Friday, October 29, 2010

slowly then all at once

Do you ever get in a funk and not even fully realize you're in it?  Yesterday I received a note from a dear friend (who is really more like family) reminding me that 3 years ago to the day we were in Hawaii for a special service commemorating the passing of another dear, dear friend of ours.  A wave of emotion and so many memories swept over me all at once.  That was a particularly special time, and trip, simultaneously filled with so much joy and sadness words really can't describe.

Just the other day I mentioned that I've been experiencing some sort of wardrobe crisis.  I chalked it up to boredom, maybe too much stuff or not being able to focus on the right stuff to pull things together; possibly the rainy, cool weather of the past couple of weeks.  Yet inside I knew it didn't add up - I lived in Washington State with buckets of rain for several years and those were some of the happiest days of my life - days that were not void of fun outfits.  This afternoon when I mentioned the passing of my friend to the Chef it suddenly dawned on me that it being this time of the year is probably the reason for my grey days.  The heart is an interesting thing.  As much as we think we've moved on from something in our mind - it is our heart that ultimately determines how far we've gone.  I guess I've still got a ways to go.

Tonight when I looked at pictures from that trip I remembered a different me - a more peaceful me.  My posts have been pretty somber lately.  Here's an attempt to turn the tide, even a little.

Kauai - October 2007

Here's to brighter days ahead.  Have a great weekend and Happy Halloween, everyone.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Losing It - My Balance That Is

Is it possible to have a mid-wardrobe crisis?  I'm still in the LOST version of closet life (no not that closet, the one that holds my stuff) and have thought more than once that maybe this is like a mid-life crisis only of the apparel kind.  Hmmmm.  The fog did lift temporarily when I heard the magic delivery man scream out early this morning, "UPS FRONT DOOR!".  I, in turn, screamed, "CHEF, UPS FRONT DOOR!!" in a zombie-like state from my bed.  What?!  It was early (read before 10am), and I have no business scaring anyone who is gainfully employed with the way I look prior to noon.  Halloween's on Sunday.

It all started when I saw her wearing them here.  Carey is probably my favorite blogger out there - she and her husband, Rob, have the most witty, entertaining posts with the best outfit and cat pictures evah!  And you know how I am about the cats, people!  When I saw her in these shoes it was a like the light bulb went on and whispered, "must-have" ever so softly.  Since then I have been fighting the ol' Jessica Simpson Dany's tooth and nail with excuses like, "but they're Jessica Simpson!" (so rude yes, I know), "I'll trip and kill myself in those mothers - no can do!", and "what if I crack my head open?? I'm pretty sure my insurance won't cover that."  Last week I found them on sale and must have purchased them in a white out (just like Dr. Drew says Amber on Teen Mom has when she beats Gary's a** and can't really remember it) because suddenly a UPS shipment notification showed up in my email and there was no turning back.  Thank heaven.

Eight Sixty Faux Fur Vest, Loomstate for Target Tunic, 
Gap Wideleg Denim, Jessica Simpson Dany Platforms
{Free People, PANYC, Motif 56 leather bracelets}
I wasn't kidding when I said hippie mania has taken over my thoughts.
Sadly you can barely see these huge platform babies, but I trust you've seen them
on everyone else and you will be seeing them again here.
  *quintessential late bloomer*

The wood veneers on the platform remind me of the wood paneled wall my grandparents (and then my parents) had on the length of their/our living room when I was growing up.  Suddenly I was 10 years old again.  It was Saturday afternoon and my mom was bringing pomegranates to me and my brother as we prepped for an hour of Stampede and WWF Wrestling where Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid flung themselves off ropes and beat everyone to a bloody pulp while Macho Man Randy Savage decided whether Elizabeth could be in his corner or not.  Those were the days.  Shoes - good for the memory and the soul.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Revelations From a Rooftop

I've got a confession to make:  I am absolutely uninspired by my wardrobe at present.  Whenever I think about an outfit post I enter the closet, become depressed, turn and walk out.  The solution is not buying more things to make an outfit.  Of that I am certain.  It doesn't take much to walk through Saks, Barneys or Bloomingdales (*or insert any retailer here*), buy a bunch of labels and put an outfit together - let's face it - it's label land.  It's just that, well, all of that has suddenly become very bland to me.  I think I'm having an existential closet crisis. 

