Wedding Planning: To be or not be a feminist?

As women, we grow up with the idea that we will eventually one day possibly change our last name after marriage. I know not everyone is raised with this idea or standard but this was not the case for me. Being raised in a pretty traditional catholic household meant I would take my husband’s name without question. It wasn’t until my adulthood that I started to think differently on this subject.

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Wedding Planning: How I got carried away a bit


Our engagement picture which we took in front of our apartment door at 3:00 am.

When Paul and I first got engaged we agreed that our wedding would be casual and not like any other wedding we had been too. We both agreed to courthouse nuptials and a small gathering in both of our home states, one in Iowa and one in Massachusetts. Since we were engaged in secret for almost year, we had the chance to plan our wedding without any outside opinions. It was glorious. We both had been to enough weddings to know what we wanted and what we didn’t. As the months came closer to announcing our engagement, we were solid in our ideas of how our weddings would be.

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What’s in a name?

I don’t think I ever explained the meaning of the name of my blog and since I haven’t posted in awhile I figured I would bring it back to basics for ya’ll.

Back in 2006, I got my first tattoo. It was something I was VERY proud of because I designed it myself. It was also something I had contemplated on for several years. I designed the tattoo when I was 18 using a pirated version of Photoshop that made my Compaq computer run like it was a snail.

Here is a picture of the actual tattoo and the original design. (My apologizes for the bloodiness of the actual tattoo)

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Skin Care Revamped: Post-Op Gastric Sleeve

When I was a teen, I really struggled with my skin. I had really bad acne which didn’t clear up until I was 21. I should have been happy with that but my skin was still problematic. I have redness and pores that are impossible to keep clear. The last few years, as I am nearing my 30’s, I have been focusing on my skin care routine and trying to perfect it. I have been trolling the sub-reddit of r/skincareaddiction which has taught me a lot about how to take care of my skin.

It wasn’t until recently that I had re-evaluate my skin care routine because my bariatric surgery. I am not able to consume as much water as I use to and I think my skin is just having a bit a temper tantrum after my surgery. I use to have oily/combo skin but now I have combo/dehydrated skin. It’s really frustrating because I really felt like I got my skin care routine down pat for the most part and now I have to re-evaluate my whole skin care routine i.e. buy all new skin care stuff. Not all new stuff but I still buy a couple of new items to help my dehydrated skin.

Back to square one.

Step 1: Sunscreen and Makeup Removal

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm – I’ve loved this cleanser for awhile because it doesn’t strip my skin and it’s quite hydrating without being overly greasy. I don’t wear makeup every day but when I do this always does the trick of removing all of my makeup including water-proof mascara.

Step 2: Cleanse

Clinique Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser – Again, I’ve loved this cleanser for a long while and this is not changing in my routine. It leaves my skin feeling clean but not tight. I can always feel a difference in my skin when I don’t use this for a couple of days.

Step 3: Exfoliate

Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10 percent Hydrating Gel – This is brand new to my routine. I received a sample from Sephora and after only using it for a couple of days I knew I was missing something in my routine. I ran out of my sample pretty quickly and after a couple of days of not using this I realized I needed this product in my life. I immediately bought a full size.

Step 4: Moisturize/Protect

Peter Thomas Roth VIZ-1000™ 75 percent Hyaluronic Acid Complex – After talking to a Sephora rep, she suggested this product for my dehydrated skin. THIS IS AMAZING!! I use it at night and when I wake up any scaly bits that I may have had are gone and my skin is soft.

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM with SPF 30 – I use this for my day moisturizer because it has 30 SPF. Sometimes if my skin is a little dry I will add a few drops of Tarte Maracuja Oil and it totally does the trick.

I will let you know how this routine goes.




Atheism and Christmas

Growing up catholic, Christmas was the best time of the year. It was less about some baby that was born a couple thousand years ago and more about family and friends. It was about bringing everyone together even though they lived chaotic lives and lived miles away. It was about making fudge for everyone we ever met or knew. It was about the ridiculous amounts of food my Mum and Aunts would make Christmas Eve. It was about the scent of Pine candles because we always had a fake tree. It was about hand made presents my parents would go gaga over when I was kid and that still litter my childhood home. It was about wearing my “Christmas” pajamas my mother would give me the morning before Christmas that I would live in for the next couple of days. It was the Hood Golden Eggnog.

If you are not from the Northeast, you are missing out on the best nog EVER.

