Friday, May 15, 2015

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Tomato Vinaigrette

This Tomato Vinaigrette is great on salads and even better as a dipping sauce for breads. I  also like to serve with a meat, cheese and cracker tray to sauce things up! I try to keep a jar or two in the fridge to save time when preping a meal.


  • 2 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 Clove Garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 C. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 C. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Jar Sun Dried Tomatoes With Oil
  • 1 T. Dijon Mustard
  • 5 T. Lemon Juice
  • 1 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Small Yellow Onion (diced)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.


  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Flank Steak Salad


  • 1/2 Flank steak (I cut one in half-butterfly style for my Veggie Flank Steak Rolls and used the other half for this recipe)
  • 1 C. Olive Oil
  • 1 C. Potato Seasoning
  • 2 C. Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts (I made mine on the grill)
  • 1 Bag Salad of Your Choice
  • 1 C. Cherry Tomatoes (sliced)
  • 1 C. Red Onion (sliced thin)
  • 1 C. Feta Cheese


  1. Make Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts  on the grill over medium heat for about 10-12 min.
  2. Arrange salad in a large bowl.
  3. Top salad with tomatoes, onions, brussel sprouts and feta cheese.
  4. Place salad in refrigerator while grilling steak.
  5. Coat steak in olive oil.
  6. Roll steak in Potato Seasoning and pat into the meat.
  7. Grill steak over low heat for about 5 min. on each side.
  8. Remove steak from the grill and tent with foil and let rest for about 10 min.
  9. Slice steak thin against the grain. 
  10. Plate salad and top with steak.
  11. Serve with Tomato Vinaigrette and enjoy. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Potato Seasoning

This is the perfect rub for both veggies and meat. I use it a lot as a steak seasoning. Make in large batches to have on hand whenever you need it to save time.


  • 3 t. Flake Salt
  • 2 t. Garlic Powder
  • 2 t. Onion Powder
  • 2 t. Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 T. Fresh Rosemary (chopped)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Veggie Flank Steak Rolls with Balsamic Rosemary Glaze

These steak rolls have been on my to do list for months now. They looked so beautiful on pinterest I couldn't wait to try making them on my own. I would recommend doubling sauce so you have some for dipping, it is delicious!

  • 8 Slices Flank Steak
  • 1 C. Olive Oil
  • 1 C. Potato Seasoning
  • 1 T. Fresh Rosemary (chopped)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper (julienned)
  • 1 Bunch Asparagus
  • 1 Zucchini (julienned) 
  • 8 Button Mushrooms (sliced into thin strips)

For the Glaze:
  • 1 t. Olive Oil (to start) + 1 C. (to thicken)
  • 1 Clove Garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 C. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 4 T. Red Cooking Wine
  • 2 t. Brown Sugar
  • 4-5 Sprigs Rosemary
  • 1/4 C. Beef Broth

  1. In a small bowl combine potato seasoning with rosemary.
  2. Rub each side of steak slices with olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle both sides with seasoning.
  4. In the center of each steak slice arrange your veggies.
  5. Wrap steak around the veggies very tightly and secure with toothpicks.
  6. Turn grill on to high heat.
  7. Spray a grill tray with cooking oil and place on grill to warm up.
  8. Reduce grill heat to low.
  9. Lay steak rolls on grill tray and cover grill for about 7 min.
  10. Flip rolls and cook on the other side for additional 7 min.
  11. Remove from heat and serve!

For Glaze:
  1. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a small saucepan.
  2. Add garlic to saucepan and cook for about 1 min.
  3. Stir in balsamic vinegar, red wine, brown sugar and rosemary.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and cover for about 5 min
  6. Stir in beef broth and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and cover for an additional 5 min.
  8. Remove rosemary and whisk in 1 C. olive oil.
  9. Serve poured over rolls.

inspired by:

Friday, May 8, 2015

Luna Rossa

Our wonderful view
This weekend my parents and I headed downtown Stillwater for a quick dinner. We had originally wanted to eat at Smalley's Pirate Bar (one of my faves) but when I tried to call ahead the hostess kept hanging up on me. When we finally made it into town I tried putting our name in for Smalley's and was informed that it would be about an hour and a half wait for the first available table. Dad was in a rush to get back home for the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight so we headed across the street to Luna Rossa. I had eaten there for prom when I was in highschool and remembered it being a fairly nice place and due to social media I knew they had upgraded by expanding and even adding wine cave tours.

