Saw It. Pinned It. Did It: Goat Cheese with Pistachios & Cranberries

I love this link up. I get to peruse other people's awesome craftiness, and I don't feel as inadequate about certain aspects of my life because I have something to contribute!

OK, OK. So my pin re-lived was another no-bake recipe. Shoot me. But, in my defense, it was for the holidays and I needed something I could bring to three different places (one for each, of course). I needed something delicious, quick to make and easy to transport.

As soon as I saw this Goat Cheese with Pistachios and Cranberries recipe on, I pinned that ish to my food board and went straight to the store.

                                                              Original Source

Here's what you need:
  • 2  tablespoons roasted pistachios, chopped
  • 2  tablespoons dried cranberries, chopped
  • 8- to 10-ounce log fresh goat cheese
  • crackers or bread, for serving
I opted for Trader Joe's to find my ingredients. I knew they sell just the pistachio nutmeats, which meant no shelling for this girl. Let's just get to the good stuff! (Although, anyone else like to suck on the shells? Ummm....) I also chose a Chevre Honey log, rather than just "regular" goat cheese.

Here's what you do:

1. To chop the pistachios and cranberries, use a food processor. Or, put pistachios into a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to chop to desired consistency. Then just use a knife to chop up the berries.

 2. On a large plate, combine the pistachios and cranberries.

3. Roll the goat cheese in the fruit-and-nut mixture to coat. If neccessary, pat the mixture into any holes until covered. Serve with the crackers or bread.

And there you have it! The second easiest no-bake recipe ever to bring to your holiday party!

Now go join in the fun!
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10 Years Later


That's me, sad to be home after a wonderful Thanksgiving at home with family and friends. Even though we were there from Wednesday until Sunday—twice as long as our normal weekend visits—it went too fast, as always.

Aside from spending time with both of my insanely cute nieces, my crazy family and in-laws—God love 'em all—I was able to get in some good time QT with friends.

Like at my 10-year high school reunion. I'm officially old.

Truth be told, I wasn't totally pumped about going. My husband was definitely not pumped about going and I did not give him a choice in the matter. Keep in mind that he went to high school with most of these people, too, and has tried to distance himself from that life as much as possible. I make that strangely difficult for him. But not on purpose.

You see, my group of friends has been friends since high school. Most of us since even before.

And...we're still friends.

In the past 10 years, we've graduated high school, gone to colleges around the country, and lived around the world, from Iowa to Kansas to Michigan to California to South Dakota to New York to Tennessee to Australia to Spain. We've gotten jobs in every vocation; bought houses and pets; become mothers.
The day I left for college. Lots of tears!

We've been in and attended each other's weddings and bachelorette parties. We've upgraded from keg stands to wine, from wild nights downtown to quiet nights where we can sit and talk. We've gone through ups and downs. Some of the friendships have weakened while others have thrived. But at the end of the day, we're all still friends.

 Left: Summer 2002. Right: A few familiar faces on May 28, 2011.

Fun tidbit: One of my girlfriends remembered a time capsule that we all buried on May 17, 2002 in a city park, that we were to open on our 10-year reunion. I think all of us forgot about it, but thankfully she didn't.

Can you spot me?

We opened it at the reunion and it was so fun! Inside was an old Bud Light can (the red and blue one, and our illegal beer of choice back then), an empty bottle of Mountain Dew Code Red (to mix with Vodka), and an empty bottle of Absolut Mandarin (to wash down with Code Red?). Also inside were pictures of our "group," all of our graduation party invitations, notes to each other, and cutest of all, this:

Left: The night we buried the capsule. I must have been taking the pic. Right: The note we left inside.

I just love this because it's so honest, but innocent at the same time. We knew that we may not be best friends anymore, but we'd promise to at least still be friends, somehow. And for the most part, I'd say we are.

All in all, the reunion was a hit. It was like not reunions are in the movies — maybe because those in my class are cool!! I caught up with not only this group of ladies, but other friends from high school that I have really only kept up with from good ol' Facebook. Not a ton of people showed up — probably less than 100 out of a class of close to 400. But it was a good group regardless and fun to see so many. After the official "reunion," we all convened at a bar downtown to keep the party going and a good time was had by all.

Anyway, that's my weekend update in a nutshell!


Link up, tell me about yours and any funny high school reunion stories!

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With This Ring...

I l-o-v-e talking about weddings. Especially my own :)

I will have plenty to do by way of weddings in the next couple of years, with both my best friend and my sister getting married. I  hope my sister-in-law will get engaged soon, too...add another to the list!

