Monday, February 14, 2011

Behold! BHLDN: Website unveiled today ...

...and it's a looker to be sure. Check it out here. This is Anthropologie's take on wedding apparel and accessories and it does not disappoint.

Their gowns and dresses are beautiful - some classic, some unique and vintage-inspired or a new color combination you hadn't thought of. Sooo pretty. And their accessories, shoes and lingerie are truly works of art. If I was getting married this would be my inspiration! Since I'm not, I'm just using it as some really great eye candy.

While you're here, check out a few of my favorites from their new collection:

Tulle Era Dress - 2400.00

Savoy Dress - 220.00

Indigo Mist Dress - 400.00

Vanity Table Peignoir - 250.00

Brocade Shoe Clips - 80.00

On a Wing Heels - 480.00

Undulate Necklace -  520.00

Vapor Cardigan -  240.00

Plumed Tiara -  825.00

 Feathered Corsage Birdcage Veil - 300.00

Emerald Field Kisslock Clutch - 550.00

Be sure to check them out!

The Cat and The Keyboard

Today I stayed home from work - yesterday night I started feeling crummy and woke this morning to the same sick-to-my-stomach feeling and (my personal favorite) the 'good morning' headache. Way to greet the day, huh?

I slept in a tiny bit (7:50am!) and got up to make some oatmeal - something plain but also nourishing - which I thought would feel OK in my tummy. It worked out fine thankfully. I pulled on some 'real' pants (apparently my long bermuda sleeping shorts don't really exist?) to keep from having that sleep-all-day feeling which sometimes makes you feel even worse when you are already not feeling your best.

Checked work e-mails and personal e-mails and facebook (ugh the addiction; knowing how completely unimportant and fleeting it is makes the guilt that much worse and yet I still am a facebooker) ... apparently my cat Smiley - confused by the fact that I was at home on a Monday mid-morning (yes, he is aware of all those details) kept coming into my room (a guest room/office) and swirling around my left ankle, looking up at me longingly then flopping emphatically on the floor in front of the closet, glancing at me and then blinking at the windows over the bed. Then getting up, going to the living room, and coming back just to repeat the entire cycle another time. I realize he is 'telling me' that he is out of food and I get up to refill their two bowls (one for each of them is the idea, but Carmen thinks 'her' bowl is whichever one Smiley is eating out of at that very moment and likes to push his face out of the bowl with her puffy cheeks). They both take a few bites and, content simply knowing there is still food there if and when they are hungry again, sit down and lick their paws.

Back in the office Smiley, still baffled and a little star struck having me at home with him (he is a mama's boy through and through) decides that nothing I have open on my computer is even close to important compared to him. The only way he knows to distract me - his previous efforts (swirling around my ankles, meowing, and leaping in quick succession on and then off my lap) had not been entirely successful - is to step from lap to desktop and then flop himself partially onto my laptop keyboard (after having successfully opened a new browser tab for me with his left elbow).

Here, he is being playful to try and disarm me ... the computer is chirping at us; he keeps holding down the space key, I think.

He keeps a watch out for Carmen - shared attention is simply not an option.

He's caught a sniff of something ... maybe a touch of perfume that's worn off over time; or maybe that shiny Windows XP sticker.

Those big, serene eyes ... I can't argue with them. ;) Look how nonchalant with his little arm draping over the desk.

Yep, he's definitely more important than facebook.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day.

Everyday is Valentine's Day if you love someone or have a friend. Remember them every day, not just 2/14

Write a note (yes, handwritten), send a postcard or a small gift - just a little something that reminds you of that person and brings a smile to your mind. Remember them and be with them while you can. Bake their favorite cookie, hold their hand, listen when they need an ear and be there whenever you can - hopefully they will be there for you, too. 

Care. Give. Understand. Empathize. 

Make every day an expression of care and love to the people you care about and love most of all. 

[1] Threadbare - 'Snuggle', 2008 @ [2] Russell & Bethany - James Moes Photography @ [3] Heart Shoe Clips @ [4] Mike Kury, 'Firefly'. I miss you, cousin.