We were very lucky there was no wait. We requested to eat out on their patio if available since it was such a beautiful evening. After the hostesses discussed the best spot for us to sit with each other, completely ignoring us for a few minutes, one of  the hostesses grabbed some menus and walked off without so much as a follow me please. After a
Our dirty table
quick pause we realized we were supposed to follow and off we went. I was a little shocked by our seating arrangement. After squeezing through the maze of chairs we came to a dirty patio table shoved in with their garden supplies and bag of dirt in a little muddy runoff area of their side patio. The hostess set our menus down and walked away without a word. A few minutes later another hostess came over to tell us our server would be with us soon.

Ten minutes later our server comes to our table to take our drink order. She didn't introduce herself and definitely was not one for small talk, there was no welcome greeting or inquiry into our evening. We tell her we are looking to order a bottle of a red wine for the table to which she replies "which kind?". After flipping through our menus frantically we ask where their wine selection is listed. "Oh, would you like a drink menu?" she responds. After confirming that a drink menu would be great we wait another eightish minutes for her to return. My dad chooses a bottle and some calamari for the table. We wait for about five
minutes when my dad decides to excuse himself and run to the bathroom while we wait. When he returns he informs us that the wine we ordered wasn't available so he had ordered something else. Five minutes later our server comes back and informs us that our second wine choice isn't available either. We decide to send her back to find out what is similar and in stock and request that wine. We finally get our wine, which was wonderful, but still no sight of our calamari. We notice that a few tables around us are struggling as well. A salad was forgotten at one table. Someone had requested their side dish a few times and was still waiting.

A bread basket and our calamari are delivered and was absolutely delicious, I loved the two different sauces that came with it. I was starting to feel a little more positive after trying some food. Our waitress returned to take our order and mentioned that they did have one special a Lobster Ravioli in a Seafood Cream Sauce with Shrimp and Scallops. Dad was immediately sold on the special, my mom and I decided to split the Chicken Piccata (one of my all time favorites). Mom and I also order a side salad, our waitress asks what type of dressing we would like so I ask about their house pink dressing. She tells me it is made with mayo and ketchup (weird combo for a salad dressing) but isn't an option for the side salads. I list off a few request and am informed they don't carry any of my dressing choices. I eventually ask what my choices are. Basically I can get ranch, blue cheese, french or their tomato
We had to crouch down to see each other
across the table.
vinaigrette. We both order the tomato vinaigrette. Then our waitress informs us we have to choose a baked potato or side pasta for our chicken picatta. We ask for the pasta and she walks away without another word. Our server returns with our salads, drops them off and is off again. I am presented with a very basic salad with a thick slice of tomato, one cucumber slice and a big strip of red bell pepper. The tomato vinaigrette was pretty good and inspired me to try and make my own at home the next day.

Our plates are cleared away and new silverware is dropped on our dirty table. Our food is soon delivered. Dad's looks okay, no real presentation, just a few pieces of ravioli in a gray sauce with some shrimp floating in it. The chicken picatta is delivered and we are informed that there is a plate stacked beneath it for us to split up our dinner, which I found really disappointing. After creating a mess splitting up our meal we tried a few bites. I caught Mom's eye and realized she wasn't enjoying her plate any more than I was. We each had a dry chicken breast that had been drowned in a thick overly lemony cream sauce with giant pieces of garlic and not a single caper. I tried them veggies that came on our plate which consisted of some nice green beans and some under cooked carrot sticks which gave our 22$ chicken a real tacky feel. My dad really loved  his dinner, he kept offering us bites but it smelt very fishy to me and I wasn't sure I was brave enough to try it. The pasta side that came with our chicken picatta was little more than some boiled noodles with what tasted like jar sauce dumped on top. Each meal was also presented with a health sprinkling of parsley what I imagine was an attempt to make things look fancy.

