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Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekly Eats: Dine-in / Dine-out

Not a lot of cooking happened this week. Between Aaron having Parent Teacher Conferences and us going to the World Series, we were only able to squeeze in two home-cooked dinners this week. I love to cook, but it is nice to get a little break every now and again.

Can you tell which meals I tried to quickly photograph before a hungry little boy ran out of patience? Yikes. Food blogger I'm not. 

1. Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta from The Pioneer Woman. This was another one that I made years ago and loved, but this time around it wasn't quite as successful. I'm almost positive that the amount of lemon juice I used is to blame. I must have gone a bit squeeze-happy, because holy lemon juice! it was strong. My second mistake: leaving out the fresh basil. There's just no substitute for that. 

2. Chili Garlic Beef Stir Fry from How Sweet it is. Oh hey, another stir fry! I never make those, right? This smoked up our house like crazy (I think it was the brown sugar) but boy was it good. The beef had so much flavor, and I didn't even marinate it for long. 

3. Over the weekend Aaron and I had a date night. We went to Coco Bolos, a restaurant that recently opened in the Kansas City area. We have been wanting to try it because the original Coco Bolos is a restaurant we went to when we lived in Manhattan, KS, where we went to college. The menu is similar to that one, but not the same. 

We both thought the food was good, but I think the original (at least what I remember) is better. I ordered 3 tacos: battered tilapia, braised pork and grilled steak. The pork and steak were okay, but the flavors were almost overwhelming. However, the tilapia taco was delicious--a perfect balance of crispy battered fish, crunchy slaw and spicy sauce. I'd order 3 of those next time. Honorable mention: their drunken pinto beans. They're cooked in a little tequila, which made them different than my usual Mexican restaurant order of whole beans. The tequila flavor was subtle, but it was enough to make them interesting. 

If you're in the area and interested in checking it out, the fish tacos and drunken beans are worth a try! I'd skip the queso (nothing special) and the sangria (way too sweet) though. 

Have you tried any fun new restaurants or recipes this week? 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Filling Holes: A Winter Wishlist

I'm not even two full months into this capsule wardrobe and I admit I'm already thinking about the next one. I've learned a lot by having a smaller wardrobe this season, and I'm still pretty happy with my choices. However, I can't help thinking about holes I'd like to fill when I begin to transition to a winter capsule in December. Here are a few things on my wishlist right now.

Clockwise from top left: 

1. Brown leather booties. My taupe suede booties from Target are nearing the end of their little, much-worn lives, I fear. Now that I know just how much I rely on ankle boots in the fall and winter, I think an upgrade is in store. 

2. Black skinny pants. I considered buying a pair of black skinny pants for my fall capsule, but I didn't find a pair I liked. I'm still thinking about them though, which means I ought to at least try again to find the right pair for the next go-round. 

3. Print sweater. I have two neutral sweaters in my collection right now, but I need at least one more pullover sweater for the cold weather. I like the idea of a sweater in a neutral color but with an interesting print. 

4. Bold colored coat. Although I'm (still) drawn to a lot of neutrals lately, I'd love to have a bold, bright coat to keep me warm this winter. I've had the same tired gray pea-coat for several years, and it's starting to fall apart, literally. With the winters we've been having lately, this won't be an item I skip out on this year. 

5. Striped long sleeve dress. You know me and striped dresses. The one I've been wearing for what feels like forever is still in surprisingly great shape, but it's not always my favorite for layering in the cooler months. Its waist is a little higher than my natural waist, which makes adding a sweater and a belt a bit of a challenge. For winter, I'd ideally like a striped dress with sleeves and a waistline that isn't too defined. I can do the defining myself with the help of a belt. 

What's on your wishlist right now?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Circle Linkup: Book Report

Although I have less time to read than I used to, sitting down with a good book is still one of my favorite activities. Today I'm linking up to The Circle at In Its Time, where Anne of In Residence (who always has great book reviews) is co-hosting.

1. What's your favorite book of the year? I've done a terrible job lately at keeping track of what I read, so unless I document it somehow, I tend to forget most books quickly. However, one fairly recent read stands out in my mind, and that's The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I've read several good books this year, but this one made the biggest impact.

2. What are you reading right now? I'm a little over halfway through The End of Manners by Francesca Marciano. It's about Maria, a reserved young photographer who reluctantly accepts an assignment in Afghanistan. She joins Imo, a boisterous, confident journalist who is writing a story about women who attempt suicide to escape a forced marriage. I'm enjoying it so far. I like that the story didn't begin in Afghanistan, instead, Maria starts the story as a food photographer. I think the contrast of these two vastly different lives makes the story even better. 

3. What book did you just finish? Before The End of Manners I read To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. If you're looking for a fun read, I'd recommend this YA novel. Lara Jean writes a letter to every boy she's fallen for. The letters are meant to be secret, it's her way of moving on, but mysteriously all her letters get mailed. The premise sounds a little silly, but it was well-written and worth the read. 

 4. What are you reading next? I don't have one lined up just yet, but I do have a hold at my library on The Rosie Project, which I've heard a lot about this year. It may be a while before I read it though, as I'm number 102 in the queue. 

5. What was your favorite book as a kid? Oh my goodness, what wasn't my favorite book as a kid? I loved Dr. Seuss. Fox in Socks was a favorite. And The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Oh and McElligot's Pool. I also loved Lyle the Crocodile (and just found that one at Goodwill for Jona!) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. As I got older and started to read chapter books, I had quite a few favorites. Harriet the Spy, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Babysitters Club series. I loved Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends too. I also went through a stage where I was fascinated with Native Americans and wanted to read as much as I could about them. Oh, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder series! I could probably go on all day about all the books I read and loved as a child, but I'll stop here. 