Sexy Lingerie?

In my exploration of other people's blogs, I have come across a few posts similar to my 'good things' posts about products or whatever that the blogger is a fan of, owns, would like to own, etc. I found this site because of my blog browsing and found that they really have a stunning collection of good quality (and also beautiful) underthings, delicates ... lingerie. Some of the items offered here are on my 'would like to own but will not own anytime soon' list - $120 for one bra is really not very practical. 

Though the whole 'practical' thing seems to come up in many arenas (apparel, food, home decor), Overall, I am sort of sick of it and sick of being practical. Does everything HAVE to be practical and economical and basic? Does everything have to be plain and simple and serve one, entirely unadorned purpose (in this case: who-needs-decorative-underwear-because-no-one-will-see-it-so-who-cares-if-it's-beige-with-no-ruffles)? I would argue no; not everything has to be plain and basic. I think everything can serve a purpose - most often the practical one it was designed to serve - while still being stylish and attractive and something we are pleased with not only for its use but for its beauty.

Fleur of England 'Fleur T' Something Blue Lace Balconette Bra - $87.50

Andres Sarda Suite Sheer 3/4 Cup Bra - $123.60

No, there really is no place for $100 bras or $90 'knickers' in my delicates drawer. But surely that doesn't mean I consign myself to the bland. No. I am not OK with that. Which is why the discovery of this at once beautiful and outrageously expensive web-store has inspired me yet again to keep on the lookout for beautiful things for my home and my body and every other part of my life without completely ravaging my bank account. I believe there is a place for lovely and attractive things that make us happy to look at - and make us feel good to wear, even if we are the only ones who know about it - that are also economical. Even if that means making it ourselves (which is an entirely different topic and an entirely different rabbit trail which I have explored in my head many times!)

However we come across these articles (homemade, thrift stores, garage sales, retail sales, etc) we should seek out items that are not just serving a purpose but are also pleasing to us and articles that make us happy to say "that's mine" and to see it in our homes on a shelf or in a drawer. We should seek out items that completely please us - not just items we need, but items that are wonderful at the same time and ones that completely make us happy to purchase them. Does that make sense? Don't allow yourself to keep only the mundane and 'necessary', but also the beautiful.

All that to say - and to finally circle back to my opening theme - I think lingerie is sexy or attractive or 'serving its purpose' if the wearer FEELS those things and feels a sense of confidence in part because of that article. No one else sees your bra as you go about your daily business, but you know its there and if it makes you feel attractive or stylish or happy, really that is all that should matter no matter what: not what other people think but what I think about what I do and wear and own. Ultimately I think that is what makes people happy: not bothering about what other people like or find to be stylish or pretty, but what you think of yourself and about interpreting those styles into what suits you the best.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cupcakes go Vegan

I've had a couple boxes of Paula Deen cupcake mix (omg! Paula Deen madness!) in my pantry for a while and I decided to finally put one of them to use. I don't really prefer pre-mixed foods since I can't control ALL of the ingredients. But at least I could control the wet ingredients which are what made the cupcakes vegan (the mix called for the addition of oil, water, and 2 eggs which I replaced with my Ener-G Egg Replacer.

While I was veganizing, I decided to make a vegan frosting as well. I used this frosting recipe (from, doubled the vanilla and added about 1/2 a cup of cocoa powder. The cakes and frosting turned out wonderfully; aside from a hint of 'boxed' taste in the cake, I was very pleased ... nothing really out of the ordinary, just simple and yummy as an after-dinner treat. Here are a few photos!

While the cakes were cooling, I whipped up this frosting; a mix of Earth Balance margarine, So Delicious coconut milk (original), lots of powdered sugar, vanilla and cocoa powder whipped fluffy with my Kitchen Aid 5-speed hand mixer. Delish!

Here they are, cooled and frosted!

Another angle .... mmmmm.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Good Things for February

Here again is my monthly edition of the good things list: just a few things I've encountered - products, foods, experiences - that stuck out and that I feel are worth passing on to my faithful 5 (blog followers, that is).

