Jul 31, 2012

Swap Sponsor Spotlight

Try saying that 10 times fast. Whew. 
Well, folks...it's come time for me to introduce you to the lovely people that have been hanging out in my sidebar the past couple weeks! Some are new to the blog world and others are seasoned vets, but all deserve some love and sweet comments! Oh and I've still got 4 swap spots left, so visit my sponsor swap page and shoot me an email if your interested in swapping before they're all gone!

Now, without further adieu, come meet these fabulous bloggers!

Hi, I am Kristen and I blog over at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
I am an Army wife/Blog designer, currently living in Germany with my amazing husband.
I love Harry Potter, cooking, our puggle-pup Monster, and finding humor in every situation. 
I hope you will follow us along on our journey in this new country!

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Hi!  I'm Alana and I blog at mrs. alana's miscellany. I'm a Southerner, newly transplanted in Omaha ever since marring my Airman. We met on eHarmony (yes it works!) and are so dorky it hurts. I love writing about my marriage and all of our newlywed adventures. I also love teaching, reading, and painting a few things for my etsy shop. I hope you'll come by and say hi!

Hi, there! I'm Emma. A freckle-faced redhead who also happens to be the wife of a studly officer in the United States Army. I blog to chronicle our lives for family & friends because the military has sent my husband & I to Germany. Already it has proven to be quite the adventure! I hope you'll read along as we learn to navigate the ropes of living overseas. 


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I blog about fashion (a.k.a my personal outfits), beauty obsessions, and random life happenings. I try not to take myself too seriously and from time to time, have no problem making fun of myself. I am a wife and a mom to two crazy, beautiful little girls. I am a native Texan currently living in the Austin area. I have a shopping addiction. I am obsessed with Forever 21, Ulta, and Sephora. I could eat Mexican food every day of the week. I love country music. My dream was to become and actress. I wish I was more domesticated and still trying to find my"place in the world. Come visit me and let's be buds!

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Welcome to Maggiano Takes Austin!  I'm a 20 something girl living in Austin, Texas for the past 7 years. I reside in north Austin with my boyfriend, Scott Owens, whom I've been completely head over heels for 5 amazing years! Scott & I enjoy live music, playing with our little furboy Huxley, and going on small trips to getaway! I also enjoy cooking with will be the main focus of this blog...otherwise I hope you enjoy following us on our journey of love, laughter, struggles, great food, puppy fun, and adventures! I look forward to hearing from you and hope this blog will introduce me to so many new friends as it already has!

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Hey y'all! My name is Sara and I blog over at The Hinton Hook-Up. I'm a 25-year old newlyerwed who works in media marketing and lives in South Texas with my husband, Luke, and our two pups. This blog documents our day-to-day adventures, plus our travels, passions, and transitions. I hope you'll follow along!

Hi there! My name is Wendi, and I'm a small-town girl living in the big (little) city of Atlanta with my husband, Pierce, our Siberian husky, Bella, and our only-slightly-insane kitten, Lady. There's talk of a little one in the works, but you know how finicky those gossip circles can be ;). I'm full of contradictions, or, as Anne Frank once wrote, a "bundle" of them. Aren't we all? I first started my blog- A Bundle of Contradictions- as a means of self-expression and to chronicle my journey into publishing. But it's become more than that. It's my way of incorporating all the things I love about life into once place. There, I can talk about football and fashion with the same passion I talk about reading and writing (well, almost!). There, I can share my love for Jesus and the husband he gave me. There, I can tell you the truth and hope you understand something my college professor once told me: "Once something has been written down, even if it really happened, it becomes fiction."

Hello there! My name is Nicole and I blog over at Sunkissed with a Twist! I'd say I'm far from your average/ordinary 20-something, college girl. I have a boyfriend that I adore and we just celebrated our 6 year anniversary! I also have two fur balls of love that make me laugh and smile everyday...they're not just a man's best friend! I have two places that I call home-Austin, TX and Garmisch, Germany. I'm majorly obsessed with traveling, hiking, swimming, and drinking good wine. I'm super easy going and can fit in just about anywhere. I'm adaptable that way. :) So come on by and kick it with me! I'd love to share some of my whirlwind life story with you, the things that excite me most, and I'd also love to learn more about you and make new friends!
Hello. I'm Danette from All My Love for All My Days. I'm not married, nor do I have actually children, but I have my dog Jackson who literally means the world to me. I'm like most ladies, I enjoy coffee and shopping, but I love, LOVE, meeting new people. I passionately believe that love can change the world. All My Love for All My Days is simply my journey to share and experience love and to enjoy the journey. Take a few minutes and swing by the blog.  

