Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spinach Manicotti in Creamy Tomato Sauce

One of my favorite types of pasta is Manicotti. When I came across this recipe in the December 2010 issue of Every Day Food, I just had to make it. I have actually had the ingredients on hand to make it for a few weeks now, I just finally found the time to make it. This is very tastey, and very rich. The recipe makes a ton of spinach/cheesy filling, so you don't have to worry about skinny little shells! Probably not something I will make all the time (or else I will be 500 pounds), but something I might make every few months.

Spinach Manicotti in Creamy Tomato Sauce

-- 8 manicotti shells
-- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
-- 1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
-- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
-- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
-- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
-- 2 cups prepared marinara sauce
-- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
-- 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Drain well and arrange in a single layer on an oiled rimmed baking sheet.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and lemon zest. Stir in spinach and season filling to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer filling to a zip-top plastic bag. Twist and squeeze bag so filling is in one corner. With scissors, snip a 3/4-inch opening in corner.
Pipe filling into both ends of each pasta shell. Arrange stuffed shells in an 8-inch square glass baking dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk togerther marinara sauce, oregano, and cream. Pour sauce evenly over stuffed shells and top with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Please note I added some shredded mozzarella cheese because I just can't have enough cheese!!
Bake until sauce in center of dish is bubbling and Parmesan is browned in spots, about 30 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Recap -- My Favorite Photo

This is my favorite photo from Christmas this year. This is what happens when your 4-year old nephew finds out that Santa is ringing the doorbell!

Every year, since I can remember, Santa brings PJ's to the kids on Christmas Eve. He rings the doorbell, and when we answer, there are packages with new PJ's in them on the front steps. Since we have grown up, he now brings PJ's to the little kids. Ok, really he still brings PJ's to me also, but that is only because I don't have kids yet, and as my Mom says, I am spoiled!

We have also started a tradition of opening stockings every Christmas Eve. This involves the little kids and the big kids. There are always fun things such as lip glosses, gift cards to Starbucks, a cute snowman spatula, and other fun things like that.

What traditions do you have every year?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Gift Recap

Some of my favorite Christmas gifts from this year.

 Martha Stewart Encyclopedia of Sewing & Fabric Crafts

Martha Stewarts Baking Handbook

Tiffany Key Charm

Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook (Breast Cancer Edition)

Rachel Ray Moppines
Simply Vera Wang PJ's (the softest PJ's ever!)

Cashmere Sweater (my first and it is sooo soft!)

Snoopy Salt & Pepper Shaker (So funny! I love beagles, so my Mom thought I just had to have this!)

Hope Santa spoiled everyone like he did me! What were some of your favorite gifts?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Parties 2010

Hope everyone had a great holiday! The last few months has been crazy busy for me, but I did have a little bit of fun. I ended up having 4 holiday party/dinners for the month of December.

The first party was the first weekend of December, and it was our corporate work holiday party. This was for all of the companies under our parent company, so there was probably about 500 or so people there. The company rented out BOMA (Bar of Modern Art). BOMA is really cool because it used to be a Presbyterian Church (which is a little odd I might add), but is really cool because it has a ton of stained glass windows, and lots of great architecture. The sanctuary is where the DJ and the dance floor is located.

I didn't get any pictures, but there was a free photo booth, so we of course had to get our picture taken. 

The next weekend some of my best girl friends all got together for dinner at Marcellas. I hadn't had a chance to catch up with them for a couple of months due to my busy work schedule, so it was great to get to see them.

The third weekend in December, the same group of girlfriends, and their husbands/significant others all got together for an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. I was so bummed that I arrived too late for the sweater contest, but then again I thought my sweater was tacky, but not ugly (I am on the far left). Anyway, we had a great time eating, drinking and goofing off.

The last party, which unfortunatly I don't have pictures of yet, was for my small company. We had a holiday bowling party the Friday before Christmas. We got to leave work around 2:30 pm, and we were able to bowl 2 games. My first game was a bust and I only scored a 68. The second game I somehow managed to score a 165. I totally impressed everyone, and it was crazy because people at the far lanes kept coming down to see if I really had scored that high.

