Announcing…the winner!

I apologize: I’m a day late announcing the winner of my January giveaway. I’m super excited to have 8 more entries compared to last month. There was a total of 11 people who entered. People commented, tweeted, facebooked and blogged about the giveaway. What I did was make a list of the entries in the order they were received (if you notice below, I wrote little notes near their names for what types of entry- FB, comment, etc). Anyway…. the winner was one of my closest (real life) friends! I didn’t even think she read my blog, so this was very exciting. I call her my wife, so don’t be confused…Congrats Sarah!


I used an internet number generator to pick the winner:

And here is Sarah’s orginal entry (a comment on the blog!)

giveaway photos!

Hello Friends!

So I started a giveaway without actually deciding/posting what the prizes would be. I’m classy like that. Nonetheless… here are the fun gifts I’m giving away. I guess you could call this a Relax and Unwind giveaway. The winner will recieve:

  • Bath and Body Works products which include an eye mask, hand lotion, fragrance mist and smoothing scrub
  • Disolvable rose petals for the bath
  • Exfoliating mittens
  • Sex & The City DVD
  • The book Broken by William Cope Myers (No, it’s not a white smudge at the top, that’s actually what the cover looks like)
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Now, I’d like to state for the record that these are a few of my favorite items. The Into the Wild products from Bath and Body Works is from their newest line, and the Bellini lotion is from their limited edition winter line. I am a Sex & the City fanatic, and I guess in my excitement, I purchased two of the DVDs instead of one. I swear by these exfoliating mittens. They are so much easier to use than one of those exfoliating towels or poofs, and takes up much less room in the shower. I’ve heard really great things about this book, so I bought it for my thesis semester, but I ended up having too many books for this semester, so this one didn’t make the cut. However, please let me know if it was good, and maybe I’ll read it after I graduate!

So that’s it, folks. You have until midnight EST on 1/29/12 to enter. A winner will be announced on 1/30/12. There are a few ways you can enter…

  1. Leave a comment on this post (or on the original post) telling me what you enjoy most about starting a new year. I love new beginnings, and I’m always a fan of fresh starts.
  2. Tweet about this giveaway. In order for the tweets to count, you must tag me @reinventingerin
  3. Post about the giveaway on Facebook. For this to count, please come back and leave a comment on here telling me you did so.
  4. Blog about it. If you share the giveaway on your blog, I will give you TWO entries. Just leave me a comment with the link to your blog post.
I’m hesitant to even have this giveaway now that I’ve seen all the drama the lovely Erin from the fantastic Erin B. Inspired is going through after she so kindly tried to host a giveaway on her blog. She clearly stated in her first post that she had purchased the items and that the giveaway was no way connected with the company who makes the product. But I guess that isn’t enough?
So, to be on the safe side… I would like to state for the record that ALL of the items in the giveaway have been purchased by myself. (I probably still even have some of the receipts!) I am chosing to include them in the giveaway because they are all products I myself really love, and I would like to share my love for these products with my readers. Therefore, these are GIFTS. I am in no way, shape or form affiliated with any of the companies which produce these goods. Those companies are in no way, shape or form involved in this giveaway. I am not being compensated by any company for my relationship with these products. And because I am the owner of these goods (since I purchased them) I have every right to give them away as gifts to whom I choose.
Yikes. That was a mouthful. Do we as bloggers really need to be this specific when we host giveaways? Come on companies… be grateful we’re sharing your product.


I’ve got a present for YOU!

Alright folks, I mentioned last week that I really enjoyed my first giveaway that I did last month. I keep thinking about when I would do my next one, and what kind of goodies I would share with you guys.

I’ve decided to go crazy and do a last-minute giveaway this month. I’ll take some pictures tonight hopefully and post them on the blog so you know what kind of goodies you’re getting, but I promise fun stuff! (Update: The giveaway has been photographed and documented on this post!)

The giveaway starts NOW and you have until midnight EST on 1/29/12 to enter. A winner will be announced on 1/30/12. There are a few ways you can enter…

  1. Leave a comment on this post (or the photo post) telling me what you enjoy most about starting a new year. I love new beginnings, and I’m always a fan of fresh starts.
  2. Tweet about this giveaway. In order for the tweets to count, you must tag me @reinventingerin
  3. Post about the giveaway on Facebook. For this to count, please come back and leave a comment on here telling me you did so.
  4. Blog about it. If you share the giveaway on your blog, I will give you TWO entries. Just leave me a comment with the link to your blog post.

