Saturday, July 30, 2011

Root Beer to the Rescue!

So it's been quite awhile since I had the pleasure of indulging in a Root Beer Float. I'm talking a really long time. But it was so worth it! And this float was perfectly portioned to not be too much of an indulgence at all (I made mine with A&W Diet Root Beer, which actually tastes quite like the original and one half cup serving of vanilla ice cream. Not bad if I say so myself!).

I was kind of having a bad night. We all have them right? And even though all the experts say that food is not the answer to making people feel better, this time, this little treat did the trick. I mean, just look at them. They're fantastic!

That looks fantastic, right? Root Bear Float in a cupcake? So up my alley!

So if you haven't had one in awhile, grab a glass, scoop yourself a little ice cream and pour in as much Root Beer as you like and enjoy. Oh and a straw and spoon are both mandatory. You can't pick one!

Do you ever indulge a little treat to make yourself feel better? What is it?
(I always love suggestions!)

It's good to be back to blog-land. I missed you guys!


P.S. Delighted Momma is having another giveaway! You could win this gorgeous bangle! Enter here

Thursday, July 28, 2011

No longer MIA

Ahh, as the trip comes to an end, so my life starts up again. And blogging is included in my life (no shame in admitting how much I love it!)

So come on back later this week and next to see the back-to-normal Susan in action!

Thanks for sticking with me and I can't wait to see what everyone's been up to!

Happy Weekends all!


Friday, July 22, 2011

View from the Top

Well we are on to Part 2 of our Colorado adventures! Next stop: Durango! We're going to take a few days to get there since we have a few days to kill until we're expected at our next destination. I'm excited! We're going to picturesque Telluride and hopefully we'll drive by the Ralph Lauren ranch! (Ever since my mom saw that Oprah with the Laurens on it, she's been dying to see it...and I don't blame her, I want to see it too!). Anyway, I'm excited to see what the rest of the state has to offer! It's been quite a trip so far and we're having a fantastic time.

I hope you're not getting bored of my pictures from the this beautiful place, but I just had to share a few from the biggest hike we've taken. Every day we've pushed our limits and went farther and higher each day, but today took the cake. We took a nine mile hike. Yes. Nine miles. At 9500 feet. Yep, I still can't believe we did it either. It was tough, but the view was oh so worth it.

Ahh! Gorgeous. We may not have been singing Climb Every Mountain during this hike...

So, thanks Avon. It's been a blast! Off to Durango we go!

Happy Weekends!


P.S. Thanks everyone for putting up with all of my travel posts. I promise that soon I'll start talking about other things, promise!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ooo Heaven is a Place on Earth

Ok, so that title is probably the cheesiest ever, but that is truly how I am feeling right now about this place. We are so incredibly lucky to be able to rent a place for a week in beautiful Avon, Colorado. I truly don't think I have ever seen any place like this. I mean, I have visions of what heaven might look like, but now I am truly hoping that God makes heaven look like this place.

Have you ever been to a place and you are sure that a part of heaven looks like that? Where is it?
Right now, this looks like it to me.

After venturing through the rolling hills of Iowa and the incredible flat lands of Nebraska, we ended up at our first stop here. The mountains are so gorgeous, with their beautiful orange, red and gray tones at the bottom and then lots of greenery at the top (even some snow pictured below!). The Aspen trees are absolutely phenomenal and the views from the vistas are absolutely breathtaking.

Here's a recap of how we've been spending our days so far:

We've been enjoying our homemade meals and looking out at the gorgeous trails behind our back patio. It's truly breathtaking. The weather has been great also!

Then today, after having a lovely morning of sitting out back, drinking my morning coffee and reading, looking at the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen, we went out for a big hike through the trail behind our villa. Man the altitude up here gets you! I've probably had more water here than I ever have on the hottest day in Chicago. You really do need it up here. We hiked up to the horse stables and hopefully we'll be able to take a trail ride later this week. We kept hiking almost to the top of this beautiful mountain. It was such an accomplishment for us and I was so psyched to see the view!

We also want to check out the Village and see the shops. I will mostly be window shopping, but I still want to check out these cute mountain shops!

So far the trip has been so relaxing and I have been enjoying myself more than I can say. Between getting in lots of reading and making loads of friendship bracelets, I've also made lots of headway on my blanket! I know it's going to take me awhile to actually finish it, but I'm proud of how it's looking so far. When it looks a little better, I'll show you guys what it looks like!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend and I can't wait to catch up with everyone! Enjoy your beautiful views in your neighborhood this week. I'm savoring these views for as long as I can.


P.S. Hope everyone in the Chicago area survives the heat wave I've been hearing about on the news!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

We've all been hit...

by the travel bug of course!

