I'm still in shock…..but I said YES!!

Well actually I said, thank you. Yup, D finally asked, "will you marry me?" and my answer was "thank you!" Talk about nerves really getting the best of you! Ahhhhh you guys I'm still in so much shock and it all happened on Saturday afternoon with our parents there and it was just……perfect.
 And I'm sorry, maybe I'm a little partial, but this is just the prettiest ring I've ever seen. 
I'm so in love with it, and it makes me love it even more knowing D designed it all on his own.
 A moment I'll never forget. Both our hands were shaking. I was still in so much shock it all felt surreal. The proposal story is even better that I promise to share more of the story in detail soon. Right now I'm just soaking it all in. 
Cloud 9 I tell you :)
 He also got a secret photographer to take photos (how did he know I always wanted this??) so we will forever have these beautiful moments captured in time.
Can we please look at my cheesy grin and puffy red eyes? I just can't help it though. You guys, I'm getting MARRIED!! I'm so excited I feel like a silly little school girl who finally got asked out by her long time crush. But I guess that is kind of what happened. My long time crush finally asked me to marry him……and I cried and said "thank you."

xo Steph


Grilled Steak Salad with spiced pecans, shaved gruyere and drizzled balsamic

Yup, I titled this salad the best steak salad EVER! It's a bold statement deserving of a delicious salad. Originally I had this salad at one of my favorite restaurants in Hoboken called Elysian, a French/American bistro where EVERYTHING on the menu is good. I have not had one bad meal there ever, and I insist on trying new things each time I go. Recently I order their sirloin steak salad which was to die for. It was then I decided I must recreate this at home. Because seriously, there is nothing like a warm sliced steak over a cool green salad. I mean come on! 
What You'll Need:
Package of spring mix salad
cucumber peeled and sliced
chopped red onion (as little or as much as you like)
cherry tomatoes
shaved gruyere cheese 
(but a hard parmesan would also be nice, or you could omit the cheese completely if you're trying to be good)
spiced pecans
(there's probably a very simple way to make these from scratch, but because it's a weeknight and I'm tired, I just bought a package in the produce section found near the salad stuff)
flank or skirt steak 

homemade balsamic dressing:
equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil, a little water, and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning. Mix together in a cruet and chill.
To make, begin marinating your steak. If you have the time, do it over night. If not, brush the marinade on. I use a simple olive oil, salt, black pepper and minced garlic. While the meat is marinating, this is a good time to make the salad dressing if you don't already have some made. Grill steak to your liking. I like mine medium, so that's about 2-3 minutes per side. Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. During this time plate your salad. Place the the delicious steak on top. Grate fresh cheese on top of everything, salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle for dressing on top (and you can go very light on this. I promise this salad is very flavorful.)
And there you have it people! The most delish steak salad there ever was! Perfect for a summer night paired with some fresh crusty French bread and a glass of red or white. Dining al fresco of course :)

xo Steph


Summer Goodies

I don't know what it is, but lately I've turned into a total product junkie. I was never like that before and was always the kind of girl who had only the basics, and most times didn't even wear makeup. But now as I've gotten older (I think it was turning 30) I've started to WANT to take more care of my face and appearance, and have actually splurged on some nicer department store beauty items as opposed to doing a beauty haul at my local CVS or Target. Again, nothing wrong with that, but turning 30 has given me the green light and permission to splurge and spend a little more money on quality items that will keep me looking younger and feeling fabulous. With summer on it's way in, there are soooo many great summer goodies to add to your collection. And the pretty packaging doesn't hurt either. I'm such a sucker for pretty packaging and colors it's almost comical that I will buy something just because it looks nice. I am a total "judge buy a book by it's cover" -- I must a advertiser's/marketer's dream come true! Here are some summer goodies that caught my eye.

Summer goodie

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Bobbi Brown Cosmetics summer perfume / Victoria s Secret victoria secret fragrance / Face moisturizer / Philosophy sun care / Beauty product / Alterna hair shampoo / Urban Decay cheek bronzer

Does anyone else like to invest in all new products specifically for summer? Any recommendations of your favorite products that I should check out? And on that note....happy Monday everyone! Including today I have 7 more days of school.....but who's counting ;)

xo Steph


Happy Birthday Dad!

Life doesn't come with an instruction book - that's why we have fathers.

And this couldn't be more true. So I just wanted to take this time and say Happy Birthday Dad! {and happy early father's day}. To the man who taught me how to ride a bike, drive a car, and everything in between -- I am so grateful and blessed to have such a strong and loving role model in my life. 
So cheers to you dad, and we'll be celebrating this weekend : )

xo Steph, D and Tiki too.


