Friday, November 30, 2012

Is this thing on?



Is this just a bad time of year? My comments seemed to have fallen off the map the last few weeks.

Am I boring? Should I spice up my content? Thoughts/suggestions?

As a first time blogger I don't honestly know what to expect. Would love to hear from you on how I could change things.




New Ride(s)

Ever have one of those days? Just minding your own business and then ... boom someone hits your car as you are driving.

Well that happened to Big E. He was casually driving home on the same roads as usual when a gentleman pulled out of a gas station and hit him. Crash, bang, boom and it was all over for the Grand Am. No real loss there.

Turns out there was over $6000 in damage so they totaled his car out thus putting us in a whirlwind to find a new car. Ohhh the options ... and headaches. He sure knows what he wants and doesn't want.

Eric finally decided he wanted a white 2012 Scion xB. Roomy and a smooth ride.

Well I couldn't let him have the only new vehicle could I? Nope - it wasn't intentional at all but the deal was right. Ohhh boy did I negotiate. The dealership ended up being upside down on the deal because they had to bring more money to the table than they originally wanted to.

My new ride is a 2012 Crimson Honda Civic. Love!

All in all both dealerships were good to work with and we were both glad we got the salesmen we did.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Volunteering

There are no real words to describe devastation left behind by a natural disaster. If you are lucky(?) enough to see the wreckage first hand then you know what I am about to say will tear at your heart strings.

You have most likely been bombarded by posts talking about donations and what you can do to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Over Veterans' Day weekend my company chartered buses each day for those of us (along with friends and family members) who wanted to get their hands dirty and do what we can to ease the pain of some even if it was just for a few moments at a time.

Living in Upstate NY (near Albany) we didn't get much of the weather downstate did. So to see cars that were filled with moisture and mud with their windows busted out gives you the chills. Knowing that water and wind ripped through the area and created new landscapes in a few hours puts life into perspective.

Our bus headed to a church in Coney Island. Not one of us knew what was in store for us when we arrived. This church was a food pantry before the storm hit and when we stepped off the bus it was barely a place of worship. The stench in the air was a mixture of ocean air, mud, mold, and raw sewage. The storm surge brought in 8 feet or more of water filling the basement to the ceiling and completely destroying walls, a children's library, food pantry area, and a small living space for the church caretaker. About 80 of us were on hand to literally shovel crap (mixture of mud, earth, and sewage) out of the basement, rip down drywall, throw away drop ceiling remnants, furniture, and pack up thousands of books and audio cassettes into garbage bags to haul it to the curb for the garbage truck.

Area residents lined up at the church and around the corner starting at 10am. Later we found out that they wait in line each day at this location for more than 6 hours to receive 3 bottles of drinking water and a little food. If they require special needs such as diapers or animal food they will receive that as well. A very touching site to say the least. A Red Cross food truck set up shop out front and handed out 400 hot meals - they do this daily as well. Several random vehicles pulled up to the line that formed and started to serve hot soup from the back of the car.

I will have more pictures in the future - the devastation is still something we all talk about. As you finish reading this entry and take a look at the few photos below take a moment to realize what you have around you and cherish each moment and possession.




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Still time to sign up for the BLING swap!

Allie, Mia, and I very excited to bring the BLING in the New Year swap to everyone!

Getting a special new piece of jewelry is always fun AND even better when you can wear it to ring in 2013.

Grab this button to display on your blog.

Grab button for insert sarcastic remark here

Sign up here!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No Reply Blogger - please help me!

Turns out that I am "no reply" blogger. Just when I thought I fixed it too.

Any help or suggestions? I am at a total loss. I have Googled for help and well you see where that has left me.

Feel free to email me ... mczicki AT gmail

Thanks!

Monday, November 26, 2012

BLING in the New Year Swap sign ups!

Today is the day! Today is the day!

PhotobucketAllie, Mia, and myself are proud to host BLING in the New Year perfect party accessory swap!

