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May Cara Box Reveal & Alyssa Sender Spotlight

31 May 2013



cara box exchange may
A Latte Love
Ladies and gentlemen! May I present to you, Alyssa! She was my fabulous Cara Box sender in the beautiful month of May! I had the pleasure of getting to know Alyssa over the course of the month and she is a super cool gal! She has a heart of gold and the character to back it up. She is a huge fan of coffee (iced soy vanilla lattes in case you were wondering) and tea, books, cooking and collecting art from local artists. We have a lot in common! 

She started her blog in 2010 about her new townhouse during her junior year of college. Then it morphed into a New Year's Resolution tracker space in 2011. Now she just talks about the highs and lows going on in her world. Not so much direction but just living. Highs from new jobs to challenges like finding out that her best friend has cancer. Writing is in her heart and she wants to share these things because it is how we all learn and struggle and grow. She hopes that her readers can glean little bits of joy, advice or hope from her tales. 

She's had a busy year but hopes to get back to blogging more consistently in the next year. She says that her biggest blogging accomplishment thus far has been the connections she has made with others. In her words:

      My biggest blogging accomplishment is just making connections with people.  I don't have a lot of     
      followers. I don't host giveaways. But I do connect. I connect with people whose blogs have given me 
      hope and courage through rough times. The women who write are speaking from their hearts about their  
      families, faiths, and struggles in this world.  And I don't know about you, but I could use another 
      girlfriend to help me along on my a journey.

Isn't she just super sweet? I like her "for real" attitude and outlook on life. Stop by her blog and tell her, "hello!"

a latte love


Alyssa worked super hard to assemble my May Cara Box. I had a lovely note with a handmade card of a map of Lancaster from Etsy. She included earrings from her favorite vintage store (I just learned that they were clip-on's today after trying to shove them through my ears), vanilla flavored coffee beans from her local coffee spot, a reusable bag from Central Market in Lancaster, Hershey's Kisses and an awesome Christian CD! I am over the moon with my new goodies and the friendship that I made with Alyssa is what makes the Cara Box Exchange so wonderful! 

Shampoo Free, No 'Poo Update

30 May 2013

The basic idea behind going traditional shampoo & conditioner-free is that instead you use simple baking soda and apple cider vinegar in their place. Think of the cost effective difference!! A box of baking soda is under $1 and a half gallon of apple cider vinegar from Kroger is less than $3. Since I'm only using 1-2 tablespoons of each in my mix, that is a HUGE SAVINGS!! Especially when you compare receipts after purchasing sulfate-free shampoos or more natural options at health food stores. 


no poo' method of natural hair care

How I went 'poo free.

Well, it all started with my last shampoo and conditioner. I had trained my hair to deal with washing every other day and so by day 3, I had my first water-only wash. I don't think that most no 'poo methods encourage you to just rinse with water but I did that for the first two washes. Afterwards, my hair felt super greasy and just plain icky. I was actually in South Carolina for a wedding this weekend and had to curl that mess. On the plus side, I had no little fly-aways but I was craving relief with the baking soda wash I had on day 6. 

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Day 6 of my no 'poo journey (had one baking soda/avc wash)

The baking soda wash is super simple and takes the place of conventional shampoo. I take one tablespoon of baking soda and put in it two cups of cold water before I head to the shower. Make sure it dissolves!  I am currently pouring out of plastic cups but I am planning on investing in spray bottles or using recycled plastic water bottles instead because of ease. For conditioner, I use one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water (about two cups total). This ratio is working well for me so far. I think that part of this no 'poo journey is trial and error. If you hair is more oily, you up the baking soda but if it is more dry you up the apple cider vinegar. 

In the shower I pour the baking soda "shampoo" over my roots (avoiding the eyes) and gently massage it into my scalp. I also get some on the ends but the real business in on the roots and scalp. Be careful not to scratch your scalp either. After about a minute, I rinse the baking soda out and then do the same general procedure with the apple cider vinegar but focus more attention on my ends. I take a claw clip and pin my hair up with the apple cider vinegar to mellow while I finish up the rest of my shower. I rinse and enjoy how soft my hair feels. It really feels just like conditioner. 


no 'poo journey
Two days post first baking soda and apple cider vinegar wash. 

