Friday, December 31, 2010

Smooth Criminal...

Wanted: Female Yellow Lab who ate my Uggs while I was getting ready for work this morning.
We believe the Suspect is Riley J. Connoisseur of fine chewing sticks that holds a past record of chewing the corner of a new couch.



The hole. Please excuse my awfully done mani.

Yup- the Uggs are done. Well, mostly. I was getting ready this morning and thought "uh oh, the house is too quiet." I made my way downstairs....and well, you saw the pictures. Riley was innocently perched on her doggie bed, Ugg in mouth.

I was upset, but had to laugh. The boy HATES my Uggs. He's constantly pretending to throw them away, give them to the puppy, or insulting them. I immediately called him to let him know his wish came true! haha He actually felt bad and said "I guess I know what you're getting for Valentine's Day". 

I'm not a full on Ugg wearing kind of girl. I've had these for 5 years now and originally got them because I had to stand outside in the Penn State Winter (brrrr!). Now, they mostly come out around the house, to walk the dog, and the few and far between grocery shopping run.

And really, how can you be mad at a face like this?

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! See you in 2011 :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I drank the Crew'lade.

After seeing the Wool Bell Skirt on several JCA's and Jen over at Jen Loves Kev, I regretted not trying it on in store. Scouring the sale section over at JCrew- tada! The wool bell skirt was on sale! In a great color, henna (remember, I need more color)! 

But...crap. It's final sale. Friends don't let friends shop final sale....

Well, I threw caution to the wind and "drank the Crew'lade" as the fabulous Gigi puts it. And for once, Final Sale didn't bite me back!*

{For some reason, Polyvore isn't cooperating. Sorry for the lack of interaction!}

Welcome to my closet pretty red skirt! The color is a deeper rust red that goes beautifully with grays, navy, brown and black. I received the Loft Cozy Cable V-neck for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) in Galaxy and paired the two right away. Next, I want to try a girly ruffled blouse (like this new one from Loft) topped with a long charcoal cardi. It's so fun integrating a new piece with my neutral basics! I think this is definitely a "working piece" for my closet.

Any other styling ideas? 

*I'm pretty sure this is a once in a JCrew lifetime thing and will never happen ever again. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The perfect start to a long day...

Recently, I learned how to make the perfect chai tea latte. My friend, A, turned me on to Chai about a year ago with it's spicy sweet aroma and creamy texture. Starbucks did it pretty well, Brew HaHa even better, and a local spot- Eeffocs - was fantastic. Unfortunately, at $4+ a drink, I had to temper my cravings and decide if I "earned" it or not.

Upon getting a Keurig from the boy last Christmas, I significantly cut back on my "grande non fat hazelnut vanilla latte" kick and started making coffee every morning at home. Why couldn't I do the same with my chai latte obsession?? If only it were so easy...

I started by trying out the chai pods for the Keurig. Meh. Watery, not creamy. And a weak sweetness, lacking the spice.

I moved on to Tazo tea Chai Teabags. I brewed 2 bags for a concentrated spice, topped off with a little hot water and lots of skim milk. Again- watery...and it tasted like watery skim milk :(

Next, Tazo tea Chai Tea concentrate. It's what they use at Starbucks! It has to be perfect! But without the foamed milk, it fell short.

Finally, I stumbled across Oregon Chai Tea Latte Concentrate on Melissa's blog,
Stay Forever Sunday. The way she described the lattes she created made my mouth water! Of course, she's from NC. There's no way it will be around here (but I'll check Trader Joe's next time I wander through). Lo and behold, a week later I found the concentrate on a bottom shelf at Target! I immediately scooped up a box and hustled home...

So- how do you make the perfect chai tea latte at home? You'll need:

6oz The Original Oregon Chai Tea Latte Concentrate
6oz Organic Skim Milk (I prefer Horizon Organics)

1 Tazo Chai Teabag for an extra dose of flavor

Blend the milk and concentrate in a mug or large measuring cup. For a hot latte- microwave for 2 minutes and add the tea bag. For an iced latte- pour over ice and add the tea bag (maybe 2 if you want a stronger flavor over the ice).

