Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gilded Mae

Another part of my "Me" month included finding happiness in projects and work. This meant walking away from some things and taking a chance on new ideas. Thanks to the encouragement and support of friends (seriously this would not have happened without some lovely ladies pushing me), I've opened an Etsy shop. It's a hobby for now. And one that I love.

Jewelry design and beads is something that runs deep in the family. To say that I've been hesitant towards it thus far is putting things mildly. Perhaps in my "mature age" I've come to embrace it. With open arms.

The inspiration came from a some bangles worn by a friend of mine. Admittedly, what I make right now is still quite similar. But I'm getting my feet wet and learning, and this was the best place to start. Curious to see more?
I just so happen to have a link for you

Please visit!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Date Night at Cinnebarre

Last night Matt and I went out for “date night”. This is noteworthy for a couple reasons. Primarily, because this time last year (or was it two years ago?) we scoffed at the idea of ever labeling an evening as such. We were footloose, fancy free and newly dating. Any day or evening I could spend with him, whatever the plan, was a date in my eyes.

Fast forward to now. Though I still love  every moment we spend together, real life has set in. We run a lot of errands together, eat a lot of home cooked meals, veg out watching reruns, and I wear a lot of sweats. Actually, anytime I’m with Matt and not in sweats, is a big win.

Perfect example, this is an instagram pic from Monday. I for one, love my new yoga pants.
Matt saw them and told me I looked like Spider Woman 
But I digress, not the original point of the post. Matt had suggested we go out and do something in the evening. Despite the fact that I was already exhausted at noon, feeling stretched thin with work and outside projects, I also knew that a night out together is less common these days, I had work commitments the next few evenings, and we would be out of town with family over the weekend. Thus, it became our “date night”.

We opted for the traditional dinner and a movie route. I’ve come to discover that the concept, however, was not designed for working professionals in mind. 

I work until 6. Home by 6:30. Done walking the dog and ready to do something no earlier than 7. Most movies start around then. This completely takes the dinner option out, unless you sneak out of work early (not an option for me), fill up on popcorn and candy, or eat a very late dinner. The next set of movie times is around 10, which means getting home a little too late and being tired the next day. Big problems here.
This was a conundrum when it came to planning our evening. Randomly, I remembered Cinnebarre. A dinner/ movie theatre up north that I had been meaning to try since I'd moved back to Seattle. 
It was the perfect solution! It was an almost identical experience to the Alamo Drafthouses in Texas, one of the things I've missed most about living there. They even had the same fried pickles! 
Tuesdays happen to be half price ticket nights (note to self, pick another night next time. Parking and seats were at a premium). The food was pretty good. And let’s face it, you can’t top being in a theatre with a glass of wine in hand. No sir.

We saw Her, which I’ve been curious about. All things considered, I liked it and would recommend it. Story and concept aside, what I enjoyed most was the vision behind this future reality. Technology use was less visual, more auditory. People interacted more with their devices than each other, which is already common now, especially in public amongst strangers.
The fashion was subtle but fascinating. High waisted pants for all. Sweats (knit material) cut as slacks. Layering of long sleeve tees with other shirts (a nod to a style popular late 90s, early 2000s). Overall, a more conservative look. And of course, the mustache donned by Joaquin was seen throughout the male characters.

Seeing a futuristic LA which resembled more a cross between New York and Tokyo was another great visual element in the movie enjoyed by yours truly.
Our evening outing also reminded me of an idea I had a couple years back but never implemented. With February just around the corner, my Happiness Project focus will shift from self improvement, to my relationship with Matt. Perfect timing, since I always think of February as the love month.
I want to create a “date night” jar (there’s that term again!) and fill it with all those suggestions/ recommendations people mentions as well as ideas we come across for unique outings. When we are stumped for something to do, or hoping to remember “that one thing we thought of doing that one time” it will be logged and added to the jar.

Caveat here is that we must do whatever is written on the paper we draw.
Ideas to include already are two dining suggestions given to me today: The Blind Pig in Eastlake and dessert at Hello Robin in Cap Hill.

