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before after dad and me

Alright ladies. Can we all agree that men are the hardest people to shop for? Good. Ok so there’s men…And then there’s my Dad.

He is by far THE worst person to shop for. And we tell him this every year. For my brother, I can usually get away with buying him a new button-up from J. Crew or some accessory for his computer. But my Dad? Anything he wants, he goes out and buys it. It doesn’t matter if his birthday or Father’s Day is just a few days away, he pays no attention. It drives me and my family nuts! Does anyone else have this problem with dear ol’ dad?

So after hours upon hours of Pinterest research, I’ve created an ongoing board of out-of-the-box ideas for Dad. And let me tell you, these have been huge hits! If your Dad is anything like mine, I highly recommend you give some of these gifts a try for Father’s Day. I think your old man will be both impressed with your creativity and pleasantly surprised at how much he loves something he never knew he wanted. A man can only receive so many cuff links *gag*

fathers day

1. Baseball Bottle Opener – Is your dad a big baseball fan? But he has every kind of merchandise for his favorite team already, right? Let me introduce you to this bottle opener. It’s made from an actual game-used bat from his favorite baseball team. Now that’s a unique gift. My dad went ape sh** over this!

2. Man Crate – Man crates are great because they cater to every manly interest possible. Sports team? Sure. Meat/Jerky? Sure. Zombies? Sure! And the gifts come loaded in a wooden crate that he has to pry open. This is all-around “Dad”.

3. Craft-a-Brew Beer Brewing Kit – My dad loves beer, but it wasn’t until I bought him his all-in-one beer brewing kit that he learned just how much he loves to brew his own beer. The kit comes included with everything you need to brew a gallon of beer. All you have to do is select the recipe that speaks to your dad’s tastes – Stout, Chipotle Amber, West Coast IPA – they have it all!

4. Framed Picture – The picture above is a photo I snapped of my mom and dad on film. I had it blown up and framed and it literally brought my dad to tears (sorry to let the cat out of the bag, Pops). I have never given a gift that has elicited such a reaction. Just goes to show that the best gifts really do come from the heart. Pick your favorite picture with your dad, frame it, and brace for waterworks.

5. DIY Garden Markers – This was my father’s day gift last year and it was a major hit! He has a garden with about 5 different varieties of tomatoes and peppers, so some plant markers were desperately needed. I sliced some wine corks in half (putting those 5 million corks to use again!), labeled with his plant names, twisted some wire and stuck it into the cork (pre-drilling little holes helps). Easy peasy. For some extra pop, I sprayed the wire with gold spray paint.

I hope at least one of these gifts speak to your dad’s interests! I know dads are hard, but at the end of the day, they are simply happy to be surrounded by their loving family. Make sure to let your dad know just how much you love him!

FOOD, Recipe



When I think of summer, I think of grilling and sangria. Hands down, every time. Sangria is my favorite summer cocktail. It’s so versatile and is something you can change up over and over to suit your taste. What better time than Memorial Day Weekend to try some different sangria recipes? I’m a sucker for peach sangria, so I whipped up a concoction to bring to our weekend festivities. Oh, that’s another great thing about sangria – you can make it ahead!


1 750ml bottle white wine (I used Pinot Grigio, nice and crisp and not too sweet)
1 white peach, sliced into wedges
1 white nectarine, sliced into wedges
1 jigger (1.5 oz.) St. Germain
Soda water to taste
*Note: I doubled these because I have a big pitcher and many mouths to serve!

Of course, as I sat down to write this post (with a fresh glass of my sangria in hand), Southern Living posted their curated Party-Perfect Sangria Recipes. Coincidence? I want to try them all!

What’s your favorite sangria recipe?

FOOD, Recipe



Happy Cinco de Mayo! In honor of everyone’s favorite Mexican-holiday-made-popular-by-Americans, I’ve rounded up my favorite festive cocktails outside of a plain ole’ margarita. Go ahead, spice up your May 5th.

paloma Photo by The Savvy Spoon

The Paloma – Forget limes! Grapefruit and tequila were a match made in heaven. Love this twist from The Savvy Spoon on the classic paloma.