Chicken Piccata                                                  Pasta Side                                                   Lobster Ravioli 
We turned down the half hearted offer for dessert and asked for our bill. Meanwhile the table next to us were waving their arms trying to attract any staff member. When one finally approached their table they asked when they could expect their drinks they ordered 30 minutes prior and they were hoping to place an order for food as well if their server could return. It seemed everyone was having trouble with their dining experience. It was very disappointing for around 25$ a plate our experience was so terrible. I will never ever go back to Luna Rossa after that experience and would warn anyone against going there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Garlicky Tang Bang Shrimp

A few weeks back I was at Bonefish and tried Bang Bang Shrimp for the first time. Now I can see what all the fuss is about. As someone who tries to stay away from shrimp I fell in love instantly. The next week it was my turn to host girls night at my place so I decided to make my own version of Bang Bang Shrimp and it was a huge success. The result was a very different flavor and texture but it was equally amazing!


  • 1 lb. Shrimp deveined without shell
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Juiced Lemon
  • 1 C. Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 C. Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 t. Italian Seasoning
  • 4 T. Butter (diced)
  • 1/3 C. Yellow Onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 C. Olive Oil

for sauce:

  • 1/2 C. Mayonnaise
  • 1 T. Sriracha
  • 2 T. Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 2 t. Rice Vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large bowl combine shrimp, olive oil, italian seasoning, onion, garlic and lemon juice.
  3. Pour contents of bowl onto a cookie sheet and spread into a thin layer so shrimp isn't stacked.
  4. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs and cheese.
  5. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over the shrimp.
  6. Dot with butter.
  7. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for about 15 min.
  8. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 min until they are nice and pink.
  9. Remove shrimp from sheet with tongs and lay out in a bowl or plate for serving. (it helps to serve with toothpicks for large groups)
  10. In a small bowl whisk together ingredients for the sauce until smooth and serve along with shrimp.

inspired by:

Monday, April 27, 2015


I want to start this weeks Hunk's Buzz post off with a little disclaimer. I am not a huge sushi fan and I definitely don't know any of the lingo when in comes to sushi outings. That being said Sam and I went out to lunch last Friday at Saji-Ya on Grand Ave. in Saint Paul. Sam was craving sushi and I am slowly learning to appreciate it or at least tolerate it every once in a while. When Sam asked to meet up for lunch Friday afternoon and told me he was craving sushi I knew exactly where to go. I had driven past Saji-Ya several times and checked them out online as well. I had it waiting on my list of places to try and was excited to see what they had to offer.

When we got there they were just opening up for the day so the place was still pretty empty. Apparently there isn't a huge demand for sushi at 11am... We sat at a high top table in their bar area below an amazing mosaic wall that kept drawing my attention throughout the meal. Our waitress was very prompt and patient she seemed to sense that I had no idea what I was doing. I loved that they had their Specialty Maki Sushi (which Sam explained to me means rolls) and common terms listed on a little table top menu. Our waitress took our drink order and returned a few minutes later with our drinks, hot towels and a bowl of edamame (which was amazing!). She gave me a few more minutes to look over the menu before returning to take our lunch order. I took a shot in the dark when I ordered all I know is that I love tuna and I have learned that I do best with Maki. I decided to order the Manny Roll which consisted of Albacore, gobo, cucumber, avocado, spicy mayo and daikon sprouts inside; spicy tuna and tobiko outside. To be honest I still don't know what half of those ingredients are but that is probably best as seafood kinda freaks me out. Sam ordered Sake (Salmon) & Hamachi (Yellowtail). We also ordered a bowl of Miso Soup for me and a House Salad for Sam.

Within minutes we had our soup and salad. My miso was so creamy and wonderful and Sam devoured his salad, he was loved their house dressing. Our waitress cleared away our towels and empty bowls and returned with our beautifully plated lunch. I was so happy with my roll, it didn't taste even a little bit fishy which is usually the reason I don't like sushi. It was the perfect bite size pieces and had a wonderful spice to it that kept burning even after you finished. Sam wasn't as happy with his meal. Although he said the flavors were absolutely perfect, the pieces were cut a little to large to be able to manage and they kept falling apart as he tried to eat.

Overall we had a wonderful time at Saji-Ya I can't wait to go back and try their amazing happy hour specials on their beautiful patio! The food and service was so amazing they may have changed my opinion of sushi. If you would like more information about Saji-Ya you can like them on Facebook and Twitter or check out their website.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Highland Cafe and Bakery

Sam and his Cajun Breakfast
A couple weeks ago Sam and I went out for breakfast. I love the Highland Park area of St. Paul so we decided to head in that direction. My Foursquare app suggested Highland Café and Bakery. Highland Café is located in a little strip mall on Ford Parkway. It looked really tiny from the outside and I was a little hesitant going in but I was willing to give it a try. When we walked through the doors I was shocked by how large the space actually was. The place was packed and buzzing with energy. We were immediately greeted by the hostess and escorted to a sunny little booth right by the window.

