Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Shake it off, off, off

Pic from the office.

Goodness, it's been awhile since I updated this thing.

How are you?

I'm doing okay, can't complain. Thanks for asking!

Gosh, this sounds like a conversation you have with someone that you really don't want to have a conversation with. Like when you're at the grocery store and you see someone you know and do absolutely everything in your power to avoid that person, but then you mistakenly let your guard down for a few seconds because you're not sure what kind of cereal you want and then find yourself standing in the same aisle by the Kellogg's Special K and you're trapped.

Or maybe that's just me.

I'm not much of a people person.

Because I'm really, really bad at small talk. I don't know how to keep conversations light and airy and completely impersonal. I'm always like, "Hi! How are you? I was so sorry to read about the [insert tragic thing here] on Facebook. Hey, look! They make Special K with almonds now!"

My brain is constantly like, "Hey, you know that thing you shouldn't bring up int he middle of a a very public place with someone you haven't spoken to in months? Yeah, talk about that."

Clayton says I lack tact.

He's not wrong.

What's been going on with me, you ask? Not too terribly much.

I mean, not too much beyond decorating my beagle in Christmas lights, that is.


The hubs and I decided to switch it up this year and are gonna roll with colored lights instead of the white lights we've used for the past 5 Christmases we've been married.

White Christmas lights is a tradition I've always had. I grew up with white lights on some of the most beautiful, ornately decorated trees in the history of Christmas trees (my mom has quite the eye for design). So on one of the very first Christmases after my parents got divorced, my dad put up a fake tree with colored lights in his apartment and I distinctly remember being ever-so-traumatized. "My parents don't love each other AND we have a fake tree with colored lights!?"

Apparently I didn't do so hot with change back then, either.

So we're gonna try colored lights this year and our goal is to make our tree look as old school as possible. The word "tinsel" was even uttered once or twice.

But Clayton and I absolutely refuse to put up our Christmas tree before Thanksgiving ... 

... so we have our Christmas tree sitting in a bucket of water out in the garage until this weekend. 

Like, I have to park in the driveway now and everything just to accommodate this tree (that I've named Scott).

I also recently spent an afternoon getting a jump-start on some holiday baking with my mum. 

As you may or may not know, one of my maternal grandmothers (my Nana) was Italian and my strongest memories of her are the tins of delicious Italian cookies that she would mail to our house every holiday season. We tried our hand at recreating a few favorites as well as trying some new recipes from a website called called Cooking with Nona


Don't ask me to list the names of everything on that plate because I don't remember. I just know that they were yummy. 

There have also been some rather fun happenings at work. We shot a video for our annual Bliss holiday party in December (an amazing celebration of us, our clients and other local businesses that rock) and our concept included renting a snow machine and having oodles of fun with a slow motion camera. At the end of the day we had some time to kill and boss lady decided we need to record a few minutes of "just us girls". This is what happened:


Lemme know if you can spot me. :p

Oh, and I also decided against cutting off my hair. At least until after the holidays. Tying my hair back so I can wrap my face in a scarf is a luxury I just don't want to give up right now.


If I don't talk to you before Turkey Day, enjoy this post and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Whacked a guy

Something is broken in the lowering mechanism on the trunk of Clayton's car. As a result, his car's trunk doesn't gently close so much as it slams shut ... and without warning. Well, on Sunday night, Clayton went into his trunk for something and was practically decapitated when the trunk lid bashed the back of his skull.

He seemed mostly fine and we applied ice to the area for quite some time, but several days later, in true Courtney form, I started to wonder/worry that he had possibly gotten a concussion.

And you know how these things go ...






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Considering it







No, I'm not debating cutting my hair. Why do you ask?

Just kidding. Because I totally am. I can't stop looking at pictures of cropped tresses. My college roommate took the plunge and got herself a PIXIE CUT and it's so cute and so bold and so daring ... and I'm over here lookin' like Ms. Frizzle with my hair in a messy bun because it's too heavy to do anything else. 

