Monday, December 22, 2014

The best way to spread Christmas cheer

Is to decorate with as much gold metallic as possible!

And to blast the Classic Christmas radio station. You can keep the newer Christmas songs, but I'm more than happy to have Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Burl Ives and the rest of the classic gang. Okay fine, I love me some Mariah Carey too, but in smaller doses.  Also, David Bowie and Bing Crosby's version of The Little Drummer Boy is my absolute favorite Christmas song. I stop whatever I'm doing when I hear it and I just sit down to soak it in. 

In my mind, I keep our Christmas decorations pretty minimal and mainly to our living room, but my husband disagrees with me. Our fireplace and mantle are in the man cave, which is outside the scope of my decorating territory rights. This year I did add a tiny bit of glitter to our dining room. I had purchased straight glitter wrapping paper and wrapped two large canvases with it. Honesty, after opening the roll it looked like a Ke$ha party came through my dining room. My intention was to hang candy canes and bring some glitter to the dining room. The hubs mentioned that if the candy canes fell down while we were at work that Jax would likely overdose on sugar. That's not a good thing, so the candy canes got nixed. I attached our Christmas cards to them instead, but I didn't get that done during daylight hours this weekend. 

The decorations also spilled over into our kitchen with the simplest addition in the world - my grandmother's antique ceramic Christmas tree. Now, I don't know if she would approve of it being stationed next to our bar area, but it looks perfect there and in front of the big window. Plus, it's the safest place in the house for such an antique item. 

The decorations and extra lights don't seem to bother Jax at all, as long as he can nap on the couch he's good to go. Jewels is even less impressed that I coordinated wrapping paper with the Christmas tree decorations. 

I can't wait to open presents tomorrow night. It's our little tradition that we open our gifts at home, play with the pups with wrapping paper, and then head out to NY. We're doing Christmas morning at my aunt and uncle's farm this year. So excited!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Office Holiday Party

I'm almost done with this year's round of holiday parties. Well if you don't consider "almost done" as still having the hub's office party tonight, a luncheon on Sunday, a dinner Monday night, and then you know the feast on actual Christmas day.  Oh I just got tired thinking about all of this again.

But last week we had my office's holiday party. So the hubs wore a navy blue suit with a pink tie and pink shirt. And I clashed by wearing black and white. Our cheeks were a little rosy by the end of the night and I wouldn't have had it any other way. The very best part - my best friend scored a coveted client invite.  It's always fun when people ask, "how often do you two work together?" And we really don't. We work with the same federal programs, but on different pieces of the proverbial pie. But it's fun to respond to people, "oh we've been friends since college."

Maybe we'll get a few better photos at the hubs party tonight, but I don't think that's the point of holiday parties :)

How many parties do you have left this holiday season?

Monday, December 15, 2014

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

Made in USA: Buffalo Check Shirt: Steven Alan (on super sale!)  // Jeans: Paige Denim // Shoes: Oka-B // Lip gloss: Mineral Fusion // Nails: Zoya 'Avery' 

'Twas the week before Christmas and my to-do list was still a nerve wracking mile long. It was daunting. Then, I got a cold and that knocked me out of commission for 36 hours. A whole day lost and there were still gifts to be purchased and even more gifts to be wrapped. Most importantly, I missed a beer festival! 

Thankfully, I was able to check one thing off the list this weekend: Jax's new sweater does fit him! Ohthankgoodness. At least someone in the family is ready for Christmas morning. Jewels has numerous outfits because she gets cold so easily - we'll just have to figure out which one she wears this year. 

I kept telling myself over the weekend that I'd get everything done this week. Yeah, everyone else in the family laughed aloud right there with me. 

What's still left on your Christmas to-do list? Anyone else panicking?

If you needed a last minute gift you should check out that Steven Alan shirt because it's pretty much been my casual Friday and weekend errands shirt for the past month.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rye Apple Cider Cocktail

Want a super easy and seasonably appropriate adult beverage? Then keep on reading! 

Rye Apple Cider Cocktail:

- 2 parts Apple Cider (chilled is best)
- 2 parts Ginger Ale (chilled is best)
- 1 part Rye

Combine apple cider and rye in a shaker with ice and shake. Pour into an old fashioned glass over ice, add ginger ale, and enjoy! You can add a garnish if you like. I added cinnamon to the rim of my glass to give it even more of a festive taste. The ginger ale keeps it light and fresh, which is perfect for feasting with friends. 

