“When you look back at your life and feel at peace because of the changes you made, that’s recovery.”

Several years ago I ended an abusive relationship. On our 2nd date he jokingly called me a bitch and I laughed it off. He apologized the next day. The relationship was good for the next following months and there were no red flags. I was falling in love and had total blinders on. After those few months I started to notice his drinking habits didn’t line up with mine. He would drink a bottle or two of wine a night. He wanted to sit at a bar from happy hour till closing which wasn’t my thing. But because of love I stayed. I turned into the designated driver. Then “Is it ok if I crash with you until I find a new place?” turned into moving into my studio apartment at 4 months permanently. Again, I stayed in the relationship because of love and because I was being pampered. It was nice that I was not strapped financially. I liked being wined and dined. It was at this time of him beginning to live with me, I was told by him that I was gaining weight and looked fat. It was also at this time that he said those words while under the influence of alcohol. I shook it off because he was drunk. Fast forward a couple months to a vacation he took me on for my birthday. It was all fun and games during the day but when the alcohol was flowing at night it was a different story. I was constantly put down and told I was worthless, while he was under the influence. The next morning he was not aware of his actions and apologized. Fast forward another couple months to the holidays. It was at this time when everything got worse. He had an injury and was mixing prescriptions with alcohol. He was coming home later than usual. He lied and said he was arrested and I needed to come bail him out, only to call the court to find out there was no record of him. An hour later he came stumbling through the front door wasted and thinking it was funny. He attended a dinner at my families house and was drinking glass after glass and putting me down in front of my mom and brother. He then passed out at the dinner table. I had to carry him out to the car. On the drive home he threatened to kill me. He said “I’ve done it before and I can do it again” meaning when he was overseas. The next day I confronted him and there was no apology or recollection of the night’s prior events. It was at that time I decided to end it. I packed my bags and stayed at my parents for a month while he moved out. He moved out but was still trying to keep me in his life. I ended up meeting him one time at a bar and nothing had changed. He was wasted and belittled me from the moment I walked in the door. Everyone around me was staring at us. He went to the restroom and everyone asked me if I was ok? I said, “I will be” and left the bar. I received several threatening text messages after that and never responded. I cut him completely out of my life. That was the hardest decision I ever had to make but I did it and have never looked back.

Abuse of any kind is never right. Abuse is abuse no matter how you look at it. I was blinded the entire year of our relationship because I thought I was in love. I thought he would change if he loved me like he said he did. But he loved alcohol more. He loved that numb feeling. Don’t ever be ashamed to ask for help. Reach out to those who love and support you. If you don’t have that, go speak to a counselor or priest. Also, take the time to heal. Continue to seek help. Spend time with yourself. Surround yourself with people who love you and will only lift you higher. Those who help you get up after you have fallen and have dusted you off. Those who don’t judge. Those who don’t ask questions. They just listen. Really take time for yourself. Enjoy the solitude. Learn about who you are as a person and what you want out of life.

I took 2 years off to find myself. I re-entered working out and eating healthy – some of the things that took a back burner while I was in that relationship. I expanded my creativity by taking art classes, I started a blog and was cooking for others. I felt my outlet for healing was through cooking. I enjoyed spending hours in the kitchen preparing meals for the week. I organized several fitness and diet challenge groups that were very successful. I decided I was ready to put myself out there again, so I did. I went on eHarmony and met a great guy. Our first date lasted almost 4 hours and conversation was easy. It felt great being out there again. That only lasted a few months but I was out there. I was able to trust again. I was able to let myself be open to new possibilities.

I then continued to take more and more time for myself. I was teaching Pilates twice a week, I had made new friends especially a best friend. Life was pretty good just being on my own. I continued cooking for others and was making extra spending cash. I established a very close connection with my mom and gained her as a best friend. I started hanging out with her and a bunch of other women who have totally inspired me. A group of crazy, fun loving, and strong women. They keep me grounded and have a wealth of knowledge and experience that help me on a regular basis.

