May 31, 2012

Mouth Watering Garlic Cheesy Bread

Are you ready for the most amazing garlic cheesy bread recipe?

Get ready.

This recipe comes from my friend Tre . . . short for Theresa . . . pronounced "tree". . . I was confused too when I first met her. . . actually Justin and I met Tre and her husband Dallas one Sunday a few years ago. We joined a small group through our church that met on Sunday's for lunch. We arrived at the hosts' home, and were introduced to everyone, and told "Oh, Tre and Dal are on their way!".
Tre and Dal?...for real?
What are the odds a gal named Tre marries a dude named Dal?

Once we learned their full names (which they almost never go by) and got to know them, we loved them. Both are full of personality and so fun to be around. 

Tre happens to be an incredible cook with an arsenal of crowd-pleasing recipes. Since we all cooked lunch together in our small group, it was quite often that we were able to partake in one of Tre's meals. 

One of the most incredible things she ever made was her Garlic Cheesy Bread. It's the kind of bread that makes you close your eyes and savor every bite. Am I being a little dramatic here?
You'll understand when you make it.

Tre was kind enough to let me share her recipe on the blog for you all, so enjoy!

Garlic Cheese Bread
          Set oven to 350
1 loaf Fresh French Bread-slice in half (so you can stuff with cheese mixture)

Cheese Mixture:

1 8oz cream cheese-softened
1 stick of butter-softened (I use real butter, but you can substitute margarine)
3-4 cloves of garlic-crushed
8 oz shredded mozzarella 
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp black pepper (I just use my pepper grinder and grind away to taste)!

**Optional-chopped scallions**

Make horizontal cuts in the bread BEFORE you bake it. If you wait until afterwards, you'll have a cheesy mess escaping through the sides. 

Wrap in foil and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes.
*make sure you check the bread at 25 minutes to make sure the cheese mixture is melted. Since the bread will be so full of the mixture, you want to give it enough time to warm all the way through.

This bread is now referred to as "The Bread" at my house. It's surpassed any and all other breads I've ever made. Well, except for the Rosemary Bread

. . . I'm pretty sure I could survive on bread alone. 

May 30, 2012

The Blue Dress

A simple, classic summer dress is a must have in my book.

Dress: Banana Republic Outlet (similar, similar, similar)
Jewelry: Watch, Target; Necklace, Elisabeth Ashlie; Bangle, Sak's off 5th
Wedges: Gap Outlet(similar)
Bag: Kate Spade Outlet, winter 2011

This blue dress does something when you put it on. It gives confidence and comfort. It's the kind of dress that doesn't require any other clothing items, like a camisole underneath. Or a sweater. Although spanx aren't a bad idea. Just trust me on that one.
I love the vibrant color, and the fact that it has sleeves. I love a dress with sleeves
Mixed with wedges and a creamy white bag--it's perfect for a summer day.
Keep the jewelry simple, especially around the neckline. I wore a delicate necklace, that I made. You can find them here.

May 29, 2012

Caroline G giveaway

Today's giveaway comes from Carrie at Caroline G

Carrie makes cute little bows for little girls, and has now expanded into selling dresses! Click here to check out the dresses
She happens to be running a 2 for 1 deal on dresses, so now is the time to buy if you are interested!

She sent me a lovely headband, along with some bows. I wanted to share another way to wear this headband instead of the traditional way.

So it looks like just a black headband from the front. . .

But then you see the flowers near the bun! I wore my hair in a very, very messy double bun for this style.

Would you like to win a $30 store credit to Caroline G? Enter using the giveaway tool below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 28, 2012

Wrapped Bun

Today's hair tutorial is perfect for a summer wedding, either for the bride, bridesmaid, or attendant!
Your hair will be off your neck so you won't need to worry about it melting in summer heat. And it's perfectly simple to do on yourself. 
Take a few times to practice this style, wrapping the sections around in different directions, holding the hair lower or higher, or just making little tweaks to make it your own. 
Add a small flower or decorative pin to the side and this style will be sure to turn heads. 
Nearly any length of hair can work with this style. Follow the same steps, just be sure to pin down the hair that sticks out during the first step. You'll see what I mean when you watch it!

