Sunday, September 29, 2013

World's Easiest Pumpkin Muffins

So, it is probably uncessary for me to even write this recipe down because it is literally so easy! A friend of mine was telling me that she tried this recipe and loved it. She hooked me at two ingredients: a can of pumpkin and a cake mix. I added a few extra spices to mine and garnished my taste tester muffin with Nutella. Yum! Not to mention, these are relatively low calorie considering there is no oil and no egg involved!


1 box of spice cake mix (or butter or yellow or chocolate or whatever you like!)
1 can of 100% pure pumpkin
1 tsp of vanilla extract
2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
Nutella for garnish!


1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Combine cake mix, pumpkin and spices in a medium mixing bowl. Stir like crazy. This batter is hard to get the lumps out; take caution, you will need elbow grease!
3.) Bake for 20-25 minutes and ENJOY!

Don't forget to top with butter or Nutella!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Art of Fashion

Goodwill of Greater DC's Runway Show and Gala Event

The calm before the storm
Tuesday evening, fashionistas and community supporters flocked to Artisphere in Rosslyn, VA for a night filled with celebratory cocktails, delectable hors d'oueveres, fabulous fashion, and of course,  frugal shopping fun. Themed “The Art of Fashion,” Goodwill of Greater DC’s 2013 Runway Show and Gala brought together the unique finds of their retail stores with the styling expertise of tu-anh to craft a beautifully artistic representation of second-hand chic.

Imagine this: a pop-up shop, swarms of thrifty fashionistas scavenging for their latest second-hand statement piece, fine wine pouring, bright lights shining on a stark white runway, bold lipsticks galore, soothing live jazz buzzing and of course, beautifully diverse models strutting their stylings.

I spent the majority of the evening mingling in the pop-up shop before the runway show. I will admit, I didn't even stop to try any of the wonderful looking hors d'oeuvres because I made a beeline for the trunk show. I did stop for a glass of white wine, though. In an attempt to juggle my tote bag, glass of wine, potential purchases and a heavy camera, a passerby (male!) crowned me the queen of multitasking. I gave him a polite curtsy as I realized how ridiculous I probably looked. The thrift fever, once again, gave me what felt like an extra set of hands as I adventured through the shop. Once my wine was ingested, I finally found a hand to take some pictures of the set up. 

A plethora of fun accessories.

Blazers galore!

Shoppers turn to their neighbors for the stamp of approval. It looks like a "yes!" to me. 

A well-stocked pop-up shop is dangerous!

Upon my shopping, I ran into Stephie from Thrift and Style! Have you checked out her blog? She is awesome! 
Highlight of my night? 
Not only meeting but shopping alongside the DC Goodwill Fashionista herself!  Isn't she fab?!
I had so much fun reliving the excitement of the pop-up shop I have almost forgotten to write about the real event that drew such a fantastic crowd...

 The Runway Show!

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite looks of the evening.

Scene One was themed around the colors pink, red, orange, and purple. Here were my favorites:

This was the first dress out and still my favorite. I love the color combination of the coral, nude and black lace. 

This was a total crowd pleaser. The luscious red sparkled on the runway. I love that it was paired with knee high, black boots. Classic and chic! 

I don't typically like anything that is one shouldered but the chiffon made this dress really elegant. I loved the eggplant color paired with a nude shoe. Perfect combo. 

Scene Two covered metallic neutrals and featured some truly eye-catching pieces. Here are my favorites:

Ah! The crowd favorite. This dress was BRIGHT and the crowd loved it (as did I!). A body-con shape gave it an alluring look that would be a perfect fit for a festive holiday cocktail party. 

Alas, another long coat that I loved. Paired similarly with knee high boots. I adored the collar of this camel coat. The tie-waist really gave it some beautiful shape as well. 

Scene Three took a spin on the classics and reviewed outfits of black and white. Here are my favorites:

I am not normally a fan of this much plaid but I thought this was a really chic coat. I liked the open neck and peter pan styled collar. 

I am unsure of this was intended but yes, this model was barefoot! This dress was so "swan princess."

I liked the subtle metallic in this neutral tone dress. The flesh tone was really flattering.

Scene Four wrapped up the evening with focus on the colors yellow, green and blue. Here are my favorites:

So as a blonde, I never wear yellow but this dress made me want to. It was a beautiful cut. Although, I am not lovin' the boots. The dress is chic.

