Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bedroom Lust

I really want to make a few updates to my bedroom.  Nothing major (reminder...I live in an apartment so I can't do anything paint), but I'd love to get a new duvet set and a new fluffy down comforter to snuggle up in this winter.  My down comforter is probably about ten years old and at this point, it barely has any fluff left in it.

The main color scheme in my bedroom is green, and I want to do something that will work with the green so that I don't have to change out my curtains, accent pieces, etc.  My current duvet cover is green, but I'm considering a change to brown, with cream, brown and green accent pillows.  Any thoughts on brown?

I love love love this look (bedding by Restoration Hardware) - even though it's not really green - and it's even on sale right now for a somewhat more manageable price, but...:

I already have a cream bed skirt and matching Euro shams that I'd like to keep, and the bedding above has white in it, not cream (as does most two-tone bedding). I think I'm going to have to go with a solid color if I want to keep the bed skirt and shams that I have now.

I also am loving this lamp for the bedside table:

Crystal lamps with white shades seems so fresh, light and airy to me.  Me want.  Even though I guess the white shade wouldn't really match my bedskirt and shams, either...

What about you?  Anything you're looking to spruce up at home right now?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I went to a get-together this past weekend and everyone was supposed to bring a dish.  I've made this spinach and artichoke dip in the past and it always gets rave reviews, so I thought I'd share the recipe here!  There are a few things you can do to make it a little healthier, but if you want to go all out, then by all means, do so!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, partially thawed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of Worcestershire 

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Mix in garlic.  Stir in spinach and artichoke hearts.  Cook for approximately 5 minutes.  Mix in cream cheese and sour cream.  Add salt, pepper and Worcestershire to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes.


It's a super easy recipe that takes very little time to prepare, and it always draws a crowd.  Last night, I made it with neufchatel cheese, which is basically a lower-fat cream cheese.  I also used reduced fat sour cream.  I guess you could do the non-fat versions of both, but I think it's ok to have a little fat :)

After cooking it, I transferred it to my handy little crock-pot and it stayed warm all evening.  If you don't have one of these baby crocs, I HIGHLY recommend getting one.  If you're only cooking for one or two people, it's great for crock-pot meals, but it's also great for keeping dips, etc. warm at a party, like I did this weekend.  I think this is the newer version of what I have:

I like that it not only has low / high settings, but it also has a "keep warm" setting.  Think on won't regret it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cute & Easy DIY Coasters

I've had this set of glass photo coasters sitting around for ages (with nothing in them...):

While I think the idea of photo coasters are cute, they lack a sort of sophistication.  They kind of scream college to me.  I decided to give my coasters a quick re-do, and I love how they turned out!  Best of all, it took me all of 5 minutes to do this project.  All I did was insert some pretty scrapbook paper into the photo openings, and voila!  Sophisticated coasters!


So, if you have a set of glass photo coasters sitting around and want to give them a facelift, give this little project a try!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekend Recap

It's been a busy few days around here, and I haven't had time to sit down and blog!  My mom came into town for the weekend and stayed with me.  Every October, my dad goes on a golfing trip with his buddies so it's the perfect excuse to have a girls weekend!  My parents live about 2.5 hours from me, so it's an easy trip.

We went out to eat at a yummy cajun restaurant on Friday night - growing up with two parents from Louisiana, cajun food is a favorite in our family!

Saturday, we did some shopping.  My mom loves to go to Home Goods whenever she is in town since there isn't one near her.  I heart Home Goods too!  So we did that, but somehow escaped the store without buying anything.  Still not sure how that happened!?

Since both my brother and I went to UNC for college (he's actually a senior this year), and I live right down the road from campus, my mom wanted to go get a new UNC flag to hang outside her house.  Even though I can be on the campus of my alma mater within 15 minutes of walking out my front door, I am in Chapel Hill shockingly little.  When I go, I get so nostalgic!  I absolutely love the campus - it is so beautiful.  Unfortunately, it was raining when we went on Saturday, but the leaves had started to change and it was still so good to be there!  Being on the campus brings back so many memories.  The picture below was taken on Franklin Street, which is the main street on the edge of campus - where the bars, restaurants, and shopping is located.  Obviously, this is not a good picture, but I had to snap it quickly since I was standing in the rain!