Top: Banana Republic Outlet 2011
Necklace: Target 
Earrings: Elisabeth Ashlie Jewelry

May 25, 2012

Laundry Room. Chaos to Order

I've mentioned on the blog a time or two that I'm messy. It's just my nature.

I also despise doing laundry. 

So it would make sense that my laundry room was a messy and neglected place in the house.

*The clothes and tablecloths on top of the dryer have been sitting in that exact spot since before we moved. I think it's been almost 6-8 months. In fact, when packing up the laundry room at our old place, I simply added those items to the box titled "Laundry Room" since that is where they lived for so many months. Then, when I unpacked the laundry room, those exact things went right back where they belonged.
On the dryer.

But when I saw these numbered wire baskets at Home Goods a few weeks ago, I snatched them up to organize this very room.

I left the detergent out since it's the most frequently used item. The #1 basket is full of stain removers, fabric softener, and other laundry-related products.

Basket #2 has light bulbs, cords, lint rollers, and other extra stuff that was in the room previously. The small basket to the right of that one has the dryer sheets in it.

The wire basket on the very end has two rolled up tablecloths (from Target) that I'm not using. They are doubling as "art" in the laundry room for the time being!

All I really needed was storage in order to organize the laundry room. Well, storage AND the will-power to fight my natural tendencies.

Are you a Home Good's shopper? I seriously could spend hours in that store. I love the kitchen, stationary, and small home accessories sections. 

May 24, 2012

New York City via the iPhone + Instagram

My husband and I just returned from a really great trip to NYC. We booked this trip months ago as a way to celebrate our 3 year anniversary, his 30th birthday, his graduation & my birthday (coming soon). Since all of these major life moments were happening near each other, we poured as much as we could into the few days we were there. 

An incredibly kind and generous blog reader, Crystal, saw that I posted about our trip to NYC on the blog's Facebook page when we were trying to decide where to stay. She sent me an e-mail telling me that she works at the Waldorf-Astoria and can get us a suite at a great rate if we were interested. Um, yes. Yes we are. I was so touched by her willingness to help us having never actually met. But that's the wonderful thing about blogging--you get to know a person through their blog and when you actually meet in person, it's like you are old friends.

Ironically, she and Justin could have been real life friends as children. Yes, the world even in New York City is quite small. Crystal and Justin discovered that they were born in the same town and knew the same people. In fact, there is a really good chance my sister-in-law is in Crystal's year book from elementary school. I mean seriously. What are the chances that that could happen.

Since we clearly had tons in common and wanted to spend more time with her, we set up a lunch date with Crystal for tuesday and told her to pick the place. 

She picked a delicious and adorable restaurant called ABC Kitchen. It was quaint and feminine, and the food was absolutely delicious. I had the House Roasted Turkey Sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, arugula and jalapeƱos--and it was amazing. The fries, that came with the sandwich, were fried to perfection and topped with thyme and rosemary. 

I mean, check out this restaurant:

It was delicious and I would highly recommend it if you live in, or are visiting, the area.

But, lets go back to the beginning. 

(view in the room)

We arrived on Saturday, dropped off our stuff and headed straight out into the city. We just walked, sort of aimlessly + sort of heading to Times Square. 
We found Bryant Park and decided to plank. I can't explain it. It just seemed like something that needed to be done. 

After we were finished acting like morons, we found Mister Softee and our lives were forever changed.

Mr. Softee is the most amazing ice cream I have ever eaten. It's smooth, creamy, and absolute perfection. I know you may think I'm being dramatic here, but trust me--this ice cream will make all other ice cream seem worthless. 

Mine was of course covered in sprinkles because it's who I am. 