Within seconds our server is at our table with a mile wide grin and an enthusiastic "Good Morning!". After chatting with us for a minute he zips off to get Sam his coffee and my hot cocoa, extra whipped cream of course. Sam and I knew exactly what we wanted and were able to place our order when I drinks arrived. As I glanced around the café I noticed my neighbor Deb bring some people to a new table. A few minutes later I noticed her daughter and my childhood friend Stephie waiting on another table, when her little brother Mattie started bussing tables it finally clicked! This must be their family restaurant that I have been hearing about for years. I was instantly more excited to be here and try the food that comes from the same place as Deb's amazing chocolate cake that she brings by my parents house every once in a while.
Eggs Commodore

We have our food delivered within about ten minutes of ordering and holy cow!!!!! The plates are huge and they are not shy with the hollandaise sauce on my Eggs Commodore (same as eggs benny but using sausage instead), these are my kind of chefs! Sam ordered the Cajun Breakfast, which consisted of two eggs topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms and peppers smothered in their awesome hollandaise sauce. Although everything tasted amazing we were barely able to get through half our plates. We were more than happy to bring leftovers home for later though.

When we finished eating I took the opportunity to chat with my neighbors, it was so nice to catch up with them, it had been a few years since we last saw each other. I was so happy to see their restaurant doing so well, and after eating there its no shock why. The entire staff was so friendly and relaxed and the food was outstanding. Highland Café and Bakery is the perfect neighborhood gem where everyone around town comes to gather and enjoy a meal together. For more information about Highland Café and Bakery check out their website.

28 Day Fitness Challenge: Day 2

Day two of my 28 Day Fitness Challenge was a struggle since I was still so sore from day one. I was more prepared to eat right since I had made my Mini Bomblets for breakfast and went to the grocery store to stock up on produce. I had plans to hang out with my friend Alicia that evening so I pushed my workout back from its usual time after work to later that evening so Alicia and I could suffer together. Little did I know that this would be one of the most interesting nights I've had in a while.

After chatting with Alicia for a bit we decided we had avoided our workout long enough and it was time to get started. Once we had our pandora station set to get us pumped up, we started our warm up of one minute of high knees. No sooner do we finish what felt like the longest minute of my life, there was a small knock on Alicia's apartment door. She opened her door to reveal an uncomfortable looking teenage girl probably around 13 years old. She had been sent up from the apartment below by her family to inform us that we were shaking their walls and being so loud that it was scaring them (not sure if this was a fat joke...). If we didn't stop right away they were going to c
all the police on us. The poor girl looked so uncomfortable which was only increased when Alicia asked if they would mind if we at least finished our workout first-mind you our next move was burpees.

We decided it would best to finish our workout outside. It was a nice day so we didn't mind...too much. Once we found a dry (doggie doodie free) place we continued on with our workout. We thought it would be a great idea to videotape ourselves as we went through our workout. This gave us a good laugh when we watched it later. You would think that gravity had doubled the way we are slowly going through the motions. Huffing, puffing and wobbling all over the place. What seemed like a lifetime as we were doing it only showed up as a few minutes on tape. We decided to try and continue on ad play some tennis while we were still feeling ambitious. Unfortunately I had my raquette but Alicia only had her tennis balls and her empty raquette case. We finally headed back inside to cool down with my day 2 video from

I know I am only in my first week but I am absolutely loving this challenge so far and I can't wait to see what is still yet to come.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Personalized Water Bottles

After posting about Lainie's Water Bottle the other day I thought I would give a little more detailed description of how to make your own personalized water bottle. I was inspired to make all this water bottles when I wasn't able to buy the cute Skinny Bunny water bottles on their website. I have followed Skinny Bunny on Instagram for a long time and half the reason I decided to give their product a try was for their cute water bottle that is always pictured (lame I know). After scouring the web I learned that their water bottles are only available every once in a while. They are in high demand there were tons of comments on Instagram, Facebook and even in my Google search results asking how to purchase their water bottle.

