Blog Design Diva

While the term "diva" often makes one conjure up negative images, in this scenario I cannot, no matter how hard I try & try, I can't say enough great things about how positive my experience was in working w/Andrea from Slightly Askew Designs. I stumbled upon her sight from another blog I frequently check out and I was instantly enamored by her work. The designs are awesome and creative w/out being too much. Sometimes I feel like blogs are yelling when I look at them, there's so much going on that I can't concentrate on the gist of whatever their point is, not w/her designs, it's a slight whisper that makes you intrigued to hear more. 

I emailed her and gave her a few hints as to what type of things make me happy and in a few short weeks she sent me a rough draft that I adored right off the bat. She is really she was all up in my head or something;) haha And the best part, my oh so favorite cost me a whopping $35. yes, I know, basically I robbed her. I looked and looked into having someone do my page I've stated, my ineptitude when it comes to computers is...yeah, it is what it is. And every page I looked into that seemed as if my taste could readily be incorporated started at over $150, ummm no thanks. Call me crazy but I find $35 a tad bit preferential!

She just doesn't do blogs, she does invites and announcements, check her work out, I promise double pinky'll thank me later.

and I promise to have more food and drink this weekend. I have a bacon wrapped zucchini recipe and  salted caramel whoopie pie goodness to bring to you.

Again her sight is

More Than A Neighbor

I am floundering here while trying to come up with the right words. My emotions are everywhere and my heart is in mourning, the best neighbor a girl could have is moving to her new life(how is there even life without me on a daily basis?) haha Anyways, I told Theresa in many words and in private what she has meant to me, but in my life I have found out(often times when it't too late) that life is short and if someone means something to you, SAY IT! Tell them your nice thoughts, we are often quick to verbalize our annoyances so tonight let me shout about something good! This will be long and I will be a sap sweet, so prepare or stop reading now;)
my sweet lil Einstein

It was a little over six years ago when Wiki and I moved into our first home, full of wonder and giddy anticipation over what that would mean for us. While I love Wake Forest, I discovered that my friends were no longer readily accessible and seeing as how we had exactly ONE PERSON living in our entire neighborhood for one year, my imagined visions of a "neighborhood nirvana" full of built in friendships and get togethers remained out of my grasp. And then, one day, just like that, we had neighbors. At first I pondered how our relationship would move past the friendly, "surface" stage as we are, at first impressions anyways, exponentially different. But I digress...
T & I at the Rum Bar in Jupiter

My life has forever been altered for the better by you, Theresa Iacobucci(iaccaabootychi;) Swanson, I adore you, my sweet friend. Thank you for introducing me to Hunger Games before all the "cool kids" caught on, for being my recipe tester, for the constant borrowing of one another's items, for all the impromptu visits to Target, for Palsies popcorn(even if you always got that nasty dill pickle flavor. ech), for Tuesday nite dinners-3 years worth! For Ringer watching nights, how dare the CW cancel it?! For trips to Florida and making your mom and the rest of your amazing family a part of my circle, for having 'road rage' and FINALLY proving you're actually not perfect, as I had wondered. For letting me do your hair and make up but drawing the line at heels, even if we did get you in "mini" ones. For Harry Potter World and for letting me read Divergent before you ever had the chance. For my sweet, sweet Chloe, that precious girl has made many a dreary night reek of sunshine. Her "uncle Maddie" will miss her so, I loved hearing her intermittently call me that! For letting me love little Hailey, even if only these few short months. Put my picture in her crib, this should help to secure my place as a favorite;)

But for so much more...for being m confidant, for knowing every flaw I have and still being my friend. For the times I texted you that I needed prayer and not even seconds later hearing a rap on my door. For bringing Jesus to me when He often times felt so far out of my reach. You were always real. Thank you for knowing how desperately my heart has ached for a baby for 8 years, through our heartbreak and tears and reassuring me it sucks, bc it darn well does. For never being uncomfortable being preggers around me bc while you understand how my heart has yearned, you get that I can simultaneously be happy for you and sad for myself.

You are a fabulous friend, T and I can only hope I was half as good. I was never lucky to have you as my neighbor...I was beyond blessed(as was Tony w/Sean) I will miss you so much and I will even miss Da beast, AKA Dobby the Devil Dog. Ok this is all the sap I have in me. 

