Monday, April 30, 2012

For the Love of Oil

Here's a quick sneak peek of a new gem opening up in the Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte this week! My blonde sister and her husband are the masterminds behind this artisanal oil and vinegar shop. My entire family, in fact, has been involved. It's a regular "family business" and I am so excited for Pour Olive to open its doors.

More to come soon...

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Pink Puffy Heart Essie Nail Polish

I have a thing for painted nails. I always feel a little more put together when my nails have been painted, even if just a nice sheer neutral. essie nail polish is by far my favorite. I purchased my first bottle several years ago and it's all I buy now. After I shared a new color in my vlog last week, I received several comments and e-mails regarding essie polishes such as where to buy and why I loved it so much. Since this is one of the little things in life I get excited about, I thought I would whip up a quick post with my favorite essie colors.

I do not get my nails done regularly. I prefer to spend my money elsewhere and I actually enjoy doing them myself. With a good base coat, top coat and high quality polish, you can have perfectly manicured nails all the time! essie polishes have some of the most beautiful colors. It's a quality product and since I have fairly tiny nail beds, the smaller brush is the perfect size and creates an even coat. Using a base, color and then a top coat, my nails will usually stay nice and neat for a week! (even through cooking dinners every night, cleaning, DIY-ing, etc.) I also have to admit that my little OCD heart loves the way these bottles line up so nicely together.

Here's the roundup of my favorite essie colors on constant rotation:

My favorite nail polish of ALL TIME. As in, if I was forced to wear only one color the rest of my life. Well, this would be it. It's the perfect lady-like milky neutral with a slight kiss of pink. 

The perfect peachy coral for summer. Looks especially lovely on tanned feet!

A deep, dark, chocolatey berry that I wear often throughout the Fall.

My newest Essie love. The perfect fun, punchy, slightly neon color for Summer.

The quintessential warm red with orangey tones. An easy second favorite!

A super feminine lilac-y pink that screams everything we girls love about Spring.

When clear just won't do but you want a little sheer shine with the tiniest hint of pink.

This is for juicy, berry-kissed nails and is perfect all year round. (Thanks, Ashley for this one!!)

For a base and top coat, I really like essie's 3-Way Glaze. I apply a base coat, two coats of color and then a final top coat. The 3-Way Glaze ensures you several days of shiny, no-chips nails! If you are in a pinch, Ulta makes a good quick drying top coat that I also use from time to time.

I typically purchase essie polishes at Ulta or Target. They have a great selection of colors. If you haven't already, sign up for Ulta coupons by e-mail and mail. Never make a trip to Ulta without their little $3.50 off coupons in hand! Additionally, if you are looking for a particular color, check Amazon (all linked above), as sometimes the stores don't always have what you're looking for. 

Happy nail painting!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese + Avocado

Next to my beloved Caprese, this is the second best salad EVER. It's a little sweet and a little savory with
A LOT of goodness. Tangy goat cheese adds some fresh creaminess and chopped avocado is the most surprising bite of the bunch! I top it all off with a light and easy balsamic vinaigrette. Add some shredded chicken to the mix and you have a complete meal.

Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese + Avocado

Mixed baby greens or romaine
Strawberries, sliced
Avocado, diced
Red onion, thinly sliced
Goat cheese
Shredded chicken (optional)

Balsamic Vinaigrette (for one)

1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard
Salt + pepper to season

Whisk all ingredients together and enjoy on top of your salad creation!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses: Week 9, Vol. 6

Stop and Smell the Roses

Skipping to the mailbox is one of my favorite moments of the day. A good mail day usually consists of a new J.Crew Catalog or Anthropologie, an Ulta flyer with a coupon to further fuel my lipstick hoarding, and the newest issue of Southern Living or Cooking Light. Throw in a save the date and I'm all smiles. That's a good mail day. But a GREAT mailday? Those days could be nothing but junk mail and amidst the junk is a single envelope with a handwritten note inside. Those mail gems simply are the best!

Supplies mentioned in this video that I keep on hand for homemade stationery:
blank notecards (found at Hobby Lobby, Michael's)
scrapbook paper in fun patterns and colors
acid-free gluestick
stamp pads and markers
envelope liner stencil (made with a manilla envelope)

I'm a total pen snob. Here are my favorites for both note writing and everyday:
Uniball Vision Elite (MY VERY FAVORITE...the multi-color pack, of course!)