1. Tree Hut brand Sugar Scrubs. I recently found these for under $6 at Wal Mart. A quick Google search showed that most places sell them for the $6-7 range so I think this is pretty good. I got the Brazilian Nut (omg, rich, nutty, warm ... like a cup of mocha latte for your skin) and the Coconut Lime; my 'signature fragrance' for the Spring and Summer is Coconut Lime Verbena from B&BW and Kevin loves it so that's definitely a factor. This scrub is like that, but slightly milder and even more tropical. Tree Hut puts lots of natural oils in their products and I think this helps the whole 'tropical paradise' image that happens whenever you twist off the cap. Highly recommend.

2. Freeman Beauty GoodStuff Organics Foot Balm. I recently got this for about $2 - since I've had such a great experience with their hand lotion, I thought I would give it a whirl. This balm has a nice mild fragrance (shea butter and lemongrass) and is very thick to nourish dry, calloused feet. A great way to moisturize overnight during the dry Winter months: just massage onto your feet (or preferably, have a generous spouse do this for you!) and cover with thick socks overnight.

 3. Bolthouse Farms 100% Carrot Juice. This save a lot of time; I'm not sure how much money it saves - each bottle is $3-5 depending on where you shop. But it's definitely easier than juicing pounds of carrots at home and is SO delicious. It's the best carrot juice I've had. They use baby carrots so it's extra sweet. It's a great, filling drink as an in-between-meal ... plus it has a lot of great nutrients like potassium and Vitamins A and C. (

4. The Aveda Institute of Dallas. This is where I got my most recent haircut and I couldn't be more pleased. I previously worked with one of the very talented students here and she is the stylist who gave me my great new hairstyle. Check out her up-and-coming website here as well as her articles in the Dallas Examiner. Their pricing is incredibly competitive, their salon very profession and spa-like, their staff friendly and welcoming, and their service A+. I have finally found a salon I'm happy to visit at a price I can afford and not feel like I'm getting ripped off or worry I'll have to live with a horrible haircut that I paid ENTIRELY too much for. Check them out, and ask for Anita while you're at it.

5. High-waisted trousers from Urban Outfitters. I have recently revolted (if only temporarily) from low-rise pants. I am sick of the way they feel, especially for work pants. I'm sick of them hitting in just the wrong spot and constricting and pinching. If my weight changes by 2 pounds, they no longer fit me. UNacceptable. So I recently discovered some high-waisted pants (Kevin calls them Grandma pants but I ignore him) from Urban Outfitters. Their apparel is not especially economical but they often have some great items on super sale - like pants that are usually $60 or $80 on sale for $10 or $20. I got this pair by Kimchi Blue and this pair by Pins and Needles (pictured at right) and am happy with them both.

I don't have tiny calves like the models (I'll go ahead and blame the 3 years of Irish dancing that bulked up my leg muscles, even if that's not 100% true ;) so the pants are not quite so loose at the hems ... but they are still loose enough and very comfortable all around. I usually wear these pants with a blouse (silky materials work well) or camisole tucked in to show off the cute tie-waists and then wear a cardigan or a blazer over that. Basic; easy; comfortable.

My style is a very dynamic and evolving creature and I try to just go with the flow - whatever my 'style brain' likes I will try it and experiment and see if it works for me. Sure I don't want to look like a grandma - I'm not even 30 - but I want to be comfortable. And I think there is room for comfort and a bit of vintage charm while still looking like a 20-something. Yes? Apparently people who shop Urban Outfitters apparel department agree. ;)


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Friday, February 4, 2011

So much snow ... so little to do.

So ... several snow days later I feel like I've run out of things to bake, photos to take and movies to watch (don't EVEN get me started on the Facebook factor).

Don't get me wrong, all-day pajamas, home-brewed coffee, talking to Kevin anytime I want and sleeping in are definitely bonuses of being at home and not at the office. I'm just starting to feel that 'cabin fever' everyone is talking about. I want to go to Target or Whole Foods or go driving around with Kevin somewhere we've never been or get Starbucks. 

