Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 18- A Saying, Quote or Scripture

{image from pinterest}

This is the Holstee Manifesto. I first came across it about a year ago. It was features on several bogs that I read: Elements of Style, La Dolce Vita, and more.

There are so many inspirational quotes out there in the blogosphere, and as you can tell, I like most of them. Choosing just one quote was not an easy task. Here's what I like about this one- it's big. It's not just about love, it's not just about getting ahead on your career, it's not just about surrounding yourself with the people who bring out the best in you. It's about all of that, and that's what I find appealing.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 17- A Store

It seems like an interesting thing to be thankful for- a store. In a time when we're all paying so much attention to the way we spend and how we spend, it's nice to take a moment and be thankful for the ability to spend at all. We could be in a very different place than we are right now, and I'm very grateful for all that the Big Guy and I have achieved and all that we're able to do. We work hard, and sometimes we take our opportunities for granted.

In thinking about a store that I love, there's one that comes to mind right away. Anthropologie. I love their mix of home decor, clothing, kitchen accessories, jewelry and shoes. Some of my favorite pieces have come from their store, and some of the pictures that are most inspiring to me in terms of home design and fashion come from their catalog.

Some of you may remember the frames that are a floating headboard in our 3rd bedroom- well all of the images in those frames are actually pages from old Anthropologie catalogs.

There's something about the store that I seek out every time I'm in a mall that has one. I love the atmosphere they've created, and I love being able to bring that into my home as well.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Big Guy Studies the Classics

In the under thirty crowd these days you can get a strange look from your friends for ordering a dirty martini or a Manhattan. It’s partly due to the atmosphere of most bars we are in. Once you get past the post college blackout phase, you start thinking a lot more about what sort of atmosphere you enjoy. You start looking to nicer places and all of a sudden the drinks of our parents and grandparents become way more common.

To give your home that grown up atmosphere, you need to learn of a few of the classics.

2.5 oz of gin or vodka
.5 oz dry vermouth

Shaken over ice and put in a tall martini glass, (Yes you should have martini glasses at your disposal). Garnish with an olive, pickled onion or lemon twist. To go Dirty just add a half oz of olive juice.

Big Guy’s Manhattan
3 oz bullet bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth
.5 oz maraschino cherry juice
A dash of bitters

Shaken over ice and put into a highball glass (or a martini glass if you feel dashing) Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

White Russian Brought to you by the dude…
3 oz vanilla vodka
1 oz Kahlua Especial
1 oz half and half

Fill an old fashioned glass halfway with ice. Pour the vodka in first, then add the Kahlua. After that add the half and half and a stir straw. Stir and enjoy.

Long Island Iced Tea This is the frat punch that doesn’t make it look like you are still in college
1 oz clear rum
1 oz gin
1 oz vodka
1 oz white tequila
1 oz triple sec
1 oz lemon or lime juice
2 oz cola

Fill a tall sling style, or double high ball glass with about a third of the way full with ice. Mix the liquors in the glass with a long bar spoon. Add the cola and lemon juice last. Garnish with a lime or lemon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 16- An Experience

If you want change: choose it, leap, act. Don't wait for life to happen to you. Make things happen.
~ via Making Things Happen

The summer after my junior year in college, I had an internship with a small theatre company. In London- Chickenshed Theatre.
It was an amazing experience, one that I wouldn't trade. At first I was nervous, I wasn't sure that I'd get into the program- it was  a study abroad program with Purdue. I think there were about 20 of us who went, and all of us worked with different companies. The way the program was structured, we had two days with class in the morning and four days a week we were working either all day or just in the afternoon.

That left us with 3 day weekends every weekend. Amazing. I spent a weekend in Paris where I actually woke up to the sounds of an accordian playing La Vie en Rose. I swear. I backbacked through Scotland and Ireland.

The theatre company was amazing. Their philosophy is that the arts should be inclusive and that everyone has creativity in them, they just need an opportunity to express that creativity. You can dance in a wheelchair, you can sing a beautiful song even if you can't talk. You can read more about them and what they do on their website. It's amazing.

I'm itching to plan a trip back. I'd love to show the Big Guy where I lived and where I spent my time that summer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 15- A Recipe

We try a lot of recipes. The Big Guy and I like food. We like all kinds of food. My favorite things to cook tend to be comfort food. Thick sauces, pastas, rich flavors, aromas that fill the whole house. Here's one of those recipes. Really easy to make, but delicious and plenty of left overs.

