Thursday, August 21, 2014

The World is our Oyster, Right?

Earlier this week, Layne texted me at work and asked if I wanted to go to the Nats game because - why not? So, off to Craigslist we went and found some tickets.

Our seats were amazing, maybe 10 rows back, parallel with the pitching mound on the third baseline. As we sat down I said, "Wow - you really got these tickets for only $15 a piece!?" And Layne, nonchalantly replied "Yeah, but he wanted $70 each."

HOW?! How do you talk someone down from $140 to $30?! The game wasn't until 7 p.m. and Layne had these tickets secured by noon, so this was no desperate Criagslister. I don't know about you, but if someone tells me $70, I'm offering $50 not $15!

But that's Layne. He never takes no for an answer. He asks for things that nobody else asks for. Once we were at ColdStone, and he asked for a sample of Birthday Cake Remix and they mashed it all up and gave it to him. Who even thinks to ask for that? Just Layne. I know it's small, but it's an example of his overall attitude toward life.

He has this amazing way of viewing the world - it's his for the taking. He operates under the guise that he can and will do as he pleases, and he is relentless once he sets his mind on something. Instead of asking "why?" he always asks "why not?" I am the kind of person who is determined, but can quickly become deterred if an obstacles apppears. If Layne wants something, absolutely nothing will stop him or he didn't really want it. Being with him is like magic. People give you things and do things for you that would never happen if you were on your own. Free sodas, seat upgrades on airplanes, cuts in line, and casual job offers fall into his lap.

I do not possess that kind of charisma. But, I can adopt that attitude. When I, too, act like everything will work out for me, it almost always does. I don't necessarily believe in karmic energy or anything like that, but I do believe that a positive outlook and strong work ethic will take you far.

Why don't we all view the world this way? It's a vast place, but we can conquer each day if we decide to.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Quick and SUPER simple recipe for you today! I love pancakes, but sometimes want a break from the norm. Although, normal pancakes for me involve bacon, chocolate chips, peanut butter, whipped cream, and maple syrup... but that's a recipe for another day.

A lighter option is to whip up a strawberry topping - and it is seriously amazing. The tartness cuts through the heaviness of the pancakes, and topping the whole thing with a generous (always generous) helping of whipped cream is the best way to start your weekend. This would also be really good on an ice cream sundae - yum!

So, basically, all we're doing is speeding up the process of mascerating the strawberries and bringing out their flavor.

First, rough chop some strawberries. You could dice them if you wanted to, but I like to just give them a rough chop and keep a bit more texture. Second, throw in some sugar and lemon zest. The amount of sugar depends on how sweet you want it (obviously), but it will become looser and more like a syrup the more sugar you add. I like it a little more tart, especially if I am adding the whipped cream, but Layne likes it to be more syrupy and sugary sweet, so I add a bit more for him. Next, toss the strawberries in the sugar and put them on the stove over low heat. You can just let it sit and give it a quick stir every few minutes while you whip up your pancakes. Finally, I give it a quick turn with the hand blender. If you added more sugar earlier, you probably don't need to do this, but if you want it completely like a syrup, then I'd still recommend it.

1 lb strawberries, 1/2 cup - 1 cup sugar (preference), 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Monday, August 18, 2014

Home Tour {Part 2}

As promised, here is the second half of my living space. With 600 sq. ft., you have two spaces - living and sleeping. I shared our TV and sitting area a few weeks ago, and this week is more about the office/kitchen table area. This space is all about function.

This is pretty much the worst picture ever taken, but it does give you an idea of the layout of the space and just how much light my paint color sucks up. The big picture window from the sitting area is 10 ft. away and wide open, and this area is still super dark. Also, I hate that office chair but it's Layne's and he insisted on comfort over fashion. Sigh...
  Here's a picture taken in that exact same spot toward the sitting area.

The gallery wall. A huge thanks to my mom for helping me make sense of it! I love the mirror reflecting the light from the window. But again - this wall is FACING the window, which you can see is open, and it is still this dark. I honestly have the worst paint color in the world.

