Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese was one of those treats I always looked forward to growing up.

This recipe came from my grandmother, who got it from a Mennonite man on a trip to Virginia.  No clue where it came from before that, but it's my favorite...and today I'm going to share it with you!  A few weeks ago our friends Christian and Laci took a trip to North Carolina and had Pimento Cheese for the first time and loved it.  Her excitement re-inspired me to make it for an upcoming picnic - thanks Laci!  :)

1 pound Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 pound Colby Jack Cheese
1 pound Velveeta
8 ounce jar pimentos (chopped)
4 Tablespoons sugar
1.5 cups mayonnaise (or more if needed)


Grate all cheese.  The Velveeta is quite soft (and can be hard to grate), so it helps to put it in the freezer for a while so it stiffens up.  Be careful of fingers - don't go too fast...grating thumbs hurts.

Strain pimentos and chop them a little more.

Then combine the pimentos, sugar and mayo.

Refrigerate a few hours before enjoying.  Serve with crackers or on a sandwich, and it'll make your day.  We also like to make grilled pimento cheese sandwiches.  Just butter the outsides of your bread, fill with 1/4 cup of pimento cheese, and cook on low in  frying pan...just like you would a regular grilled cheese sandwich.  Creamy, melted goodness.

for fantastic recipes, cake how-to's, and diy projects!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Link Party!

Guys…I’ve got some exciting news!  A few weeks ago, longtime “real life” (AND blogging) friend Courtney and I started chatting about how we could partner together with our blogs.  Courtney is the person who inspired me to start blogging about a year ago (so you all can either thank or blame her), so I was excited to “take the next blogging step” with her.  We’re starting a link party! 
One of my favorite things about blogging has been getting to know so many fantastic people I never would have met otherwise.  What a fantastic network of inspiring, creative, hilarious people!  That’s why we decided to call our link up “Tell UsTuesday” – no matter what you blog about, we want to hear from you!  We want you to tell us:

What you’ve been cookin’ lately…
The funny thing your kid said…
What’s really grinding your nerves…
About the beautiful thing you just made…
Your fantastic family vacation…
…Share whatever you’d like!

The first link-up will take place Tuesday, August 6th, so keep your eyes peeled!

Just a few basic rules we’d love for you to follow:

Follow each of us so you’ll never miss a party.  Follow on GCF, Bloglovin’, or your favorite reader – we’d love to hear from you!
Add a party text link or button to your blog.  This helps us in exchange for letting you link up!  The more people that know about the party, the better.
Click around – find a few links that interest you below and check them out!  Better yet, leave them a comment and tell them where you came from!
Spread the word – Share the party on Facebook and Twitter so more can join in the fun.  The more people that find out about Tell Me Tuesday, the more it benefits you!  
- We’d also love for you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  We follow back! 

Each week, in addition to the link up, we’ll feature some of our favorite posts from the previous week.  If you’ve been featured, grab an “I’ve been featured” button so you can brag to all your friends.

In order to spread the love (even more), we’ll be having a weekly “guest host”.  If you’d be interested in guest hosting a Tell Us Tuesday, just shoot me an email at lalford0609 (at) gmail (dot) com with some information about yourself.

More to come!

Monday, July 29, 2013

ALL ABOUT NAILS - Fabulous Nail Polish Designs, Nail Care, and Where to Buy Polish

Hey everyone! I'm Bailey from aka Bailey I'm so excited to be guest posting for Lauren today! She and I have been friends and colleagues for years, and she is the one who pushed me to get into blogging myself. My own blog is kind of an eclectic mix of Vancouver tourism, fitness, shopping (mostly thrifting), trying my darnedest to cook things that don't taste awful, and (my personal favorite) nail polish adventures! I decided to focus on the latter for my guest post today, so if you own a few nail polishes but feel like you aren't "good" enough to use them for anything cool... YOU THINK AGAIN RIGHT THIS INSTANT.

I'm going to outline a few of my favorite nail care basics, plus some of my favorite "cool" things you can do to your nails that will end up looking like you must have spent a LONG time on them.... when really you didn't! #Winks! It'll be our little secret how easy these things really are.

First up is nail care!

