Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Twisted Mediterranean Panini

Hello, Birdies! As the temperatures drop, my need for a warm, filling sandwich rises.  In an attempt to satisfy this craving, I have created what I call a Twisted Mediterranean Panini. This sandwich starts with a simple cibatta bun and basil mayo. I make basil mayo one of two ways. Version number one is where I place my mayo of choice in a food processor with fresh basil leaves and pulse it till well blended. If you let it sit for a few minutes, more of the intoxicating basil fragrance is released and it makes you wonder why you ever ate mayonnaise any other way. Version number two holds a similar concept but is what I would call the "lazier version." I won't judge you if you make it this way because well...I definitely have. No shame in my game. Simply take your mayo, squeeze some basil paste in then stir till combined. I like this version because basil-in-a-tube tends to last a long time. Either way you make this condiment, it is sure to please and kick any sandwich up a notch.



From there the layering of ingredients begins. Although this sandwich packs a serious punch, it is not a serious sandwich. No measurements here. It is like the cool kid of the sandwich world because it just kind of goes with the flow. It can be casual but can also rock someone's socks off if the occasion calls to impress.




This panini takes cues from the Mediterranean with olives and pepperoncini's but then throws you for a loop with the creaminess that the soft muenster cheese brings. Combine that smooth, velvety goodness with the crunch of the cibatta roll and your taste buds will thank you! Although this sammy is dressed to impress, it doesn't take more than just a few minutes to prepare.

Ingredients:

Cibatta Roll
Mayonnaise
Basil
Lettuce
Tomato
Muenster Cheese
Turkey or Deli Meat of Choice (or go meatless)
Bell Peppers
Red Onion
Kalamata Olives
Pepperoncinis

1. Warm up your panini press or countertop grill. No need to grease.
2. Slice your cibatta roll and spread your basil mayo on both sides.
3. Layer in the remaining ingredients. With the peppers and onions, they can either go in raw OR you can soften them up in a skillet beforehand.
4. Place the sandwich in the press or grill and allow it cook till the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Let the panini rest for a few minutes. Doing this allows all of the flavors to really meld together and, I think, make the sandwich even better.



I really appreciate recipes that I can prepare year round and this one definitely is versatile enough to be served with a salad in the warmer months or with a warm soup in the cooler months.

Hopefully you give this a try and if you do, take a pic and share with me on Twitter or Instagram!

What is your favorite sandwich to make?

Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for a play by play on how I assemble the Twisted Mediterranean Panini.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall Home Decor 2014

Hello Little Birdies! Fall is upon us and I could not be more thrilled. I enjoy nearly everything about this time of year. It is kind of like the opening act to Christmas so it gets me all jazzed and in a festive frame of mind.


Decorating for the season is where I like to start then from there I am ready to take on warm drinks, comfy layered clothing, chili in the crockpot, picking out a pumpkin, walking through colorful leaves and all of the other glorious things that only Fall can bring. I never do exactly the same decor layout each year. Now this does not mean I buy new seasonal items each autumn but rather that I reuse and reinvent how I want to use what I already have. Sure, I may throw new things into the mix but I also love bringing out some old faithful's that I have used for years. This year is a blend of old and a little bit of new. Check out my YouTube channel to see my recent Fall Haul AND a mini fall home tour. 
Sidenote: My computer is out for the count right now so I am doing this from my phone which doesn't make linking videos very easy. I apologize but hope to be up and running soon.
I hope you find some inspiration from my home decor and remember that it doesn't take a lot of money to create a warm, inviting and festive space.



What is your favorite time of year? Have you started decorating for Fall? If so, share your work with me on Twitter or Instagram.

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a great day! :-)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Coupon Your Way To Christmas

Hello, hello! As much as it seems it cannot be possible, Christmas is only 89 days away. You know as well as I know that those 89 days will fly by so why put off shopping for the busy holiday season? Especially when there are already some great deals popping up. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter to get the latest deals as I will be regularly posting with this hashtag: #CouponYourWayToChristmas
If you can't escape to Twitterville or Instagramland at the moment then just take a peek below and check out a few of my favorite holiday shopping tips:

1. Start early! I mean really early. As a general rule of thumb, I like to comb through the after holiday sales. Whether it be Valentines day or the Fourth of July, there are always some great deals to be had. Christmas is no different and really it is almost better. Maybe I like it because I am usually still running on a holiday high but there is something intensely gratifying about getting a toy, gift, or home decor item for nearly 90% off. This past year, I got the stockings of my dreams for just a few dollars when they were originally selling for $20. The same applies to gifts for friends and loved ones. Stores are nearly giving away their goods once December 26th rolls around. To keep the clutter down, have a designated gift box where you can store your treasures that you find throughout the year and pull them out when you need.

