Thursday, June 30, 2011

Photography Revealed

Hi! I'm stopping in for a mid-day post to let you know that I'm guest posting on Caitlin's blog today!
Scoot on over to Diary of a Scatterbrain to check it out!

Catch ya tomorrow!

A Stolen Survey

Good morning!

I was reading Colleen of the Lunchbox Diaries' blog the other day when I came across a survey I hadn't seen before. The questions sounded like fun so I snagged it from her page and proceeded to fill it out for your Thursday enjoyment. Except for the fact that it is really Wednesday night as I'm prepping this post while eating almond butter off of a fork.

What is your favorite cartoon character?
If you know me offline, you'll know this answer without hesitation. To infinity and beyond!

With Cinderella swooping in as a close second!

My big little sister

Multivitamin or a bowl of deliciousness--take your pick.

What is your favorite thing to photograph?
Food and people. Sometimes together, but usually separate.

What is your favorite thing to cook?
Cereal + milk. Sometimes if I'm feeling extra fancy, I'll toss in a banana.

What is your favorite way to exercise?
Rollerblading while blasting my iPod.

What is your favorite movie?
No Reservations because Catherine Zeta Jones' character reminds me a lot of myself.

What is your favorite article of clothing?
Dresses in the summer!

What is your favorite flower?
Daisies and hydrangeas

What is your favorite breakfast?
It's rare that I'll meet a breakfast I don't like. Well okay, I don't like bacon and sausage. However, everything else...sign me up!

What is your favorite book(s)?
Anything by Mary Higgins Clark--her books are like Lifetime movies in paper form.

Pick a few of these and answer them below! 
Also--do we have any answers in common?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

12 Ways to Slash your Grocery Bill

I strive to eat healthy most of the time mainly because I feel so much better when I put good, wholesome things into my body as opposed to junk. However, eating healthy can be expensive; let's face it, a bag of Doritos is much cheaper than a bag of organic, whole-grain tortilla chips.

After developing a lifestyle of healthy eats over the past few years, I've discovered ways to stock up on healthy items without going broke. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Buy items in season. What does this mean? Stock up on fresh fruit in the summer when it is on sale and at its peak of freshness. If you were to try to buy that same watermelon in January in the Midwest, chances are, it won't taste as good and you're going to shell out a lot more for it than you would in July.

2. Purchase items that you consume on a regular basis in bulk. If you're an oatmeal, pasta, or popcorn fanatic, don't buy the individual-serving packages--instead purchase the whopping containers to reduce the unit price and reduce excess packaging. Need to take oatmeal to work and love the convenience of instant packets? Make your own: fill a small, washable container with a scoop of oats and just add water/milk when you get to the office. It's the exact same thing but much cheaper in the long run.

Even though I'm a family of one, buying in bulk saves me some serious cash. Basically for single-serve items, you're paying for the convenience and packaging. If you're always on the go or traveling, these items can be great. However, for everyday use, they usually are not necessary.

3. Your freezer is your friend. Stash items away before they expire. Items such as flour, bread, bananas (freeze and use in smoothies!), and leftovers freeze extremely well. By freezing rather than tossing out expired food, you are saving money and time since you won't be rushing to the grocery store all of the time.

4. Don't be afraid to shop around. Certain items are cheaper at some stores as opposed to others. This technique is something that will come with time and soon you will know which stores carry which items cheapest. It is important to not stress over this too much though--don't drive to 7 stores just to get a week's worth of groceries--it's not worth it in the end.

5. Off brands won't bite, but don't skimp on the good stuff. Essentials such as cooking spray, raw oats, popcorn kernels, etc. are pretty basic items and it is hard to mess them up. Do yourself a favor and try the off-brands for a fraction of the price on items that you don't have a huge preference on. Chances are, you won't even miss the big brands. When it comes to specific items, I don't skip due to quality. Some of the items that I'm willing to pay more for include:
  • Organic items
  • Natural chicken and fish
  • Coffee
  • Condiments
  • Cheese
I'm willing to spend more on these things because in the past I've tried off-brands and it just was not the same--resulting in wasted food and money.

6. "On Sale" doesn't always equal savings. A sale is not useful to you unless it involves something that you like or were planning on purchasing. Why buy it if it's just going to take up space in your fridge or pantry? That leads me to my next point--coupons.

7. Your mom was right when it comes to coupons. However, like sale items, they are only good if you're actually going to use the product. Your best bet is to use a coupon for an item that is on sale--double whammy of savings!

8. Do the prep work yourself. I set aside time each week--usually on Sundays to do all of my prep work for healthy eating during the workweek. I bake chicken breasts, prep salads in single-serve containers, cut veggies and fruits, and fill tiny tupperwares with bulk goods such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and applesauce. By taking an hour or so each week to do the prep work, healthy snacks and meals are easy to grab--helping me stick to my healthy eating regimen. Each morning, I simply grab containers and toss them into my lunch box before heading out the door.

