Stuffed Pepper Casserole with Turkey and Brown Rice

When I saw that we had leftover green peppers in the fridge one dish came instantly to mind: Stuffed Peppers.

After searching Pinterest for recipe ideas I came across one for Stuffed Pepper Casserole…mmm, sounds good! Any time I have stuffed peppers I end up cutting everything up and mixing it together anyway, so why not just take the casserole route? I decided to put a healthy spin on it and swapped out ground beef for ground turkey, as well as white rice for brown rice.

This is an easy dish to make during the week for a quick dinner. And leftovers make an easy lunch during the week too!

Start by cooking the turkey over medium high heat. Once fully cooked set aside. Add diced peppers and onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes or so. Add corn, tomato sauce (Hunts is my preferred brand), diced tomatoes, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Feel free to add any other spices that might kick the flavor up a notch. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes.

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Mmm…I was tempted to eat it just like this!

Add rice (I like to use Seeds of Change instant rice) and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a 9×13 pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and pop in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until cheese is ooey and gooey.

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Perfect.

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If you love stuffed peppers this is a great twist on the original…and healthier too! Enjoy!

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St. Pete Bachelorette Weekend

I always look forward to the weekend…but when there’s a celebration involved? That’s even more of a reason to look forward to Friday! This past weekend my friend Sam had her bachelorette party and I was so excited to be able to celebrate with her. Can you believe I’ve only been to one other bachelorette party in my lifetime?? I guess that’s why I was extra excited about Sam’s! She is also one of the sweetest people I know and I was so happy that she was getting a day that was all about her.

Saturday was a full day celebration. I knew it was going to be a day filled with drinks and food so I started my morning with a hearty, healthy smoothie. One banana, one cup almond milk, half cup rolled oats and a tablespoon of almond butter.

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We started off at Sea Hag’s on St. Pete Beach for lunch, where a certain someone’s significant other is the chef *wink wink*.

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I had one of my favorite dishes there, the blackened fish tacos.

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After lunch we headed to the beach for some sun. It was spring break this past week so the beach was really crowded. We still were able to find a good spot and it was fun people watching.

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I can only stand the sun for so long so after about an hour I headed home to clean up and change for the night’s festivities. My friend Lora met up at my place and we took an Uber to Sam’s hotel in downtown St. Pete. This was our first time using Uber! It took a little bit for me to figure out how to use it (and I still don’t know how you choose a driver, it just chose one for us?) but overall it was pretty easy. And I love the fact that you don’t have to mess with money (although we weren’t sure if we were supposed to tip?)

After a quick lingerie shower (oh la la!) in Sam’s hotel room we walked to dinner, which was at Station House.

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How cute is the bride-to-be???

Station House is a new tapas style restaurant that has been open for about a few months and I’ve been dying to try it so I was so glad we were going. And they really took care of us! There were 12 of us total and they set us up in a private dining area, which was perfect. We were able to talk loudly and be silly!

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We started the night off with a toast to the bride and delicious drinks!

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I started off with champagne and later had a Violet Rickey, which was amazing. It was a twist on a Gin Rickey with violet petals. The violet flavor was a great touch…if you like elderflower liquor you would dig this drink.

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The food menu is divided into shareable plates, entrees and sides. It’s a great way to try a few different things.

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Lora and I started off by sharing the Bell-Ringers, which were bacon wrapped medjool dates, chorizo, apricot and pink peppercorn. Yum!

We also shared the Radicchio Salad, which had bacon lardons, pecorino romano, roast garlic croutons and was topped with a poached egg. I’m not normally a fan of runny yolk, but mixed in with the salad it really made the dish. The saltiness of the bacon mixed with the bitterness of the radicchio and texture of the egg really made this an interesting and delicious salad.

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For my main dish I got the Grits and Grunts, which was lightly fried local grunt filets atop grits with a sauce that had blistered tomatoes and cremini mushrooms. The dish was a bit on the salty side, but I still really enjoyed it.

