She’s Back!

It happens like clockwork. Every summer, around this time. I get an e-mail from WordPress.com to renew my blog and my domain. Without hesitation, I immediately agree to charge my credit card.

I’ve definitely spent the small fee of around $30 for the entire year in MUCH worse ways.  Then, I remind myself why I started this blog in the first place and convince myself to get back on the wagon:

“Jess.. you love writing!”

“All those ideas in your head do absolutely no good by staying in your head!”

“Why not have your corner of the Internet where the people who truly care for updates on your life can come view them at will instead of you forcing your daily adventures down their throats on Facebook?”

Haha. You get the point.  Plus, there really has been SO much that has happened in my life and I truly miss being able to share my life experiences with family, friends, and the world – whether it’s traveling to a new place, trying out a new recipe with my husband (yes, I said husband!) or anything at all… All while sharing my trials and tribulations along the way.

I look forward to recapping some of the stuff I didn’t get a chance to share and all of the adventures in the future!  I’m glad to be back and in the meantime I’ll leave you with one photo of the best day of my life. Just WAIT ’til you hear the details about this one… 😉

Love,

Mrs. Rogers ❤️


Photo Courtesy: Dear Stacey Photography

Keep. It. Simple. Stuffed Chicken.

Isn’t that some advice we all need to take sometimes?  Not the stuffed chicken breast part… the keep it simple part! They call it the KISS principle… but since I don’t feel like inadvertently insulting anyone, I decided to leave the name calling, second “S” off.

So really, who isn’t guilty of over-complicating things?  Keeping it simple means to downsize, to get rid of anything frivolous or unnecessary (whereas you are probably thinking material items right now)… but what else?  I think it means considering what is really, I mean REALLY important to us.  Do we value having a million friends or just a few that you know you can always count on?  Seeing our family more often for short bursts of hectic, mid-week catching up or just having a few quality, focused gatherings with them when possible?  Having a meticulously immaculate home or ignoring some clutter while you snuggle on the couch watching a show?  These are some decisions I have contemplated that have helped me to simplify some aspects of my life that used to bother me a great deal.

Now, for the completely obvious segue:  When I get home from work at 7pm and I have to shower and feed myself some dinner before that quality couch time can occur, that’s when it’s time to remember to keep it simple.  And on a recent particular night as such, I didn’t want to pick up a Wendy’s half-salad, get Chinese takeout, heat up some leftovers, or call my parents and see what they were making.  I wanted to make myself a home-cooked meal.  Therefore, I decided to find the most simple recipe (for a gourmet meal) that I could find.  😉
I stumbled upon this one for Asparagus and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts.

There were only 5 ingredients, and one of the ingredients is salt and pepper!  Woohoo!  Winner, winner, chicken dinner.  So I went for it, and here is the recipe and my experience:

All five ingredients... check!

All FIVE simple ingredients… check!

I used salt and pepper on the chicken but I don't think I thinned it out very much... it still worked great!

I used salt and pepper on the chicken but I don’t think I thinned it out very much… it still worked great!

Right before the breadcrumbs and baking... look how pretty it looks!

Right before the breadcrumbs and baking… look how pretty it looks!

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish.
  2. Place each chicken breast between two sheets of heavy plastic (resealable freezer bags work well) on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken with the smooth side of a meat mallet to an even thickness of about 1/4 inch. Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper.
  3. Place 4 spears of asparagus down the center of a chicken breast, and spread about 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese over the asparagus. Repeat with the other chicken breast, and roll the chicken around the asparagus and cheese to make a tidy, compact roll. Place the rolls seam sides down in the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle each with about 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the juices run clear when pricked with a fork, about 25 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). (Recipe from allrecipes.com)

My Final Review:  It definitely tasted healthy, and wasn’t too bad in the taste department, either!  Many reviews online offer variations that include cooking it with a cream of chicken soup, or finishing it with a sauteed mushroom mixture.  Both sound delicious as well.  Maybe next time… because as you know, I’m trying to keep it simple for now.  🙂

❤ Jessi

Magic at Macy’s One Day Sale!