Has anyone been? 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Weekend Pics

My parents moved east of Spokane last spring to Liberty Lake. Though the drive from Seattle is about an hour longer, I've come to love their new digs. Lately, my visits have included runs around the neighborhood, as there are tons of trails and paths to discover.

Last weekend I came upon (go figure) Liberty Lake! Who knew it was less than a mile away from my parent's home (when I actually mentioned this to them, they admitted to not have been yet, whoops). The lake was completely frozen over and beautiful. I returned with my mom and new cam to take some pics of the skaters and scenery.

My first panoramic!
No lifeguard on duty

I loved the colors in this shot

Skaters in THE MIDDLE of the lake y'all!

I had to "test the waters" myself

Saturday, January 4, 2014

January: Me Month

The first part of my Happiness Project is to improve from within first. This month's focus is Mind, Body, Soul.

As mirrored in the Happiness Project, I felt that by working on myself first, it would help set me up for success when focusing on the following months. I'm removing the physical and emotional clutter. Detoxing life. Finding more energy. And getting my priorities in line.

I'm also working on just "Being Carina"
(first I've got to figure out what exactly that means).

But in a nutshell, I'm learning to embrace me. There are things that I can acknowledge and try to improve, and others things are part of what makes me, me. I can accept these things and even learn to indulge them. After all, this year is all about being happy.

So what does it mean to “Be Carina”?
I do not like early mornings. Give up on trying to be a morning person. 
I cannot sing on key, however hard I may try
I love to create and craft
Hallmark and Lifetime movies are guilty pleasures
I need routine, and at the heart of it, I am a homebody
I really want to love olives, but just... can’t
I am an extrovert 90% of the time, but that 10% introvert is an important piece of me
Working out may never be second nature for me
I’m a late bloomer and still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up (better late than never, I suppose)
It’s ok to love fashion, beauty products, and shopping. Frivolous as it may be.
I would rather travel than own expensive things
Sometimes I’d rather just observe than participate

… you get the idea.

A thought to chew on. What would it look like if we all embraced the things that may go against the grain, but are inherently the things that make us individual?  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Camera

Happy 2014 y’all! My day has been spent much like the rest of the country, recovering on the couch watching endless bowl games, dreading the thought of facing two whole work days before the real weekend.

It’s been an amazing Holiday season, one that I am not ready to see go. I think I’ll be holding on to my d├ęcor and sneaking one or two more holiday movies into the mix in the next couple days. But like many, I am also excited for the thought of a new year and new possibilities. Instead of resolution setting this year, I’m taking on my own Happiness Project, focusing on different aspects of life and relationships each month.

One of Matt’s gifts to me this year was an amazing camera. And though it has wifi upload (which I am still figuring out), and I can post pictures to Facebook (also still being figured out), I’m choosing to post some of them here, like the good old days of blogging... because that is where I found writing happiness and is part of my focus for the month.

To start with, some shots of our New Year’s crab boil and festivities, hosted by our friend’s Rohn and Ericka.

Delish (unless you're allergic to shellfish. Le sigh...)
Amazing handcrafted cocktails!
The feast!
Cover up!

To the new year!

Post dinner "lunges" to work off the food. This is Matt's "you are being ridiculous" face
Photo bomb!
Happy New Year!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Gobble Gobble, It's Turkey Time!

It’s Thanksgiving week! I am of course thankful for Family, Friends, Love, Freedom, Puppies... And also these things:  

Short work week! *and let me tell you, I have had my share of working Black Friday in recent years. I am NOT taking my office’s early closure on Wednesday nor the blissful 4 ½ days off for granted. No sir.

Amazing food. I’m actually halfway into my Thanksgiving feasts (yes, plural). We did a big “Fakesgiving” last weekend for Matt’s family. It gave me an excuse to serve up my family’s “turkey in a bag” recipe (see below). Since my dad will be cooking the bird when I visit my parents later in the week, this allowed me to hone my turkey roasting skills. I’m happy to report it was edible and second helpings were had. Phew.

