Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Recipe: Crock-Pot Taco Chicken Bowls

Happy Tasty Tuesday!
Now that it's fall I've been using the crock-pot so much more. It's nice when I work all day and come home to a full cooked meal without having to do much work. This recipe is perfect for all you working ladies because you can throw all the ingredients into the crock pot in the morning, turn it on and when you come home your meal is ready to serve, plus the house smells awesome when you walk in the door!
  • 1 large package of thin chicken strips (this is perfect for those of you who hate raw chicken like I do because all you have to do it open up the package and dump it in the crock-pot, you don't even have to touch it!).
  • 1 16oz jar of salsa (I used medium flavor)
  • 1 15oz can of black beans, drained.
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (I used a little to garnish so you don't need a huge amount)
  • 2 packages of instant ready rice (either brown or spanish work best)

  • In a crock-pot combine chicken, spices, corn, beans and salsa. Stir so that it's all mixed together.
  • Cook on low for 8 hours.
  • After 8 hours, open crock-pot and shred chicken with a fork. It should just pull apart in the pot and stir mixture again.
  • Microwave rice for 90 seconds (or whatever the directions say).
  • Place rice in bowls and top with crock-pot mixture.
  • Garnish with cheddar cheese.
  • Enjoy!

 What are some of your favorite fall recipes?

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Importance of Girl Trips

This past weekend was the one year anniversary of our girls trip to Stratton Vermont and looking back on the pictures it was a good reminder of how important taking these little trips are. Nowadays, all of us are always running in a million different directions between jobs, school and other projects so there are times where we go a few weeks without seeing one another (especially my friend Christina who is currently living in Syracuse and only comes home every so often). So finding time to regroup and create these memories together has become so very important. 
Part of my 25 before 25 goal list was to plan another trip this year, but to be honest I think a yearly trip is a necessity for every year, not just this one. Part of friendship is experiencing new things together and making lifetime memories in the process. Now, a couple times a year we always make the trip up to Syracuse for a weekend to visit Christina, and we always try to do something new each time whether it be strawberry picking, trips to the zoo or just plain old shopping but I think really going on vacation is just as important because then nobody has to play "host" and we all get to sit back and enjoy ourselves.

I really consider myself lucky that I have a group of girlfriends that I have been friends with for more than half of my life. It's so common nowadays to see people no longer keep in touch with the friends they made in high school, they move to different areas and once college starts you lose touch. So I've recently been determined to constantly make an effort to plan things so that we continue to be close for years to come. So if you're reading this ladies, start saving because these trips will be a yearly occurrence!

When we went to Stratton for a long weekend we only had to travel an hour and a half to get to our hotel, which totally served the purpose of our trip, we shopped, wore embarrassing minion hats (see photo above), drank wine and snacked in our hotel room and even took a gondola to the top of the mountain. But, this year we are stepping up our girls trip game and taking a plane to Disney World. I feel like a little kid when I talk about this trip because I am so excited. Our other friend Marissa will be joining us on this adventure, which is perfect because we will have even numbers for rides and in place of matching minion hats we will have matching tee-shirts! Sometimes life can be so serious, especially now that we're all working full time so I felt it was necessary that we take a break from adulthood by acting like children running through the amusement parks.
Now that Disney World is book (and less than 45 days away!), I'm already on the hunt for the next girls trip. They seem to keep getting more extravagant so maybe a beach or somewhere crazy like Las Vegas can be our next adventure!

Do you plan trips with your girlfriends?
Any suggestions for our next trip?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Thoughts + A Weekend Recap

This weekend was a mixture of work and fun, but it's good to have a balance, right? Saturday morning I had another state test, ugh. Basically, the more tests I take the more "lists" I can get on which can lead to better jobs. I'm lucky that I enjoy the tax and finance office that I work in now and I have great coworkers, but eventually I'm going to want to move on to a better opportunity with better pay. I do want to continue to work for New York State, but I would definitely be open to going to a different department if it means that I get a promotion and a pay increase. 
Lucky for me, I'm a decent test taker and all of these tests are pretty similar: reading comprehension, basic math questions and a few word puzzles. I truly believe all these years playing board games and being super competitive has actually made me a better state test taker because I can view the questions as trivia questions I need to figure out, which takes away the stress of taking an actual test. Fingers crossed I get another good score on this exam and it will lead to bigger and better things in the future.