Good luck everyone! I will try to get pictures taken of the prizes and post it this evening.

blogging to do list

There is a lot I would like to do here on this ol’ blog. Like, for example post more often… I can’t fault myself though. I successfully completed NaBloPoMo in December of 2011, and I can understand that after posting every single day for the month, there is only so much I can write about afterward.

It seems like I always want to do a year-end recap, but never get around to it on here. I’m going to have to work on that. Who knows, maybe in February I’ll share my highlights of 2011! I always get to things late, but you know, I’m okay with that. There are no rules on the blog. If I want to post a recap of 2008 on here, I don’t see why I can’t do that either.

I’m lucky to live near one of my friends from my MFA program (who happens to be in the same semester as I am!), so we try to meet weekly to help each other with the semester. I wish we did this during our first two semesters, because I can’t stress how helpful it is to meet with her. Last night I was worried about what I was going to discuss. I have so much to write this semester (it’s my thesis semester), but I didn’t have any ideas really before she came over. When we meet, we talk about our ideas and we help flesh them out. Anyway, when she left last night, I had three super fleshed out essay ideas. How amazing is that?!? I can’t stress how helpful it was to have her help last semester, and this one is the big one, so I’m even more grateful for her now.

Hmm, what else is on my to-do list for the blog? Well, I’d like to do another giveaway. That was fun. My first giveaway was this past December, so I think next month I’ll have giveaway #2! Keep your eyes posted.

I’m also inspired by the marvelous Kate at Suburban Sweetheart to start posting more “reviews” here on the blog. There are a lot of products, and also customer service, that I think are both good and bad, and I’d like to share my thoughts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried out products from fellow blogger’s suggestions, so I think I should step it up and share my favorite (and not so favorite) products.

I desperately need to update my 101 challenge. I recently registered my own domain for it (I’m on my second 101 list), but I haven’t updated that- or the original blog- since mid 2011!!!! My new list started on 10/2/2011! I don’t even have any of the new stuff posted yet. Yikes! I need it to be posted to hold myself accountable, and I can’t do that if it isn’t updated.

Oh, I’ve got quite a few recipes to post as well! Don’t you worry… I’m still cooking weekly. The only time I didn’t cook was when I was away at school for 10 days, and I’m totally okay with that. When I was home on my day off I think I made cookies with Mr. O, and I’ve already repeated recipes, so I’m totally covered on that goal.

and the winner is…


I used Math Goodie’s Custom Random Number Generator to pick a winner. We only had 13 entries (whomp, whomp, whomp: why don’t people like free things anymore?), so it gave everyone a GREAT chance to win.

Here is my fancy little sheet as to how I numbered each entry:


Here is the website before I clicked enter (I photographed everything with my iPhone):


Here is the number generated (#6):


And here is Colleen’s tweet which made her a winner:


Yahoo. I sent you an email Colleen with all the information. Thanks for entering everyone. I’m going to try to make sure I have one giveaway a month (if possible) on the blog. Make sure to add me to your readers and keep an eye on the site for January’s giveaway!





Shrimp Paesano Recipe!

Days Until 2012: via

Week #4 was my favorite week of cooking, and it was also Mr. O’s favorite meal. I made “Shrimp Paesano” by following the recipe from this wonderful site. There isn’t too much that I altered with the recipe. To start, I used dried parsley because I forgot to pick up fresh parsley from the store. In my opinion this made absolutely no difference. I also did NOT need 2 full cups of flour. I threw quite a bit of flour out at the end. I also have a tendency to add things to recipes, so I added onions and some orange sweet peppers. Which I thought added a lot to the recipe.

So the first step is to let the shrimp soak in the half & half for 30 minutes. Mr. O was so kind to get this started for me before I got there, so I only had to wait maybe ten minutes before I started cooking. I took this time to prepare the rest of the stuff that I needed.20111201-184755.jpg20111201-184834.jpg

After that I moved on to steps #3 &4 and I personally found that I “dusted” the shrimp with a medium amount of flour. To me, dusting means like minimally powder something, but I lightly covered the whole shrimp. Hey, it worked for me. The ones that were less covered than the others lost a lot of the coating, and honestly didn’t taste that good.