Now, if you're anything like I was a year ago, you might think that your nails are just things that exist on the ends of your fingers and that, aside from keeping them clean and cut to a length of your choice, you don't need to do anything else to them. Well... I mean, that's totally fine. Those are two good areas to start (and end, if you want!), but if you want to give them a little extra 'somethin somethin', here are a few easy (and cheap) things you can do:

- Cut/file all 10 of them to one uniform shape and length. I used to be guilty of letting all my nails end up totally different shapes/lengths (because I'd bite them and pick at them), but once I started getting them all looking like Irish twins rather than distant cousins... well I have to say my entire life improved tenfold and I immediately received a raise at work. Just kidding. But my nails did look nicer, for a minimal amount of effort. Bonus: Nail files can cost as little as 99 cents. #GetSome.

nail files, emery boards

- Use a cuticle softener. This is a relatively cheap product that will soften your cuticles enough to push them back safely and without irritation or cutting. I use an affordable Revlon version, applying it to my nails with the brush, then rubbing it into my cuticles with my fingertips:

Revlon Cuticle Softener

- After you massage in your cuticle softener, then you can use a cuticle pusher-backer... for lack of a better term. This will be a very inexpensive tool that you can use to - you guessed it - push back your cuticles. I've seen versions that are made of stainless steel, but I prefer to use this awesome plastic one with a rubber tip because it's much gentler than the harsh steel and its soft rubber tip doesn't cut or damage my cuticles or surrounding skin.

- I also use a cuticle massage cream after I push back my cuticles. This softens and moisturizes your cuticles and surrounding skin and keeps them looking really healthy. I use Sally Hansen Cuticle Massage Cream. You don't necessarily need this step, but I personally really like the healthy glow and un-chalky appearance of my finger tips after I massage some of this stuff in there:

TIME OUT. Now, you might be asking yourself, "Dude... seriously... what is this girl's deal with cuticles? Why is she paying so much attention to them?"

Well, you'd be amazed how much the look of your nails can change depending on how your cuticles are looking. Again, I used to not give too much of a crap about them. I'd let them get like this:

Cuticles looking busted

And - NOT TO BRAG OR ANYTHING - but they look way better nowadays:

Healthy cuticles

- The final step of my nail care routine (before actually painting my nails) is using a nice thick, non-greasy hand cream. I've heard that hands, neck and chest are 3 areas that can really show your age, so these are 3 areas that I've started to give more moisturizing attention to lately. Prevention is the key to.... preventing things you don't want to happen, so if you don't want wrinkles popping up, it's time to get serious about moisturizing, ladiiiies! I've pretty much fallen in love with this Aveeno Active Naturals Intense Relief Hand Cream:

Aveeno Active Naturals Intense Relief Hand Cream

Like I said, I've made hand cream the final step of my nail care routine, but I also do my best to apply hand cream every night before bed, too.

Now that we've gotten all the nail care out of the way,  it's time for the fun stuff - POLISHIN' YA NAILS!

Here are some easy things to paint onto your nails:

- Accent nails:  You may or may not have heard this term before, but an "accent nail" is a new-ish thing in the polish world wherein we are now allowed to paint one or two of our nails a different color than the rest, without anyone accusing us of having multiple personalities. I often use my ring finger as my accent nail:

Purple Nails with Glitter Accent Nail

Mint Nails with Neon Accent Nail

Pink Nails with Silver Glitter Accent Nail

It's a fun and very easy way to jazz things up. If you have a sparkly or glittery polish, try using this as your accent nail color and letting the compliments roll in.

- Polka dots:  With a dotting tool (which are now sold in most places where nail polish is sold) or a toothpick, polka dots are really easy to make. Simply paint your nails your base color and allow it to dry completely. Next, take your polka dot color and using your polish brush, put 3-4 drops of polish onto a piece of scrap paper. Then just dip the tip of your dotting tool/toothpick into the wet drops of polish and use it to "stamp" your nails with dots:

Dotting tool, nail polish

Dotting tool

Polka Dot accent Nail

Making the dots look really great takes a little bit of practice - I like to practice on a piece of paper before I try it on my nails. No shame in practicing!!

- Color blocking: Choose 2 nail polish colors to work with. Paint all of your nails 2 coats of the lighter color and let them dry completely. And I really mean totally, completely, absolutely dry! Next, use strips of scotch tape to block off half of each nail:

Then paint over the exposed half of your nail with your second polish color. Before it dries, carefully pull away the strip of tape on each nail, revealing a color blocked look.

- Leopard print: This one is like the king of nail polish looks and is much easier than people think it is... In fact, I hesitate to even share the secret because I kind of like people thinking that it takes an insane amount of skill to do, hehe! To paint a leopard print onto your nails, first choose 3 different polish colors - your base color, your "spot" color, and your "around the spot" color.

First, paint your nails 2 coats of your base color.

Next, using your spot color, pop a few spots around your nail by just tapping your nail polish brush gently in a few different places around your nail. Leave plenty of room between these spots.

Then, place a few drops of your final color onto a piece of scrap paper. Dip a toothpick into the drops and use the toothpick to draw some brackets ( ) and U's around the spots. Use a quick stippling motion for this part.

