The Virgin Chef — Easy Breakfast Casserole





Every year the mister, mini-mister and I host a holiday brunch for all of our friends and family.  And since cooking for 3 is already a challenge for me, you can imagine cooking for 40 isn’t exactly in my repertoire.   I have, however, developed a few delicious go-tos that have become, dare I say, famous.  If delicious and easy is your goal, let me introduce you to the Breakfast Casserole (can you tell I’ve been reading too much Doctor Seuss?).  It checks off all the important things: healthy, easy, make in advance.  And it’s great to make ahead for those day after holiday breakfasts! (Perfect for New Year’s Day!) 

Tip – If you’re making for a party, it’s best to make the day before and stick in the refrigerator. Then you can simply put it in the oven about 30 minutes before your party begins.  It will be warm and ready to serve upon guest’s arrival.  VEGETARIAN guests? Substitute mushrooms (or vegetable of your choice) instead of sausage. Bon appetite!





  • Egg Beaters (you can also use regular eggs but I find egg beaters to be easier to work with and, of course, healthier)
  • Milk
  • Mustard
  • Pillsbury Crescent rolls
  • 1 box frozen pre-cooked breakfast sausage (I use Applegate Farms Natural Chicken and Maple Breakfast Sausage – organic, nitrate free and 70% less fat than typical pork links)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Directions: Slightly defrost the breakfast sausages in the microwave (about 30 seconds), cut into bite size pieces and put to the side. Spray casserole dish with a non-stick spray and then open the crescent rolls but do not tear them apart. Keeping the crescent rolls in a single sheet lay them across the dish lining the casserole dish with the dough. Spread a thin coat of mustard on the dough. Pour in egg beaters until the casserole dish is about ¼ full than pour in milk bringing the dish to just less than half full. Stir the milk and eggs together in the casserole dish. (you can also mix the eggs and milk in a separate bowl and pour in but doing it this way cuts down on dishes☺) Add sausages to the mix spreading them throughout the dish. Pop in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes pull the casserole out and add cheese to top and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is fully melted and the eggs are cooked through.



Keeping the Spirit of Christmas Alive

It’s no secret that the Magic of Santa is something we all carry into adulthood. All of us, young old, have joined this worldwide evolution of “Santa”. He reminds of all of the simplest joys of childhood, from running to the tree on Christmas morning, unwrapping presents and marveling at the Man in the Red suit who always gets it right! Santa has transcended all of the things in life that divide us, bringing us together one time a year in unity and happiness. People of all religions and cultures have some form of generously giving man who one time a years shows us the joy in life isn’t about getting — but giving.

I confess I was one of those inquisitive children that when I turned about 6 or 7, was very skeptical about this whole “Santa” thing. Some questions I pondered were, “How can one person travel the globe in one night?” How does he know where I always am?” (We would travel to my grandparents in another state, and he always managed to find me, after all!) Once, my brother and I speculated that “Santa” was indeed our parents because Santa’s handwriting was the same as my Dad’s! That last tip-off inspired me to create the Santa Tags below. Like me, others have created products and traditions to keep the Spirit of Santa Alive. We’ve given you just a few easy ways to keep the spirit of Santa alive for the children in your life this year.

Give Santa A Call: How many times do your children ask to see Santa in December? If they are anything like my niece, she wants to see him as much as she can during the holiday season! Instead of taking her weekly to check in with Santa, she can make a call to him and even leave her gift list as a message! Call 1 951-262-3062, your child will hear a message from Santa that is sure to light them up with excitement!

Video from the North Pole: These days, Santa is as mobile as the rest of us! Portable North Pole is a magical online platform that lets Santa connect with his millions of friends around the world! That’s right Santa has own Ap, where you create personalized video messages for your young believer. Find out the answers to your favorite questions, read Christmas stories from the elves, download or print Christmas drawings, and much more in Santa’s Village.

Holiday Portraits: This is time that all parents want to document, from the growth of their family to the memories of the Holiday. Friend and Photography Contributor Garrett Nudd of Cobblestone Rue Photography plans portrait sessions in collaborations with Chattanooga business neighbor, Sophie’s Shoppe with Santa Claus every year. A sweet and cozy vignette is designed, complete with milk and cookies. As you can see from the image above, having great images like this continue to keep Santa’s magic alive for years to come!