Well hello there!  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, I know… I know.  I’m not going to pretend like I have a million followers that I’ve disappointed (I wish!)… but I will admit that I missed writing here on http://www.alittlebitofthisthat.com!  Let’s just say I had a fun winter (I hope you did, too!), and while I hibernated from my blog, I was plenty busy with work, winter trips, my birthday (ah, I’m 28!), and spending quality time with friends and family.  But I’m ready now to get back into the swing of things!  I’ll begin by sharing my deal of the week.

SO!  We see the commercials advertising the magical “One Day Sale” at Macy’s, which seems to come around about once a month and it was indeed back again this week. And while I’ve acquired new clothing from Christmas and birthday celebrations, I have really missed being in stores and shopping for myself.  Also, right now we are in the month of March… that awkward transition where everyone is stuck between being ready to strip off layers after a blistering cold winter, and the stark reality that while we may bask in the gorgeous sun at outdoor St. Patrick’s Day parades, it’s freaking cold in the shade.

Well, let’s just say I felt that awkwardness and yearned for some perfect “parade” articles of clothing and footwear that would keep me warm, but also didn’t look like I am coming from the north pole.  Such dilemmas, huh? Enter Macy’s One Day Sale, a one hour lunch break, and the trend of 2013-2014, booties.

Check. Out. This. Sale. And. These. Finds!

ImageFor the record, no extra coupons were allowed to be used, as the sale racks were marked 80% off the original price… and boy do I wish I had more than a lunch hour to shop!  I saved… (drumroll please…) $341.60 and I can’t wait to wear some of these booties the next few weekends!  They may look a little stiff in the photos above, but wow… the leather is so soft, malleable, and casual.  The Michael Kors flats, well they were just a bonus buy that I couldn’t pass up… hehe.

On that note, I’m glad to be back with you here at A Little Bit of This That!  See you again soon.  😀

‘Tis the Season… to Learn More About Mistletoe!

MerryChristmasMistletoeIn the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to take this opportunity to declare something a bit embarrassing about myself, something that my boyfriend recently brought to my attention:  I honestly don’t know what mistletoe is.

Patrick and I were at Home Depot gathering some supplies for our holiday decorations and I saw a beautiful ball of greenery decorated with red ribbon and berries.  “Ooh!” I shouted. “Mistletoe!  I want this!”

But I heard him laughing at me before I was even able to remove the plant from the hanger and put it in my basket.  With a very matter-of-fact attitude, he told me that the item of my eye wasn’t mistletoe, and then proceeded to ask me the serious question: “Do you know even what mistletoe is?”  I think I sputtered something about it’s a plant.  “Right…,” he said, waiting for more of my explanation.  “And it has berries?” I guessed.

But before he could answer or I could talk my way out of the situation, I accepted defeat and realized I probably couldn’t differentiate a mistletoe plant from another plant if my life depended on it.

So guess what?  I did a little research, Patrick bought me some mistletoe (as seen above), and now I want to share some of the interesting facts I learned along the way:

  • Mistletoe can be recognized by its smooth-edged oval evergreen leaves. (Jackpot!)
  • The berries on mistletoe are not red, but white.  They usually appear in dense clusters ranging from two to ten, depending on the species. It is the red berries of Holly that often get confused with mistletoe.
  • Mistletoe is actually considered a parasite!  The mistletoe attaches itself and penetrates high up on the branches of trees and absorbs water and nutrients from the host.  It can stunt the tree’s growth and even kill it due to the heavy infestation.
  • If ingested, the plant will cause acute gastrointestinal problems including stomach pain, diarrhea, and a low pulse.  (What is romantic about this plant again? haha)
  • According to Smithsonian.com, the act of kissing under a mistletoe can be attributed to a Norse legend, where the God Baldur feared that everything was trying to kill him.  His mother, the goddess Frigga, then begged every living thing to spare her son’s life.  It is said that she failed to ask  or notice the mistletoe.  Low and behold, Baldur was ultimately killed with an arrow made of mistletoe, and we hang it over our heads to be reminded to never to forget it again.
  • Other legends say that the mistletoe is magic so we hang it above our doors for luck.  Another legend says it is a symbol of fertility, since the seeds of mistletoe are sticky like, well, let’s just say, a male fluid.
  • Technically, mistletoe etiquette calls for a berry to be removed when he kisses a woman underneath the plant.  When all the berries are gone, there’s no more kissing permitted underneath that plant.