In any case, my friend Mary told me about this Wedding Wednesday link-up with A Happy Wife in NOLA. It's open to all brides, former and to-be. I had so much fun with my wedding and I didn't have my blog—er, didn't write on my blog—during our engagement, so I hope I can offer some advice and wisdom to others!

A Happy Wife in New Orleans

I think I'll start with vows. One thing I learned during the wedding planning process was that your vows could be whatever you wanted them to be. I guess I thought that there was a set to choose from or that the officiant just chose some? So naive.

This actually goes for the ceremony, too. Well, at least for us. Since we got married outdoors, we didn't have any "rules" to follow. We put a lot of thought into our ceremony, and while many couples just want to get to the reception, I loved our ceremony. It was very personal and I had many tell me how much they enjoyed it.

Anyway, back to the vows.

We though about writing our own vows, but I felt confident that I would not be able to get through them coherently. I was worried enough about having to recite them from someone else. So, we basically took all of the traditional vows that we liked and mashed them together until we found words that spoke to us, about each other, and that held promises that we wanted to keep to one another.

Here's what we ended up with:

Do you Bryan, take Rachel to be your wife? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, or for worse, forsaking all others, keeping yourself only unto her as long as you both shall live?
Do you promise to be true to each other in joy and in sorrow?
To care for each other in sickness and in health?
To trust one another in triumph and in trial?
To honor each other in your words and actions?
To cherish one another with love and grace until you are parted by death?

Both respond: We will

Bryan and Rachel, please repeat after me.

From this day on I choose you to be my wife/husband
To live with you and laugh with you
To share all things with honesty, trust and compassion.
To be joy in your heart and to remain faithful to you.
To bring out the best in you and be the most for you that I can
To solace you when you are downhearted
As we grow old together, still loving each other gladly
All the days of our lives.

For the exchange of rings, we went with a simple:  With this ring, I give you my heart.


Some advice to other brides: Don't be afraid to write your own vows. Don't feel like you have to conform to the traditional "til death do us part." Although there is nothing wrong with that at all! Make sure the words are something that mean something to you both, and that truly encompass the things you want to promise to each other for the rest of your life. Look around on the Internet, ask friends what they said. Pick and choose the words that speak to you both.

A couple pieces of logistical advice: 
  • Don't forget to look into your bride or groom's eyes while you're saying these important words. Oftentimes, I see brides looking at the officiant without so much as a glance at the groom.  That's who you're talking to. 
  • Don't yell your vows. I made this mistake :) You're talking to your bride or groom. S/he is the only one who needs to hear you. Most times, one of you will be miked, so everyone else will be able to hear. And if they don't — it's OK.
  • Don't be afraid to cry. This is big stuff, people! My groom teared up several times during the ceremony and it was the sweetest thing.
Got any questions for me about anything wedding? Ask away! 

What did you say for your vows?
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Does Anyone Know Ellen?

First of all, Happy Tuesday Thursday. I'm super pumped tomorrow is Wednesday Friday.

Second of all, I'm serious—I need someone with connections right now.

On Saturday, I was getting ready to jump on the treadmill when my phone rang. The number was from Los Angeles area; I figured they would leave a message.

My hour on the machine of death concluded. There was no message to listen to. Wrong number, or just another person trying to get money from me.

I continued my day, heading to Trader Joe's, aka heaven, buying stuff for our Friendsgiving the next day. As I was leaving the store, I looked at my phone to see another missed call from the same number. Again, no message.

Worried, I called the number back. I had begun to worry that something had happened to my friend Ashley, and it was a hospital or her boyfriend trying to get a hold of me.

The recording I got said "You have a reached a non-working number at Warner Brother Studios. Thank you."

What the ?

So, let me get this straight: I have two missed calls from this number yet when I call it back, it says it's non-working...but it's working enough to tell me that it's not working? WHAT IS GOING ON?

Perplexed, I told my husband of the day's mysterious phone calls. Google searches tell us that the phone number that called me was THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW. So many people commenting on forums that say this is the number that called them when they received tickets to the show.

So, now I'm frustrated. I LOVE Ellen. She takes up like, 25% of my DVR b/c I tape her shows daily and then watch them all for hours on end. My husband "loves" it.

I've written Ellen several times. I've submitted funny photos, I've submitted stories about my mother, my sisters, people who deserve some her generosity. I've applied for tickets, giveaways, etc. I do it all. So I have no idea why they contacted me and I feel like I never will! And with her 12 Days of Giveaways coming up, I am even MORE frustrated!

