Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wicked Excited for "Wicked"

That's right.  It seems like I purchased the tickets a long time ago, but tonight is the night I get to see the Broadway musical, "Wicked."  Has anyone else seen it?  I've heard a ton of great reviews. 

Also, I was happily surprised when T showed up with these last night:

And the other item on my mind is the fact that I just purchased my first brand-new car in October and now it's being recalled and Toyota is not really providing any information other than, "just drive your car with confidence." I think they could use a good kick in the PR butt.  So I guess I'll just keep driving around my 2010 Rav4 and keep my hand on the shifter in case I need to put it into neutral and slam on my breaks.  Sounds like fun.

~Have a Wicked good day!
Dining Diva

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Marshalls: How I Love Thee. . .

I didn't go out to lunch today with co-workers because I'm trying to save money and live on my little budget.  Instead, I went to Marshalls with another co-worker who's prego and needing to clothes for her expanding body.  Innocently enough, I dropped $190.00!!! OOPS!  But I must tell you that I'm super excited about the Seven For All Man Kind jeans that were part of my purchase.  I don't have any of them (well, now I do) and there were discount to $109 via Marshalls - but they were also on clearance for $80.  That's a good deal, right?  Please, help me justify my purchase.

Then I bought another pair of skinny jeans.  Calvin Klein for $30.  They were really slimming and long enough for me. 

I also bought a cute black dress.  I don't really need it today, but I'm sure I'll need it sooner or later, right?

Have you made any splurges lately?

~Dining Diva

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Snow, Slopes & Skis

I am back from a fantastic weekend! I'm so happy that I went and proud of myself that I actually wasn't too bad of a beginning skier!  I took a lesson with a ski instructor Saturday morning so that I would ski with T and his friends (who were very nice and fun) for the rest of the afternoon.  I must preface my skiing adventure with the fact that I was SUPER nervous and could barely type my information in the computer at the ski rental shop because my hands were shaking.  I was just scared.  The lesson def. was worth while and I couldn't have asked for more of a beautiful day.  It was the perfect temperature and the sunshine painted the clear blue sky; the Vermont skyline dotted in mammoth pine trees was breathtaking.

After our skiing adventure we drove in to Manchester, VT and ate at a tasty Mexican restaurant and looked around some of the outlet shops.  I def. treated myself to many margaritas to celebrate putting my big girl snow pants on and skiing!  We were so exhausted afterwards that we crashed on T's friends beautiful furniture and watched a movie and passed out by 10 p.m.

T's friends have a beautiful home in Saratoga Springs, NY which is home to the Saratoga Race Track.  It's a great little town and I really enjoyed myself there. (It kind of made us feel bad about our vague future and tiny little apartments, but not too bad.)  We actually will be going back there for their wedding this July; that will be fun.

Here are some pictures!

Notice the white spot on my right butt cheek - yea, that would be from one of my wipe outs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

To Ski or not to Ski . . .

That WAS the question.  But I finally answered it and the answer is:  Yes.  I am taking a half-day today and heading to VERMONT to go skiiing with T and his friend and his friend's fiance.  I have only skiied once before and it involved a lot of wiping out and screaming yelling to the poor individuals innocent children and families on the bunny hill in front of me to watch out because I might possibly take them out in my out-of-control journey down the slope. 

Here we come Vermont. Go big or go home, right?  I'll just keep telling myself that.  Not only am I armed with some cute and borrowed snow pants, jacket, and gloves - I'm also bringing my insurance card! (Just in case  .   .  . )  So wish me luck!

I'm really good at laying on the beach and swimming in the ocean/lake; but outdoor winter activites are not my forte. Since T LOVES skiiing and would move back to Denver, CO in a heartbeat if it wasn't for me, I figure I should be a good girlfriend and strap on the skiis and grab my poles and head for the powder.

 I'll take pictures.

My co-worker actually took Tue. and Wed. off this week and went to the same ski resort that we're going to in Vermont this weekend.  Here are some of her pictures.  It def. looks like a winter wonderland.