Father's Day Backyard BBQ

Reminder: Father's Day is this weekend people! For us, it's a joint father's day/dad's birthday weekend. Literally his birthday is on Friday and Father's Day is Sunday. So Saturday we are planning to do a low-key backyard BBQ, just the way my dad likes it. In his words, it's a good day if he doesn't have to leave the property! Our fiesta will most likely be even more low-key than this, at the end of the day my family likes to keep things simple -- but here are some party details I'm thinking of incorporating.
For original source details, you can find them on my Father's Day BBQ board on my Pinterest page. 
1. Arnold Palmers! What's not to like? Half lemonade, half iced tea. And for the adult drinkers, throw in some vodka :)
2. Outdoor games. Cornhole is a personal favorite of mine, as D and I were recently in a corn hole league (true story)
3. Outdoor bowling (D and I were also in a bowling league and that's how we met) fun fact, haha

 4. serve beers and cold beverages in cute metal bins
5. BBQ chicken on the grill to make the meat eaters very happy
6. lighten things up with an orzo salad with grilled summer veggies
7. Burgers with a twist. Stuff them for a caprese version.
8. Instead of traditional salads, serve iceberg wedges. I know my dad prefers iceberg lettuce opposed to the "weird other lettuce" aka romaine/spinach/spring mix.
9. The manliest of cupcakes. Made with beer too!
10.  Coke Floats. Or Ice Cream Sodas according to D. These one's were D's dad's favorite treat -- so they are a must for dessert :)
Just like the traditional root beer float, but better!

So what do you have planned for all the wonderful dads in your life?

xo Steph


The Summer Bucket List 2014

It's that time of year again where that magical season known as summer roles around, and I just can't help getting excited of all the possible adventures and fun things that await. I start daydreaming about summer vacation like a little kid (I guess being a school counselor who actually gets a summer vacation from work lends itself to that) and I fantasize about laying on the beach, drinking fruity cocktails and having the time to actually indulge in whatever floats my boat. I actually referred back to my previous summer bucket lists, and I have a lot of the same goals I'd like to acomplish, but I want to try and keep it shorter this year so it doesn't intimidate me like I HAVE to accomplish everything on this list, otherwise I'm a failure. So anyway, here's my summer fun list that I hope to enjoy:

1. Start reading Game of Throne, the first book in the "A Song of Fire and Ice" series.
Any other GOT fans out there??

2. Blog more! Even though I will still be working this summer, I'll have summer hours that will give me the flexibility to blog more. And I want to blog because I enjoy it, not because I feel like I have to. I want to keep the creative juices flowing. Any blog ideas you'd like to see on here? 
Let me know in the comments!

3. Set up my work-out routine and stick to it. I have the time now, no excuses for me anymore.
Plus that whole "having to be in a bikini thing" might give me a kick in the ass I need to just do it.

4. Cook more. Again, I'll have more time and won't feel dead tired coming home from work only to order a pizza or make a frozen meal. I hope to create a new blog series following this so stay tuned!

5. Go on vacation out of the country. The first step was finally renewing my expired passport.
Any suggestions on where to go?

6.  See John Legend in concert.
Can you make this happen D?? Birthday present alert!

7. Movies Under the Stars in Hoboken.
One of my favorite reasons I love this city, among the many others. This years movie line up is awesome.

8. Figure out how to work with my natural curls.
I'm sure there will be a lot of trial and error involved, but I want to learn how to love my curls, or at the very least, give my poor hair a break from all the heat styling. I need some options/techniques/product recommendations on how to nurse my poor locks back to health! Suggestions very welcome!

9. Create some fun summer cocktails.
No explanation needed.

10. Make it to the beach, at least once.

So what's on your summer bucket list?
xo Steph


That one time I didn't make it to Belmont, but I have a fabulous derby hat to show for it.

