Friday, November 30, 2012

Torani Holiday Cheers Program!

Before I met NJhusband I was strictly a black coffee kind of girl. No flavor, no milk, no sugar. NJhusband ONLY drank flavored coffee. We only have one coffeepot so we needed to broker a compromise.

Enter Torani syrups! Whenever NJhusband and I would go to our local coffee place, I would see the line of Torani bottles on the shelf and become envious at the endless flavor choices. He always stuck with his tried and true caramel, but curiosity got the best of me and I started asking them to add a pump of this or that to my black coffee. Oh how I didn't know what I was missing all these years!

As part of their Holiday Cheers Program, Toranai sent me two flavors to try out, the Gingerbread and the sugar free Salted Caramel. First up was the Gingerbread. Oh the heavenly smell when you twist open the cap! I may keep this one just to smell! I like more traditional flavors in my coffee, so it wasn't a hit for me there, but I used it to flavor some whipped cream I made to go on my homemade gingerbread and it was DIVINE. If you bake sugar cookies for the holidays, add this to your frosting! Amazeballs!

Next up, the sugar free Salted Caramel syrup. I recently had tried to sneak a store-brand sugar free caramel syrup into NJhusband's coffee and he immediately commented that it had an unpleasant after-taste. He was hesitant about trying another sugar-free syrup, but a little arm twisting and he gave in. I put the sugar free Salted Caramel syrup in his coffee this morning and he LOVED it. He actually thought I was lying about it being sugar free. He couldn't even tell! I have been using it in my coffee all week and can definitely say that this WILL be a new staple in the NJhousehold!

This post was sponsored by Torani and SheSpeaks. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


There were many adjustments NJhusband and I had to make when we first started living together, but our biggest ones were in the kitchen. I don't eat red meat or fish and NJhusband has a few food allergies/intolerances so we each had to learn some new "rules" of food prep. Neither of us wanted the other to give up foods the other loved (his allergic reactions are skin-based not respiratory so contamination would likely not be life threatening in his specific case), so I agreed to steak in my fridge and he allowed a jar of peanut butter on his shelf. That was 2.5 years ago and until recently, we had no problems with our steak and peanut butter existence.

Incident #1: NJhusband loves a good steak.  He always makes it the same way, with a salt, pepper and minced garlic rub. The other day I walked into the kitchen just in time to see him DOUBLE DIP his spoon into my jar of minced garlic and smear it over his raw steak. Eeeew! I shrieked and got completely grossed out at the thought of steak juices mingling with my garlic! Needless to say, NJhusband has learned his lesson and will NOT be doing that again!

Incident #2: This morning while I was making myself a PB&J for breakfast I double dipped the spoon in the jelly AFTER I had put the peanut butter on my bread. That is a major NO NO in this house, due to NJhusband's nut allergy. I will now have to label the jelly jar as contaminated and for my use only. I caught myself immediately after doing it, but I still feel terrible that something I did could make him sick.

I think we each need to brush up on our food contamination skills. I think a Kitchen Nightmares, Heath Inspectors, Restaurant Impossible marathon is in order.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Day in the Life

Sometimes I wonder what on earth it is that I do all day so I decided to take inventory of my day.