Last night my aunt and uncle came over for a typical family dinner (complete with juicy steaks, delicious salad, baked potatoes and they brought amazing cupcakes for dessert, YUM!). However, this was the first dinner we've had since my aunt returned from vacationing for three weeks in beautiful Italy! So of course we were all dying to hear about her travels and see some of her pictures.

She spent time in Rome and Venice (and I think Florence? I got a tad lost with all of her fun stories! I do know that she spent time on the Amalfi coast!) and her scenery was absolutely gorgeous! Her villa was surrounded by gorgeous olive trees and lemon trees (my mother's new obsession) on the mountainsides. It sounded phenomenal! She said that walking everywhere and talking to locals was the best way to find things to do and food to eat--although three different people told her three different places for the "best gelato", so of course she just tried all three! I guess you could say that she immersed herself in somewhere like this:
Gorgeous right? It's breathtaking!

She even brought a few treasures back for us, which was so sweet. My mom got a beautiful, Italian painted salad bowl that she has always wanted and my siblings and I all got Italian leather wallets. Ahh Italian leather! I love it!

I can't wait to get to Italy someday! Has anyone ever been? What's your favorite spot to go to?

Hearing about her travels has gotten us even more excited for ours! We leave tomorrow for Colorado and I am so, so excited! Our view is going to look something like this:
These are some mountains we get to tackle! I can't wait!
There is just something about traveling and experiencing new things that really makes you feel complete. You just never know what you have in store when you travel and it's those unexpected moments and experiences that make me love traveling even more. 

I can't wait to come back and tell you all about our adventures out West! Since it is such a big trip, we are taking a computer so on my down time I can't wait to read what everyone else has been up to! Until then, happy blogging! Live up every beautiful summer day, before we know it they'll be gone!


P.S. Happy Birthday to my younger brother Michael who turns 19 today! Cake? I think so!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

So we all have our dirty, guilty TV pleasures. I mean everyone has to have something that they're embarrassed to say that they watch. I guess for me it's The Real Housewives. Yes. It's terrible...but I just can't help myself.

Ok, how about the Bachelorette? Any better? Love it!

But my guilty pleasure that I'm currently addicted to is watching old episodes of the 90s PBS kids show Wishbone. Did anyone ever watch that or was I just the crazy one? My sisters discovered it on YouTube the other night and I have been hooked ever since. I love the 90s preteen drama and I love love love this little dog all dressed up. And I've learned about classic literature too! I guess my love for elementary school kids has given me a second love for kids shows. Because I'm a big Arthur fan too. (Can you see the pattern? We still don't have cable (never have), so PBS was and kinda still is it!)

Personally, I think it's ok to get into kids' TV now and then. It's kind of refreshing because the drama isn't stupid or nasty (like on the Real Housewives) and it kind of puts your adult life into perspective. (That was me being a little philosophical about kiddie shows, I'm weird like that!)

So again today you have learned more about my random TV habits. So now I ask you guys: does anyone guiltily watch kids shows, or any other embarrassing shows? Tell me I'm not the only one here!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

going on VAY-CAY!

All things this week lead up to our big family trip out west and we all could not be more excited!! The only state out West that we've ever been to is Arizona (probably my Dad's favorite state) but we've only ever flown there, so we've never seen the lay of the land heading that way. This time, all roads lead to mountainous Colorado! I can't wait to explore, hike, relax, and maybe be a little stereotypical Western and pull on my cowboy boots to head out to a rodeo!

But, before we get there, there's one of the things I hate most: packing. I always try never to forget things, so usually I supplement this with overpacking. Yes. I overpack for everything, even overnights or weekends away. It's bad. But I'm trying to get better and focus on only a few things and not go overboard! Some things that will definitely make appearances in my suitcase:

1. Hanes Men's T-Shirts. At first I thought my sisters were crazy for wearing these for everything, but now I have truly become a believer. They work for absolutely everything, and they're so lightweight, which make them great for packing, and for wearing on a hot summer's day.

2. My Patagonia Pull Over. It's going to get chilly at night so this will be the perfect layer for sitting out and looking up at the stars above the mountains.

3. My Cowboy Boots. I absolutely LOVE them and wear them all year round, but I thought that this trip would definitely be a nice place to wear 'em proud!

4. Books! We are going to be spending lots of time in the car and I am so ready to read and relax. I've got books for pleasure for myself and then books that I'm going to read that my fourth graders will be reading in the fall. I'm so psyched!

5. My knitting needles...and some new wool! Now, how could I possibly head out on a huge trip without bringing my needles along for the ride? I'm finally going to start an afghan that I have wanted to make myself ever since I first started knitting. I'm so excited I'm finally following through with it!