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After dinner we headed to The Canopy for drinks and unbeatable views of downtown St. Pete.

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With good food and good friends it was a great night celebrating Sam!

How many bachelorette parties have you attended? What was the most memorable?

How Give & Grub is Striking Out Hunger

Did you know that more than 700,000 people go hungry every day in the Tampa Bay area? And that most of those people are children?

The Laser Spine Institute is trying to lower that number, one meal at a time. They are the brains behind the Give and Grub food truck. The Give and Grub food truck donates a meal to a child in need for every meal someone buys at their food truck. How amazing is that? The Laser Spine Institute and Give and Grub are striking out hunger in our local community. In fact, they recently announced that they reached 25,000 meal donations!

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The Tampa Bay Bloggers were recently asked out to a special Give and Grub event where we learned all about the idea behind their food truck and even got to taste some of their amazing food!

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Give and Grub are also partners with the Tampa Bay Lightning and all of their dishes are named after Lightning players.

Their menu includes:

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How amazing does all of that look??

And while we were there they introduced two new food items…a steak sandwich and sweet potato fries!

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The name for this sandwich is TBD…they let us put in some suggestions though!

We got to try the Chicken Parmkos, Hedman’s Steak Tacos, Callahan’s Mac Slam and some of the new sweet potato fries. Everything tasted fresh and full of flavor. They make their own bread and you can definitely taste the difference.

Not only does Give and Grub serve up fresh, tasty food, they’re also giving back to their community. That’s a win win in my book!

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If you want to try out Give and Grub, request the truck for an event or help out visit their website at: http://www.giveandgrub.com/

Disclaimer: I attended this event as an opportunity with the Tampa Bay Bloggers. Our food was comped in exchange for Facebooking/tweeting/Instagraming during the event. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Spring Styling at Anthropologie

Happy daylight savings time!

Sunday morning was *rough* but I do love the longer days of sunshine that lay ahead of us! They always make me feel like I can get more accomplished during the day.

One thing that helped me jump out of bed Sunday morning was the date I had set with my dear friend, Lora. Lora was invited to a special event at Anthropologie, where we’d get to shop and sip mimosas prior to their normal open hours. Shopping? Mimosas? Sign me up!

We were welcomed at the door with a smiling face of one of the store associates, who also served as our personal stylist for the day. In the dressing room area we were greeted with mimosas and lovely madeleine cookies.

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There was also a rack set up with current pieces that are trending for spring.

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With mimosa in hand we began to scour the floor for our favorite spring fashions. What I love about Anthropologie is the versatility and timelessness of their clothes. You can easily dress most of their items up or down. And an item you buy today will look just as pristine a few years from now. Truthfully my wallet always takes a small gasp at the sight of their price tags…however, I know when I buy something from Anthropologie I know I will get a lot of wear and use out of it. And that is worth the price! Plus, they always have a great sale going on in the back! If you’re looking to stock up on some lightweight long sleeved tops or sweaters for the next cold front, head over there now!

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Time to try on!

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I really liked this black dress. It was simple, fun and flirty. I can totally see dressing this up with a cute pair of heels and a statement necklace.

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I love my curves, but still have some trouble fully embracing them sometimes. I prefer fit and flare skirts and dresses, but Lora convinced me to try this skirt on. I loved it! It was so comfortable and you can easily pair it with a variety of different colored tops.

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This was my favorite top of the day. Loved the detail and the color.

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Loved this top too!

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This top comes in a variety of colors and is SO soft. Seriously…I want to live in this shirt. The collar is a kind of satiny material so again you can dress this up or down. This is where our stylist helped out and showed me how I could pair this with a fun necklace or a funky scarf.

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I saved the best for last. I loved everything about this dress. The style, the colors, the material. Love love love!

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I highly recommend setting up a free session with a personal stylist. They can really help you find exactly what you’re looking for, how to enhance their pieces and more.

As we left we were given an adorable succulent to take home as a party favor.

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Thanks for having us Anthropologie!

