Tuesday, January 24, 2012

on choco-caramel bars...

Something sweet for today's good eats Tuesday. How about Choco-Caramel Bars. HUH? So sweet, so gooey, so rich and oh god there goes my waist size steadily going up. This was very simple and a quite treat to make for my boys. And I'm not going to lie they shared one bar together and couldn't eat another bite, hows that for mouth smackin' sweet! 

32 caramel squares or (I used) 1 bag of Kraft Caramel Bits 
1/2 heavy cream
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces chocolate chips

First, combine caramel & heavy cream in a sauce pan over low heat. Meanwhile heat oven to 350 and then start combining the melted butter, flour, oats, brown sugar & baking soda in mixing bow. I just used my hands to mix ingredients together. You should end up with a crumbly mixture. Note: Keep in mind the caramel needs constant stirring so it doesn't burn!
Take half of the oatmeal mixture and pat it down in a 8x8 pan. Once the oven is preheated bake oatmeal for about 10 minutes. After slightly baked take it out of the oven and scatter chocolate chips all over the pan.
Caramel should melt all the way and look like below. 
Now all you do is pour the caramel over the top of the chocolate chips and crumble the rest of the oatmeal mixture on the top of the caramel. 
Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until the edges are brown. Then all you have to do is grab a cup of milk and enjoy the deliciousness.  

Happy sweet tooth ♥A. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

on who I am...

I am...

...aware that even I have hair that can stick straight up when not necessary.

...happy that we finally had ourselves a little shopping spree at Ikea. Doing a tiny makeover to our bedroom + a fresh new rearranging. It needs it. I need it. We need it! Our bedroom has been neglected. Poor thing. 

...proud to say that I'm getting around to changing my name on all my important documents. New driver's license! I was nicely surprise at how quickly I got in and out of there. I feared a long wait. Plus I didn't need to bother the sweet little old lady when taking my picture, the first one we took was just fine. 

...almost done with Lost season one. I know. I'm late with that one, but it didn't really entice me with the whole "plane crashed on a island" when the seasons where on Tv. So here I am watching them on my Kindle Fire. 

...not going to lie when I say that I've bought two different dresses off of Modcloth last week. Thanks a lot Cabin Fever sale. 

...hating distance and missing my family quite a bit. 

...busy with revamping, planning, thinking, reading, crocheting, daydreaming and all the normal life stuff. Does it ever slow down? I could use a little vacation from myself. 

...going to my very first dinner with Bobby's work crew. They are having a belated Holiday Dinner at a very fancy restaurant and wives were invited. Yes, wives :) That's me. And even after finding out from Bobby that most likely I'll be the only wife attending (because I'm cool) I still am very ecstatic to meet his co-workers, get dressed up and eat very expensive food. That's this Friday. Hoping to catch a movie afterwards too. Little date nights are the best. 

...crazy about Sebastian. It amazes me how much love I have for the kid. Everything he does or says or even the smallest facial expression I manage to witness is stored and put into inventory inside my heart & soul. I need to remember it all.  

...jealous of my in-laws who are going to Mexico next month. Mother in law is going to be turning a life altering age (just kidding!) and it's been written in the books that this year will be the year of some R & R in paradise. Boy, does she deserve it! And I'm already looking forward to seeing all the pictures :) 

...constantly reminded how in love I am. Even staying up past 1am putting together our bedroom furniture makes me squeal with happiness. Sigh. It's a great thing. 


Saturday, January 14, 2012

on link love...

Today has been simply marvelous :) Have you ever had one of those days were you accomplish everything that's on that mile long to-do list that you have and with disbelief you didn't even break a sweat?! Yeah, I totally had one of those days. Earlier in the week I suffered from the Mac Daddy of all migraines. I get them every so often and fortunately seeing as I hadn't had one for a good four to five months this one decided that it missed me and gave me all it had. Boy was I hurting. It happened right on my day off and there I was curled up on the couch not even lifting a finger. By the way let me just say hallelujah to my husband. So in honor of a very productive day I leave you tonight with some link love. Enjoy!

Found a new website with neat things, Uncommon Goods.

And off that website I found these brilliant tipping teacups. On my must buy list!

