31 August 2011

when in rome...

...do as the olsen twins do!

a lifetime cult follower admirer of the olsen twins {i dare anyone to tell me that 'holiday in the sun' wasn't a cinematic masterpiece}, i adore their zany + chic style and their incredible design talents for elizabeth and james and the row.  and now the row has teamed up with tom's for a special collaboration that resulted in the below video.





so a pair of italian wool and cashmere tom's it is.  all in the name of charity, right?

30 August 2011

bootcamp


Since yesterday marked the 2 month countdown until our big day, it is now officially crunch time.  I have just two more dress fittings and 60 days to lose these pesky final 5-10ish pounds and get my arms all Tracy Anderson Method-ed out.  Bye, bye booze, carbs, and cheese.  Bye, bye Diet Coke {sniffles}.  Hello, Greek yogurt, veggies, and fruit.  Hello, water and green tea.  And hello, Bridal Bootcamp!

I found this amazing FREE {!!} work-out on Real Beauty's website and I started today.  Well, actually, I am starting today.  I know day one is supposed to be a morning work-out, but since I'm already getting up at the crack of dawn to prepare for my commute, I figured the work-out gods would forgive me for doing this post-work day.  It's definitely a butt kicker; working out 5-6 days a week for the next 8 weeks.  And I'm planning on adding in some additional arm/back/shoulders/chest exercises, since those are the most ahem exposed areas in my wedding dress.

I am actually pretty jazzed about starting this program, if I can just stay motivated and accountable.  In an effort to remain accountable, I am actually going to bring back Fit Train Fridays as a way of checking in on how the program is going.  {I know, I know, I'm totally the girl who cried wolf weekly post series, but this time, I mean it!}  Anyone want to play along at home?  I'd love to have some virtual work-out buddies along for the ride!

29 August 2011

crazy

it has been a bizarre couple of days.  our weekend started with a friday night wedding of our dear friends. {p.s. i have an entire other post dedicated to the people who left terribly rude and cruel comments on this article.}  we'd been attached to our phones since wednesday, getting frequent updates as to where the wedding would be and when, since hurricane irene had other plans.  despite the fact that it was not the wedding they had been planning and dreaming about all year, it was a beautiful evening, with yummy food, great friends, and good times had by all!  congratulations to the happy couple!

the beau and i made it back to my parents' home by saturday evening, not only unscathed, but with a job offer for me.  my new job will begin in just over 2 weeks, a full 6 weeks and 1 day since we started our current arrangement of moi living at home with my parents and commuting 45 minutes each way to my job and the beau already living and working in our new city at his new job.  knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel is a huge relief and although i'm a little scared, and i'm very excited about this new opportunity.  and REALLY excited for the pup and i to be reunited with the beau.

and to top it all off, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous fall-like weather yesterday and take the pup for a hike.  about halfway up the mountain, i got attacked by a yellow jacket and was stung not once, not twice, but three times.  once on both legs and once on, wait for it, my bum.  let's just say everyone in the ranger's parking lot got quite a view of the beau rubbing green sting-relieving goo all over my bum while the pup sat in the back of the truck and watched.  awesome.

how was your weekend?  hope everyone stayed safe and dry!

26 August 2011

the look for less

on a recent episode of chelsea lately {LOVE her}, the darling anne hathaway was being interviewed and the only thing i could focus on was her shoes.



i'm about 99% positive they are the brian atwood maniac pumps in rose gold.

which are, unfortunately, a smidge out of my price range.  BUT!

check out these aldo bremseth pumps in bronze.  they are almost identical and are much more wallet-friendly.  me thinks these would look SUPER fierce with my wedding going out to bars afterwards going-away dress. 

happy friday!

