Secret Single Behavior

So the deal is, Ian was at the beach all weekend for my future brother-in-law's bachelor weekend, and I had the most gloriously GIRLY weekend ever planned!

Friday, as I mentioned, my girlfriend Ashley came in for the night.  Not a single picture was snapped (the horror!) but we did have a marvelous time together.  We started the evening by sipping on sangria at my house, then we went to Homegoods.  We were there until 9pm, and then we decided it was time for dinner.  An hour late for our reservations at Zink, we were still seated immediately and had the best dinner.  A girly dinner.  We shared a bottle of sauvignon blanc, we shared a hummus trio with pita bread, and then we had their flatbread pizzas.  Oh my goodness, the prosciutto and fig pizza --

The next morning, we headed to Terrace Cafe for brunch and then Ash made her way home.  I had another big afternoon ahead of me -- spa time.  My hands-down favorite spot in Charlotte is the Spa at Ballantyne Resort.  Seriously luxurious.

I arrived early for my 3pm massage appointment.  I started off by getting in a good workout in their fitness center (amazing how treadmills with individual TVs built in make the time fly so easily!) and then showered before my massage.  The hour-long Swedish massage was excellent, and afterwards I chilled in my robe in their relaxation room with a few trashy magazines, dried fruit, veggie chips, strawberry-orange infused water, and hot jasmine tea.

After the relaxation room, I hit up the steamroom and the sauna.  One more shower and a quick makeup reapplication, and I was ready to call it a day.

My next adventure was at Crate & Barrel, where I had a few gift cards left over from our wedding.  I absolutely stocked up on some necessities -- two large metal planters, four glass bowls with plastic lids (in an effort to get away from reheating in plastic containers), a 9x13 and 8x8 with covers for easier transport of food, a silicone ice cube tray for making giant ice cubes, and four juice glasses.  Whew.

Before heading home, I stopped by Earthfare.  I had some flatbread leftovers for dinner, but a total craving for some olives.  Especially castellvetranos -- my absolute favorites.

Clockwise: peppadews, cornichons, castellvetrano olives, spanish olives with preserved lemon and chilis

I parked myself right in front of the television, ordered "I Don't Know How She Does It" on demand, and treated myself to my newfound favorite wine -- Nobilo sauv blanc.  Insane.

A scary green mud mask may have also happened afterwards.

And speaking of scary green mud masks, before Ian left town, I googled "secret single behavior."  You know, to get some ideas of things that I technically *could* do with him away.  I landed on this site and laughed my way through.  Make sure to read all of the comments or you're really missing out. 

I admit, I did find myself talking to our dog Drake an awful lot this weekend, and even singing some wacky songs to him.  Know what else I did?  Left my shoes ALL around the house.  Walked around in my skivvies.  And when I saw a bit of blue fuzziness on our block of pepperjack cheese that I reallllly wanted to eat, I just cut off a few pieces from the opposite end to snack on.  I know, I KNOW.  That is so gross.  But nobody was there to witness or potentially be put in danger -- just me.  And now you know. 

Seriously, you have to read this.  And now, fess up: what's your secret single behavior?


Two Things I Love

Happy Monday!  After a great weekend with some girl time, some solo time, some spa time, and just a lot of R&R in general, I am ready to conquer this workweek.  Or ... maybe that's just the caffeine speaking from my large iced coffee this morning.

Today I am sharing two things I just love:

{1} Shortcut Sangria
While I was waiting for my girlfriend Ashley to arrive at my house Friday evening, I enjoyed the always-perfect combo of beautification + cocktail imbibing. 

Although I typically make white wine sangria that "marinates" for a long time in the fridge, I decided to throw together a really quick glass of red sangria that I deemed Shortcut Sangria.  This is no gourmet recipe -- but it is a quick and easy one.  I simply filled my glass a third of the way with red wine, added an equal part of lemon-flavored soda water, stirred in 1/2 packet of Splenda, and topped it with some slices of lemon and orange, and several ice cubes.  Ta-da.  Done.  Bam.