My personal favorite look of the evening. I drooled over this die-cut blouse. The two neon pieces together worked flawlessly here. The cut of the blouse is flattering with a high-waisted pant.

My second favorite look of the night! Is this not the most June Cleaver dress you have ever seen? Love the open neckline and the color. The fitted bodice gives this dress some beautiful shape. 

I really enjoyed the color blocking and shape of this piece. The black side panels would flatter a curvy figure, for sure. The mesh kept it classy while also gave it a little sexy spice.

The last look I favored was this short, navy blue party dress. I would totally wear this to a cocktail party with some nude patent heels. The shape is adorable. 

A few things worth noting: 

  1. Did you notice that long coats showed up repeatedly in my favorite looks? I suppose this is my subconscious telling me that I should buy one, right? 
  2. Everything featured in this show was found by tu-anh at Goodwill retail stores. Can you believe it? 
  3. I actually got to hold that beautiful red coat in my hands after the show but it was so heavy, I knew I wouldn't be pleased if I bought it. Or would I have? I am still regretting my decision to pass it on to another woman who drooled over it as I did.

What I wore!

My look pales in comparison to the beautiful styling done by tu-anh but alas, you must be curious what I wore. I went with the classic LBD but added a bit of a vintage-esque twist. This dress, featured in my most recent thrift haul, was found at my local thrift store and has one strikingly unique feature: it was hand-sewn. Surprisingly, no one asked "who" I was wearing thank goodness because I have no idea. Whoever this person was, they knew a flattering cut for a curvy woman. I adored the neckline (which my fantastic, frugal mom/seamstress let out a bit) and the delicate lace sleeves of this dress. I jazzed my LBD up with a brighter classic, the red high heel. These patent Aldo heels were also found at my local thrift store, Vintage Values, and looked as if they had only been worn once. They paired perfectly with my popping red lip and Wal-Mart crystal accents. Yes, I said it. That headband you see there, it is indeed from Wal-Mart. I decided to do a longer earring and no necklace for this event. My earrings were from Forever 21. Finally, I toted my media essentials around in a red leather, Merona, tote.

My post-show-Goodwill-high-smile. 

Do you love or do you love these?

My cheap crystal accents.

I went with a poppin' red lip and classic straight hair for this event. 

Total Cost of my Goodwill Gala Look: $25.84
Dress: $5.00
Shoes: $5.00
Earrings: $1.98 (clearance!)
Headband: $3.88
Tote: $9.98 (clearance!)

Check out the DC Goodwill Fashionista Blog for more information about this event!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Eggcellent Breakfast Muffins

In recent weeks I have gotten incredibly bored with my breakfast routine. Majority of the week, I am on the go so breakfast usually consists of a protein bar or quick bowl of cereal. Every now and then, I wake up craving something warm but just have no time to make anything. I have seen this egg muffin phenomenon on Pinterest and have been hesitant to try it. I was unsure how I felt about warmed-over eggs. There is only one way to find out, right? So I created my own recipe and decided to try it. Total success! This will definitely become a regular breakfast for me.


10 large eggs
1 splash of skim milk
12 slices of honey smoked turkey
1/2 cup of shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
1 small zucchini
1 small bell pepper
1/4 of a large sweet onion
1 handful of fresh spinach
Salt and Pepper 
Cooking Spray
Cupcake Pan 


1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
2.) Begin by washing your veggies. Mince the onion, peppers, and zucchini. Take your fresh spinach and roll it up, then slice it thinly. 
3.) Place onion, peppers, zucchini and spinach in a skillet over medium heat until they become tender. I used cooking spray rather than oil to eliminate some calories from the recipe. 
4.) While your veggies are cooking, crack 10 large eggs in a mixing bowl. Add a splash of milk and salt/pepper and cheese. Beat together. 
5.) Add half of your veggie mixture to the eggs. Reserve the other half. 
6.) Thoroughly spray your pan. 
7.) Place one slice of turkey in each hole. Then, pour in egg and veggie mixture. Take reserved veggies and place in each cup. 
8.) Bake for approximately 25 minutes at 350 degrees. 

TIP: I transferred my egg mixture to a measuring cup for an easy pour into the cupcake pan. It worked perfectly! 


