Fours! Feel free to play along…

1. Four TV shows that I watch:

• Biggest Loser

• Teen Mom (embarrassing, I know)

• Real Housewives of wherever

• House

2. Four things that I’m passionate about:

• writing

• good food and wine

• my friends & family

• health

3. Four words/phrases I use a lot:

• Douche

• I love you

• I miss you

• Babe

4. Four things I’ve learned from the past:

• Don’t let anyone determine your self-worth

• Love with your whole heart

• Sometimes it’s more important to listen than speak

• When it’s meant to be, it always finds its way of working out

5. Four places I would like to go:

• Almalfi coast

• Napa and Sonoma (again!)

• Hawaii

• Eastern Europe

6. Four things I did yesterday:

• Ran

• Worked

• Ate a delicious dinner my husband made for me

• Met with my financial advisor

7. Four things I am looking forward to:

• having a blessed 2011

• getting in the best shape of my life

• furthering my career

• maintaining and making some new friendships

8. Four things I love about winter:

• baking

• fireplace

• snuggling w/ my husband on the couch

• long pants and tall shoes


Atlanta Jewish Times Article - I am published!!

I am so excited!! Next week an article I wrote is running in the Atlanta Jewish Times! I am thrilled as you can imagine and will post a link to the article once it goes live. In the meantime, I wanted to share the content with you. I hope you enjoy!

My husband and I left New York in the midst of the economic crisis in 2008. We needed a change. We wanted to live somewhere where life felt “easy” and cereal didn’t cost $7 a box. We decided to do what any rational couple would, we chose a far off place where we knew no one and could live that laid back lifestyle we sought after. We moved to Atlanta.

At first glance, Atlanta was great. Everyone smiles and holds the door open for you. No one cuts you off and flips you the bird. Neighbors race over to welcome you with homemade cookies and bottles of wine. Life was good. Except one thing. WHERE ARE THE JEWS??

Growing up in Queens, New York, a corned beef sandwich and knish were easy to find and no one looked at you twice when you said you were fasting for Tish B’av. I grew up in Bayside which is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the nation. We had bar mitzvah season, all the kosher Chinese food you can eat and exposure to all sects of Judaism. Moving to Atlanta, of course I knew Judaism wouldn’t be as prominent, but I didn’t prepare myself for what happened next. I became a minority.

Adjusting to my new surrounding proved to be more difficult than I expected. I missed good deli and frequenting my favorite kosher lunch spots where pizza and French fries were the norm. My old office was closed for practically the entire month of September and all of the women swapped recipes for brisket, charoset and rugelach. In my new position here in Atlanta, I work for a global corporation and our office is home to 300 employees. There are three Jewish people in the building. Myself and the two Attorneys - talk about irony.

At first I was disgruntled by the fact that the Jewish way of life isn’t engrained in southern culture until I realized something. When you grow up submerged in a culture where your religion is “popular,” a naiveté exists that allows you to believe your way is the way. Perhaps moving to Atlanta under the notion that I would find lox and bagels at every deli and people would see my necklace and say “Love your chamsed!” (Rather than, “What is that hand supposed to be around your neck?”) was naïve.

I began letting go of my cynical attitude and embraced my new surroundings. My husband and I joined the “shul circuit” and thankfully found one we can see ourselves becoming members of and we have begun hosting holiday meals in our home. The truth is that it feels good to be “special.” I enjoy answering questions about Judaism to my new friends and having them over for Shabbat dinners.

Moving to Atlanta has taught me that just because you’re not “popular” doesn’t mean you don’t matter. Sometimes in life you have to accept that while you cannot change your environment, you can change how you flourish within it.


Tardy for the Party!

Please excuse me – I feel like I’ve arrived tardy for the party. I have no idea why it has taken me this long to try the infamous Lara Bars, but now that I have I can say with confidence that I am completely hooked.

Doing a quick Whole Foods run the other day, I saw these puppies and decided to give them a whirl after reading about them on some of my favorite blogs (including Tina’s post on Carrots N Cake and Katie on Chocolate Covered Katie.)

Boy was I not disappointed. I barely made it out of the store before I ran back and grabbed a few more flavors including Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cherry Pie and Carrot Cake.

By far the best thing about these bars is that they are so pure. Being allergic to soy has been my main reason for abstaining from eating anything out of a package – believe it or not, everything from cereal to bread has a ton of soy products in them! But not Lara Bars – most bars have less than 4 (yes, you read that correct, FOUR) ingredients.

