Layered Up Stripes

I may or may not have just used a sizeable chunk of my Christmas money to buy the complete, seven season set of Gilmore Girls. Judge me if you must, but I LOVE that show. I felt like re-watching it, and my video rental place (yes I’m the only person on the planet without Netflix) only had season 1. Just out of curiosity I looked on Amazon to see how much it would cost to buy all of them, and whoops, the complete set fell into my (virtual) shopping cart. Merry Christmas to me! 

Sweater: Loft (similar); blouse: Gap (similar); jeans: Gap; boots (similar): Mia via DSW

If I had to pick a favorite show, Gilmore Girls would probably be it. What would you (or did you) buy every single season of? 

Bright Red and Lots of Navy

I’m back! Sorry for my absence; I guess I needed a blogging break more than I realized. Anyway, how were your holidays? I had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas. I still have one more family Christmas to go; I love how that makes the season last longer.

Christmas Day Aaron and I went to go see Les Miserables, and I absolutely loved it. I thought it was beautifully done, and I was very impressed with how well all the actors can sing!

Otherwise, I haven’t done much of anything other than read and watch Criminal Minds reruns. I’m hoping to finish An American Tragedy by the end of the month, but I’m not sure I’ll make it. What have you been up to?

Sweater: Gap (similar); skirt: J.Crew (similar); necklace: Salt on the Rocks via Girl and Closet giveaway; tights: Hue via Marshall's; boots: Target


Hey guys, sorry for the lack of posts lately. I took an impromptu break from technology to spend some time with friends and family. I'll be back right after Christmas. If you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful holiday! 
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Red Pants with Pink and Purple

This outfit is an ode to bright colors, don’t you think? I love these red cords so much, I wish I had some in every color. I got this pair from Gap for Christmas nearly two years ago, and they’ve been amazingly versatile.

I hope the colored pants trend sticks around, because I love how colorful they make an outfit. I’ll never want to go back to just wearing neutrals on my legs. Where’s the fun in that? 

Cardigan: Gap Outlet (similar, in cashmere) // t-shirt: J.Crew Factory // cords: Gap (similar) // necklace: Shop Mamie // flats: Se Boutique via DSW (similar)

I’d love to add a pair in yellow and hunter green to my pants collection. What non-neutral color of pants do you find yourself reaching for most often?

Dinner Tonight: Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Aaron and I both love potato soup, but we tend to disagree on how we like it. I prefer thicker, creamier potato soup with fewer chunks of potatoes. Aaron likes more potato chunks and a thinner soup base. As a result, I don’t make potato soup very often.

I finally found a “compromise” recipe we both love equally: this Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup from Tasty Kitchen Blog. It’s different from most potato soups I’ve tried, because it uses baked potatoes instead of raw ones. Also, rather than cream or milk, the soup gets its creamy consistency from Greek yogurt. I used an immersion blender and pureed it some, but I left quite a few potato chunks whole to keep Aaron happy.

Another unique and delicious feature of this soup: the skins from the baked potatoes are fried in butter and used as toppers along with bacon, shredded cheese, and green onions. It truly is fully loaded potato soup! It’s perfect for a chilly winter night. 

What’s your favorite soup? 

Stripes, Turquoise and Leopard

I can’t believe Christmas is just over a week away! I planned to get some shopping done over the weekend, but I’ve decided to procrastinate just a little longer. I probably won’t sub much this week, so I’ll have some time to shop.

I may have to do some more holiday baking too since everything I made on holiday baking extravaganza number 1 (with my sister Jenny) has mysteriously disappeared. Hmm, I see some Mexican wedding cakes and maybe some peanut butter balls in my near future.

Sweater: Loft (similar) // skirt: The Limited (similar, on sale!) // earrings: Kohl's (similar) // tights: Merona, Target // shoes: Merona, Target (similar)

Are you doing any more holiday shopping or baking? 

I can't end this post without saying something about the tragedy that happened Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary. My prayers are with the families suffering as a result of that senseless crime. 

Plaid and Sequins

My plaid shirt from Gap (seen here and here) has nearly been worn to death, so I recently bought another one to lighten its wardrobe load. I scored this one on sale at J.Crew, and it was love at first wear. It's soft and warm, but still light enough to layer with the best of them.

To add a little sparkle, I layered my new shirt under an old favorite: a sequin tank also from J.Crew. I kept the rest of my outfit neutral so that the plaid and sequin combination would stand out. As easy as it's been to integrate this sparkly tank into everyday wear, I'm feeling an itch to acquire more sequin-specked separates.