Send someone snail mail love this week and let them know that you are thinking about them! When it comes to random acts of love and kindness, it really doesn't get a whole lot better than that.

If there is something you're smiling about this week, film a vlog and link up with us! You can find all of the details on Mandy's blog, House of Rose, HERE.

Remember to take in the little things and find an extra reason to smile each and every day. Be positive, spread the love and always CHOOSE JOY.

P.S. "Nothing says I love you like lined envelopes". xoxo

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mint Chimichurri

I'm big on sauce. I love a rare treat of Chick-Fil-A Waffle Fries doused in ketchup. Pesto is heaven on earth, especially accompanied by fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes and Tzatziki, I enjoy straight from a spoon. Chimichurri, however, is the sauce of the Gods. It's zesty and fresh and brightens up everything it's devoured with.

Americans have ketchup. Italians have Pesto. Greeks have Tzatziki. But Argentinians? They have Chimichurri. My dad started making chimichurri several years ago and I've had a food obsession ever since. A basic chimichurri recipe combines parsley, oregano, garlic, shallots, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. I mix up small batches from time to time to have alongside grilled meats or fish. I love it so much that I may or may not have contemplated serving on top of ice cream.

Our lovely Easter for two featured a rack of lamb that sat in a pool of red wine, garlic and rosemary for several hours before grilling to perfection. Alongside the lamb was some simple grilled asparagus and Goat Cheese Risotto. I am not sure why lamb goes so well with mint, but is just does. It's a beautiful combination that happens to be one of my favorites. This love started at a young age. When we were younger, my sisters and I doused our grilled lamb chops with mint jelly. I still love a heaping scoop of mint jelly with my lamb, but I wanted to try something fresh and new on Easter. I found a recipe for mint chimichurri and immediately added it to our holiday menu. All that I have left to say is PLEASE MAKE THIS.

And no, I won't judge you for eating it on top of ice cream.

Mint Chimichurri
recipe from Food & Wine

2 cups mint leaves
1 small jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

In a mini food processor or blender, puree all ingredients. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekly Eats

Last week's menu was fresh and healthy! Everything at the market is so colorful this time of year and the grill has already gotten so much love. This not only makes meal planning a breeze, but also super healthy without even trying too hard. Another win is that there is so much local produce at our market. I do love that about the area we live in- the fruits and vegetables are always so ripe and delicious. All this farmland better be good for something, right!?

For Monday's meal, I whipped up a quick marinade with tequilla, olive oil, lime juice, orange juice, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. I let the chicken thighs bathe in the marinade for about 4 hours before Mark threw them on the grill. Paleo Shepherd's Pie was by far the rare bite of the week, but was surprisingly good. You can read my review here. The blackened chicken recipe that I used as my inspiration is from Epicurious and it was AMAZING. I think soaking the chicken in a brine prior to grilling really takes it up a notch.

What are you cooking this week? Link up with Molly & Rachel or just grab your meal planning supplies and browse the yummy looking menus everyone is sharing. You're bound to find some great kitchen inspiration!

Wishing you all a delicious week!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Recipe Review: Paleo Farmer's/Shepherd's Pie

There are some recipes that are not picture-worthy enough to blog, but they are still interesting enough to share. (Read: if I posted a picture of the final product, you would probably stop reading now.) Paleo Farmer's/Shepherd's Pie fits into this category.

This recipe went way outside of my comfort zone. Like, WAY OUTSIDE. This was along the lines of meatloaf scary. I thought that nothing would be more uncomfortable than the manfood.

I'm not really a casserole person, and anything dumped into a pyrex and cooked together in the oven is pretty much a casserole to me. Strike one.

Additionally, I've never even eaten Shepherd's Pie before, let alone make it in my entire 27 years of living. Strike two.

And...since there wasn't a reason to lay down a third strike, I decided to give it a go! Plus, it's an English dish. (I do not hide my love for the Royal family) My dear friend Sophie grew up across the pond and her mother made Shepherd's pie all the time. They called it "Shepherd's Construction". I think that's what I will call it from now on.

I arranged sort of a recipe "mash-up" of sorts and developed my version based on these two recipes:

If you have everything chopped up and ready to go ahead of time, this is a pretty quick meal to put together. If you don't, I suggest corralling a helper into the kitchen (thank you, Mark!!). It took us about an hour to put the entire dish together and then 30 minutes to cook, and 10 minutes to sit and cool off before we sat down to dig in. If you have the time, great. If not, chop up all of your veggies so that they're ready to go a few days before you cook this up.

