Archive for January, 2011

Angell Bars: Eat No Evil

A few weeks ago, I received an email asking if I’d like to try some organic candy bars that are a little better for you than run-of-the-mill checkout-line confections. Plus, they’re made with Fair Trade Certified ingredients, making them better for everyone involved.


I’m pretty sure I answered that email in less than 10 seconds, and just a few weeks later, those bars were delivered to my doorstep.

Every one loves a candy bar sometimes, right? This company knows that and have done what they can to create a bar that satisfies that craving while taking care to responsibly use the ingredients needed.

From their website:

…we know that energy bars and gourmet chocolate bars have their place. In fact, we enjoy them ourselves. But sometimes, what you really want is a candy bar. A good old-fashioned candy bar, with chocolate and chew and crunch and all those things that make candy bars so great. But you DON’T have to have a candy bar loaded with corn syrup and made from GMO ingredients, grown with petroleum fertilizers and harsh pesticides. You don’t have to buy chocolate that may have been farmed by child- and slave labor. You CAN have a candy bar that tastes good and that you can feel good about eating. You can have an Angell bar.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m more than okay leaving out HFCS and genetically modified ingredients.

Angell Bars sent me their 3 bars to try and review, and (as always), these opinions are my own. (I did receive the bars for free, but I am not being compensated in any way to give a good review.)


The Dark Angell bar is a mix of rich, dark chocolate with a creamy center and crunchy almonds. It’s also vegan and really good.


The other two didn’t get close-up pictures because I was too busy eating them – oops!

The milk chocolate Crisp one (which is also gluten free) was actually really good! I’m normally a dark chocolate person, but this one wasn’t too sweet and I loved the crisps in the bar.

And while I normally think of myself as a total chocolate person, I actually think I liked the Snow Angell bar the best. This one was a creamy coconut center, wrapped in white chocolate, and nut free.

I loved the coconut richness with the sweet white chocolate – delicious!

While Angell Bars aren’t available in every single store yet, you can find out if they’re near you on their website – you can also order them online.


What’s your favorite candy bar? Have you found a healthier alternative?

Don’t forget to enter my CSN giveaway! I’m choosing a winner on Monday, so get your entries in!

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Style Inspiration

After seeing Amanda’s and Janetha’s fashion posts lately,  I decided I needed some motivation, too.

My job includes 8 hours of sitting in front of a computer, every day. And, because of this, I often go for comfort over cuteness. I never wear sweats to work, but I don’t always pull out my fun and cute work clothes or heels even though I have plenty.

Well – it’s been long enough. I don’t want all my cute stuff to just sit in my closet, unused!

In fact, this weekend, I started my own style revolution.

I wore heels to church.

Yup. For the first time in months (maybe a year?), I wore heels to church. It’s not that I don’t have heels or that I don’t want to wear them…it’s just that all of my flats are in my “comfort zone”.

But it was fun – and my outfit was cute and my heels actually got worn – so I’m making a new goal for myself:

To wear an outfit every day that makes me happy.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be wearing a dress every day or pulling out the heels just because, but I want to make a bit more of an effort and wear things that actually flatter me and make me feel good about myself. Putting on an outfit that makes you feel good can make a huge difference in your day.

And the days I’m working from home will probably still be jeans, slippers, and a comfy tshirt. Because that’s what makes me happy on the days I’m home.

But either way – I want to think about it a little more and really start to find and refine my personal style.

And this week has been going well so far!

Monday, we were off work so I was baking away in the kitchen for most of the day in my comfy jeans, a tshirt and my slippers. A good day, overall.

Tuesday I wore skinny black cords, a magenta long sleeve top, and a new gray swinging-cardigan type sweater that’s really cute with flats and a long beaded necklace.

Wednesday was my favorite so far this week –


Dress: Lerner (NY&Co), a few summers ago. Cardigan: B.Moss (I miss that store!). Tights: JCPenney. Navy pumps: TJMaxx (Sofft brand). Necklace: Gift from my mom.