Plaid shirt: J.Crew (similar); sequin tank: J.Crew (similar); gray cords: Loft (similar); earrings: Kohl's; velvet flats: Old Navy (similar)

Today I'm joining Sandy a la Mode and Ma Nouvelle Mode for "Closet Copycat Challenge: Sequins" (a day late, whoops!) and The Tiny Heart and Penniless Socialite for "Look What I Got". 

I'm also linking up to Long Distance Loving for the "Serious Sparkle" themed Friday's Fancies.

What's your favorite way to wear sequins?

Neutral Layers, Shine, and a Caress Review

Today I’m joining Because Shanna Said So for Random Wednesday, so I’ll share a little randomness with you.
  • Laura from Caress sent me their newest body wash, Passionate Spell Fine Fragrance Elixir Body Wash, to try. I’ve been using it for the past couple of weeks, and I love it. It smells wonderful and warm, perfect for this time of year, and it makes my skin feel so soft. Have you tried any new beauty products lately?

  • I went out and bought Straight No Chaser’s Christmas album, Christmas Cheers, yesterday. Man can those guys sing (and they’re funny too)! Great purchase.
  • We’ve been very careful with our grocery budget lately, so since we had some extra grocery money we decided to splurge a bit and have steak and shrimp on the grill last night. Aaron grilled, and I baked a couple of potatoes and poured some red wine. Not bad for a Tuesday night! 
  • Caress has also paired with a trio of experts, the Caress Fabulistas, in order to share advice and help women make every day a little more fab. One way I made this outfit more fab was by adding some shine with this metallic skirt. How do you make your every day fabulous? 

Blazer: Loft (similar); sweater: Loft (similar); chambray shirt: Madewell; skirt: Loft (gorgeous sequin version); tights: Target; boots: Target

KC Love: Boulevard Brewery Tour

Every couple of weeks, I'd like to feature a local restaurant, store, or experience. In my opinion, Kansas City is one of the coolest places to live (yes, I may be biased) and I'd like to share some of its highlights with you.

Why not start with some beer? Over the weekend, some friends and I went on a brewery tour at Boulevard Brewery for our friend Jeff's 30th birthday. Boulevard offers a few different tour options, and Saturday we went on the Unfiltered Tour, which is a bit more of an in-depth tour than the regular public tour. 

Photo courtesy of our tour guide.

On the Unfiltered Tour, we got to sample four different kinds of Boulevard beer throughout the tour. We drank some delicious brews, learned about the brewing process and history, and even enjoyed some local cheese. At the end of the tour we received a Boulevard Beer glass as a parting gift. I would highly recommend this tour to any local Kansas Citian, even if you've already been on the public tour (most of my friends had and they still loved this one).

Interesting Boulevard facts I learned on the tour:
-Boulevard started a local glass recycling company, Ripple Glass.
-The Boulevard Brewery building was originally a washhouse for the nearby railroad, which is why there is a giant smokestack attached to the building.
-Boulevard is the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest.
-Their first keg of beer was sold to Ponak’s Mexican Restaurant. (It’s one of my favorites, and we actually went there after the tour.) 

What I wore for the tour: sweater: Banana Republic; dress: Forever 21; earrings: Kohl's; scarf: Merona, Target; tights: Hue via Mashall's; socks: Target; boots: Mia

Usually I drink Boulevard Wheat, but I plan to spread my beer-tasting wings and try some of their more adventurous brews (like their Long Strange Tripel) in the near future. Are you a beer drinker? What's your favorite?

Feeling Blue

I hope you aren’t sick of these “currently” posts. I really do enjoy reading them on other blogs; it’s a fun little snapshot into daily life. It’s been a few weeks since my last one, so here’s what I’m up to right now.

Listening to: Christmas music! Michael Buble is always a favorite, and I also love Straight No Chaser’s 12 Days of Christmas.

Eating: Way too much sugar. Right now peanut clusters, toffee, Girl Scout cookies, and Oreo cheesecake balls are tempting me daily (okay, I’ll be honest, hourly). Is it bad that I feel like baking some more treats?

Loving: my new planner. I ordered a 2013 weekly planner (like this one) from Plum Paper Designs, and I can’t wait to start using it. I squealed with glee when it came in the mail last week. Yes, I get way too excited about planners.