Easy, right?! Well, it gets better. Here's the breakdown:

The homemade latte sets you back 207 calories for 12oz, comparable to store bought counterparts.
Since a box of concentrate makes around 5 lattes, it costs me only 65 cents per latte!* That's a vice I can handle :)

*Assuming I have milk in the house. Get technical, it costs 95 cents.
Oregon Chai Concentrate can be found at Trader Joe's, Giant Food, and Target (at least in the Delaware area)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Champagne, Fireworks, and Self Modification. Bring on 2011!

It's that time again...the New Year! A chance for us to leave all the bad things in 2010 and start fresh in 2011. I usually set lofty goals that I can only maintain for 2-3 weeks before getting burned out, but I want to change that this year. Changing too many things at once is just a recipe for burnout, so I want to make a few tweaks here and there to make me more rounded have a better year in general.

I'm sure you've read dozens of lists so far, but here's mine anyway :)
  • Stay in touch better. My best girlfriends and I have come to the realization that we are far too comfortable not talking on a regular basis. My plan: take at least 20 minutes to email them each week. I write emails all day to my work colleagues, my mom, etc. I tweet a dozen times a day. Why not put some of that to good use?

  • Eat out less often. This one was thrown onto the table by the boy. We have one "date night" a week where we go out, but we were buying lunches 3-5x a week instead of making our own. I love to cook, so I want to add in to this one "make a new recipe each week" to get me back in front of the stove. (Hopefully, that will translate to more/better blog content too! haha)

  • Start working out again. My job pretty much requires that I be in good shape, yet I'm majorly slacking. The boy and I are joining the Y on January 1st (no signup fees!) and I'm getting back in the pool! I love swimming more than any other sport (yoga is a close second though) and want to start training for another triathlon asap.

  • Make my closet a "working closet". I've mentioned KendiEveryday before, and now she's doing a series on making your closet work for you. My style has evolved a ton from high school through college to now. Ever have those days where there is just "nothing to wear"? I'm there. EVERY DAY. So it's time for a change. I've purged a ton, but there is more to do. If anyone is a size 4-8 in bottoms and a small-medium on top, let me know!
So 4 resolutions and 12 months to complete them (Well, 5 if you count this one!). I'm not going to donate my closet and go to spin class every morning come Jan 1st (let the hangover die down first), but I am going to work towards completing each and every one in little baby steps. What are your Resolutions for 2011? If you have any tips on how to keep them, share please!

photo credit: popstar

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bubble Bath!

Last night, I decided to do something I haven't done in 6 years: Take a bubble bath. It. Was. Glorious.

After living in college housing, sharing a bathroom with 2 roommates, and the awful peeling tub of the last condo, I finally had my chance. Aside from trying to keep Riley out of the tub and eating all the bubbles, it was total relaxation. I forgot about my mounting Christmas to do list and vegged for at least a half hour.

I'm a little bit of an addict for "spa products", and these are the few of my favorites that made it out of the cabinet last night.

  • Bliss Triple Oxygen Face Mask: I've never been to a Bliss Spa, but I live by their products. Using this mask 1-2x per week gives my skin a pick me up like no other. It's hydrating too- unlike heavy clay masks I've used in the past.

  • Philosophy Vanilla Birthday Cake: mmmmm...I got this in a Sephora VIB reward pack. Not the best bubbles, but it smells just like the real thing!

  • A Gel Eye Mask: Mine is from the Body Shop. Chill it, heat it up, whatever suits your need. The boy will pop this in the freezer for me if I have a headache and it works wonders.

  • The Body Shop Spiced Vanilla Body Scrub: I had never used the Body Shop's scrubs until last night. They are more of an abrasive lotion than a salt scrub- which was a nice change of pace. The creamy texture did a good job on my knees and elbows while moisturizing at the same time. I'm not one for floral scents, so the warm vanilla tones of this fit my needs perfectly!

  • Capri Blue Peeled Navel Orange candle: Every girl needs a little mood lighting :) and with the strong scents of vanilla in the products I used, the faint orange didn't overpower.

  • The perfect fluffy white robe: enough said.

{Now, back to that Christmas To-Do list!}

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jingle Bells and Nothing to Wear

This weekend was amazing! The boy and I hosted our first "grown up" party and it went fantastically. Great people, good food, and a fun White Elephant (alcohol themed so everyone got something, and not a Chia Pet!) Of course, we were so excited, we forgot to take pictures :( I need to be better with that!

