Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Venting is dangerous

A few days ago was the premiere of "Kourtney and Kim Take New York," and I just got around to watching it this afternoon. Like many people, I was curious about how a marriage, no matter how rushed-into, could dissolve so quickly. Obviously there were many issues involved, but one thing really struck me when watching the episode.

I've long believed that one of the worse things you can do for any relationship is complain about the other person to someone else. In fact, complaining about anything to someone else is often a bad idea. Why? Because the average person (myself included) is naturally inclined to try to make you feel better by reassuring you that the problems are as big as you make them out to be. The problem of course is that a problem is rarely as big as people make them out to be.

A quote I like applies well to relationship squabbles: "There are two sides to every story, and then there is the truth." When complaining to others about your significant other, no matter how fairly you try to paint the picture, you won't succeed. And having someone tell you that you are 100% right may make you feel better, but it is never true.

Wear It Wednesday - Graphic t-shirts

Yesterday I saw a post on For The Birds mentioning something called "Wear it Wednesday." This week it is being hosted by Jess of Animated Cardigan and she picked graphic-tees as the theme. Like Jess, I was once addicted to Threadless t-shirts. I have been trying to "grow up" my look some and get away from the easy t-shirt and jeans combo, however, I still love a t-shirt with an adorable graphic. What a great pick for the week, because who says t-shirts can't be fashionable and part of a put-together look?

While other bloggers are taking artsy photos of their outfits outdoors, I'm taking mine in my kitchen next to my popcorn maker.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blogger finds

Today I bought a couple blogger finds from Target. I saw these Dolce Vita wedges on the Girl With Curves blog a couple weeks ago and loved them. I bought them today on clearance for $10.48.

I have been looking for an inexpensive black fake leather jacket for a while now. It has been surprisingly hard to find one that doesn't look really cheap. I saw this fake leather jacket on Target a while ago, but thought it fell into that catergory. Last week I saw Kendi from Kendi Everyday wearing the jacket and it looks a lot, lot better. I bought the jacket today on sale for $24.50.

While not a blogger find, I also bought these cute shoes today (first photo below). They were only on sale for $25.48. Considering it is winter here, and the shoes are normally only $29.99, it wasn't a great sale, but I still thought they were too cute to pass up. One of the reviewers on Target mentioned that the shoes are a "dead ringer" for the Eye to Eye wedge by Seychelles (second photo below). I'm not in-the-know when it comes to fashion, so, I had never heard of the shoe (nor the brand, if I was being honest). I looked up the Eye to Eye wedge, and sure enough, they are a dead ringer. The Eye to Eye wedge sells for around $100, so, that makes the $25 Target price seem like a better deal.

Free photo prints

For the last week I've been home sick which has left me with too much couch time on my hands. This has resulted in entirely too much time spent pursuing the Internet; especially during a week when Internet sales have been abound.

On Black Friday I ordered six sweaters and five other shirts from Old Navy for only $134 (plus tax).... for those too lazy to do math, that's an average of only $12 a shirt! I plan to try them all on and narrow them down once I get them, because I really don't need to be buying eleven shirts at once.

On Cyber Monday I got some great deals on more photo prints from Timmy's and my anniversary photo sessions. Even better, Sears Portrait Studios was offering $20 worth of prints from personal photos for free. I have this amazinggg photo of my grandpa dressed up as a cowboy that I have been wanting to get prints of, so, I got an 8x10 print, two 5x7, and four 3.5x5 prints of it for free (only had to pay shipping). If you are interested, the offer is good through December 6th; just use coupon code "HLD418."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pin-up calendar for the Chicago Coalition for Abused Women

*****All photos and links to Windy City pin-up have been removed from
my blog as I can no longer recommend working with the photographer.*****

I found out some exciting news last week that for some reason I am just now getting around to sharing. One of my photos from my Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) photoshoot will be the October spread for Windy City Pin-Up's 2012 calendar. The proceeds from the calendar will go to the Chicago Coalition for Abused Women.