Hello Casey's readers! I'm Kaity, and I'm the mastermind behind Brownie Diaries. I blog about style, food, travel, and all the random happenings in my life as a college student. I'm a French student and I have a horrible case of wanderlust. I wear a lot of dresses and skirts and tights. I'm obsessed with stripes and finding cute free fonts. I love John Krasinski. I watch a lot of television, and apparently at some point I developed a love for hot vampires [just not the Twilight kind]. If any of these random facts have caught your interest, then come say hello! [or bonjour, as the case may be]

My name is Angie and I live in Florida with my husband and our three children. While life with three teenagers is nothing short of an adventure, I spend my free time blogging or searching out and creating treasures for my Etsy shop. Swede Dreams is my avenue to share my obsessions with fashion, beauty, art, music, dining, travel and decor. I hope to add a bit of daily inspiration to all who stop by...


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My blog is simply a life diary.  It has become a wonderful hobby of mine to document special memories that my family and I make and hopefully others will be interested to read about them.  I'm a new mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a teacher (a working mom).  It's hard to juggle everything and still be a good Mom, but I am working hard to achieve it all and hope others will follow our crazy ride.  I also love music, have documented our first house decoration projects and will do more of that in the future.  But it's just a blog about us...simple, crazy, and happy us :)

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Hello ladies, my name is Breanna and I blog over at My Beautiful, Crazy Life. I am a junior in college majoring in Human Nutrition, although I am a complete food junkie. I am saved by God's grace and for that I am eternally grateful, which is why I strive to live each day for His Glory. I also have a love for creating beautiful things, I will be opening an Etsy shop this month that will be stocked with hair accessories, headbands, and jewelry! If you head on over to my blog you'll find a hodge podge of topics ranging from fashion to daily encounters in my life. I hope you'll stop on by!

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My name is Jessica Oatman and I'm a photographer, army wife, mother to three wonderful kids, mom to a cancer survivor, and a Gold Star Sibling, lover of the outdoors, and believer in Christ. My brother, Sgt. Paul Dumont Jr. , was killed on Aug 19, 2009 while serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He is one of the many heroes who have died while defending our country. The reason for starting this blog is to showcase the amazing talent that military photographers have as well as bring honor to the men and women who are fighting for our country. This will also be a place that we can remember those who have given their lives so that we can remain in the land of the free. We will be posting pretty much anything that has to do with the military and supporting our troops. Some of them being, but not limited to, weddings, deployments, homecomings, memorials, family sessions, organizations, goodies, and amazing internet finds.

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Hello, (new) friends! My name is Allie - adrenaline junkie, but afraid of open water - passion for photography, but never taking enough photos - newly engaged, but still feel like I'm playing house - city girl with no sense of direction. And! I'm the writer behind the blog This & That! It's my littler corner of the internet where these's no limits and no restrictions- I write about everything from fashion, art, inspiration, and design, to little bits about my life or whatever I'm obsessing over at the moment. It's a little bit of this and little bit of that. Or maybe it's a whole lot of A.D.D? Who knows! Feel free to common over and say hello! :)

Jul 29, 2012

A Blog About Pop-Tarts

{I'm guest posting over at Jessica Lynn Writes today! Head on over there to check it out and leave some love!}


Friday, I made pop-tarts. And I don't mean I pulled that little silver packet out of a box and popped two tarts into the toaster kind of thing. I mean I made pop-tarts. From scratch. My single greatest baking accomplishment thus far...and it was stupid easy.

Of course, I did pick the hottest day of the year here in Germany to take on this pop-tart endeavor. It was just about 90 degrees outside, which means it was probably like 95 in my A/C-less kitchen with the oven cranked on high. Probably not the smartest thing I've ever done, but the tarts were calling my name. And when pop-tarts call, you just answer. The trip to the ER for heat stroke would have been totally worth it.