They are perfect for anyone with food allergies OTHER than nuts as that is usually one of the main ingredients. They are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, vegan and kosher! They taste so delicious you will never know you’re eating something that is actually good for you.

In fact, the Lara Bar has become such a phenomenon that a lot of people out there have begun making homemade variations of the tasty treat. I found this recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie and I think I’m going to give it a whirl!

• 1 c walnuts (120 grams)
• 1 and 1/3 cups pitted dates (230 grams) (If you want a sweeter result, up the proportion of dates.)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 3-4 tablespoons cocoa powder, depending on how much chocolate flavor you want

1. Chop/blend all the ingredients, using a food processor, Magic Bullet, etc. (No need to blend the dates first; I just blend everything all at once.)
2. Roll into cutey-pie little balls. (Use plastic wrap if you need to.)

Food for thought (sorry for the obvious pun!) - Have you ever tried a Lara Bar? If so, what are your favorite flavors??


You're Never Too Old for a Lunchbox!

About a year ago I decided to start bringing lunch to work in order to save $$ and calories. Going out for lunch can cost upwards of $10 each day, and cost you exponentially more around your waistline.

Around this time, I discovered an ingenious product through a website called Laptop Lunches. They make these adorable BPA free “bento boxes” for kids and adults alike. Take a look around their website – it will tell you where you can pick yourself up one of these cute bento boxes and even supplies you with creative lunch ideas!

Today I’m rolling with a spinach salad which includes avocado, cranberries, slivered almonds and crumbled goat cheese. Since I didn’t feel like grilling some chicken for protein, I included some 1% cottage cheese topped with even more almonds, some cut up watermelon and a Caramel S’mores Cup that I made the other day (hey, everything in moderation right?!?).

All in all, a great lunch that filled me right up after an intense lunchtime workout (I love getting out of the office for an hour in the middle of the day to hit the gym!). Squeezing in an hour long workout during the day leaves me energized and super productive for the remainder of my day.

I'm interested to hear what everyone out there thinks. Do you bring lunch to the office? If so, what is your go-to meal? What about working out at lunch? If you do get moving on your lunch hour do you think it improves your productivity??


Caramel S'mores Cups - Holy Deliciousness!!

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® chocolate chip cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened - I replaced with 1/4 cup unsweetened applesace plus 1/4 cup safflower oil (vegetable oil would work fine as well)
1 egg
24 rolos, unwrapped - I think it goes without saying, but you can never be too sure...
72 mini marshmallows (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips - I used Hershey's Syrup

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray.

Make cookie dough as directed on package. Shape dough into 24 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place 1 ball into each muffin cup.

Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven; firmly press 1 candy into center of each cookie until flush with cookie top. Top each with 3 marshmallows. Bake 2 to 4 minutes longer or until marshmallows are puffed. Cool 10 to 15 minutes. Loosen edges of cookie with small metal spatula and remove to cooling racks. Cool completely.

*If you're using the Hersey's syrup like I did, just start drizzling! If not....
Melt chocolate chips in microwave on High about 1 minute or until softened. Gently put into plastic sandwich bag and squeeze bag until chocolate is smooth; cut off tiny corner of bag. Squeeze bag to drizzle chocolate over marshmallows. Let stand until hardened, about 10 minutes.

Review - these were Uh-Maz-Ing!!!! Seriously, make them. You won't regret it. I know it's not technically a s'mores because there isn't any graham cracker, but you won't care after the first bite. Make sure you serve them warm. Enjoy!!


Think Pink All Month Long

As many of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In memory of Bryan’s mom Elyse, we are passionate supporters of the Susan G. Komen Foundation through annual donations and volunteering. This year I created a corporate team through my office for the Komen Atlanta 5K. Nearly 50 of us showed up with friends and family to run and my company was generous enough to donate $5,000. All together we raised nearly $10,000 for Komen Atlanta.

The wonderful thing about getting involved is that anything you do has the ability to make a difference. A great number of companies are doing their part to support various breast cancer funds and some are offering some adorable products for purchase.

In the spirit of football season, I had to mention the NFL. The National Football League has recently developed a campaign, "A Crucial Catch", in partnership with the American Cancer Society, to focus on the importance of annual screenings. Throughout the month of October, NFL games feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink apparel to raise awareness for the campaign. In addition, on-field pink ribbons are displayed, as well as special balls and pink coins. All of the apparel worn at games will auctioned off at NFL Auction, and proceeds will benefit charities such as the American Cancer Society. Be sure to check out some of the super cute pink apparel on sale through NFL here.

