Portillo's Chopped Salad

Portillo's is one of my very favorite places to eat.  My mom and I always stop there during our Black Friday shopping, or really any time we go shopping up north (Chicago suburbs).  I always get the same thing, a hot dog and chocolate shake, but they have a ton of other items on their menu, too, one of them being a chopped salad.  While I have never actually had the chopped salad at the restaurant, my grandma received this copy-cat recipe from a friend.  She made it for us awhile ago and it's been a favorite ever since.  It's seriously so good, it almost makes me want to get the salad next time I am there...and that's saying a lot!

Portillo's Copy-cat Chopped Salad
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
3 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
2 1/2 cups chopped red cabbage
4 cups cooked Ditalini pasta
1 small container of grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup green onions, diced (I leave out - personal preference!)
1 small red onion, minced
1 cup bacon crumbles
1 cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
Marzetti Sweet Italian dressing (find in the refrigerated section by the produce)

Layer ingredients in a large bowl.  Toss with desired amount of dressing.  Enjoy!

To keep the salad fresher for longer, my mom suggests using all romaine lettuce - it's sturdier than iceberg.  As with most salads, if you just dress your individual portion instead of the entire thing at once, it will stay better.  This is also a great salad to make ahead of time.  You can get everything ready, then store each ingredient in individual containers in the fridge.  That way, if you are serving it to a group, or even just yourself, everything is ready to go right then!

I think this salad is great by itself, but adding a bit of chicken to the salad, or just on the side is delicious, too!

Linking up with Annie.

What's Up Wednesday 6.29.16

Happy Wednesday!  I am linking up with my usual Wednesday girls - Jessi and Jenn for What's Hap-pinning Wednesday and Shay for What's Up Wednesday.

What I'm eating this week...I had some leftovers from my dad's birthday party Sunday and Monday - hamburgers and hot dogs just really hit the spot some days.  Last night I made the easiest marinade for beef - equal parts honey and soy sauce, grilled with red peppers and red onions.  The rest of the week is kind of up in the air, but I am thinking brats and salmon will be on the menu. 

What I'm reminiscing about...my kitties!  Writing last Tuesday's Show & Tell post really has me missing them.

What I'm loving...this weather.  The temps and humidity have both gone down to much more manageable levels - I don't instantly feel gross the second I step outside.  I hope this stays at least for the holiday weekend!

What I've been up to...going back home!  I headed back to my parents almost every weekend this month.  It sure was nice to be home.  If only I could move my job closer, so then I wouldn't have to drive 3+ hours to see everyone.

What I'm dreading...I am excited for work to get busy because it makes the days go by so much quicker, but I am also dreading the long hours a little bit.

What I'm working on...my June goals.  One goal was to take a test at work - spoiler alert - I have not done that.  However, I did sign up for one, so I am making progress!

What I'm excited about...my best friend is having a baby!  She is due this Sunday and I am just so excited that Baby C is finally going to be here.  They both are going to be amazing parents - I cannot wait to see them in action.

What I'm watching...lots of HGTV with their new shows, as well as Bravo.  Love that RHOC is back and I cannot wait for the start of RHONJ!  My two favorites on at the same time.

What I'm listening to...I found a great 80's station on my last trip home.  Such classics!

What I'm wearing...I am hoping to be wearing swimsuits this weekend.  I haven't made it to my apartment complex pool yet, but I am planning on spending quite a bit of time there.

What I'm doing this weekend...hopefully hanging out at the pool and relaxing. 

What I'm looking forward to next month...compared to this past month, next month is going to be really low-key.  Being busy with work during the week, I am hoping that the weekends will be relaxing, with some summer fun thrown in.

What else is new...not a thing!

Dad's 60th Birthday

My dad celebrated his 60th birthday on Saturday.  My parents hosted a cookout at their house for family and a few close friends.  It was such a great time!  While my dad was insistent we keep it low key, my mom did make sure it was quite festive.  

