I have started to listen to the BEST podcast ever.  It is called Wine for Normal People.  They have a great blog too.  It breaks it all down for you in simple terms while giving you really interesting information.  Seriously, I can’t say enough about this podcast.  But because of my budding interest in wine, I thought it would be fun to do a Valentine’s Day wine tasting for two last night.

IMG_3068

You could go in a lot of different directions with this.  You can do a tasting with several different varietals (one Pinot Noir, one Cabernet Sauvignon, one Merlot etc) OR you can do what we did and try three different brands of the same kind of wine.  We knew we liked Chianti Classico so we set out to try three different kinds.

Now there are a few interesting facts about regular Chianti vs. Chianti Classico.  First thing is, it is important to know that if you’re drinking Chianti, Sangiovese is the majority grape in that bottle.

Bottles simply labeled as “Chianti” are made from a mix grapes from several regions in the Chianti region. The main difference with generic Chianti and the rest, is that the minimum percentage of Sangiovese allowed is 75%, with the rules permitting white grapes to be blended in and at least 11.5% alcohol content.  Because of the white wine grapes being allowed to be mixed, it allows the wine to be more cost-effective for the winery.  It also produces a less exciting and more generic kind of wine which is why there is a distinction between the two.

The Chianti Classico region is central to the region of Chianti. In 1996 it was awarded DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) status, in an effort to raise its perceived quality. All Italian DOCG wines are actually tasted and analyzed in a lab in order to meet government approval.  If the wine passes, it will receive an individually numbered governmental seal across the cap or cork. (you can see in the photo the pink seal across the top) Chianti Classico’s are also the wines that you will see bearing a black rooster on the neck of the bottle. This is a conglomeration of Chianti producers whom have set up the Consorzio Chianti Classico, in a bid to improve the quality and reputation of the region.

The minimum percentage of Sangiovese allowed in Chianti Classico is 80%, with only red grapes permitted to make up the rest of the blend. Producers can of course choose to make their wine up to 100% Sangiovese, but it’s the exception and not the rule. The alcohol content must also be at least 12%, and the wine must spend at least 12 months aging in oak barrels.

IMG_3080 IMG_3078

So what I did for our tasting is I stuck a number on each bottle, one through three.  And then each of us had three wine glasses with the numbers one through three.  We poured the “one” bottle into the “one”  glass, the “two” bottle into the “two” glass and so on.  Then we each tried all three and ranked the three in order of favorite to least favorite.  Then we shared our answers with each other.  Our favorite was bottle number one.  Castello Di Bossi Chianti Classico 2005.  We both noticed that it was the easiest to drink, especially with food and it smelled and tasted like black cherries.  It is probably the only time I have ever been able to correctly identify what a wine smells or tastes like.  The other two were good but very different from number one.  This was such a fun thing to do at home with dinner, it made for some pretty hilarious conversation as we were trying to figure out what they smelled and tasted like (have I mentioned we really know nothing about wine).  But it was a fun, easy activity to warm up a cold winter’s night.  This would also be a great dinner party activity.

IMG_3082

I just love LOVE

vdaycollage

Happy Valentine’s Day readers!!!!! I hope you are all having a fantastic day so far.  There are a lot of things to love about this day, it’s not just about whether or not you are in relationship.  It is a great time to find joy in the dead of winter and to reach out and appreciate your friends and loved ones.  My friend Ellen hosted a BRILLIANT Galentine’s Day dinner party for a bunch of girlfriends.  (I’ll post picks on Facebook)It was seriously the best, but here are a few things I am doing and thinking of today to give a few giggles and to brighten up my day.

1.) I found THE FUNNIEST valentines on A Fish Who Likes Flowers’ blog.  I needed something super quick for my work friends who all have a wicked funny sense of humor. So I made a PDF which you can download for free HERE.  Then I downloaded the printable wrapping paper from Mein Lila Park’s blog and just cut out strips that I wrapped around each valentine as a little “envelope”.  Needless to say, they were a hit.

2.) Everyone needs a good red lipcolor.  These are my two favorite.  Dior Addict in Red Carpet is the perfect red lipstick, I bought it for my wedding.  It has some blue undertones so it makes your teeth look SUPER white.  The Nars gloss in Norma is the perfect top coat.  It has a little more orange in it so it makes the whole look more neutral.  What’s great is that because one is warmer and the other is cooler, you can mix and match with practically any gloss/lipstick combo you have.  They are the best for layering to get the shade you want.

3.) I love decorating for the holidays.  I usually put up some Valentine’s day stuff as soon as I take down my Christmas tree. In the entry way, I have some apothecary jars filled with candy.  Did anyone else know that there is a whole starburst bag of just the red flavors?  It changed my life when I found them! I also found the cutest tic tac toe game for the coffee table.  I was shopping at Homegoods and found it and the x’s and o’s made me think of v-day.

 

Give me Liberty or Give Me Lent!

photo (69)

The most amazing pasta that I ate last night.

