Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bunnies & Birthdays!

Happy Spring!

The weather is getting warmer & it's been a busy, busy month already! I haven't shared any pictures lately so I figured I'd share some along with the highlights since my last update. So, here's some pictures & fun stuff mostly from Easter & Andrew's birthday, which we celebrated on Sunday!

Easter was SUCH a great day! From the company to the weather, it was all great from start to finish! My aunt has brunch on Easter & it's always such a beautiful party. She's an incredible hostess & the food, atmosphere & decorations are always immaculate. In addition to the beauty of it all, there was lots of family time, laughter & memories made! Definitely a great start to the day!

After brunch, we went to my in-law's house for dinner. We had a delicious dinner & my husband, my brother in-law & their cousin went outside to play lacrosse... Which was very, VERY entertaining to watch. It was more like pickle-in-the-middle/tackle football/soccer/baseball-lacrosse.... No eyes were poked out, legs broken or windows smashed so I'd call it a successful game! We then had some dessert which Andrew & I crafted the night before.

The Bunny Butt Cake!
My mother-in-law has ALWAYS made a bunny cake for Easter dinner. It's been tradition since my husband & his siblings were kiddos. Last year she had to work the night before Easter & she didn't have time to prepare the bunny cake. I volunteered to make one, but I knew I'd never be able to make the cake the same way she did. She's clearly the master at that & I knew a different variation of the bunny cake was required. Thank god for Pinterest! I found this recipe for an adorable bunny but cake! & it was SUCH a hit! She asked that I make it again this year & I have a feeling I might be making one next year too! The only deviationsare the "fence" which I made with wafer cookies & some frosting to make it stick. It helped the cookie crumbs stay in the cake carrier. Also, the pads of the feet are pink marshmallows I found in the bulk aisle & I didn't use pink frosting. Adorable, right!?

Speaking of cake! My wonderful husband's birthday is Wednesday. We had a family dinner at our house Sunday & it was so great to have everyone over! I made pizza, breadsticks & my mother-in-law brought salad for dinner. It was quick & easy which was really what I was going for. :-) I made his birthday cake as well. There's just something so special about a homemade birthday cake, isn't there? Store-bought is great too. But, a cake made especially for you is just the sweetest part of a birthday! Maybe this is my inner child who had years & years of Disney, Pokemon, boy band cakes, speaking, but I definitely want those I love to have the gift of a personalized, special cake! ...Even if I'm not exactly a baker.  I'm pretty proud of how it turned out! It's a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. 

So delicious! & I managed to decorate it without making a complete mess of the frosting! Success! Ha. The family time was great. Lots of laughing & silliness always ensues with my in-laws & my dad! SUCH a great night. I think the birthday boy had a pretty good time too.... Even though he looks a bit grumpy here. :-)

Anyway! That's all I've got for now! Until next time!

Monday, April 28, 2014

DIY: Freshen Up Old Wall Art

Hey, there!

Looking for a quick, easy, cheap DIY project? I have a PERFECT project for you.

A few weeks ago, while going through the closet in our spare room, I found 3 painted canvases given to me by a coworker. I wasn't a huge fan of them initially but I'd hoped I'd find a place for them at some point... Yeah. Guess that place was the closet. So, after rediscovering them this weekend, I decided it was time to finally use them.... With some modifications.

 I knew JUST the spot for them too!

I recently moved our kitchen around & in doing so, created a little "coffee area" with the keurig & some hanging mugs. It's cute, but it's on top of a mini-pantry & there was a good amount of blank wall above it.

The picture above was taken before the kitchen was moved around, but it still gives you an idea of the space.

Anyway, here's what the 3 pictures looked like before:

Not really my style. So, after a trip to Michael's & about 10 bucks later, I had all the supplies to change these babies into something I'd want to hang up. Here's what you'll need to pull off something similar:

First thing: canvas artwork. It can be anything. I suggest something with a lot of color that will contrast with whatever color spray paint you use. The dollar store has some cheap & relatively cool options. I've had luck with canvas art at Big Lots recently & you can even check your local Walmart too because I guarantee they've got a selection of canvas art at a decent price. 

Once you've got your artwork, stop into your local Michael's (in the scrapbook/stamp aisle) & get a few of these. I absolutely LOVED the honeycomb design on this Make Me Pretty Stuff template. It's a bendable plastic material & it's super easy to work with. These were the largest templates they had at my local Michael's & they were 4.99 a piece. They had a bunch of other designs & I literally loved every single one of them. The winning designs were picked using eeny miney moe so you know they're good. :-) Don't want to spring for templates like these? Make your own! Poster board or card stock & an exacto knife can absolutely create the same effect with a much, much smaller price tag. Bonus points for creativity too! 