25 August 2011

a dilemma



i can't believe that i am typing this, but i am seriously considering becoming a vegetarian.  {honey, if you're reading this, you should probably eat a lot of meat between now and mid-september.}

maybe not 100%, full time, all the time.  i'm not sure that i can pass up my birthday ribeye and the occasional slice of bacon.  but 99% of the time.  this is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind and conscience lately.  it's always something that i've wrestled with.  i consider myself an animal lover, probably more so than the average person, and it's always bothered me that i was eating animals.  but on the other hand, we're at the top of the food chain and bacon is so delicious.  but recent events have made me reconsider.  without getting too soapboxy, let me explain.

i now have a 45-minute commute each way to work.  and at least once a week on my way to work, i have to pass a tractor trailer that is stuffed to the gills with turkeys or chickens or pigs, presumably on their way to be slaughtered.  picture a tractor trailer and where the cargo load normally is {you know, the sides of the truck with the company logos, but you can't see inside}, it's all cages.  and i drive past these cages and see these animals that are clearly dirty and sick and miserable.  they are cramped together and they look terrified.  and every time i pass one, i cry and feel sick and miserable myself. 

i've cut back drastically recently on the amount of meat i'm eating, and i really don't miss it.  but that's easy to say in the summer when fresh produce is in abundance.  figuring out this veggie thing in other seasons concerns me.  so i'd love to know:  how many of you are veggies?  do you eat fish and eggs or no?  any GREAT recipes that are go-to's for you?

i could really use your help!

23 August 2011

an open letter to target

Dear Target,

  You have no idea how difficult it is for me to write this, but right now, you are THE WORST STORE on the planet.  You see, normally you are my happy place.  I can go in, get a big fountain diet coke, and spend hours browsing your wares.  Designer collaborations, inexpensive work-appropriate ensembles, charming stationary, a veritable treasure trove of beauty and personal care items, beautiful things for the home, and groceries.  All under one brightly lit roof!  So naturally, when it came time to set up our wedding registries, Target was one of the stores where we just had to register.

  Big. Freaking. Mistake.  Over the past few months, your registry "services" have been nothing but a headache.  

  Example One:  MULTIPLE times {as in, every single time}, items that I KNOW you have in stock in your stores show up as "online only" and/or "temporarily unavailable" and/or "out of stock".  Want to explain that to me?  How literally just days ago I added a bedspread and a blanket to our registry in a store where there were multiples of this item, not on sale, on your store shelves, yet magically now it is only available online and temporarily unavailable?  Approximately half of our registry shows items that are unavailable/out of stock/online only when I know this to be false.  FAIL.

  Example Two:  Your return policies are terrible.  You claim to have "no-fuss returns and exchanges – with or without a receipt – in store or by mail."  That is, in fact, a lie.  Because we received a gift that was purchased at Target, but without an accompanying receipt.  The item is not on our registry, hence the reason we want to return it.   It's not on the gift purchase log because the guest didn't indicate it was a gift for us.  So now we are stuck with a $200 item that we don't want.  I would love to "no-fuss exchange" it for a $200 item that is actually on our registry, and you would think that since we are directing our friends and family's business to your store, you would be a little forgiving here.  It's not our fault we don't have a receipt.  We didn't steal it.  We just don't want it.  I have not had this problem at our other registries. At all.

  Example Three:  Your new website doesn't seem to think I should be able to access my own registry.  I realize that with website upgrades, sometimes there are hiccups.  Really, I get it.  But when approximately 50% of the items I'm registered for need to be removed since they are allegedly unavailable {see example one}, I do need to know that when I log in with my name and password, you don't prompt me to create an entirely new registry.  And when I call your helpline and explain the issue, it would be nice if I got some help other than "log on again in 4-5 hours and see what happens."

  Example Four:  While you seem keen on updating my registry to tell me that um, EVERYTHING is no longer an option, you are in no rush to update the registry when people actually purchase gifts.  We are now more than two weeks removed from my first shower.  I received several gifts from our Target registry at said shower and those gifts are still just sitting there on the registry lists saying that no one has purchased them.  I know for a fact that the purchasers of said gifts gave the checkout person the registry to take the items off of the list.  So what gives?  Since I can't have 50% of the items, you'll just let people buy multiples of the other 50% and call it even?
 
