Monday, September 19, 2011

Scrumptious Sunday.....On A Monday

* I try to be a good little blogger and update the blog frequentely, but life is just so stinkin' busy these days, that it's just not possible - so alas, here's what should've been posted yesterday :)

We, meaning M & I are avid consumers of Mexican food. We LOVE it and typically have a Mexican Monday where we dine on  Mexican goodness on Mondays. Lucky for us, there's a new Mexican restaurant within a few miles of my house called Chuy's It is over near Fayette Mall in the building that has been everything under the sun and now, it's Chuy's. It's basically a Joe Crab Shack meets Mexican restaurant. The inside is crazy with tons of wooden fish hanging from the ceiling to a room surrounded by hubcaps. It's definitely a fun, relaxed, don't be afraid to be loud environment, and we were impressed. 
 For starters, their chips are thin, warm and tasty and their creamy jalapeno dip is Uh-mazing!!! I'm a lover of ranch dressing and the combo of ranch with the slight kick of jalapeno is perfect on those thin little salty chips! I ate a bowl of the chicken tortilla soup with a side of guacamole (which is yum!) and M got a burrito. Their portions are HUGE so be prepared to take some home with you! They also serve homemade, fresh margaritas....deeeelish! We enjoyed our meal and their prices were totally affordable; we will definitely be back!!

Happy Mexican Monday,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Whites after Labor Day?!

Here's what Emily Post has to say about wearing white after Labor Day :) I LOVE it because I'm a big fan of wearing winter whites! Thank you, EP for reaffirming my fashion sense! Enjoy!!

Taken from  "Back in Emily's day—the nineteen 00s, 10s and 20s—the summer season was bracketed by Memorial Day and Labor Day. Society flocked en masse from town house to seaside "cottage" or mountain "cabin" to escape the heat. City clothes were left behind in exchange for lighter, whiter, summer costumes. Come fall and the return to the city, summer clothes were put away and more formal city clothes donned once more. It was an age when there was a dress code for practically every occasion, and the signal to mark the change between summer resort clothes and clothing worn for the rest of the year was encapsulated in the dictum "No white after Labor Day." And it stuck.

Of course you can wear white after Labor Day, and it makes perfect sense to do so in climates where September's temperatures are hardly fall-like. Even in the dead of winter in northern New England the fashionable wear white wools, cashmeres, and down-filled parkas. The true interpretation is "wear what's appropriate—for the weather, the season, or the occasion." So on a blistering Indian Summer September day here in Vermont, you’ll catch us wearing our “whites”.

Happy Whites Wearing,

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Scrumptious Sunday: Cream Cheese Frosting :)

* As I sit her watching endless Sept 11th coverage, I debated on whether or not to post today. The day is still so fresh in my mind as I'm sure it is in yours, but with all the sadness, I am constantly reminded of the absolute LOVE of God and HOPE he provides each of us! Here is one of my favorite songs that is such a great reminder of the hope and love we have in this life, even in times of sadness. I decided to go on and post the recipe, but enjoy this amazing song first :)

Scrumptious Sunday
Here's a super quick and super easy way to make homemade cream cheese frosting! I made my first batch this week and used it to ice a cake and cupcakes for a couple's shower I hosted this weekend. Everyone loved it, so here it is:

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 pkgs cream cheese
2 stick of unsalted butter
6 cups of powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon of water (add as needed for desired thickness)

Break up the butter and cream cheese into small pieces and place in a bowl.
Mix until smooth then slowly add the powdered sugar and continue beating until desired whipiness (I'm pretty sure that's not a word, but you know what I mean!)
Ice and enjoy :)
Store any unused frosting in the refrigerator!!

I used this on a lemon raspberry cake and pumpkin cupcakes, but I would imagine it will be pretty delish on cinnamon rolls as well!!