It's baked rigatoni pasta in a tomato-vodka-cream sauce with ground turkey. I can't post the actual recipe, because the cookbook I have it in is still in print. I'm pretty sure that's less than legal. But I do have a lot of pictures from the last time I made it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 14- Something New

If I'm honest, I have to tell you that I still read fairy tales and I like them best of all.~ Audrey Hepburn

My something new is a collection of Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales. This book is one of the latest additions to my collection of the Penguin Clothbound Classics, with cover designs by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Not only do they look great on the shelf, but the list includes some of my favorite titles. Adding this book to the collection is also progress on Goal 36.

{image from}

30 Days of Thanks: Day 13- Something Old

I got a little out of order on this one, but that's ok. My something old is my teddy bear.

I've had him since I was a baby. His fur is worn and his nose came unravelled on a regular basis. From my perspective, that just adds to his charm. Sure I'm 30, but there's something about that bear that just makes me smile. Lots of good memories.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 12- A Gadget

This is my kindle. I was totally the girl in the commercial who's all "no I don't want to give up actual books" and then falls for the kindle. Don't get me wrong, I still love books and will never give them up entirely. There's something about the feel of the pages and the binding and the smell of a brand new book that I love. (Yes, I'm a giant dork for writing that. That's not news.)

Now I can be a bit more selective about what actually sits on the shelf. A nine volume Hemingway collection with ivory cloth binding and gilded lettering on the spines? Of course that can be on the shelf! A trilogy written for young adults about a secret troll society and their princess who doesn't know that she's a princess with incredible psychic powers? Ummm, I maybe don't need to be seen carrying that one around. (It's the Trylle series by Amanda Hocking in case you're wondering and it was FANTASTIC.)

Plus, if I'm ever on an episode of hoarders, it will be because of books. That tiny little thing holds up to 1,000 books. Challenge accepted. I think it'll be easy to get to that number with the help of sites like Pixel of Ink, a blog that posts great deals and free downloadable books for the Kindle and the Nook. Some are great, some are not, but when they're free I'm willing to give them a try.

If you haven't tried one out, I highly recommend it. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 11- A Tradition

Today is Veteran's Day, so it seems fitting that the tradition I'm thankful for is our military. I find myself humbled on a regular basis by those who choose to serve our country and protect our ideals and our freedoms. As the daughter of an Air Force veteran and the grand-daughter of Navy veteran, I am immeasurably proud today. I'm proud of them every day, but today I get to take a few minutes out of my day and really think about all that they've done.

So to all those soldiers and their families- Thank you. The sacrifices you make are not easy, but they are appreciated. Though we frequently take them for granted, we would be lost without the opportunities provided to all of us through your sacrifices.

{image found via pinterest}

Big Guy’s Bar Etiquette

Every man should be prepared. They should have flashlights with batteries if the lights go out. They should have cold weather gear in their car in case they have to change a flat in the winter. Likewise, a true friend keeps his bar fully stocked. This way when company comes he is ready to entertain at a moment’s notice.

Stocking a bar in college was easy, all you needed was a handle of Captain Morgan and whatever cheap vodka was nearby. Often both of these items could have been kept in the freezer. Now that we have jobs and careers the bar says a little bit more about you. It reflects on if you are a reserved and sophisticated or looking to party at the drop of a hat.

First, start with the basics. I believe a liquor cabinet should have a bottle of rum, a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of vodka, a bottle of gin and a bottle of something fun like tequila or cognac. When setting up your bar you should think about everyone you might have over. I keep a high end bottle of bourbon in case my dad comes over. I also keep a honeyed whiskey because I know it is on of my friend’s favorite.

Making sure you have the basics, and then adding a few fun pieces helps show your guests that you no longer live in the fraternity basement. You can go from classy to trashy depending on who you are hosting.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 10- A Time of Day

There's something about the quiet of the evening, right around sunset that pulls me in. I think it's got something to do with that transitional time of day.

For me it's a break between work and school. It's a few minutes to sit clamly and relax before moving on to the next thing on what can at times be an overwhelming to-do list. It's time where I can just be with the Big Guy and not be thinking about what's just been done and what's next. There's something very relaxing and almost zen about it all.

Sadly, it never lasts quite long enough. Too soon I'm jarred back into reality and am moving on to the next thing that needs to be done.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 9- A Blog

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
~ Mother Teresa

There are a lot of blogs out there in the world. The list in my Google Reader seems to get bigger all the time. Every now and then, a blog really stands out for one reason or another. In this case it's because I know the blogger and have come to think of her as a good friend. Her name is Lindsay, and her blog is the one that inspired me to do this 30 Days of Thanks series that you're reading. This is her blog. She's funny, she's stylish, she's great at what she does, and she's a great friend. Basically, she's the type of woman I want to be when I grow up.

