Friday, April 24, 2015

2015 Summer Shoes I Heart

Dang I love a cute shoe.

Summer is, in my opinion, the best season for shoes because you can pretty much wear any kind! Not to knock boots, but I don't love them as much as I do my ballet flats, sandals and wedges. Plus, warm-weather shoes are just way cuter. Right?

Shoe trends come and go...some hideous (in my opinion) and some not so bad. However, I've never considered myself to be a trendsetter when it comes to shoes. I go for the three F's in shoe finding...Function, Fashion and Fabulous. Meaning, they should be functional...like I can walk around in them, they should blend or be homogeneous with my fashion tastes and wardrobe and they should also have some sort of fabulous factor. Maybe it's just a fun peep-toe or a shimmery fabric...but they have a little fun edge to make them fabulous!

Here are some of my current faves for this summer. Note: These are all work-appropriate...well, at least for my work. I didn't put any cute flip flops or beach shoes...because...I have 3 pairs of Rainbows already so I'm good. :)



Now all of these are from Sole Society (no they didn't sponsor anything...I just like their shoes and they are good quality...).

I love a good peep-toe wedge and those cobalt blue beauties are just calling my name.

Gladiator sandals are fun and funky. I have tiny ankles...which I like to highlight with these types of shoes...the only problem is that sometimes if they cut too high, they make my legs look even bigger than they are. So, something to be aware of when looking at gladiator sandals. Ideally, the top cuts right above your ankle bone and not into the bottom of your leg or calf.

The mid-length heel is my newest best friend for work. It's still a heel, so you can get away with it. But to me, it seems more sensible and professional. But just because it's a mid-length heel doesn't mean it can't be fabulous and professional, right? Some women may think a mid-length heel is cheating but they are probably women who wear open-toe stripper shoes with their business suits...so let's just not go there. Mmmkay?

Finally, y'all know I love a good flat. And mesh with polka dots? In love!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wardrobe Consultation & Outfit Making

Over the weekend my mom asked me to come and help her "make outfits" out of her clothes. Now, she's not stylistically challenged but she is a bit challenged in thinking outside of the box when it comes to clothing. Meaning, she can pair black pants with a black blazer and a bright top just fine, but the idea of multiple colors and fabrics and even patterns isn't something she's comfortable with.

Enter me. :)

Not that I'm an actual wardrobe consultant or professional stylist by any means, but I'm a firm believer that a fresh pair of eyes can help you see outfits that someone else may not have seen and put together.

Also, my mom has a lot of great clothes. That jerk. ;) I first went through and made outfits with things that caught my eye. Then I asked her what items she wasn't sure how to wear or what to wear with. Finally, she asked me to put together a few "wildcard" outfits that would really push her out of her fashion comfort zone. I took pictures with my phone and also my real camera. I plan on printing them out so she can quickly thumb through them instead of trying to recreate the wheel every morning.

Below are some of the ones I came up with.


Two of the "wildcard" outfits are in this first set. The top left leopard/mint/teal outfit and the middle right hot pink and kelly green outfit. 


I took it upon myself to reuse a few pieces in different ways. I didn't document ALL of the outfits on my phone like I did with my actual camera. So, a few of these (like the green blazer) are reused multiple times. 

Overall, I thought this was a lot of fun. I kind of want to do this for my own closet. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

This Weekend I...


This weekend, I...

...did something I almost never do...which is watch movies. I am not a huge movie buff and rarely do I watch them. This weekend, I watched THREE! (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2 and Sarah's Key if you were wondering)

...went house shopping with M. We have put an offer on the cutest townhouse ever! Fingers crossed that it will all work out. :)

...ate Italian food...twice. Man, I forgot how "full" pasta makes you. I think I'll be switching back to my spaghetti squash for a while.

...enjoyed the beautiful sun that came out briefly on Saturday and then turned back into rain. BOO!

...helped my mom plan and create new outfits by serving as her "wardrobe consultant". Check back tomorrow for a full post on what I did! :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Anniversary Trip Recap

To celebrate our first anniversary, M and I went on a short trip to Asheville, NC for a few days.

When we first got to Asheville I surprised M with a recreation of our wedding cake (because we intentionally didn't save the top layer). My cousin made a red velvet cake with the most delicious cream cheese icing I've ever had! It was beautiful and the perfect kick off for the mini-getaway. 




We spent most of the day Tuesday at The Spa at the Grove Park Inn, one of the most historic hotels in America. The Spa has a strict no-cell phone policy...so I didn't get any photos from inside the spa...but needless to say it was one of the most amazing, luxurious and relaxing spas I've ever been too!