So now that we have some more knowledge about mistletoe under our belts, it’s time to get ready for the most wonderful time of the year!  With less than two weeks until Christmas, I think I pretty much have my gifts in order and I am trying not to forget anyone.  How’s your shopping going?  If I don’t post until then, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope your holiday season is filled with joy and love, and that maybe you even find yourself stealing a kiss under a mistletoe.  🙂

My Mom – The Original Pinterest!

I can't take credit for this beauty but I had to share :-)

I can’t take credit for this beauty but I had to share 🙂

How adorable is this gourd flowerpot?  I can’t take credit for the invention, planning, execution, or any creative aspect of this project since I was simply the recipient (a very grateful recipient at that!), but I totally felt the need to share this project.

My mom is notorious for her creativity.  Every Christmas season she not only gives gifts but she always includes a craft project on the side.  In the past it has been a snowman, an angel, a wreath, or some other craft that she developed in her head, brought the idea to life, and used the gift to brighten up someone’s day as they receive such an unexpected, thoughtful and time consuming gift during a season that no one seems to have enough time.  What I find most amazing, though, is that while I am aware my mom uses the computer for work e-mail and word processing, I am pretty sure she has never experienced Pinterest and its craft and cooking project overload.  I truly admire the fact that her projects come directly from personal inspiration and ideas.

I wanted to post Mom’s autumn project so that she knows how much her creativity and thoughtfulness was appreciated, and so others can enjoy it as well!  Isn’t this such a nice fall gift?  The mums are beautiful because they are the iconic fall flower, but by something as simple as adding a daisy or two just completes the entire arrangement, in my opinion.  Beautiful creation, Mom!

I hope everyone is enjoying the fall harvest season and finding some time or some way to let your loved ones know that you are thinking of them… whether it’s through a thoughtful craft or gift, or by sending a thank you note – even if it is via your blog.  🙂

 

Flashback Friday – Stop and Smell the Roses (Or lilacs!)

As I was going through some old photos to inspire today’s Flashback Friday post, I noticed a pattern.  Check these out and I’m sure you’ll see what I’m talking about:

I'm mad at 1 year old self for not smiling in this photo!

I’m mad at 1 year old self for not smiling in this photo!

Me, my dad, and my younger brother Timmy

Me, my dad, and my younger brother Timmy

When I saw these pictures I just thought they were the most delightful and eye-opening photos (even if I am crying in the first one… grrr).  The photos are different years, and I’m sure that myself and my parents were in different mindsets at each of those stages of our lives.  I mean, I’m probably wearing diapers in the first picture and in the second I was already probably already bossing people around, organizing my own pretend classroom, and hoarding various collections of sorts, while trying to take over the world (yes, that’s the type of kid I was…)    Anyway, I just love this here photo evidence where my Dad is reminding us to stop… and smell the lilacs.

Before I get into that, let me backtrack on my original thoughts of this blog post – which have to do with my Dad.  It is so fitting that he is making us take a break from playing or whatever we were probably doing at that time to smell the flowers.  I am well aware that I get some amazing qualities from my mom… loyalty, a tireless work ethic, the mindset that I can do anything I put my mind to, and more, but I’ve always believed that my dad provided me with just the right amount of opposing qualities to keep me balanced and well-rounded.

My dad seriously being the coolest guy I know.  I mean, c’mon.. did you look at that first picture?  How much cool, calm, and collected can you get!  He’s rocking Ray Ban aviators and a plaid shirt, while holding flowers… lol.  That’s a real man!  He knows the coolest bands and music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.  He keeps an even tan year-round, and he rocks skate/surf tees and tanks.  Oh, I forgot to mention he owned a toy store on Main Street in our town for until I was 18.  The. Coolest. Dad.  Just try to compete with that one, lol.