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 After our shopping excursion it was time for brunch! We headed down the street to one of our favorite places in Hyde Park, Piquant. Piquant is a charming French themed restaurant and they have a nice variety of breakfast and lunch items ranging from traditional omelets, sandwiches on fresh bread, salads, flatbreads and of course pastries.

Lora and I ended up sharing one of the brunch specials, a Brie and Pear Flatbread with Smoked Chicken. Delish!

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After brunch I made a stop at Nordstrom’s at International Plaza to see my friend Ashley, who’s a fit specialist in the lingerie department. She helped me pick out something special for my friend Sam, who’s having her bachelorette party this coming weekend.

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If you’re in need of a gift, or if you need something for YOU make sure to stop by and see my girl Ashley. She’s an excellent fitter and loves what she does!

Butternut Squash Risotto with Kale and Pancetta

butternutsquashrisotto I hope everyone had a nice holiday!

It seems to be clear that blogging has not been a top priority for me recently. Life just continues to be busy, busy, busy. I have tons that I want to catch up on…a trip to Cleveland, our week in Blue Ridge, GA…and I’ll get to all that. But for now…a recipe!

I’ve gone through a bit of a phase lately where I haven’t been in the mood to cook much. I’ve been going out to eat a lot lately or just picking up something at my local health food store. I knew that the cooking bug would bite again…I just needed to be inspired.

The other night I had my heart set on making risotto. After searching through Pinterest I decided on butternut squash risotto. I had kale to use up so I thought I’d throw that in. And I felt like it needed something else…boom! Pancetta!

To make prep a whole lot easier (ain’t nobody got time to cut up a squash) I found pre cut frozen butternut squash at my local health food store (for locals: Rollin’ Oats). I also was able to find chopped pancetta in the deli section of the grocery store.

I basically started off with a simple risotto recipe. I cooked off the pancetta and set it aside. I heated the butternut squash in a pan with olive oil and once it was cooked through I added seasoning and the kale. I stirred the mixture until the kale was slightly wilted (it will wilt more when stirred into the risotto) then set the mixture aside. Once the risotto is fully cooked I stirred in the pancetta and squash and kale mixture. The standard risotto recipe calls for 3 cups of broth, but I ended up using more. I recommend taste testing along the way to make sure you don’t undercook the rice. You don’t want it to be crunchy at all.

I served my risotto with baked chicken and a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Without further adieu, here’s the recipe! Hope you all have a Happy New Year!

ButternutSquashRisottoRecipe

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

I have a confession…

While enjoying a cocktail last week at our new favorite bar, Jon and I got to talking to a small bachelor party (they were quite entertaining). We had some good banter going on and in reference to a drink he was drinking one of them asked me, “Do you like pumpkin spice lattes?” In response I leaned in and said “Are you calling me a basic bitch?” Laughter ensued.

My confession? You guys…I most definitely am…a basic bitch. Because yes, I do like pumpkin spice lattes. I love pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. Give me ALL THE THINGS pumpkin spice. Yes, I am one of THOSE people.

My excuse? I live in Florida. And I grew up in Connecticutt…so I know what REAL Fall feels like, looks like and tastes like. I miss the changing leaves, the brisk cool air…so if a little pumpkin spice brings me a little Fall happiness then so be it!

I will admit…some of the pumpkin spice things have gotten a wee bit out of hand, but there’s a lot of yummy pumpkin spice items out there. I’ve tried my fair amount and here are some of my favs!

Tazo Chai Pumpkin Spice Latte

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I love the spicy notes of chai so chai mixed with pumpkin spice is heaven in a cup to me. A little bit spicy and a little bit sweet.

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Waffles

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Trader Joe’s has done me right in the pumpkin everything department. These pumpkin waffles are SO good and they’re actually the best frozen waffle I have ever had. The flavor is perfect and they are perfectly soft and fluffy.

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

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My new favorite snack to munch on. Yum, yum and yum.

