Playlist Mania: 2012 Summer Jams

1 Aug

August is upon us and summer is coming to a close, but there’s still plenty of time to rock out to my hot summer jams! Here’s the list, with some comments and a bonus video playlist at the end – 22 videos in all. Caution – some of the songs and video may contain mature content and language so listen at your own risk!

2012 Summer Jams

  1. Let’s Have a Kiki – Scissor Sisters – THIS IS MY SUMMER JAM! So I had to single it out with it’s own video. I can’t explain why it’s fabulous. It just is. Wait – yes I can. Among other things, the lyric “fire up the smoke machine” kills me. Why don’t we have a smoke machine at our house????
  2. Heart Skips a Beat – Olly Murs featuring Chiddy Bang
  3. What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
  4. Glad You Came – The Wanted
  5. Back in Time – Pitbull – this song is the worst, but also the best. It sounds like a step aerobics class soundtrack on speed but I could listen to it on repeat all day long. So catchy. Excellent for booty shakin!
  6. Starships – Nicki Minaj
  7. Whistle – Flo Rida – the end, when he brings the song back around again, makes me want to drive fast with my sunroof open
  8. Boyfriend – Justin Bieber
  9. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen – So many videos of this song floating around, but this one really cracked me up. Jimmy Fallon and The Roots know how to have fun and she’s adorable. Plus, it’s a great family sing-along at our house.
  10. Brokenhearted – Karmin
  11. Titanium – David Guetta featuring Sia – also makes me want to drive really fast, preferably on a windy road, and sing REALLY loudly
  12. Lights – Ellie Goulding
  13. Heartbeat – Childish Gambino – KILLER BEATS KILLER BEATS KILLER BEATS!
  14. Ray Charles – Chiddy Bang – great lyrics like “o00h boy, open your eyes a girl like me ain’t waiting all night. oooh boy, better think twice, I got that honey, that sugar, that spice.”
  15. Some Nights – Fun.
  16. Dance with Me Tonight – Olly Murs – I’ve loved this song since I read about it on a blog, probably almost a year ago. Unfortunately the US takes forever to catch up with British pop stars so it wasn’t released in the United States until recently. And then it was immediately mine.
  17. Chasing the Sun – The Wanted
  18. Pontoon – Little Big Town – Definitely makes me want to sit outside and sip a nice adult beverage on a hot and breezy summer afternoon
  19. When Smokey Sings – ABC – What is happening in this video? Honestly. I have no idea. The girls dancing. The sassy saxophone player. Is the couple on the run from something?
  20. The Golden Age – The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
  21. Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye – I was lukewarm on this song until it was used on Glee so I chose that video for the playlist. Who knew Matt Bomer could sing?
  22. We Are Young – Fun. featuring Janelle Monáe

Secret Family Recipe: WaterMelan-Tinis

27 Jul

Hard to believe, but it’s nearly been a year since I was blessed to have most of my favorites in town to shower me with wonderful well wishes (and great gifts) and hang out for my bachelorette party. (You may recall, my bachelorette playlist)

Part of the fun festivities were homemade watermelon martinis (aka WaterMelan-Tinis), courtesy of my fabulous sister-in-law. She’s been a great addition to the family for a wide variety of reasons, one of which is the many years she spent as a bartender. Always comes in handy at family get-togethers!

Watermelon is still in-season and may even be on sale at a grocery store near you. Mix up a batch, kick back and enjoy the weekend. Cheers!


makes 2 (allegedly)

  • 1 cup fresh watermelon
  • 1/4 cup lemon vodka
  • 2 tblsp lime juice
  • 1 tblsp triple sec
  • 3-6 ice cubes

Blend, serve and enjoy!

Not All Stepmoms Are Wicked

26 Jul

“You’re not her mom.”


The words cut right through me. Oh sure, I figured I’d hear them someday. Maybe when she’s 14 and I won’t let her and her friend die their hair purple. Not from some OTHER kid at a birthday party for a five year old. But, there they were.

And, that’s the thing. I’m not her mom. And, that’s okay. Because I love her and I care about her and I will do anything to make sure she spends her entire life feeling loved, secure and happy. And what kid doesn’t need more of that in their life?