I have a feeling this is going to be fun Smile I won’t have pictures every day, but I will be sharing my favorites AND asking for style tips/tricks/suggestions because I’m clueless when it comes to new trends and styles.

My sisters seem to be much more in tune with that stuff than I am – in fact, I thought of them when I was putting this outfit together. Both of my sisters always look cute, while I’m usually in worn out jeans and a Hokie tshirt. Again…comfy, but not the most flattering thing I could wear.

So, there it is! Are you in need of a style revolution? Join in!

And do you have any specific style inspirations?

Mine would have to be:

  • My sisters and sister-in-law
  • Zooey Deschanel (love her quirky vintage look)
  • Sydney from The Daybook
  • Jessica from What I Wore
  • and more!


PS: Don’t forget to enter my CSN Giveaway for your chance to win a $100 gift card!

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Happy January + CSN Giveaway

Time for a giveaway! I told you exciting things were coming soon  Smile

As a Preferred Blogger, I’ve been given another chance to have an awesome giveaway for all of you. And, if you’re like me, online shopping is a way too much fun come January – all the more reason to have a gift card to use on whatever you want!

Maybe you’re in the market for a new laptop messenger bag or maybe you’re looking for some new bedding or you might even be searching for some new cookware (ps: I also have a super fun review coming soon!).


Whatever it is you’re looking for, CSN has it.

I’ve not only been able to hold giveaways and review some of their products, I’ve become a personal fan, as well. Their customer service is some of the best I’ve ever dealt with and it makes online shopping so much easier.


The Prize

A $100 Gift Code to use in any of CSN stores online.


How to Win

  • Leave a comment here with something you’ve been wanting lately – new pillows? shoes? a food processor? I want to know!

For additional entries

  • Leave a comment with a recipe you’d like to see me make-over into a healthier dish
  • Follow CSN on Twitter @csnstores and leave a comment letting me know you did


*This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian readers

I’ll pick a winner Monday January 24th – Good luck!

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Winter is not leaving anytime soon. I normally don’t mind this season but this winter is not getting any better.

I am ready for a break.

The snow is pretty but I hate when it gets slushy and murky.

Cold weather itself isn’t horrible, but I would like the –4 degree wind chills to be gone.

Basically, I need a little warmth and there’s only so much hot tea I can drink.


Thankfully, I had some bananas waiting on the counter, just for this reason!

If I can’t get to the tropics this winter, I’m going to bring them to me.

Banana Pina-Colada Muffins – Vegan!

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (I used Tropical Traditions)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened, but either type would be fine)

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • 2 Tbsp coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In large bowl, mash bananas.
  3. Stir pineapple, coconut oil, and vanilla into bananas.
  4. Add brown sugar to banana mixture.
  5. Mix in dry ingredients (flour through coconut) until just combined.
  6. Fill muffin tin 3/4 full.
  7. In small bowl, mix together streusel topping and sprinkle streusel on top of muffins.
  8. Bake 25-27 minutes or until golden on top and toothpick comes out clean.

I knew these would be good as soon as I smelled the bananas with the pineapple and coconut oil.



And I’m not sure about you, but I’m a sucker for a streusel muffin. I don’t know what it is about that crumbly, buttery topping, but it’s addicting in the best way.


If you can’t make it to an island this winter or have no plans to lay on a beach until June, you probably need these, too.



It may still be winter outside, but your kitchen will smell like summer.


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Best Week Ever

Do you ever watch the show Best Week Ever on VH1? It used to be the highlight of my Friday nights – they had the best commentators and it was always hilarious.

This past week and weekend, I had some funny, awkward or awesome things happen that totally made my week.

My Best Week Ever. 1/15/11.

– I have a pretty bad bruise on my knee, thanks to Maggie’s hard head. We were playing chase in the house the other night and she changed directions on me and slammed her noggin right into my knee cap. The bruise itself isn’t the strange thing – but the bruise is so bad that my doctor noticed and asked me about it this week during my appointment. Awkward.

– Most nights in our house start out like this:


Maggie is ready to play as soon as we get home.