The next thing you'll need is some spray paint. I always have spray paint laying around because on a regular basis I ask my husband to paint things red or black for me. Don't even ask. Just know that my house has a LOT of red & black... 

I'm a pretty big fan of rustoleum spray paint. It's so easy to use, the color lasts & in my experience, the colors are vibrant & pretty. 

Anyway, I suggest taping the corners of your template to the painting. Do it in a way that doesn't interfere with the painting itself. We taped off the sides of the canvas. Then you just spray paint evenly over the canvas/template. I had to do 2 coats so depending on how thick you spray, you may have to repeat this a few times. 

The finished product was pretty snazzy. I really love the fact that our artwork is custom & it matches my kitchen really, really well! Plus, honeycomb! SO OBSESSED. 

 As you can see, I only ended up using 2 in the kitchen, but the 3rd has found a place in my office. The starburst design is pretty fun. I think maybe there's still too much of the background showing. But, my husband thinks it looks great, so I figure it's good enough for now. :-)

I'm so happy with how quick, easy & cheap these were. It's a super fun way to add a personal touch to an otherwise undesirable canvas painting! Not to mention, it was a really fun project for a warm, Saturday afternoon while cleaning the garage!

Check back in a few days for a post about another fun DIY project we've finished recently! <3 p="">

Thursday, April 10, 2014

5 Green Smoothie Recipes You'll Love

I've mentioned before my obsession with "green smoothies" which are basically just fruit mixed in with some greens & other good stuff & turned into a healthy, nutrient-packed drink. I religiously skip breakfast. It's not intentional, I'm just not a breakfast person. I don't really have time in the morning to sit down to a mean. I'm also not a huge fan of most breakfast foods. Green smoothies are perfect on the go & they're a nice alternate for coffee - they pack a punch without the inevitable drop in blood sugar.

Getting started with green smoothies is kind of scary. I know I was so intimidated by the thought of drinking my veggies. Also, I couldn't imagine how fruits + greens could possibly equal something I'd like to consume in liquid form. I totally get it, folks. They're also not too pretty. Unless you really like the color green, the color is pretty unappetizing at first. But I assure you, they're good & good FOR you.

I should mention that investing in a strong, pulsing blender is a definite MUST. I use a Ninja & I absolutely love it. You can get them for a reasonable price at Target, Walmart & Bed Bath & Beyond. Any high-powered, ultra-durable blender should work though.

Here's a few of my favorite, tried & true smoothie recipes.

Banana Oat Smoothie
1 cup of spinach or kale
1/4 cup of rolled oats
1 tablespoon of agave nectar or honey
1/4 cup of greek yogurt
1 large banana
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1 cup of Ice

Note: Make sure you're blending this REALLY good. The oats make it kind of gritty & a few extra pulses in your blender will help tremendously! Also, if you have time, soaking the oats in some almond milk for about 1/2 an hour can help eliminate that grittiness.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie
1 cup of spinach or kale
1 large banana
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup of greek yogurt
1 cup of ice
1 tablespoon of agave nectar or honey

Blueberry Orange Green Smoothie 
1 cup of spinach or kale
1 orange, quartered & peeled
1 1/2 cup of blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1 cup of ice

Coffee "Ice Cap" Green Smoothie
1 cup of spinach
1 tablespoon of instant coffee (or espresso)
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1 medium banana
1 cup of ice
Sugar to taste or agave nectar for sweetness

Note: I don't think kale works with this one. I feel like the flavor is too strong. But if it's all you have on hand, it can definitely work.

Lucky "Leprechaun" Green Smoothie
1 cup of spinach or kale
2-3 mint leaves
1 banana
1/2 cup of almond milk
2 tablespoons of agave nectar or honey
1 cup of ice
1/4 cup of vanilla greek yogurt

I hope I've helped you add some new recipes to your "arsenal" of healthy smoothies! Let me know how these work for you! :-)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Hey, Friends!

This recipe is fairly simple & also, fairly healthy! The best part is that it's filling & completely meatless which is ideal since Andrew & I have been trying to incorporate a meatless day into our diets! This is one all veggie dish that does NOT feel like a veggie dish. I'm not a fan of being hungry an hour after you finish eating so I'm on the constant hunt for filling, tasty meals that do not include meat. This recipe definitely fits the bill, but I wouldn't say it's TOO healthy since there is cheese in it. If you want to make it a bit more healthy, just cut out the parmesan cheese. Even with the cheese, myfitnesspal rung this up as 350 calories. Not too bad for a light dinner! Try it out tonight!