2. Coupons! Coupons!! Coupons!!! Surprised? Coupons save you in general so you can always pop some of those savings into a Christmas fund. Once shopping season arrives you won't have to be scrambling around trying to stretch your budget. Also, did you know that now is the time of year to keep your eyes peeled for toy coupons? Its true. I noticed this last year and it made all the difference. I was able to get some really fun gifts for my niece and nephew. Brand new, cool toys that didn't break the bank. The great thing is that with some stores (like my beloved Target) you can combine those coupons with other in store offers like Cartwheel. Check out the pics to get an idea of what savings you can get now.

3. Give Black Friday a whirl! Although I love saving money, crowds can stress me out so I never imagined I would enjoy Black Friday shopping. Also, I work in retail so shopping the day after Thanksgiving hasn't always been possible. Last year, however, I gave it a go. I got an early start, found some pretty great things and was still able to make it to work on time. Granted a bit worn out but I made it nonetheless. If you go, I recommend doing your homework, have a plan, and maybe even a shopping buddy. My friend, Ashley, has laser-like focus and scored some awesome deals this past year because she knew what she wanted and from where.
Be on the lookout here on the blog and on YouTube as the holidays approach. I have loads of fun stuff to share with all of you! Whether gift shopping stresses you out or not, I hope you find these tips helpful. And if you need some inspiration, just search the hashtag #CouponYourWayToChristmas on Twitter & Instagram. If you find deals, feel free to use that hashtag and share it with me!

What are some of your favorite ways to save when you are Christmas shopping? Have you ever gone shopping Black Friday?


Thanks for reading and until next time, have a great day!! :-)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Super Savvy Saver's Tag

Hellllooo! I recently created a "tag" video on YouTube called the Super Savvy Saver's Tag. The concept of a tag video is that one person creates a sort of questionarre then "tags" others to do it as well. This idea can also be applied for blog content so with that said.....TAG!!! YOU'RE IT!!!!
This video is for those individuals who love to save money and find ways to thrive within a budget. If this sounds like you then share some of your secrets in this tag. If this doesn't sound like you, check the video out and maybe you will pick up a few tips and tricks.



Do you do anything I mentioned to save money? What are some of your favorite tips and tricks?


Thanks for stopping by and have a great week! :-)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Nature Box Unboxing

Hello, hello! My husband and I are big snackers. Yes, we love a nice full meal as much as the next person but most of the time you can find us munching on crackers or nuts or something sweet. Although our love for a quick nibble is big, we try to keep our snacks relatively healthy.
Over the past year or so, I have heard a lot about the company Nature Box. Much like Birchbox or ipsy, Nature Box is a brand that sends you 5 items or more (depending on the bundle you select) each month for a fee. I have debated about trying it out but then I went to their site and somehow found a discount to get the box for 50% off. Discounts?!? They were talking my language! I was able to order the smallest bundle for $9.99. Like most of the previously mentioned services, you can skip months or cancel anytime so with that in mind I am a-ok with trying out for only ten buckaroos.
Here are a few cool things about the brand itself:
1. You can skip months or change your bundle when you would like.
2. The snacks are generally healthy and made from natural ingredients.
3. You can filter out certain ingredients or types of foods according to your preference or health requirements (I.e
Gluten free, GMO free, nut free, etc.)
4. There is a HUGE variety to browse through.
5. You can either hand-select each item for that months box OR you can have Naturebox choose for you. What a fun surprise!
I personally chose what we got for our first box only because I wasn't yet familiar with the brand or their quality. Next time around I feel confident enough in their products to be surprised. For this box we received:
Dark Cocoa Nom Noms
Cherry Ganache Granola
Sourdough Cheddar Pretzel Bites
Country Ranch Sunflower Kernels
Cheddar and Onion Sunflower Kernels
And they threw in a surprise bag of Apple Pie Oat Clusters!!!
Man, oh man! We are living in Snackers Paradise (cue Coolios much more hip version now.) Check out my video on my YouTube channel to get a full review.
Have you tried NatureBox? What other box services do you recommend?  Oh and by the way, are you subscribed to my channel yet?
Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!! :-)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

