Friday, May 28, 2010

I love Giada!

Over the past couple of years, I have really started to enjoy cooking. Strangely enough, my husband likes this trend as well! One chef whose recipes I continue to use again and again is Giada de Laurentiis. I love that she was born in Italy and raised in LA - because her recipes reflect that. They are a combination of the old-school Italian recipes but with a slightly American twist. What I mean by that is that she makes sure to use fresh ingredients from what she can find at American grocery stores, while keeping with the traditional style of the recipes she's inherited from generations past.

She has really become popular in the past few years as well; she's an Emmy winning star of the Food Network for 3 separate shows, she's a Today Show correspondent (which is where I see the most of her), and she is now the author of 5 fabulous cookbooks, 3 of which I own. Finally, she has an adorable daughter named Jade. Seriously this little girl is THE cutest thing I've ever seen - there are lots of sweet pictures of her and Giada in her newest cookbook called Giada at Home.

Today I wanted to share with you a recipe that I have now made twice from Giada at Home and I LOVE it! The first time I made it, it was for Griffin's 2nd birthday party (not for the kids, for the adults) a couple of months back. Then, I made it again last night for just the 3 of us (well, Griffin didn't really eat it, but we wolfed it down) last night and it was then I knew I wanted to share it!

The recipe is called Nonna Luna's Rice. Sounds kind of boring, but it's just the opposite. What I like about it is you think it's a basic shrimp and rice dish - but it's not because you add a little tabasco or frank's red hot sauce, some heavy cream (don't freak!) and it's totally unique. Best part is, it only took me 30 minutes from start to finish - about the amount of time it takes Griffin to watch one 30 minute episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (to keep him from being underfoot in the kitchen!). Perfect!


1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, divided, at room temperature
2 cups parboiled long-grain
rice, such as Uncle Ben's
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 pounds small
shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup lemon
juice (about 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 cup whipping cream
Freshly ground black pepper


In a medium nonstick saucepan, heat 1/2 of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 20 to 25 minutes until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and rest covered for 5 minutes.
In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic. Add the shrimp, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Stir in the cream and heat through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Using a fork, fluff the rice and arrange on a platter. Spoon the shrimp cream sauce over the rice and serve.

Here are Giada's 3 cookbooks that I own - I'm sure you'll find many recipes in each that you will love as much as I do!

Giada at Home

Giada's Kitchen

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stylish Maternity Favs....

I figure that a decent group of you reading this blog may either be Moms already, pregnant, or thinking about it sometime in the future. And as I'm nearing the end of my 2nd pregnancy, I thought I should share some of my favorite things I've been wearing this time around.

On the whole, the words stylish and maternity usually don't coincide. However, as I feel the need to always be somewhat in on the trends, whether I've got a baby belly or not, I have a few ideas to share with you! I know that I would have LOVED the help myself when I was pregnant with my first baby - I felt truly lost in a sea of ugly cheapness!

My first go-to is Michael Stars ribbed maternity tank tops. They come in a variety of colors, and are a nice basic cotton tank, just made a little longer to fit the belly. At $40, you can stock up on some basic colors and wear them with everything! They wash and wear well - no fading. You can find the basic black and white at

Michael Stars Ribbed Maternity Tank, $40

Secondly, something I have been wearing a TON of is leggings. Up until about the 5th month, my regular black leggings worked just fine. As the belly starts to protrude though, its much more comfortable to be able to pull up the waist OVER the belly than have it sit scrunched underneath. I bought two pair of A Pea in the Pod black leggings for $38 and they might have been the best money I've spent all pregnancy. I wear them all the time, and wash, and wear, you get the picture.

Secret Fit Belly Jersey Maternity Legging, $38

Another favorite from A Pea in the Pod are these amazing convertible cargo pants. They also have the 'secret fit belly' and come in black, tan, white, and brown. The brown are on sale right now for $59.99 (which I bought) but all the colors are great - I also have white. I love them so much because they can either be regular length or you can roll them to crop - I have gotten a little more mileage that way out of them.....and I know if you're spending money on maternity clothes that's important!

Secret Fit Belly Poplin Convertible Cargo Pants, $88 (or $59.99) on sale in brown!

