When I’m not in the mood to wear a statement necklace, I sometimes like to accessorize with a fabulous pin. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you and ideas of how to wear them.

The Feather – I love to wear it on the big collar of this great sweater or at the bottom of the “v” in a v-neck sweater or shirt. Either way, this pin needs to be your accessory focal point since it’s so busy.


The Bug – this guy is so cute. The pin is heavy so it doesn’t work well on a sweater so in the winter I like him on the collar of a jacket and in the summer I adorn him on a clutch.


The Faux-antique – this pin has gotten me a ton of compliments over the years, the colors are very striking. Once, at a jewelery store, the salesperson (aka jewelry expert) was absolutely convinced this was really an antique from the 20’s, I didn’t have the heart to tell her I actually bought it American Eagle for $10 just the month before. This pin gives a great pop of color to my black wool winter coat.


The Sparkler – I wore this in my hair at our wedding, just the perfect amount of sparkle for my hair. It also works well on a brightly colored cardigan in the summer.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

For those prepping for Superbowl weekend and looking for snacks to serve at your party, I thought I’d share our spinach & artichoke dip recipe – it’s the best! Most recipes call for a large amount of mayo (blech) so this one is a more homemade, less creamy version of the norm.

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

1jar (6.5 ounces size) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 Tbs chopped onion
1 Tbs butter, softened
1 package (10 ounce size) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
2 C shredded Colby/Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 C milk
3/4 Tsp Creole seasoning

In a skillet, saute artichokes and onion in butter until onion is tender. Stir in spinach and Parmesan cheese; cook over low heat until spinach is heated through.

Add Colby/Monterey Jack cheese, milk, and Creole seasoning; heat until cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Serve with chips and veggies.

Enjoy and GO PATS!

Caramel Cookies

Sooooo, I’m not supposed to be eating dessert because I’m trying to lose my baby weight (I’m almost there!). However, on a snowy day as was this past Saturday, there is nothing better than baking, so, we made some cookies.

I was flipping through my Feb issue of Martha Stewart Living and the photo of these Caramel Cookies made me stop in my tracks they looked so delicious. Martha made hers by covering the cookie in coconut before baking, but my husband hates coconut so we omitted. Either way, a butter cookie topped with caramel and fleur de sel is, frankly, Heaven in a cookie.
Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel
from Martha Stewart Living

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C white sugar
1 1/2 Tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 Tsp salt
2 large eggs beaten
12 oz sweetened flaked coconut
44 small soft caramel candies (12 oz.)
6 Tbs heavy cream
Flaky Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350. Beat together butter and sugar with mixer on medium speed until it is pale and fluffy, then add vanilla. Wis mixer on low, gradually add flour and 1/2 tsp salt and beat to combine. Using plastic wrap, press dough together, and roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Using a spoon, dip each ball into the beaten egg, shake off any excess egg, and then roll in coconut.

Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheet and press and indentation of your thumb into each cookie (make sure to really make a dent in the cookie and repair any cracks that are created, you don’t want the caramel to bust through later). Bake for 10 minutes, then remove sheet from oven and re-press indentations. After that, put the sheet back in the oven and bake for another 9-10 minutes or until golden. Let cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.

For caramel: Place unwrapped caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels have melted and the mixture is smooth, 4-6 minutes. Spoon caramel into the indentations of each cookie and sprinkle with sea salt. If the caramel starts to harden, rewarm it on low heat! (Store in airtight containers for up to 2 days.)

*I recommend cleaning the pot you use for the caramels ASAP so it doesn’t become a scrubbing nightmare!


Board Book Literary Classics

I thought these books were such a cute idea that I had to get them for our baby girl – classic novels turned into board books for babies! They are from the Babylit Board Book collection.

I picked the board book version of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice for her collection.
The books are both counting books. What they count references the plot of each novel, so the plot isn’t too heavy for your infant but you as the parent can chuckle that she is counting “5 Friends,” for example, with a pic of 5 characters from Romeo & Juliet.

Cute idea!

Omelets for Dummies

My husband and I love to make omelets, but we are really bad at the flipping and the folding and making it look like an actual omelet. Our omelets in the past have always disappointingly turned into cheese and veggie scrambled eggs.

So, for Christmas, I bought my husband this special omelet-making pan. It’s so easy! Scramble your eggs and pour half in one side, half in the other. Move the eggs around the pan so they get cooked throughout. When the eggs are cooked, add your veggies, cheese, ham, whatever you want… to one side of the pan. Then fold one half of the pan on top of the other and voila! The perfect omelet.