I have to admit, we pretty much use the kitchen table as extra counter space. I am ashamed to show you the kitchen. It is as small as a kitchen could possibly be and still call itself a kitchen. It has all the necessities, and nothing more. Necessities include a mini stove, 12 inches of counter space, and a single drawer. Necessities do not include a microwave or full-sized fridge. So, this space is usually covered in pots and pans and cutting boards while we're cooking.

(Note the completely random, mid-wall electrical outlet. Why...?)

You can probably tell by the tone of this post that overall I don't like these spaces as much as I like the sitting area. It's weird extra space. There's plenty of it, but I'd much rather have a functional kitchen or bigger closet instead. Still, I've tried to make the most of it.

Do you have any oddly shaped rooms? How do you increase their functionality? Any tips for me?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Want It Wednesday | Early Fall Clothing

Yesterday's post got me so inspired! I kept thinking about all those jewels tones while doing some online shopping for early fall, and I think it shows in my picks! I love when the seasons majorly change and I get to switch over into my winter or summer wardrobe. I have always forgotten about half of it, so it's nice to see it again and feel like I have fresh options.

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7

What do you have your eye on for early fall?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Color Trends for 2015

I saw this article the other day on Twitter and was so inspired. ElleDecor and House Beautiful took a look at color trends for 2015 and their finds were just too good not to share. Basically, gray is still the hottest neutral around, pops of color are still encouraged, and jewel tones are making a big come back. Deep blues, ruby, olive green, plum - these luxurious colors will be everywhere.


Don't these rooms all look so grand, yet cozy? Layne has been warning me for years that I have a love affair with jewel tones that he is not into, so I may not really be able to indulge in this trend. I firmly believe the house is as much his as mine, so if he doesn't like a design decision then it needs to be switched. But I'm still swooning over the richness and warmth! 

Would you decorate with jewel tones? What do you think of these colors for 2015?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Weekending! {Linkup}

This weekend was very much needed. Things are getting increasingly busy at work, and after the week I had, I needed to recharge.

Layne suggested going to Home Depot and Target on Friday night and I just about had to pick my jaw up off the floor. He hates taking me to either, so for him to suggest it was, to put it lightly, a pleasant surprise. I think it may have been out of pity, but I'm ok with that.

I think I maybe killed this plant? My mom told me that you could return plants to Home Depot for up to a year, so I thought I may as well take it with me. It has been dead for a solid two months, and I only bought it three months ago. Well, she was wrong. I had three months to return it, and I missed it by a week. CLEARLY this plant has not become this desiccated in a single week, but whatever. I just left it on a shelf in their garden area. Regardless of getting my $10 back, maybe they can resurrect it. I don't deserve to own plants. 

I had asked Layne to help me with a few home projects, so Saturday he got to work on fixing that stupid IKEA dresser. I'll have to share the fix a bit later, but I LOVE that my towels are not all over my living room anymore. It has only been broken for, oh, about three years. I asked Layne to fix it just last week and have no idea why I waited so long.

Saturday night we made it out to Wolf Trap (bucket list!) to watch Jim Gaffigan. We got some Smash Burger with friends first, then drove over to Wolf Trap and plopped our blanket out on the lawn. I had a bunch of candy, there were no mosquitoes, a full moon, and Jim Gaffigan. Pretty much a perfect summer night.

Sunday, we binged. I had been wanting fondue, so Layne made some and it was soooooo good. Fondue is supposed to be a social thing, but the room was almost silent as we both shoveled gooey, perfectly melted cheese into our mouths. It was just the sort of indulgence I needed before beginning another long week!

Linking up with B~loved Boston!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friendship Fives

I'm feeling a bit somber today as I write my Five for Friday. I realized this week that a friend wasn't exactly who I thought, and it really hurt. I don't want to be hurt, but it's the shock of it all. You know that punched in the gut feeling? I've got a bit of that and can't seem to shake it. No matter how many scoops of ice cream I try to tap down on top...

Lately I've been thinking a bit about friendship in general. My best friend lives in Australia. Most of my other friends live closer than that, but not exactly in the same city... or even state actually. And while I may not always have a friend nearby to go to the movies or Home Goods with, I am blessed with some truly amazing people in my life. My mom always told me that "you only need one" when it comes to friendship, and I'm grateful that I've learned quality over quantity.

