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Rainstorms and Love Notes

I'm over the moon excited to introduce you to Ashley from Rainstorms and Love Notes!

Ask Ashley about her blog and she'll tell you Rainstorms and Love Notes is a lifestyle blog where she shares new recipes, writes about life and love, and talks about her obsession with binge-watching TV shows and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

She had me at recipes and binge-watching TV shows. Seriously. 
Ashley's married to a pretty cool guy named TJ. If you wanna know how cool he is, just take a look at her blog design because he's the muscle behind it.

And then while you're hanging out over on her blog checkin' out her sweet set up, you'll want to check out some of her recipes because she's a total wiz in the kitchen. She's got everything from banana oatmeal chocolate chip muffins, to a refreshing homemade chicken noodle soup, to shrimp & spinach fettuccine.

She's also full of insight... for instance, she'll tell you why that cute maxi dress in your closet may not be as innocent as it looks.

If you've got pets - or kids! - you know they come with a t-o-n of toys that can be hard to keep under control. As I write this, I have a green squeaky penguin to my left and a colorful braided rope to my right. Don't get me wrong - I love having a dog, and I can't imagine life without Maggie, but there are definitely times I've wondered aloud, "where'd all of this stuff come from?!" Ashley has an easy DIY tutorial that helps organize the mess into something that's a lot prettier to look at. Can I get an 'amen'?!

Basically, Ashley's pretty awesome. She regularly posts pictures of food and her cats on Instagram. Plus, she hangs out on Twitter and Pinterest. Mark my word for it, you'll want to follow Rainstorms and Love Notes on Bloglovin', so get on that!!

Cheesy Pasta 'Lasagna' Bake

Nursing school keeps me busy. So busy that some nights I have 20 minutes to make dinner. This means I've had to get a little bit creative in the kitchen as of late.

Basically, if you're busy, short on time, looking for something with ample leftovers, or just plain love cheese, I've got tonight's dinner for you right here.

Here's looking at you, Cheesy Pasta 'Lasagna' Bake!

Here's what you'll need, in very specific measurements:
a pound of ground turkey (or chicken, or beef)
a box of pasta (we like whole grain rotini)
a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
a pinch or two (or three) of garlic powder
a pinch or two (or three) of Italian seasoning
a handful (or two) of shredded mozzarella cheese
a light dusting of parmesan cheese

Start with browning your meat in a frying pan. At the same time prepare your pasta according to the directions on the box in a large pot (we use a soup pot). Cook that stuff until it's ready!

If you have a fattier meat, drain the excess fat. If not, just let it hang out in the pan for a minute.

Around this time, I like to turn my oven on to the broil setting so that it can get a couple minute head start before I melt the cheese.

Drain the pasta and toss it back in the pot. Add the meat and the can of spaghetti sauce. Stir like crazy!

Add the spices and seasonings and stir.

Add most of the mozzarella cheese and stir.

Transfer the whole shebang into a baking pan. You'll probably need a 9x13 pan - we usually do.

Top with a light sprinkling of the parmesan cheese and the rest of the mozzarella and put it in the oven for a few minutes - until the cheese gets bubbly and a little bit brown.

Take it out of the oven, dish up, and enjoy the melty goodness that is Cheesy Pasta 'Lasagna' Bake!

Valentine's Day

I love love. 
I love celebrating for no reason. I love making my husband feel loved.

Maybe that's why Valentine's Day is my favorite day of the year?

So, let's share the love! I've rounded up a few posts that you're going to want to check out, even if you aren't celebrating:

-- Pin this, write this stuff down, or just plain bookmark this because not only is it full of why-have-I-never-thought-of-that date ideas, they're all free or super cheap. And, let's be honest, who doesn't love free stuff?! Plus, they're easy to make into a gift for your honey - write each idea on a heart shaped piece of paper and stick all of the hearts in a jar. When you're looking for a date idea, pull one out!

-- Read this if you're looking for ways to improve communication with your sweetheart, or if you just want to reduce the amount of fights you have!

-- I saw these Nutella 'Ravioli' on Pinterest the other day. They may not be healthy, but they sure as heck look easy to make and even easier to eat!
-- Last Valentine's Day, Trevor and I had a little fun answering questions and comparing how we each responded. This year, it's your turn to steal the questions and have a fun get-to-know-you-better session over your romantic dinner {or Nutella 'Ravioli'!}.

What do you have planned for Valentine's Day? I've got a giant paper due for school so as soon as I finish that Trevor is whisking me away on a secret date! He may have a few tricks up his sleeve but little does he know, I have everything we need at home to continue our tradition of making a heart shaped pizza for dinner.

Happy Valentine's Day, love bugs!

A Hump Day Love List

While the title of this post may give off a creepster vibe, I promise you I'm just here to spread a little love. After all, it IS almost Valentine's Day, my most favorite day of the year!

1) This color, Woodlawn Blue, is a new contender in our kitchen-bathroom revamp. Imagine beautiful blue walls with white trim and dark wood cabinets. Pretty, right?

2) Hello to my new best friend! Gimme Brow was recommended to me a few weeks ago by an employee at Ulta. I LOVE IT! It's true that fresh brows can make a face look so much more put together.

3) I'm up to my eyeballs in student loan debt, but I've thoroughly enjoyed window-shopping the Kate Spade Surprise Sale. This wallet is perfect, don't you think?

4) Trevor and I were gifted a Roku for Christmas. Hands down, the coolest piece of technology we own! I love having Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Redbox, etc. at our fingertips! It may make us lazier, but date night is significantly more cuddlier when you don't have to get out from under a blanket to change DVDs.

5) This pretty shade is part of Essie's Resort collection, and you better believe it's on my wish list for the spring!

6) Doesn't that photo make your mouth water?!? It's not my recipe for a strawberry cream heart, but that doesn't mean it won't be on our table for a dessert come Valentine's Day! {You can find the recipe here!}

What have you been loving lately?

Twenty Four Hours

Trevor and I made a quick trip to Chicago this weekend that lasted all of twenty four hours. It was a whirlwind trip to celebrate a dear friend's birthday that we were able to fit in between endless hours of studying and a final exam that I have later today... but if you know me, and let's face it, I don't hide this fact, you know that I don't ever, ever turn down a chance to visit my favorite city!

Saturday was snowy which made for messy travel but picturesque scenes. We stopped at Millennium Park for ice skating and the birthday girl snapped this lovely shot. 

{Keep your eyes peeled: this photo is part of a project I'm working on to finish off an empty bedroom wall... coming to the blog soon!}

We stayed downtown, near Grant Park, at the Blackstone Renaissance... it was drool worthy. Marble floors, dark, heavy, thick wooden doors, views of the lake, and just look at that lush wallpaper on the bathroom walls.

After an "I ate so much food, I think you're going to have to roll me outta here" dinner, we hit up a comedy club and laughed the calories off. Or, at least that's what I'm telling myself.

A little bit of Starbucks, some of the fantastic strawberry orange juice that I had a few months ago, and a stroll through the park wrapped up our trip before we headed home in time to grab the pup and watch the big game.

After today's cumulative final, I have approximately five hours off of school and then another class starts. We've got eight months of this crazy schedule left before the real world swallows us whole but a weekend like the one we just had was just what the doctor nurse ordered.

How was your weekend? Who were you rooting for to win the Super Bowl?


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