Good Luck my sweets! new neighbor better not suck, that's all on you. haha

Weekly Book: Divergent

Hunger Games, The Girl w/the Dragon Tattoo, Harry Potter, Twilight...I've read them all. and just a heads up, this is the NEXT BIG THING. I loved this book, I read it on my flight from Atlanta to Buffalo and immediately began searching for the second book that was released in May. Sooooo good. It is slightly reminiscent of Hunger Games, yet, simultaneously, the differentials between the two are exponential. It's about the country being divided into 5 "factions" and when you turn 16 you must choose to stay in the one you were raised in or switch to one more suited for you. I won't go into more details than that..

But do yourself a favor, get. it. now.

bourbon caramel french toast casserole

Yes. Bourbon. Caramel. and french toast, all in one. You're welcome.

 Down South we're known for our casseroles. Especially around the holidays. This is one of my favorites, it's quite simple to prepare and oh. so. delicious. and I think I have made roughly 25 different versions.  I originally had this the first time 4 years ago when a group of my favorite ladies and I were making breakfast for the Ronald McDonald House. It called for regular milk, eggs, cinnamon and french bread.  

Then I made it better. Being humble is my specialty.

this will yield one large casserole or two small(roughly 9x 13 or two 9 x 9, I also sometime use loaf pans)


1 cup caramel coffee creamer
2 tbsp bourbon(I used Makers Mark)
3 eggs
2 tbsp cinnamon sugar
4 tbsp butter
1 large french bread loaf(or 2 small)

whip cream topping

1 cup cold whipping cream
2 tbsp caramel ice cream topping(or syrup)
1 tbsp bourbon
(whip all ingredients together until stiff peaks form)

 rip medium sized pieces of the bread (you could also cut the bread into "uniform" cubes. but why?) lay the pieces in the pan. Whisk the creamer, bourbon and eggs till smooth, add a smidgen of the cinnamon sugar and pour over the bread pieces, making sure to coat as many pieces as possible. I usually use my hands to press the pieces down and completely coat them. Cover in foil and place in the fridge overnight or at least 8 hours.
 Preheat oven to 350' and bake, covered in foil for 20 minutes and then uncovered for 15-20 more minutes. Top w.butter and sprinkle on cinnamon sugar, & if you have it, top w/some of the caramel ice cream topping. This takes roughly 20 min to prepare, it's super simple...I promise.

We have this Christmas and Thanksgiving for breakfast...the rest of the time, I make these as dessert. I top it with the homemade whip cream and that's all she wrote. I made this version for Wiki's bday and a friend of ours, Busa, ate a bite, took a deep breath and said "That may be the best thing I've ever eaten"

I'm not positive, but I think that means he liked it;)

*notes. If you don't want to use coffee creamer, milk is fine, that's what the original calls for anyways, just don't use skim milk. 2% is probably the lightest you could go and still get the same texture. Just find a way to add caramel to the milk, ie, pudding pack or the ice cream topping. & for the whipped topping, you can also just use cool whip and add the caramel and bourbon. Tasty in it's own right.

Butterbeer Mudslide

My "knock off" version

As I've previously alluded to outright stated, I love reading. I do it whenever I have a free moment and I will read a myriad of topics and authors. And I love me some Harry Potter. Thus... this blog entry.

A few years ago my friend Theresa and her friend Margareth and I were able to take a trip to Universal Studios to meander our way through this place.

It is literally as if you are there.

T and I drinking our butterbeer. Delish.

Lovin it
so, so good and frothy
We had so. much. fun, I cannot fully express just how much. It was my 31st birthday and I remember seeing all these little kids milling about and thinking "Please leave, y'all weren't even born when these books were first written.". Haha please feel free not to mention that these were intended for tweens. Wrong answer! ;) I am pretty sure I called Wiki 4300 times that day or somewhere close. He finally became exasperated and asked me to let him work. Humph. The nerve. haha Needless to say...I enjoyed myself mightily.

Anyways, T recently celebrated the entrance to her greatest decade yet, her 30's. Yup. So I decided I needed to throw a Harry Potter themed party, why the heck not I ask you, why the heck not?! 