{2} Garnier B.B. Cream
After posting the above photo to my Instagram feed (@alizadventures), I was asked if I like the B.B. Cream that is shown in my cabinet above.

Yes, yes, and yes!

I bought the Garnier B.B. Cream several months back and I haven't gone a day since without using it.  A small bit goes a long way, so it has lasted forever.  It gives my face a really dewy glow without the heavy weight of a typical foundation.  It has SPF built in to the formula, and I've found that it just creates a really even tone to my face. 

If I'm just running to the farmer's market or grocery store on the weekends, I'll put on a pea-sized amount of this and a little rosy gel blush.  Throw on a baseball cap and some pearl studs... four easy steps and I'm ready to run into someone I know at the store (which will inevitably happen when you're pre-shower on the weekend).

This is the first and only B.B. Cream I've tried, but I was definitely intrigued by Shasta's recent glowing review (yep, pun intended) of a different B.B. cream.

Do you use a B.B. cream?  If so -- details, details, girl!


Friday, Yes Ma'am.

It's Friiiiiiiiiday, hallelujah!

I've got a great weekend lined up ahead of me, including a visit tonight from one of my very best girlfriends.  Ashley lives about an hour and a half away from me, and we've been talking for a while about how crazy it is that we haven't planned a weekend together.  We're making it happen tonight!

Here's a little trip down memory lane -- takin' it back old school. 







That last picture was taken almost a year ago when Ashley married her sweetheart Chase.  And it was also taken about 5 minutes before we started blasting the Wobble song and doing the linedance right there in the bridal suite of the church.  Ash in her wedding dress, us doing our best to not catch her train with our heels.  Best wedding-jitters reliever, ever.

Ashley and I try to schedule at least one morning drive catch-up session each week.  One of us calls the other around 8:10 and we chat until we're both at work at 8:30.  It's a quick call ... but very good for the soul.

There's really nothing as great as girlfriends.

I had a few questions yesterday regarding the source for the pillows on our bed.

I wish I could pass along a store name for these, but I can't!  The yellow and white suzani print pillows are actually pillows that Mom and I made for our wedding for the lounge area.  You can see them in action here:

The pillows also have a different and more modern print on the backside of them, which you can see on the pillow to the left.  I like to change up the look of the pillows on our bed according to the day of the week (yes, I am a little wacky) -- Mon-Thu gets the more traditional suzani print, Fri-Sun gets the funky modern print.

That is Type-A Fun right there for ya, folks.

The coral, white and yellow pillow in front: I had the cover made by my wonderful alterations lady, Pam.  :)

All of the fabric for these pillows was purchased on and of COURSE I went through my beloved Ebates where I earned 4% of my purchase price back.  You've already seen me wax poetic about my love for Ebates, and I'm happy to report that to date, I've now earned $172.48 back.  That's crazy, ya'll!  The next big pay date is August 15th, so if you're considering an online purchase soon to Bauble Bar, Ulta, Amazon, Banana Republic, Victoria's Secret, Sur la Table, Overstock, Minted ... the list goes on and ON, ya'll ... then purchase soon to get a percent of your spendings back in your piggy bank.  If you need an invitation to join, click here.


Pinterest Find: Free Monogram Printable

Monday, I came across a great site via the always-lovely Pinterest where you can create a customized monogram printable ... fahhhhh freeeeee!

You have probably already gathered that (a) I love monograms, and (b) I'm dirt cheap slightly frugal, so I was heading to the site in .03 seconds.

Creating this personalized monogram was incredibly easy.  I saved it as a PDF and dragged it to a flash drive.  Then, just a quick trip to Hobby Lobby for 8x11 cardstock and another trip to Office Max to have it printed, and this D-I-Y was D-O-N-E.

Here she is, sitting pretty on my nightstand.