Trader Joe’s Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli

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This was definitely an impulse buy since once I got home I wasn’t sure how to prepare them.

I ended up getting some chicken sausage and after sautéing it I added alfredo sauce and tossed the cooked ravioli in it. Served with roasted asparagus.

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Next time I think I’d try doing a lighter sauce, like a butter sage sauce. The pumpkin and the alfredo was a bit too much together.

The Fresh Market Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice Gelato

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Love this gelato from The Fresh Market. Has a TON of pumpkin flavor and is smooth and creamy. Makes a perfect light dessert.

What are your favorite pumpkin items?

Fresh Tastes at California Pizza Kitchen (Review)

I attended a tasting of California Pizza Kitchen’s new menu items on behalf of Tampa Bay Bloggers. California Pizza Kitchen gave me a complimentary meal in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

I have to preface this review by saying that I am not a big fan of chain restaurants. One of the reasons why is that there seems to be a lack of healthier options. And if there is something on the healthier side it is typically an uninspired chicken, rice and vegetable dish. California Pizza Kitchen has recognized this and in turn they are turning over a new leaf this Fall. They have added new dishes to their menu that are not only healthy, but also seasonally inspired. No bland food here! California Pizza Kitchen California Pizza Kitchen in Tampa invited myself and other bloggers to a tasting so we could check out the NEW California Pizza Kitchen. Unfortunately, I had some kind of weird stomach bug the day of the tasting so I had to back out. But luckily I was able to come back a few days later and still enjoy a tasting! First things first…drinks! California Pizza Kitchen California Pizza Kitchen I love me a good cocktail. I was able to try the new Blood Orange Sangria, the Blueberry Ginger Smash and a third that unfortunately I forget the name of. It was my least favorite though, so that may be why! My favorite was the sangria. It was light, sweet and refreshing. Now to the food glorious food… Harvest Kale Salad California Pizza Kitchen I loved seeing this salad. I usually don’t order salads out because they’re borrr-ing. Not this one! With my favorite green as the star, faro, roasted butternut squash, pear, cranberries, pecans, goat cheese and citrus vinaigrette this salad was packed full of flavor. Roasted Garlic Chicken Crispy-skin chicken breast in lemon-garlic sauce with hearth-roasted fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and Mediterranean herbs. California Pizza Kitchen Overall this was a great dish. The chicken was a bit too salty for my taste and I wish there were more Brussels sprouts because I love them so! Hearth Roasted Halibut Wild caught halibut from the Aleutian Islands, roasted on a cedar plank with butternut squash faro, baby kale and grilled asparagus. California Pizza Kitchen This was my favorite main dish. Halibut is meatier fish, so paired with the butternut squash faro this was a nice, hearty dish. It was light, tasty and satisfying. I also loved how California Pizza Kitchen has incorporated faro into some of their new dishes. It’s not a grain you see on a lot of menus and it’s not to have something outside of the norm. Fire-Grilled Ribeye 12oz USDA choice ribeye grilled with housemade Pinot Noir sea salt and topped with creamy bleu cheese butter. Served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon arugula salad. California Pizza Kitchen Mmm, mama loves a good steak. I’m totally a meat and potatoes kinda gal so I was into this dish as well. The steak was cooked perfectly and had great flavor. The butter on top was tasty, but I could have lived without it. Pumpkin Cheesecake California Pizza Kitchen Self explanatory! One of my favorite desserts is cheesecake and I love pumpkin everything so this dessert was perfection to me. The menu isn’t the only thing that has gotten a face lift at California Pizza Kitchen. Check out their new digs! California Pizza Kitchen California Pizza Kitchen The new décor definitely gives California Pizza Kitchen a less “chain” look and more of an authentic vibe. California Pizza Kitchen The Tampa location is one of a small handful of restaurants that is trying out California Pizza Kitchen’s new concept. From what I saw and tasted I hope it moves to all of the other locations! Do you dine at California Pizza Kitchen? Have you tried the new menu items?

