Thursday, May 30, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake

Summer means strawberries, which means another excuse to make a dessert. Or, something like that. This strawberry shortcake is easy to whip up  and will definitely be a crowd-pleaser for your summer get-together...or just for yourself.

3 cups strawberries (rinsed and sliced into bite-sized pieces)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp Triple Sec (orange liqueur) or orange juice
1 can crescent rolls (I used Pillsbury Reduced Fat)
1 egg white, beaten
2 tbsp white sugar
Whipped topping (About 1 cup or however much you want. I used Fat Free Cool Whip, could also use regular whipped cream or make your own)

Puree 1 cup strawberries and water in blender or food processor. In a saucepan, mix corn starch and 3 tbsp white sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (about 5 minutes). Mix in liqueur and let cool. Stir remaining 2 cups of strawberries and refrigerate.

Pre-heat oven to 325F. Grease cookie sheet. Unroll and separate crescent rolls, press 2 triangles together (so 8 pre-cut rolls become 4 big rolls). Roll up as directed on package. Brush top with egg white, sprinkle sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool for a few minutes then cut rolls in half. Stuff with strawberry mixture and cool whip. Less is not more, here, so pile it all on!

Enjoy :)

Adapted from this recipe

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Randoms and My Jams

Holy wow. This weekend was a whirlwind of just about everything. I haven't had much time to share, so I thought Random Wednesday would be the perfect time to share a few highlights...
1. Tyson's Corner (read: huge, amazing mall) with my friend Katie! We had so much fun at the American Girl Doll store... we basically turned into little girls again. I better give birth to a girl someday, because these dolls are amazing- so much more than they were when I was little!
2. Chris and I went on two bike rides over the weekend! One was over 12 miles...considering I'm out of shape and we just started biking, I'm proud of us! 
3. I read a whole book over the weekend. "Gone Girl" was amazing. I'd heard mixed reviews but I guess I like dark and twisty fiction because I couldn't put it down.
1. Loving this yellow polish! (Butter-fly stroke from Sally Hansen). It's the perfect golden yellow.
2. Why is there nothing better than strawberries and (non-fat) whipped cream? So yummy.
3. I made freezer breakfast sandwiches from Pinterest. I'm not a fan of the way the eggs cooked but they'll do for quick "in a pinch" breakfasts.

It was so nice to have a long weekend, and I have a super short 3-day work week. That means I'm trying to cram everything into 3 days which has been a little stressful. I'm off work Friday because it's my little brother Jake's Bar Mitzvah on Saturday! I'm so excited for him, we have family coming into town and it'll be a great weekend. 

Now, to share my playlist for Day 29 of the challenge! Here's a mini soundtrack of my life right now.

playlist of my life by Alyssa on Grooveshark

There are so many more songs I could use, but these are the ones that came to mind. 
The first two songs are songs that just make me happy, always. The next two are songs that describe where I feel I'm at in life right now. Yes, T-Swift is right, I'm feeling 22 again. The last song is "Our song" :)

Linking up with Jenni and Shanna

Friday, May 24, 2013

Flaws and Craving Vitamin D

Thankfully it's Friday before a long weekend. The week has actually flown by... I feel like with school ending soon time is just flying. I work at schools a couple days a week and have to say I'm really going to miss that during the summer! Well, I won't miss getting up super early. At all. Here are my favorite five things from the week...
1. Cute new shirt from Loft Outlet. Hello sale going on right now! I haven't shopped for clothes in months and although I went in looking for black capris (found some!) I couldn't resist this top, and another in a different color, for only $12.99 each!
2. We had cheese fondue and homemade beer the other night. Chris started brewing beer and this is the first batch. I proudly admit that we store the beer in the guest bathroom tub. Redneck beer brewing? {The joys of apartment living}
3. Gorgeous stargazer lillies from the grocery store, of all places! These are my all-time favorite flowers. They smell amazing. I WILL use these flowers in my wedding.
4. We purchased a bike rack and picked up our bikes from our parents' houses over the weekend. We've been riding a couple times and are looking forward to going on longer rides over the weekend. BWI airport has a 12 mile loop path and I'm excited to get my butt in biking shape {literally. it's a good butt workout}
5. This is not good for my butt.... but who cares? Chris' Spaghetti Pie. It was ready when I came home from work the other day. Yum yum yum.