Justin and I split a Mister Softee cone on Saturday night. And from then on we bought our own. No more sharing ice cream this good. We made it a habit to end the night with a Mister Softee. So we got some Saturday night, Sunday night, but then Monday was a problem. It was pouring rain and we were pounding the pavement in desperate search for Mister Sister (we affectionately referred to Mister Softee as "mister sister" throughout the trip because Justin couldn't read the truck when we found it and thought it said "mister sister". Creepiest name for an ice cream truck ever, but I cut the man some slack since we were about a block away trying to read a truck. I knew it was Mister Softee because I saw that Rev. Run, from Run DMC, would bring it back to his kids when I used to watch the show "Run's House". I loved that show. Anyway, this is getting long. Let me get back to it.). So Monday was the only day we missed Mister Softee. I'll tell you about Tuesday Mister Softee soon. 

Sunday, we got up and went to a local diner for breakfast called Morningstar Cafe. It was cheap, familiar (bacon + egg's type food) and perfect to get on the go. Afterwards, we took the subway down to Wall St. and the World Trade Center Memorial. We didn't have tickets to see the actual memorial, but we walked around the area. And by walked, I mean we were shoved and trampled because that was tourist central. I'm aware that we were tourists as well, but man--there were tons. 

Afterwards, we hit up Chipotle for lunch and headed to wander around Central Park. We went in the infamous Apple Store that is underground and FAO Schwartz. Afterwards, we went to John's pizza. 

I was told by many (including Crystal) that John's pizza is some of the best pizza in New York City. They were all right. I mean, I have nothing to compare it to because it's the only pizza we got while we were there--but it was delicious.

The restaurant is in an old theater, and the two brick ovens were placed up by the stage. It was a really interesting place, and the service was great as well. 

Finally, we went to the Nederlander Theater to see Newsies. 

It was phenomenal. The best musical I've ever seen. Don't tell anyone, but I almost cried at the opening song. I was so excited to see my favorite childhood movie come to life! 

I grew up watching Newsies all.the.time. My sister and I know all the songs. 

However, I noticed as I got older that not many people knew about it, so it was always a great relief to find someone that knew and loved Newsies like I did.

In fact, within about two weeks of meeting Justin we realized that we both knew and loved Newsies. It's one of the reasons why I married him.

Afterwards, we found Mister Softee, indulged, and headed for "Top of the Rock" (the top of the Rockefeller center). 

It was so cool to see the city at night. I downloaded a panorama app and got some good photos:

Times Square (daytime)

We packed so much into Sunday and slept like babies in our king bed. The next two days were rainy and chilly so it worked out wonderfully that we did all of the "outdoor" activities on Sunday. 

I set up lunch with some of the Birchbox ladies that I've corresponded with over the months about setting up giveaways, the Zoya+Birchbox nail polish collaboration, etc. It was really nice to meet them! After lunch we went to the office's so I could take a behind the scenes peek! It seemed like a really fun place to work. There was lots of pink and cosmetic samples everywhere. And everyone was super stylish. 

I was planning on looking stylish that day but the weather wasn't working with me.
I think the Lord was teaching me a lesson in vanity. ;)
I mean, there are few times that I really, really want my hair to look exceptional and my makeup to look nice--and meeting the Birchbox girls was one of those times. 
But, it was 63 degrees, rainy and windy that morning. So I decided in the hotel room that I wasn't going to let the weather mess up my day.
Justin and I went to SoHo that morning to shop a bit before lunch. I was wearing peep toe shoes and getting judged by every person I passed on the street. 

I was going to just put up with wet feet, until the rain just came pouring down and my feet were absolutely soaked. My shoes were literally sopping wet.
So shopping in SoHo became "let's find Kate some rain boots that aren't $280.00". We tried Old Navy, Gap, even Steve Madden. I was desperate.
Finally, we returned to the store C Wonder, that we had gone in prior to the commencement of the Rain Boot Search, where I had seen some rain boots. 
At this point I was preparing myself for $50, maybe even $75.00 for rain boots. I was nautious. 
The employee's looked at us with pity, as we were wet and cold, and I said, "I'm here for the rain boots."
They looked at my feet, winced, and showed me my options.
Bright yellow or Polka dot.
Neither of which would I ever choose if I was leisurely shopping for rain boots. 
I picked up the blue polka dot ones, turned them over to look at the price, took a deep breath and saw "$29.99". 
Then the employee said they were 50% off of $29.99.

They were $15.00. 