Last week, after staring at Olivia Palermo's $1200 $895 (red alert friends!  I just got a note regarding price reduction!) Daryl K leather pants (Daryl K are you out there?  Carrie loves your pants and is a total hypocrite after her above statement, but still means every word) I decided that I, too, must find my way into something similar.  This led, of course, to a significantly less expensive pair at H&M - which I love nonetheless.  It took everything in me not to throw then on with a fave Tank Farm T, but I wasn't going to a metal concert or a biker bar.  Maybe next time. 
James Perse Cotton/Cashmere - Sweater Coat, T by Alexander Wang, H&M - Pants,
Elizabeth and James - Boss Haircalf Western Booties 
Suffice it to say this won't be the last you see of these booties.
I envision them with skinny denim and a plaid flannel - due to wardrobe block
I haven't gotten beyond that part.  sigh
James Perse really does have some of the finest craftsmanship out there.
This sweater coat is one of my favorite things.
Free People Necklace.  Perfect mixture of clunky and junky with a feminine touch.
See even though I do love this outfit, something in me is just missing a bit more pizazz - a bit more creativity and off-the-wallness.  I'm feeling rather labeled out these days.  It's actually making me tired...has someone slipped something into my tea?

I feel a hippie phase coming on.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Exit Strategies

It's been a long day and night.  I'm sitting here at 11p on Monday listening to The Breakfast Club play in the background, laughing every so often and then feeling a stab of guilt when I do.  I have a friend going through the fire at his job and it makes me sad.  I've known him for over 10 years, watched him rigorously apply himself - wringing every bit of knowledge he could out of two graduate degrees and countless hours of study all the while working to pay his way.  He's been at his job for 3 years and just so happens to be employed by a corporate robot who doesn't have the first clue about people, what it takes to work with them, or how much my friend has done to build the division he is in charge of - and friends let me assure you - he has gone above and beyond what is required of him. 

So when I hear scenarios/lines like (here's a couple mild ones - I'll spare you the ugly)

-My friend was at the airport leaving on his business trip to a remote part of the Middle East where he would not have internet access for a week, and X was emailing him (as the airline attendant asked him to turn off his phone) demanding that he have certain irrelevant figures regarding the American side of the business emailed to him on 3 separate days my friend would not have internet access - which X knew good and well.

-"While I was overseas on business X fired one of my people and threw them out of the building without consulting me at all."  When I asked what the person did and discovered he just held a different belief on how something really insignificant to the business could be done and that there hadn't even been discussion over it, just an immediate termination I felt ill.

I've worked in business long enough to know that this is what the corporate big boys and girls refer to as "coaching someone out of their position" aka making someone question their work ability, destroying any desire they may have to do their job well, and bullying.  The "coaching someone out of their position" technique is used by people who don't have the human decency aka "balls" to tell someone they don't want to work with them anymore.  More often than not this type of person is very threatened by the person they bully out and/or cannot control them into becoming a clone.   Pardon me while I gag.   

At times like these I can't help but be tremendously grateful that I wake up and work from home every single day.  As much as times are lean right now, I don't have to deal with the additional stress of a controlling employer.  (Thank God!!)

 Instead this is my alarm clock.
And  my Assistant.  Sure my desk is a little messy, but I eat chocolate 
bars and leave the wrappers strewn about with zero micromanagement.
And the most inter-office drama I deal with is cat hair on the lamp shade 
while the Chef sides with the cat.

The only gossip I overhear is the Chef saying to the cat:  
"You're making fur lampshades now, aren't you?
  That's your specialty.  You're going to run Jonathan Adler right out of business." 
True story

Sure my job might have looney-tune sidebars, but at least I'm not working with people who are certifiable.

Control freaks scare me.  

I hope none of you ever have to endure this kind of treatment - or be trained to believe this is the way to conduct business in a professional manner.  Honesty will always go a lot farther - everyone appreciates and deserves it.

