cocktail time- back patio lemonade


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back patio lemonade


when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. but when your two year old spills lemonade on the floor during a tantrum and you slip on it, breaking your toe, you make back patio lemonade. (yes, true story. I’m ok. just praying to the strappy sandal gods that the nail doesn’t come off so I can wear my new ysl inspired 5 1/2″ stilettos, the ones that I have absolutely nowhere to wear.)

I found this fabulous recipe for front porch lemonade on a blog called bowen appetit. but I renamed it back patio lemonade, since….1- we don’t have a proper front porch  2- as an ode to my superhusband, who just beautified our back patio with these awesome cement paver molds I found on hsn  and 3- I modified the recipe a pinch using what I had around the house. a perfect summer sipper to end a long day, or mend a broken toe.

back patio lemonade (adapted from front porch lemonade by bowen appetit)

1 1/2 oz lemonade*

3 oz bourbon

ginger ale

mint springs


in a shaker filled with ice, add bourbon & lemonade. shake until well chilled. place large ice cubes and pour into two tall glasses (we did mason jars for a real southern comfort effect). top each with ginger ale & garnish with mint. cheers y’all!

xoxo s

*I made homemade lemonade earlier in the day for the little birds using this recipe from weelicious. finally found some stand worthy lemonade, and loving that it uses agave nectar for sweetness.


sweet tooth tuesday- chocolate beet cake with beet cream cheese frosting


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yes, the title reads ‘chocolate beet cake’. stay with me here. think of carrot cake cranked up. zucchini bread gone wild. same concept of deceptive desserts, only this time with beautiful beets. in all honesty, this was the first time I’ve ever bought, let alone baked, beets. I’ve always been intrigued but intimidated.  but when I saw how incredibly stylish this cake looked, I had to get over my stain phobia/neuroses. I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to incorporate the ruby root into our lives. we picked up a bunch at the farmers market. we love to take a trip there as often as possible. it’s so important to us that the kids see farm to table. not only is it fun for the whole family but it really gets them involved and appreciate good, simple food. so back to the beets…they are ridiculously easy to roast- wash, cut stems to 1/2″, drizzle with oil, wrap in foil, bake 375 for one hour. so delicious. in fact, the little birds sat with their beaks open as I was peeling them. but the show stopper was certainly the layer cake. we still cant believe how incredible it turned out. absolutely no evidence, aside from the flashing neon pink frosting. it tastes like a healthy, haute couture texas sheet cake, aka buttermilk brownies (fyi, my mom makes the best around, that will be another post). try this amazing recipe I got from joy the baker to see for yourself. the best part is no more creepy food coloring plus eating beet cake for breakfast is a perfect way to start the day with your veggies too.

xoxo s

makeup monday- my five favorites…a shameless plug


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I’ve always had a hate/hate relationship with my skin. I’ve never been one of those fresh faced girls that could throw on lipgloss and mascara and be out the door. the no makeup-makeup look can be more daunting than full blown kim kardashian smokey eyes. tinted moisturizer was more of a primer than foundation. until now.

so a few months back, I mentioned that I joined the fabulous company of rodan + fields. they know just a tad about skincare (er hem… proactive ring a bell?!). it was an easy sell for me, but I’ve been in the beauty industry long enough to know nothing is magic. let me just tell you….this is a tom cruise jumping on a couch, screaming from the rooftops, stop the presses kind of moment. to say life changing is putting it lightly. it’s what we call ‘skindependence’. after three months, I can look in the mirror at the face of a ‘no where near’ almost forty something girl. dabbing on my bobbi brown bb cream (the best around) looks like my former full coverage foundation. plus, don’t even get me started on the suncare….I have finally found a foolproof self tanner. no more splotches, streaks or stains. plus it smells amazing.

here are my five favorites

1. redefine daily cleansing mask, $41

2. redefine eye cloths, $29

3. redefine triple defense treatment broad spectrum spf 30, $80

4. essentials broad spectrum spf 30 body sunscreen, $24

5. essentials foaming sunless tanner, $24

this is how it works… go to my website and can either sign on as a preferred customer or heck…join on my team, you get the vip treatment either way! there is a 60-DAY money back guarantee on EVERYTHING!  the price point really is so incredible for the quality and results of these products. if you put into perspective how much you would spend on a one hour facial a month as opposed to going home with all these goodies for eight weeks of daily facials, it’s beyond saving. plus, if for some reason, you travel, forget to wash your face, spend your allowance on shoes, etc, you can simply skip an order. so, if you would like to live happily ever younger, need more info or want to try a sample, send me a message! and canadian friends, we will be coming to your beautiful country soon, I can help get you started!

