Monday, July 30, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Thirty-One

Okay that whole 7-Day Cleanse Challenge did not start off well.

Of course when I always try to give up Starbucks (for short periods of time, mind you) they just pull me back in. On Monday a co-worker and I had to run some errands for the Picnic the library was throwing to celebrate another year of Summer Reading. She suggested we take our break at Starbucks.

Aahhhh, Starbucks, I just can't say no to you.

I think it's a problem.

Anyhoo, the whole idea of a fruit-only-day will definitely not be repeated over here. Fruit has sugar.....and a lot of it. By the time 7 P.M. rolled around (and all I had was fruit, my protein shake and a Tall Iced Skinny Caramel Macchiato with an extra shot of espresso) I was shaking like an addict. (Starbucks addict fine. Sugar addict not okay.) It was all I could do to not stop on my hour-drive home from work and devour the first thing I could get my hands on.

As soon as I got home I scrambled up some a carton of eggs and felt much better. Never again, my friends.

The cleanse did not get better. I went to the grocery store the weekend before to make sure I had enough fruits and veggies and turkey for the week-long cleanse. Well, none of it lasted very long with Mr. B around. By the time my tomato-and-fowl day rolled around, the kitchen was completely depleted of tomatoes and fowl. (Oh, and the insane chaos from Our Summer Picnic...note to self: next time don't cleanse during the wrap-up of Summer Reading.)

Epic fail.

But it's Monday and it's time for a new challenge!

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
No Negative Talk!
Madison over at Espresso & Cream has a Tuesday post theme of "No Fat Talk Tuesday" which I enjoy reading every week. After my failure of a cleanse last week, I felt a little down and reading her posts always cheer me up. So I've adopted her "No Fat Talk" and have turned it into "No Negative Talk." I'm including everything negative because it can be easy to focus on a bad day, an insincere remark, or negative thoughts...not just concerning food or body image.

So when stress gets the best of me this week or when something doesn't go right, instead of dwelling on the incident, I'm making a commitment to focus my thoughts elsewhere....on something positive in my life, on the little things that make my blessed life so sweet.

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Lemonade Party

In June my friends and I had our Lemonade Party. We chose this particular beverage because an iced cold tall glass, with a nice pucker of course, is absolutely necessary on hot summer days. And let me tell you, we've had more hot days than my lemonade-making hands can keep up with.

That glass is full of summer refreshment. Isn't it just B-E-A-utiful?

Above is a picture of our glorious spread. We had lime tortilla chips with guacamole and sour cream, blackberries, crackers, and lemon blueberry cream cheese cookies (these weren't the best, so I'm passing on sharing the recipe. If you're in desperate need of a blueberry cookie, check out my favorite cookies in the world: Almond Blueberry Cookies).

These cookies had a hunk of cream cheese in the center. It was a mess trying to put the cheese in...the dough kept softening (quickly) no matter how long I kept it in the fridge. I lost my patience, so some of them had cream cheese and others didn't. They were my surprise cookies.

We also had various flavors of ice cream and this awesome Lemonade Stand Pie.

Jenny definitely brought the talk of the party. It had the perfect pucker. It was delicious. I will be making it soon.

I have a particular bond with the above picture.

Because tragedy struck, I no longer have my Paula Deen Lemonade Glass (that I bought at her store last year when we vacationed in Georgia). Somehow, towards the end of our party, it slipped out of my hands and shattered on the hardwood floor. I only had a few ice cubes left (so thankfully there was no staining or spillage), and I was sitting on the floor, so the glass was literally no more than 6" from the floor.

I have no idea how this incident happened and I pretty much just stared in shock at the mess for a good minute before reacting. Holding in my tears I helped clean up the broken pieces. Ai yi yi.

Can't have anything nice.

But to end this party post on a positive note, here is Jenny's recipe to her mouth-watering pie. Enjoy!

Lemonade Stand Pie
*courtesy of my friend Jenny

1/2 c cold water
1/3 c lemonade-flavored drink mix
2 c vanilla ice cream, softened
8 oz whipped topping, thawed
1 graham cracker crust (6 oz)

In a large bowl, add water to drink mix; stir until mix is dissolved. Add ice cream. Beat with mixer until well blended.  Whisk in whipped topping. Freeze until mixture is thick enough to mound. Scoop into crust. Freeze 4 hours or until firm. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving.