It was this time last year that I decided to give dating another try. I went back to online dating because it was easy for me. My friends are all married and have kids. An idea of their Saturday night is a picnic on the living room floor, watching Disney movies. Don’t get me wrong I love Disney movies, but not too many single men come to these picnics. In those few months I went on so many first dates. So many unusual and awkward first dates. It was getting exhausting, frustrating and time consuming. It felt like a job interview each time. I should have started a blog on first dates. Man, there were some interesting characters. It was also during this time of solitude that I decided I wanted to go back to school and become a Nutritionist. I had already been helping others eat healthy and knew if I wanted to take it to the next level I would need a degree. So I took that first step.

I thought I had cancelled my online dating membership, but it hadn’t gone through. I was charged for another 3 months and couldn’t get out of it. That same day this guy wrote me. We hit it off and things went well. I was thinking whoa, maybe this is it? Maybe, I am done searching? Maybe, the cancellation snafu was fate? It was great for some time. I met a lot of new people who were very friendly and welcoming. I was trying new things and having a great time. However, there comes a point when you realize it’s just not meant to be. And as much as that sucks, it happens. There were issues within both of us but I am not going to address that. That is not the reason for this post.

This post is on reflection. It’s to get all of those emotions out so one can heal. It’s to show that the scars you share become lighthouses for other people who are headed for the same rocks you hit. Life is tough. No one ever said it would be easy. It’s to show that again, you go to those who lift you up and dust you off. They never are further away than a text or call. It’s to show that there are decent people out there; you just need to be ready to let them in and even if it didn’t work out there are still others. It’s about being true to yourself and not settling for less than you deserve. It’s to show that you are beautiful no matter what someone else tells you. It’s to remind you to never let anyone ever dull your sparkle. It’s to show that you can fight the hardest battles and come out stronger. It’s to show that you can accomplish anything if you have a little fate. Cry it out. Take the time to heal. Take the time to find yourself. Take the time to re-invent yourself. Take the time and be ready to let others in. Take the time and learn to trust again. Life is not a race. Life is a journey. God has a plan for each and every one of us. We just need to be patient.



Valentine’s Day Gift – 5 Senses

So Valentine’s Day is this Sunday and I typically am not a fan of this made up holiday, but I have new man in my life and I thought I would do a little something for him. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money since we will be going on vacation together in March.

I decided to give him 5 small gifts that coordinated with your 5 senses (Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound).


I went and bought lavender massage oil. I wrote on a piece of white paper “To initiate weekly massages” with red and pink sharpie markers and then cut with fancy scissors.



I went and bought a big bag of his favorite candy, Kit Kat bars. On a piece paper using same markers and scissors it said “You’re the Kit to my Kat”



Every movie night we light a candle and turn off the lights. I have loved that ever since the first time he did it. We burned through that candle quickly. What can I say we love movies. I went and bought a new candle to replace the old and wrote on the tag “For our movie nights”.



For sight I decided to have a picture printed off of us from New Years Eve. I found a frame at Marshall’s that said “you’re my favorite”. It was the perfect find.



For sound, I bought him an Itunes gift card and wrote “So you can download legally”. Inside joke. 🙂


Put it all together

I bought 3 polka bags and 2 stripped bags from Target and found deep pinkish red tissue paper. I placed 1 gift in each bag and added the tissue paper. I also found tags at Target in the $1 bin. On each tag I wrote the sense and tied it to its appropriate bag.


Can’t wait to see what he thinks on Sunday!

Happy Valentines Day!


Mom’s 60th Birthday Celebration

My beautiful mamasita turned 60 on the 14th. She is the first one out of her high school girlfriends to turn 60 so I wanted to throw her a big bash with all of the ladies. I also included some of the women in our family.

If you know me, you know when I take on a project, I don’t leave a single thing out. I love all of the little details and some you may not notice, but I totally do. I am a little OCD too.

Color Theme:

For the color theme I chose black, silver, gold, and white. Everything at the party stemmed from those colors. I felt like it gave the party a touch of elegance.

The Invite:

I chose to use evite to send out my invite to everyone. This made it much easier for keeping track of the guests and the emailing option was great! You can find the template I used here.  I kept it small and just invited her girlfriends and women of the family. We had roughly 16 people come.

The Location:

Since I have a small apartment, we used my mom’s house for the party. This was great because she didn’t have to drive anywhere afterwards. Plus her house is a great space for the amount of people we had and I didn’t have an added cost of renting a venue.