Now for today's challenge... My 3 worst traits. Easy.
- I take on other peoples' problems. This is something I'm really working on lately. Clients, family, friends, I take it all on as my burden. It's okay to a point, because I guess that means I care. However, it's terrible for my well-being and destructive.
- I'm way too self-conscious. I worry about what others think about me. This has improved since I've gotten a little older, but it's still a flaw for sure.
- I have a terrible memory. Terrible. I don't remember anything unless I write it down. I'm horrible with names. I can have a conversation and literally forget all the important details of what was said. I think it's impacted by stress, because sometimes I can remember the most mundane details. Like peoples' dog's names, what nights my favorite tv shows are on, and where my favorite stores in the mall are. Wait, maybe those are the important things ;)

I'm hoping to get my pale self in the sun {with sunscreen} during this upcoming long weekend. I need that Vitamin D! What are you getting into this weekend? 
Linking up with Lauren and Jenni

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Best of Sweet Shangrila

Oh, where to begin? I've been blogging a while now and I definitely have some favorite posts to share with you for today's challenge.

Some of my favorite recipes include Cheerio Treats, Key Lime Pie, and Spice Cookies. You can't forget about my Healthy Stuffed Shells, Light Penne Alfredo, and Twice Baked Potatoes, though. 

When you're done making all those recipes, you might need to clean up the kitchen. You can use my DIY Cleaner (not only for showers!)

If you're wondering how I started, you can always check out my very first post.

If you're looking for foods with no calories, look no more.

Do you have a favorite post of mine that I didn't mention? Tell me below!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Do You Believe in Magic?

I was in 5th grade. My parents decided we could start looking for our first family dog. We hadn't had dogs before...only cats. We were so excited, so my family along with my bff Liz headed off to PetsMart on one of those adoption fair days.

We arrived at PetsMart, there were several dogs and many cats just waiting to find their forever homes. Liz and I stood outside one of the pens which housed a couple of the dogs. 

Then he picked us.
They called him "Chip". He jumped up on me (my, what great manners he had). Another dog had caught my parents' eye, but "Chip" caught mine. He had to be part of our family....and so he was. 

Our family was about to take our first trip to Disney World so we had to wait 10 days to bring our new family member home. In the spirit of Disney, we decided to name him "Magic". 

Magic joined our family and fit right in. He was skiddish and afraid... we figured he was abused by his previous family. He picked us as his forever family and lived a happy life. He loved chasing squirrels, jumping on people, and cuddling. He was terrified of thunderstorms. He wasn't the smartest puppy but he loved us and we loved him.

Magic passed away in 2010 and we miss him so much. I'll always remember the day he picked us as one of my fondest childhood memories.

Linking up with day 18 of the challenge.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Snapshots on a Friday

I can't do it. I can't pick just one favorite picture of myself for today's challenge. I was a very photogenic child and always loved being in pictures. I kind of grew out of that as an adult (unless I'm having a super great hair day) and am a little camera-shy now. I love this first picture because of my adorable ringlet curls (completely natural) and my cute little sailor dress. I was a precious toddler. 
The next picture is clearly a favorite, and I know I've posted it here a couple times before. My parents thought it would be a cruel joke to put a Cowboys visor on me, and this is what I thought about it. I really have no idea why we owned a piece of Cowboys merch... it must have been free. Thumbs down to the Cowboys.

Moving on.... I am so glad it's Friday. I need a weekend! It's so close to Memorial Day and a couple exciting events.. I can't wait! Here are a few favorite things from my week...

1. Nordstrom Rack opened down the street! Yeah there are a few within a 30 minutes drive but this one is literally 5 minutes from my house. And my wallet cried.
2. This LivingSocial. If you know me, you know I'm obsessed with LivingSocial. This one literally knocked my socks off I was so excited. Wine tasting, here we come!!!
3. Chocolate chip cookies were mentioned earlier this week, but deserve another mention. According to Chris, they were the best choco chip cookies I've ever made. Maybe they deserve their own recipe post...what do you think?
4. The weather is finally warm...upper 70's/low 80's. Love sandal weather.
5. Getting to see family on Sunday for Mother's Day. I didn't do a weekend recap post, but here's what I made mom... she loved it :) Pictures of all of us at various ages. We were cute.

Have a great weekend!
Linking up with Lauren and Jenni

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Day in the Life...

Here's an interesting prompt for today's challenge. "A Day in the Life", including pictures.
Well, I can't include many pictures of my day since it involves seeing clients all day. Every day is different for me, and I kind of make my own schedule. I work two days a week in elementary schools and three days in the mental health clinic. Two of my clinic days are evening days, so I work about 11-7 those days. It's a crazy schedule! Here's my average day on an 11-7 day...

