Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let's try blogging today, shall we?

I sometimes feel like I have too much to blog about so I just don't blog at all.
It's almost feels like it's easier to write if there is just one event or one great thought at a time to recap or rehash on here instead of a hundred million moments of going and doing and feeling.

Let's see. What did I not blog about these past few days?

Well... two weekends ago I went home to visit my parents and we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner together every day which I just love. And we went to the movies, and scoped out the wildlife in the backyard, and relaxed, and my mom and I got manicures, and had an extra Monday together.
Then this past weekend TJ came to visit me and we also got to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner together and we also went to see a movie. He got to meet another 1/8th of the extended family. We're slowly easing him in to all the family, and the talking over each other, and the 5 stories going at the same time.

He was a big hit with my cousins. They are 10 and 13 year old boys and they are masters of Mindcraft and the rainbow loom,  and they will challenge you to a Harry Potter trivia throwdown. I can hold my own, thank you very much. And TJ was really weirded out impressed by my vast knowledge of the wizarding world.  

But he jumped right in there like he's so good at doing. And before my aunt and I knew what was what, all the guys were suddenly children. Playing ball tag which basically involved pelting each other with a ball, belly crawling behind furniture and jumping over couches and peeling off layers as the competition heated up. This is a picture of him in the official "ball tag ready-stance". And this is the first instance of me embarrassing him on my blog. Love you hun!

In between the last time I blogged and now there was a snow day and a holiday.
And there was snow cream, yoga in the living room, Netflix marathons.
And the whole metro-office-home-repeat routine.
I could have written about how darn cold it was.
Or how I cranked up the heat, piled on the blankets and worked on some blog design-y stuff.
Comfort food in the form of chicken pot pie was made.
And these were the only 3 pictures I took this whole time.

All caught up now?
K, good!

Friday, January 17, 2014

five on friday

one. I am heading up to visit the folks this long weekend. I kinda feel like I was just up there but it's already been 3 weeks and I prefer to see them as often as I can. I am really trying to take advantage of being a short train ride away because that will not always be the case....

two. I baked this yummy, scrumptious cake for my manager's birthday on Tuesday and it was a hit. For the cake recipe I used Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake. It has coffee and buttermilk in it which makes it extra chocolaty and moist. And for the icing I used a traditional ganache (double this for your two layer cake).  Ganache is so very messy as you basically pour it over the cake. I had chocolate on my forehead, the door to the fridge, you name it. But if you use really good chocolate, an icing spatula, and have a ton of patience, it's just so decadent and rich and totally worth the mess. I recommend a giant glass of cold milk on the side and some willpower.

three. In other news, some more good food decisions...
I packed my lunch every day this week! I can now cross off #49 on my big list (that I have not completely forgotten about). Early in the week I did some prep so that in the mornings I just had to pack everything into my (new unabashedly pink and adorable) lunch box from Thirty One. I hard-boiled eggs, made a big bowl of my favorite pasta salad, stocked up on clementines. Now, I didn't eat everything you see below everyday. But they are all taste-tested and approved components for a yummy grown-up lunch box.
four. I can also declare that I resisted the urge to chase each tasty bite with diet coke and instead stuck to water all week! That's right folks... I am 5 days soda free which is almost a full week, which is a week closer to checking off #8- give up soda for a month.  Now this will totally be a lost cause the next time I go the movies (aka. probably this weekend) but I just have to have diet coke with popcorn. It's like a law.
five. Since it seems all the stores are decked out for the hallmark holiday, I thought I'd re-share the little craft project I did for Valentine's Day last year. I put together the below mini mailboxes with all kinds of goodies from the Target $1 section for the girls at my office. It was really simple and such a sweet little happy. See the original post here
I linked up this week over here today. Happy long weekend everyone!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Custom Puppy

Do you know The Curtis Casa? Whitney and I went to college together and lead Young Life together and now she is this adorable, stylish, totally the real deal,  garden and home blogger.

She also has an incredibly talented painter sister named Anna. Anna has an etsy shop and does custom home and pet portraits. My sister and I reached out to her for Christmas this year and surprised out parents with a portrait of our sweet silly pup Dixie.  It turned out perfectly and I loved being able to give them such a personal gift.

I sent Anna this adorable picture of our goofy girl:

And got back the best thing ever! 