Franklin Street is also the location of the famous Chapel Hill Halloween celebration, which has attracted up to 80,000 people in recent years!  It's crazy.  Honestly, when I was in college, I hated Halloween because SO MANY people came from all over the place (literally, there were people that would drive from different states to come to Chapel Hill's Halloween celebration).  This year, I'll be hosting a Halloween party, and we won't be going anywhere near Franklin Street!  I'll post more on my party later this week.  :-)

After our shopping expeditions, we went and got manicures and pedicures.  Sooooooooo relaxing!  Our Saturday was capped off by an amazing dinner at the Melting Pot.  I love that restaurant!  So much fun.  We did the whole thing - cheese fondue, salads, entrees and chocolate fondue.  And a bottle of wine!  It was a lot of fun to spend some one-on-one time with my mom and have the chance to catch up and just hang out.

Today, a friend of mine had a group over for some food, football, beer and pumpkin carving.  I brought a super tasty spinach and artichoke dip to share - maybe I'll post the recipe this week for my Tasty Tuesday, if you're interested (it's good, I promise!  And I made some substitutions to make it healthier!).  Five of us carved pumpkins, and I thought they came out pretty good!

In the dark:

(Please ignore the pumpkin on the far left.  In case you can't tell, it's a hand with it's middle finger up.  John thought it would be funny?  I don't know.)

The pumpkins with their respective carvers:

Here's a close-up of mine:

 So that pretty much wraps up my weekend!  With my mom in town, coupled with the rain, I didn't get to go for a long run this weekend.  To tell you the truth, I pretty much took the past week off from exercise of any kind.  Oops.  I'm going to have to get my butt running this week so I can tackle 10.5 or 11 miles next weekend!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Reading Challenge Update - The Glass Castle

I finished the first book of my Fall Reading Challenge - The Glass Castle.  The Glass Castle is a memoir by Jeannette Walls that takes the reader through her tough and rocky upbringing.  Some of the stories that Walls tells are so outrageous that you almost can't believe they are real; that people actually live the way that her family did.  The family dynamic is so dysfunctional yet Walls tells her story with humor and grace.  Jeannette's mother is an artist, and her father the town drunk.  She and her brother and sisters are left to fend for themselves throughout their childhood, and the resilience that the children show is inspiring.  Reading this book definitely made me look back on my childhood with gratitude.  I actually chose this book for my book club read this month since it's my turn to host, so I'm looking forward to hearing the other girls' thoughts on the book next week when we have our discussion.

My Fall Reading Challenge List
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead
Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs
Julie and Julia, Julie Powell
The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch
The Postmistress, Sarah Blake
The Christmas Box, Richard Paul Evans (waiting until December on this one)

Six more to go before December 20th to meet my goal.  I think I'm going to read The Postmistress by Sarah Blake next.  This is one that I got through the Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club, which is a program where you get copies of books before they are released (for free!).  Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead, which is also on my list, is a B&N First Look book as well.  Any suggestions on good books that you've read lately that I should put on my to-be-read list?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Chicken & Broccoli Casserole with Cheese

I like the idea of doing "Tasty Tuesday" posts, so I think I may make that a regular thing.  The recipe below is one that my mom used to make when I was growing up, and now I make it as an adult.  Casseroles are such a great comfort food!  This one can actually be tailored to be pretty healthy, by using Campbell's Healthy Request soup and a low-fat shredded cheese.