Now, for my cooking notes...

I mostly followed the Paleo Comfort Foods recipe, with a few alterations. I only used a pound and a half ground 98% lean ground sirloin and omitted the ground lamb all together. The recipe from Elana's Pantry included bacon for extra flavor so I chopped up about a third of a pound of that to mix in with the ground beef. Since I made the portion smaller, I only used one head of steamed, mashed cauliflower for the top. I kept the rest of the recipe the same.

Next time, I think I will ommit the bacon, and do a mixture of sirloin and pork or even some turkey. I would add in even more celery, carrots, and onions, maybe even add some mushrooms to the mix. Fresh basil would be another great addition. I would also omit the Worcestershire sauce and swap in some red wine for a richer flavor. (this is what my mom would refer to as Italianizing it!)

We loved this dish and Mark even gave it his seal of approval to go on our dinner rotation. The mashed cauliflower was the surprise of the night. It turns out, that when steamed and pureed in a food processor, it really is a good substitute for mashed potatoes! The best part is that it's super flexible and can be customized to your tastebuds. We have been enjoying leftovers for lunch the past couple of days which is also an added bonus. This is definitely a meal I will make and play around with again.

Cheers to branching out! Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

La Obsession: La Croix Coconut

I'm far more excited about this sparkling beverage than any other thing I'm sipping on this week, so in lieu of Wine of the Week, I bring to you my newest find: La Croix Coconut!

When I was working in the corporate land of cubicles and event planning, I went through a phase where I drank a Diet Coke every day. I actually think that I started drinking Diet Coke in college which, as I think about it, totally perplexes me because growing up, we never had soda in our house. Maybe special movie and popcorn nights or the occasional root beer float or Boston cooler treat but NEVER, EVER on a regular basis. Alas, I somehow developed a love for a crisp Diet Coke (preferably from a can or a fountain). The 3pm D.C. break was a short lived phase. I'm no longer drinking a Diet Coke a day and I'm pretty much convinced that diet soda, or any soda really, is one of the very worst things you can put into your body and the artificial sweetener is the worst of all! (Google it).

I drink water all day long but sometimes, that bubbly goodness is the perfect pick me up in the afternoon. Enter: La Croix! I love the mixed berry and the grapefruit, but I'm LOVING coconut right now and it's perfect for summer! I've fallen in love hard and fast for this stuff. Add in a fresh wedge of lime and you have a little bit of tropical fizz to enjoy on an afternoon break. La Croix contains no artificial sweeteners and no sodium so it's pretty much guilt-free. With bikini season shortly approaching, I would say this is a major WIN.

Check your local market for all of the yummy and refreshing La Croix flavors. I purchased a 12-pack for $4.99

Charred Sweet Potato Salad with Cilantro + Lime

I HEART GRILLING SEASON. When the weather is warm and the grill is fired up, I can leave the meat duty to Mark and all I have to do is mix up a creative salad or side dish. Done and done.

When I told y'all just last Monday that we eat sweet potatoes as a dinner side at least once a week, I wasn't kidding. We eat them every which way and just a few days ago, I remixed our orange, vitamin-rich friends even more. It wasn't until my recent mashed sweet potato adventure that I realized just how well sweet potatoes pair with cilantro. It just makes for a beautiful food friendship and now I want more.

I started by pan roasting diced sweet potatoes, making sure they got nice and charred, caramelizing the natural sugars. I added fresh sweet bell peppers, a jalapeno, some green onions and a simple dressing. It's an easy little salad that adds a ton of color and flavor on your dinner plate. Heck, it's scrumptious enough to bring to your next al fresco dinner with friends. Boom.

Charred Sweet Potato Salad with Cilantro + Lime

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into large chunks
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped into large chunks
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced
Drizzle of olive oil, plus a drizzle for the roasting pan
Salt + pepper

Start by pan-roasting the sweet potatoes on medium-high heat. Drizzle with olive oil, season with a little pepper (add salt at the END). The less you toss the potatoes, the more they will char. The smokey flavor adds to the dish but if you prefer less charring, toss the potatoes often. This will take about 15-20 minutes- the potatoes should be cooked, but not mushy, and of course, crispy. The sweet potatoes can also be roasted in the oven if you choose.