It has been a whirlwind these last couple of months, but it was great to finally take some time to have some fun with my friends!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Parade of Homes

Welcome to my home!

Since I live only with my pup Abby, and because we are both girls, I have choosen to have pink holiday decorations. I figure I might as well enjoy the girly decorations while I can, right! I also have a pretty small living room, and although I do have a really nice 6 ft christmas tree, I have opted to keep it in storage and pull out this cute little tree year after year.

A few years ago I came across this cute little tree at Pier 1, and knew it would be just right for my small apartment. They also had a ton of cute pink ornaments and other holiday decorations that matched perfectly. I scooped them all up right on the spot, and have been using them for about 4 or 5 years now. The little santa box was from my Grandma last year, and the other little ornament was from our trip to Hilton Head this year. It is a lighthouse.

More pink decorations from Pier 1. The stocking holders are actually from Target. The christmas picture on the little stove was from my niece and nephew from 2 years ago. I actually keep it out year round because they are so cute! The little Brutus Buckey guy at the bottom right was a gift from my mom a few years ago. She has a friend from church who paints these cute little critters and things on sidewalk pavers.

This little display is in my kitchen. I just love it when there are displays of a bunch of glass containers of candy in the kitchen, so this is my little take on that. I am using candy cane Hershey's kisses (which are boyfriend and I can't stop eating them!!). The plate is from Target, and I think it is so cute I might keep it out through the rest of winter. The candle is Spice from Bath and Body Works, and is one of my many holiday candles.

This is a little candle display on my coffee table. At the bottom of the hurricane vase are little glass beads and silver bells that I got from Pier 1. The platter I got from Target a few years ago. I just added a candle, and a little ribbon, and instant centerpiece!

And this is the centerpiece on my dining room table. I just loved this table runner from Pier 1 and totally had to get it! It has little jingle bells on each end. The platter and stand is from Southern Living at Home, and I just added some ribbon. The christmas cactus I picked up at Lowes and just loved the hot pink flowers.

I hope you enjoyed all of my holiday decorations. Thanks for visiting!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Favorite Holiday Movie of All Times -- Christmas Vacation

My favorite holiday movie of all times is Christmas Vacation.

I think I have seen this movie about 100 times, and every year I watch it over and over again, because I love it! It's funny because I don't typically remember movie quotes, but I remember so many lines from this movie.

My all time favorite part of the movie is where Clark is going on a rant about his boss after finding out he is not getting his holiday bonus, and starts going on and on about his boss. At the end he says

"Hallelujah! Holy s&*#! Where's the Tylenol?"

I think many people can relate to that part of the quote especially around the holidays.

Another favorite part is when Clark is at work, and all these upper level managers pass by and he starts telling everyone Merry Christmas at first and then goes on to say:

"Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, kiss my a$$, kiss his a$$, kiss your a$$, happy Hanukkah."

Oh and who can forget Eddie, his family, his RV (aka tenament on wheels), and of course snot.

Eddie's was famous for his quote "Merry Christmas. Shitter's full."

And who can forget dear Aunt Bethenny and her poor cat, who used up all it's 9 lives after eating the christmas lights.

Oh how I will need to go and watch this movie again. I believe I have it on both VHS and DVD.

What's your favorite holiday movie?

Linking up to Beverly's Pink Saturday post.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mrs. Miracle (Book/Movie Review)

One of my favorite Christmas movies/books is Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle.

Last year the movie debuted on Hallmark Channel. I loved it so much, my brother got me the book for Christmas.

The storyline is about a man (Seth) who has lost his wife and is trying to raise their twin boys. The boys are a handful, and they keep going through housekeepers/nannies. After their last housekeeper/nanny has quit, and Seth thinks things are going to fall apart, an older woman shows up at their door. Her name is Mrs. Merkle and she states she was sent to them as the new housekeeper/nanny.

Mrs. Merkle quickly goes to work and sets the boys and the household straight. The boys love her, and start calling her Mrs. Miracle because she can make miracles happen.