The only problem- what to wear?! I had been running around non stop for the past week trying to get the food, drinks, and house together and never stopped to think about getting MYSELF together. Luckily, my sister came over an hour early, took over the kitchen and I found something hiding in my closet. I wish it were more festive though!

So Sunday, with the post party letdown, I got to looking at everyone else's holiday outfits. Pretty sparkles, cheery colors, and lots of boyfriend blazers over party dresses! Why didn't I think of that? Oh I know...I don't have a blazer. Then out of nowhere- Kendi over at KendiEveryday posts the cutest (on her) black blazer from Target!

Immediately the "must get" voice went off in my head. And get I did. Unfortunately, I am still not much of a blazer girl. Instead of looking chic, it looks like the $30 it cost. And none too flattering outside the dressing room.

Back it goes... but it made me think. What's your holiday party style?

Friday, December 17, 2010

warming things up.

Our townhouse is around 110 years old and has a ton of character, even though the interior has been remodeled half a dozen times since. Exposed brick walls, fancy woodwork around window frames, and my first real fireplace since moving out of my parents' home. With Christmas around the corner, I'm especially excited about the last part.

I've already decorated the mantle, hung a wreath and picked out stockings for Riley, the boy, and myself, but there was something missing...

Since the house is older, we have no clue when the chimney has been cleaned last. Instead of being a fire risk, I think I am going to do a candle-scape instead of a roaring fire this year.

Christmas Fireplace from younghouselove, pillar candles in white fireplace from, rustic candles from Google images- unknown credit

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's Snowing!

It's officially our first snowfall! We've had a few flurries here and there, but this time it's actually sticking. In true First State fashion, everyone is freaking out and has forgotten how to drive. So, instead of braving the elements, I'm searching for a new winter coat!

During a trip to NYC with the fam last weekend, I lost 2 buttons on my current coat- a great Guess brown wool number. Short, but warm with great details. For my next coat, I have a few guidelines:

  • Long. Or longER. My last coat showed off the bottom of my long cardis, etc. This time around, I'd like to be completely covered up.
  • Closed collar. I have a gorgeous dress coat from The Limited, but I have to wear 2 scarves to make up for the open neckline.
  • A defined waistline. It's cold, that doesn't mean I have to look like a sack of potatoes!
Pretty simple, but I had a hard time finding some favorites. These might fit the bill though...

winter coats

What do you think? The JCrew and DKNY are about the same in terms of styling, but I like that the DKNY trench comes in a deep hunter green. I'm the queen of neutrals- maybe it's time for some color?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Miserable.

Something awful has happened... I'm allergic to wrapping paper.

Yes, I woke up this morning, left eye swollen shut. It looks like I've replaced my left eyelid with Jabba the Hut.

Some might be thrilled- Hand off the wrapping! But next to giving presents, my favorite thing is to wrap them.... ribbon, bows, coordinated color schemes right out of a Norman Rockwell picture. I veered a bit from the traditional this year and found a great cartoony print...and now I'm paying the price.

I know everyone says "pictures make the blog", but I'm going to spare you all this one and return to my benadryl and warm compresses :(

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet Miss Riley

There is a very special little girl in my life- Riley! Ok, she's not so much a girl as a female dog...but any dog lovers will agree with me. She's my little buddy and I can't imagine life without her (Although, being able to sleep in on Sundays would be amazing).

She'll be on here a good bit- mostly for things she eats. Yes, she's a good girl, but at almost 11 months, she's still a puppy. We've lost shoes, socks, important paperwork (address change forms, anyone?), and the corner of my beloved couch.

But how can you be mad at a face like this?

New kid on the block...

One of my "New Year Resolutions" was to start my own little life blog. Since I'm a great procrastinator, I figured starting early would be the way to go!

Why start a blog? Partially because I'm inspired by others on the Blogger community and writing comments became more difficult. I wanted to say more! I'm not looking to become well known, make a ton of money and become the next "big blogger", I just want to have a little place to put it all out there.

My friend filled me in on the other reason: Blogs are a little bit narcissistic.
Heck, why not?

So this is my little red deck. Once it gets warmer, I plan on spending my afternoons outside on my own real deck- drinking chai lattes, making lists and hanging out with the adorable Riley (you'll meet her soon). But for now, I'll hang out here.