Oh gosh, Clayton would be SO UPSET. True story: Every time I go to my stylist for a trim and color she asks me, "So, if your hair long enough for your husband yet?" And the answer is always "No." Clayton has admitted that he won't be satisfied until my hair is long enough to cover the entirety of my boobs so I can walk around like Alanis Morrisette in her "Thank U" video. 


My hair IS getting long. It hasn't been this long in years, and I both love and hate it. 


When I have the time to put in the effort, I love it. I mean, what girl doesn't love a headful of soft waves?! (The one who has to spend an hour an entire can of hair spray to do it.) But when I'm short on time and barely have time to blow dry it? I loathe it. 

I have fine, painfully straight hair but it behaves much like a head of naturally curly hair: It gets super frizzy in the rain, cold and humidity. In fact, if you just look at my hair wrong, it'll go crazy. When we had our first frost in late October, my initial thought was, "Well, there goes any hope of a good hair day until next May."

So here I sit, debating cutting my hair off for the millionth time. It's okay to know your strengths and I know that I look best with hair that hits my shoulders or slightly above. It works for my hair's texture, my face shape, the size of my nose, the way my butt feels, the war on on terror, and a bunch of other scientific reasons I can't remember right now. 

But I am positively obsessed with messy buns and I don't know if I'm ready to give up the ability to throw my hair on top of my head in a rubber band (or scrunchy) and forget about it. I LOVE putting my hair in a top knot. I feel beautiful with my hair tossed carelessly on top of my head and I don't care if it makes me look ridiculous. It makes me feel good and there's not a lot of things I can easily say make me feel good. 

Well, except cake. 

And wine.

And dogs. 

And fuzzy socks. 

And wine. 

And flannel bed sheets. 

And beanie babies.

And wine.

And Kelly Clarkson's smile. 

And my husband. Yeah, him, too. 

Okay, so there are other things that make me feel really good, but I think you get my point. 

But I'm afraid of naked shoulders and I seriously think that shorter hair requires a different wardrobe and my Kohl's card can't even handle that right now. And even though Clayton isn't the boss of me or my hair, I very much care about his opinion on the matter and don't want to disappoint him. 

"It's just hair, it grows back." That's so easy to say when it's not YOUR HAIR. Plus, do you have any idea how long it took me to get my hair to this length? Over a year! I have the laziest hair follicles ever. Getting them to do anything is a massive uphill battle that I'm quickly losing patience for. 

Ugh, I just want to chop it off, dye it ombre, get another tattoo and sell my wares at a Farmer's Market (my wares being things I made out of popsicle sticks and unsolicited advice). That's the life I want. 

I may or may not be slightly buzzed right now.  #notsorry


Beefy Barley Stew

I said Brr! It's cold in here! Must be some flurries in the atmosphere!


I totally forgot this movie existing unit about 30 seconds ago. And what high school sports team didn't chant this cheer in the locker room before practice? I remember doing it during both softball and volleyball season and it was stupid and it was obnoxious and it was fun.

Anyway, it is SO COLD. Our thermostat said it was something outrageous like 11° degrees last night. I took one look at Clayton, who's recovering from some kind of flu/cold/his-body-hates-him-thing, and in unison we said, "Stew."

When I was writing out our menu for this week and making a list of things I needed from the grocery store, I knew I wanted to make something warm and soupy. So I asked Clayton to pick up a package of beef tips and various other things I assumed went into stew. I don't have a stew recipe, but it's not brain surgery, so I just winged it.

Lo' and behold! The stew was hearty, full of flavor and didn't need to cook for hours and hours in a slow cooker. I knocked the whole thing out on the stove in 45 minutes (minus time for forever chopping veggies.)