First up was Butterbeer and I decided to conquer it in two separate ways, my usual go to mudslide and a trifle. Today is the mudslide version. It is not what you get at Universal, nor will I delude myself pretend it to be. But mine had whipped cream vodka. Soooooo.

2 cups caramel macchiato ice cream(or any caramel/butterscotch ice cream)
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1/2 pack butterscotch pudding(dry) or 3 tbsp butterscotch ice cream topping
1/2 cup vanilla cream soda(poured out foam)
1 1/2 oz Kahlua
1 1/2 oz bailey's 
1 oz whipped/vanilla vodka
1 cup ice

put all ingredients into blender and blend to desired consistency, makes 2(ish)  mudslides

optional whip cream recipe,
I had some left over that I had in fridge and the next day added more ice and re-blended. I decided it needed whip cream and here's what I did.

1/2 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp butterscotch pudding(left over from previous nite)
1 tbsp vanilla cream soda

whip on low for one minute and then on high speed until stiff peaks begin to form.
This is another recipe you can play around with to make it closer to what you prefer.

Bottoms up! 

Crockpot Cream(cheese) Corn

A few years ago the place I was working at was holding our annual Chili cook off and one of our co workers brought a crock pot full of creamed corn. We were all slightly confused (as was she). She had a slight language barrier and thought she was supposed to bring anything in the crockpot, she didn't win that year but what she had was so beyond delicious that we made an entirely new category just for her the next year.

We all went to have a taste of something that seemed almost...boring. oops. Not Exactly, this simple side dish was almost unexplainable as to how tasty it was. I asked for her recipe and have made it for quite a few holidays and it is always a hit.

2 bags frozen corn(or one very large)
8 oz cream cheese, cold and cut into small pieces
4-6 tbsp butter(cold and cut into small pieces

Empty one bag of frozen corn into the crockpot, lay half the butter and cream cheese on top and top w/a liberal amount of salt and pepper(I also sometimes like to add season salt and red pepper flakes) then add half of remaining bag of corn and the rest of the butter and cream cheese, add more salt & pepper to taste. Put on high and let set for an hour. After an hour, stir together and scrape sides, let sit another hour.  Turn to low and stir every  half hour. Cook for about another hour to hour and a half. (although I have discovered that different crock pots/slowcookers cook at different speeds so maybe it takes an hour, maybe it takes two, just pay attention!)
first step
finished creamy, buttery product

after first half hour

Then sit back and enjoy the goodness. The last time I made this I mixed it up and added the new lemon herb cream cheese. it was quite tasty.

Somehow matter what I do and no matter how good mine comes out, it never quite touches VJ's. This has led me to draw upon the only reasonable conclusion I can...she had a magical crockpot.

A Visit to Mayberry

Wiki and I are always looking for quick getaways and we were to a point that we've visited just about everywhere within a two hour span. We were gonna go to the beach but it was overcast and in a quick(this never happens in my house)decision we decided to meander over to Mt Airy or as the rest of the world refers to it as..."Mayberry" Andy Griffith land. It was the quickest 2 hour drive I can remember. We were there for two days and boredom was never an option. I loved this place! The downtown area is so quaint and sweet. We walked around and had lunch then visited a few wineries...Here are a few of our stops. 

Andy keeping a look out, where's Barney?
Step on up to Floyd's chair

Then we stopped for lunch at a deli and winery...Delish!
This place was awesome, it was in the middle of downtown and they had live music at night. Plus, 8 wines for $5?!
The more well known of the vineyards we visited, Shelton. It was beautiful and lots of prom pics were being taken on our visit.

 They had these handmade truffles from a local chocolate company...this was the dark chocolate and caramel.
Perfect accompaniment for the red wine. yum.

and hands down, my absolute favorite winery of any we have visited is Elkin Creek.

We were lucky enough to be there on a Sunday and let me tell you...
their pizza is life changing. 

 Sitting next to Elkin Creek, listening to it bubbling and in the midst of the old grist mill...
Really doesn't get much better. 

(We have been quite a few times since our original trip and we Love Elkin Creek even more each visit, the ladies are beyond lovely, the wine is good and we are staying at their new opened cabins for Memorial day. Cannot wait!!!)

Next up we hit Round Peak....

 They also serve beer which made Wiki very happy. It had no effect on me whatsoever. other than I loved these glasses...and now own them. Whoop.
Love the view as the sun sets.

