Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Been Thinking Pink...

Sorry it has been a while, ladies! What can I say but "life happened!" I am back in the saddle and now, I am blogging for a cause. In addition to the plethora of recipes, designer projects and life-style tips I plan to share with you, I would also like to share a way to give back to this beautiful world we live in.

The day after Mother's Day this year, my very own mother, my unbreakable heroine, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. It was and still is hard for me to digest considering all the volunteer work and exposure I personally have given to this disease. As a carefree 15 year old, I worked as a "Pink Lady" at the Memorial Medical Breast Center, dealing daily with patients suffering and surviving the illness. Throughout college, I assisted my sorority with our national philanthropy, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for almost five years, planning and organizing chairtable events. I continued my crusade here in Central Florida by volunteering at our yearly "Race for the Cure." Even though I was rocked to my core by the strength and perseverance of all these individuals effected by this disease showed me, I never once viewed my own mother as one of these statistics. The harsh reality of the disease is that 1 in 8 women will develop some level of Breast Cancer throughout their lifetime- 1 in 8 women!

A link was sent to me by a dear friend of mine for an organization called "Making Memories." On their site, they have partnered with several different vendors and programs to help assist in efforts to increase awareness about these disease and to provide memorable experiences to the women Breast Cancer affects. Two programs that tie perfectly into our blog here include the "Pink Envelope Project" and the "Brides Against Breast Cancer" sale. Please visit http://makingmemories.org/ for more information about each but here are brief explanations for both events below.

Pink Envelope Project- The website suggests initiating this fundraiser at a bridal shower or even a wedding reception. The concept is quite simple- pink envelopes, small donation, changed lives! "Making Memories" will send you their signature pink envelopes to collect donations in from all your shower/wedding guests, perhaps in lieu of gifts?! You could also choose to make a donation of at least $100.00 in advance to the foundation and then pass along a beautiful company crafted favor card to your guests explaining a donation has been made to "Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation" in their honor. Along with the cards, you could attach a pink ribbon key chain, chocolate or charm like the ones seen here for an added keepsake. Your guests will treasure this special memento and love the fact they helped make a difference in the life of another.

Brides Against Breast Cancer- Every girl dreams of the fairytale romance, the magical proposal and then the perfect gown! Would it be possible to have all these things for yourself AND to make someone elses' dreams come true? That is the sole mission of the "Brides Against Breast Cancer" fund. Brides-to-be have the option of purchasing BRAND NEW to gently worn contemporary, designer wedding gowns for a fraction of the price with most of the proceeds going back into the "Brides Against Breast Cancer" fund. Brides who have already taken the plunge can contribute to the cause either by donating their dresses or by participating in a "Brides Against Breast Cancer" trunk sale in a city near you. Please refer to the "Making Memories" website for more information on how to make any woman's dreams become a reality!

Thank you for taking the time out of your hectic lives to read my little blog here. I hope this post has inspired you to lend a helping hand in your community, appreciate life and to make sure those you love KNOW you love them every single day. Each day is a gift- uwrap it carefully!

Be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smelling Like a Rose!

As I was bargain shopping in the department store the other day, I stumbled upon the sweetest little silk sachets hiding in the linens section. Sachets are generally small bags or pillows stuffed with wonderful smelling herbs or flowers. These little treasures can be tucked anywhere from your linen closet, to your lingerie drawer to the underside of your pillow to add a wonderful scent where ever they may land. The department store sachets looked and smelled so luxurious but they also had a luxurious price tag to match. Of course I wanted my linens and unmentionables to smell just as sweet as these little pricey puffs, I just didn't want to shell out for the scents! Here are a few ways to add a bit of fine frangrance to your drawers, closets and beds with out breaking the bank!

*Next time you are flipping through the pages of Vogue or Cosmopolitan, tear out the perfume sample page and slip it in your lingerie drawer. This also goes for those cute little card stock cut-outs you drench with perfume at the store. Just be sure it's a fragrance you like!

*Bars of soap make excellent sachet substitutes as well! Just take an inexpensive bar of a clean smelling soap and put it in the back of your drawer. A few of my favorite feminine, yet clean scents include Cucumber Melon, White Tea & Ginger, Coconut Lime, Lavender and Lemon Grass. Unused soap works best here! ;o)

*Scented drawer liners are functional and fabulous! I will admit they are a little hard t0 find these days, but they just leave your clothes smelling divine. I have found them at Bed, Bath and Beyond before and other random shops such as Stein Mart, Ross, Tuesday Morning and even Big Lots! If you can find some snazzy ones, consider gifting them to a bride-to-be. They make a great addition to a lingerie shower gift maybe along with some monogrammed linens or other scented home products if you don't feel at comfortable buying someone besides your self undies. Scented drawer liners are just a class act!

