But Baby it's Cold Outside

Whooeee! Kansas sure did get a little taste of winter today. And I'll tell you what: it was bitter. Christmas is the only thing that gets me through this season--otherwise, I'd be crabby all the way from December to early March. With Christmas, I don't start to get really pissed until January. But the prospect of a snow day turns my mood promptly around, that's for sure! It actually started snowing this morning (just a teeny, tiny bit) and my students were freaking out. It's quite a challenge to get first year French students to focus on regular -er verbs when there are snowflakes in the air. Their brains immediately jump to: "If it snows a lot, will we get to go home?" Yes, they're going to send everyone home because of 13 snowflakes. 

I have to admit though, I felt the same way when I was in high school (and even in college... and let's face it even now). The only redeeming quality of the end of the fall/beginning of the spring semesters was the possibility of a day to stay at home and do nothing. Or, in my case, face the elements to hang out with my best friend. Although I don't think we'll be getting any snow days anytime soon, I still have high hopes for January.

Cardigan: Loft Outlet; blouse: Elle, thrifted; pants: Gap (I seriously wish I would have bought a pair of these in every color--I love these pants!); seriously over-worn belt; Loft; boots: St. Johns' Bay, JCPenney

Song: Baby it's Cold Outside by Dean Martin (Although I happen to love the Rod Stewart/Dolly Parton version myself.)

I'm So Tired

Did anyone else have trouble getting up this morning? Due to the fact that I indulged a little too much in both food and sleep last week, my eyes struggled to stay open and my tights truly lived up to their name. I've never hurried faster to throw on a pair of jeans. And to be honest, I can't wait to hop into my stretchy, elastic-waist pajama pants later tonight. It sounds like I really need to hit up the Jazzercise classes this week!

I decided to take a major detour from my usual denim pencil skirt today, and throw on a pencil skirt of a more ferocious variety. Yet I kept a little bit of comfort with a sweater that feels more like a sweatshirt. So, even if I felt like the circulation in my midsection was being cut off by my tights, my arms were nice and cozy. Not quite the trade-off I'd hoped for. 

Sweater, skirt, tights: Loft; shoes: Nine West

Song: I'm So Tired by the Beatles

You Can Get Anything You Want at Alice's Restaurant

When I was growing up, just as important as turkey and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving was listening to Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie every year. I don't know when the tradition started (probably before I was even born) but Thanksgiving day just wasn't complete until we were crooning along with Guthrie's hilarious Thanksgiving song. Even though I'm all grown up now, I still try to make a point to play that song sometime during the week of Thanksgiving. What are your Thanksgiving traditions?

Well, I'm off to go start the Thanksgiving festivities with my family. I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving week, and that you have a lot to be thankful for! I know that I do! 

Blazer: Gap (old); t-shirt: Forever 21; jeans: Loft; scarf: Merona, Target; boots: Franco Sarto, Macy's

Song: Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie

I'm Thankful for...Peanut Butter Balls

If you want to see what it looks like when an amateur makes one of Smitten Kitchen's beautiful creations, you've come to the right place. If you can even compare them, these are my attempt at her buckeyes. Although I did not try to make them look like an actual buckeye. I'm not sure what look I was going for to tell you the truth! But despite their ugliness, they tasted delicious.

I made these because I was reminiscing about the yummy plates of goodies my mom used to receive from friends and clients (she used to be a hair stylist) during the holiday season. (And lucky for me my mom doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, so guess who got to enjoy her gifts?) Among the treats, these little peanut butter balls were my absolute favorite! I'm delighted with how they turned out! Once I perfect my dipping skills, I might even be able to pass them out to my friends!

I See Your True Colors

It's denim pencil skirt Monday! For some (completely subconscious) reason, I reach for this denim pencil skirt almost every Monday. I don't know whether it's the skirt's versatility or my way of easing myself out of jeans and into work wear. Do you have something you always gravitate toward at the beginning of the week?

Today was one of those bizarre fall weather days; I left the house when it was still dark out, but it was about 65 degrees. Then, when I left the school this afternoon (with my jacket in my arms, remembering the morning's warmth) I was plagued with goose bumps--the temperature had dropped twenty degrees! I love Kansas, but we have the most unpredictable weather. Thanksgiving is always a crapshoot. This year it's supposed to be cold, but I'm hoping the weather forecast is wrong (not that that ever happens...). 