* this pie amazingly good and simple!!!!

Make now. Thank me later.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, July 23, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Thirty

I did great with the no bread challenge, how about you? I didn't have any bread except for Friday at my Royal Birthday Party. My friends know how much I love grilled cheeses, so they surprised me with a grilled cheese bar. However, they knew (being the devoted Sweet B's Impressions readers they are) I had given up bread for the week and had portabellas on hand to make a sandwich with. I appreciated the gesture, but I was going all out with my grilled cheese. I mean, it's my birthday. And my party. I'll eat bread if I want to.

Anyhoo, it's Monday and it's time for a new challenge!

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
7-Day Cleanse.

Now, I have no intention of doing this for weight loss. Because of all the birthday celebrations and the heat (I've been eating ice cream like a champ) my body feels sluggish and it needs a break from what I've been putting into it lately.

While hunting around on Pinterest, I found this 7-Day Cleanse and thought it would work perfectly. However, I will be keeping protein in my diet by still having my morning shake, which includes spinach, almond milk and protein whatever kind of fruit or veggies I can have that day. Also, I plan on getting my daily intake of fluids through water and green tea. AND I'm using My Fitness Pal to make sure I'm getting the right amount of calories.

Alright, let's cleanse!

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. Welp, it's the end of my birthday week. I am truly bummed :(

Me and Emilia, your Royal Birthday Highnesses.

2. But it started with a bang (!) because on Monday we signed the papers and we now own this beauty.

It's official!!! Now we're just waiting on the keys.....

3. In the meantime, Mr. B tricked dragged me to Lowe's where we then spent over an hour looking at everything from paint colors to carpet fabrics to ceiling fans to door bells to deck weather-proofing options to lawn mowers to curtains to....

4. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot I wanted to cry because I had flashbacks to my "childhood torture."  Since my daddy is a carpenter and an interior designer is trapped in my mama's body, I grew up in constant demolition and remodeling. Which, don't get me wrong, was lovely and fun and I learned so much about taking down wallpaper, painting, drywalling, sanding, staining, caulking, etc. And the finished rooms were amazing. But the "torture" came in the form of the surprise visits to Lowe's and Home Depot. I use surprise very lightly here, and it should be read as the following:

"Hey, Brindi, let's have dinner at Applebee's tonight."


And then after dinner on our way home (and sometimes on our way to dinner)....

"Oh, I forgot, we need to make a quick stop."

And then my parents would spend hours (hours!) in these stores. While they were "perusing," I'd look through the wallpaper books, play with the door bells, and find the perfect paint for my future home. But a child can only take so much and the imagination can run dry. Eventually I caught on to their little let's-go-out-to-dinner scheme and started bringing books.

5. Anyhoo, the point, as I tried to explain this to Mr. B as he dragged me from aisle to aisle, is I can only take so much! We either need to come in and look at all of our paint and carpet options, or we need to focus on one room at a time. Right now I'm focusing on paint.

6.'d think I'd have a different reaction when it came time to remodeling my own home. NO!

I really do love DIY-ing and remodeling and I can't wait to start hitting up garage sales......I just don't like spending hours in home improvement stores. Ugh.

7. Switching gears here, I want to give a "Happy Birthday!" shout-out to my brother. His birthday is the day before mine. (We're Irish twins.) I'm so used to celebrating our birthdays together, these last few years since he's been in SC have been a little sad and alien-ish. So....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BROTHER! You're half way to 50! :P
This picture is from a few years ago when we celebrated our 20th and 21st birthdays.

8. So on my birthday I tried to make my morning bowl of oats a little special by adding a candle. However, I could not seem to light it. I concluded all three lighters were out of fluid and sadly enjoyed my un-lit birthday breakfast. Mr. B called me later on informing me all of the lighters were working. I knew I should have woke him up at 6:30 a.m. to light my candle!

9. But later that night I got my birthday candle in my ice cream.

10. My friends threw me a co-birthday party on Saturday. My friend, Emilia (her birthday is two days after mine), and I were the royal guests of honor at The Royal Party. I had so much fun spending time with my friends, eating our favorite foods and talking.....however, time flew by and we never got to our featured film, The Princess Bride. I LOVE this movie!! And the book! (I apologize to Mr. B ahead of time because I will probably quote this movie for the next week until I finally make time to watch it.)