I have been letting my hair air dry overnight after washing and have noticed several things:

1. My hair is super soft and it is easy to comb through immediately out of the shower, i.e. less tangles. I was simply amazed because after not brushing for 24 hours one cycle, I was a nervous wreck that I would have to cut my tangles out! 

2. My natural waves are killer and look like beach waves in the morning.

3. My scalp is less itchy and dry. Probably the most important reason! One of the reasons that I tried the no 'poo method was because my scalp was frankly irritated and dry with shampoo and conditioner. Even the more natural tea tree oil stuff which promotes soothing of the scalp. Phony bologna! 

4. My hair is also super soft when dry a day and half after washing as I'm writing this post! 

What other things do you want to know about my no 'poo journey? What are you thoughts on no 'poo. Would you do it? I'd love to write up a Q&A post! Either comment below or submit on Twitter here. Use the hashtag #nopoo. 

Angel Food Mason Jar Dessert

28 May 2013

Good morning! Are you having as hard of a time adjusting to this not being Monday? In fact, it might be harder to get up after having a relaxing day off yesterday for Memorial Day. Since I had a bit of time off, I thought I would tackle a new project/recipe. And here it is. Mason Jar Angel Food Cake. 




Who doesn't love to eat or drink things out of mason jars? This recipe is the inaugural use of my entire set of canning jars. The recipe is pretty simple. I do not have a bundt cake pan so in essence I was looking for an alternative for some angel food cake that I got on the cheap about a month ago. 




I basically followed the directions on the box by preheating the oven and whipping up the powdered egg packet in my KitchenAid Mixer until dense peaks formed. Next, I added the batter packet and continued to mix on low. I took a 1/3 measuring cup and divided out the batter as even as a I could between the pre-greased mason jars. I set those jars on a heavy duty cookie sheet to place them all directly in the oven. I wouldn't recommend licking the bowl on this one. Kind of tangy!




I allowed the angel food cake to cook for 16 minutes in the oven until the tops were golden brown but not burned. Mmmmm! They tasted delicious right out of the oven! The ease of keeping them covered makes this recipe perfect for picnics! 



A little TMI: I haven't 'pooed in 6 days

27 May 2013

Shampoo that is! Hi I'm Sarah and I haven't shampooed my hair in 6 days. I know it sounds absolutely disgusting and I am right there with you. Please hang in there with me for a moment. I'm in the midst of a challenging experiment of not using traditional shampoo and conditioner to wash my hair. I am a huge fan of challenges, saving money and incorporating a natural approach to living simply. After doing my research and finding out how to go no-poo, I decided to accept the challenge!

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You might be wondering what the benefits of going no 'poo are. Well....

1. It is good for you! Shampoo contains a variety chemicals such as the surfactant or soap, a foaming agent and perfume. These ingredients can be harsh to our scalp and they definitely strip our hair of natural oils which in turn makes your hair follicles produce more oils (i.e. the greasy look) and the vicious cycle of overproduction continues. Our natural oils reinforce our follicles, tames strays and makes our hair healthier!

2. It is good for the environment. Less chemicals are added to the world. Can't be a bad thing! 

3. It is good for the budget. Shampoo and conditioner of the quality variety from health food stores which contain more natural ingredients can get expensive! In the no-poo method, baking soda and apple cider vinegar replace shampoo and conditioner. So for about $3-5 you can get a whopping container of each. Talk about a bargain! I was astonished and possibly naive to think that "lather, rinse and repeat" actually doesn't benefit us but makes us go through shampoo faster. Great ploy marketing companies!  

Would you ever consider going shampoo-free? Stay tuned for my updates on my poo-free journey! 

All of the opinions share are my own. I am not a specialist or professional. 



Random Thoughts for Memorial Day & a Little Love Too

24 May 2013


Happy Memorial Day weekend! I don't have much to report today and frankly I wasn't even going to post. BUUUUT. Remember how last week I told you about how fortunate I feel that Mr. Collier and I worked together? Today was an ordinary day. I went down the hall to fill up my purple ice bucket for an experiment and got that going. About 20 minutes later, while I'm reading blogs working in walks in Mr. Collier.  