 

I didn't really grow up eating pop-tarts. I grew up eating doughnuts...Krispy Kremes to be exact. You see, my dad has been an engineer of sorts at Krispy Kreme for over 30 years, so doughnuts were always plentiful in our home...and I've got the thighs to show for them. But pop-tarts, eh, weren't a big deal. Until I got to college, at least. Then I couldn't keep my hands off those yummy brown sugar cinnamon ones. They made them in reduced-fat, too. It was a done deal. Grab a tart and off to class I'd go. That's not a good thing seeing as I was getting my degree in Nutrition & Wellness and pop-tarts are like the least nutritionally dense food on the planet. What an example I was setting...so, I ended up going cold turkey and haven't touched a pop-tart in almost 4 years. Well, I lie. I ate one around Thanksgiving. Mom shipped us a care package filled with Fall goodies, including Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts. Umm, amazing. They were gone in like 3 days. But I've gone cold turkey since then. Promise.


When I saw these babies floating around on Pinterest (a.k.a CRACK), my pop-tart juices started flowing again. I'm all about cutting out preservatives and making as much of our meals from scratch as possible, so this was almost a no-brainer. I could get my pop tart fix using my own ingredients without having to eat all that added stuff you can't pronounce on the nutrition label. I also cut out some of the sugar and fat calories by using sugar-free jam and light butter. Boom. Fresh, homemade, (ahem...reduced-fat) pop-tarts. I'll be waiting for my Nobel Peace Prize. These things could stop wars.

Homemade Pop-Tarts
Makes roughly 4 tarts per dough ball

Pie Crust (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks of cold, unsalted light-butter, cut into 1" cubes (I used Lank O'Lakes Light Butter Sticks)
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. skim milk

Preheat oven to 400°F. To make the dough, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter until a dough is formed and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. Mix the egg and milk together in a small bowl, then pour it into the dough mixture. Work together until combined. Take dough and divide it in half, setting one half aside. Roll out one half the dough onto a floured board into the shape of a large rectangle (the size of a 9x13 pan would work). Cut the dough into pop tart sized rectangles (this isn't an exact science, obviously). You can do the same to the other half of the dough to make more tarts now, or wrap the dough ball in saran wrap and put it in the fridge (for up to 2 days) or freezer to use later. {SIDE NOTE: You could also make these using Pillsbury Ready-Made Rolled Pie Crusts. I made a batch with homemade crust and one with the ready-made stuff and they both turned out great...but be mindful, the ready-made stuff is full of partially hydrogenated lard and preservatives.}


Filling:
1-2 Tbsp. of your favorite sugar-free jam (I used Smucker's Sugar-Free Strawberry Preserves...if you have homemade jam, even better! It won't be sugar-free, but at least you know what's in it! I have no jam making talent, so it was the jarred stuff for me.) Spread the filling onto the dough rectangle, leaving a 1/4" boarder around the edge for sealing the dough pieces together. Take the end of a fork and crimp the edges for a decorative seal. Place tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the tarts a few times with a fork to allow the steam to escape and bake them for 10-13 minutes until golden brown.

Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. of skim milk (or just enough milk to make paste-like icing)
drop of vanilla extract (optional)

Top them off with a pop of color from your favorite sprinkles or go icing-less...but who'd ever want to do that? Seriously guys, go try these babies. It'll take you back to being 8 years old in a heartbeat...and I'd bet money you'll never open one of those silver packets again.
Happy Sunday, y'all!

Jul 27, 2012

Friday Letters & Some Anniversary Mushiness

Dear Germany,
I'm enjoying the warm weather by doing fun things like this:
and this:
...but now that it's 90 degrees, I'm melting. 
Stop it, Germany. There's no need to try and be like the USA. You're an A/C-less country. You're not fooling anybody.

Dear flat tires,
You suck. 
Making us €300 poorer this week was not on my to-do list. Thanks for that.
(Hubs with his new Captain's present...the one we've only had 3 months and had to get new tires for. Yeah. Pissed is an understatement.)

Dear Cousin,
You've left us here in Germany alllll alone. I hope you enjoyed your time here studying abroad. We've enjoyed having you only 2 hours away for the first time in YEARS. Funny how we had to move to a foreign country for that to happen. Germany will miss you. We will miss you. Say hello to 'merica for us...oh and eat some good Mexican food. We'll live vicariously through you, kay?

Dear Self,
You've been rockin' it out in the kitchen lately. Waistline friendly stuff, too. 
Keep it up...and post these recipes so your friends can stop drooling.