Being a stepmom is the most challenging and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Yet, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. And, I couldn’t do it alone. I owe a great deal of thanks to my wonderful support network of family and friends, especially my husband. I also have a friend in a very similar situation and lots of “mommy” friends who help reassure me that I am not alone. Moms, stepmoms, people – we all have good days and bad days. But at the end of the day, we have each other and that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

So, yes, I am not her mom. Which makes it even more of an honor to be featured on “Celebrating Real Mom Thursdays” over on MasteringMommyBrain. Thank you, MMB, for sharing my story.

Oh – and my response to that kid?

“You’re right. I’m not her mom. But, she still needs to listen to me.”

Recipe Notes: Slow Cooker Cuban Flank Steak

23 Jul

When I moved upstate, the best housewarming present I received was my slow cooker. My slow cooker is a six-quart slow cooker with a timer as well as a meat thermometer. If you’re in the market for a slow cooker, I HIGHLY recommend investing in one with a timer – it takes some of the “worry” out of leaving my slow cooker unattended while I am at work. I can set the timer when I leave for work in the morning and then the slow cooker switches to “warm” until I get home and serve my family dinner.

Last week a friend of mine (another busy working mom) was looking for slow cooker recipe suggestions so I suggested Pillsbury Slow Cooker Cuban Flank Steak, a recipe that I had made only once before, but remembered as easy and delicious (my two main criteria). And once I suggested it, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Luckily, we were having some friends over later in the week so this was the perfect “wow ’em without too much fuss” meal to serve on a weekday evening.

Pillsbury Slow Cooker Cuban Flank Steak

7am: Throw all this in the slow cooker
(sorry for the blurry photos)


5pm: Shred and add black beans

8pm: Serve guests

9pm: If you invite the right kind of guests, they
will bring homemade ice cream sandwiches
and you will get to eat those for dessert.

When we got home from work, the house smelled WONDERFUL, another slow cooker bonus! And it was just as delicious as I remembered. I cannot stress enough how easy this recipe is to make. The part that takes the longest is chopping the onion and peppers and even that doesn’t take so long – and this is coming from a “slow chopper.”

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Library Love

20 Jul

My gatewayto the world – and the first book I borrowed with it!

I’ve said this before: ever since I was little, I’ve been a reader. I wasn’t the kid asking for “just five more minutes” before bed. I was the kid asking for “just one more chapter” before bed. I go in spurts trying to work in more reading time, but recently I’ve been more successful at making it a reality. I don’t know if it’s my new (slightly shorter) work hours or what, but I am really loving it.

However, just because I didn’t have much time to read until just recently didn’t mean I wasn’t buying or borrowing books. I always have the best intentions. So, now I’m trying to work my way through my backlog of borrowed and previously purchased books while also making time to work in a few new ones from my favorite authors .

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner has been on my bookshelf for three years. It’s a sequel to her book Good in Bed which came out in 2002 and that’s also probably close to the time I read it so I wanted a refresher on the original story before I went in for the new one. I’d either borrowed Good in Bed when I read it the first time or it didn’t survive my move from NYC.  I looked online to get pricing for paper back and Kindle copies. And then I realized, I live ridiculously close to our local library which is beautiful and might be bigger than the elementary school I attended. I’d been meaning to get my library card for about two years. And, the library was going to be open until 9:00PM on this particular evening. So, what was I waiting for? Off to the library I went. The librarians and staff were extremely friendly and helpful. Applying for the card took about 10 minutes total, I asked for directions to the fiction section and found Good in Bed fairly quickly. Instant gratification! I would have been home withing 30 minutes, except I am still that same little girl deep down inside. I got a teeny bit choked up when the librarian gave me my new card. I needed some time to wander around and explore, see what else I might want to check out next time.

Aside from the fact that our local library is enormous, my card also allows me access at the library branch within walking distance from my office. It’s been over 100° here lately, so I haven’t tested that out yet, but I’m looking forward to spending more than a few lunch hours lost in there.

Some things HAVE changed since I was young though. The library is no longer just for books. Now you can check out movies, music and even museum passes – all for free. I’m sure there’s even more cool stuff I don’t even know about yet! Do yourself a favor – stop in and see what your local library has to offer. I think you might be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.

Playlist Mania: Cam’s Jamz

18 Jul

Dancing Queen

Our girl LOVES music. She has her favorite songs and she wants to hear them over and over and over again. And when they are on, she will belt them out and shake her groove thing and giggle and sing along and it is completely infectious and wonderful.

