Its official

I'm in full-on Christmas mode.

The house is decorated, and I'm already dreading the day we have to take it down because I love it so much.

Seth and I tried spiked eggnog for the first time and it is delicious! Sometimes I'm weird about eggnog because of how thick it is, but a little rum solved that problem. I grated some nutmeg on top too...yum!

In non-christmas news, I finally found some athletic sneakers that aren't hideous:

Aren't they sporty? Now that I'm on 10 hour work days, I decided to start walking in the arena on my lunch breaks and I needed shoes with support. For clunky athletic shoes, I really like them! And the walking is working out great too. I already felt my mood elevating after the first day, so I'm hoping that its because of the exercise and not just a coincidence.

Finally, and this is a really exciting one ;), I caramelized onions for the first time this week, and holy cow...so delicious! Basically all you do is just cook the onions in a skillet in plenty of olive oil for a long time (20-25 minutes) on low heat. I had always heard how caramelizing onions changes their flavor, but I had no idea how much (or how tasty). You should definitely try it! I caramelized a huge onion (about 2 1/2 cups worth) to make pasta with lentils and kale, and I followed the recipe almost exactly...the only thing I changed was the pasta type (I used whole wheat spiral). Yum!

photo by Romulo Yanes, courtesy of epicurious.com

Here we go again

Yesterday morning I woke up to snow, and this morning it was 25 degrees out, so I guess its safe to say that winter is HERE. At the risk of sounding redundant (or really redundant), winter is not my friend and it generally puts me in a funk. And with that funk comes lots of time on the couch under the big pink feather blanket, and every night in my winter around-the-house outfit (or as Seth calls it, my Suit): long underwear, matching maroon sweatpants & jacket that my mom gave me, and slipper socks. And the Suit + the couch + the cold = little to no time working on house/creative projects. I know I need to force myself to work on stuff to help boost my spirits during the winter, but its so hard when its so cold.

So we'll see how I fare this winter. I'm on the hunt for supportive (but not hideous) work-out shoes, and once I find those I plan to start walking on my lunch breaks. And I'm still cooking most nights of the week and experimenting with new ingredients and recipes, and that helps some too. So we'll see! That's as good as I can do right now. If, as the winter goes on, my blog posts become less frequent, you can bet I'm too cold to get out from under the blanket to write (or too cold to do anything interesting enough to write about!).

Now that I've gotten my I-hate-winter speech out of the way for this year, I did do one thing recently that was pretty exciting for me - I went to my first ever black tie gala! It was really fun to get all dressed up for a change and drink free cocktails and feel fancy for a night :) I pulled out the dress I wore to my high school graduation, found some shoes and accessories on major clearance at Target, and headed over to Stacy's house to get ready. All 3 of us felt like we were getting ready to go to the prom, so it was only fitting that we get our pictures made.


It was a fun night, but I have to say...it sure was great to trade out the high heels for my chucks at the end of the night! Playing dress up is fun every now and then, but when it comes down to it, I'm a Chuck Taylor kind of girl :)

Colors

Last Thursday I spent my lunch break taking pictures of the most beautiful fall leaves I've ever seen in my life! I took about 100 pictures...I can't tell you how hard it was to narrow it down to just 6 to post here. Enjoy! :)






Yes we DID!



Normally I try not to post much about politics on this blog, but this is too big to not talk about. I can't express how happy I am that last night we elected Barack Obama to be our next president!! Even typing out the words I'm getting choked up. I'm overwhelmed and amazed and overjoyed and so hopeful. This is the first election that I've voted in where my candidate won, and wow....what an amazing feeling!
Hurray for Barack! :)

Shameless look-how-cute-my-nephew-is post

Today is election day and I'm a nervous wreck! As my good pal Stacy pointed out, fretting about it isn't going to change anything so I'm trying to chill out and focus my attention on other things. Like my adorable new nephew, Nicholas! Well, he's not really "new" anymore (he was born in January), but I've never introduced him on this blog so he's new to you :)






Ahhh :) What a cutie. He even made friends with Ruby:

Ruby said hello,

gave a quick handshake,
and surrendered to his cuteness.

Here's hoping today turns out the way I want it to!

Happy Halloween!!!

Seth and I really got into the spirit this year! What a gorgeous Halloween day...sunny, 70 degrees, beautiful!


ghosts in the trees


Seth made a pathway for our trick-or-treaters


making jack-o-lanterns


front yard...or grave yard?


Ruby in her bat cape, making friends with Michael Myers


Scary!!

I'm off to watch Halloween. Normally I don't watch scary movies because they give me nightmares, but since Michael Myers is in our front yard and it IS Halloween, I'm making an exception. I already made Seth promise to take Ruby out when its dark for the next week because I know I'll be too scared :)


Seth and I (aka. Michael Myers and Twiggy) at Todd and Xembra's awesome Halloween party last weekend

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

Beauty

Seth, Ruby and I were in Morristown this past weekend and we stopped at Evergreen Cove at Cherokee Lake on the way home. It felt surreal how crisp and colorful everything was. Being there surrounded by all that beauty was just incredible...talk about a mood booster!









Fall

There are some downsides to my new work schedule (like being in this cube for 10 hours at a time), but one of the cool things is that I get to see a gorgeous sunrise every morning. Here's the one I got today:

Not a whole lot new to report these days. Its finally Fall, which means its pretty and crisp outside but its also really cold in the mornings. As usual, I'm not having the best reaction to the cold weather. I'm hoping that this will be the year that I magically don't fall into a 4 month cold weather funk, but we'll see. I've been cooking a LOT...almost every night...and I think its helping a little. Cooking is relaxing to me, plus I like trying new recipes/ingredients, so I'm hoping that it'll help keep my spirits up for the next several months.

Another thing that gets my spirits up is when people I love come to visit! Al came to town last weekend, and we had a really fun and relaxing time together. We went to the Smokey Mountains to see the fall leaves, ate yummy food in Market Square, and watched a great movie and some good football. Here are some pictures from the mountains:
Al, thanks so much for coming to visit...I miss you already!

Dining room chalkboard

I've wanted to put a chalkboard on the dining room wall (just outside the kitchen) ever since we moved into the house 1 year ago. For awhile I thought I'd just find a really big, framed picture for cheap at a thrift store and paint the glass with chalkboard paint. But what I discovered is that thrift stores aren't cheap anymore...they all sell the most hideous framed "art" for at least $25. Even the ones with the really cheap plastic frames! So my plan B was to buy one on Ebay, but the only ones I could find that were as big as I wanted were at least $75.

So, I moved onto plan C - make a chalkboard myself! This turned out to be the best plan because I could make the chalkboard the exact size I wanted, plus it only cost me $16.

Here's the step-by-step:
  1. Cut leftover board from metal art mounting project to size (I used a utility knife and sanded down the rough edges).
  2. Prime, 2 coats
  3. Paint with chalkboard paint ($12), 2 coats
  4. Drill a hole in each corner
  5. Mount to wall using mirror rosettes ($4)
I'm so excited about it!! Now I can keep a grocery list, leave notes/reminders, and most importantly, Seth and I can let each other know if Ruby has been out and fed.

Sorry Rube...you can't trick us anymore! :)