Cardigan: Banana Republic; skirt: Converse One Star, Target; scarf: Merona, Target; boots: Franco Sarto, Macy's (talk about easing out of the weekend--this is day numero 3 for these babies!)

Song: True Colors by Phil Collins [I think he's the original singer, but the version that's in my head is the one from the movie Save the Last Dance. In case this was information you needed.]

Let's Get it Started in Here

So yesterday was the big day--I started my long-term sub job! This will be a great trial-run for the job I want to find next year: high school French. I was excited, yet nervous, and my nerves were far from calmed when I arrived and the copy machine decided not to work. But after that, things turned around--I found a working copy machine, I got a free chocolate milkshake from Sonic at lunch, and everyone I encountered (students and teachers alike) was friendly and helpful. I'm so lucky to be working at such an amazing school, with the nicest kids! 

I hesitated to wear jeans on my first day, but I learned that almost everyone wears jeans on Friday. I wanted to dress them up a bit though, so I wouldn't be mistaken for a high school student. (Although I did have a shoe-twin in one of my classes! What can I say, French students are stylish!) Anyway, thanks for letting me gush a little about my first day. I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Cardigan: Loft; shirt: J. Crew, thrifted; jeans: Loft; necklace: Loft; shoes: Target

Song: Let's Get it Started by the Black Eyed Peas

Oops I Did it Again

Sorry for the Britney Spears reference, but seriously, Oops! I wore this shirt again. And these pants. And this belt. I mean, am I boring you yet? I seriously wear these all the time. But you see, these pants are ridiculously comfortable. They're my "I want to wear jeans but I can't because I'm going to work so I'll wear these soft corduroy pants" pants. And then the gray in this plaid shirt just pairs perfectly with them, making an instantly cool fall outfit. From there, the possibilities are endless. So when I saw Sydney of the Daybook rocking an awesome red sweater belted over her plaid shirt I knew my bright red cardigan was going to be the perfect topper. Another oops! I copied from the uber-stylish Daybook again.  (Side note--one of the suggested words to replace uber is tuber, which is cracking me up. I'm imagining a super chic potato right about now. I know that uber needs those two little dots over the "u" but I'm too lazy to figure that out right now. Although not too lazy to ramble on about stylish potatoes...) Okay, I see that I'm scaring you, so I'll stop now. Happy almost-Friday!

Cardigan: ShopMamie.com; shirt: Gap; cords: Loft; belt: Loft; shoes: Target

Song: Oops I Did it Again by Britney Spears

Dinner Tonight: Moroccan Mini Meatballs

When I need a hearty, comforting dish that will please both Aaron and me, I turn to the trusty meatball. Over the years, I've made countless varieties, and very few have let me down. This time, with the help of Rachael Ray of course, I've gone in a slightly more exotic direction with the meatballs. I tore this recipe out of my Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine's October issue. 

There's really not a lot to these meatballs--just meat (I used ground beef instead of lamb), garlic, parsley, some spices, and lemon zest. I really enjoyed the unique flavor that the lemon zest added. Also, I liked having the warmed pita bread for dunking as a nice change from the traditional pasta. I especially appreciated that these are baked first before they simmer in the sauce--in my opinion that's the easiest method. So if you're looking for something to shake up your normal spaghetti and meatball supper, you should give this recipe a try!

Oh, one more thing. The recipe called for eggs to cook in the meatballs and sauce at the end, so you have nice, sunny-side up eggs to mix into the sauce. While I would have enjoyed this, Aaron would have been appalled. To him, they only good eggs are scrambled and cooked to the point of looking burnt (which seems equally appalling to me). So I just went ahead and left the eggs out. But if you do make it with the eggs, you'll have to let me know! 

Baby, You're Not Lost

Ugh, I'm sorry this is such a grainy, awful picture. I debated not even posting it, but I hope the fate of this blog isn't judged by one bad picture. Besides, I do like my outfit. I'm learning why I need a tripod. My husband lovingly takes all my pictures, but if for some reason our paths don't cross at the right time I'm either stuck without a picture or forced to do awkward indoor shots. And with the sun setting around five o'clock getting an outdoor photo can be tricky this time of year.

