Penny's Passion: July 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016

Five on Friday - July 29, 2016

Happy Friday!  How is it even possible that this is the last Friday in July?!?  Time needs to just slow down a bit.  Summer is going to be gone before we know it.

Before we get out there and enjoy the last weekend in July, here's my five for this week ~

1.  Truly Madly Guilty
I'm a big fan of Liane Moriarty's books (The Husband's Secret, Big Little Lies, What Alice Forgot) and this week her newest book was released - Truly Madly Guilty.  The kindle version is on sale right now at Amazon for $12.99. (Click HERE to purchase.) Amazon has this to say about the book ~
"In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm."

2.  Married at First Sight
Season 4 is underway!  This show just fascinates me and I was thrilled when I was checking the DVR this week and saw a couple episodes just waiting for me to view.  Three couples have been matched and are about to say their I do's.  If you've seen the show before, three of the "experts" are gone and two new ones have joined Dr. Pepper to do the analysis and counseling.  Crossing my fingers that the couples this season have longer staying married power than the couples from last season!  If you want to catch Married at First Sight, it airs Tuesday nights on fyi, at 7:30 central.

3.  National Talk in an Elevator Day
Hallmark might not have a card for this national day, but today is National Talk in an Elevator Day.  We've all been there - standing awkwardly in an elevator full of people as it ever so slowly rises to the floor you are trying to get to.  Well today you can proudly announce to your elevator partners that it's National Talk in an Elevator Day!  That should spark some lively conversation!  And while we're on the topic of elevators, thought I'd pass on just a few elevator etiquette rules:

1.  Let the people on the elevator exit BEFORE you enter the cab.

2.  Step aside to allow people in the back of the elevator to exit when you reach their floor.

3.  Gentlemen should allow ladies to enter and exit the elevator first if at all possible.

4.  Before entering the elevator, double check and make sure it's heading the direction you are wanting to go.

Enjoy your elevator rides today!

National Talk in an Elevator Day Last Friday in July

4.  Bad Moms Movie
Bad Moms movie opens today and I have a ticket to see it tonight!  Can't wait!  I'm excited to join two of my mom friends and watch this comedy.  Rotten Tomatoes sums it up ~ "In this new comedy from the grateful husbands and devoted fathers who wrote The Hangover, Amy has a seemingly perfect life--a great marriage, over-achieving kids, beautiful home and a career. However she's over-worked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that she's about to snap. Fed up, she joins forces with two other over-stressed moms on a quest to liberate themselves from conventional responsibilities--going on a wild, un-mom-like binge of long overdue freedom, fun and self-indulgence--putting them on a collision course with PTA Queen Bee Gwendolyn and her clique of devoted perfect moms."  I'll let you know my thoughts about it on Monday.

5.  What I'm doing today...

Have a great weekend!  I have a girls weekend lined up with my friends Linda and Sharyn.  We have several things on the agenda.  Then on Sunday evening I'm joining my friends Tracy, Sherri and Carol for some more girl time.  It's going to be a great weekend!  Stop back by on Monday to get the recap.

Linking up with:
5 on Friday 
The Triplet Farm
Why Girls Are Weird
Ins and Outs
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thinking Out Loud Thursday - July 28, 2016

Hey, hey!  It's Thursday!  Welcome to Thinking Out Loud Thursday with me and Vanessa from X-tremely V!

Michelle from Grammie Time suggested a theme to blog about today -- Thankful Heart.

Boy, there are so, so many things that I'm thankful for -- you know, all the standard things.  My family.  My friends.  My job.  But today I'm not thinking about the standard things that most of us are thankful for.  I'm thinking about how thankful I am to live in the United States and have the right to vote for the candidate I chose.

Now, let me state right up front that this is NOT a political post.  I'm not saying who you should vote for or what your views should be.

What I am saying is even after listening to all the rhetoric from both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, I am still wholeheartedly thankful that I live in a country where we can vote for any candidate we want.  Even if your candidate isn't on the ballot, just write it in!  Your vote will be counted.  Thankful that we are in a country where both parties can speak their minds.  People can decide for themselves who they will back.

I think sometimes when we are in the middle of an election year, people don't stop and just be thankful for the opportunity we have to vote.  Our country, even with all it's faults, is still pretty darn cool.  It's easy to take advantage of that fact.  For those of us that were born here after 1920, we didn't have to fight for the right to vote.  We didn't have to figure out how to come to America or how to become a citizen.  We didn't have to work to ratify the 19th amendment so women could vote.  We were blessed by just being born here.  So I think we forget sometimes how nice it is to have the privileges that are afforded to us.

