Reading Challenge Book #10!

Am I the only person who doesn't have a Kindle/Nook/E-reader of some sort? Maybe it's just me, but I love the feel of having an actual book in my hands.  I love turning the page & having a sense of accomplishment when I finish the book. I like to be able to look at my bookshelves & know that I read those books. Plus, a bookshelf filled with books looks so pretty!  I try to avoid going to the bookstore often because I can't leave without spending a ton of money, it's just like Target! ANYWAYS, I did stumble into Barnes & Noble in search of a few books for the challenge a few weeks ago when I came across Valley of the Dolls. I'd already selected the few books I was going to buy, but I'd heard about the movie from my old boss, & I always wanted to read the book.  The category: A Book Based Entirely On Its Cover. Done & done.  Once I started I could NOT put it down! I devoured the book & absolutely loved it. I loved it so much in fact I am now dying to see the movie, even though movies don't often do books justice. But whatevs. Has anyone seen the movie who's read the book? I'd love to know your thoughts! As anyways, thank you goodreads for the summary even though it doesn't give a whole lot.  The book has been described as "way ahead of its time" & "Incredibly sexy"...I mean, how do you say no to that?!

Dolls: red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight—for Anne, Neely, and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three women become best friends when they are young and struggling in New York City and then climb to the top of the entertainment industry—only to find that there is no place left to go but down—into the Valley of the Dolls.

Catch up on past books here:


{Recipe} Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw

So, let's just start with these are amazing. I wanted to make something in the crock pot that was easy & didn't require a lot of ingredients.  I knew my sister had made pulled bbq chicken in the crock pot before so I started searching for a recipe but all of them made the bbq sauce from scratch. Wellllll I was feeling lazy & didn't want to deal with that, so my sister told me to just throw the chicken in the crock pot, pour a bottle of my fav bbq sauce over the chicken & cook on low for 4 hours.  I did exactly that & it was FANTASTIC.  I did want to spice things up just a little bit, so I used one of the crock pot chicken recipes that included slaw. So I just used their slaw recipe, which was also FANTASTIC. Crunchy with a kick. PERFECT for this sandwich & this sandwich is PERFECT for summer...or any time really. Thank you Creme De La Crumb for the slaw recipe!

Makes 6 Sandwiches
Cook time acc to me: 4.5 hours
How difficult are these to make? E.A.S.Y.

For the sandwich:
6 wheat buns
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 bottle of your favorite bbq sauce

For the slaw:
4-5 cups shredded slaw or cabbage
1/3 cup mayo
1 tbsp yellow mustard or spicy brown mustard
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika


In a greased crock pot, place all four chicken breasts on the bottom of the slow cooker
Pour the entire bottle of bbq sauce over the chicken.  Cook on high for 4 hours.
After 4 hours, remove chicken from sauce. Using 2 forks, pull chicken apart. 
I love being able to shred like this because you can easily separate the fat & clean up the chicken
Place the chicken back in the crock pot & mix thoroughly with the bbq sauce. Cook another 30 mins.
While the chicken is continuing to cook, time to make the slaw.
In a large bowl, combine everything under the slaw category except the lettuce.  Mix well.
Add in slaw & using tongs, mix well.
Cover with foil & chill in the fridge until the chicken is ready.
After the 30 mins...make sandwiches. I don't need to explain how to do that do I? Just look at the picture.


Memorial Weekend in NOLA!

New Orleans...you are legit. It was my first time visiting The Big Easy & I had SUCH a blast! My body may be recuperating for quite some time, but it was totally worth it!  When the opportunity to go on a girls weekend presented itself a few months ago, I was hesitant because I had so many trips planned this month & well trips cost money & due to my funemployment...I was trying to be a boring responsible adult.  Luckily, I had a ton of miles racked up & was able to get a practically free ticket!  Due to my lovely friend staying at various Marriotts for work, we were able to get an awesome deal at the Marriott at the convention center. It was about a mile from the French Quarter which worked out perfectly because we could walk there & by the end of the night when we couldn't stand any longer, it was only a short cab ride back.  So lets just get into this amazing weekend! 

Please note all photos were taken with my iPhone & there were a few times when filters were on when I wasn't paying attention!

Waiting for everyone's flights to come in, we decided to start the weekend off right.

After we all got settled on Friday, we went to dinner at Grand Isle where we learned you could take cocktails to go. Another round for everyone! From there we headed to the famous Bourbon Street where we hit multiple bars. I was surprised to find so many spots had live bands & they were awesome!

By 4am it was time to drag ourselves home.  The next morning we had brunch at Cafe Adelaide & The Swizzle Stick Bar.  Tip: If you wear a hat, you get free cocktails! Sadly, we didn't get that memo. From there, we headed to the French Market to kill some time where they sold all sorts of stuff...

Then we toured a rum distillery at Old New Orleans Rum

Lots of rum...

Time to taste...

Hot (literally) but happy!

After the tour we headed back to the hotel to change & get ready for an amazing dinner at Muriel's Jackson Square Restaurant.  The restaurant is full of NOLA history & claims to be haunted...

After dinner we went wandering around the French Quarter & found some really cool bars.  One place, Carousel Bar & Lounge had a giant carousel top over the bar, but it was crazy crowded so we didn't say long. 

Not the great pic, but you get the idea!

Also found many street bands. I loved the older gentleman dancing with the band!

At about midnight, it was decided we needed to head to Cafe Du Monde & stuff our faces with beignets. Best. Decision. Ever.  Some folks told us they were overrated...idiots.  They were SO good & just what we needed at 12am.  TIP: go at a non-meal time otherwise be prepared for a long wait!