Santa Tags — From Santa’s Workshop: The impetus for these tags are purely from my childhood suspicions with my father and Santa Claus uncannily having the same handwriting as one another! I created these 50 unique Santa Tags straight from Santa’s Workshop! Phrases include, “You Made the Nice List!” and “You’re as Sweet as a Cookie!” These tags will keep the spirit of Santa alive and well. Tags can be found at Paper Couture Stationery and retail for $23.95.

Elegant Santa Letters: There is no more elegant way to keep your child’s faith in Santa than a custom letter hand written by calligrapher and artist, Sarah Hanna with Artful Correspondence. Each letter is personalized, with information only Santa would know, which builds the holiday excitement as well as ensuring you child stays on their best behavior! These refined letters retail for $20.00 and can be ordered through Sarah:

Elf on the Shelf: In the past few years Elf on a Shelf has become nearly as popular as the big guy himself! You may have seen him on various forms of social media reaping all kinds of havoc! For ideas on what your child’s elf can do to keep the excitement of the season growing, check out this great review by Apryl Duncan Stay-at-Home Moms Expert.

  • PRODUCT DESCRIPTION: This cleverly rhymed children’s book explains the story of Santa’s scout elves, which are sent to be Santa’s eyes and ears at children’s homes around the world! When a family adopts a scout elf and gives it a name, the scout elf receives his or her Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day's adventures—that’s how Santa knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice!

Lisa Stoner's Holiday Gift Picks


I enjoy celebrating the Holiday season just as much as the next person, but like to keep my gift ideas organized and well-rounded. A great part of that enjoyment for me is the gift-giving, and I like to keep my gifts thoughtful and tailored to the recipient, and while I will always maintain that homemade is best, here bare some ideas that anyone on your list would love to receive!

Hanukkah-Passing Along The Tradition



With Hanukkah only a few days away, I’m reminded of wonderful childhood memories of celebrating the festival of lights. It was a low-key holiday, just for fun, and my family would gather to celebrate. My eldest brother was in college by the time I was born, so Hanukkah was the time when he would come home and I’d get to hang out with him. That was always exciting!

My mom cooked wonderful meals. On the first night of Hanukkah, the house always smelled like pot roast and potatoes frying in oil. Sometimes she even made applesauce from scratch for the latkes. Apples and plums…it was so good. She worked very hard to make our Hanukkah meal special.

To make the latkes, she grated the potatoes by hand (no food processor back then). It took forever! As she was frying them, I remember my dad would come into the kitchen and steal some of the latkes as she took them out of the pan. She would shoo him away and he would grin and chew on the latke as he walked to the family room to watch Walter Cronkite.

When I turned ten, she finally let me help flip the latkes in the pan. I loved doing that because it meant I got to taste the first one. I loved beating my dad to the punch!

My parents always planned early so I knew my gifts were somewhere in the house. That always heightened my anticipation. I would search and search, but my parents always outsmarted me, except for one year when one of my friends was looking for some Barbie clothes and she unearthed the bag of wrapped gifts. I remember triumphantly telling my parents that I found the stash, to which they replied, “We can always return them.” I never searched for the gifts’ hiding place again. Smart parenting!

Now I have children and I try to pass our family traditions down to them. We make pot roast and potato latkes (mom supervises), light the menorah and play dreidel. When the kids were little, I’d read them the story of Hanukkah. The boys especially liked learning about the Macabees. I don’t read the books to them anymore, but we discuss the story.

My youngest is a little too young to understand much about the holiday, but I will start reading the stories to her this year. I also just purchased her a Mensch on a Bench, a Hanukkah spin on Elf on a Shelf. She hasn’t opened it yet, so I will have to report back next Hanukkah on how she likes him.