Have a good weekend!

~Dining Diva

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad's 54th birthday but we celebrated earlier because we can't all get together tonight.  My mom made dinner and I made dessert. It was delicious.  I made pumpkin bars with choc. chips and homemade cream cheese frosting.  (Slightly out of season but that's okay.) My grandparents and T came with me and Tara (my sister) brought her doggy, Bella!

(T gave me a fantastic camera for Christmas but I haven't been using it because I didn't have a memory card.  I picked one up yesterday at Target and now you can enjoy my photos!)

(My pumpkin bar creation.)

(T, Dad, Grandparents, Tara, Bella.)

(Tara and Bella.)

(T, Bella & I.)


T with Bella. (She's licking his face.)

Mom in the kitchen.  (We've just introduced her to the VS leggings.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You're the Winner!

.  .  . that's right,  Little Miss Southern , you're the winner of my very first giveaway!  One Target gift card is coming to a mailbox near you.  (Actually, can you post your email in a comment and I'll contact you to get your address. Thanks.)  Thanks to everyone to posted a comment and/or became a new follower during the giveaway!  ***I have official photos to show my sister drawing the winning name from a bowl (I cut out names for everyone to ensure you all got the appropriate amount of entries) and will post them as soon as I find my camera cord!***

UPDATE 1/21/10
Here are the photos!  Sorry for the delay.

(She really got into it.) 
More good news is that I just went to Target to pick up the gift card and they are having an awesome sale right now! I really want to get a new comforter set and Target has aisle after aisle of them 50-75% off! Yay!  I actually went to Target today to try out some of my coupons.  I've recently been turned on to cutting and printing coupons thanks to the Coupon Mom's segment on the Today Show and this blog, "Maven of Savin."

So I went to Target armed with all of my coupons and I endeded up spending $45.  I realized that just because I HAVE coupons doesn't mean I HAVE to buy everything. (I even bought three jars of Peter Pan Peanut Butter.  They were on sale for $1.78 and I had a coupon for $1 off of three. I better make some cookies or something, because I really don't need peanut butter!)

What kind of savvy shopping tips do you have/use?

Congrats Little Miss Southern!

~Dining Diva

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cup Size, Coffee & Conversation

How's the for a title?  I'm thinking the term "cup size" may have grabbed your attention.  Well I'm referencing this Saturday when I met my good friend "That's Sassy!" (the bride) with another good friend (AP -bridesmaid) to get fitted for our bridesmaid dresses.  I haven't seen AP in such a long time and it was wonderful to have a little reunion and catch up.  The three of us have been friends since kindergarten and are all from the same small town.  AP is also getting married this spring so we had a lot of talking to do.

We met at David's Bridal to try on our dresses.  That was the first time I've been to a large bridal gown shop like that on a weekend.  Wow.  It was busy and filled with girls running around.  Actually, I heard the lady welcoming people at the front door turning people away because all of the appointments were filled for the day.  I had no idea.  Luckily, our bride is very organized and already had an appointment for AP and I.  This is where the term "cup size" comes into play. 

It's a strapless dress (not the easiest dress to wear when you have a minimal chest) and I was concerned that everyone might get a peep show when I hit the dance floor and get my arms shaking in the air.  Fortunately, I was able to get a dress with a small and tight cup size that felt pretty secure.  So watch out YMCA.  (Actually, the bride informed me that that song will not be playing at her wedding. That's fine with me! But if it does come on, you better believe I've good to go.)

Afterwards we headed down the road to a coffee shop to catch up.  Three hours later we said goodbye!  The time flew by and it was really wonderful to catch up.  There is nothing like a good friend.  And these two girls are both great.  We had so much information to share with one another; I can't wait to have another outing with them.  We decided that we don't want to go that long of a time before getting together again so hopefully we'll do dinner soon!
"It takes a long time to grow an old friend." ~John Leonard
{Moving backwards to Friday night now.  . .}  I got home from work and was pretty tired but with a little push from the BF (who I'm going to start referring to as T because I think the BF is pretty impersonal) and my friend Jess and her boyfriend, I got changed and we headed to a delicious Irish restaurant/bar.  It was actually really fun and the live music was awesome.