The Entryway:

I created a flashback poster for the doorway. I googled pop culture in January 1956 and couldn’t believe how many websites there were. These were just a few of the things I found. I then went on Pinterest and looked up chalkboard fonts. I downloaded them to my computer and it was so easy to make the sign. I went to the $1 store and bought an 8 x 10 black frame and added a votive candle. It was a great way to have the party begin before the guests even walked into the house.

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The Bar Area:

The entrance leads you right into the bar area so it needed to be done up right!

On the fireplace I strung tissue paper garland that I made, as well as photo garland. For the photo garland I used twine and baby clothespins I found at Michael’s. They were the in silver and gold, perfect for the party’s color theme. I had a coupon for them which made them really cheap. I then went through my mom’s old photos and asked her brothers to send some as well. I mixed in some more recent photos I had on Facebook.


On the accent table in the seating area I made the gift table. I placed a white table cloth over the table and found a image on Pinterest saying “You are so loved” in gold. I printed that out and put it in a 4 x 6 frame. I put some other photos in frames I already had on hand. A small vase of baby’s breath and 2 votive candles completed the decor.


Now onto the most important part, the bar itself! My mom has a beautiful bar and is a great focal point of the room. I made tissue paper poms in gold, black, silver, and white and hung them above the bar. I then added a vase of baby’s breath, an image I found on Pinterest that said, “She had a cocktail in her hand and confetti in her hair”, along with a photo of her and my brother and 2 votive candles. On either side were the makings for a perfect cocktail.

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The Living Room:

At first I was not planning on using the living room but decided to have appetizers and drinks there first. I set up extra chairs and bar stools around the room. On the coffee table I had the appetizers, cheese plate (Thank you Janice), Philly Cheese steak rolls, veggies and dip, and veggie birds nests from Trader Joe’s. I found black and white paisley paper plates and napkins at the dollar store. In the middle of the table was a vase of baby’s breath and votive candles. We also had girls night party music on in the background.


In the door ways I hung up tassel garland.


My mom still had some of her holiday items up, so that saved me some money. I chose not to buy balloons. It would have looked too busy. Thank you, mom!

I set up a memory table in the living room. I had a vase of baby’s breath, a photo frame, votive candles, and another frame with a sign that said, “A good friend knows all of your stories, a best friend helped you write them. Please share your favorite stories of Mary.” I found a black and silver edge box at Michael’s in their 80% off section. I found index cards without lines and wrote the word memories in gold on the bottom of each card. I bought black, silver and gold markers for the guests to write their favorite memories of her with. We then read the memories throughout the night.


The Bathroom:

Very simple- I placed a mason jar of baby’s breath and a votive candle.


The Dining Room:

I ended up having 16 people for dinner so my mom’s table wasn’t big enough to hold everyone. I borrowed 2 folding tables from my aunt and uncle. They raised to the height of my moms table, which was great! I covered both tables with black paper tablecloths I found at Party City. In the center was a vase of fresh white flowers, votive candles and ceramic gold and white bowl filled with everyone’s favorite M&M’s. I then moved the bar stools from the living room back to the dining room for dinner.


On one of the buffet tables I set up a dessert station. On either side was a small vase of baby’s breath, votive candle and a frame. One frame said “A party without cake, is just a meeting” (Julia Child) and the other said “Treat Yo Self”. Both images I found on Pinterest. In the middle of the table was the main dessert, carrot cake from this amazing bakery here in Rochester, NY- Cheesy Eddies. Their carrot and cheese cakes are beyond amazing. Thank you to my lovely Aunt Theresa for contributing this to the party. We placed the cake on a gold charger for extra style. I then created a gold 60 for the top. I bought a wooden 6 and 0 from Michael’s and I painted them gold. While the paint was still wet, I sprinkled edible gold sparkles (just in case some fell into the cake, I didn’t want anyone to get sick). I also bought a dowel rod and had my boyfriend cut them into 5″ pieces. I glued them to the back of the 6 and 0 and let 2 inches hang below. That made it easy for sticking into the cake. I sprinkled some gold star confetti for extra bling as well. We also had vanilla ice cream, cannolis and eclairs (thank you Aunt Betsy). I used the same black and white plates and napkins that I used for the appetizers.