During the story, Seth meet's Reba. Reba owns a travel agency, and she is having problems of her own trying to cope with how her sister ruined her engagement 4 years ago. She ends up helping with the church christmas program, where she meet's Seth and his boys. They quickly fall for each other, and you find out that Mrs. Miracle is behind the whole set up.

The book is a little more indepth than the movie. The book introduces more storylines and characters such as Seth's parents. I loved both the book and the movie, and although I usually like to read the book before watching the movie, it was kind of interesting to watch the movie, and then read the extra storylines in the book. I was afraid they were going to be exactly the same, and since I just watched the movie again last weekend, when I was reading the book this week I was afraid I would be a little bored, but I wasn't.

This year Call Me Mrs. Miracle was debuted on the Hallmark Channel as the follow up to Mrs. Miracle. It is also available as the book as well. I have the movie recorded on my DVR and will probably watch it this weekend and then try and pick up the book later this week.

I highly recommend if you come across the movie to check it out. It's a great family movie and I think what I love best about it is it totally reminds me of Mary Poppins, which is one of my favorite childhood Disney movies.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sugar Crinkles -- Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipe

I love making christmas cookies. Every year I always like to try a new recipe, but I also have my favorites I love to make year after year. A few years ago I purchased one of my favorite cookie cookbooks.
Southern Living Incredible Cookies

One of my favorite recipes from this cookbook is the Sugar Crinkles. They are a sugar cookie that is rolled into balls, and then rolled into sugar. They are similar to a molasses sugar cookie because they have that crinkled sugary coating. What I love about them though is they have a slight lemon flavor. Sugar and lemon to me is a great flavor combination. I love to add red and green sprinkles to my sugar to make them even more festive. Below is a picture of the cookies I made last year.

Sugar Crinkles

Yield: about 5 1/2 dozen

-- 1 cup shortening
-- 1 1/2 cups sugar
-- 2 large eggs
-- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
-- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-- 2 teaspoons baking powder
-- 1/2 teaspoon salt
-- 1/4 cup sugar

Beat shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar at medium speed of an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and flavorings, beating until blended.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to shortening mixture, beating well. Cover and chill dough.

Shape dough into 1" balls. Roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar. Place balls on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350° for 8 to 9 minutes or until barely golden. Let cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

I am posting this recipe for Beverly's Pink Saturday

Friday, December 3, 2010

O Christmas Cactus!

My Grandmother has had a Christmas cactus for a couple of years now. I believe that they are similar to poinsettias and only bloom during the holiday months.

This year I decided to get one as well and am using it as a centerpiece on my dining room table. I just love the funky leaves and the bright pinky/red flowers.

From what I have read online, the key to getting it to bloom during the holiday season is to keep it in a cool room during the Fall months, and to make sure not to overwater it. You then have to keep it in a cool room for another 30 days after it has bloomed to allow it to rest. I haven't had a chance to ask my Grandmother how she gets her's to bloom every year, but it always does!

This is a picture of my Grandmother's Christmas Cactus which bloomed in November. Wish me luck that I can keep mine just as long! If anyone has any tips, please share!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

I totally cannot believe it's already December! Where did the time go?? I keep putting November dates in my emails, so hopefully I can get into the groove of writing December.

Today we had our first snow fall, so it's starting to look like December! All throughout the day we had some flurries, but now the roads are icing over. They even had to shut down the interstate due to so many accidents. I am getting ready to enjoy some hot cocoa and curl up with a good book and my pup dog.

I came across this fun recipe the other day, so I think I might try it. It looks really good!

Cocktail o'Clock: Rocky Road Hot Chocolate

In a large ovenproof mug combine 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1½ cups hot milk and 1½ ounces amaretto. Top with miniature marshmallows and place under broiler until golden brown and puffed.

From Every Day Food

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pioneer Woman Pecan Pie and Whisky Maple Cream Sauce

Last weekend the Pioneer Woman was on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. I love Ree (aka Pioneer Woman), and was excited to see her on this show. They did a great job showing her life in Oklahoma with Marlboro Man and her kids on their ranch. It totally made me want to live on a ranch as it was so beautiful out there!

