Annie A to Z: A Lifestyle Blog by Annie Alvarez

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Memorial Day Quick Bites Inspo!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DipintoMeze #CollectiveBias

I can't believe summer is already around the corner. It feels like we just rang in the new year yesterday. Where does the time go? Memorial Day is when summer starts for me. I don't know about you guys, but that's usually my first day back on the beach, when family starts visiting from out of town and BBQ fest starts. 

Since moving back to Central Florida, I get a lot of house guests. Even if they're not staying for a weekend, my home is usually the dinner/family gathering spot. People drop in all the time unannounced at my doorstep. The same goes for my brothers in Philly. Because everyone up there lives in the same neighborhood, cousins and other relatives walk over to say hello. They taught me to keep my fridge stocked with snacks.

I tend to be a bit more health conscious than the boys, but it works out for me. If I have guests, they're happy and fed. If not, I can use the snacks for dinners and lunches through out the week.

Since Memorial Day is Monday, May 30th..whether you have plans or not, I'd like to share some quick and easy Memorial Day bites!

While I was grocery shopping, I stumbled upon the new Chobani Mezé™ Dip. Because I love Greek yogurt and dips in general, I had to get all four flavors:

Roasted Red Pepper – a sweet and slightly hot, mix of roasted peppers.

Three Pepper Salsa – a light blend of green peppers, chili peppers & jalapeno peppers with herbs.

Smoked Onion Parmesan – rich mix that combines bold onion flavor with nutty parmesan.

Chili Lime – a tangy blend of lime and light spice, with ranch-style herbs.

Meze (meh-zay) is Turkish. It means flavor, taste, snack, a small plate of savory food.

Convenient container. BOOM!

So, the fam up north loves deli meats, crackers and chips. I like to lean towards veggies. Healthy, delicious and I can always use the left overs for meals over the next few days.

Speaking of health, Chobani Mezé Dips have better nutritionals than the leading hummus: 80% less fat and 65% fewer calories than the leading hummus (CHOBANI MEZE™ Greek Yogurt Dip: 1g fat, 25 calories; leading hummus: 5g fat, 72 calories per 2 Tbsp serving)

. Chobani uses real vegetables, are made with only natural and non-GMO ingredients, and taste delicious.

 I've made some quick and easy bites that pair well with these dips below.

Homemade Sweet Potato Chips


2-3 Sweet Potatoes
2 Tablespoons of Salt
10 cups of vegetable oil

Scrub the sweet potatoes, dry well.

Warm the oil in a large pot over high heat, about 350 degrees F.

Slice potatoes with a mandoline, if possible. I don't have one, that's why my chips are not perfect. But it's totally okay if you don't have a mandoline or V-slicer. Cut into very thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick.

Add a quarter of the sweet potato slices when the oil is hot. Fry until golden and bubbling has stopped. This should take 3 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon or mesh sieve to remove the chips from the pot, lay them on a paper towel lined sheet.

I like to add salt, pepper, whatever spices I'm feeling. 




My favorite dip to pair with the sweet potato chips is the Chili Lime. I love the sweet, spicy and tangy combo. Perfection. FYI: it makes a great salad dressing for homemade burrito bowls. I've put this dip on everything.

It seems like everyone has their favorite flavor though. The males I know love the Smoked Onion Parmesan. I actually snagged the last tub at the store, so it seems like the fave. 

I love beet chips! When I was browsing through Pinterest recently, I saw a bunch of bloggers making their own. This is fantastic, especially since beet chips are a bit pricey. 


3 beets
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Scrub beets, dry well.

Use a mandoline slicer, or cut beets paper thin (1/16 inch)

Place beet slices in a large bowl and pour oil and salt over the top. Toss well. 

Set the bowl aside for 15 minutes. When the beets sit in the oil and salt, they release their natural juices. Because of this process, they will retain their color. :)

Toss beets again, drain off the liquid.

Lay the slices out on the baking sheet.

Bake 45-60 minutes, until crisp (not brown).

Remove, cool and enjoy.

Again, not perfect since I don't have a mandoline, but whatevs! Also, they shrink a lot when you bake them. The beet chips pair well with the Three Pepper Salsa dip.

Mini Memorial Day Cakes


Store bought dessert shells
Whipped Cream


No brainer, festive and delicious.

OH, another tip I learned from my family is to always pick up holiday decor. It doesn't have to be much, little accents here and there. 

How cute and festive is this set?

Red, white and blue straws.

