Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday House

Before I write this post, I would like to acknowledge the tragedy that has recently taken place in Connecticut. Lives have been ruthlessly taken, and I cannot begin to imagine the grief that the families and friends of those who were killed must be feeling. My heart goes out to all of you. There is nothing that can be said to ease this kind of pain, but nonetheless, I am sorry. Sorry that there is evil in this world beyond compare. And sorry that life is so unfair and so unkind sometimes. Those children and faculty are in a much better place. I hope everyone can find some kind of peace in the wake of this sadness. 

I love the holidays. The house is warm, the smell of fir trees and cookies waft through the air, and the decorations are wonderfully tacky in all their lit up brilliance. 

This year, Dan and I decided to buy a fake tree. Just so you know, I would never buy a regular fake tree that tries to resemble a Noble or a Douglas fir, but I would and have most certainly bought a fake tree that is pink. It's fabulous and anyone who disagrees is crazy. 

These photos do not do the color justice, but the tree is the perfect shade of light pink. We got our pink-beauty from treetopia.com —I cannot say enough good things about this site! On the tree we have added an assortment of sea-colored and clear bulbs. The complimentary colors play well off of each other. 

I love bird motifs, so when my mom brought over some little feathery-birds to nestle among the branches, I knew I had to find a bird tree topper. This is Gloria. She gracefully perches a-top our tree, adding whimsy to our living room. 

Our tree is really the only thing that is unique about our decor this year, so the rest of this post will be pictures of the rest of the house. Enjoy!

Til next time. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Matrimonial Monday!

Today I would like to address something that every wedding and every bride will encounter—advice.

I got engaged six months ago, and nearly every person I have encountered since has had some information to impart. Some of it is good and some of it is bad.

Here is some advice I have been given, and my insight on said advice:

1. It's YOUR day (bride and groom), so don't accommodate everyone else at your expense.
This is common advice, given by every former bride, future bride, and everyone in between. I struggle with this piece of advice as I tend to be a "peace maker" and someone who does not like to hurt others feelings. But, this advice is true. As Dan says "Twenty years from now, you and I will be the only ones who remember our wedding, so lets make it nice for us." Touché.

2. Things will go wrong.
This advice is also common. I take it to mean that you should be flexible and understanding. People will try to get their way ("My child is a wonderful angel, why can't they be at the wedding?"), and try as you might, you may have to succumb on certain issues. Kids at a wedding may or may not be one of them.

3. Only have who you want in your wedding party or on the guest list.
Yet another thing I am struggling with. Dan and I have always wanted a small wedding party and guest list. With each added soul comes more complication. So while not inviting someone to be part of the wedding party or guest list may be awkward, I think this is one of the most fundamental rights of the bride and groom. It doesn't mean you don't adore that person, it just means you are trying to keep it simple—the key to a stress free wedding.

4. Ask for help.
This advice is standard for almost any situation, but it is advice that in many cases I don't employ. In the case of a wedding, your bridesmaids and maid of honors (I couldn't choose between them!) are there to help you and share in celebrating your impending nuptials. When they except their role, they are excepting a certain responsibility. I can promise all of my girls that they will not be expected to bend over backwards for me or the wedding, but the reason I chose each girl is that she brings a special touch to what she does.

5. Have fun and be happy.
Wedding planning can be stressful, time consuming, and exhausting. But if all goes to plan, it is a once in a lifetime event, so everything leading up to the big day should be as enjoyable as possible. Try not to let the haters or the insignificant details getcha down!

Now that I have interpreted some of the advice I have gotten, it's time to give my own. 

Do what you want. I think this advice covers all the advice above, plus much more. If you want a one bridesmaid, have one bridesmaid. If you don't want kids at your wedding, don't have kids at your wedding. If you want cheese burgers and fries to be the cuisine of choice at your wedding, then hire In-N-Out. It's as easy as that!

Til next time. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's the end of an era

In the last couple of weeks I have googled "what to do after college" more than once. Not kidding.

Soon I will be free from education. Free, as in I am no longer required by law, by my parents, or by my own determination to get a B.A. Any education here after would be on my own free will. I like to say, almost daily, either to myself or whoever is listening, that I will probably go back to school. I think I say this because a) I am terrified to end relationships—including that with school—and b) I still don't know what I want to do, and school seems to be the obvious answer to this foreboding quest.

I have "hated" school for a long time now. It required work, time, and energy that I was sure would be better and more interestingly spent doing other things. *Said "other things" have never been discovered, hence the problem with this logic.* But as it turns out, I have become happily dependent on feedback, grades, the fear of doing poorly on a test or in a class, the relationships I build with my peers and teachers, and the general stresses of being a student.

My name is Holly, and I am a school-addict.

I have already investigated classes being taught at my local junior college come spring. Sick. I know... I think my life has been so defined by my education, that I have no semblance of an idea of who I am with out it. School is my safe place. The work world isn't. Everyone I know that has graduated states with conviction "Stay in school as long as you can. Working sucks." I figured. Does it suck because spring and summer vacation aren't just around the corner? Does it suck because bosses would prefer to point out what you are doing oh-so wrong instead of what you do well? Or, does it suck because it's hard to find what you love and then do it?

I will think I've found what I want to do, but then I realize why I don't want to do that thing, and the search continues. I've wanted to be an interior designer, a nurse, a fashion merchandiser, a screen play writer, a journalist, a makeup artist, a blogger (heeeey!), a photographer, a nutritionist/dietitian, a boutique owner, a winery owner/operator/whatever, a novelist, a personal trainer, an animal activist, a YouTuber, a stylist...I know that list is incomplete. And while I am unsure about all the aforementioned careers, the only thing I am 100% completely positive about is that I want to be passionate about my life and what I do with it.