While the potatoes are roasting, cut up the bell peppers, jalapeno, scallions and cilantro.

When the potatoes are done take them off of the burner, allowing them to cool for about five minutes. Toss them in the salad bowl with the rest of their friends. Finish with lime juice and a quick drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt & pepper if needed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses: Week 8, Vol. 5

Stop and Smell the Roses

It's time to Stop and Smell the Roses again. Now, a show of many of you spent at least 30 minutes last week with avocado and olive oil lathered all up on your lovely locks!? As Mark and I enjoyed our homemade pizza on Friday night, my Twitter was lighting up like a Christmas tree from all you girls and your avocado + olive oil dates. I hope that as a result, you all have soft, silky, smooth Princess hair that you just can't keep your hands off of this week!

I am happy to say that I did my video this week in ONE TAKE. I gathered some patience and even played around with more edits in iMovie. Mandy filmed a great tutorial that I found very helpful. I'm a visual learner and it was much better than sitting here with my head in a tizzy trying to figure it out for myself.

This week is about a LOT of hot pink, years of searching for the perfect chapstick finally coming to an end, and conquering a new skill...all while not being able to put a book down.

Items mentioned in my vlog:

For HOT PINK lips...Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Wild Orchid
happy summer nails... Essie Peach Daiquiri
a book that I cannot put down... Bloom, by Kelle Hampton

If you're having a chevron moment like me, and if you're inspired to sew something, too, I found some similar fabric and it can be purchased HERE.

As I said in my vlog, I am completely moved by Kelle's story. The words are perfectly woven together, the emotions are raw and I'm finding myself limiting my time reading each day because I'm just not ready for it to be over yet. I'm not going to say anything else other than PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. If you are not familiar with Kelle's blog, Enjoying the Small Things, I urge you to check it out! (thank you Danica for yet another GEM!)

Link up with Mandy at House of Rose and share your weekly happies!

Find the little things in your days and then take time to smile about them. Wishing you all a happy day!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Amaretto Creme Brulee

If there is a dessert of the Angels, I believe Creme Brulee would be it. A creamy, dreamy cloud made of custard topped with caramelized and toasty sugar and a few bites of fresh berries? My taste buds tell me it's heaven on earth. Normally, this dessert is consumed on a certain special occasion and time: at approximately 1:30 or 2:00am on Christmas Eve, after midnight mass at the Nido house. I'm not sure when my dad started this tradition but it's just what we do. And I love it.

No one ever wrote in writing that we had to stick to the "Creme Brulee on Christmas Eve only" rule and since we didn't want to wait another EIGHT MONTHS to indulge, I kind of, sort of, broke this made up rule that I'm now talking myself into believing such a thing actually exists.

Our fancy schmancy Easter for two ended with Creme Brulee and since I like to keep it honest around here, I do believe my sweet masterpiece would have even impressed my dad, the Creme Brulee master himself! I didn't get a chance to use my blow torch because it somehow kind of slipped my mind that it requires butane to flame up! Silly me. Luckily, the broiler worked nearly just as well. I popped our little brulees in the freezer for 15 minutes after caramelizing the sugar so that the custard would be cold when we ate it. It's best that way.

Amaretto Creme Brulee
recipe adapted from Ina Garten

1 large egg
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. Amaretto
Sugar in the Raw
Fresh raspberries or blackberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and sugar on low speed until just combined.

Scald the cream in a heavy bottom saucepan until just before it begins to boil.

With the mixer on low, slowly pour the hot cream into the egg + sugar mixture. Add the vanilla and Amaretto. Pour custard into ramekins until almost full. (I used 4 oz. ramekins)

Place the ramekins into a baking pan and carefully pour water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 Tbsp. of Sugar in the Raw on top of each ramekin. Heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the sugar hardens. If using a broiler, place ramekins under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until sugar is evenly caramelized. Let ramekins cool down and then place in freezer or refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to cool down.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekly Eats

So, I kind of miss sharing my weekly menu. Molly and Rachel both host menu link ups on Mondays and it's always fun to see what's cooking in everyone's kitchen. It's a great source of kitchen inspiration, too, especially when I feel like I'm in a slump. I used to menu plan on Sundays and go to the market on Mondays, but truthfully, grocery shopping on Mondays became the bane of my existence. I have been going to the market on Tuesdays because it's just a more pleasant and delightful experience than trying to fight everyone in our town on Mondays for the last bunch of fresh basil in the produce section. I have found that grocery shopping on Tuesdays results in an abundance of fresh foods that haven't been picked over, less time in line, and far less cranky McCrankersons who look as though they would rather be getting their widsom teeth pulled than shopping for groceries. I think you get the point.