It's basically built into the side of a mountain and a lot of it is underground (with appropriate skylights for the claustrophobic). Everything is completely surrounded by stone and rock. There are waterfalls everywhere and there are heated pools, cold pools, saunas, steam rooms, massaging waterfall pools and they even play music underwater! All of the pool water has minerals in it to make you float and to improve your skin so you can float in the pools and listen to the calming music for hours if you wanted. M and I got a gift card to the spa for Christmas and if you book a service with them you have access to their facilities all day. M and I spent a lot of time in the therapeutic waterfall pools (jacuzzi pools) and then I spent some time in the contrast pools. You go from 104 degree water to 64 degree water quickly and it's supposed to be good for circulation. I had a 1 hour deep tissue massage booked and M had a massage as well and they were amazing. It was such a relaxing day for both of us.



After our spa day, we tried a Italian place for dinner called Pomodoro. It was AMAZING. M and I both had the Four Cheese Lasagna and...um...it was amazing. We will definitely be going back to Asheville and back to this place. Also, the weather was kind of crummy so we didn't get to go downtown and do a lot of the other stuff we wanted to do...so we just have to plan a trip back.



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Show Us Your Books: What I Read in March

Attention book nerds! This is a link-up blog post you will enjoy!

Life According to Steph

Last month, I enjoyed linking up with Steph and Jana so much, I decided to link up again. It's awesome being able to read everyone else's book reviews and add more to my goodreads list. :)

This month's books:

This was a pretty good book about what happens with one partner in a "no kids couple" decides they want kids and the fallout from that decision. Overall, I thought this book was a bit sad, but still had a good ending. I gave it 3 out of 5 salted caramels. (Because stars and such are boring rating metrics...so I rate with salted caramels.)

My coworker turned me on to this author. I've listed the books in the order I read them, but you may want to read them in the reverse order. (Running with Scissors first) This is a collection of short true stories about the author's childhood, his life as an advertising writer in NYC and was a really interesting and lively read. I re-read some of it after reading Running with Scissors and could appreciate many of the stories even more. It was indeed a magical book and I gave it 4 salted caramels.

If you only read one of my recommendations, it should be this one. There were nights I literally couldn't put this book down and when I was finished with it, all I could say was "Wow". This is a historical fiction novel based on the true events that happened in Paris during World War 2. Being somewhat of a history (and specifically a World War 2) buff, I was surprised that I'd never heard about this shameful event in French history that is all but forgotten now. If you have any interest in history, or love stories about the power or love, determination, truth and justice, you WANT to read this book. It's one I will definitely re-read. Five salted caramels. 

I enjoy reading Sophie Kinsella and this book was no disappointment. I read this after I finished Sarah's Key and it was a nice lighthearted romance to follow such an emotionally complex book. It's sort of the same game different name for Sophie Kinsella since the main character reminded me of the main from the Shopaholic series...but still a nice vacation or beach read. Three salted caramels.

As I mentioned earlier, if I could do it over, I'd have read this one before I read Magical Thinking. You have been warned! I really enjoyed (??) this book. Let me say that reading this will make you appreciate your childhood....because Augusten had one messed up, crazy childhood and teenage years. It makes you wonder how he turned out so "normal". If you are a fan of Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone, you will probably enjoy this book. Really, the GoodReads description is better than anything I can come up with: The true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus.  So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor's bizarre family, and befriending a paedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock-therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances. I gave this one 4 salted caramels.


M and I are in the lovely Asheville celebrating our anniversary until Wednesday. I'll be back on the blog train later this week with a recap. :)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Things I Do Not Regret About My [Non-Traditional] Wedding



Can you believe it's almost been a year since M and I tied the knot? Sunday, April 12 will be a year that I've been married. (the sappy post will come on Sunday...you've been warned)

I consider my wedding to have been fairly non-traditional by modern standards. To be perfectly honest, my wedding was a little more in sync with the weddings in the 1940s and 1950s than the modern wedding. By most current standards my wedding was different and I'm 100% okay with that.


Here are some things I do not regret about my non-traditional (although it was more like a vintage-y) wedding:

//I do not regret asking close friends and family for favors
From loaning me cake stands and serving dishes to discounts on wedding programs, I called in favors to friends and family for my wedding. After all, I was a girl on a budget. But I absolutely hate asking people for favors. I feel like I owe them for eternity afterwards. But I sucked it up and did it. And I don't regret it one bit.

//I do not regret setting a (very low) budget for my wedding
$2500 to be exact. I only went slightly over. Read the post on my wedding budget. And, I do not regret it one bit because we had money to buy things for our new place (like furniture) and didn't go into debt or deplete my family of money. Win-win-win!

//I do not regret getting married in a church
Definitely not the norm nowadays, but my church has had such an impact on my life that I simply couldn't think of having a wedding anywhere else. Plus, by having it at a large indoor location, I didn't have to worry about the Big Three (the elements, comfort (AC/Heat) and parking). I would have nightmares about that kind of stuff.

