Saturday, December 8, 2012

2013 Short List

The end of the year is quickly approaching us! Can you believe it?! Hopefully the Mayans are wrong about their 12/21/12 end-of-life-as-we-know-it prediction because I came up with a list of things I'd like to accomplish in 2013. I stole borrowed the idea from my very creative friend, Sara who shared a cool list on her blog
This is just a starter list, I'll be adding on as I think of things. My goal is to keep it simple and real enough that I'll actually feel like I can accomplish them!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!
Yesterday was a day filled with food, family, food, friends, and did I mention food? Ugh. I am still full from stuffing my face yesterday! I have to admit that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year just because I love hanging out with the family (and eating) all day. One of my favorite dishes is the sweet potato casserole and Thanksgiving seems to be the only time of year where I can eat as much of it as my heart desires. This year the H found an awesome recipe from Ruth Chris's Steakhouse for their sweet potato casserole to bring to his mom's house. The recipe received rave reviews from the dinner guests who commented to him throughout the night how much they enjoyed it. Guess who is bringing sweet potatoes again next year? :)
Since we spend the day running from house to house (aka the "world tour" as my friend calls it) we typically don't bring items to contribute to dinner. It's just too much of a hassle to transport everything. But, this year in addition to our sweet potatoes we also brought two desserts! Yay us! One was a recipe I found on Pinterest for Pumpkin Lust Cake which turned out really well. The other recipe was for Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake, a Paula Deen recipe that was also delicious. All in all, the day was a success - we enjoyed the time at each house and didn't feel too rushed. Also, we couldn't have asked for better weather, it was 65 degrees in St. Louis! Not too shabby for late November!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with their friends and families!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Goodbye, Carvey Harvey

I'll apologize up front for the depressing post but it was a huge and sad event in my life, and definitely worth writing about. On Monday, November 5th we had to put our beloved kitty down after 12 wonderful years. He had suffered from chronic renal failure for some time, but last weekend it took a dramatic turn for the worse and he was no longer able to do basic functions such as eat or walk. It was a tough decision, but in our hearts we knew it was the right one.

We adopted Carvey from a local humane society when he was 6 months old. Our orignial plan was to get a small kitten, and to this day I am not sure why we went into the room where Carvey was. As soon as we walked in we heard a loud noise. Carvey had jumped off the ledge and hit his head on the door of his cage.  I guess he picked us just as much as we picked him. We knew instantly this cat had some personality...and indeed he did. He was such a ham, always making us laugh, roll our eyes and sometimes frustrating the heck out of us. He will be missed but we will always cherish the time we had with him.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

European Vacation Part Trios: Paris, France!!


The last part of our trip was in Paris, France for 3 days. I was probably the most excited about this portion of the trip since Paris is a place (to me) that just seemed magical, elegant but yet busy and chaotic. It was definitely all of those things! Three days did not even scratch the surface of all I wanted to experience during my time there. We were able to get a lot in those days, though. We booked several tours through Day Tours Paris and they did a wonderful job! I would highly recommend the company. Our first tour was a Paris highlight walking tour - we hit all of the touristy places that one should see while in Paris. Our guide was so knowledable and funny - he really made the tour. Below are some of the places we stopped to see:
 
 
Notre Dame Cathedral - we went during Sunday service - Beautiful!
 
Inside the Cathedral
Pont Neuf
Breathtaking - we must have taken a hundred pics of the Eiffel Tower!


 
 

City at night
 
Louve
I loved the street lights in Paris!





Parisian art project
Samaritiane building (from Bourne Identity movie)

Shakespere and Company - such a cool (and small!) bookstore
rainy streets of Paris
cafe (I was not a fan - give me American coffee any day)
Another tour we did was the cemetary tour of the famous Pere Lachaise cemetary. This cemetary is the resting place of many famous people such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopan and countless others. My main goal was to see Jim Morrison's grave. I have to admit, I am not sure what I was expecting but it was a bit anti-climatic. The cemetary is pretty cool, yet eerie - lots of crows perched on the top of tombstones. The rules of the cemetary are also quite interesting - to be buried amongst the rich and famous you must have lived in France, or be French. You are buried at the cemetary for 30 years, and at the end of your 'lease' your family members or whomever you choose decide whether or not to exhume your body to an actual "final" resting place or to renew the lease. Weird.   


Jim Morrison's grave. The area was gated off because they would catch people doing drugs, having sex and performing senances around it
Oscar Wilde's grave. They had to put plexiglass around it because women would kiss it and the lipstick was eating away at the stone.

Chopin's grave - so many roses and flowers, it was beautiful
An eerie gravestone of a guy holding his own face. Gotta give it to the French, they are pretty creative.