Christofle Menorah: (header image) Menorah pictured is a splurge from Bloomingdale's — by world renown Cristolfe. A new heritage piece for your family, this classic and elegant menorah is crafted from Christofle silver. Retails for $1,100.00

Mensch on a Bench: Don't let you kids be left out of the Elf on the Shelf craze! Created by a Jewish father who wanted to teach his sons about the Jewish holiday while adding new traditions to the family. Moshe the Mensch helped Judah Maccabee at the temple. Moshe played dreidel, loved gelt, and was a true Mensch. Retails fo $36.00

This time of year, it seemed perfect to include the celebration of Hanukkah in our Holiday content. Enter guest contributor Susan Southerland — friend, author, business owner (and the list goes on trust us!) If you want to hear more from Susan, let us know! Email us at

Susan Southerland and her Mother, pictured above Potato Latkes

Susan Southerland and her Mother, pictured above Potato Latkes

In case you don’t have a family latke recipe, I’d like to share my mom’s with you. I may be prejudiced, but I think that they are the best latkes anywhere. Have a happy Hanukkah!


* 3 lbs of white potatoes peeled
* 1 medium onion
* 2 eggs beaten
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp cream of tartar
* Matzoh meal
* Vegetable Oil

Put the potatoes and onion in a food processor. Pulse the potatoes and onion until they are well chopped but still have some texture. Add the potatoes and onion in a bowl, then add the eggs, salt, and cream of tartar. Mix the ingredients together.

Mix in enough Matzoh meal to make the potato mixture into a “good batter” as my mom always said. It should take about two hands full.

Put about a quarter of an inch of oil in a pan. I use an electric frying pan, but you can use one on the stovetop. Drop the batter in with a large spoon so each latke is about three inches round.

When the latkes are brown on one side, flip them over and brown the other side. When both sides are brown, take the latkes out of the pan and place them on a paper towel to absorb some of the oil.

If you want to make a potato dish without frying, take the batter and put it into a prepared, square baking pan. Drizzle a little oil on the top and bake it in a 425-degree oven until the top is brown and crispy.

If you are feeling really ambitious, here’s my mom’s applesauce recipe.


* 2 lbs of McIntosh apples peeled, seeded & quartered
* 1 can of plums

Put the apples and plums into a sauce pan. Simmer until the apples are soft. Mix to blend the apples and plums.



House work got you down . . . Feeling Like Cinderella?


So last year I had the genius idea to put an iRobot Roomba on my Christmas list. And let me tell you it is the BEST GIFT I HAVE EVER RECEIVED! This thing is AMAZING, it runs a three hour cycle and although it doesn’t seem like it, has a ton of suction (it’s farely quiet while running) the dirt tray is always overflowing when it’s complete. It even has it own detection system, knowing how to go around furniture legs and untangle itself from cords or curtains. Yes! That’s what I said, it actually will untangle itself if it runs over cords. Not to mention it goes under the bed, the couch, and all those places that dirt and grime just build up. The best thing about it is I can set it to run while I’m doing other chores around the house, it doesn’t scare the animals and when it’s complete it heads back to it’s charging dock. When it docks . . . it make this cute superhero tune to alert you it’s finished! It’s helpful and amusing all in one!

Except for area rugs, I don’t have carpet in my house. So I can’t speak to how it works on carpet, but I can tell you it goes from the hardwood floor up over the area rugs and vacuums them as well. Now I know that is is quite a splurge, as some of these iRobots can cost up to $700.00 — I’ve found the best time to purchase them is during the Holiday Season. This year you can find it at for $349.00, with free shipping and a free $40 gift. A deal that can't be beat! (For exact iRobot Specs- click here)

Ps. They also now have a Mopping irobot, this just might make my wish list for next year! If you have an iRobot (vaccum or mop) we would love to hear your review as well, please share with us below in the comment section!


I’m not sure about the rest of you, but cleaning my house is a necessary evil. One I dread tackling. As a busy entrepreneur, and parent to four animals with a social life and schedule bursting at the seams — cleaning is something I’m always moving to the bottom of my list. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty tidy, and I’m one of those crazies that believe “everything has a place.” So throughout the week, I’m always straightening, dusting, etc. But one thing I absolutely hate is vacuuming. I’m not sure why that is, the vacuum has never done anything to me!