Here I am, happy, dry-ish, and posing with an Elephant. 

With dry feet and a smile on my face, we went to Kate Spade. I'm kind of a huge fan.

I bought a scarf that I plan on being buried in because 1. it was not the same price as a Target scarf and 2. it's the coolest scarf I've ever seen.

The spade represents where Kate Spade is located. 

Monday evening we ate at Tao, a popular asian restaurant. You may have heard that a lot of celebrities go to Tao when they are in NYC. 
When we sat down at the table, we looked at each other confused.
"There are like 15 people here."
"It's not as cool as I thought it was going to be."
"I assumed it would be dark, with loud music, and full of celebs."

And then we looked at our watches.

It was 5:45pm.

And we just aged by 50 years.

We ate our delicious meals, used the bathroom because they had an attendant, and headed back out into the rain. 
*Have you used a bathroom with an attendant? They turn the water on for you, squeeze soap in your hand, and hand you a towel. When I was in there, another woman just washed her hands with water, shook them to dry and walked out. I thought to myself, "atLEAST use soap when someone is standing there ready to squeeze it in your hand!"

We had about 2 hours to kill before seeing another show, so we decided to search for Mister Softee.
We did not find it that night because it was raining. We almost cried. 

We saw "Rent" later. It was in a really cool theater and the show was great. 
(If you are going to NYC and deciding between Newsies or Rent, see Newsies. Newsies is on broadway and Rent is off broadway and there was a noticeable difference. Don't get me wrong, it was still great--but Newsies was amazing.)

On tuesday we went to see the Statue of Liberty and, like I mentioned above, had lunch with Crystal. Afterwards we endured final quest for Mister Softee.

We had 1 hour before we needed to be back at the hotel to catch a cab to Laguardia. After searching iPhone apps for "Mister Softee truck locators", googling it, tweeting SOS messages (sos="send us softee!") even calling the main office, we were left with nothing.
We walked through Times Square looking down every street for that majestic truck.
It was apparently the same time that all the mail trucks deliver mail and they deceivingly look like Mister Softee from a distance. 
After 40 minutes, we almost had given up. 

Until. . .

In the distance, Justin spotted a truck with red letters that looked like Mister Sister.

We quickened our pace. As soon we we were close enough to confirm that it was, in fact, Mister Softee we cheered! We high-fived in the middle of the crosswalk and practically ran over to it. 
I'm sure the people around us thought "Those two must have just won the lottery due to the way they are acting".

In a way, we had.

We savored every bit of our ice cream cones, and headed back to the hotel.

And we declared the trip a success.

May 23, 2012

Striped Dress

This dress is surprisingly flattering for having horizontal stripes. 
Stripes can be tough because they can inadvertently add width to certain areas of your body.
But this dress is gathered at the waist on one side, so the stripes are pulled together creating an hourglass figure. And I thought, "If the dress is in an hour glass shape on the hanger, it will be a winner on."

Dress: The Loft Outlet (Spring 2012)
Scarf: Target (Spring 2012
Earrings: Francesca's (Spring 2012)
Watch: Target (Spring 2012)
Bracelet: Sak's off 5th (outlet) (Spring 2012)
Wedges: Gap outlet (Spring 2012)

All of these items came back with me from my annual Girls Trip with my mom and sister. And they were all great deals!
I can't remember the price of the dress, but I think it was around or under $30.00. The scarf was $14.99 at Target AND the watch (which is a knock-off and almost completely identical to a Fossil watch) was $14.99.
The bangle came from Sak's off 5th. We walked in there randomly while we were perusing the outlets and my sister and I both snagged a bangle for ourselves. It's gold, but pairs well with the rose gold watch. 
*sidenote: My sister just taught me that you can mix metals and wear rose gold + regular gold. ::epiphany!::
And the wedges came from the Gap Outlet. More often than not, Gap and Gap outlet are a complete waste to shop at for me. I feel like the quality of their clothes has gone down. Shirts don't feel as nice as they used to, and don't survive in the washing machine. 
But just like Target came out of no where a few years ago and became one of my favorite stores, Gap may turn around as well.