Okay, back to the fun stuff. After my morning test I headed to Albany for their annual Oktoberfest. Not sure why Oktoberfest was so early this year, since its still actually September (Septemberfest?) but it actually worked to our benefit because it was gorgeous outside, 80 degrees and sunny. It was the perfect day for an outdoor festival, especially because last year it we left early because it was raining. The event is hosted by our local Biergarten, where they brew authentic German beer. Typically, I'm not a huge beer drinker, especially German beer because it's very heavy but, when in Rome...! In addition to the beer tents they also have plenty of food vendors and events including weiner dog races, which are adorable. 

It was so crowded at Oktoberfest but I definitely enjoy the crowds because you get the opportunity to visit with people you haven't seen in awhile and people watch, which is my favorite past time. 

I was so happy that I got to wear shorts again this weekend. I normally pack up all my jeans and pants at the end of spring (thats how much I despise long pants) and only wear shorts, skirts and dresses. I thought because it was the end of September that my days of shorts were numbered so I gladly accepted this opportunity to bring them out. 

What fall activities are you looking forward to?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekly Outfit Recap

So it's the last weekend in September and its 80 degrees. I'm not complaining. It's allowing me to avoid the prospect of putting on pants a little bit longer. Winters in the 518 are rough, so I will gladly take any warm weather Mother Nature is willing to give us. However, I did attempt to make my work outfits a little more "fall-like" by adding booties, tights and blouses into the mix.

Skirt Ann Taylor // Top J Crew Factory (old)

Bracelet C Wonder (old)

Skirt Ann Taylor // Top Banana Republic (old) similar

Bracelet Ann Taylor

Top C Wonder // Skirt Macy's (old) // Shoes Sperry Similar

Necklace Ralph Lauren (old) // Bracelet Tommy Bahama (old)

Can you tell it's staying dark out in the morning... don't really enjoy going to work when it feels like bed time!
Top Express // Skirt J Crew (old) // Flats J Crew Factory (old) 

Necklace Kate Spade (old) // Bracelet Talbots (old)

Top Ann Taylor similar // Skirt Talbots (old) // Flats C Wonder (old)

Ring Kate Spade // Bracelet Kate Spade

What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, September 26, 2014


This has been a crazy week in my office. I've been at my job for 9 months which means my probation finally ended (hooray). Being on probation basically meant that any time I took off during the first 9 months of being there would be unpaid, which was super lame. So when I went to Costa Rica for a week back in April, I actually lost out on a paycheck that week (totally worth it, but still very inconvenient). Also I wasn't getting paid for holidays, yuck! However, thats finally over and I have full access to my sick, vacation and personal time! I won't be using any days until I go to Disney in November but it's nice to know that I have it, just in case. The other great news at work is that I got approved for an alternate work schedule, which means that I work longer hours so I can have every other Friday off! This is huge for me, because now I can get all my errands and blog work done on Friday afternoons and still have the whole weekend to enjoy myself, yay!

Here is what else I'm loving this week:

I'm a sucker for soft blankets. I can never have enough and I'm constantly buying them to add to my collection. These Pottery Bar fur throws come in a variety of different patterns, my favorite is the snow leopard and I instantly wanted to buy one for winter (ugh... a couple more weeks till my spending freeze ends). A few of the patterns are on sale, so this is the perfect time to scoop them up before winter hits! Bonus: they can be monogrammed!

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur
The new season of Survivor started this week and I couldn't be more excited. This season loved ones will be battling it out for the 1 million dollar prize. I actually applied for this season with my cousin Josh but we did not get a call from CBS, sigh.... but I won't stop trying! Hopefully sometime soon you'll be watching me on the island!

