27.7.16

What's Up Wednesday: July 2016

I can't remember the last time I linked up for "What's Up Wednesday" But here goes nothing!

This week I have been eating my strawberry cheesecake cannolis (recipe tomorrow;), my Italian Pork Roast, and my Poolside Manners Cocktail.




I am reminiscing about our trip to Jekyll Island this time a few years ago. We have visited a few times and each trip this small majestic island off the coast of Georgia captures another piece of my heart. It's been a few years since our last visit and am hoping to get back soon!





I am loving all of the new updates we have done to our house lately. We got new comforter sets/sheets/pillows for both our bedroom and the guest room. We also bought this gorgeous new couch that is actually a futon for our office and can't wait for it to arrive. Slow changes are happening but I am pumped.

We have actually stayed at home the past two weekends and done local stuff which is so unusual for us but so much fun. Outdoor movies, local festivals. Eating lots of yummy goodies, and prepping for our fall trips!



I am dreading this whole week of temps 95 + and almost 100% humidity. Do not get me wrong, I am a person who would always choose to be hot over cold, but these temps are just too much and rather brutal. Going outside takes your breath away!

I am working on a few pitches for a couple of article ideas I have. I am also working on photos with my friend Beth for my upcoming cocktail cookbook. EEEEEK I have 73 original recipes as of now. It is just about photographing them and choosing which ones for the book!

I am so excited about seeing the play Mary Poppins tonight! I saw it on Broadway a few years ago and can't wait to see it here in Raleigh. My bestie and I have season tickets and this is our finale show of the season.

I just finished Marcella on Netflix and it was absolutely amazing! I loved it. One of my all time favorite binge watches was The Fall (with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan) and this kind of reminded me of that. I am about to start on Marco Polo. I just finished The Bookman's Tale which takes place between England and North Carolina and I adored it. Starting a new book this morning, haven't really decided which one yet. I read about 5-7 books a week and just decide as I go or when my holds become available through the library. ( this is the one plus to no kids, I just read every night before bed and can fly through books;)

I am wearing my new Tieks. I will probably write a blog post on these soon. I got the patent red leather ones and it is love! They were an anniversary present from my husband and absolutely everything I heard beforehand was true, So far they are definitely living up to the hype!

This weekend we have some of our best friends (and their littles) visiting us. We will be hitting up some museums and the (air conditioned) carousel at one of our local parks. Gonna eat lots of goodies and catch up.

Next month we are making up our recent lack of travel. The first weekend we head to Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach. Then I have a speaking engagement with NAMI. Next up, we head to Richmond and DC. The next weekend my mom and I are taking our annual trek to NYC for her birthday.  The last weekend a friend and I have a really special trip planned to the mountains of West Virginia and I will talk more about what that entails in the next few months.
DC, NYC, RVA

I think my favorite thing about summer is Watermelon. Since I have eaten it for the last eight days for breakfast...


What all is new with you guys?

Linking up for What's Up Wednesday!





26.7.16

The Weekend That Was Hot As Hades

This past weekend was filled with festivals and completely overhauling our house. We took multiple trips to Goodwill, World Market, & Lowes. Our bedroom got a whole new look and I am totally in love with it. Our new comforter set...le sigh. It makes getting out of bed absolute torture but our sleep has stepped up its game.

On Friday, I spent the day with my friend Beth, preparing cocktails and yummy goodness so she could capture a few shots with her amazing photography skills. I am so elated and cannot wait to see the finished products. I have some exciting plans for those photos and The Whimsy One brand over the next few months. Stay tuned for details but it will be fun!

Friday night, Tony and I grabbed a bite to eat at a new restaurant and then headed to a movie at one of our favorite local theaters. We saw 'Our Kind of Traitor' which was fantastic and grabbed a cocktail before heading home.


Saturday there was a massive festival downtown to highlight the Dorthea Dix property that the city purchased last year. The goal was to have a festival to showcase the land and get people excited about the future of the park. No questions asked it was one of the most fun and easily one of the most efficiently run events put on by a city that I have ever attended.

