When a Snow Day Was Just a Snow Day #BombCyclone

Remember the days of yore when a snow day was exactly that… a snow day?

Ahhh yes. The days of yore. Before we had laptops and cell phones. Where a snow day was exactly that a snow day. A day without work. A bonus day off from work. You couldn’t work from home because there were no laptops or cell phones. You spent your day waiting to find out if school/work was cancelled, shoveling, chatting with your neighbors, enjoying a fire while sipping hot cocoa (possibly spiked with Peppermint Schnapps) or wine, shovel some more while slightly tipsy. Making snow angels, having snowball fights, sledding at a local hotspot.

Now everyone brings their devices home the night before a big snowpocalypse. And they work. And us work at home folks… we never get that snow day luxury because we already work from home, right? Although I can’t complain. Working from home is truly the best. But now those that don’t have work, have to not only work, but also still shovel and deal with the snowy mess, although beautiful.

And what about tv? LOL All the morning shows that I have on in the background aren’t on and its news 24/7. The snow here, the snow there, a random crazy person, more snow. We know… there’s snow. A LOT of snow.

And is it me… or is it hard to focus or accomplish anything on a snow day? Like extra hard, right? Cause I keep running to the window to see the snow accumulation, I need a snack, more coffee. I need to catch up on all the Hallmark Christmas movies I have on DVR that I never got through. Today should be the day for that, right? Clean the closet, my office?!? Sounds like a great idea but highly unlikely.

I guess I’ll just stay super comfy and bundled up in my I Love Snow days shirt, comfy jogger pants and socks. I’ll try not to put too much pressure on myself to get much done cause I mean we all would rather just look out our windows at the beauty of it all because we all know that tomorrow it will be a brown, dirty, muddy and ugly mess.

What are your favorite snow day memories? How are you spending today’s #BombCyclone? Share below!

Cooking with Valerie Bertinelli

Where are my foodies? Who else loves to browse the cookbook aisles? There’s not much I love more than a new cookbook. Flipping the pages and checking out all the yummy recipes and making a list of all the new ones I want to try.

So when some folks reached out to me about Valerie Bertinelli’s (yes that Valerie! Most recently known from the Food Network but I can’t not mention “One Day at A Time” loved that show)  Valerie’s Home Cooking: More than 100 Recipes to Share with Friends and Family cookbook I was thrilled. Not only do I watch her on the Food Network but she’s an Italian girl. Like me! Ok maybe I’m not Italian but my hubby is so that counts, right? And I learned everything I know about Italian cooking from my mother in law and Valerie’s book is inspired by her family’s recipes so I knew this was gonna be a match made in Italian foodie heaven.

I chose 2 dishes I was going to make and review. The Spicy Arrabiata Penne and the Chicken with Lemon Wine Sauce.

The first one I tested out was the Spicy Arrabiata Penne. You can’t go wrong with a dish like this. It’s super easy to make and super flavorful. Both my hubby and I loved it. He agreed we need to def make it again. I feel like it came out looking just like the picture (minus the fact that I didn’t use shaved parm we ended up just using regular grated parm cheese but the shaved gives it that extra touch and makes it extra fancy.) My only suggestion would be for this dish is to adjust the red pepper flakes if you don’t love spice. It’s definitely got a kick so if you have kids I would maybe omit it in theirs. Also, I would not have reserved any of the pasta water. I typically don’t occasionally I will if I’m making a ton of gravy/sauce but not always. I felt that adding the 1 cup of pasta water really watered it down so I would just not add that and your sauce will be nice and thick and chunkier.

Photographer Leslie Grow, Food Styling Cat Steele, Prop Styling Lindsey Lower,
Spicy Arrabiate Penne

Wanna try this recipe yourself? If you try it let me know what you think.

“One of my all-time favorite meals centers around tomatoes. I have several photos on my phone illustrating this point. One shows a fresh harvest of tomatoes from our garden; they’re literally spilling out of bowls onto the kitchen counter. I think this was a message from our wonderful gardener, Carlos. The first year I planted tomato plants, the majority of them died. I went to Carlos, asking for help. I think he felt bad for me, and not only did he bring those plants back to life, he added more and somehow has them producing fruit well into the winter. Another photo shows my arrabiata sauce simmering on the stove, tomatoes quartered and afloat on a sea of luscious sauce full of spices. I swear I can smell the red pepper and garlic through my phone. Fresh tomatoes are a bonus, but obviously canned tomatoes provide the same classic taste. This is an easy dinner when I’m in a hurry, and with a green salad and a creamy dressing to balance the spice, along with fresh bread, you can rely on this as a Monday through Friday staple, as I do, or serve it for a casual Saturday night with friends.” – taken from Valerie’s cookbook.