I bought our pan at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $8 ($10 and I used a 20% off coupon), so it’s super cheap. Also, since the pan is big, you need to make a 3 or 4-egg omelet so we usually split one.


Milly Sperry’s

Who doesn’t love Sperry Top-Sider shoes – comfy, cute, practical, and super preppy. Sperry’s have come a long way since their original boat shoe usage – I got a pair a few years ago in gold that I have never worn on a boat even once!
Well, for Spring 2012, Milly has partnered with Sperry Top-Sider to create a line of shoes that are perfectly vibrant and adorable. Michelle Smith said of the collaboration, “I’ve always adored preppy, nautical style, and was thrilled to put the Milly spin on an icon of American fashion. Working with a design team immersed in over 75 years of tradition has been very rewarding.”
So cute! And I just the love the signature Milly “M” tied into the laces. They go on sale in February, I want the pink pair…

The Good Chili

My husband and I frequently make a delicious and healthy chili with kidney and black beans and ground turkey – a traditional recipe with chili powder and cumen.

But, every once in a while, he makes this Good Chili with beer, steak, and coffee…it’s phenomenal! In light of all of the football related weekends coming up (playoffs, Superbowl) I thought it was a good time to share the recipe.
Chili I

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound beef sirloin, cubed
1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
1 cup strong brewed coffee
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
4 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
4 fresh hot chile peppers, seeded and chopped

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions, garlic, ground beef and cubed sirloin in oil for 10 minutes, or until the meat is well browned and the onions are tender.

Mix in the diced tomatoes with juice, dark beer, coffee, tomato paste and beef broth. Season with brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, oregano, cayenne pepper, coriander and salt. Stir in 2 cans of the beans and hot chile peppers. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Stir in the 2 remaining cans of beans, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve with a little shredded cheddar cheese.



Do you remember that episode of Sex and the City when Carrie’s friend Susan Sharon (with the husband “ON LONDON TIME!”) gave her a gorgeous cashmere scarf that Carrie deemed a cash”miracle” when she heard the price Susan paid for it? Well I had my own cash”miracle” this weekend I thought I’d share…

I was scoping the 40% off sale at Ann Taylor and found a pair of work pants for super cheap. While in line, the cashier announced that all the cashmere on the wall next to the register was only $23! I dashed over and scored the great sweater!
Black, over sized, regularly $228!!, perfect to wear with my red skinny cords and black boots. Hurry to Ann Taylor to see if you can find your own cash”miracle!”

Blueberry Muffins

We found ourselves with an extra pint of blueberries after a “buy 1 get 1 free” sale at our grocery store last week so we decided to make blueberry muffins for breakfast.

I used my new Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook (got it for Christmas!) for the recipe and between the 2 blueberry muffin recipes in the book; “Blythe’s Blueberry Muffins” or the “Healthier Version” that called for spelt flour and agave nectar…we went with Blythe’s. We halved the recipe and used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. If you use whole wheat flour (in this or any baking recipe), you will have to adjust the amount of wet ingredients you use so the recipe isn’t too dry, I ended up doubling the amount of milk we used for these muffins.

Blythe’s Blueberry Muffins
from My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 C milk
2 C unbleached all – purpose flour
3/4 C plus 1 Tsp granulated sugar
2 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp find salt
2 1/2 C fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with papers.

Whisk the butter, eggs, and milk together in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the flour 3/4 C sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold in the blueberries. Divide among the muffin cups and sprinkle the muffins with remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake until a toothpick tests clean and the muffins are golden brown, 25 – 30 minutes. Best to eat these warm.

*Note – the brown hue of these muffins is because of the whole wheat flour.


Colorful Paper Art

Sometimes you just can’t find the right art for a wall in your house and it’s very frustrating. I had this experience when we first moved into our house 3 years ago when I wanted everything decorated ASAP.

We had just painted our master bedroom a lovely teal green and bought a brown-based comforter and sheet set and I was searching for a third contrasting color for curtains and accent pillows. I went to my favorite paper crafting store Paper Source and found this great print with my 2 colors plus RED.

I then bought 3 3 x 3 canvasses and wrapped each canvas with the paper. Voila – Colorful Paper Art!


I did a similar thing in our kitchen and found this great flower pattern to coordinate with our dark red walls. Love that the center of the flowers is purple.

In our family room, we had coasters that are meant to put photos in, but instead of putting a cold beverage on the faces of my friends and families, I thought I would use Colorful Paper again to coordinate with our family room colors.

Such an easy DIY project I thought I would share!