Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I think I've found my next DIY project:
How fantastic would this be as a New Years Eve accessory!?  If you aren't the DIY type, you can also buy one here, but I think it's a tad pricy...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Art Wall

I am transferring a 3 bedroom townhouse's worth of art into a 2 bedroom apartment with a fireplace, built-in bookcase, and lots of windows (meaning not much wall space...), so I've decided that the large wall that butts up to the front door is going to become a HUGE art wall/art installation.  I'm talking wall-to-wall,  floor-to-ceiling (with the exception of where I plan to put my piano against the wall).  And believe it or not, I actually think I'm going to need a few extra pieces to fill in to get the effect that I want.  So I've been art-browsing on a few of my favorite sites.  Here are a bunch of the works I'm contemplating:
Row 1: woodpecker feather | fall out kitty | bee hive
Row 2: animal wood print | praying mantis | metallic abstract
Row 3: neon landscape | leaving for the moon | vintage hearts

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fun Weekend Plans!

I have a fantastic weekend planned, full of present wrapping, manicure getting, bicycle repairing, and antiquing!  I swung by Target during the week and stocked up on a few gift wrapping essentials (you know, bows, ribbon, 3-D mylar gift toppers, etc...).  I may tend to go a bit overboard but I have so much fun doing it!  I have also been getting good "nail vibes" from B lately (who has the most gorgeous, healthy natural finger nails I've ever seen) and mine have reached record lengths, so I've decided go get a gel manicure to preserve their awesome appearance for just a little bit longer until they remember that they are usually brittle and flimsy.  My friend H and I have also finally found matching breaks in our schedules and we're headed to this huge antique mall that we explored together back at the end of September.  I couldn't really buy much then because I didn't know how I'd transport it back to Florida, but since I live out here now I'm looking forward to being less limited!  And I finally got a bicycle too!  It's a fun, red, retro-looking Schwinn Point Beach cruiser and except for some minor dents on the front fender it looks brand new.  I just need to get the brakes fixed and then I can take her for a spin!

What about you?  Any fun plans this weekend?

(photos from here, here, here, and here)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Party Planning

A couple of weekends ago J and B threw a cocktail party and I love me some classy cocktails with friends!  We dressed up in cute dresses (and required the guys to attire themselves nicely as well), played cocktail party type games, and I contributed my culinary skills to snack foods and one cocktail recipe.  Here are some of my entertaining tips:
1. Interactive games.  Don't count on conversation only or the Wii to keep everyone entertained.  Talking is great, of course, but throw in a few fun activities as well.  We went with the "stick a famous person's name to your head" game where you can ask only yes or no questions to guess who you are and then we ended the night with Drinking Dreidel - fun but dangerous!  And you can have a lot of fun with the famous names as well - we ran the gamut from Queen Elizabeth to Shakira to Scooby Doo!
2. Drinks. While there's usually someone who likes to play bartender (in our case, it was J), it's also nice to have a pitcher of a pre-mixed drink to keep the bartender's backlog down.  I made one of my favorite holiday cocktails: Santa's Helper.  It really doesn't have any stereotypical holiday flavors, so I'm not sure how it obtained it's name, but the combo is truly delicious:  
Start by soaking peeled and sliced cucumber wedges and crushed mint overnight in Bacardi Limon. Then right before the party, strain out the solids and add limeade concentrate, no-sodium soda water and enough cranberry juice to create a beautifully crimson cocktail.
3. Food.  Don't drive yourself crazy with food.  Stick with easy platters to put together like cheese and crackers with grapes (I find Brie and Grueyere are always winning cheese choices), a bowl of olives, and spiced nuts.  Other great ideas are a vege and dip platter (you can buy the pre-cut varieties and then just put it on a nice platter to save time!), put cherry tomatoes and mini mozerella balls on toothpicks and drizzle with salt, pepper, and olive oil, cheese straws, and orange-chocolate fondue with fresh fruit
4. Music.  Dig up a holiday party mix on your extensive cable tv music channels and let them do the DJ work.  They'll always provide something fun and festive (and if they don't you can all have fun making fun of the song)  and that's one less thing you need to worry about!

Have a fun Holiday Party Season!

(pictures from here, here, here, and here)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Wash of Color

Ever since taking those watercolor classes earlier this year, I've had a whole new appreciation for that particular aesthetic.  Not the wussy pastel types, but the bold washes of bright color.
I've been a fan of Christian Couteau's watercolor paintings since I discovered them.  The colorful portrayal of everyday scenes is so stunning.  Street of la Havanna is one of my favorites and the original work is available for sale here for a relatively reasonable price.

I'm so ready for a new iphone - my current 3G model is on the fritz.  Part of the reason I haven't bit the bullet yet is that I'm kind of in love with my phone cover, a bright peacock design in orange, red, and pink by Jonathan Adler.  However, after finding this lovely new cover I think I might be more willing to make the switch.
This is so-not-feasible for a renter, but how absolutely stunning is this watercolor wallpaper!?!  Someday...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Link Love!