7am: Get up. Coffee immediately. Cereal. Browse blogs, emails, watch the Today Show. Water plants, straighten apartment {one of the things I LOVE about these the mess BEFORE work!}. Work out (sometimes..if I feel like it)
I collect these mugs!
9am: Shower, get ready. Watch more Today Show while getting ready. Or CMT music videos if the tv segments are annoying that day. Make lunch.
10:40am: Leave for work. I'm lucky to have a 15 minute commute. 
11am-7pm: Clients. Sometimes 9 in a row. Sometimes clients don't show, or cancel last-minute so I have some precious time to do paperwork or make phone calls. Sometimes I only get 5 minutes for a lunch. 
7:30ish: Get home, make dinner with Chris (or in yesterday's case, order pizza)
8pm-10ish: Watch tv shows, depending on the night with Chris, sometimes watch "my" shows. Catch up on blog stuff (sometimes). Eat some form of dessert.
11pm: Crash and rest up to do it all over again in the morning.

It's not very exciting, but I love how every work day is different. I never really know what to expect. It keeps my life interesting ;)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

And So I Baked.

Yesterday was a great day. Until a couple things happened and my good mood went spiraling downwards...only to be remedied by baking. For today's challenge, the prompt is to list "ten things that make you happy".

1. Chocolate chip cookies. I love sweets in general, but these are a fail-safe. They definitely didn't disappoint last night! And yes, my mood greatly improved after eating a few of these cookies :)

2. Sunshine.

3. Fresh flowers.

4. Wine and margaritas. Not together, unless it's a sangria swirl.

5. Country music. Any and all of it.

6. Palm trees. I belong where they are.

7. The beach. It's my "happy place"

8. Nail polish. I can't even count how many colors I've collected.

9. Animals. Specifically, giraffes. I can't explain it, I just love em.

10. Chris, my family, and friends. They make my world go round.

What makes you happy?

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Face-lift and an Apology

I got a little Face-lift! Or an identity change...that's more like it. 
Sugar, Spice, and a Dash of Advice is now Sweet Shangrila!

There are a few reasons... I was ready for a change. I want to put more time and energy into blogging and I just felt the old name was difficult. It was long, annoying to type, and I hated the "advice" part. I don't presume to be worthy of giving anyone advice, and it kind of got on my nerves every time I saw it. I thought it was cute when it was just my family reading and I posted pictures of cupcakes every couple months, but not so much anymore.

"Sweet Shangrila" is shorter, simple, and also holds a special meaning.
Sweet = my love for sweets. Plain and simple.
Shangrila = a street I lived on in Texas when I was little. I have wonderful memories there and it reminds me of a time where things were simple, pure, and happy. Just like the word... "shangrila".

There are still some kinks to work out ( a blog design and domain) but I'll be making those changes soon. Stay tuned!
So, what do you think?

gorgeous flowers from mom's porch

It's also Day 13 of Blog Everyday in May. I've skipped a couple days, but this weekend was so busy!
Today's prompt is to "issue a public apology".

So, I'm sorry...
To Chris. I'm not the easiest person to live with and you're amazing to me when I least deserve it.
To my family. I wish I was better at being there for you all. I love you all so much.
To my body. I'm so terrible at being consistent with working out, but I feel so much better when I do. I'll try harder.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Well, That's Embarrassing... And More

Happy Friday! 

Today's Blog Every Day in May Challenge is to reveal your most embarrassing moment.
Well, I feel like my whole life is a series of embarrassing moments. I'm so clumsy, I'm always tripping and falling and saying stupid things. I'd have the say the most embarrassing moment from my childhood was in first grade and some boy tripped me on purpose into a mud puddle. I was so embarrassed, muddy, and was afraid everyone would think I had an "accident" if you know what I mean. I remember my mom coming to pick me up early because I was so sad and embarrassed. That was really mean of that little boy, come to think of it! I hope he got detention.

I tend to not get embarrassed anymore... I feel like that's something that just evolved as I became older. I'm really not afraid of acting stupid and laughing at myself... for example, dancing the salsa outside of Chipotle, much to Chris' dismay. Not much shame. 

Moving onto my High Five!

1. I also missed yesterday's Blog Every Day in May prompt... "a moment in your day"

After work yesterday, Chris worked on his car in the garage while I lifted flip flops. Hey, at least I did it and thankfully I didn't drop one on my foot. My arms are in need of some serious toning...I don't even remember the last time I worked them out with weights.

2. In case you missed it, I posted a fabulous Twice Baked Potato recipe. Make it this weekend, you won't regret it.

3. I got this dress, in Navy Blue, for $9.99 at the Old Navy outlet. I'm so excited, it actually fits really well and is perfect to dress up or down depending on the event.