Chicken & Broccoli Casserole
2 rotisserie chicken breasts, shredded (you can use regular chicken breasts and cook them then shred them, but it's so much easier if you get the pre-cooked chickens from the grocery store, and just pull the breast meat's already cooked and juicy and yummy)
1.5 - 2 cans cream of chicken soup (or cream of mushroom)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp curry powder
1 broccoli crown / head
Shredded cheddar cheese

In a bowl, mix soup, lemon juice, mayonnaise and curry powder.
In baking dish, put broccoli on bottom of dish.  Put chicken on top of broccoli.
Pour sauce mixture over chicken and broccoli.
Bake at 350 degrees for ~30 minutes.
In final 5-10 minutes, sprinkle cheese over top of casserole to melt.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's State Fair Time, Y'all!

One of the best things about living where I do is that the State Fair is just down the road every October.  Who doesn't love the opportunity to indulge in every imaginable food sin and watch the astounding assortment of people who show up to this event??  My...I don't even know where to begin.

I went to the fair this evening with a group of friends (sorry the pic above is a little blurry).  I'm pretty sure I consumed about 20,000 calories.  Here's a rundown of my gluttony: a hot dog, followed by a roasted ear of corn dunked in butter and slathered with seasoning, a fresh-squeezed lemonade, and a funnel cake.  And I had a few bites of a blooming onion dipped in ranch dressing.  And a bite of fried cookie dough.  I can practically feel the grease oozing out of me.  That is so gross and I can't believe I'm admitting everything that I ate tonight!

The people-watching at the North Carolina State Fair is truly a gem.  The most popular fashion choice at the fair was leaf-print camo, by far.  We even saw a family of four all wearing matching camo jumpsuits and hats.  Style at its finest.  Also spotted: multiple people missing teeth, and children on leashes.  Most inappropriate sighting: the "Kids Photos" booth that had a Michael Jackson CD blasting.  I also enjoyed the cops outside the entrance gate who had a huge fire going in a metal barrel to keep warm.  I bet they had moonshine in their cups.

My favorite part was the cake competition.  There were a bunch of cakes on display in the expo, and some of them seriously could rival Ace of Cakes.  I tried to get a good picture, but none turned out :(  I didn't go on any rides (because really...I think I would have puked after everything I ate), we just kind of walked around and took in the sights.  I think I'm getting old.  But, it was a fun time...once a year is enough for me, though!  I am starting to feel seriously ill after all that eating...I think tonight may be a rough one.  Ha!

In case you were wondering, donkeys bite...

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Double Digit Miles!

Today, for the first time EVER, I ran 10 miles!  I've never run double digit miles before!  I went with three of the girls that are also doing the 1/2 marathon, and I dominated 10 miles!  There is a great trail not too far from where I live, and it's a good place to do long miles because it is flat and shaded.
Before today, the farthest I had run was 8.7 miles, and that was two weeks ago.  Last weekend, on my Saturday long run, I had planned to do 9 or 9.5 miles and I TOTALLY bonked.  I was struggling after the first mile, and knew there was no way I had at least 8 more miles in me.  So I gave up, turned around, and came home majorly defeated.  Major fail.  I ran 6 miles on Wednesday of this week so I told myself that last weekend was just a fluke, but I was still nervous going into today's run.  I was so happy that it went well.  I ran a 9:30 mile pace for 10 miles.  I'm not going to lie...the last mile was ROUGH.  My body was begging me to stop, but I turned up my iPod and just kept going.  I really don't think I could have gone 5 more yards after I hit 10 miles.  But I did 10, and that's what matters...I don't have to worry about going farther until next weekend.  :)

Here's a picture of where I ran today (swiped from, a local news channel website).  It's called the American Tobacco Trail.  There are mile markers every half mile (every 0.25 mile in some parts), so it's really easy to keep track of how far you go).  The section we ran today was packed gravel, so not as hard on the knees as pavement.  I think it really does make a difference.

Copyright 2009 Capitol Broadcasting Company

These Saturday long runs take. it. OUT. of me.  I am so worthless for the rest of the day.  I really don't know how people training for a marathon do it.  I just have no energy left!  So, I've got a lovely evening of laying on the couch and watching a movie planned.  Lame Saturday night, but that's the best I can do right now!