xoxo s

ps…I suppose I would be compensating myself for promotion of these products 😉

happy thoughts


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I’m not one to post every blink, bitch/moan and bathroom break on facebook. however, the other day I did feel this overwhelming need to share my feelings of frustration when my little birds told me the mean kid in camp called evan ‘stupid’. I greatly appreciate the outpouring of advice but the strength I got was from evan himself. we had a great talk later that day about how sad and wrong it was for kids to act that way but even more so, to never let words doubt how special you are. he asked me why he was special. I said because he was the best gift I ever got for mother’s day. he questioned ‘so I was a gift?’ ‘yes, a wonderful gift from daddy’, I stated, as I thought oh god, so not necessary to go into details on this one just yet. but he looked at me with his huge eyes under those thick glasses, smiled and replied, ‘wait a minute…oh, I see. so when you came home, daddy wrapped me in a box and gave me to you!’ I simply said, ‘yes, that is absolutely right.’ I love you sweet evan!

xoxo s

taco & sweet tooth tuesday


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I’ve decided tuesday is my new favorite day of the week. what better than to sit down with my family over something with a little spice and finish with a lot of sweet. and since I made a vow to actually make the recipes I have ‘invested’ so much time on over at pinterest, naturally I chose a dish & dessert from my taco tuesday and sweet tooth boards respectively.

dinner: taco salads- well this was a kind of mexican mishmash I made up…started with salad greens that were going to expire, tomatoes on their last life from the farmers market, frozen corn and onion saved from the freezer tundra, chili beans recovered from way back in the cabinet yonder and some ground beef I actually remembered to defrost this morning. so where is the pinterest connection you ask? we had everything but the kitchen sink and taco seasoning. lo and behold I used my ‘homemade taco seasoning’ pin. why would we ever buy it again? topped it off with our favorite wild harvest organic seasoned corn chips (the ‘healthy’ doritos), some chipotle cheese also from the farmers market and sriracha hot sauce*. all that was missing was a little camarena in the ginger ale and a total salad success story sure to be a lifetime movie of the week. (*the little birds had a less spicy version)

dessert: seven layer bars– I have never made these before since a dear family friend makes the best, hands down. I had a taste for something coconut and had all the ingredients, so I figured I could make it into a smoothie for the kids if it didn’t turn out. low and behold, didn’t have graham crackers. but didn’t need them anyway because my go to base are our beloved kirkland organic animal crackers. and when I say our, I mean ed and myself. it is like a big jar of crack on our fridge that we fight the little birds for. I’ve also used them as a sub for pie crust. anyways, I therapeutically smashed those babies up in a baggie and substituted finely chopped almonds for pecans, then followed the rest accordingly. I would never say they are better than auntie claudia’s chewy gooey’s but this recipe was easy, peasy, I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow. sweet dreams!

xoxo s

ps I think I’m supposed to write a disclaimer that I was not paid or compensated for any of the products I have mentioned. I wouldn’t mind getting paid to say anything or eat something though, wink wink.

cocktail time- homemade cucumber mint vodka


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one of our local, go to, date night destinations is houlihans restaurant. I know, totally suburban but they have a pretty outdoor patio, half price happy hour drinks and amazing apps. especially when the weather is warm and the heat is on at home with the little birds, I start to crave their signature skinny cutinis (the new cosmo craze but cucumber and lemon martini). and since there isn’t a ton of spontaneity in raising a family, I decided cucumber mint vodka needs to become a summer staple in our ‘bar cabinet’ as I like to call it. not as dreamy as a vintage bar cart but more department of child & family services friendly.

the homemade cucumber mint vodka recipe is fool proof…..a few mint springs + one seeded cucumber diced in a mason jar, fill with your favourite vodka and seal the lid. but here’s the hardest part…..wait at least 3 days to infuse in a cool, dark place (like said bar cabinet). strain out the remnants, or eat, as ed suggested to really get down to business. I poured it back into another mason jar to store until I order some pretty glass bottles with swing top lids, like these on endless possibilities to enjoy and refreshing as a trip to the spa. cheers!


