Tuesday, September 2

Literary Libations: Cuppa PG Tips

I hope you had as much fun over the long weekend as I did! This weekend was Hubby and I's first wedding anniversary! I can't believe it's been an entire year, everything has just flown by.

To celebrate we went horse back riding at Broken Saddle Riding Company, which I would recommend to anyone who lives in or is visiting New Mexico. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and the horses very well cared for. Hubby and I are both beginners and they kept a good balance of making sure we weren't stepping too far outside our comfort zones while allowing us to try new speeds (we even galloped for a little bit!). The area was stunning and we learned a lot about the history of the place. I definitely want to go back sometime in the future!

Our horses were named Danvers (left) and Sonny (right).

Now, on to the drinks and books! Sometimes after a long, fun, but exhausting weekend you just need a cuppa. PG Tips is definitely a great go to when you need a tea pick-me-up. We buy our PG Tips from World Market because they are close by and less expensive, but you can also find it on Amazon.

Last week I promised you a more in depth review of Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic. Since then I not only finished Practical Magic, but I dove head first into Alice Hoffman's Green Heart, a compilation Green Angel and Green Witch. While I still prefer Practical Magic, I can say that Alice Hoffman may be working her way into becoming one of my favorite authors. The way she writes is nothing short of magical.

Practical Magic* spans three generations of Owens women. The story begins when two elderly witches, specializing in the trials and triumphs of love, suddenly become parents when their sister and brother-in-law die in a fire. A little voice, owned by Sally, calls them on the phone and demands that the aunts take in her, Sally, and her sister, Gillian, before they become wards of the state. The aunts lives turn up side down as the little girls enter. Sally and Gillian are always afraid the aunts will give them up if they are difficult, so they live their lives on tip-toes, never truly understanding how much the aunts love them. Sally and Gillian are pointed at and avoided by the other children in their little town because of their aunts occupation. Gillian is beautiful, boys stare at her from a young age, and she becomes flirtatious and independent. Gillian runs away at a young age, barely an adult. Sally on the other hand has a more brooding spirit, she is the reliable one. Sally settles in, meets a man, and has two children.

Everything turns on it's head when Sally's husband dies suddenly, leaving her a young widow with two children to raise. She doesn't want them to have the same childhood so she runs away to suburbia to start a normal life. Alas, Owens women can't be normal. After years of the normalcy Sally has fought so hard for, Gillian shows back up in her life with a dead boyfriend, whom she may or may not have murdered, and a haunted past. Burying the body in the back yard Sally and Gillian are finally reunited, but the whole family is now being stalked by a very unsettled ghost. Unable to fix the situation on their own, the aunts must be called in to right the situation. This book has a gothic finale complete with storms, ghosts, and magic.

The book is swirling with emotion, magical imagery, desperation, love, family, and mystery. There are frogs that are a little too helpful, strong emotions can be seen, and love is more complicated than you could ever imagine. Practical Magic has a little something for everyone.

*Practical Magic has adult themes throughout. Please use your own discretion to determine whether or not this is a book you should read. There is an abusive relationship as well as some non-marital relationships in the book.

Friday, August 29

Fashion Friday: Street Style

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on some of my links.
Shirt: Victoria's Secret, old (similar here & here); Sweater: Old (similar here, here, & here); Pants: Jessica Simpson via Macy's; Bag: Target, old (similar here & here); Shoes: Call It Spring via JCP, old (similar here & here)

Hello everyone! Thank goodness we've made it to the weekend and it is a long one, too! Labor Day weekend, the official marker of plunging into Fall, even if the season itself doesn't start for a couple more weeks. This weekend signals the change from white clothing to black clothing (but rules are meant to be broken, right?) and short sleeves to long sleeves. This is the season of layering. Today's post features Jamie, don't forget to follow her on Instagram (@browneyelovely) if you would like to see more pictures like this throughout the week!

One of the great things about this outfit is staying extremely comfortable without sacrificing style. These pants are billowy and soft, the pajama pant's cousin, while still looking fashion forward. We are obsessed with this style of pant. It feels like breaking all the rules, without really even breaking one. Pair it with a graphic tee or tank for an extra cozy feel, but don't forget to layer it with a cardigan or blazer to keep the look classy. Enjoy your weekend everyone, and stay stylish!

Wednesday, August 27

Ridiculously Practical Meals: Toasted Pecan & Blueberry Quinoa Salad

I've been trying to find (mostly) healthy recipes that my husband will eat, preferably with a smile on his face. He loves quinoa and while I'm not wild about it, I thought I'd give a quinoa salad a go. Then the trouble came of trying to find the perfect quinoa salad. Well, I think I've found it.

Joy The Baker made this couscous salad about a year ago. I have been meaning to try it for a while now, but never seem to have all the ingredients at home. Well yesterday I realized I had quinoa at home and that this would probably taste pretty good with the couscous substituted for quinoa. I was right! Seriously, the only step I added was rinsing the quinoa. I even cooked my quinoa pretty much the same way she cooked her couscous (although following the directions on the back of the package is always a good idea). The only other change I made was eliminating the lemon zest and using lemon juice from a bottle rather than squeezing a fresh lemon. Even easier! It was good healthy and good tasty. For the recipe visit Joy The Baker here!