So I somehow forgot to take pictures while making the sauce. There isn’t much to comment that you won’t learn on the recipe. The only note that I have is that I found myself putting more and more half & half in the sauce to thicken it up and make it more creamy. It was too buttery. When I make this recipe again, I will probably use less butter next time around, and make more sauce.


Oh, and don’t forget to enter my very first giveaway on Reinventing Erin for a $25 gift card to Overnight Prints!. You do not want to miss it. Click here to find out all the ways you can enter. TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO ENTER!!!!!

easy nachos

Days Until 2012: via

Week three of cooking was an easy one. We were very busy and a few of our meals were on the go… Before I knew it the week was halfway done and I had yet to cook. Mr. O had made all the stuff we needed for tacos and in order to “cook” something, I baked some nachos. Don’t get too excited here. It was just chips, pico type salsa, onions, and cheese I think. I’ve learned its best to bake the nachos without the salsa. It made the chips covered in salsa too chewy. Simple, right?


Oh, and don’t forget to enter my very first giveaway on Reinventing Erin for a $25 gift card to Overnight Prints!. You do not want to miss it. Click here to find out all the ways you can enter.

technically it was round two, but officially will be round one

 Days until 2012! VIA

A week in recipes??? So remember how I decided to start cooking weekly as part of my 101 in 1001 project? Remarkably, I have been doing just that 🙂 Since I have about 6 or 7 meals completed, I figured I’d spend the week posting about the food I’ve cooked.

The first meal was on 10/19/11; I made spaghetti and meatballs and foolishly didn’t photograph the meal. Since it is a pretty big deal for me to photograph ALL of my 101 challenge, I’ve decided to just start the “challenge” with my first photographed meal, which was technically week #2.

Chow Mein on 10/24/11! I should let you know that I consider myself a Chow Mein rock star. I’ve improved my recipe over the past year, but it is a pretty easy meal to cook, and it is also something I can eat pretty regularly. Mr. O and I are pretty obsessed with our homemade dumplings, so we decided to cook those as well (Mr. O cooked them, while I watched).

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There isn’t much to tell you about cooking. I tend to eat my chow mein with meat. Usually pork or chicken, although I did make good use of my Thanksgiving leftovers by cooking turkey chow mein! So the first thing to do is cook your meat. While it is on the stove, I chop my vegetables and prepare my sauce. I usually put onions, bean sprouts and occasionally mushrooms in my chow mein. My mother puts celery in hers, but both Mr. O and myself aren’t fans of celery, so we don’t. We buy our chow mein noodles and mix in bulk at Oriental Chow Mein Company which is run by the sweetest woman who I consider part of my family. She is the person who taught my mom to cook so well when she was growing up, so I’m pretty grateful for her. The sauce is slightly tricky to mix, but once you get the hang of it, it’s no biggie. Basically you just mix the powder with water; if the water is too cold, the powder won’t liquefy well. If the water is too hot, then the powder turns into a jelly, and it is a pain in the ass to turn it back into a liquid. So my trick is to start to boil water on the stove, but before it begins to bubble, I scoop out some water and mix my sauce. Once the sauce is ready, I pour it into the remaining water on the stove, and toss in my veggies and meat.


From here on is a waiting game. I generally never cook my sauce higher than medium temperature, but I like to get the sauce to thicken, and also let the add-ins absorb the flavor before I plate it. It worked out well this night, because we didn’t start making the dumplings until I threw all the ingredients in the sauce pan. This is a picture of the dumplings as soon as they went into the pan. Like I said, Mr. O cooked them, so I really don’t have much to remark yet about dumpling cooking. The final thing to do when everything is ready is fill a bowl with crunchy brown chow mein noodles and then cover it with as much sauce as you like. I’m a HUGE fan of putting some balsamic vinegar in my chow mein, but Mr. O thinks that is gross.

Here is to the official week one, and to kicking off one of the goals on my 101 list. Check back tomorrow for another sneak peek at my cooking skills.

Oh, and don’t forget to enter my very first giveaway on Reinventing Erin for a $25 gift card to Overnight Prints!. You do not want to miss it. Click here to find out all the ways you can enter.

i hope you’re feeling lucky!

Days until 2012:

Today is a big day on my blog! It is my very first giveaway! How excited are you? I’m pretty darn excited.