This isn't saying that everything is perfect here.  We all know that it isn't.  But what I truly believe in my heart is if we tried to work together more, things would improve.  The fact that we have that opportunity everyday is something I'm thankful for.

So as November gets closer, and I'm throwing things at the television every time a political commercial comes on, my hope is that I will stop and remember how thankful I am to live in a country that I can actually vote my mind.

Now it's your turn.  What is something outside the standard things in life are you thankful for?  Would love to hear from you on that, or any subject your blogging about today.  Link up below and let us know.

Enjoy more Thoughts for Thursday at:
Party at My Place
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Weekending - July 22, 2016

Welcome to Monday!  Did you have a great weekend?  If you read my post from Friday, you know I took the day off to try to get a grip on my to do list.  Well, some things got done and some things didn't.  It's a habit of mine to let my Things To Get Done list spiral out of control.  Adding things to the list is so easy, but in reality it would take 34738728374 hours to do it all.  So I settle.  I get done what I can and move the stuff that didn't get crossed off the list to the next to do list and begin again.  So as I approach this week, there is still a ton of stuff I need want to get done.

But here are some things I did get done this weekend -

Friday ended up being a pretty great day.  Eric and I got up early and headed out for a walk.  The heat of the day hadn't gotten out of control yet and it felt good to get a little exercise in first thing in the morning.  We really need to do that more often.

After Eric left for work, I got ready and headed out to pick up some embroidered items I had ordered from Namely Yours.  Namely Yours is an adorable little shop in O'Fallon, Illinois.  My friend Lauren's baby shower was Saturday and I wanted my gift to be personalized.  The gifts could not have turned out more adorable!  Take a look ~

From there I had a pedicure, went to Eckert's to pick some peaches and blackberries then swung in Michael's to pick up some craft supplies I needed.  Much to my dismay, this was what was on display as soon as you walk in the door.

Halloween already!?!  Oh my, I'm not ready for summer to be over.  Fall is coming, but I hope to enjoy the summer season for a while longer.

Friday night, Eric and I joined another couple at the Cardinals baseball game.  The game went 16 innings!  We make it to the 13th inning and decided to call it a night.  Saturday was going to be busy and I didn't want to start the day tired.

Saturday morning was Lauren's baby shower.  Her sisters-in-law were hosting the shower and had made a last minute call to move the shower from the original outdoor location to one of their Aunt's house.  So glad they made that call because Saturday was HOT!  The shower was lovely!

 I contributed a few things to the decorations.  The gift banner below added a special touch as well as the accents to the diaper cake and personalized wreath.  Little Lillian is already so loved and I can't wait to meet her when she makes her appearance.

It's been a while since I proclaimed how much I love my Silhouette Cameo.  Well, I still do!  The gift banner, diaper cake accents and personalized wreath were all whipped up with the help of the Silhouette.  I also used the Silhouette to personalize my present.

After the shower, I stopped by my friend Rachel's house to help her with a project.  She had purchased a very large print from Ikea and wanted to add one of her favorite verses it.  She ordered the verse on vinyl and we adhered it to the print.  Turned out great!

We then headed to my home town to see the kids.  The babies are growing up way too quick and we just can't get enough of them.  I tried to get a picture with me and all three of them.  Major fail!  We'll have to try again next time!

I wish I had gotten a picture of the chicken my dad grilled.  It was delicious!  He also made zucchini on the grill that was fantastic.  I brought some zucchini home with me.  I'm going to try to make his recipe and will share it with you later.

Sunday after church we popped in Chevy's for lunch and I had a great salmon dish.  Yum!

After Eric left for work, I finished reading After the Fall.  Best book I've read in a while!  It was one of those that I couldn't wait to go to bed at night so I could read.  Have you read it?  I highly recommend adding this New York Times bestseller to your book list.

Just one more thing - I currently have a Pampered Chef show open.  Do you need something from Pampered Chef?  Or just want to look around and see what products they have?  Click HERE to place your order or check out the products.

Hope you have a fantastic week ahead!  I'm going to be working on getting some clothes out of my closet to donate and preparing for my friends that are coming to visit next weekend.

Check out what others were up to this weekend.
Bella and the City
The Quinntessential Mommy
How To Get Organized At Home
Over the Moon

This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Five on Friday - July 22, 2016

It's Friday!  I've had one of those weeks where I just could not get ahead of my to do list.  Things were starting to accumulate a bit too much so I decided to take a vacation day today to get things back in order.  Wish me luck!