With Thanksgiving now behind us it is the perfect time to start thinking about New Year's Eve and your awesome outfit. Who doesn't a love a little bling or sparkle to put you in a celebrating mood?

Sign up today below and shop for the perfect New Year's Eve accessory(ies), whether it be a sequined scarf, cocktail ring, or bling earrings. We encourage you to chat with your swap partner to get to know their style and possibly get insight on what their NYE plans are and maybe what they are thinking about wearing.

Sign ups end on Monday, December 3rd.
We will email your swap partner to you by Friday, December 7.
Make your purchase between $10-$15.
Please mail your accessory(ies) out by December 20 so there will be plenty of time for your partner to receive the package to ohhhh and ahhhh over it.
Link up will happen on Monday, December 31st and will be open for a few days.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wanted: 1 Antler Stocking Holder

Made by Threshold and sold at Target.

Each of our local Target locations are sold out with the exception of one but theirs are damaged.

I bought the one and only I saw with hopes of getting to another Target to snag the 2nd. Ahhh they are all sold out.

In your travels to Target can you please look to see if they have one - I will pay you back I swear.

They were not located with the other holiday items. I found them located in the area where the Nate Berkus display is (where all the funky holiday items are in the middle of the store on endcaps).

Friday, November 23, 2012

What are you doing with your Tday leftovers?

How many of you braved retail stores today to get your shopping on? I stayed away ... far away.

Ok I lie - I just got home from Target where I picked up a stocking holder, a tree skirt, and some socks.

Not sure what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers? Check out my guest post on The Life of a Modern Day Wife for some delicious recipes that will leave your family wondering why you didn't think of them before!


Don't forget to come back Monday to sign up for BLING in the New Year accessory swap!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gobble Gobble




Don't forget to check back on Monday, November 26 to sign up for the swap.
Grab the button below for your blog to promote!

Grab button for insert sarcastic remark here

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It has been forever!

Long time no chat it seems. This last week has been a roller coaster of events ... no really a.roller.coaster! Between going down to Coney Island to volunteer after Hurricane Sandy to my husband getting a new car because someone hit him and totaled his car there have been some highs and lows. It seriously feels like I have been away from the blog for months - oh hey how about those guest bloggers I had. What was your favorite guest post?

I will be back to normal entries this coming Monday so be on the lookout but till then there are some random thoughts.


But wait ... hold the phone girlfriend!

It is true, there will be a giveaway coming soon on the blog.

Just a huge "thank you" to all of my readers for being loyal and keeping me on my toes. Reading your comments make my day go by faster and for that I am truly appreciative!

Stay tuned to read all about what will be included for you to win. I am planning something really special for all of you.



Also don't forget about the BLING in the New Year party accessory swap coming on Monday! Grab the button and help promote ....
Grab button for insert sarcastic remark here

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yummy Fall Recipes {Life, Love and Puppy Paws)

Sniff Sniff - is that food I smell? Check out what Jen has cooking ... I bet it is delish! Go check out her blog and say Hi! (comments turned off here)


Thanks so much to Allana for letting me guest post today!

Hi I’m Jen

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from over at Life, Love and Puppy Paws. I started my blog a few months ago to share my journey of moving in with my boyfriend, and the combining of our 2 furball families. Over at Life, Love and Puppy Paws, you might find posts about these three cuties…
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…but I also love to cook and bake and thought it would be a ton of fun to share recipes for 2 of my favorite pumpkin desserts.

The first recipe is my trademark fall recipe and it’s for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have made these for Thanksgiving, family reunions, Halloween parties, etc., and they are always a huge hit. A few years ago I got similar cookies at my local grocery store and loved them so much I just had to hunt down a recipe to make them at home. They are a cake-like cookie, so they are very moist and soft, and the chocolate believe it or not goes so well with pumpkin…who knew?!?