Just look at that.  The love of my life. Pasta.  It’s too bad that I can’t eat it for the next 1117 hours.  That’s right, I gave it up for lent.  I am not normally someone who gives things up for lent.  I try but fail miserably every single time.  Listen, there is a reason why I was the only human on the planet who didn’t have a new years resolution.  I have to save up all of my abstinence energy for lent.  ‘Cause over one thousand hours, is a lot of hours to not be eating pasta.  Especially since it is probably the biggest food group that makes up my diet.  Any one who knows me, knows that I can whip up a pasta dish in my sleep.  It’s my favorite, EVER.  Pasta cold, pasta hot, pasta with vodka sauce, with butter and seasoning, with soup, with chicken, with cheese, you name it, I’ll eat it.  This is not going to be an easy journey.

The problem is that I am over 25 now, I have to stop eating so much pasta.  Unless I want to be 400 pounds and single, I have to stop. I am considering this my 46 day program.  There are other options that I need to try, that I need to teach myself to like.  Rice, quinoa, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, couscous, potatoes.  There are other fish in the sea.  So here it goes……. Wish me luck!

 

Throw me somethin’ mister!

Fun fact: I grew up in Mobile, Alabama and we celebrate Mardi Gras every single year.  

There is actually a lot that people don’t really know about this holiday.   When I moved up here I would talk about how I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to go to Mardi Gras.  I didn’t realize that the only thing people thought of when I talked about it was New Orleans, Bourbon Street, Parades, and appearances of many body parts that are supposed to stay covered most of the time.  In an effort to try to clear the air I wanted to throw out some fun facts for you.  Feel free to insert them into any conversation today since it is officially Mardi Gras today.

A-group-of-masked-and-costumed-Mardi-Gras-revelers-on-Frenchman-Street-New-Orleans-circa-1910

c-4016

1.)  “In 1703 French settlers in Mobile, Alabama established the first organized Mardi Gras celebration tradition in what was to become the United States.” – Wikipedia

So, you see, it all started in Mobile, NOT New Orleans like most people think.  Not to knock on New Orleans celebrations at all, I’m just stating a fact; they didn’t start all of these shenanigans

422264_3060575565114_383627897_n

2.) Alot of people think these are parades just happen one day.  Not many people stop to wonder, “who pays for all of this”?  “What is the reason behind doing this?” “Where are all of these crazy looking people going?  Are they just driving in a circle?”

Well, each of these parades is funded, organized and executed by mystic societies or krewes.  Many of them are still considered secret societies, which explains the goofy masks the riders wear.  You see, all of these men on the floats are parading too their society or krewe’s formal ball.  Their identities must be kept hidden until they can get to the location of the soiree so they must wear masks.  To even further the secrecy of the members identities, a strict dress code is enforced for guests.  All men who are not riding in the parade must wear a tuxedo with tails and a white bow tie or Costume de Rigueur.  This way one would not be able to distinguish between a guest and an actual member.

10617871-standard

camellia-ball-debutanjpg-14d80ecaad040909

3,) Beyond just the parades and the balls, is an intense network of society rigmarole that determines who will be king and queen and the courts.  Mardi Gras season actually starts in November, with exclusive parties held by some secret mystic societies and has become closely entwined with the social debutante season. The official start of the season in Mobile is the Camellia Ball which is held during Thanksgiving weekend, then the debutantes and their escorts attend parties from that time forward until they are presented in elaborate court dress on the Saturday before Fat Tuesday to the King and Queen. The king and queen as well as the court are picked from the debutante “class” of that year.

~psB7.tmp KingCake6

4.) King cake parties are another festivity that is often occurring during the Carnival/Mardi Gras season.  A king cake is like a huge cinnamon roll that is smothered with white icing and sprinkled with yellow, green, and purple sugar.  There is also a little plastic baby hidden inside of it. The person who gets the piece of cake with the baby inside of it is Queen or King for the day and they are bestowed with an obligation to host the next king cake party.  I have to say, king cake is probably one of my favorite parts of Mardi Gras that is in very close competition to my next favorite thing….

800px-Moon-Pie-Single

large_moonpie

5.) Moonpies! The Moon Pie became a traditional “throw” (an item thrown from a parade float into the crowd) of Mardi Gras parades in Mobile, Alabama during 1956.  These babies have everything you need on a cold winter night, two cookies, stuffed with marshmallow, dipped in chocolate.  What. More. Could. One. Want… Seriously. Mobile also went a little over board in its display of moonpie affection in 2008.  They raised a 12-foot-tall lighted mechanical moon pie to celebrate the coming of the new year. The giant banana colored MoonPie is raised by a crane to a height of 200 feet as the clock strikes midnight.  Also, the city had for the 2008 New Year’s celebration the world’s largest moon pie baked for the occasion. It weighed 55 pounds and contained 45,000 calories.  Gimme dat moonpie!