There was a grilled cheese bar!

11. I had to leave the party early because I had to work the next day. It was LegoMania Saturday! (a.k.a mass chaos)

But it was great to see so many dads at this program.

Legos galore!

12. I really don't want to end this post on a negative, but please continue to keep the Colorado families in your thoughts and prayers. My heart goes out to all of them during this tragic time.

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Blogger Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Ice Cream

Better known as Utter Deliciousness.

In the summer, usually the only thing I'm in the mood to eat is ice cream because it's so darn hot. (I usually melt right along with it.) But who am I kidding, homemade ice cream is perfect anytime...even on the coldest nights in January. YUM.

Ice cream makes a perfect dinner, too. (Mr. B begs to differ.)

One of my absolute favorite combinations is chocolate and peanut butter. Adding cream cheese to the mix puts it over the top. But what I really liked about this Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheesecake Ice Cream is that you can barely taste the chocolate.

I like chocolate, but I love peanut butter! So this ice cream was perfect. (Of course, if you're the chocolate type, you can always add more...maybe some chocolate chips or a chocolate ripple.)

I also reduced the amount of sugar I put into the base because the peanut butter is already sweet, and since I'm used to almond butter now (which isn't sweet), it was definitely sweet enough.

I think next time I'll make it even more fantastic by putting it in a graham cracker crust and garnishing it with a hot fudge drizzle.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheesecake Ice Cream
*recipe slightly adapted from Espresso & Cream

2 c 1% chocolate milk
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c heavy cream
4 oz Neufchatel cream cheese, softened
1/2 c creamy peanut butter

In small bowl combine 2 Tbsp of milk and cornstarch until smooth; set aside. In large saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining milk, sugar and extract. Bring to a boil and continue to cook for four minutes, stirring frequently. Make sure it doesn't boil over! After four minutes, remove from heat and whisk in cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and continue to boil one to two minutes until mixture slightly thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in cream cheese and peanut butter. Whisk until smooth and well combined. Whisk in cream. Pour mixture into bowl. (The original recipe calls for you to strain the mixture through a mesh strainer, but I didn't see the need.) Place mixture in refrigerator and chill 8-12 hours.

Transfer chilled mixture to bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Store mixture in an air tight container in freezer.

*Brace yourself. You'll probably eat the whole thing.

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Today is my birthday. I started my day with a big bowl of overnight oats. And to make it a special breakfast, I added a candle.

Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(I tried to light my candle but all three lighters in the house were out of fluid. And so goes my morning...ha ha.)

So today I turn 26. Woot woot. Because I am a mature, married, professional woman my presents of choice have now changed. I'm supposed to have bigger dreams and more mature wants.

And this year Mr. B heard me loud and clear ;)

And I received the most wonderful (grown-up) gift: a house!

All of the paperwork went through yesterday, and now we're just waiting for the keys. Check out our back yard!

A  house!

We're homeowners!

I can finally cross off #107 Buy a house on my "Life List." I've knocked out quite a bit from my bucket list, but there are still a few to go.

To celebrate, here are 26 other items on my Life List:

[in no particular order]

1. Spend the night at a Bed & Breakfast.

(I heard there's one in Pennsylvania with a Gone With the Wind theme.)

2. Go to an all-night movie marathon.

3. Read all of the Newbery Medal winners.

(Yes, I'm a librarian.)

4. Attend an Ohio State football game at The Shoe.

5. Raise a family.

6. Learn how to sew.

7. Start a petition.

8. Attend an AVP match/tournament.

I ADORE Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.

9. Spend an entire day at the spa.

10. Visit San Francisco.

11. Travel the Rt. 30 garage sales.

12. Learn to ice skate.

13. Watch all the movies in my 501 Must-See Movies book.

14. Learn to drive a stick shift.

15. Pay off my student loan debt.

16. Watch all of the Oscar movie winners.

17. Visit Nashville.

18. Visit Dallas, Texas.

19. Visit at least 30 states.

20. Write a book.

21. See the Statue of Liberty.

22. Learn to play the piano.

23. Visit Las Vegas.

24. Pet a tiger.
Aren't they just gorgeous?

25. Master a ballroom dance.

26. Learn some sign language.

I can't wait for tonight. Mr. B is taking me out to dinner (Mexican) and then a movie (crossing my fingers I can get him to take me to the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rising).