One of the things she made, which I believe helped her win, was Pecan Pie with a Whisky Maple Cream Sauce (which by the way I now can't stop saying P-can pie, thanks to Miss Paula Deen!). It looked sooo good, and I have been wanting to make it all week.

We had two Thanksgiving Dinners this week -- one with my Grandparents and my Mom's family in WVa and one with my brother's family (my brother and sister-in-law had to work on Thanksgiving). I ended up making Pumpkin Whoopie pies for the WVa dinner, and the Pecan Pie for my brother's dinner.

This Pecan Pie was de-lic-ious! My entire family raved about it! And the Whisky Maple Cream Sauce was to die for! I would totally recommend this sauce to be put on anything really. It had just enough of a kick to balance out the sweet pie (it's a little too rich to eat by itself, yes I did try though!).

Pioneer Woman's Pecan Pie:


-- 1 whole Unbaked Pie Crust (Ree uses "Sylvia's Perfect Pie Crust" recipe, I used a premade one)
-- 1 cup White Sugar
-- 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
-- ½ teaspoons Salt
-- 1 cup Corn Syrup
-- ¾ teaspoons Vanilla
-- ⅓ cups Melted Butter (Ree suggests salted, but I used unsalted and it turned out fine)
-- 3 whole Eggs Beaten
-- 1 cup (heaping) Chopped Pecans

Preparation Instructions:
First, whip up your pie crust using “Sylvia’s Perfect Pie Crust” found on Tasty Kitchen or purchase one like I did (which my Mom said was cheating).

Next, mix sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl.

Pour chopped pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.

Pour syrup mixture over the top. Cover top and crust lightly/gently with foil. Bake pie at 350º for 30 minutes. Remove foil, then continue baking for 20 minutes, being careful not to burn the crust or pecans.

NOTE: PIE SHOULD NOT BE OVERLY JIGGLY WHEN YOU REMOVE IT FROM THE OVEN. If it shakes a lot, cover with foil and bake for an additional 20 minute or until set. Required baking time seems to vary widely with this recipe. Sometimes it takes 50 minutes; sometimes it takes 75!

Allow to cool for several hours or overnight. Serve in thin slivers.

Whisky Maple Cream Sauce:


-- 1-½ cup Heavy Cream
-- 5 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
-- 3 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
-- 1 Tablespoon Whiskey (can Add More If Desired)

Preparation Instructions:
Combine cream, maple syrup, and corn syrup in a saucepan and stir to combine. Cook over medium-low to medium heat, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes or until sauce is reduced and thick (sauce should bubble slightly as it’s cooking.)

When sauce is thick, remove from heat and stir in whiskey. Return to heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour into a container and refrigerate until completely chilled. Stir before serving.

Drizzle over pies (or anything)!

Book Review: Foul Play

Last weekend I read the book Foul Play, by Janet Evanovich. It was one of those really cute romantic comedy type books (aka chick lit), and was a very quick read. I was able to finish it within a couple of hours over the weekend.

Amy, a local celebrity known for playing a clown on a local children's show, is fired and quickly replaced by a dancing chicken. Shortly after her firing she meets Jake, the town’s vet, who is not only handsome, but very respectful among the community. She meets him in the grocery store (after basically trashing the store as she is very clumsy) and when she finds out she has forgotten her wallet and locked her keys in the car, Jake steps in and saves the day by purchasing her groceries and then taking her home.

The two have instant chemistry, and Amy tries to fight it from the very start. She doesn't trust Jake, and isn't ready to fall into a relationship. Because she doesn't have a job, Jake offers her a job as a receptionist (mostly so he can spend more time with her) at his vet office, and she takes it (but only because she needs something in order to survive, not because he is hot or anything).

A week after her firing, the dancing chicken (who stole Amy's job), becomes very sick and is brought into the vet's office. The next day the chicken comes up missing, and Amy is to blame because the chicken had stolen her job. It didn’t help that she showed up the next day to work with homemade chicken soup.

