Friday, October 31

Fashion Friday: Trick-Or-Treat

Happy Halloween! Don't have a costume for tonight? Never fear! Jamie (follow her on Instagram: @browneyelovely) has two awesome costume ideas that can be thrown together either from what's already in your closet or what you can find at a local thrift store!

Trick-Or-Treat, let's start with something sweet! The candy corn is an absolutely iconic vestige of Halloween and it's amazingly easy to pull off. Bonus, you can also wear it to work this morning and feel festive all day long without your boss giving you the evil eye.

All you need is 1-2-3: a yellow T-shirt, orange tank-top, and white skirt! Layer the yellow shirt under the orange tank so that just the sleeves stick out!

To give it a bit more fashionable flair grab cute hat (additional points if you somehow manage to find a cute yellow and pointy hat, although we're not quite sure that one can be made fashionable), a belt, a purse to hold your valuables (or, let's be real, your candy), and some boots!

Don't get too comfortable now, it's time to get a little tricky!

A scary sailor is even easier to pull off! All you need is a nautical dress. Don't have one? Choices abound at thrifts stores around town, Jamie found this little beauty at her local thrift shop! She paired it with a navy blue cardigan and some skeletal stockings (for a little Halloween edge).

As-is this outfit could totally be worn in non-conservative working environments. To make it a little hard core for your party tonight, put on ghostly make-up so that you appear to have recently arisen from Davy Jone's locker! This make-up tutorial is perfect, and you can find grease paint at any Halloween store and most grocery stores that have a Halloween section.

What are you dressing up as tonight? Does your workplace allow Halloween Costumes? Mine has a preschool so we are encouraged to dress up! Happy Halloween, have fun and party safe!

Wednesday, October 29

Ridiculously Practical Meals: Pork Chops

If you thought some of my previous meals were quick and easy, get ready, because this one takes the cake. There are only 2 minutes of prep-time and 18 minutes of cooking all together. You will need: salt, pepper, dried cilantro (you can use fresh if you prefer), thick cut pork chops on the bone, and a package of ready to cook quinoa. 

Prep and cook your quinoa according to package instructions. While your quinoa is cooking its time to move on to the meat. To start, heat up your grill. Place your pork chops on a plate and evenly coat both sides with salt pepper and cilantro. I did this 'to taste' without bothering to measure it out. Place on grill. If you are using a traditional grill, be sure to put the cover on. I used a George Forman Grill which also worked just fine. Cook on the first side for 7 minutes. Flip over and repeat, cooking on the second side for 7 minutes. Once the time is up, check to make sure the meat is done. I did this by cutting into the center of my pork chop and making sure it wasn't pink. Mine didn't need any more time, but if yours are still pink in the middle keep cooking them, checking on them every few minutes until they are no longer pink. 

By now your quinoa should be about done, dish it out evenly on to your plates. Top each plate with a pork chop and you are done! I was surprised how juicy and tender the pork chops were since they had a low cook time. I was happily surprised by how much I liked them! Then of course there is the Hubby test, he agreed and said that they are definitely a meal to make again. Bon app├ętit!

Monday, October 27

Literary Libations: Blackbird House

If you just finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, you may need to read something beautiful and calming before diving into the second book of the series. Sometimes we need a break, something to erase our mind of any dark or grueling thoughts. An ideal candidate is Blackbird House, a novel by Alice Hoffman. So, grab a hot cocoa (yes, it's finally that time of year!), tuck yourself in, and prepare yourself for a world that is both magical and familiar.

Blackbird House follows the lives and stories of all the people who occupy this house over the course of 200 years, from the very first occupant who built it in a British occupied Massachusetts, to modern day. Under such a large lens we get to see how the choices people make and the ones that they love change their lives forever. The book reads like a long, stunning poem. It draws you in with each detail and yet it reminds you how fickle life can be with each changing inhabitant. The descriptions of nature are detailed enough to paint a portrait in your mind and the love and losses poignant enough to draw a tear. Nature and humans are so closely intertwined that you could not examine one without the other. 

I'll leave you with the last paragraphs of the book description: "These interconnected narratives are as intelligent as they are haunting, as luminous as they are unusual. Inside Blackbird House more than a dozen men and women learn how love transforms us and how it is the one lasting element in our lives. The past both dissipates and remains contained inside the rooms of Blackbird House, where there are terrible secrets, inspired beauty, and, above all else, a spirit of coming home.

"From the writer Time has said tells 'truths powerful enough to break a reader's heart' comes a glorious travelogue through time and fate, through loss and love and survival. Welcome to Blackbird House."

Friday, October 24

Fashion Friday: The Road Home

TODAY WAS A DOUBLE POST! If you missed this mornings post, go read it and come back!

Jamie (follow her on Instagram: @browneyelovely) has now shown you what to wear when you hit the road for a day full of traveling, where to go for an ultimate October vacation, and now she's going to show what to wear on the way home! Just as in the first post in this series, layers and comfort are still key! You've just finished a vacation and are feeling good! Don't ruin the high because you're shivering in your cabin with high AC. You also want to look stylish and keep the fun and confident feeling you've had all vacation. A cute pair of flats, bright colored leggings, a long, flowing shirt, and thick cardigan are perfect for this. Also, curled hair seems to wear better when it gets messy, so throw your hair into loose curls if you plan on napping part of the way home. Then with a simple flick of the head, your hair is ready for a glamorous exit, no hair brush required.