To find out other ways to help, please visit the American Cancer Society's  in your area, please visit their site today.

We all have the ability to make a difference. Don't wait.

To view my previous post related to Susan G. Komen, click here


The Memories We Fail To Capture…

Just the other day I was organizing picture albums and an interesting thought struck me. What happens to the memories we fail to capture?

There are the obvious memories we always remember:

An engagement:

A wedding:

The start of a New Year:

The last time you saw your loved one:

But what about the great memories that we don’t take pictures of? What about the meal that brought friends & family together or a moment that made you laugh so hard it brought you to tears?

Bryan and I do a solid job of taking the obligatory pictures at the most opportune times – i.e.: vacations, weddings, holidays – but what about the other hundreds of days every year that pass us by without ever getting documented?

The thought that so many of these wonderful memories get lost over time has been enough motivation for me - a new camera is officially on my wish-list for my 27th birthday!

Are there any memories you wish you had captured? I’d love to hear them!


Oh Pumpkin, How I Love Thee!

Fall is officially here (even if it still over 90 degrees here in Atl) and I am so stoked! My love for fall is due in part to these three things:

1. Pumpkin Spice Latte’s from Starbucks – holy yumminess!!!

2. Pumpkin Overnight Oats
Ohhh yeah – my all time favorite breakfast, “fall-ified!” If you haven’t tried these yet – do it. You will not regret it.

Pumpkin Overnight Oats
Makes 1 serving1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup milk (skim, 1% or almond)
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/3 cup pumpkin
1/2 banana (optional)
Sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice

3. Pumpkin Bread, Muffins, Etc.
The hubby and I have been trying to lay off the sweets in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Cabo San Lucas in November so I have really been avoiding baking anything lately. UNTIL I stumbled upon a quasi-healthy recipe from Tina over at Carrot’s N Cake

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones
Makes 8 scones

1.5 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 425.
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
Add in pumpkin, yogurt, and butter, mixing as you go.
Form dough into a ball, place on a greased baking sheet and pat down into a circle about 1/2 to 1/4 inches thick.
Sprinkle with sugar and cut into 8 segments.
Bake at 425*F for about 20 minutes or until edges are slightly crisp and the top is lightly browned.

Boy am I glad I made these – not too sweet but super delish.

If you haven’t tried any of the above, get crackin’ – you will NOT be disappointed.


I'm in love with OO's!!

What are OO's? Only one of the best breakfast creations ever!! For those who haven't heard of Overnight Oats - let me explain.

You take 1/2 cup of rolled oats (I use Quaker) and combine in a bowl with 1/2 of the liquid of your choice - you can use almond milk, coconut milk, yogurt (any flavor), regular milk, or a combination of any of the above. (I've been a fan of 1/4 cup Stonyfield organic skim milk and 1/4 cup Stonyfield fat free vanilla yogurt)

You simply stir to combine, and cover. Put it in the fridge before bed time, and wake up to a lovely stick-to-your-ribs breakfast. The best part is all the yummy toppings you add in the AM! I've been sprinkling on a little flaxseed meal, cinnamon and topping the whole thing off with a tablespoon of almond butter and 1/2 mashed banana. YUM!!
This breakfast tastes delicious, has lots of heart healthy fiber and will keep you satisfied till lunch!
Have you ever made overnight oats? What’s your favorite combination?


So Many Parties... So Little to Wear!

For all of those ladies out there with a jam packed social calendar this summer, I ask you one serious question. What are you going to wear?!?

With weddings, cocktail parties, birthday parties and business events all looming in my near future I’ve lately been questioning how to look chic and fabulous at all of these said events without being a RFO (Repeat Fashion Offender). Given the recent economic hardships everyone has been facing, it’s hard to figure out how to attend so many events (in many cases with the same people!) without wearing the same cocktail dresses over and over again.

I had read a post from one of my favorite bloggers - Tina over at Carrots N Cake - about her experience renting a dress for a friend's wedding and I immediately traveled over to Rent the Runway's site.

This website is so intriguing because they have so many top designer cocktail dresses and gowns that they rent for a fraction of the actual cost. They try and make the ordering process fool-proof and offer stylist consults live through their website, break down the gowns by body type, price, occasion, etc.