The only problem was the little fact of it being almost a hundred degrees and about as humid as it could get. The fact of water misting stations can only help so much when it is that extreme outside. We still had a lovely time and I picked up quite a few goodies along the way.

Then my husband got picked for a tv interview. They wanted opinions about the festival and the future of the park. When it was over my husband was asked if he was a professional speaker or possibly works in radio or tv. This is something he gets asked all the time. It is just more so amusing when a person who legitimately does work in tv is the one doing the asking,

Sunday we were busy bees finishing up with the house and buying things for a few rooms and visiting Goodwill in between sweating bouts! This whole week is supposed to be in the upper 90's with high humidity. Hopefully, we don't melt;)

20.7.16

Bacon Wrapped Pretzels

I first made this recipe four years ago for a party.   To date, it is hands down, the most requested recipe in my repertoire. My sister in law even likes to hide them as they come out of the oven.  The combination of crunchy salty pretzels and the sweet and spicy flavor from the bacon can almost undo any sense of manners or decorum.


Everyone who knows me knows I will wrap anything possible in bacon. Here are some previous  recipes in case you forgot or haven't seen them yet:

 spicy-apricot-bourbon-pork-roast and prosciutto-bacon-wrapped-sweet-potatoes

 crack on a stick, this is my normal go-to recipe for parties. My friends beg me to make these or my asparagus version, This weekend I had the party in Virginia and I know they're my sissy in laws favorite so I decided to whip a couple batches up. Only one problem, I went to three different stores and couldn't find the breadsticks. 



Instead of throwing a fit panicking, I saw a package of pretzels that were roughly the same size and I decided to just wing it. Happy accident. They were so delicious, at least the 1 I got to try. I swear people must inhale these, this can be the only logical conclusion for when I took the 2nd batch out of the oven and went to look for a plate, turned around and the cookie sheet was empty! I'm not bitter really glad everyone seemed to love them too.

At first these always bring about the same response "bacon...on a pretzel" and it always is accompanied by a look that insinuates they are under the impression that I have lost my ever-loving mind(does anyone else use this saying? tell me I'm not alone in this) then they take that first bite and are overwhelmed with love for me. That's right. Love, adoration, every other good thought you can think of. 


Pretty simple,  I will stop rambling now so you can discover how to make these for yourself.

Ingredients
1 bag pretzel sticks
1 package bacon(I prefer maple and it has to be thinly cut)
 2 oz bbq sauce
 1 oz spicy brown mustard
 1 oz bourbon
 2 tbsp brown sugar
 1/2 tbsp chili powder
apricot jam(optional)

 Preheat oven to 350', cut the bacon in half, wrap each piece with bacon and lay on pan(foil lines are much easier to clean and you need a cookie sheet that has a lip so the grease doesn't drip while baking) In a small, microwave-safe bowl, take bbq sauce, mustard and 1/2 tbsp apricot jam, whisk together and add the bourbon. Heat for 10-15 seconds. Brush the tops of the pretzels w/the sauce. Sprinkle with brown sugar/chili powder.  mixture. Place in oven and bake for 15-18 min(when it starts browning you know it's ready) using a fork flip them over, brush with sauce & sprinkle w/brown sugar/chili and bake another 10-15 min. 

Once you get the hang of it, you can do this really quickly. And you can really make the sauce to your taste, if you don't want to use bourbon, use whatever your preference is, just needs something to thin the sauce out a bit. But I love bourbon. Like, almost as much as bacon. Could basically be a toss-up.  You can definitely make these ahead of time and place in the fridge.  Just abstain from brushing the sauce on till right before you bake them. That part takes all of two minutes.

 I just made your day. You just don't know it yet, it's cool though cause I am here to fill you in. Now go forth and make these puppies. like yesterday. 

linking up with Delicious Dishes




13.7.16

Poolside Manners Cocktail

Is there any better way to show your poolside manners than to show up with a cocktail for everyone to enjoy while dipping your toes in the water and chatting with friends? Probably not. This easy strawberry bourbon limeade with a hint of vanilla is the perfect cocktail for any summer gathering! And you can easily swap out the bourbon and use vanilla extract vs vodka for a kid-friendly treat. 