Serves 6

Spicy Arrabiata Penne

5 minPrep Time

20 minCook Time

25 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 (1-pound) package uncooked penne rigate
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (26.46-ounce) package chopped tomatoes (such as Pomì)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • Shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Instructions

  1. 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to the package directions; drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Add the garlic; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, and cook 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the 1/4 cup chopped basil.
  3. 3. Stir the cooked pasta and reserved pasta water into the tomato mixture. Garnish with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and additional basil, if desired, and serve warm.
  4. Cooking Tip
  5. It’s important to generously salt your water. It adds flavor to your pasta. Don’t rinse your pasta after cooking, and don’t drain all the water; save some to flavor your sauce.
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Up next I wanted to try the Chicken with Lemon Wine Sauce. We always love a piccata so I figured we would love this. I make chicken cutlets often and usually just cook them the whole time in oil on the stove so I liked the idea of just browning them first then popping them in the oven while the sauce is being made. Plus a lot of times I find when making recipes your meal is getting cold while the sauce is being made and we hate that. So this kept everything nice and hot.

Here’s my pic and here’s my pic with the book image. Clearly, they aren’t close. In the cookbook pic the sauce has a more yellow tinge to it and looks thicker. Mine came out clearer and more watery. The flavor was definitely good and I probably should have made some sort of side to go along with it as my plate looks pretty boring lol. We both agreed we liked this dish as well but next time I think I may add a touch of flour into the sauce to thicken it up just a smidge.

All in all we really liked both recipes and are looking forward to trying out more of them “One Day at A Time” (had to).

Did you try any of the recipes from this book? If so, share your faves with me. I wanna know what you think.

Credit: Excerpted from Valerie’s Home Cooking by Valerie Bertinelli. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

*The thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own. I was provided this book for review.
**Recipe provided to me to use in post.

Piscataway Welcomes Massage Envy

 

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Guess who just opened up in Piscataway, NJ? Massage Envy!

I am a huge believer in massage and think everyone should get them on a regular basis. Facials too (although I’m not the best at getting them on a regular basis). So when I heard that a Massage Envy was moving into my town I was super excited. Getting a massage on a regular basis (at least once a month) is so good for you. It’s not only good for your body and makes you feel good, but its good for you mentally. It helps with stress and anxiety as well as your physical pains.

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I made an appointment with Keisha for a relaxing massage. When I arrived I was greeted by the front desk and I filled out some paperwork. Then one of the ladies at the front desk sat down with me to review the paperwork and find out my problem areas and explain how my experience would be. Keisha came out and we walked into the back and she asked me my problem areas. I always have issues with my scapula and near my shoulder blades. Probably from being at a computer and using my phone all day. There was a large poster on the wall of the body so she marked on it with the spots that were bothering me. Keisha did a great job and it was definitely a very relaxing massage.

After chatting with the salon manager she invited me back to do a face scan. Which I will admit I was terrified of. The machine wasn’t in the office that day which is why I scheduled an appointment to go back.

When I came back I met with Briana. She brought me back and had me sit down at a machine. Then I put my chin in and WOW you see EVERYTHING! It’s like a black light and there’s a mirror so I was able to see all the spots as well as her. This girl needs some eye cream STAT! My under eyes were super dry. That was the worst of it. Other than that it was better than I had anticipated but when I looked in the device under my eyes were just bags of dark purple and was a little freaky. But I’m glad I did it because now I know I need to use eye cream every day. I’ve been a religious moisturizer user for years but have never really used eye cream much.

Comment below and tell me if you get massages or facials regularly.

Also, what eye cream must I start using?

Book Your Stay At The Library Hotel

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Every company needs to send their staff to the Library Hotel in NYC to see what customer service is. All companies should set their standards to the level that which the Library Hotel has. Their customer service is impeccable. I can’t say this person was good or that person was fine. Every single person that works there is exceptional. Every single one. It’s unbelievable.

First of all the establishment is adorable and library themed as you can sense from the name. We were greeted with a smile when we arrived and felt right at home immediately. We came to the Library Hotel to celebrate my husband Nick’s 40th birthday. He’s a self-proclaimed “book nerd” and had been dying to stay here. So we booked a stay (during the Hemmingway exhibit at the JP Morgan Library so we could attend that).

