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Friday, September 30, 2011

30 for 30 challenge

I have seen a few bloggers go for the 30 for 30 challenge and it's my turn to try it.  Today marks my thirtieth day! I chose to do this in September because:
  1. There are thirty days in the month (duh).
  2. It's a very busy month for me at work and I wanted to simplify my getting ready routine; limiting clothing options seems like a great place to start.
  3. I have never done an "outfit post" before and the idea kind of scares me.  So, here's where I need to be honest...I have harbored some judgment about outfit posts I observe around blogland.  I compare myself to others and am fearful of putting myself out there to be scrutinized.  
  4. On the other hand, I think it's a great challenge in creativity, pushing me to create 30 unique outfits...and actually wear them (I think about fun outfits, but rarely have the guts to wear them).
  5. September is the last full month I will be thirty (gulp)!
So here's what I've been up to: I selected thirty articles of clothing (shoes, pants, dresses, tops, cardigans) and those are the only clothing items I can wear from September 1-30, 2011 with two exceptions:
  1. Work out clothing (only to be worn while working out).
  2. Accessories --I can wear any scarves, jewelry, headbands, etc.
I selected: 1 dress, 2 skirts, 3 blouses, 5 knit shirts, 3 tanks, 1 blazer, 3 cardigans, 2 tunics, 2 pairs of chinos, 2 pairs of leggings, 2 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of shoes, 1 pair of boots

I'm not going to post all the outfits, but just to give you an idea, here are some of my favorites the ones I remembered to capture on the camera (and I loved using April's tips)!

Have you tried anything that takes you out of your comfort zone lately?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

a princess tea party

Over the weekend, I helped with a princess tea party hosted by my church.  There were so many beautiful details, I just had to share some photos.

The concept was beautiful, to make every little girl in attendance feel like a princess.  The planning was flawless; they thought of everything.  The children (and parents) who came, were in awe.

There were activities (crafts and face painting), lots of food, even some dancing (to Princess music of course) and a movie about a princess.  

And the lovely ladies who I had so much with!  They worked so hard to make the event beautiful (notice the tiny cotton candy some are holding) and I was a late addition to the process, simply decorating and being there to setup.

Have you seen any creatively themed children's events lately?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

dare to re-gift?

via pinterest
This is a somewhat risky topic to openly discuss, but as the holidays lurk and are now just about three months away, I've been considering re-gifting.  Let me begin by saying, in general my approach to gift giving is thoughtful.  I'm not one to buy a gift simply because it's a birthday or someone is expecting it (be it the receiver or anyone else).  As someone who has received a number of items over the years I would never select for myself, I tread somewhat cautiously and have some guidelines I apply in the area of re-gifting.  Warning: my gift-giving is not always on time.

I believe giving a gift is about the person getting the gift.  I don't need to make a statement with what I give. I simply want him/her/them to be happy with the gift.

My philosophy comes from knowing what I like and will use and learning what others like and will enjoy.  I don't like to have a lot of items around I won't use, so if I know I won't use something someone gave me, I place it into a large box I keep in my closet.  In the box are a number of items (and not all were once gifts to me) ranging from pretty notebooks to socks to a earrings.  I have been collecting things in the box for years.  If I'm shopping and see something for less than $5 (typically from the dollar bins) that I think is cute and would give to a friend, I often buy it and put it in the box.  This is helpful when I put together a package and want to add in something unexpected.
Another helpful thing (especially if you're concerned you'll give an item back to the person who gave it to you or to someone they know who would recognize it) is label the gift with masking tape or keep an inventory list.  In my box, I have a list of items (not all the items, just ones I need to remember) that acts as an inventory list.  There are two columns: item and who it came from.

My Rules for Re-gifting (giving away something someone else gave you):
  • The item has to be unused and preferably with tags or in its original packaging (same condition you received it in)
  • The item is given in a different circle from where it originated (i.e. if you get something from your dad don't re-gift to your brother, perhaps give it to a friend outside the family)

What's your opinion on re-gifting?  Have you done it before?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

tickle me tuesday {vintage + lace}

I'm loving these pretties on Etsy today!

vintage milk glass cake stand from Vintage Southwest
reversible coffee cuff with lace + linen  from sew chatty
large cobalt blue glass salt + pepper jars from Where Weird Things Are
doily canvas tote from krust
I'm linked up with Sarah!

Monday, September 26, 2011

grateful {no. 33}

205. Walking down a street in my old neighborhood and seeing friends with their children

206. The smell of pumpkin baked goods in the house

207. An evening home alone to blog with candles to cozy the room
208. Finding a new recipe that's a keeper

209. Reuniting over a meal with friends after a summer apart

210. The children's ministry at our church

211. Living in New England

212. Making new friends and finding we have a lot in common

Saturday, September 24, 2011

saturday is crafty day {autumn wreath}

I love autumn.  It's my favorite season for many reasons.  I love its colors (reds, oranges, yellows, and even the browns), flavors (apple, pumpkin, and butternut squash), and activities (baking, football, apple picking).  I also love decorating our home for fall.
Since a lot of our house is undergoing renovations (the kitchen, laundry, second bath and living room to be exact), there are some challenges with decorating our place to its full potential.  I relish the moments I get to create something for our home though.  I finally made a fall wreath this week to hang on the front door which is quite cheerful.  I love it since our front door is rather ugly (please excuse the photos).  I got the argyle idea from this image via Pinterest.  I also had fun learning a new-to-me kind of felt pom pom flower and making rosettes from burlap.