Monday, September 16, 2013

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I based this recipe off of my previous post (Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins). I learned to put a small box of instant pudding into a bake mix from my Daddy! He makes wonderfully moist cakes and swears that this is the secret. Adding the applesauce and eggs give this recipe a dense texture so they don't just taste like a chocolate chip cupcake. I used just a small cup of lite applesauce for this recipe. I'm sure most people have all of these ingredients in their pantries; that makes this recipe even easier! 


1 box yellow or butter cake mix
1 small box of vanilla instant pudding (I used sugar free)
 3 eggs
 1/4 cup of Wesson Best Blend oil (my favorite for baking)
 3/4 cup of water
 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract 
1 snack size cup of applesauce
 1 cup of chocolate chips


1.) Mix all your dry ingredients (cake mix, pudding mix). 
2.) Add water and oil. Lightly beat 3 eggs and add them as well; be sure not to over-beat them! 
3.) Add applesauce and vanilla extract. 
4.) Add chocolate chips. 
5.) Either pour batter into a loaf pan or muffin cups. Be sure to either use cupcake papers or grease the pan if you choose to make this into muffins. 
6.) Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-27 minutes. 

These won't last long!

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

Fall weather is finally upon us and I am excited for one reason: fall food. I absolutely love the reintroduction of warm, cozy dishes during this time of year. It starts with the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte); once this treat is introduced, I know it is time to start crafting some cool weather dishes in the kitchen. It's an overcast and breezy day here in the county and that has left me with a hankering for something warm in my belly. I thawed a package of sweet sausage overnight with the intention of making stuffed peppers but I was struck with a soup craving. I have been wanting to make Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana and I knew it had sausage in it so I ran with the idea. This is a super easy recipe that I have adapted from the blog, Perry's Plate. I lightened this recipe by using half and half rather than heavy cream, low sodium chicken and added in mushrooms. I also up-ed the bacon dosage because we all know you can never have too much bacon! So I suppose I didn't really end up making the "light" version, hah! 

Warning: this makes a huge pot so invite friends over!


1lb. Ground Sweet Italian Sausage
2 cups of Kale (I used frozen from Trader Joes)
2 medium sized Russet White Potatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
5 slices smoked bacon
1/2 large sweet onion
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 quart of chicken stock (I used low sodium)
2 cups of water
1 cup of half and half
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste


1.) Over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Set-aside. Drain excess grease (reserve a bit for cooking
your onions and garlic). Place ground sausage in pan, cook until browned all the way through. Break up the chunks with a fork as you cook it. Drain grease. Set aside when finished.

2.) In a large soup pot, add 1-2 tsp of bacon grease. Over medium heat, combine chopped onions and garlic. Once they begin to become translucent. Add in mushrooms and bacon.

3.) Wash, peel and dice potatoes. Wash, trim and chop kale if you are using fresh rather than frozen.

4.) Add chicken stock, water, potatoes, kale and sausage to the onion, garlic, mushroom, bacon mixture. Bring mix to a boil and then simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender and fully cooked.

5.) Stir in half and half.

6.) Garnish with fresh crumbled bacon and serve!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Martha's American Food

In remembrance and reflection upon the 12th anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11/2001, I found myself pondering what unites us as a people. In the days after tragedy shook our nation, we became the most cohesive unit we have ever been; brought together by the admiration for the heroes, our fellow citizens, who risked their lives to take the chance of saving another. Even twelve years later, this cohesion still echoes throughout our culture. This day always leaves me reflecting on what makes us "American"? Each year I can come up with a different facet of our culture that brings us together and craft the definition of what it means to be American; we are an everchanging people. 

This past weekend I was enjoying dinner out on the patio of Grace's Mandarin in National Harbor, MD. As we finished up our Key Lime Cheesecake, the two ladies sitting next to us asked about what we were having for desert; two strikingly different women than my friend and I, sharing a common bond- desert. We then began to chat through the remainder of our meal and bid them a farewell as we left as if they were old friends. 

One of the many facets of our culture that unite us: food

As Americans, we love to eat.  

Within this past year, my interest in the power of food has sparked me to think about our cohesion in culinary terms. The American people are a melting pot, after all, as cliche as that may be. We are a blend; different hues, various consistencies, acquired tastes, some spicy, some salty, some so insanely sweet, some we may consider umami, those ones that we just cannot figure out. This cliche of our culture as a melting pot left me reminiscent of a recent book I stumbled upon which encapsulated the culture of American food and features an echo of the patriotism that was reborn after we faced catastrophe in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. on that beautiful September day.