Am I getting $10,000? Am I going to the show? Are we surprising my mom with a new car? WHAT IS GOING ON!

So, this is my official quest. Somebody out there has to have a connection to Ellen, right? Can we find out what's going on? Or at the very least, can someone call me and tell me that this was all a mistake and I don't get squat?

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It's OK Thursday, Vol. 2

I'm so excited. For a few not-that-exciting reasons:
  1. I'm having drinks tonight with my bestie, Sara, whom I haven't seen in a month! (This actually is exciting).
  2. It's Thursday! (Less exciting, but still good news.)
  3. I remembered this link up, which I haven't done in 2 months! Perfect solution for my writer's block.
Its Ok Thursdays

OK, so I lied, all of these reasons I'm excited are all reason enough.

It's been a week, folks. By that I mean, it's been a real shitty week. Work has been kicking my ass, but such is life, so no breaking news on that. Thankfully, I, as do you, have Thanksgiving to look forward to next week, which means at least one day off work —two if you're lucky like me. :)

Anyway, my crappy week is perfect reason for me to join in on today's "It's OK Thursday." It will make me feel better. Maybe. Let's see:

It's OK...
...that I've had a crappy week. Next week will be better.

...that my Halloween lights are still hanging outside. They'll be replaced with Christmas decor next week. Or the week after that. For sure the week after that.

...that I'm being brat about vacations. I'm sad because last year at this time, the husband and I were on our way to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We're going to Europe in about 6 weeks, so I shouldn't complain...but it's OK that I am.

...that I just joined the Mumford & Sons party. Better late than never!

...that last night while I was watching the X Factor, I had to refrain from posting about how awesome the show is on my Facebook page.

... that instead I went over to Twitter and tweeted at one of the contestants about how she shouldn't have made the show. Mean girl much? I blame the wine.

...that I intended to start working out again this week. I went on Monday. Haven't been back since. Well, I did go on a run over lunch today. not blog every day. not know how to make my blog domain look like a regular AKA, I want to remove "blogspot" from the URL. Anyone?! not have a clue what I am getting anyone for Christmas. be OCD about certain things in life, like cleaning, clutter and organization. be happy about President Obama's re-election. feel completely and utterly out of my league when it comes to certain important "adult" things, like life insurance, even though I'm almost 30. Anyone? not be looking forward to tomorrow, a Friday, because I am booked solid with meetings. be looking forward to tomorrow, Friday, because I have no plans after those meetings and intend to sit at home on the couch.

What's OK with you today? Come join the link up!

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Best. Date. Ever.

I have a pretty baller husband. Date night was scheduled for last Tuesday. Just dinner, nothing fancy.

Until he calls me up and asks if, by any chance, would I like to go to Obama headquarters as our date instead of the neighborhood bar across the street?

Hmm, let me think about that one, oh wait, YES please!

And so it was. How, you ask?

My husband is in the business of event marketing. One of his vendors, who sets up many of his events, was also in charge of some of President Obama's events, such as the DNC and election night. As such, we were granted "honored guest" and "production passes" for the night, which granted us access to pretty much anything.

Upon arriving at McCormick Place, we were ushered into the depths of the headquarters. Security was surprisingly not horrible, but it was semi-cool seeing all the secret service peeps. OK, it was super cool. We went down to "the floor" as they called it, where we got to see where all of the big networks were camped out getting ready to go live, the press back of house (in the basement), where everyone was tracking all of the incoming votes and doing live tweets/blogging; AND the press area on the the floor. In other words, when you saw the folks reporting from headquarters with the stage in the background. We also got a view of the floor before everyone crowded in front of the stage.

 Press on the floor (left); note all of the lights. Press back of house on (right).

After our tour, we got to camp out in the V.I.P room where we had some drinks while we watched the votes come in. Every time Obama got a state, the roars you could hear were incredible! It was such a rush just being in the same room as people who all wanted the same thing.

As soon as Obama got Ohio, we knew it was time to go upstairs and join the crowd. It was a little premature, since it took forever for Mitt Romney to concede the election. Again though, the excitement in the crowd was contagious. There was music, there was dancing, there was cheering. Everyone was respectful as Romney made his concession speech and everyone applauded him when he was done. There was no booing or hateful comments; just respect, which I thought was admirable.

And then...President Obama took the stage.

 That's our President, folks!