I am once again excited for our recipe challenge and, for both blogs, I decided to create limeade based strawberry cocktails as I hosted two gatherings this past month and was able to try them out on a few friends. Since there was none left after either party, I'd say they were a hit. You can check out my Lazy Day Limeade over at my other blog, Thankfull Tummy and then head over to all the 
other amazing recipes from my fellow challenge bloggers!


You can whip this drink up in less than 5 minutes. Just cut up some strawberries and 1 to 2 limes. I used Ginger limeade for this recipe because the ginger pairs well with the bourbon and the vanilla tones down on the tartness, You can make your own limeade or buy one like I did. I used Califia brand because it has pulp and tastes a lot fresher than other brands, I also love Simply Limeade. 

Ingredients
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1-2 limes sliced
6 oz limeade
2 oz bourbon
1 1/2 oz vanilla vodka

take half the strawberries and limes and place in a shaker, muddle thoroughly. Add ice, bourbon, vodka, and limeade. Shake vigorously for about 10 to 15 seconds. Pour into a glass that you have placed a  lime slice, a few strawberries, and ice. 

to make a pitcher , just times everything by 4 or 5. Enjoy! 

Now, go check out the rest of these fabulous recipes!







6.7.16

Bourbon Frosted Lemondade

One of my favorite summer treats is the Frosted Lemonade from Chic Fil A. It is so light and refreshing and truthfully, it is really simple to replicate at home! The coffee one is really good as well but I mean let's call that what it is...an affogato;) 



I made this a ton last summer. The creaminess of the gelato ( you can also use ice cream or yogurt) with the tartness of the lemonade have me craving it in the heat of North Carolina.  I would make a big batch and keep it in the freezer which is how I ended up making the raspberry frosted pops last year and have continued on this year as well. I mixed it up a bit and played around with my bourbon and with limoncello. and oh. my. word. Divine I say, d.i.v.i.n.e.

If you are able to make your own limoncello, I recommend that because the homemade versions tend to be a little sweeter and I love that about them. However, the ones you can find at your local liquor store will do in a pinch. 

I have started making ice cubes with my lemonade because I prefer that flavor over regular ice cubes, it lends more flavor to this concoction. 

I will give you both versions today, both are similar, one just uses lemonade and the other is a mix of lemonade and limoncello. 





Ingredients
1 cup vanilla gelato
1/2 cup lemonade ice cubes
1/2 cup lemonade
1/2 cup bourbon

blend in a blender, makes two to three servings. 

For the limoncello version
1 cup gelato
1/2 cup lemonade ice cubes
1/4 cup lemonade
1/3 cup limoncello
1/4 cup bourbon

blend and you have no choice but to enjoy. You can also add fresh strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries to this tantalizing summer treat!

1.7.16

Summer Book Club Must Reads & A Giveaway

How can it already be 4th of July weekend? I am starting to really understand the old adage about time flying by the older you get. Each year seems to disappear at a faster pace than the previous.  I am not sure what your holiday plans call for, but if you are like me and will be traveling, I have the perfect treat in store for you today to pass the time.  Books, books, and, even more books. Summer reading is my favorite pastime. So, for this edition of Friday Favorites, some amazing books and a big ole prize for one of you!  I may be a tiny bit jealous! 

Read on for all the delicious details!

What's that, friends? You feel that gorgeous sunshine on your back and hear those birds chirping? Yup, it's officially SUMMER! And to all the readers of the world, that means one very, very important thing: it's time to dig into that summer reading list!

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

Been a little too distracted by the end-of-school insanity to bone up on what all the hot summer reads are? No sweat! We've got you covered. Twenty of us blogging gals have teamed up with The Mom of the Year and Normal Level of Crazy virtual monthly book club to create a list of exactly what belongs on your summer reading list.

Not only do these books come highly recommended (along with the reason you need to be reading them!), we are giving eleven of them away to one of you, along with a $225 Amazon giftcard. I know, it's insanely awesome! More details on the giveaway at the end of the post. For now, log into Goodreads, grab a notepad or settle in with however you track your to-read list and start adding these titles.