So... in honor of all the great friendships I have had over the years... and in hopes of cheering myself up a bit... here are five qualities I value in a good friend, represented by some of those who have always been there for me.

They accept you for who you are. 
My friend Amanda and I have very little in common besides the fact that we've known each other forever.  Most everyone has those people in their lives, but I lived in 4 different states by the time I was 14, so keeping in touch was no easy feat. Even though we always have been and always will be entirely different people, we never try to change each other. It's that acceptance that keeps our friendship strong.

You can talk (and laugh) about anything. 
Well, I obviously think she's hilarious. This is my best friend, Jess, who sadly lives just about as far away from me as she possibly could. But we find odd hours to call each other, or she'll facebook chat me in the middle of her night when I'm just getting to work, and the conversation goes on and on and on until real life gets in the way again. We can (and pretty much do) tell each other everything - no judgment - and call each other on our bull crap. It takes a true friend to tell you you're being a prima donna, and I'm lucky I have her to bring my back down to earth.

No matter how much time has passed, you can slip right back into each other's lives.
This is my friend Jess (left) and our friend Brittany (right); we were all roommates the summer after freshman year. Brittany is completely great in her own right, but Jess and I just connect. Maybe it's the fact that though we'd known each other all of five minutes before I got the summer flu, she brought me a bucket to puke in and held back my hair. Clearly, she's a saint and that kind of experience just bonds people, you know? Months can go by where we don't talk, but then we catch each other on the phone and spill it all and it's like we never stopped. No matter what's going on with us or where we're at, we just get each other.

You don't try to impress each other.

Never have I had a friend that has taught me this more than Amy. We are who we are, warts and all, and we completely adore each other. We don't have to be doing a dang thing and we can be in complete bliss. She has seen me at absolute rock bottom and still wants to be my friend, so I pretty much think she's amazing. I'm telling you, friends like her come around once in a lifetime.

You uplift and support each other.
Can you tell she makes me really happy? She is always there to cheer me on and tell me that I'm a much better person than I actually am. Jess has taught me a lot about loving someone enough to work to keep them in your life, and she makes every effort worth it. She has gone through a lot, and she still has enough left to lend me a comforting ear and put me back on the right track. 

Wow - this post was really cathartic! Looking at all the amazing friends I have, those represented here and not, I realize why quantity over quality has always been my take on friendship. I wouldn't trade a single one of these girls for anything in the world.

Are you lucky enough to have friends in your life that truly love and uplift you? What makes a good friend to you?

Linking up with Karli and Amy!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Checking in on Resolutions

Well... it is a little past halfway through the year. But I also made my resolutions a little late, so that's ok.

My goal this year...

So, how am I doing? Pretty good I think! I am generally a pretty happy person, but I am feeling overall more active in my life and my decisions, and really enjoy the things I have begun putting more effort into.

As for the more specific goals...

1. Travel somewhere new.
 Check! Helsinki really takes the cake on this one. It was an amazing experience, and my first time traveling abroad by myself. Thank heavens the Fins speak English!

2. Bake more from scratch and begin building a recipe collection.
Ok - not so much with the baking... but when I have, it's mainly been from scratch. And I would say building a better recipe collection is well on its way. 

3. Study interior design.
This is one I think I'm doing well on. It is hard to "study" without taking classes, but I'm really immersing myself in different things, exploring sites, etc. In fact, I've decided to begin a new series here to share what I learn. I have really just begun to dip my toe, but I love spending my time expanding my knowledge. This definitely makes my soul happy.

4. Take a calligraphy class.
Well, can't win them all. Haven't even touched this one, but I do really need to - my handwriting is atrocious!

5. Begin learning Spanish.
We'll gloss over this one, as well. It is a lifelong goal, so I won't be too hard on myself for not moving a single inch closer to accomplishing it.

6. Read more.
Again - Check! I have loved reading more this past year. I was always a reader growing up, and somehow I really fell out of the habit during college. Picking it back up this year has brought me a lot of pleasure. 

Did you make any New Year's resolutions? How are they coming along? If you've blogged about them, include a link!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bangin' Banana Bread - MmmmMMmmm

So... we let some bananas get a little too ripe. We've all been there.

