Winter is Coming – Warm up with Soup!


Since I moved to Michigan, my soup making skills have gotten so much better. Probably because it is so cold here thanks to the lake effect, and a pot of hot soup simmering in the kitchen makes me forget how cold it is outside.

I like soups that are chock full of meats and vegetables and spices, so I was really glad to find a recipe for Hangover Soup. It has a really funny name, but it is absolutely delicious and filling. I found this recipe on Food Network and adapted it for my family’s tastes.

It has a rich, creamy broth redolent of pork and bacon, and full of hearty vegetables. Best of all, you can make it in the crockpot and go about your day.

Hangover Soup 

Adapted from Food Network

Makes 8 Servings

  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 5 pieces of center cut bacon
  • 2 cups pork loin, chopped
  • 2 links of sweet Italian sausage, chopped
  • 2 cups of cubed potatoes
  • 2 cups of chopped carrots
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • One teaspoon each of Paprika and Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper
  1. Prepare the crockpot by drizzling a little olive oil in the pot
  2. Cook the chopped bacon over medium high heat. Remove the bacon but leave the drippings in the pan. Place the bacon into the crockpot.
  3. Fry the diced garlic, pork loin, and sausage in the bacon drippings until cooked. Drain off the fat and add the cooked meat to the crockpot.
  4. Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, and onions to the crockpot. Add the seasonings and stir.
  5. Pour the chicken broth in, and put the temperature on low. Cook for 4-6 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can cook for 2 on high.
  6. Before serving, stir in the cream.
  7. Serve with bread and enjoy!

My Favorite Bread

My husband made a joke once that my bread cookbooks were just like porn for me. It was a silly joke, and I rolled my eyes at him, but he’s right; there are few things in this world I love more than bread. Store bought bread, bakery loaves, homemade loaves – if you can slice it and put butter on it, I’m a fan.

We got a bread machine and a lovely bread stone and loaf pan for our wedding, so I’ve really enjoyed expanding my repertoire of bread recipes. A few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at french bread with our new bread stone. I get so frustrated with myself when a recipe doesn’t turn out exactly the way I want it to the first time, so I made sure to pick an easy one. Thankfully, I found an amazing one from Julie at My Mundane and Miraculous Life. Her Easy Peasy French Bread has a mere four ingredients and is miraculously ;) good.


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Facing Anxiety

For Steve, who loves me no matter what.

For NH and NB – who understand.

For everyone who suffers – you aren’t alone.


I am one of six million people in the United States who suffers from a panic disorder.

A few weeks ago, Casey Cahill bravely filmed himself having a panic attack and uploaded it to YouTube in hopes of bringing awareness to the disease. It was incredibly courageous, as most of us that suffer believe that the only thing worse than suffering from panic attacks is other people knowing you suffer from panic attacks. Watch Casey’s video here.

A panic attack is an utter loss of control of everything around you – so we fight to hold on to the last bit of control we have, deciding whether or not to let people in to this very uncontrollable part of ourselves.


I didn’t want to write this blog post. Truth be told, I would rather be writing about anything else, and not exposing my deepest vulnerabilities for the world to see. To write it means that it is real, that it exists. However, something told me that I needed to. I needed to write it for myself, for my fellow anxiety sufferers, and for those who love us who want to understand and to help.

Judge me kindly – as it could just as easily happen to you. Given the statistics, it probably IS happening to one of your friends.

So. Here’s my story . . .

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Simply the Best Tomato Sauce

I was lucky enough to grow up with a genuine Italian grandma. My mother’s mother was born and raised in Italy. Most of my memories of her revolve around the kitchen. I followed her around like a puppy whenever she cooked, and I can’t remember her ever serving anything that wasn’t amazing. She bought premade things from the store so rarely, and I always try to emulate that.

Which brings me to today’s culinary adventure – homemade tomato sauce.  I call it Simply the Best for that exact reason – there is no better alternative out there (outside of Italy, anyway). It’s easy to make, chock full of fresh vegetables, and it’s so darned good. I rarely toot my own horn when it comes to food, but this is something that people beg me for whenever I make it. Jars never last long when I’m making sauce.