I can't accurately describe how purely awesome it was to be there to see him speak. Obviously, I am an Obama supporter. But even if I hadn't voted the way I did, I don't think I could have stood there and listened to him speak without being impressed. His speech was so inspiring, so genuine, so completely spot on. I was smiling from ear to ear as I listened to him.

My favorite part:
This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great.

I'm not even close to accurately conveying how incredible it was to be there for this historic event. How inspired, happy and excited everyone in the room was. And when the confetti came down—I heard ringing in my ears for hours.

Afterwards, we went back downstairs where we had some celebratory drinks. Campaign workers kept coming down to get bottles of wine, running on adrenaline of 4 years of hard work. Another awesome moment.

We didn't get home until 3:00am, only to get up again four hours later. It was worth it.

And there you have it. The best date I've ever been on, with my husband and the President of the United States.

Bryan and I after the President left the stage.
 How did you spend election night?

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I'm so sad the election is over and I'll stop getting bombarded by political commercials and ignorant banter on Facebook!

Said no one ever.

Today is a day for celebrations. And not just because the election is over. Or Obama won. Although, I will say that last night was one of the most incredible experiences ever. More on that later.

No, today I want to sum up some super exciting happenings from recent months! Most of these things involve diamonds and babies - two of my favorite things!

I touched on it briefly, but my very best friend in the world, Brittany, got engaged back in June! On her 28th birthday, after 10 years of dating, her man popped the question and made her the happiest lady in the world! And he made me a very happy bestie. Britt and I have been besties since she asked me back in 1996. That's a true story. For the past 16 years, we've been though boyfriends, breakups, smiles and tears. She deserves every happiness in the world and I can't wait to be her matron of honor next August! Love you, B.

You might notice in the above picture that two of those lovely ladies are preggers! Kelsi (far left) had her sweet twins in August, Hudson John and Nora Caroline. They are the most the beautiful, precious babes! I commend Kelsi - I can't imagine having twins as my first children and she is doing an amazing job. Love you, Kels.

In October, there were two causes for celebration! My beautiful friend, Stephanie (SJ), married her soul mate Seth. Seth and I dated for a hot minute - legitmately, it might have been like 60 minutes - in junior high. He broke his arm and missed school one day, which meant he was not paying attention to me, so I ditched him. You're welcome, SJ. :) Their wedding was fabulous and SJ did it all herself, down to the last detail and she was a beautiful bride. I cried more during her wedding than I did at my own! So sweet. Love you, SJ.

The night before SJ's wedding, something else huge happened: My baby sister got engaged! Natty is 21 (she'll be 22 in December) and her fiance is Matt. They're waiting for a couple of years before they say I do, but Matt makes her happier than I've seen in a long time and that's what makes me the happiest. It's a really strange feeling to have your younger sibling get engaged. I've watched her grow up into this amazing young woman. She's almost done with college and now she's getting married? I can only imagine how my older sister feels! Love you, Natty.


Back to babies. Ms. Emily (second from left in the pics above) had her VERY healthy boy at the end of last month! Isaac John was born at 9 lbs, 5 oz. I get to meet him this weekend and I'm so excited! He is a mini-me of Emily. Em is a trooper - at 9 months pregnant, she walked down the aisle as a bridesmaid in SJ's wedding and hung out until the end of night! I haven't gotten to talk to her much in these early days of mommyhood, but E will be nothing short of any amazing Mom. Love you, Em.

And last but not least, my cousin Nick married his lovely bride Carrie last weekend. As seems to be tradition in the family, Nick and Carrie dated for double digit years, too, before making it official last weekend. Their wedding was nothing short of elegant, from the rehearsal dinner to the wedding reception. I don't think I've danced more at any wedding! I had a blast dancing with all of my little (and big) cousins all night long. Love you guys!


That's all I got. Lots of blessings to be thankful for during this month of Thanksgiving. I hope I didn't miss anyone, if I did, I suck and feel free to tell me so. 

What are you thankful for this month?

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Election Day Coverage

Keeping it short and sweet today, kids. GO VOTE!

No matter what you believe, or who you believe in, it is truly amazing that as a country, we each have the individual freedom to vote. Take a stand for something. It's never mattered more!

My hubby scored us VIP tickets to OBAMA headquarters tonight! Super pumped to be onsite with fellow Chicagoans and supporters to hopefully celebrate the President's re-election. And if he doesn't win, it will still be an honor and privilege to be there for this historic event, and to celebrate Mr. President's successes in office.


What are you doing to keep up with the election results tonight?

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