Happy Frosting Making,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Travel Tip Tuesday :)

The absolute BEST way to save mucho bucks when renting a car is to use either Hotwire or Priceline. I cannot begin to explain the amount of $$ I have saved by using these sites! I've never paid more than $25 a day for a car, with most being in the $10-15 range!! Last year, I scored an awesome Volvo sport for $10 a day in Orlando! It was a brand new car, drove AMAZING, and the fact that I was paying so little for it made it even better!
The only drawback, if you can even call it that, is that you do not know the name of the car company until after you book. Every time I have used these sites for car rental in FL, the company ends up being Hertz which is a well-known, well-respected car rental company.
IF you are using the sites and having no luck (this has happened to me ONE time) check with the lesser name, off airport properties. When we decided to go to Disney last year for New Years, we had no clue that car rentals were going to be astronomical. My two beloved sites let me down, with the cheapest rates being  $65 a day for a compact car. Gasp! After going through a bit of a panic, I found a company called E-Z Rent-a-Car The name sounds pretty ghetto and I'll admit, I was a tad nervous, but we scored such a great deal we decided to take the chance and book it! After a quick shuttle ride, we were at their offices and they set us up with a great Camry that was in excellent shape... We had absolutely zero problems with the car, or the company, and I would definitely feel comfortable using them again!! We did pay a tad more than I usually pay with my two "go-to's" but with it being NYE and with the bowl game, it's a miracle we were even able to score a car.
I really cannot say enough about the love I have for these two sites, especially with car rentals! They have saved me SO much money and I've seriously never been disappointed with the result!!

Happy Car Renting,

P.S. I think I may have discovered the BEST and absolute EAISEST homemade cream cheese frosting! I just made my first batch and I'm SO pumped at the result! If my "testers" love it like I think they will,  it will definitely make next Sunday's 'Scrumptious Sunday'!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Scrumptious Sunday

In lieu of posting a recipe and in response to the super unhealthy dessert from the last Scrumptious Sunday, I want to share a link to a website that provides lots of tasty, delicious, alternatives to normal fattening, unhealthy eats. The lady is called Hungry Girl, and you may have seen her show on the Food Network. I was introduced to her a few months ago and I simply LOVE LOVE LOVE her! I'm on her  email list and she always has great options for making unhealthy treats, diet friendly. Now, I will say that I am very big on using as natural things as much as possible and I try to avoid fat free anything, which she recommends quite often. However, most everything she says to use fat free, you can use low-fat so that you're not filling your body with all of that preservative nonsense. This week, she provided lots of great options for peanut butter and bacon and if you know and understand my love for PB, you'll appreciate this as well :)

Happy Healthy Eating,
Ash :)

Chance encounters....of the God kind :)

Note: I don't usually share super "personal" things on my blog, but I love when God just shows himself to us, and uses his children when we think/feel we are "least usable."