Sweater: Modcloth, sold out (similar here & here); Shirt: Modcloth, sold out (similar here & here); Leggings: Target; Shoes: Modcloth, sold out (similar here & here).

Don't forget to spend lots of time looking out the window at all the beautiful colors! The golden leaves are only going to stick around for a few more weeks, so soak in all the glorious color you can.

Fashion Friday: Oktoberfest

Last week Jamie (find her on instagram: @browneyelovely) talked about getting ready to travel, this week she's sharing where to travel! During the fall there is one other holiday that may rival Halloween for prominence: Oktoberfest. The official German Oktoberfest is already over, but around the world we like to celebrate the idea of Oktoberfest for the whole month. Really all you need is a good outfit, good beer, good friends, and a place to all hangout. Extra points if the meet up place is somewhere like Leavenworth, Washington, a city known for its classic Bavarian charm.

To fit in simply find a Bavarian costume, they can be found at local thrift shops if you are lucky, and, if you aren't so lucky, local costume shops. Jamie and Chris found theirs for $20 each.

Once you've got your charming outfit together be sure to grab some friends, kick back and relax, and toast to a night you'll always remember!

TODAY IS A DOUBLE POST! Come back in the afternoon for a second Fashion Friday post!

Monday, October 20

Literary Libations: Thirsty Throwback

Are you ready for a blast from the past? I've had a busy, busy weekend. Not that I've been going anywhere, but I've taken on some freelance work which took up some extra time this weekend (it's good stuff, and I'll share what I've been working on once it's completed). In the meantime I didn't have the chance make or create a new savory drink, so I'm going to send you over to this post from last year at this time! I'm guessing you won't remember this post as it was before I had any followers and I'm pretty sure no one was reading my itsy-bitsy blog at that time. SO, go have some fun at Pumpkin Patch and try to remember that my photography skills have improved in the last year...

Today I am finishing up my report on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I just want to start out by saying that I loved this book, it was intriguing and mysterious, the characters felt absolutely tangible, and at points I think my hair stood on end. That said, this book needs serious trigger warnings. There are many points that deal with sexual abuse. All of it is portrayed in the worst light it could possibly be portrayed in, the perpetrators considered the lowest of the low and not worth saving. If you are extremely sensitive to such issues or are overly affected by what you read, I would suggest stopping here, please find some other, happier book. If, however, you are willing to plunge forward and delve into the dark inner sanctum of Larsson's work, read on.

I've covered a bit of the story already, but now that I know the direction the book actually takes I'm going to start from the beginning. Blomkvist is somewhat famous reporter in Sweden. Is is co-owner of the magazine Millennium and has just been convicted of libeling against a very prominent businessman. Blomkvist has presumably been set-up and is unable to defend himself, he therefore faces a three month prison sentence. Seemingly ready to slip into a depressive state, Blomkvist wants to cut himself off from the world and a job opportunity presents itself at just the right time. The beginning of the book is a bit slow, picking up as you go until it seems to snowball in the middle, gathering momentum with the turn of each page.

Henrik Vanger, the rich, ex-CEO of the Vanger Corporation hires Blomkvist to try and solve a mystery, the problem is the trail has been cold for nearly 40 years. Vanger's niece, Harriet, disappeared at the age of 16. The most intriguing part of this, however, is that she disappeared off of an island to which there was no exit. Henrik, the head of the Vanger clan, lives on Hedeby island. There is only one entrance and exit, a long bridge connecting them to the mainland. Much of the extended family has come over for a family business meeting when a tanker truck jack knifes on the bridge, effectively cutting the island off from the rest of the world for 24 hours. At this point Harriet is still on the island. She seems agitated and worried about something, she tries to approach Henrik for advice, but he is too busy to be bothered. Some time over the next several hours she disappears for good. No one claims to have seen her or know where she is. The island is searched, but no sign of poor Harriet is found. Henrik spends the next 36 year pursuing every possibility for her disappearance, but has found no evidence. The Vanger clan is a truly unlikeable bunch and Henrik is convinced that a family member must have murdered Harriet and somehow removed the body. Starting from age 8, Harriet used to give Henrik a pressed flower for his birthday every year. Since her disappearance he has received an anonymous pressed flower on his birthday every single year, Henrik is convinced that Harriet's murderer must still be alive and taunting him.

At this point The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo really hits it's stride. Blomkvist brings in Lisbeth (the girl referred to in the title) to help him with his investigation. She is a professional private detective, working for Milton Security, and an invaluable asset. Lisbeth is my favorite character in the book and also the character with the most baggage. She is consistently surprising and yet invariable in her actions and personality. As clues are uncovered, the past of the Vanger Clan proves to be even darker than imagined. If you want to read a truly thrilling tale, I would highly recommend Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. I've moved on to the second book in the series and am already enthralled. If you've read this book before let me know what your final impressions were below!