Speaking of tricky, why did it take me a half hour to find the DMV today? Going to the DMV isn't the most pleasant experience in and of itself, so you'd think they would make the building a little bit easier to find. A sign on the building saying "DMV" would be slightly helpful. I mean, I'm not supposed to walk in to the DMV wanting to punch someone am I? That emotion should be saved for when I leave. (Actually, the lady helping me today was very nice. I can't say the same for the annoying couple sitting next to me.) Anyway, I circled the area I thought it was in for what felt like forever before I found a building that I thought could be it, and lo and behold I saw a teeny tiny sign that said "Vehicle Registration". Sighing in relief, I parked. And the sad part is, I'm pretty sure I've been there before. I really wish I had that "sense of direction" gene. 

Cardigan: Loft Outlet; blouse: Loft; jeans: Express; belt: Target; shoes: Isaac Mizrahi for Target

Song: Lost by Michael Bublé

Judy in Disguise

I thought if I could disguise this cozy sweater as workwear, today would feel less like a Monday. I was wrong. Today, unfortunately, was very Monday-ish. So, in lieu of whining to you all about the stresses of my day, I'm going to go to bed and be thankful that tomorrow is Tuesday. So here's to Tuesday! 

Cardigan: I Heart Ronson, JCPenney; t-shirt: Old Navy; skirt: Converse One Star, Target; necklace: Dean Harris, Target; shoes: Jessica Simpson, gifted

Song: Judy in Disguise by John Fred and His Fabulous Playboys

Dinner Tonight: Arroz con Pollo

For this meal, we're going to pretend that it was a recipe I picked up from an abuela in Mexico, instead of from my grocery store's e-mail newsletter. Which is why I'm titling it "Arroz con Pollo" instead of the infinitely more boring "Chicken with Rice". Yes, it means the same thing, but food sounds so much more interesting when it's in another language, does it not? (So I should be careful ordering from a German menu, or other foreign-to-me tongue, that I don't order something like cow's feet because it sounds pretty and exotic...) 

Anyway, here's the recipe: (courtesy of Hen House Market)

Chicken with Rice (or, Arroz con Pollo, which is rice with chicken, but sounds better)

4 slices bacon
1 1/2 lbs chicken parts
1 cup chopped onion (1 small)
2 cloves garlic (large)
2 cups long-grain white rice
2 1/2 cups salsa (24-ounce jar)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth (14 1/2-ounce can)
8 oz tomato sauce ( 1 can)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin

Cook bacon in large saucepan over medium-high heat until crispy; remove from saucepan. Crumble bacon; set aside. Add chicken to saucepan; cook, turning frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove from saucepan. Discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings from saucepan.

Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add rice; cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in salsa, broth, tomato sauce, salt and cumin. Bring to a boil; place chicken over rice mixture. Reduce heat to low. Cook, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until most of moisture is absorbed and chicken is no longer pink near bone. Sprinkle with bacon.

Yeah I'm Free

Happy Friday everyone! I'm finally able to do my Friday post on Friday; I'm not rushing to go somewhere or do something. It's nice just to be able to make plans as they come. I tend to make too many lists and try to plan everything, but finding my inner free-spirit is just what I need every once in a while. So I'm off to go hang out with friends, read my book, have some coffee... or something. I haven't decided yet. But the beautiful thing is that I don't have to.

Shirt: Old Navy; cords: Loft; scarf: Merona, Target; belt: Loft; shoes: Target

Song: Free Fallin' by Tom Petty

Wouldn't You Know it, Pouring Rain

I've decided that this dress attracts bad luck. Remember the first time I wore it, the dreaded Chipotle spill? Forward to today: not only is it raining when I leave the school (on my silk dress, mind you) but also Aaron calls to tell me his car battery is dead. I'm not wearing this dress when it starts to get icy, that's for sure! 

Although, the more I think about this the less it strikes me as a matter of luck. I mean, no one held a gun to my head and forced me to go to Chipotle (land of huge, messy burritos) in this dress. Likewise, I knew it was going to rain at some point today, yet I did not grab my umbrella. And Aaron sabotaged his battery by leaving his lights on. So maybe this dress attracts stupid decisions? I'm going to hedge my bets and wear luckier clothes tomorrow. I guess my new dress made of broken mirrors is out of the question. 