[image removed]

(Note: I don't know which of my images from the shoot will be in the calendar.)

If you would like to purchase the calendar, you can get 20% off through noon (CST) Monday by using the promo code "Cheesecake" on Windy City Pin-Up's Etsy page. The calendars are normally only $25, so, with the promo code the calendar will be $20; what's better than supporting a good cause by buying a calendar full of pin-ups?

[image removed]

Proud winner of a Shabby Apple dress

Wednesday I won this amazing Shabby Apple dress on the blog Dressed Up Like a Lady. If you are interested in buying the dress for yourself, it is called "Too Darn Hot," and you can find it here; tip, if you read Cammila's (of Dressed Up Like a Lady) blog you can find a promo code for Shabby Apple.

I am so excited to receive it so I can prance around the house in it and take photos. I'm going to have to MAKE a special occasion to wear it out. I'm the kind of girl who walks around her apartment wearing heels in her bathrobe just because it makes her feel good; so, if I can't find a special occasion soon to wear the dress, I won't care, because I don't need an excuse!

If you weren't already on your way, you should check out Cammila's blog. She has her own unique sense of style, and makes me miss the days that my hair was pink. How could you NOT want to check out the blog of someone who determines and announces blog winners with this much adorable flair?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dia de los Muertos - Dos

*****All photos and links to Windy City pin-up have been removed from
my blog as I can no longer recommend working with the photographer.*****

This is the second image from my Dia de los Muertos shoot with Windy City Pin-Up:

[image removed]

When I originally saw this dress on the hanger (at the studio), I wasn't sure how it would fit with the theme, but Ashlee and Laura are great at styling, and I really think it works. Do you own any clothes that you don't like on the hanger, but that look great on you?

DIY: Elephant card

This elephant card is super adorable and easy to make. If you are not a fan of elephants, you can easily modify these instructions to create any kind of animal card.

Gather your supplies:
Pattern (see below) or drawing skills
Paper in whatever color/patterns you want
Pen or pencil
Paint or a button for the eye

Don't forget the most important thing, an adorable helper:

The first thing you need to do is locate an animal outline or pattern to use. I used this free sewing patten. Sewing patterns for 2D animals and coloring pages are great for this because they are usually just simple outlines. If you want to create a card using a different animal, Google image search is your friend; for example, try searching "(your animal name here) outline" and I'm sure you will come up with something you can use.

After you find a pattern you want to use, print it, and cut it out. Take the paper you want the main part of your card built of, and fold it in half. Lay the pattern on your paper so the top of the pattern hangs off the folded edge of your paper like this:

Trace around your pattern. The fold is what is going to be holding the front and back of your card together, so, make sure you leave enough of the fold on the top of your design.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fate vs Initiative

I have never believed in "fate." In fact, I hate the very idea of fate. The idea that, some, or all of our future, is already mapped out for us is depressing. I like being in control of my own life. Being able to make my own choices and determine my own outcome. "Fate" is only a positive idea if you are the type of person who doesn't want to take full responsibility for your life, and put in the effort required to make your life what you want it.

In many ways I currently lack the initiative to make my life what I want it to be, but that does not make the idea of being helpless (reliant on fate) any more appealing to me. I truly believe that life is, and should be, what you make of it. By nature I am a complainer, and I like to wallow. It is so much easier to blame life than push yourself to achieve what you want. I'm trying to change that. One step at a time.

While I don't believe in fate, I think I have always subconsciously believed in the idea that we sometimes receive "signs" pointing us in the right direction. Whether those signs come from the universe, God, or from within one's self, that is up to you to decide, however, I do think they are important. At the very least, these "signs" are your subconscious saying "Hey, pay attention!" And you should.

What about you, do you think the idea of fate is a positive one?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dia de los Muertos - Uno

*****All photos and links to Windy City pin-up have been removed from
my blog as I can no longer recommend working with the photographer.*****

Thursday I received the three digital images I choose from my Dia de los Muertos shoot with Windy City Pin-Up. This one is my favorite:

[image removed]

I bought the shoes for $7! They are fabulous, however, they are rather hard to walk in, which makes them perfect for a photo shoot.