Now, you can certainly substitute the rye for your favorite bourbon. I personally substitute a rye for bourbon when the recipe calls for combining with cold apple cider. I just find the slightly fruity flavor of rye pairs better with a cold apple cider. It's just crispier. Now, if the recipe is for a warm cider drink then by all means use a bourbon. That's just my personal preference. 

What's your favorite Rye recipe?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Midnight Madness in Annapolis

It goes without saying that the Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the years. There's nothing more beautiful than the pure joy in the air this time of the year.

One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is to walk around and look at as many light displays as possible. I love Christmas lights! I think it's because when I was a kid there was a guy in town who was routinely listed as having one of the best Christmas light displays in the country. It was a yearly trip to see the Decker house. Those memories are why I have dragged my hubs up to 34th Street in Baltimore more than once to see the houses shining bright.

This past Thursday the hubs and I put on our coats and gloves (I packed hats for both of us) and we walked around Annapolis during Midnight Madness. It's a celebration on Thursdays where all the local shops stay open until midnight and it's basically one big party. Like it's totally cool to walk down the street with a to-go cup of wine in hand. Everything is light up like a Christmas tree, including the green and red lights on a few of the boats in the harbor.

The cutest things we saw this year: a pair of golden retrievers dressed as reindeer and happily posing for photos with cute kiddos, Alpacas out on main street, well behaved children, a steel drum band performance, Christmas carolers, and pretty much rosy cheeks on everyone because of the chilly weather. I wish I would have taken more photos, but alas I was too busy having too much fun just soaking everything in.

If you're in the Annapolis area don't miss out on this tradition. If you can't make it on a Thursday then make sure yous top in the Here A Pop Up Shop featuring hundreds of locally made gifts and supports local designers, including two of the areas clothing stores 3 Clothing and 2 Live 2 Love. I still don't know how I don't have a tutu skirt from 2 Live 2 Love yet because every time I see them I imagine twirling around in one.

What's your favorite holiday activity?

Monday, December 1, 2014

American Made Cyber Monday Deals

Anthropologie*: free shipping and 20% extra off sale items.
Bailey 44: 40% off site wide + free shipping
JBrand*: 25% off full priced items with code 'CYBER2014'
J.W. Hulme: The more you spend the more you save. $50 off up to $250 with code 'CYBER50' + free shipping
Karen Kane: free shipping + 20% off + all day specials with code 'CYBERMONDAY'
La Mer Collections: 35% off + free shipping with code 'CYBER35'
Loren Hope: 20% off entire site + free shipping with code 'THANKFULLY'
Need Supply Company*: 20% off with code 'CYBER20'
New Balance*: 20% off and free shipping
Oak73: 30% off entire site with code 'CYBER'
Oka-B: BOGO with code 'CYBROGO'
Piperlime*: 30% off entire site and 40% off sale items with code 'CYBERSALE'
Toggery: 25% off entire site with code 'TOGGERYTHANKS'
Venley: 50% off entire store

*Not everything for sale is American made, but there is plenty of USA made goodness on these sites. Make sure to check the item description. Now is a great time to get a Clare V clutch or bag on sale at Piperlime.

Monday, November 17, 2014

2014 Richmond Half Marathon Recap

About 16 weeks ago my husband came up to me and said, "don't make a big deal about this, but how long would it take to train for a half marathon?"  My follow-up question was, "can I run a half with you?"  I honestly didn't know if he would prefer to be off on his own or if he would want my company.  He said I could run with him. That's love. 

For a self-identified "non-runner" who prefers running on the treadmill to running outside and doesn't really care for running more than 3 miles, this was kind of a big deal. We quickly settled on the Richmond Half Marathon for his first race. The timing was right on schedule to give him a month to start running and then 12 weeks to train. We loved the experience we had last year at the marathon and we hoped for a mid-November race we wouldn't have too major of weather issues. 

Off he went on his training program that incorporated lots of cross training days and increased his long runs from a base of 3 miles all the way up to 12 miles. Most training plans for a half marathon only have people run 10 miles as their longest run, but the hubs really wanted the peace of mind knowing on race day that the last mile of Richmond is pretty much all down hill and it was only one more mile than his longest run. 

