Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Round Up!

With twenty fifteen rapidly approaching it's expiration date I have been doing so much reflecting, as is so common this time of year. One of the reasons I love blogging is because you end up with this super cool public journal that summarizes your life in pretty pictures and feelings. I've had fun sharing that with you! 
I wanted to make a little roundup of some of my favorite posts from this past year. Mainly for me, as I like to look back and see an old version of myself and what the year did to bring me here. 

Favorite Posts to Write: 
A Little Less Judgement and My Favorite Quote. I thoroughly enjoyed writing these because I love reading about other people's goals and I wanted to share 2 of my own. I'm still working on both of these qualities and will keep trying to get better!
  
Favorite Outfits:
I love doing outfit posts, but for some reason I didn't do so many this year. I think it's because we have had very limited variation in temperature all year, and I have just been trying to get away with the least amount of clothes as possible-which doesn't make for a great OOTD post. It's one of my goals for next year to try anyway! 

 

Favorite Parties: 
I chose two parties from this year that I actually had a part in. (Staci's Housewarming was my favorite as an attendee!) I threw my sister-in-law's baby shower with a black and gold theme, so we had a lemonade bar that everyone seemed to love! My secret was just using Simply Lemonade...but everyone thought it was homemade =]. I also loved Kennan and Riceta's engagement party and the champagne bar we set up. So festive and cute! 

     

 Favorite DIY's:
Making over that antique dresser turned into such a fun way to jumpstart my home decor! We ended up moving a ton of stuff around the house and got rid of so much junk. All thanks to one fun afternoon of painting! Also learning how to clean my Alex and Ani bracelets was a game changer!


Favorite Instructionals: 
Early in 2015 I posted what has become my most popular post to-date. It was all about the Pros and Cons of owning a pug! I had so much fun writing that and it brought a lot of you to my little blog. My favorite recipe this year is by far The Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Goat Cheese. It's in our weekly rotation and you can even add chicken to make it a meal.

      

Thanks for a really great 2015!

2015 also marked my one year of blogging!

Leave me a comment: Did you enjoy any of these posts? Link to one of your own favorite posts in the comments!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Navy and Wine

Infinity Scarf: Gift
Cream Top: Loft via Ebay
Wine Cardigan: New York and Co
Skinny Belt: Target
Navy Skirt: Banana Republic via Poshmark
Striped Bag: Groupon
Ballet Flats: Brooks Brothers via Ebay

This one of my very favorite outfits! I was inspired by this post, especially because I have the same blanket scarf. I tried to mimic that outfit but it didn't quite work because my cardigan is more wine than red. We will try again to do that one, but it the mean time I loved how this turned out. Super comfy too and I feel like I can add boots when it gets colder here. 


Monday, December 28, 2015

Scenes from the Weekend: O'leno State Park and Painting with a Twist

I cannot believe how much we packed into our weekend! We realized that for basically our entire marriage we've been spending the last 2 weeks of December up in North Carolina, and this was the first time we were actually home! I guess they call that a stay-cation. While I did miss our annual trip, I really enjoyed sticking close to home. 

Friday afternoon we both got ants in our pants and decided to go for a hike in O'Leno State Park which about 40 minutes from where we live. I was so happy to check off another State Park from my bucket list! I have to say, this was one of my favorites so far. 

The park is super well maintained and the trail was easy to follow. We chose the River Trail, which is about a mile and half. It was such a gorgeous day and we got to see tons of turtles and a little baby gator. I could not believe how quiet it was out there. So peaceful and pretty! Blake looks less than enthused in his picture because he found the temperature less than ideal, unlike me who loved the 80 degrees! 












I was so excited to get a group together to do Painting with a Twist again, since I had so much fun the first time I went. Blake's mom is in town so it was the perfect excuse to go. I liked this painting so much more than the first one I did! Our teacher was great and she kept us entertained while our paintings dried. We even did a little contest that I won. *proud* I never win things! My prize was one of the paintings that the instructors did. 





I love that everyone's paintings turn out differently. We all have different styles, and I think each personality shines through. For example, my painting clearly shows that I like to freehand and never ever measure-which would have made my eiffel tower more proportional, hehe. 

