Monday, October 15, 2012

Feel Good with Fall Fashion

Hi y'all! Mandie here! I realized the other day that I haven't blogged in almost a year. Life happened to me pretty hard earlier this year, so it has taken a little while for me to be myself again after all the ugliness and hurt I was feeling. As they say... Life Happens....or as I say....shit happens!! But, I'm back now, and better than I have ever been! So, when I saw the Arkansas Women Bloggers Blogtoberfest Challenge, I knew I had to participate to get the blog up and rolling again. I always love a good challenge, because that is what life is all about! As Winston Churchill said, "If you're going through hell, keep going!"
Arkansas Women Bloggers is hosting a 5 day challenge. They give us a topic every day this week, and we blog the heck out of it! Today's challenge caught my eye, because it is about fall fashion and decorating. Y'all know I like digging in the dirt and getting muddy, but I also LOVE to get all dolled up. Because, you never know who you're going to meet or where it will be! I could go to the store and meet the man of my dreams. Anything is possible!!! I live in Arkansas, so we might be a little behind the times on fashion, but I'm going to tell y'all what types of fashions I dig!
#1 - It's all about the dresses!
Those of you who know me, know that I'm totally in LOVE with dresses. I wear one practically every day, everywhere, for most every occasion. For this gal, Dresses are a must any time of year! I even wear dresses when I garden! But, there's one golden rule of dresses I like to follow: If you can't bend over in it without showing your a$$, then you shouldn't buy it. I like dresses that are just above the knee. Keep it classy ladies! The only exception to the rule is if you wear tights with it, you can go a little shorter. Tights are another must have for fall! However, no matter skinny you are, tights don't substitute as pants. So don't do it outside the house, pretty please! Dresses are an addiction for me, and I'm pretty sure my fellow ARWB Proactive Bridesmaid feels the same way! So, go out and grab a dress for the fall, you won't regret it!
And, If you don't like dresses, you can always go for their cousin, the skirt. I have to say, I think every woman needs a great pencil skirt. They look good on curvy women and skinny women alike! I only have one, but it's a classic, the black pencil skirt! Tuck a cute shirt into your pencil skirt, add a big necklace or some cute earrings, and you're good to go!
Black pencil skirt paired with pointy heels, cute tank, and chunky necklace.
 #2 - It's all about the jeans!
For those of you who despise dresses and skirts (I know you're out there), all you need is one great pair of jeans. This is the only thing I will spend a little extra money on, which is weird, since I rarely wear jeans. Personally, I like silver brand jeans. The suki jean is the best because it's stretchy and comfy, but also makes any booty look great! And, they don't stretch through the day and stay tight on the bum! They also have a higher rise so your butt doesn't hang out of them (Crack kills!)Another great thing about the silver suki's is when you sit down in them, they don't create a muffin top. If you're curvy, try to buy jeans that have a straight leg. You can also get skinny jeans and just tuck them into a super cute pair of boots! That brings us to accessories.
#3 - It's all about the accessories!
I LOVE, love, LOVE accessories. I have an entire closet full of them! But, I have to say, the most important accessory you can wear is a big smile! So SMILE, damnit!!! ! It makes your entire outfit look better, makes other people smile, and just makes your day better! No matter what you wear, a smile always makes it better! See!

 SHOES!!!! My second favorite accessory is shoes. SHOES!!! As Marilyn Monroe said, "Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world." I'm working on it Marilyn! I promise! I LOVE high heels. Nothing makes an outfit pop more than a colorful pair of wedges or stilettos. If you're not very good at walking on stilettos, grab a pair of wedges. They are really easy to walk on, and you're less likely to break an ankle!
Some of my favorite heels
An easy way to transition from summer to fall is a great pair of boots! Boots! Boots are a must have for fall fashion! Stilettos, wedges, chunky heels, cowboy boots! Whatever your forte is, wear these babies like they are going out of style! My favorite pair of boots are my mid calf red slouchy boots. They are super cute, and red is my absolute favorite color!!
Me with my niece Meghan wearing my favorite pairing - little black dress with red boots!

