Hoodie: Anthropologie
Lace Cami: Lane Bryant
Jeggings: Lane Bryant
Flats: Viktor
Earrings: Anthropologie
Scarf: Kohl's
Headband: Anthropologie
We went from nice, sunny, 70 degree weather to brisk, drizzly, 40 degree weather in three days.  And so – it is time to bust out the sweaters and hoodies!  This is a hoodie from Anthropologie that I picked up a few years back.  I was drawn to the powder blue color and the creamy lace embroidery detailing.  It’s those sweet but thoughtful feminine details that make me love Anthro so much.  Paired with pearly, rose gold, champagne, or crystal accessories, it makes a hoodie and jeans outfit much more pretty and girly.  
For Halloween, I made some “cheater” treats with my mom…”cheater” meaning they’re not made from scratch.  The witch hats are Keebler fudge cookies with a ring of melted candy coating to “glue” on the Hershey kiss plopped on top.  The ghosts are Nutter Butters dipped in melted white chocolate thinned with oil or Crisco with two chocolate chip eyes.  The pretzel bites are square pretzels topped with Hershey kisses.  Pop in the over at 250 degrees for 5 minutes.  They won’t look melted when they’re done but they’ll be soft enough for you to press the candy corn into.  Once they cool, the candy corn will stick.  I also make these for Christmas but with m&m’s instead of candy corn.  They’re addictive and everyone always loves the salty-sweet combo. 
And to top off the evening, Kyle and I paid a visit to our new and only nephew, Waylen.  Happy Halloween!  :-) 
On Saturday, Kyle and I took a long overdue trip to Trader Joe’s.  We love that place: great prices; exotic items you can’t find at your average grocery store; and the best hummus, chai tea latte mix, and peanut butter, chocolate pretzels in the world.   The downside is that the place is always packed, so if you’re just there to browse the shelves and be inspired, it’s a bit stressful.  Lots of human traffic.  But so worth it if you can be patient.  We went in without a list and grabbed whatever sounded good.  That night, we went home a made an appetizer, entrée, and dessert with some of our purchases.  Yum, yum, yum!

Appetizer: Chicken & Shrimp Queso Dip

This recipe is inspired by an awesome dip at our local Mexican joint: Pancho Villa.  They make a thin, creamy dip (I’m guessing) from queso blanco, chicken, shrimp, cilantro, shallots, and tomatoes.  I tried to mimic the recipe sans queso blanco and used Monterey jack and chicken broth instead.  Well, I used too much broth and the cheese didn’t melt the way I’d hoped, but the flavor overall was super yum.  It was almost like a soup.  I sautéed the chicken and shallots with cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and salt, and then tossed in the remaining ingredients and boiled it until it reduced.  

Main Dish: Lime and Cilantro Marinated Steak with Guacamole

Kyle marinated the steak in olive oil, lime juice and zest, cilantro, salt, and pepper.  He then cooked it in a skillet with olive oil and butter until medium.  We whipped up some guacamole with avocado, white onion, tomato, sea salt, lime juice, cilantro, and pepper.  

Dessert: Pancakes with Caramelized Bananas, Vanilla Ice Cream, Mint, and Java Fudge Sauce

We modeled this recipe after one from Gordon Ramsay’s show The F Word.  As a plug for that show, I must say that I’m obsessed with it.  Each episode, we has a group of average people come in and cook for his restaurant.  He teaches them and the viewer how to make a simple, delicious three-course meal.  Throughout the episode, there are other segments where he goes hunting or fishing out in the wild, gives tips on how to make great food fast, and promotes the consumption of overpopulated, nutritious, but under-appreciated foods. 

Anyways, for this recipe, you melt a fistful of sugar in a hot pan until it caramelizes.  Split open a vanilla bean (it’s the first time I’ve ever used one!  $0.99 for two at Trader Joe’s!) and scrape out the paste.  Toss it into the pan with two diagonally, thickly sliced bananas and a squeeze of honey.  Add water to thin the sauce and cook until the bananas soften and are coated with the caramel.  Meanwhile, whip up a batch of little pancakes.  We made them from the Bisquick box.  Place a few pancakes on a plate, top with a spoonful of the banana mixture, lop on a scoop of vanilla ice cream, stick a sprig of fresh mint in the ice cream, and drizzle over with a coffee bean hot fudge.  So.  Good.  I’m a believer in fresh mint to brighten rich dessert dishes after having pumpkin whoopee pies from Jolly Pumpkin with a sprig of mint on the plate.  Not just a garnish.  A revelation!
I just bought my first pair of skinny jeans…yes, I’m incredibly late to the party.  I worked at Lane Bryant when they started taking over the denim shelves a few years ago, but I never tried on a pair.  I had this fear of what they would look like, that they’d be uncomfortable, that they weren’t for my body type, etc.  Well, I was in shopping at LB and was drawn to a pair of Seven7 skinnies with cute, embellished pockets.  I figured that the trend hasn’t died yet, so it won’t be dying out anytime too terribly soon, so I tried them on.  