The second recipe is for Chocolate/Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. I originally saw this on a Halloween episode of Down Home with the Neely's. I had a whoopie pie one time on vacation in South Carolina, and just loved it. When I saw the Neely’s making a pumpkin version I just totally had to try it. I actually made this for Thanksgiving about 2 years ago, and they are just so delish! Similar to the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, the cookie/sandwich portion is very cake-like, and is a dark rich chocolate. The filling is a pumpkin/cream cheese-base and is super tasty as well.

I would recommend trying out both of these for any fall themed parties coming up, or even for Thanksgiving. They are a little different than you typical fall-pie recipes, and are great conversation starters as well.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients:
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 cup light brown sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (small can)
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet
• Nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper

Directions:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper. Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks. Enjoy! 

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Chocolate/Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Ingredients:

Cookies:
• 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• Pinch salt (aka 1/16 teaspoon)

Filling:
• 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
• 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
• 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Pinch salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Using a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then the buttermilk and the vanilla. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients in increments to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto parchment lined sheet trays, leaving a 2-inch space between each cookie. Put in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on rack.

Beat together the cream cheese and butter, in a small bowl, until smooth. Slowly add in the confectioners sugar. Once smooth, add the pumpkin puree, the cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Beat until smooth and well mixed. To assemble the cookie, spread a heaping tablespoon of the filling to the flat side of a cookie and sandwich with another. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Thanks again Allana for letting me guest post today, and if you get a chance, stop on over to Life, Love and Puppy Paws for even more fun recipes and crazy puppy stories.

Monday, November 19, 2012

All things Disney {From Here to There}

Heather knows her Disney. This is a great entry to read if you are planning a visit in the near future. Check out her blog and let her know what you like about Disney or what you want to check out. (comments turned off here)



