Monthly Archives: January 2015

Best Of: Valentine’s Day Decor

So, Valentine’s Day is coming up in a few weeks. I love it, but not for the typical reasons – we don’t plan some huge date night or get each other heart-shaped boxes of chocolate or anything like that. I feel like if you need a holiday as an excuse to eat chocolate and do nice things for your significant other, you probably need to evaluate your life. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, if a stupid holiday gives you so much rage about being single that you have to flood everybody’s social media feeds with anti-Valentine’s Day posts, you probably need to relax a little. Have a drink and celebrate the fact that you don’t have to shave your legs on a regular basis.

I mostly love Valentine’s Day because I can’t resist a good cheesy holiday celebration. I’m the dork who wears pink and red and bakes treats to bring to the office every February 14.  I think I get it from my mom – in her world, no holiday is too small to celebrate. Every February she would decorate our house with hearts and set out festive foil-wrapped chocolates, and on Valentine’s Day we’d wake up to little boxes of See’s candy and pink heart-shaped pancakes. I haven’t really decorated my home for Valentine’s Day as an adult, but this stuff is making me want to start:

Valentine collageOne | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven

I actually think most of this stuff could be left out year-round (except for maybe the heart-print dish towel). Do you decorate for Valentine’s day?

January Playlist

When I was in college, I developed an addiction to creating monthly playlists. I’d scour shady file sharing sites for cool songs and then burn them to CDs for my roommates, because that’s what we did back in 2006 when dinosaurs roamed the earth and One Direction hadn’t been foisted upon our eardrums and America’s Next Top Model was the best thing on television.

It was the best of times. Also, I’m old.

Anyway, I recently became the last person in the world to start using Spotify, and it’s rekindled my obsession with creating monthly playlists. I thought it would be fun to start posting them here, since it would be difficult to send each of you a CD every month. Although I totally want to.

Here’s this month’s playlist (hover your mouse to the right of the tracks to scroll – there’s 15 songs):

There’s kind of a lot of moody stuff on there, but that’s what happens it’s the middle of the winter and you work in a remote schoolhouse that’s encased in freezing fog all day, every day. (It’s safe to say that I’m ready for spring.) What are you listening to this month?

10 Valentine Cards That Don’t Suck

You guys, I had a breakthrough this weekend: I’ve been in the wrong business all my life.

Let me back up a bit. The scene: Dave and I were at Rite-Aid 10 minutes before a birthday party, trying to find a card that didn’t play Brick House upon opening or feature animals making poop jokes. (“Your gift is in the litter box HAR HAR!”) We finally pick the least stupid card of the bunch, get to the register, and it rings up for $7.99.

Things I’m OK paying $8 for:

– My monthly Netflix subscription
– A bottle of nail polish that will last me six months or more
– 8 songs on iTunes that will live on my iPod forever
– A pound of coffee to get me through a month of early mornings

Things I’m not OK paying $8 for:

– A greeting card that reads like the author suffered a serious head injury minutes before penning it, which will be read once and then thrown directly into the trash

Has anyone seen my shit? Because I lost it right there in the Rite Aid lobby. Clearly I missed my calling to become a greeting card author. With more than three functioning brain cells, I figure I have a leg up on the competition.

Anyway. Valentine’s Day is coming up, and if you buy your loved one a card from the drugstore there is a very good chance he or she will lose all respect for you and leave you immediately. I don’t want this to happen to you, so here are 10 non-stupid options that you can order online and present to your lover with pride this February 14:

Chop Chop

A while back I got the urge to chop my long hair off, but at the same time I was afraid of the dreaded fat-face that short hair tends to bring out if you have full cheeks. Or, as I like to call it, the Bridget Jones effect:

Bridget Jones

Don’t get me wrong – I love me some Bridg – but girlfriend could have benefited from some long layers.

I was all ready to chicken out like I always do when I get the urge to cut my hair, but then I saw this cut on Pinterest:

Inverted lob

Help! I can’t find a source.