After getting over my frustration that I couldn't just buy the Skinny Bunny water bottle my mother suggested that I make my own. I knew that it was doable, I had seen all sorts of drinkware Cricut projects posted on both the Cricut website and Pinterest. I have been hesitant to try Cricut projects using vinyl because it seemed difficult and expensive. Luckily neither were true. I was able to buy a 12 pack of vinyl in varying colors for around ten dollars. After practicing with Lainie's Water Bottle I felt a lot more confident making my own. This time I decided I was going to try using the transfer tape which made life so much easier!!!!

  1. Use your Cricut Design Space to create your label. (I like to design mine in photoshop then import the image so I don't have to pay for fancy fonts. You can also use Word or Paint to do the same thing.)
  2. Cut out design using your Cricut Explore.
  3. Use your Weeder tool to remove vinyl so you are left with the image you want to transfer
  4. Cut a portion of transfer tape slightly larger than design and adhere to design. I used the handle of my scissors to really press the tape down.
  5. Peel the tape off your cutting mat very slowly to remove your design. I cut a few slits around the edges of the tape to help the tape go on smoothly on the rounded shape of the water bottle.
  6. Slowly lay the transfer tape sticky side down onto the water bottle. I again used the handle of my scissors to remove all the air bubbles and press the design firmly onto the bottle.
  7. Slowly peel the transfer tape off making sure the vinyl is sticking to the bottle.
  8. Voila! Enjoy your new bottle, but remember this must be hand washed if you want the vinyl to stay on.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

28 Day Fitness Challenge: Day 1

Monday was the kickoff of my 28 Day Skinny Bunny Weight Loss Plan and my  28 Day Intro To Yoga Membership. I have to say I am still sore two days later. I have decided to try the Skinny Bunny Workout Plan that came in my bundle pack as my daily workout and then follow up with my daily yoga video as a cool down. Hopefully this workout routine coupled with a better diet and my weight loss/detox tea will have wonderful results.
AM Chocolate Weight Loss Tea

It has been a while since I've had tea as part of my morning routine and it was very nice to incorporate it back into my day. My bundle pack came with a black tea & chocolate AM Weight Loss Tea and a Tropical PM Detox Tea. I'm not a fan of the chocolate AM tea. I'm not able to get past the melted Tootsie Roll smell. The taste is ok, not great, but not awful. I would love if they had a black tea and spearmint (one of my favorite breakfast teas) or even another fruity option like their PM tea. I also feel Skinny Bunny is missing out on a huge marketing opportunity by not branding the labels on the tea bags. The Tropical PM Tea is DELICIOUS! I love the smell, it reminds me of Juicy Fruit gum and it has a wonderful but light fruity taste it is an amazing way to wind down at night. For those of you with diet restrictions Skinny Bunny is like a superhero, they have no sugars or fillers, are gluten free and vegetarian!

Apart from the two teas the bundle pack also came with a diet guide and workout plan. I was able to download them right away into my iBooks which I love. It was my first time using iBooks and I am amazed by how easy it is. The Diet Guide is barely that, I was really hoping for recipe ideas or some sort of meal planning guide. What it actually is is a summary of what we have all learned in health class growing up...Drink lots of water, less sodium, less alcohol, more veggies. Although it was nice to have a list of the best and worst foods along with a few pages about carbs and proteins which were educational. However as someone who doesn't usually eat healthy I could have used a lot more from this portion of the package. All in all the diet guide is educational, it just wasn't what I was hoping for.

The Workout Guide seems easy but I am still sore from my workout two days ago. Each days workout is simple and straightforward which is nice for those with a limited fitness knowledge. Each move includes a description and a picture to help you understand what is expected. I love this workout and hope to incorporate these moves into my regular workout routine once the 28 day are up.

Mini Bomblets

Here is my first attempt at a "healthy-ish" make ahead breakfast. Luckily this was a HUGE success. These Mini Bomblets are so fluffy and delicious. They are the perfect start to your workday. You can make in large batches and freeze them for a few weeks to use as you need them. Just pop them into the microwave for about 40 seconds and enjoy!