Have you ever bought a pair of impractical shoes that you love but rarely wear?

Weight loss

I've officially made it past the 20 pounds lost mark. I'm proud of myself for staying on track, and really trying hard to make this a lifestyle change, not a diet.

I still have to lose about ten more pounds to get back to a healthy BMI. Originally I was hoping to lose more than that because that would still have me at 20 pounds heavier than I was when Timmy and I met. I am not sure how realistic that would be for me to HAPPILY maintain though; I get too much enjoyment out of yummy food. I looked a little odd at that weight because I am so curvy; my chest to waist to hips ratio was almost cartoon-ish. At this point I'm not eating to lose weight anyway; the weight loss is just happening because I'm eating healthier. So, I guess I'll just keep eating like this, and see where my weight wants to go on its own.

I miss regular-fat cheese the most. Low fat cheese isn't nearly as nummy. I eat so much cheese that I have to go with the low-fat; especially because if I didn't, I'd probably eat even MORE cheese. What is your favorite "guilty-pleasure" food?

My dream job

I have often pondered what my dream job would be. It is something that has long stumped me. There isn't much I'm passionate about that I would be interested in doing to earn a living. When you have to do something, it often takes some (or most) of the joy out of it. Why is that? Is it human's rebellious nature that doesn't allow us to enjoy something simply because we are required to do it?

After 27 1/2 years of life, I've finally came up with my dream job... a way to do something I am passionate about without losing my interest in it. The problem? My dream job is about as realistic as me becoming a ballroom dancer or professional singer (I have no rhythm, coordination, or ability to keep a tune). My dream job is to be a professional blogger. Though, I detest the word "blogger" and any derivative of the word "blog".

I've always loved writing, but I have never had much interest in writing professional. The problem with most professional writing is that creativity can be stifled by editors, imposed word limits, etc. Personal blogging has the distinct advantage of being your own boss, and therefore having creative control over your own content. Of course, you still have to answer to advertisers and sponsors, however, you get to choose who you will work with.

If only I dressed inspiringly, was innovative in the kitchen, or was a crafty DIY-er. I'm an expert at snark; maybe that could be my niche. Although, we all may be better off if I kept more of that to myself.

If you could be paid for blogging about anything, what would you choose to write about? If you are already fortunate enough to get paid for your blogging, would your blogging be any different if you weren't getting paid for it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Break from healthier eating

It has been a week since the end of Timmy's and my anniversary yummy food binge, and I've successfully avoided the scale since then. It wasn't completely because I was worried that the number would be higher.

I feel that it is okay to allow yourself some times where you just enjoy your food rather than agonize over every fat gram and calorie. If you are going to "let go" though, you need to have a clear date of when to get back on track, and realize that the number on the scale immediately after your derailment is going to be a bit higher. Knowing that, I decided to get back of the swing of things (healthier eating wise) for a bit before I weighed myself again, because I don't want to have such a mentally unhealthy obsession with food and the scale where I can't just enjoy what I'm eating every once in a while... even if the food is bad for me.

Anyway, I was please to see that the number was lower than it was before my "binge"; I lost two pounds. It is nice to know that I don't have to fear all will be lost if I want to take a weekend to just enjoy everything... even naughty food.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Apples Galore

Who doesn't love apples? In one day I made three different apple yummies.

Timmy and I love drinking cider; if only it was easier to find cider all year 'round. To kick up store-bought cider a knotch simply simmer the cider in a pot with some cinnamon sticks and cloves. Ground cinnamon doesn't work so well (it tends to just float on top of the cider rather than mixing in), so, be sure to use cinnamon sticks. We often add amaretto to our cider as well which not only increases the sweetness, but helps create the wonderful warm tummy feeling.

These apples are super easy to make. I simply cubed up an apple, and simmered it in the pot with the cider. When the apples were done to the softness I wanted, I took them out with a slotted spoon, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. They were really, really good.