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms 
2 Portobello Mushroom caps, cleaned & dried
1 red bell pepper
2 small, white onions
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of feta cheese
3 cups of spinach
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper


Set broiler to high & line a pan with aluminum foil.

Rub the clean, completely dried portobello mushroom caps down with some olive oil. Sprinkle salt & pepper on top & place them on broiler pan. Put them in the oven for about 3-5 minutes for each side.

Thaw spinach (if frozen) or, chop fresh spinach into think slices.

Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Soften the onion & the red bell pepper. Add in salt, pepper, spinach & garlic. Stir to combine & cook about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat & add cheeses. Stir until cheese is incorporated into mixture & melting.

Evenly distribute the filling into each mushroom cap. Place the filled mushrooms back into the broiler for about 2-3 minutes until top of filling is golden brown & bubbly.

Note: I served mine over asparagus that I drizzled with olive oil, salt & pepper & thew in the broiler for about 5 minutes. Super delicious & everything is just so pretty & colorful on the plate!

Let me know how you liked this! It's definitely a favorite at our house now! :-)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

12 Original Date Night Ideas

I'm always looking for fun things Andrew & I can do together. The same old, same old dinner + movie dates are fun, but sometimes you just need a change.

 We're goofy by nature & we really enjoy playful, silly dates. Considering we're not independently wealthy & we live in an area with weather that doesn't always cooperate, using our imaginations is key! Here's some ideas we've compiled!

Wine Tasting... In Your Kitchen -- If you do not have the fortune of being located around wineries, you shouldn't deprive yourself the chance to "wine taste." Go to the liquor store & pick up sample bottles of wines & beer. (To make it fun, I normally am drawn to wines with quirky names...) Take 'em home, pour yourself some samples & vote on your favorite one.You can even skip the liquor store & buy samples online. I suggest pairing with chocolate or cheese.

Do You Want to Build a Snowman? -- Playing outside in the winter is NOT just for kids! Take your love outside & make snow angels, build a snowman or have a snowball fight!

Share Chocolate-Covered Strawberries, Champagne in the Bathtub -- Chocolate is an aphrodisiac. But, c'mon. Do you really need one when champagne is involved? Plus, taking a bath together is just romantic as can be. Don't forget the candles & soft music!

Have a "Chopped" Style Meal -- Hit up your local farmer's market/grocery store for a total of  5 ingredients that your spouse must cook with. The crazier, the better. Your spouse, meanwhile, picks a basket of ingredients for you to cook with. (I suggest one spouse makes dinner, the other makes dessert) Once home, try & turn the ingredients chosen for you into a meal for both of you! The spouse who makes the most delicious meal is the winner!

Garden Together -- Head to your local nursery or home improvement store for plants & supplies. Working together towards a common goal is so much fun & getting dirty together can only be fun, right? I suggest following this up with date idea #3!

Volunteer Together -- Not only will you be bonding, you'll be saving the world together! Don't know how to volunteer your time? I suggest checking out volunteer opportunities at your local animal shelter, maybe become a big brother/big sister, consider helping out your local Red Cross or best yet, look for opportunities to help out Habitat for Humanity. I've volunteered with Habitat before & it's fun as well as rewarding.

Play Laser Tag -- Lasertron is a blast! What beats running around in the dark, giggling, dressed in goofy gear chasing each other in a flirty game of laser tag?! Not much!

Have a Grill-Off -- If you're burger crazy, this is the date night for you! Both of you create a pair of burgers. How about a caprese burger? How'd you like a cheddar-stuffed burger? The possibilities are endless. Whoever creates & grills the best burger wins!

Visit Your Local Theme Park/Carnival! -- Any adrenaline junkies out there? If you like to scream while being propelled down a hill at insane speeds & being high up in the air in a cage, then this one is for you. Theme parks are full of exciting things to do, junkfood & sometimes, if you're lucky, a water park! I suggest sharing a plate of fried dough & cuddling up in the ferris wheel to add some romance to the adrenaline rush!

Make a "Themed" Dinner! -- Need some suggestions? Try fiesta night (tacos, margaritas, a pinata would be fun too! Maybe try some Mexican chocolate or even Churros or Flan?!) Italian night (spaghetti & meatballs "Lady & the Tramp" style, a good bottle of wine & possibly biscotti with coffee for dessert?)

Take an Art Class -- Even if it's just 1 class. Learn some basics, get some supplies, take your newly acquired skills home & draw/paint each other. Think Titanic style.