For the remainder of the book, Jake and Amy go on a quest to find out what really happened to the chicken so that they can clear Amy's name. She becomes somewhat of a joke around town as a chicken killer who eats her prey. It gets so bad that Jake actually starts losing patients at his vet’s office because owners are afraid that their pets will come up missing also.

This book is a little silly at times, but it is a cute love story, and I really did get interested in finding out what happened to the chicken. If you are looking for a quick rainy day read, check it out.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Show Us Your Life -- Bathrooms

I haven't been very good at posting these last couple of weeks due to traveling for work, but since I am back in town for the next couple of weeks, thought I would kick things off again by sharing another "Show Us Your Life."

This week we are sharing our bathrooms. I am lucky to have 2 full baths all to myself! The master bath gets used mostly for getting ready in the morning and for getting ready for bed at night. The guest bathtub rarely gets used, only when I have company.

Master Bath:

Here is the view from the master bedroom. My master bedroom is painted a sage green, and I wanted the bathroom to compliment it, so I painted the bathroom a light yellow, and I have sage green towels and a sage green bathmat which ties nicely with the bedroom.

Here is the view of the vanity/sink area.

Guest Bath:

I love this dark blue color, and think the white towels and shower curtain really pops! The towels and shower curtain are that white waffle pattern, which reminds me of a fancy hotel room.

This room also houses my washer and dryer which is located in a closet opposite the sink (right behind the door).

Right now my guest bath is decorated for fall. I just love the yellows and oranges against the blue walls.

My mom bought me this picture for my first apartment (a very long time ago), and I still love it today. In case you can't read it, it says "There is a 'Hare' in the tub."

Thanks for stopping by my home. Hope you enjoyed!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Club: Commencement Part 2

For the Book Beginnings and Bookends book club, we read the book Commencement. We split up our discussion of the book into 2 parts because the book itself was split into 2 parts. Below are my answers to the discussion questions for the 2nd part.

1. What parts of the book could you most relate to? Least relate to?

In the 2nd half of the book, I think I related to Celia’s life the most. I am single, and am in the process of figuring out my life, so I totally got where she was coming from. The character I related to the least was April. Although I do think because of her character this book really opened my eyes, I just don’t see why anyone would want to put their life at jeopardy like that. There was probably a better way to get their issues across that wasn’t illegal or didn’t put their life in danger.

2. If the author were to write another novel that followed one of the girls onto her next step of life, which one would you want it to be about? Whose story would you want to follow more of?

I really wanted to find out what happened to Bree. Did she go back to Lara? Did she reconcile with her family? I also think a book about Celia would be interesting, especially if it focused on her career and the dating scene in NYC.

3. What surprised you most about this book?

Although I totally saw what April and Ronnie were up to about half way through the 2nd part, I guess I was surprised at the abrupt ending. It left a lot of things up in the air, and unresolved for me. I would have liked the book to have had maybe another chapter where the girls are 6 months down the road or something like that. Did April go to jail? Did Bree go back with Lara? Did Celia become an author? Is Sally enjoying motherhood? Are the girls still close? Lots of questions were running through my mind at the end of the book.

4. Which character did you look forward to reading about the most?

I think I enjoyed reading about Celia and Bree, especially after Bree moved in with Celia in her NYC apartment. I also did want to know what happened to April, especially since she was practically MIA for the majority of the 2nd part.

5. Did the book meet your expectations?

I totally enjoyed this book, and it did meet my expectations. I didn’t realize it would have so much women’s rights involved, but I feel like this did open my eyes to some things that I just never really thought about. Although this was a big part of the book, it was the girls’ relationships that shone the most for me.

I am having a great time with this book club, and can’t wait to see what the next book is going to be.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Show Us Your Life -- Kitchen

This week on Kelly's Korner's Show Us Your Life we are sharing our Kitchens. Kitchens are one of my favorite parts of a home. Also, one of my favorite things to shop for are kitchen gadgets and stuff. Last night my boyfriend and I went into Crate and Barrel, and spent some time going through all of the fun kitchen gadgets and mixes and stuff. I am really starting to love to cook, so my kitchen gadgets are starting to really get a good use, so I can justify all of my shopping now (ha!).