Reading: An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. It’s the story of a young man who becomes a cold-blooded killer. Sounds uplifting, right? I'm only about 100 pages in, and no killing thus far; he still seems pretty normal. I'm very curious to see how his life changes so completely.  

Working on: Christmas shopping. I have a ways to go still, but I’m hoping to avoid the week-before-Christmas mad dash. My goal is to have everything done by next weekend. We’ll see how that goes…

Sweater: Gap (similar); blouse: Banana Republic Factory (similar); pants: Gap; earrings: thrifted (similar); belt: Old Navy (similar); flats: Old Navy (similar)

What have you been up to lately? 

I'm linking up to Monday Mingle at Bon Bon Rose Girls

Plaid, Dots, and a Little Sparkle

This was a slow week for subbing, but it was very busy otherwise. (So basically, I worked hard but made very little money. Awesome.) School starts in just over a month, so I’m trying to get all the last minute loose ends tied up for that (financial forms, enrollment, scholarship know, the fun stuff).

Starting school in the spring has not stopped me from continuing to job-hunt, and this week brought a few new possibilities to consider. Two are part-time positions and one is temporary, but all three are of real interest to me. In fact, I’m on a second interview for one today; it’s a part-time children’s librarian position. Doesn’t that sound like fun? 

Cardigan: American Eagle; shirt: Gap; jeans: thrifted Gap; necklace: Bauble Bar; flats: Madewell

This weekend I’m hoping to clear my mind of school and job-related thoughts, and just relax and have fun. What are your weekend plans?

I’m linking up to Friday’s Fancies at Long Distance Loving for “Pretty in Plaid”. 

Holiday DIY: Advent Garland

Anne of In Residence is doing a “Holiday Pinspiration” reader feature today. Be sure to check out this idea and more over at her fabulous blog.

I love the idea of an Advent Calendar. I remember getting one when I was little, and what a joy it was to open up that little door and be surprised with a piece of chocolate. I’m sure I wasn’t patient enough to eat only one chocolate per day (who can do that?) but regardless, the concept always intrigued me.

This year I decided to make an Advent calendar for Aaron and me. I knew I wanted it to be a little different though, with a combination of treats and fun activities we can do together. Last year I loved the “12 Dates of Christmas” Elsie and her husband did at A Beautiful Mess, so I decided to incorporate that idea into our calendar. 

I went to Michael's with an outline of what I wanted, but didn’t really have the specifics in mind. I saw some pine cone and berry-bedecked garland on sale, so I bought some miniature clothes pins and ribbon to attach each surprise.

We’ve been having so much fun opening up each day’s treat, it definitely gives us something to look forward to in this busy and often stressful time of year.

How to make your own Advent garland:

Supplies needed:

garland (any kind will do as long as you can attach clothespins to it)
paper in different colors/patterns
small paper sacks to hold candy or small objects (I used 9)
clothespins (I used miniature ones, but larger ones would work too)
stickers to decorate paper and bags (optional)
small candy and treats to fill bags
hole punch
hammer and nails (to hang the garland)

1. It’s easiest if you plan your Advent calendar before you start making it. You’ll want a combination of dates/activities and candy or other inexpensive treats. I raided the $1 section of Target for the non-food treats; no need to spend a bunch of money! I also kept the dates affordable, things like going to Sonic for a happy hour soda or going on a walk together. I looked at my calendar when I was planning this out so that we could do the things that took more time (baking cookies, for example) on the weekends. Write out each day’s treat or activity, from one to twenty-five.

2. Using your list, count the number of days you have with activities (I had 16). You will need one piece of paper for each. I just took construction paper, folded it in half “hot dog” style and then cut it into equal pieces. On the outside, write the number of the day, and on the inside, write the activity. Decorate it as you please.

3. For the remaining days, write each day’s number on the outside of a small paper sack. Fill the sacks with either candy (one per person in your household) or an inexpensive gift. Fold down the top of the sack, punch a hole, and then string some pretty ribbon through the hole.

4. Lay out the garland on a flat surface, then arrange all the days in order. Do this so that you can get an idea of how to space out the papers and bags.

5. Hang the garland on a wall, making sure there’s space beneath it.

6. Going in order (I suppose you can go out of order, but don’t tell me about it!) attach the paper days with clothespins, and tie the sacks to the garland with ribbon.

7. On December 1st, start counting down the days until Christmas! 

Dinner Tonight: Comforting Chicken Enchilada Pasta

I think I talked up Monday a little too much yesterday. Tuesday decided to seek its revenge. Although there wasn’t one specific thing that made yesterday frustrating, it was just one of those days. You know what I mean?