Sunday I attempted to use my crock pot again but I don't think it came out that great.

I added two center cut pork chops, can of cream of mushroom (reduced fat) soup, sweet onion, garlic, and peas.  I put it on low for about 8 hours.  I didn't actually eat any of it but was planning on eating it tonight.  I need to enhance my cooking and stop leaning so heavily on my cream of mushroom soup.  Actually, I read a really great recipe for buffalo chicken sandwiches made in a crock pot today and I would like to try that out this week.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and if you haven't already, don't forget to enter the giveaway.  The drawing happens in two days!

~Dining Diva

Friday, January 15, 2010

Yummy Dinner

I'm sitting here typing with a slight wine AND food hangover; but it's well worth it.  The wine hangover would be from guzzling the whole bottle directly from bottle, you know, with no glass, slowly sipping an entire bottle of my favorite wine; Bramble Berry!  It tastes like fruity grape juice and it's super delicious.  It's a local wine from the Finger Lakes Region (in NYS) but you can buy it online here. Believe me when I say that $10.00 has never tasted so good.

For food, the BF made a delicious meal that we both enjoyed!  I actually took pictures but will have to upload them this weekend.


-Delicious Salad
-Fresh tilapia marinated in a buttery garlic sauce and cooked on his grill (LOVE!)
-Sauteed zucchini and squash in some kind of a tasty seasoning
-Fresh garlic bread from Wegman's grocery store (If you have never been to a Wegman's, I suggest you put it on your list of things to do in this life.  They are amazing.  Check out their Web site to find the closest store to you.)
-M&M cookies (The frozen kind that kids' sell for fundraisers and you just pop them in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.)  The BF had bought some from one of his co-workers and hasn't touched them; so I enjoyed WAY TOO MANY COOKIES all by myself and continued to drink wine and watch Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. (I believe this is where the food hangover comes from).                 

(The BF and I at the beach in October; life is so much better with a tan, isn't it?)                                                                                                                                

We also talked some more about our future and his job hunting.  It's pretty intimidating because I am really happy with my life where I am right now and I love being by my family.  Unfortunately, he hates his job (with good reason) and is putting in his notice next week.  Fortunately, he has found a practice that he can work at part-time, which will give him more time to focus on his job search and travel around to do interviews.  When I say I am happy here, that doesn't mean I'm not open to moving.  I don't particularly love where I live primarily because of the weather and it's not the greatest city for young professionals; but my family is here and so is his.  It is making this job hunting slightly overwhelming, but we do know that we want to stay together and if we do move, head towards a warmer climate. 

Right now he's pretty focused on the Southern VA area (which go figure, we have never been to) as well as the Denver, CO area (because he did a one-year residency there two years ago and fell in love with the mountains).  Funny thing is, Denver probably isn't the warmest place, but he likes to remind me that it's ALWAYS sunny.  Do you see how slightly unfocused and overwhelming this job search is?  Any advice on great places to live as young professionals would be great.  His license isn't valid in North Carolina.  If it was, we would probably be looking at the Wilmington area.  So many variables. . .

I know it will all work out and we have a lot to be thankful for and we are blessed that we have options.  While I think about how fortunate we are, my heart goes out to the people of Haiti.  I pray that they receive the help they need to pull them through this horrible time.

~Dining Diva

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sweet Success!