  So in conclusion, I am seriously annoyed.  I really and genuinely love all the items we registered for at your store and it would thrill me if our guests were so generous as to purchase some of them for us.  But you apparently are doing everything in your power to get them to go to Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel.  Is that really what you want?  Get your registry act together.  You are seriously ruining my happy place for me.  And I need it to be happy again soon.  There's a pair of Missoni heels I've got my eye on...

Sincerely,
Me

22 August 2011

this weekend i...

*FINALLY got to eat at the red hen, a local restaurant i've been begging the beau to take me to for the better part of a year.  it did not disappoint.

*had my second bridal shower, given by two of my dearest friends in small town, va.  we had cupcakes, an assortment of stinky cheeses, and champagne {my three main food groups}.

*finished all of my thank-you notes from shower #1.

*called the cops on some redneck who left his sweet, eldery beagle locked in the car.  it was pushing 90 degrees.  people, there is absolutely no reason or excuse why you should EVER EVER leave your pet{s} in the car, even with the windows cracked. 

*had a nervous breakdown in the middle of sam's when i found out that we have to add almost $3000 to our catering budget.  this news does not jive well with my carefully planned budget. 

*loved on this sweet dude.  he always manages to cheer me up.

*the beau discovered my blogging secret.  if you're reading this, hi, honey!

what did you do?

19 August 2011

brother, can you spare a dime?

usually occasionally when i am perusing the interwebs for house pretties, i veer off course into the land of things that are a wee smidge out of budget range.  yesterday was one such day.  with all available funds being channeled into a new fall wardrobe the impending nuptials and carribean honeymoon, sadly i cannot spare a dime for any of the following items.  won't you take pity on me and send these my way?



god bless.

18 August 2011

pretty paper

our wedding is in 72 days.  isn't that crazy?!  although we have pretty much finalized everything, there are still lots of little details to take care of.  fortunately, some of those details involve an excuse to purchase beautiful paper products.  i could look at stationery all day long and lucky for me, my bridesmaids luncheon requires several pretty paper purchases {say that five times fast.}

first up, the invitations!  i am SO excited about this.  my family's favorite local restaurant has graciously agreed to open their doors to our little group during the day for a private event.  the chef has come up with an unbelievably delicious brunch menu.  croque mademoiselles {get it? because i'm not a madam yet?} and apple tart with bourbon caramel sauce are just two of the yummy delights he's going to whip up for us.  i spent hours browsing etsy looking for the perfect invitations and here are the ones i decided on:

bacon loves eggs card, courtesy of fuzzy grapefruit

i love that they're fun and quirky and kind of silly.  they've got the brunch thing going and the little hearts make it wedding weekend-appropriate.  the sweet and obliging fuzzy grapefruit owner, allison,  agreed to print the invitation information on the backside so that they're actually invitations, not greeting cards.

i'm planning on giving all my gals their gifts at the luncheon. i won't share what the gifts are just yet {i have a few sneaky bridesmaid readers}, but i will share some of the adorable thank you cards i've found for them.





i'm having trouble deciding on one. what do you think?

17 August 2011

what's cooking wednesday: the gwyneth edition

after a long weekend of dress fitting, crab picking, beer drinking, and job interviewing, the beau and i deserved a delicious, home-cooked meal on monday night.  since this was my first time cooking a meal in our new condo, i decided to bring out the big guns: my GP cookbook.  gwynnie never steers me wrong.

the high priestess of prep called to me with the perfectly summery recipes for chicken milanese with tomato and avocado salad and for fresh corn polenta.  while i find it nearly impossible to believe that she eats anything that has been fried or contains cream, this was darn good eatin'!  recipes for how to be fabulous and impossibly stylish in the kitchen below:

i lied.  THIS will be the last crappy crackberry pic.