Last but certainly not least, I love me some Isabella Oliver. This brand/website is a little pricier than my earlier mentions, but the fit and quality of the clothing is AMAZING. Pretty much everything you get from this website has a great fit, color, I could go on and on. Also, shipping is free on orders over $89 (hard not to do), and there is almost always come kind of code or deal going on. A couple of tops that I have loved and lived in are these........and they come in all different and beautiful colors.

Wrap Around Top, $115

Portrait Top, $115

So hopefully if you're pregnant or might be soon, this has been somewhat helpful for you - and if you guys have any favorites, post them as comments! Good, stylish maternity wear is SO hard to find, and first-hand recommendations are always best.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I can't stop thinking about....

This watch.

Officially, it's the Michael Kors White Midsize Ceramic Watch with Glitz.

I know I'm a bit behind the times with the whole 'white ceramic or plastic watch' thing, but I have held off because I still love my Michele watch oh so much and wear it everyday.

However, I think that this might be what I want for my birthday in June. It seems like the perfect addition to my summer will match with everything, I still have that 'glitz' that my Michele watch has, and it's something different.

But as I was shopping around for watches on various websites, I came across some other adorable finds that are also great for summer:

This fab find is of course a Michele - called the Tahitian Jelly Bean in Hot Pink. I'm a sucker for hot pink, and it also comes in white, black, bright blue, bright green and orange.

Then there's this little number (no pun intended) from Michael Kors - about half the price of the one I love in white (at $195) in Tile Blue. I love the Caribbean blue & gold chic. You can find this ONE and other colors HERE.

Finally, if you want to have a one-up on a Fall '10 watch trend, this is the type of watch I keep seeing in all of the, kind of clunky (not unlike the clunkiness of the white ceramic), and either in plastic, ceramic, or rubber and you can apparently go even more masculine with a digital face. The Michael Kors one above would be my pick as I wear a lot of gold and of course need the 'glitz.'

What will you be wearing on your wrist this summer?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Life just got a little bit crazier.....

Let me explain.

Since 2003, my husband and I have lived in Madison, Wisconsin. On March 1 (as in 3 months ago), we moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a new job. And now, in about 2 weeks, we're moving yet once again to Chicago, Illinois! AAAAAAAhhhhhhhh!

Don't get me wrong, I am really excited to be getting back to Chicago. It is the city I lived in right after college for about 5 years and it was the time of my life. I love it there - so much to do, so much shopping (important!) and of course I met Joe there. And we got married there! However I'm not really excited about the prospect of moving AGAIN coupled with the fact that I'm 32 weeks pregnant. I think you all already know that fact though.

Today, I thought it would be fun to show you a few things in Chitown that I'm very excited to get back to......

My Chicago Girls!

Lou Malnati's Pizza...mmm! - especially deep dish spinach.

Shopping! I could go on and on about this one - Mag Mile, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, the simple bliss of having a Nordstrom's, an Ikea, seriously I could blabber all day.....and then there are all of the places that have popped up while I've been gone. I have a lot of 'work' to do.

Sweet Mandy B's Cupcakes - I need not explain this one

And of course Lake Michigan's great beaches...

Aside from all of that, I am thrilled to be able to raise my kids in Chicago. There is SO much to do and see. I can't wait to take Griffin to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Shedd Aquarium. I know he'll love them both! Now, I just have to move out of Pittsburgh, into Chicago, get settled, find an OB, have a baby, no biggie, right? ;-)

Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

'Pulling a Britney'

Per my husband, who is avidly reading my blog (tee hee), I have been told I need to make my blog 'funny.' I am no Ellen Degeneres (however she is fab and I LOVE her), but I figure now and then I can come up with something either funny to tell you all, or funny to show you.

Today, I thought it would be 'funny' to show you a couple pictures of my husband doing what I call 'pulling a Britney.'