Tomorrow I'm going to Oktoberfest with friends in downtown Albany. We have been going the past few years, its a great chance to be outside, have a few beers and catch up with people that you don't get to see very often because so many people end up going! It's supposed to be 80 degrees tomorrow, the warmest it's ever been for Oktoberfest so maybe I'll be able to work on my tan too!

What are you loving this week?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Undeniable Report Update

Things are finally starting to come together on The Undeniable Report website. For awhile it was just a blank website with no material, but now articles are being published. I'm so happy to be a writer and category leader for this website, but I'm not going to lie even if I wasn't a part of this team I would totally be checking out the website daily because they have so many great articles! 

Currently Published:
  • How To Get The Best Photos When You Travel
  • Cable Knit Sweaters for Fall
  • Best Remedies for Dry Feet
  • DIY Notebooks
  • Birthcontrol Breakdown
  • What to Pack in a Carry-On (written by me!)
  • Six Kitchen Items to Invest in (written by me!)
Coming Up:
There are so many great articles coming up in the food section of Undeniable. As mentioned before I am the category leader for the food section and I am currently working with 5 fabulous females. As the category leader I list possible topic ideas for the month and the girls can either choose one of those topics or come up with their own topic to be approved by me. They then write their articles and submit it to me, and then I submit it to Hunter for editing. Basically, this means I get a sneak peek of whats to come in the food section and you won't be disappointed! The articles & recipes these girls wrote are phenomenal and I'm not gonna lie, my mouth was watering just looking at them. 
  • Recipe: Seared Ahi Tuna Steak
  • Recipe: Easy Guacamole
  • Creating the Best Smoothie
  • Grocery Shopping on a Budget
  • Recipe: Salsa Roja v. Sala Verde
In addition, I will also be writing for the Health and Wellness section of Undeniable and I have written a post about handling stress that will be published this week as well.

Overall, I'm just really excited about this wonderful team of ladies that I have the privilege to be working with. I think all of you will enjoy all the aspects of The Undeniable Report and I really hope you check out all the fabulous articles we have so far.

You can check out The Undeniable Report HERE

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Staple: The Leather Jacket

Mother Nature can't make up her mind regarding upstate New York's weather. Last week it was in the low 60s and cold, then last weekend it was in the 80s and then it cooled down again this week. This crazy fluctuation has my wardrobe all over the place. Thank God I haven't put away all my summer skirts and dresses because its going to be in the 80's again this weekend! 
My weekday mornings are pretty hectic, it's partly my fault because I wait until the last possible second to get out of bed. I always iron my clothes for work the night before so I never have that panicking moment of "what am I going to wear?" but even with having my outfit pre-planned I still run through the house like a crazy person. Once my teeth and hair are brushed, breakfast smoothie is made, and lunch is packed I normally race out the door. My work day starts at 7:00 am (I know... EARLY) but I actually chose those hours because even though my day starts bright and early it also ends at 3:00pm, and I really love getting done early so I have time to run errands and work on my blog after work. 
One of the cons of having to be in work so early is that it's still really cold at that hour of the morning, so despite the weather forecast saying it will be in the 70's by the afternoon, it's still only 40 degrees when I get in my car. Thats why I gravitate towards leather jackets, they keep me warm for my morning commute to work. I'm a firm believer that every girl should own a great leather jacket. I actually own two (#shoppingaddictproblems), the brown one I'm wearing in these pictures and a black biker jacket that I searched high and low for. Leather jackets are so versatile and they instantly make me feel cooler than I actually am. Although real leather can be expensive you can easily find a great jacket at an even better price when those big department stores have their big sales. I actually think that I got this brown one during the summer season when all the jackets and coats are on super clearance. 
I styled this jacket with a bright fluted skirt from J Crew since I'm still trying to show off the last remaining remnants of my summer tan and a fun striped clutch from Kate Spade that I picked up after they had one of those 75% off online sales!