I'm linking up for Saturday is Crafty Day and Tip Me Tuesday.  I'm off to bake something yummy with one of my cans of pumpkin and then to a Princess Tea Party.  It's going to be quite a day!
What are your weekend plans?

Friday, September 23, 2011

friday faves

It's been a full week!  There are lots of things that made me smile and some were too good to wait until today, but here are the highlights I haven't shared yet!

Music I dig: In Feast or Fallow from Sandra McCracken (I could listen to this album all day long).

Fashion find: If you follow me on Twitter you've probably noticed me tweeting about my search for grey peep toe pumps...I may have bought two other pairs online and returned them, but I emerged victorious and very happy in my three month search.  Aren't the cute?!

Food find: Have you heard about the canned pumpkin shortage?  Apparently the crop of pumpkins from last year was less than usual and there's a shortage of the canned stuff.  I went to an embarrassing number of grocery stores in search of it, then saw my friend had some in her pantry...she told me where to buy it!

Sweet deal: Our $20 pedestal sink from Craigslist; the mister found it and it fits perfectly in our second bath.

Recipe to love: We tried this recipe for cauliflower crust pizza over the weekend and it was so good!
Home inspiration I pinned: 

Have a great weekend, friends!
I'm linking up with Lindsay

Thursday, September 22, 2011

{flamenco} bachelorette party

Last weekend I got to celebrate a dear friend's upcoming wedding with her bachelorette party.  We went to BarLola Tapas Lounge in Boston.  The night included a private group lesson in Flamenco dancing, then a tapas dinner and a flamenco show.  The bride was surprised and loved every minute of it!
(l) we all wore tank tops with a flamenco dancer to honor Rachel (r) the bride with her flamenco skirt and "veil" in addition to the cute tank
(l) the bride and maid of honor (r) the flamenco dance instructor teaching us to clap, there were various rhythms to learn
(l) the bride again (r) the restaurant had so many pretty details
Learning the hand movements
It was such a treat to celebrate Rachel in this special way and the dance lesson wasn't nearly as scary as I had anticipating (confession: I'm a terrible dancer).  She's going to be radiant bride and more importantly a fabulous wife in less than two weeks!

Have you been part of any fun celebrations lately?!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

gift giving

I know it might seem premature to think about the holidays and gift-giving, but the season is fast approaching and I'm seeing gift ideas on Pinterest lately.  I keep thinking about what I want to make for others for Christmas, but so often I get bogged down considering if they'll like what I come up with. I've been thinking gift giving is about the person receiving the gift, not the one giving it.
Confession: I have not given a gift on time (on someone's birthday) because I didn't know what to get and would rather not give something than give the wrong thing.  Is that normal?

Recently, I was considering my favorite gifts.  I love a gift with meaning or purpose.  It tells me someone knew me well enough to select something they had no doubt I would appreciate and love.  One such gift that stands out came from my aunt and uncle for our wedding in 2010.  It wasn't even new, but it had a lot of meaning and purpose.  They gave us a set of glass candle holders (along with a bunch of new candles) and the card explained the candle holders were given to them in 1979 by my parents for their wedding.  I will treasure those candle holders not because of their monetary value, but because my mother selected them for her brother over thirty years ago.

What kinds of gifts do you give?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

tickle me tuesday {fall at home}

I've been trying to get my fall wreath on the front door, but life has been busy.  I've come across some cute wreaths and fall home decor ideas lately...can't wait to share what I come up for my front door...maybe even later this week!

argyle?  yes, please!
via pinterest
love all these colors!
via pinterest
the simplicity and rustic feel of burlap scream fall.
via pinterest
modge podge leaves on a white pumpkin...brilliant!
via pinterest
ruffle garland adds a feminine touch inside.
via pinterest
I can't wait to see what's been tickling your fancy!
Post linked here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

