Thursday, March 20, 2014

Espresso Yourself at Amelie's

This is the beginning to the National Anthem of France.

Being in Charlotte for the past 4 years has given me the ability to find my favorite coffee shops in the Queen City.  And I have to say that one of my favorite places is Amelie's French Bakery of NoDa; this 24/7 bakery is the best thing on the planet, best coffee, best pastries and the BEST macaroons that I have ever eaten.

Y'all need to get your butts down there.  If you're not a coffee person, then there is tea, there is water, there is anything delicious!  And if you don't want a beverage, their selection of deliciousness is out of this world.  From their world famous Salted Caramel Brownies, to their Chocolate Mousse Cup, Macaroons, or Chocolate Croissants...if you can't tell I kinda love chocolate.

In the picture above, I tried their newest Mocha, and it is beyond fabulous, guys!  It is called the Rose Mocha, they put their homemade rose syrup in their yummy mocha and create an explosion of flavor in your mouth!
And I know you're wondering what that chocolaty thing is behind that coffee, and that y'all is the Triple Chocolate Cake.

Amelie's is my little indulgence, and the first place I want to take my friends who visit me in the Queen City.  One of my best friends, Sydnie, came to visit me, so Adam and I took her and her man to our favorite hot spot! 

From left to right :: Joanna, Me and Sydnie

Doesn't this just make your mouth water, y'all?!? Get on over to Amelie's! :)

PS - I had this snicker doodle-chocolate macaroon and it was phenomenal!  It tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch with was heaven!

Guys, life begins with coffee and a tasty croissant.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Baked Sweet Potato Quinoa "Anytime" Patties

Whenever we are preparing dinner, and we know that we really want sweet potatoes, but we're tired of having it the same way? 
{Baked, with maybe some brown sugar and butter?} 
Yeah I was tired of it too, y'all, so I went out there and found something COMPLETELY different, that I fell in love with and I know you will too!

Yep, there's sweet potatoes in this bad boy!

I found the recipe here, that I changed and added to in order to make it my own, and to create something a little different.

* Literally, eat these anytime, last night I had mine with chicken, but this morning I also had them with an egg on top!
* Makes about 14-16 patties (depending on your patties size, cause size matters. lol)

What You Need ::

- 2 medium to large sweet potatoes
- 1 cup quinoa (2 cups water) - we'll be cooking it
- 1/4 red onion (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 Tbls. thyme (rub between your fingers when putting in the pan in order to release scent)
- Dash of cilantro
- About a Tablespoon olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
- Olive oil for the fryin' :)

Directions ::

  1. First, make sure those potatoes are ready y'all, so get your oven to 400 degrees, and bake them for 45 minutes. At about half way through, I took mine out and cut them in 4th's so that they cooked through, and were softer.
  2. Cook your quinoa.  1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water, bring to a boil, once it has reach a vigorous boil, reduce heat to low (simmer) and keep on heat for 15 minutes.  Once cooked, take off heat and set aside.
  3. In a pan, take your onions, the 1 Tbls of olive oil, and a hefty pinch of coarse sea salt, and sauté until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the garlic, and stir for 1 minute, add thyme and cook for about 30 seconds. Take off heat and add to a large bowl.  Add the {mostly} cooled quinoa to the same bowl and stir. Set aside.
  5. Take potatoes out, peel them, then mush them up and add them to the quinoa mixture.  Add another 1/4 tsp of the sea salt and mix everything together.
  6. Form a small golf ball size of the mixture in your hands, then squish together to form a patty.  Cook on medium heat, for about 2.5 minutes on each side, until crisp and browned.  Make as many as you want.   

* If not using all of the mixture, it will keep up in the fridge for about 2 days.  But they are so delicious I don't think that you would want to leave them that long!

Now, look at you making something delicious, healthy, and irresistible!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tips & Tricks :: Spring Cleaning

From work, to friends, to your loved ones, a lot of us have been hearing and thinking about spring cleaning.  I know, I know, I said it! But, someone had to!
I love spring, y'all.  The birds are chirping, the air is crisp with blossoming trees and flowers, the days seem brighter, and just everything around seems to be giving a more positive vibe. 

Even though we should try to keep things tidy and neat throughout the year, we do associate spring time with the perfect time to clean!  Even though Mother Nature has been a little crazy these past couple of weeks, here in the Queen City, don't let the winter blues get you down.
To keep you from waiting any longer, let me five you a list of my tips and tricks to an easier spring cleaning to-do list.