Hope you guys had a great weekend! I know I 'm happy to have another long one next week!!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Cooking with RawSpiceBar

When my husband and I first got married I was really ambitious in the kitchen. I wanted to have something cool for dinner every night. A huge challenge because I was used to cooking for a family of 5, not just us two. And it's really hard to come up with ideas! My first blog was a tumblr called Feeding Blake, where I recorded the recipes we liked and that I wanted to save. It's still up if you want to peek.

I really hit a roadblock because while there are a plethora of recipes out there, we live in this small town where even ingredients that I wouldn't consider that unusual are hard to find. You end up substituting half the recipe! If you want to hear a funny story about substitutions gone wrong, just ask Blake about the Seafood Egg-drop soup we made. It literally congealed into a gelatinous mess. 


When RawSpiceBar reached out to me, I could not think of a better solution to that problem! RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription box that sends you 3 packets of exotic spices from around the world, along with a recipe for each blend. And, it's only 6 bucks a month! Each kit has a regional theme, and includes a little history about that place. The packets are perfectly proportioned too. No more of those barely used bottles in your spice cabinet that you only ever used for that one recipe. 

Blake and I both had the day off, and we thought it was the perfect chance to use our packets. December's Spice Box included 3 packets that represented a traditional Nordic meal. How cool is that?! Unless you've been to that area, there is no way you'd get to try something like this. Scandinavian restaurants aren't exactly common. Each month you'll get to take a little vacation for dinner!

Our recipes were: Potato Herb Gratin, Pepparkakor (ginger cookies) and Nordic Caraway Gravlax. (Say that three times fast!) I let Blake pick which one we'd make for this post, and I was absolutely not surprised when he chose the ginger cookies. We will be making all three, because they all seriously look amazing, but for now I want to share our fun afternoon of baking together. Together as in he took the pictures, and re-rolled the dough when he thought I didn't do it well enough, haha!





As soon as I tore open the first packet, I was hooked! The spices are so fragrant, and really high quality. Even though I do have a little experience in the kitchen, I loved that this recipe was simple and easy to follow along because I've never made cookies like these before! All of the ingredients, in all 3 recipes, were easy to find at my usual grocery store. Which is exactly what I like about RawSpiceBar - you get to try something new, without it being too lofty or complicated. 




We were rolling out the dough when I realized I don't have a single cookie cutter. How boring is that?! I had to use a drinking glass, but hey, it made for the most perfectly round cookies. Delly enjoyed our cooking show as well. Notice the flour on her face and side! 





Guys, I can not convey how AMAZING this cookies are. Those Scandinavians know their Pepparkakor. Hehe, to be honest I have no idea how to even pronounce that. I'm happy to share this recipe (just leave me your email in the comments!), but it just won't be the same without the RawSpiceBar's blend of spices! I keep thinking about what a great gift this would be for that foodie friend we all have. 

Leave me a comment: Do you have trouble finding ingredients in your grocery store? Do you think you'd enjoy a spice subscription box? How do you feel about trying foods from other countries? 

Thanks so much to RawSpiceBar for sponsoring this post! 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Book Club: Delirium


Summary: 
Deliriumis the first book in a Trilogy. Lena lives in a dystopian America where Love is considered a disease called Amor Deliria Nervosa and is therefore illegal. At 18 you are old enough to receive the Cure. Just before Lena is old enough for the Cure she meets a boy and falls in love. 

What I Didn't Like:
This is a YA book and so while I still like reading young adult, sometimes it feels, well, young. Lena basically falls for the very first guy she ever talks to. As someone who is actually in love, it seemed pretty shallow to me. Their relationship is juvenile. But that also makes sense in the context of this world.
I also felt like the world building in this book could have been a lot better. Seemed like the focus was just on the love story and not the world around it, so some details just don't make sense. 

What I Liked: 
This book is written beautifully! Lauren Oliver is an excellent writer and her descriptions make you feel things! I also love the concept of this book. A world without love. How do you parent? Love is the source of so many other feelings and reactions, that a world without it is kind of mind boggling. I loved the quotes from other 'books' and the Book of Shhh that started each chapter. So clever! & I loved that the Bible was rewritten in this world, because love is the overall theme of the Bible. 
The whole premise that love is a disease is also super clever. Love does have side-effects just like any other disease and it is the source of a lot of drama. And understandably, a world without love has it's problems which makes for a very interesting story.


Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars (1: hated it, 2: didn't like it, 3: liked it, 4:liked it, 5: loved it)
Overall I liked this book! Cool premise with beautiful writing, even though the love story felt a bit off for me. Since I read Delirium I have read the 2nd book in the series and liked it a lot more! Both books have huge cliffhangers.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My top-ten all time favorite songs!

The question "what type of music do you like?" gives me major anxiety! When my brain tries to process the question I can feel a deep cavern open up in my mind and my little brain cells scrambling to find the correct file. I have always had such a variety in my music selection. Country music doesn't even bother me. I went through a phase early in High School of liking harder rock music, which evokes such a funny mental picture- a little preppy white girl listening to some of that stuff. 

Some days I feel like listening to a Disney soundtrack and others I want to belt out a song from 2005! I can't choose just one favorite song, but here are my top 10 favorites! Hit the play button as I explain myself! Also, these are not in any particular order.



one// You Make My Dreams - Hall & Oates 
This song just makes me want to dance and it makes me happy! 

two// The Girl - City and Color
If I had to pick a very favorite this might be it. It's like super long too. I actually like all City and Color songs but this one is my fav.

three// Question - Old 97's
This song reminds me of when Blake and I were dating, so it's probably more nostalgia than anything. Such a sweet and romantic song. 

four// Cute Without the E - Taking Back Sunday
I know every word of this song and have such fond memories of screaming it out loud with the windows down in the car. It's on my running playlist too so it always gets me energized. 

five// Banana Pancakes - Jack Johnson 
A much more chill song that I love listening to while making dinner or breakfast for that matter. 

six// First Day of My Life - Bright Eyes
Another romantic song that I think is timeless. His voice is so shaky but it sounds so sincere. 

seven// Sugar, We're Goin Down - Fall Out Boy
I love me some Fall Out Boy, hehe. This song takes me right back to 2005 and all that teenage angst. Those feelings are so real and you feel like music is the only way to express yourself. 

eight// Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
This playlist is turning so random! James Taylor makes me think of my mom. She wore out this CD when I was a kid and it just makes me think of that time. I swear I will name my future son James so I can sing him this song. 

nine// Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
They played this on the radio to death, but I still love it and I haven't gotten sick of it yet. Also it makes me think of Rockband and all the fun we had playing that with our friends. 

ten// Island In The Sun - Weezer
Can't do this playlist without including Weezer! I love the whole blue album, but this one is my very favorite of their collection. Perfect drive to the beach song

bonus(es)// Polaroid - Imagine Dragons // She Is Love - Parachute //  Good Life - One Republic
Okay, I knew I couldn't narrow it down to ten. Imagine Dragons is one of my favorite bands so it's hard to pick just one song from them. She is Love is another sweet romantic song. I used to hate One Republic! But, this song was on a Disney commercial and it made me feel all warm inside and since then it's been one of my favorites. 

Leave me a comment: Do we share any favorites? Do you have a hard time narrowing it down too? Do you love all types of music? 


Saturday, December 19, 2015

First 'Cold' Day in Florida

Boots: Famous Footwear (last year) {similar}
Tee: American Eagle (old)
Vest: Old Navy via Poshmark
Watch: Kate Spade
Necklace: Monogram Online

Yay! Temperatures here in North Florida are actually seasonal appropriate for once. I have had such blogger envy over the past few months. Everyone has been putting together the cutest fall outfits and we had yet to see below 70 degrees. I can't do the really cold weather, so I'm not complaining too much. But, when you are wearing shorts and a tank top while everyone else is taking pictures of their first snows of the year, you do get a little FOMO. 

This outfit is the most comfortable thing I could put on. You do kind of lose your waist in a vest, so that is something to weigh against the comfort. I sweat so easily, so the vest is the perfect extra layer for me. I get to be warm, but my armpits are free! Still have my eye out for a good deal on one of those famous Herringbone ones. 

Also can I take a quick sec to talk about how much I LOVE J Crew jeans?! These are the matchstick ones, and I adore that they come in waist/inseam measurements, just like a guy's pants! I finally have jeans that are long enough! Even American Eagle's long jeans are too short for me after I wash them.