Anyway, it is just fitting that this laid back, cool Dad is showing us how to appreciate the little things in life.   When life seems out of control, I need to remind myself to look at or think of these photos.  To remind myself to not get caught up in my crazy schedule, the next thing on my to-do list, or planning for the future.  I need to promise myself to stop and appreciate each and every little aspect of beauty in life – whether its nature, alone time, or the company of family or friends.  To not focus on material things.  To not worry about who is doing what or if I’m missing out on something.  Or maybe to stop worrying if I’m on the right path.  Maybe this photo will help me remember just to close my eyes, take a deep breath in, and appreciate where I am in the here and now.

Challenge delightfully accepted.  🙂

– Jessi

Running for a Cause – Tunnel to Towers 2013

I never particularly enjoyed running in my younger years.  Yes, I played soccer for as long as I could remember, and also played lacrosse in middle school and high school.  We even had to run laps during my time on the varsity cheerleading team and my college dance team, but of course when it came to the monotonous task of running laps before practice I instantaneously rolled my eyes and wished I was anywhere but there.

But, I always managed to “man up” and get through it, and as we all know but hate to admit, it feels good afterwards.

So when Patrick told me he wanted to run in the 12th Annual Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk in New York City with me, his best friend and some of his Coast Guard coworkers, I told him I will be his biggest cheerleader on the sideline and take lots of pictures.  I almost got away with it, until my friend (Gee, thanks Ashley! Just kidding.) was unable to come and cheer with me.

“Just run with us,” he said.  “I’ll even get you a shirt.” Dammit.

I’ve heard of plenty of people I know running 5Ks, half marathons, and the NYC marathon (my younger brother Tim ran it in 2011 and is doing it again this November… yay!), but I never had any interest.  No persuasion of wearing white and getting sprayed in color, or zombies chasing me, was going to interest me in running a 5K.  I have participated in some walks for a cause before but never an inter-borough feat where I feared keeping up with and/or losing my party if I decided to walk while they ran for a record time.

I offered plenty of excuses.  “If you can’t check your bag, I’ll be your back-up plan and just meet you in Manhattan with a change of clothes and whatever you need!”  That didn’t work… the run had a wonderfully organized bag check system sponsored by UPS that brought your items from the beginning of the race to the end of the race with ease.  “But if I run and then we hang out in the city afterwards I am going to look gross!”  He wasn’t hearing any of that.  We were running together for a good cause.

Speaking of the cause, if you are like me and aren’t familiar with the Tunnel to Towers run until I was invited to run it, let me tell you about it.

The Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk mainly honors the legacy of Stephen Siller, an FDNY fire fighter who, on 9/11/01, reported for duty that morning upon hearing of the World Trade Center attack even though he wasn’t scheduled until the afternoon.  When he got to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which was already closed to traffic, he ran through the tunnel with all of his gear on, in hopes to meet up with the rest of his Squad.  He was killed when the south tower collapsed.

In addition to following in the footsteps of an American hero as well as showing support for our first responders and military, the participants help fundraise for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which, “brings hope to grieving children, and healing to firefighters and families of our military, who sacrifice life and limb in the line of duty.”

Do you have chills yet?  Before the day of the run, I heard from my mother that Tim, my brother I mentioned before and who had participated in this run in the past, claimed that of all the runs he has participated in, this one was his favorite.  “Interesting,” I thought.  And then the day of the run came, and I knew exactly what he meant.

There was an estimated 30,000 people there.  No one was pushy or self-righteous – we were all supporting the foundation together.  And besides the fact that as you are running through the tunnel and pushing yourself even if you want to quit, you don’t.  You are running in a herd of people that are representing something bigger than all of us.  You are running in the footsteps of a hero, Stephen Siller, and for all heroes past and present.

As I was running through the tunnel, people started “U-S-A… U-S-A…” chants at various times and everyone chimed in.  It was hot in the tunnel, and I couldn’t imagine running it in full gear as many people did in order to properly honor Mr. Siller.