Hi there! My name is Piglet! Oh, just kidding! I'm the lucky girl getting a sweet kiss from Piglet in that picture!  My name is Heather and I blog over at {From Here to There...} and I have agreed to write a blog post for Allana about DISNEY!  See, this past January I went to Disney and did the College Program.  I just moved back to my home town in August.  I was stationed at the Boardwalk Resort in Housekeeping.  The job sucked A LOT, but the parks were so much fun.  I had never been to Disney until I moved there in January so I learned a lot and I learned fast.  My boyfriend and his family are Disney freaks and so they were so excited when I got the job there.  They planned their trip for Spring Break so I had a lot to learn until then.  I'm going to give you a few pointers on how to Vacation at Disney and how to get the most out of your money!
{one}
Arrive before the park opens and don't leave until it closes
You want to get there before it's too busy because at that time you can fit in all the spectacular rides that have up to 2 hour waiting times the rest of the day.  If you go ahead and fit in these big rides right when you arrive, then you'll get so much out of your day.  I'm going to list all the important rides that have super long waits usually and these are the ones you want to RUN (yes, I meant RUN) to.  Also if you stay until it gets close to closing time, you can usually go back to these really great rides and ride them again. 
 *One time, a friend and I went to Animal Kingdom at 7pm and they closed at 8pm and we were able to ride Mount Everest (my FAVORITE ride) 6 times in a row! There was no wait!*
Magic Kingdom:
Space Mountain
Splash Mountain
Thunder Mountain
Animal Kingdom:
Mount Everest
Dinosaur
Kali River Rapids
Epcot:
Soarin'
Hollywood Studios:
Tower of Terror
Rockin' Roller Coaster
Toy Story
{two}
Do Character Meet and Greets
I didn't take advantage of this until a few months into my program and now I wish I had of.  They really do create special memories and as long as the lines aren't too long and don't eat into your day too much, then take advantage of it.  I know when my boyfriend and I go back in January for vacation, I'm going to want us to take Character pictures! 
*one hint: At Hollywood Studios they have a "special" character location.  It's back past the Little Mermaid Show, but they have characters come out around 5pm I believe who aren't on the schedule and they are usually pretty cool.  I didn't get a chance to take advanatage of that, but it's the secret I heard*
I'll give you a glance into my character Meet and greet album!
-Mulan-
-Donald-
-Sweet Tink-
-Evil Stepmother and Stepsisters-
-Stitch-
-Pooh Bear-
-Tigger and Eeyore-
{three}
Pack snacks
Unlike most theme parks, Disney allows you to bring drinks and snacks into the park.  To save money and time standing in line, I suggest eating Breakfast before heading out to the parks, then taking snacks and a lunch to hold you over until dinner (remember that with all the running around and the heat, you'll eat more than normal, so bring plenty of snacks).  Then I suggest spoiling yourself for dinner.  Try out a fancy restaurant, splurge a little and enjoy!  There are so many interesting places to eat at Disney World. 
*One time, we had dinner at the Mexican restaurant at Epcot and were able to watch the Illuminations show while we ate, it was magical!*
{four}
Try to fit in the following things
While I was there, I realized that there are some things so much worth while than others and if you absolutely CANNOT make it to everything, then make sure you at least experience the following things!
Festival of the Lion King Show in Animal Kingdom (Shows every hour)
Cirque De Soleil in Downtown Disney (it costs money, but totally worth it!)
Stunt Show in Hollywood Studios
Illuminations in Epcot (shows every night at 9pm)
{five}
Staying at a Disney hotel is best if you're only going to Disney
If you plan on just using your trip for Disney (no Universal, no Sea World) then it's definitely best to stay at a Disney Hotel mainly because of Transportation!  You don't have to pay to park and you have transportation anywhere you need to go.  It may still be worth it to stay at a Disney hotel even if you do plan on going to Universal or Sea World
{six}
Check out Orlando!
Maybe this won't be as cool for everyone, I don't come from a really big city with a lot going on, so living in a big city was exciting for me.  I really loved living in Orlando, it's a fun city and there is a lot to do, so if you get the chance, check out the outlet malls, walk around Downtown Disney, go to the CSI Crime Scene thing (that I never went to), and the Mystery theatre (that I never went to), and I would even suggest going to Downtown Disney and doing the dine-in theatre where you can eat dinner while watching your movie.
I hope this was helpful and if you have any other questions about Disney, my experience working there or living there, or if you have any other specific items you want suggestions on when planning your Disney vacation, feel free to contact me!

Bling In The New Year swap coming soon!

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Dressing up for New Year's Eve is a highlight for most. Sparkle, sequins, glitter - you name it. Why not ring in 2013 wearing a great accessory from our swap? Perhaps a cocktail ring, sequin headband, tiara, or some other party perfect accessory.

Purchase an accessorry, or if you are a saavy shopper, purchase accessories for no more than $10.

Stop by any of our blogs on Monday, November 26 to sign up for the Bling In The New Year Accessory Swap hosted by the talented Allie (A Day in A Joyful Life), Mia (The Chronicles of Chaos), and myself.

More details coming soon!


Please grab this button and put it in your posts to help promote our swap!

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Casualty of Hurricane Sandy (Brianna Asaro)

Today Brianna of briannaasaro.com is bringing you a fantastic story about something so beautiful that will be lost forever. Read along and then go comment over at her place. (comments turned off here)




Photography is one of those mediums that can stir up feelings... We saw this in spades after 9/11 when raw images pulled at our hearts and made us relive it all over again. Images of destruction, terror, pain... but then within days we also had images of hope, survival and humanity. Not long after 9/11, photos of the twin towers popped up all over the place, reminding us of the beauty and symbol they once stood for. These are the photos that make me smile, force me to remember things fondly.