The third apple item I made was apple muffins. I hestiate to call them muffins because they were really, really moist; I did use an apple cupcake recipe to make them, however, without the frosting it called for I don't really like calling them cupcakes either. I based my apple "muffin" recipe off of this apple cupcake recipe, however, I changed a lot of the ingredients. My recipe is healthier because I eliminated the oil, cut down the egg yolks, and eliminated the frosting (which had heavy cream and a lot of butter). Here is what I used to make my "muffins" (I underlined the items I changed from the original recipe)...

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 whole eggs, and 4 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar*
1/2 cup brown sugar*
1/4 cup apple cider
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup apple sauce
2 cups grated apples (make sure to peel)

*The only reason I made changes to the sugar/brown sugar ratio was because I did not have enough brown sugar. In the future, however, I plan to reduce the regular sugar (by a 1/4 or a 1/2 of a cup) since the apple sauce adds extra sugar.

I went with the recommendation of mixing sweet and sour apples and I was glad that I did. I followed the original recipes' instructions for mixing and baking, and like I said, I completely left off the frosting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Texas De Brazil and anniversary photos

The anniversary festivities continued!

Sunday Timmy and I did a little shopping downtown. I got some more cute accessories (a ring and two or three necklaces); well, Timmy bought them for me, so, I have to wait until Christmas to get them.

After shopping we went to Texas De Brazil. Texas De Brazil is a Brazilian steakhouse. They bring the meat (beef, pork, and poultry) around to you on swords. I'm not a big meat eater, so, I mostly ate bread and cheese, but it is still a fun experience. It is usually $50 a person for dinner, however, if you sign up for their mailing list, you will get a buy one get one free coupon for your birthday and anniversary. $25 a person isn't bad for a buffet where the meat is quality and cooked fresh.

Monday Timmy and I got some photos taken for our anniversary at Sears and Target. We did the package deals so we could get some photos taken for cheap. This is one of the Target photos:

After photos and some more shopping (this time for the necessities, not the fun stuff), we went to the Brew and View. The theater is so gorgeous that it is almost a shame that it is being used for a movie theater. I don't think we'll go back to the Brew and View until they fix the sound issue; the volume was really loud, and based on the reviews for the Brew and View on Yelp, it is a reoccurring problem. For the $5.00 per person ticket price you usually get to see three movies, however, that night they were only playing two (with the first movie playing again after the second). If you fill out a survey on their web-site, the tickets are even cheaper. Drive was the first movie, followed by Machine Gun Preacher. Drive was good, however, Machine Gun Preacher reminded me of a Lifetime movie written by overzealous Christians; the movie had so much potential, however, a lot of it was just too cheesy to take seriously.

Yesterday Timmy and I hung out at home for the first part of the day. We had a yummy lunch of Timmy's Beam and Coke ham, baked sweet potatoes, cottage cheese with green onions, and dinner rolls. We watched one of our favorite shows, The Good Wife, and after that we started watching Game of Thrones; Timmy had been asking me for quite a while to start watching Game of Thrones.

That night we went to Democracy Burlesque. It is not a burlesque show. It is a political comedy skit show. They also had performances by a local band and a stand-up comedian. The skits were all funny and on point. For the $15 ticket price you get $3 towards food or drink, and some of the proceeds go to support something local (last night it was Chirp radio). It was quite fun and I think we may got next month as well.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our five year anniversary

