July 17, 2015

Vintage Basketball Party

I surprised Yanni on his Birthday by decorating the house while he went out and played Basketball with a friend early in the morning. Yanni loves Basketball and he is quite talented in it as well. He has an amazing shot and we play one-on-one often. I love Basketball too and played it throughout grade school and a bit in high school. 

His birthday week also coincided with the NBA Final Playoffs, the Cleveland Cavilers vs. Golden State Warriors. He also has an impressive knowledge of Basketball history. Two years ago we went to a College Basketball game and were invited to a dinner before the game started and we sat with a group of older gentlemen who we came to find out were Basketball enthusiast. One turned out to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, High School Boy's Basketball coaches. Yanni had such as wonderful time talking with him and these sweet older men who quizzed him on Basketball trivia. And one of them was a judge and he offered to marry us, that's if we ever decide to. Over 13 years together and going stronger then ever. Maybe the 15 year mark. I knew Yanni would absolutely love a vintage inspired Basketball Party theme. 

So I got to work and began ordering all the supplies I needed and as the boxes came in I snuck them into my studio and he had no idea what I was up to or planning.. The morning he left to play Basketball with a friend I got to work and decorated the living room. When he came home he was shocked. And it worked out because a few weeks later we had a little get together at the house, and all the decorations were up and ready.

One of the most fun parts of planning a party is getting all the sweet treats and favors. I found these great mini bouncy basketball favors and basketball stress balls to give to guests. (See below post for all the details).

I made little toppers for the food, treats, and favors. I handmade these chocolate pops with milk chocolate and basketball hoop molds. I will post a how to soon. I also bought chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, but didn't take photos of any of the food while the party was going on. As the sole photographer, if my hands are tied up doing something else, there are no photos. So these photos are before guests arrived...

My sweet mother sent over some flower bouquets to match the basketball theme of orange and white. I was able to put a few in different areas of the house.

In addition to making the chocolate pops, I also made chocolate covered oreos with orange chocolate basketballs. Those were a hit and all gone in a matter of minutes. Make note, next party make more chocolate covered oreos.

Yanni was beyond happy and that's all that mattered. We served a simple menu of hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and anti-pasto salad. 

Here is a list of Basketball Party favors and decorations and were I bought them:

Basketball Stress Balls
Chocolate Hoop Molds

Basketball Hoop Net Basket (Table centerpiece is a new trash bucket)

July 14, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie

In the summer the last thing you want to do is turn the oven on, but trust me that you will want to with this easy Chicken Pot Pie recipe and it lasts for days, or one day if you have two very hungry adults, ahem. It is crunchy and creamy and I added peas, carrots, and corn so it's healthy, right? Right. It's a delightful summer lunch or dinner.  

What you need:

Box of unbaked frozen pie crust (unthawed first)
3 Cups of shredded chicken (I had left over rotisserie chicken. You can use more or less depending on you preference)
1 cup of frozen pearl onions
1 cup of frozen veggies (peas, carrots, corn)
1 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup of heavy cream
1 lightly beaten egg
1 tablespoon of flour
2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
1/2 Teaspoon paprika

Put some olive oil (about a tablespoon) in a large skillet pan.  If you only have uncooked chicken cook the cut up chicken in the oil until completely cooked (season chicken with paprika and oregano). Once the chicken is cooked, move the chicken out of the pan.

If you are using cooked chicken like I did, then wait to add it till later. 

Add onions, peas, and carrots for a few minutes until they become tender.A dd the minced garlic to the pan with the veggies. Add the chicken stock and simmer. Add the paprika, a little oregano, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle in the flour until it dissolves. Add more if you want it to be a little thicker. Add the heavy cream and stir in. Next add the cooked chopped chicken. Simmer until the sauce and filling is as thick as you would like it to be.

Place one pie crust on a pie dish and pour all of the filling on the pie crust and cover with the other pie crust. Tuck the edges of the pie crust to close the pie. Cut a few little vents on top of the crust. Put it in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or golden brown.

Chicken pot pie doesn't have to be hard to do. This took me only a few minutes to prepare and you can always prepare it ahead of time and freeze it. Thanks for stopping by!

July 10, 2015


I am going through a transition right now. I moved away from a position that I loved doing for many years. It defined me for a long time. I loved the people I worked with, I loved what I did. I knew it so well and I did it well. A big part of my life was my position. I spent a lot of time there, when needed worked weekends and nights. I could see myself doing it for the rest of my life. 

But just when you think you have everything planned and you are going down one road, life takes unexpected turns. These unexpected turns caused me some heartache and even stress at my once beloved position.

Without going into details, the changes were going to be an impact and I thought to myself that my pride and happiness was always going to be first, so when I realized the changes were going to negatively impact me, I stepped away from it. 

I ultimately gave myself two choices and both were going to result in change. One option was to stay and the other option was to leave. And I decided to leave. I didn't have a plan or any idea what I was going to do next. I just knew that whatever it was, it was going to be great because I decided it would be. 

It takes some courage, that I didn't think I completely had, to leave without a plan and it should have been scary, and I will admit it was. We usually stop ourselves from doing something because of fear. We do things because they are safe, not because they are hard. 