Lastly, add a few random spots around the nail in the empty spaces, using the same color that you used for your brackets and U's.

You can see a step-by-step of leopard print nails via photos over here on my blog.

So now that you know what to do, all you need are the polishes to do it! The good news is that you don't need to spend a lot of money on nail polish. There are some pretty expensive brands out there that sell their polishes for $12-$25/bottle, but to them I say.... "PSHT." We can do better than that, ladies! Head to a Target or a CVS/Walgreens and scope out their selections of Revlon, Sally Hansen and Sinful Colors polishes. Those are 3 brands that I love and none of them cost more than $5/bottle (in the States, that is... Here in Vancouver, BC everything costs 1 first born child.)

I hope that this has inspired you to try some new things with your nails! Check out my blog for more relatively easy nail ideas - I post a new nail polish blog every Friday!

Friday, July 26, 2013

More of my Favorite Things - Trivia Night, Heart Rate Watch, Trader Joe's Find, and the NatureBox winner

Happy Friday!  I'm always happy to see Friday come around, but am even more excited this week.  Why, you may ask?  Well...tomorrow we head out for a vacation!  We're going to Jackson Hole (WY) and Yellowstone for a little adventure and R&R, and I can't wait!

YOU, on the other hand, may be excited it's Friday because I'm announcing the winner of the NatureBox giveaway that started Monday.  :)  In addition to announcing the lucky person who will be receiving a bunch of yummy snacks in a few weeks, I'm also going to share a few of other new favorite things with you today.

Heart Rate Watch - I mentioned a few weeks ago how I found a heart rate monitor at Target.  I was totally overwhelmed by the instructions that came with it (they were seriously the size of a map), but once Travis helped me go through them, we realized they didn't need to be that in depth - it was actually quite simple!

You enter your height, weight, gender, date & time information and any daily goals you may have (steps, miles and/or calories burned), strap on the watch and start working out!  Everything seems to work well except for the pulse feature - it's a little finicky.
A 25 minute run/walk session is even more exciting when you realize you burned 350 calories!  Whoop!

Trivia - A few weeks ago, a group of friends had our first "Trivia Night" experience at a local restaurant, The Brickyard.  It was so. much. fun.  The Brickyard hosts trivia in their basement lounge, so we hung out on a long sofa, ate lots of food, and spewed knowledge all over the place.

Every time you turned in an answer, you also "bid" on it, based on how confident you were in your answer, which added another fun element to the game.  It wasn't just who got the most questions right!

Best of all, we won a $50 gift card to the restaurant, so we got a discount on our food.  I can already tell we're going to be regulars.

Trader Joe's Inner Peas - I'm in love with these new veggie snacks from TJ's.  My office is conveniently across the street from Trader Joe's so I go there frequently (ok...more than all the time).

A few weeks ago I noticed a new product situated right next to the registers, so I decided to give them a try.  These "Inner Peas" have 6 ingredients and 130 calories per 22 "peas".  The best part is they are REALLY great.  Light, slightly crispy, and a little salty - yum.  :)

If you live near a Trader Joe's, you should check them out STAT.

Ok - now for what you've been waiting for!  To pick the winner of the free NatureBox, I used  Congratulations, commenter number 14 - VICKY MAPLES!  Vicky said:

What a great concept to have and a great price too.  Corey and I have started to make a healthy lifestyle change to benefit our future for baby Sebastian.  It's nice that every month it changes that way you're not suck eating the same thing day after day getting bored and giving up.

I'll send you an email shortly so you can claim your prize.

If you're NOT Vicky, you can still give NatureBox a try.  If you use the coupon code NATURE to get 25% off your first month's order!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7 Layer Dip

Last weekend, I went to a surprise party for our friend Bette's 88th birthday.  Bette loves Mexican food, so of course that was the theme of the night.  Ann fixed enchiladas, rice, and beans for dinner, so I decided to make a 7 layer dip to go along with it.  A 7 layer dip is basically a Pyrex dish full of everything delicious.  In one swoop of your chip, you'll have the best of the best of Mexican fare.  Not sure whether to have salsa or guac at your BBQ?  Easy! Make this instead and have both (and then some).

2 cups refried beans
2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
16 ounces sour cream
8 ounce cream cheese
16 ounce guacamole
16 ounce salsa
2.5 cups shredded lettuce
Large tomato, chopped
1 cup shredded cheese (4 Cheese Mexican Blend)

In a medium bowl, mix refried beans and taco seasoning.  The spread evenly on the bottom of a 13x9 Pyrex dish.

Cream together sour cream and cream cheese.  Spread on top of refried beans.

Then layer guacamole, salsa, lettuce, tomato, and cheese - in that order.  (Check out this yummy guacamole recipe!)