We all seem to think that Spring Cleaning is a week long process, and we get tired everyday trying to do more than we can. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK Y'all!  You can do as much as you want for as short or as long as you want.
What is cleaning like to you? To me, I fell it to be meditative, I get into this zone, and move at a super-speed. Does this happen to you?

The best thing about this list is that you can start anywhere, whatever you believe needs to be taken care of first, you start with.  On a side note, I do recommend going from top to bottom so that whatever falls to the floor, won't have to be cleaned twice.

The Living Room ::

The reason for me choosing the living room first, is because this is where Adam and I spend most of our time, and this is what our guests immediately see when they come over.

1)  Start with your windows and walls, this in turn will make everything seem cleaner right from the get go.  
You may not think of it, but dust and stuff will accumulate on your walls.  If you have fur-babies like we do, then your windows, and glass doors, surely must have some of their lovely nose art.

TIP & TRICK :: Use Mr. Cleans magic eraser on your walls, and all those marks will disappear.  And when you are cleaning your windows, use newspaper to wipe them with your Windex.  It leaves no streaks.

2) Couches, unzip those smelly couch covers and throw them in the washer! (read the label first) While that is happening, move to your coffee and end tables, dust them, and wipe them down!  And the best part of spring cleaning, is that you can also take this time to polish them.

TIP & TRICK :: Take 1/2 cup white vinegar, and 1/2 cup of olive oil, mix, and take a kitchen rag and wipe down!  All those scratches, GONE!

3) Dust & Clean those T.V's.  Not just the T.V itself, but the mantel that it is probably sitting on, the cords that connect it to your VHS player, and/or DVD player. (Does anyone still have a VHS player? I know I still do, I LOVE my Disney movies, and Rocky movies!) 

4) Shelving - This may seem like a task, but that's the point!  When you go to your shelving, its lined with books, pictures, memories, photo albums, etc, and it has been that way for about a year now.  Are you bored with it?  Re organize it and you know, this is the time to change the mood of your living area! Start with that bookshelf, what do you want the room to say about you?  Do you still have that $30.00 shelf from WalMart? (I'm guilty)  So why not think about something new that you want to do as you take every item off and dust, and clean it?

What about something like this?

SIDE NOTE :: Whatever you decide to do, feng shui your whole living area, it doesn't have to be drastic, but when you choose one thing, then move to something else.  For example, move your couch to the other side of the room, or add on some cute throw pillows to add a different mood, as stated above!

I saw this cute thing on Pinterest, and I love it!
5) The Floors, those awesome floors -_- 
Vacuum them, vacuum your couch (without cushions) and then take a squeegee, yes, a squeegee and go across your whole carpet.  You will be surprised how much dog hair, husband/wife hair, or your hair that is deep in your carpets.

Crazy, right?!?!

Bedrooms ::

Y'all, lets tackle those closets (& drawers) together!  Start trickling in that spring clothing, take out your sandals, and your capri's and your flowy tank-tops. Wash that dirty laundry that has been piling up for a while, and take off those bed sheets, and put on new ones.
Also, when you are cleaning out your closet, be sure to have three different piles.

Pile One - The Keep Pile
Pile Two - The Pack-Away Pile (This is mainly for the winter clothes that you don't need anymore, like your winter coat, and snow boots.)
Pile Three - The Donate/Garage Sale Pile

TIP & TRICK :: If you make your bed first, then your room looks cleaner, so start there! :)

Next, your fan.  That thing gets dusty so easily, so make sure you dust up there as well!

TIP & TRICK :: In order to prevent a bunch of dust from getting on your bed or in your face, take a spare or old pillow case and put it over each fan blade and wipe down on the inside.  Bam!  

Bathrooms ::

Clean the walls, and door (especially behind the toilet). Use the Mr. Clean Eraser.
Next, move onto the drawers, clean them all out, whatever you don't need, or whatever is expired, throw it away.  Organize everything in them.

Toilet - this is the scariest thing in the bathroom, right? AHHH!  But, we have to get over that.

Put in your toilet cleaner, and start scrubbing y'all. TAME THE TOILET!!!
Not just the inside, but the outside as well.  Get out your cleaning toothbrush, and scrub the hinges and grout!  

One thing, for us ladies out there, CLEAN YOUR MAKE-UP BRUSHES!  Something that I recently found out, is that your makeup brushes are one of the places where bacteria grows (at a rapid rate).
 TIP & TRICK :: Cleaning your makeup brushes is easier than you think.  
Take a small amount of your dawn soap, or baby shampoo, and mix it with warm water.  Submerge your brush into the water and swirl it around rubbing your fingers through the brussels.  But, be careful NOT to get the metal piece in the water, because it will loosen the glue that holds everything together!
Then rinse out your brushes with lukewarm water, and squeeze out excess water, then mend the brushes into their original form, and lay on towel to let dry.