Yes, this is Joe driving with our 2 year old son on his lap. But thankfully, they are just in our driveway. I know it's kind of terrible, but Griffin LIVES for when Daddy comes home from work and he can 'drive the car!' He lets Griffin honk and pretend steer the car into the garage. I mean, the sheer glee that spreads across Griffin's face when I tell him Daddy's home is worth the Mom guilt I feel about letting him do this. After all, I'm sure there are much worse things to come, right?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baby Boden

Has anyone taken a look at what Boden has done for babies this season? Not only do they have adorable baby girl ensembles, but the baby boy stuff is cute too! Anyone out there who has a boy will agree with me that this is tough to find. I'm are my top 5:

baby Boden #3 - just girls

baby Boden #4

baby Boden #5 - just boys

If you've never shopped Boden before, you should! Boden is a UK based clothing line that has grown by leaps and bounds since launching only menswear in 1991. I had an in-home Boden trunk show last year (which sadly they don't do anymore), and I think everyone that came and purchased has loved their Boden goods. They not only have baby & kids clothing and accessories, but Boden for adults too! I got my husband a great pair of swim trunks for our trip to Hawaii a couple of months ago and he was definitely stylin.' The quality is amazing, it all washes and wears really well (important for a messy toddler boy, let me tell you!).

Also super exciting is that since Boden stopped doing the in-home trunk shows, select Nordstroms have started carrying miniBoden, so if you prefer to shop with them, click HERE to see their selection online.

Also right now they have 20% off if you spend $150 or more. Pretty good deal!

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm a hat girl

Those of you who know me well know that I do love my hats. I like lots of hats - baseball caps, sunhats, an occasional visor (but not the golf kind my Mom likes to sport, sorry Mom), pageboy caps, and cowboy hats. But, my most favorite kind of hat has got to be the Fedora.

Lucky for me, Fedoras are hugely in style right now! Yahoo! I have been on the search for a couple of great ones to get me through this spring/summer season, and wanted to share my ideas and purchases with you.

If you are thinking - yeah, I'm not a hat girl, or mmmm...too trendy for me, think again. Here are 2 great reasons to wear a hat that you might not have already thought of:

1. They provide sun protection! And if you're not already doing that people, hop to it! Your face shows the first signs of aging from the sun, and you don't want your face to look similar to your broken-in favorite leather handbag come age 45. Got it?

2. They are an excellent cover-up for dirty hair. Haha! I must admit, I don't wash my hair everyday, or even every other day. I would say I wash it probably every 2 to 3 days. Don't get grossed out, it's actually better for your hair NOT to wash every day. Anyway, when I'm having a slightly greasy or just plain bad hair day, nothing makes it go away quicker than throwing on a cute hat. And in the spring of 2010, it should be a Fedora.
Here are two hats I have purchased already..........

Love the blue ribbon trim combined with the black/straw combo - makes it wearable with anything! And who can forget the price?! Amazing.

J. Crew Straw Trilby Hat, $40

The description on this starts off as 'every man needs a smart hat for the season...' which makes me laugh because let's be honest J. Crew - mostly women are going to wear this! Isn't it fab? I bought it for myself yesterday while I milled around the mall alone - one of my gifts on Mother's day - shopping, alone. It's a past-time I miss!

And here are a couple of hats I also love - but don't really 'need' as I have just bought the above two!

Bop Basics Panama Small Brim Fedora, $98

Just the right color of straw to contrast with the pretty white grosgrain ribbon.

Juicy Couture Mia Striped Fedora, $58

She's a bit too matchy-matchy for me with the Juicy dress and hat to match, but throw this hat on with a white tank, bangles and slightly ripped up jeans? Casual chic at it's best.

Hope I've inspired all of you to go out and get yourself a fashionable fedora this season - it's on my must-have list for sure!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

First of all, I'd like to wish all of the Mom's out there a very Happy Mother's Day weekend! I was thinking about doing an actual post on Mother's day, but then I thought: I don't want to do any kind of ANYTHING on Sunday!! It's Mother's Day and I'm a Mom - of a 2 yr old, one in the oven, and two dogs that really were our first babies.

In order to pay tribute to my wonderful Mom, I thought I'd post a couple of my favorite pictures of her. As you can see, she's thoroughly enjoying being a Grandma (she'd hate that term, so let it be known that Griffin calls her Mimi).

Mimi & Griffin - my chunky little man at 3 months

Mimi & Griffin - he had just turned 1

Mimi & Griffin at 2 years old!

So Mom, in continuing my tribute to you, THANK YOU for everything you did for me as a mother while I was growing up. I sure as heck didn't appreciate it then, but I do now, ten-fold!