*Have the time? Why not put your crafty claws to use and replicate the sachets you admired in the store? All you need is tulle or another fabric that "breathes" and something smelly such as potpourri, eucalyptus leaves or dried lavender to put in it. Vintage hankies make great bases for sachets too! Trace a circle onto the fabric of your choice, cut your circle (no need to cut up the hankies), fill and tie up with a beautiful ribbon. You could also use these for shower favors, maybe adding a rosette for a wedding shower or a baby carriage charm for a baby shower.

Hope these you find these Domestic Diva tips to be "SCENTSATIONAL!" Be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!

Pearly Whites

Got a hot date? Walking down the aisle? Job interview on Monday? Bring some bling to that smile! If you can't quite splurge on pricey professional teeth whitening procedures, these home spun toothy tips are a sure fire way to get your smile noticed!
*Did you know some tootie fruities can aid in teeth whitening? Strawberries, mother nature's jelly beans are not only packed with a ton of Vitamin C but have been known to brighten up a smile simply by eating them! Who doesn't like strawberries- skip the cream though! The white underside of an orange peel also contains whitening agents- just rub it along your tooth enamel. If you are a true domestic diva, you can mix dried orange peel with your everyday toothpaste for extra whitening power.

*As my mom would say, just do it the "Grandma Rubye Way!" This tried and true method is one of the oldest and most effective ways for everyday whitening. Take your toothbrush dip it into your baking soda stash and starting brushing. Be gentle along the gum line as baking soda is an abrasive. With the soda still on your teeth, drizzle a bit of hydrogen peroxide on your brush and begin brushing again. I like to keep this paste on for a few minutes or so to ensure it's strength. (A great time to do this is in the shower right after you have applied your hair conditioner; when you rinse the conditioner out, rinse your mouth too!) After a week or so of this method you should see noticeable results. I have also heard of people using lemon juice and salt but unfortunately, I can't stand the taste. It's worth a try.

*Drink EVERYTHING out of a straw! Mostly all carbonated beverages and juices contain citric acid in them which stain your teeth. We all know wine, coffee and tea are major culprits too so start slipping a straw into that coffee mug and then start sipping! The classiest girl I ever knew in college even sipped her BEER out of a straw! Laugh all you want, but her teeth were DIAMOND WHITE!

*Don't forget the floss! Sorry to sound like the dentist here but this mouthy mantra is something you have to live by if you want those choppers to shine! Besides the fact you are removing excess food which can cause bacteria growth in your mouth, you are also loosening up stain causing tartar and plaque. If the space between your teeth is clean, your smile will look a million times whiter. Don't forget all the little nooks and crannies!

Happy Brushing and be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!

Kiss My Grits!

Ahhh... Nothing eases the pain of getting up on a Monday morning more than a steaming hot bowl of GRITS! For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this divine concoction, Grits is a thick, corn-based porridge, common to the cuisine of the Southeast. This golden goop is perfect with only a pat of butter and dash of salt but additions such as meats (especially shrimp on the east or gulf coasts), sugar and my personal favorite CHEESE can kick it up a notch! I would say the most important thing about cooking these little beauties is to season them during the cooking process, otherwise you will have a pot of something that looks AND tastes like wallpaper paste. Grits are traditionally served in the morning in southern households and on St. Patrick's Day in Savannah, they are even served green!The good news is grits aren't just for breakfast anymore so please allow me to share a recipe for my favorite lunch or dinner entree:

Southern Style Shrimp-N-Grits

1 cup stone-ground grits
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (adjust to taste preference)
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 pound medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons, lemon juice
6 slices bacon, chopped into tiny pieces
1 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts (additional for garnish)
Fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add the grits, hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Stir grits well with a whisk. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook the grits until all the water is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and both cheeses. Keep covered until ready to serve.
Fry all 6 bacon slices in a skillet, move to a paper towel to "degrease." Add the shrimp to the bacon grease in the skillet and sauté over medium heat just until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Add your lemon juice, green onions and garlic to the shrimp and remove the skillet from the heat.
For serving, pour your grits into a vessel of your choice (soup bowl, coffee mug or even a martini glass for an appetizer portion) and top with shrimp mixture. Garnish with crumbled bacon, left-over green onions and additional CHEESE if you prefer.

Bon Appetit, y'all and be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!

In Distress Over Dad's Day?