You can also add black olives to the top, but since I'm not a fan I left them off.

Enjoy with tortilla chips.  It's highly addictive, so be careful!  :)

Isn't it pretty from the side?  I just love it.

Making finger foods?  Buy some clear, 2 -4 ounce cups and layer a dollop of each ingredient in the cup so everyone will have their own serving!

Looking for a sweet Mexican main dish?  Try this Taco Salad.  Mmmm...

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Monday, July 22, 2013

I Love NatureBox - Healthy Snack Giveaway!

What's better than delicious snacks?  How about delicious snacks that you 1) don't have to make, and 2) don't have to brave the grocery store to find!  Today I'm going to tell you about one of my favorite companies that makes both of these possible.

NatureBox is a snacking subscription that delivers healthy snacks to your doorstep every month.  For $19.95 a month, they'll send a box of nutritionist-approved, delicious snacks to your doorstep for you to enjoy.  It's a fantastic way to vary your snacking, since there are different snacks each time.  The easiest way for me to stick to my diet healthy lifestyle is to keep things interesting, but I typically have a hard time doing that with snacks.  It's always an apple, banana, granola bar, or yogurt...gets pretty old after months and months, and isn't something that'll last long-term.  It was really nice to have four more options (that I know are good for me) waiting for me at home this month!

Here's what was in July's NatureBox.

South Pacific Plantains - Plantain chips with sea salt
Cherry Crumble Granola - Soft-baked granola with dried cherries (2 bags in our box)
Mango Almond Bites - Mango and crispy rice squares
Tuscan Summer Mix - Italian-spiced seed, nut and dried fruit mix

My favorite were the plantain chips - they were SO delicious and the perfect salty treat, and I loved that there were only three ingredients in them!  A handful of these staved off hunger while I cooked dinner at night.

Travis' favorites were the Tuscan Summer Mix and the Cherry Crumble Granola.  I really enjoyed topping my regular yogurt with the Cherry Crumble Granola - the tart cherry made a regular Chobani much more interesting!

Now for the fun part!  NatureBox has agreed to do a giveaway for Much Ado readers, so someone will have the opportunity to try a box at no cost!  Just leave a comment below telling me why you'd like to win, your go-to healthy snack, and a way for me to contact you if you're the winner!  You'll have until Thursday to enter, and I'll announce the winner on Friday!  Here are the rules:

  • The winner will receive a different NatureBox than the one I described above (it will be a future month's box, likely July or August depending on delivery schedule), but will be the exact same size/format as the one mentioned above.
  • Only available for US residents.
  • At this time, NatureBox is unable to customize boxes for specific dietary needs or personal preferences for the winner's box.

If you don't end up winning, you should just head there yourself and give them a try.  You won't be disappointed!

Good luck!

*Disclaimer:  I was provided July's NatureBox at no charge.  All opinions expressed are my own*

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Paint Bar Boston - Everyone's an Artist

Thursday night, the girls from work (who live in Boston) took a field trip to The Paint Bar.  We were sad that Bailey (who lives in Vancouver) and Arielle (who just moved to Pennsylvania) weren't able to's just the nature of an internet company I guess - everyone doesn't have to work from the same office!  Ann and Laura are the other two girls in Boston.  It's so nice to work with your truly is the number 1 perk of working where I do.  :)

There are two Paint Bar locations in Boston - one in Newton (down the street from my apartment), and one on Newbury Street in Boston.  We chose the Newton location so we didn't have to fight for parking - it's free after 6pm.

The inside of this location is super cute - bright colors on the walls, tables with easels and canvases just waiting for eager painters, and a mini gallery displaying all of the paintings they do each month.  Laura was also in love with the giant giraffe painting hanging in the purple and yellow bathroom.

In addition to the painting you'll do, there's also the "bar" half.  They sell wine by the glass, soda, water, chips and candy for you to enjoy while you hang out.  All the makings for a great evening!

When we arrived, we were shown to our seats (so nice there was assigned seating so you don't need to worry about getting there at a certain time so your group can sit together) and told to head to the back to get ready.  We grabbed our aprons and headed to the paint area, which had instructions about how many 'squirts' of each color we needed to complete that evening's panting.  So easy.  

Then we met our teacher for the evening (Jackie), who actually started Paint Bar with her mother!  Jackie is hilarious, talented, and GOOD at what she does.  She managed to strike a balance between clear instruction and funny banter that made for a fantastic few hours.

Our instructor for the evening, Jackie!
Laura was soooo excited to get her paint!  
She walked us through every part of the painting together - everyone's turned out perfectly!

It was such a fun night - I can't WAIT to go back!