... ahhh .  .   .  I'm glad that is over with!  I can't tell you the amazing sensation I have after finishing something that had me nervous - the sense of relief is wonderful!  I mentioned yesterday that I had a press conference this morning; well it's over with and I had an amazing media turn out! (I was extra nervous because the last press conference I had NO MEDIA showed up).  THAT is a very bad feeling and nothing anyone can control.  But we had some big shots participating in the conference so it would have been bad if no media came.  So I'm relieved!  It was actually pretty sassy of a set-up: we had two 52 inch flat screen tvs on both sides of the podium and some other great visuals.  I'm happy and ready for some wine!  The BF is making me dinner tonight and I've requested a bottle of wine for myself and seafood.  haha Last year when he was still trying to wine and dine me, he surprised me with a delicious meal of grilled sea bass and asparagus.  Mmm. . . So maybe it will be that again.  We'll see!

I love blogging and reading all of your blogs because it seems like there is def. a theme among many blogs that mentions our efforts towards eating healthy and exercising. . . and the many challenges to stick to a healthy lifestyle.  Yes?  Well I just wanted to say that last night I was exhausted after work and I sat on the coach eating a bag of the fat free lays potato chips.  (Why do I even buy chips is the real question - they are my weakness).  So there I sat on my butt thinking about how I needed to be at the gym.  I chatted on the phone with my mom and she gave me a little motivation and after I polished off the bag (bad! I know. . . at least they were ff, right?) I got dressed and headed to the gym for a great run.  I totally get runners' high and I feel so great at the end. . . I wish I felt that great BEFORE getting on the treadmill. . . Does anyone else agree with me?

Well I'm so excited about all of my new followers and I'd like to welcome you all to my blog.  It started off focused on my adventures at restaurants and going out to eat (i.e. The Dining Diva's Dish), however, it has turned into more of a personal journal.

I hope you enjoy!  (.  .  . and don't forget to sign up to win my giveaway!  Winner will be chosen on 1/20/2010).

~Dining Diva

And I wish I was back here instead of looking out my window at snow!  It's my parents and I in Florida this past October.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lunch Break

Today is the kind of work day that I love; lots of phone calls from the media, securing interviews, deadlines, writing, last minute touches. . .I also throw myself into a big ball of anxiety!  Tomorrow we have a pretty important press conference at work and I'll be happy when the day is over with.  So I thought I would escape for a minute and write about the lunch I just enjoyed.

I made it last night for dinner and had some leftovers.  I'm thinking that it's pretty healthy and filled with fiber and other good nutrients.

Some diced mushrooms
Sliced sweet onion
fresh garlic
Can of white beans
Spinach (I used a bag of $.89 frozen)
Can of diced tomatoes
Any spices you can get your hands on.
Balsamic vinaigrette

Add some EVOO to a deep dish pan on the stove and heat
Add mushroom, onion and garlic.  Cook on low heat for a few minutes.
Add can of diced tomatoes with about 2/3 of the sauce.  Drain the rest from the can before dumping in pan.
Open can of white beans and rinse.  Add to pan.
Add spinach.  (I had to defrost mine first)
I then added some random spices that I had in my kitchen including garlic sea salt and a few others.
Dish into bowl and drizzle some balsamic vinaigrette on top.

There you are.  Simple, yet nutritious and tasty.  Actually a lady here at my office said that is how she makes sausage soup, but she also adds a can of broth and sausage.

My other new snack item is dried prunes (yes, really!) and bbq flavored almonds.

What are your quick and healthy creations?

Don't forget to sign up to win the Target Gift Card!

-Back to work!

~Dining Diva

And today is little Miss. Bella's third birthday!  Wish this little princess a Happy Birthday! :o)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dining Diva's Dish Hits 100 - Hello, Giveway!

I've always loved the Target commercials and ads; especially the television spots during the holidays.  So funny.  So I thought I would share my love for Target with all of my wonderful bloggy friends for my very first giveaway and do a Target Gift Card giveaway!

So thanks to you all for reading my blog and offering your fantastic comments; I really look forward to reading them.  I am so glad that I started this blog (thanks to my friend forever That's Sassy!) because 2009 was a great year and a big life changer for me; and I'm so happy I have this blog to reflect on.  (Not to mention my memory is  really lacking these days, so I kind of need to write stuff down or forget about!)