I love knee high boots for this year. You can wear boots with skinny jeans, dresses, regular jeans or a skirt! And, if you're out working on the farm, you can get a pair of rain boots and just tuck your jeans into them.
My go-to black knee high boots paired with skinny jeans
Another great accessory for fall is the scarf. I only have a few scarves, but my niece, Meghan, lives in these things! And, there are so many ways to wear them. They make any outfit look cute and the best part is they keep your neck warm! Here's a few of the scarves around our house.
We have a lot of scarves!
Most of the time when you think of accessories, you think of jewelry. I Love jewelry because you can take a plain shirt and a pair of jeans, add a big chunky necklace or a dangly pair of earrings, and you're ready to leave the house. The best thing about a pair of cute dangly earrings is that they dress up a ponytail or bun.
Lately, I've been wearing a lot of vintage jewelry that was my Mom's
You can even use your hair as an accessory. My favorite thing about my hair is my bangs. I can wear them several ways and they always look cute. And, if you have long hair, there are so many things you can do with it, but we will save that for another post! The last accessory I love for fall is glasses. If you can't see two feet in front of you, use it to your advantage. I just bought two pairs from Success Vision for $99, and, I have to say, they make any outfit look super sexy.
One of my new pairs of glasses. Love them!
#4 - It's all about layering!
To me, fall is all about layering, especially in Arkansas. It can be 55 one day and 85 the next! I love the cardigan for this season. Pair that cute dress you wore this summer with a cardigan and a great pair of boots and Voila!, you've transitioned to fall effortlessly! Or you can pair a cardi with a cute shirt and a pair jeans! A cute cardigan can give any outfit a nice pop of color.
My niece wears the cutest cardigans.
And remember ladies, your clothes and pops of colors don't have to match, they just have to go. Mix it up a little bit! Have a little fun with your accessories, you will be glad you did! Even if it seems like you went a little too far with your accessories/colors, you probably hit the nail on the head, so go with it! Take this next outfit for example. I paired a flare leg brown pinstriped pant with a grey sweater with white lace. Then I made it pop a little bit with some pink snakeskin pointy heels and some metallic jewelry. Would most people pair grey and brown, no, because they don't match, but they are both neutrals and they go great together!This outfit is fun because it has different textures. Lace, spikes, snake skin, pinstripes. Is it a little much? Maybe, but I LOVE it!
If there's one fall must-have, it's definitely the fitted jacket. It's the better half of the "power suit." Some people think this is more 90's businesswoman, but to me, this is a classic. The fitted jacket can show off your curves and for ladies with a bit extra to hug, it covers up those unwanted muffin tops and gives you structure. If you're on the IBTC, you can wear any kind of these jackets. However, if you're busting out of your shirt, you should get one with a button that falls under the bust line and with several buttons. Jackets are great because you can dress up a pair of jeans, or wear them with a pair of trousers for work. And, they add structure to any type of figure and smooth out any bumps! They can even give you curves if you're lacking in that area! You can even dress a jacket down with a t-shirt underneath and skinny jeans! Or you can throw a jacket together with a dress and a pair of heels.
#5 - It's all about the underwear!
If you're not all about dressing up, or you stay home a lot, a great way to feel good about yourself is wearing some super cute undergarments. If you want to feel sexy for fall, you need to get some cute undies and bras.I believe that every woman should own at least one pair of sexy panties that makes them feel good on a bad day.
My bandeau bras from Aerie
I love the bandeau bras from Aerie. But if you're big busted, these may not work for you. The best thing about these is that they double as a cami. I'm the president of the IBTC (haha!), so I wear these almost every day. They are really comfortable and really cute! I have one in every color! I have a lot of shirts with lace or that are sheer and these go perfect under them. When you wear them under something, they don't look like a bra, they just look like an undershirt. The best part is, it feels like you're not even wearing a bra!

The bandeau bra doubles as a cami for clothes with deep vnecks like this dress
#6 - It's all about comfort!
At the grill with my suki jeans, Johnny shirt and a cute flowered bracelet!
My go - to comfortable outfit is usually skinny jeans, a JC t-shirt and a warm pair of ugg boots! And, if I'm going four-wheeler riding or somewhere I'm going to get dirty, I trade the uggs in for a pair of rubber boots. You can still look cute while playing in the mud! A pair of jeans, a comfy tshirt, boots, and a scarf make a perfect comfy and cute fall outfit! I have a large collection of Johnny Cash Tshirts, Razorback T's, and a few other favorites. I love them all!!!
A few of my favorite t-shirts
I sure do hope you enjoyed reading my post. I want to encourage you to dress up! No matter who you are or what you do, you should take pride in your appearance. If you're confident and positive about what you're wearing, it shows. Earlier this year, I didn't care about my appearance, and I felt horrible about myself. But, I decided that I'm better than that. I started taking pride in my appearance and lately, my whole life if changing for the best, and it's only going to get better! I feel confident and happy every single day. Only you can decide how you're going to feel every day. So wake up and feel good about yourself already!!! Feeling good about yourself  will naturally attract other happy and positive people on a daily basis to your life. And, who doesn't like a good compliment? No matter how many compliments that I get, each compliment makes me feel even better about myself. I get them all the time now!! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chicken Chipotle Veggie Stew

In the winter time, it's nice to have something hot and spicy to warm your tummy. What better than Chicken Chipotle stew. I cooked this before and it was missing a little something, so this time I added veggies making it Chicken Chipotle Veggie Stew! The veggies are optional, and it tastes great both ways! And, I'm going to show you how to cook this soup. I use fresh beans in my stew, but I'm also going to tell you how to make this with beans from a can. It's an easy soup either way! Again, I made a huge stew and have a really big crock pot, so you may want to half this recipe if you're just making it for supper and don't want leftovers. But, if you do have extra, this freezes really well in the freezer if you want to put it in tiny Ziploc bowls and get it out later to heat it up.