Cardigan: Merona, Target; t-shirt: Old Navy; dress (under): Loft; belt: Target; tights: Loft; boots: St. John's Bay, JCPenney

Song: Come Back Song by Darius Rucker

Now It's Too Late

This week I'm working with the French teacher I'll be long term subbing for soon. I'm starting to get excited, but also nervous! She's an amazing teacher, and all her students love her; I hope they can learn to like me too! So if I don't blog as much in the next few weeks, please forgive me. As a regular sub, I've been lucky enough to have a lot of free time due to the fact that I never take any work home. The down side is of course, with less responsibility comes less money, and less challenge (and therefore, less fun). So, while overwhelming, I'm welcoming the work (and the pay increase) that being a long-term sub brings. And maybe, just maybe it well bring me closer to a full-time job. A girl can hope, right?

Okay, on to the clothes. I was inspired once again by Kimberly's Outfit Inspiration Calendar today, which called for mixing stripes, pattern, and leopard. That's three patterns, people! I wasn't sure whether or not I could do it, which is exactly why I wanted to try. And what did I learn from this experience? Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Sure, it looks okay, but to be honest, I just don't love the striped top with the other pieces. It doesn't look quite right. But by the time I figured that out it was too late to change. I'll try to go a little less crazy with the pattern mixing next time. But hey, if that's the worst thing about my day (and honestly, it has been so far), I'm counting it as a success! 

Cardigan: H&M (old); t-shirt: Gap; skirt: Loft; belt: Loft; tights: Target; shoes: Merona, Target

Song: It's Too Late by Carole King

Here Comes the Sun

The past couple of days have been warm and sunny. I'm starting to get confused and dress like spring. Then I look at all the leaves and dead flowers in our yard and I'm reminded what season it really is. Not that I mind fall; in fact, I like it. I just shudder to think about the season that follows it. It's a four-letter word in my book. 

Anyway, this combination of colors and fabrics seemed to coordinate with the bright, cheerful weather we were having. The teacher I subbed for must have been thinking the same thing, because when I saw her at the end of the day she had the same sweater on! What's that they say about great minds?

Shirt: Gap (very old); cardigan: Loft; skirt: Gap Outlet; necklace: c/o Fenno Fashion; belt: Loft; shoes: Target

Song: Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles

Dinner Tonight: Beef Stir Fry with Snap Peas

This was not what I planned to write about today. I actually hadn't planned to post it at all, not because this meal wasn't delicious, but because I wasn't happy with the pictures. But it was so good I'm going to tell you about it anyway, bad picture and all. Actually, it's a Pioneer Woman recipe, so you can go check out her site for some spectacular photos. The only thing I changed about her version was I swapped sugar snap peas for the snow peas. I just like sugar snaps better. 

Anyway, if you're looking for a quick, easy meal that's full of flavor, you should give this one a try! I'm not sure how I would get through my week without the Pioneer Woman. She's a genius!

It's Gray It's Gray

Since I neglected to do this last night, I'm going to squeeze this (two-for-one deal) outfit post in this morning before I go wedding dress shopping with my best friend and bride-to-be Abby. And I can't believe that it's already been five years ago that I was bringing her along to do the very same thing! 

On a less cheerful note, I did finish Flowers in the Attic. I was amazed by the response I got about that book! For those of you asking if you should read it, I think you should. It was extremely well-written, and one of those books that's sad, horrifying, yet beautiful at the same time. And for those of you who have read it, I instantly understood what you meant when you said it gets weird and disturbing. But mostly just sad. Sad and disturbing, yet I find myself heading to the library to get the rest of the books in the series. Go figure. 

Sweater: Loft; skirt: Loft (bought during completely different seasons, I swear!); tights: Gap or Target, can't remember; shoes: Gap 

Jacket: Converse One Star for Target; top: Loft; Jeans: Loft; earrings: Loft (again, different shopping trips people); sash/belt: from an old dress; shoes: Isaac Mizrahi for Target

Song: Black is Black by Los Bravos

I Love You Madly, Madly Madam Librarian

I felt like a librarian today in this outfit. Which, if it were 1962, I think I would love to be a librarian. I love books, I love organizing things... sounds like a good fit to me! However, this little thing we're obsessed with now called technology lessens the appeal of the librarian's job. When I was researching for my master's classes, I was overwhelmed by the countless sources available online. Trying to find the perfect sources for my research papers, whether they were about the feminine voice in French writing or the role of culture in second language learning (or anything in between), made me go a little batty. So if I had to maneuver through the world of online resources everyday, you can only imagine how crazy I'd be. It's a bummer though, because I sure do love books.

Speaking of this love of mine, I'm now reading Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, about a crazy mother who locks her children in the attic. It's quite a feel-good story. It's also pretty hard to put down. I just started it last night, and already those poor kids have been in the attic for a year. 