He has a big smile on his face as he proceeds to say, "I just saw this really pretty girl walking down the hallway." Immediately, I am miffed that he walked all the way over to tell me this when he finishes, "and then I realized that it was you!"



We both started laughing and that is why I love my husband. It's all about the little things. Enjoy your time with the ones you love! 

My Secret to Doing it All

23 May 2013

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I live an incredibly involved lifestyle but that's just how I roll. In fact, its how I've always rolled. Between working on my doctoral degree in lab from 8:30-6 p.m. six days a week to blogging part time here, I also find the time to workout, meal plan and sell vintage treasures on ebay. Whew! And add my marriage, being involved at church and keeping up with friends!




I always sometimes run to the point of exhaustion. I experience moments of burnout and contempt but most of the time it is a ton of fun! I enjoy the constant change. The ebb and flow, if you will. I am invigorated by the diversity of activities but sometimes I do get to the end of my rope. The real answer to my secret of how I do it all is: that I don't.

One of the hardest lessons that I've had to learn in my twenty-seven years on this planet is saying "no." Somehow it goes against the grain of my being. It just feels wrong. It is completely natural for me to jump on a new project because I get bored quickly. Truthfully, I am not awesome at finishing projects. I get significant momentum and excitement at the beginning of projects but about half way through I fizzle. And it is an uphill battle to complete things. My parents and husband can attest to this! I somehow got incredibly blessed with my husband because he has awesome work ethic, "Colliers Don't Quit."

Here are a few tips that I use to manage all of the balls that I tend to juggle:

Make Google Calendar your best friend. Whether it is blogging or just managing my work schedule, from meal planning to paying bills, I schedule everything and don't make plans without my calendar handy. I even block off weekends as "do not schedule anything" just to maintain some sanity. I have a constant feeling of guilt that Mr. Collier and I pay rent for our town home but are never there to enjoy our space!

Get organized. There are only 24 hours in the day and you can't really invent any more. However, you can plan your day around your most productive energy spikes. I know that I function much better in the morning. It is 7 a.m. as I am writing this post! Turns out that you can actually change your productive time of day if you need to because of work or kids' schedules. As far as blogging goes, I try to plan and write posts ahead of time and pre-plan my social media shout outs. Did you know that you can do that?



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Eat low-sugar mid-morning and afternoon snacks as well as stay hydrated. Our energy declines a few hours after we eat so it is important to eat a few small meals a day. I find that eating every three hours keeps my blood sugar level steady and curbs my crashing. Staying hydrated is also incredibly important! Water makes up a significant part of your body. It is important for your brain as well as every cell in your body. Hence, keep yourself alert with water! It is estimated that you should consume as many ounces of water as half of your weight. If you are 140 pounds then you should try to hit the 70 ounce mark. For an 8 ounce glass, that is 8.75 glasses.

Kill as many birds as you can with one stone. Obviously, I am being metaphorical. But maximize your tasks by planning ahead. For example, I'll plan to make dinner with a new recipe (exciting!) and while cooking, I take photos either on Instagram or just store them on my phone for future recipe posts. I'm meal planning, feedin' my family and connecting with my blog friends at the same time. Tap into your inner OCD by prioritizing a To-Do list. Group events or shopping trips together so that you can save time. And always be doing something while waiting. Baking cookies? How about folding some laundry in the 8-10 minutes you get to be hands-free.


Say no sometimes. Again, the hardest thing for me. But there is a time and place for everything!

What are some ways that you are able to do it all?

Top 5 Weekly Home DIY Pinterest Pins

22 May 2013

Last week, I took a break from sharing my top 5 weekly home DIY Pinterest pins because I was celebrating my 300th blog post! But I'm back for today and linking up again with The Vintage Apple for a Pinterest Linkup!


My house, My home
I'm a huge fan of hand written notes and love letters especially from relatives . There is something about a grandmother's handwriting that is beautiful and timeless. For inexpensive art, you can display a "blow up" version of a letter or even an envelope.  This is taking the recipe card art one step further! 