Also - I tried a new kind of energy chew today on my run - Luna Moons. 

They were really good! I can't do the whole gel thing - just the thought of swallowing a flavored shot of gel while I'm running makes me nauseous. I've been doing the GU Chomps (a different kind of energy chew) on my 8+ mile runs, and they're not too bad. But I really liked the Luna Moons. I think these will be my go-to! I had the pomegranate flavor today...yum.  Ok, couch is calling...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two Months Until 13.1

I can't believe that my first half-marathon is only two months away!  Actually, less than two months - it's on December 12th.  I'll be running in the Kiawah Island Half-Marathon.  Kiawah is on the South Carolina coast, not too far from Charleston.  I'm so excited for this to be my first 1/2, because Kiawah holds a special place in my heart.  My mom's side of the family has been going to Kiawah every Thanksgiving for over 20 years and it is a vacation that I look forward to each year.  Kiawah is one of my most favorite places in the world.  Kiawah has been named one of the top 10 beaches in the United States...see how pretty it is??

I've signed up to run the race with 8 friends, and we've all been training for the past couple of months.  We're going to rent a big house for the long weekend, and I'm really looking forward to it.  As far as the training, my weekly long runs are currently up to 9 miles (I'll be tackling either 9.5 or 10 this Saturday), so I think I should be able to get up to 13 by December.  It blows my mind that I can even run nine miles.  A year ago, I would have struggled with two.

One very cool thing is that I will actually be at Kiawah (for Thanksgiving) two weeks before the race.  My training schedule has my long run that week at 12 miles (and then the final week before the race is a taper week, so the longest run is 5 miles).  This means that I can do a trial run of the course!  I think that running 12 miles of the course beforehand will really help me on race day because I'll know a) what to expect, and b) that I've done it (or most of it) before!

Any runners out there have tips for the big day?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I realized today that I had some bananas that were getting really brown and nasty.  As I was going to throw them away, it dawned on me that I could make banana bread with them!  I've never made banana bread before, so I went searching for a recipe.  By some miracle, I had all of the ingredients on hand (which NEVER happens to me), so I thought, why not?  Let's give it a whirl.  It came out pretty darn good!  Here's the recipe that I used - I kind of combined elements of a few different recipes that I found online to make my own recipe.

Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
2 cups flour (you can use white or wheat flour - I had both on hand, so I used 1 cup of each)
3/4 cup Splenda (you can use sugar, but the Splenda will reduce the calorie count a good bit)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup applesauce (this is where you really cut down on the fat, since you don't use oil)
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan.
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.
Mix wet ingredients in one bowl.
Combine the liquid mixture with the dry ingredients. Stir well.
Pour batter into greased loaf pan.
Bake for 50-55 minutes. Use toothpick to ensure it is done (toothpick should come out clean).
Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Use knife to separate the loaf from the pan before transferring to a plate.
Slice and enjoy!

I put some "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" on my slice, and it was quite tasty!  I'll definitely be making this again!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The BlackBerry Dilemma

Two years ago, I decided that I absolutely needed a BlackBerry.  You know, so I could have access to the important things in life at all times.  Important things like my personal Gmail account and Facebook.  So I took the plunge and got myself a cute little BlackBerry Pearl and a monthly phone bill double what I was previously paying.  Fast forward two years to today...I'm paying 80 bucks a month to Verizon and don't even come close to utilizing all of my phone's features.