Left completely to her, we’d generally only hear the same song over and over and over. So, I made a playlist of her favorites to increase the odds that we might be able to at least hear four or five different songs cycle through at a time. These are her jams!

Cam’s Jamz

  1. Starships – Nicki Minaj
  2. We R Who We R – Ke$ha
  3. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
  4. Super Bass – Nicki Minaj
  5. Blow – Ke$ha
  6. Evacuate the Dance Floor – Cascada
  7. Club Can’t Handle Me featuring David Guetta – Flo Rida
  8. We Found Love – Rihanna
  9. Domino – Jessie J
  10. Better Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes
  11. Celebration – Kool and the Gang
  12. Dynamite – Taio Cruz
  13. Shake It featuring Lady Saw – Michael Franti and Spearhead
  14. Rumour Has It – Adele
  15. You Should Be Dancing – The Bee Gees
  16. Boogie Fever – The Sylvers
  17. Boogie Shoes – KC and the Sunshine Band
  18. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  19. DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love featuring Pitbull – Usher
  20. Good Feeling – Flo Rida
  21. Manhattan – Kings of Leon

Playlist Mania: Melanie Gras 2012

16 Jul

20120716-212943.jpgAs a child, the disadvantage to a late February birthday is that it often falls near mid-Winter Break. This is heartbreaking when you are 10 and you want all your friends to come to your party but they are going on vacation. When you are a grown-up, it is a blessing because this means your birthday falls near a federal holiday and you can go on vacation WITH all your friends.

And that’s exactly what we did.

We met up with a bunch of our favorite people and headed back to the lovely and fabulous William Smith Inn in Geneva, NY. We hired the same bus company from our honeymoon, Grapevine Country Tours. We ate delicious food, tried delicious wine and had more laughs than you can imagine. It was wonderful and a great kick-off to my birthday week and I desperately wish we could go back again soon.

And, here are the tunes to go along with it.

Melanie Gras 2012

  1. Ni**as in Paris [Explicit] – Jay-Z and Kanye West
  2. Heartbeat – Childish Gambino
  3. Tonight (Best You Ever Had) featuring Ludacris – John Legend
  4. Wild Ones featuring Sia – Flo Rida
  5. Blackout – Breathe Carolina
  6. No Diggity – Blackstreet
  7. Heartbreaker featuring Jay-Z – Mariah Carey
  8. Ray Charles – Chiddy Bang
  9. Turn Me On featuring Nicki Minaj – David Guetta
  10. Pass at Me featuring Pitbull – Timbaland
  11. Play – Jennifer Lopez
  12. We Found Love – Rihanna
  13. Love You Like a Love Song – Selena Gomez & the Scene
  14. Dance with Me Tonight – Olly Murs
  15. True Fine Love – Steve Miller
  16. She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals
  17. The Heat is On – Glenn Frey
  18. Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins
  19. Domino – Jessie J
  20. We are Young featuring Janelle Monae – fun.

Playlist Mania: @MsMelC and @TonyK Get Married! (aka #MTWed11)

23 Nov

One of the last photos of us as "single" people!

Yes, I made a playlist to listen to during my last road trip as a single lady – and by that, I mean the drive to Utica the day before our wedding! (Frankly, I’m just mad that I didn’t put it together early enough to make copies for all attendees. Maybe I buckled under pressure?) I played it the entire drive and then the next day when I was getting dressed and then made Tony listen to it the morning after our wedding, on the drive to our honeymoon, on the honeymoon, and on the drive home from our honeymoon. Clearly, he’s really the best husband ever for putting up with that kind of nonsense.


  1. The Way You Move – OutKast
  2. Shake Senora Remix – Pitbull featuring T-Pain, Sean Paul, & Ludacris
  3. I Wanna Sex You Up – Color Me Badd
  4. Wonderland – Natalia Kills
  5. Wannabe – Spice Girls
  6. You Make Me Feel – Cobra Starship featuring Sabi
  7. Blow – Ke$ha
  8. On The Floor – Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull
  9. Little Bad Girl – David Guetta featuring Ludacris and Taio Cruz
  10. It Takes Two – Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock
  11. Now That We Found Love – Heavy D & The Boyz
  12. This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
  13. Good Feeling – Flo Rida
  14. Stop – Spice Girls
  15. Stuck in the Middle – Stealers Wheel
  16. I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need to Get By – Method Man & Mary J. Blige
  17. You’re the First, the Last, My Everything – Barry White
  18. Faster – Matt Nathanson
  19. All 4 Love – Color Me Badd
  20. Give Me Everything – Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer

The Details You Didn’t Know You Missed

22 Nov

I promise – I am nearing the end of my wedding posts. At least, I think I am. I’ve already talked about the key wedding jamz here and here. Here are some of the other details that helped make our day perfect.