The Scout Guide
I am sucker for books & hence book shelves especially of the in-wall variety! I love the design
and the shapes within this homemade bookcase. 



Johnny in a dress
Frame wall remix with mis-matchy frames. The wall seems more vibrant and
 interactive than a monochromatic one. 



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Quotes and inspirational phrases are great to have around the house especially as little reminders
 on how we should behave! The gold frame and gold background are just killer in this entryway piece. 




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I will admit that glitter makes me cringe because it just gets
everywhere! But I will not deny how awesome this lamp looks! And constructing the thing would not be very expensive. 

What are you pinning these days? Don't forget to follow me on Pinterest


And the winner is.....

20 May 2013




Kristin is super awesome and is the winner of my 300th blog post giveaway! We've been bloggy friends across the miles for some time now. In fact, she allowed me to do my first guest post ever on her blog (she's so gracious!). She is one of those people that you just have to know! 

Her Blogging Goals:
I'd like to continue to grow my blog and make it a complete reflection of my style and taste. I want it to be something where people instantly know who I am, what I like and what I'm all about. 

Her Proudest Blogging Moment:
When I hosted my giveaway for 50 followers, it was so fun to see how something I started as an outlet to capture and focus my creative energy had taken on a life of its own- something that strangers were actually interested in. It was just a really fun time for me in blogging. 

In the next year...:
In the next year... I will attend my first blogging conference! I'm really excited to go to IFBC (International Food Bloggers Conference) this September. It should be a fun trip and learning experience.


Congratulations to Kristin and be sure to stop by and tell her, "Congratulations!"


The Office Finale: The End of an Era

16 May 2013


Huffington Post Article, NBC
Written yesterday afternoon before the airing:


Tonight is the last night of "The Office." If you have followed my blog long enough, you would have appreciated that I have a special place in my heart for this show (here & here). It might actually be the first show that I've stuck with. In fact, many people don't know this about me but I didn't start watching "The Office" from the beginning in 2005...gasp! I know, shocking. I was a senior in undergrad when my roommates allowed me to start watching the entire series (Seasons 1-3) on DVD. I'd come home from class or work,walk up the three flights of stairs and sit on the living room floor doing homework to an entire DVD of "The Office." From that point, I was hooked. So we are talking about a 5 year old relationship, at least.


Written after the airing:

When I was preparing for my "The Office" birthday party, I re-watched all of the seasons again on Netflix just to determine the activities, the menu and select my favorite moments to share with the attendees. Here are my top 10 favorite office moments of all time:

1. The Injury.


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A hysterical early office episode where Michael grills his foot by stepping on his George Foreman grille. He claims to enjoy waking up to the smell of bacon so he sets an alarm, places bacon on the grill and goes back to sleep (since he can't afford a butler). On this particular occasion, he steps on the grill and spends the remainder of the episode feigning a handicap while Dwight suffers from a concussion.

2. Michael's Last Dundies.

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Michael's last Dundies episode will ring in my brain forever as the entire office finished the episode with a parody of "Season of Love" from rent.

3. Casual Friday.

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Meredith was a staple character with her off-the-cuff style and crazy antics. Of course, she would be one of the "rule breakers" on casual Friday. Her carefree absence of undergarments was hysterical!

4. Niagara.

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The marriage of Jim and Pam was a company-wide affair. In the midst of an emotional breakdown, Pam takes a mental picture of Jim who comes to her with an alternative plan of how they should get married. I remember seeing this episode the first time with my husband before we were even married.

5. The Alliance.

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Again, a brief moment in this Office episode takes the cake. Dwight and Jim form an alliance over this "downsizing" issue. Jim and Pam use this opportunity to prank Dwight. Dwight hides in a box in the warehouse and Pam fakes a phone call discussing her knowledge of the downsizing. Dwight inches closer and closer to her, finally tipping the box and Pam runs off cracking up hysterically. I do too.


 6. The Golden Ticket.


Andy Bernard tries so hard to figure out the final bit of the "Kit Kat" jingle. From football cream to Chrysler car the episode ends with him finally thinking he solved it. Nailed it.

