Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thankful Thursdays

I came across this link up on one of my new favorite blogs to read (and not just because the layout has leopard print!), Greer's Gossip, and knew it would be a sweet way to reflect upon the past week. Things can get crazy over here with classes, work, photography shoots/ meetings, and just life in general, so this is a nice way to sit back and take solace in what I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for my husband. This may be a no brainer but we've been through so much together, good and bad, and we always come out on top. There's a line from "our" song by Snow Patrol titled "Chasing Cars" that says "We'll do it all, everything, on our own. We don't need anything or anyone." And as abrasive as that may sound, it's the truth. Because we have each other, we can conquer the world (insert menacing laugh here).

I'm thankful for the opportunity to finish my degree in English Literature. This may refer back to my first thankful note but because I have such an amazing and supportive husband, I've been able to switch up career paths and pursue a Bachelor's in English Literature. I'm set to graduate in December and I couldn't be happier or more proud of myself for following through.

I'm thankful for Mr. TL & my photography business that has taken off in a way we never imagined possible. We have 25 wedding booked this season alone (plus the boudoir I shoot on the side!) which is triple the number from last year. We may be exhausted at the end of the year but we have our eye son the prize - a big, delicious HOUSE that we'll be purchasing at the end of this year. Buckle your seat belts!

What are YOU thankful for? Head over to Our Family of Four and link up!

Proof that balsamic vinegar makes the world go round

Mr. TL has a love affair with balsamic vinegar. My love affair is with handbags and shoes. His is with a condiment. Whatever floats your boat!

Last week our local grocer had fresh Sockeye salmon on special and I knew I had to get my hands on some. Buttery, moist, delicious, and full of that rich salmon color, it was going to be a homerun with Mr. TL... that is if I could recreate a balsamic vinegar glaze that he had devoured on a slab of salmon while on our honeymoon!

With the aid of a recipe I adapted from, I'd like to think I did a pretty darn good job. The salmon was delicious - sweet and savory with a bit of that balsamic tang Mr. TL loves. It was the perfect accompaniment to my shallot and garlic sauteed green beans!

Enjoy :)

Balsamic Glazed Salmon
(adapted from

1 pound of salmon, cut to your liking
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon honey
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Coat a small saucepan with non-stick cooking spray. Over medium heat, cook and stir garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Mix in white wine, honey, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for about 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
Arrange salmon on foil-lined baking sheet. Brush with balsamic glaze.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 14 minutes, or until flesh flakes easily with a fork. Brush fillets with remaining glaze, and season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wee Bit of Me Wednesday

{one} if you won a trip to Disneyland/world, who would you take with you?
Mr. TL, of course! We're headed to WDW in May and staying at my favorite place on earth, Animal Kingdom Lodge! The countdown is on to our anniversary trip to Disney World - T minus 46 days (but who's counting!?).

{two} when was the last time you listened to a CD?
Today - I have a CD player in my car and a Carrie Underwood CD in it at all times if I forget the iPod!

{three} what spice/seasoning is your favorite?
Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you it's GARLIC. I have an unhealthy obsession with it.

{four} if you were in a band, what kind of music would you play?
Something bluesy but edgy - think Etta James mixed with Adele.

{five} if you could have personally witnessed one historical event, which one would it be?
The first time the telephone actually worked. How cool would that have been?

{six} if you could go back to school, what would you study?
I'm actually doing that right now and studying English Literature. 1.5 semesters left!

{seven} if you could go to one sporting event, all expenses paid, which one would you see?
Absolutely the Super Bowl.

{eight} do you drive an automatic or a manual?

{nine} are you comfortable speaking in front of people?
Very much so.

{ten} have you ever experienced an earthquake?
Yes -a very tiny one occurred here in Rhode Island when I was around 5 or 6 years old.

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Through my blog travels, I've always loved the different days of the week subject matter posts - Wednesday, not wanting to be left out, is following suit with "What I'm Loving Wednesdays" courtesy of the blog This Kind of Love!