Kaylah's outfit post. Oh my! And with the wintery backdrop, stunning! I want to be her best friend. Stocker-ish? Maybe.

Currently almost through with watching Downton Abby on my kindle fire! Julee got me hooked and I've watched seven episodes in less than two days. Having such a lovely portable device is the greatest, I watched a whole episode as I washed dishes this morning! Win win if you ask me.

Elycia's chevron afghan has me inspired. I would really love to create one of these gems for my living room.

Swooning over this ring I found on Etsy. It's so whimsical!

Vintage mirror set that is most definitely making it's way into my bedroom. Our makeover is happening in one week!

Finally watched Water for Elephants. In. Love. Wish I could travel back in time so I can attend the circus.

Free People's January lookbook is to die for. If only I could win the lottery...a girl can dream!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

on a review: the last werewolf...

The Last Werewolf. Totally not what I was expecting at all and I mean that in a good way. When starting this book I was delighted that the main character was a werewolf because we all know those guys can get over shadowed by the vampires these days. It's starts out with Jake becoming a werewolf and sharing his story with us in a journal. I hope I'm not giving anything away but yes, Jake is the last werewolf and after being alive for 200 years he isn't feeling up to it much longer. On the verge of ending it all he finds out he's the last werewolf around, along with many other interesting details that have in effect been revealed. Jake is a bad guy who eats people once a month, the dude knows his scotch and has sworn off of love not to forget he's amazing in bed but what werewolf isn't right? And I won't really go into the fact that he's come up against an organizations whose sole purpose is to extinct werewolves. 

I know you can't avoid looking at the tittle and comparing it to Twilight but I kid you not it doesn't nearing touch the Twilight saga. This is book is rich in words that are profound beyond anything you might expect. If you're into that sort of thing and are looking for a fantasy book with some intellectual goodness then I absolutely recommend this book for you! 

Happy Reading. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

on good eats tuesday v.2...

After my lousy weekend I wasn't able to do what I had originally planned for this weeks feature so I decided to do something fun & easy and something I've been wanting to make for a super long time. Crab Rangoons!! We love rangoons and every time we order from our local Chinese Take-Out restaurant we always get an order of crab rangoons. It's a must! Well, now you can just make them in the comfort of your own home. Hurrah!

Ingredients: makes about 20 
1 can crab meat (or you can use 6oz of imitation crab if you'd like)
1 block of cream cheese
4-5 green onions, diced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon powdered sugar 
a pinch of salt 
won ton wraps
1 tablespoon melted butter

Add first six ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix. I used my old hand mixer to make things go a bit quicker. Yes, it's really that simple!
Next all you have to do is construct the mouth watering bites. I bought a pack of won ton wraps at Wegmans in the "Asian" isle. However if you're not cool like me and don't have a Wegmans I'm sure you can find them in any Asian supermarket or specialty food store. Lay the wrap down on a flat surface and place a dollop of the mixture right in the center. Have a little bowl of cold water next to you and dip your fingers in the water and moisten the edges of the square. You can kind of see the sheen of the water in the above square. This in turn with help the dough stick together. You can form the rangoon into two different shapes. First you can take the bottom corner and fold it up to the top corner making a triangle. 
Once you make the triangle then pinch all the seams together and your done! The other shape you can make is, what I like to call, the pouch. Forget technical terms here my friend. Here it's called the pouch. 
This one takes a little bit more time but really it's done the same way. Grab all the corners and join them at the top. It will automatically form into a pouch and then pinch all the seams together. Don't forget the step with the water because what's really helps the seams stick together. 
Put these bad boys on a baking sheet then brush some melted butter on top and bake for about 12-15 minutes. I chose to bake them. Baking is just one option, you can also deep fry them. I just was looking for the healthiest route.
When done, pull them out and they should have a nice golden brown look. Two things to watch out for: First, make sure you don't over fill the rangoons because otherwise they will spill out when baking, I know because a few of mine decided to overflow. Secondly, these are really great warm but beware that the filling will still be hot before you try to take a bite! Yikes. I learned this first had also. Burnt. Mouth. Not. Fun.
These gems are great for an appetizer or you can have them as a side like us with our vegetable stir-fry :) Hope you enjoyed this weeks installment of Good Eats Tuesday. Check back next week for a really sweet treat!!