Lindsay is one of several women that I met on a popular wedding planning board a  few years ago. The only thing that we had in common at the time was the month we were all getting married- October 2011. I don't think I knew what to expect at the time, aside from a place to go and share all the little details of the planning with people who would be just as interested and making some of the same decisions at the same time. It saved my friends from conversations about the best napkin colors and whether the sash on the chair should be tied in a bow or a simple fold. (Black and a simple fold in case you're curious.)

Somewhere along the way, these women became more than just names on posts, and we found that we had a lot more in common beyond the weddings. We've been there for each other through some of life's biggest moments- marriage, divorce, births, infertility, death, new jobs, new homes. We've been there for each other to share little moments as well. We're all there to support each other and occasionally remind each other that we're not crazy after all.

It's funny looking back on it, but I really have gotten so much from them. I'm better for having known them, and happier for having them in my life.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 8- A Restaurant

Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.

Not sure exactly where I came upon that quote- but it really is a perfect tie in for today's post. One of our favorite restaurants here in town is Brugge Brasserie.

It's a Belgian gastropub in Broadripple, and we always have a fantastic time when we go. It's a great place to go with friends for dinner, or to sit outside in the summer with a pot of mussels and french bread, some fries and their roasted garlic aioli and people watch. One item on their menu that we get when we go with friends is the L'Enorme- it's a giant cone of fries with each of their sauces: fresh mayonnaise, horseradish, blue cheese, hot curry, homemade ketchup, sweet chili, aioli, roasted garlic aioli, sea salt & sherry vinegar, poplar syrup and French dijon, and fresh herb pesto. It's huge- as the name implies- so you'd definitely want to share with friends.

The crepes are wonderful- my personal favorite is the grilled chicken with Roquefort, endive and spinach. The Big Guy is a fan of their mitrailettes- sandwiches piled high on French bread. They brew their own beer as well- one of which is actually in the Big Guy's 1,001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die book, the Trippel de Ripple. It's one of my favorites.

The atmosphere is relaxed, the food is great. There's really nothing missing!

{Both images are from the Brugge website linked above.}

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 7- A Scent

"Sometimes," said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
A.A. Milne

{image via pinterest}

Here's why I love this scent- my mom wore this when I was little. I remember her srapying it on my pillow before my first sleepover so that I wouldn't feel scared and it totally worked. 

30 Days of Thanks: Day 6- A Pair of Shoes

There is no formula for glamour. It combines shimmer and charisma. It's elusive but you know it when you see it. ~ Mary McDonald, Mary McDonald Interiors

That's what I love about these shoes. I always feel glamorous in them. They're satin and the best shade of apple green. I wore them to our rehearsal dinner. They're also surprisingly comfortable, which is just an added bonus.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 5- A Place

The place I'm most thankful for is our home. (Oddly enough, I have no pictures of the outside of the house. I'll have to work on that.) We're extremely lucky to have our own home, and proud of the fact that we've done it all on our own. It's got everything we need, and plenty of room to grow.
Most importantly, it's the place where we get to relax and just be ourselves. It's the place we come back to that allows us to come back to each other. You know that feeling you get when you've been away on vacation, or even just after a long day at work, and you walk through your door? You know how in that moment everything just feels better?

I love that feeling.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 4- A Snack


{image found via pinterest}

Yup, I'm thankful for nachos. Seems like a silly thing to be thankful for, but there's a pretty good reason for it. Before the Big Guy and I were an item, we were friends. We met at work, and frequently found ourselves at functions hosted by the company. After one of these functions, a few of us went out for drinks. While we were out, there was a guy at the bar who was getting a little too friendly for my taste and I asked the Big Guy to pretend to be my boyfriend so that this guy would back off. He agreed, but was pretty sure that by the end of the night I would want him to be my boyfriend for real. (He'd been trying to get me to date him for a while at this point.) We stayed out for a while longer and went to get some nachos as a late night snack.

You can see where this story is going. We had a great time, and it turns out the Big Guy was pretty good at predicting the future after all- I did want him to be my boyfriend.

He's cute when he's right. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 3- A Cozy Place in Your Home

A house is much more than a mere shelter, it should lift us emotionally and spiritually.~ John Saladino

I love our house. I love making little changes here and there that make it really feel like it represents us. One aspect of my personality that gets incorporated in almost every room is the fact that I'm a bookworm. We have books everywhere. But just having the books isn't enough, there has to be someplace to read them. This is one of my favorite places in the house.