Our room was super cute and we were on the 9th floor in a 20th century history inspired room. They even surprised us with a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate. The amenities there are great. It’s the perfect place for business people to stay because breakfast is included plus a wine and cheese reception.

The first day we were there we checked out the Hemmingway exhibit then headed back to our room. We then went to the 2nd floor for the wine & cheese reception from 5-8pm. Yes its 3 hours! They had an incredible spread of cheeses, crackers, fruits, nuts and snacks as well as wines and prosecco. We walked in, made a plate each and ordered our drink. After that the girls that work there would come around constantly to all the guests to fill their glasses. I swear they try and get you drunk. They are so accommodating and so service oriented. Even if your glass is half full they would fill it up for you right away. So we had some snacks and a couple glasses of Prosecco then we headed off to dinner at the 21 Club.

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When we came back we headed up to the 14th floor to the Rooftop Bar and Lounge which is amazing. They have a couple different rooms to sit in that include fireplaces and of course more books. There are books in every single room there. We enjoyed a little night cap there and then headed up to our room. When we arrived turn down service had occurred. Which we knew happened but never to this extent. Yes the bed was turned down and chocolates left for us. However they also gave new towels and freshened up the room. But the incredible part was that they set mood lighting so you walk in and the room is lightly dimmed and they put the radio on to light jazz. Imagine yourself walking back to your room perfectly lit with light jazz playing. Never had we experienced this anywhere. Their little touches like this were consistent throughout our 2 night stay.

The next morning we woke up and enjoyed a continental breakfast which again was far more than we could have imagined. Tons of pastries, every kind of bagel, fruit, and Nutella packets you name it. Oh did I mention they have a full on coffee/tea station? You can have a latte, cappuccino, Americano, you name it you can make it in their machine and they were wonderful. Coffee, tea and cookies are available 24-7 on the 2nd floor so you can get your coffee fix any time.After breakfast we read a little on the 14th floor and just relaxed in the hotel for the day. Then we went up around 6 for the wine and cheese reception and then headed to dinner.

We were so sad to leave the following day. Everyone made us feel like it was our home and so amazing. My husband said he’s never stayed at the Plaza but thinks the Library Hotel has got to be better. They are truly top notch.

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I’m fearful that by writing this the prices will go up and I’ll never be able to get a room here again because it will always be booked. Which they deserve. Good for them, bad for me.

Special thanks to Rob, Arman, Bryan, the other doorman (sorry I forgot your name), Jessica and the 2 guys at the front desk I asked about nail salons. You all made our stay extra special.

Check out this awesome video of the Library Hotel!

I Love Best Buy!

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I WON A HUGE GIFT from BEST BUY! Like HUGE!!! Best Buy has a new wedding registry within their stores and during Blogher this summer they had a booth featuring the new wedding registry. Each day they had celebrities stop by their booth for photo opps. If you tweeted you could possibly win one of the prizes featured in their booth and one person would win everything in the booth. The whole enchilada! And I love enchiladas!

That moment when Kenny Lattimore proposes to you. Priceless!

That moment when Kenny Lattimore proposes to you. Priceless!

I was completely obsessed with how cute these chairs and sofa were in their booth. Love!

I was completely obsessed with how cute these chairs and sofa were in their booth. Love!

My hubby and I had been dying to try the Nespresso. I personally think it’s because of his love for Penelope Cruz. So when I tweeted I always mentioned Nespresso because that’s what I was hoping to win. Shortly after the conference I got an email asking me for some information and that I might be a potential winner from Best Buy. Yippee! A Nespresso! Boy was I surprised when I received a follow up email that I won the whole enchilada. Like the enchilada platter! My hubby and I were at dinner when I found out and we both freaked out. I was sooooo excited.

So what did I win you ask?

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Are you drooling? I know, right? CRAZY! The TV arrived just in time for football season (mind you I know nothing about football) as well as the MLB playoffs, so my hubby was thrilled (as well as my neighbors). I arranged for the Geek Squad to come install it. That was part of my winnings for them to install but I had them bring a mount for our wall and we moved another TV to another location. I paid for those services out of pocket but I have to tell you, the cost was FAR less than that of quotes I received from electricians. We wanted to have a TV mounted in our bedroom (well I did, someone hates a TV in the bedroom) but the cable had to be run from the attic. Best Buy did it all at a super low cost. Plus the 2 gentleman that came were so nice, respectful and helpful. They made great recommendations on where to put things and we are absolutely thrilled.

We have used a few of the items already but not all of them. Stay tuned as I will be writing individual posts on these items.

 

*Disclaimer – I was not required to write this post. I did win these items at a conference. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.