Sunday, January 08, 2012

on life lemons...

When life gives you lemons, squeeze them and make a margarita! Don't you just love that saying?! I saw it on a billboard somewhere I thought it was so catchy. No? Anyways, I don't know about you but my life hands out sour lemons all time. I've been thrown curveballs since I can remember and I honestly don't think I've started to be able to dodge them until recently in my life. The concept of understanding the fact that things happen and that it's never the end of the world was harder than ever when I was a new parent. I was a nervous wreck all the time. Oh.Em.Gee it takes forever to get ready being a new parent and having to remember everything for this tiny little bean and holy crap we're late! That was pretty much my life for at least the first year of Sebastian's life. Freaking out mess. But really I've always been sort of freaking out when things don't go the way I had them written down. One. clean the house. Two. do the groceries. Three. do laundry and fold it. Four. cook dinner & feed my family. Five. give my child a bath. If I found myself only getting to finish one or two of these off my list I'd feel like an utter failure. 

This past weekend is an example. Saturday was a beautiful day and Sebastian was a ball of energy. Bobby got home from work that morning and was in the other room sleeping after working twelve hours and so to keep my sanity I packed us up and headed to my in-laws for the day. Sebastian played with his cousin and in turn released some godzilla energy and I got our wash done. I pushed my to-do list aside for the most part. Sunday I started the day off by doing nearly all of my cleaning and good thing because late morning I got an unexpected call about work and in the end I was rollin' into work to close up my coffee shop. This totally ruined and messed up my day. There went folding clothes, taking down my Christmas three and food shopping. I was discouraged but kept on truckin'. At times you just have to let things go and don't let them weigh on your heart too heavy. Other times you just have to pick yourself up and just keep moving. After work I was determined to go food shopping. I didn't care that it was getting real late and that by the time I got home it was eight. Or that I was super tired and wished I was just on the couch blogging. It's good to realize that pouting about things that you can't control does not do you any good. 

Here's a bit of motivation I give you for whenever you find yourself in the same situations:

1// Don't be too hard on yourself. It's okay to not be perfect. As a parent, a wife or as a human for gods sake! No one is perfect. I think as a society we have a hard time with this even though we say it all the time but do we all really grasp it. Do you really truly appreciate you? Well, please do because your great. This has been tough for me. It's helped tremendously that I have my husband who can see when I'm kicking myself in the face and brings it to my attention. Or when he points out and says hey hun, did you not realize you did all this today...Be nice to yourself. 

2// Ask for help! Okay so I bet some of you are like what? Seriously, ask for help. If not from your husband who will most definitely want to lend a hand (well, mine's pretty swell in that department), ask anyone. Your mom or dad, sister or brother. How about a close neighbor or even a friend. There is always help. Asking for help is A-Okay. Being overwhelmed & stressed is not healthy. Ask for that help in every aspect in life. Work, home or even school. It might surprise you. It has done wonders for me :) 

3// Minimize. Cut down on your to-do list or just spread it out over the week. Less, really is more. Ward against becoming a slave. I know I feel like that. Didn't I just clean the living room? Don't live in the shadow of always thinking you have to have everything together. Set limits as to how much you can do in a day and stick to that. More or less is okay but do it with out feeling smothered. 

4// Take a break. Take it easy. Know when you need a break. Push everything aside if you must and recuperate. Or if things aren't going the way you planned like for me this past weekend, believe that it is what it is. Now and again there is nothing wrong with shrugging it off and telling yourself things will get done when they're done. Right? I mean that the world isn't going to come to an end or your loved ones aren't going to hate you. Just take a breath and move on. Tomorrow is a new day and a new way. 

Well, that's my two cents on that subject. It's been on my mind lately. I'd like to think that you might have felt this way at some point in time and here's me telling you that you are not alone. Hugs to you. 


Thursday, January 05, 2012

on a DIY project...