Vacuum and Swiffer the carpeting in your bathroom, and the flooring.

Getting down in the Kitchen ::

The kitchen is probably one of the most difficult to clean because it's one of the spaces that have many different things.

  • Clean your silverware with lemon juice...smells nice and makes it sparkle and shine.
  • Hard water stains?  Cut a lemon in half and scrub it on the stains, viola its gone.
  • Sponge Smelly? Rinse it, squeeze it out, and zap it in the microwave for one minute, and then it is as fresh as new!  BUT, if the sponge shreds then its time to toss it.
  • Glassware cloudy? Take a cloth, put some vinegar on it, and rub down the glassware.  It should sparkle.
  • Clean your disposal.  Take some vinegar, pour it down while it is turned on, and this will get rid of that smell, and then throw some ice cubes down there (still turned on) and this will sharpen the blades, then throw down some slices of lemon, and this will have a great scent coming from your now disinfected disposal!

Clean the oven, turn on the self cleaner, to burn off all of that yucky stuff, and once it is done and cooled off, then you may wipe down the inside with some Clorox wipes, and paper towels.

Take a close look at your cabinets, they are probably dirtier than you expected.  I found this awesome gunk cleaner from One Good Thing!

Good thing I found her! :)

  • 1 Part Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Parts Baking Soda
Mix together with a spoon, and start scrubbing guys!  Take the toothbrush and dig deep on the cabinet handles!

Clean your stove guys, take out the spirals, and clean everywhere!

Then, sanitize your sink, you need to do this, because lets be honest with each other here, its really gross, and full of bacteria.  Take either bleach, or white vinegar, or boiling water with soap, and scrub it down! (Not all three)

The refrigerator needs love too, even though we already love it lots, because it holds all of our yummy food.  Take everything out, off one shelf, and clean that shelf, then re-install, then continue to do the same for the rest of the fridge.  
Also, this gives you time to take out all the food that has either gone bad, or the tempting foods that you wish to throw out while you are on your way to a lifestyle change to a new and healthier you!  While you are taking out all these foods, feel free to replace them with yummy veggies, and fruits, like mango's, kale, carrots, apples, grapes, green peppers! :)

Alright guys, that's about all I have for you, with my tips and tricks!
Let me know if I forgot anything or you want to know anything else!

"You never know what you have, until you clean your house."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Do you have "Ruff Lips"? :: Balm Review

Oh My Goodness, y'all! I just got my Ruff-Lips Lip Balm in the mail!!

It is fantastic, it goes on really simple, it smells amazing and the BEST part of it all, 10% of all profits go to Animal Rescue Shelters! Isn't that great guys?

I am a HUGE lip balm fanatic, I collect EOS Egg Lip Balms, Soft Lips, Nivea, etc!  So when I heard that my Sorority Sister, Kelsey was making these All Natural, Organic Lip Balm, I knew that I had to try it!



I ordered the Peppermint and the Orange balms. There is something about the scents that you are just attracted to immediately and it is strong, yet when you put it on your lips it is not too over-powering.


These balms go on so easily, y'all. They are really soft and creamy, you can feel it moisturizing your lips immediately.  When I put the balm on, it's smooth and has a long lasting wear.  My lips actually feel so much better after using this, especially with all this crazy weather in the Queen City.


1 container as seen here:

The label is unique from the little puppy face, cute colors, to the bubbly font.  As stated on her site, these yummy lip balms can be anything from an everyday gift, to great stocking stuffers. And AGAIN, 10% of profit goes to Animal Rescue Shelters. I just cannot handle how amazing that is, giving back to all those fur-babies.


Only $3.25 a container, which is a fantastic price for the balm being all natural and organic!


Local North Carolina Honey
Organic Bee's Wax
Organic, Unrefined Coconut Oil
Essence Oil (Orange, Peppermint, Lemongrass

On top of all these great qualities that Ruff-Lips provide, I can also GUARANTEE you that the owner is phenomenal, and she has also said that if you do not LOVE Ruff-Lips, then she will give you your money back and a letter saying sorry.  That is how sweet she is, y'all!

Side Note - I doubt that you won't like it.  Spoiler Alert - It's creamy and great!

Order as many as you want, guys!  1, 3, 200, whatever - Ruff-Lips will provide!

GO GET SOME NOW! It goes to a great cause! :)

Lipstick & Squats,