*I'll go back to talking about clothes tomorrow.*

Monday, October 25, 2010

Soldier of Love

Scenes from the weekend

#1:  On Way to Meet See Jane (didn't get any pictures - fail! - too much good conversation - WIN!)
(Saturday afternoon driving in mad amounts of traffic on the 110 Freeway.  Chef's behind the wheel - I'm riding shotgun)

Me:  What the hell are these people doing on the road?!?
Chef:  I.do.not.know.
Me:  Get in the carpool lane before we go under that bridge into no man's land or we'll be eff'd!!  Ohhhh maaaaaan - there aren't any spacers to get into the carpool lane!!
Chef:  Yes there are.  Just up there.
Me:  No there's not!
Chef: YES THERE IS
silence as lane opens to get into the carpool lane
Chef:  Let's just drive off into the sunset of our love and never look back.
Me:  Dude are you for real? Where do you come up with this crap?? 
Chef chuckles maniacally while I shake my head so hard it almost flies off.

#2:  At Fave Mexican Restaurant
(combing menus over chips, salsa and margaritas)

Me:  What are you getting?
Chef:  I'm not sure.  How about you?
Me:  I was thinking crispy chicken taco, but now I'm thinking one of their specials.
Chef:  You're my especial. (pronounced ay-spay-see-al)
silence
I stare at him.  Then roll eyes.
He bursts out laughing
Me:  (in deadpan voice) Seriously.  What the hell is wrong with you?
He laughs even harder.

If only I had known that less than 3 hours later he would lock
the keys to my house and garage inside the garage.

Zara Blazer + AWang's Coco + Martin+Osa Skinny Denim
*how I miss you M+O let me count the ways...numbers don't go high enough*
               James Perse Cotton Cashmere Thermal      
Melinda Maria Link Oxidized and Margo Circle Rings 
 Alexander Wang, the original Coco + Ash Ono Boots
 Oh how I wish this picture could be enlarged without going off the screen.
Technology = enemy

Scene 3:  
We pull up to the garage, it's lightly raining, the Chef goes to root around for a lamp in storage before I put the car inside for the night.
Me:  The lamp is in one of the boxes by the door.
Chef:  Okay move the car in (as he carries big ol' floor lamp)
Me:  What are you talking about?  That's not a table lamp!
Chef:  What?!
Me: (hollering out the window) Bedside lamp!  We need the bedside lamp!
Chef:  Ohhhhhhhhhh.  Back up then.  I have to shut the garage door.

He locates the lamp and proceeds to enter the house while I park the car thinking he has used my house keys to enter the house.  I join him inside.  

Me:  Dude, where are my house keys?  I need to re-attach them.
Chef:  I don't have them (slight smirk)
Me:  Don't play around.  Gimme those keys (temperature is rising) I have a lot to get done tonight.
Chef:  I don't have them.  They must be locked in the garage. 
Me:  *goes off*  That's the only set to the garage! My car's locked in the (profanity-laced) garage?? How the profanity am I supposed to get in there to get out in the morning?!?  And several other choice words not fit for blog consumption.
Chef:  Can't we just be young lovers in love?  Let's just go back to where we were in the beginning!

Seriously?  Seriously.
This can only mean one thing.  
 Monday. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hershey's Peanut Butter Blossoms (Gluten-Free Version Included)

I had a completely different post planned for today, but then got the wise idea (last night after Project Runway at, oh, 10:30pm) that I neeeeded to bake some cookies.  Perfect.  They ended up turning out so well I decided to switch everything up and share them with you just in time for the weekend.

Right around the time I got diagnosed with Celiac a good friend gave me a dreamy little book entitled Hershey's Easy Baking.  I was so excited to try the recipes, but soon after realized I couldn't eat any of the things on the pages.  Every time I opened my recipe drawer and saw the book it pained me, but I still held onto it hoping one day things might change.  After much trial and error I figured out a good gluten-free flour blend that makes cookies taste just like regular flour ones...why I haven't tested out that blend on the recipes in this book before tonight I do not know, dear friends.  Things will be a changin' over here at Casa Carrie!  After tasting one of these cookies the Chef looked over and asked if I made them gluten-free.  And then he said I missed my calling and should be baking gf treats full-time for a living (mayjah compliment!).  Awww shucks, thanks Chef *blush*.