On my most recent weekly stop by the public library, I stumbled upon one of the best cookbooks I have yet to lay hands on. This book was the perfect combination of history, recipes, photography and expert insight. 

I picked up "Martha's American Food" and absolutely fell in love. It is everything I've been wanting to see in an American cookbook. Published in 2012, this book breaks down American fare by geographical region. Beginning with All-American and moving to Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest and finally, West, this book covers the cuisine from "sea to shining sea." Upon the perusal of each region, Martha spotlights regional flavors which influence the dishes of that particular section. From clams in the Northeast, sweet peaches of the South, sour cherries of the Midwest, poppin' peppers of the Southwest, and toasty hazelnuts of the West, the flavor profiles that this book provides stretch far beyond informative. Shoefly Pie, Hoppin' John, Boston Baked Beans, Mac and Cheese (with 6 CUPS of CHEESE!), Blueberry Crisp, Fried Green Tomatoes, Sauerbraten, Persimmon Pudding, Skillet Cornbread, Texas Sheet Cake, Crab Louis, and Cioppino; these dishes are only a few of the many American classics that Martha has included in her book. Not only does "Martha's American Food" feature a wide array of dishes from each region, but it also provides recipes for the traditional drinks. Think Mint juleps, Cape codders, Manhattans, Micheladas; intoxicating just to read. The ultimate sips and bites from each and every corner of our nation. 

Within each individual recipe, the book provides a snippet called the "Backstory" where the brief history the dish is told. Who originally picked it, the not-so-secret secret ingredients and transformation of the recipe; Martha dishes it up in a casual and inviting tone which certainly inspired me to get in the kitchen. In addition, every recipe in the book is coupled with a mouthwatering photograph of the final product. 

I wanted to post about this book because I see it as being a gateway for beginners yet a piece of art for masters. If you find yourself unable to define American cuisine, this book will help you work toward a diverse and satiating definition. I have this book out on a loan from the library right now but I have already ordered my own copy and it is on its way to me. I hope you find this book as a bridge between diversity and region; an unintentional attempt to unite people through one thing we all know and love: food. 

You can find your own copy of this beautifully crafted cookbook right here.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Thrift Haul #5

This summer has yielded me with the most divine thrift finds. From Christian Louboutin to Kate Spade, I have found a plethora of high end designer goods for under $25.00. My Mom and I made another trip to Fredericksburg, VA to scavenger the 10+ thrift stores in the area. Of course, we made another stop at the Goodwill Outlet where you purchase your goods by the pound! Yes, textiles are weighed and priced at approximately $1.69 per pound. Shoes come at a flat price of $2.50. It is an acquired experience; definitely not one for the impatient shopper.  We also made a stop in downtown Fredericksburg and found an amazing consignment shop. ReRun has women and children's clothing at 25%-70% off of retail prices. I could've bought everything in the store but I practice a bit of self-control (shocking!) and only picked up a few things. Check them out, Aside from Fredericksburg, this haul also includes my usual stores (Thrift Store Center, Vintage Values, etc.). I did find a new store this summer that is one of my new favorites in the Alexandria area: Frugalista. Besides the fabulous name, this store is filled to the brim with amazing brands at legit dirt cheap prices. I am talking $5.00 tops, bottoms, or 3 for $12.00. The dresses ran about $8.00 and shoes around the same. They also run a special often where you buy 3 things and get the 4th one for free. I got FREE Citizens of Humanity Jeans! Overall, this month of thriftventure was another raging success! 

The Goods:

Kate Spade Snap Top Sunglass Holder: $1.98
Thrift Store Center, Alexandria, VA
I have a soft spot for Kate Spade and this price was unbeatable. This case has "wink wink" engraved in the leather on the backside. Adorable. 

Vintage Mirror: $2.99
Fredericksburg Goodwill Outlet, Fredericksburg, VA
This price was unbeatable for this awesome mirror. It is so Snow White. I am still toying with the idea of painting it but for now, I am going to leave it in its original, regal state. 

Zoe & Zac Cross Hatched Faux Suede Heels: $9.99
Thrift Store Center, Alexandria, VA
It is always a good day when you find unworn shoes; the sweet satisfaction of mint condition. I am unfamiliar with the brand but the nude color will be a perfect asset to my shoe collection.