Black Friday! Judge if you will. I make no excuses. This is a newer tradition. Not being an early bird (or any kind of morning bird, for that matter) I never participated in the 4 – 5 – or 6 AM deals. When retailers moved things up to midnight, my mom and I saw our opportunity. Nothing like a quick tryptophan induced nap to revive you for hefty discounts and waiting in line. And though many stores are opening much earlier this year, I think I’ll stick with midnight. I’d still like to spend my evening with my family first. I hope most consumers feel the same way.

Friday will bring a meal I look forward to almost as much as Thanksgiving itself. For the last few years, I’ve been crashing Turkey Leftover Panini night at a good friend’s house. It’s all the ingredients you love about Thanksgiving plus cheese and spreads melted in between crusty bread.
If you are not serving up your leftovers in a Panini press, you are sadly missing out.

Matt and his brother Luke are opening their Christmas tree lot on Friday in Greenwood. I’ll be supporting from afar in Spokane. Though I do plan to be more involved (read: self – appointed Director Of Visual Design and Social Media) this year.

The official kick off week to the holidays always inspires my creative side! I’m definitely more inclined to try new crafts and recipes. Hello Pinterest! Though I am terrified the results will belong here rather than be “pin” worthy, I’m realizing I enjoy the work of the creative outlet just as much as the outcome. 

I’ve also decided (in light of my Happiness Project prep) that pre – planning and signing myself up for things has actually been very beneficial in execution.

I have a sewing class I’m taking this week, registered two weeks ago. All Thanksgiving week workouts are prearranged (I know myself too well) and/ or paid. This ensures I won't bail on myself or others. And so far I am always glad I signed up and participated. 

If you are hosting or decided that deep frying your turkey is "so 2010" here is a recipe to try. It actually steams the bird, but the ingredients used make the skin crisp and brown! 

This is a recipe from my Nana, amazing flavor and is about half the cooking time of any other roasting recipe (seriously, who wants to watch/ baste a turkey for 5+ hours?).

“Turkey in the Sack”

You'll need: 

  • Salt (anything from table salt, kosher, fleur de sel… I used a herbs de Provence salt blend from Whole Foods)
  • Pepper (again, plain black pepper to fresh ground peppercorns)
  • Paprika
  • 4 tsp Hot water
  • I Cup Olive oil (original recipe calls for Peanut oil, you can use either)
Use equal parts Salt, Paprika, and Pepper, depending on the size of Turkey. For a 13 lb Turkey, I used 1 tbsp. of each. Mix together
Take oil and coat a plain old grocery store paper bag. Make sure bag is completely saturated, seam included.

Combine half of the Dry Seasoning mix with hot water and remaining oil. Rub over the entire turkey. Use remaining Dry Seasoning on the top of the turkey breast. Place turkey in sack, breast side down. Fold bag closed, staple shut. Bake at 350, 10 minutes for each pound.

Use caution when opening the sack, there will be a lot of steam!

Take a look at that lovely bag just roasting away

And when it's done, you feel like this:

Magically genius in the kitchen with tons of spare time!

Happy Baking and happy start of the holiday season!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What Do You Do When There's No More New?

Over the summer I had a bit of a mini crisis of sorts. Or perhaps it was the lack thereof that became the problem.
So much of my time spent in the latter half of my twenties had been spent seeking something.

I always think of the Carrie Bradshaw quote  “In New York, you can have a great job, a great apartment and a great companion, but not all three”
Outside of being a stylish Manhattanite, that seems to have been a perfect descriptor of my life. Sometimes struggling with zero out of these three, on lucky occasions (and most recently) having two out of three.

But then this spring, something crazy happened: the magic THREE. All the pieces fell into place and I found myself with a great and very handsome man, charming (albeit small) home, and a job in an industry I’ve wanted to work in since college. Woo hoo! Mission accomplished! So this is where the “Happier Ever After” begins, right?

Except what do I do now? I found myself still in the humdrum of daily life, still needing to run errands, clean the house, walk the dog and commute to work. Le sigh. 

Something I took for granted when it came to trying to fill the two out of three void, is that it provided an aspiration. By dreaming and hoping for finding that last piece, it actually provided its own happiness and fulfillment in my life.