I've been meaning to do this little project for quite some time. I seriously could use chalkboard paint on everything! Eventually would love to add a wall of it in my future bedroom. Yes, I have my future bedroom all mapped out. Don't judge me. A girl can dream.First you need the following things...
Flour/sugar jar (I got these simple glass jars at Ikea), a sharpie, small paintbrush, stencil, & Rust-oleum Chalk Board paint (find it at AC MOORES). Now I've tried many chalk board paints & spray paints and this one tops all of them. I highly recommend using it for any propose.  
For your stencil you can use anything your heart desires. I happened to find this cute little design via the world wide web somewhere. And yes, that is my Christmas tree still up. Some of us seem to never find time to drag the dang thing out the door. It might still be up for Valentines Day. Yikes..Anyways, once you have your stencil take the sharpie and simply stencil the design onto the jar. You will be covering the sharpie with the paint so it really doesn't matter that it's permanent. 
Next go ahead and mix up your paint. I just used a piece of heavy duty cardboard that I cut into a imagination paint stirrer. Hey, it worked!! Then dip your paint brush into the paint, however, make sure you drip off excess because you don't want to brush on too much paint. Your first coat will look like this:
It will be thin and streaky but don't fret because two more coats will be needed. With it being glass it takes sometime to get it just right. Too much paint and it will drip down the jar. Avoid that at all costs, it will not look pretty. 
Three coasts worked out for me. Use your judgement you might need more. The drying process is pretty quick for this paint. I was able to do three coats in one night and let it sit over night until I wrote on it. The result turned out awesome:
It's something fun to add to the kitchen. I love little do-it-your-own projects that just give things a splash of character! Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did :) Have fun!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

on ten favorites...

I asked Sebastian what his favorite toy of the year was and he showed me this guy. I guess it's the small things in life :) But all jokes aside his imagination soars when he's play with his Toy Story army men! Just the other day he had them all lined up in the hallway ready to battle against dinosaurs. He's a hoot!
I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite things in 2011...

Favorite TV Show: Glee! Although Glee is my number one both Vampire Diaries and True Blood are very close. They are just so addicting and fun.

Favorite Movie: Breaking Dawn (as if you didn't already guess that!)

Favorite Book: The Hunger Games series. This series was amazing. I think I read all three books in a week. I always find myself telling people who are looking for something to read about The Hunger Games.

Favorite Album: Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto. Their music is brilliant.

Favorite Song: We are Young by Fun.

Favorite Food: Pasta Fagoli (my mother in laws recipes).

Favorite Dessert: Pumpkin donuts!! Or really anything pumpkin.

Favorite Caffeinated Beverage: Saxbys White Chocolate Mint Truffle Latte made by ME.

Favorite Restaurant: Piatto Grille. Wild Mushroom Pizza. Mouth. Watering.

Favorite Blog: Dandee-Designs. This is a recent find and I'm adoring the lady behind the blog. She seems like a very crafty down-to-earth mom with a nice family. My kind of peach.

There's my top ten favorite things in 2011, if you'd like to join in I would totally love it! Go ahead and leave a comment or a link.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

on mushroom spinach tortellini soup...

Food! It's still a mystery how I don't weigh 500 pounds but I adore food. Love creating it, smelling it and consuming it, oh the joy. The kitchen, let's just say it's my happy place. Now, one of my goals this year is to cook more (but you're telling yourself I cook a lot already, yes this is true) but I'd like to cook something new and exciting, something exotic or just something I've been afraid to try! Last year (still weird saying that!) for example I baked a pie that was not pumpkin,for the first time. So happy I did!

Today I'll be sharing a recipe that I actually made up :) Mushroom Spinach Tortellini Soup
This soup was invented due to the fact that I bought tortellinis the other weekend with no real plans for them. With it being so chilly out, soup felt like heaven. Here is how I went about this gem. 

