Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Holiday Garland

Happy fall! :) 

I whipped up this little holiday-ish garland the other day...pretty cute, huh? And it was cheap and easy too! 

Where did I get that cute striped paper you ask? Lowes. For free. Just waltz in there and grab yourself some paint chips. Then start drawing and cutting. Be sure to have a candle lit. And tea. They'll help.

To assemble, I lined up my little cutouts upside down and taped them together. There might be a better way to do this. But it made sense in my head, so I did it. And it worked, so it's okay.

Then I took a piece of ribbon, placed it across the taped together little thingies, and taped it down. 

And there you have it! I only made one fall garland because I ran out of paint chips in the appropriate colors, but I have another one planned for winter!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Wrap

STILL in full-blown fall mode. I'm somehow even more excited for the holidays than I was at this time last week, and thus am eagerly awaiting November! Plus, I'm not a huge fan of Halloween. So the sooner November comes, the better! This week will be a busy one, but I am excited to watch it go by quickly. :) So here: October's last update on all things enjoyable from the past week or so.

{yay for weather finally cool enough to wear jeans!}

{the cutest and coziest slippers}

{great advice, especially for those periods in life when everything is changing...or when you are hoping everything will change soon!}

{the BEST album...perfect for every single mood I find myself in and it's somehow very fall-ish}

{good for my tummy when I eat too many fall treats ;)}

Friday, October 26, 2012

Adding Some Fall-ish Charm

I'm already getting into the holiday spirit, even with the 80 degree days and complete lack of pumpkins, changing leaves, and crisp breezes. So I have decided to make my own fall (on a tiny budget) and surround myself in it. Now of course, you can just start consuming as many fall-inspired desserts and lattes as you can find. In fact, I'm dying to try out some recipes based around the obvious fall treat - s'mores. I decided, however, that fall treats were not going to be enough on their own, so here are some more (haha, s'more!) ways to fall up your life...

1. Burn some seasonal candles. These cute, cheap candles from Bath & Body Works have become my go-to method for upping my fall mood: Vanilla Snowflake, Leaves, 'Tis the Season, and Snowed In.

2. Change your look. Every year I find myself transitioning from the bright hues of summer to the richer shades of fall for my nails (I have a list of fall nailpolish colors here). And I'm pretty good about adding scarves and boots to my repertoire for quick updates. But this year I decided to take more drastic measures. So I darkened my hair a bit to get rid of that sun-kissed dirty blonde I had been sporting (I've posted hair dying tips and my new 'do here) and have switched to makeup in fall-ish shades, such as an array of purples:

3. Decorate. I made this cute mini garland the other day (instructions to come soon), and strategically placed it in an eye-catching spot (by some mirrors and the tv, of course!). It was incredibly cheap, pretty darn easy to make, and, thanks to some tunes and one of those candles, I had a blast making it. 

So there you have it folks. I'm sure I will think of more ways to add the charm of fall to my life (since fall and the approaching holidays are my newest obsession), so be sure to check back for new posts!

P.S. - Happy Friday! :}

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tips to Dye For

Since I'm in full-blown fall mode, I decided my light locks had to go for a more updated and seasonal hue. This is what I was going for, a pretty brown color with a bold ombre for the ends:

BUT that is not what I got. To be honest, it was quite a mess. I HATED the initial results...it was waaay too dark! Ugh! Major ugh! So I died it again, this time trying to lighten up my strands. But the mix of the two dies was simply ugly. So I died it AGAIN. (WARNING: NEVER be as foolish as I was - DO NOT die your hair so many times in a short period of time! In my defense, I was beyond desperate. But I definitely regretted it, as it fried my hair and scalp. Major no-no!) Finally I got a hue I could live with - a light brown on top and a some subtle ombre at the ends. And I have successfully been able to make myself leave the color alone since (and even give the ends a good trim)! Phew! It's still growing on me, and I think in another week or so I'll totally love it! ;} Here it is:

In the melee of my hair dying fiasco I learned a few things. To save you similar pain, I've posted them below. Enjoy!