4. I'm totally obsessed with this wine. Of course, it's not as good as the amazing peach wine that Leigh sent me, but it'll have to do until I can visit her. 

5. It's the freakin weekend, baby I'm about to have me some fun. Or something like that. Happy Mother's Day to all you mommies out there, and best of all my own mommy! I can only look up to you all and hope to be half as wonderful to my own babies someday. You guys are super-women.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Dash of Advice

Day 8 of the Blog Every Day in May Challenge asks, A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.

Here it is. Don't take yourself too seriously and certainly don't worry about what others think (that was kind of a 2-parter)
Having a bad hair day? Chances are, no one has noticed.  People are too worried about themselves to notice little things about you. Don't put that pressure on yourself. Remember to laugh at yourself always. And if all fails, enjoy a glass of wine.

That's my advice for today. What's yours?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Twice Baked Potatoes

You've had twice-baked potatoes (aka re-baked potatoes) before, right? If not, you're missing out. Gather your ingredients immediately and get cooking, because these are a-ma-zing.

5 potatoes (a potato per person = 1 serving, so you can tweak ingredients as needed)
1 cup or more shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp dry mustard and/or 1 tsp dijon mustard, depending on how mustard-y you like
1 tsp paprika, ground red pepper, or cajun seasoning. I used all, but that's because we like things spicy around here
Bacon pieces (optional, that comes in a jar or you can use cooked bacon)
Dash of pepper

For baking the potatoes:
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt

Bake potatoes. If you need directions on this, keep reading. If not, skip to the next paragraph. Under running cool water, scrub those potatoes. Dry them off thoroughly, then poke about 10 holes with a fork to let steam escape. Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt. This will make the skin taste amazing, and that's where those nutrients are! Bake at 350F for 1 hour on a pan (flip in between).

Let potatoes cool for a few minutes before handling, or wear gloves. Cut potatoes in half, scoop out insides. Be careful not to scoop too much- you want the skin to stay intact. Mix scooped insides with all ingredients, minus some of the cheese. You can mix the bacon in now or leave it out to use as a topping- totally up to you. Scoop the filling back into the potato skins, then top with cheese/bacon.
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, then broil on "high" for 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. 
These are great as leftovers so I always make extra. Enjoy!

What I'm Afraid Of...

Today is Day 7 of the Blog Every Day in May Challenge...The thing(s) you're most afraid of.

I didn't even need time to think about this one.

The thing I'm most afraid of is losing a loved one. I wouldn't say I think about this a lot, but it is my greatest fear. I'm thinking this is a normal fear, right?
3 of the people I love most. I even love Ben's face....although it also scares me.
On a lighter note, I'm also afraid of heights, spiders (or any bug if it's in my house), being kidnapped (I'm insane) and cruises (people fall off those boats, just watch the news! No thanks!).

What are you afraid of?

Monday, May 6, 2013

This is What I Do...

I missed the Blog Every Day in May Challenge this weekend but am back on it on this wonderful Monday. I'm being sarcastic, no Mondays are wonderful. Ever.

Day 6 Prompt is If you couldn't answer with your job, how would you answer the question, 'what do you do'?

What is he doing, sleeping?
I really love this prompt because we tend to define ourselves by our jobs. I know I do. I spent so much time going to school to earn my degrees, spend 40+ hours a week at work, so it kind of consumes my life. However, my job is not "me" as a person! 

Here's what I do:
  • I try and be a good girlfriend, daughter, friend, and sister
  • I bake, and attempt to cook (according to Chris I'm getting better!)
  • I shop (although not much lately...I'm really good at it!)
  • I craft, garden, and decorate. 
  • I drink wine (or margaritas) and tell jokes. In that order. I'm usually the only one laughing at my jokes. I'm also pretty good at laughing at myself.
  • I help people the best I can. This includes my job, but I just can't leave it out. It is a part of my nature whether I like it or not sometimes.
  • I try and live my life the best I can. Nowhere near perfect, but not so shabby. I really really try.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Uncomfortable Friday

Happy Friday! I can't wait to be off work for two glorious days. The forecast for the weather is sunny and upper 60's. I won't complain! Here are my high five from the week.