For those of you like me who sometimes vary between sizes, this site is so accommodating because they’ll send you the same gown in two sizes for the price of one!

I am very excited to give this site a test drive and order a gown for one of my upcoming events – I promise to update you all after my first order!

What about all of you – anyone order from Rent the Runway?? I’d love to hear your experiences!


Another Delicious Recipe!

In an effort to decompress from an exhausting week, hubby and I decided to spend the entire weekend relaxing - that meant eating some good food, watching good movies and drinking some tasty wine.

I know we're all guilty of always cooking the same weeknight staples - mainly because it's easy and let's face it - after working a long day, we're just exhausted! Well this weekend I decided to break out of the (recipe) box and try something new. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I love Giada! I was literally drooling when I saw her recent Giada at Home episode where she made Couscous Stuffed Peppers. So I decided to attempt making them myself. I'll be honest, usually when a recipe calls for me to make my own sauce, I skip it. There's something about lugging out my blender or food processor that drives me nuts (What a waste of a registry gift!). However this time I decided to use one of my favorite products I've endorsed here before - the Fit N Fresh personal blender. It's so small and cleans up in a snap. If you're like me and shy away from making your own sauces, promise me you'll give Giada's Basil Sauce a shot. It was so delicious and could be used on so many different proteins to compliment the peppers.

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 cup couscous
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup dried currants *Hubby is not a fan of the salty/sweet combo - so I omitted these
1 packed cup chopped baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium red bell peppers
1 medium yellow bell pepper
1 medium orange bell pepper
Hot water, as needed

1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) creme fraiche *Substituted with Sour Cream
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra, as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra, as needed

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Filling: In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and cumin to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover the pan until the couscous is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 to 6 minutes. Put the couscous in a large bowl and add the beans, currants, spinach, feta and 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir until all the ingredients are combined.

Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all the ribs and seeds. If necessary, cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up. Stuff the peppers with the filling and drizzle the tops with olive oil. Put the peppers in an 8 by 8-inch square baking dish. Fill the baking dish with 3/4-inch hot water and bake until the filling is golden and the peppers are cooked through, about 55 to 60 minutes. **Note - if your filling begins to brown, cover with tin foil.

Sauce: In a blender, combine the basil, creme fraiche, olive oil, water, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove the peppers from the oven and arrange on serving plates. Spoon the sauce around the peppers and serve.

This dish was AMAZING! For a little protein I simply grilled some shrimp on the side and dipped it in the basil sauce - YUM YUM YUM!! I know green bell peppers are more affordable, but I think it was worth splurging on yellow and red peppers - our plates looked so festive and colorful! Another suggestion I have is figure one pepper for every two people. Neither hubby nor I could finish our own. (Although we’re both very excited to eat the leftovers for lunch!)


The BEST Pasta Salad You'll Ever Make!

Just like the rest of America, we spent our long weekend sharing laughs and delicious food with friends & family. On my quest for the perfect pasta salad to compliment our BBQ, I searched for the quintessential pasta salad from my favorite Food Network guru - Ina Garten. After a quick search, I stumbled upon this delicious recipe. As usual, I made some modifications due to a lack of certain ingredients, but all in all this was a BIG hit!

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta (I used the whole box - 1lb)
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced (Didn't have on hand, so I omitted)
1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced (Only had feta, so I made the swap)
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (Only had apple cider, so I swapped)
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced (We love garlic, so I used two)
1 teaspoon capers, drained (Don't like capers, so I skipped this all together)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth. Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

This pasta salad was a huge hit. It was light and refreshing, but packed full of flavor. I would definitely recommend making this for any of your upcoming summer bbq's!! Enjoy!


Virgins No More! Property Virigins That Is...

I am very excited to say that DH and I are closing on our first place in two weeks from yesterday!! After a year of living in Atlanta, GA we have decided to call it home! Our house is located in Roswell, about 20 minutes north of Atlanta. The neighborhood is so wonderful - family friendly, safe and quiet. In fact, it was actually voted one of the best places to live by CNN.

Interesting facts about Roswell:
  • Named One of the Top Three Cities in the Nation to Raise Your Family. Roswell was listed third in the book, Best Places to Raise Your Family, released by Frommer's.
  • In October 2006, the City of Roswell was named the 18th Safest City in the United States by City Crime Rankings
After growing up in an apartment for virtually my entire life, and especially after DH and I shared a 600 square foot studio in Manhattan for some years, it feels great to know we have a quiet (and HUGE!) home to come home to after a long days work.