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

20 Books that Belong on Your Summer Reading List:

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it!
  1. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini (Toulouse and Tonic) is a GREAT summer read. Leah Remini doesn't hold anything back, from her decades-long experience with Scientology to celeb encounters along the way, especially experiences within Scientology. If you want to hear all the dish on Tom Cruise, including his "Scientology arranged and groomed" girlfriend and then his marriage to Katie Holmes, get the book now. Her honesty and lack of pretense is refreshing. I couldn't put it down!
  2. The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (The Not So Super Mom) This is a bit of a quirky book, but it is perfectly quirky without falling into the creepy or just plain confusing. A.J. Fikry is not the most immediately likable character but you find yourself rooting for him (and his bookstore) anyway. I appreciated that he was a bit of an oddball, because who in our lives isn't without their own idiosyncrasies? I enjoyed the themes in this book--loss, romance, mystery--all peppered with humor and the format--each chapter moves the story forward in time and serves as an ode to one of Fikry's favorite books--was different but enjoyable to any book lovers who try to find themselves in the stories they read.

  3. Smart Women by Judy Blume (Meraki Lane) I was a huge Judy Blume fan when I was a kid (Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself was my favorite!), so it's no surprise I jumped with joy when I discovered she writes novels for adults as well, and this book did NOT disappoint. If you like a light read with a little racy romance thrown in, this is the perfect summer pick!
  4. A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan (Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms) A great novel with a fresh, funny voice guiding it, this book tackles the classic struggle of moms trying to have it all and stuck with us to the point of recommending it to others long after we turned the last page.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  5. Beyond the Break by Kristen Mae (Kristen Mae) Quoted from Melissa Mowry of One Mother to Another's review on Amazon: "This book absolutely crushed me. The writing is hauntingly beautiful and full of depth, with well-rounded characters and gorgeous imagery. As a card-carrying heterosexual, I expected to feel a little squirmy about the girl-on-girl aspect and was just reading because I love this author's writing. I was SO WRONG. The sex was, in a word, mind-blowing. None of that lazy, euphemistic smut book language (you won't find talk of anyone's blossoming flower here) just seriously hot, almost artistic love scenes. Hazel is a flawed but loveable main character with a haunting past and so much dimension. Claire is absolutely magnetic; even I was attracted to her. You owe yourself the pleasure--and I do mean pleasure--of reading this book. It will change everything you thought you knew about love, sexual attraction, and chemistry."

  6. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (Herd Management) Summer Sisters provides a fascinating view into the inner workings and dynamics of a close female friendship over the duration of their journey from young teens into adulthood. Many women will be able to relate to the power that female friends have over one another's hearts, and their ability to shatter them completely sometimes. Riveting, relatable, and emotional.
  7. The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews (Confessions of a Mommyaholic) This summer/beach town set book is the absolute perfect read this summer while you are sitting beach or poolside that is filled with just enough intrigue, suspense, drama, romance and more.
  8. Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher (See Mom Click) This is one of those books that draws you in and won’t let go, even after you’ve put it down. Senna Richard wakes up on her 33rdbirthday, locked in a house in the snow in the middle of nowhere, full of clues she has to piece together to gain her freedom. Not just a mystery, but a rip-your-heart-out love story, the author keeps you guessing while you become totally wrapped up in these characters’ lives.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

  9. Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker (Shakespeare's Mom) In this collection of personal essays, Parker writes beautifully about her encounters and relationships with various men in her life - everyone from her grandfather to ex-boyfriends, to, in an essay that manages to be both brutal and hilarious, a male goat. I read the whole book in one day. I had to ignore my children and personal hygiene to do it, but finding myself sucked into the book's spellbinding word-webs was totally worth it.
  10. Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins (Andra Watkins, New York Times best seller and 2015 National Book Award nominee). Sarah Cottrell of The Huffington Post calls it “one literary ride you do not want to miss!” Reader Claris explains why everyone should read Not Without My Father in her Amazon review: "Andra really made me stop and think how important each moment in life is. If we live in each moment - really LIVE - we won't be as likely to miss making that moment an important memory. I expected to read a story about a memorable walk, but it turned into a thought-provoking quest to truly focus on the wonderful family and friends that I have and not miss making memories with them."