Additionally, I don't always stick to our meal plans. Our week of dinners usually ends up being about 50% of what I planned for and the other 50% is a remix of what was written down in the first place. The great thing about having somewhat of a plan is that I never have to go back to the market and if we switch things up, it's made to work based on what's in the kitchen and nothing goes to waste.

With that being said, I'm going to continue to do meal plan posts but instead of sharing what we're going to eat, I'll back track and share what we actually ate! Hopefully I will be able to incorporate more pictures and share new recipes I tried or new ones I'm looking forward to posting.

Happy Monday, y'all! Smile, be positive, and make it a great (and delicious) week.

TOMS Books for Bloggers WINNER!

And the winner is....
Congratulations, Danica!!! A copy of Start Something That Matters will have a new home on your bookshelf. I hope that you enjoy this great read and I already know that TOMS live on your feet almost daily.

Thank you to everyone who entered and shared their love for TOMS!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

T.G.I.F.F. (Thank God I Found Firefly)

At the Moore casa, Fridays are usually less about sipping on a nice glass of red while I cook and more about cranking up the music and enjoying an early happy hour consisting of something a little more celebratory.

Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka is a staple in the South and up until recently, there was not a bottle to be found as I searched every corner of our little Midwestern college town. When I finally found it, I ran to the register, sweet tea vodka in hand, when I finally found my favorite Lowcountry sip practically with a halo around it at our local wine & spirits shop.

Firefly straight out of the bottle with a little lemon and water was a good idea during the BEST. TAILGATE. EVER (Andi, I hope you are reading) but alas, I have been forced to act more like an adult since then. Right now, I'm loving my Firefly with a splash of Fresca or diet 7-Up and lots of sliced lemons. It's become our own version of an Arnold Palmer and last weekend during The Masters proved to be a perfect occasion to indulge. Much like a peppermint mocha hugs you with Christmas, Firefly is like a hug of Summer. And it tastes like The South.

Looking forward to Summertime Friday nights including Firefly creations on the deck.



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Foodie Finds

Just a few delicious finds that have crossed my path thanks to the copious amounts of time I spend meandering my favorite blogs, foodie sites, and Pinterest.

ONE: No-Bake Energy Bites are a weekly staple and make the perfect pre/post workout snack, or even a nighttime treat to satisfy a sweet tooth. I use raw, unsweetened coconut in mine and my friend Ashley omits the coconut and adds raisins! Play around with this recipe, I promise these are tasty.

TWO: This French Toast Souffle was the star of our Easter Sunday breakfast. Dessert in the morning is a winning combo in my book. Delicious! Add it to your mental recipe box for your next special weekend brunch.

THREE: Clearly, this lemon wreath needs a home on our front door. Must DIY ASAP.

FOUR: Last Summer we were all about the margarita. I foresee Strawberry Basil Mojitos as The Moore Signature Summer 2012 cocktail.

FIVE: Talenti Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. No explanation necessary.

SIX: Real Simple's Rosemary Chicken with Arugula and White Beans. An easy and tasty weeknight meal! I added roasted grape tomatoes for extra color and flavor-SO GOOD.

SEVEN: Yoplait's Greek Coconut Yogurt. Another gem from my west coast sister. It's especially great in green smoothies.

EIGHT: Who doesn't love cupcakes. This e-mail was in my inbox this morning and I think Williams Sonoma's Cupcake Shop is beyond darling. Great gift ideas for the cupcake lovers in your life.

SMILE! It's almost the weekend. xxox

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses: Volume 4

Stop and Smell the Roses

I cannot even take myself seriously in my video this week but hey, this is ME. I get excited about the the little things and according to Mark, that's a good thing.

I'm the oldest of three girls and my dad is most definitely a "minority in the sorority". I cannot even begin to count the times our dinner conversations revolve around one thing: HAIR. "It's all about the hair" my dad always says and well, sometimes that's true. He likes to harass us about the hours we collectively spend, each week, just on our hair. I wish I had some of these conversations recorded.

