Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Time for another installment of What I'm Loving Wednesday with !

So..what am I loving this Wednesday??

I've been trying to get back on track with working out and eating main problem this past week..grazing and snacking on all the Halloween candy hanging around in the office..everywhere I go there seems to be a snack sized Twix or Reeses Peanut Butter Cup I can't resist. So, it was time to stock up on smart snack choices!

First up...Mini Larabars. I love Larabars. I love their motto...Simple.Pure.Delightful. The bars are made with unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices. Each flavor has no more than nine ingredients. There are tons of flavors to choose from as well. I feel like a granola bars are such an easy fix to throw in your purse or have in your desk drawer or pantry..but some are packed with sugars, high fructose corn syrup etc. So, it's nice to have an option like a Larabar with good simple ingredients. Their mini bars are a staple for me. I like having a bite sized option that I can grab on the go!

Another easy non perishable I can throw anywhere snack...Blue Diamond Almonds. I stay with the plain raw almonds..although they do make these in different roasted sea salt etc. I'm a huge nut fan...but when I buy a huge bag of raw almonds from Whole Foods or Trader Joes, I find myself with my hand constantly in that bag. So, I love this option from Blue Diamond...I can grab a bag and not worry about exceeding a portion!
Another nut option...Trader Joe's has some pretty good trail mixes...I'm a label reader and try to go for the trail mixes that are primarily nuts maybe one dried fruit mixed in. Typically when you have a some type of trail mix there's a lot of hidden sugar in there. A lot of the fruits will be artificially sweetened or they'll throw some chocolate bits or candies in there as well. Trader Joe's Go Raw Trek Mix is one I like. I like it even more that they're now making it in little individual packages.

photo from

Keeping up with the healthy kick..I'm also loving this

I've been looking for a couple new recipes to throw in the know the ones that are easy, healthy and slowly become a goto staple in the recipe box and on the weekly menu. Most of the recipes on this site fall into that category. In the past two weeks I've tried the Lasagna Spinach Roll ups (click HERE for a post about them!), Spinach Meatballs, and Chicken Bruschetta. While they were all good...the Lasagna Roll ups were the favorite!


Hope you have a great Wednesday and a fabulous week!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

There's no more denying it...

Jessica Simpson looks very pregnant....although the rumors have been circulating for some she is on Sunday at LAX.

Meaningful Beauty

who knew that I would stumble upon a skincare line from an informercial. who knew I would LOVE this stuff and have a big fear that it will disappear from shelves and I won't know what to do with myself. I'm not big on the informercial watching...but this past spring I went through a downright terrible time with my complexion. I'm 33...I honestly thought the days of zit cream and acne were over now that I've moved onto gray hair and wrinkle worries. To my dismay..last winter and spring things got bad that one day I contemplated calling out sick to work because I was too embarrassed to show my face. It got so bad I called my doctor to see what magic she could suggest.

Then...a little fairy god mother esthetician friend of mine had a suggestion. She had a friend in the field who suggested a product to was this stuff...Meaningful Beauty by Cindy Crawford.
I know you've probably flipped by the informercial with Cindy Crawford and her French dermatologist and his magic melons that he uses in this stuff. It sounds a little phooey. But, on the recommendation of a skin care professional who had first hand knowledge of the woes of my complexion..I figured what do I have to lose? I will admit, I don't love all the products and really hate that it's the tv offer where you have to sign up and they just ship the next month's supply to you. so, there's a way around it. Some Sephora stores are now carrying a little sample size kit for $49 as well as the full sized products that you can buy individually. I have 2 Sephora's near me..a big one inside a big mall, and a little one inside a JC Penney. The little one has this kit which came the cleanser, serum, day cream, and night cream. These "sample" sizes lasted me for over a month.

The only product from the sample kit I could without was the cleanser. It was a nice cleanser but there was nothing special about it. After using this for the past 6 months or so I've noticed a dramatic difference in my skin. Before I was breaking out..and not just blemishes here and there..they were the ones you could feel under your skin for days and days that erupted on your face. My doctor coined this as my "hormonal" acne..thanks doc. Those breakouts have disappeared and the look and feel of my complexion has really turned around. These products have had just a really calming effect on my skin.