It was kind of perfect: short in the back to cut down blow drying time, long in the front to keep me from looking like I’m squirreling nuts away for the winter in my cheeks, and not so extreme that it could be mistaken for the “can I speak to a manager cut.” (<— So true, yes?) After much hemming and hawing and incessant badgering of my friends and family members, I decided to go for it. Here are the before/afters:

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 6.04.51 PM Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 6.11.14 PMLately I’ve been using a 1.5″ curling iron to add a little wave, like so:

Short_wavy

Hair_Back_View

Clearly I’ve made major headway on my new year’s resolution to improve my photography skills.

So here’s the conundrum: I have a hair appointment next week, and I’m waffling between trying to grow it out again and keeping my current cut.  (I know, my brain is clearly full of deep thoughts if this is what’s keeping me up at night.) While I love my new, shorter hair, I also miss doing this:

Lucy Liu

Help! What should I do?

Best Buys of 2014

Best Buys of 2014So, I did quite a bit of shopping in 2014. I know, shocking. Below are some of my favorite purchases of the year, with links so that you can buy them too. So really, you might say that all that shopping was a selfless act to benefit my blog readers. YOU’RE WELCOME. (Heads up: some of these are affiliate links, so Google the product name instead if that bugs you!)

1. Old Navy The Rockstar Mid-Rise Super Skinny Black Jeans

Black skinny jeansConfession: I used to be super snobby about Old Navy jeans. I tried to love them back in 2006 when I was a poor college student, but even the super affordable price tag didn’t make up for the frumpy fit and cheap quality. Fast forward to a few months ago: I was hanging out with my sister, and she was wearing some really cute black skinnies. I asked where she got them, and she told me Old Navy. Naturally, I had to try some on, and I was sold – the slight stretch makes them super comfortable, and the mid-rise allows me to eat as much cheese dip as I want with nary a muffin top in sight. Good on you, Old Navy.

2. LOFT French Terry Zip Sweatshirt Jacket

Loft jacketThis jacket is magical – you look pulled together, but feel like you’re wearing a sweatshirt. (So basically it’s a work-appropriate version of Pajama Jeans.) On the weekends I often wear it with the black skinnies mentioned above, and on weekdays I’ll  throw it over my work dresses instead of a blazer. Boom. Stylish, easy, and comfortable.

3. Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue Cheese

Oregon Blue2014 will go down in history as the year I learned to like blue cheese. I’ve always thought I hated the stuff, and it wasn’t until I tried Rogue Creamery’s Oregon Blue that I realized not all blue cheese has to taste like crusty gym socks. Go figure. This stuff is super mild and buttery, and every time I’m at the creamery I pretty much eat an entire wheel in free samples. I’m honestly kind of shocked that they haven’t posted my picture with a DO NOT SERVE sign behind the counter.

4. Threshold Seersucker Comforter Set

White comforterI love me some crisp, white bedding, and I looked at comforters for months before settling on this set from Target. Between my habit of drinking coffee in bed and the fact that the cat likes to be all up in our grills when we’re sleeping, I was kind of afraid that it wouldn’t hold up well. Turns out, it washes up nicely and still looks nice and new almost a year later. Plus, it’s currently on sale for 30% off!

5. Converse ‘Shoreline’ Sneakers

Converse ShorelineI’ve been a lifelong lover of Converse, and the new Shorelines are the best. It’s amazing how some slight modifications make them so much better – I used to avoid wearing mine with crops or skirts due to the dreaded clown-feet look, but these look awesome with both. They’re the perfect classic, casual sneaker and I think everyone should have at least one pair.

6. Anthropologie Inside Out Bowls

Anthro bowlsI have several of these scattered throughout the house to catch all the clutter that randomly accumulates throughout the day: car keys, earrings, bobby pins, etc. I suppose it would be cheaper to just stop being a slob, but then I wouldn’t have an excuse to keep buying cute little bowls.

7. Slow Cooker Liners

Slow cooker linersMaybe everyone else already knows about these and I was the last person to find out, but OH MY GOD, do they make life easier if you use a Crock Pot often.

8. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Color

Insta DriI have a really hard time sitting still while waiting for my nails to dry, so I picked up a bottle of this stuff at Rite Aid one day on a whim. This is now my new favorite polish; I even like it better than Essie (gasp!). It dries within a minute, and I never get those little air bubbles that always seem to form when I do my nails at home.

9. Elephant Wall-Mounted Bottle Opener

Elephant Bottle OpenerNo beer-lover’s home is complete without a wall-mounted bottle opener, and this whimsical little elephant makes me feel a little less bad about cracking open a second bottle on a weeknight.

10. Sugar Paper 2015 Daily Planner

Sugar Paper PlannerFor years I’ve used my Google Calendar to run my life, but I forgot how good it feels to cross things off a list. This sucker is big (8.5×11″), which means you have plenty of space to lay out your daily tasks. Plus, it’s pretty.

My wish list for 2015 involves some bigger ticket items – a new dining set and landscaping, for starters – so my plan is to nix the impulse buys a bit this year. What’s your favorite thing you bought in 2014?

Zoodle Mania

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really do new year’s resolutions, but I have to admit that I plan to make an effort to eat more vegetables this year. I don’t eat horribly by any means, but turning 30 last summer made me realize that now’s probably the time to start doing all that awful crap that magazines say will keep you looking young forever.

Dark leafy greens. Night cream. Pilates. Ritual animal sacrifices.

Apparently a veggie-rich diet helps your skin glow, so I figure if I eat enough zucchini I should resemble Emma Stone by Valentine’s Day. To kick-start my efforts I picked up a little spiralizer called The Vegetti at Bed Bath and Beyond, because let’s be honest: if something looks like a noodle, I will eat it. Even if it’s zucchini.

Vegetti

Just like regular noodles, in that they would taste better covered in cheese sauce with a side of garlic bread.

I then scoured the internets for some veggie-noodle recipes, and landed on Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles from SkinnyTaste. Verdict? Amazing.

Zoodle bowl

I won’t pretend to love it as much as the greasy slop I get from my local Chinese restaurant (mmm, mystery meat and MSG), but the sauce tasted super authentic, and a huge heaping serving is fewer than 400 calories. Dave loved it too, and he’s usually a zucchini-hater. I think next time I’ll throw in some water chestnuts for a little extra crunch.

I definitely plan to make veggie noodles a staple from now on – if you have any good recipes, let me know in the comments! (I think they’d be really good covered in this sauce!)

My Favorite Healthy Pinned Recipes

Before I dive in with my favorite healthy recipes I’ve pinned, I have to ask: is Pinterest still happening, or at this point is it only yoga-pants wearing women age 18-35 looking at fitspo pics while crying into pans of slutty brownies? Actually, don’t answer that: I don’t care. I still like it. Make fun of me if you want, but if I ever win the lottery, I know EXACTLY how I’m going to decorate my 2,000-square foot kitchen that I’ll use exclusively to make mac and cheese.

Anyway, since this is the time of year when most of us are all, “Maybe I should counteract the last two months of gluttony by eating healthy for a week,” here are some healthy recipes you should consider making. I’ve made each of these over and over because they’re so delicious and easy. Click the photo to get to my Pinterest board, and the source link to get to the recipe:

Source Crispy Orange Chicken Quinoa Bowls

Source Crispy Orange Chicken Quinoa Bowls (Note: Cut the Sriracha in half and don’t add the red pepper flakes if you don’t like spice!)

Source Cilantro lime skirt steak with chimichurri sauce

Source Cilantro Lime Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Source Paleo pad thai

Source Paleo Pad Thai

Source Cauliflower crust pizza

Source Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Source Barbecue Chicken Quinoa Bowls

Source Barbecue Chicken Quinoa Bowls

Source Veggie alfredo lasagna

Source Veggie Alfredo Lasagna

Dave and I have been battling the plague for most of 2015, so we haven’t really gotten around to cooking very much yet. The good news: I think I’ve lost all the holiday weight I gained. The bad news: I’m pretty sure eating only ramen and Christmas candy isn’t healthy, even if you can lose weight on it. I hope you’ll try some of these!