6am: NJhusband's alarm goes off. He gets up and lets Orion out. I scroll through my email on my phone.
6:30am: Orion gets his breakfast.
7am: NJhusband leaves for work. Orion and I go back to sleep.
8:30am: Orion decides we have slept enough and comes to my side of the bed and whines in my face until I wake up
8:45am: Grab breakfast, try to convince Orion not to breathe on my plate or steal it.
9am: Watch Jingit ads for money, get my daily Swagbucks points, read through my rss feeder, enter giveaways, make my grocery list and match up the ads/coupons, search for coupons online & print.
10am: Yell at Orion for completely LOSING HIS MIND at the mailman delivering our mail. Sort the mail and shred the junk mail.
10:15: shower/dress/freshen
11am: Let Orion out to run in the backyard.
11:15am Leave for therapy
11:15-12pm: Call my bff on the drive and have girl talk.
12-1: Therapy: Talk about how adoption, social awkwardness in junior high, stubbornness and a completely irrational fear of throwing up in public contribute to my anxiety and panic attacks around other people.
1pm-1:45: Call my husband using the built-in bluetooth in my car, recap therapy and thank him for the millionth time for telling me to buy the model of my car that has the bluetooth feature that I swore I would never use and now can NOT live without.
1:45-4: Run errands. On the days I don't have errands I watch Greys Anatomy episodes on Netflix and cuddle with Orion.
4-5: Orion's witching hour where he wants to play, run outside and chase squirrels.
5pm: unload dishwasher, find all the plates and cups I've used throughout the day and load the dishwasher. start dinner, tidy the house a bit
6:45pm: NJhusband arrives home! Try to get to him before Orion jumps all over him. Lose the battle and patiently wait my turn to greet my husband.
7pm: Sit down to dinner. Try to teach Orion that we want him to quietly lay on the rug beside the table while we are eating and not stand and put his head on the table, drool and softly whine.
7:01pm: Give up and feed Orion so he will stop whining, even though his "usually dinnertime" is 7:15.
7:05pm: Finish my own dinner
7:30pm: Clean the kitchen, get NJhusband's lunch for the next day together, start the dishwasher.
8pm-11:45pm: NJhusband and I play with Orion, watch TV or movies and just try to spend time together.
11:45pm: Let Orion outside before bed.
12am: Orion comes in, gets his "night night" bone and we all go to bed.
12am-6am: Toss, turn and attempt sleep. I am the worlds worst sleeper and both NJhusband and Orion snore so this is no easy task.

Then repeat!

Next up I'll recap Orion's day! lol

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Christmas Wishlist

All I really want for Christmas is to see those two lines on a pregnancy test, but since I have no control over that, I thought I'd list a share a few other things on my holiday wishlist:

I saw Burberry Body perfume in a magazine recently and once I broke the seal on the sample I knew I had to have it. It is pricey, but I just love LOVED the scent.

I have a beloved old school Nook that I do NOT want to get rid of, but sadly it has gotten glitchy lately and freezes every 10 pages or so. I've tried every fix google has to offer, but nothing has worked. I go back and forth on wanting a new Nook since my old one does work, but if I were to get a new one, the HD version is the way I'd go. I think you can watch Netflix on it too! Love.

Being a stay at home wife means I don't have a need to dress up (or really even dress!) much. I stay in my yoga pants and t-shirts FAR FAR too often. I really want to try and step it up at least a little for my husband so I'd love some cardigans like this one from Athleta. Actually almost ANYTHING at Athleta would be on my list! I heart that store!

What is on YOUR list??

*None of these companies know anything about me. I just wanted to share my holiday list and hope that my husband would take note. LOL

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Recap

We started the day off celebrating NJhusband's birthday. I made cinnamon rolls (from the can...sorry dude I couldn't imagine cooking another thing from scratch on Thanksgiving day) and gave him his presents. He was thankful for the practical PJs, but FLIPPED about the remote control helicopter I got him. He had been wanting one, but those things aren't cheap but I found a KILLER deal on Amazon (regular price $120 marked down to $20!) so I snatched it up for him using my Swagbucks.

His birthday quickly turned into "cook a turkey" time and he spent the better part of his afternoon rubbing, basting and monitoring our first turkey. Dinner turned out amazing and I'm enjoying the leftovers as much as I did the day of!

Here is our table:
*tablecloth from Etsy, candlesticks from our wedding (were clear, I spray painted them black for a more vintage/goth feel, silver napkin rings were a wedding present and our napkins are Bed Bath & Beyond*

After dinner we stuffed ourselves with birthday cake and a chocolate bourbon pecan pie (can you say OMG) and Thanksgiving claimed its first sleepy victim:

All in all, it was a pretty great day. Also, stuffing smothered in leftover cranberry sauce...amazeballs.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Against the Tide - Review

Lydia's fluency in various languages has secured her a permanent job with the Navy Yard, but unforeseen circumstances with her apartment lead to her needing to come up with some extra money fast. Enter, Bane, the handsome opium crusader who needs her help translating documents for his cause. 