You don't have to throw an elaborate party to host guests. Give them delicious food to snack on and they'll be happy. 

I want to wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day. This is the day to be with our loved ones and think of our fallen soldiers. Make the most of it and enjoy!

I found Chobani Meze Dips at Walmart. Conveniently located in the fridge section, at the deli department. You can use a store locator here . I've really enjoyed these dips. They're going to be a staple here for snacks, dinners and salads.

Do you have Memorial Day plans? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Easy Spring Time Updo Tutorial

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StyleByGoody #CollectiveBias

You all know this girl is about convenience, but there's no way I'm going out the door looking like a hot mess. Today, I'll share two of my favorite updos that I do when I am in a rut but need to look put together. 

If you see me like this, my hair is most likely in disarray, possibly needs a good wash. Putting my hair up is the only option I have.

 But when I wear my hair up in a bun, I get so many compliments, as if I put a lot of effort into it.


Let me show you how I do this in three minutes.

And I don't mess around with elastics. I'll share my secret weapon that I've been using for years. There's also a special BOGO sale (more info below!) that you don't want to miss! 

 Using elastics while trying to create a bun has been hit or miss with me. I sometimes get it right, a lot of the times, not so much. It's probably because I'm always in a hurry.

Start off with dry, textured hair. It gives more volume and looks better when you put your hair up.

I brushed out my hair with Goody® Clean Radiance™ Paddle Brush .


Goody Simple Styles Hair Spin Pin (go out and buy them now!)

I have the pins for blondes, but it doesn't matter. They never show when they're in your hair!

Put your hair up as if you're going to make a pony tail. 


Secure the Spin Pin at the top of your head. Push down, twist it in.

 Continue wrapping your hair into a bun.

When your bun has shape, secure it from the bottom. You see how I'm holding the Spin Pin? Push it up and twist from the bottom of the bun. Do not interlock the pins

If you have layers like myself, you'll most likely have extra pieces of hair. Don't worry. You can secure them with bobby pins and hair spray. I only needed 3 pins. 


It's so easy and not one of those things that you have to practice until you get it right. 

A not so basic pony tail

Like I said above, it's best to start with textured hair. I like to add dry shampoo and texture spray as well.  

Gather the top hair, put into a pony tail with Goody SlideProof Silicone Black Ponytailers. These are great because they secure your hair, keeping everything in place. 

Half up, half down.

Take the rest of your hair in line with the first pony tail. Blend them together and tie. This creates a fuller looking pony tail.

Take some hair from the first pony tail. 

Wrap it around, cover the elastic.

Bobby pin to secure, add hair spray.

How cute is this? Simple!

These looks can be done for a night out, in the office, formals, brunch, etc.

The Goody Clean Radiance Paddle Brush caught my attention when I was shopping. White and copper are so pretty together! Because this new brush is made out of copper, it will give your hair a healthy shine. It also reduces natural buildup that is produced over time. Less buildup will leave your hair looking radiant, healthier.

For best results, use on dry hair. Never use with a blow dryer as copper bristles may get hot.

I picked up these Goody items at Walgreens, conveniently located in the hair aisle. You should check them out because they're having a great BOGO sale! 

Buy One, Get One (Least expensive Item free) 5/1-6/4 . Another reason why I purchased the blonde Spin Pins is because all the brunette sets were sold out. These are hot items, so get to you local Walgreens fast!

What's your go to updo? 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Celebrate National Salad Month at my favorite Orlando spots!

May is National Salad Month, but let's be real, every month is national salad month in my world. I don't exactly understand the salad slander. If you're being a complete weirdo, only eating lettuce and dressing, I guess I can understand why you wouldn't enjoy them but the beauty of salads is the unlimited ingredients you can add.

If you live in the Orlando area, or plan on visiting, I've made a list of my favorite salads. My choices are far from boring, very filling and absolutely delicious!

Kale Salad
Florida peaches, avocado, beets, almond granola, bacon vinaigrette

You can now enjoy their brand new Build Your Own Salad Bar!

Greek Salad

Farmer Salad
Bitter greens, house smoked bacon, brioche croutons, parmesan, soft-boiled egg, caesar vinaigrette

Spring Pea Salad
Green tomato vinaigrette, chèvre panna cotta, English peas, sugar snap peas.

If you have health/fitness goals or just want something tasty to eat, try one (or all!) of the salads above. You won't be disappointed. 

Where's your favorite salad spot in Orlando?