30 August 2010

wonderful weekend!

the meeting of the grandparents was a smashing success.  thanks to y'all for your sweet well-wishes.  the beau was a huge hit with both grandmas.  the beau proclaimed my dad's mom "adorable" and requested that i be that way when i'm old.  here's hoping her cuteness is genetic.  he thought my mom's mom was very sweet and very southern and took great pleasure in mentally noting the number of times she said "bless your heart" {in between servings of her hot chicken salad and homemade rolls and making her promise to give me the recipes for both}.  he made friends with my grandmother's quirky husband, despite {or maybe because of} his wacky midwestern sense of humor, and charmed my grandmama's beloved dachsund, tinkerbell {that feat alone won him her undying adoration and approval}.  they both declared him a keeper {duh} and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy hearing their stories and eating their yummy homecooked meals.  we even managed to make it home with some killer flea-market finds: a gold glitter christmas tree for me and hamburger helper and orioles baseball t-shirts for him. 

and i need your help for this weekend! the beau and i are headed up to d.c. to go to the jimmy buffet concert {my first one!} with his parents and some other family members/friends of theirs.  i want to bring something {or maybe a few things} to contribute to the tailgate BUT they absolutely must be finger-food friendly, very portable {three hour drive from small town, va to the concert venue}, and very NON-perishable {a small cooler is all we've got in the way of refrigeration for the trip up and then they'll be sitting out in the sun for the tailgate all afternoon}.  i know a lot of you gals are tailgating-experts, so please please pretty please help a girl out and send me some suggestions! you can either leave a comment or e-mail me at scg2b {at} virginia {dot} edu.  merci beaucoup in advance!

one last thing, there are a lot of potential life-changes in the works for me right now.  i can't go into specifics just yet, but having this many big things up in the air stresses me out to know end, so please say a little prayer or cross your fingers or whatever works for you for me over the next few days!

the secret life of ceecee wilkes: belle on heels' response to chapters 21-35

1. do you think tim is the one sending the money?  i think it's either tim or naomi.  i'm almost more inclined to say it's naomi, because she really seemed to soften towards ceecee, but i think it's going to end up being tim.

2. so far, there's been a lot of discussion on ceecee/eve and her choices. what choice(s) would you make differently from her?  i think the most obvious would be to not help tim in the kidnapping.  then all of the other choices become moot points.  that aside, i think not turning herself and the baby into the police was a huge mistake.  i think the police would have seen her for what she was: a scared, naieve kid who got caught up in something she didn't understand.  sure, she would have had some punishment, but i think turning over the baby and being a witness against tim would have gone a long way. 

3. what do you like about jack? are there things about him that you don't like?  i think he is a good guy with a good heart who seems to be completely trustworthy, and that's what eve needs.  he doesn't seem to have any pretenses...what you see is what you get.  he also doesn't seem to judge her at all for her past decisions.  all of those things are great about him.  the one thing i don't like is that he seems a little too good to be true, like a character with very little depth.  he's handsome, he's happy all the time, he's patient, he loves eve, he loves cory, blah blah blah.  it would be nice if he showed a flaw or something!

4. what are the differences between ceecee/eve's relationship with tim and eve's relationship with jack?  she is much more guarded, more cautious, and certainly much more in control of her relationship with jack than of her relationship with tim.  she's older and also experienced and changed so much since she met tim, so in some ways, she is much more mature.  she is putting her and cory's happiness and well-being ahead of jack's, whereas in her relationship with tim, she put him above everything else.  this feels like a real relationship, one that grows slowly out of a place of mutual love and respect.  tim was just young starstruck "love" and lust.

5. do you think eve is to blame for cory's fears? what could she do, specifically, to help cory feel like less of an outsider?  i'm a big believer in nurture in the nature vs. nurture debate, so yes, i think eve is to blame.  i can see why she would raise her that way, as a result of her own fears, but not only does she teach cory to be overly cautious, but then validates her irrational fears to the point where cory is completely isolated not only from her family, but her entire peer group. i'm not sure i could point to one specific thing she could do to change things.  she should encourage cory to try and explore new things, even if they scare her, instead of coddling her whenever she is scared.  she should reassure cory that she is safe and it's ok to do different things.  In short, she should treat cory like she treats dru.  Putting her in a private school was a good step in the right direction.  So was encouraging her to try out for the play.