I'm loving the mere fact that in less than two weeks, I will be moving out of the dark age of Blackberry and into the bright and happy world of the Apple iPhone! I'm clearly counting down the days until my early upgrade with Verizon (be prepared for next Wednesdays post to have a similiar love and then, the following Wednesday, I'll probably be gushing about said iPhone. You've been warned.).

I'm loving my gal pals that I have been fortunate to meet through a crazy place known as The Knot. Obviously I'm well removed from wedding planning but there is a group of 9 women that I'm lucky enough to call friends. They make me all sorts of warm and fuzzy.

I'm loving the extended period of sunshine we've been fortunate enough to have in the early evening. To me, that's a sure sign that warmer weather is on it's way.

I'm loving my new camera strap as seen on this blog post - I believe in... accessories! Mr. TL and I shot our first wedding this past Saturday and not once was I reaching up to rub my neck from the chaff that my older strap had caused. A simple pleasure while shooting a 10+ hour wedding!

Tell me lovers, what are you LOVING on this Wednesday?!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top 2 Tuesday

This weeks Top 2 Tuesday is Celeb Hairstyles... which is perfect because I have an appointment with Sue, my stylist extraordinaire, next Wednesday. I'm feeling like I need a bit of a pick me up to get me out of the drab winter hair rut so I'm excited to mix it up a little bit! My hair is a medium length bob that is ever so slightly inverted... and I love that. So I'm going to focus on my current favorite bobs that feature fabulous color...

# 1 - I love this cut on Mariska Hagerty and the color here is delicious!

# 2 - Someday, when I get super daring, I'll go this short, a la Mandy Moore. I also love this rich, warm color too!

Join in on Taylor's Top Two Tuesday and link up over on her blog!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Must Have Monday

In my daily blog travels, I came across Yummy Mummy's Beauty Blog and her weekly Must Try Monday post. I think this is a fabulous idea and since I'm such a beauty product whore, it's perfect for me (I'd be embarrassed to show you my overly organized bathroom area, full of enough beauty products to open up my own storefront!).

My Must Try item for this week is from one of my most favorite bath and body stores. I can literally spend hours perusing the bath bombs, lotions, potions, perfumes, and soaps at my local Lush store.

Let me introduce you to one of my beauty BFF's from Lush... Ocean Salt Cleanser. This scrub can be used from face to feet and for everything in-between. This scrub looks, feels, and smalls amazing - lime, coconut oil, vodka, and sea salt are a few of the yummy ingredients in this pot of love. I was told at the Lush store when I first purchased the scrub that the antibacterial properties of the lime and vodka help prevent acne while mineral-laden sea salts help to clear out blocked pores. I’ve got to say I agree – my skin has never looked, or felt, better.

I exfoliate my face 2-3 times a week in the winter and my face always feels like a million bucks afterward. It smells heavenly, it isn't overly salty/ gritty, and although it's slightly pricey ($35 for just over 8 ounces), it lasts quite awhile. I get a good 6 months out of a jar because it takes so little to do so much.

You must go out and try this product. I even turned my low-maintenance mom onto it - it's that good!

And now my friends I challenge YOU... what is your Must Try Monday product? Leave me a comment and let me know - I'm always up for experimenting with new products!

The Pioneer Woman has stolen my heart (AGAIN!)

Mr. TL is not exactly someone I could ever see asking for veggies instead of potatoes or meat. It's just how he rolls. However - he does a pretty nice job in letting me cook whatever I want, without too much commentary regarding the ingredients. For that, I love him so. Well, that AND his 6'2" stature which makes reaching the highest shelves in our kitchen a breeze.

Last week Mr. TL came home to a giddy wife... I was giddy about leeks and pancetta. Needless to say, I convinced him that the dinner I was whipping up would be fabulous, even if it was without a big hunk 'o steak with it.

Mr. TL took one bite... then another... and another. He even went back for seconds (this is how I read my husbands enjoyment of the meal!). Throughout dinner I professed my love for the Pioneer Woman who has never really done me wrong in recipe land. For that, I thank her.