7. The Surplus.

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Small moments such as the opening of the episode, where Oscar is trying to explain to Michael what a "surplus" is and why it is important to spend the budget is what made The Office a classic. Oscar finishes his 5 minute explanation using a lemonade stand as a metaphor and Michael responds with,"Ok, now explain it to me as if I was three."

8. The Merger.

Office Tally

Dunder Mifflin is bought out by this new printer company in Tallahassee, FL called Sabre (truly pronounced saber) but in preparation for the welcoming of a new employee and Sabre representative, Gabe, Andy and Erin write a parody welcome song to the tune of "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus. Turns out, the phonetic pronunciation rhymed better turning into an awkward rendition! This episode is just fantastic, chocked full of great scenes such as when Michael and David Wallace hang out in the hot tub and talk about David's groundbreaking idea for a childhood toy vacuum, "Suck It." The Sabre H.R. video with Christian Slater also is full of laughs.

9. Dwight's Speech. 
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Dwight wins salesman of the year and panics over the speech he must deliver. Jim, faking a public speaking major, coaches him through examples of dictators and their poignant historical speeches. Dwight opens with my favorite line from the entire episode: "Blood Alone Moves the Wheels of History."

10. The Finale.

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The final scene where Pam takes her watercolor painting of the business park off of the wall just where Michael placed it in the beginning brought tears. Jenna Fischer, the actress who played Pam Beasley Halpert, commented in a recent interview that this picture would be one of the souvenirs that she wanted from the set. I would select that too. And maybe a dundie.





The Office has grown to mean so much to me as a show, as an outlet on Thursday nights, as a hobby and it pains me to watch the very last, new episode. Videos and Sporcle games were played in preparation. Tears were anticipated. And they were achieved because Michael came back. I knew he would.


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300th Blog Post, Day in the Life & Awesome Giveaway!!!

15 May 2013

I'VE REACHED THE 300TH BLOG POST!!!!!!

Hello! Good morning! Welcome to the celebration of the year! I can't believe I've reached 300 blog posts!!! That is crazy to me! To celebrate I'm bringing you along with me through my whole day! Yes whole day! Consider this a "day in the life" post. You know, no one has ever shadowed me like this for an entire day...I hope that you find it entertaining! 




7:30 a.m. Every morning you'll find me just like this. Standing in my kitchen where I enjoy either a cup of coffee or tea, today it was Ginger Green tea with two slices of Ezekiel bread. Have you heard of this stuff? Well, since I'm trying to clean eat, I've removed as much processed and shelf-stable food from my diet as possible. The best thing about the Ezekiel bread is that the flavors are delicious and wholesome which fill me up until snack time! I've been up for about 15 minutes in this picture, don't judge! 




8:15 a.m. Awww....Mr. Collier and I arrive at work, park in the garage and walk into lab together. I love having the opportunity to see my hubby throughout the day! Some people ask us if we ever get sick of hanging out since we do it ALL the TIME. Well, truthfully no. We may not be so lucky to work in the same building or even the same campus someday, so I treasure the time we have together now. My grandparents were always the type that held hands especially in the car or at the movies. I think about them a lot when Mr. Collier and I hold hands.  




9:30 a.m. You'll find me sitting at my desk looking up research articles and surfing the web when I first to lab. I set up all of my daily blog plugs and social media shout outs. Luckily, I have a beautiful window that overlooks a busy street. As you can see, I make my desk really cozy with motivational and hysterical decorations. My personal favorite is The Office magnet of Michael Scott that reads, "I am going to make this way harder than it needs to be." I wonder what my boss thinks when he stops by and see that! 




10:30 a.m. Experiments are in full swing! Did you know that I was a scientist in training? I sit a my desk and do experiments at my bench. It is sort of like what you might see on CSI just doesn't take a minute and a half to type the DNA or determine what the poisonous compound is. My favorite color is purple and I make a point of using the purple ice bucket anytime I'm doing an experiment. Maybe it brings me good luck? 