Total project cost:
Printable: $0.00
Paper: $0.49
Printing: $0.59

And I already owned the frame ... ta-da, a $1.08 project!

Here are some ideas for how you can use this printable:
  • Print in a really girly pink color and hang it on a wall in your closet
  • Slip it in the front clear pocket of a 3-ring binder
  • Print in black and customize it with your married monogram (your name + hubby's name) and add to a gallery wall of B+W photos
  • Add some pizazz to your desk at work with this in a frame
Note: I found that when printed on 8.5x11, it is slightly off-center.  It is best meant to fit an 8x10 frame.  When you cut down your printed paper to size, you'll take off more on the right side and bottom of the paper to make it even.

Click the photo below to create your own.  And if you're not following me yet on Pinterest, click my name on the source information underneath the photo to start!


Ina Does Everything Right.

This past Christmas, I was sitting around chatting with my Aunt Karen when she mentioned a recipe of Ina Garten's that she recently enjoyed. 

Roasted Sausages and Grapes.

Given that the whole idea of roasted grapes seemed completely foreign to me, I was immediately intrigued.

Since hearing about it, I have made this recipe three times -- once for a girlfriend, once when I hosted Supper Club, and then last night for Ian.

I have slightly altered the recipe -- I use chicken sausage to make it healthier, and I slice the sausage before roasting it.  Also, because the chicken sausage is pre-cooked, that eliminates the step of parboiling the sausage.  I'll post my altered recipe below, but you can find the original recipe here.

Roasted Sausages and Grapes

1 12-oz. package of chicken sausage, sliced diagonally
3 cups grapes (I love red, you could also mix green/red)
1 T. unsalted butter
Few glugs red wine
Few glugs balsamic vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat in a cast iron skillet, and when it starts turning golden brown, add in the grapes and stir with a wooden spoon to coat them.  Slightly raise heat and add red wine.  Stir for a few minutes while the wine reduces.
  3. Add sliced sausages to the grapes and stir together.  Transfer immediately to the preheated oven.  Roast 20 minutes, turning once midway, until the sausages are brown and the grapes are very soft.
  4. Put your skillet back onto the stovetop, and over medium heat, add the balsamic vinegar.  Allow juices to reduce.
I served this last night with herbed green beans and a romaine salad with avocado, cucumber, and onion.  We loved it, and there wasn't a single bit left over.

Is this a recipe you'd be up for trying, or is it a little too "out there" for your taste?


Staying Sane With Birthday Cards

Know what stinks?
Forgetting a birthday.
Or ... knowing that the birthday card you are sending will defintely not make it to the recipient in time.

I was getting so tired of doing the last-minute scramble to the drugstore to pick out a card and then pray to the US Postal Service gods that it would miraculously get dropped in a box meant for overnight airmail.

This year, I took the bull by the horns and developed a pretty darn fool-proof way to ensure that I never miss a birthday.

Step 1: I write down birthdays of family members and friends by month.  For example, under October, it will say: Ashley - 4, Ian - 15. 

This list comes with me to the store.  For the record, I am a big fan of the dolla-dolla (my pet name for Dollar Tree) for cards.  They have really amped up their card selection, and they are only $0.50 each.  And I'm a firm believer in the fact that it's moreso about what is written IN the card than how much it cost.  Boom.

So yes, I go ahead and buy all of the cards that I will need for the entire year, and I always throw in a few generic cards too that I keep in my desk drawer at work.  I end up with about 20 cards for $10 -- not bad considering I'd typically been spending $4-5 for each card previously.

Step 2: Grab your handy dandy day planner.  Yes, mine is slightly busting at the seams, and I'm okay with that.  It's organized chaos.

Step 3: Using your list of birthdays by month, paperclip each recipient's intended birthday card on the page of the week when you need to mail the card (I usually pick a day about 5-6 days prior to the birthday, keeping in mind national holidays when the P.O. might be closed).