So here is my kitchen. It is very small, and someday I would love to have a big open kitchen with an island my family can sit around. I do love how bright and cheery it is.

This is the view into my kitchen from the dining room (which I shared last week). The baby gate is not for a baby/child, but to keep my pup out of the kitchen. She likes to get into the fridge, and also the trash (which I keep under the sink). It's not totally fool proof, she does sometimes managed to get in there, but it does help for the most part.

My color scheme as you can tell is bright colors of green, yellow and orange. My wall color is a med brown, and my main living areas (living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway) are painted this color.

I love aprons, and have started collecting them (my big collection of 2!). The pink one is from Williams Sonoma, and the blue/brown is one that I made a few months ago.

Here is the view into the kitchen from the living room. I love having plants all round my home, and these 2 little flower pots (from Crate & Barrel) were just so bright and fun, I had to add them to my breakfast bar. The plant on the far right is my basil plant. I had it outside, but it started to cool off overnight, so I finally brought it inside. The little pumpkin is from Bath & Body Works from a few years ago, and it used to have a little candle in it.

My couch actually backs up to my breakfast bar, so I really don't get to use it much for that purpose. My girlfriends and I have had some fun times standing around the breakfast bar, chatting, eating appetizers and drinking wine while I am preparing dinner.

The platter in the corner is also from Crate & Barrel. I love to show off seasonal platters on that stand in the corner. The baskets on top of the cabinet are Longaberger baskets. The Longaberger plant is not too far from where I live, and actually a lot of people from my hometown actually work there, so it's probably a much bigger deal around here than in other places. Most of these baskets I actually got as gifts. I am not a big collector, but I do like to display the ones I have.

This is a view of the other side of the kitchen. The fruit stand is also from Crate & Barrel (love that store) and the wine rack is something I got from my Grandma. She was going to sell it at our family garage sale, and it didn't sell, so I ended up with it. Some of the wines are from my trip to the Biltmore Estate.

The little cleaning caddy is also a favorite of mine. I got it at Target, and it holds Lavendar scented hand soap, dish soap and counter spray. Makes my kitchen smell sooo good!! The binders in the corner holds all of the recipes I have printed from online. The spice rack was made by my Grandfather for my first apartment, many years ago. I just love it!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen! Hope you are having a great weekend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Patchwork Scarf with Amy Butler Fabric

About a month or so ago, one of my good friends and I visited this awesome fabric shop called Sew to Speak, and I got some really cute things! I have been totally wanting to get out my sewing machine and make something, and I finally got that chance on Sunday. I didn't have a ton of time to dedicate to making the yoga bag that I have been planning on making for about 6 months or so, but I did want to make something so I quickly put together this patchwork scarf using a fabric bundle of Amy Butler's fabrics (which I totally love by the way!). I have seen some of these scarfs on Esty, and have been wanting to make one for some time. It was pretty easy, and didn't take too much time, and I got a ton of compliments when I wore it to work on Monday.

So to start you need to figure out how long and wide you want your scarf to be. I used another scarf as an example, and I believe I made this about 36 inches long and about 8" wide (give or take a little for seams). I then decided since I had 4 different kinds of fabric, that I wanted about 3 blocks per fabric, so I needed to cut out a total of 12 blocks per side (a total of 24 blocks since I then sewed 2 sides together to finish it off). I used different measurements of 3", 5" and 7" and alternated them. As I mentioned before, the width of my blocks was 8". I think this might have been a little wider than I wanted, so next time I might change my width to be about 6", but it is best to take a scarf that you really like, that fits you well, and use those measurements for width and length as a guide.

Once you have all of your blocks cut out, you will need to sew 12 of them together into one long strip. Alternate your fabrics and your sizes. I really planned out what fabrics would go nicely together and what sizes I wanted before I even started cutting. I just used a piece of paper to draw out my design and I think that is probably the best way to ensure you get the best fabrics next to each other, and that you don't have a lot of the same sizes next to each other. It looks best when it is random. Also, make sure to iron your fabric before you cut to get out any wrinkles, and then I ironed again before sewing the strips, and then once again before sewing the two strips together. It just helps to keep your fabric and your seams straight.