9. Only purchase items that you will actually use. Sometimes we feel the pressure to get something simply because it is healthy or because it is on sale. If you purchase something only to toss it before you use it, or take one bite and spit it out, it wasn't really worth buying in the first place, was it?

10. Know your prices. This is crucial if you shop at multiple stores or if you like to take advantage of wholesale stores such as Sam's Club or Costco. By knowing the basic prices of most items, you'll be able to spot a deal a mile away.

11. The more uses for a product, the better. Buying chicken? Think of how many meals you can get out of it:
  • Salad with grilled chicken
  • Chicken parmesean
  • Chicken and rice
  • Stir fry with veggies
  • Sandwich wrap
  • Tacos
  • Alfredo pasta with chicken + broccoli
  • Using one item for multiple meals is a great way to stretch your dollar at the supermarket.
12. Keep an eye on unit prices. Unit prices are often listed on the price sticker below the item on the shelf. It will list the cost per unit--allowing you to compare brands and sizes of items to ensure you're getting the best deal. Here's a hint: buying the larger size of a product is usually the better deal!

Those are the majority of the tips I use when it comes to loading up on healthy foods. I try to shop every other week or so to keep my grocery bill down as well; however, some weeks I find myself rushing to the store a couple of times due to picking up random items that I forgot.

Do you use any of these techniques while grocery shopping? 
What are some of the ways you save money on food?
Are you willing to shell out more for organic or healthy options?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday 3's


Time for some Tuesday 3's to start the day.

1. I buy my food in bulk even though I'm currently a family of one. It is cheaper in the long run and I plan my meals carefully to make sure things don't go to waste. Sam's club has been my favorite new obsession this summer. Well, that and watermelon for 4 bucks!

2. This weekend I learned that you should not wait until the day of your engagement photos to go shoe shopping--especially when the mall does not open until 11am and your pictures get moved from 5pm to 2pm due to iffy weather conditions. Luckily I found the perfect pair of white heels after dashing through 5 stores and had enough time to show and get ready.

3. I can't stand having my toes unpainted and 99% of the time, I keep them covered with nail polish--even in the winter. This may or may not be in attempt to cover up some black nails due to running... The fact that I have ugly feet to begin with is besides the point. 

After slacking for the past few weeks in the gym department, today starts my journey back on the healthy train. I keep skipping the gym due to some insane migraine headaches and lack of sleep/energy and my body is definitely feeling it. I feel so much better when I'm on a regular gym schedule--working out actually gives me more energy, so it is time to get back into the groove starting today.

Do you buy things in bulk?
Are your nails usually painted?
Do you skip the gym when you're tired or push through it?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Already?


Yesterday the rain held off long enough for our engagement photos and we had a blast during the shoot. Our photographers, Katie + Gene of Kage Imagery did a fantastic job and we had so much fun with them. We should have some previews in the next week or two, so I'll be sure to share them as soon as we receive them.

That's all I've got for today--it was a crazy weekend! In case you missed anything, you may catch up here:

Have a great day--catch ya tomorrow!

What did you do this weekend? 
Anything you're looking forward to this upcoming week?
How many weddings will you be attending this summer?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wedding Wrap Up

Good morning!

Yesterday we had the privilege of attending my Andy's brother's wedding. We had been anticipating this wedding for quite awhile since Tory and Casey are absolutely perfect for each other. Casey actually lives across the street from me, too!

Casey wanted to have her wedding at her parent's house--in their yard. When she told me this, I immediately thought of Father of the Bride and was anxious to attend a home wedding for the first time! When I arrived, I was thrilled! Sure, a church is great to get married in--but getting married on your parent's front porch just seems so much more intimate.

The little flower girl was so adorable! 

Andy was the best man so I hung out with his hilarious aunt and uncle for most of the evening. I met them last summer and it was so much fun catching up with them again. They came all the way from Iowa and plan on coming again for our wedding this Fall.

The mothers lighting the candles. My Mother-In-Law is on the right. I refer to Andy's family as my in-laws even though it is not official yet--it's just easier that way.

I loved this shot of Tory

Lighting the unity candle

Me and my hot date

During the dance, we snuck away to decorate the getaway car! 

Filling the backseat with balloons!

The finished product

It was such a fun night and we were so happy to be part of their special day! 

Now I'm off to find some cute sandals for our engagement pictures tonight! Hopefully grabbing some groceries as well since my fridge is pretty empty. 

I think I'll skip the gym today because woke up pretty sore this morning--not sure if it was from my workout yesterday or from walking around in high heels all day...

Have a great Sunday! 

Favorite part of weddings? 
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
What day do you usually do your grocery shopping?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wedding Weekend

Good morning!

So, I know I'm a little late to jump on the oats in a jar movement but oh my goodness, if you have not tried it yet--you are missing out. Simply prepare a batch of oatmeal and then while it is still warm, transfer it into a near-empty peanut butter jar. However, it is important to make sure you only use a glass jar as a plastic one will melt and leave all kinds of chemical residues in your breakfast...