I'm a hair product hoarder and will try any new product that I see or hear about. I'm so non committal when it comes to shampoo and conditioner. I barely get through half of a bottle before I'm itching to try something new. Read: this drives Mark CRAZY. On a positive note, our house guests always have a huge variety of shampoos and conditioners to choose from since the guest bathroom seems to be the lucky spot to hide all of my unwanteds.

Last week, AP let me in on a little hair secret. We share a mutual love for avocado and, well, I'm singing the praises of the avocado even louder than before. Thank you, AP for changing my (hair) life.

Speaking of my sisters, they tell me when I wear this ruffled shirt that I look like I have an animal around my neck. I now see what they are talking about.

Are you smiling about something this week? Stop and Smell the Roses, film a 2-3 minute video, and link up with us! Check out House of Rose for more details.

*I forgot to mention this in the video but after rinsing out the avocado + olive oil mask, shampoo and condition then style as you normally would. Also, if you don't have a shower cap, you can use tin foil to wrap your hair up while you wait.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

TOMS Books for Bloggers + A Chance to Win!

I remember the first time that I spotted a pair of TOMS shoes. I was in college, and while walking King Street in downtown Boone, I spotted a pair in a tiny boutique. I was immediately intrigued. Cute, comfy shoes that gave back? A brilliant idea in my mind! Because I can never make up my mind, it took me nearly four years to finally decide on the perfect pair for me. A pair of TOMS was delivered to my doorstep back in October and they have been adding some extra glitter to my days ever since.

TOMS shoes lured me in immediately with the fun styles and celebrity press and the fact that they give back was all the more reason to buy a pair. Knowing that a child in need would receive a pair of shoes because I purchased a pair was reason enough for me to make a purchase. It wasn't until I read Blake Mycoskie's (TOMS founder and Chief Shoe Giver) book that I 100% stood by the glittery slip-ons that look so happy on my feet.

Shortly after I purchased my TOMS, I was selected to be a part of the Books for Blogger program. This program was created to raise publicity for Blake's book because, in keeping with his "one for one" theme, for every copy of his book sold, a new book would be provided for a child in need. I just finished reading "Start Something That Matters" and my mind was blown. Blake's story is inspiring, eye-opening, and full of GOOD. In his book, he highlights the steps that made him successful and how you, too, can follow your passion and do something with it. I am never one to hide my inner nerd, as I found myself reading with a fresh pack of Post-it tabs in hand so that I could mark things I wanted to remember later. And when I misplaced my Post-its, I turned to the "dog ear" on the corners of each page.

"The more strongly you feel about what you do, the more likely you are to push yourself to be good at it and find a way to make a success of it. If you organize your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story and then turn your story into something bigger- something that matters."

Blake didn't compromise who he is as a person, or any of his values. He didn't start TOMS with the mindset of making it something huge or becoming the wealthiest man on the planet. He found his passion, and figured out a way to make it into a career. He tells his story through his work and his work is not work, it's who he is and what he stands for. Blake is an outstanding person with a passion for life and a bright, entrepreneurial spirit that is contagious.

" If it isn't clear already, I firmly believe that every person alive can make this world a better place"

Start Something that Matters is an outstanding read. I love stories that ignite a fire inside of me and this book did just that. We all need that extra push from time to time and I opened the pages of this book at the exact moment that I needed to. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a heart- it's that good. I also highly recommend TOMS shoes. I love my comfy go-to kicks and we all know that glitter makes everything better. It's not everyday that you see someone be-bopping around town in bright, glittered shoes. I get stopped every time I wear them which gives me the opportunity to tell the TOMS story. A story I now know the ins and outs of, and one that touches my heart and makes me want to start something of my own.

Today, April 10, TOMS is spreading awareness "of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child's life by taking off our own". Visit to find more information.

As part of the TOMS Books for Bloggers program, I have another copy of Start Something That Matters to give to one of you! I'm so excited for the chance to share this great book with one of my lucky readers. All you need to do is enter below and leave a comment on this post letting me know that you want to win! The giveaway will be open through April 14, 2012.

Additionally, as a little something fun, if you have a pair of TOMS and love them, let me know! Either e-mail ( or tweet (@ladolcevitanina) me a picture! I'll put together a little collage filled with TOMS love that will be posted when I announce the winner, next Monday, April 16.

I truly believe that we all have it in us to start something that matters. Good luck and thank you again to all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading my tiny nugget of the internet.

*Thoughts and opinions in this post are completely my own. In keeping with their core value, TOMS provided two copies of the book, one to keep, and one to giveaway.