And tomorrow my friends are throwing me (and my friend, Emilia, because her birthday is two days after we're celebrating on the average day) a Royal birthday party!

With love and God Bless,

Monday, July 16, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Twenty-Nine

Ohhhhhh yoga. How I love thee. I feel always. I feel more energized, flexible, de-stressed, empowered and ready for my day. I hope those of you who took the morning yoga challenge feel the same and continue to do so!

But it's Monday and it's time for a new challenge!

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
No Bread.
Sometimes my body goes through phases where all I crave are turkey sandwiches or grilled cheeses for lunch. Other times bread sounds like the very last thing I want to eat. So, I change it up a bit. I like to constantly change up my diet every few weeks to give my body a break from what I've been putting in it.

In the summer I always find myself eating a lot of ice cream...because it's soooo freaking hot. Also, there are a lot of birthdays (MINE!) and get-togethers during the summer months, which means a lot of goodies. Because of this, next week I'm planning a cleanse challenge and I'm getting a head-start by eliminating bread from my diet this week.

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

Psssst. It's my birthday week!

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Wine Party

Back in May, my friends and I continued our beverage-themed party idea with a selection of wines. Well, actually it's a long story. Allow me to explain.

During our coffee party we were trying to decide on our next beverage for our next get-together and a few of us mentioned wine. Some others mentioned they weren't wine drinkers and wanted to bring other alcoholic beverages. We then decided it would be an alcohol-themed party.

Haha. As my friend pointed out, "Don't all parties have alcohol? Isn't that why it's a party?"

So that was the big joke over the next month. Our alcohol party.

Ice wine is my absolute favorite, but my bank account can't really afford it. (And Mr. B would not understand.)

My second favorite is Riesling. But I wasn't the only one with a taste for this lovely beverage.

The Pinot Noir was quite smooth and Jessica mixed the Spumante with this peach-mix thing-y.

We had such a delicious spread consisting of cheese and crackers, blondie cupcakes, chocolate-covered blueberries, some awesome spicy-lime popcorn and espresso fudge with pistachios.

[Check out this post for the recipe to that fabulous fudge pictured above.]

I was in heaven with my glass of Riesling. And then I spent the rest of the week in heaven as I consumed the leftovers. :)

My friends are awesome.

This was the peach drink Jessica created. It was super, super, super sweet. I could only handle maybe three sips.

And, like all of our get-togethers, we had a blast and the food was perfect.

If you haven't started already, make your next gathering centered around your favorite beverage!


With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Chew: Homemade Fudge

It's July, and as promised, I have a few new features coming to Sweet B's Impressions. Since I'm constantly trying out and adding my own twists to new recipes from around the blog world, my various cookbooks, mouth-watering pins on Pinterest and TV, I decided to start a few "Recipe in Review" posts. I'm aiming for a review or two a month. [But please don't hunt me down if I fall behind. I don't plan to....but life happens, ya know?]

My first such post had to be this Homemade Fudge I watched Carla Hall make on The Chew a couple months ago. (Love, love, love this show. It's definitely been my addiction since it first aired way back last October and, besides Rizzoli and Isles, is the only thing I watch on TV...well, my sports of course and the occasional Food Network show.)

Let me tell you about this fudge. But first let me just say that I am not a huge fudge-consuming person. (Except for my Grandma Bays' Peanut Butter Fudge, which sadly no one has been able to exactly duplicate since her passing a few years ago. And I long for her fudge every holiday.)

So when I heard Ms. Carla Hall say, "Who doesn't like fudge?" as she began her segment, I raised my hand. But then all these thoughts and versions started floating through my mind as I watched her create this super easy and quick fudge. I just had to give it a shot with my favorite ingredients which just happened to be lying around the kitchen.

And, yes, it is just as mouth-watering as it looks. So.freaking.good. LOVE.

I made it for a little get-together my friends and I had, and I was thrilled when everyone could taste the espresso...because I barely could. Next time I'm adding a whole shot and skipping the extract. (I like my espresso my men.) It was barely sweet, which I loved. And had just the right amount of nuts, which I, too, loved.