I found myself pulled into the banter between Bane and Lydia and even more engrossed in the unpredictable storyline. So many times when reading a book you can tell exactly where the story is going, but I found myself taken along for a ride from Lydia's first encounter with Bane through their attack on the opium trade. 

I highly recommend this read to anyone who enjoys an engaging story with a pinch of intrigue and characters with depth and likability. 

Bethany House Publishers provided me a copy of this book to review, but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations and thoughts while reading this novel.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


BIRTHDAY to NJhusband. I'm sorry you have to share your birthday with a holiday this year!

and to everyone else - THANKGIVING! Be thankful, eat a ton and keep an eye on your pets during the holiday season. Mine has already tried to attack the turkey! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Strays

Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays as a kid. Our family gathered at our house (no boring car trip involved!) and we all fit around my parent's large dining room table (no kids table in another room). I loved seeing my mom pour through her recipe books, scrub the house clean, get out her wedding china and go through her ritual of setting the table the night before.

It's true what they tell you, that as you get older you will appreciate your mom more and more. Now that my family is scattered, we don't go to my parents house for Thanksgiving anymore which means I have to plan, cook, clean and set that darn table myself. Including a slightly frantic trip to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy a turkey baster, roasting pan and gravy boat. Bed Bath and Beyond should really assemble a "First Thanksgiving" package for all the crazed people hosting for the first time. They could partner with Advil.

Hosting a holiday IS a lot of work, much more so than I realized as a kid, but truthfully I enjoy it. I have been gathering my recipes for weeks and creating a lengthy "To Do" list for my husband (*newlywed tip: don't write him a paper list, he will lose it and drive you crazy asking "what was on my list again?" 100 times. Write it on the dry erase board in the kitchen. He can't miss it or lose it).

Every year my husband and I invite anyone we know who is a Thanksgiving orphan to join us. This year we have a group of 7, my biggest yet. In the past I've done just a simple boneless turkey breast, but this year we are doing a whole turkey (mostly because it was free). One tradition that the NJhousehold WILL be carrying over from the Thanksgivings of my youth is to have the MEN cook the turkey. NJhusband better put the butterball hotline on speed dial, he is in charge of Operation Turkey 2012.

Hopefully somewhere in all the cooking, cleaning and likely burning of things on Thursday (also NJhusband's 35th birthday!) I will be able to take a breath, grab my camera and remember all the things I have to be thankful for.

Gobble Gobble!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Bridesmaid

Joanna, a young Amish girl from Hickory Hollow, has been a bridesmaid for nearly every girl in town while she waits (and waits!) for her own proposal. She finally meets a man, Eben, who wants to court her, but he lives in Indiana and their relationship must survive the distance without the modern convenience of technology. Joanna's faith in herself, Eben and her religion start to falter. 

The Bridesmaid is my first Beverly Lewis book. I enjoy Amish fiction and overall this book was a hit. I loved the language the author used and how she weaved Amish words and phrases into the story. She created a character out of Hickory Hollow itself, which really made the Amish culture come alive for me. Joanna's struggle with her faith was something I could relate to on many levels. If you enjoyed 27 Dresses and like Amish fiction, this book is definitely for you. 

Bethany House Publishers provided me a copy of this book to review, but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations and thoughts while reading this novel.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Year 1

NJhusband and I celebrated our first year of marriage on Monday.  He took the day off of work and we spent a lazy morning in bed (he made chocolate chip pancakes!) watching a Kitchen Nightmares marathon. Later he picked up our wedding cake replica (we had eaten the top portion you traditionally save back in January) and we took a walk to our local liquor store for some champagne. We topped the night of with ordering in Italian food and watching "Think Like a Man" onDemand, which was hilarious.