12:30 p.m. It is time for lunch and I am starving!! I took this photo while I was heating up our lunch. I am typically hungry about 11:00 a.m. but I am attempting to train myself to eat lunch at a "normal time" curbing those blood sugar plummets and subsequent cravings in the afternoon! Today, I've got leftover baked pasta from the crockpot. Let's just say that the crockpot pasta wasn't the best idea I've had i the kitchen! I don't know where I got the idea for that. Creativity in cooking is a risk. Even for something as simple as pasta.  





1:30 p.m. Experiments are back in full swing! And yes, my fashion accessories at work typically involve a timer/broach and safety glasses! Some days it is really fun to think that I work on the cutting edge of discovery but frankly, it is often daunting! 





3:00 p.m. Snacks & time to take a break. Between checking up on my blogging friends or watching the street outside my window, I usually take a breather mid-afternoon to power through until 6! Do you have a break time? 





6:00 p.m. Dinner time! Welcome to Moe's Southwestern Grill! Fortunately, Mr. Collier and I had some time before our group dance lesson to grab dinner. It was looking kind of tight when we were planning out our morning. Eek. Again, the clean eating poses a bit of a challenge when dining out but I checked the nutrition info and played around with combinations on the Moe's website. I settled on a Streaker Personal Trainer salad with guac, onion, pepper and black beans. I hated the fact that I did not or could not have chips. Sad day! It will all be worth it right?? 






7:00 p.m. Group Dance lessons! For my birthday, Mr. Collier enrolled us in dance lessons and tonight we had our first group lesson. We've taken several private lessons but this was our first adventure out into a group lesson. We were totally nervous but the atmosphere is totally relaxed so it is easy to fit in. We worked on the rumba as well as the push-pull swing. I can't wait to show off our skills in two weeks at a wedding in South Carolina!  




8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Goodnight! We finally got home, twelve hours later! I am super sore from BarreAmped last night. I made the awesome decision of attending the BarreAmped Fire class, which supersedes the intensity of the BarreAmped Advanced class. Based upon how I feel today, I think I need to get a bit stronger before I return. I could only equate my muscle pain to being hit by a bus. I've taken a lot of Advil for a foot issue and so all I wanted tonight was a hot shower! And now I'm finishing up this blog post. 


So now, for the moment you've all been waiting for, the GIVEAWAY!

You will get this awesome vintage inspired octopus necklace and a $10 Starbucks gift card!



Enter by using the Rafflecopter below! The number of entries per task is shown. Do as many as you'd like! There will be one lucky winner who snags the loot! Hence, the more that you enter, the higher the chance you have of winning. Contest ends at 12 a.m. May 17th. The winner will have 48 hours to respond by email. Good luck! The lucky winner will be announced on Monday, May 20th in a blog post! 


Sausage, Potato & Green Pepper Crockpot Recipe

14 May 2013

I haven't posted a recipe in quite some time! Fortunately, I'm still meal planning and today I'm sharing a creative green pepper, potato and sausage crockpot recipe. I'm also joining up with my "Big", Ashley from Let's Get Bananas and Jessica from Blissfully Miller on her Taste of Tuesday Linkup



The prep is flavorful, straightforward & and takes about 15 minutes or less.

Ingredients:

1 smoked turkey sausage rope
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/2 to 1 cup of water
8 russet potatoes (cubed)
2 green peppers (diced)
half a bag of baby carrots
seasoned with thyme, salt and pepper to taste

Add all of the ingredients to the crockpot and season it however you like it! I cooked the mix on medium for 8 hours then programmed it to default on "warm" so that by the time we were home, it was done!! And it was delicious! The potatoes sucked up the juices from the chicken stock and the peppers cooked down nicely. It was beautiful and although random, I will be serving this up again. 

This is the type of meal that can be dressed up or dressed down with spices. The flavors of the sausage and peppers was harmonious enough for me but you may want to incorporate beef stock instead of chicken and add some Cajun spices with shrimp. It was very reminiscent of stew without so much liquid to it. Very rustic as they would say on my favorite T.V. show Chopped.




Make sure that you stop back by tomorrow because I am posting my 300th blog post which includes a few of my favorite things in a giveaway!!! Be sure to spread the word!!!