Come Christmas morning Dixie was also pretty impressed and I was glad I didn't have to keep this a secret any longer.
The turn around time was so quick and I just can't possibly recommend Anna anymore if you're looking for a really special and personal piece of artwork. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

TaDa Voila!

I had such a sweet Sunday with my friend Kelsey. She is a new blogger but an old friend of mine. We met in the second grade and became fast friends. I've loved living closer to her these past few years and I can always count on her for a shopping day, a long lunch, and lots of girl talk. We also share a love of TGIFriday's Jack Daniel's Chicken bites and a good sale.

Yesterday, in our typical fashion we ditched the sit down restaurant and hit up Popeye's at the mall food court. After window shopping and a lot of hemming and hawing over shoes we headed back to my house to do what bloggers do best... talk about blogging.
TaDa Voila! is her pretty vulnerable blog about a diagnosis with a BRCA2 gene mutation and the steps that follow. She's gonna post about the tough stuff in life but she promises to throw in a little bit of the sweet stuff, namely cupcakes. 
We did a little revamp on her blog design and ordered a pizza (it was a healthy food day all around). She got a blog facelift and I got to have a whole day with one of my favourite friends.

Friday, January 3, 2014

What I Read

I've been doing a ton of reading thanks to lots of time spent on planes and trains and long holidays at home. But I've been pretty bad about keeping a record so it's time to get caught up. Here is all that I read September through December this year:

1. The Kitchen House- Kathleen Grissom
I loved this and I read it 2 days. It was really tragic and sweet at the same time and it just made me cry. A lot. It reminded me a bit of The Help and a bit of Downton Abbey with all it's scandalous relationships and secrets.

2. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets- Eva Rice
Honestly I had to go back and read the synopsis to remind me what this book was about.  It was actually pretty entertaining once I remembered. Mostly thought it was just a  fun, quick read.

3. Allegient- Veronica Roth
This is the third book in this series and it was my least favorite. I won't give any spoilers but lets just say I was less than pleased (read: distraught/heartbroken/ angry/ this is why 22 year old's shouldn't be allowed to write novels) with the conclusion and would actually be okay if the movie version had a different ending. Never though I'd say that. Don't let this discourage you from reading the series, though. The first two books are fantastic and so is the third.. up until the end...

4. Dancer-Colum McCann
This a historical fiction about Rudolf Nureyev, a famous Russian ballerina who defected in the sixties and was quite the celebrity. He ran in wild circles and lead a pretty hedonistic lifestyle (warning, the book is pretty detailed and graphic) but he was probably one of the best ballet dancers of all times. It was a really intimate and interesting look at communist Russia, and the ballet world.

5. The Great Santini- Pat Conry
I basically love anything written by this man and this was no exception. Boy does he know how to write flawed, lovable characters.

6. The Partner- John Grisham
Really suspenseful. A lot like The Firm.

7. Shadow of the Giant- Orson Scott Card
The final book in the Ender's Shadow quartet or the "Shadow Saga" and I loved everyone of them. I love the power he gives to children, the way he doesn't underestimate their strength, or their potential.  I didn't think I would enjoy reading sci-fi or about war games so much but they are so much more than that. And I feel like I would do much better at the game of Risk now. I'm not sure I want to read the other books in the Ender Series as everything is tied up so nicely in the end of this book.

Any suggestions/ must-reads for 2014??

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year

I rang in the New Year with my roommates and our respective boyfriends this year. We made way too much food and hovered around the dining table with little to no self control. Who can say no to baked brie, bacon wrapped smokies, crab dip, bruschetta, guacamole, homemade ice cream? I know I sure can't! 
Christmas lights and advent calendars are still going strong in our house and I'm perfectly fine to leave them up all month long. This was the last Christmas and the last New Years us three girls will celebrate together in this house as roommates and that makes me pretty sad. I want to savor every moment of it because big changes are coming in 2014. 
I want to store up lots of memories of my roommates and I crowded in the kitchen together, music playing, oven on, dishes piling up. Of deep conversations had with curlers and curling irons in our hair. Of late night Grey's Anatomy and sharing our hearts as well as this house. Doing life together, getting frustrated with work, falling in love...

At midnight (most of us were still awake) we clinked glasses and kissed our guys and welcomed 2014 with all it's unknowns and "Lord willings". One thing I do know for sure, all these people of mine made 2013 super-dee-duper-wonderful.