Ambiance Florals is responsible for the absolutely gorgeous and perfect bouquets. Such as this one here:

And all these here:

The Cake

You may recall, picking the cake and the design was something that became surprisingly important to me. I wanted the design to honor my grandfather and I wanted the cake topper to honor my new family. When I saw the final creation – it was everything I hoped and more. My mom had given the baker three champagne glasses that my grandfather used in the cake for her and my father’s wedding and the baker used those as the risers for the top layer. The cake topper came from the danceswithclay shop on Etsy. Three perfect little lovebirds, with our names and the date etched into the bottom, and it sits on our windowsill now.

The Sand Ceremony

There are three of us in this family, so a unity candle wasn’t going to cut it. We opted to do a sand ceremony to represent our new family bond. The basic premise: You choose a sand color to represent each member of the family. During the ceremony, the sand is all added to one vessel. Once you combine the sand, you can never separate the colors again – you are joined as a family and that bond can never be broken.

We had no idea how the sand ceremony would go with Camille. Frankly, we had no idea how the whole ceremony, or even walking down the aisle, would go! But, we were prepared to let her take the lead and go from there. And right from the start – she was as perfect as we could hope. She ran halfway down the aisle and then walked from there. She stayed right by us throughout the ceremony. At one point she sat on the steps, looking up at us. Bored out of her mind, I’m sure (the ceremony was a whopping 15 minutes long, give or take a minute or two) but looking adorable and perfect in all the pictures. And during the sand ceremony, she was right there with us – adding her own sand to the mix.

Wedding Traditions

Something Old: A handkerchief with blue lace from my great-grandmother.

Something New: My dress, veil, Badgley Mischka shoes!

Something Borrowed: A handkerchief pinned into my dress borrowed from one of my oldest, dearest and best friends – Lorraine. I read somewhere that something borrowed should be from someone who reminds you of happiness or who has a happy marriage. She fit the bill on both counts – some of my favorite memories are from time spent with her AND I was a bridesmaid when she married her wonderful husband over 10 years ago.

Something Blue: A pair of aquamarine drop earrings that were a gift from my parents. Aquamarine is Camille’s birthstone (and my mom’s too) and I love the idea of handing them down to her one day.

Signature Drinks

Mellini: A basic Bellini – champagne with peach nectar

Martony: Grey Goose and 7-Up – what else would it be?

Hair and Make-up

One of my bridesmaids Angela used Sheri Vitale-Pucine for her hair and make-up when she got married and looked stunning. So, I used her too – hoping lightning would strike twice! (I like to think it did!)

Happily Ever After

Playlist Mania: Happy Birthday, @ErinnSPerry!

21 Nov

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of my dearest friends, @ErinnSPerry. If you have the pleasure of knowing her, you know she is one of the kindest, most generous, smartest, funniest people you can ever hope to have in your life. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she also makes a mean brownie (well, several variates of brownie really). AND a mean vodka sauce too – maybe she’ll even let me share the recipe with you. 🙂

EPBday 2011

  1. Born This Way – Lady Gaga
  2. Valerie – The Glee Cast Version
  3. No Diggity – Blackstreet
  4. Criminal – Fiona Apple
  5. Heartbreaker – Mariah Carey with Jay-Z
  6. What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) – Kelly Clarkson
  7. Cold War – Janelle Monae
  8. Pause – Pitbull
  9. Mercy – Duffy
  10. Smile Version Revisited (Mark Ronson Version) – Lily Allen
  11. Dedication to My Ex (Miss That) – Lloyd
  12. Still I Long For Your Kiss – Peter Gallager
  13. I Want Somebody (Bitch About) – Kristin Chenoweth
  14. Better Be Good to Me – Tina Turner
  15. Love Today – Mika
  16. Super Bass – Nicki Minaj
  17. Strut – Adam Lambert
  18. Anytime You Need Me – Michael Franti & Spearhead
  19. You’re All I Need to Get By – Marvin Gaye
  20. I Was Here – Kristin Chenoweth
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