D.I.Y. DECOR: 4TH OF JULY FUN


Hello, hello! We are coming up on one of my favorite holidays so of course I had to decorate then share with all of you. Independence Day has always held a special place in my heart since childhood. When I reflect on this day so many memories abound of cook-out's, pool time, yummy food, being with family, and of course seeing fireworks. I wanted to bring some of that fun spirit to my make believe mantle a.k.a the shelf on my coat rack. Improvisation is a wonderful thing, Folks.

I wanted there to be a focal piece to this area and then to have everything else play off of that idea. I sketched and thought then sketched some more and finally came up with this little number...actually four of them to be exact.


I knew I wanted the year 1776 to be a part of the main design so I looked and looked through every craft store in my area to find wooden numbers. I found some options but they were either not exactly what I had envisioned or the price was too salty for me. Keep in mind, I like doing things on a budget. After hitting craft store #3, I was about to give up when I found a pack of these wooden slats from Hobby Lobby for $2.99. Six come in a pack and I can easily paint the other sides for different holidays. Versatile and inexpensive is always a win-win for me! A back ground for my numbers was needed and I knew exactly what would do the trick...a crisp, white frame with a burlap insert. Once again I searched high and low but ended up finding a burlap placemat from Hobby Lobby for $3.99. I used a 40% off coupon and left a happy camper. I just cut it to size and added some white dots with a pencil eraser. That was a last minute decision but I am glad I went for it. I added a simple swag with bakers twine (that I got from a Christmas bin at Target a few years ago) and red, white, and blue paint chips.



Once my center piece was in place, I added some extras. From the Dollar Tree I found a silver plate that I painted with chalk paint and adorned with {poorly} written saying: "LET FREEDOM RING!" Note to self: Work on caligraphy/chalk skills.


From there, I added in the accessories I picked up from around the house or that I quickly crafted. Even though the items I diy'd aren't perfect looking, they are authentic to me and I think that is really important. Whether it be in your everyday home decor or for special occassions, personality shining through is never a bad thing.



For more details and some extra tips & tricks, be sure to check out my YouTube video as well.



And let's not forget thinking about all our country has been through. As I get older, Independence Day becomes more sweet to me. I understand more and more the freedoms we have and appreciate those who have fought for our rights to remain a free country. Thank you to all those who serve now, have served and for those families who have supported their loved ones. I hope you all have a safe, happy and blessed 4th of July!!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Nashville Anniversary Trip

Hello, Birdies! I was just working on my YouTube channel and realized I never shared anything here about our anniversary trip. What a ding dong!  For our honeymoon, we had gone to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg. For our second anniversary we went back and for our fourth we came to Nashville. Tennessee holds a special place in our hearts, especially in the Spring time. 

The day we said, "I do."
Our honeymoon and first time to stay in the great state of Tennessee.

Our wedding anniversary falls in April and this year and it just so happened to come right after paying off our house. I anticipated this so, a bit before, I started planning an anniversary surprise for my hubby! One of our dreams was to go down to Nashville, TN to meet Dave Ramsey and shout "WE'RE DEBT FREE!" live on his show so that was where the planning began for me. I contacted his staff via the website a month before the trip. The process to apply is easy-peasy! From there, I searched high and low for a decent hotel at a decent price. To say that hotels down there vary greatly is an understatement or at least that was my experience. It seemed they were either super swanky with a super swanky price tag OR they were Dump City with a still slightly hefty price tag. If you've been reading my blog for a while then you know I am going to try to find a bargain. Well after searching and searching, the clouds finally parted and a great deal seemed to float down from Heaven! I used about 10 different sites and apps to locate a great hotel but out of those 10, Expedia scored the winning goal in the form of a stay at The Courtyard by Marriott in Goodlettsville which is located approximately 15 minutes north of Music City. In the meantime, I contacted Eric's boss to get approval for time off. I got a big thumbs up on some vacay time along with keeping the whole sha-bang a secret. I continued to communicate with the Dave Ramsey staff but in the end we were unable to actually secure a spot on the show, however, they informed us we could still stop by, see the show and meet Dave. I won't lie, I was pretty bummed because going on the air would have really kicked up the trip a notch but I didn't let the disappointment slow me down. There was still a lot to do like plan the details without Eric figuring it all out! My original idea had been to tell him the night before we left that we were going somewhere and he had to be ready by 7:30 a.m. but I totally caved and told him the night before that we were going to Nashville and that we were going to see Dave. If only I had captured his reaction!! He was so excited. We talked about it forever, packed, and before I knew it we were Tennessee bound! 