My Beauty Routine (Review of Valentia Even Glow Serum)

Disclaimer: I was offered a complimentary bottle of Valentia Even Glow Serum in exchange for a blog post review. All opinions are my own.

In part of following a healthy lifestyle, I don’t just watch what I put into my body, but I also pay careful attention to what I put on my body. I prefer to use makeup, lotions and potions where the majority of the ingredients are all natural. Of course, there are some exceptions (what girl doesn’t drool over MAC eye shadow?), but for the most part the makeup and beauty products I use have limited ingredients.

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Here’s a look into what goes on my face every day. I’m a very simple girl when it comes to maintenance…I’ve always said “If I can’t do it in 5 minutes I don’t want to do it”. So yes, my whole makeup routine takes about 5 minutes :)

First, I start with Valentia Even Glow Serum, which is a Vitamin C serum that I just started using a few weeks ago. Truthfully, I was a little skeptical about this product making any difference in my skin. I don’t consider myself to have any skin issues, but wanted to give it a try since now that I’m in my late 20s I want to keep me skin nice and healthy!

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Well, this product proved me wrong, thankfully! I’ve been putting a pea sized amount on my face and neck for about 2 weeks now and I definitely see a difference in my skin’s texture, brightness and clarity. My skin feels smoother, softer and seems to have more of an even skin tone. In addition it has a great citrus smell to it and has 98% natural ingredients including Vitamin C, Green Tea Extract and Organic Rosehip Oil. I’m definitely keeping this serum in my beauty routine and am so glad to have been offered the chance to try it!

So after the serum I use Apivita Aqua Vita 24 Hour Moisturizer and Apivita Aqua Vita 24 Hour Moisturizing Eye Cream. I love how airy light this moisturizer and eye cream is and have been using them for a few years. Apivita’s products have 98% natural ingredients and are free of parabens, silicons and fragrance.

After moisturizer I use a small pump of bareMinerals Prime Time to even out any lines and to give a smooth surface for my foundation.

For foundation I use bareMinerals Original SPF 15 Foundation. I have tried other foundations in the past, but always come back to this one. In the Florida humidity it is impossible for me to use liquid foundation. It feels too heavy and cakey. So this powder is perfect and has great coverage.

Then on goes the eye shadow, which currently is Stila’s Kitten. I like having a natural everyday look so will usually go with nude eye shadow colors. I like this one because it has a bit of a shimmer. (Right before I took this photo I dropped my beloved eye shadow and it went EVERYWHERE. *sigh*)

For mascara I use bareMinerals Flawless Definition Mascara and top it with bareMinerals Locked and Coated Waterproof Lash Top Coat. When I bought this I was told this was better than using regular waterproof mascara.

To finish it off I brush on bareMinerals Stroke of Light. I cannot tell you how many different under eye concealers I tried before this. I was never happy with anything…they never had enough coverage, were too heavy and they’d constantly crease so I’d be fixing it all day. I love this eye brightener and will use it forever. It covers my horrible dark circles and is water based so it’s very light and feels like nothing.

What are your favorite beauty products?

 

 

A Step Into Italia

My two favorite cuisines are Mexican and Italian…very different I know.

I really fell in love with Italian culture when I was in college and took a 3 week trip to Sicily. Most of the day was spent in a small conference room with our professor teaching us Italian. The rest of the day was spent exploring churches, monuments, etc. I wish I could remember the names of all of the beautiful places we saw…what did I remember? The food of course! The pasta, the pizza, the pastries, the gelato, the espresso…my favorite pizza while I was there was eggplant and prosciutto…kind of hard to come by here in FL. The same goes for fresh breads, pastries and really good espresso.

La Casa del Pane

Until now…there’s a small Italian café and bakery on St. Pete Beach that I have only been to once in the past 6 years. But I’ll be going a lot more often now! La Casa del Pane used to be located next to a not so delicious Italian restaurant in a building that was easy to miss. They recently moved up Gulf Blvd to a bigger, brighter space. Jon and I had breakfast there earlier this week before I had to go into work.