All that to say: today is the day I decided to clean out and reorganize my pantry. Unfortunately the whole 'cleaning out' part was pretty insignificant. I have kept all but two items as well as a single lid and a single container from our Tupperware collection - couldn't find their respective partners so they're going into the recycle bin. But the 'reorganization' part was a success.

I pulled together as many small-ish boxes and storage containers I could find and got to work. Of course I forgot to take a 'before' photo, but here are the after photos - these are the 'good ones' anyway since it looks a lot better now that it's been straightened up.

I still need to get some nicer storage containers - some of them are re-purposed shipping boxes (if you find the logo, you get a prize! ... joking ;) - but they sure work for now. I like categorizing everything so there is a bin for baking sugars and chocolate chips, grains and rices, etc. 

Check out the results of my boredom!

Here is the overall photo ... I still feel like it looks jumbled but that's the nature of a pantry I suppose: all the boxes and jars look different and sort of cluttered.

And here the photos by-shelf (descriptions are from left to right) ...

Shelf #1: cookbooks; bar accessories (jigger, shakers, etc); liquors; spare cutlery set (it's a bamboo motif; fun for summertime)
Shelf #2: coffee, tea, and coffee mill (very far left - I couldn't get it in the picture); crackers; condiments (vinegars, jams, hot sauces, etc); storage bags, wraps, parchment and napkins. 
NOTE: The bags that are NOT in a box are my recycled ones; I do this all the time whenever I use up whatever was in a bag. I wash them out with warm water and dish soap and then set them out to dry overnight; they are as good as new and it keeps me from buying quite as many bags.

Shelf #3: The canned shelf! Soups, beans, tomato products, etc. In the middle, syrup and honey ... oh, and cat food. ;)
Shelf #4: Mixes (onion soup, taco seasoning); dried fruits; candies and extra packets of salsas, etc; baking products like baking soda, powder, etc; corn meal; whole wheat flour; flour and sugar canisters.

Shelf #5: Dry pasta and prepared polenta; pasta sauces; oils; baking mixes (there's Paula again!); nuts; baking sugars and other dry ingredients (cocoa powder, powdered sugar, brown sugar, etc)
Shelf #6: Paper plates and wicker plate holders; drink mixes; travel mugs; water and Gatorade bottles (we use these on our bike rides); salad spinner and salad bowl.

Shelf #7 (aka 'the floor'): Rices, oatmeal, wheat germ, flax seeds, etc; storage lids; storage bases.  
NOTE: Behind the lids is a small box of glass jars we have washed and repurposed; Kevin uses them for his homemade hot sauce, I use them for oil and vinegar for salads at the office, etc. Another great way to save resources!

I think I might take another pass through now that I know where everything is and pull some items that are still unopened that I want to get rid of. Maybe canned things that I have entirely too much, etc ... Also I read somewhere about people having 'pantry week' at their house. Instead of going out to eat or buying more groceries, prepare all of your meals out of your pantry as much as possible to try and clear some of the excess. Of course, I feel like you should still get fresh produce to have on hand ALL the time, but if you don't keep track of what is in your pantry it can get out of hand and you can end up with duplicates ... or like me, two unopened packages of golden raisins. ;)

Snowy Days in Dallas

Today my office was closed. Again. I have worked 2 days this week, and another day I worked from home for a few hours testing some database reports for my Director. I feel slightly unproductive, but better to be home on days like this than navigating the roads. When I drove to work yesterday morning it was a nightmare - the freeway was a parking lot and my usual 'back roads' were covered in black ice - exacerbated by the horrible drivers I had to avoid. I feel like I just had a weekend (Tues and Wed) and now I have another 3-day weekend immediately after. It's nice, but I think by Sunday I'll be ready to be back in my routine again.

Kevin decided the cat should experience it, too - check out the video; this is from last night when we realized it had started to snow. ;)

Just a few photos of the snow this morning:

Carmen's thinking about going out but she's not quite sure. Yesterday's forced romp outside may have soured her opinion of snow altogether.