When you see the light at the end of the tunnel, literally, I can vouch for myself and others that it triggers something in your brain to speed up, even when the course is a bit uphill.  Then, when you reach the end of the tunnel, there it is.  One World Trade Center.  The Freedom Tower.  It was gorgeous.  On the left of you, outlining the perimeter of the course for about a half of a mile are police officers holding American flags, one after another.  A beautiful sight that you think would come to an end at any time but it just kept on going.  And on the right.  Police cadets each holding a large banner draped over their neck of brave heroes whose lives were lost in 9/11.  They all cheer you on, give you high fives, and tell you great job as if you are the hero, but you can’t help but send the applause right back their way, or at least directed towards the faces on the banners that they represent.

With about a mile left of the run to go, high school cheerleaders, bands, and other fans line the entire path and continue to cheer you on.  Their cheering was working!  I kept running but at this point it wasn’t for me, but for them.  All of the volunteers that came out to support the run.  For the military.  For our first responders.  For everyone else who is so much braver than I am and especially for those who were willing to give their lives and everything they had to help others.

In the end, I ran the 5K, (which mapped out to 3.46 miles instead of 3.11) in 40 minutes and 15 seconds.  My pace was an 11:38 mile.  I broke my own personal record of a 12:01/average mile even while dodging thousands of other runners and their feet and making sure I didn’t get caught up in anyone or trip and fall.

Okay, I know I wrote a lot and you are probably begging to see some photos of this amazing event!  Here are some pictures of this awesome adventure, and yes, I was snapping away with my phone throughout the entire run. 🙂

Station Shinnecock Coasties Alger, Eckhoff, Rogers and me.  We all took a 6am train to Brooklyn together.  Do you like our matching shirts? :-) (PS - Don't mind Eckhoff's "walker" bib.. they ran out of runner's bibs!)

Station Shinnecock Coasties Alger, Eckhoff, Rogers and me. We all took a 6am train to Brooklyn together. Do you like our matching shirts? 🙂 (PS – Don’t mind Eckhoff’s “walker” bib.. they ran out of runner’s bibs!)

Just Pat and I at the IKEA.  According to Pat, this used to be an old shipping yard.  When IKEA bought the property, they kept the cranes on the property and they are decoratively lit at night.

Just Pat and I at the IKEA. According to Pat, this used to be an old shipping yard. When IKEA bought the property, they kept the cranes on the property and they are decoratively lit at night.

I'm up on Pat's shoulders!  Waiting to hear the starting horn...

I’m up on Pat’s shoulders! Waiting to hear the starting horn… we can’t even see the starting line.

Turned the corner... we can finally get ready to start running!

Turned the corner… there it is!  We can finally get ready to start running!

Ready... Set... GO!!

Ready… Set… GO!!

 

Running towards the toll booth... "Did anyone remember to bring the E-Z Pass?" (Also, check out the men on the left running in gas masks!)

Running towards the toll booth… “Did anyone remember to bring the E-Z Pass?” (Also, check out the men on the left running in gas masks!)

Approaching the tunnel... Loved the banner here.

Approaching the tunnel… Loved the banner here.

MTA Bridge and Tunnel Welcomes Tunnel to Towers <3

MTA Bridge and Tunnel Welcomes Tunnel to Towers ❤

Inside the tunnel!  The four of us stayed together (or within view) the entire time!

Inside the tunnel! The four of us stayed together (or within view) the entire time!

My viewpoint right out of the tunnel.

My viewpoint right out of the tunnel.

There's Pat in the orange hat! He's waving at Alger but I love this shot it looks like he's waving at the Freedom Tower.

There’s Pat in the orange hat! He’s waving at Alger but I love this shot it looks like he’s waving at the Freedom Tower.

Action shot.  I wanted to snap a pic of Patrick and I after the tunnel. <3

Action shot. I wanted to snap a pic of Patrick and I after the tunnel. ❤

Gorgeous.

Gorgeous.

There's the finish line!

There’s the finish line!

I'm in love with this shot.

I’m in love with this shot.  Finish lines and freedom towers ❤

My run on the Nike+ App.  So cool looking!

My run on the Nike+ App. So cool looking!

You can bet I’ll see you next year, Tunnel to Towers run!  Thanks for an amazing experience.

– Jessica