Have no fear, FBBTDD is here!!! As the sultry summer days of June start to pass, each day we find ourselves closer and closer to dear ole dad's day of appreciation; Father's Day. You have one week as of today to purchase the perfect card, send that special gift or prepare your yearly Father's Day phone call. The question is what can you give the man who wiped away all your tears, bandaged all those skinned knees, gave you away at your wedding- the man who was there for you when no other man was? I always say stick with what you know and let cliche's be your guide, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach!" No matter pop's interest here are a few budget-friendly gastronomic gift ideas sure to please all palettes!

"Around the World in 80 Beers"- Grab an inexpensive galvanized or plastic drink tub (they can usually be found in the garden department or amongst the seasonal items at Wal-mart) and fill it with multi-colored tissue paper, streamers, confetti or even the newspaper funnies for a whimsical touch. Hit up the adult libation section (a.k.a. the beer cooler) and just start going down the line. Purchase any or all of the following: Mexican Beer ( ex. Dos Equis, Sol, Pacifico, etc.), Irish Beer (ex. Guisness, Harp, Smithwicks, etc.), German Beer (ex. Becks, St. Pauli Girl, Spaten, etc.), Canadian Beer (ex. Labatt Blue, Molson Canadian, Moosehead, etc.), Japanese Beer (ex. Sapporo, Kirin, etc.), and by now I am sure you get the idea. If you are lucky enough to have a "World Market" in your neighborhood, this store actually specializes in international food and beverage so be sure to check out their selection. Pack them all up in you festive beer tub and if you have time, perhaps enclose a description of each beer along with it's origin. Dad will appreciate the thought, but maybe not the hangover that is sure to ensue!

"Food for the Fairway"- Is dad an avid golfer, is he just ga-ga for the greens? Pack him a "Food for the Fairway" cooler for his next round and you are sure to secure your spot as the favorite child! Start with an inexpensive cooler and once again fill it with your multi-colored tissue paper or newspaper funnies. For a grassy effect, try using all green tissue paper and shredding a few pieces on the top. Do you have any green Easter Grass leftover- now would be the perfect time to use it! Start packing your cooler with bottled waters, mixed nuts, pretzels, cheese crackers, protein bars, beef jerky and the rest of your pops' favorite snacks. For added kitsch, throw in a jug of Snapple Brand "Arnold Palmer" Sweet Tea and Lemonade mix. Not only is it a thirst quencher on a hot day, but dad will appreciate you "comparing him" to the planet's greatest golfer. If your budget allows, throw in a pack of golf balls, golf tees, a golf towel, sunscreen, bug repellent and maybe a divot tool if available. This gift is sure to score a "hole in one!"

"Lake Break" - If dad's always gone fishing, this gift will surely lure him back in! Start with a Plano or other brand of tackle box and stuff it with a few "Field and Stream" magazines, sports drinks, bottled waters, sunscreen, wet wipes, pocket knife, coffee thermos with a bag of dad's favorite coffee, beef jerky, peanuts and a bag of Goldfish Crackers of course. A few other fishy additions could be a gift card to Bass Pro Shops, a baseball cap, a pair of polarized sunglasses (helps them see out on the water), hooks, bobbers, fishing line and maybe a few lures if you can squeeze out of your dad some of his favorites. Apparently they are very particular about these...With the "Lake Break", dad is ready to "kick some bass" and tell a few fish tales of his own!

"License to Grill" - No cheesy "King of the Grill" aprons here! Start by purchasing a large platter, whether it be ceramic, glass, steel, etc.- just not plastic as it will melt when red hot meat plops onto it off the grill. This platter will be the foundation for your gifts and will also hopefully turn into his favorite meat carrier! Pile up the platter with grilling accessories such as a meat thermometer, grill lighter (one with a long tip), basting brush, meat fork, seasoning salt, unique BBQ sauces and marinades (Lawrys Hawaiian Marinade is a family favorite now), tongs, grill brush, metal spatula, corn holders, kabob skewers, spray bottle (dad can use this for water, olive oil, or even melted butter when he grills) and a hand-written recipe for a meat rub. (On a side note, I found most of these items at my local dollar store, yippee!) Be sure to see if your dad is cooking with gas or charcoal as lighter fluid and charcoal briquettes would be a great addition to a charcoal grill chef. If you have the time and the means, personalized branding irons can be ordered off the Internet or at specialty cooking stores like Williams-Sonoma. After you present this gift, it will be a thrill for daddy-o to grill!

I hope you enjoy making these gifts as much as you enjoy giving them this Father's Day. Be sure to stayed tuned, dahlin's!

Monday, June 22, 2009

She Saves Seashells from the Seashore!