gwyneth paltrow's chicken milanese
serves 4
4 skinless, free-range, organic boneless chicken breasts, washed and dried
1 cup milk
2 cups plain bread crumbs {japanese panko makes the crispiest crust} mixed with 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper and 1 teaspoon coarse salt

place the chicken breasts between two pieces of baking parchment paper. using a mallet {i use a rolling pin}, pound the chicken breasts until they’re very, very thin - you should be able to almost see through them- about 1/6-inch thick. put the milk in a shallow bowl and the bread crumbs on a large plate. dip each piece of chicken into the milk and then dredge it in the breadcrumbs, tapping off the excess. you should have a thin, even coating.


heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet big enough to hold 2 pieces of chicken in a single layer. cook for about 4 minutes on the first side, or until evenly browned and crisp. flip and cook for an additional 2 or 3 minutes, or until the other side is browned and crisp and the chicken is firm to the touch. wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and the remaining 2 pieces of chicken.

gwyneth paltrow's fresh corn polenta

4 cups water
1 cup polenta
kosher salt
kernels from one ear of fresh corn
pepper
chopped fresh chives
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
bring the water to a boil over medium heat and pour in the polenta. allow it to simmer until cooked as directed on the package. {i could only find instant polenta, but i still cooked mine for about 20-25 minutes. GP's recipe calls for cooking it for 40 minutes.} stir in the corn, milk, cream, salt and pepper and allow it to cook for 5 minutes. remove from heat and serve.

the avocado tomato salad was improved from gwynnies.  i mixed a cup of halved grape tomatoes with 1 diced avocado, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of one lemon, 1 tablespoon of basil, and salt and pepper to taste and spooned it over the chicken. easy peasy.

11 August 2011

weekend haul

between my first bridal shower and my birthday, this weekend was something akin to christmas.  i was completely overwhelmed by everyone's generosity.  i loved all of my wonderful gifts, but i thought i'd highlight a few of my favorites:




framed engagement photos from the beau
historical biographies {my true love} from the soon-to-be in-laws

a few pieces of my silver pattern from my college besties

a turkey fryer {this is the only thing the beau registered for and he is seriously pumped}
and a to-die-for tiffany's platter on which to serve our redneck fried turkey

and there are still 2 more showers to go!  i could get used to this whole making my williams-sonoma wishlist come true deal...

10 August 2011

what's cooking wednesdays: birthday decadence

i celebrated my birthday on sunday with all manner of food decadence.  a homemade brunch from my mom,  a sonic trinity lunch with the beau {hellllloooooo, cheeseburger, tots, and diet cherry limeade!}, and a fresh-from-the-garden eggplant parmesan.



but the piece de resistance was the homemade birthday cake my mom made.  yellow cake with chocolate buttercream.  oh yeah.  i don't have much of a sweet tooth and i have a crippling fear of store-bought frosting, but just like my granddaddy, a yellow cake + chocolate frosting combo gets me every time.  here's the recipe to bring people to their knees:

yellow cake
serves 12-16
3/4 cup butter, room temp
3 eggs, room temp
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk

preheat oven to 375 degrees.

butter and flour one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.  in a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.  in a mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  gradually add sugar, beating until well combined.  beat 2 minutes more.  add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  beat in vanilla.  alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed after each addition until just combined.  spread batter into prepared pan.  bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.  remove cake from pan and allow to cool thouroughly.

chocolate buttercream
3/4 cup butter, softenend
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
8 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla

in a very large mixing bowl, beat butter and cocoa powder with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. gradually beat in 2 cups powdered sugar until well combined. gradually beat in milk and vanilla until well combined. gradually beat in 6 cups powdered sugar. if necessary, beat in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach spreading consistency.

consider yourself warned: this stuff is highly addictive.  i took a container full of leftover cake to work yesterday.  as of this morning, this is all that remained:
hopefully the last crappy bb pic ever!

don't say i didn't warn you...