With Allergies (therefore no carpet), animals, and the build up of daily dust… It seems I was developing a love hate relationship with my vacuum cleaner. Dragging it out, plugging it in, trying not run over the cord (which I did more than once) — overall it always just seemed like an ordeal. Granted this may be a little melodramatic, but as a self proclaimed “nature-girl” you’ll find me most of the time barefoot. And nothing is more annoying than walking around your clean house and getting grit on your feet. With four animals going in and out several times a day, I found myself vacuuming constantly.

product images courtesy of s

product images courtesy of


Relaxation Rituals PART 2 - Peppermint Aromatherapy


We hope you enjoyed the lavendar detoxifying bath from Relaxation Series Part 1. Our hope is to bring you little tips and tricks on relaxing that you can work into your day. Here's another great one from Amy we all use to refresh and invigorate when those 3 o'clock blues hit!

When I’m feeling my day drag on, and the clock moves slow, I grab right for the Peppermint Oil! It’s scent is known to stimulate mental activity and increase blood circulation. It's even used in hospitals for easing digestion and getting the digestive system working smoothly! So when you feel your mind wandering, dab a little peppermint oil on your temples and forehead. Take a moment close your eyes and slowly breath in the scent. You’ll feel refreshed in no time! I keep some peppermint in my desk drawer just for this reason. It’s also good for relief in a pinch if you have a headache or migraine - use same recipe as above.


Twenty-One Days


At the beginning of each month, we will launch a 21-day initiative, and we want to hear your stories, successful or just close enough, so we can share the journey together. We want to spark initiatives in all of you monthly, as we all work towards an improved and better, well…”me, actually.”

You’ve heard the phrase: “It takes 21 days to form a habit,“ haven’t you?

For the month of December, we incite you to save each $5.00 bill you encounter. For us, between groceries, those “more than a few” runs to Target, eating out, entertainment, etc. when paying with cash, the mister and I get quite the few $5.00 bills in return change.

What will you do with those accumulated $5.00’s after the 21 days? Chip away at some of that Holiday shopping debt? Add it to a vacation fund? Shoes?

Does budgeting and saving come easy to you, or is it more of a challenge and chore?

We can’t wait to hear from you in comments and on social media! Be sure to post your daily or weekly progress by using the #meactually21days hashtag!


Home Cooked!


LISA STONER: I’ve been a short order cook, hash slinger and even a take-out maven, but never a chef de cuisine. In my young childhood, I grew up watching my grandmother cook thoughtfully and carefully every day. [She always looked really great doing it too!] Perhaps it was my undying admiration and adoration for her as she seemed to effortlessly take care of home and family, but that ease she seemed to have was something I always seemed to strive for.

The savvier cook in me today really only came about once I had my first daughter. Once she became ready to eat solid food, I began making her baby food rather than offering her food from a jar. That process not only came from the deepest place of love I had for her, but it was an enjoyable process for me I found. I find tremendous joy from cooking for my family and friends, but my motives can often times be selfish. Read this slowly in case you think you have read it incorrectly: COOKING SOOTHES ME.

It really does! Truthfully, it’s “me time,” where I get lost in preparation and plating. My mind slows down from thoughts of work, deadlines and all the rest of my responsibilities. The dividends? The rest of the family also slows down from their pace as we all sit around the table. Win-win, indeed. #meandthemister

AMY MORELLI: I honestly don't have an "A HA" type moment of where I learned to cook, I just remember stories of how when my mom married my dad she only knew how to make french fries. HA! (PS. she would kill me if I didn't say that now my mother is an amazing cook, and I did learn alot from her over the years!) I think my cooking skills have come in part to watching, learning and helping my grandmother and mother throughout my childhood, and part from my "creative brain". My cooking style is a bit like: Take a known favorite family recipe and modify it by following my gut (and taste of course) or let's just experiment and see how this tastes. And it probably didn't hurt that I spend most of my young adult years serving in various restaurants. I must say, I am a good cook, and I've come up with some interesting recipes over the years. I will confess right here right now, I CANNOT, REPEAT. CANNOT, BAKE PIES. I have tried and tried, to give you a visual, my last apple pie, turned out purple and tasting like flour... WHAT!#?* #memyselfandi