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Mum’s Baked Ziti

My mother is very big influence in my cooking and probably always will be. She got me involved in the kitchen at a very young age and taught me a great foundation of culinary tricks that I still use to this day. Since fall is upon us like a vengeance with cool and breezy nights, I’ve been desperate for some of my mother’s classic dishes but she lives 1200 miles away (wahhhaaaa). She use to make this baked ziti (before she was a little more health conscious) that just oozed cheesy goodness that could warm up any chilly fall night. The other day I decided I was going to treat myself with a decadent meal that would make me feel like I was back home and with my mother’s home cooking.

Of course, I had to add my own spin on her classic recipe. She never made her own tomato sauce (always from a jar – don’t judge she was a busy lady) and she was kind of shy with spices. I hope you enjoy this family friendly classic that can satisfy a crowd or provide left overs for a couple for days. 😉

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Adventures in French Bread Making

 It’s SOUP SEASON!!! And what goes better with soup, BREAD! The other day when we were meal planning for the week, I came up with the bright idea of making french bread for the first time. I had recently been thumbing through my copy of Essential Pepin and the recipe for baguette seemed easy enough. It requires a lot of patience since you have to let it rise for like 5 hours in total. 

*This is not a healthy bread or option by any means but I was feeling like a treat!

Jacques Pepin’s Baguette 

  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour, preferably organic, plus 2 1/2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups cool water (70 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal

Put the 4 1/2 cups flour, the yeast, salt, and water in a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until a smooth elastic dough forms. Alternatively, process the ingredients in a large food processor for 45 seconds.

Transfer the dough to a plastic bucket or a large deep ceramic or stainless steel bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (about 70 degrees) for at least 4 1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Break down the dough by bringing the outer edges into the center of the bowl and pressing down to release the air inside. Form the dough into a ball. Sprinkle the work surface with 2 tablespoons of the remaining flour, place the dough on top, and press down to form it into a rough rectangular shape. Cut the rectangle lengthwise into 4 equal strips. Roll each strip under your palms into an 18-inch length.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat and sprinkle with the cornmeal. Place the baguettes on the baking sheet. Let the baguettes rise, covered with an upside-down roasting pan, in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Sprinkle the tops of the risen loaves with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon flour. Cut 4 diagonal slits in the top surface of each loaf with a serrated knife or razor blade, and place in the oven. Using a spray bottle filled with tap water, mist the inside of the oven to create steam, and immediately close the door. Bake the baguettes for 35 minutes, or until brown and crusty.

Cool the baguettes on a rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing.








Next time, I would probably let it rise for another 45 minutes longer. 





Look at that steam coming off of that bread! I couldn’t wait the 45 minutes for the bread to cool!



I’m in my happy place, now. 


Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. All rights reserved.

Fit Bucket List

  • Ziplining
  • Rollerblade
  • Hiking
  • Swim (without being super self conscious)
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Bungee Jump
  • Hang glide
  • Horse back ride
  • Run/jog a 5k
  • Shop at the gap/victoria’s secret / forever 21 / limited / and all the other stores I could never shop at
  • Ski / snowboard (though I’m sure I would still suck at it)
  • Take a spin / yoga class

These are things I haven’t been able to do because of my weight.

These are things I am going to do when I lose weight.

Some of them may seem like stupid  or crazy goals but I feel like I’ve been missing out a lot in my life.

And I’m done missing out.


The moment of truth…

August 18th will mark my 6th and final appointment with my nutritionist, doctor and clinical nurse. After August 18th, they will submit to my health insurance and the wait begins for my surgery date. As of today, I have not met my doctor recommended weight loss goal but I came pretty close. I lost 17 lbs which is just past the halfway point of the 30 lbs the doctor suggested of me. I’ve been working out and planning out my workout goals/plan. I’ve made changes in my life to prepare myself for my surgery and my new life. Actually, I have started my new life. I just want this waiting game to be short…fingers crossed.

I’m about to explode with anticipation, excitement and nerves.

That’s all for now.

Iowa State Fair 2014

Since I’ve moved to Iowa, I have attended the Iowa State Fair every year. As someone who grew up in a fairly urban area, the Iowa State Fair is a novelty to me that I just can’t get enough of. It’s not just about fried foods and meat on sticks though I’m sure there are a lot of people who argue you on that. There is so much more to the state fair and it turns me into a little kid all wide eyed and bubbling with excitement.

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