They’re a lower rise than I’m used to, and I only own two other pairs of jeans right now: a pair of dark rinse flares with the slimming tummy panel and a pair of dark rinse, stretchy boot legs.  A teacher’s wardrobe doesn’t really call for jeans besides the few and far between – but much loved – casual Fridays.  So these medium-rinsed, whiskered, embellished jeans were a bit out of my norm but also fun.  Trying them on in the dressing room and browsing around the store wearing them to try them out, I thought they were passable and decided to take them home to try out over the weekend.  Well, I wore them for the next three days.  They’re super comfy with a bit of stretch, I can pair them with flats or any of my knee-high boots, and I have plenty of tunic-length tops to wear with them.  I’m happy I finally gave in and tried them and that I ended up liking them.  They certainly won’t replace my flares or bootcut jeans, but they give me another option for a different look.   
My second holiday look centers on the new Draped Tieback Dress from Anthropologie. I love it's fit-and-flare style, a cut that works for my full-figured, hourglass shape. The shade of green is lovely: a deep emerald that's not too piney or leafy. The velvet shoes bring a warm and wintry vibe to the outfit, while the gold earrings and bracelet offer some glitz.

I should mention I just saw a strikingly similar pair of heels at Target for a third of the price:

I'm getting excited for the holidays as our weekends between now and the new year are filling up with parties and plans. Part of the fun of preparing for the holidays is planning out what to wear for all of the different events. I'm putting together different looks from my favorite shops, as I plan to buy myself some holiday outfits come Black Friday sales. This first look is soft and romantic in pretty, pale pinks and golds. I might wear the sweater long and open or wrap it across in the front and tie it at waist level in the back. I'd certainly get a lot of wear out of the sweater, and I've been hunting for a dreamy, muted dress for awhile. I've plenty of bright colors and bold prints, but I have a soft spot for sweet, snowy pieces as well.
Top: Anne Klein / Reversible Tank: Anthropologie / Skirt: ASOS Curve / Boots: DSW
Over the summer, I bought this skirt from ASOS Curve because the underlay looked bubblegum pink and I'm obsessed with that color.  It arrived.  I was wrong.  It’s a hot coral, but the white eyelet overlay mutes it, so I pair it with bubblegum pink anyways.  However, as I was reorganizing my closet by color the other day, I hung the eyelet skirt next to a coral chain-print top and paused…I’m not one for pairing prints, but I figured the eyelet was subtle enough to give it a try.  The look has a bit of a country vibe to it and is super comfy.  Now, with this outfit, I’ll get more wear out of both the top and the skirt.  It’s great how reorganizing can make you see things you didn't before.  
As I’m packing away warm-weather clothes in the hopes of reopening them soon in Savannah, I’ve deliberated a lot over which dresses to pack away and which ones I can re-work to wear through the fall and winter months.  I bought this polka-dotted dress at an outlet for $20, and it got two wears over the summer.  I hate to pack it away having only worn it twice.  Reading Roxy’s post on Effortless Anthropologie about organizing and building your closet, I was inspired!  I went through my closet to see what I already own and could pair with this dress to make its wearability last into the holidays.  For fun and laughs, I paired it with a couple of printed sweaters and ended up kind of digging a couple of them…we’ll see if I actually pair the prints together and wear them in public, but playing dress-up in the safety of my own home, the outfits seemed to have potential.  
Look 1 is actually a swing sweater with buttons from the top of the sweater to about ¼ of the way down.  It looked funny layered over the dress that way, so I took the bottom ends and tied them into a knot and tucked it under the belt, so now it looks more like a buttoned shrug.  The belt in Look 1 costs $29.99 and is from Lane Bryant.  The pink ruffled sweater is from Anthropologie, the b&w cardigan with the sprawling print is from Carson’s, and all other items, with the exception of the dress, are from Lane Bryant.  

As I paired the dress with different sweaters, I realized that I have tons of cardigan sweaters and solid colored camis.  However, I also realized I can pair several of my other dresses with many of these cardis and camis.  Versatility!  Yes!  After my dress-up session, I have plenty of pairings to carry this dress through the winter.  It made me excited about the dress again as well as elevated a couple of cardis from boring work-wear to cute layering pieces.  I just might try this again tomorrow with a different dress…

Pink, black, and cream with pops of color and prints for a bright, playful bedding make-over.
I'm borrowing this little quizzie from a blog I follow, Discourse of a Divine Diva.  It's a quick set of questions...quite a random, disconnected set this time around, but I actually felt like responding for once.  Here are the instructions per Hailey from the blog I linked to above:

It is time again for Friend Makin' Monday.  If you have a blog, I would like to invite you to answer the questions as well.  Leave me a comment here, so I know you are playing.  Then you can also leave a comment over at All The Weigh, so other folks can check out your answers as well.  It is a fun way to connect to other bloggers.