The last tour we did was the Montmarte art tour. Montmarte is a hilltop town that overlooks the city of Paris. On the bottom of the hill sits Moulin Rouge, so I'm glad we got to see that while we were there. Montmarte is the town that many famous artists lived back in the day. It was pretty awesome to walk along the same streets as Picasso and Van Gogh.

Where VanGogh stayed
View from Montmarte


Picasso's hangout
Streets of Montmarte
A sculpture based on a story by Marcel Ayme about a man who could pass through walls until one day he got stuck. Touching the hand is supposed to be good luck
The H wanted good luck too!

I know this post is picture-heavy but there is so much to see in Paris that it's hard to not take a zillion photos. I feel like we just scratched the surface, too - I would love to go back and do some more exploring. There's so much history, art, fashion and beauty everywhere you look!

Au Revior!
-A




 












Saturday, September 15, 2012

European Vacation Part deux: Provence, France

Finally - my post on our trip to Provence! I kept putting it off because I couldn't remember all of the towns we went to while in Southern France and (insert sarcasm font)  letting more time lapse just seemed like the logical thing to do. 

We flew from Ireland into Marseilles, France and I went from understanding language, menus, street signs, to being completely ignorant to my surroundings. There is something very humbling about being in a country where you really don't understand a darn thing. But, it's all part of the adventure, right? 
We rented a cute little (and I mean little) Fiat to drive around while we were exploring the South of France. 

awww! Isn't she CUTE?!

Once we had figured out the car situation, we set off to our "home" for the next week: Moulin de la Roque in the beautiful town of Noves, France. It is hard to put into words just how gorgeous the Moulin de la Roque estate is. Imagine a secluded area with historic buildings and plush green grass, sparkling blue pool, and the cutest Birmese Mountain dog lounging in the shade. Le Sigh. We had rented a place right next door to our friends which made it very convenient since we spent a lot of time in their kitchen cooking dinners and eating on their patio. 











After arriving at Moulin Roque, and getting acclimated to the estate we decided to venture out to St. Remy's for a late lunch/dinner. We opted for an Italian cafe bustling with laughter and the aroma of basil, wine and garlic. Our first meal in France was amazing!

In the following days ahead the H and I would set off on our own to explore the nearby villages. Some of my favorites included Arles, Gordes, Roussillon, Menerbes, Lacoste and L'Isle sur la Sorgue. Each of the villages had thier own 'feel' to them. Of course, all were beautiful and rustic, with their cobblestone streets and stone buildings. I think some of my favorite places were the lavendar fields. I wish I could have bottled that smell and brought it home with me because there isn't anything like the smell of fresh lavendar. Another fav was Arles, famously known for the place that Vincent VanGogh was hospitalized after cutting off his ear. Another favorite place that I wish we would have spent more time was Saint Remy's. The mental instution that VanGogh stayed was located here, although I didn't see it. I also really liked Saint Remy's because of the markets and stores.

For breakfast we would eat something we had bought at the supermarch√© such as yogurt and fruit (and I would get a pan au chocolat whenever I could!) Lunch was usually at some little cafe, where we seemed to gravitate towards the pizza (i ate more Italian in France than I thought) and dinner was on our friends patio and consisted of a spread of wine, cheeses, meats, breads and of course my favorite...nutella!
I feel like every day we set off on an adventure and would explore for hours, walk for miles and take in the beauty of Southern France. However, even though we were able to experience so many places there are some things we didn't get a chance to do:
Monaco/Cannes/Nice - we opted not to do the coastal drive to these places. We had read that the drive would take hours and traffic during the summer was crazy. As much as we liked our Fiat, we didn't want to spend hours in a car.
Mt. Ventoux - there's a reason we didn't do this and I am not ashamed to say it was all me. I absolutely hate driving along anything that is going uphill. Especially when there aren't gaurd rails. No, thank you. We had our fill of scary drives when we did the road to Hana in Hawaii a couple of years ago (beautiful drive -- highly recommended but if you are scared of narrow, high roads with no guardrails it may not be the thing for you). In this case, I am perfectly fine looking at pictures instead.
Our time in Southern France was relaxing, inspiring, and something I'll never forget. I hope to go back one day in the near future. Our time in Provence was coming to an end but we were looking forward part three of our trip... Paris! Ooh la la!!



Saturday, August 4, 2012

Our European Vacation Part One: Ireland

We're baaaaaack! Well, technically I've been back in the US for 25 days but have been slacking on my trip updates. We had a great time in Europe (I mean, really...how can you NOT have a good time??) We started out in Dublin for a couple days, then headed to Provence and finally ended up in Paris *dreamy sigh*.