My mom decided to go red and black for the color theme.  We picked up a few different scrapbook paper patterns from Hobby Lobby and created banners.  The table centerpieces were pictures of my dad, photocopied in black and white, stuck to red and black card stock.  My mom collects antique frogs, so we used those to hold the pictures upright on the tables.  If you have been a long-time reader, you might remember us doing something similar for my sister in law's baby shower!  To welcome everyone, we had balloons and a chalkboard by the front door.  The food table center piece included a few daisies and little flags that said "Happy Birthday".  Just little touches, that turned out so cute and pulled everything together!  

We had your typical cookout food, and in addition to lemonade, water and beer, we made the Strawberry-Lemon sangria I shared in this post.  It was delicious!  Refreshing and sweet, but not so much so that it became too much.  

I have to share with you a few of the gifts my dad received.  One gift he received was a Route 66 mug, along with a box of Milk Duds.  Included in the gift was a rolled up note with a little poem, telling my dad that for my parents' birthday's, they are going to take them on the train to Chicago where Route 66 begins, to a restaurant that gives out free Milk Duds!  Living in Pontiac, a town that Route 66 runs through, being a big car person, and loving Milk Duds, this is the perfect gift for my dad.  Another present that really stood out in my mind, was from one of my aunt and uncle's.  They, along with each of my cousins, wrote down memories they had of my dad.  It was so fun reading their different stories of my dad and reminiscing.  My dad also received a selfie stick.  It's an inside joke from my cousin's wedding a few weeks back.  I kept trying to take selfies with my dad and it was cracking up the table.  We were just being goofy and trying to figure out the best angle and couldn't stop laughing!  Just such thoughtful and creative gifts!  I just know that they meant so much to my dad, along with all the other gifts he received that day.  Which, the invite said no gifts, but hey, when you are 60, people just want to celebrate!

It was such a wonderful day.  I know my dad had the best time, which is all you really want when throwing a birthday party.  Cheers to 60, Dad!  May it be the best year yet!

Linking up with LauraJennand Mackensey.

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday!  Hard to believe that Monday is already here.  And it's hard to believe it's the last week in June already!

As I mentioned in my Friday Favorites, I gave myself a long weekend by taking PTO.  I got a lot accomplished on Thursday evening, so I was able to enjoy my Friday a little more than I anticipated.  I went out to lunch at The Shack, and it was really good.  I have gone there for breakfast before and my second time did not disappoint.  It worked out well, because it is located close to my car dealership.  One of the main reasons I took off Friday was to catch up on things at home, and an oil change was at the top of my list.  Luckily, the process was painless and they even ran my car through the wash!  The afternoon ended with a movie, Independence Day: Resurgence.  It was really good!  If you are a fan of the first one, then you will definitely appreciate the newest installment of the story.  They brought back some of the same actors/actresses which was neat, although I feel like they could have included a few more.  The story was pretty good, packed with action, with an opening at the end to continue the story to another movie.  Needless to say, if they did do that, I definitely would go see it!

Saturday morning I headed to my parents for my dad's big birthday party.  It went so great!  It started at lunch time and went well past dinner.  I helped finish the set up once I got there, and then just enjoyed the party.  We ended the night with pizza from my dad's favorite place and some major clean up.  So worth it, though!  Since I don't want to make this post too long, I will recap the party in full tomorrow.  

We continued the celebration with a family breakfast in the morning before we all left.  We had my dad's favorite cinnamon rolls, with bacon, eggs and fruit.  After breakfast, we all packed up and after getting in a little more Jack time, we all went out separate ways.  Seriously, how precious is he?

It was a really great weekend, filled with laughter and lots of family time.  Now on to Monday...

Linking up with Biana.


Friday Favorites 6.24.16

Happy Friday!


1.  My dad turns 60 this weekend!  I feel like for the longest time, I always thought of my parents in their 40's.  I have no idea why.  But slowly it is hitting me that they are getting older.  We are celebrating my dad's birthday with a family cookout and I couldn't be more excited. 

2.  Time off!  I decided to take today off, last minute.  While we do have the 4th coming up, I wanted to still get an extra bit of time off.  Things will start to get busy after the 4th so I wanted to take advantage while I can!