Blouse: Nine West, Marshall's (old!); cardigan: NY & Co; skirt: Converse One Star for Target; earrings: NY & Co; tights: target; shoes: Issac Mizrahi for Target (speaking of Target, best commercials ever right now, don't you think?)

Song: Marian the Librarian from the musical The Music Man

By the way, was this post nerdy enough for you? Sorry about that--sometimes I can't keep it in.

Everyone Knows it's Windy

Sorry for another faceless shot! This was the only picture in which my hair did not look like I just stepped out of a convertible after driving on the highway... in Chicago. People with long hair can pull off that "windblown" look--I just look like I stuck a fork in an outlet. 

In addition to my hair, the wind's force also had a detrimental effect on the neat little piles of leaves I raked up this afternoon. And I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that today was my first real yard work experience. My job was to rake the leaves then suck them up with our leaf blower/sucker. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a leaf sucker! As it happens, there is, and you can even wear the bag on your back as you go, ghostbuster-style. It was pretty dirty, so I didn't. But just having the option made me giggle a bit. Oh, and by the way, this picture was taken pre-leaf raking. The wind may have been blowing, but I managed to rid our yard of some leaves. 

Cardigan: I Heart Ronson, JCPenney; t-shirt: Loft; jeans: Old Navy; earrings: Target; boots: Franco Sarto, Macy's

Song: Everyone Knows it's Windy by The Association

Dreaming in Red, White and Blue

I'm wearing today's must-have accessory. It isn't a designer piece; it didn't cost me any money; and it can only be worn once. What is it? The "I voted" sticker, of course! Are you sporting one on your lapel also? The older I get, the more I recognize the importance of exercising my right to vote. I used to feel that because I usually vote in the minority party for my state that my voice wouldn't make a difference. But I'm starting to realize that if everyone who felt that way didn't vote, it would become a self-fulfilling prophesy. So I'm going to keep on voting, and hope that others do the same thing!

Cardi: Ann Taylor, thrifted; shirt: Gap; cords: Loft; sticker: my local voting office; belt: Loft; boots: Aldo

Song: Only in America by Brooks and Dunn

Dinner Tonight: White Chicken Chili

While we greeted trick or treaters, Aaron and I enjoyed bowls of comforting white chicken chili. I got the recipe from my mom, who got it from a former neighbor. In fact, my mom and I were reminiscing about how good this chili is when she came to visit last month. So I was pleasantly surprised when the recipe showed up in my mailbox last week. Thanks mom! I'll give you (my lazy version of) the recipe below.

White Chicken Chili

3-4 cans white beans, rinsed and drained (the original recipe calls for dried but this is the lazy version--it still tastes great!)
6 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 med. onions, chopped (divided)
1 tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)
2 4 oz. cans chopped green chilies
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken (I shredded a rotisserie chicken)
3 c. grated monterey jack cheese

Combine beans, chicken broth, garlic, and half of the onions in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are very soft (30 minutes to an hour). 

In a skillet, sautĂ© remaining onions in oil until tender. Add chilies and seasonings and mix thoroughly. Add to the bean mixture. Add chicken and continue to simmer for one hour. (I cheated and only simmered for 30 minutes. I was hungry!) Serve topped with grated cheese, and any other chili fixins you like! 

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Today marked the first day of Christmas music for a local radio station. And believe me, I was listening. Is it a little early? Yes, yes it is. Do I care? No, no I do not. When I was little, I used to listen to a Sesame Street Christmas tape before I went to sleep all year long. I may no longer be that extreme, but every year I look forward to the beginning of Christmas (music) season. And Aaron looks upon it with the same amount of dread. Apparently he doesn't appreciate my off-key belting of Silent Night, Away in a Manger and Go Tell it on the Mountain (especially not on November 1st). And he'd probably threaten to divorce me if I attempted those high notes in Oh Holy Night. I just save that for the car. That's where I do my best singing anyway. 

I promise that I will not talk about Christmas music every day until December 25th. I just couldn't hold back my excitement today. If you celebrate Christmas, how do you feel about the music? Are you ready for it? Or are you thinking, "Hey crazies, let's wait until at least Thanksgiving!"? 

Shirt: Gap Outlet; vest: Old Navy; jeans: Old Navy; scarf: Forever 21; boots: Franco Sarto, Macy's; goofy grin on my face: Christmas music