Category Archives: Products

ITA Matrix – Booking Airfare

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Today is my birthday!!! I’m now officially 26 as of 6:27am this morning. If I was at home today, I would most certainly be making and eating my absolute favorite Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake. However, I am going to have to trade that in for a margarita because I’m currently on my way to Cancun!! Not such a bad way to spend my birthday, right?!

Speaking of traveling, have you heard of using the ITA Matrix to book your flights? If not, this will seriously change the way you search for airfare. ITA Matrix is a great website to be able to visually see all of the flights available to you based on timing, not just price.

First you fill out the airport or cities that you are traveling between. I used it this week to search for a flight to Atlanta for my friend’s wedding. I wanted to fly LAX to ATL, leaving on Friday (but could select “or day before” to include red-eyes), and my preferred times for the return flight:

ITA Matrix - Booking Airfare

In the upper right hand corner, you can select “Time bars” and the results will appear like this:

ITA Matrix - Booking Airfare

How great is that?? You can visually see what time you leave, how long the layover is, and when you arrive. For my return flight, I could use this visual to pick a flight late enough in the day to leave time for post-wedding recovery, without too long of a layover, and one that doesn’t get back to LA too late:

ITA Matrix - Booking Airfare

You can’t actually book the flight with ITA Matrix. Once you pick your flights, then you can go to the airline’s website to book. But, I think you’ll totally find it’s worth to pick out the flights here first!

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Bruschetta and Lentil Dip

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This is one of those refreshing and delicious recipes that seems too easy to be true. Not only that, but it’s also extremely healthy – full of protein and fiber! Are you skeptical of lentils? This is a great recipe to change your mind! I promise you won’t be able to avoid going back for a second dip, or fourth.

Bruschetta and Lentil Dip

You mix together a few things from Trader Joe’s and you have an appetizer that will seriously wow the party! It’s also a perfect afternoon snack or light dinner.

Bruschetta and Lentil DipLook at all those fresh ingredients! Don’t you want a bite?

Bruschetta and Lentil DipTo make this a super healthy afternoon snack, you can use cucumber slices instead of crackers for dipping.

Bruschetta and Lentil Dip

Bruschetta and Lentil Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 package steamed lentils (refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 container bruschetta sauce (refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 handful chopped basil leaves
  • 1 container crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • Crackers or pita chips (or cucumber slices)

Directions:

Mix the lentils, bruschetta, basil, and feta in a bowl until combined. Let the flavors marinate in the fridge for half an hour if you have time. Serve with pita chips or crackers.

*To really step up the health factor, you can eliminate the cheese and substitute the crackers with cucumber slices.

Popcorn Valentines

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I found these popcorn Valentines on Our Best Bites and think they are so cute!! They say “Just POPPING through with a VALENTINE for YOU!” I made them for my Valentine exchange with my girlfriends, but I also think it’s the perfect Valentine for co-workers or classmates because who wouldn’t love to snack on some popcorn amidst all the chocolate on Valentine’s Day ?? They were so quick to put together, so you still have time tonight!

Popcorn Valentines The best part might just be what I filled the bags with: Kettle Corn from Trader Joe’s. Have you tried Trader Joe’s Kettle Corn before? If you are nodding your head, you might also be saying “Yes, and I ate the whole bag in one sitting…” It is THAT good. It’s the perfect combo of sweet and salty, but still very light and airy so you don’t feel weighed down from eating it. Even if you don’t make these valentine’s, at least try this popcorn!

Trader Joe's Kettle Corn

Along with the popcorn, I bought cellophane treat bags and ribbon and printed off the popcorn labels here. (If you are short on time/supplies, you could always just use Ziplock sandwich bags!)

Cut out the popcorn labels and fill in the “to” and “from”. Fill the bag with popcorn, fold over the top of the bag, and then place a creased label on top. Hold them together to punch two holes. Place one end of the ribbon through each hole on the front. Then, pull the ribbons through the backside in the opposite holes. I used thin ribbon, so added some curls with a scissors. On the Best Bites website, they used thicker ribbon, which looks pretty too.

Popcorn Valentines

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, EVERYONE!!!

La Fresh Nail Polish Remover Pads

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I am so excited to share with you guys my new discovery in the world of nails: La Fresh Nail Polish Remover Pads. Who hates the strong smell of normal nail polish remover and the way it dries out your nails?? Here is the solution! There are so many reasons why these pads are AWESOME.

  1. They are Acetone-free and actually contain aloe and vitamins to moisturize your nails.
  2. The packet easily slips in your purse or suitcase. So how great is that for vacation?! If your nails chip on your trip, you don’t have to worry about bringing a bottle of remover with you. I keep one in my makeup bag.
  3. Forget the strong chemical smell – these smell like delicious citrus with no artificial fragrances.
  4. They are biodegradable, so no guilt towards the environment.
  5. No mess – the pads are drip free!

La Fresh Nail Polish Remover Pads

Each pad is large enough to clean all 10 nails. First, hold the pad on your nail for a few seconds to let it dissolve the polish. Then rub nails with the pad to wipe away the color. I used them to remove purple to make sure they could stand the test to dark colors!