Here's what you will need:
Large Slow Cooker
2-2.5 pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken
2 cans (or 28 ounces) stewed tomatoes (Or you can use crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes)
3 cups dry Black Beans or 2 cans (30 ounces) Black Beans
3 cups dry Navy Beans or 2 cans (30 ounces) Navy Beans
2 medium or 1 large onion(s)
2-3 carrots (optional)
1/2-1 bunch celery (optional)
2-3 chipotle Pepper(s) in Adobo Sauce (depending if you want it spicy or Oh My Gosh That's HOT!)
3 Cups Orange Juice
5 cups Chicken Broth
2-3 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 Tbsp. Cumin
1 Tbsp dry cilantro
2 bay leaves

If you are using dry beans instead of canned beans, first you need to wash them, check for any rocks, etc... and rinse them in the drainer. Then, soak them in water for up to 6 hours to soften. Then, drain them and leave them in the crock pot, but don't turn it on just yet! If you use canned beans, put them in the strainer and wash the juices away before you add them to the slow cooker.

Next, add the tomatoes and do not drain these, just add tomatoes and juice to the crock pot. Next add the orange juice and chicken broth. Peel and slice the carrots and slice up the celery (both are optional). Peel the onion and dice it (by hand, or low in an electric chopper). Add all of these veggies to the slow cooker. Put the chipotle peppers in an electric chopper on high and dice them finely before you add them to the slow cooker. Next add the salt, cumin and cilantro. Stir it all up. Cube the chicken and add it too. Lightly stir it all up. When it's stirred, add the bay leaves.  

Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours. Or, if you're in a hurry, cook it on high for 4-5 hours until chicken and beans are done. Before serving, make sure you remove both bay leaves.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Chicken with Fruit Salsa

I have to say....Chicken and Fruit go together so well! I have an obsession with pairing pineapple with everything: Chicken, Steak, Hamburger, everything!!! This recipe has pineapple, but it also has an array of fruits and jalapeno for a little added kick! My family LOVES it! It does take a little time to cut up the fruit, but if you do it while the chicken is baking, it doesn't take as long. I like to cook a lot of food at once, so if you're cooking this for just one dinner, you will need to half the recipe.  

Here's what you will need:
8-10 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 mangoes
1 pineapple
2 oranges
1 pear
1 apple
1-2 jalapenos (depending on how much kick you want)
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
8 Tbsp. apple jelly
10-12 oz. fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley
1/2 cup honey
Glass baking dish
Big mixing bowl

Combine honey, 4 Tbsp. apple jelly and lemon juice in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high until the honey is melted (about 20 seconds) and stir it all up really well.

Put the chicken breasts in a glass baking dish and set the oven on broil. Brush or pour half of the glaze over the chicken. Broil for 6 minutes for thinner breasts or 8 minutes for thicker breasts. Make sure the chicken is about 4-6 inches from the broiler. After the time is up, take chicken out of oven and flip it over to the other side. Then, brush or pour the other half of the glaze on. Broil again for another 6-8 minutes. When you take it out of the oven, make sure the chicken is all the way cooked by cutting a breast in half to make sure.

While the chicken is broiling, you can cut up all the fruit into small pieces. Peel and chop the mango, discarding the core and put it in a big mixing bowl. Peel, seed, and chop the oranges, apple, and pear. Cut the bottom and top and sides off the pineapple and take out the core. Chop up the remaining pieces. Make sure you get all the seeds out of the jalapeno and mince it up into really tiny pieces (I put it in an electric chopper on high speed). I also mince the parsley and cilantro in the electric chopper on low.

If you don't want to use fresh fruits, you can use canned fruits, but this recipe is way better if it's fresh! And, if you can't find fresh parsley and cilantro, you can use the dried kind, just double the amount. 

Combine chopped mango, oranges, pear, apple, jalapeno, pineapple, cilantro, parsley, and 4 Tbsp. apple jelly in a large bowl and mix it all up really well.

By the time you get done chopping the fruit and mixing it all together the chicken should be done. Just make sure to put a timer on it so you won't forget to flip it over and broil the other side. Discard the remaining glaze. Put a piece of chicken on your plate, and Spoon fruit salsa over chicken to serve.