On the other buffet table I set up the favor table.  The first favor was a notepad almost the size of a mouse pad that I had found in the $1 bin at Target. I found wrapping paper in my colors at Michael’s. I wrapped each one up individually and tied them with ribbon/bakers twine in the party inspiration colors. I placed them in a silver wire basket.

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The other favor I have to give major props to my best friend Michelle for. I had this idea to give everyone a sugar cookie with a 60 written on top. She went above and beyond and made 110 sugar cookies. We spent several hours frosting each cookie in white and then topped with silver and gold sprinkles. Each guest received 3 cookies. I bought clear treat bags and color inspiration ribbon to tie each bag. I placed the cookie packs in a silver wire basket.

In the middle of the table with a frame that said “We hope you had fun, please take one”, and 2 votive candles.

The Kitchen:

My mom has a very nice island in her kitchen that makes a great buffet table! I covered it in a black table cloth and a lantern my mom already had. I bought white plastic plates and bowls, as well as fancy white disposable napkins. This made for such an easy clean up! I then used mason jars with black labels left over from a bridal shower I helped plan. I placed plastic spoons, knives, and forks into each one and wrote on the black label. I topped it off with the same gold ribbon I used for the cookie bags.










The Meal:

My mom loves wedge salads so I knew I had to have a wedge salad bar. I cut up heads of iceberg into 6 pieces, and had a white serving dish with 3 sections that included halved cherry tomatoes, red onions, and crispy bacon. I found a carafe in Target bargain bin that was black and white stripped. I used that for the blue cheese dressing.

Now that winter has officially hit Western NY, I wanted to have comfort food as the meal. Something that warms your soul. Growing up our favorite winter meal was chicken and biscuits. I thought that was perfect! I threw the chicken, veggies, spices, and broth in the crock pot the night before, that way I could do the final step in the morning. In the morning I removed the chicken from the crock pot and shredded. I then added chicken, veggies, broth to a stock pot and added the flour, milk and potatoes and cooked until it thickened up. I then transferred everything back to the crock pot and set to warm. This made for easy serving at the buffet.

Recipe adapted from A Sweet Pea Chef

I had every intention of making homemade biscuits but fell short on time. I made easy drop biscuits and they were delicious!

The Entertainment:

Between sharing memories, girl talk, and the party radio station, we played games. I am addicted to Catch Phrase now. Best game ever!

Outcome and additional photos:

All and all it was an incredible night. She knew she was having a party and who was coming, but she did not know the amount of work I was putting into it. I am so glad I was able to do this for her. She totally deserves it! She does so much for our family and friends. She is such an incredible woman and I am beyond blessed to have her as my mom. Happy 60th, Mom! I love you and hope you had a great time!

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Studio Apartment Wrapping Center

Processed with Moldiv
Processed with Moldiv

Living in a studio apartment you need to take advantage of any space you can and get creative on storing items. I am a big gift giver and need to have my wrapping, ribbon, and hostess gifts on hand.

I had a little extra space available in my coat closet and decided it was the perfect space for a wrapping station. I was lucky to find an extended height wrapping paper container to fit those extra long rolls. I then went to Target and $1 store to buy some clear totes for gift bags, tissue paper, specialty ribbon, and hostess gifts.

I had a couple tension rods left over and decided to add them above the top shelf in the closet for my curling ribbon. I can’t tell you how much I love this ribbon holder!

I have always wanted to wrap gifts for a department store so having this wrapping center makes me feel like I have my own business. hahaha If any wants their gifts wrapped send them my way! I work cheap. lol

Gluten Free Granola

I used to eat chicken sausage and veggies every day for breakfast as I do not eat eggs. After doing a diet analysis project for my Nutrition class, I decided that I needed to give up the daily chicken sausage and opt for gluten free granola with almond milk. I went shopping for bagged granola and was so upset seeing all of the additives that really should not be consumed. I decided to make my own instead and the outcome was great! It is a very easy recipe and you can get everything in the bulk section without spending an enormous amount of money.


What You’ll Need:

3 cups of gluten free rolled oats

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup pecan pieces

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup flax seed meal

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup pure honey

3 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


What  To Do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

Combine all dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl

In a small saucepan, combine honey and coconut oil over low heat

Once honey/coconut is combined remove from heat and add vanilla

Pour onto dry mixture and mix well

Pour onto baking sheet and spread evenly

Cook for 5 minutes. Remove, flip mixture over, and cook for another 5 minutes

Once granola is lightly browned remove from oven and let cool

Break granola into pieces, store in airtight container

Enjoy in yogurt or almond milk, or even eat plain.