Since this trip is probably the biggest trip we've ever taken, I've decided to make a list of everything I'm bringing just to make sure I don't leave anything either here or at our destination. I saw it on a blog a few weeks back and I thought it would be a good plan for me.

Anyone else have any pre-trip rituals or things that absolutely have to come with them?

I'm so excited! We've been getting lots of tips from friends and neighbors of the best places to check out near Beaver Creek (our first stop) and Durango (our second stop). It's going to be a good trip.

Have a terrific Tuesday! Hopefully no one's as sore as I am today after a tough workout yesterday! You think you're in shape and then the next day....oh well!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Mmm Tart!

So this was a busy weekend! Between a wedding, big babysitting jobs and having the grandparents over, I was tired out by last night. Yesterday we had a DELICIOUS meal: burgers on the grill (I added onions inside with a little bleu cheese on top---I wanted to be a little gourmet!), spinach salad with strawberries and feta and a delicious tart that my mom and I made for dessert.

This guy was delicious! We were chanelling our inner Joooooolia Child by making a delicious creme tart that we found from her famous Art of French Cooking Cookbook. It's so decadent and it really was not too difficult to make. Julia helped us every step of the way through this one in her book. It's so good!

We put strawberries on top, but in the past we've piled raspberries on it and it tastes just as good. I mean, I tell ya, it's gotta be the creme! It's just rich enough and has this really creamy texture to it. The slight vanilla flavor is just perfect for the fruit on top and then the crust below it. Thank goodness we saved some extra cream to eat by itself. It such a fantastic treat.

This week is the countdown to our big trip out West. I'll be sharing more about the trip later this week. Let's just say I'm getting a little bit excited!

Have a very sweet Monday everyone!


P.S. Have you seen these sweet bangles that Lindsay at Delighted Momma made? I love them! Enter her giveaway here. Or maybe you shouldn't so I have a better chance of winning!

Friday, July 8, 2011

My new boyfriend

Ok, so I have a new love. It's probably the best love I've ever had. He's so nice, and if you don't like something he does, you can just press a button, ask real nicely and he'll change. Who is my perfect man? My Pandora Radio of course! hahaha

Trust me, I'm really not crazy, but the other day my sister said "You know how on Sex and the City, Miranda traded Stevo for Tivo? Well that's what you're doing with your Pandora!" I just about died. So my love life is kind of nonexistent right now and I guess I'm making up for it by massive amounts of listening to my Pandora! haha.

If you haven't used Pandora, it's pretty fantastic, and pretty nice if your favorite radio station is fuzzy or you need a break from your iTunes. I'm pretty addicted to my Today's Country Hits...(like really addicted, maybe I should expand my horizons!)

So I thought I'd get a little personal about my love life. Don't worry everyone, I'll share Pandora. Let's face it, there's plenty of him to go around!

Happy Weekend!


Thursday, July 7, 2011


Who doesn't love banana bread? (ok, I guess people who don't like bananas, silly me!). But I absolutely love it, especially when you have older, browner bananas that need to be used and not wasted. We have been using this recipe for years and it's perfect served at room temp, but I personally love it after it has been sitting in the fridge for an hour. Delish!

It's a pretty simple Martha Stewart recipe and goes a little something like this:
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt
3 mashed up bananas
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix the wet ingredients, then the dry. When all are incorporated, add the sour cream, bananas and vanilla. Mix well. Transfer batter into a greased loaf pan and bake in the oven at 350 for about 50-60 minutes.

That's it! Pretty easy, if I do say so myself!

I made a mini in a ramekin with my leftovers!

Golden brown and absolutely delicious!

It's perfect for breakfast guests or you could just indulge yourself and eat the whole loaf, with a little help of course! You'll want to save your bananas till the end every time you buy them to make this bread. You won't regret it.

Does anybody else have any other "bread" recipes they make? My {only} specialty is the banana, but I'm always willing to try something new. Thoughts?

I'm finally feeling better today, thank goodness as my voice is warming up to sing at my friend's wedding tomorrow. Better practice those hymns one more time...


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Little Black Dress Love

I am a huge advocate for inner beauty. My philosophy is if you are feeling your best on the inside you will look your best on the outside. Beauty, in my mind, is internal. It all comes from within ourselves and our self esteem has to be built up in order to be looking and feeling our best. I've said it once and I'll say it again: we are all gorgeous, beautiful people. We all have our qualities that make us shine, inside and out, but if we do not recognize what those qualities are, we will never feel beautiful. We need to shout them out loud, live them to our fullest, and build our confidence and self esteem up to the highest it can be. We have to love ourselves in order to love others {again, bold but I believe it}. I'll expand upon this later, but our inner beauty and inner love fuels our outward feelings and appearances. So if we feel good on the inside, anything on our outside looks fantastic!