Hurricane Sandy hit with a vengeance. Her damage impact was wholly unexpected, and those of us in her path were left shocked, ravaged and longing for power, warm meals and hot showers. I live on the coast on Connecticut, flush up against the Long Island Sound. Just days before Sandy hit, I was doing a photo shoot and noticed a very large, amazingly beautiful and majestic tall ship making its way along the sound, heading towards the mouth and into the open seas. It's not entirely unusual to see these tall ships from time to time around these parts - we live next to Mystic Seaport, and an old working port that sports a variety of tall ships that they still use today. Little did I know I was capturing the last journey of an historical figure.

The night after the storm, most of us were left without power, and so of course we headed to the only restaurant in town that had it. The place was packed, and it was a surreal feeling to see the images of Hurricane Sandy amongst dozens of others. We were all getting some of our first glimpses of the destruction.

A news story came on talking about the HMS Bounty, a replica tall ship you might recognize from "Mutiny on the Bounty" with Marlon Brando or "Pirates of the Caribbean: Deadman's Chest" with Johnny Depp. They were talking about how this poor ship had sunk off the coast of North Carolina, having left from New London, CT just days before. Wait. What? Something in my brain clicked. After I left the restaurant with my husband, I rushed back to my computer to search for the photos I took a few days before. I compared my photos to photos of the HMS Bounty, and sure enough..... Oh. My. Word.

Turns out I had caught the final voyage of the HMS Bounty on my camera. Her final voyage with her crew... two of whom didn't survive the wreck. I can't describe to you what an eerie feeling it was to know I was probably the last person to have caught her on camera before she headed far out to see beyond the reach of a lens and perished in the swells of Hurricane Sandy. But after looking at the photos, I realized how incredible it was that I caught her with her sails up one last time. In all her glory, she is captured forever in these photos for her final leg.




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Christmas must haves from Brittany {A Coffee Break with Brittany)

Show me one gal that doesn't love Brittany. She is very down to Earth and I wish we were friends IRL because we would cause some havoc ... or just go shopping together!  Comment over at her blog with your Christmas must haves. (comments turned off here)


Hi Everyone! I'm Brittany from A Coffee Break with Brittany and I'm here to guest blog for the ever lovely Allana! I was not sure what I would write about and then it hit me! Christmas MUST HAVES! Christmas is my favorite time of year I have loved it since I was little girl so perfect topic for me to talk about. Here are a few of my favorite things and basically my must haves for the holiday season! On with the show....











First up we have the Fresh Balsam candle from Bath and Body Works! This is the smell of Christmas for me. I love the freshness of it and just how much it actually smells like a real tree. Sometimes I find that a candle will smell far too fake and cleaner like. Honestly if you get nothing else from my post please take my word on this and go get this candle!






I love Starbucks at all times of year but since I don't have one close to me I normally have to make it myself in my Keurig which is great but not quite the same! I always get myself Starbucks (vanilla latte) when I'm in the city Christmas shopping makes for a better Christmas shopping experience when you have your Starbucks Red Cup :)



















Of course you need Christmas music! I will admit I have been listening to Christmas music for a few weeks now but I was doing some Christmas crafts so it was necessary okay! My favorite is Elvis Christmas. I love Elvis so of course I love his Christmas albums. No, other album can get me the Christmas mood faster than this one can. On A Snowy Christmas Night is my favorite song. Oh now I have to go and listen to it! A close runner up is Michael Buble too! These two albums will be on repeat for me all holiday season long!







Christmas treats! One of the best parts of the holiday season is all the yummy treats! I plan on making these cookies this year! Don't they look delish!? I think my mom's scotch cookies are my favorite holiday treat. So yummy!!










 And to wrap up you need Christmas movies! What is better than curling up on the couch with a blanket and hot chocolate to watch one of your favorite Christmas films? That is right NOTHING! I honestly could watch these two movies over and over all holiday season and to be honest I probably watch them more then I should but they are my favorites so give me a break ;)  Maybe you can even have a Red Cup and a movie! Combine your Christmas must haves!







I hope you all have enjoyed my guest blog and it got you in the Christmas spirit! Thanks to Allana to having me! Have a great day everyone :)







*all photos from Google Images