This is a corner in our master bedroom. There's a small table for my glasses, the book I'm reading, and a glass of wine. The faux fur blanket is super cozy, and it only takes about 5 minutes to fall asleep for a little nap between chapters. Because of that, not much studying happens here. I might try, but it never works. Here's what we have in that corner that makes it work.
  • Chaise- Craig's List
  • Table- Pier 1
  • Lamp- Crate and Barrel
  • Blanket- Z Gallerie
  • Painting above the chaise- I actually painted that with my friend Mandy at a Wine and Canvas event. It's an art class with a bartender. How could I not try that out. We've been twice.
It's just a comfortable, cozy place.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 2- An Animal

I'm pretty sure you know which animal I'm choosing for today's post. It's Loki. (It's kind of his blog too, it would just be mean not to include him in the list.)

There's something about those big brown eyes and that wiggly butt that just makes me smile. Like all the time. I love coming home to such excitement- all because I came home, I haven't really even done anything. It's hard to remember a time when we didn't have him. It's been four-and-a-half years since we adopted him.

If you have a pet, or have ever considered one, you know that they're a lot of work. But totally worth it. There's more to it than vet visits and bags of food. There's the companionship, and that unconditional love and acceptance that only a pet can provide. He doesn't care if I've had a long day at work, or if I'm struggling with an assignment for school. He doesn't care if the bed is made or if the floors have been vaccuumed. He only cares if his bowl gets filled at dinner time and if his belly gets rubbed and if I scratch behind his ears.

He's easy, and reminds me that at the end of the day it really doesn't matter all that much if the bed is made and the floors have been vaccuumed. It matters that we spend quality time with the people we love and who make us feel loved in return.

He's my favorite furry partner in crime- assuming that crime consists mostly of afternoon naps on the weekend.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 1- A Person

Take chances, take a lot of them. Because honestly, no matter where end up and with whom, it always ends up just the way it should be. Your mistakes make you who you are. You learn and grow with each choice you make. Everything is worth it. Say how you feel, always. Be you and be OK with it.

The first thing on the list to be thankful for is a person. I'm actually cheating a little bit on this one, and I'm picking two people.

These are my parents. If you've met them, you know how great they are. This is the two of them dancing at our wedding. They're preparing to celebrate 37 years of marriage at the end of this month. That's pretty amazing. Their commitment to each other, and the way they approach their marriage as a partnership is inspiring.

They raised me to always believe in myself and to trust my instincts. They listened to me and taught me that what I have to say is important. They came to ballet recitals, high school choir performances, musicals, singing competitions and plays, and they still have the videos to prove it. Really, my husband has seen them- including the kindergarten Easter program where I was a lamb. Yup. Furry white hat with black felt ears.

They taught me to respect myself and other people and to treat them the way I want to be treated in return. They always told me and showed me how much they love me and made sure I knew that I was important. They make home a wonderful place to be. Their encouragement and support has meant more to me than I can really say. I wouldn't be where I am or who I am today without them.

For that, I am grateful.

30 Days of Thanks

Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of travelling.~Margaret B. Runbeck

How easy it is to forget all the little things, and not so little things, that make life unique and special. It's far too simple to take things for granted. Even as one of the 99% in this country, there's very little for us to complain about. We're all exceptionally lucky and should take some time to remember that.

I'm not always great about it, but I try. So for the rest of this month, I'm participating in something that my friend Lindsay is doing on her blog. I've added a new button on the right side of the screen for it. For the 30 days of November, I'll be posting about something that I'm thankful for. Now I'm a little bit behind, so I've got some catching up to do. That just means you get to hear more from me than you're used to, which can't be all bad right? Right. I thought so.

So what's involved in this 30 days of Thanks? There's a list- which I like. You're not surprised by that. I'm pretty sure the big guy laughs out loud when he hears me say that. Ask him about the Gantt chart I made while wedding planning- well, on second thought, maybe don't. So here's the list that I'll be working through for the rest of this month:

1. a person
2. an animal
3. a cozy place in your home
4. a favorite snack
5. a place
6. a pair of shoes
7. a scent
8. a restaurant
9. a blog
10. a time of day
11. a tradition
12. a gadget
13. something old
14. something new
15. a recipe
16. an experience
17. a store
18. a saying/quote/scripture
19. a favorite piece of clothing
20. a keepsake
21. a disappointment or fear
22. a book
23. a feeling
24. a photograph
25. a luxury
26. a charity
27. a song
28. a gift
29. something in your home
30. the thing you're most thankful for

I'll be adding pictures along the way. I need the practice with my camera. Not for anything in particular, but just for fun. So here's to the next 30 days, and to having the opportunity to be thankful.