 The recipe  produced 52 amazing cookies!

Hershey's Peanut Butter Blossoms
Ingredients
  • 48 Hershey's Kisses Chocolates
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (*I used my gluten-free flour blend found here*)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Granulated sugar
Method
Heat oven to 350°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to peanut butter mixture - mixing by hand.  Mix the flour in by hand especially if you are doing the gluten-free version because the flour is very sensitive and should not be over mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls (approximately). Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

See why I changed the post?  Yum-my! (and no we did not wait for them to cool completely) It's the weekend - let's eat, sleep, and do whatever we feel like.  Any special plans?  TGIF everyone!

Winner of the Melinda Maria Giveaway is...

by Random Number Generator...Connie from SogniESorrisi


Connie - I'll send you an email to get your ring size, stone color preference and mailing address. 

A special thanks to everyone who entered!

Melinda's jewelry is wonderful and you can see it on full display at her site:  Melinda Maria - the pieces are incredibly unique and versatile.  It's candy for the eye!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Serenity Now: Bacon and Jalapeño Mac 'n' Cheese

Did you ever seen the "Serenity Now" Seinfeld episode?



All week long I've been whispering under my breath, "serenity now".

Too many deadlines, piles and piles of mail to go through, random cat fur balls in the corner of the livingroom, a counter that needs to be cleared off and laundry to the brim. People dancing on my last nerve.  Serenity now.

All I want to do is bake heaps of peanut butter cookies with mounds of chocolate in the center...and eat them all.  Food is not the answer.  Well maybe it is a little.  The Chef's cat has taken up residence on my lap - all day long.  She's nothing like my cats who are content to sit at my feet.  Instead she wants to be body half on the computer, body half on me slowly inching closer and closer to the keys until she finally goes in for the swat!  Not so helpful when you're trying to get a project accomplished, much less a blog post.  Last night it became apparent around, oh, eight o'clock that I was near the end of my rope.  I heard some clanking in the kitchen, but blocked it out.  A short while later a knock at the door brought one of my faves.  

The picture does not do this dish justice, but last night it was not about pictures or blog posts or making things pretty.  Last night was about reality.  And much needed serenity now.

Bacon and Jalapeño Mac 'n' Cheese
(which the Chef so aptly called:  
'Mac for you that I didn't get any of since I drank the last Hansen's').
It's a cat eat cat around here for the last Mandarin Orange soda.
 I lost out on the soda.  He lost out on the Mac.  
His choice on the latter. I didn't fight him on it.

Bacon and Jalapeño Mac 'n' Cheese
Ingredients: Serves 4

4C Macaroni noodles cooked (we use Ancient Harvest Gluten-Free Quinoa Elbow Macaroni)

*Sauce
6 Strips bacon chopped
3 Red 3 Green Jalapeño - seeds removed and small diced
2T Flour
2C Heavy cream
1C Aged white cheddar grated salt and pepper to taste

*Crust
1/2C Bread crumbs
1/4C Aged white cheddar grated
2T Butter softened
1T Cilantro chopped

Method
Crust
Combine all ingredients together.

Sauce
Preheat oven to 400.  Sauté bacon on low heat till crispy.  Add the jalapeno's and cook for 3 more minutes.  Stir in flour (he used my gluten free flour blend from an earlier post) and continue cooking for 5 minutes.  Slowly drizzle in the cream while stirring.  Bring the cream mixture to a boil then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and whisk in cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Hold warm.

To Finish
Place cooked noodles in desired cooking vessel.  Ladle sauce over noodles to cover.  Sprinkle crust over top.  Bake in oven 8-10 minutes till golden brown and bubbly.

Why do you think it is that people persist in being annoying over the pettiest of things?  Especially when they know exactly what they're doing, but think they're so smart that no one can see it?  It amazes me. One would think that with all the sad and more important things going on in the world focus would lie on those matters - rather than acting like children or, worse yet, cats in a bag.  Shakes head profusely.