  11. Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyangi (Femme Frugality) This true story of alternative education in WWII era Japan serves to inspire. If you've ever known a kid that doesn't seem to fit into a traditional education system, Tetsuko Kuroyangi's story will warm your heart and give you hope. Kuroyangi, after getting kicked out of a traditional school, grew up to be one of Japan's media sweethearts and a great, hands-on philanthropist.
  12. A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley (The Whimsy One) will take you on a waltz between present day and the 18th century as Sara (present day) tries to decipher a journal written by Mary during the Jacobites uprising in Paris (1732) what she discovers in the handwritten pages is not at all what she was expecting.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  13. Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos (Jana Says) I fell in love with this author after reading another one of his books but this one, a stunning, sad, sometimes funny, heartbreaking, (mostly) realistic portrayal of a marriage in crisis and its subsequent implosion during a summer long Midwestern heatwave, solidified him in my top 5 favorite authors.
  14. What Alice Forgot By Liane Moriarty (Tamara (Like) Camera) This book gripped me - I felt all the joys and pains. I recommended it to both of my sisters who are still postpartum.
  15. Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Kiss My List) You will not regret spending an afternoon curled up with this smart, funny, and poignant novel about a teenage girl's bus ride back to her mom in Cleveland. Mim’s journey from Mississippi is filled with people who could be fascinating main characters in their own books.
  16. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (The Golden Spoons) Hawley alternates between perspectives of different characters as well as switches from past to present in this story of 11 people - some connected, some seemingly out of place - whose lives are changed or lost when their private jet goes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard on a foggy August night.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  17. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (The Lieber Family) This second Cormoran Strike novel follows our detective as he investigates the disappearance and later death of a controversial, not-well liked author whose last novel didn’t have anything nice to say about…well, anyone!
  18. You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes (Pulling Taffy) If you love a good, creepy thriller, with an occasional chuckle, this is a great summer read. By the end you will be rooting for the serial killer and hoping his intended victim dies (Please. End. Her. Incessant. Whining.)
  19. The Show by Filip Syta (Normal Level of Crazy) I'm taken by Amazon's description of the book, "Think of the greatest tech company in the world. Imagine getting a job there. Picture the perks: free gourmet food, free booze, a gym, a swimming pool, and a holiday bonus . . . every month. Brilliant coworkers. No dress code. Great parties. More money. Everyone’s admiration." You know there are inevitably problems that will arise, but it sounds so exotic in comparison to my world, that I can't wait to dig in!
  20. The Tulip Factory by Kacie Davis Idol (The Mom of the Year) Amazon's description makes it sound like the perfect dreamy, fun summer book: "Before they exchange even a single word, Corrine knows that James will change everything. And sure enough, their serendipitous meeting in a North Carolina coffee shop sets off a whirlwind of desire and possibilities for the two."
Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

Now that you've got the whole list, I know you're dying to immediately lose yourself in book pages, but don't forget to first enter the fantastic giveaway here! Eleven of these books (Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry, The Weekenders, Not Without My Father, Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, Beyond the Break, The Tulip Factory, The Show, A Desperate Fortune, Before the Fall, You: A Novel) are up for grabs in addition to a $225 Amazon giftcard!

Delight in the books and use the giftcard to get any others that are on your summer reading list--or for this sweet amount, even snag a new Kindle for reading on-the-go! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to enter the Rafflecopter below. All entries must be received before 7/8/16 at 5:30am ET.

Here's to a summer of fab books, friends! And as always, happy reading!


                                                    a Rafflecopter giveaway



****This post is not sponsored or compensated in any way. We are grateful to the following publishers for providing copies of the books for our giveaway: Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Grand Central Publishing, Kristen Mae, Algonquin Books, Sourcebooks, Andra Watkins, St. Martin's Press, Kodansha, and Inkshares. We bloggers have all chipped in together to provide the Amazon giftcard--because we love Amazon and we love you ;) ****
Second graphic credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:18594985, copyright:peshkova

Horizontal line of books in last graphic: depositphotos, image ID:6984753, copyright:aboikis