  • 10 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 C. Half & Half
  • 2 t. Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 t. Garlic Powder
  • 1 t. Cayenne Powder 
  • 1 C. Diced Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 C. Diced Button Mushrooms
  • 3 Green Onion Stalks (finely chopped)
  • 1 C. Diced Ham ( I used my leftover Easter Ham, YUM!)
  • 1 C. any additional veggies ie: broccoli, spinach, red onion (optional)
My Veggie Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spray 3 muffin tins with cooking spray.
  3. Whisk together eggs, half & half  and seasonings and set aside.
  4. Combine veggies and ham in a large bowl and set aside.
  5. Fill each muffin cup with a spoonful of the veggie mix.
  6. Then fill each cup about 3/4 full with egg mixture.
  7. Bake at 375°F for about 15 min until golden on top and egg is set.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

28 Day Skinny Bunny Package

This Monday I began the 
Skinny Bunny 28 Weight loss Bundle Package. This bundle package includes an AM Weightloss Tea, PM Detox Tea, Diet Guide and Workout Plan all for about $52. I was really upset since I ordered this about two weeks ago and this week Skinny Bunny Tea is now offering the same package for the same price but now including their adorable water bottle which is rarely for sale. Regardless their 28 Day Bundle is a wonderful value and I am excited to see how it works! 

I have decided to give this everything I have. I have tried (if only temporarily) lots of weight loss fads but never truly committed to them. While trying the Skinny Bunny Bundle I will limit myself to 0-1 alcoholic beverage per week, no fried foods or soft drinks and try to cut back on gluten and dairy and sugary products. This means giving up a lot of my favorite things, but I want to give myself the best opportunity to make this work. 

I also signed up for's "The Yoga For Beginners Starter Kit" This conveniently happens to be a 28 day long FREE online course that teaches the absolute beginner the basics to a satisfying and smooth yoga practice. I love it is such a wonderful online yoga community that really helps beginners and vets practice yoga at their own pace and convienence.

I will try to document my progress over the next 28 days. My biggest challenge will not only working out as hard as I can but eating healthy. For a gal who loves making comfort food it will be interesting to see what healthy but satisfying recipes I can find/come up with. Stay tuned for workout tips and healthy recipes as I discover and try them.

Traditional Anniversary Gifts

This past weekend Sam and I celebrated our first year together. As we were planning our weekend we decided not to do gifts but I had voiced how much I loved the idea of traditional anniversary gifts. Sam seemed very confused by the idea having never heard of the concept.

 I began to mention it to some of my girlfriends who had not heard of traditional anniversary gifts either. The more I thought about it the more I realized you rarely hear about anyone under the age of fifty being familiar with the idea. I think it is a wonderful tradition and think that the younger generation should work to make it a more commonplace practice for young married couples.

My wonderful friend Lainie was thrilled with the idea of this wonderful tradition. She offered to use her wonderful design skills to help me blog about this and spread the word. Here you can find her work listing the traditional anniversary gift themes by year.

A few days after my chat with Lainie I was watching a rerun of Modern Family on late night TV and was thrilled as two of the characters were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary with Chinese (china) acrobats. This restored my faith in pop culture, maybe these wonderful traditions aren't lost. Maybe they have just fallen out of practice waiting to be remembered.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Union Rooftop

Union Rooftop with roof retracted
This weekend Sam and I finally made our way to Minneapolis for brunch. Its never a far drive for us but when we discuss where we want to go on a Sunday morning Minneapolis sounds like its on the
other side of the world. I decided to take the initiative and made a reservation for The Union Rooftop's Sunday Brunch. I have heard a lot about Union, both good and bad so I figured it was time to check it out for myself.

 I'm glad I made a reservation and would definitely recommend it. You can make a reservation right on their website, its powered by OpenTable which is one of my favorite websites. The place was packed and it was wonderful being able to walk to the head of the line and have a table ready and waiting. The line of hungover twenty somethings behind us did not share my delight...Everyone was out and about trying to enjoy the beautiful weather after such a long and gloomy week. The rooftop at Union is breathtaking! They have an amazing retractable solarium style roof that allows diners to enjoy the rooftop even during not so nice weather. In the back corner of the bar area is a DJ. In most situations this could be obnoxious but it's perfect background sound level and gives the whole rooftop a wonderfully excited buzz.