Yesterday was Timmy's and my five year anniversary. We started the day fairly early (for us) by going to Flat Top Grill for breakfast. For just $10 (or $9 with a student ID), you get unlimited breakfast. I love their setup because instead of a typical buffet where the food has been mass cooked and been sitting on warmers, your food is made specifically for you. You put a colored stick in the bowl telling the cook what you want (choice of an egg scramble, omelette, egg white omelette, french toast, or pancakes), add to the bowl the ingredients you want in it (they have fruits, meats, vegetables, etc.). If you want bacon, breakfast potatoes, etc. on the side, you simply add another colored stick to your bowl for that. Then simply set your bowl by the grill and sit down and relax for a couple minutes until they bring you your food (they provide you with wooden sticks to write your name on so they know whose food they are cooking). There is also oatmeal, fresh fruit, etc. that you can get from the buffet area to munch on until your warm food is done. If you are ever in an area with a Flat Top Grill (there are currently 18 locations throughout five states), I highly recommend you check out Flat Top's breakfast (they only serve breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays). Timmy has had their lunch before and recommends that as well; their lunch and supper is Asian stir-fry set up similarly to how the breakfast is ran.

After breakfast we went to a craft sale ran by the Vaudezilla burlesque company where I picked up a grab bag and this awesome necklace by KymmBang.

When we were done at the craft sale, we headed home to enter a food coma (a.k.a. take a nap) before going out later that night. After the hibernation, we went out to go to a Live Band Burlesque show (sounds awesome, right?). Unfortunately the show was already sold out when we got there. I somehow missed the bright red icon on the webpage that said you could buy the tickets on-line.

Bummed that the highlight to our evening was ruined because apparently I can't read, we headed out to Leona's (a place we both once loved). It didn't go so well, and in the end I decided I am done with Leona's, they are getting no more chances from me. If you are interested in the details, you can read my Yelp review about it (it should be the top review written by P.K. on 11/06).

When we got back home, we looked over the scrapbook that I made Timmy a couple years ago for his birthday. The scrapbook is filled with cards, and memories from the first years of our relationship. It was a nice little flashback, although somewhat depressing; it made me realize how much more people show their appreciation for each other in the beginning of their relationships.

Fortunately Timmy and I both have today, Monday, and Tuesday off for our anniversary, so, we have plenty of time to make up for the show fiasco.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pretzel bun burger and sweet potato fries

I love pretzel buns (who doesn't). I have been hearing good things about Trader Joe's pretzel buns for a long time, and we finally got around to trying them; they were yummy, of course.

Those are sweet potato fries with them. They look odd in part to the flash washing them out, and in part to them being slightly coated in corn starch. The corn starch is supposed to help the fries get crisp once they are coated in in oil, however, I didn't want to use a lot of oil, so, truth be told, the corn starch really didn't accomplish anything.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Behind the scenes of the photoshoot

*****All photos and links to Windy City pin-up have been removed from
my blog as I can no longer recommend working with the photographer.*****

At this point, I'm sure you all are wondering if I am going to post about anything other than my Day of the Dead shoot with Windy City Pin-up. Well, the truth is, I'm probably going to obsess about it through at least the end of November, because it was THAT much fun.

The ladies of Windy City Pin-up made me feel so comfortable; which is really saying a lot because I usually feel so self-conscious when other people take my photos. They were both so much fun and sweet too. Even if I wasn't getting photos out of the deal, I think it would have been totally worth the price just for the opportunity of getting to spend the day playing dress-up with these fun ladies.

If you live in the Chicago area, I highly recommend you check them out, and don't forget to tell them I sent you! If you don't have much spare cash, they offer a limited number of spots for a theme photo shoot at a highly discounted price every couple months; if you subscribe to have their blog e-mailed to you (click the "+ Follow" icon in the bottom right corner of their blog), you can ensure you will be one of the first to be notified and you will have a better chance of snagging one of the limited number of spots.

Timmy took these "behind the scenes" photos at the photoshoot...

An hour into the shoot. We went over wardrobe ideas, put the corset on (but hadn't tightened it), and hair was mostly done.

An hour and a half into the shoot. Makeup was about a third of the way done. (Corset still loose.)

Two hours into the shoot. Makeup almost done.

Two and a half hours into the shoot. Almost ready for photos; just a few more finishing touches with hair and makeup, and then time to tighten the corset.

Joys of public transit, Version 1.0

To make it even better, the guy taking up three seats didn't even know the girl who he had his dirty feet next to.