Once you have sewed one strip of 12 blocks together, sew the second strip of 12 blocks. I actually made my two strips identical to each other in sizes and fabrics. You then put the 2 sides together, pretty sides facing each other, and sew around (with about 1/4" seams) 3 of the sides. I actually rotated the second strip so that those blocks were going in a different direction to make it interesting.

Once you have sewed around the 3 sides, turn your scarf inside out (and push out your corners), and then pin the 4th side to close it up. I then did a stitch around the perimeter of the scarf (about 1/4" in from the edge, which finished it off, and also closed up the 4th end.

This scarf was really easy to put together and took me all of maybe 1 - 1.5 hours to cut out and sew together. If you have any questions, or want more detailed instructions feel free to leave me a comment.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book Club (Part One: Commencement)

The newest book we are reading for the book club Book Beginnings and Bookends is Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan. I do have to say that I was very excited that we were reading this book. At one point it looked like we were going with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I do want to read that book at some point, but I really wanted to read this book, so I am super excited it got picked.

This book is based on the story of 4 girls (Sally, Celia, Bree and April) who are all very different, but became very good friends while attending college together at Smith College (which is a real college by the way; a private liberal arts college for women located in Northampton, Massachusetts) The book is broken up into 2 sections: Spring 2006 and Spring 2007, and we split up the reading based on the 2 parts.

So the first set of questions will be based around part 1. This part bounces back and forth between what is currently happening in the Spring of 2006, which is 4 years from when they graduated, and the girls experiences while attending Smith College, beginning with the first day they met on campus.

Currently, Sally is getting married in the Quad on campus, and the other 3 girls are traveling to Northampton to attend the wedding. Each chapter is based on one of the girls, and you really get to know their personalities and their story. The book is great because it shows how these 4 completely different personalities really rely on each other and become each other’s families.

I haven’t started to read the 2nd section yet, so I really have no idea how the 2nd part is going to relate to the 1st part, but it looks like it is going to take place 1 year from Sally’s wedding. I totally don’t want to ruin the book for anyone, so I’ll leave my description on the book right there.

Questions to Part 1:

1. Which girl do you identify the most with?

It’s funny because I don’t believe I relate to just one character. I think I am a combination of Bree and Sally based on different times in my life. I totally do not relate to April, but I do respect what she is doing for women. I would say that when I went off to college (a long time ago..ha!) I would have totally related to Bree. She seemed to be very naive when she first went off to college, and completely and totally in love with her high school sweetheart, which she finds out later is not the one for her . I feel like that was kind of me at that point in time, naïve, young and stupidly in love.

Right now, I think I relate more to Sally as she is right now. She’s in a relationship, she’s happy and is looking forward to getting married. Her friends can’t relate because they are not in the same place, and Sally sometimes feels guilty that she is so happy. She also struggles between wanting to be a married woman vs what people think she should be which is a strong woman who is going to make a name for herself, not getting married and settling down. I am not getting married, but I am in a relationship, and have a career that is finally taking off. I do want to get married and have a family, but at the same time I do struggle with the decision of what may then happen to my career. Can I have it all? I also have some friends who over the years we have just grown apart and are totally in different places now. It’s hard because I am ready to settle down, and they are still trying to figure themselves out.

2. If you're a college student or graduate, what similarities or differences do you see between this story to your own college experience?

I went to a non-traditional college and lived in an apartment off campus on my own, so unfortunately I didn’t get the traditional college experience of living in dorms. I think I do see similarities of how naïve I was back then, and how much I grew up in college. I do enjoy reading about their college experience because it gives me a little taste of what I missed back then.