Jacket Neiman Marcus (old) similar here // Top Express (old) same top different color: here

Skirt J Crew // Clutch Kate Spade // Flats Ralph Lauren

Do you have a leather jacket?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Recipe: Spinach Queso

Since football season has started many of you will be spending your Sundays watching the game. Personally, I'm not a football fan... despite my attempts to become a "fan" I find myself not paying attention, I guess I'm more of a basketball girl. Last weekend I was heading to a friends apartments for a little "Sunday Funday" where drinks, snacks and football were consumed. However, after the first game we ended up watching movies, much to my delight. Anyways, this little get together was a last minute decision so I needed something quick and easy to bring. I originally had planned on making a queso dip in the crock-pot but I didn't have 2 hours to cook it, so I decided on a quick and easy spinach queso that could be made in the microwave! It ended up being a big success and took all of 10 minutes to make. So for all you ladies hosting a "Sunday football viewing party" this is the recipe for you!
  • 1 package of Velveeta cheese (1 lb)
  • 1 10oz can of diced tomatoes/green chills combo (something like THIS).
  • 1 8oz package of frozen TGI Friday's frozen spinach and artichoke dip
  • 1 bag of Tostidos scoops
  • Microwave spinach and artichoke dip according to box
  • While spinach dip is microwaving, dice Velveeta cheese into cubes and place in a microwave safe bowl. 
  • Add diced tomatoes and cooked artichoke dip to Velveeta bowl, stir together.
  • Microwave Velveeta mixture for 3 minutes then take it out and stir it again. 
  • Microwave for another 3 minutes and check it again, stirring the mixture. Continue to microwave until the Velveeta cheese is completely melted and mixture is hot enough to your liking.
  • Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!
Have you been watching football on Sundays?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nice Bootie

As mentioned in yesterdays post, I went to the brand new Lord and Taylor they just opened in our local mall this weekend. I am on a strict no-shopping freeze until I pay off my plane ticket to St. Maarten, but I still wanted to walk through the store and "browse." Oh man, you have no idea how hard it was to show restraint in that store, especially in the shoe section. Macy's always had a good shoe department, but this new Lord and Taylor gives me so much more access to designer and higher quality shoes. For the most part, I tend to avoid buying shoes online because my shoe size varies depending on the brand and style. Some days I can be a 7.5 and other days I'm an 8, so I'm always hesitant to order online, instead I try and buy shoes in the stores. I like have the options to try on a variety of sizes to see "if the shoe fits" (pun intended). 
The boot section at Lord and Taylor was especially amazing, I felt like I had died and gone to shoe heaven! I already own a couple pairs of great boots for fall, but honestly a girl can never have enough shoes, right? So todays post consists entirely of boots I saw at Lord and Taylor that I wished would magically appear in my closet. Did I mention that the shoe designer Steve Madden was at our local L&T signing shirts and raffling off pairs of shoes from his new collection? I didn't win, but I did find a few pairs of Steve Madden boots that could end up on my feet once this spending freeze ends....

Where do you go shoe shopping?


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Thought + A Weekend Recap

Some weekends just go faster than others. As I sit here at 5:30pm on a Sunday night, I'm shocked that I have to get up tomorrow for work. It's good to be busy, but sometimes I wish we had an extra day in the week set aside solely for sitting in your pajamas watching Netflix. Instead I'm thinking about all the stuff I have to get done to get myself ready for the work day tomorrow, Sundays are for packing my lunch, ironing my clothes for the week and mentally preparing myself for showing up to work at 7:00am (ugh). So in preparation for Monday morning, I thought this quote above was perfect, because sometimes when you have to wake up when it's still dark out you really need some motivation, haha!