And he logged a lot of 9:30 pace miles over the course of his training program. It actually became bit of an inside joke because it didn't matter if he was doing a 3 mile run or his 12 mile run - the man runs 9:30 miles like clockwork.  

Come race day morning the weather was a chilly 26 degrees at the start of the race. That drop in temperature was a bit of a concern for both of us. The hubs hadn't run in such cold yet and was a bit worried overall. He threw on an extra short-sleeve shirt under his long-sleeve shirt to keep his core warm. I was worried that my lungs would take forever to warm up and I wouldn't be as "chatty" as needed during the race. My goal was to talk to the hubs, especially during the last few miles, to try to keep his mind off the distance. I was also worried that some lingering soreness in my legs would stay frozen solid during the race and I wouldn't warm up. With those fears in mind I tossed on a thick hat, which is not something I normally wear when racing. Then again, I wasn't racing. I was pacing. 

The race was a lot more crowded than I remembered from last year and we actually missed the start of our wave because we were still lined up in a port-a-potty line. We hopped in with the tail end of wave HB, which was the 2:30 pace group. That actually worked out to be brilliant because we started out slow and steady, especially that first very crowded half mile. 

Mile 1:  10:05
Mile 2:   9:32
Mile 3:   9:33
Mile 4:   9:33
Mile 5:   9:28
Mile 6:   9:34
Mile 7:   9:19
Mile 8:   9:50 (we got separated at a water stop)
Mile 9:   9:33
Mile 10: 9:34
Mile 11: 9:36
Mile 12: 8:45
Mile 13: 7:57
Mile .2:  7:28 (probably the best race I've ever had running the tangents and finishing so close to the actual distance!). 

Total Time: 2:03:46 Garmin average: 9:23

Insert crazy high levels of pride here. The race was almost perfect. Seriously, starting a few waves late turned out to be the best thing because that kept both of us from starting out too fast. That's a major issue I have and since I was acting as the pacer for this race that was a really big concern of mine. The course itself was crowded. I kept trying to keep us on the sidelines so we could dart around people to pass as easily as possible. The night before the race the hubs saw on Facebook that one of his former co-workers was running the race and we actually ran into him around mile 7. He had started out too fast, but once we ran into him, we picked him up, and brought him into our little pack. He finished just behind us. The guys joked during the race that I was going to take off on them at some point, but I reminded them that I was there to get them across the finish line. I also knew that at some point the hubs was going to take off. 

Man I was right about that one! He took off at right at the start of mile 12. I actually told him to calm down at one point and to hold it steady on the flat stretches and then increase the pace on the downhills. He loves downhills, especially ones that are really close to the finish line. I told him to keep it together until we got  half a mile out because from there he could run as hard as he wanted to. I think that sub 8 mile summed it up perfectly. 

Post race we hung out with our friend, grabbed beer and hard cider at the Capitol Ale House, relaxed, showered, napped, and then had an amazing night of bourbon at McCormack's Whiskey Grill.  That game plan made sense because this is the same guy who drank a beer flight with lunch at Legend Brewery the day before his race and for his pre-race dinner ate fried chicken and mac n'cheese at the Bellytimber Tavern. The weekend was all about making sure the hubs had an amazing experience because I didn't want this to be his only half marathon.

I wanted this to be his first half marathon. Mission Accomplished. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Made in USA Scarves

I might be in the minority of people, but I do not like blanket scarves. There I said it. Whew. I feel better getting that off my chest. I just can't wear them because they look like they're eating my head.

I also can't stand the blanket scarves paired with a silk shirt (and no jacket). This is the winter equivalent my mind of Uggs and a mini skirt. Are you cold? Are you warm? I don't understand what is going on.

But scarf season is definitely here. The high temperatures next week will be in the upper 30s.  Time to break out the good ol' wool scarves and prepare for winter. I am so excited.

Thankfully, there are plenty of made in USA scarves available to keep you functional and fashionable this year. Have you heard yet about the Faribault + Target collaboration? It's a great partnership between two of Minnesota's most favorite brands. The quality and craftsmanship of Faribault's time honored, American made products, but at a Target friendly price point. I'm picking up at least one scar and maybe a second. Or a scarf and throw. Still haven't decided.