3.  A successful new recipe!  I made my first recipe from Chrissy Teigen's Cravings cookbook, Margarita Chicken Fajitas .  While I had a bit of a mishap with the marinade and I also kind of messed up the steps of the second half of the recipe, it turned out SO GOOD.  Sometimes I struggle with eating leftovers, but none of this meal went to waste.  I can't wait to find another one of her recipes to try.

4.  No elevator stops.  So I know this is an eye-rolling problem, having to stop on multiple floors when taking the elevator at work.  However, this week it seemed like every single time I would hit multiple floors...and many a time it was those people that take the elevator just one floor down.  On my way out of work, there were no extra stops!  Right down to the parking garage floor.  What a great way to start my weekend.

5.  A clean apartment.  I have been out of town the past two weekends, which has caused me to let things slip a little at home.  Not that my apartment was too dirty, but still it needed a good cleaning.  Last night I got right to it when I came home from work and cleaned.  Having a clean apartment just makes me happy.  Now, if I sit down and relax, I can really relax instead of thinking of the cleaning I should be doing.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Linking up with AndreaAprilKatie and Amanda.           


Time for a few confessions.

grab button for Sparkles and Lattes

I confess...the other day at the gym, I started cleaning the treadmill next to the one I actually used.  I was paying attention to something on the TV and thought I was at the right one...until I realized none of my stuff was on it.  Luckily it was just one over.  The gym was really empty, which is good, except one out of like the 4 other people there was right behind me.  So I am sure they witnessed my mix up.  Oops!

I confess...I am crazy forgetful.  Just one example is last week I forgot to pack salad dressing in my lunch two times.  I have never done that before.  And actually, it's not terrible.  As long as there was a piece of chicken or strawberry in the bit, I was pretty good to go.  Still pretty ridiculous, though.

I confess...I am a mess in the kitchen some days.  Monday morning I was putting together a marinade for a new recipe.  I honestly was feeling really good that morning, like very put together.  I combine all my ingredients in a bowl, then go to pour it into a plastic bag.  I put the baggy all round the bowl and just flip it over, thinking to myself, this is perfect, no mess, all in the bag.  Then I move it and half the marinade is sitting on my kitchen counter.  I don't even know how I did that.  It didn't even get on the outside of the bag!  What a mess.  Needless to say, I wasn't feeling so "put together" after that.

I confess...I am terrible at remembering to water my flowers.  This week I have done really well, but previously not so much.  Definitely not a good thing considering how hot it has been.  I think they are perking up, though!  I just have to keep up the consistent watering.

I confess...writing the pet post on Tuesday really has me missing my kitties.  I will just have to continue to get my fix when I go to my parent's and my brother's - his family has a cat, too!

What are your confessions?

Linking up with Danielle and Annie.


What's Hap-pinning Wednesday: White Sangria

This past weekend, my mom and I were going over the plans for my dad's 60th birthday party.  Mom mentioned she would like to do a sangria, so I turned to Pinterest for some ideas.  Below are a few of the ones I found.

Super refreshing and so easy to make, this White Wine & Peach Sangria is made by pairing a riesling wine and fresh peaches!:

White Peach Sangria Recipe with White Wine, Blueberries, and Strawberries.:

With the warmer weather, we all want a glass of sangria, especially with mixed berries! This really is one of the easiest sangria recipes out there. You can also call it a sangria white because it utilizes white wine, or even a sangria punch when different wines are mixed together! You are going to love it, I promise.:

Watermelon Sangria | JenniferMeyering.com:

White Strawberry-Lemon Sangria - Strawberries, lemon, apples, white wine, and rum make a perfect summer sangria that'll knock your socks off.:

While all sound delicious, we settled on the White Strawberry-Lemon Sangria.  Fingers crossed it is as good as it sounds!

Linking up with Jenn and Jessi.

Show & Tell Tuesday: Pets

Happy Show & Tell Tuesday!  This Tuesday's topic is pets.  Growing up, we always had cats.  My parents had a dog before I was born, but sadly, she passed away and they never got another.

Eleanor was the family cat when I was born.  She was probably one of the prettiest cats I have ever seen with her gray and white coat and pink nose.  She was so, so soft.  She loved my mom the best, but I like to think I was a close second.  We used to call her EB, or Eleanor Belly, because unfortunately, I think the vet botched it when they fixed her and her belly would hang a little bit when she walked.  I couldn't find the best picture of her, but you can see how gorgeous her coat was below. 