09 August 2011

welcome to the 21st century

this weekend was a present-bonanza {bridal shower recap to come}, but my birthday gift from my parents has been a long time coming. 
+


my new iphone is on its way to me, as is a j.crew leopard print cover {meow}.  my crackberry {both of them} and i have had a good run, but it's time to join the land of the phones that don't have horrible internet stylish.  so excited!  iphone uses {specifically, you verizon folks}, any tips for me?

07 August 2011

happy birthday!


joyeux anniversaire à moi!

today i can be found sleeping in, enjoying brunch, watching food network, and assembling a wishlist for next year's birthday gifts {just kidding}. {kind of}.  but no, really, today i just plan to relax and enjoy being with my favorite people.  hope you've all had a delightful weekend!

05 August 2011

my favorite holiday

this weekend is both my first bridal shower and my birthday {a.k.a. my favorite holiday}.  i'm so looking forward to celebrating both occasions with family, friends, good food and wine, and, in true leo fashion, getting some great new loot!


i'm off to grab a naughty {for my waistline} lunch at dickey's with the beau and then we have our only pre-marital counseling session.  after that, the beau has made dinner and dessert plans for us tonight, along with a hotel room reserved as part of my birthday celebration.  it's all a surprise, so i can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve.

what are y'all up to this weekend? can't wait to hear!

03 August 2011

what's cooking wednesdays

as i'm adjusting to living {temporarily} back under the same roof as my parents AND my younger sister again {hello, high school flashback}, i'm finding there are both negatives and positives.  example: not having any alone time, negative.  not paying for rent, utilities, or groceries, positive.  one positive that i am over the moon about is the abundance of yummy, fresh produce and herbs courtesy of my dad's huge garden and green thumb.  yesterday morning, my mom came in the house carrying a basket filled to the brim with beautiful cherry tomatoes and i knew the just thing to make.  ina garten never steers me wrong. never.

ina garten's capellini with tomatoes and basil
serves 6
½ cup good olive oil, plus extra for the pasta pot
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
4 pints small cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
18 large basil leaves, julienned
2 tablespoons chopped fresh curly parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ pound dried capellini or angel hair pasta
1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
extra chopped basil and grated Parmesan for serving

bring a large pot of water to a boil and add two tablespoons of salt and a splash of oil to the pot.

meanwhile, heat the ½ cup of olive oil in a large (12-inch) saut√© pan. add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds. add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, two teaspoons salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for five to seven minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften but don't break up.

while the tomatoes are cooking, add the capellini to the pot of boiling water and cook for two minutes, or according to the directions on the package. drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.

place the pasta in a large serving bowl, add the tomatoes and Parmesan, and toss well. add some of the pasta water if the pasta seems too dry. serve large bowls of pasta with extra basil sprinkled on top and a big bowl of extra Parmesan on the side.

and there you have it! summer in a bowl. 

bon appetit!

02 August 2011

it's true

everyone told me that once we got under the 100 days until the wedding mark, time would fly by.  and boy, were they right!  today marks 88 days until the big day, and i feel like there are a bazillion {that's a technical term} things left to do. 

this week is working as my beauty dress rehearsal of sorts.  today i'm having my highlights touched up and my eyebrows groomed.  tomorrow evening i'm doing a spray tan test run.  i would be lying if i said i wasn't having nightmares of anne hathaway a la bride wars. yikes.  have any of you spray tanned before? any advice?
saturday morning i'm doing a test run of my wedding make-up.  my first bridal shower is on saturday afternoon {so. excited.} and then a bunch of us are going out to dinner for my birthday, so i figure this will be a good way to see how long the make-up lasts and how well it photographs.  here are the pics i'm taking with me for the make-up artist to see:

just the kate hudson part






for the life of me, i have no idea where any of these are from. help, please.

so you can see i'm kind of going for a subtle look.  emphasis on the eyes, but not in a smoky, overdone kind of way.  pink lips.  a nice, healthy glow.  i just want to look like myself, only perfect.  not too much to ask, right? what do you think?

and even more exciting, i shipped my envelopes to our calligrapher this morning!  i can't wait to see the sample she sends for approval.  calligraphy was one thing i knew we would spend on and i just love the pretty, whimisal style of our calligrapher.  hard to believe that the invites will be in the mail in less than a month!

we also have our pre-marital counseling session this friday.  normally something i'm not sure i would be looking forward to, but since i come from a big family of ministers, my mom's sweet cousin is marrying us and i know he will make this a great and helpful experience for us.  plus it means lunch at dickey's! beef brisket and okra, here i come! never mind the fact that my first dress fitting is a week away...