Monday, August 25

Literary Libations: Skinnygirl Cocktails and Practical Magic

Let's get right into the nitty-gritty. What is essential for a fool proof cocktail hour? Well, some might say a tasty, delicious cocktail and some might say friends or a good book. None of those answers are wrong, but I'd also like to venture that for it to be truly fool proof, I need my cocktail to be stain resistant. Also, preferably, it should be easy to make.

You see, I'm lazy and clumsy. I like tasty things that don't require much work so that I can get to the important things, like reading... and drinking... And I frequently spill when I try to do two things at once. That's where Skinnygirl® cocktails come in! It doesn't get much easier than pour and drink. They are advertised as a healthier cocktail, but whether or not that is true, I have no idea. I do know that they taste good and are clear, so very little clean up is involved if when I spill. I've tried a number of their products, although my local stores don't sell all of them. I still really want to try their mojito. This weekend I contented myself the White Peach Margarita and White Cranberry Cosmo. Both are delicious.

Here are the descriptions given by the Skinnygirl website:

White Peach Margarita - A refreshing spin on the original, consider our Skinnygirl® White Peach Margarita the spunky sister to the Skinnygirl® Margarita. Like the original, White Peach boasts premium Silver Tequila with sweet agave nectars, but adds in a unique twist with sweet ripe peach and hints of lime. But don't worry - this one's low-cal too, so you get added flavors without the added calories. So unlike siblings everywhere, this is one Margarita that always plays nice.

White Cranberry Cosmo - Our Skinnygirl® White Cranberry Cosmo is a sassy take on a classic, combining hints of orange essence, subtle lime, berry fruit notes and cranberry into a natural, agave-sweetened wonder. And because we use white cranberries and premium vodka, you don’t have to worry about spills and stains due to that oh-so-functional martini glass. So pour yourself a glass, garnish with a few cranberries on a toothpick, and enjoy a Skinnygirl® Cosmo without worrying about spills – or calories.

Pro tip: If you want something really delicious to drink out on your porch, put a bottle in your freezer over night and then place it on your counter for about 10 minutes before drinking. Shake and pour! You get a delicious alcoholic slushie.

What I'm reading:

I just started reading the Alice Hoffman novel Practical Magic yesterday and I'm already half way through. This book is not what I was expecting, but not in a bad way. I thought it would be more in the vain of fantasy, but this book falls squarely into the genre of magical realism. The book somehow seems to maintain an innocence and fascination with life while simultaneously discussing some very dark topics. This book definitely has adult themes, largely because of a very volatile and abusive non-marital relationship. I think the book addresses some very important emotional issues that come from this relationship, but it doesn't drown out the rest of the story. While reading this book I feel like I'm in a dream world, where people have auras and lightening strikes more than twice. It's definitely worth a read if you aren't shy of difficult topics. I'll do a better over view of this book next week as I'm pretty sure I'll finish the whole thing tonight. Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, August 22

Fashion Friday: No Photoshop Pledge!

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Dress: Modcloth (similar, similar); Hat: Ye Old Hat Shop in Leavenworth, Washington (similar, similar); Blazer: Macys (similar, similar); Shoes: Steve Madden (similar); Target (similar, similar)

Jamie is back with another great look! This outfit is perfect for the transition from summer to fall. There are clean lines, but in a fun pattern. Black and white. Plus it's short enough to be cool on warm days, but easy to layer with a cardigan and tights when the weather takes a dip. Doesn't this outfit just make you want to take a ferry boat ride? For more pictures like this you can follow Jamie on Instagram: @browneyelovely.

Jamie's dress is from Modcloth, one of our all time favorite clothing companies! They have always been committed to fitting all body types and celebrating real women. Recently ModCloth signed a pledge that they will not Photoshop their models. They are the first clothing retailer to do so, but hopefully they will become one of many! If you want to learn more about the details of this pledge, you can read about it here!

Thursday, August 21

Ridiculously Practical Meals: Muffin Tacos

One thing I'm absolutely terrible about is using my leftovers. It's something I've been trying to improve upon, leaving them is such a waste. The problem is that often times food just doesn't look as appetizing the next day. Well, I've solved that problem with at least one dish, progress!

Do you remember last week's Taco Salad? Afterward I had leftover meat mixture and I decided I was going to use it. The next night for dinner I reinvented those left overs into Taco Muffins! Is that a thing? If not, it is now. It was extremely simple! For the filling you will need the meat mixture from last week's recipe (everything except the romaine and green chile), Pillsbury Biscuits in any flavor you want (I actually used their crescents because that's what I had laying around, but using the biscuits would be easier), and shredded cheese.

Take a large muffin tin and either grease four muffin cups or layer with silicone muffin cups. Place the biscuits in the bottom of the cup and pinch the dough up the sides of the cup so that the dough is fitted to the cup. Fill with meat mixture. Top with cheese. Cook between 12 and 15 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Check to make sure that the biscuit is fully cooked before removing from oven. Once they are out let cool for 3 minutes and then pop them out of their tins. I served mine with a side a fruit. Hubby was quite leery (I may have had some disasters that involved attempting to cook leftovers in the past), but he was surprised by how much he liked them! He even said he would like to eat them again. Success!