Since this could get lengthy I have decided to break it up by location. First Stop: Dublin, Ireland (2 days)
If I had to describe Dublin in one word it would be "lively".  I'm not sure what is in the water over there but everyone seems to have so much energy.I loved the people, the music and the food (that includes the Guinness since it's practically its own meal). I especially loved walking through downtown Dublin, taking in all of the activity and just people watching.

We went to a restaurant in downtown Dublin called The Pig's Ear. As a vegetarian, this did not sound appetizing at all but I found this dish and it was one of my favorite meals on our entire trip!


Beet Risotto
I honestly think that the Guinness was my husband's favorite part of Ireland. It is also totally socially acceptable to order this drink at any point in the day.


Yum.



In our short time in Dublin we were able to do a bit of sightseeing. We booked a tour and took a day trip to Wicklow. The tour also included a tour through Trim Castle, which was pretty amazing.

Wicklow

Trim Castle
Doesn't get greener than this! 

Next post: Provence, France!
Thanks for reading, I hope everyone has a great Saturday! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chicago..my kind of town

I heart Chicago. I always have - the first time I went was in my early teen years and I remember falling in love then. There's just an energy in the city that can't be ignored, awesome shopping everywhere you look and the best pizza a girl could ask for!
I went to Chicago for a work trip on Tuesday, and on Thursday night the H drove up (it's only 4 hours or so) and we spent the weekend just walking (a LOT of walking!) around the city and of course, eating.

Thursday night we went to my all-time favorite non-pizza restaurant, Kuma's Corner. Seriously, if you are in Chicago you HAVE to check this place out! On a Thursday night it was pretty crowded and we had to wait about 45 minutes but the wait is definitely worth it. This place is a no-nonsense, heavy metal, ink-filled establishment (no Metallica or Megadeth haters). The service is always great and I can't say enough about the food! My favorite is the"Iron Maiden" a burger (veggie for me) with avocado, chipotle mayo and pepper jack cheese. I am actually salivating thinking about it! My husband got the "Slayer" which is fries covered with burger, chili, peppers, onions, and anger. Yes, anger.

The next day we walked downtown, shopped and ate pizza! Below is our all-time favorite pizza place, Geno's East. In all fairness, we tried a couple other places and while they were OK but nothing compares to Geno's.

Geno's East

All in all, we had a great time but it was nice to get back home to the animals and a routine! :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

I've been MIA

This year is flying by! I can't believe it is May already. I've had a busy couple of weeks, with some busier weeks ahead. Last weekend a friend, her aunt, and I went to Greenville, South Carolina to visit my friend's mom. We had a lovely time and were able to pack a lot into just three days. Some trip activities included an all-day shopping trip to the local outlet mall, white water rafting, and a trip to downtown Greenville.


I've been trying to curb my spending (at least a little) because of our upcoming Europe trip, and the fact I really want a Kindle/Nook and a new iPhone. HOWEVER, I did make a quick trip to Sephora because they had a sun kit that included a bunch of great items for only THIRTY DOLLARS!!


photo: Sephora.com
Can you believe the awesome price on this?? I haven't used many of the products yet, only the bare essentials mineral veil (love) and the sugar lip balm.
Lets talk about the Sugar lip balm, shall we? I've been reading about this in the blogisphere for a while now but haven't been able to fork over the $20-something dollars for lip balm I will most likely lose. I have to say that my sugar balm is still securely tucked in its own special pocket in my purse. I haven't lost it yet, so that's a sure sign it's a winner! It goes on really smooth and my lips stay soft for hours afterwards.


I hope everyone had a great Monday!



-A

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bailey Bones

I just wanted to post a picture of the dog treats I made last weekend. I found the recipe at All Recipes.com, and they are called "Birthday Bones" The recipe is super easy and it makes a ton of treats (I usually double the recipe). My dog, Bailey, loves these and I love them because it's cheaper and healthier than store-bought treats.



It has been a fun and busy weekend for me, I went out with some friends on Friday night and Saturday night. I'm spending Sunday just relaxing, watching movies and just gearing up for the week ahead.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!!

-A

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter!

Is it really almost Easter?! 


Where has the year gone, anyway?? I am happy to be off work today in honor of Good Friday. I have high expectations of my day and that's assuming my productivity level increases. It's not looking good, although in my defense it is only 8:00 am and I am still waking up. First on my agenda...my workout. I have to burn off the stupid cadbury eggs I just ate (yes I did...happy Easter to me) You know the ones - they have the crisp shell and the delicious chocolate inside?? Yum. So, breakfast - check. 