While Eleanor was still alive, we also got a second cat, Theodore.  He was a stray in the neighborhood that my mom ended up feeding...and eventually he became ours.  I actually was so scared of him when we first got him.  I remember being in my bedroom and scared to leave because he was sitting right outside my door.  Luckily that passed and we became best buds.  He was the chubbiest thing, with short, stumpy legs and a fat body.  He loved to be where you were.  I have many memories of doing my homework at the dining room table with him either laying behind me on the back of the chair, or right at the top of my papers on the table.  He loved to have his coat scratched right at his tail and would purr like no one's business.  We, of course, had a great middle name for him - Lightening - because as a kitten and even older, when he was chubby, he was fast as lightening!  He was my absolute favorite!

By the time my brother graduated high school, we had to put Theo down and Eleanor had been gone for awhile.  We headed out to the Humane Society and picked out a new cat.  I always told my mom that Lily was her replacement for my brother when he went to college.  We got Lily when she was just a kitten (notice the difference in names - my mom named the first two, while I got to name Lily), and she was definitely a kitten.  She was so tiny, I remember her curling up in a Kleenex box!  Lily and I had a love/hate relationship for the two years I was still in high school after we got her.  She would terrorize me by hiding underneath the coffee table in the morning and then jump out and pounce on my feet as I would walk by to get breakfast.  I know she was just playing, but I did not want to play with her that way.  Fast forward 13 years and Lily still has her kitten tendencies, running around the living room like she is still just a baby.  She is obsessed with my mom, likes my dad, and tolerates me.  I think because my brother was off at college shortly after we got her, they never bonded and she just isn't a fan most days.  We all love her, though.  She, like all our other pets were, is one of the family.

While I don't have any pets of my own right now, I love the fact that I grew up with them and still have Lily to go home to at my parents.

You can check out all my other Show & Tell Tuesday posts below.

Linking up with AndreaLauraJennand Mackensey.

Weekend Recap - Hang Loose: Chapter 31

Happy Monday!  Hope everyone had a great weekend.  Mine was go, go, go, but so nice.  

Friday night we went to see Central Intelligence with Kevin Hart and The Rock.  I think Kevin Hart is hilarious - I saw him in Memphis last year and he was so great.  This movie is seriously so awesome.  I will be honest, I didn't have huge expectations, more along the lines of thinking this is going to be funny, but probably not THAT funny, but I think we laughed the entire movie.  It was just good entertainment.  Definitely a great way to start off the weekend.

I headed home again on Saturday for Hang Loose: Chapter 31.  I wrote about Hang Loose last year here, but to clarify, it is a car show in my hometown.  My dad is a big car guy, especially old cars, and is the president of the local car club.  Every year, the club has a car show, which my dad spearheads.  It takes a lot of work and effort from everyone involved (especially my dad), and I always like to go back home for it to help out where I can.  I like looking at the old cars, too!  Afterwards, my mom and I headed out to pick up some supplies for next weekend, which is my dad's 60th birthday.  It was a full day!

Sunday was Father's Day of course, so we celebrated my dad by having a nice breakfast together, complete with a phone call from my brother.  Once I got back to St. Louis, I did the usual Sunday prep for the coming week.  

Hard to believe the weekend is over already, but sure enough, Monday is here so let's make it a great week!

Linking up with Biana.        

Friday Favorites 6.17.16

Happy Friday!  I am so ready for Friday.  The temps have been hot, hot, hot this week and we are supposed to get a little cooler (in the 80's) today.  While still warm, a lot better the high 90's!

On to my favorites...

1.  My boss.  I have a really great boss.  He always cracks me up, whether it be intentional or unintentional, and he just is very nice.  So nice in fact, that he picked up a little swag for my co-worker and I while he was at a conference this week.  Seriously, very thoughtful and I am pumped, because I literally was just thinking earlier this week about how I really wanted a similar water bottle.  I am excited to see how long the water actually stays cold.