Verizon has a "New Every Two" deal where you get a $50 credit towards a new phone every two years.  (Which is totally lame because it used to be a $100 credit.  Don't think you can fool me, Verizon.)  My two years is up, and if I want to get a new phone, I can cash in on my $50 credit.  The dilemma I go back to a regular cell phone or get another BlackBerry??  (Or...switch to AT&T for an iPhone?)  As much as I love rolling over in bed each morning when I wake up and checking my Gmail on my BlackBerry, or using the google maps application when I'm hopelessly lost, which I admit is really nice, is it worth an extra $40 a month?  I'm thinking no.  So with that, I think I've made my decision.  It's back to a ho-hum cell phone for me.  No bells and whistles.  Time to get moving on my research to see what's out there!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

DIY Frame Makeover

I've been trying to figure out what to do with these frames for months.  I bought them when I first moved into my apartment (2.5 years ago...) because the reds and yellows matched my decor and I needed something to spruce up my dining "room", but I was never a big fan of them - too "poster"-ish.  The frames fit the space though, so I wanted to keep them and lose the wine "art".  (There's a pesky thermostat smack in the middle of the wall that makes decorating hard.)

Roeshel over at The DIY Show Off featured some great ideas for using burlap and jute, and she inspired me!  I finally figured out what to do with my frames!

Here's what they looked like before........

And here is after!!!


A close-up:


And the set hanging on my wall.  See the thermostat I was talking about??

I'm pretty proud of myself.  I used the original art piece as my base and hot glued the burlap to the background.  Then I glued pieces of jute over the black framing that outlined the wine bottle.  I bought some faux onion grass and the red flowers at Michaels, and I went to town with the glue gun to make my focal point.

Total cost of my updated art: $13, and I have quite a bit of burlap to spare for another project!

Now, to figure out what the next project should be!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Office Wedding

I love Jim and Pam.  Well, mostly Jim.  And they're finally married!  So fun.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that I cried no less than seven times in the past hour while watching the wedding episode of The Office.  And then one more time when I rewound the DVR to watch the ending again.
I absolutely could not believe that NBC did the wedding entrance to Chris Brown's "Forever"!  A bride and groom in St. Paul, MN did this earlier in the summer for their wedding, and it was all over the internet.  In case you missed the original, here it is:

How awesome for this couple!  I know they've been featured on tons of talk shows, etc., but to have The Office use your wedding entrance for one of their biggest episodes ever?  I'm jealous!

Cheers to Jim and Pam :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Retail Therapy

I had a rough afternoon at work, so what better way to brighten up my mood than some retail therapy?  I did some serious damage today.  I headed out to find some cute fall clothes, and ended up with four bags of stuff from Old Navy and Marshalls.

How cute is this sweater "swing coat" that I got from Old Navy?  I actually got it in a cream color which was all they had in the store, but I'm seriously contemplating buying another color online.  It's so cute on and will be perfect for a chilly day!

I also got this sweater dress:

And this shirt in not one, not two, but THREE colors - it was only $8.00!  An eight dollar shirt speaks to my heart.  I couldn't resist.

And that wasn't all.  A couple other things made their way to the checkout as well.  Then I headed over to Marshalls for some more bargain hunting.  I came away with a pair of brown Nine West knee-high boots and two shirts (one was BCBG for only $25!).  In my defense, I've been looking for a pair of brown knee-high boots for the past several years and have never been able to find ones I like that aren't huge around my calves.  These were tight enough and only $49.99, so I feel like I got a really good deal!  And last but not least, a New Balance athletic zip-up jacket that should be great for running outside as it gets cooler (that's a legit need, right?).

Yikes.  Pocketbook pain tonight.  But at least I'm going to bed happy :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Sadly, I'm not writing about some prince charming that came and swept me off my feet.  Yep, this is a post about a cat (I'm that cool).  Jackson is my silly, crazy man kitty.  While he lives like a king now, he had some pretty humble beginnings.  He was found living under a dumpster outside a Goodwill store with his mama and siblings about two and a half years ago.  A wonderful rescue group, Independent Animal Rescue took in the kittens and their mom when Jackson was just a few weeks old, and found them all homes.