Scarves - blanket: yay or nay?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rugby Stripes

Made in USA: Striped Shirt: Bailey 44 // Jeans: James Jeans // Purse: vintage Coach 
Imported: Boots: super old! Bandolino

My love of stripes knows no bounds. There isn't a need to own as many striped shirts as I do, especially the classic black and white combination. Is it a black shirt with white stripes or is it a white shirt with black stripes? I have shirts that clearly swing both ways on the subject. 

You know what separates a great striped shirt from a bad striped shirt - whether or not the stripes line up at the seams. Seriously, there is nothing more annoying, to me, than when a striped shirt doesn't match at the seams. You know what I'm talking about. You turn to the side and your profile just looks like a brick pattern of stripes. 

That's why I'm in love with this Bailey 44 striped shirt. Not only do the stripes match up at the seams, but the quality goes a step further, and the stripes line up on the arms. That almost never happens! The pocket is clearly designed to mismatch :) 

I'm slowly getting rid of all the striped shirts I own that don't match up at the seams. And also the large stockpile of random color combination striped shirts I used to wear to my brother's college rugby games and upgrading them with better shirts. 

I definitely would have loved having this shirt back when he played rugby, but for now it's perfect from emerging from the house after a Walking Dead marathon (holy hell the living people are scarier than the walkers!). 

So stripes - do you care if the stripes match up at the seams? Or am I just that crazy?

More perfectly lined up stripe seams below from Bailey 44 (striped shirts made in the USA, yes please!)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fall Essentials: Gingham and Leather

Made in USA: Gingham top: Tradlands // Skirt: vintage, thrifted // Necklace: Loren Hope // Suede Pumps: Julie Bee's // Nails: Essie 'Twin Sweater Set' 

Finally! The temperatures have dipped low enough that I can wear my beloved leather pencil skirt. Because nothing is worse than summer leather and the uncomfortable swamp ass situation that accompanies it. I wore faux leather shorts once this summer and immediately regretted my decision and have vowed to never wear leather again when it is above 60 degrees.

Some fashion rules are much more practical than "you can't wear white after Labor Day." There's nothing attractive about sweating to death while wearing leather in the wrong season. Yes, I said "sweat" and not "glow." I am not that type of girl who can pull off leather while warm.

But in my excitement for cooler temperatures and I forgot the only two things I absolutely dread about fall: the earlier sunsets (hello walking to the train station in the dark!) and the fallen leaves. My backyard is blanketed in leaves and it's my turn to bag them. So much for an equal distribution of household chores.

I'm going to go distract myself from the shortened days and the leaf piles by pulling out all of my favorite sweaters and blouses to pair with my second favorite consignment store find of all time (first favorite here). I was a bit clueless how to wear this gingham shirt when I first purchased it, but I'm glad to see that when in doubt pair it with black!

More of my favorite leather and gingham pieces that are made in the USA are below:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Made in USA Pajamas

It's that time of the year - I slept in my flannel PJs for the first time this past weekend.  My love of flannel pajamas knows no bounds, nor does my love with a good pajama set. Honestly, I could pack for a week's vacation and easily bring a different matching flannel set for each and every night.

Yet, I'm always on the hunt for another adorable set to add to my sleep routine. Let's be honest, I've been known to roam around the house far longer than I should in my pajamas on lazy weekends. But they're just that comfy!

It might be a bit early to start thinking of holiday shopping, but take it from someone who used to get a pajama set from her grandma every year, that pajamas are an awesome gift. Thankfully there are plenty of pajamas made in the USA that would be perfect as any type of gift.

Pajama sets - yay or nay? Shorts version? Long version? And who's rocking a footy PJ onesie from time to time?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Adult Pajamas

Made in USA: Tee : Toggery // Jeans: Paige Denim // Watch: La Mer Collections // Bag: vintage Coach (similar) // Rain Flats : Oka-B

Raise your hand if you've ever been so tired when you get home from work that the thought of making dinner or getting dressed to go out to dinner makes you even more exhausted.  Welcome to my life this week. I'm not going to lie, but I ate Chick-fil-A for dinner after 9pm earlier this week because that's just what time I got home and that shit happens. 