My go to products that I purchased at my Sephora inside my local JC Penney (weird that the bigger one isn't carrying this stuff yet..but whatever) are the Antioxidant Day Cream with SPF 20, the Glowing Serum, and the Night Cream. This trifeca of products I, now, cannot live without. There are additional products like eye cream etc that I have yet to try. I have also found some products on amazon and ebay (if you can deal with the auctions etc..I'm too impatient to) and do offer a little bit of a discount. My skin care estetician friend fortunately didn't have the bad complexion woes I did, but instead had rosacea issues which this helped tremendously with as well. I know it's not targeted for acne issues and I think I had a pretty good skin care regimen before with products from Kinerase and Philosophy. I also like that these products handle the anti-aging thing for me to..any anti aging product I bought before..from serums to night creams..really really dried me out.

So..a little review of a product I'm loving. I suggested it to a friend who was having similar issues...she's a month in and liking it to!

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's been one of those weeks...

a lot going on, stuff to deal with...I feel like I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in days which makes the work day a bit tougher and found myself, on more than one occasion, so stressed that all I can do is rub my forehead and try to think of how to get a hold of things going on right now.

sounds like a kind of crappy week, huh? So, today couldn't come fast enough....because at 2pm I'm out of here and off for a weekend of hiking in the White Mountains in New Hampshire with Mr. Allan and some friends. Hopefully they'll be a good, challenging workout tomorrow followed by a hot tub dip and hanging out with some friends all night!

New we come..please look like this when I get there!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A sign it's Halloween

well at least in our household...besides the mums on our front steps, the largest corn stalks we could find...another sure sign Halloween is around the corner...these snuggly members of our family have whipped out their Halloween wear!

Reese with her Pumpkins
and Annabelle with her ghosts!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Ginger Pumpkin Buttercream

this might not look like much....but this is one of my FAVORITE frosting recipes...the cupcake is pretty good too...but the frosting is hands down amazing!

I can't remember where I got this recipe. It's been hanging around my recipe box for a couple years and I love to use it around this time of year...when it starts to get cold, it's nice to have the oven on and everyone is enjoying everything pumpkin. I believe the original recipe was for a ginger buttercream...I had some leftover pumpkin from making the cupcakes and threw a bit in...and the Ginger Pumpkin Buttercream was born.

Pumpkin Chocolate Cupcakes
makes around 30 cupcakes

2 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together lour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla and set aside. Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Alternatively add flour mixture and buttermilk/pumpkin mixtures to mixer until combined.

Line muffin pan and scoop around 1/4 cup of batter into each. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Ginger Pumpkin Buttercream

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla
2 lbs powdered sugar

beat butter and add spices, vanilla and pumpkin. Slowly add powdered sugar. (I add about 1/4 of the bag at a time and mix it well).

Like I previously mentioned...I LOVE this frosting...the cupcake recipe is pretty good but it has a lot of ingredients to it (and a lot of butter in it!). If you're not feeling the cupcake recipe, you could always grab a box cake mix...maybe add a 1/2 cup of pumpkin, or just do a plain chocolate cupcake as well!


Friday, October 14, 2011

It's Rainy Days like this...

that the purchase of knee length crocodile Hunter boots is completely justified

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Skinny Taste

I think my sister gets credit for first telling me about this fabulous website. Then..I heard a couple mumbles and grumblings about it from other friends and sources as well. So, this past weekend I decided to dive in and try a couple recipes from

Here's a little peek at this great recipe website!

So what did I try and why did I like them?

First up...Skinny Taste Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

photo courtesy of

I made these for some dinner guests..ok my dad, step mom and 4 yr old nephew...but they were received with RAVE reviews from them as well as Mr. Allan. Even my nephew ate an entire roll by himself. They were a breeze to make (I also used the marinara recipe on skinny taste as well), a crowdpleaser, and made excellent leftovers as well. I also love that all nutritional info as well as WW points are listed!

SkinnyTaste Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Servings: 9 • Serving Size: 1 roll • Old Points: 4 pts • Points+: 6 ww pts
Calories: 224.9 • Fat: 5.1 g • Fiber: 3.4 g • Protein: 13.0 g • Carbs: 31.5

9 lasagna noodles, cooked
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt and fresh pepper
32 oz tomato sauce
9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.
Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls.