"Bourbon" Bloody made with Vodka
Sam and I were seated at a open air table right along the railing that gave us an amazing view of the minneapolis skyline. It was a little windy we had to use our phones and wallets to hold down our menus. It gave everyone a good laugh when somebody would lose their battle with the wind and we all watched their menu sail away.  There is a 90 minute limit on each table due to the high demand for tables. The staff is incredibly efficient but so polite and helpful, you never feel rushed and you are in and out before you know it.

Our waitress was very honest when we asked her opinion of a few menu items which was very refreshing. She wasn't a fan of their Bourbon Bloody, she offered to make a traditional bloody and throw the oxtail slider on there regardless. Sam was sold right away, his bloody came out and it could have been a meal in itself. Topped with a slider, pickle, celery stick green olives and some sort of salami slice it was a work of art. I opted for their Bottomless Mimosa, only $10 when you order food. They are NOT joking when they say bottomless mimosa! You good a good size glass filled to the brim with a perfectly mixed mimosa within minutes of ordering. No sooner do you take a sip or two than someone is at your table with a pitcher filling you back up. I never even got close to seeing the bottom of my glass...Sam was quickly assigned chauffeur duties for the day (sorry not sorry).

My Mimosa (please ignore Sam's Gatorade...) 
Sam and I were both craving lunch food and each ordered their All American Double Patty Cheeseburger. The "Not Breakfast Food" menu is very limited but I could eat cheeseburgers all day everyday so it was an easy choice. I know I want to go back and try their breakfast food, everything looked amazing but that burger was calling my name. About 5-10 minutes later-I was losing track of time with every mimosa-our burgers were delivered. Sam and I sat in awe as we stared at the seemingly mile high monstrosity that was our burgers. The two manageable sized hand packed patties were layered with melted american cheese, shredded lettuce, red onion and tomato on top of a garlicy toasted bun. I ordered mine with bacon and Sam got his with jalapenos. We finally decided the best way to approach the burgers was to eat them open face style. Dividing the burger up so each patty got half the bun and toppings. Each of us were only able to eat our first half but were thrilled with the idea of bringing home leftovers for later. These burgers were cooked perfectly, each bite was a little piece of juicy goodness, it was hard to call it quits. We could have easily split the burger between the two of us just fine.

Our entire dining experience lasted less than 40 minutes but we enjoyed every minute.The atmosphere, staff and food were all top notch and I can't wait to go back again. My biggest suggestion would be to make a reservation to avoid the wait. If you would like more information about The Union Rooftop you can check out their website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

All American Double Patty Cheeseburger (with bacon)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Lainie's Water Bottle

Yesterday I attempted my first Cricut project using vinyl and it was a huge success! Now that I know how to use vinyl, or at least I think I do, I cant wait to try more projects.The most challenging part of
the entire project was finding the vinyl itself in stores.

 First I tried Hobby Lobby, my go to place for all things crafty.Unfortunately their selection was very limited and they were sold out of most Cricut supplies that they do carry, however I was able to get the transfer tape.  I love the staff at Hobby Lobby and their mobile app saves me so much money every time I shop there. Even though their mobile 40% off coupon specifically states that it is not applicable towards Cricut products the cashier still applied the 40% off for me. Even though that only saved me a couple bucks, the fact that their employees want to get you the most bang for your buck made a huge impact on me.

Next I tried Joann Fabrics and bought the printable vinyl because it was the only white vinyl I could find (they were sold out of almost everything else). After getting home and doing some research I realized even if I didn't print on the vinyl it couldn't get wet. I have found the biggest flaw with Cricut is that there instructions and descriptions for their products and projects are very vague and leave a lot open to interpretation. There was almost no discription of how the printable vinyl could/couldn't be used on the packaging.

Finally I went online and did some research and saw that Michael's carries the Cricut Vinyl Starter Pack, this includes 12 sheets of vinyl in different colors. With fingers crossed I headed over to my local Michael's Store in search of the right kind of vinyl... I usually avoid Michael's at all costs. Their staff is usually in Zombie mode, although kind there is usually about two people working in the store at any given time. Only one person working the register while the other strolls the aisles. Even though the store is pretty empty of customers I almost never make it through their checkout line in under 20 minutes. However this trip was worth it since they did have the starter pack I was looking for!