I was thisclose to ordering delivery last night, but then I realized that I still had a tiny bit of Chinese food leftovers in my fridge. And by leftovers I mean just enough white rice to make me feel guilty about ordering more Chinese food, but not enough rice to quiet the hunger pains in my stomach. Delivery food still left in the fridge and I had already consumed CFA once this week. Damn, and it was only Wednesday. 

That meant running out for dinner. Which meant getting dressed since I de-pencil-skirted about 45 seconds after dragging myself through the front door.  And gosh darnit, it's really hard to get dressed again when all you want to do is put on fuzzy PJs, silly slippers, and consume copious amounts of wine while Netflixing (is that a word?) old episodes of Scandal. But my hubs doesn't consider wine and popcorn to be a proper meal! 

But I needed food and the hubs knew a bacon burger (with avocado!) and beer with cheer me up. That meant pants and a bra. So many rules! So yes, world, please consider this my version of adult PJs - the comfiest flats known to womankind (seriously, haven't had a blister from them yet!),  black jeans that will probably turn gray here soon from how often I wear them, and my latest OBSESSION the softest tee known to the world. 

Take that "no shoes, no shirt, no service" sign. I'm ready for you! 

Who else is tired with me? I'm usually not a fan of the "but I'm so tired" proclamations and complaining because everyone's busy these days, but every once in a while the lack of sleep really brings out the worst in me.

Finally, this is in no way, shape, or form a sponsored post (because I'm definitely not that cool), but if you wanted a pair of Oka-B flats you're in luck because I have a $15 off code for you. The color possibilities are endless! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscotti

This past weekend I finally made my seasonal visit to Trader Joe's and stocked up on canned organic pumpkin puree.  I can't go to Trader Joe's every weekend because I have zero self control when it comes to buying adorable flower arrangements or eating massive quantities of dark chocolate covered pretzels (and TJ's has the absolute best!). The cashier may or may not have given me a curious look over how many cans of pumpkin I purchased, but I think he was actually accustomed to people stocking up on it.  I remember the canned pumpkin shortage of 2009 - it wasn't pretty. 

When I was home with my canned pumpkin prizes I asked the hubs what he was in the mood for and he quickly returned a follow-up question, "can you make some type of pumpkin biscotti?" 

And Pinterest led me to the Chocolate Moosey's amazing Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscotti recipe. The recipe was adapted, by adding chocolate chips, from its original source on Simply Recipes

Oh look the ginger came out in the shape of a heart - a good sign of things to come!

This biscotti was delicious. Now I know you biscotti purists might have a criticism that it isn't overly crisp, but that's just the nature of working with pumpkin. Also, I'm not a fan of overly stale, crunchy biscotti and I search out recipes that specifically say that! This made the perfect late afternoon treat - which meant in the fall that daylight was gone when the hubs and I finally sat down to enjoy these. But they were tasty again this morning with coffee on the go! 

Any other pumpkin recipes I need to try? Pumpkin roll is up again for next week, but after that I'm looking for something new to try. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Quick Change

Made in USA: Blazer: Helmut Lang // Jeans: James Jeans // 
Imported/Unknown: Clutch: old Rebecca Minkoff // Boots: old Pour La Victoire (Brazil) // 

Last night I came home from work, tossed my trousers and sensible work pumps aside, and threw on jeans, boots (sensible wedges!), and two coats of mascara. Grabbed a clutch, kissed the pups goodnight, badgered the hubs about how he was feeling (man cold), and then headed down to Annapolis to do some shopping at the Here A Pop Up Shop

Nothing makes me happier than supporting local businesses. Now if only I could have partaken in the alcohol consumption part, but I'm racing the Baltimore Half Marathon on Saturday and needed to cut back on the booze a bit. Hence the sensible wedge boots! I'm still cursing myself for not giving the clothes a better look earlier in the night because by time I got through all the racks an amazing pair of Nanette Lepore trousers had sold out in my size at the WRABYN Boutique. I did come home some amazing embossed stationary and an intent to buy more artwork at the next event. Gotta get the hubs on board with some fashion illustrations :)

Shop a few of my favorite quick change pieces that let you go from day to night by swamping out trousers for jeans. All items below are made in the USA.