Dear Hunk-o-mine,
It's our 5 year anniversary tomorrow. 
5 years of wedded bliss. My heart is so full! I can't believe it's been that long since we walked down the aisle, exchanged promises of forever, and I took you as my husband, I as your wife. It seems like just yesterday. I still get chills thinking about that day and all the wonderful things that have happened to us since then. We've built such a beautiful life together. So full of laughter and happiness, tears and growth. After almost 12 years together, never wavering, you are the only man I'd ever want. The only man I ever need. We were designed for each other by the hand of our Creator, He made you just for me. I thank Him everyday for that, too. Thank you, also, for all your sweet everyday nothings-they really aren't nothing to me. They're actually everything. You know my heart, inside its deepest caverns, the parts I'm always afraid to show...but you love me anyway. And I'm a better person for loving you. All my love, sweet husband. Here's to 100 more.


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Jul 25, 2012

Exploring Florence, Italy


I'm just gonna come right out and say it...Florence didn't light my fire. I know, I know...I'm sure a few of you Florence lovers could slap me right about now, but it just didn't do it for me. I don't know what it was about that city, but I didn't leave there feeling awe-struck or compelled to go back. Believe me, I wanted to LOVE it, just like everyone else in the world seems to love it, but Florence is just kind of "ehhh" to me. I'm literally hanging my head in shame over this, people. Like I've committed some kind of Italian crime...how could someone NOT love Florence?! To be honest, our day there was kind of stressful, so maybe that contributed to my disenchantment...and it felt too rushed, like we tried to squeeze in too many sights. Apparently my enjoyment level while sight-seeing is directly related to how stressed I am. Who would've thought? {eye rolls} I'm sure that if given the chance to go back, I would, but I'd plan things out a bit differently and I'd certainly know what to expect. Hey, it was our first time exploring an Italian city, culture shock might have also been factor. I'm not ruling anything out, mostly since I can't quite put my finger just what turned me off. 

Now, with all the being said, I did get to see and do lots of things on my bucket list, most notably climbing up the 463 stairs to the top of the Duomo and seeing the Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistry of St. John). The views atop the Duomo were nothing short of spectacular! And it was fun coaching my sis and cousin up the winding staircases (the parent's sat this one out, obviously). We also got to roam the halls of the Uffizi Gallery, feasting our eyes upon the famous paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli (the Birth of Venus was exquisite!), and Rembrandt. Even though it took up a lot of our time in Florence, it was worth having a look (buy your tickets ahead of time and skip the lines!!) Towards the end of the day we stumbled upon the San Lorenzo markets and spent a couple of hours wandering the streets buying leather bracelets, scarves, and postcards. Oh, and of course pasta...lots and lots of pasta! So, the day was far from a wash. We did have a lot of fun, we did see a lot of history, and D ate the biggest gelato cone that I've ever seen...so, we made a lot of fun of him. Maybe Florence wasn't so bad after all?



Here's a little video of our view from the top of the Duomo. By the way, I hate the word "duomo." It always makes me wanna say stupid things like, "Duomo Arigato, Mr. Roboto." I'm pretty sure we sang that phrase the whole way up the thing. I know, stop it. 



After touring the Uffizi Gallery, climbing the Duomo, and wandering around various squares in the city, we decided it was finally time to try some of the gelato that Italy is so famous for. There were so many gelato shops to choose from, it made my head spin. We ended up picking a place with a really cute sign (because, you know, that's how you pick things if your a girl). The shop was packed, but we squeezed in their like sardines and marveled at all the flavors behind the glass case. Some of us got simple cones with a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of stracciatella (chocolate chip)...while others (and by other's I mean my husband, only) got GIANT cones with multiple flavors and large sugar wafers. I think his eyes were bigger than his tummy. When D walked out of that gelato shop carrying the biggest gelato cone I'd ever seen, I couldn't stop laughing! None of us could. He said he didn't want that much, but the girl behind the counter insisted that he should have a "Mickey Mouse" cone. He had no idea what she meant, so he said "Sure!" That gelato girl saw D coming a mile away, I'm sure of it. So, naturally we made fun of him as he walked through the streets of Florence with his half lopsided Mickey Mouse cone. Only my husband, people. Only my husband.



Cannoli, anyone? No? I didn't eat one either. The gelato did me in for the day.
So, there you have it, kids. Day 2 of our Italian adventure in the books. 
Up next is our whirlwind tour of my favorite city in all of Italy (thus far)...ROME! 
Stay tuned!

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