1. Weekend outfit. I LOVE not having to throw on a jacket as much now that the weather's getting warmer!
2. I made healthy sandwiches for lunch ALL week! It's an imitation version of Panera's Mediterranean veggie sandwich. Whole grain honey wheat bread, red pepper hummus, lettuce, cucumber, and provolone. Vegetarian and SO surprisingly filling.
3. One of my favorite quotes that's been hung around every desk I've had the past 5 years I've been working. I'm really trying to take this suggestion to heart.
4. I brought my butt to the gym twice this week which is GREAT for me considering usually it's zero times. Especially great considering I'm finally getting over being sick and didn't let that stop me.
5. Cara cara oranges + whipped cream. The whipped cream ran out after one slice, which I guess was a sign I shouldn't be eating whipped cream. In all reality, it's not THAT bad! I'm trying to work on that diet. On that note...
We've stuck to our meal plan ALL week and managed to cook healthy meals with fresh ingredients. Here's what we ate...
  • Hot dogs / Pasta salad (ok, maybe not too healthy/fresh but EASY!)
  • Gargonzola turkey burgers, brussel sprouts (much to Chris' dismay. He tried.)
  • Tacos & Homemade guacamole
  • Homemade pizza
I'm also continuing the Blog Every Day in May Challenge. Today's prompt: Things that make you uncomfortable
Do we have a while? I'll try and keep this short.
  • Public displays of affection (PDA). It's just not my thing.
  • When people talk about bodily functions or other personal, sometimes medical things in therapy sessions. I am your therapist and it does NO good to tell me about these things when they are not affecting your mental health. Talk to your DOCTOR. anyone but me.
  • When people raise their voices. It makes me squirm.
  • Parallel parking. Lived and worked in the city for 4 years, still hate it.
  • Fast food.  I can't stand the smell, look, taste of it. (Besides McDonalds fries. Because who doesn't love those?)
  • Sleeping without a fan blowing on me. Must have.
I guess a lot of things make me uncomfortable?! Have a great weekend!

Linking up with Lauren and Jenni

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Something I Know About

She's blogging 2 days in a row? Are we on the right blog?
I know. This is why I love Jenni's Blog Every Day in May Challenge. It's exactly what I need to get back in the saddle of blogging.

Today's prompt is "Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. Take any approach you'd like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)"

Uhhh, what? I feel like I'm always learning things. What's something I know a lot about? I guess I'll put my therapist hat on. Let's talk about something called "coping skills"

Coping skills? What are those? Basically, they're the things you can do to deal with tough things that come up in life. Things that help you feel better, calm you down, and help you deal with situations. It's a pretty simple concept, but one that people have such a difficult time with (myself included). They can really be applied to any aspect of life, whether it's depression, anxiety, or if you're just having a bad day or feel a little stressed.

What are some useful coping skills?
  • Breathing exercises. Breathe in 5 seconds, hold 5 seconds, let out 7 seconds. 
  • Write. Write it all down. Whatever's going on, whatever you're thinking, whatever is bothering you. I keep a little journal with me for this purpose. It helps.
  • Talk. Reach out to someone. Anyone.
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Exercise. "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't." -Legally Blonde :)
These are clearly just a few. Like I said before, it seems simple, but it's really hard to remember to do these things for yourself. I actually keep a list of things that work for me so that when I'm feeling overwhelmed, I don't even have to think- I can just pick something off the list. It really helps.
I also like to close my eyes and pretend I'm at the beach. Seriously!
So, next time you're feeling a little overwhelmed, try one of these! I bet you'll feel a little better.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Story of My Life

This is the (abbreviated) story of me. 

I was born in Houston, Texas to amazing parents. Three years later, my brother Ben arrived and we moved away from Texas in tears (this I remember clearly). We moved all the way to Maryland, where I went to kindergarten through 12th grade in the same school district. Two more brothers followed, Zach when I was 6 and Jake when I was 12. I also made some great friends, including my BFF Liz. 
1992. Clearly, from the fashion choices all around.
I went off to college at Salisbury University in 2005. I had fun, but decided I would speed up the college process and graduated in 3 years. Meanwhile, Chris, my crush/best guy friend from high school and I ended up dating. I had no idea what I was getting myself into! 
Chris and I at Homecoming 2003
Chris and I moved in together after college graduation. At the same time, I entered the workforce at age 20 as a social worker in foster care. Chris began law school. I went back to school for my Masters in Social Work in 2009 and earned my MSW in 2010. Chris graduated law school, we made a couple moves, and are working hard to establish ourselves. I recently switched jobs and am a therapist for children, teens, and adults at an outpatient mental health clinic. I'm excited for what the future holds for us! 

I'm linking up with Jenni for Blog Every Day in May challenge! 
Also, that's probably more than 250 characters as the prompt asked for, whoops.


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