Here is a quick recap of my weekend:
  • Friday night was that pajama day that I was discussing. I was exhausted from the week and spent my night watching television while snuggled up with Misa. Did anyone else watch the Fashion Police tribute to Joan Rivers? She really was a legend and she will be missed.
  • Saturday, despite my strict shopping freeze, I went to the mall. I wanted to check out the new Lord and Taylor they put in and it was AMAZING. Despite having a huge selection of shopping in my area, we don't have a ton of great department stores. Basically we have a Macy's and thats it. I desperately want a Nordstrom or a Neiman Marcus, but I am totally happy with the new Lord and Taylor. First of all it's huge and gives me options to shop designers like Kate Spade and French Connection! However, I kept my promise and didn't buy a single thing!
  • Saturday night I went to our local Italian Fest at the Italian Community center. It's a family tradition which turns into a mini family reunion with amazing food. It was a beautiful night outside and we were able to stuff our faces with ziti and fried dough while sitting outside.
  • Sunday morning I got coffee and bagels with friends at our local Brueggar's Bagels. Again, it ended up being a beautiful day so we sat outside and gossiped.
  • After breakfast I took my cousin to the mall for her belated  birthday gift. We always take her shopping and let her pick out whatever she wants. She has become my mini-fashionista!
What did you do this weekend?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Week in Outfits

So I still haven't pulled out my fall/winter clothes out of storage yet (#procrastination) so I've been forced to improve on my wardrobe wearing the few long sleeved things that I never put away last year. I'm just not ready to put on pants yet if I don't have to so hopefully I will get 1 more week in dresses and skirts before I go full on fall with the plaid and the boots. However, I think it's finally time that the sandals are put away, since my toes are cold when walking into the office.

Dress Banana Republic (old) // Jacket J Crew Factory

Belt - bought in a boutique in Chicago // Necklace J Crew (old) // Bracelet Lilly Pulitzer

Skirt Macys // Top J Crew // Flats Ralph Lauren

Necklace & Bracelet Macy's (old)

Dress J Crew Factory // Cardigan 

Bracelets C Wonder & J Crew

Blazer Gap (old) // Top & Skirt Ann Taylor (old)

Bracelet Talbots (old)

Have you brought out all your fall clothes yet?

Friday, September 19, 2014


We made it through another week! Can you believe it's already mid September, it seems like only yesterday it was July. One thing I hate about the weather starting to change is that it's been chilly in the afternoons so my days of sitting outside on my lunch break are numbered. I don't know about the rest of you but I spend the majority of my day sitting in my cubicle and I really enjoyed getting fresh air on my lunch breaks. On the positive side of work--- I put in an application to change my work schedule so that I work longer days Monday-Thursday so I can get every other Friday off!!! Having a three day weekend every other week would be AMAZING so *fingers crossed* everything goes through!

Here is what I'm loving this week:

American Horror Story: Freak Show
I'm such a fan of this show and I've been counting down the days until it's October 8th premier. If you haven't watched if before AHS tells a different "horror story" each season. In the past they have chronicled a haunted house, an insane asylum and witches in New Orleans but this year we will follow Jessica Lange (Emmy winner!) and her band of freaks at the circus. 

This Gallery Wall
I love the idea of making an entire wall of a room a giant gallery wall of paintings and photos. It's definitely something I would do, making it a memory wall of experiences and things that inspire me. Also how amazing is that zebra rug?!

Dallas Buyers Club
Since my fall television shows don't start back up until next week, I've found myself watching a lot of movies on HBO to bide my time. This past week I watched Dallas Buyers Club which tells the true story of Ron Woodruff, who was diagnosed with HIV in the early 1980's when HIV/AIDS was still wildly misunderstood. During this time medication was still being developed and those diagnosed were not always receiving the best treatments from doctors. Woodruff decides to smuggle pharmaceutical drugs into Texas to sell to those affected, changing many lives involved. It's definitely a tear jerker and Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto totally deserve the Oscars they earned for their performances. 

Italian Fest
I look forward to the Italian Festival every year. It's held at our local Italian Community Center where they will serve a variety of authentic Italian dishes outside. They also have raffles and contests, but let's be honest I'm most excited to stuff my face with food. It's become a family tradition the past few years and it's a great place to eat and spend time with family. 

