Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lettuce Wraps

Do you ever have one of those weeks where it feels like no matter what you do, you keep getting fatter? You know you're not actually blowing up like Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but it sure feels like it. Of course you know that feeling. We alllllll know that feeling - and it sucks. Usually the week after I have been verrrry bad about my diet, I bust out my gaggle of recipes to make me feel thin again. These lettuce wraps are one such meal.


  • hearts of romaine
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. chopped dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 c. hoisin sauce

How To Cook It

I like to chop/dice everything before browning my meat so I don't have to worry about burning it. The thing I love about this dish is it is practically impossible to screw up. I brown the meat in a frying pan on high heat and then kind of shove it to one side of the pan so I can scramble up the eggs. Then I add the diced peppers, green onion, water chestnuts, and peanuts all at once. I give that a good stir so it's even and then add the hoisin, sesame oil, and chili garlic sauce. 

Before adding the hoisin, chili garlic sauce, and sesame oil

After all the ingredients have been added, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for a few minutes. I like to  wash my lettuce and clean up my cooking mess while it simmers; this usually takes me anywhere from 5 to ten minutes. Plate it up on your hearts of romaine and BAM! meal of gold!

I must apologize for my pictures. I am still working with a phone camera because I'm too cheap to buy a nice one. Whatever, doesn't matter, my belly is happy. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Red and Black Bridal Shower

It's that time of year again... WEDDING SEASON! This year, Husband and I have four weddings to go to -two of which we are both in AND only six days apart. A lot of work goes into planning a wedding - and it's not all fairy-tale fun. I have to say, part of me is glad it is all over. Now I get to sit back with a glass of champagne and enjoy the festivities without worrying about a thing!

This summer we are lucky enough to be a part of Dan and Kari's wedding. Kari is one of my closest friends, we met in college and have been inseparable ever since. Aaaand she just so happens to be marrying my cousin which is super exciting! Dan's sister (also my cousin, obviously) and I decided to team up to throw Kari the BEST BRIDAL SHOWER EVER!

The Invitation

Like I did with Sarah's shower, I wanted to design the invitations myself. I scoured Pinterest and Etsy for ideas and came up with about six designs. Here were the top four contenders: 

And this little fella won the heart of the bride: 

The colors for the wedding are black and red so clearly that was my inspiration. And it was carried on throughout the rest of the afternoon shower!

The Menu

Having had so much success with Sarah's baby shower menu, I decided to go with an almost identical meal. We had about the same number of RSVP's (around 30) however, the demographic was skewed. This time it was my family and college friends in attendance.... which means a helluva lot more champagne was needed. We served: 
  • caprese skewers
  • brie and crackers
  • veggie tray
  • fruit tray
  • salad
  • cucumber sandwiches
  • meat and cheese platter

On this guest list we have two aunts who are gluten free, one friend who is lactose intolerant and two vegetarian cousins. This meal worked well for everyone's needs.

Like I said, with this group we were going to need a lot of champagne. But we also had a few who don't drink so we served a non-alcoholic champagne (recipe found here). Here's a couple pictures of the mimosa bar:


No bridal shower is complete without games and we came up with three: Toilet Paper Bride, Purse Bingo, and Couple Trivia: 

Toilet Paper Bride

Toilet paper bride is a simple enough game. Have your guests split into groups of 5 and have each group select a model. The groups then have a set amount of time to create a wedding dress out of toilet paper. When time runs out each group gives a 1 minute "presentation" of their creation, the bride-to-be judges. Here were the results for us:

Purse Bingo

As always, I got my kicks from designing these printouts to match the invitations. The game is pretty strait forward. Create or buy bingo cards with everyday items found in a purse. Have all the guests retrieve their purses and get ready to play. Here's the catch: When you call out the item, it MUST be on their card AND in their purse to cross the item off their score sheet. 

Couple's Trivia

Again, a very simple concept: write out a list of questions about the bride and groom and ask their answers ahead of time. Then pass out a sheet for each guest to discover how much they know the happy couple. 