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Have you ever seen a more beautiful sight in the morning?

We both had a macchiato (mine a single and his a double). And each had the ham, egg and cheese sandwich on a roll. And we shared an almond croissant.

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Everything was fresh and delicious. The bread was soft with a crunchy crust and the croissant was sweet and flakey.

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La Casa del Pane has a variety of pastries, cookies, breads and pizzas. They make fresh sandwiches and salads as well. There are plenty of Italian grocery items as well if you’re looking for a good olive oil or some hard to find Italian brands (Kinder anyone?) If you’re dining in there’s an espresso bar or a long community table where you can read the morning paper or people watch. There’s also outside seating for whenever we get some cooler days here.

La Casa del Pane

Later that same day Jon tagged along with me to a networking event at Wonderland Floral Art and Gift Loft. I didn’t even know this place existed, but I’m so glad I know now! It’s located in a building across the street from the famous Mazzaro’s Italian Market. Wonderland is a florist and gift shop combined. They have a lot of cute gifts…keeping this in mind for Christmas gifts!

Wonderland Floral Art and Gift Loft

Wonderland Floral Art and Gift Loft

Wonderland does flowers for any kind of special event or you can pick up an arrangement if you just like having fresh flowers in the house. But their specialty? Arrangement classes! Yes, they do monthly classes where one of their florists walks you through how to make your own beautiful floral arrangement and then you get to take it home. How fun!

After a yummy dinner catered by Mazzaro’s (chicken, mashed potatoes, Cesar salad and cannoli’s) we were taken through the steps on how to make our very own Fall floral arrangement.

Wonderland Floral Art and Gift Loft

Wonderland Floral Art and Gift Loft

Wonderland Floral Art and Gift Loft

As we went through each step we were told about each flower and greenery that we were using, it’s characteristics and how to best handle it. Very informative!

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Our finished product!

Wonderland Floral Art and Gift Loft

Jon and I are definitely not pros, but we had a lot of fun making our arrangement. I definitely want to come back and do another one!

Do you have a favorite Italian café you like to go to?

Have you ever made your own floral arrangement?

iPhone 6 & 6+ (Review)

Disclaimer: I was asked by AT&T if I would like a sneak peak at the new iPhone 6 and 6+ in exchange for writing a review. I was not compensated for this blog post. All opinions are strictly my own.

Are you an Apple nerd like I am?? I don’t know what it is about Apple products, but I am an Apple girl through and through. The sleek, shiny look of their products, the ease of use, the new wave technology…I just love them. Jon and I have a Mac notebook, we both have iPads and we both have iPhones.

I am almost embarrassed that I still have an iPhone 4…the dinosaur of iPhones. But (knock on wood) it is still working pretty great…a little slow at times…but still working! As soon as I heard the iPhone 6 was coming out I vowed to upgrade once it was available.

Luckily I had the opportunity to get an exclusive look at the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ and see the new upgraded phone in all it’s glory.

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My first reaction? The iPhone 6+ is HUGE compared to previous phones. I’m personally not a fan of this as I like a smaller sized phone rather than a tablet sized phone. The iPhone 6 is thankfully a bit smaller, although still a bit bigger than the 5 and 4.

There are lots of new features…this is definitely a better upgrade than the iPhone 5 and 5s. Better camera quality, cool new video features, more space, lighter, bigger screen and more. For a full rundown on the new features check out Apple’s website.

One of my favorite new features? The Health app.

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It’s like a fitness tracker, but no need for a wristband! It tracks your steps, sleep pattern, heart rate, calories, etc. Love!

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Now I’m even more excited to upgrade. I was thinking of just getting the iPhone 5 (at hopefully a lower price since it’s now an older model), but the iPhone 6 is so bright and shiny and new I’m not sure now. Will have to see what my cell provider can offer!

Thank you AT&T for letting me check out the iPhone 6 and 6+!

Do you have an iPhone 6 or 6+? What do you think?

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