Plaid Loafers
A classic pair of loafers are currently on my fall wish list, especially because I wear a lot of flats in work during the winter but I'm always looking for a new way to dress up an outfit. I'm loving these green plaid loafers and these red calf hair smoking slippers from Sole Society, they look so comfortable!

What are you loving this week?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Currently Reading

Part of my 25 Before 25 List was to read more books. When I wrote that goal I didn't specify what "read more books" entails but in all actuality I wanted to read 24 books, two books a month for an entire year. It was a big feat to take on but so far I am on track. I'm currently on book number 20, with two months to spare before my 25th birthday (ahhh!).
 Last week I started Gillian Flynn's book Sharp Objects. I was a huge fan of both Gone Girl and Dark Places, so when I find an author I like I tend to go through all of their books before I move onto the next author. Sharp Objects tells the story of Camille Preaker, a journalist from Chicago who is forced to travel back to her small hometown to cover the murders of two young girls. Camille is now forced to battle her inner demons that resurfaced after bad memories of her childhood flood her memory as she searches her hometown for clues on who killed those little girls. Flynn's books are always super twisted but they leave me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out "whodunnit". 
Once I finish 'Sharp Objects', I believe I will move onto 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed and 'The Leftovers' by Tom Perrotta. I watched The Leftovers series on HBO this summer and typically when I get hooked on a TV show based on a book, I immediately want to read the book or series as well. However, if any of you have read any good books lately, I would love to hear your recommendations since next year I'm going to try and read 25 books in a year!

My 2014 List of Books I've Read (So Far):
  1. Orange is the New Black - Piper Kerman
  2. After Dead - Charlaine Harris
  3. Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without A Date - Katie Heaney
  4. Everything Is Perfect When You're A Liar- Kelly Oxford
  5. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
  6. Uganda Be Kidding Me- Chelsea Handler
  7. Divergent - Veronica Roth
  8. Insurgent - Veronica Roth
  9. Allegiant - Veronica Roth
  10. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
  11. Dark Places - Gillian Flynn
  12. I Like You Just The Way I Am - Jenny Mollen
  13. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone - JK Rowling
  14. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - JK Rowling
  15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling
  16. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling
  17. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - JK Rowling
  18. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - JK Rowling
  19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling
  20. Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn
Read any good books lately?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guess Where I'm Headed Next....

My flight is booked and I'm officially headed to ST. MAARTEN this March!!!!!! As mentioned before my cousin plans a giant group vacation every year with friends, last year we went to Costa Rica and this year the group decided that we wanted to see blue waters. I know it's still 6 months away but I'm really looking forward to being reunited with friends in paradise. I've actually never been to the Caribbean and I've always dreamed of seeing crystal blue waters so St. Maarten seemed like the perfect opportunity. St. Maarten is a rare island that is split into two distinct sections, one half of the island is Dutch and the other half is French. It's night life is supposed to be fantastic since it's home to hundreds of restaurants, bars and casinos and the offer plenty of amazing day-time activities as well including private yachts, snorkeling, and surfing. 

The House!
So far there are 26 of us on this trip and we will all be renting out this amazing Dawn Beach Villa that is literally a tropical beach paradise! The villa is 3 stories tall with multiple pools (one for each floor of the house) that overlook the ocean. It's a hop, skip and a jump away from the water where we have access to kayaks and canoes. Heaven really is a place on earth!

Check out the view from our pool area!!

The house from the beach

So far I booked my flight and put the down-payment on the house but I'm really looking forward to booking excursions too. I went snorkeling in Costa Rica but I would really love to do it again in the Caribbean as well. Plus I really want to try something new... maybe paddle boarding or (attempting) to surf!

**Also how crazy is this photo! It's not photoshopped, the island of St. Maarten is actually so small that the planes land mere feet from beach-goers on one section of the island! This photo makes me pretty nervous but at the same time, I kind of want to experience this!**

Have any of you been to St. Maarten, I would love to hear your suggestions on things to do while we're there!