The only changes I made to the original recipe was to add some grilled, diced up chicken breasts as well as more cream (more cream never hurt ANYONE. Promise).

Enjoy :)

Pasta with Leeks and Pancetta with Grilled Chicken
(adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

12 ounces, weight Pasta, Cooked Al Dente
Reserved Pasta Water, If Needed
3 ounces, weight Chopped Pancetta
3 whole Leeks, Sliced Thin
1 Tablespoon Butter
1/2 cups Dry White Wine
1 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 pound chicken breasts, grilled and sliced
Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
Parmesan Cheese, Shaved

Cook pasta and set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
Saute chopped pancetta until fat is rendered and it starts to brown. Add sliced leeks and cook for 8 minutes. When you add the leeks, you can also throw in a pat or two of butter if you want to. This’ll give the dish some scrumptious flavor. I add it after the bacon is browned because I don’t want the butter to brown. After 8 to 10 minutes, pour in wine, then cook an additional 1-2 minutes, until reduced. Reduce heat to low, then pour in cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in Parmesan shavings. Toss in pasta, adding a little pasta water to thin as needed. Top with chicken and serve.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who you callin' skinny?!

If you know me, you know that I'm always on the hunt for a solid recipe that I can work with for Mr. TL & I to enjoy. My friend K recently pointed out a fabulous food blog to me - Skinny Taste. The recipes all correlate to the Weight Watchers program fairly well and even if you're not following the program, it's nice to have a health filled recipe in your arsenal.

The recipes on Gina's blog for Crock Pot Minestrone Soup got my wheels turning. It's been unseasonably cool the past few weeks here in Little Rhody so a nice, hearty soup was just the trick. I adapted it slightly (subbing in dried for fresh herbs as well as switching up the additions of the recipe too). What we ended up with was a crock pot full of deliciousness that not only was a meal for Mr. TL & I on a cool night, but also served double duty as a freezer meal for the future (Note: I didn't add all of the pasta to the pot of soup. I placed a small bit of cooked pasta into our bowls, then ladled the soup over it. This way, the frozen soup, would not suffer a mushy pasta death when I go to reheat it!).

Crock Pot Sausage Minestrone Soup
(adapted from Gina's Skinny Taste)

1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can cannelini
3 cups fat free chicken broth
1 oz chunk of good Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley
salt and fresh pepper
1 medium yellow squash, chopped
2 cups chopped frozen spinach
1/2 pound chicken sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 cups cooked small pasta like ditalini or elbows (al dente)
extra parmesan cheese to top

Rinse and drain beans. Mash beans in a small bowl (this helped to thicken my soup).

In a crock pot, combine broth, tomatoes, mashed beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, Parmesan cheese chunk, frozen spinach, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Forty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add squash and cooked sausage. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Add cooked pasta, cook 10 minutes more. Remove bay leaves and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and top with extra parmesan cheese.

Blogs need love too!

I enlisted the amazing design team over at Smitten Blog Designs to give TanaLicious a much needed makeover and I love the end result! Working with their designers was so easy, not to mention that the fabulous Jacquelinne was able to create the blog I had envisioned. Thank you!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Plastic is out. Mesh is in.

As if you couldn't tell from my last post about my excitement over reusable shopping bags, I am even MORE excited about the new reusable produce bags I just picked up.

Can I just interject here and state, for the record, I used to be much less lame. Grocery bags would have never excited me pre 2009 when I got married. Trust me, lip gloss, diamonds, and designer handbags still make me giddy like a school girl, but now I mix in some more practical excitements. I'm blaming my new found lame-ness on Mr. TL. Love ya ;)

Where was I... Mr. TL can attest that every time I go grocery shopping, I find myself wondering, if we're so concerned with plastic grocery bags, why aren't we concerned with the plastic bags we use for produce? On an average trip, I'll get 5 or 6 different types of produce, each of which requires a bag to hold them in. Once I get home, I tear into the bag, put my produce away, and toss the bag aside. Wasteful!

