Friday, March 27, 2015

College Basketball Party Essentials

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EasyBracketParty #CollectiveBias

 I've definitely not kept it a secret that I'm obsessed with my school and its athletics. Football season is everything, and after football comes basketball. Everyone knows sports are better enjoyed with a group of like-minded, crazed fanatics, so why not host a viewing party for your favorite college basketball team during this year's tournament? 

As a vegetarian, I always struggle trying to find finger foods to snack on. That's why I decided to make this ranch cheese ball! You can never go wrong with cheese, and Ritz crackers and salami (for meat eaters) make the perfect parings. 

2 8-oz. packages of cream cheese
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced green onions
1 1-oz. packet of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning 

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Use a mixer to combine all ingredients until smooth. 

Scoop mixture into a sheet of cling wrap, bundle up, and roll on counter until mixture is in the shape of a ball.

Unwrap and place in serving dish. 

(Most cheese balls have some sort of outer coating, but I don't like nuts or meat on my cheese. I think it tastes great without!) 

Arrange Ritz crackers and salami around the platter. 

For those with a sweet tooth, OREO Cookies and Reese's Minis made an amazing platter of their own. I seriously can't stop munching on these Reese's Minis - they come unwrapped and are the perfect ratio of chocolate to peanut butter! 

Just add Coke Zero to wash it all down! 

Want to host your own college basketball party? Make sure to check out Giant Eagle for your party planning food and decorations! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Helping Our Dog with Separation Anxiety

We are Loki's third set of owners this year. We noticed right away that he hated being left alone - he would follow us around the house and cry by the door if one of us left to go to work or run errands. We built a little house for him under our basement stairs, and we would have to walk him by the collar to get him to go inside. Little by little, Loki seems like he's understanding that we won't leave him alone for hours and hours and that we're not going to take him back to the pound. He's stuck with us!  

During the first month that we had Loki, we did some work with him to help his mitigate anxiety. I'm not trained in animal behavior, but this is what's worked for us!

- Keep a routine. Whether you crate your dog or let him have the run of the house, make sure that you're consistent about where you leave him and what you leave him with. 

- Stimulation is key - make sure your dog has something to do while he's alone. We fill a large KONG toy with peanut butter and dog food, and he only plays with it while we're gone. We also leave a radio on low so that he's not sitting in silence all day. 

- Pay attention to your dog when you are at home! The Humane Society told us that Loki had a tendency to destroy things that were left laying around the house, but I think it's just because he was bored! We play with him and pet him constantly, and we've never had a problem leaving shoes or things out.

- Every dog is different - ask your vet for even more ideas! 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wedding Dress Shopping: Tips and Tricks

Say Yes to the Dress has shaped how we think of wedding dress shopping. We've all learned some helpful tricks from the show: Don't bring your fiance, don't bring too many women, don't bring a Negative Nancy. But aren't these all kind of obvious? I wanted to share some tips that I learned when shopping for my own wedding dress that I would have liked to know beforehand! 

Do: Research shops and pay attention to their price points. I fell in love with a wedding dress that I would pass every day on my way to work. After looking up the shop, I realized that their dresses were way out of my budget. I'm glad I looked before trying it on, falling in love, and then having to walk away. 

Do: Keep in mind the style of wedding that you want to have. I think princess dresses are gorgeous, but that style wouldn't have fit with our more simplistic, rustic venue. 

Don't: Go into a boutique dead set on one dress, or even one style of dress. Half the fun is trying on a bunch of different things, and you might be surprised by what you fall in love with. 

Do: Go into a boutique with a general idea of what you like in a wedding dress and be able to describe it. I told my stylist that I liked really detailed backs, and she took that to mean that I wanted a high neckline, which no.

Don't: Be afraid to accessorize. My dress was so-so on its own, but as soon as a waist accent and a veil was added, bam! Stunning. 

Do: Wear underwear you aren't embarrassed to have a stranger see. (Nude is best.) Your stylist will likely be in the fitting room pulling dresses on and off of you. They will see what you've got going on under your dresses.

Don't: Stress out if you don't stick to your shopping schedule. I had planned to visit a second bridal shop, but I found my perfect dress at the first. Some say that you should check out all of your options, but I didn't want to drive all over town if I didn't need to!  

Do: Let your Maid of Honor pick out one dress that both of you absolutely hate. Try it on even though your stylist doesn't want you to for sake of time. 

(The most important) Do: Go out for mimosas to celebrate when it's all over, even if it isn't anywhere close to brunch time. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Our (Dog) Adoption Story

Look at that face!! This is the newest addition to our family, Loki! (Yes, like Marvel.) 

Ryan and I had been talking about wanting a dog for a few years. We had both grown up with dogs in our homes and knew that we wanted at least one in our own. There were a few issues, though, that stopped us from looking into adoption sooner. 

Allergies: I have the weirdest allergies when it comes to dogs. I'm allergic to some but not all, and breed has absolutely nothing to do with it. I could even be allergic to some dogs from the same litter and not others. There's literally no way of knowing until I've spent 'enough' time with a dog, but even the necessary time varies! For this reason, I've been so scared that we'll pick out a dog, bring him home, fall in love, and then have to take him back because I can't breathe. 

Money: You guys, dogs can be expensive. Adoption fees, supplies, food, treats, it all adds up fast. We wanted to make sure we had enough leftover each month to be able to provide for our puppy child in the best way. 

Time: Is there ever a good time to introduce chaos into your life? 

So long story short, the day after I got my full-time job offer (money, check!), Ryan was looking at the Humane Society's website and there was an adorable one year old dog named Loki who had been dropped off on his birthday. We went to see him and basically fell in love on the spot. After 15 minutes of petting him and rubbing my face, I wasn't sneezing. (Allergies, check!) We filled out the paperwork, and 20 minutes later we were on our way home with our little boy. 

Almost one month later, we couldn't be happier about our new form of chaos. He is a bundle of energy, loves snow, and is respectful during #TGIT by not knocking over my red wine.