Hmmm..what do I plan to do with my extra day off?? 
One item on the agenda this weekend is trying to get my blog to look halfway decent - I'm talking about the huge gap at the top of the page. Not sure what I did there, but it needs to be fixed. stat. 
In addition, I am hoping to add some buttons for the 'about me' page, my 'workouts' and some recipes I've found. 


I also need to make my dog some more treats. I found a recipe on All Recipes for "Birthday Bones" and have been making them for my dog for a couple years now. He seems to like them (although he does eat anything..). They are super easy to make; wheat flour, natural peanut butter, milk, I add a touch of honey and there you go... roll the dough, get a cute cookie cutter and go to town, bake for 15 min or so. Done..you have healthy dog treats! It is so much better than buying treats in the store with God-knows-what in them. For the full recipe and directions click here


I mentioned in an earlier post I've been doing the ChaLEAN Extreme workouts - I'm already on month 2 and I do like it a lot. I feel like it is making me stronger, my muscles are more defined, especially in my abs. I guess one thing that really frustrates me is that I can't seem to lose the last stubborn 5-10 lbs! I know, you just read that I ate Cadbury eggs for breakfast and you're wondering why I am surprised.. while it is no secret that I have a massive sweet tooth, that is definitely the exception. Usually breakfast is a couple of wheat waffles and coffee. On weekends, I like to eat egg beaters with artichokes. Anyway,  back to CE. I have also been incorporating the Ease into 5K app into my workout regime, so that is helping as well. 
My next purchase will probably be Turbo Fire. I love Chalean, she is super motivating and keeps you going. 
*Note* If you are interested in hearing more about the Beachbody programs I've done, or if you want to buy one click here


Before I go (I've been rambling, sorry!) I wanted to do a quick product rave... I've been reading about L'Oreal's Color Riche Lip Balm on the blogisphere so I finally bought a couple to try out for myself. The colors I have are: Rose Elixar and Caring Coral. 
One thing to note about these lip balms - the color is so sheer I really think any color will look good regardless of your skin tone, eye color, whatever.  I also love the fact they don't contain parabens and they have an SPF 15. They make your lips feel moisturized and soft, it will become like crack for your lips - 


Picture from www.drugstore.com
If you sign up on L'Oreal's website you can get a $1 off coupon AND Walgreens has these on sale, BOGO 50% off... 


That's all - I know this post was really long but it's been a while since I've posted. I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter!! 
-A

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Happy Spring!

This week was the official beginning of Spring! I love this time of year, when the flowers begin to bloom and I can walk my dog in comfort instead of wearing 5 layers of clothes. I have to say that we've been very lucky here in the midwest - the winter was really mild this year. I believe it snowed twice, so I have been one happy girl. Since it's been in the 70-80's the past few weeks our tulips and dafodils have already started blooming, trees are flowering and just overall everything looks lovely.
Our peonies (pic taken last year) 


I haven't written in a while so I feel like I need to report on some things I'm really loving right now.

1. Kale chips! 

Kale is honest to God my new obsession. Not only is it wonderful for you but it can be made so many ways and is super tasty! Kale chips taste like potato chips (you don't believe me, do you?? Try them for yourself!)
Here's how you make them:
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
line a baking pan with either parchment paper or foil (I also use cooking spray so the leaves don't stick)
wash the kale and tear off the leaves, omitting the stems, into bite-size pieces and lay it in the pan
drizzle olive oil over the leaves
sprinkle a little sea salt
bake the leaves for 20 minutes

so easy, right?? They are best when you can eat them right out of the oven because they are crispy but they're also good later. I like to put them in omelettes, or on a salad.
Kale Chips - before baking

2. Instagram

I read about this app on another blog and downloaded it on my phone. You can do a lot of cool effects with this app. Below is a pic of my lazy cat, photo edited with instagram:

3. My Michael Kors purse.

It took me a hot minute to commit to this purse. A bit of history: I've carried around the same black Coach purse since 2006, I'm not even joking. As you can imagine, it was evident the purse had seen better days so I knew the time was quickly approaching that I would have to say goodbye and select a new arm companion that would hopefully last as long. My friend and I went to the mall and within 10 minutes of my time in Macy's I had spotted a brown MK satchel that I loved. I had really wanted the Marc Jacobs hilier hobo but couldn't pull the financial trigger so I decided on something less expensive - the $ breakdown: The MK purse retailed for $358 (I think), it was on sale for $299, I applied for a credit card and got 20% off - I might be getting the numbers wrong but bottom line is I paid like $212 for it. Not too bad.  Of course I still want the MJ bag... we'll see what happens there because I don't want to just have one purse for the next 6 years.

There are some other things I'm loving but this post is going to get really long so I will save those for later.
I hope everyone is having a great weekend! Hard to believe it's Sunday already - why do weekends go so fast?!