4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1- 14oz broth (I used vegetable) 
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves of minced garlic 
1/2 teaspoon dried basil 
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika 
1 package 8 oz cheese tortellini
1 tablespoon cornstarch
12 oz can evaporated milk
2 cups fresh spinach 
salt & pepper 
Parmesan cheese (optional) 

Slightly saute onion, garlic and mushrooms together. Turn down high to medium and then add the spices--basic, oregano & paprika. Constantly stir so the spices don't burn for a minute. Pour can of broth into the mixture and bring to a boil.
 Once it comes to a boil turn heat back down. Next mix one tablespoon of cornstarch in with the cold evaporated milk and mix it well. Then dump it into the pot. This is my little way of making this soup creamy yet cutting down on the fat. Instead of using cream I chose to use the evaporated milk and by adding a little cornstarch, it helps give the soup that creamy texture. Yummy goodness while being healthy as well! 
In goes the spinach. Give it a good stir and then let the spinach cook in the pot for 15 minutes on low just until it's a bit wilted.
 Lastly stir in tortellini and let the soup simmer for a good 10 minutes.
There you have a lovely creamy tortellini soup with some mushrooms & spinach. Add some parmesan cheese to garnish and enjoy with a baguette! Dinner is served. It was really great on a wintery day and the best part is it's nice and creamy without the filling fatty cream to weigh you down. Hope you can try it out. Let me know how you like it :)

This great soup actually helped me Beat the Blues yesterday and if you'd like to also Beat the Blues head on over to Julee's blog where she encourages and inspires us to do something fun, new or different in this dark & gloomy month. Totally needing this extra boost of excitement in my everyday. Thanks Julee!


Monday, January 02, 2012

on a new beginning...

So it's the new year, do you feel any different? I know I always feel just a little more alive than just a couple of days ago. I'm enthusiastic about life and all it holds and just a bit more chipper. It's a nice feeling to have. Here's to a new beginning! Speaking of new beginnings yesterday was the first day of 1,825 that I got to write in my new Q & A Journal.
Isn't it darling? I just love the look of it :) In it is a question that you have to answer for each day of the year and it's set up for five years. Some questions are simple like What book are you currently reading? and some have some thought involved like What famous person would you want to meet for drinks? (well at least that would make me think a little!). 
My mission for this gem is to fill out each day for five years and put it away in a time capsule for my kids and future grand kids to marvel at! Doesn't that sound neat?! I am so giddy about the idea of my grand kids sitting around each other talking about how ridiculously awesome their grandmother was :) 
It's never too late to start one of your very own. I bought mine here

Another new beginning, if you haven't already noticed my new domain. I told you I would for the new year and there it is folks!! Calicotales.com. I'm feeling extra fancy today! 


Sunday, January 01, 2012

on a 2012 list...

I love creating a list of goals and dreams and hopes. It's such a feel good thing! The beginning of a new year is a wonderful time to write down goals that you would like to accomplish, things you would like to do or just silly random fun stuff (above all I really do enjoy the random silly things--here's my goals that I wrote last new years!). I think it's really important to set goals that are doable and that are fun or make you a better person. Start small and instead of saying I want to lose weight try saying I would like to shed 10 pounds by swimsuit season. Or even go a step further and tell yourself you are going to jog at least once a week or cut down on sugar. Whatever you think will work for you! 
I hate when I hear people say they don't do resolutions or set goals. Sad face. There's always something in life that you would like to get done or do and you have to let it be known before you can start stepping towards those dreams. You don't need a blog to map out goals for the year. Write something down on a sheet of paper and stick in on your fridge. Write it in your journal or notebook or calendar. Anywhere. Just do it, inspire yourself to do things that makes you happy. Keep dreaming! 

In 2012...I want to create at least one thing once a month. Whatever it maybe, a DIY project, sewing goodness or crocheting. Set some time aside to make some lovelies. 

In 2012...More date nights. Bobby and I are horrible about setting up date nights for ourselves. This was on last years list and I would love to go on a nice date at least once a month!

In 2012...I've been a bit shy around the blogosphere so this year I'll be less intimidated and more sociable. Oh and not to forget that I want to start doing Vlogs! Eeeekk scary.  

In 2012...Explore Pennsylvania more. Get out there and find new places. Go on more hikes and adventures. 

In 2012...Thrift more! There's so many treasures out there in the world!  

In 2012...Take a photography class and a beginner photoshop class. 

In 2012...Send ten "just because gifts". 

In 2012...Revamp and decorate our bedroom. 

Well, that's my list. Have you made one yet? Go ahead, start out the first day of the year with some fresh new ambitions to get you going!! Happy New Year.