I had fully intended on saving some for when my friend Jessica and I next saw each other (because I told her all about it and she was dying to try some), but late at night I found myself sneaking into the freeze for a bite. I don't know what happened, but eventually all I had left was an empty container with chocolate smudges.

Homemade Espresso Fudge with Pistachios
*adapted from The Chew

1 1/2 c shelled pistachios
1 lb good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped (I prefer at least 65% dark chocolate...the higher the better my friends)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pats
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Pinch salt
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp strongly brewed espresso, or espresso granules (maybe a full shot next time and no extract)

Line an 8"x8" pan with two strips of parchment paper the width of the pan with at least a 3" overhang on each side. In a glass bowl, mix chocolate, butter, milk and salt.  Place bowl over double boiler with simmering water.  Stir until chocolate is smooth, about 5 - 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat, dry bottom of bowl, and stir in extract and espresso.  Fold in pistachios. Pour mixture into prepared dish and smooth with spoon or offset spatula.

Chill in fridge until set, about 1 1/2 hours.  Cut fudge into desired size with a sharp knife.  After each cut, wipe knife with a damp paper towel.

*I'm thinking of adding dried cranberries and blueberries for a Christmas twist this holiday season.


With Love and God Bless,

Monday, July 9, 2012

7 Days 1 Challenge: Twenty-Eight

Okay. Sooooo, what habit did you get back into? I was able to get back into my crossword puzzle three days last week. I'm slowly getting back into it with my morning coffee....but sometimes my body would rather sleep just a few more minutes and then rush around like a crazy person before leaving the house in the mornings. Yet, I'm working on it.

But it's Monday and we're moving on!

*In case you're new to these challenges, the challenge starts on Monday and ends Sunday night. The following Monday I'll post a new challenge.

This week's challenge:
Morning Yoga

I can't wait to have the privacy of my own home to do my yoga outside.
I recommend everyone find a morning practice that works best for you. My yoga routine each morning is a max of 20 minutes. I do it right after I stumble out of bed (and having my mat right by my bed is a huge motivator), and it helps my body to wake up easily and more quickly. By the time I've finished, I'm full of energy and ready for my morning coffee. (Of course, there are a few days where my body would rather sleep just a few more minutes and then....well, see above.)

Who wants to take the weekly challenge? Let me know by sharing your thoughts/struggles and link ups below!

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Sweets

1. Mr. B and I had a great big bowl of mixed fruit for brunch this morning, consisting of grapes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches and kiwis. YUM.

And then Mr. B asked what else there was to I made him an omelet.

2. House update: The sellers have finished everything we asked them to fix. So possible second inspection next week.....then closing? (eek!)

3. WHY is it soooooooo hot?!! I live in Ohio for a reason. I'm melting here people!

4. To beat the heat we went boating with Mr. B's parents last Sunday and on the 4th. They decided to do some rafting. Um, yeah, rafting does not seem like a good time. I'm fine on the boat, thanks.

5. I've been on a homemade pizza kick lately, and anyone who knows me is probably staring at the screen going, "What? You? Pizza?" I am not a pizza fan, but I'm obsessed with The Pioneer Woman's pizza crust. It makes enough for two large pizzas, so I've been halving it and storing the other crust in the freezer. Ta da! Two meals for the week! (And I like my crust's sooooo darn good. I'm addicted.)

6. I got lost on my way home from work Thursday because the construction workers decided to block off my exit ramp. I tried to bypass it but everywhere I went the ramps were all blocked. There were no "Hey, take this detour route" signs and I didn't have the GPS. It took me an extra 40 minutes to get home (+ the hour that it already takes me to get home). I was exhausted. Darn construction!

7. Guess who I got to spend most of my Friday with?

Baby Myles!!!! Well, he's hardly a baby anymore. How did he get so big!!?

8. And of course, his Mommy came too!

Jessica W. and I

9. Mr. B and I were at Kohl's the other day and they have the Skippyjon Jones books and stuffed animal. This was the first time Mr. B had ever heard of Skippyjon Jones, and me, as a children's librarian, was explaining everything to know, how Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese cat who thinks he's a Chihuahua because of his big ears. Yeah, now Mr. B is calling Siamese Skippyjon Jones and he refuses to call her anything else.

Here's the link to Skippyjon Jones' Facebook page.

10. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I'll help you out. My birthday is in 11 days!! I like cash and cookbooks :)

With Love and God Bless,