Although the picture doesn't do it justice - this is our place! 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath at around 2,700 square feet. We purchased the house from the bank, so it came "as-is." Neither DH or I are the most handy, so we have hired a contractor to come in and help us spruce the place up.

Check out this chocolate brown paint - this is the color of nearly the whole house!! The plan is to re-paint all walls in Behr's Raffia Cream. I think the dark railings are gorgeous and will especially "pop" against the lighter wall color.

I've always wanted an island! The anitqued cabinets don't suit my style, so I'm having the contractor re-stain them a rice magohany to match the chair rail in the eat in kitchen. I can't wait to post the "after" pictures! 

I am in love with these ultra modern glass bowl sinks. The previous owner installed two in the master bath and another in the upstairs guest bath. Love these!

While the excitment of first time homeownership has been very exciting, I am beginning to feel a little overwhelmed when I think about decorating! Where do you all go for inspiration?? Any helpful hints on approaching furnishing our first home?


Cassis Le Cruset Has Arrived!!

Sur La Table is now carrying Le Cruset in a fabulous new color! Cassis is so rich and gorgeous, I think i'm going to have to replace my blue Le Cruset dutch oven with this! Aside from being oven, microwave, grill, freezer AND dishwasher safe, it comes with a 5-year guarantee. I have two dutch ovens from this line (although not in the new fab color!) and love them - I use them for everything from soups and stews to braising brisket. I know the prices can leave a little sticker shock - but trust me, they are a great investment and will last you a lifetime.

The following pieces are available only from Sur La Table (online or in the store)
• Stoneware Pitchers in Cassis, $24.95
• Stoneware Rectangular Bakers in Cassis, $29.95-35.95
• Square Grill Pan in Cassis, $89.95
• Oval French Oven in Cassis, $259.95


Serenity at the Boca Raton Resort

For my 26th birthday, I flew down to South Florida and enjoyed a spa day with my mom. We spent the day at the Boca Raton Resort - one of the most gorgeous hotels and spas I have ever seen.

We began the day with a light lunch at Morimoto - the sushi bar had an awesome futuristic design.

After lunch we walked the hotel grounds - what a beautiful resort situated right on the water.

We then made our way to the Palazzo Spa for our appointments. We each had a Swedish Massage and mom treated me to a customized facial. Amazing!!

I loved the products they used - all from a line Kerstin Florian. I have normal to dry skin so they used some really great products including a hydrating cleansing milk, raspberry extract serum, a cooling masque and a really hydrating liposome creme. All in all, it was a gorgeous spa and two exceptional treatments. If you live in or planning a trip to South Florida, go to the Boca Raton Resort for some true pampering!

Bye bye Boca Raton Resort!!


Supporting Breast Cancer

First off, I feel like I owe everyone an apology! Life has been crazy hectic and I let blogging fall completely by the wayside. I have truly missed posting and vow to get back to my weekly commitment!

Now on to the good stuff.

I recently signed my company up for the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 5K here in Atlanta. I am so excited that more than 50 of my co-workers have registered to run with me and my husband (I encouraged everyone to recruit friends and family!)

In the spirit of charity, I have found some cute products that are not only quite fashionable, but give back. And what a better cause to support than Breast Cancer. Unfortunately in today's society everyone knows someone who has been touched by the disease. About one month prior to my June 2008 wedding, my mother-in-law passed away from a 15+ year battle with the disease. The statistics are frightening.

Did you know:

  1. Breast Cancer occurs in every 1 out of 8 women
  2. A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
  3. Breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
For more information, please go to http://www.breastcancer.org/

Check out these great products which donate proceeds to Susan G. Komen and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation:

NEW BALANCE LACE UP FOR THE CURE SNEAKER, $149.99. 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of New Balance's partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. In honor of this milestone, New Balance will donate up to $1 million (with a guaranteed minimum donation of $500,000) to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® from the proceeds of the Lace Up for the Cure® Collection. Available at newbalance.com.

BELKIN SPORT ARMBAND, $24.99. This slim, lightweight, and stretchable neoprene Belkin armband holds your iPod Nano and includes a pocket for keys or earbuds. $2.50 from each sale benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Available at http://www.belkin.com/.

AVEDA HAND RELIEF, $20. A rich hand creme that helps soften and smooth hands while diminishing the visible signs of aging, Hand Relief has remained an Aveda top seller since its launch in 1998. $4 from each sale benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Available at http://www.aveda.com/.