 I’ve been searching for cheap business cards for quite some time now. A year or two ago I purchased lovely cards for a networking event I was attending. They were beautifully designed but had minimal information, because I wanted them to still be applicable for all areas of my life. I’ve done a lot of event planning and floral design; I’m also a freelance writer, so instead of purchasing two sets, I figured I would just get one all-encompassing unspecific card. This plan worked for the most part. However, I got a lot of “Do you have a webpage with any of your designs?” or “where are you located?” (Note: I am still not “located” anywhere, but if someone wants to pay the rent for me to have a cute little boutique-like office, I am GAME). Plus, now that I am writing more often, I tend to hand my card out more often. So recently I’ve decided to purchase two sets of cards. I’m sure they will still be slightly nondescript, but they will hopefully seem more professional.

Here is my problem: I’m poor. I’m trying to buy a house, and I’ve recently found out how much my monthly repayment will be on my student loans (BARF!). Buying two sets of fantastically designed business cards really isn’t in the budget. I have champagne taste on a beer budget.

Cue the most awesome website ever! Overnight Prints! They have cheap business cards that are über professional and gorgeously designed. Cheap business cards! What could be better? (Hint: Not very much) Oh, and they are having a deal right now where you can buy 500 business cards for $15.45. I challenge you to find 500 business cards for that price that are printed on quality stock. Oh, and you can choose to gloss one or both sides for FREE! (Free is one of my favorite words.) There are so many great things about this company. It is called Overnight Prints because you can literally design something (by 8pm) and get it in the mail the VERY next day if you need to. Oh, and they have mini-business cards too, which are the type I have (and am running out of) right now. I get SO MANY COMPLIMENTS on these cards. They stand out so much more because people expect all business cards to look the same, and mine don’t. Plus, did I mention they are inexpensive?

What does this mean for you? Well, you can win a $25 gift card to use at Overnight Prints! Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Oh, and no, you do not need to purchase cheap business cards with this gift card. You can get whatever you’d like! I think it is the perfect time of the year to have a giveaway, because the winner will have the option of using the card to buy holiday gifts for other people or they can simply spoil themselves! Awesome, isn’t it? I do have ideas though if you’re thinking of using it on gifts. You can make a 2012 calendar or personalized stationary. Are you planning a wedding? You can make magnet save-the-dates to send to your guests. Have a business? There are lots of marketing materials you can customize.

Oh, most important part (duh)! Here is how you can win this great prize:

1) Mandatory: Leave a comment ON THIS POST ONLY telling me what you think you’d buy if you won. This will enter you in the giveaway.
2) For an extra entry, include a link to this post on your blog, then leave another comment ON THIS POST ONLY with the link to your post.
3) For a third entry you can share this link on your Facebook page (you’re going to have to leave another comment ON THIS POST ONLY letting me know you did)
4) And finally, for a fourth chance, tweet about the giveaway. If you tweet, make sure to include my handle (@reinventingerin).

The contest begins immediately, and you have until Thursday evening at 11:59pm EST to enter. So what’s that, like 5 whole days? Anyway, I will pick and announce a winner sometime before 5:00pm on Friday (I’m hoping to do it in the morning though). So you now officially have five days and four possible chances to win, folks. Get moving!

and so begins the birthday season…


First- I’d like to say Happy Birthday to my boss! Her birthday officially begins what I  consider “Birthday Season,” which happens to be the rash of birthdays from the beginning of December to the middle of January.

Second- I would like to let you folks know that you are definitely 100% going to want to come check the blog out first thing tomorrow morning (okay, fine… after you eat breakfast is good too). I’m hosting my first ever giveaway on Reinventing Erin. I did a couple giveaways/reviews on my previous blog and really enjoyed it. I’m going to be all suspenseful and not share any more details until tomorrow, but I think it will be a fancy-shmancy-fun time.

Third-Can I just take a second to say how grateful I am for Porochista Khakpour? She has been the most ultimate kick-ass mentor I could have even dreamed up. Like seriously…. my imagination isn’t cool enough to produce a better teacher. She has been super supportive and encouraging. She is totally easy going if I want to change things around or if I need another day to finish my drafts. It has been a pleasure. I looked forward to all of our phone calls and also all her responses to my work. I will truly miss working with her next semester.

Fourth- Well, there is no fourth… Today I am going to spend some good, relaxed quality time with Mr. O and Wolverine. It is time to start my Saturday the best way possible- making breakfast for my two favorite guys.