2.  $1 Dollar Spot at Target.  I picked up this super cute banner at Target a few weeks ago.  I hadn't had a chance to put it up until this week because my patio furniture was inside and in front of the fireplace, but since that all finally got to go back outside, the banner has been hung!  It's a perfect match to my pillows and I just love the extra bit of color it adds.

3.  Strawberries.  Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits to eat.  However, they never seemed to taste as good as when my mom would have them.  Memorial Day Weekend, I asked her what the secret was to juicy, yummy strawberries.  She suggested leaving them out a bit, instead of putting them right in the frig after cutting, which I had been doing.  I tried that this past Sunday when I was prepping for the week and I think it worked!  Now I may have just gotten really good strawberries, but I like to think that it was that little tip from my mom that made them extra good.

4.  Comfort Food.  I made fasolia this week and it really hit the spot.  Normally I think of it as fall/winter food, but I just was craving it.  

5.  Nashville!  I have been catching up on Nashville recently, and was so excited to hear that it had been picked up by another network.  I can't wait to see what happens!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Linking up with AndreaAprilKatie and Amanda.  


Goodnight, sleep tight!

I found the cutest pair of pj's at Target a few weeks ago.  I used to be the one that would just sleep in an old high school/college t shirt with some comfy shorts.  I didn't really have "cute" pajamas.  When I took a girls trip to Scottsdale last year, my mom told me I had to get some real pj's.  I picked up a pair of sleep shorts from Old Navy and a plain v neck from Target and called it a day. 

Then, earlier this year, I kept seeing blog posts with super cute sleepwear.  It stuck in my head that I should probably get something, especially with traveling for work recently.  What if the fire alarm went off in the middle of the night and I had to go down and stand outside in my not so nice pj's with my co-workers?  And yes, I know the odds of that happening are slim to none, but these are the types of things I think of.  I headed to Target and found a super cute pair, but they didn't have my size.  Luckily, the next time I went there, they had them and I quickly snatched them up.  They are super comfy, so very soft, and I love the classic style.  I actually have them in gray, but I love this soft periwinkle color.  They even have navy online, too!  

Below are a few other sets that caught my eye, too.  I think I have been bitten by the bug and now want all the cute pj sets!

Linking up with Annie.

San Diego

Last week I was in San Diego for work.  While the majority of the time was spent in a conference, I was able to explore a little in the evenings with a co-worker and his wife.

The hotel we stayed at was in a great location.  It was right by the water, as well as the popular Gaslamp Quarter.  The first day we headed down to that area for dinner.  We ate at Union, which had amazing shrimp and grits.  This area is just full of restaurants and shops.  We made our way down to Ghirardelli for some ice cream.  It was set up as an old school ice cream shop, which was really neat.  After walking off our ice cream, we headed back to the hotel to get rested before the start of the conference.

The next day we went to dinner at the cutest pizza place, Flour & Barley, close to our hotel.  It was neatly decorated inside and the pizza was delicious.  Because it was close to the water, we ended up walking along the water after dinner.  There were so many ships and museums right on the water.  Had time allowed, I would have loved to check some of those places out.  

I was worn out by the next day and just hung out in my room that evening.  There is a two hour time difference between San Diego and St. Louis, so it was a bit of an adjustment.  However, I made up for that the next day.  We only had half a day of the conference, so we made our way to Balboa Park.  It is such a neat area.  Full of museums, gardens, and the San Diego Zoo!  Lunch was at a fun outdoor restaurant, in conjunction with the art museum.  I definitely could see spending the day there with a meat and cheese plate and some yummy cocktails.  After some downtime at the hotel, we headed to a little shopping area, Seaport Village, that was full of fun touristy places and restaurants.  I ended the evening with some yummy ice cream...I feel like I never go out and get "real" ice cream, I usually just stick with fast food shakes or a McFlurry, so getting an ice cream cone was such a treat.

 See you later, St. Louis!

Hello San Diego! 

room view

room view 

Flour & Barley

Balboa Park 

Seaport Village purchase

San Diego was such a neat city.  I would definitely love to go back for vacation.  

Linking up with LauraJennand Mackensey.