1. Buy an extra box. I had a disaster, and was forced to go back out in public (I was MORTIFIED) to buy more dye. I will NEVER make that mistake again! Plus, if you have long or thick hair, you may need the extra dye to completely saturate your locks. 

2. Figure out what works best. I've found that the foam methods either do nothing or end up super splotchy on my hair. After dying, I learned that if you have wavy/curly or thick hair, then stick with the gel or liquid formulas (which I USED to use with great success but didn't use this time as I wanted to try something new) as they will be more effective in saturating your strands...a tip I learned the hard way!

3. ALWAYS buy a shade lighter than you want. As my weekend confusion proved, it's so much easier to go darker/richer than it is to go lighter. 

4. Be prepared to help your hair recover, and have these products on hand before you begin. I love Redken's Real Control mask (as mentioned in my post outlining shower tips) - it seriously works magic - just one use and my hair was largely back to normal! I've also switched to Herbal Essence's new Honey I'm Strong conditioner, which is really great for strengthening - and super cheap!

5. Give yourself some time. Sometimes I find myself still wishing that I had been victorious in achieving darker roots and lighter ends like I had been daydreaming of. And then I start to thinking that maybe I should have just left it alone for awhile after that initial dye. And I should have! The dye will fade. It always fades! Every time you shower it will soften up the color (my hair is STILL softening up, weeks later!), and even without showering the color will ease up a bit. I will always wonder how my hair would have turned out if I had just let it run it's course after the first dying - and if I had also given myself time to get used to the change. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still really coming to like the subtle change I ended up with, but be sure to at least consider letting your hair fade and giving yourself time to adjust to the new you.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Purple Pants

Even though it's still pretty dang warm where I'm situated, I've been wearing, shopping for, and dreaming about cold-weather clothes. These violet trousers are the newest fall and winter inspired purchase, and I cannot wait to break them out! In a classic display of my enthusiasm, I decided to spend part of an afternoon making sure that I could in fact pull these colored dress pants off. I went through my closet to see what I could pair them with, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I found...

Outfit #1: a casual black sparkly pullover + a faux fur vest + snakeskin wedges = a fun outfit for a fun outing with friends and family or dinner with coworkers

Outfit #2: a sweet polka dot tie-front blouse + purple pumps = probably my favorite day at the office outfit ever

Outfit #3: a long comfy cardi + a patterned top + my favorite scarf + loafers = great for a coffee date or a casual work day

Outfit #3 - Close up: here's that blouse and that scarf...the scarf is a black and grey ombre, and the blouse is a printed tie-front cami with golds, browns, pinks, and of course, purples!

So there you have it - 3 ways to style these super awesome purple pants! I cannot wait to wear them and create more styling options. :}

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Wrap

It's been quite a week. I felt ill for most of the week, yet had a fun work-related road trip with my bestest friend and some great, quality me-time. I also have been seriously pining; I miss (soooooooo much!) the Midwest seasonal changes that I grew up with. So this week is going to be all about my campaign to bring fall into my life! :}

To kick it off, here's an update on all things enjoyable (mostly fall-related, of course) from the past week or so.

{catalog shopping...one of my favorite signs that the holidays are coming!}

{my newly darkened strands...info to come on Wednesday!}

{the sophisticated sense of self that comes with buying "grown-up" clothes...outfit details tomorrow!}

{new candles in scents reminiscent of back home...check it out in a post later this week!}

{going out to eat is seriously one of my absolute favorite things}

Friday, October 19, 2012

Some Lovely Things

Here are a few of the [many] things brightening up my world lately.


{great words to inspire optimism}

{greater than great view of London}

{must. make. fort.}

{love something about this atmosphere}

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Olive Oil and Honey Hair Mask

Alright, so here's a little Pinterest DIY project I tried a little while back (you can see a similar pin here). The pin said: "Once a week: Heat olive oil and honey to boil. Cool then comb through your hair to help your hair grow faster and make it super smooth." So of course I HAD to try it. And try it I did. My hair turned out a little smoother....  