Before I tackle the list, here's my five for this Friday ~

1.  National Vanilla Ice Cream Day
Tomorrow we have something pretty cool (literally cool) to celebrate - it's National Vanilla Ice Cream Day.  Some time ago, I blogged about my favorite vanilla ice cream recipe.  You can check it out HERE.  I'm definitely whipping some up this weekend!  Speaking of making this recipe, you will want a Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker.  They are WONDERFUL!

Vanilla Ice Cream, National Vanilla Ice Cream Day

2.  Ikea Laptop Support
Last Fall Ikea opened their doors in St. Louis.  I honestly thought I would be roaming their aisles on a weekly basis, but surprising I've only been there a few times.  One of my trips there was strictly to purchase some of these for my friends as gifts.  This laptop stand is seriously the best thing ever!  If you ever stop by my house, you will most likely see me stretched out on the couch with this stand on my lap holding my computer.  It makes working on the computer so nice!  And for only $4.99, you really can't go wrong.   Plus, it's comes in my favorite bright pink color.

3.  Star Trek Beyond
The next Star Trek movie opens today!  Here's the synopsis, "A surprise attack in outer space forces the Enterprise to crash-land on a mysterious world. The assault came from Krall (Idris Elba), a lizard-like dictator who derives his energy by sucking the life out of his victims. Krall needs an ancient and valuable artifact that's aboard the badly damaged starship. Left stranded in a rugged wilderness, Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the crew must now battle a deadly alien race while trying to find a way off their hostile planet."  If you are a trekkie or trekker, I bet you're pretty excited about seeing this movie.

Star Trek movie

4.  Sam's Crock-Pot
Even though right now it's hot outside, we're not that far away from tailgating before our favorite football team's games.  Sam's has a ton of different collegiate team Crock-Pots available.  Think of your favorite tailgate recipe simmering away in this cute baby!  How fun would one of these be under your tent before the game or sitting on your table while you watch at home?!?
Crock-Pot NCAA Cook and Carry Slow Cooker, 6 Qt. (Missouri Tigers)
5.  Pokemon Go!

Ok -- I'm off to get some things done!  I'm headed to a baby shower tomorrow and then headed down to see my mom and dad.  What's on your agenda for the weekend?  Whatever it is, hope you have fun doing it!  See you later!

Linking up with:
5 on Friday 
The Triplet Farm
Why Girls Are Weird
Ins and Outs
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Onion Roasted Sweet Potatoes

This weekend I whipped up one of my favorite side dishes and I can't wait to share it with you today - Onion Roasted Sweet Potatoes!

It seems that roasting vegetables is the new standard way to fix them.  Many vegetable take only a few minutes to roast up, but this sweet potato recipe takes a bit longer than that.  It's still super easy to make, just know that it will be sitting in the oven for a bit.

Here's What You Need

That's right -- only 3 ingredients.  Sweet potatoes, Dry Onion Soup Mix and Olive Oil.  The original recipe that I found on called for 2 pounds of sweet potatoes, 2 packages of dry onion soup mix and 1/3 cup olive oil.  I've made this recipe so many times now that I just kind of eyeball it.  If it's just going to be me and Eric for dinner, I don't always use two whole pounds of sweet potatoes.  But they are delicious as leftovers, so don't be afraid to make a whole recipe!

Here's What You Do
1.  Wash, peel and cut up your sweet potatoes.  (It still surprises me how darn hard sweet potatoes are to cut.)  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

2.  Pour in the olive oil and give them a little stir.  Sometimes I put everything in a plastic bag and shake it up.  Sometimes I use the bowl and stir.  Do whatever makes your heart happy.

3.  Sprinkle the dry onion soup over the oiled up sweet potatoes and stir until well coated.

4.  Spread out on a baking sheet.  I like to put parchment paper down first just to help with the sticking issue and easier cleanup.

5.  Bake in the 450 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  If they are not tender, you might have to let them go for a few more minutes.  Most of the times, mine are good after 40 minutes.

We love these!    They get a bit caramelized on the outside and have a nice savory flavor.  Pair them with a pork chop and you have a tasty meal.  Hope you love them too!