Yup, the title says it all. That one time I didn't make it to Belmont, but I have a hat to show for it. As you may know, D and I have a going on 5 year tradition that we go to Belmont for the big race. Every year we try to top our outfits from the last year, and this year I decided to make my own fabulous hat. Because the hats are everything at these races. Well the hats and pearl necklaces. Anyway, I made my own hat (see inspiration pic below). How fabulous is that hat with the gorgeous peonies? So I made my own version of the hat was all ready to go. 
Unfortunately we never made it to the races. It was a nasty combination of a car breaking down, a washer overflowing and flooding the apartment, and bloody fingers needing stitches (okay I'm exaggerating a tad, still bloody but no stitches needed) -- that prevented us from going. But there was no triple crown this year anyway so it's not like I missed anything special, right? Right!
This years inspiration photo.
Sorry I've had this pic saved on my computer so long I don't have the original source listed.
So I got to crafting with my little hot pink glue gun. 
And a bunch of flowers and ribbons from the craft store. 
So I hit up my local AC Moore and found all the faux flowers I needed for the desired color palette. I decided I wanted a mix of pinks, dark pinks, and whites, with a contrasting black ribbon for a chic and classic look. Plus the black would allow we to wear it with almost any color dress. I started with a basic straw hat (hat I originally bought for the races a few years ago) and lined the base of the hat with the black ribbon. Then I snipped off all the flower stems and went to arranging until I thought it looked good. Like so:
I decided I wanted to have all the flowers on one side of the hat for a more dramatic effect. Much like my inspiration photo. Once I had the placement of everything I liked, I snapped a photo and started hot gluing! 
My mom got in on the action since she is a natural born flower arranger by heart. She helped me with the proper placement of greens and even created this pretty  black plaid bow on the back of the hat for added texture and interest.
And there you have it. The most fabulous hat I ever made that I never got to wear. I guess there's always next year. I'll be ahead of the game with my entire ensemble picked out. Plus this could always double as a southern belle Halloween costume. Because you know it's never too early to be thinking about Halloween :)

xo Steph


b + w love

Summer breezes have been making their way into town and I am soooo pumped. School is almost out which means summer is almost officially here. Right now I am currently craving everything black and white. This color combination is so chic, crisp and clean -- and looks awesome with a tan, so its a total score! Plus, with everyone wearing the typical bright, neon colors this summer, you'll stand out in your classic monochromatic look.

b + w

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I don't care what people say, black and white are my favorite colors (are they colors or are they neutrals?) and I love wearing them all year. I rock my black purse despite people telling me I need to switch my bag to a summer bag (what does that even mean?).
What are your favorite colors to rock over the summer?

xo Steph


Today is D-Day (Doxie & Donut Day)

Today is D-Day, which my D the history buff reminds me is the day that the US troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France during WWII. It's actually the 70 year anniversary to be exact. But while that is an extremely important day in American history, today is also a special day in my life -- celebrating this little hot dogs 11th birthday. Eleven years old! She doesn't look a day over 1 year old. She's what I like to call our "perma puppy." So happy birthday little Tiki girl, you may never fully understand the impact you've had on all of us and how many people who have felt your love and who in return love you soooooo sooooo much!

On another note, aside from being D-Day and Tiki's birthday, it's also D-Day at DD (Dunkin' Donuts). You'll get a free donut with any beverage purchase. So go ahead and splurge on that ice coffee….because it's Friday baby! And I heard there's no calories in donuts on Fridays :)

xo Steph


Remember when it was Memorial Day Weekend?

And remember when I stayed on top of blogging? Yeah, me neither. Ugh, maybe I have caught a case of spring fever but my head has been in the clouds. I feel like the students I counsel….totally counting down the last days of school, which is 16, but who really keeps track of that stuff. Anyway, finally getting around to sharing MDW pics which included a Mets game with the whole family (starting to be a new tradition), a friend's 30th birthday on the water at this fabulous restaurant, and some BBQ action at my parents house in the country. It couldn't have been a more perfect, and busy, weekend :)
Big apple home run. One of the first dates D ever took me on was to a Mets game (great seats behind the dug out) so we really was aiming to impress! So this holds a special place in our hearts.
I'm not sure this Corona is big enough. What do you think?
I guess we cleared out the whole nose bleed section, huh?
the moment we found out we were both Mets fan we knew it was true love.
We bonded over a lifetime of disappointment and losing. 
Me and my momma.
Bunch of crazzzzy people we are. And I love every second of it!
Like sister like brother I guess.
After the game, even though we were exhausted we headed to my friend's birthday where we, well…..had a blast. And maybe a few too many drinks too! 
Reminiscing and catching up with your girlfriends is sooooo necessary. 
Also went a little out of my comfort zone with my saturday night look. Sorry for the poor quality of this photo but I wanted to share my out of the ordinary (for me) look.
Because it rained at the Mets game, my hair was a hot mess when I got home. Rather than take on that nasty battle with my straightener, I decided to work with the natural texture (and the braid I had in all day) and I think it came out pretty cute.  I felt very Carrie Bradshaw….a little wild and sassy. And add the red lips and it was all over ;)
On Sunday I went home to PA to grill at my parents house. The boys played golf and the girls got manis and shopped. Just the way I like it!

Again, sorry for the lack of blogging. Once the school year comes to a close I hope to kick up my blogging like….full time! Stay tuned :)

xo Steph

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