...but I didn't really like the treatment over all. The original pin I looked at did not have a website with further directions (or maybe it did and I just missed it), so I guessed my way through. I'm thinking I did not boil the mixture for the correct amount of time since I couldn't get the honey to "boil" well or mix in with the olive oil. And maybe the 30 minutes I left it in for was not enough. All in all, I was disappointed with the almost complete lack of results. 

So if you're feeling adventurous and want to try this one, I would recommend at least keeping the mask on your hair for longer (and of course, I would look into doing some more research on Pinterest!).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Baked French Toast

So I've recently been stuck in a rut when it comes to baking, thanks to botched attempts at homemade "Easy Mac" and donuts. It's really been quite frustrating. But this recipe - one that has the potential to be a regular holiday gem - went largely according to plan (thank goodness)! So here it is: a recipe for prep-ahead-of-time, cook-in-the-oven french toast. It keeps very well (it's been sitting on the kitchen counter for days now, and is still scrumptious to nibble on), and makes a TON (i.e. a whole cake full). Enjoy!

French Toast -
1 loaf crusty sourdough or french break
8 whole eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla 

Topping -
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
nutmeg, to taste (optional)
fresh fruit (optional)

Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Tear bread into chunks and place spread-out in the pan.

Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla, then pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and some nutmeg if you like. Add in the butter pieces and beat into the dry mixture until the whole thing resembles fine pebbles - or something like that. Don't worry too much if you don't get a perfect "pebble-like" look; mine turned out mushy and more like a giant cookie dough-esque clump, and it still turned out okay. Store your pebble mixture in a Ziploc baggie in the fridge.

When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the french toast from the fridge and sprinkle on first the fruit (if you're using fruit) and then the pebble mixture over the top. Bake for 45-60 minutes (keep it closer to 45 if you desire a bread pudding-type thing, or an hour if you want it more solid-like). 

Top with butter and drizzle with maple syrup. Then eat.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Wrap

After a scary almost car accident, I must say it was nicer than normal to sit back and reflect on some of the little things that made me happy this past week. So here it is, an update on all things enjoyable from the past week or so. And with that, have a great Monday (and please, for goodness sake, drive safe)!

{perfect calming and happy feeling remedy for a frightful and adrenaline-rushed night}

{new insanely yummy discovery [and obsession]: iced chai latte}

{my "vintage" mixer...so old school I can't help but smile when I pull it out}

{my favorite part of the work day: a few minutes of quiet time before the doors open}

{a successful baking venture after two frustrating mess-ups...recipe on Wednesday!}

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Beautiful Backgrounds

A little while back I posted one of my favorite "wallpapers" from National Geographic (you can see that post here). You see, for years now I have made it a habit (one that if not preformed, I feel lost) to check NatGeo EVERY SINGLE DAY to check out the Photo of the Day. Not surprisingly, I have ended up saving a whole big bunch of these super fantastic photographs, often using them as backgrounds on my computer, my phone, and various social media platforms. Consider these just a few more of the many reasons why I love Earth. 

P.S. - Tomorrow is Friday :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dress Up Diary

Once upon a time, somewhere, I read that us indecisivers should take pictures of outfits we like. That way, on those days when we swear we have nothing to wear (or when we are in a hurry), we can refer to those photographs to find an outfit. Pretty good thinking, huh?! So lately I have been testing this theory, and when I remember, I try to document outfits I like...

{a black romper, a leopard print cardi, and glitzy sandals}

{a patterned dress and a cross-body purse}

{a perfect running errands outfit: a comfy knit skirt and a simple tank}

{white jeans, loafers, an olive boyfriend-style shirt, and a fab leopard belt}

{leggings, a layering tunic, and a dolman-sleeve sweater}