The prizes at Sarah's shower were so popular, we went with potted herb plants again. And we gussied them up with some peat moss, ribbon, and a sort of monogram/crest found here


In addition to a wrapped present, we wanted to have a little fun with our gift to the bride so we went to several stores and found monogrammed items. We then placed those items around the house and told her anything with an "M" on it she could take home. We were able to find chalkboard wine glasses, wine-stoppers  hand towels, coasters, and paper napkins.

And last but not least we printed a banner to add to the over all look (link here).

Owl Themed Baby Shower

Recently I became a proud Auntie to the most beautiful baby boy. I've said it before and I'll say it again: All newborns look like a potato - EXCEPT for baby E. At 3 weeks old this kid has more facial expressions than I ever will, and they are all adorable!

Sarah, my best friend from high school and maid of honor in my wedding, has been such a good friend to me, the LEAST I could do would be to throw her a kick-ass baby shower! So about two months ago, I attempted just that. Here are the results:

The Invitation

It all starts with an invitation right? Sarah's nursery theme is owls. So after viewing a LOT of owl themed invitations via pinterest and etsy, I came up with this design and made my own using Microsoft Publisher.

I had them printed up at staples (MUCH cheaper than kinkos, by the way). They were in post card format so the back side shows the same chevron pattern with the little owl next to my return address and some more instructions for the guests. 


I had around 30 RSVP's for this shower so there was a lot of food involved! My menu consisted of:
  • cheese and cracker plate
  • caprese skewers
  • fruit tray
  • veggie tray
  • cucumber sandwiches
  • meat and cheese platter

I also had a mimosa bar. I offered some fruit purees as well as simple raspberries. For the 3 Mommas-to-be that attended, I had a non-alcoholic "champagne" option which I found here.

For dessert, keeping with the owl theme, I served owl shaped cupcakes which I found via pinterest here. My version didn't turn out quite as fabulous, but I'll take it.


As cheesy as they can be, baby showers REQUIRE games to be played. I had three: Poopy Diaper, What's In The Bag, and The Yarn Game. While attempting to keep the owl them alive, I created printouts for the first two games with fun, fat owls on them. 

Poopy Diaper

We had a good laugh with this game. My Momma-to-be brought me 10 extra diapers from her stash and I melted/crushed/crumbled 10 different chocolate-based candy bars into them. The guests then had to guess what candy bars they were. 

What's In The Bag?

The next game was part of my gift to Sarah. An easy game, I bought several smaller, every day items off of her registry and put them into numbered, brown paper sacks. The sacks were then passed around and each guest had to guess what was inside based on touch alone. 

My third and final game was the simple Yarn Game.  I took a ball of yarn around to each guest and had them guess the circumference of the mother-to-be's pregnant belly. Each guest cut off a piece of yarn to represent her guess for the girth of the belly. The person with the closest guess is the winner. I must warn future baby shower planners: be careful with this game. My Momma-to-be had no qualms about how much weight she had gained, but for more sensitive momma's a bad guess can ruin the party!


My prizes consisted of potted herb plants. Who doesn't need some fresh herbs right? And if they die, it's not the end of the world. I gussied them up a bit so that they fit in with the owl theme.

Other Stuff

While I didn't get a picture of it, I was inspired by the banner at this shower. I created my banner with the help of this website and I was pretty pleased with the results. I just added our friendly little cartoon owls in between each word for a splash of color.

Presents! In addition to her everyday items, I made a couple of decor items for baby E's room. The first was SUPER easy to make, I just framed the free printable found here. I printed it in several colors so Sarah could easily match it to baby E's nursery.

 I also made a similar version of this.

Found  here. If I ever get the time I'll post a tutorial of that project, but it was muuuuuch more difficult than I thought it would be. 

Last, but not least, Sarah called me a few days after the shower to thank me - and yell at me. "The shower colors were so nicely coordinated, all my thank you note options look like s***!" (I suppose that's a compliment, right?!) So I threw this little thank you postcard together and sent her the PDF.

Now that E has arrived, the shower seems like a distant memory. How did we ever live without this face?