Courtney's Simple Beefy Barley Stew


Ingredients

  • 1 pound package of beef tips (or more if you like super chunky stew)
  • 4 cans of beef broth (or 2 cartons, depending on what your store has in stock around the holidays)
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • bag of celery, chopped
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup of quick barley oats
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped into fine pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon oregano

For roux (broth thickening agent)

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup flour

Directions

  • Sear beef tips in a skillet until cooked almost the whole way through
  • Add beef to large pot and pour in broth. Stir in veggies, barley and seasonings. 
  • Let mixture come to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
  • While mixture is simmering, melt sick of butter in a small pan. Once the butter is melted, slowly add in the flour and whisk until a blonde paste forms.  Let the roux bubble slightly and then continue to whisk back into smooth paste. 
  • Slowly add the roux to the stew and stir thoroughly. Let stew continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes. 

Should equate 6 adult servings (or 3 Courtney-sized servings). Serve with dinner rolls for maximum winter comfort food effect:


I found a killer recipe and made the above homemade buttery dinner rolls for my father-in-law's birthday dinner on Sunday, and we lucked out with some leftovers for our stew. But if you don't have time to make your own bread, store-bought is fine.


Enjoy!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Winter Wardrobe

I was approached by a representative from ModCloth.com to write a post about my cold-weather fashion picks. I was really excited to write the post until I learned that it had to be comprised entirely of clothing from ModCloth.com. I do love the site (especially their home decor), but I don't own a single article of their clothing and don't think it would be fair to write a post about clothes I've never put on my body.

Plus, posting mood boards of clothing I simply like does nothing for me or you, the readers. Otherwise, I could just post a link to Fossil.com and be like, "All of it."

But staying on the topic of winter fashion finds, I am more than happy to share a few of the items I've purchased for the upcoming colder temperatures. I pride myself on finding good deals and rarely pay full price for anything. So check out the following pieces I purchased (and have actually worn) to supplement my wardrobe for Winter 2014:

I'm a cardigan girl through-and-through. You can dress them down, you can dress them up—they're so versatile! Never underestimated the power of having an arsenal of Mr. Rogers sweaters in your wardrobe.


I purchased this mustard-colored boyfriend cardigan from Target because any woman with common sense shops at Target. I'm a huge fan of the boyfriend fit because it's long and loose and means I can eat a massive burrito for lunch and none will be the wiser.


This floral long-sleeve tee was purchased from Kohl's for a cool $10. I pair it with a crimson infinity scarf and some tall boots and skinny jeans and I am ready to roll. You know, I could probably even wear it under the mustard boyfriend cardigan.


This 3/4 length boxer t-shirt was also purchased from Target ($10) because ya know, dogs.


Again, from Target, this dark green flannel for $22 because I believe that grunge is alive and well. 

Finally, no winter wardrobe is complete without replenishing your winter sweaters. The few sweaters I do own are kind of tight and restricting because for some reason I enjoyed feeling like I was wearing a cotton corset when I had to wear dress clothes for work (You're gonna make me dress up every day? Well, I'll show you ... BY NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATHE.).

A few weeks ago I posted that I cashed in a birthday coupon from The Limited and was able to score a sweater on clearance FOR FREE. As you can tell, I'm still so proud of this. So, so proud. It has a lovely lace detail on the sides, plus a loose fit which me and my PMS absolutely need once a month.


I bought the above sweater from Aeropostale (the same day I snagged my free sweater from The Limited). For only $10, I now own a fuzzy sweater with a bunny on it. The 29 year-old part of my brain took one look at the sweater and said, "A bunny? REALLY?" And the 13 year-old part of my brain took one look at the sweater and said, "A bunny! REALLY!!!"

Last and certainly not least, I splurged on this olive green light-weight jacket to tie me over between summer and snow-apocalypse weather. Purchased from Kohl's, the jacket was originally $60 and coupons brought it down to about $25.


I didn't need any jeans or boots this year because I've stocked up for the past few seasons. I mean, a girl can never have too many pairs of tall boots, but I'm trying to avoid exorbitant spending (some days it works out better than others) because every time I try to clean out my closet, I realize I own way too many clothes.

Total winter clothing expenditures:

Cardigan: $20
Boxer tee: $10
Floral tee: $10
Plaid flannel: $22
FREE sweater: FREE
Bunny sweater: $10
Jacket: $25
__________________
                           $97

You're welcome, Clayton.
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