Once in Nashville, we went straight to the Financial Peace Plaza (a.k.a The Dave Ramsey studios.) We were so impressed by the kindness of his staff. They were genuinely interested in us and our story to becoming debt free. As a cherry on top, they offered us free refreshments. I totally had Eric snag me a chocolate chip cookie while he enjoyed a nice, hot cup of coffee. While we waited we could see the studio where Dave does his show. I will admit, I may have fan-girled a bit when I saw him walk in and sit down. "ERIC! ERIC! IT'S HIM! IT'S DAVE RAMSEY!!" Definitely had to tell myself to "simma' down now!" There were several other couples and families there so during commercial break, when Dave stepped out of the studio to meet people, he was instantly surrounded. We were willing to wait. I mean we had already driven several hours, a few more minutes wasn't going to kill us. The cool thing about Dave is that he is a real down to earth guy. He made direct eye contact with us and instead of one of his people saying, "Ok, hurry. You can meet Dave now", he walked right over to us and striked up a conversation. We chatted for a short bit (he is a busy man after all), snagged a pic and had him sign the cd case for our Financial Peace cd's from the class we took 3 1/2 years ago. Such a cool moment! It was like closing one chapter and opening a new one all at the same time. 




From there we darted to the Antique Archaeology store. It was in a cool part of Nashville that was slightly off the beaten path. The store is housed in an old automobile factory. The red brick building is an impressive one both in size and character but it is not home just to Antique Archaeology. There are a myriad of businesses there ranging from little boutiques to art galleries to coffee shops to candy stores. 


We hopped around town a bit soaking in the sights then had a last minute dinner with my cousin and her sweet family. Sidenote: She has a website called Shopping From the Heart which is phenomenal! Go check her out! :-) After chowing down on hamburgers and chocolate cream pie we finally arrived to the hotel. Eric and I were so pleased with Courtyard by Marriott. The reviews and pictures are true to form, the staff was very friendly, the location was great because it was just off of the interstate and it was very clean. It is so much easier to relax in a clean space rather than in one where you are worried about getting bed bugs. Yikes! 

The next day we had originally planned to go to the Gibson Guitar Factory in Memphis but that would have been a 3 hour drive so we opted to visit downtown Nashville instead. First stop was the original Grand Ole Opry. We aren't huge country music fans but the history of that place is incredible and the magic of it undeniable. Over the next few hours we walked the main strip, drove around the city, visited some cool guitar shops (my husband is a self-taught rock star and major guitar enthusiast), tried some popsicles from the famous Las Paletas and generally just enjoyed the day. Everything was at our own pace so we were able to really relax and enjoy the beauties that the city offers. The weather being perfect helped add to the splendor! 

Day 3 was Sunday so we ended up at the Opryland mall to kill some time since most businesses don't open till noon or after. Boy! I could have some done major shopping in that mall but it would have seemed a bit ironic since we had gone down to celebrate being debt free, don't ya think? We went to The Parthenon and that was a neat experience. I never knew the replica structure had such a long history in Nashville! 


Monday morning we woke up relaxed but ready to go home. Partially to just get back into the swing of things but also to pick up a few special items for our updated bathroom. A post to come on that soon! In the meantime, head on over to YouTube to see some more fun pics from our time down in Nashville! It was so nice to have some us time. To be free from the little every day stresses and distractions of life. Going to meet Dave was such a highlight. Being there symbolized, for us, where we started and where we have gone. Nashville has so much to offer that we didn't get to see so we look forward to visiting again and making even more memories!



Have you ever been to Nashville?? What is your favorite thing to do there? What about the Dave Ramsey show....have you been able to scream "We're debt free!!!!" to the money guru?!? 

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!!