I know that new wonderful things will come into my life in the future. Hopefully a bigger house, children, career growth, (I plan on keeping the man though, thank you very much). But for now, I was stuck feeling less blissful in the bliss I had worked so hard to find.

As is my tendency, I turned to books for therapy and guidance. I read through a few time management, goal setting, career growing, self bettering books and then I came across The Happiness Project. This was exactly what I needed. The author had the same crisis of conscience that was looming over my own head. In a blessed and loved filled life, why was she not walking in a cloud of glitter and ponies every waking moment?
She set off on a year long process to find happiness in the little things, happiness in the big things, and happiness in the things she didn’t even know she was missing out on. 

She gives insight and ideas for creating one’s own “Happiness Project” and I think I just might take her up on the offer. It’s the mother of all New Year’s Resolutions. But since I actually kept mine last year ("don’t shop full prices", "reconnect and be in more frequent contact with distant friends and family", and  "daily photos"... erm, ok 2 out of 3 isn't bad... see above) I’m feeling pretty confident in my resolution keeping abilities.

I can say that even as I have been wrapping my mind around what this project, I’ve been allowing myself to get a head start on some things and I already appreciate it’s affect on my life. They haven’t been HUGE, just little items like crossing those pesky “to do” items off my list: Find a dentist, visit the dentist, visit the doctor, set up auto bill pay, clean a little bit every night. Though none of these directly contribute to my happiness per se, the lack of them looming over my head has definitely lightened my load. I’d even say, it’s put a skip in my step knowing they are complete.

I hope to share more about this journey as it unfolds. Each month will have a different focus, building off the last. By the end of 2014, I expect to be the happiest person on the planet. I’d even settle for a close second.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Favorite Things

For my birthday this year, I decided to do something different. Ringing in a not so notable year (turning somewhere between 18-35, thank you very much) on a Tuesday, made for an interesting birthday game plan.

I'm also finding that as I celebrate each new year, the urge to "go out and party" seems to be drastically decreasing. Thanks to one of my new best friends, Pinterest, I found the idea to throw a "Favorite Things" party. Inspired by Oprah, with a fraction of the budget, the concept was this: Pick one of the things you love most. Buy five of them to swap and share at a girl's night gathering. Leave with five other amazing things that others have brought to share.

It was a perfect, small get together. Since I was the hostess, everyone got to dine on my favorite foods and it was set in one of my favorite places... home at the farmhouse.

It was also a discovery of some great items that I would not have given two thoughts about but am now pretty in love with.

If you're wondering, my item for contribution was my favorite etiquette book: Classy (or from the latest edition, Very Classy) It's the best combination of modern day etiquette with a light hearted twist. Because, let's be serious, no one wants to be dragged down by boring old manners - ok maybe I do, but I realize I am a very very minute percentage of the population.

I got to thinking about the party again tonight, as I found myself indulging in a "favorite things" kind of evening. I've been having a pretty crummy week, and the only thing I thought might make it better was to throw caution to the wind and indulge.

My evening hours were spent with red wine, Italian food, a bubble bath with Chanel scented bubbles, Legally Blonde, and writing. And you know what? I feel just a bit better. No, my problems aren't solved, but by spending some time with the little things I love most, my spirits were lifted.

I guess it was a good reminder to me that there is something to be said for 1. taking time for yourself and 2. finding joy in life's little indulgences.

On that note, here are some other things that I can't live without lately:

Pumpkin anything! Specifically pumpkin butter

(Trader Joes. Try it with full fat Greek yogurt. It will change your life. You're welcome). Also, I've been a big fan of the Starbucks Via Pumpkin Spice coffee. Since PSL are $4.11 for a tall (but who's counting), this addiction needed a substitute. Via is pretty darn close to the real thing and I drink it daily.

Fall scented candles. My all time favorite is Yankee Harvest. Has been since college, a great classic!

Coconut Oil hair masks. Game changer.

Boots, sweaters, and layers. Because as much as I want to hold onto Summer, Fall is my FAVORITE season of all and I am ready to dive right in!

Happy Fall everybody and happy Favorites!