6. do you think eve appropriately answered cory's questions about her father? do you think cory will question her father more as she grows older?  i guess she answered them appropriately for covering up the truth.  that's a tough question!  i think cory will absolutely question her father more.  it's natural to want to know about where you came from and eve isn't giving her anything to go on.  she already feels like an outsider, so i think she obviously is going to assume she's more like her father and want to know more about him so she doesn't feel so strange.

27 August 2010

fall fashion: part deux and a half

good morning, chickadees, and happy friday!  two more little fall fashion bargain tidbits and then i'll let you hide your wallets come out of hiding for awhile. these two items can be found at american eagle, of all places.  ae was like totally THE place to shop in the 7th grade.  until abercrombie came to our mall in the 9th grade and took over.  anyhoo, loving the deals to be had on these two trendy bottoms!

and the denim jegging.  both on trend and both for the right price. i'm on these like white on rice!

big weekend for the beau and me as he is joining me on a trip to see both of my grandmothers.  he has never met either of them and they are both very special people in my life, so wish us luck.  i'm sure he will completely win them over with that smile of his and i feel certain they will win him over with the sheer amount of homecooked, southern food they will be shoving down his throat.  nevertheless, i think we're both a bit nervous since this is a pretty big step, so keep your fingers crossed for us!

bon weekend, my loves!

26 August 2010

fall fashion: part deux

continuing yesterday's theme of keeping both my wallet AND my closet happy, a selection of my fall favesies from a bargain shopping mecca: old navy.  old navy is always hit or miss for me; i either want one of everything or absolutely nothing.  looking like some really cute staple pieces this fall!

paired with boots and orange scarf, this pleated jersey dress will be perfect for football games.  go hoos!

i love old navy jeans and can't wait to try out their new denim leggings.

paired with the skinny cords below, this marled cable-knit poncho would be perfect for an afternoon of apple picking.

skinny cords. corduroy is to fall what seersucker is to summer.

love these tie-belt wrap cardigans with my j.crew minnie pants at the office and with leggings for the weekend.

shut. the front. door. faux fur vest is SO rac*hel z*oe.

colorful floral starburst scarves to pair with everything.

love this cable-knit wrap vest! i would pair it with a tissue turtleneck and trousers or a pencil skirt for work, and then with a basic tank and jeans for the weekend.

the beau has an obsession {major understatement} with his hometown team, so i'll be going to my first-ever pro-football game this fall.  since i've been informed that a purple sweaterdress with black leggings will not cut it for team spirit, this cute nfl t-shirt will have to do.

any fall pieces at old navy tickle your fancy?

25 August 2010

fall fashion: part un

my fall boden catalog today and there is so much yumminess inside i can hardly stand it! i ADORE fall clothing {in addition to fall food, fall weather, football season, pumpkin spice lattes, changing leaves...you get the picture}and i could literally spend my life in cashmere sweaters and tweed blazers and skinny jeans and boots if the weather allowed.  although then i'd have to give up sundresses and jack rogers and then where would we be?  but i digress...  in no particular order, here are my favesie faves from boden's fall 2010 collection:

the british tweed blazer in tan check

the soho jacket in grey melange

the saint germain jacket in black.  it's got a chanel blazer kind-of thing going for it, don't you think?

the relaxed casual skirt in every. single. color.

the jacquard wool mini in dove giant houndstooth

the sixties skirt in every. single. color.

the chelsea dress in alpine link geo and/or black

the roma dress in black and/or charcoal paisley

the pleated scoop neck sweater in as many colors as i can get my greedy little hands on.

sadly, i don't think my teeny little budget has a whole lot of wiggle room in the near future, but i'm keeping my fingers crossed that a few of these gorgeous, timeless pieces find their way into my closet soon.  all of these pieces would combine to make me one very happy girl in one-stop shopping, but stay tuned for tomorrow's selections from another fave!