Here are links to a bunch of things that are inspiring me right now:

Awesome gift idea.  I might just make some for myself too!

Coolest towel ever!

Great source for unique holiday gift wrap - I especially love the birdhouses wrapping paper and the glitter gift boxes!

This is totally inspiring my decorating scheme for my new apartment!

I have never seen anything like this before, it would make a great gift for a kid!

Too true...

For all of my stylish friends who are or whom are married to nerds, this wallpaper is kinda perfect :0)

The colors I love of these crazy awesome antlers are currently sold out, but she does custom orders too!

Pictures of and links to all of my favorite hair styles from various blogs, in one convenient location! Look here for buns, ponytails, and a collection of miscellaneous styles.  Now if only  my hair was long again...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Not Enough Sleep

I just had a crazy busy weekend!!!  Friday night I headed to a poker/birthday party with a bunch of friends.  I actually wound up playing really well!  (I was kicking butt at one point but then I got a bit cocky...)  I got 3rd place in both games I played and wound up breaking even for the night.  Only problem?  We were there playing until 4:00 am and I didn't get to sleep until 4:30. 
This probably wouldn't have been a problem under normal circumstances, but the next morning I had to head out early to try to snag a craigslist deal.  I left the house at 9:00 am - you can do the math - and then the actual item I was going to buy wasn't even that great so I didn't make the purchase.  B had accompanied me on the trip and so we decided that since we were already up that we'd stock up on supplies for a couple of craft projects we'd been wanting to do.  We figured we'd just take a nap later in the day before we went out for our evening activities.  Yeah.... didn't happen.  We got so caught up in our art activities that we lost track of time and had to rush out the door for another friend's birthday dinner.  Note to self: when already completely exhausted, margaritas aren't as useful as caffeine...
After dinner we headed to yet another friend's house for some holiday cookie decorating.  For reasons unknown to me I voted myself cookie-coordinator.  It was madness!  By the time we got home around 11:00 I barely had the energy to take off my makeup before I passed out!
I slept in on Sunday, which was nice, and my dad arrived in town around 2:00 with my new (used) car!  I sold my peeling little green carolla a week ago and put that money, plus a little more, toward buying my dad's 2008 Impala, which he drove down from Illinois for me this weekend!  He also brought me some more of my mom's homemade yolk-free chocolate chip cookies!  I spent the rest of Sunday showing my dad around Houston, hanging out, and just having a really lovely time.  Until I had to wake up at 4:00 am this morning to take him to the airport.  Ouch.
So my super fun yet sleep deprived weekend has left me absolutely exhausted today (as if Mondays aren't bad enough already).  To add insult to injury I'm supposed to go to spin class tonight as well...

(pictures from here, here, here, and here)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Girl Crushes

I don't generally watch too much TV.  I have my regular shows: Glee, Project Runway, Top Chef.  And this year there were some new stand out shows that I've added to my rotation such as New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, and Once Upon a Time.  One common thread is I have girl crushes on the girls from most of these shows... Emma Pillsbury on Glee, Anya, who just won the last season of Project Runway, Zooey Deschanel, Kat Dennings, and Ginnifer Goodwin are all talented, stylish, and just all around awesome.  For the most part I'm not really on the reality TV bandwagon, obviously with the exception of Runway and Top Chef.  Somehow, though, I got roped in to watching The Voice last season and I developed yet another girl crush: Dia Frampton.  I love, love, loved her unique voice, not to mention her personal style.  Lucky for me she just dropped her first solo album and I can't wait to snatch it up and listen to it on repeat all weekend! 

(pictures from here, here, here, here, and here)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wish List

Now that I'm employed again there are a bunch of things that I've promised to myself that are vying for top billing on my shopping list. 

1. Bicycle.  I'm currently scouring craigslist for one. I have a lead on an affordable one that looks like this that I'm REALLY hoping pans out.  It even comes with a basket!
2. Laptop.  The one I've been trying to use for the past 3 months in my job search is 7 years old, ridiculously slow, and pretty much on it's last leg.  I think I've settled on this one, and it's got an awesome rebate deal going right now, but $550 is still a decent chunk of money and I don't know if my finances will allow for it yet...
3. New bedding.  I've been dying to get this new duvet cover for a while but J was never really a fan, so here's my opportunity!  I'd also get a down comforter and some new sheets (I don't really have enough sets now that my guest bed is also a queen size instead of my former full size one...).  I just bought two of these yellow sconces at IKEA before I moved that I plan to use, and I kinda love the idea of pairing them with this rug too!
(first image from here)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Appetite for Appreciation