Read a Book Together in Bed -- Hear me out. I'm not talking about Harry Potter. (Although TRUST ME. I LOVE me some Harry!) I'm talking trashy, mushy, paperback, "romantic" novels. You can skip the filler & get right to the raunchy stuff. Sure you'll both do some giggling but, trust me. It'll set a mood.


Happy Saturday!

I've realized that since I mostly post about things that have happened & little about myself, it's time I share a bit more about me. I considered doing this in just paragraph form, but it sounded so awkward & I'm awful at talking about myself in essay form.... So, here's my in detail About Me in Q/A form. :-)

Just a thought -- This quirky Q/A would be fun to use in social environments for friends or spouses! I've always been into Q/A "Getting to Know You" exercises. If you're like me, feel free to use some of these questions the next time you want to get to know someone!

Do you play a musical instrument, if so which one(s)? A bit of piano & I played clarinet for 6 years.... I haven't played it in as many years though.

What is most memorable about your high school years? I learned a lot of lessons. I made some lifelong friends & I met my husband! Not to mention I got to sing, act & go to tons of sporting events... & I didn't pay taxes. So much fun, so little responsibility.

Where do you want to retire? My grandparents retired to Florida & they love it. I've always pictured us retiring to Florida as well. But I love California so much too so I wouldn't be upset with moving to SoCal!

Where would you live if you could live anywhere? The South/South West. I hate winter. But I LOVE Buffalo too much. Plus the vast majority of my family lives in WNY. Andrew & I talk about moving, but I don't know if I could ever actually pull it off. Haha.

Where is the best vacation you've ever had? La Jolla, California! Our unexpected little honeymoon!

Where would you like to visit someday? Europe! Specifically Italy, Ireland & France. So much history, so much beauty!

Who is your best friend? My husband. My sister. My high school best friend.

Who are your favorite musicians? The Beatles, Billy Joel & Elton John, Ingrid Michaelson.

Who were your biggest influences growing up? My grandmothers.

What are you most grateful for? My happy marriage. My health. My family.

What do you most often pray for? Family, my husband, a healthy pregnancy/baby.

How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as someone who was a great wife & hopefully mom & someone who loved deeply & openly.

What material possession do you treasure most? My wedding ring. It is so sentimental to me. It represents our marriage & the vows we took. Plus every time I look down at my engagement ring, I go back to the amazing day when Andrew asked me to be his wife.

What was your favorite subject in school? History & English! Reading has always been a favorite pastime of mine & both subjects required a whole lot of reading.

What is your favorite season and why? Fall. It's beautiful. Plus, apple cider, pumpkins, hay rides, haunted houses, our anniversary, cool (but not freezing cold) temperatures FOOTBALL season! .... Just the best season ever!

What is your favorite home cooked meal? I'd have to say a nice, juicy steak from the charcoal grill with baked potato! Mm. Or, if I'm being healthy, stuffed portobello mushrooms.

What is your favorite sport to watch? Football! Go Bills! Football is always made better by AMAZING appetizers & game day food! 

What is your favorite meal to splurge calories on? Five Guys Burgers! Mmm. Or for a nice night our with my husband, my favorite local restaurant is Mericana in Lockport.

What is your favorite time of day? Evenings with my husband. I love having him home & eating dinner together. Plus, our "couch time" is the most relaxing part of my day!

What is your favorite color? Red & I'm also strangely attracted to gray. This obsession with gray & red really comes through in my decorating!

How many siblings do you have? 4 siblings, 3 sisters & a brother + 3 step brothers. It's always a full house!

Which Pinterest Board Do You Post to Most Often? Lately it's been my "La Casa de Breen" board which is primarily ideas for our future houses. I'm obsessed with house-related stuff these days! I absolutely CANNOT wait for the day when we get to build/buy our dream house! We really enjoy DIY projects & I love decorating so a new house is literally like a creative goldmine to me!

Have you ever been in a musical drama or play? Lots. I loved theatre & plays as a teen. I did a whole bunch of plays & musicals through my school & the community theatre. I miss it so much & hope that someday I'll be able to get back into it!

What Is Something You Hope to Achieve in 10 years? Buy a house. Have a baby or 2. Get a new job.

If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be? This one! 24 is great. I'm young enough to have fun & feel justified in my spontaneous, silly ideas but old enough to be taken seriously. There's so many years ahead of us & the future is an open book! It's just such an exciting age, full of possibility!

I love questionnaires! Not only are the informational, but they're also pretty fun to answer!