23 August 2010

the secret life of ceecee wilkes: belle on heels' response to chapters 11-20

1. where do you think tim and marty are at this point in the story?  i think there is very little doubt that they've gone into hiding and have completely ditched ceecee.

2. what were your thoughts as ceecee was helping genevieve deliver her baby?  a combination of "OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!" and "this is definitely not going to end well for anyone."  also, how scary the childbirth process is!

3. after genevieve died, what would you have done with her baby if you had been in ceecee's shoes?  honestly, if i had been in ceecee's shoes, i probably would have done the same thing.  it's easy from the outside looking in to say, oh well i definitely would have done the right thing by turning myself if and the baby over to her family.  the police more than likely would have gone easy on her, since she could be a witness against tim and marty and she would be obviously young and in over her head.  but in the moment, in the complete shock and fear she must have been in, i think i probably would have done the exact same thing.  she really did have the best of intentions.  from the moment the baby was born, all she cared about was taking care of her.

4. why do you think ceecee/eve is still holding onto hope that tim will come for her? because it's too frightening to face the reality of what she did on her own.  if she knows that there is someone out there in the same position as her who loves her and is coming for her, then she is not alone.  if she accepts the fact that he's gone, then she is really and truly all alone in the world.  and who wants to face that reality?  then there's also the obvious fact that she was in love with him {or thought she was} and thought that he loved her too, and the realization that that trust has been broken is very painful.

5. how do you think eve will establish her new identity in virginia?  i hope that she is able to finally go to school since she is so smart and has always wanted an education, but i don't know how she can provide the paperwork to get into school since naomi and forrest got the faked ids and birth certificates for her.  if not, i think she'll establish her identity based on being corinne's mom and marianne's friend and build out relationships from there.

6. what do you think of ceecee/eve now after she has gone through with the kidnapping, the delivery of the baby, the escape, and the relocation?  it's strange, all i really feel for her is pity.  she is a smart girl capable of making smart decisions, and she chose to participate in the kidnapping not only of genevieve, but now of the baby.  she willingly helped cover up a murder, although it wasn't her first instinct.  and now she has fled to another state under a false name with a baby who doesn't belong to her.  i should probably dislike someone who has done so many terrible things, but all i can feel is sorry for her. bad case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time!  i am hopeful for her and the baby.

the secret life of ceecee wilkes: belle on heels' response to chapters 1-10

i know this is a week late, but i kept forgetting to go pick the book up from the library.  i picked it up on friday and had it finished by yesterday afternoon.  it really was that good!  here's my response to the first set of questions:

1. what was your first impression of tim?  too good to be true.  and 99% of the time, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  the thing that jumped out at me the most was the age difference.  what could a 22-year old graduate student possibly have in common with a 16-year old coffee shop waitress?  ceecee herself said she doesn't consider herself particularly attractive, so why is he going out of his way to seduce her?  and then his inability to clean up after himself?  ick! if he doesn't take care of himself, he's not going to take care of you.

2. if you were in ceecee’s position, would you be willing to help your boyfriend in the way that she is willing to help tim?  from my perspective, absolutely not.  i've always been a straight-laced, rule-follower oldest child and honestly, i wouldn't have been allowed to have a 22-year old boyfriend in the first place!  that said, ceecee was coming from a totally different place, so as terrible as it was, i can kind of see how she got swept away in everything.  at the end of the day, though, she knew that what he was planning was wrong and illegal and she went along with it anyways.  someone who truly loved you wouldn't ask that of you.

3. why do you think ceecee is so eager to please tim?  because she's young and desperate for love.  we all do stupid things when we're young and we all do things for love, but ceecee is even worse because she has been without love for so long.  she obviously has a huge heart and capacity to love, but hasn't been able to give that love to anyone since her mother died.  on the flipside, she has never had a man's love in her life.  now that she has it, she's is going to do anything she can to hold onto it.  and if i were in her shoes, i'm not sure that i could blame her.