Friendships (or lack thereof) in Your 20s and 30s

With my 26th birthday only a month away, I've spent the last few weeks reflecting on my life to date. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband, two adorable dogs, a supportive extended family, and a promising career yet am amazed at how fast the last 5 years of my post-collegiate life have gone. It's true what everyone says - time flies when you're busy doing something else. Since graduating Arizona State in 2005, I have lived in three states and made some new friends and lost a few along the way. After a brief bout of slight loneliness, I’ve asked myself a simple question: Why is it so difficult to maintain and develop friendships in your late 20's??

On a quest to find an answer to my nagging question, I went to the website every self respecting research guru does. Thanks to Google, I found the book: "The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You're Not a Kid Anymore" and was instantly intrigued. Through profiles of various women, Marla Paul explores the challenges women face as they attempt to manage marriages, careers, moving and families in their late 20's, early 30's and beyond. The phenomenon of just how difficult it can be on women to see long lasting friendships dissipate is not only something I am interested in, but something I can relate to. As a twenty-something, I am always the youngest person in my office by at least 20 years. As a result of moving three times in five years, I make friends and then ultimately leave them. Text messages, emailing and the occasional phone conversations can only go so far.

Paul’s book explores the ways women can get out and forge new friendships as we get older. Overall I think this is a great read - it will make you question "How Am I As a Friend?" and will no doubt make you re-evaluate existing friendships and challenge yourself to get out there and develop new relationships.

For those readers who find themselves in a similar situation – how have you handled getting older and finding yourself missing those fulfilling friendships?


The Sexiest Loafer You'll Ever Wear

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, I took myself shopping for all things sexy. I had no idea I'd discover shoe nirvana along the way.

For those that don't know me, I'm 5'1 and a high heel aficionado. I shop with the sole (no pun intended) intent of finding sexy 4"+ shoes and every once in awhile, stumble upon something fantastic. Enter Jessica Simpson's Ikina Heels.

Now I don't mean to sound obnoxious here, but when it comes to footwear, I tend to lean towards Prada and Gucci. Something about those gold "G's" on the back of my heel put a little extra spring in my step! Unfortunately they don't have the same effect on my husband. So, in an attempt to keep everything PC at home, I skipped Neiman's on my recent trip to the mall and headed into Macy's. I walked past the Lush counter, made a quick turn after the handbags and BOOM! I stood face to face with quite possibly one of the most bad ass pair of heels I've seen in awhile.

4 1/2" inches of pure unadulterated sexiness! Platform peep toe meets penny loafer.

If you share my obsession with sexy heels, you can purchase these pretty much at any large department store or on Zappos.com (free shipping to boot!)

Buy them now, thank me later!



My Latest Obsession - Smoothie Mania!

The Fit N Fresh line of products has me completely obsessed! It all started during a recent trip to GNC where I bought the smooth blend mixer for $24.99. I became so sick and tired of the same breakfast at work – cereal or toast – BORING! I decided I’d make the commitment to pick up some frozen fruit and an extra gallon of milk at the store each week and bring it in to the office. I've been making super tasty and health smoothies ever since! The mixer is quiet and so compact I keep it in my desk drawer when I’m not using it. As you may know, hubby and I recently moved down south - and so while i'm whipping up healthy organic smoothies in the office kitchen, the ladies in billing are nuking some bacon and grits. I am totally loving my new gadget!!

Fit N Fresh also answered my resolution to stop spending upwards of $50 a week on lunches. They make great containers to transport your lunch! Their salad bowls are awesome – they have a removable ice ring (pop in the freezer at night and you’re good to go in the morning) which keeps your salad nice and chilled. The bowl also has a separate compartment for your dressing – soggy salads be gone!!

Their breakfast bowls keep your cereal and milk separate (with a removable ice ring inside to keep your milk nice and cold during transport!).  I really can’t say enough good things about this line – go check out their website and see for yourself. Whether you're buying some products for you or your kids-  this line will not dissapoint!

I feel like so many of us get complacent when it comes to eating heathfully at work. For those of you who are trying either eat healthier or save money eating out, what are some of the solutions you've come up with?


Don't be a stick in the mud!