It is so delicious because the warm oatmeal makes the peanut butter all melty and gooey. good!

I took yesterday off from blogging for a few reasons with the main one being that it was a really long week and my boss is getting ready to go on vacation which means I'll be covering my role as designer and her role as project manager. Not to mention that we have a few big deadlines regarding some marketing books going off to the printer....yikes.

Get ready, because I'm currently working on a behind the scenes post at what my job looks like on a regular day.

Wedding Weekend Begins
Last night was Andy's brother's rehearsal dinner. Andy is the best man, and since I'll just be a guest at the wedding, I decided to skip the rehearsal and hit up the gym for a quick cardio interval workout mixed in with some strength training. After the gym and getting all gussied up, Andy swung by to pick me up for the dinner portion of the evening.

The card I chose for the couple

It was around 8:30pm by the time we arrived and we were starving! We sat with Jen and Nate--Andy's sister and brother-in-law and it was fun to catch up with them over dinner. The best part of the evening was when they brought out a make your own sundae bar. Ice cream + toppings?! Score! It was fun to take part in a night of celebration before their big day today.

Wedding gift! 

Speaking of which, I'm off for a run outside before heading to the ceremony at the bride's parent's house! My dad signed me up for a 10k race next month so I'm trying to get back into my running groove after taking some time off. Catch you later.

Have you ever attended a backyard wedding?
What does your job description include?
What time do you usually eat dinner?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Friday Eve

It's just been one of those weeks...

Tell me one thing you love about your job
Actually, what is your job? 
Favorite day of the week?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies - Guest Post

Hello Laura Likes Design readers! My name is Dana and I’m the author behind My Little Celebration - a food, fitness and lifestyle blog that I’ve been writing for about a year now and loving.


I’m 24 years old and newly-married. I love writing, food, and fitness, and I thoroughly enjoy recording glimpses of my life in the kitchen, at the gym and wherever else life takes me on my little blog.
The reason I write this post is, a while back Laura invited her readers to submit a guest post for her blog. And because I think Laura is adorable and her blog is, too - I jumped at the chance!

So, today I’m bringing you a fun and easy recipe for flourless almond butter cookies.

Yum, right? I’d never tried making these cookies before, but after doing a little research online I found a recipe that I could modify a bit in order to experiment with the flavor a bit more.

Although I haven’t always been a huge fan of almond butter, I’ve recently been trying different varieties and even making some of my own at home, and in the process I’ve developed quite a taste for it!
It’s so healthy, nutty and delicious, and extremely versatile for topping off yummy treats and mixing into baked goods. I hope to use it more in my kitchen as I (slowly) become a more adventurous cook.
Alright, enough talk. Here is my recipe along with a few photos for a better idea of what the cooking and preparation process looks like. Enjoy!

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies

Recipe adapted from Tasty Eats at Home, via Gluten Free Easily
yields about 2 dozen cookies

  • 1 c raw almond butter (ground from toasted almonds)
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  • sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa powder and raw almonds for coating/topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and either lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Next, scoop about 2 cups of raw almonds into a large skillet and toast them over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown (about 10 minutes).


Then pour the toasted almonds into a food processor and grind them for about 10 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally, until they form creamy almond butter.


Measure out 1 cup of almond butter and scoop it into a large mixing bowl. Place any reserve butter in a jar for other use.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix well. Grease or moisten your hands slightly and form the dough into 1-inch balls. Try rolling a few in sugar and cocoa powder. Stuff a few with a chocolate chips. And top a few with a raw almond, if desired, for added garnish and flavor.


Place balls on cookie sheet - don’t press down. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and cookies look “set” - they won’t look done. Allow the cookies to rest on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Remove carefully and allow to finish cooling on a rack.

From left is a row of chocolate chip-stuffed, original, almond, and original again.


From left this is more chocolate chip-stuffed, cocoa dusted and sugar dusted. The cocoa cookies have a slight touch of decadence to them, and the sugar dusted cookies have just the right amount of sweetness to make them a little more irresistible.


The ones stuffed with a chocolate chip turned out ooey, gooey and melty in the middle. So good.


And the cookies with an almond on top were simple, delicious and provided an extra crunch and bit of substance. This could almost be considered a healthy protein cookie, right? : )


I served these cookies at my sister’s baby shower and they were very popular. The platter was empty by the time I left so I knew the recipe was a success.


If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the sugar-dusted version. It stole my heart! It tasted very much like a peanut butter cookie (only more almondish) and the sugar sweetened it just enough to give it a bit more of a cookie feel.


But they were all great and I’ll definitely be making them again. I’d also recommend these as a great option for those following a gluten-free diet as they are completely flour free.


Alright, back to the kitchen! I must find more uses for almond butter. This stuff is just too good!
Ciao, Dana
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