4. who do you think has it harder? tim or ceecee?  ceecee.  don't get me wrong...they both have had a rough go of it.  but tim has been given opportunities and complicated though the relationships may be, he still has some of his family.  he also has financial security and an education.  ceecee has been given every excuse to fail and refuses to give up. 

5. what character trait(s) about ceecee stuck out the most to you in these first ten chapters? the one that stands out the most is her resilience.  she lost the only parent she knew to a horrible disease at a very young age, spent the next four years being bounced around foster homes, and barely missed out on a college scholarship, yet she seems remarkably well-adjusted and optimistic and not the slightest bit jaded or bitter.  to have experienced that much loss and lack of stability and still be so grounded and caring is very, very impressive.

6. do you think ceecee is as mature as she seems?  yes and no.  in many ways, she seems very wise beyond her years.  obviously very intelligent and she has been through more emotional trauma than many people experince in a lifetime.  she is disciplined enough to work hard, save money for college, and live basically on her own without getting into trouble.  for a 16-year old, those are all pretty unbelievable traits!  but on the other hand, her maturity in her relationship with tim is nonexistent.  she blurts out everything that comes to mind, believes that she is in love with him from day one, cleans up after him and his brother as well as cooks for them, and truly believes he wants to marry her.  a little extreme but, i mean, weren't we all immature and silly when we had our first teenage relationship?  it's certainly understandable.  but she is clearly in over her head in a relationship with someone so much older than her.  it's clear that she just doesn't grasp the depth of a lot of things.

20 August 2010

negative nancy

ok, really? i saw this on people magazine online and wanted to vom.  first of all, who cares if riha*nna wears leather jackets?  is this really only allowed by people who make rock music?  and why does ta*ylor mo*msen get a say in this? 

click image to enlarge or visit this link for the original

secondly, she is such a pretty girl. so why is she making herself look so dreadful? do we remember these?

the second and and last looks were always personal faves of mine

yes, i realize she is playing a character, but i'm just sayin'....

ugh...i get SO annoyed by grouchy celebrities trying to seem "gritty" and "real".  i'm sure your punk rock eyeliner is chanel and your cheap hooker-looking extensions costs thousands at a beverly hills salon, so spare us all the whole "i'm authentic" bit and put a smile on your face.  and perhaps consider investing in some shampoo and make-up remover.

kisses, moi

12 August 2010

beach bound

the beau and i packed up the truck last night and drove 'til the map turned blue.  we'll be here until sunday:

hope y'all have a swell weekend!

11 August 2010

what's cooking wednesdays

i have recently been so inspired by jocelyn t.'s raising foodies blog.  great goal, yummy recipes.  the beau had mentioned recently that he hadn't had nearly enough fresh, summer corn, so when she posted this recipe, i knew it had to be made.  then when i got my daily real simple e-mail with a recipe for cajun steak, we had a meal.  here's jocelyn's recipe for corn, jalapeno, and feta salad.  my suggetions/edits:  use one or two more ears of corn than she calls for. i added in fresh chopped basil as well.  and i used a goat's milk feta from westfield farm, a dairy i'm borderline obsessed with.  so, so good and SO easy! 

i used a flatiron steak, a cut i had never used before.  it was a wee bit tough, but in the steak's defense, i overcooked it by 2 minutes, so i will give it another go and see if it's any better when it's not that icky shade of grey in the middle.  i just kind of winged it with this.  i made a rub of garlic powder, lemon pepper, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, lime juice, and a little bit of salt and pepper.  it would have been good with a little brown sugar, but i was out.  i let it sit in the fridge for maybe 2 hours and cooked it for 8 minutes on my trusty ole george forman grill.  next time i will cook it for 6 minutes, tops.  the boy ate 75% of the steak, so obviously he didn't mind it a little chewy.  i will say that this flatiron steak was the perfect size for the two of us, so if you're looking for recipes for two, this is a good one.

this was a great, quick summer night meal.  two thumbs up from this belle.

bon appetit!