On my continued quest for the perfect skin care regime, I recently took a trip to my local Ulta store when I realized my Mario Badescu Flower and Tonic mask had dried out (in the mask's defense, it was a year old...). I noticed a "buy one get one free" sale on C. Booth Deep Cleansing Volcanic Mud Mask and was instantly intrigued. I went home and immediately tried the mask out - the scent was a bit strong at first, and based on other reviews I read online, I avoided my eye area to avoid any possible irritation. Left the mask on for about 15 minutes and washed it off - my skin felt so refreshed! Not only did it tighten my pores, but my skin looked visibly brighter! This has even become my "go-to" spot treatment for pesky pimples that pop up occasionally. Even got the hubby to try it out and he loved it too. Great mask, and for $9 the price cannot be beat. Be sure to check your local Ulta stores for the buy one get one deal.


First Time Homebuyer Woes

With the $8,000 tax credit looming upon us, and the hopes of a backyard for our two pups, hubby and I have been on a quest to purchase a home before April 31st. We began our search almost two months ago and used those "mortgage calculators" you see on just about every real estate website. We determined our price range, signed with a real estate agent and hit the road.

It was probably house #40 that we fell in love with - and put an offer in.... with no pre-approval letter in hand. Mistake #1. The homeowners countered, so we budged and offered just a bit more. Mistake #2. In the "we almost just bought our first place pandemonium," my husband decided to go meet with a mortgage broker and get out pre-approval letter. WHY no one told us that this should be STEP #1 is beyond me, but that pre-approval letter was eye-opening. Now don't get me wrong, we're both professionals, both make a decent living and have virtually no debt... so the actual "getting approved" part was cake. BUT who wants to spend upwards of $3,000 a month on a mortgage?!? So reality has slowly started to set in, and we now have a more realistic grasp of what we'd like to spend on our first place.
For all of you first time homebuyers out there - this is my only advice to you. BEFORE you do the fun stuff like hitting the streets in the quest for your perfect place, drudge on over to your nearest (and most qualified) mortgage broker and get an accurate idea of what you can spend on a house (factoring in taxes, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, homeowner monthly fees, etc). In the long run it will save you lots of energy and it probably could've prevented the ulcer I slowly feel developing!

Happy House Hunting!!


As promised, here is a sample of my groccery list. As you may know, I've been trying to make 2010 a healthier year overall and this go-to list has made groccery shopping a breeze. I've been buying organic except for anything with an outside "skin" you dont eat - think kiwis, onions and bananas.

Nuts - almonds, walnuts and pistachios
Strawberries - frozen and fresh
Blueberries - frozen and fresh
Apples - Pink Lady is my fav
Sugar free applesauce
whole wheat english muffins
Barilla plus pasta - all shapes
Roasted peppers
Sweet potatoes
Bell peppers
Skim Milk
1/2 and 1/2 (still haven't adapted to black coffee!)
Lean cuts of meat
Baby field greens
Goat cheese
Shredded low-fat cheddar and mozzerella
Red Onion

What's on your groccery staples list? I know shopping for the same ingredients week after week can get a litte mundane - I would love us to share some new ideas!!



New Year, New Me

First let me wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year!!

Over the weekend I hit up Whole Foods and Publix in a big way. I stocked up on organic frozen fruit and bought a fit & fresh personal smoothie maker (LOVE) and picked up some healthy staples to keep at my desk to help me avoid temptation at the office. My list includes:
Honeycrisp Apples
Unsalted pistachios, walnuts and almonds
Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Crackers in Chocolate
Natural Peanut Butter
Organic Strawberry Jelly
Frozen Blueberries, raspberries and sliced frozen strawberries
Genuine Health Proteins Powder – a whey protein isolate (the purest form) with no artificial ingredients, corn, egg, gluten, yeast, soy (which I’m allergic to) or wheat.

*NOTE – this is my “bring to the office” grocery list. In my next post I’ll share my healthy “at home” grocery list.

Let me just say it’s only Tuesday but I am LOVING my new repertoire of food at work! Every morning I whip myself up a quick smoothie – two scoops of proteins +, organic skim milk and whichever frozen fruit I’m in the mood for (today was blueberry and strawberry). It’s versatile and keeps me full until lunch (and if not, I can always snack on a handful of the nuts I bought!).

Tonight is my first appointment with a trainer – I joined LA Fitness on December 30th and have been trying to go during my lunch hour but so far that’s only happened twice. To motivate me, my hubby bought me the cutest Reebok gym bag!! (http://www.target.com/Reebok-Small-Duffel-Bag-Carolina/dp/B000W46XNM)