Handmade Tuesday's with Kristen

Monday, July 18, 2016

Weekending - July 15, 2016

Is it Monday already?!?  Did you have a great weekend?  This was the first weekend I had been in town in a while and honestly, it felt great to spend some time at home.  Thursday was our wedding anniversary so I got to enjoy the flowers Eric sent me.  They are stunning!  Take a look for yourself ~

Friday night we decided to skip using our season tickets to the Muny.  Young Frankenstein was the production and as much as we would have liked to see it, we decided that staying home was a better option.  If the grass got any taller, we would need a GPS to find the street and the laundry was spilling over.  So we got things done.  Afterwards, I decided to start reading Before the Fall and I'm loving it!  Every spare moment this weekend I had my Kindle in my hand reading as fast as I could to see what was coming next.  If you're looking for a real page-turner, click HERE to check out Before the Fall.

We had tickets to an outdoor amphitheater on Saturday night to see Cheap Trick, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Heart.  Beforehand we grabbed a cocktail and a bite to eat at one of our favorite local eateries, Peel.  Their wood fired gourmet pizzas are to die for, but Saturday night we opted for salad, appetizer and dessert.

The salad is one of my all time favorites.  Wonderful combination of spinach, apples, gorgonzola cheese, toasted pecans and dried cranberries all tossed in a maple cider vinaigrette.  So yummy!

Saturday night's weather could not have been more perfect for an outside concert.  Even though these groups have been performing for years, they still sounded great.  To enjoy the evening with friends made it that much more perfect!

After church on Sunday, I headed to the Cardinals game.  The cool temps from the night before were GONE and the heat and humidity had returned to St. Louis.  No matter what the temperature is, it's always great to watch baseball in St. Louis.  Look at the view ~

It was fun to spend the afternoon with friends and eat baseball food.  Too bad the Cardinals didn't win, but you can't win them all.

Sunday evening I actually cooked dinner.  I'll be sharing my super easy recipe for roasted sweet potatoes on Tuesday.  We will want to get this recipe!  It's delicious!

And that's my weekend all wrapped up!  What fun things did you do?  Hope to see you back here tomorrow!

Check out what others were up to this weekend.
Bella and the City
The Quinntessential Mommy
How To Get Organized At Home
Over the Moon

This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Five on Friday - July 15, 2016

Happy Friday!  I could definitely use a few extra days this week.  After being gone last weekend and having a super busy week at work, I'm looking so forward to doing a bit of chilling for a couple of days.  We have a few things on the calendar, but there should be some time for sipping wine and finishing the book I've been reading forever.

Here's what I've come up with for my five this week ~

1.  National Give Something Away Day
If you're looking for a little motivation to give some of your stuff away, today is your day!  It's National Give Something Away Day!  If you don't have anything personal you are ready to part with, you could make a donation to a local food pantry or give the person behind you at the Starbuck's their coffee today.  If the mood strikes and you give something away, share it on social media using #GiveSomethingAwayDay.

National Give Something Away Day July 15

2.  Meghan Trainor - Thank You
I'm a big Meghan Trainor fan and her new CD Thank You is on the stands.  Want a copy?  Click HERE to purchase it.  It's not like I didn't love her enough already, but when she took a tumble on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, my love for her went even higher.  After doing a complete wipe out and landing flat on the floor, she handled it magnificently!  What a girl!  Did you see the clip of her falling?  It's HERE if you want to (watch to the end).  She's someone I would love to be friends with!  Meghan -- call me, we can hang out! Oh and bring Adele with you.

Thank You

3.  Beautiful Day Wallflowers
Have you smelled the Beautiful Day scent from Bath and Body Works?!?  I'm in love with it.  I usually do a different scent in the summer and this year my go to is Beautiful Day.  It's so refreshing and just right for summer.  I'll go back to my cinnamon and pumpkins in the fall, but for now ~ bring on the beautiful days.
Beautiful Day Wallflowers Fragrance Refill - Home Fragrance - Bath & Body Works

4.  Target Beauty Box
You know how much I love, love, love my Birchbox, right?  Well, I'm equally in love with the Target Beauty Box that arrived at  my house this week.  The Target beauty box is a one time buy and comes out about once a season.  For $7, it's so worth it!  This box contained 7 great products in pretty big sizes.  Love it!

Target July Beauty Box - Simply Radiant. Image 1 of 1.
5.  Just kidding...


Have a great weekend!  Eric and I are going to a concert tomorrow night and I'm going to the Cardinals game on Sunday.  I have high hopes to get a recipe post ready for Tuesday.  We'll see how that goes!  See you soon!

Linking up with:
5 on Friday 
The Triplet Farm
Why Girls Are Weird
Ins and Outs
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Thinking Out Loud Thursday - Happy Anniversary Edition

Welcome to Thinking Out Loud Thursday!  Vanessa from X-tremely V and I are so happy you popped in today to see what we're thinking out loud about.