10 August 2010

hotel FAIL

so after a long day of waking up early, driving for 4 hours, walking around the aquarium and dealing with rude children and their ruder parents, we were ready to check in to our hotel room to shower, nap, and change before our dinner reservation.  we were staying at the hyatt regency baltimore, by all definitions a lovely hotel right on the inner harbor. 

first of all, check-out is 11am.  check-in time is not until 4pm.  5 full hours for them to clean and prepare hotel rooms for incoming guests.  4pm seems like a little late for a check-in time to me.  we arrive at the hotel a little after 3pm, hoping maybe we can get in a little early.  we wait in line. and we wait. and we wait. and we wait. at about 3:30, we're told that no rooms are ready yet because they're still cleaning.  ok, that's fair.  we were early.  they went ahead and registered us and took down our cell phone number and said they would call when ready. the lobby is jam-packed with other people waiting {we should have taken this as a bad sign when we walked in} as well as a massive family reunion.  we find a teeny corner of a couch to sit and wait on.  15 minutes go by and the beau is getting restless.  i suggest we move to the hotel bar.  this calms the beau down until he finds out his beer is 8 bucks. 

at this point, it's 4:15.  still no phone call.  the beau goes downstairs to investigate.  he returns a few minutes later looking angry.  still no rooms ready and no idea when any will be and there were other people there before us.  when did hotels become first-come, first-serve? isn't that the point of a reservation?  so we have now been at the hotel for over an hour.  it's 15 minutes past check-in time.  and we have an early dinner reservation.  we're realizing that there is zero chance of a shower and nap before dinner and this makes neither of us very happy.  another 15 minutes. no phone call.  so now i start to get angry.  and start calling other hotels.  bingo! the hampton inn has one non-smoking king size bed room left and they're willing to give it to us for a steal.  i tell the sweet gal on the phone i will call her right back.

at this point it is 10 til 5.  that's right...almost 2 hours at the hotel.  no hotel room.  even though it's almost an hour past check-in time and the beau made reservations two weeks ago. we decide we are going back downstairs and they are either going to give us room keys or we are going to do everything we can to get our money back and head over to the hampton inn.  so we get in line and we wait...and we wait...and we wait.  and we overhear one of the gals working at the front desk say that they've double-booked some of the rooms.  not sure how that happens.  we finally get up to the desk to a gal who hasn't seen us yet.  we tell her our situation.  she smiles, asks our name, and hands us two room keys. and validates our parking. finally. someone who is competent.

our room is lovely.  big, comfy bed, pretty bathroom with large all-glass shower and yummy smelling bath products, etc.  unfortunately by the time we get to our room, we're already 10 minutes late for our dinner reservation. so no time to make use of the shower or bed.  awesome. 

and then when we tried to check out the next morning, all of the express check-out kiosks were broken. back in line we go.  and end up being late for breakfast with his family.  hyatt regency baltimore FAIL.

moral of the story? if you can actually get to your room, it will be quite nice.  but we were in agreement that for what the beau paid, we should have been able to get into our room anytime after check-in time.  it should have been a lot easier to check out.  and the ranch dressing that came with the midnight room service buffalo wings could have been a lot better.

things i am loving today

can't you just almost smell the lavender?  one of my favorite smells from one of my most favorite websites.

these adorable sandals i picked up this weekend, courtesy of a tip from my sweet bloggy friend annabel manners. less than ten bucks and tres chic!

this sweet story out of colorado.  love a good rescue tale and even better for breaking down the pit bull stereotype.  i hope those dogs got some treats and a good belly rub!

the movie inception.  the beau and i went to see this last week and it was absolutely mind-blowing. literally can't stop thinking about it!

the new fall lines from lands' end canvas, l.l. bean signature, and boden.  preppy classics never go out of style. and three cheers for fall fashion!  hoping i'm up to the ongoing challenge of paying off my credit card debt in the face of cute sweaters and boots.

easy-to-make french bistro recipes like this, this, and this so i can recreate my favorite cuisine in my own little kitchen.

these darling earrings via etsy seller jewelstreet in my state's flower.

what are you grooving on today?