So I did some Google searching and came across a company called Flip & Tumble that sells both reusable shopping bags as well as reusable mesh produce bags. At $11 for a set of 5 bags, I went for it (plus a carrying tote) and I'm glad I did. They are not only super easy to manipulate, with a large opening and easy drawstring closure, they also fit nicely into their carrying pouch and right down into my handbag (right next to my EnviroSax reusable shopping bags!).

Here is one of my bags in use after this afternoon's grocery trip...

And my set of 5 spread out on my table (love the multi color tags - just a fun addition to the bag)...

And the simple little carrying tote (which my little grey EnviroSax tote fits down in to as well - Bonus!)...

Doing my part to help stop waste... one bag at a time.

I know you've all seen the reusable grocery bags that every single big box chain store have available for purchase. Whole Foods. Target. Trader Joe's. Stop & Shop. Even WalMart! I had been a faithful user of these bags for years, even before it was "cool" to do so. That was until I stumbled across an expose piece on a local news station about how terrible these bags are for holding germs and bacteria and how I was basically gong to shrivel up and die if I continued to use them.

Okay. So maybe that last part is a bit falsified. But it is true about the bacteria and germs that lie dormant on these bags - and it makes sense if you think about it. Sure you can attempt to wash them but I remember that some of mine were oddly fleece lined and that wouldn't have done so well at all and others were made of a plastic material both inside and out.

So I dropped my reusable habit and started requesting paper bags. At least with those, I could repurpose throughout the house and not feel AS guilty had I used plastic. However, not every store has a paper bag option - like CVS for example.

Then came Christmas this year. My mom is known for finding quirky, sort of off-beat gifts to put in our stockings. So needless to say, I wasn't shocked when I opened my stocking and saw a reusable grocery bag that had pigs all over it.

I was intrigued by the bag, loved how much it held, how sturdy it felt, and when I found out that it was machine washable, my heart nearly skipped a beat. The company that produces these fabulous bags is Envirosax. They offer a pattern and style for everyone and are such a practical investment.

I received my order earlier this week and was so giddy to get to the supermarket today and use my fancy new bags! They arrived in a little grey pouch, which is the perfect size for tossing into your handbag on your way into the store (I always had a fight with the typical reusable bags as I tried to wrangle those, a carriage, my keys, and a handbag!) The ease of use was a welcome change.

When you open up the little pouch, you see the bags all rolled up and think "I'll never get them all back in here" but if I can do it, you can do it! They condense so well and have the perfect little snap at the bottom of the bag that makes rolling and unrolling a dream.

Here is one my my bags all "stretched" out. The bag is as large as the other reusable bags but not as boxy or bulky in feel, which makes carrying them pretty easy. The straps are long enough to be swung over the shoulder too - bonus!

I ordered my bags from Bright and Bold online which allowed me to make a custom pack of 5 bags, and pick from an array of colors, all the while using a promotion code for 10 %off! Here's what I ended up with:
(top row: La Boheme 1, Botanica 4, Bloom 2)
(bottom row: Midnight Safari 4, Origami 1)

I believe in... accessories!

As a lady who fancies herself as having an eye for fashion, it should be no surprise that once Mr. TL and my photography business took off, I went on the hunt for something to dress up my big, heavy, black bodied DSLR camera.

What I came across were two options: Strap covers or custom camera straps. I've tried both and can honestly say that I prefer the custom strap as opposed to the cover just because the strap cover can shift and slide around whereas the custom strap is fully attached and sturdy.

I like to buy a new strap at the beginning of each wedding season since a year worth of use on one strap seems to be when it starts to look a bit worn. Lots of vendors on caught my eye but fellow blogger Jennie from A Girl in Pearls & A Boy with Toys pointed my attention to Phat Straps, a company that specializes in custom camera straps.

I picked a pattern I liked, custom designed it with a fuzzy, minky backed strap (to help ease some of the discomfort from wearing a camera around the neck for 10 hours plus!), and received my fancy new strap within 10 days of ordering. Not so shabby!

Without further ado - here is this years strap!