Crock-pot Paleo Minestrone Soup

The days are getting shorter and cooler which calls for hot soups, leggings and slipper boots.Three of my favorite things about fall. There are plenty of others but these are the top 3!

I am a huge fan of minestrone soup but have a hard eating pasta so I love this verision of minestrone soup. It’s hearty and warms ya to the bones. Best part- it goes in the crock-pot.


What You’ll Need:

1 Sweet Potato – diced (I left the skin on but you can peel)

1 Cup Carrots- diced

1 Medium Onion – diced

1 Zucchini – diced

1 Yellow Squash – diced

 2 Cloves of Garlic – minced

32oz Vegetable Broth

2- 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes

1/2 cup Frozen Spinach

2 Bay Leaves

2 tsp Oregano

1 tsp Basil

1 tsp Parsley

1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1/4 tsp Sea Salt

1/4 tsp Black Pepper

1 pound Grass Fed Beef

What To Do:

Chop up your veggies and place in your crock-pot

Pour vegetable broth on top

Add diced tomatoes

Add frozen spinach and spices

Stir everything together and place bay leaves on top

Cook on low for 8 hours

At 7 hours cook ground beef and add to the crock-pot

Remove bay leaves before serving

Eat and enjoy

Like pasta? Simply add a small pasta like Acini Di Pepe or Ditalini to crock-pot 30 minutes prior to serving!


Apartment Bathroom Upgrades

As many of you know I live in a small studio apartment but decorate and design like I live in a house. I absolutely love my apartment. It is the perfect size for me and the upgrades I have made in the last 5 years have really made it comfy and cozy.

I never really did anything with the bathroom when I moved in 5 years ago, so I guess it was time. My off white walls in the bathroom were starting to look dingy and were starting to chip. I absolutely love all grey hues. My living area is also a soft gray. The color I chose for the walls was a slate gray with a blue hint and I did the chair rail a bright white. Just with painting it felt brand new, fresh and clean.


I was at the Ronald McDonald Household sale during the week and found this wood shelf for $6.00. It was the perfect size for the wall above the toilet. I sanded it down and  gave it several coats of the same white paint I used on the walls.


Now I hate to measure when hanging things. And I am actually pretty awful at it. LOL. I took a piece of painters tape and placed it on the back of the shelf where the screw holes were. I then took a sharpie and marked on the tape where the holes were located.


I then took the tape off the shelf and brought it over to the wall and got out my drill. I drilled through the tape marked holes and into the wall.


I then removed the painters tape and hung the shelf.


Now the fun part, STAGING!!!  The top shelf I used a silver candle holder and soft blue washcloths that I already had on hand.


The second shelf I bought a gray soap dish at the $1 store, used a soap that my aunt gave me and placed a terracotta pot with a fake succulent in it. I actually found the pots at the same Ronald McDonald House sale and got 4 for $.50. I painted the pots the same white as shelf and walls.


The third shelf I used glass jars that I found in Target’s $1.00 bins and filled them with cotton balls, Epsom salts, and q-tips (which I already had on hand).


The bottom shelf was another pot with a succulent and the remainder of the soft blue washcloths.


The finished product was way more than I imagined. I am in love with it. It totally fit my spa-like vision.

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I added some cream hand towels to the bar.


I then bought a new white shower curtain from Bed Bath and Beyond. It actually didn’t cost me anything, as I had a gift card.


On the opposite wall of the shelf I had a piece of artwork that was hanging prior to upgrades. I also have 2 small throw rugs that are the same color as the washcloths on the shelf.

I just need to do a window covering but it is such a small window that it may be complicated. I am going to brainstorm on it, so be on the look out for a new how-to.

It was a very easy and frugal upgrade to my bathroom. I can’t stop going in and just staring at it from the doorway. I can’t wait to take a bath with my bath salts.

Paint:    $20.00

Shelf:    $6.00

Pots:   $.50

Succulents:    $6.00

Soap dish:   $1.00

Jars:   $3.00

Total: $36.50