01 August 2011

the good, the bad, the ugly

what a weekend! we were up before the sun on friday morning to wrap up a few last-minute packing and moving-related errands before the movers arrived.  they had the truck packed in less than 2 hours and we were unpacking at the new place by 12:30 that afternoon.  my mom arrived later that day {after the beau had ditched me for a business trip} and the future in-laws came on saturday and we worked, worked, worked.  inspired by mrs. perk, i bring you the good, the bad, the ugly: the moving edition

the good:

we have a dishwasher! laugh all you want to, this is huge for us.

we have a fireplace!  i am so excited to curl up on the couch with the {will be} hubs and the pup in front of a roaring fire this winter.  it almost makes me look forward to cold weather. 

we have a deck!  it's big enough to get a little table and chairs.  we're so looking forward to meals and post-work cocktails out here.

the bad:


the wallpaper. the horror. 

the top picture shows the guest bathroom wallpaper, which looks like something we had in our house in 1989.  what you can't see in the picture is that the border is actually peeling off and that the already-awful shower curtain has hooks that look like flowers and leaves. ick.  that was the first thing to go and is now replaced with a white cotton waffle-weave curtain and simple, brushed nickel hooks.

the bottom pick is in the dining nook.  what you can't see is the hideous border on top.  primitive farm scenes, again circa 1989.  i am seriously considering asking the landlord's permission to strip all of this ugliness.

the creepy neighbor.  no picture, but creepy.  i had the door open all day friday while the movers were in and out, and he just walked right on in and no, didn't introduce himself, but instead showed me how to break down cardboard boxes {couldn'tve figured that one out on my own} and told me where the dumpster was.  then when i went out to get groceries yesterday, he literally came out on his deck when i went outside, watched me get in the car, and drive away.  when i got home, again, he came out on the deck, watched me unload the car, and then carry everything upstairs.  ick.  the beau has been informed.

the ugly:

the condo itself is lovely, retro-awful wallpaper and weirdo neighbor aside.  great layout, tons of natural light, spacious rooms.  i love it.  but it was in DISGUSTING condition.  it's clear that neither the landlord nor the realtors did anything to clean it before we moved it. 

the previous tenants left quite a few personal items behind, to include:
*long, dark hairs all over the floors
*cat hairs that puffed out of the curtains whenever you vaccumed near them
*maxi pads
*an old bottle of soft scrub cleaning liquid that clearly was never used
*some seriously nasty toilets
*one unopened bottle of strawberry margarita/daquiri mix
*a sample of keratase bain oleo-relax shampoo {score}

it took my soon-to-be mother-in-law over an hour to scrub down the small guest bathroom because it was so icky.  the floors had to be swept, vacuumed, and/or mopped multiple times.  none of the windows had been cleaned, and the sliding glass doors were covered in grime because ummm...THEY WERE SMOKERS.  and let me show you all of the scuffs and patch jobs on the walls, which clearly haven't been painted in awhile:








nice, right?  did i mention the air conditioning and the oven weren't working when we got there? awesome.  the real estate agency is already tired of hearing from me.

we have to-do and to-buy lists a mile long, but it's liveable now.  i'm loving that we are less than 10 minutes from starbucks, target, chick-fil-a, sonic, sushi, a huge, lovely grocery store, and about a million other wonderful things.  now if i can just get myself gainfully employed and actually up there with the beau, we'll be all set!