As a new stay at home Mom (which my Mom was too), I am marveling about how tough this job really is. And in my memory, my Mom did it with ease. From the simple things like having our lunches ready to go in the morning for school, to having a special 'Valentines Day Breakfast' every Valentines complete with surprises at the breakfast table and something new (no doubt pink or red) to wear to school that same day.

I even give my Mom credit for really introducing my love of fashion. According to her, even at age 3 I had decided I absolutely hated wearing any kind of smocked dresses and refused to do so......(sadly, because now I think they're really cute!). And from that point on, she said that I was always picking out my outfits.....and fighting with her about them too. I don't remember how old I was when my Mom came home from the grocery store with a Glamour magazine JUST FOR ME, but I was pretty much sold on my love of clothes, makeup, jewelry, etc from that point on. I was so excited to be handed that magazine, and that my Mom had deemed me old enough to read it, I can remember the moment now. I recently shared this with my Mom, and she didn't of course even remember this instance....but like I said, it is the little things.

So thanks Mom for everything! Especially the little things.



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Capture the Moment

Nope, I am not promoting Kodak, or how cute my son Griffin was at his 1 yr photos (see above) but you get the idea. I would be remiss if I didn't tell all of you about my friend Tammy Leathem and her blossoming photography business.

Tammy and I met through a mutual friend in Chicago back when we were all in our early 20's. Oh those were the days. Back when you could go out during a weeknight, put back a few too many, and still wake up and go to work the next day not feeling that I have one glass of wine with dinner and I'm yawning by 9pm. Oh how life has changed!

Anyway, a few years ago, Tammy decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a photographer. Boy am I glad she did just that! Her website is Leathem Photography, and she takes pictures in all genres: weddings, babies, families, corporate events, sporting events, and even boudoir! She also doesn't just do Chicago. In the coming months, she's headed to Mexico, San Diego and Philly for people's weddings, and previously traveled to Copenhagen to photograph Obama for the news of Chicago's Olympic bid. For REAL!

Here are some great examples of Tammy's talent:

Wedding Photography


Sports Photography....Go Bears!

Engagement Photography

And finally, Corporate Events

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that Tammy is a fabulous photographer. If you're in need of pictures of your family, new baby, wedding, whatever, she's your girl. And as I said, she to my friends in Madison - check her out! She has most of her recent work on her website,, but you should also become a fan on Facebook of her page - there are TONS of pictures there too. Here's that link:!/pages/Chicago-IL/Leathem-Photography/87020544284?ref=ts

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Trend I'm LOVING this spring

Baggy Chinos!

Yep, the baggy/boyfriend look has moved from denim into khakis and chinos, and I couldn't be more excited. In my last buying season at Bop (tiny tear people), almost all of the notable denim designers were debuting their own version of this FAB trend, and once this baby's out and a few lbs are out the window, I will be donning a pair myself.

At market, the brand that best worked this trend (in my opinion of course) was J Brand. I stocked Bop with these in both the khaki color and army green - either a must-have in your closet for spring.

Now if $216 isn't in your budget (however I promise they'd be worth it as much as you'd wear them), I am loving what J Crew did with this trend as well. They have a Broken-in Boyfriend chino that is equally adorable and hits the trend right on the nose. They come in this amazing nickel color, shown below, and also light khaki of course.

J Crew Broken-in Boyfriend Chino in Nickel, $69.50 at

I know you'll probably be able to find this trend about anywhere this season - but I had to mention my two favorites. Now, if I know some of my girlfriends well, they'll be asking - how do I wear this trend? What shoes, shirt, do I roll the bottoms like in the pictures or not?

My answers to these questions:

1. Wear with a cute pair of wedges, a low heel (like what's shown with the J Crew pair), cute flip flops (Havaianas are my all time fav)......pretty much anything!

2. Tops - the rule of thumb is if you're going baggy on one part of your body, wear something slim on the other part. So if you're wearing baggy chinos, go for a more fitted tee shirt, tank, or a casual blouse like this one (by the way, these are amazing, you should own one):

James Perse Contrast Panel Shirt, $144 at

3. Yes, you roll them up. Or not. Nice thing is, there is no rule on this! I would say if you're a trendier gal roll-away! If you're more classic, keep 'em long. Either way it's a trend that YOU should rock this spring and summer.

Later Gators......