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Starbucks FlavOff Frappuccino Review


If you search for Starbucks on Pinterest, one pin pops up more than any other. The  pin with the “Secret Starbucks Menu”. Ever hear of it? It’s a compilation of drinks created by baristas and customers alike. There are some really fun and inventive ones – Fuzzy Peach, Birthday Cake, Snickers Bar. To celebrate their customers’ favorites, Starbucks has introduced six fan favorite frappuccinos for a limited time. They’re calling it the Frappuccino FlavOff and it’s pretty sweet.

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Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

There are some things in the world that I say the darker the better. Topping the list of those things are coffee and chocolate. A piece of dark chocolate is one of the most sinfully delicious things around – even better when it is paired with a cup of espresso.

So, with that in mind, I have a real treat for you lovers of all things dark and rich. Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream. A rich, dark cupcake base full of chocolate and coffee and topped off with a creamy, sweet caramel frosting. They are incredible!


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Bella VoxBox – Thanks Influenster!

These are always one of my favorite posts to do – about my boxes from Influenster! New to Influenster? Check out my post here and learn a little more about them and what they do (and how YOU can get free stuff) and check out my previous VoxBoxes here.


This was a big box this time (yay!) so I have a lot to share with you. In this Bella VoxBox I received Dove Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries, Rimmel by Kate mascara and lipstick, Eco Tools Mattifying brush, Sally Hansen Airbrushed Legs, Not Your Mother’s Déjà vu Do hair treatment, and Club W wine.

The star of this box – for me, anyway – was the Dove dark chocolate covered blueberries. Wow! I’m not normally a person who likes fruit with chocolate, but these are really, really good. They were still moist and juicy and had a wonderful pop of flavor that meshed really well with the dark chocolate. Dove also carries a cranberry variety which I’m very interested in trying. For you fellow Weight Watchers members – only two points for ¼ of the bag, which is a really decent serving size.

On to the lipstick and mascara. I was hesitant about both of these, but they’ve won me over. The mascara has a really funky looking brush, but it works wonderfully. My lashes were very long and very pronounced. My only complaint was that it wasn’t waterproof  and it did rub off easy. But a little clean up and you’re good to go.

The lipstick was a rich, wine colored red and made me think of a very vintage style. I liked it a lot. It went on smoothly and it stayed on there – I even drank coffee right afterwards and no marks were left on my cup.

I have to tell you, I’m not new to the Eco Tools line. I own most of their brushes for makeup application, so that should tell you something right away. I love that they’re made of bamboo so they don’t ever irritate my skin and they’re very easy to clean. Also, they’re cute! I love the natural wood handle with the pop of color – which also helps me differentiate between brushes, knowing what color belongs to which brush.

I used the Mattifying brush to apply my Bare Minerals Mineral Veil and it looks amazing. Great coverage. Here’s a picture of me with the lipstick, mascara, and use of the matte brush.


Not Your Mother’s is a really cool haircare line. I’ve tried a few of their products in the past, but Vu Do was a new one for me. It helps to make your hairstyles last longer. I put it on damp hair after washing and added a little curl to my hair. It really made it smooth and soft (and the apple berry scent is divine) but it was hard to tell how much longer it made the curls stick since mine normally stick around until I wash or brush them out. At any rate, I really liked it, if only for the softness and that scent.

I don’t use self tanners – I’m half Irish and I think I’m just meant to be pale. But, I liked the idea of using a little on my legs to give the illusion of wearing nylons. It worked really nicely. It spread easily and smoothly, and there weren’t any spots or splotches where the lotion didn’t spread out. It dried quickly, too.


Now for one of my favorite things in the world – wine!

Club W is a really cool online retailer for wine. You fill out a short profile and they make suggestions based on your taste.

Each month we’ll make new recommendations for you based on your Palate Profile. Go with our suggestions or make your own selections from our ever-changing assortment.

And the first bottle is free, so you can’t beat that with a stick.

I ordered three wines from Club W; the 2014 Loves Me Not Malvasia Bianca, 2014 Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy Sauvignon Blanc, and the 2014 Thorn Blossom Orange Muscat. I think I’m most excited for the Sauvignon Blanc – it just sounds like a great summer wine to sip outside on the deck.

Try it out, and use the promo code Spring4Wine to get a free bottle! Visit them at

Thanks for checking out my review!


I received the Bella VoxBox complimentary from Influenster in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own and not influenced by any of the companies.