ROBYN DIXON — The Virgin Chef: I’ll be honest. Cooking isn’t my thing. Work, Sports, Fashion, Reading – those are my things. I actually hadn’t ever given much thought about my lack of cooking skills until one fateful day early in my college career when I set out to make Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I mean, how hard can that be? Well, it’s not hard I suppose if you follow directions but I didn’t do that. Instead, in my infinite wisdom, thought it appropriate to pour the powdered cheese into the boiling water (I mean how else would it turn into liquid?). Thus began my love/hate relationship with cooking. And there was that one time that I cooked a frozen pizza with the cardboard on the bottom. Ha! Needless to say, since having Lucas I have made an effort to get better at cooking, and thank goodness for friends like Amy who come help "guide" me so I don't burn the house down. She helped me make cupcakes when Lucas turned one, and they actually were a great success! So I'm going to try and grow my cooking skills through this blog, and I hope you all don't find it too amusing. (In my cooking glory pictured right) #meandtheminimister


We at Me Actually love all things in the kitchen from entertaining and planning meals to recipe experimentation and of course enjoying our culinary creations. We hope to bring to you recipes for both the virgin and seasoned cooks, as well as many other "hacks" that can be used in your kitchen or your home. Because most family life centers around the heart of the home, which is the the kitchen, we wanted to start with a post so you can get to know us and our culinary prowess and progress.

Please feel free to share your recipes with us in the comment section below. Have a favorite recipe you think our readers would love? Share with us at

It's that time!!! Turn on that Holiday Music and get in the mood.

Here's a little Holiday Treat from Lisa's Mister, Jeffrey Stoner. He gave us a little insight behind his music choices as well. 

Hearing the first holiday song of the season has a double-edged effect on me. On one hand, my inner child is bouncing with excitement, and on the other hand, I gasp at the realization that I should start scheduling shopping and decorating days immediately. Hearing those familiar classics that have become part of our DNA over the years is a sure way to kickstart the holiday spirit, but the newer selections are just as fun!

I've put together this playlist for those days when maybe you've heard Johnny Mathis just a few times too many. Most of the songs are familiar, but performed by unexpected artists (Fiona Apple, Florence + the Machine, Weezer, to name a few), and a few are entirely new compositions.

Enjoy! Click the image above or here to get this great holiday playlist!

Trend Report: Faux leather - How to wear it (and how the heck do you iron it)


Excitement struck yesterday afternoon when I arrived home and there on my doorstep a package sat waiting patiently for me to usher it in doors. Inside - my latest purchase – a faux leather skirt. The hot trend, I thought, would add the perfect spice to my wardrobe. And I was totally right. The leather skirt is simply a great basic that you can rock all the way through winter.

Additionally, the faux leather trend is the ideal day-to-night transition piece. Paired with a blazer or feminine top, I’m office ready. Toss off the jacket and I’m dressed for cocktails with my girls after work. You can find the skirts and jackets featured in this post at


But I did run across one, tiny snag. Ever wonder how do I iron faux leather? Who knew, faux leather, for all of its benefits – wrinkles…a lot…So once you have your statement piece, here are a few tips to keep it date night ready.

Step 1: Place your faux-leather piece into the clothing dryer accompanied by several towels. Run the dryer on medium heat for a minute or two.

Step 2: Let the garment cool while smoothing the wrinkles out as much as possible with your hand.

Step 3: Pull out the ironing board. Lay your faux leather on the ironing board but cover the wrinkled areas with a clean towel. Iron out the wrinkles on a steam-free setting while making sure you don’t leave the iron on the garment for too long.

Step 4: Smooth out wrinkles one more time as the clothing cools.

You’re now wrinkle free and ready to go!

The Beginning is always TODAY!


If you woke up every morning, epic bed head and all, and literally thought about the very same thing for 3 1/2 years, what would you do? In many ways, I was reborn 3 1/2 years ago. In the spring of 2011, I took the finest man I have ever come to know, my two beautiful daughters, a fun-loving husband/wife photography duo and whisked away to NYC in the wee hours of the morning. On March 20th, we married in Strawberry Fields, Central Park and my life has been on this continual upswing ever since. This "same thing" thought I had every day was the desire to have an online source or guide where my husband and I (always referred to as "Me and the Mister") could read and reference together, along with one that my friends and I could discuss and relate to.  This blog idea was born.

But there's more!  Sharing my vision with my friends Amy Morelli and Robyn Dixon, we realized that our lifestyles are very different at this stage of life.  Perhaps we could pool our perspectives to create a "something for everyone" approach!

So, let's introduce the team ...

