Friday, December 30, 2011

The 80's Are Back (In A Good Way): Leg Warmers
These are actually homemade out of sweater sleeves by ThreeBirdNest on Etsy. Ah-mazing!
Jessica Elmore, Pinterest
Perfect for Valentines Day!

So, are you for or against this fashion revival?
For those looking to steal this style ASAP, Kohl's is currently having a 
great New Year's Sale on leg warmers. Happy shopping.
- J

Uggs for Cleveland

Cleveland's yucky weather has forced me to invest in a nice pair of winter boots. I was going for waterproof and realistic rather than cute and not-so effective. After trying out several different brands and styles the only pair that felt comfortable and met the criteria were the Ugg Womens Adirondack Tall boot. I've never spent this much on a pair of boots, and never did I think I'd actually purchase a pair of Uggs, but they're the type that will last me for years. They aren't your typical, slipper-looking Uggs, but this Cleveland weather doesn't mess around so I had to go rugged.

So now I officially have a pair of real Uggs, as opposed to my previous pairs of fake Uggs, or "F.U.'s" as I called them.

While the weather during our Christmas trip to Montana was unseasonably nice, there were a few days that they came in handy:

The Mr. and I freezing our butts off in Yellowstone as I model my new "R.U.'s"!

They also come in a super-cute, dark brown "Obsidian" color, which I now want as well.

Christmas in Montana

For the last nine years it has been a family tradition to spend Christmas in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, my brother couldn't get out of working this year. That coupled with the fact that he'd been asking us to come visit him while he's in college at Montana State for the last few years, helped us decide that maybe we should go the White Christmas route this year.

The Mr. and I decided to head out a few days before my mom and sister so we could get some skiing in at Big Sky. Then they joined us in Bozeman at an awesome rental cabin located on the banks of the Gallatin River. We even took a day trip to Yellowstone National Park, what was open at least.

It's going to be a picture overload so here we go...
After years of skiing we realized we didn't have any action shots of the two of us so we gave in and paid for the professional photos they take on the mountain. They turned out pretty good. I'm currently entertaining offers to be on the Olympic team.

Most of the fam in Yellowstone
Overlooking the Burning River
Burning River Hot Springs in Yellowstone. I didn't have the guts to wear a bathing suit in 24 degree weather, but the Mr. did (the guy way in the back waving, not the random dude about to fall over in the front)
Shopping was definitely on the agenda. At one of the stores I found the following interfaith "display". My mom and I got a kick out of it. 
I did buy these two super-cute candles. They totally fit my natural decorating style. My mom recommended burning them for a bit until they create a hole big enough to hide a tea candle. This will preserve the exterior appearance.
After all that shopping we were super-hungry. Even though we were in Montana, we still enjoyed our traditional Costa Rican Christmas dinner, lobster c/o my brother's work. They were so amazing. I had never cooked lobster before. Neither had my brother, who works at a seafood company, but he at least knew a lot about them. The end result: really tasty, but really messy. I'm talking lobster guts all over! So glad we cooked them in a rental home rather than my own kitchen. My mom cried as we were shoving them in the pots and shrieking (us not the lobsters). She's so cute, she can't even kill a spider.
Arriving back in the 216

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Man In The Moon

When we were younger, our dad would pick one lucky kid each night to carry outside and admire the starry sky. But he wouldn't just pick you up and take you outside. He made a long, drawn out ordeal out of it and we loved it. Usually he would start with a selection process that utilized eenie meenie miny mo. He would then lie the chosen child down onto an open blanket and wrap us up like a burrito. This took several minutes as he would spend time meticulously tucking in all of the corners, starting over if need be.

Once the selection and preparation process was over he would lift our 40 pound frames acting like we were the heaviest things on earth and, knowing he was overexaggerating, we'd yell, "Daddy, I'm not that heavy!!!" Laughing he would bring us out onto the back porch, prop us on the railing, and we would spend forever looking up at the stars. We'd wonder what was out there, neither one of us more intellegent on the subject than the other. And it was in those moments where I knew that his whole world revolved around me as if I was the center of the universe. Content in this thought I would fall asleep there in his arms under the sky and he'd eventually carry me to bed.

It is because of these memories that I've thought of "purchasing" a star in his name. However, through a fairly detailed search of different companies in the business of selling stars and reviewing the International Austronomical Union website, I realized that there is no such thing as naming a star after someone. No company actually owns the rights to sell a star so you are essentially paying for the paper the "certificate" is printed on. The only way to truly name a star is by discovering a brand new, never before seen star. Then, the several-year process of verfiying it's actually a star must be done before you are listed as the discoverer and can then pick a name. Needless to say, I decided against naming a star after my dad and simply chose a well known object in the sky instead. And thinking about it, my dad isn't just one tiny speck in the night sky, he has to be the biggest thing that you can see. So about a year ago I decided that he would be my moon.

Every time I look up I see it and say, "hi dad" or "goodnight dad". I'm comforted in the steadfast belief knowledge that he's perched up there on the moon watching me while I sleep, keeping me comfort during the loneliest hours of the day.

Since making this decision there have been numerous occasions where I've known he was there. This past August, just a few days shy of his one year anniversary, we took a trip out to Rattlesnake Island on Lake Erie with the in-laws. All afternoon it had been cloudy and rainy. By 10pm, while it was still cloudy, the rain had let up and there were about seven of us sitting out on the deck by the pool listening to the music coming from the jukebox in the bar as we chatted. It was pitch black and began thinking about how much my dad would enjoy sitting there with us. As I often do while listening to music since my dad died, I started to cry. Quietly so no one could hear me, but still, full on tears streaming down my face. 