3. Which girl do you think has changed the most since her time in college? In what ways has she changed?

I think they have all changed somewhat. I think that Sally now knows what she wants out of life, which is to be married to the love of her life. I think she is starting to find peace also with what’s happened with her mother. April seems to be going down the same path that she was in college wanting to help less fortunate women, but she seems so much more extreme than she was in college. Celia seems to be a little lost to me. I feel like she needs to figure her life out and what she wants out of her career in NYC, and I would love for her to meet a nice guy. Bree seems to be trying to prove a point with her lesbian relationship and that she is a strong woman, but she doesn’t seem happy. I hope she figures out what will make her happy in her life, and that she mends the relationship with her family.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

30 Day Clothes Challenge (Days 18 - 22)

I totally fell behind with posting my 30 Day Clothes Challenge. Especially since tomorrow is my last day of the challenge (oops!). But I did keep up with the challenge, and was successfully able to come up with 30 different outfits for work. I did have to go shopping for dress pants due to my new responsibilities at work which include traveling to work onsite at the client's office a few days a week where jeans are not allowed =(, but was able to find enough tops to get by without having to purchase anything new. I am planning on posting my results though, and will do so over the next few days.

Days 18 - 22


Day 18: Monday -- Top from The Limited, jeans from Loft


Day 19: Tuesday -- Top, cardigan and pants from Loft (new dress pants!)


Day 20: Wednesday -- Top from The Limited, cardigan from Lands End, and pants and necklace from Loft


Day 20: Thursday -- another all Loft outfit!


Day 22: Friday -- Top and jeans, again from Loft, necklace from Tiffanys

Check back in a few days for Days 23 - 27 and then Days 28 - 30!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Show Us Your Life -- Dining Rooms

This week's topic for Show Us Your Life over at Kelly's Korner is Dining Rooms. My dining room is pretty small, and I honestly don't use it often for the purpose of "dining." Sometimes when my boyfriend comes over and I cook dinner, we will eat at the table, but this is mostly to keep the dog from bothering my boyfriend. I typically eat on the couch while watching tv. For the most part, I use my dining room table when I use my computer for work (I like to spread my papers all over the table and floor), and for when I use my sewing machine.

This is looking into the dining room from the living room. You can't really see the print I have hanging, but it is a really cute watercolor print that I got from Garden Ridge about 12 years ago or so. I have loved it ever since. Also, that little stool on the left is actually an ironing board/stool that my Grandfather made for me. I have never used it as an ironing board, but when I used to have a home phone on that wall (now only use cell phone), I used to sit on that stool and talk on the phone. I also have a message board/chalkboard on the wall next to the stool that I use to display pictures, and other little messages.

I have had this baker's rack since my first apartment. I actually have had the dining room table and chairs since my first apartment also. The baker's rack holds my cookbook collection, some baskets with odds and ends, and on the lower shelf is the dog's basket with toys and my shredder. The platter is the one I got in Savannah. I like to switch out my platters every so often, but I loved this one so much I have had it on display since my vacation in May!

Here is a closer view of the table. I got this cute fall table runner from Pier 1 last weekend. The iron pumpkins were from Pier 1 and I have had them for about 10 years or so. I made the curtains about 10 years ago or so also. It was one of my first sewing projects, and the fabric is a sage green toile. I just love toile!

Thanks for stopping by to see my home!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sugarland Concert

Last Thursday, my Mom and I went to the Sugarland concert at the Nationwide Arena.

Sugarland is one of my very favorite bands. I love all of their songs, and I always joke that almost all of them are theme songs to my life. Some of my favorites are:

-- Baby Girl -- when I moved away from home
-- Something More and It Happens -- when I am having a bad day, especially at work
-- Already Gone -- my first love
-- Settlin' -- my love life, career, really anything

The concert was a-maz-ing! The set was awesome and the two of them are just great performers. They sang for about 2 hours, which I think was a pretty good amount of time. I have heard of other artists only performing for an hour or so. We were in the 2nd to last row, but it was great because they had this big round screen in the middle of their set which allowed us to see them up close. Here are some of my pictures from the concert. They didn't turn out too bad considering we were so far away, and of course because it was pretty dark in there it's sometimes hard to get a good picture.

If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend going to see their show!