Today is a special day for me -- it's my wedding anniversary!  Eric and I got married in 2001 with Ian by our side.  The last fifteen years have been quite the ride.  We've had our share of highs and lows and are still working to keep our relationship fresh and fun.  With that in mind, this past weekend we took a little anniversary getaway to Chicago so today I'm going to give you a rundown of our 48-hour trip.

Our mode of transportation to Chicago was via Amtrak train.  The train was pulling out of the station at 5:30 pm and thanks to me running a little late, we were literally RUNNING to the station.  We were the dead last people loading the train and while I was sweating bullets (different sweat from the sweat that was pouring off me from my 1/2 mile sprint), Eric was calm and collected.  Thank goodness the tables weren't turned and he was the one running late because, honestly, I know I would not have handled the situation in the same manner that he did.  Love you Eric!  How he was able to not be furious with me I do not know.  Must be love.

After we settled into our seats (and I called Ian to see if he would go move our car because I had to leave it on the side of the road so we could run to the train station), we were able to start relaxing.  The sunset as we headed north was fantastic!  By taking the train, we were both able to gaze out the window and enjoy it.

Even though the train left St. Louis right on time, we had a bit of a delay on the way to the Windy City causing us to be late getting to our destination and we arrived after midnight.  We had once again used Priceline's Name Your Own Price to help lock down a hotel.  Our bid of $115 was accepted at the 4-star Hotel Allegro.  This Kimpton brand location had cool art deco decor and offered a free one-hour wine service in the afternoon.  The not so great part was our room and bathroom were tiny.  I mean, like the bathroom was so tiny that Eric and I couldn't both stand in it at the same time.  If you ever stay at this hotel and are put in a queen room, ask - no BEG - to be put in another size room.  Weighing in on the positive side, the location was good and the staff was very courteous.

Saturday morning we slept in a bit.  When we got up, we headed over to the Field Museum to check out the Terracotta Warrior exhibit.  The museum was not too crowded and we were able to easily see all the exhibits up close and personal.  We had purchased our tickets ahead of time in case the line was long to get in.  Side note - we ate breakfast at the museum and the food was delicious.  Also, the prices were extremely reasonable.  It's not everyday you get to eat breakfast while looking at a giant dinosaur skeleton.

The China's First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors exhibit will be at Field until January 8, 2017.  If you're interested, plan your trip now!  We chose the All Access tickets and a 3D movie was included in the price.  Loved seeing this exhibit!

When we came out of the museum, we noticed a double decker bus passing by.  As many times as we had visited Chicago, we had never taken a whirl on the Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co.'s vehicles.  It felt like the time had arrived for us to give it a try.  Great decision!  The $30 ticket lets you hop on and off the bus or trolley for a 24-hour period.  We enjoyed listening to each of the tour guides entertain us as they spoke about various spots along the route.

Saturday evening we had a date on the Shoreline Sighting architecture fireworks tour.  Our guide was great and the 90 minutes flew by.  The fireworks were amazing to see from the boat on the lake.  If you're headed to Chicago, we would highly recommend adding this tour to your itinerary.

On the way back to the hotel, we popped in Molly's Cupcake's store to check out this Food Network's Cupcake Wars Season Finale winner.  Yum!  Adorable store!

On Sunday we headed back to a double decker bus stop and rode until the Navy Pier stop.  What a fun place!

We accidentally wondered into a display of Tiffany stained glass.  If you go to Navy Pier, seek it out.  So beautiful!

No trip to Chicago is complete for us until we purchase our Garrett's Popcorn (also known as Chicago Crack)!  Please tell me you've heard of this stuff.  So, so good.  I shipped a gallon to Ian and Kayla for rescuing our car and parking it someplace where it wouldn't get towed.  Small price to pay for them saving our bottoms.

We hung around Navy Pier relishing the perfect sunny day, seeing the boats come and go on the lake and people watching until it was time to head to the train station for our return trip to St. Louis.  This time we arrived early and didn't have to do any sprinting to catch the train.

Overall, this was a great anniversary getaway.  I'm so glad that Eric didn't let my tardiness on Friday ruin the trip.  I really need to remember this fact the next time I get mad at him!

Now it's your turn -- what are you thinking out loud about today?  Love to hear from you -- link up below and tell us.

Enjoy more Thoughts for Thursday at:
Party at My Place
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!