Is it Friday yet?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pennywise? Is That You in the Drain?

Today started out with mad buckets of rain before the sun was even up.  De-lish!  I love a good rain storm and immediately rolled over and went back to sleep to wait for the 8:15 alarm.  Cue thunder and lightning - so instead I just laid there in my cozy bed, covers pulled up around my ears, listening to a storm we aren't usually so lucky to get here in Southern California.  By noon it still hadn't let up, so I walked out of my office, opened the front door and stood there a moment before grabbing the camera as the rain poured down.

Crazy, huh?  You can totally see the flooding along the sidewalk.

By late afternoon I was in a full-on mood for comfort food so before the Yankees game could start (heeelp me)  we ran out to grab some essential ingredients in the midst of a torrential downpour.  

Have you ever read Stephen King's "It"?  I gotta say - that book had me looking under the bed, down the sink, in the pipes, and over my shoulder for months.  I could barely glance at an old newspaper or yearbook for years without thinking an image was going to speak to me.  And storm drains?  Oh hell no.  I would cross to the other side of the street.  Yet I have to admit - even as I was crossing I would be looking back over my shoulder to see if Pennywise the Dancing Clown was staring back at me from the drain, holding out a balloon to entice me, just waiting to rip my freaking arm out of the socket!!

 What was that Pennywise?  You want me to hand you the lid 
to your soda?  Nice try bitch - I don't think so.

You in there? I hear the circus music...

NOT FUNNY CHEF!! (my bf for those who just started following)

Okay funny haha you got me.  Just don't do it again.
Especially not while the neighbor's watching me from his front porch 
as I stare into the drain hollering for Pennywise.  Good grief.

I see you trying to pass me the fake shoe that'll 
turn into a big moth and chew my face off, Pennywise!
(He knew your greatest fears and used them to terrorize you to death!!)

The funny thing is though, Pennywise could morph into all kinds of different
things - whatever IT needed in order to get rid of you.
One minute I'm standing on the sidewalk.
The next a truck comes zooming up out of nowhere and, 
despite ample room to park all over the street, 
it veers up onto the sidewalk directly behind me!!
Coincidence?  I think not...IT!
 
One of my favorite things about the story is how it brings a group of misfit kids together and paints a picture of the bonds of unbreakable friendship (amidst ultimate childhood nightmares come true - thanks Stephen King).  Along the way the group learns that it is what they believe will work that ultimately succeeds when they come up against the thing itself...which means I'm going to make like Eddie and sleep with an asthma inhaler under my pillow from now until the trauma of 'It' memories subside.  If I think of it as bleach in the eyes - then it can be.

Outfit details:  Wooden Ships-Beanie, A&F-Sweater, A&F-Scarf, Splendid-Leggings, Kate Spade-Rain boots, TK Bags-Handbag

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Please Don't Put My Face On A Stretcher

Do you ever have those days when you walk by the mirror, happen to glance up and immediately think (and sometimes exclaim out loud), "What in the hell was that?!"  Sometimes I have to stay up late getting projects and updates prepared for the following day.  Other times I am so wound by bedtime that I put on the Felicity DVD's and float off to wonderland for an hour or two longer than I should (and then there's those Nancy Grace re-runs that happen at midnight...) only to wake up swatting the nightstands when the alarm goes off in the morning.  Stress and lack of sleep can take a lot out a person.  Aging is not much fun, either - and believe you me I am doing my best to fight that mother off with a fierce, but realistic, determination. 

The truth of the matter is we are going to age - and there is no reason not to do so gracefully and naturally.  To me, that means taking realistic preventative measures along the way to care for my skin and body in general.  Injections are not something I'm interested in (seriously.  did you catch the real housewives of beverly hills last week? it scared the hell right out of me).   The idea of injecting a foreign substance into my skin defies logic.  Who knows what the effects are going to be in 15-20 years when all that stuff starts to run its course.  I would much rather do simple things like get proper amounts of rest and exercise - as well as indulge in copious amounts of tea.  