So taking tips from other blog giveaways that I've participated in, here's how to get entries.  Give yourself one entry for each of the following and be sure to let me know how many you get.
1. Leave a comment
2. Become a follower
3. Post about this giveaway on your blog with a link to my blog
4. Tweet about it and link to my blog

The winner will be chosen one week from today on Wednesday, January 20.

Happy Tuesday!
-Dining Diva

Friday, January 8, 2010

Almost 100!

News flash! Somehow I am typing my 99th post right now!  That's amazing.  So that means its time for the Dining Diva to get planning her 100th post giveaway! That's right party people!  And what will it be?  How about a gift card to Target?! I think that would be an enjoyable gift for most people.  What do you think?

Who else is happy it's Friday!?  I know I am.  I plan on exercising tonight and then going ice skating with the boy toy and grabbing some appetizers and drinks at one of the cute restaurants in our downtown area.  It's time to embrace the cold and snow! Right?! 

So if you are looking for weekend plans, I strongly suggest you grab a friend and see "It's Complicated."  It was a great movie and I really loved it.  I am not a huge movie buff - but I thought it was a great flick.

As far as my cooking adventures go - I am planning on using my new wonderful cooking tool; the crock pot! I have made two tasty meals with it so far and am thinking about tyring to make a soup or barbecue pork sandwiches with it this weekend.  (I'm slowly but surely working on my domestication skills.  It's a work in progress but I am having fun in the process).  Any tips on great and easy meals/appetizers to make to impress guests would be most appreciated.

Oh! And I'm doing a girls day tomorrow morning with my sister and we are going to go shopping.  This is our first "sisterly" outing in a LONG time; I 'm looking forward to it.  I hope I get some great deals.  I want to get a new bed set for my sassy king sleigh bed but don't want to spend a ton.  Do you know if you sign up for the Bed, Bath & Beyond newsletter you automatically get a 20% off coupon for most anything in the store?  DING! I just printed one of those bad boys and am hoping to pick up a big, fat down bedding set tomorrow.

Enjoy and Relax!
-Dining Diva

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Welcome to a New Decade

Wow.  2010.  Where has the time gone?  I remember the party that I went to to celebrate 2000.  It involved many people from my high school and was out of control for a little freshman like myself.  It's even more memorable now because the host of the party (his parent's were out of town) has since passed away from liver cancer.  He was an amazing person.  .   .  .  That just is a reminder to always live in the moment and make memories because every day truly is a gift.  So here's to a happy and healthy 2010 for all of us! 

This is my first week back to work since a very nice and lengthy (2 weeks +) vacation.  I had a great time in Florida with my family.  The weather was far from warm (thank God I brought my Uggs and gloves and scarf) but it there was sunshine and no snow (unlike Upstate New York) so I couldn't really complain.  I worked on my tennis skills (aka - lost a few balls in the community pool behind the courts) and rode my beach cruiser like a champ.  Our holiday drink of choice consisted of champagne and either orange juice (mimosa) or cranberry juice (poinsetta). 

I came back home in time to spend New Year's Eve with the BF and I'm glad I did.  He was prepared with all of the important ingredients to make homemade sangria (powerful & delicious! We got the recipe from an amazing restaurant in Boston that we recently visited) and some fun surprises.  We went to dinner with my best friend and her boyfriend and then came back and sipped sangria and blew noisemakers at midnight.  Pretty low key and that was fine.  I was just happy to be together.  I feel like 2010 is going to be a wonderful year all around.

An important item on the agenda is getting the BF out of his current job and find a new one.  The hard part is picking the location of his new job.  We are torn between staying near our families in NYS or moving to a warmer climate with more activity in the south.  He also really loves Denver, CO and has put some feelers out in that area as well; I'm not sure if I am crazy about that idea. 

Any suggestions on great places to live and work in the southeast would be much appreciated. 

Have a great day!
-Dining Diva