I want a job or a career. It doesn't have to make me rich or the envy of everyone I know, but it has to make me happy. I want close relationships with my family and friends. Closeness that can't be broken by anything—calling all true blue friends! I want to give back in some way—I am not just saying this. And I want to always make time for new things and new experiences. This last one will keep me learning about the world and myself forever, even if I am not a student in the traditional sense.

I think my first step to discovering and implementing ^all that^ is to take an inventory of my life. What is necessary? What is an obligation? What can I cut ties with? What brings me joy?  And what do I want to try? I won't try to figure all of that out here, because who knows, it might take years. But then again, it could take minutes. So here are a few things that come to mind (write your own. It's liberating!):

1. What is necessary?  Finding a job...at this point, it probably doesn't matter what it is. Just something tolerable while figure IT out.
2. What can I cut ties with? People I don't like. I've got a few. I can also cut ties with the amount of online shopping I do (I'm talking about reducing it to only a couple hours a week. And yes, that would be an improvement).
3. What is an obligation? Cleaning, paying bills, and working out. Two of those a lame. But we all have to.
4. What brings me joy? A lot of things. Dan, working on my blog, seeing my friends, thinking about traveling, eating good food, putting together the perfect outfit, seeing my mom change into the person she was always meant to be, having a clean kitchen and living room, working out, taking pictures, my four favorite TV shows (wouldn't you like to know)—the list goes on and on.
5. What do I want to try? I want to try to cook more. Dan does it all. He's a saint. I want to try a photography class. I want to try to read a book in less than a month. I want to try to not say mean things about myself...or others. Don't judge—you know you do it. I want to try to be more patient. And finally, I want to try to be more spontaneous. Carpe Diem! It wouldn't be a blog about life after college if I didn't have "carpe diem" in it. #sorrynotsorry

To sum up where I am at, where you might be at, and where we will all be someday I have chosen a "road" analogy.

I am at the end of a long road. It had twists and turns, but generally speaking, it was a safe road with guidance along the way. This road was mapped out out and familiar, which is important when you are just a kid. The road I stand in front of has many paths stemming from it. It is less mapped out, less guided, and less safe. But it is full of opportunity and hope. Surely I will reach dead ends on this road, but in this case, those dead ends only lead to new things. It's not your typical road. In fact, it's a weird road.

It's scary to leave anything behind. A boyfriend. Your parent's house. A former friend. A job. A school. But everything ends as unfamiliar replaces knowing and new replaces old. So to my fellow graduates or anyone leaving something behind, it's time for the first step in a new direction. God speed.

Just so you know, those google searches I mentioned in the beginning were not fruitless. In fact, I suggest you type something similar into your web browser of choice. I've read about jobs that are perfect for recent grads, backpacking trips that won't break the nonexistent bank, how to get to Joshua Tree, articles with titles like "the survival guide for the petrified graduate"...and so on. But most of what I found was inspirational *tear*, and although corn-ball-ness sometimes falls on deaf ears, I think for those of us who are graduating (or in any other life-transition) need that sentimental push to find what we love but also to know that sometimes being lost and directionless is what it takes to find something great. Or, the great in ourselves. Who's the corn ball now?

Thursday, December 6, 2012



Not sure if you recall, but a few years ago Ann Demeulemeester designed a pair of flat, triple-lace boots—√° la Edward Scissorhands—that were, in a word, amazing. I became obsessed with them, but at $1695 they didn't quiiite fit into my budget. The great news for me was that Pour La Victoire created some gorgeous look-alikes at a fraction of the cost. But, that "fraction" rang in at about $560...still not in the cards. However, hope was not lost.

A couple years ago, Gilt, a website dedicated to bringing it's subscribers deals on designer duds, listed the Pour La Victoire look-alikes. They were on sale for about $150. I had a credit on my account. The rest is history. And in case you are wondering, we are still very much in love.

I wore them yesterday with mid-rise jeans by Gap, a thrifted cropped sweater, an army-green anorak, top knot, glasses, and a bold red lip.

This very simple outfit paired with the boots becomes a touch more special. Basically what I am saying is that these boots have special powers. No big deal.

Til next time.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

BB & SS & CC Cookies

I try not make cookies too often as they seem to quickly and magically disappear. Weird how that happens...But when I read about these brown butter and sea salt chocolate chip cookies (the abbreviation in the title was clearly needed), I knew I had to make an exception.

These cookies are as good as they sound, which I think is often not the case. I followed the recipe exactly, and if you are thinking of making them, I recommend you do the same. Monique of Ambitious Kitchen definitely knows what she is talking about when it comes to the kitchen. The girl can bake! (Monique, if you see this...I love your blog!! I want to make everything you bake/cook!)

I think that the key to how amazing these cookies are is the brown butter. Everything is good or better with brown butter. Make sure that you brown it long enough so that it gets a strong, nutty aroma. Otherwise, you don't get the full effect of this amazing stuff.

The dough whips up very neatly, which is another plus. These cookies are easy, quick, and clean which is a big part of why I have made these not once, but twice in the past week! Make sure to follow Monique's instructions on chilling the dough. I have made many a-cookie where I did not do this, and now I am a believer. It does seem to make for a chewier center while still achieving a crisp outside. 

Another key to this recipe is the sea salt. I added a bit before the cookies baked, and a bit after.

So there you have it. Brown Butter & Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies. You will love them. Your friends will love them. Your family will love them. Bring them to holiday parties, the office, kid's soccer games and cookie swaps (never been to one, but this cookie would fit in just fine). Hope you enjoy!

Til next time.