Since my lovely friends are allowing me to live with them for a month while I am waiting for my apartment to become available, I have decided to thank them by cooking as much food as possible.  Last week I made honey mustard panko chicken with rice pilaf and roasted asparagus one night and broiled spiced salmon with quinoa and spring greens another.  I started this week off with Red Snapper en Papillote on Monday, tomorrow I'm planning to make my favorite soup, which I've posted about before, with ham, brie, and fig jam paninis, and here's what I'm planning for tonight:

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups chicken broth
- About 1 lb ground chicken or turkey
- 6 red/yellow peppers
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup diced onion or shallots
- minced garlic
- mushrooms
- fresh spinach
- herbs of your choice (I plan to use fresh oregano and thyme)
- my holy quartet of seasoning: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
- olive oil
- mozerella cheese

  1. Cut 1⁄4 off stem end of peppers; remove seeds. Stand peppers (remove sliver from bottom of pepper if it won't stand up) and tops in a microwave-safe baking dish. Add 1⁄2 cup water, cover with moist paper towel and microwave on high 5 minutes, or until peppers are crisp-tender.
  2. Put quinoa, broth, and seasoning quartet to taste into a pot and cook per directions on box.
  3. Meanwhile, drain juice from canned tomatoes into a bowl.  Saute chopped mushrooms, shallots, and drained tomatoes in a large nonstick skillet in olive oil over med-high heat until cooked through and lightly browned.  Add spinach and let wilt. Set aside vege mixture in separate bowl.  
  4. Cook ground chicken in same skillet vegetables were in.  Once cooked through, make a little "hole" in the middle of the chicken and add olive oil and garlic.  Let garlic simmer for a moment to flavor the oil and then mix into the meat.  
  5. Add the cooked vegetables and quinoa to the meat mixture and stir together.  Season more with the seasoning quartet to taste. Cook for about a minute in the skillet to let the flavors meld then add shredded mozerella (1/2-1 cup or so) and mix in.  
  6. Spoon vege/meat/quinoa/cheese mixture into peppers; top with more shredded mozerella. Place the pepper tops off to the side of the peppers in the dish.  Fill the bottom of the dish with the reserved tomato juice.
  7. To bake: Heat oven to 400°F and bake uncovered 30 minutes, or until sauce bubbles and peppers/cheese are lightly charred. 
Serves 6, or in our case 3 with leftovers for lunch on Thursday - yum! :0)

(image from here)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Beating the Chill

One of the reasons I chose the apartment that I'm moving into at the end of the month, despite the fact that it wouldn't be ready immediately, was the fireplace!  I absolutely love the idea of cozying up in front of a fire with a good book in cool weather.  Living in Florida, this was never an option.  Based on the the last 2 weeks, though, Houston is looking promising in terms of providing fireplace-worthy temperatures (it was 40 degrees when I woke up this morning and I kind of loved it!)  So I'm already getting super psyched about ways I can decorate around my new favorite feature of my abode.  I can't decide if I should go quirky, modern, mid century modern or art deco, though.  Here's what I'm eyeing:

Clockwise from left: Embroidered | Mid Century Modern | Art Deco | Modern
And then of course there are the fireplace tools as well.  I have to admit, I'm pretty sold on the ram's head ones, I'm just battling with the price a bit:
Ram's Head | Contemporary Iron
What do you think?  What style should I go for?

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm Back!

I appologize hugely for that huge void in blogging.  Once I got laid off, I spent a lot of time travelling and applying for jobs.  Between not being at a computer while travelling and then spending too much time on the computer filling out job applications, blogging just sort of fell by the wayside...

So what has happened since you last heard from me?  Well, the big news is I am employed and living in Houston, TX!!!  I had 3 job interviews while unemployed, one with Sierra Nevada Corporation near Boulder, CO for their new commercial crew vehicle (I didn't have the right experience for the design position I applied for), one with Boeing in Houston working International Space Station manufacturing (I didn't get the job I interviewed for, but I was offered a contracting position in the same group, which I where I'm working now) and another with Boeing in Houston working design and analysis for the Boeing commerical crew vehicle and the ISS.  I am still waiting to hear back on that last one as I'd really like to be a full time Boeing employee again rather than a contractor.  Last week was my first week of work and it went really well.  I'm excited about the ISS projects they are doing here and can't wait until I get to immerse myself in them a bit more.

I am currently living with my friend B and her husband J while I wait for my apartment to become available.  I fell in love with a gorgeous apartment in a wooded preserve that has vaulted ceilings and a fire place, but it isn't available until the end of December.  J and B awesomely volunteered to help me out and provide me with a place to crash for my first month out here.  So the kitties and I loaded into the car and drove out just before Thanksgiving.  We're having a lot of fun living in TX so far, which has included a trip to an aquarium in Galveston, lots of fantastic seafood, and time spent hanging out with friends.

I'm heading back to Florida for the holidays to see family.  This is also when I'll officially be moving out of my townhouse and getting it recarpeted in hopes that it will rent out soon.  So if you know of anyone in the KSC area looking to rent an awesome 3 bedroom townhouse, let me know!

(pictures from here, here, and here)