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

It's getting cold here in New England. Even though we had some record warm temps last weekend, the weather has taken a turn! Last night I was huddled in a sweater as I met some lovely ladies for dinner. Once I got home, I jumped under the down comforter in our room with 3 little cats who had cold noses and ears! One thing I noticed this poor skin feels so dry with the colder temps. So, this installment of What I'm Loving Wednesday is dedicated to all the things I love to beat the cold and dry weather!

First up...for my dry hands I love this stuff by Crabtree and Evelyn.
It moisturizers so well and I find that under my wedding rings, the skin on ring finger always gets so dry...this fixes it!

My hair has taken a hit..probably because I blow dry it everyday and straighten it. I wish I could get away with not washing it everyday, but if I goto the gym and get in a good sweaty workout..there's no way around not showering and washing my hair. The result..some dry and damaged locks. There are two products I is a hair shine and the other a hair mask.

First up..John Frieda hair glaze. They make it specifically for brunettes, red heads, or blondes, but there's also this clear shine one as well. After I shampoo and condition, I plop this on in the shower. It sits on your hair for 3 minutes and leaves it silky and smooth with tons of shine.

I also love this Jasmin and Henna Fluff Ease Hair Mask from LUSH.
It's a 20 minute hair mask. You rub it into your dry hair and let it sit. I usually do it right before I hop in the shower, so I can easily rinse it out. I love the smell and it leaves my hair super soft afterwards. If I had the extra 20 minutes every morning, I'd probably use it everyday...but I'm a slow poke in the mornings and always running late!

Also by LUSH...their Oatifix face mask. If you have a Lush store near you...their face masks are amazing. They're all about $6.95. You keep them in the refrigerator and have an instant cool face mask at your disposal at home. The Oatifix one smells like a big cookie. I left it out for a few minutes and them slathered it all over my poor dry face. It smelled so good I kind of wanted to taste it! ...but I held off. It left my skin super soft and my dry nose thanked me for it!

One other thing I love to beat the dry skin blues..this Fresh Brown Sugar Face Scrub. It's a little splurge I love to indulge in. I've tried tons of face scrubs since I tend to have a super super dry nose especially in the colder months. Nothing beats this one! 
 Hope you enjoy the rest of your week! Be sure to link up to What I'm Loving Wednesdays at

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Woonsocket's own Emily Luther...

You've probably heard Adele's newest release on the radio. Here's a cover by Emily Luther and Charles Puth..two music students. They made this for a contest on Perezhilton and were recently on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and rewarded with a record contract. This has been all over the radio and news in RI since Emily Luther is from the exclusive city of Woonsocket, RI. Few people can say they're part of the club of peeps born and raised in Woonsocket, RI. Emily Luther and yours truly are part of it! :)

Here's their actual performance on Ellen earlier this week

Friday, October 7, 2011

Motivating myself to work out

I've been in a slump got busy, it's getting dark out earlier, and we've been away the past few weekends. The number one area that's taken a hit in my workouts. I'm usually pretty good with getting the gym a minimum of 3-4 times a week. I have my little classes I enjoy, I like to run, and overall really enjoy working out. The hardest part for me is carving out the time and getting my butt to the gym. Once I'm there and once I'm done, I feel so good about myself.

So, in order to get out of my work out rut, I've had to resort to my little tactics to motivate me to get excited and dedicated to a workout schedule again. Here are some little things that get me back in the swing of things...

Re-load the IPOD with new and more current music
I'm ashamed to say that I hadn't put new music on my Ipod in over two's no wonder that I wasn't busting out the door to go for a run when the newest music I had on there was Ashlee Simpson. It took 10 minutes and maybe 10 bucks and a new playlist with current music I hear on the radio has motivated me to run a little more...

Treat yourself to some new workout gear

I have a never ending battle with workout clothes. I can never wear any of the cute tops because they typically have spaghetti straps or a racerback. If you're like me and actually have a chest that requires a good sports bra, you probably feel my pain of the never ending quest to find a top that doesn't show 75% of your sports bra. One quick fix for the work out blues is to usually buy something new..whether its nice running socks or a new pair of pants. I like Old Navy for workout clothes because they're cheap, but I do go back and forth. Their yoga pants have a great fit, but they last me 6 months at best. They stretch out and get terribly faded. So, I was excited to see a new line there that was made out of a different, more durable material.