For days like that, I need comfort food that is quick and easy to make. Pasta typically fits the bill, and this chicken enchilada pasta from Budget Bytes did not disappoint. The sauce was the star of the show for this dish; it’s a mixture of sour cream and homemade enchilada sauce (also SO easy!). When it’s mixed with the cooked pasta, chicken, shredded Monterey jack cheese, and green onions, the result is a unique, flavorful, and most of all delicious comfort meal. 

Have you cooked anything yummy lately?  

Red, Green, and Early Christmas Packages

As a rule, Mondays are never fun, but I think yesterday was an exception. I only had a half day subbing job, so my day started out a little later than normal. Sleeping in is always a good start to the day.

When I got home from work, two packages with my name on them were waiting for me. Inside one was a gorgeous wallet I ordered from Kate Spade on Cyber Monday (it was a bit of a splurge, but it was still an amazing deal). The second package came from my mom; she sent me Claymation Christmas on DVD. We used to watch that Christmas special every year and were so sad when they eventually took it off the air. I can’t wait to watch it to see the California Raisins, the bells, the singing camels…all the good stuff. Thanks mom, you’re the best! 

Shirt: J.Crew Factory; vest: Old Navy; cords: Gap; flats: Gap

Have you received any good packages lately? 

November Roundup: What I Wore, Read, and Bought

It’s hard to believe it’s already December. It certainly doesn’t feel like December outside; yesterday’s high was 67 degrees. Yet with all the Christmas lights going up on houses, Christmas music playing on the radio, and cookies baking in the oven, there’s no mistaking what month it is. November was a pretty good one too though, so here’s my round up from last month.

What I wore: 

What I read:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: Certainly not a light read, Anna Karenina took a solid month in a half for me to finish. It was sometimes dry and often gloomy, but I have to say overall it was beautiful. Almost subconsciously, I read it as a student would, highlighting themes and commenting on Tolstoy’s choices of characters and parallel story-lines  I began reading before I knew there was a movie being made, but now I’d like to see it so I can compare Kiera Knightley to the Anna I imagined (who frankly exasperated me most of the time!).

A Grown Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilynn Jackson: What a perfect book to read after Anna: it was a page-turner, but not the take-it-or-leave-it beach read kind. This book was an absolute delight to read; there is no mistaking Jackson’s talent as a writer. It tells the story of three generations of women, the oldest two of whom both gave birth at age fifteen. When Mosey, the youngest, turns 15, all three fear what will happen, as fifteen seems to be a “trouble year” for all of them. The trouble comes, but not in the form of a child; instead it’s as a mystery when human bones are found buried in their yard. Just as Anne did, I highly recommend this book to anyone. I can’t wait to read more by this amazing author!

What I bought: 

From Madewell: polka dot t-shirt and bow earrings (I also bought gloves and slippers from Kohl's, but those weren't very exciting purchses.)

What about you, any good reads or fun purchases in November? 

MVPs, Most Versatile Pieces

This has been a busy week; I'm glad Friday is finally here.  Despite the fact that this time of year is always busier than usual, I still find myself walking with more spring in my step anticipating Christmas and all its festivities. 

Today's Friday's Fancies theme (at Long Distance Loving) is "Dress Yourself" or show off an outfit that is essentially "you". I thought I'd do that by wearing some of my most worn (and thus, most loved) pieces together in one outfit. None of you are surprised with the pieces I've picked, are you? 

Shirt: Madewell; dress: Land's End Canvas; earrings: Kohl's; necklace: Shop Mamie; boots: Mia via DSW

Here's my favorite chambray shirt from Madewell, remixed a few more ways. I love this season-less, versatile piece that is a layering champion. 

You're familiar with my love-affair with this Land's End Canvas dress. I first saw it on Anne of In Residence, and it wasn't long before I had to make it my own. I'll likely shed real tears the day it loses it's place in my closet. Here are a few of the (many) ways I've worn it: 

This bubble necklace from Shop Mamie is new to my wardrobe, but since I've had it it's been making frequent appearances. Yes, I drank the bubble necklace Kool-aid, and boy was it delicious! Here are a couple other ways I've styled it: 

Finally, my beloved Mia riding boots have been helping me transition to fall and survive the winter for more than a year. They have been the answer to "What shoes should I wear?" a multitude of times. Boots, I love you, let me count the ways:

What items in your wardrobe would win the MVP (most versatile pieces) award?