Do you have any idea how good tea is for you??  Here are just some of its many benefits:
  • Tea contains antioxidants that slow down the aging process by helping cells to regenerate and repair.
  • Green tea, in particular, neutralizes free radicals (still not sure what those are exactly, but I know they're not good!) and helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.  Sign me up for 10 cups please!
  • Black tea reduces cortisol - a stress hormone that your body produces - thereby helping you to process stress easier.  No wonder I've been so zen lately.  
  • My dentist swears by it.  She asked me on one of my first visits if I was a tea drinker - which entirely freaked me out because I thought she was going to say my teeth were stained.  Nope.  Instead she said that tea drinkers have less cavities because it fights off plaque.  But you should rinse with water after drinking tea.  
  • My acupuncturist is always ripping on me to drink more tea and not so much water.  She was an M.D. before becoming a Licensed Acupuncturist, so I listen to what she says more readily.  According to her, tea keeps you hydrated without flushing your body of nutrients.  I'm still drinking water, but I've replaced at least 3 glasses a day with tea. 
Fortunately for me I grew up in a family of tea drinkers.  I remember my first sip of my grandfather's English Breakfast.  Everyone chuckled thinking I'd run off...suckers - I sipped away at the whole cup!

        Bodum Assam Tea Press and Bistro Glass Tea Light Warmer   

Having a cool tea press like this on your counter doesn't hurt too much either!  A couple of my absolute favorite teas are Celestial Seasonings Decaffeinated Green Tea and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's Pomegranate Blueberry.  When I am drinking either of them (or English Breakfast, Ginger Peach, Darjeeling...you name it)  I see a noticeable difference in the texture of my skin, and overall health in general.  

You can probably tell from recent posts that I'm really thinking about how to live my life more fully and healthily.  Fashion is fun - but taking care of my inside is just as important as how I look externally.  I mean seriously, when's the last time you saw a depressed prune in a pair of knee-high boots?  

So how about it?  Are you a tea drinker?  I sure see a lot of coffee drinkers and always wonder if people move back and forth between the two beverages.  Would you jump on board if it meant better skin and health in general?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

Saturday afternoon found me in a hot mess of places I've temporarily sworn off of (think wallet restriction) - J.Crew, Free People, Zara, Barneys...  Why do I do this to myself?  Is it on purpose?  Perhaps to test my volition?  Quite honestly, I don't have a specific answer.  All I know is I escaped with wallet intact and two pairs of tights in bag. (Okay and a jacket.  But it was on steep sale so I get a pass).  Whatever the case, something wonderful happened as we strolled about - I was stopped at least ten times by women and men asking where I got my boots.  It's a wonderful feeling when you've leapt off your wallet for something you love only to find yourself twelve months later with strangers sharing your sentiments - especially when you're trying to save yourself from falling into boot cavern 2010. 

Making new friends is a treasured experience (present company included of course!), but there is something delicious about having old ones who know your secrets.  These are the relationships that don't require words, where trust has been built upon a firm foundation of shared good and bad times.  And so it goes, at least for me anyway, with my closet.  I love to go on the hunt for a new certain something - a dress, a unique ring or bangle for the jewelry collection, the perfect pair of jeans...or even better - the ultimate boot.  The act of discovering that "thing" is oftentimes just as exciting as the thing itself - but the relationship is truly put to the test once I get it home.  Is it as great as I thought it was?  Does it work with as many things as I'd anticipated?  Do I still want to wear it all the time after a couple of months?  Only the test of time will tell.  And so it has been with my military boots.  They have proven to be a never fail - I jumped at the chance to wear them in the summer when it was cool.  At first sight of fall I busted them out here in what turned out to be one of my favorite outfit posts yet.  And on Saturday they helped me to remember (as did everyone who complimented them) that I don't neeeeeeeeeed a new pair of boots.  Only a new pair of heels.  I kid, I kid!!

Now that I think about it every single item in this outfit
has been with me for at least a year - some closer to two.

James Perse Cotton/Cashmere Thermal, J.Crew Military Jacket,
Aritzia Leggings, Joie Boots, J.Crew Argyle Socks (you can't see haha)

 We haven't quite mastered the gloomy day camera settings, 
but somehow the faded images fit the day perfectly.