Briefly, on an unrelated note, I'm working hard on the functionality of the blog. As much as I loved the look of the blog before, it was cramped, hard to read & a bit lacking in accessibility. Hopefully the upgrades & the hours of work I've put into it will help! I've got a few recipes/DIY projects lined up so hopefully there will be lots happening here within the next few weeks!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


I've taken a few (okay, like 5 months) off from blogging. I've actually been trying to limit my social networking in general. With the exception of Pinterest. I know better than to ever try quitting Pinterest....

Basically, I've been having a hard time coping with life these days. A lot of it is a bad attitude & I know that's my own issue to fix. But, it's also been a pretty rough winter. I've been focusing a lot of energy into turning my attitude around & focusing on my blessings. It hasn't been easy but I really feel as though I'm on the other side of it. First on my list, get back into blogging!

Without re-reading all the entries I've made so far to confirm this, I'm going to assume that I haven't mentioned how much I've always loved writing. As a child & as a teenager I consistently kept diaries jam-packed with my thoughts & ideas, my opinions & random happenings in my day-to-day life. As an adult I enjoy reading them back... Even the tough entries give me a lot of perspective into what made me who I am today. I truly think that kind of self-reflection is important in personal growth. I'm striving to overcome my struggles. I am & have always been stronger than any adversity I've faced. It's nice to be reminded.

Nowadays it's harder to find the time, the motivation & the inspiration to write. My thoughts are more scattered, but much more repetitive & because of this, seemingly lacking of interest.  My work, bills & the challenges of my daily life block that imaginative, inventive part of my brain that used to nearly consume me day & night. I used to lose sleep just writing poems, nurturing my craziest thoughts, ideas, dreaming up stories, asking questions, seeking answers, researching, wondering, dreaming... I don't do that anymore. I really, really, REALLY want to start again. (Not the losing sleep part.)

In conclusion, I'm going to seriously, honestly try to blog more often. No pressure. Just gotta let it flow.


Quick catch up of the last few months.

1) Andrew started his apprenticeship! It's going to be a lot of work for him over the next 5 semesters, but he is SUCH a hard worker. I'm so inspired by his determination & his work ethic. God could not have blessed me with a more incredible man as my partner. Even though he's had crazy amounts of homework & on Thursdays & Fridays he works 8+ hours  & then goes to school for 4 more hours, he's never complained. I just... I can't even stress how amazing this man is. I love him so unbelievably much.

2) It has been the worst winter ever. Buffalo had 2 blizzards. Both of which were terrible. M&T has had "snow days" but this winter I've been let out twice for inclement weather. The crazy amounts of snow, the sub-zero temperatures & the dark, grey days have just been the worst. I'm so glad spring is FINALLY starting... Even if as recently as Sunday we had a snow storm (10 inches of snow!) I'm cautiously optimistic that we've passed the worst of it. Let spring begin! (...Please!)

3) We started fertility drugs again in October. Not so much luck this time. Actually, no luck at all. After many tests, ultrasounds & 6 months of disappointments & bad news, we've decided it is time for a break. The effects of the drugs coupled with the stress & pressure of wanting to be pregnant month after month has taken it's toll on me mentally & physically. It's definitely time to focus on getting healthy again, spending time together & just enjoying the summer.

Other than that, we've just been trying to spend quality time together in between all our crazy obligations & our crazy schedules. We're trying to eat healthier & make better choices health-wise. We joined a gym. I'm back to my green smoothies & Andrew is on board this time!

Picture time!

My best friend came home for Christmas! So naturally a night out was in order. I also went through a red lipstick phase. I guess I'm still kinda going through a red lipstick phase... I decorated my husband's Christmas presents with construction paper & I put my Christmas tree up the first weekend in November. Uh. I think that's all.

Also in December, I got to become a godmother for the first time! My cousin's sweet, sweet little boy was baptized on December 8th & the asked me to be his godmother! Literally. Best thing ever! He's such a little cutie & I just love him so much! I also get to babysit on a regular basis which, c'mon. It's just too much fun! I look forward to watching Korben grow & learn. I LOVE getting to be involved in his life & I'm so honored to be selected to be a special influence in this wonderful little guy's life! Such an exciting, amazing experience!

Valentine's Day! My hubby & I had a really nice steak dinner. It was a late steak dinner because Andrew had school until 9... But it was nice anyway! We celebrated in a restaurant on Saturday, 2/15. It was nice to actually have Andrew home for V-Day this year! He was in Watertown last year. That sucked.

Okay. That's pretty much all I've got for now. Hopefully I'll be updating again soon! :-)