I'm going to be brutally honest for a minute. The last month of my life has been rough; particularly the last 10 days. I hate to complain, because I hate when people complain. But, the rest of this story will not make sense unless you realize where I'm coming from.I have dealt with endless drama with my foot (it was way worse than orginally thought), one of, if not THE most challenging year of teaching yet, sickness, and just plain days of where everything seems to go wrong. Everything.
Thursday was my breaking point after going back to the foot doctor for the ump-teenth time and being told that I couldn't work on Friday, had to be on crutches, needed PT, and would be out of commission for at least another 2 weeks. I'm supposed to be running a half marathon at the end of November and now I cant even walk on my own 2 feet for the weekend and I cant even begin to start running until the end of September?! What?! You're kidding me, right?! No, she wasn't and by 2:30 pm I was done. I was at whits end, thought I was going to punch something because my frustration level had reached its max.
M was going to the UK game in Nashville with some friends and told me I should just try to come along since I wasn't allowed to work on Friday anyway. I could sit in the stadium, enjoy a game, and enjoy being out of my house for the night. I've been on strict orders to rest my foot when not at work, so basically I have come home from work and sit down and do nothing. This has gone on for a month and as you can imagine, it's gotten old, really old.
I thought going to Nashville would be a good idea so I began to pack. While packing, I realize I had left one of my most favorite white dresses (which I wear to UK games in the warm months) in Mexico and I just began to cry. Any woman, or man for that matter hates losing a beloved piece of clothing and by Thursday, it was just one more thing added to the list of things going wrong. I just prayed "Lord, give me strength, I need it, because I'm at breaking point."
Fast Forward to the end of the third quarter of the game. I had been sitting since it started, it was a million degrees in the stadium, UK was playing horrible and we were seated around some pretty obnoxious, annoying people. I just couldn't take it anymore. I told the crew I was leaving, that I just needed to go to bed. I needed a new day, a new week even, because obviously, these past 10 days, had just not been on my side..... Again, fighting off tears, I hobbled out of the stadium and got in a taxi van with 2 sweet older women from WKU.
This is where my, what I like to call  "God ordained encounter" occurred. After realizing I was hurt, she asked me what happened, then revealed to me that she was recovering from a broken shoulder. Since I suffered from one several years ago, I was able to share some things that worked for me while I was recovering. As we pulled into their hotel, she thanked me for providing her with such helpful hints and then told me she was glad I happened to be in the same cab as she because she had been trying to figure some ways to help her get back to normal. It made my night a tad better to know I had helped someone out and her warm smile and well wishes made me smile.
As they left it was just me and the taxi driver. If you've ever ridden in a taxi with me, you know I like to talk to the drivers. I cant stand that awkward silence, but that night I wasn't in the mood to socialize. However, something in me, (which I now know was God) said to ask the driver where he was from. I did, and he replied "Ethiopia." "Ethiopia!" My fact lit up. I LOVE Africa. Ever since I was in highschool, I had dreamed of going to Africa.... I finally got to journey there in 2008 and I now sponsor a young girl from there. So basically, when I meet people from there, I get excited!
"I know a few people in the process of adopting from Ethopia," I told him. "Really?!" he said with a huge grin. "Yes! In fact, I've been to Africa. Not Ethiopia, but South Africa and Malawi." "Wow!" he said and we spent the next min or two talking about Africa. It's as if he never really had anyone care about the fact that he was from there. That he had always wanted to share about the amazing continent from which he was from, but no one cared to ask. Our talks about Africa led into talks about his family and his two precious children. He explained how although life in Ethiopia was hard, life in America was hard as well. We discussed the starvation of so many children in Africa and how so many Americans are just so wasteful sometimes. He told me they have no one to help with their children at home because their family is back in Ethiopia, but that overall life in America is better for his children so they will stay.  By this time, we had arrived at my hotel and my near tears had faded. I knew, at that very moment, that God had used me (in all my hot mess of emotions) to share His love with this man. That although my day and week had been awful, that this man needed me to listen to him and share in his life; if even for an 8 min cab ride..... I reached in my purse to find the $20 Michael had given me at the stadium and I couldn't find it. I panicked and he said, in his broken English "No worry! No worry! I cover it for you." I knew the money was in there, I knew he needed it way more than me,  and I quickly prayed again, "Lord, I need to find this money!" I found it and gave it all to him. He went to give me change and I said "No! You take every bit of this extra money and buy your sweet babies a gift." Although it was only an extra $12, it was all I had, but once again his face lit up like a child on Christmas morning. "Thank you! God bless you! God bless you!" He repeated over and over again as I left the taxi....
Even in my worst day, the moment where I thought things were totally unraveling in my life, God used me. He placed me in a situation where I was able to bless someone, and in return, I was blessed. Ten-fold. Suddenly I knew that my bad day had a purpose all along. Had I not been at that game, and I not be annoyed, had I not be exhausted, I wouldn't have left when I did. And had I not left when I did, I more than likely would not have been in that taxi and met him, nor the lady with the broken shoulder. Even on our awful, terrible, horrible, no good very bad days and weeks, God can and WILL use us. He will also place people in our paths who simply make our hearts smile- just when our heart is so longing for a smile :)