Style & Co Metallic Elastic Heels: $4.00
Charlotte Hall Farmer's Market, Charlotte Hall, MD
These are so ridiculously comfortable. The bands of elastic are both chic and comfortable. 

Rampage Sandals: $4.00
Charlotte Hall Farmer's Market, Charlotte Hall, MD
Minimalistic yet eye catching. I loved the rhinestone detail on the toe straps and surprisingly, these are actually very comfortable! 

Kate Spade Cherry Patent Heels: $16.00
I often pick up things when I thrift that aren't my size, so that I can sell them on ebay. I then use that money to fuel my shoe addiction. These are product of my reselling. I love the deep red color. The heel height is absolutely perfect, too. 

Old Navy Cheetah Dress: $5.00
Vintage Values, Lexington Park, MD
A dress with pockets, need I say more? This was bold print for me (someone who can be a bit of plain Jane) but I loved that it was microfiber and that it had pockets. The sleeves have a button-back detail which is really cute. 

Forever 21 Prarie Skirt: $5.00
Vintage Values, Lexinton Park, MD
Anything that can serve what I like to call "double-duty" is fantastic. This is long, flowy skirt that can be hiked up to make a beautiful summer dress. I loved the hippie vibe of the pattern! 

Merona Structured Dress: $7.00
Vintage Values, Lexington Park, MD
This is a classic for work or a social event. The delicate ruffle around the neckline gives my lacking bust a nice "full" look (hahaha). 

Vintage Dress: $5.00
Vintage Values, Lexington Park, MD
Okay, I am IN LOVE with this dress mainly because it is hand-sewn. It has no tag and you can see the pictures below which show off the hand stitching in the hem. The slightly stiff collar and lace sleeves scream Morticia. It is so beautifully crafted. I didn't try it on in the store but I just got good vibes that it would fit me... when I got it home it literally fit like a glove. 

Hand Sewn Hem! 

Calvin Klein Sheath Dress: $7.98 at 50% so $3.98
Thrift Store Center, Alexandria, VA
I love all of Calvin Klein's professional line. This dress is the perfect shape; it has a hem down the center which is extremely flatter on a curvy shape. I love the pleating around the neckline. Very stylish. 

J Crew Boho Tank: $4.98
Fredericksburg Goodwill, Fredericksburg, VA
I bought this top for the tassels. I don't know but I loved them. It is classic, light cotton top. Perfect for hot summer days with a pair of cuffed jeans and oversized sunnies. Love. 

United States Sweaters: $6.00
ReRun, Fredericksburg, VA
I loved the shape of this open-knit sweater. It has a bit of bell sleeve and smidge of sixties vibe to it.

J Crew Flannel: $6.00
ReRun, Fredericksburg, VA
This is the perfect flannel; lightweight, colorful and super soft. 

The Limited Sheer Black and White Blouse: $4.98
Goodwill, Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA
I loved this sheer top! It has a fun print, gold accents and an elastic band at the bottom. Very chic!

Forever 21 Chiffon Blouse: $4.98
Goodwill, Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA
I am a sucker for royal blue. For blondes, it it totally our color! I loved the zip back detail on this top!

Kut from the Kloth Jeans: $6.98
Goodwill, Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA
I was unaware that these were $80 jeans when I went to try them on; they fit so perfectly I googled the brand and found out I really got a bargain. They have the perfect stretch. So comfy!

Old Navy Sheer Blouse: $4.00
Frugalista, Alexandria, VA
I was drawn to the strange mix of colors in this top. I loved that it was atypical. I had a little girl in Target stop me and tell me how much she loved my outfit when I paired this with a black pencil skirt and nude heels. That is always a great feeling!

Myth Sheer Blouse: $4.00
Frugalista, Alexandria, VA
I am not typically one to buy orange anything but this sheer tank top is so gorgeous! I loved the details: flowy neckline, perfect shaped back, and zip back. 

Merona Blazer: ...FREE
Frugalista, Alexandria, VA
A single button blazer is by far the most flattering cut on any woman's body. This was a great basic color and the best part was I got it as my 4th FREE item!

Unknown Feather Print Sheet Top: $4.00
Frugalista, Alexandria, VA
I have a fascination with no tag clothing. I have no idea where this top is from but I love a good, 3/4 sleeve sheer anything to throw on with jeans!

That's it for now, ya'll. Stay tuned until my next haul!