But it is when you step into discomfort and into the unknown when you find out what you are capable of overcoming. 

I learned that the position didn't define me. I define me. Things I do everyday define me. My family, my friends, Taekwondo, painting, making jewelry, community service, reading, learning, traveling, experiences, and the list goes on that of things that define me. 

You can always start over. Sure, it's hard to do, and it's not something we all want to do. But know that if you need to, hit that restart button, while humbling, it is refreshing because you get a chance to learn something new.

I believed everything would work out. And it did. After trusting that things will work out and staying positive I went in for another position and was offered it and now I am embarking on something new.

It's exciting to know that deep down inside we are all capable of standing up for what we believe in. When I did that I found the confidence to let go and start a new chapter. It was freeing. It felt like a bird not knowing if his wings will work, but jumps off the cliff anyway. It's faith that they will work. It's faith that everything will be okay. It's inherently knowing that the wings will work.

I learned that I won't let anyone make decisions for me again. I learned to speak out and up for what I believe in. We should all do that, especially us women. Every time you don't speak up for yourself and for what you believe in you are taking a step backward. Every time you speak up for yourself you take a step forward, you grow, you learn, and you get stronger.

I find that I try and plan and plan. I plan what I am going to do tomorrow, the weekend, and anything else that can be planned, but changes are inevitable, and you can't plan for them. Don't plan everything. Feel comfortable and confident in not planning. Try it this weekend.

Change comes in like the wind from any direction when you least expect it. You can't change it, but you can decide what you are going to do when you are presented with change. I knew change was coming, my two options resulted in change, and I actually went with the biggest change. It was freeing. It made me realize that's it okay to go out of your comfort zone. A friend sent me a note with a quote from Brian Tracy that read:

 "Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new" 

It resonated with me on so many different areas and levels. It inspired me and also comforted me. Your not alone. It's okay to feel uncomfortable and it's okay to feel awkward. It will pass, you will learn, and you will grow.

July 8, 2015

Natural Feminine Care - Update

This post is a bit personal, but something I thought was very important to share with women, as most of us encounter this very often, about every month to be specific. Yes, I am talking about our periods.

I recently read this article from Vice about a 24 year old woman who lost her leg in part of her use of tampons and due to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

You can read the Vice article here.

Unfortunately, tampons that are in the market are not natural, they have synthetic fibers, like rayon and plastic. You know what else? They are made with rayon. Clothes are made out of rayon. Something we use internally should not be made of this material, but most likely it's used because it's less expensive and can absorb more fluid.

It is said that due to these fibers and due to the absorbency of tampons it is an "ideal" environment for bacteria to grow.  Additionally, some women keep their tampons in more than the recommended 3 hours and leave them in overnight.

What is recommend is that if women are going to use tampons they should use 100% cotton tampons.

Dr. Philip M. Tierno, a professor of microbiology and pathology at the NYU School of Medicine who has done research into the link between tampons and toxic shock syndrome, agrees that cotton would be safer. "Toxic shock syndrome may result if a woman has no antibody to the toxin or low antibody. Therefore the synthetic ingredients of a tampon are a problem, whereas 100 percent cotton tampons provide the lowest risk, if any risk at all."

So where can you get 100% natural tampons? Good question and good news. I have been doing lots of research. First, I found out that Jessica Alba's The Honest Company, is coming out with a line of feminine care in July 2015, which will include an organic tampon and a bio-plastic applicator.

In the meantime, I have been using NatraCare 100% organic cotton, which is chlorine, rayon, and plastic free, and biodegradable. I bought them from my local natural market, but they also are available online, like at Amazon. NatraCare also has organic pads, liners, nursing pads, and wipes.

All it took was that article from Vice for me to say no more to unnatural tampons and make sure that my use of natural and organic is not just limited to food, but also all other parts of my life.

I am looking forward to see how The Honest Company's feminine care line will be.

What other types of products do you use? I heard that the Diva Cup is also a great alternative.

Update: The Honest Company natural feminine care line is now available and I bought a few boxes of them (tampons and liners) Can't wait to try them out.

July 4, 2015

Fourth of July Keylime Pie

One of my favorite pies to make is a keylime pie in the summer. For this beautiful Fourth of July weekend I made a natural and organic keylime pie with some some whipped cream and fresh strawberries and blueberries to give my pie a little red, white and blue.

All your need is:

6 Organic limes
1 Can (14 oz) of Organic Unsweetened Condensed Milk (low fat)
1 Organic and Natural Graham Cracker Crust
3 Egg Yolks
1/2 cup of Organic Shredded Coconut
1 cup of organic strawberries and blueberries

You can follow my step by step recipe here.

Pour the condensed milk in a medium bowl, add the egg yolks and mix with a fork, and add the lime juice from the limes. Lastly, add the shredded coconut. Pour the filing in the pie. Put the pie in the over at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Allow the pie to complete cool and then put the pie in the fridge until it is completely cold. Once it cold add the fresh whipped cream, sprinkle coconut on top, and add fresh blue berries and strawberries.

Have a wonderful and peaceful Fourth of July weekend. And enjoy this sweet treat after some yummy grilling.