After that indulgence, we needed more booze so we headed to Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop.  This bar was on Bourbon Street but in a more residential area. The building itself is known as the oldest building to be used as a bar in the US.  We were happy to stay until a creepy man wouldn't leave us alone. Then it was time to go!

Such a terrible photo...

The next morning we had reservations at Antoines for jazz brunch. The mimosas & food did not disappoint!

Of course all group photos here were blurry, but great photo bomb in the back!

After brunch, we headed to Pat O'Briens for their famous hurricanes because the four cocktails we each had at breakfast weren't enough.  We got our drinks to go because we could.

Next we went to Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo for palm & tarot card readings. I've never done anything like that before so New Orleans seemed like the perfect place to try it out. It was slightly terrifying, but interesting.  Do I believe it? Eh...we'll see if his predictions come true :)

We spent the rest of the afternoon checking out shops & more bars. 

For our last dinner, we decided to venture to the garden district for a late dinner at Atchafalayla...yeah good luck pronouncing that.  Unfortunately, it was storming pretty hard after dinner so we ended up back at the hotel. Which truthfully, my liver was really grateful. 

Sadly, our trip came to an end, but I had such a fantastic time with such a great group of girls. I definitely want to go back again!


Reading Challenge Book Review #9

So I'm a bit behind in the reading challenge (catch up here) but I kinda don't care at all. I'm making a ton of progress & I'll find a way to catch up, somehow.  One of the categories I was most excited for was a book you should have read growing up.  I actually had multiple books I wanted to read for this category, but I've always wanted to read the classic, Catcher in the Rye, so here was my chance!  It was absolutely not what I was expecting (not that I knew what to expect, because I didn't), but I really liked it! I'm sad I didn't get a chance to read it when I was younger because there are definite aspects I could have related to. But even now as an adult, I think everyone can relate to the main character, a 16 year old angsty Holden in some way.   If you haven't read the book, check out the summary (kindly borrowed from goodreads) below & then READ IT.  

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

Catch up on my other reviews here:


Summer Challenge

So it seems with funemployment, my laziness is kicking into full gear. I'm sorry but I blame HGTV & Bravo. It's inevitable that funemployment isn't going to last forever because, well, that whole money & bills thing. So I want to make this time off worth it & productive. What better way than to make a list of all the crap I want to do this summer. Even if I get a job (yes I need to actually start looking for that to happen) 99% of these I can complete while working.  Some of them will take  time & others will be quick, some are fun & some are definitely not, but that's what makes challenges worth it! It seems the best way I can hold myself accountable is by publishing this list for everyone to see.  Plus, I like making lists & being able to cross things off.  I'm sure this list will probably expand & change over the next few months, but here we go!

Get back into yoga

Finish updating the living room (surprise J! Don't worry, no more throw pillows)

Transform the terrace

Complete the home tour photos
      - Updated dining room
      - Living room reno
      - Entry way
      - Master Bedroom
Get organized
      - Closet
      - Jewelry
      - Kitchen

Go to a summer concert at the Hollywood Bowl

Go to a movie in the Hollywood Cemetery

Clean out my email inbox (there are currently 17K unread emails. Yep.)

Cook more fish

Try a new class at the gym

Start a new TV series 

Create a new blog series

Explore the flower mart in DTLA

Shop at the Studio City Farmers Market

Dust off my tennis racket & play

Complete a DIY project

Eat at 5 new brunch places

Visit the Getty Villa

Ride a bike

Host a BBQ

Try a new winery in Malibu

Go to a Dodger game

Figure out my health insurance (being an adult is boring)

Find a new job (boo)


A Little Lovely

Some days I want to just sit & look at pretty pictures of rooms.  Today is one of those days. I'm always looking for inspiration for my next project & seeing how people play with colors & patterns, always gives me ideas. With that in mind, enjoy some eye candy. At least, I consider it eye candy.


{Recipe} Slow Cooker Chicken & Rice Fiesta Bowl

So in theory, in just over a year from now I should be standing up in front of my family & friends, in a beautiful gown looking my best.  Most girls go into crazy bride diet mode.  What have I been doing? Eating. Oh & eating & more eating.  Pizza, Chinese, Pasta, burgers...it has been GLORIOUS! But I know I can't keep shoving food in my face while still fitting into my normal clothes.  I've been on a slow cooker kick lately because, well, being funemployed has actually made me kind of lazy.  I'm pretty sure the opposite was supposed to happen, but, whatever. So I turned to Pinterest & decided to try this recipe I've had pinned for quite some time.  I figured the pizza & ice cream...oh, what? I didn't mention ice cream? Yeah, that's been happening too. Anyways, I knew I needed something healthy.  This dish was AWESOME, full of flavor & SO easy! It is filled with protein & veggies & shockingly, I couldn't get enough!  Plus it required zero prep, another huge PLUS.  I think this dish is definitely going to become a new go-to in this house. Thank you Julie's Eats & Treats for the awesome recipe!

Serves: 4
Cook time: 5.5 hours 
How difficult is this for me? EASY!

4 boneless chicken breasts uncooked, cubed
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 10 oz can enchilada sauce
1 4 oz can chopped green chiles
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1 avocado, sliced
1 roma tomato, chopped
1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled (I substituted 1/4 shredded Mexican cheese because I already had it)
cooking spray

Spray your slow cooker with non stick spray.  

Place chicken, rice, enchilada sauce, green chiles, chicken broth, onion, cumin & salt in slow cooker. 

Mix thoroughly

Cook on low for 5-6 hours. I did give mine a stir every few hours just to keep the edges from burning.

Spoon out your serving, then top with avocado, tomato & cheese. Enjoy!