These are Old Navy's new compression pants. I found them to run a little smaller than their yoga pants and did go up to a size L (I'm a size 8-10 in pants), although now that I think about it, the M probably would've been fine. They're made out of a shinier, sleeker material that workout pants normally are. The website lists them at $26.94, although I grabbed a pair of compression capris with a rouched bottom on clearance for $16. I love the wide low waistband that doesn't give you a muffin top and the material is holding up so much better.

On that same trip I grabbed this hoodie on a whim. I LOVE this stupid thing. It's as thick as a t-shirt but perfect for know when you're running to the gym and don't want to wear just a workout top or tee..this is perfect to throw over it. I'm extremely tempted to grab it in a different color as well!

Splurge on a new beauty product related to your workout

This may sound silly, but sometimes buying a heavy duty lip balm that I know will work well when I'm running in the fall will motivate me. Other times it might be a new headband to keep my hair back..basically if I can tie the product into working out, when I see it, it reminds me that I should be working out! So, last month the product was a new foot cream by LUSH. One thing I love to do as I change into workout clothes is to slather on a nice foot cream before I put my socks and sneakers on. While I work out, my feet are treated to a nice moisturizing workout as well, which prevents ugly dry cracked heels etc.

My choice..Lush's Pied de Pepper foot cream. It's made with cloves and's kind of a like a Christmas party on your feet.

Make a friend at the gym

I've been going to my gym for a couple years. You start to see the same faces around there. So, be friendly and introduce yourself or start some small talk while you wait outside for your class to begin. I'm usually an all business type at the gym. I get there, workout, and get out. I'm not one to walk around etc. I like to do my thing and get home. But, I started talking to a girl I see there often and tends to take the same classes as me. Little things, like saying I'll see you at yoga on Thursday, keep me on track. Why? Because I feel guilty if I don't go on Thursday, and if I'm feeling lazy in a I don't want to drive to the gym or get off the couch mood, knowing that someone is expecting me to be there keeps me on track.

Hang a motivational picture up

This may sound super cheesy...but when I weighed over 200lbs and made the decision that I was going to, once and for all, get rid of the weight, I cut out a picture from the Victoria's Secret Swim Catalog of a twiggy model in a pink bikini and told myself I would wear that bathing suit one day. I think I kept it in my personal binder thing I carried around with me all the time. In that little binder I had my little Weight Watcher's journal and I had that picture I ripped out. Every time I went to write down what I ate, I saw that stupid bikini clad chic. It may sound so silly, but I never wanted her to was like she was laughing at me saying look at me..I'm in a bikini and you're not. I'd like to think I conquered that bikini toting bitch.

 Whether it's a picture of yourself at a skinnier weight that you tack on the fridge or a picture from a catalog of something you'd like to wear but can't at your current weight, setting a goal of some sort will keep you motivated! One thing that killed me when I was overweight was the fact that I LOVED to shop but could never fit into the clothes I really wanted to wear. I'd go on rampages of buying tons of stuff just because I'd find stuff that fit and became the queen of accessories..mostly because a purse, shoes, or necklace isn't sized to make you feel bad!

Start a Motivation Fund

Super cheesy idea #2. If you have a certain amount of weight you'd like to lose, then reward yourself with mini milestones. I used to set aside $10 for every pound I lost. It went into one of those cheesy money jars that read "Hopes and Dreams" or something like that. After 10 or 20 lbs..that's a nice little outfit you earned yourself. Or, if you don't have a bunch of weight to lose but have been eyeing something, give yourself a goal...if you workout 4 times a week for the next month, then reward yourself with that new pair of Tory Burch flats! Whatever works for it!

Life is short. You have this one body you've been given. Why abuse it by overeating and not exercising? Your body is made of a lot of stuff but included are muscles which need to be worked out and taken care of! I look at working out as the maintenance I need to live a healthy, happy life..and you should too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you."
- Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook

"The digital age has lost its leading light, but Steve's innovation and creativity will inspire dreamers and thinkers for generations."
-Howard Stringer, CEO Sony

"The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve's success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented."
- President Obama

The Wall Street Journal along with have published the 13 greatest quotes from Steve Jobs.