LISA STONER: I love the fashion and lifestyle blogs I follow, I really do! That said, I feel like the style and voice I favored in those blogs was a little "young" for me. Remember, 45 is the new 30! I'm a gal with the world at her fingertips who also happens to be remarried, has a daughter in college, a freshman in high school and would have loved a little "preparation" for the triumphs and struggles that come along with navigating these years. #meandthemister

AMY MORELLI: What about the voice of the 40+ year old that is single (divorced), childless, with a lucrative career and VERY okay with that? She loves her family, is the most avid animal lover, a feminist, loyal friend, and yes, she actually loves children! (Especially her niece!) College, marriage, then children (in that order) isn't in the plan for everyone, and if that's you, you'll love Amy! #memyselfandi

ROBYN DIXON: Maybe college, marriage and children was in the cards for you. AFTER your career. No less loving and devoted to her husband and toddler son, this 35+ something will give you everything from trends on pleated leather skirts in the office, to getting little boy stains out of your cashmere. A self-proclaimed "virgin cook" she's scrambling just like you trying to find the balance between countless hours at the office and quality time with her family. I know you will have lots to relate to with Robyn! #meandtheminimister

We plan on mixing life and love, stylishly and tastefully of course, so grab your coffee, tea, or wine and join us for everything life has to offer us all.

This is me. This is us.

Collectively, the joys, growth, and challenges we face are at once unique and universal.  So, when you really think about it, Me Actually... is you.

Relaxation Rituals PART 1 - Balance your daily routine with Aromatherapy and more!

Relaxation Ritual 1: Detoxification Bath

With all the chaos and hustle and bustle of life, who doesn’t love a good bath? Grab a good book, and soak in this bath. The smell of lavender will envelope you while, the epsom salt and baking soda detoxify you.

Comprised of the minerals magnesium and sulfate, Epsom Salt is a natural exfoliant and anti-inflammation remedy. In the bath, Epsom Salt will help relieve stress and replenish the body’s magnesium levels- leaving you feeling revived. Another great tip is to mix it with your favorite deep hair conditioner to add body to your hair. It’s also a reviver of life in the garden as well, add just a bit to your tomatoes or flowers and they will thrive.

Lavender is know as one of the most nostalgic fragrances, for it’s beautiful calming scent and flower. It’s much more than that, it’s one of the most powerful remedies in the plant world, offering both physical and emotional relief. Use it as a remedy for aching muscles, acne, burns, cuts, migraines, stress, nervous tension, insomnia and much more.

The other multitasking wonder in this bath, you can find right in your kitchen. Baking Soda not only hydrates your skin, and acts as a skin brightener, it can be used as dry shampoo, by sprinkling a little at the root of your hair and tousling it. Mixed with Honey it’s a great treatment to get clear acne free skin. Apply for 15 minutes 2 times a week and rinse!

Deadlines, Family, Friends, Social Outings, Career, Household Chores…The list of stressors in my life seem to multiple by the day. Not that all of these things are negatives in life, as they are the wonderful parts of life that make me who I am, yet sometimes they also are the parts of my life that cause added stress and worry.

In our “modern” world of round the clock activity, it’s even more important to steal relaxing moments for yourself. Yep! Relaxing, something I’m very bad at, there is always something on the list of an overachiever that will kick RELAXATION TIME to the curb in a second! *Well NO MORE, No more I say! *

I have been working hard this year to work in a bit of relaxation during my normal daily routine. If I wait for a full day off to have a “Spa Day”. . . I’ll go mad waiting! Enter my Aromatherapy Relaxation Rituals, my way of incorporating small moments throughout my day to relax and drink life in! So I decided to create a 3 Part Relaxation Guide.

I have always been interested in the natural ways to heal and make our lives more enriched through living off of what nature provides, and what I’ve found with Aromatherapy is just too good not to share! My days are calmer, my sleeps are deeper, and my life feel more balanced than ever before. Below are three of my favorite Relaxation Rituals. Be sure to stay tuned in the future, as I’m loving the results I’ll be sure to share anything new I discover!


* 2 cups of Epsom Salt:
* 1 cup of Baking Soda
* 5 or 6 drops of Lavendar Oil
* Add hot water and enjoy! Soak for at least 12 minutes.