April 28, 2014

Good Thoughts & Prayers for Arkansas

As most have probably seen on the news, Arkansas and several other states were hit by devastating storms and tornadoes last night. It seems to happen every year around this same time, but it never lessens the heartbreak. 

We were lucky - the sirens went off periodically for a few hours and while our nerves were on high, it was no doubt nothing compared to what the residents of Vilonia and Mayflower and surrounding areas must have been feeling at that time. 

It's hard not to feel helpless during these times, but there are plenty of ways that you can reach out. Everyone is urging people to stay away from the devastation areas so that Emergency Workers can get in and start to help the victims.

Here is a great list of local areas that are donating items, such as non-perishable food items, gloves, toiletries, blankets, clothing and bottled water to name a few.

If you are not local or would like to donate money instead, here are a few options:

The American Red Cross
The Salvation Army
United Way of Central Arkansas

I'll continue to post updates and ways to help as I come across them. My morning has been filled with phone calls and texts making sure we are all okay, safe and sound. I wish every other Arkansan could answer those questions with a yes today.

April 21, 2014

Hoppy Hoppy Easter!

I love Easter weekends - especially because my office lets us out for Good Friday. Since Engineer Husband had to work still, the Mooser and I decided to sleep in (just a little bit), then get a move on with our spring cleaning. I just love the feeling of a house that is clean from top to bottom!

After a Friday night Game of Thrones marathon (we're trying to catch up - almost done with season 2!), we woke up Saturday to get ready to head to EH's hometown for Easter Dinner at my SIL's. To prepare, I made my go-to salad and also tested my baking skills by baking some cupcakes. 

Terrible picture but you can spot my cupcakes and also the salad we brought in the large wooden bowl.

For the salad, I throw together-

Baby spring greens
Almond slices
Dried cranberries (or craisins? I had to ask EH what they were called and we're both clueless)
Bacon Bits (Best when you actually cook bacon but I cheated and used the pre-ready kind)
Feta cheese

And the dressing-

Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Dijon Mustard
Salt & Pepper

And voila! Easy salad that you can easily swap out ingredients for to keep as a side, or even add grilled chicken for a main dish. I make this salad all the time and it is always a big hit.

Next were the cupcakes! And y'all. I had such big plans for these cupcakes. I was going to make two different flavors from scratch totaling to 48 cupcakes (for 10 people, what was I thinking?) but on Saturday morning it was just too easy to lounge aroud the house still. Plus EH put on Frozen so I kept getting distracted. Let it go! Let it goooooo!

Anyways! So boxed cake cupcakes came to the rescue! But they were double fudge, so maybe that makes up for it. I'm not a big dessert person myself but EH gave me the thumbs up. 

The cupcake decor was just a can of green frosting, bright blue bunny peeps on top of some, and Starburst jelly beans arranged on the others. My green icing skills are a little hit or miss, but they were pretty cute when all lined up!

The weather here is officially warm, which brings the beautiful blossoms everywhere but also the abundance of pollen. Nothing a Claritin a day can't help, atleast!

Though our Easter this year was a little different than our usual Church-Sunday brunch with ham type affair, I still enjoyed every minute of it. 

Now my focus has shifted to getting ready for our Gatsby-themed party this upcoming weekend. I've got the dress and the shoes and I can't wait to start playing around to pull the whole look together. Look forward to details on that!

Thanks for stopping by and hope you and yours had a wonderful, HOPPY Easter!

April 15, 2014

Happy Day at Derby Day

One of my favorite events during the year is Derby Day at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs. We're lucky that we usually are able to sneak away a couple of weekends to checkout the horse races, but there is something special about Derby Day. 

So Friday night we ventured to Hot Springs to my IL's beautiful lakehouse. The weather in Arkansas this past weekend was amazing. The night was all cocktails and take-out pizza and even an impromptu hat fashion show and it was a lot of fun. Almost a little too much!

The next morning was a blur of people eating breakfast, donning their hats and bow ties and pouring a mimosa or Bloody Mary for the road. I love the excitement of Derby Day mornings - guys on their laptops or phones trying to get hot tips, the women swapping hats and pouring champagne and pictures, lot of pictures!

I went for a beige sheath dress from Maude here in Little Rock. Hat is from Dillard's and shoes not pictured were navy peep-toe pumps from Jessica Simpson. I felt very Kate Middleton. Or like Kate Middleton's second cousin twice removed, hah.

After all of the pre-race excitement we were in the car and zooming towards the track!

Little blurry but I still love it!

The races, especially when the weather is pleasant, always seem to be packed. It's the ultimate people watching event - I would wager equal to airport people watching. No matter if you are hanging out on the benches inside, venturing out into the infield (which when the weather is perfect is one of my favorite places to be!) or entering the crammed elevators for the Jockey Club, the excitement in the air is contagious. 

The food is always delicious - I was craving a half dozen raw oysters from the Oyster Bar or maybe a piled up Rueben but we ventured to the Jockey Club buffet instead. Never a disappointment! I didn't snag a picture of that, but I couldn't resist taking a quick snap of the cutest little desserts I ever did see.

Aren't they precious? I don't quite remember the flavors but the yellow/green slice of heaven in the middle was my favorite. They're like tiny works of art. 

The remainder of the afternoon was spent pouring over our programs and the multiple cheat sheets, lots of beer and wine and trips up for snacks and of course, trips to the ticket machine to place our bets!

Unfortunately, as per usual, Engineer Husband and I were not too successful at betting on the ponies. We had a few victories but I suppose betting on "Oh, I love that name!" or "There's a gray horse, let's pick that one!" aren't always the best reasons to go off of. Ah well.

We had the greatest time and I'm sad that we have to wait a whole other year to experience it again.

If you are in the area, I hope you get a chance to check it out next year! Maybe we'll bump into eachother!