My symbol for ultimate inner and outer love is The Little Black Dress. When we find that right dress, we beam whenever we wear it and our confidence level instantly skyrockets into the triple digits! And, I say, that having more than one is totally ok. I mean you need that casual one and that dressy one that can make that dinner date extra special. And then you need one that can do both!

I'm on the lookout for a casual/dressy casual black dress. My old dresses have shown the wear and tear of their {over}use so they have been donated/recycled for those who can still use them. My friend is getting married this weekend, and if money were no object, I would snag this dress instantly for her celebration! It's just dressy enough, but I'd love to dress it up with some nude heels and lots of bangles on my wrist. Am I right, it's gorgeous!

Image via
And how about this one?? Ahhh I'm dying! This is absolutely gorgeous. GORGEOUS! Seriously if money were no object, what I would do!

Image via

So let's embrace ourselves this week and show the world how much we love ourselves. Wear that LBD or whatever it is makes you feel like you. Trust me, this is our moment to show our inner and outer love to the world, but most importantly to ourselves.

Have a wonderful, self-loving Wednesday!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cold July

I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekends, I know I sure did. However, I did get sick with a cold. I have been sick on many holidays but this is the first time I've been sick on the fourth. Although I tried to hide it for a day, it's just coming back to bite me (let's just say yesterday and today I have not yet left the comforts of my bed). I'll just say it...I HATE BEING SICK! And I'm probably the worst sick person you'll ever meet. I'm always getting out of bed and wanting to do more than I should. Is anyone else like that? I just can't sit still, especially when it's so nice out. Oh well, I'll try to be a better sicky!

On the bright side, I finished The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks. Goodness that man knows how to write a good love story. He made me cry at the end...again. But that's ok, it was one of those good cries. Now I am about to start The Help by Kathryn Stockett. My little sister just finished it and said it was fantastic, so I'm excited. Anyone else read it?

For now, I'll just be here relaxing in my bed so hopefully I'll be good to go by tomorrow or the next day. I have a busy week up ahead and I need to get better, so I'll just spend my day reading and maybe start a new knitting project? We'll see.

Enjoy this glorious weather!


Monday, July 4, 2011

There ain't no doubt I love this land!

Celebrate your love for the USA from your head to your toes!

God Bless America. Happy Fourth of July!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Have a very Festive Fourth!

I have always loved the Fourth of July. It has always been one of my favorite holidays because it has such a positive emotion behind it. It celebrates the same freedom that we are still living for and fighting for today . There is a sense of camaraderie among Americans during this time, I love it. Patriotic Pride is everywhere, and I can't get enough of it. I love taking a few days to celebrate how much I love this country, and thankfully there are so many ways to celebrate it!

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Decor. Just hanging the classic American flag is really all you need for decorations...BUT if you want to do a little more, you could see Martha's Craft of the Day: these Paper Fan Decorations for your back patio. If only we had somewhere in my backyard. Maybe on the rain gutters going down? haha. 

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Food! One thing I look forward to every year is the July issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine. It is filled with red, white and blue to the max and always has the best recipes and crafts. These cookies are on this month's cover and they look absolutely delicious! How I'd love one with a big glass of lemonade. Mmmmm!!!

Drinks. Now, I'm all for lots of lemonade and that's really all I need to be happy with my Fourth of July BBQ. However, if I was ambitious, I would want to try this recipe, with a few modifications to substitute things I don't like. But still, it looks very festive!

Fashion! Now, this is what I'm talking about! I go all out for the fourth outfits wise. I support my colors for four days, wearing outfits that are (hopefully) not corny, but cute and very patriotic! This is just one of the few outfits I have planned that will fit every occasion this weekend. (The clutch is also featured here...I'm addicted).

Film. My uncle introduced us to Yankee Doodle Dandy a few years ago and we've made it a tradition to watch it on the fourth ever since. It's a fantastic old musical! I'm in love with the singing, the dancing, the spirit (oh and it's black and white if you love black and white films!). Watch it this year if you've never seen it before! I love it. 

And of course, fireworks. Who could forget 'em? The displays around where I live are always so fantastic and I can't wait to be in awe once again this year. 

Everyone have a safe and happy weekend with family and friends, sharing patriotic spirit all weekend long (I know I will!). I am so proud to be an American and I can't wait to celebrate our Independence once again. Happy Fourth Weekend Everyone!