09 August 2010

best weekend a gal could ask for

thank y'all for your sweet birthday wishes!  general consensus seems to be that the month long celebration is A-OK.  even the beau conceded a little on that this weekend.

what a way to ring in 25!  friday night i made a yummy dinner of cajun steak and corn, jalapeno, and feta salad {recipes to follow on wednesday}.  my little sister stopped by on her way to our see our parents and FINALLY got to meet the beau, as well as taking the puppy boy with her so he didn't have to stay in the kennel while we were gone.  we headed to the last of our local outdoor concert series {major sadface.  it's one of my favorite parts of summer in small town, va}, which inevitably ends up meaning i spend the night drinking bud light lime with my girls and discussing celebrity gossip and various life goings-on while the boys drink any and all beers available and talk about sports.  we all headed to a local watering hole after where i got a birthday treat: fried pickles with ranch dressing to dip.  if you have never had fried pickles, you are totally missing out.  they beat a birthday cake any day.  we turned in by 11 because we had to be up and at 'em to hit the road early the next morning.

y'all....the beau outdid himself.  i am so blessed to have him in my life.  he took me to the national aquarium, where despite the INSANE amount of people and rude, rude, rude children {do parents not teach their children any consideration for other people anymore?!?!}, we had a blast.  i love turtles and there were about a zillion different kinds there.  the beau bought me a beautiful glass sea turtle christmas ornament as a keepsake.

we had a bit of a nightmare trying to actually get in to our hotel room {that story is coming tomorrow. i feel it's my duty to make sure none of you EVER book a room at this place}, but they did upgrade us for our troubles and our room had a wall of all windows {complete with a beautiful window seat} overlooking the inner harbor and the baltimore skyline.  while i was taking in the view, the beau snuck up behind me and put a small box in my hand.  inside were the sweetest little diamond earrings.  they're just tee-tiny things, but they're so beautiful and he was so proud of himself.  i put them on immediately and haven't taken them off since.  loved hearing him telling the tale of buying them...the first time he has ever purchased jewelry.  hysterical.  i couldn't love them more.

we had a seriously decadent dinner at a restaurant in little italy.  the waiter treated us to cheesecake on the house in honor of my birthday and we split a bottle of sparkling wine.  we didn't talk most of dinner because there was a huge family sitting behind us and they all had crazy thick baltimore accents that had us in giggles.  if you've never heard a baltimore accent, think john travolta in hairspray.  they're hilarious.  we wrapped up the night at an irish pub watching the orioles game with one of his best friends from high school and his girlfriend.  and midnight room service of french fries while we watched shark week.

i think the beau said it best...we fell in love with each other even more this weekend.  it was the first real trip we've taken as just the two of us, and it was just so much fun...looking at neon blue amazon tree frogs, watching old guys play bocce in little italy, laughing at high school stories, and just rocking out to music on the drive. love that boy so much.

hope your weekends were as wonderful as mine!

06 August 2010

a whole quarter

eek!! tomorrow is my 25th birthday.  crazies!  i love birthdays and am {obviously} guilty of self-promotion.  i'm also a big proponent of birthday months.  such as...i am celebrating my b-day in town tonight at our last outdoor summer concert series and then on to bars {which in our small town is actually "on to bar." but no matter.}.  tomorrow the beau is whisking me off to the aquarium in his hometown {i friggin major pink puffy heart LOVE aquariums.  and this one has lots of turtles.  i am giddy.} and then on to dinner at a romantic little hole-in-the-wall italian restaurant and then on to big-city bars and then onto a lovely hotel overlooking the water.  tres, tres excited.  monday night will be birthday dinner at a favorite restaurant with my parents, followed by abbeycakes {yummers!!} and the following week is hibachi dinner with all of my gal pals and any applicable significant others here in town.  and more than likely, my grandmothers will insist on making cakes when i visit them at the end of the month.  i'm loving all of these upcoming celebrations, and i have a sneaky feeling that 25 is going to be a banner year.  24 was not my best go 'round, although some wonderful things came out of it to usher me into the next quarter-century.

the beau thinks this whole celebrating all month long is a total crock, but i kind of love it.  what about y'all?  birthday is a day only or a state of mind all month long?

bon weekend!