Q & A

1. Choose three songs that would be on the soundtrack of your life.  

“Someday” by Tegan and Sarah because it’s about wanting to do something meaningful and to leave behind a legacy and something you’re proud of that you can share with others.  “Walk Away” by Ben Harper marks a nice chunk of my junior year in high school when I was so dramatic and broken-hearted.  I still love the song, just not how ridiculous I was during that time.  A few tracks from Alanis Morrisette’s “Jagged Little Pill” represent late elementary and early middle school.  She was angsty and the music a little too old for me, but it made me feel very mature and cool. 

2. Share the details of one project that you’re currently working on.  

I’m always in the middle of a zillion projects and stressing because with so many things going at once, things don’t get finished in a timely fashion.  I’ve been working on a blanket for 2 years now…it’s a crocheted granny square blanket with yarn of a variety of colors and textures: pink, purple, green, yellow, blue, gray, etc.  I wanted a colorful throw to add a pop of color to our beige couch and to have something funky and rewarding to curl up in.  I’ll finish it.  Someday.

3. If you could learn to do one thing overnight what would it be? 

I would like to learn how to sew: vintage dress patterns and quilts, especially.

4. If you could be a fictional character which one would you be?  

I want to be John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.  He is my favorite literary character.  I want his conviction and ability to forgive and spark change.

5. What’s your favorite thing about the month of October?  

I love the leaves.  There’s this strip on our country road where the trees create a dense canopy.  In fall, they bleach to sunny yellow and start to swirl through the air.  I love driving through that patch of trees.  I’m also a fan of hot mulled cider, cinnamon donuts, and donning tights and boots.

6. Share one TV show that you’re embarrassed to admit you watch.  

We don’t have cable.  We live in the boonies.  But we do watch movies every night and usually ones from our own collection.  And it’s usually Harry Potter.  I put in a different film nearly every night to fall asleep to.  It’s like a bedtime story or something.  And I probably should be embarrassed about it – especially since my students think it’s hilarious – but I’m not.  I love my HP, my huh-puh, my Harry.  I think I’m so attached because I started reading them in 8th grade, and we’ve grown up together.


7. Name one friend that you’re thankful to have in your life today.  

Today I’m very thankful for Aaron.  I think he’s on my mind because we hung out last week.  We knew each other in college before we became boring adults.  We sass each other.  I can be my most sarcastic, malicious, and silly self, and he still loves me.  And vice-versa.

8. What was the most relaxing part of your weekend? 

I had a horrible migraine on Saturday and just wanted to sleep, but we had a showing at our house.  To get out of the house, Kyle took us and Jazzy on a drive through the country to see all of the farm animals.  I brought a pillow and blanket with me and counted sheep.  Literally.  And cows and pigs and horses.

9. Do you like to dance?  

Love dancing!  In college, we went to the club all the time.  Now I dance by myself at home.  Lame.  We go to karaoke and dance.  Lame.  Kyle and I turn on music after dinner and dance together.  Lame, but sweet too. 

10.  Share one thing that you’re looking forward to before the end of the year.  

Our house selling!  It just has to.    

I'm obsessed with my Scandinavian cuisine cookbook and accompanying recipe index.  It's dated...from the 60s and 70s...but a really enjoyable read and guidebook.  I get to learn about the history and culture of the region as well as how its cuisine has evolved with the times.  I love it so much that I just ordered the volume for the British Isles off of Amazon for $10 used.  Well worth it.  I picked the British Isles because I know so little about its cuisine.  I haven't finished the book, but here are some general features: lots of breads and cakes and tarts, juniper berries and bay leaf and thyme are standby seasonings, using jams and preserves in bakes goods but also in stews, and lots of exotic (to average Americans) like pheasant, rabbit, and eel.

Excited to try something new, we tackled the potted shrimp and rabbit stew and had a few friends over for dinner.

For before-dinner drinks, we served whiskey and ginger ale and beer from the Sam Adams Fall Seasonal pack.  For appetizers we served fried mushrooms with ranch dressing, potted shrimp with toasted baguette, and a platter with sharp white cheddar cheese, a beet and sauerkraut blend, and sweet gherkins.  Potted shrimp is nearly equal parts shrimp and butter seasoned with spice, served cold.  No one was a huge fan.  I think it would be better served hot like a scampi, sopping up the mixture with bread, but I think that's Red Lobster's influence talking.

For dinner, we served the rabbit stew.  I've ordered rabbit at fine dining restaurants but had never cooked it.  Stripping the meat from the bones was a nightmare.  Nothing like butchering a chicken.  Teeny tiny bones and meat that takes a lot of work to add up to enough for a stew recipe.  The rabbit was marinated in onions, a red Zinfandel wine that we drank with dinner, bay leaf, and other seasonings.  The rabbit was cooked with carrots, onions, and celery.  Basic ingredients.  A traditional stew.  But what made it really special was that it was finished with port wine and a few tablespoons of red currant jam.  These lent a sweetness and fruitiness to the stew, brightening it.  We served it over mashed potatoes, and it was amazing.  It didn't have a strong gamy flavor because the meat and stew were so seasoned.  Therefore, I think you could substitute lamb or beef to the same effect.