Step 4: Each week that you flip the page, if there is a card clipped there, immediately write a thoughtful note to the birthday guy or gal, address it, stamp it, and slip it in the mail.  I also keep stamps in my day planner, making it that much easier to get the card in the mail in a timely fashion.

This trick has saved me so much time and panic!

I also like to go ahead and purchase a few other types of cards: engagement congratulations (because I remember how much fun it is to receive a card right after you say YES!), sympathy, and baby cards -- some gender-specific, some gender-generic.  I also like having anniversary cards to send for a couple's first wedding anniversary.


While we are on the topic of birthdays --
The other night for the Bachelorette finale, I wanted to whip up a quick sweet treat for Ian and myself.  I just placed some softened vanilla ice cream in a small smoothie-sized blender with some dry yellow cake mix.  Topped with sprinkles, it tasted just like Coldstone's cake batter ice cream!


Lake Weekend In Photos

This past weekend was our annual lakehouse weekend with Mom's side of the family.

While I never found too much of a quiet moment to read, I did enjoy a relaxing weekend with family (and lots of dogs).

We ate well, drank well, and had a great time as usual.

Me & Daddio


Delicious sides on Friday -- black beans and corn

Dave and his infamous wings

Moonshine sippin'

I helped put a dent in the food.

Cake batter Rice Krispies from Carolina Charm

My homemade sangria

Treats all around

Misbehavin' boys

Hope you had a great weekend too.  :)


Friday Fun: Necklace Inspired Outfit

Happy Friday ... I'm elated that we've made it through the week.  It's been a long one; between a public rezoning meeting downtown Monday night, my Funky Fit class Tuesday night followed by a family errand putting us back to the house at 9pm, working on a calligraphy project and a jewelry project Wednesday night, and finalizing that jewelry project in time to meet girlfriends for Vietnamese cuisine on Thursday night, I've barely had any time to breathe.

Isn't it a little crazy sounding?

This weekend I plan to recoup as much as possible to get ready for another crazy week ahead (girls nights on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday -- yes ma'am).  Don't get me wrong; I love it all, it just takes ENERGY!

I've got The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks loaded on my Kindle, my bathing suit packed, and a trip to the lakehouse in my very near future.

Enjoy today's outfit inspired by one of my favorite new necklaces that I've made!

A. Liz Designs: Necklace Inspired Outfit

And the inspiration piece:

This necklace can be found in my A. Liz Designs shop
Who's dancing in the car at 5pm with me today?  Any Pandora station suggestions?    

Shhhhh!  A secret from me to you: see the ad on Our Life In The Queen City for a coupon code.  ;)


Manda Gets Married

Back in the winter, I was contacted by a very special bride-to-be who wanted her bridesmaids outfitted in classic pearls, with a twist.
I already knew Manda through her blog, but working with her on this project was pretty amazing because I gained "insider status" ... I got to hear about her wedding colors, see her bridesmaids dresses, and be a part of her wedding planning vision!

Manda had chosen classic bridesmaids dresses in the most beautiful emerald color, and she wanted to outfit the girls in something timeless and elegant -- a simple strand of pearls.  We varied the necklaces up by changing the Swarovski crystal details at the back of the necklaces near the toggle clasp.  Manda paired each differing style up with the bridesmaid that she thought it fit best.

Here is the necklace, as seen from the front:

And from the back.

All five necklaces together created quite a fun statement piece!

And lucky me, I got to view the pieces in action through her gorgeous professional wedding photos.

Have you ever seen a more romantic bride than Manda?!

She's stunning.  I bet her groom teared up big-time.

And the girls by her side all had their own similar, yet unique, necklaces.

Thank you, Manda, for letting me be such a special part of your breathtaking wedding day.

If you are planning your wedding and looking for unique pieces to outfit your bridesmaids, special family members, or shower hostesses, please email me for details.

You may also message me through my A. Liz Designs Etsy shop.
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