Our back gate drifted in snow. I love the little caps the fence posts are wearing.

Our 'lollipop' bush.

Our pretty tree in the backyard.

Still lots of icicles on the house. 

Street view ...

A fluffy little bird with poofed feathers keeping warm ... you can just make him out on the top of the fence.

Kevin thought the neighborhood cats needed a little shelter so he set up a box for them right by the house with lots of food ... we had to refill the bowl this morning since it was all eaten up overnight. We spotted lots of little paw prints in the yard from last night that were starting to fill up with snow again. ;)

Came back in the house and make some hot, frothy coffee in my French Press...

Then we watched disc two of the new anime series Kev got for us: 'Fushigi Yugi (the mysterious play)'. I'd definitely recommend it so far. As for the rest of our snow day, I think I'll do some yoga later, maybe make something cozy for dinner and watch some more 'The Office' ... I started watching Season One again as well as 'The Office' Series One - the UK version.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Snow" Day

Today is a snow day. More specifically an 'inclement weather' day. 

It was a little touch-and-go around 6:58am when I checked my work e-mails and didn't see any office closure notifications. Then I checked the school district website: closed! That used to be the only criterion for office closures but somehow the closure of government offices in the city in which our office is located (Dallas) is now included on that list of pre-requisites. 

Dallas' government offices never close for bad weather (which likely accounts, in part, for the perpetual grumpy demeanor of all government employees; yes, this is a stereotype, but it is also a fact). So our office remained open for business - but we were urged to use our 'best judgment' and 'choose safety' as we decided whether or not to brave the accident-riddled roads and slick pavements. I had a choice to make: Go to work through ice and sleet and snow and gusting blades of ice? OR Stay home and warm and wait it out like a smart, evolved, life-preserving being? The latter, please!

Alas, the company came through and closed the office officially. Dallas finally announced (around 8:45am) the closure of its court system for Tuesday. 

Bear in mind 'treacherous' and 'gusting' are relative terms. Wisconsinites would likely scoff and smirk condescendingly at our softness.

can you see the icicles??
For now I'm sipping my third giant mug of coffee this morning and enjoying the slow progression of a day with minimal and pleasant expectations. 

(I started my coffee pot and noticed after a couple of minutes that no coffee was being made; the coffee pot decided it was done making coffee for me after 6 years of loyal service. So I turned to my reliable and non-electric French Press.)

It's not that I'm especially tired or caffeine-starved; mostly I just want to have something warm in my hands - whenever I glance outside to see icicles dangling from my patio and little snow flakes coursing sporadically through the air, it makes for a cozy contrast. The sun decided to peek out for 3 seconds just now and make the snow flakes look more like silvery glitter darting around my backyard. Kevin would say they are fairies. <3

I've decided my to-do list for today is as follows (subject to change/whims):

1. Morning yoga. I never do yoga in the mornings - on a Tuesday, most especially - and so I plan on taking advantage of this very quiet morning to stretch and salute the day and let my brain know that I want it to engage and be happy and centered today. Stress be damned; I am striving so hard to ignore its skill at destroying my happiness and contentedness - one day I will forget what all the stress was about and simply recall having been happy or unhappy. I really don't want to look back on my life and feel I was pointlessly disappointed and needlessly let down by completely unmemorable and unimportant rifts and strifes with people who pass in and out of my life like little flecks of snow on the grass.

2. Watch the last episode of 'The Office' Season 6. Kevin finished it last night after I simply had to go to bed. I knew I'd have to get up earlier to allow for the atrocious weather and road conditions which I have thankfully been saved from after all. At least I have been up since around 7 this morning. I'm so glad I didn't go back to bed, however tempting that was, for sure.

3. A little housecleaning. Dishes, laundry, maybe a touch of ironing (at least that's warm!) and some Swiffer-ing.

4. Cooking! I think a big pot of something yummy like potato soup or chili would suit the day.

5. Hmm ... I guess that's all. *smile*


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