The person who rescued Jackson works at my vet and they treated him before he was adopted, so they've known him longer than I have.  I called a few weeks ago to make an appointment (because, who doesn't like paying 30 bucks every year for a rabies shot for a cat that never goes outside?), and when I told them I was calling to make an appointment for Jackson, the receptionist said, "Oh!  Loverboy!!!"  Every single person on the staff at that vet knows exactly who he is, and they all parade by to visit him whenever I bring him in.  The cat has never met a stranger.  I seriously think he was supposed to be a dog.  This is going to sound way lame but I'm going to throw it out there anyway.  I actually look forward to bringing him to the vet, just because I love how much the staff dotes on him.  That's so pathetic, I know.  I'm guessing this is how people with kids feel??  You want to show them off and get people's approval?  Ha!

Anyway, here's Jackson making himself at home while we were at the vet this afternoon.

Toy box for the kids?  Yes, please.

Exam table?  Don't mind if I do!

So that's my little 'loverboy'.  I'll do a post on Macy at some point, but she's not really one for the limelight.

Oh, and Jackson did great until we were about a 1/4 mile from home.  Then he pooped and peed in his carrier.  Awesome.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall has fell

Fall is officially here in my book.  I made my first pot of chili tonight, which growing up was always the kickoff to the fall season in our house. was an event.

Yummmmm.  Nothing says fall like a big hot bowl of chili!  Love it.  But, I'm not gonna lie.  I used McCormick chili mix today instead of my usual French's Chili-O mix, and I was sorely disappointed.  The flavor wasn't that great.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

I heart fall and am so happy it's finally here.  Here's my list of fall favs:

changing leaves
jewel tones
new episodes of my favorite tv shows
open windows
cardigans and cute flats
candy corn

What's your favorite part of fall?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nerd Alert

Ok, I admit it. I'm a nerd. I really like to read, and the satisfaction I feel when I finish a book can't be beat.  I have this weird obsession with always buying the books that I read (no library fuss for me), and whenever possible, buying them in hardcover.  (Because I don't make millions, I accomplish this by surfing the used books on / ebay / amazon to snag them on the cheap - I can usually find them for less than the cost of a new paperback.)  I live in a small apartment but dream of the day when I have a big house with built-in bookcases where I can show off all of the books that I have read over the years.

But I digress.  Katrina over at Callapidder Days is hosting a Fall Into Reading challenge.  I'm late to the game, but basically, the challenge is to make a list of books that you plan to read between September 22nd and December 20th.  For me, we're going to say October 4th - December 20th.

Below is the list of books I'm challenging myself to read between now and December 20th:

The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead
Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs
Julie and Julia, Julie Powell
The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch
The Postmistress, Sarah Blake
The Christmas Box, Richard Paul Evans (waiting until December on this one)

I think I should be able to get through these by December 20th.  If I find that I'm zipping through them, I may add some more to the list, but I won't take any off.  I'll post updates as I check each book off the list.

Happy reading!


 I decided yesterday that I needed to get back on the blog train.  I started a blog earlier this year, made a few posts, and let it go down the tubes.  I love reading other people's blogs and want to have my own place to journal my life or whatever random thoughts I might have.  So I've created this blog with the full intention of keeping it up...even if no one but me ever reads it.

A little bit about myself...I turned 25 this year and am getting used to being in my "mid-twenties" (I feel so old!!!)  I live in North Carolina and work in project management for a pharmaceutical research company.  I have two kitty babies, named Macy and Jackson - both two years old.  Macy is a diva and Jackson thinks he's a dog.

I'm currently training to run a half-marathon in December with some friends, and I am really enjoying the running.  I like to read, and always have a book beside my bed.  Seems like I never have enough time, though, to get in as much reading as I would like.  I recently got out of a long-term relationship, so I'm trying to figure out singlehood - something I haven't had to do in a very long time.   

I titled my blog "Savor the Small Things" because I think it is so important to step back and realize that it's the little things in life that make it what it is.  So often, we focus on jumping from one big thing to another without slowing down to enjoy the small things along the way.  I try to make a conscious effort to savor the small things, and hope you do too!