 My bad the bag has only been around for 3 or 4 months,
but with how often it's seen here you can probably tell it's a fave.
And it was one of those - see it, have to have it, step away from it Carrie, 
can't get it out of my mind, gotta return and get it! items.
You know those, right? hehe

And while we're on the shopping topic, how is your fall wardrobe coming along?  Have you been able to work in some of your old friends and keep the new ones to a minimum?  Or do you find yourself in a whole new circle of friends? hehe  Would love to hear what some of your faves currently are.  And hopefully the weekend was kind to you as well.  Oh Mondays - they sure to reappear quickly.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Turn That Frown Upside Down: Melinda Maria Giveaway!

In late August the Chef went all out and made my birthday super special (see here if you weren't following at that time).  It was honestly the best one of my life.  Unbeknownst to me, however, someone had done a little "shopping" in my suitcase while we were at the hotel and I returned home without several of my choicest pieces of jewelry.  Right after my birthday we left for Canada and I noticed I couldn't find a ring and a necklace while packing my bag, but chalked it up to having just misplaced it upon our return from birthdayville.  Not so much.  Cut to present and I have thus far realized I'm missing two rings, two bracelets and two necklaces (swallows lump in throat).  Two of the pieces were Melinda Maria (this ring and this cuff) - and you know I wear her jewelry 95% of the time (because it is in almost every single blog post) - so after suffering for the past few weeks I couldn't take it anymore and decided to jump off my wallet and replace as much as possible (3 pieces aren't even made anymore just to add salt to the wound).

First stop:  Melinda Maria.  I called her studio and explained the scenario which was like crying on the shoulders of my best girlfriends.  Back in the spring when I attended a private showing we did a giveaway and, as we were talking about recent events, the other day decided to erase a bad experience with a good one.  So you know what that means, right?  It's giveaway time!! Yahoooo!!

So here's the piece we selected for one lucky winner - it is my most favorite to date:


One lucky winner will win their choice of this ring with either white or black cz stones - the black stone version is not even available for sale yet anywhere and is a part of Melinda's upcoming collection.

And now:

THE DETAILS
*This giveaway is open to all U.S., Canadian and Overseas readers.  The entry period will run through 11:59pm PST Thursday, October 21st, 2010 and the winner will be announced on Friday, October 22, 2010. 

HOW TO ENTER - please leave a separate comment for each entry

*For one entry you must be a follower of this free bird via Google Reader (if you aren't already :)), AND leave a comment on this post stating you have done so.  Be sure you either leave an email address or have a link to your email on your blog so that I can contact you if you win.

*For additional entries: follow this free bird on twitter.

*Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave a separate comment with the link back stating you have done so.  If this helps for twitter:  Just entered great @birdgirlc #giveaway for a Melinda Maria Oxidized Link Ring! http://bit.ly/akrDBj

* and of course visit Melinda Maria Jewelry and let me know your favorite piece of jewelry.  Prepare to swoon!

I will contact the winner after next week's draw to find out your ring size (it is available in sizes 5 - 8), color preference and mailing address.  Good luck everyone!!

And p.s. - Have a great weekend!  Any special plans?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Getting to Know You Better...

Last week I was tagged by Lori at Wildflowers and thought I'd work her questions into today's post.  These are always fun to do so here we go!

  • What is your favorite time of the day?  Ooooh this is a tough one for me.  I'd have to say late afternoon when the sun is shining through the windows in the living room.  I love to curl up on the couch and take a deep exhale while Nancy Grace gives someone a grand rip from the television.  That toasty light makes everything seem right in the world.  Or is that Nancy Grace? hehe
 Joran Van der Sloot better just keep his ass in that Peruvian prison
if he knows what's good for him.