Easy-Michelada-Recipe-1024x708Photo by Real Food Honestly

The Michelada – A cocktail made with beer? Yes please! Real Food Honestly classes up a basic Michelada here with some blood orange juice. Yum!

pineapple-cilantro-serrano-cocktail-3-550x821Photo by Cookie + Kate

Pineapple Serrano Margarita – A tangy margarita with a big kick! How many peppers you use is totally up to your discretion. Me, I’m a risk taker. Cookie + Kate elevates the fresh factor of this recipe with a bit of cilantro here.


BEER, FOOD, Recipe


guinness chocolate stout cake


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Everyone is an honorary Irishman today, right?

I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to post a festive St. Patty’s recipe with everyone’s favorite Irish stout, Guinness. Thus I consulted my trusty friend Mrs. Pinterest (she seems like a female, right?) and found this recipe for Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream. BINGO.

While the finished product was nothing short of scrumptious, I have to admit that I came VERY close to having more than one Pinterest fail moments last night while making this (also, my kitchen looked like a powered sugar bomb went off). I am always ultra-careful when baking. I can just hear Alton Brown or Ina Garten in my ear saying “everything must be exact or it won’t turn out right.” I almost used the entire can of Guinness, when really you only need 1 cup. I mean…every other time I cook with alcohol my general rule of thumb is to eyeball it and maybe even throw a little more in than necessary. Why not? Yeah, don’t do that when you’re baking.

The recipe was more time consuming then your run of the mill cake-outta-the-box recipe, but so worth it. I highly recommend giving it a go!





In an earlier post I mentioned that I embarked on the Whole30 challenge at the beginning of the year. After watching several food documentaries over the holiday, my eyes were opened to all the questionable crap I was putting into my body on a daily basis. This challenge was a great way to redesign the way I look at and consume food. It’s not meant to be a fad diet, it’s meant to bring an awareness to what you are actually putting in your body and to teach you how to make healthy, wholesome food selections.

A very brief overview of the rules: 30 days. Proteins, fresh fruit and veggies are the heart of the meal plan. No processed foods, no added sugar, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no soy, no alcohol. No weighing yourself. Sounds like your typical diet, right? Stop eating all the yummy stuff! But, for reals, you don’t miss it and you feel SO much better. It’s amazing how great natural foods are without gobs of added sugar.

For me, the biggest “challenge” of the 30-day program (besides saying bye-bye to craft beer) was finding new, different recipes every day that adhered to all the rules. It’s easy to get stuck in monotony of what works and what’s easy to make, then inevitably burn yourself out and fall off the Whole30 wagon as a result. A person can’t eat plain ol’ chicken breast all day, every day. You gotta have some spice in your life!

For anyone looking to make a clean start, I encourage giving this program a go. After 30 days of sticking to it, I had lost 7 lbs (and that’s with no exercise). Pretty good right? Of course I don’t advocate no exercise, but the program was more of a jumping off point for me. I plan to post a few of my favorite Whole30 recipes that I have since kept on solid rotation since completing the challenge. Hopefully they will give you some inspiration and encourage you to give it a try, even if only for a week.



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Resolutions Coaster on Zazzle

Two days ago was Ash Wednesday aka: the first day of Lent – a Catholic time of repentance and fasting. Give something up and/or commit to doing something for 40 days.

Regardless of your religious or non-religious affiliations, I think this time of year is a great opportunity to look back on your New Year’s resolutions. We are roughly 7 weeks into 2015… How ya doin’ on your commitments? Still on track on all those January 1st promises you made? Maybe. But most likely not. No judgement!

Here’s where I am with my resolutions:

1. I resolved to eat healthier and live an overall healthier lifestyle. Sugar = pure evil. I started the year by doing the Whole30 challenge and successfully completed it (more on that later). 7 lbs be gone! But since then? Off. The. Wagon. It’s time to get back on. It’s a lifestyle change, not a fad diet. Must repeat to self.

2. I resolved to be happier in my job. I ain’t there yet. But, I have spoken candidly with my superiors at my company about possible opportunities. Maybe it’s time to make a change, maybe it’s time to leave. Either way, I’m exploring options and being open about my desires. If you’re not happy in your career, what’s it worth?

What about you? What have you stuck to? What have you lost track of?

Let’s get back on track together. *Cue “Back in the Saddle Again” by Gene Autry*