When this would happen growing up, my mom would always throw them in the freezer and make some banana bread in the next couple of weeks. I followed suit and decided this weekend that I should give it a go. I had actually never made banana bread before, but I looked around and combined these two recipes, both from Your Cup of Cake (Recipe A, Recipe B). 

1 1/4 cup ripe bananas, mashed (I used 3)
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs beaten
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 340 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. 
  2. In a small bowl, use a fork to finely mash the bananas. 
  3. Pour milk into a liquid measuring cup at just under 1/3 c and add lemon juice to the milk. Let sit at least 2 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs. Add oil to the eggs and beat again. Add the milk and vanilla and beat again. Add the mashed bananas and - you guessed it - beat one more time.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together. Then, stir in the brown sugar. 
  6. Slowly add the dry to the wet, mix until just combined. Fold in the pecans. Add the batter to the prepared loaf pan. 
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes (or until it passes the clean toothpick test). 
  8. Remove from oven, let sit 30 minutes, and serve!

Monday, August 4, 2014

For the Love of a Chili Dog

Confession: I am a chili dog addict.
The first time I came to D.C., Layne took me around to all his old haunts. Since he lived a little further out in Northern Virginia and he knows I have an intense love for chili dogs, we had to hit up the Vienna Inn. It's a total dive, but the chili dogs are only $2, and I devoured 3 or 4 dogs before I was satisfied. And then I craved them for the entire 9 months I was away.

When we moved out here, Vienna Inn was one of the first places we went to. But then I began to hear about this other magical chili dog purveyor - Ben's Chili Bowl. At the time it was only in D.C. in the U Street corridor, which was not exactly a neighborhood I frequented. But, hey - I'll go anywhere for a good chili dog, so within a month we found ourselves making the trek.

Picture from my first visit.
Wow. Spicy chili, crisp snap to the dog - I was sold. And after years of living a good 30-40 minutes from either the Vienne Inn or Ben's, or only being able to grab Ben's at a Nats game, this spring Ben's opened a location in Arlington. (Cue celebratory dance.)

It pretty much made my year.

Layne and I went opening weekend, and when my mom visited she made sure we went twice. Turns out, she loves chili dogs just as much as I do. My White Trash roots run deep.

As a complete bonus, Detroit is known for their coney dogs (which is just really just another name for chili dogs). So when I'm in The D, I get to feed my addiction at Lafayette! Because locals know there is no real competition between American and Lafayette.

If I have a chili dog in hand, I'm a pretty happy camper.

Last weekend at the Nats game.
 Check out my D.C. page for more recommendations on where to eat in the Capitol.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Twitter is kiiiiiinda Awesome

(Did you ever see that David Spade show "Rules of Engagement?" It is not very good, but it is available on Netflix, so I watched all 10 seasons because I'm awesome like that. In any case, the title is supposed to be read in David Spade's characters high-pitched, drawn out "kiiiiiinda.)"

But, alas, I digress...

Things are getting crazy busy at work this week, so we'll keep this week's Friday 5 pretty simple.

Top 5 Favorite Things on Twitter This Week
Guys, I may be addicted to Twitter. I recently started really getting into it thanks in large part to this article, and it has totally changed the way I use it. I already was of the opinion that it is borderline insane to not have a Twitter account in the modern world simply for news purposes, but WOW. So, without further ado, the 5 best things I saw on Twitter this week... 

 { Meghan + Twitter = True Love }

Princess Diana's 20 Best Style moments via @GoodHouseKeeping 

@aa_Stardust wrote a really nice blog about how to be better human. It's nice to be nice. 

@epicurious gave me 6 solid reasons to bust out my slow cooker this summer - yum.   

@Blogformatting is hosting a FREE workshop on 3 easy ways to get blog traffic from Facebook. Sign up and join us tomorrow!

@HouseBeautiful challenges you to tell the before from the after in this awesome quiz. I only missed one (which gave me unreasonable jubilation) - what can you get?

Follow me on Twitter for more goodies like this and I'll follow you back!

Linking up with September Farm today - holla at my farm girl!

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