6. What book would you take on a deserted island? I know I'm being completely unoriginal here, but it's a toss-up between The Bible and some sort of survival handbook. Knowing my outdoor skills, I can almost hear God telling me not to kid myself and definitely take the handbook unless I want a live, in-person Bible reading.

What are you reading right now?  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lovely Light Layers

I'm having a hard time concentrating on anything today, because all I can think about is where I'll be at approximately 7:07pm tonight. Along with my dad, Aaron and I will be at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City cheering on the Royals for Game 1 of the World Series!! I'd say look for me on TV, but I'll be way up in the stands, almost as far up as you can go. Despite the ridiculous prices (even for our far-away seats) Aaron and I decided that we had to go. Christmas in October anyone? 

On a non-baseball note, dressing in layers is one of the best things about fall. Today I have one of my favorite layers, this cargo vest. It's perfect for the kind of weather we've been having, adding just the right amount of warmth in the cool morning, but not adding too much bulk for the warm afternoon. I know soon enough it will be time to break out the heavy jackets and gloves, but for now I'm embracing the lighter side of layers. 

To me, fall and spring are the most fun, wardrobe-wise. What's your favorite season for getting dressed?

Polka dot chambray: J.Crew Factory (similar) / cargo vest: Old Navy (similar) / navy cords: Gap / leopard flats: Dr. Scholl's via DSW

Linking up my "Lovely Layers" with The Creative Closet

Monday, October 20, 2014

Navy Print Sweater 2 Ways

So far this fall, I've been gravitating towards comfort more than anything else. I'm starting to think I should have added more pants and fewer pencil skirts to my fall capsule, but who knows what the next month or so will bring. This navy print cardigan adds some comfort and coziness to any look. I wore it on Friday with a simple gray tee and skinny jeans, and also last winter with a striped blouse and red pants.

What style have you been drawn to lately? 

The Inspiration Monday picture at Two Birds inspired my look; since most of the elements are neutrals, I added red flats for some color. Something about this sweater makes me want to pair it with red I guess. 

Sweater: Loft (similar style) / gray t-shirt: Target (similar) / skinny jeans: Gap / necklace: Etsy / red flats: Gap Outlet (similar)

Linking up to Inspiration Monday and Mix it Mondays

Friday, October 17, 2014

Weekly Eats: Reliable Recipes and Curve-balls

Each week when I'm planning my menu, I try to find recipes I know we will like (or recipes that we already know we like) and then throw in at least one curve-ball recipe. This week my curve-ball was butternut squash soup, but even if that one wasn't a hit (which it was, at least for Aaron) I knew my boys would be happy with things like roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and buffalo chicken pizza. 

Clockwise from top right: 

1. Parmesan Garlic Chicken from Iowa Girl Eats with mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. Aaron actually made the chicken, and it turned out perfectly! It's coated in an olive oil-garlic-parmesan paste and roasted in the oven. I used bone-in chicken breasts, and cooked them for a little longer than the recipe (which uses boneless chicken) suggests.  No gamble here, I knew it would be a winner.

2. Smoked Gruyere Butternut Soup with Spicy Chickpeas from How Sweet it is. I've been wanting to try this recipe since I came across it a few weeks ago. I'm always looking for new ways to prepare vegetables, since they're not always a household favorite. Putting butternut squash into a soup and adding cheese (I used aged cheddar instead) and crispy chickpeas, well, how can you go wrong with that? 

3. Buffalo Chicken Flat-bread Pizza from Tasty Kitchen. For this recipe, I shredded leftover roasted chicken from earlier in the week. This was so easy to throw together--just melt butter and hot sauce for the "pizza sauce" and top with chicken and monterey jack cheese. Chicken wings meet pizza...yum.

Not pictured, but worth mentioning: Tex Mex Meatballs in a Chipotle-Tomato Sauce from Homesick Texan. What is it with me and not remembering to photograph meatballs? Maybe I just love them so much I can't wait to dive in. Anyway, these were delicious, and they even have some sneaky zucchini in there! Jona didn't even try to feed this one to Ellie, which is saying something nowadays. (We've entered the picky/stubborn/I'd-rather-play-with-my-food-than-eat-it stage, I'm afraid.)

What's for dinner for you tonight? 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Easy Pumpkin Project

Like I mentioned yesterday, I'm always late (or a no-show) to the Halloween decorating game. This year I decided to get crafty so I could at least have a Halloween-ready table. When I saw this cute Boo Pumpkins project at Six Sisters' Stuff and then saw how easy it was to make, I was sold. 

Since we were at the pumpkin patch this weekend anyway, I grabbed a few small ones for this project. Unfortunately, all the small pumpkins were still green, so they look a bit like watermelons with weird stems. These Pumpkin-melons got a Halloween makeover with B-O-O spelled out using gold brad fasteners and orange plaid ribbon bows. I have to say, even with non-pumkiny-pumpkins, I love how this DIY turned out! If you need a fast, easy Halloween project, this is a good one. 

I'm linking up to In Residence for the Pin to Present linkup. Be sure to check out what other bloggers are pinning and doing!

And on a completely unrelated note...HOLY MOLY WE'RE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!! This is unreal, people.