Even after the sun has set on your day at the beach, bring your seashore memories home with this casual table centerpiece. Start by filling a glass vase or large pillar candle holder with sand; in this case, store-bought sand is my preference. Place a pillar candle in the center of the sand and vase and arrange your beachy bounty around it. In addition to shells you find washed up on the beach, keep your eyes open for bits of driftwood, coral and sea glass; all would make great additions to this centerpiece. I bought over-sized pearl beads and a fishnet from my local craft store and lovingly tucked them amongst the shells I found for some visual interest. Place this arrangement on top of any inexpensive framed mirror and enjoy your sweet seaside memories all year long.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Something to Sip

With summer in full swing, visions of pool parties, backyard BBQ's and frilly drinks dance in my head. Although I do love to cook, mistress of the grill is not a notch I can put on my belt. Where you can find me is behind the bar, martini shaker in one hand and and a "tasting sample" in the other. Just as beer and wine can be paired with food, cocktails make great additions to any meal. With summer type food consisting of hearty and saucy meats coming off the grill, a bounty of seasonal vegetables and mayo-laden pasta and potato salads, you need quite a versatile cocktail to compliment all these flavors. Just as it has been a staple on every eating table since the dawn of time, sweet tea has found it's way into the world of adult libations. The wildy popular Sweet Tea Vodka is an amazing liquor; refreshing, crisp, familiar and soothingly sweet. Right now there are so many brands on the market, you are sure to find one to please your palette. I must stay true to my Southern Roots and say Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka is my favorite, however brands such as Sweet Carolina, Jeremiah Weed, Burnett's and Seagram's have all produced their own special sweet tea elixir. There is truly nothing more refreshing than a tall glass of sweet tea on a hot summer's day, well except for maybe if that tall glass had just a little vodka in it! ;o) Next time you throw a BBQ, attend a pool party or just sit on your front porch swing to watch the sun set, sip on one of these sweet tea cocktails and let all your cares slip away.

The Southern Belle- Of course you could make this with regular lemonade but doesn't pink sound so much more fun?! These would be a fabulous cocktail to serve at a spring or summer bridal shower.

1 Part Sweet Tea Vodka & 1 Part Pink Minute Maid Lemonade
*Mix both ingredients well and serve over ice in dainty little crystal or other decorative glasses. Dip lemon wheels into pink sugar and garnish glass with lemon and a pink straw.

Plantation Tea- An alcoholic variation of my favorite memories of Hawaii. In restaurants over there, your iced tea is served with half pineapple juice! If this doesn't put you in an island mind set, I don't know what will!

1 Part Sweet Tea Vodka & 1 Part Pineapple Juice
*Mix both ingredients well and serve over ice in a vintage tiki cup and garnish with a cocktail umbrella and pineapple chunk.

Peachy Keen- This is how you will be feeling after one of these; beware!

1 Part Sweet Tea Vodka, 1/2 Part Peach Nectar, 1/2 Part Ice Water & a Shot of Peach Schnapps
*Mix all ingredients well and serve over ice in what else, a mason jar! You can find a dozen-pack of these at Wal-mart in the "Kitchen Utensil" section as they are traditionally used for canning fruit and vegetables. If you garnish with a peach wedge, be sure to smother the cut peaches in lemon juice before hand as we do not want any brown fruit making a party debut. You could also just garnish with a little green mint sprig.

Lethal Lemon Iced Tea Shooters- This shooter was invented at my in-law's house after Valentine's Day dinner. It truly was a night to remember but after these, I totally forgot!

1 Part Sweet Tea Vodka 1 Part Limoncello
*Shake with ice and pour into sugar rimmed shot glasses!

Sip these Sweet Tea delicacies slowly and remember to always drink responsibly. Be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Necessity is the Mother of Invention"

First things first; Welcome, Y'all! I am so glad you found me here at "From Blushing Bride to Domestic Diva!" To give you a sneeky-peeky into what this blog will be able to offer you, let me first provide you with one of my favorite quotes, "Necessity is the Mother of Invention." I am inspired by my dearest friends and family who have all either taken the marital plunge or are walking down the aisle as we speak. These gals including my newlywed self need a place where we can learn and share lifestyle tips, including delish yet effortless recipes, inspiration for decoration, posh weekend (or weekday if you prefer) projects and find a hub for household knowledge. My solom wish is for this little blog is to become a place for all women to master our precious art of being a WOMAN!!! We are enchanting creatures, able to plan a fairy-tale wedding for 250 on a slender little budget, cook a rocking meal using only a can of garbanzo beans and left over hamburger meat, have the house looking like a southern living magazine for the bi-annual in-law visit and still manage to throw one hell of a dinner party all while maintaining our grace and charm in a killer pair of stilettos. Once again welcome to the world of blushing brides and domestic divas: where the women rule and all the men drool! Be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!