We lit our unity candle, just like our wedding vows said and talked about our favorite parts of the wedding and first year (the food, getting our puppy) and our least favorites (snowstorms and hurricanes). I meant to get out our wedding album and go through it, but we forgot.

I hope year 2 brings us a baby, an even better understanding of each other and more of that REALLY good cake.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

9 Days

In the last 9 days I have been through:

A hurricane

Called 911 for a car accident in front of my house (A drunk guy was crazy speeding and hit a bunch of parked cars. Nobody was hurt. He got arrested). 

A gas shortage. I have left the house exactly once to go to a VERY empty grocery store. 

A snowstorm. We got 6" of heavy, wet snow.

A sewer gas leak in the neighborhood that filled the house with a terrible smelling gas. Fire department came (2nd time this week!) and took care of it, but now I am freezing in my house with the windows open to clear out the smell. 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

No sticker...

but I did vote!

My polling place got power back only a few days ago but it was up and running. I voted late morning and was one of the only people there. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sandy - 7 Days Later

It has been a week since Sandy. I am still not receiving mail. 7 days worth of garbage sits on the street still waiting to be picked up. NJhusband's usual 45 minute commute takes 2+ hours because NJ trains still aren't running and roads are still closed. Gas restrictions are in place, but the lines are still hours long and the supply is short. I attempted grocery shopping yesterday and there was a line to get in the store, and then once you were in, there was hardly any food. The bread, meat, water, cheese and freezer sections were completely bare. The only milk option was 1 gallon of fat free. Not my usual size or type, but I snatched it up!

I'm counting my blessings that I have power and heat and internet, but I definitely miss "normal life" and wonder when I may get some semblance of it back.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Plum Tree

Our next door neighbor is an elderly Italian woman. She doesn't speak too much English  but she has always been kind to us and often bakes us cookies she lovingly lifts over the fence to us. We try to keep an eye on her property for her and check on her during storms.

She recently had a heart attack* and was still in the hospital during Hurricane Sandy. Her son came over before the storm to prepare the house and we told him we would keep a watch out for the house. Unfortunately the storm was not as kind to our neighbors as it was to us. Their shed lost part of its roof and their plum tree fell on our fence and knocked down our trellis.

Yesterday the son came back to inspect the damage and survey the tree. Unfortunately, it couldn't be spared.  That tree was planted by his father, many years ago. You could see the pain in his eyes as he cut it down. He cut the main branches down and threw them to our side of the fence so we could help get them in manageable pieces.  He nicely offered to let us keep the wood to use in our outdoor firepit and we are now stocked for a long while.  I know that each time we use it we will think of his father, Ernesto.

*Our neighbor is fine and is back home recovering now. As our next storm hits we will be watching out for her closely. Though we are neighbors, oddly enough we are on different power grids, so if one of us loses power, often the other has it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy NJ Update

Thankfully NJhusband and I got through the hurricane with no damage or flooding to our home or cars.  We did have to spend a few days clearing up branches and debris from the yard and we will need to address with our neighbor a tree of theirs that fell on our fence, but aside from that we are fine.  Cell service in our area got knocked out and we are still waiting for that to be restored but these are only minor inconveniences compared to others.

There is a major gas shortage in our area, there is no trash or recycling pick-up, mail delivery is suspended and the stores shelves are bare. My local grocery store was out of nearly EVERYTHING except ice cream. The area surrounding us was not so lucky. Many of the stores and places we frequent are flooded or damaged. Our NJ Path (the NJ version of the subway) is closed indefinitely.

I definitely learned some things about our personal disaster preparedness. We need a battery or crank radio. We should have bought or made more non-perishable food and taken cash out from the bank. We will likely buy a generator in the coming months. Things we did right: stocked up on dog food (thankfully! He eats special food and the store we get it from flooded!)and water, had flashlights distributed throughout the house, checked on elderly neighbors and having a landline phone which ended up being our ONLY means of communication for awhile.

What did you do right and what would you do differently?