She doesn’t really sit still…until we get out the blankets and she’s ready to cuddle. Otherwise, this (above) is what she looks like. No wonder that bruise is so bad.


She also has other funny moves we’ve named, such as:

  • the poot’n’scoot
  • butt tuck’n’run

There is no evidence yet because both of those happen SO fast and I can’t catch them on camera.

– Friday night, we went easy and local for dinner. I ordered two pizzas from our favorite local place (Mikie’s 7th) and we picked up some Shooting Creek beer (local!) on the way home.


We were happy and excited about our meal until we opened the boxes – the crust looked like it wasn’t even cooked!


The pizza still tasted great – it just wasn’t the same.

– It’s a little creepy making coffee in the morning in our new kitchen. The stovetop glows red.IMG_1124

The reddish pink glow really highlights the fruit wallpaper, don’t you think? ; )

What were your highlights of the week? Funny, embarrassing, amusing? I want to know!

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coming soon.

Is it just me, or is this weekend flying by?

I’m very happy we have tomorrow off – I’m imagining a lazy morning, complete with breakfast in pajamas and lots of coffee while watching the Today Show and (possibly) watching the snow fall outside our window.

Of course, I have no idea if that will actually happen tomorrow morning, but that’s what I’m hoping for.

Today has been fun so far. I’ve been working away in the kitchen and am about to start on dinner. I still don’t like that it’s dark so early. Once it’s 7 pm, I feel like I should be going to bed.

In food news, I’ve got some great recipes coming soon! There are a few that I’m pretty excited about and can’t wait to share them with you.


There’s also some reviews in the works AND a few giveaways, too : )


Stay tuned!

Fun things are coming, and I can’t wait to share!

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Terrific Twos

Two years ago, I wrote my first post here.

Two years ago, I had no idea what would happen with this blog, where it would go, or where it would take me.

And two years later, I am so happy and feel extremely blessed to be where I am.

I have a creative outlet.

I’ve made friends with people all over the country – real friends that share my interests and passions.

I’m cooking and baking more than ever and loving every minute.

Thank you – to every one of you.

Thank you for reading and for sharing. 

Thanks for pushing me to do more, to cook more, to write more, to read more, to bake more, to share more. I have a feeling things will just keep getting more interesting with this blog, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you.

Here’s to some of my favorite moments of this past year and to an even better year to come.

– Traveled to Spain with my family, had some incredible and moving days, ate Paella by the Mediterranean, and saw the most amazing market

– Had a girls weekend with my mom and sister

– Celebrated 6 years of marriage

Turned 27

– Ate vegan for the month of June and made the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had

– Worked with a pastry chef for a day and made chocolate espresso cups

Summer trip to Honduras

Reaching a goal of raising $1,000 for Jovenes!

Having surgery

Finding + buying our first house

– Trying Zumba for the first time and being sore for an entire week

Being published for the first time

Having the best meal of my life at the Celebrity Chef Tour dinner

In all honesty, much more happened this past year than I thought! I’m thrilled to have these experiences documented – that’s something that wouldn’t have happened without this little ole’ blog.

And as for recipes, these are my personal favorites from this past year.

I had fun making them and eating them, but most of all, I truly enjoyed sharing them with you.


Vegan Frozen Cookie Dough Balls


Gingered Applesauce Cake with Dark Chocolate


Mint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies


Vegan Molasses Cream Pie Cookies


Sourdough Pancakes, which I haven’t made in a long time.


S’mores Brownies

And…while we’re at it…


S’mores Cups


Pumpkin Chocolate Pecan Scones


Maple Apple Walnut Bread


Carrot Cake Bread Pudding


Homemade Greek Yogurt (from scratch!)


Nutella Marbled Banana Bread


Fried Morels for the first time


Garlic Knotsimg_0045_thumb

Peach Blackberry Crisp


Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Yup. Almost all of those are desserts.

I guess you know where my heart lies.

I was born with a sweet tooth that’s been passed down in my family for generations. There’s no getting away from it, so I’m embracing it and just trying to make healthier version of my childhood favorites.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for making the past two years some of the best years I’ve had.

Here’s to another year of good eating!

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