//I do not regret that I was very particular and intentional about my music choices
Music means so much to me. I wanted the music of my wedding to help craft an interesting and memorable experience both for me and my guests. Getting married in a church didn't mean we had to use traditional songs or even "churchy music" for that matter. Some of the artists we used were Stevie Wonder, Ray LaMontagne, John Williams (the composer), Switchfoot, Eric Clapton and Guns N Roses. :) Read more about my musical choices and you can listen to some of the songs we chose. And yes, I allowed M to process in to the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars. And there was a special lighting cue during this time with black and white lights flickering on and off. It was quite a memorable experience and people STILL talk about it!

//I do not regret having a very small bridal party of just my sisters
In keeping to a simple and non-traditional wedding, I opted to just have both of my sisters as my bridesmaid and my niece as my flower girl.

//I do not regret having a "throwback" reception
I say throwback because it was sort of a nod to the wedding receptions of the 40s and 50s that were simply held in the church hall and were punch and cookies and a wedding cake. We had a little more than that, but I didn't serve a meal. I didn't hire a DJ. I didn't have "dances". (none of which I wanted anyway) We had a gathering of our guests in the church lobby area and we had theme tables set up in my wedding colors and with some of our favorite things. We had a milk & cookies table, a candy buffet, a cake table and a "Man" table full of salty snacks like beef jerky, pretzels, chex mix, etc. Read about my decision to have a small reception here and see the actual reception photos here.

//I do not regret not tanning prior to my wedding
My paleness is part of my identity. Sure I do some bronzer in the summer on my arms and legs like everyone else, but I intentionally didn't do spray tan or tanning beds before my wedding. I didn't want to look different...meaning...not like myself on my wedding day. I'm pale. It's my thing. I'm okay with it. I didn't want to risk looking streaky and/or orange or (my biggest fear) ruining clothing/dress/etc by getting the tan on it. And, let's be honest, tanning beds aren't an option for me. I've tried. I just freckle, peel and go back to white.

//I do not regret showing my tattoo and arms
I always thought I'd wear a cardigan to both cover up my tattoo on my shoulder and my arms (which are a part of my body I do not love). But the dress I chose simply wouldn't have looked right with a cardigan. [I love my tattoo, but I just don't show it a lot. I'm pretty modest when it comes to baring arms and chest in clothing.] It took lots of courage to bare my arms (and tattoo...which people usually don't see unless they go to the pool or beach with me) to everyone but I don't regret it. I don't look at the pictures and cringe. Again, it's me. My big-armed, tattooed, paleness. :)


Monday, April 6, 2015

No Short-Cuts Banana Pudding

For the holiday weekend I decided to make a good ol' authentic, legit batch of banana pudding to take to my in-laws for Easter. I have a quasi short-cut way that I make it when I'm taking it to work or for a potluck or when I'm in a rush. But when I have the time and it's a special occasion, I pull out all the banana pudding stops.

Below is my super-secret-but-not-that-secret-because-I'm-sharing-it-on-the-blog recipe for No Short-Cuts Banana Pudding. Here's a hint for all of you non-Southerners who live in the land of vanilla pudding mix in your banana pudding...there's not a pudding mix or box of Jell-o anywhere in this recipe. I'm taking no short-cuts so I'm making my own "custard" instead of using a mix. Once you have this...you won't want to use pudding mix anymore. Seriously, it's THAT good.

I also don't put a meringue layer on it because meringue is gross. The end.

Here's one of two secrets: it's adapted from a recipe that used to be on the back of the Nilla vanilla wafers box. The other secret is a special ingredient I add later. :)


No Short-Cuts Banana Pudding
Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup flour
1 dash of salt
2 cups of milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 box of vanilla wafers
5-6 ripe bananas (3.5 cups sliced)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (secret ingredient!!!)
1 container of whipped topping (optional)

Directions:
1. Mix sugar, milk, flour, eggs, vanilla and salt into large saucepan. (Recipe calls for a double boiler but I don't have one. If you have one, by all means, use it!) Turn saucepan on medium-low and stir constantly for 10-12 minutes until thickened. I used a wisk at first to break up the flour and sugar and then switched to a spoontula. (Might have just made up that word.) You MUST keep stirring or it will burn. So, plan on standing over the stove for at least 10 minutes until it thickens. 

2. Once thickened, remove from heat. 

3. Add 1/3-1/2 of the can of sweetened condensed milk and fold into the custard. I tend to use between 1/3 and 1/2 but it's really to taste. The more you add, the sweeter this custard will be.

4. In a large trifle bowl or dish, cover the bottom with a single layer of vanilla wafers. Add slices of banana evenly over the wafers and then add a thin layer of the custard. Continue layering until you run out of something (probably custard). Finish with a layer of vanilla wafers or get really fancy and do whipped topping (like Cool Whip) and then add the vanilla wafers.

5. Chill at least 12 hours before serving. It's best to allow to chill for 24 hours. The wafers will soften and do their thang, and the bananas will flavor the custard and do their thang. It's just a better experience all around if you wait about a day before you serve. This will serve 6-8.

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