I cannot say enough great things about this area. It is easily accessible from almost any area in North Carolina. and it is quick jaunt off of 77 to 52 from Virginia and West Virginia. The Yadkin Valley is home to over 30 wineries and breweries. 

We ate dinner in downtown Mt. Airy at Trio and having eaten at some of the most famous restaurants and ones highly rated all over this country...I can firmly say that both times we have eaten there were in my top ten meals. Podunk town don't play.

Linking Up with

Pizzelle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Can you say "yum?" Admittedly, I was unfamiliar w/this treat until my last name became one that ends w/a vowel. haha The first time I tried one...ended badly. I have extremely sensitive taste buds and if there is the SLIGHTEST hint of something I do not care for, then I can't do it. and most of these are laced w/anise, basically black liquorice. ummmm, ECH. I was completely against ever trying one again when I was informed they aren't always that flavor, life is good again;).

As we know I love to try and experiment w/things I have laying around. We were in NH on vacation and the mamma in law had brought some w/her and I looked at them and ding ding ding, thought  'wouldn't these be fabulous w/ice cream in the middle?!' and yes, frankly speaking, they were. haha and obviously from the amount of recipes I saw for this very thing, others were quicker to the draw on this idea than me. 

You can purchase pre made pizzelles or if you come from a family like Wiki's, they'll be made for every get together! Score and if not, here's an easy recipe:pizzelle recipe.

Once you have the cookies, get your favorite flavor of ice cream and get ready for some goodness!

2 cups ice cream of your choice
8 cookies
aluminum foil

place one cookie on sheet of foil, top w/half cup softened ice cream and top w/cookie. Wrap tightly in foil and place in freezer for 2 hours. You can take these out sooner than the 2 hour mark, but this way the cookie has slightly softened and melts in your mouth. Such a simple treat! 


Kisses From Katie

I know I have been slightly MIA lately and I apologize, we've been travelling fools lately...shocking I know. Haha I have been documenting them all and hope to put together some travel posts soon. Mayberry(yep, real place people) or actually "Mt. Airy" but where it was based on and the stuff is everywhere, the museum and I got to sit in Floyd's barber chair. Plus we visited six vineyards on our trip, then we went to Boston and New Hampshire and most recently to Seattle. Fun times.

But rest assured I have still been making tasty treats and will hopefully post them soon. But I wanted to take a second to plug a book I recently read that pulled at my heart strings. "Kisses From Katie" the book follows a teenage girl who found her heart being beckoned by the Lord to travel to Uganda to bring hope, love and compassion to the people. She ended up adopting 13 girls along the way. I laughed and cried the whole way through this amazing story.

You can follow her adventures here kisses from katie, the blessings that will be bestowed upon you from her daunting courage and self effacing demeanor is mind blowing. I promise you won't regret it.

Wine Smoothie

Yep, you read that right. As if red vino isn't healthy enough;) I became familiar w/this lovely drink six years ago on one of our jaunts to our favorite getaway, Williamsburg. Oh how I love everything about that enchanted place. I am a total and complete history nerd buff. I love to immerse myself in it and there's no better place than there. I cannot recommend a trip there enough. and never fear, if you aren't into the past, there's plenty to do otherwise.

I love Busch Gardens, it pretty much wins most beautiful amusement park year in, year out. Then there's Water Country USA...then the outlets. A complete plethora. EVERYWHERE.

But as foodies...that's what I love most. if you ever take a visit and eat at the famous Trellis restaraunt, you can indulge in the "Death By Chocolate" which supposedly origniated there.

Anyhoo, in our meandering through the square, we stumbled upon a small cafe so Wiki could get his coffee and the sign that greeted me announced "wine smoothie" immediately intrigued and simultaneously skeptical...I tried the blackberry one and my adoration was swift and immediate.

Since it's summertime, I decided to try my here you go.

3 oz malbec wine(or any wine you like)
1 cup sliced berries and kiwi
2 tbsp berry syrup
1 oz berry flavored juice(I used V8 splash)\
1/2 cup crushed ice

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend to desired consistency . I used what I had on hand. You can substitute this in so many various ways. I think next I want to do a sweet white wine with mangoes and peaches. Yum. Have at it, you'll be glad you did-so refreshing!

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