La Fresh Nail Polish Remover Pads

It’s as easy as that! I will be packing these on my spring break trip! I bought mine online at Birchbox here because they currently have free shipping. (They are also on amazon or the La Fresh website.)

While on the topic of nails, here is my new favorite color for spring: OPI’s “Do You Lilac It”. My toes have kept me happy on my yoga mat all week :)

OPI Lilac nail polish

Here’s to happy, healthy nails!! I promise you will love La Fresh Nail Polish Remover, and so will your nails!

La Fresh Nail Polish Remover Pads

Stocking Stuffer Gifts 2012

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A few years ago, I started making stockings for my mom and dad, which was a huge hit! My mom screamed with excitement the first year. So, naturally, the tradition has continued :) Here are some of the things I put in their stockings this year, that you might just want to try yourself or use for a future gift…

Lifefactory  Glass Water Bottle

Somehow, water just tastes better out of these bottles. They are BPA free, made of glass for clean tasting water, and super easy to keep wash! The whole bottle can go in the dishwasher. Make drinking more water a New Year’s Resolution! I’ve purchased them at Whole Foods and on amazon.

Lifefactory Water Bottles

Smith’s Minted Rose Lip Balm

You won’t believe how fresh your lips feel with this balm! I put it on every night before bed. I purchased mine at Sephora.

Smith's Lip Balm

Draft Magazine Subscription

I have given this to both my dad and Andrew in years past and they love it. My mom says this is the only magazine my dad reads cover to cover. So I renewed it for him this year! It highlights everything from new breweries, to best bars, to beer recipes.

Draft Magazine

Potato Chip Chocolate Bar

This sweet chocolate and salty potato chip combo is TO DIE FOR, so I had to stick it in dad’s stocking. I found it near the Lindt and Ghirardelli premium chocolate bars at the grocery store.

Chuao Potato Chip Chocolate Bar

Wine Cork Candles

These “corks” can be stuck in your favorite bottle of wine (once it’s been consumed) and lit to drip down the sides of the bottle. I ordered mine on Uncommongoods.com.

wine-cork-candles

Mustache Food or Drink Picks

Since mustaches are so “in” right now, I had to put some kind of mustache in my dad’s stocking. (Seriously, I’m seeing them everywhere, from T-shirts, to shower curtains, to the hoods of cars!) I found these mustache food picks that I thought my dad could use for olives in his martinis.

Mustache picks

Hope this gives you some ideas for gifts…or things to add to your wish-list!

Loose Tea Strainer

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Since we don’t have leaves that change colors here, one of our first signs of fall is the surfers that start wearing their wetsuits out in the water. This morning, the ocean break was dotted with what looked like little black seals, only a few brave surfers were left bare-skinned. So far, fall has brought us some beautiful sunsets…

As the temperatures cool off, what sounds better than a warm cup of tea? If you are a tea drinker, let me share with you my FAVORITE way to make tea and the strainer that makes it happen. I gave my mom one of these tea strainers for mother’s day and she loved it so much that she had to buy a 2nd one for the cabin. (You can also purchase a similar, cheaper version on amazon.)

Have you discovered the world of loose leaf teas (meaning no tea bag, just a bag of the tea leaves themselves)? My absolute favorite is Blueberry Rooibos from Alterra, a local coffee shop chain in Milwaukee:

Altera Blueberry Rooibos Tea

Generally, the problem with loose leaf teas is that they leak into your mug as you are steeping them so that you have some “nature” floating around in there. I couldn’t seem to avoid this with my old ball and chain strainer. However, this particular tea infuser completely solves that problem and is so easy to use! The mesh strainer does not let any of the leaves through and rests on top of your mug as it steeps:

Loose Tea Strainer

Just fill with a spoonful of your favorite loose tea:

Loose Tea Strainer

Steep for several minutes, depending on the type of tea, and then lift it out when ready:

Loose Tea Strainer

How great is that?? I hope you will enjoy this as much as my mom and I do! And I hope it brings more warm cups of tea into your life this fall!

Just Wink iPhone App

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I finally joined the cool kids and bought an iPhone last month! Having internet on my phone has seriously been a life changer. I really didn’t know what I was missing out on. My friend Kristen introduced me to one of my favorite apps called Just Wink. You should really Just Download it. Seriously. It’s free. Such a great find! With this app, you can send greeting cards through text message (or email to people without smartphones or pay to send a paper card to people with nophones). When you receive the card on your phone, you can “swipe” it open like you open a real card. Who doesn’t love a surprise card from a friend?? The cards range from birthdays to “miss you” to random funny notes. Click the link to my website so you can see the slideshow of cards and how it works:

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Once you pick your greeting card, (which takes awhile because there are so many fun ones!) you can insert a photo, add a message, and even use your finger to trace your personal signature to sign the bottom! It delivers free, instantly, and no concerns about losing it in the mail. Send one to a friend today! Or to me :)