homemade twix bars & tourettes


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it’s only tuesday, and Im already over this week. I wont bore you with the details, but just one thing after another. it has resulted in a severe case of swearing tourette’s. generally speaking, no pun intended, I do have the mouth of sailor. but today, with all due respect, I am completely diagnosable with diarrhea of the mouth. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. envision the cartoon where the dog has to watch over the hibernating bear and runs for the hill every time noise comes out of his mouth. except for me, I run to my bedroom and that noise consists of every offensive four letter word known to mankind. I hate to admit, some less than choice words have slipped right off my tongue….but by some higher being, my little birds are oblivious. at least to my knowledge, or until I get a call in the near future from their day camp teacher.

so I decided instead of washing mama’s mouth out with soap…I would give myself a time out and indulge in some homemade himalayan sea salt twix bars (here is the recipe). would love to pretend I made them myself, for I had every intention to do so. but my superhusband threw them together over the weekend, including homemade sea salt caramel sauce he canned (I know, queue in eye roll now.) the result, I’m speechless.

xoxo s

deepest thoughts


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tie a knot

in blogging, it’s so easy to portray this perfect life of baking cookies, making friendship bracelets, having super stylish outfits and sexy date nights. problems may arise, fewer than frequent but are easily photoshopped away. because who wants to read the ranting of some pathetically desperate housewife. bitching about their disobedient kids, distracted husbands, disarrayed house. but I do. it makes me feel normal. and apparently quite a few others do too. when I talk about my crazy, deluded or messy adventures, it seems to connect better than any recipe for the best chocolate cookie every could. a few close confidents have told me thats my niche…keeping it raw, real. obviously in an interesting and humorous way. by no means am I any sort of expert. I am completely lost and just trying to find my way home. but to a new home….beautiful, bright, uncluttered and free of all the demons I promise to leave behind. I just don’t know how to find it. yet, somehow I’m good at helping other people in ways I dream of for myself. friends, family, strangers off the street (literally, I have an invisible ‘doctors in’ tattoo on my forehead that all seem to find me…even an 83 year old psychologist comes to me for a weekly esteem boost.)

as my best friend eric will verify, I am always declaring that I’m on the ‘edge’. and this quote couldn’t be more fitting. sometimes it feels like a slipknot around my neck. but I’m still here, waking up everyday, trying to make life pretty. the end of most days lately seem to turn to shit, but I have a glass of wine (or two) and start over again and again and again. there will still be fare of family, fashion, food and fun. but I want to share more on struggles and maybe others with similar stories… probably in an alias format lol.  at 38 years old, Im a wife, a mother, a makeup artist but still a girl that has yet to figure out exactly what I want to be when I grow up. maybe this is a start.

xoxo s

happy anniversary- all I want is you


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wedding vows

on this day, fourteen years ago I married my best friend. and I don’t know life without him. I still look at him with butterflies when he wears his baseball cap, like no time has passed. I saw him for the first time in first grade catholicism class. in junior high, I thought he must have been the one all the girls liked (as he later told me he thought how does a girl have so many shoes!) freshman year, my typing class partner was unknowingly my future sister in law. finally, our sophomore year in high school I had the courage to ask him to sit at my table for lunch. our first date was steel magnolias. our first kiss, new years. we were voted cutest couple and prom queen and king. I would scribble ‘mrs sara amendola’ on my book covers and decided all our children’s names would be of supermodels and days of our lives characters. everyone thought we were young and couldn’t know. but we did. in twenty three years, we’ve celebrated incredible joys and weathered unimaginable storms.  he has taught me patience and strength, unconditional love and perseverance. we created three beautiful little birds and built a life together on love and friendship.

happy anniversary ed, my #1. I love you with my whole heart and soul. thank you for loving crazy, messy me. all I could ever want or need is you.

xoxo s

listen to our wedding song here…  all I want is you- u2

rainbow brite


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we decided rainbow mani’s* for everyone would be fun on a chilly and cloudy weeekend. and as a non discriminatory household, emmett was first in line. mama also decided a spray tan was much needed to complete my new blonde ambition makeover, as well as eliminate the look of wearing white tights with my cut off denim shorts. I know I’ll never be gisele, and my at home attempts have in the past left me more oompa loompa than golden goddess, but my good friend jenny over at southwest med spa in mokena, il, can get you to bali and back in minutes. book your appointment today 708-479-4488.

happy monday!

xoxo s

*colors used in manicures…..essie cute as a button, opi the it color, essie turquoise & caicos, essie smooth sailing and essie splash of grenadine.