1. On computers - Playboy, 1 Feb, 1985

It takes these very simple-minded instructions – ‘Go fetch a number, add it to this number, put the result there, perceive if it’s greater than this other number’ – but executes them at a rate of, let’s say, 1,000,000 per second. At 1,000,000 per second, the results appear to be magic.

2.On design - BusinessWeek, 25 May, 1998

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

3. The best sales line ever? - The line he used to lure John Sculley into becoming Apple’s CEO, according to Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple

Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?

4. On character - Apple Confidential 2.0

I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year…. It’s very character-building.

5. On good design - BusinessWeek, 25 May, 1998

That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

6. On his outlook - The Wall Street Journal, 25 May, 1993

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.

7. On his role at Apple - BusinessWeek, 25 May, 1998

This is not a one-man show. What’s reinvigorating this company is two things: One, there’s a lot of really talented people in this company who listened to the world tell them they were losers for a couple of years, and some of them were on the verge of starting to believe it themselves. But they’re not losers. What they didn’t have was a good set of coaches, a good plan. A good senior management team. But they have that now.

8. Having pride in your product - Playboy, 1 Feb, 1985

Playboy: “Are you saying that the people who made PCjr don’t have that kind of pride in the product?”
Jobs: “If they did, they wouldn’t have made the PCjr.”

9. He’ll always come back - Playboy, 1 Feb, 1985
I’ll always stay connected with Apple. I hope that throughout my life I’ll sort of have the thread of my life and the thread of Apple weave in and out of each other, like a tapestry. There may be a few years when I’m not there, but I’ll always come back.

10. Have faith in the future – Stanford commencement speech, June 2005

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

11. On your working life – Stanford commencement speech, June 2005

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

12. On the importance of death - Stanford commencement speech, June 2005

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

13. Don’t sit still – NBC Nightly News, May 2006
I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's really hard to believe

that 2 years ago today I married Mr. Allan. I can remember everything like it was just yesterday. From sharing the "marital" bed aka the biggest King bed ever in the Buddy Cianci suite at the Providence Biltmore Hotel with my sister the night before the wedding to waking up insanely early and making my way down to the hotel's Starbucks to enjoy a quiet moment with my pumpkin spiced latte. I remember the nervousness that morning as I sat in my white hooded sweatshirt watching the Today show as my fantastic hairdresser, Jen, arrived followed by the make up artist, Kristin. I remember eating whoopie pies for breakfast since the deli thought that fell into the category of pastry appropriate for breakfast and everyone slowly filed into and began to get ready. I remember my awesome photographer, Melissa, and videographer, John, coming in and that's when the action really began. before I knew it, my bridesmaids were dressed and ready to go and I was being laced up into my dress by my mom and sister as my dad looked on. We were piled into the limo and I was standing outside the church with my dad. I remember wanting to take in the moment, not rush down the aisle and I was DYING to see Mr. Allan's face.

My favorite part of the day was our ceremony. It was something our minister really let us create and personalize. We decided to write out own vows and exchanging them was hands down the most memorable moment of our wedding day. I remember not wanting to go first and just sit there with a goofy look on my face as Mr. Allan read his, so we opted to take turns, each reading one at a time. Before we knew it we were husband and wife. We were whisked outside to greet the guests and say hello and had some time gallivanting around the city for pictures. We dropped off the bridal party for cocktail hour and then had an hour to ourselves with the photographers....another favorite time since it slowed the day down.

Then the night began...dancing, toasts, dinner, and more dancing. But, the best thing about that day...was, of course, becoming Mrs. Allan.

So, to help re-live the memories of what took place 2 short years's a clip from our videographer John Cipolla from Hands down one of the best decisions we made was to hire a videographer and after watching this clip you'll see why. Tonight, after our dinner out, we'll be snuggling up on the couch with our 3 cats watching this

Holly and Bill from weddingstories on Vimeo.

Because everyone loves all things's the day as I remember in photos...all photos are from our fabulous photographer Melissa Robotti...check her out here and enjoy remembering the day photo by photo


so what has two years of marriage taught me? I've learned that I married a patient, caring, thoughtful and respectful man. A man who treats me as his true partner and equal. A man who lets me know that my thoughts, ideas and opinions are valuable and important. But, most importantly, a man who is head over heels in love with me and lets me know it every day. Happy Anniversary to my Mr. Allan!