Now that I finally had my supplies I simply followed the instructions I had googled and youtubed. I had to do a lot of research and taught myself through other peoples tutorials. Using the Cricut Explore is very easy, the hard part is learning how to actually do your project and what supplies you need. In the end I figured it out although it did take some trial and error I loved the end result and can't wait to try more projects in the future.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Necklace Organizer

To help keep my jewelry organized I decided to try and make a necklace holder to attach to My New Vanity. It was so simple and cost me less than 15$. I headed over to Home Depot where I bought a cheap wooden wall mounted paper towel holder, some metallic silver spray paint and some "S" hooks.

First I sprayed the paper towel holder with a few thin coats of spray paint and let it dry overnight. The next day I slid the "S" hooks onto the rod and screwed the holder into the side of my vanity and voila! I now have a beautiful necklace holder, I occasionally have to take the holder apart to add more "S" hooks but it is really easy to do. This was such a simple project and a beautiful and functional addition to my vanity! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Broccoli Cheese Casserole is one of my favorite parts of easter dinner. It is the perfect side for my mom's ham and is even better when you combine the leftover ham with the casserole for lunch the next day!

  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 2 C. Minute Rice
  • 2 Boxes Frozen Chopped Broccoli
  • 2 Cans Cream of Chicken & Mushroom Soup
  • 1 Small Jar Cheese Whiz

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients .
  4. Continue to stir for about 5 min until heated through and combined.
  5. Pour into a casserole dish and cover with foil.
  6. Cook in oven for 60 min.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Tavern On Grand

Recently my boyfriend Sam introduced me to one of his favorite restaurants. The Tavern On Grand is located right on Grand Ave. in Saint Paul. Take a moment and close your eyes, picture what represents Minnesota in your mind. Think of every icon, stereotype or memory. When you walk into The Tavern On Grand that is exactly what you get. The inside feels like a giant log cabin complete with canoes, fish and nature paintings decorating every nook and cranny. I usually sit at the bar where you know they will be playing the hockey game.

The Tavern became a Friday go to spot during lent, they easily have the best fish in town, which is a huge thing for me (miss anti fish) to say. I have tried a few of their menu but I would highly recommend their Walleye Sampler, this gives you an opportunity to try a little bit of their most popular menu items. The best part is that you don't feel guilty ordering this and leaving a bunch of food on your plate. They are the perfect portion size for one person to enjoy. There is a reason they are famous for their walleye.

The service is always wonderful and the people watching is unreal. I would recommend The Tavern On Grand to anyone.  You can find more information about The Tavern On Grand on their website at You can also like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Bunny Cake

My mom's Easter Bunny Cake is a childhood tradition that has carried on into adulthood with my sister and I. Easter day wouldn't be complete without Zoe and I arguing over the correct decorating
pattern, which even at 20 and 24 we are still sent to a time out before we can continue. Somehow we make our way through the decorating process (whether wrong or right) and it becomes the perfect finish to our Easter Dinner meal.

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Cake Mix (any flavor-we use dark chocolate)
         -1 Cup Water
         -1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
         - 3 Eggs

  • Frosting (I make mine from scratch, but store bought will work just fine)
         - 1 Stick Butter
         - 4 T. Milk
         - 1 Small Bag Powdered Sugar
         - 1 t. Vanilla
  • Two packages milk chocolate M&M's (we like to use the pastel colors)

  1. Make cake according to box instructions (two 8'' rounds)
  2. Allow cake to cool for 30 min before cutting
  3. If you are making your own frosting make while the cake is cooling (just combine all frosting ingredients in a mixer until fluffy)
  4. Cut one cake like a baseball creating the ears and bow-tie leaving the second cake for the face.
  5. Arrange the cake and frost.
  6. Decorate with M&M's and try not to fight too much over the correct decorating technique :)
(Don't forget to store cake covered so it wont dry out!)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Chili Lime Tilapia

I have never been a big fish fan, I'm not sure why but it's never really appealed to me. Lent is always a struggle for me to find new ways for me to enjoy fish. This recipe however is one of my go tos. It is so easy and so full of flavor it helps me forget I'm eating fish!


  1. Preheat grill (medium-low heat)
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  3. Combine rub, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk until you make a thick paste.
  4. Coat fish in paste and lay on foil lined baking sheet.
  5. Place baking sheet on grill and cover for 3 min.
  6. Flip fish and cover, cook for an additional 3 min on the other side.
  7. Serve with steamed or grilled veggies like my Lemon Garlic Asparagus.