  • Where and when did you meet the love of your life?  I met the Chef about 10 years ago and, honestly, he kinda annoyed me (he knows this so I can say it).  I mean I thought he was nice and everything, but he was always bugging me with his jokes.  Little did I know he thought I was the cat's meow...cut to present and we've been dating for 2 years.  It's a long story.  Kind of like a novel - met through friends and kept in touch, I was dating someone else and living in Washington state, eventually moved to California but he was living in New York and we reconnected a few years ago.  I used to try and help him get dates and my bff Corey would always say he thought the Chef liked me.  I thought he was nuts.  So much for that! 
Aaaaaand here we are after Corey's wedding!  (Chef's on the right)

He digs a good morning/afternoon/anytime surf.
  • What 3 words would your friends outside the blogging world use to describe you?  Loyal, feisty, smart.  (and shoes).
 image via te quiero

  • What country would you like to visit and why?  There are so many I'd like to visit, but Italy tops my list right now with Israel being a close second.  Italy because I visited once for a couple weeks and don't feel as though I really got to take it all in.  There is so much to see and the pace of life makes sense to me.  I want to take in the little towns and the big cities - as much of the country as possible - and soak in every bit of the rich culture I can.  Maybe not come back?
 Gaeta, Italy

  •  What is your favorite dish to cook?  Roasted chicken.  I know that sounds weak, but it truly is.  All you have to do is throw it in the oven with potatoes and carrots around it, but I've had some messed up chickens in my time and this is one that I do well!  Wait.  Is cheesecake a dish? (or only in my world?)  Because I'm very good friends with cheesecake, too.
 mmmmmmm chicken

  • Salt or sugar?  This is a tough one for a girl whose favorite afterschool snack was Old Dutch Ripple Chips dipped in vanilla ice cream...Both!  I can't choose!!  Chocolate covered almonds, cashews, macadamias, walnuts - salt and sugar!  help!
  • What are your must have make-up or beauty items?  I am not that great with make-up and, as a result, don't wear much.  As a teenager I was convinced that having to wash it off - especially mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow - would cause wrinkles.  Yes, even then I was thinking of what lies ahead. There are a few things I do feel lost without:
 This stuff is amazing.  It keeps my skin soft
without a hint of greasy.  I use it morning and night.  Best stuff ever.

Have you tried this?  If not, I highly recommend.  
I use it a couple times a week in the shower and noticed a visible
difference in my face almost immediately.  l-o-v-e

I'm sure we're all screaming together about this one.

And finally...this is turning into a Fresh ad, but it's true - 
I can't use it daily because it's pretty expensive, but when I have 
a hard day or week this is my go-to relaxer.  A few caps in 
the tub and you'll feel so much better.  Soak!

  • What are your favorite flowers?  Gerbera Daisies, Peonies and Orchids.  All three have the ability to brighten my day in an instant.
 Gerbera Daisies

Pretty, pretty Peonies

Beautiful Orchids.  sigh
  • What do you think are your worst vices, honestly?  I need to learn to slow down and consider that what I'm doing may not be the top priority for the Chef.  (hangs head in shame)  I also need to get away from the computer and learn to have better balance in my life - outside, outside, outside.  It's not so fun to be around someone who is always attached to their phone or computer.  It's a hot mess.  And when I'm stressed out I can be a hot head.  I always say - I'm the verbal cuisinart, don't get caught in my blades.  And I'm not kidding.  My friends laugh when I say it, but it is true and it's not always the best quality to have.  Confessional over and out.
  •  At what time of your life were you the happiest and why?  You know this is a great question and I've thought about it off and on all week.  Do you ever have those seasons in your life when you pause for just a moment and realize it's one of the best times and you need to savor it?  I feel very blessed to be able to say this has happened more than a few times in my life.  When I lived on Day Island in Washington - hands down one of the best, if not the most content I have ever been.  I had a great community of friends that were more like family, I loved where I lived - the most amazing renovated older home right smack on the water, my boss and the job I held was just wonderful - it was almost idyllic. And most importantly I remember it as the first time in my adult years where I was truly comfortable with myself and at peace with my life.  Every room had a water view and I had the best landlord ever.
 There was a one way in front of the house and then the water.  
It took 5 years to recover from living there and
my heart still breaks a little.


Anyway!  Thanks so much for tagging me, Miss Lori.  This was fun!!  And now I will pass this along to the following people:
And really - anyone who wants to take part.  Please let me know if you do.  I love reading these things and would be interested to hear your responses!

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