our home {in process}

A few weeks ago, Erika invited me to guest post with her.  I shared some things my husband and I learned since becoming homeowners in April.
me and the mister soon after buying our home
We both lived in Boston for a few years (five for him and three for me), yet loved the idea of having our own yard and driveway (among many other urban traits that are hard to possess in Boston).  Additionally, I had lived in several parts of the US growing up, while my husband is from Tennessee, so we agreed we wanted our house to have a New England feel and look.  I just couldn't get into owning a ranch...doesn't "feel" like New England to me.  After trudging through A LOT of snow since we were looking at houses in January/February we placed an offer on a 89 year old colonial that fit our "must have" list:
  1. More than one bathroom (most homes in Massachusetts only have one)
  2. Formal dining area
  3. Three bedrooms
The actual home buying process was pretty difficult and quite drawn out since the property was a foreclosure.  Following two months of waiting, we finally closed and were able to move into our first home.
the house in April, just after we bought it (at least there wasn't any snow when we moved in)
Thankfully, my husband is very skilled and truly enjoys carpentry (sidenote: I first learned this when were dating and he offered to build a TV stand for me and my turned out beautifully).  In the first six months we were married he built this table and the top is made out of an old window!  We use it as our coffee table with storage inside (sorry I don't have a better photo).
coffee table, the top made from a window
Since we moved in, five months ago, a lot of work has been done, and all by my husband.  I often say "we" but I mean him (...I'm working on that).  Unfortunately, we he (now it sounds like I'm blaming him) has not completed one room yet, so there are no true "before and after" photos.  But the kitchen has come a long way!  We both love to cook and felt it was most important to start there.  We have new cupboards and counters and are waiting to refinish or install a new floor.
photos of the progress: (1) widening the doorway between kitchen + dining room
(2) pulling up three layers of linoleum over hardwood (3) new cabinet + pantry from
IKEA and counter before it was cut (4) laying tile in the second bathroom/laundry room
We've learned a lot in the process of owning a home in five short months.
  • It's a lot of work...but you can do whatever you want (paint, knock down walls and rip up floors) as a homeowner...if you're up to the job.
  • The yard (among other things) can wait.  Decide what your priority(ies) is/are and focus your efforts there.
  • There are discounts + sales to take advantage of!  Sign up with Lowe's for their coupons by filling out an online form telling them you've moved (which Home Depot also honors).
  • Don't be afraid to return it if it doesn't work out.  Home Depot has a very liberal return policy; you may wind up with store credit but that's better than having something hang around you won't use.
  • Almost anything can be undone or redone.  I'm talking moving doorways and I first learned this when we started gutting the
I don't take my husband's hard work for granted.  I am so grateful for his skill and willingness to learn new things.  He had never moved an electrical line when we bought the house, but he's since learned a good deal about electrical, installing boxes and running new lines.

Do you own or rent?  What have you learned in the process?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Finally Friday

What a fun week and it's a good thing because we had a lot happening! I'm so thankful for the goodness scattered throughout the week to keep it moving right along!
1 - smoothie recipe I tried via Pinterest (very filling)
2 - modified the smoothie with half the amount of oatmeal and no yogurt, liked it better
3 - new reusable tumblers from my office
4 - the word: 1 Peter 3:9
5 - Sunday afternoon walking the dog in a sheep pasture
6 - balloons and streamers at work for the building's 40th Birthday Celebration
7 - who has a birthday party without cupcakes? not us.
8 - party hats to complete the deal

Happy Friday! What are your plans this weekend?

I'm linking here and here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

sweet potato "pasta" + alfredo

Remember when I shared that my husband loves to come up with new recipes?  He's done it again with this dish that substitutes thinly sliced sweet potato for pasta with grilled chicken and broccoli in a homemade alfredo sauce. This isn't a low-cal recipe, but it's got some real nutrients with the broccoli and sweet potato and could easily be modified to be vegetarian and/or gluten free (lots of options).
2 sweet potatoes
1-2 chicken breasts (depending on size)
1 broccoli crown
2 cups heavy cream
1 large garlic clove
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 cup shredded asiago cheese
1 tbsp corn starch, diluted in 1/4 cup water

Place chicken breasts on grill or in oven.

While chicken is cooking, shave potato into roughly 1 inch strips, 1/8 inch thick.  Bring 1-2 quarts water (enough to cover potato by one inch) to boil, add potato strips, and return to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, 5-10 minutes.  Remove potatoes from heat, strain, and quickly plunge potatoes into enough icy water to cover. (Plunging into icy water is known as "shocking.")

Sweat shallots and garlic in a large saucepan until fragrant, then add heavy cream.  Bring cream to a simmer, then add diluted corn starch and simmer until cream begins to thicken.  Add shredded asiago, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer until all cheese is melted and sauce thickens.  Meanwhile, saute or grill broccoli until tender.

When sauce is thickened, drain potatoes and add shocked potatoes to saucepan with sauteed broccoli just long enough to warm potatoes.  Remove the pan from heat.

Once chicken is cooked through (meat is no longer pink and juices run clear) remove from grill or oven, let rest 2-5 minutes to retain juices, then slice into roughly 1 inch strips.

Serve potato "pasta" and broccoli and top with sliced chicken.

Have you created anything new in the kitchen lately or tried a new recipe?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

what i love {fall flavor}

Despite the fact that it isn't officially autumn, fall is in the air in New England.  I'm loving so many recipes and party ideas found via Pinterest, I just had to create a board for the season itself (more than recipes).  Last fall, we cooked a lot with squash (butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti) and I'm sure we will again this year.  These finds are on the top of our list!

pumpkin bowl idea ((I was thinking of filling it with cider))
pumpkin party cooler via Martha Stewart
colossal caramel apple truffle
via Taste of Home
iced pumpkin spice latte
via Healthy Food for Living
three cheese beer bread
via Brown Eyed Baker
pumpkin scones with spiced glaze
via Brown Eyed Baker
What flavors are you loving as fall approaches?