The actual photo from that moment (as well as the one above)
Right as it was about to turn into a full-blown, audible cry (despite my attempts to avoid it because I had an audience) I kid you not, the clouds parted revealing a nearly-full moon, reflecting beautifully off the lake. Simultaneously, the song "Dancing in the Moonlight" began playing on the jukebox. Tears streaming down my face, I began to laugh. The song to follow also had "moon" in the title, but I can't remember it.
While that wasn't the first time I'd been convinced my dad is still here watching over me, it certainly was a much-needed affirmation during that dark night.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Urban Spoon Dinner Club - Club Isabella

The Urban Spoon Dinner Club (USDC), or Us-dick as the mature members of the club call it, came about through a necessity for trying out new restaurants after becoming bored of our usual eateries. We knew there had to be other places to try, but couldn't think of any that we could all agree upon. So we decided to Urban Spoon it and go with the first restaurant that we "shook up". We quickly termed it the USDC and, after a few drinks, the less classy term was coined as well.

There are several ridiculous rules that I won't bore you with, but essentially it has to be a place that most of us have never tried. Also, whatever Urban Spoon comes up with you have to go with. This way we don't spend hours trying to decide on an option we can all agree upon and we are constantly experiencing something different that the city has to offer. The group consists of six key members, but we do allow "temporary membership" for individual outings.

Our most recent venture was to Club Isabella in Little Italy. This quaint restaurant sits just over the railroad tracks from Case Western Reserve University. The interior decor is warm and inviting, while simultaneously upscale and modern. We arrived a few minutes before our 8pm reservation and were able to relax fireside in their lounge while we waited. The added ambiance of the musician playing at the other end of the room made the night romantic.

The meal began with a Sushi Amouse Bouche.

Tartar Trio Appetizer (Beef, Salmon & Tuna) with deep fried egg & toast.
Split between the hubby and I, we were expecting thinly sliced pieces of meat, but this was equally as tasty. I figured the tuna would be my favorite, but I fell in love with the salmon instead.

Wedge salad with deep fried egg.
 Consistent with what you would expect from a wedge salad.

Beef Cheek Ravioli
So different from what you picture as beef ravioli, but so amazing. This was by far my favorite part of the meal. The beef is literally from the inside cheeks of cows so it's super tender and tasty. Sometimes I'm disappointed by the number of raviolis you get while dining at fancier restaurants, but the combination of the appetizer and salad leading up to the main course and the richness of the beef cheek made five raviolis about all I could handle.

Of course, there's always room for dessert. The hubby and I split their Vanilla Bean Creme Brule, but were so eager to dive in that I totally forgot to take a pic. Sorry!!!

Cozying Up To Coats

I'm from Denver where the saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes" really does mean something. The May before I moved to Cleveland it was 80 degrees one day, the next day it snowed a foot, and the day after that the 70 degree weather had melted the snow by noon. That, my midwesterners, is a true example of "wait 5 minutes".

So it makes sense that us Coloradans don't always leave the house bundled up or prepared. On top of the fact that we're rugged and used to the cold, terrible weather doesn't last that long anyway. The only fashion accessory you never leave the house without in Colorado is a pair of sunglasses. Night and day they were on. I wore them 24-7, either as a headband so they were readily available, or for their intended purpose.

For the past three, long Cleveland winters I've suffered through these cold temps often coat-less. It's not that I don't have any coats, I just haven't wanted to wear them. Despite getting yelled at by co-workers, in-laws, and friends. I went coat-less mostly out of habit, but partially out of principal. However, I've decided this is the year for change. Funny that the year I choose to embrace coats it's the middle of December and 50 degrees, but I'm still sticking to it. No longer will I suffer.

So now I'm excited about the new fashion that these coats will add to my wardrobe and I can't get over all the new, and classic, styles available for those of us gearing up for a long, grey, cold four months.

My new love, Cape Coats. They remind me of what fairytale characters would wear, think Little Red Riding Hood, yet they still translate to the modern day, real world. Keep in mind the cape coat limits your handbag options. Pairing it with a clutch will secure a classic, effortless look.

Photo Courtesy Mr. Newton
Photo Courtesy of I Am Fashion Weak
Zara crossover cape
Staple Button Up Cape Coat
BB Dakota Calhoun Cape Coat
Yinhoo Hooded Cape Coat

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Wreath Cookie Recipe

Okay, this will bring you back to the 80's. This festive version of the Rice Crispy Treat is an annual Christmas staple in our house and a must-have for our Christmas Tree Decorating Party. Lucky for you, they're fairly easy to make.

1/3 Cup of Butter
42 Large Marshmallows (typically the full bag)
1 Tsp. Green Food Coloring
1/2 Tsp. Almond Flavoring
1/2 Tsp. Vanilla
4 Cups of Cornflakes
Red Cinnamon Candies
Gold & Silver Candy Balls (I can never find these, if you can, please let me know where you got them!)
Bowl of Water

Melt butter and marshmallows in a large, high rimmed pot. Add coloring and extracts. Fold in the cornflakes until well coated.

Use about one large spoonful for each cookie. I've found that placing them on parchment paper is best because they don't stick to it as much as they stick to waxed paper. While still warm, dip your fingertips into the bowl of water and shape each spoonful into circular wreaths. Then, before the wreaths have completely cooled, place a few of the cinnamon candies and gold and silver candy balls onto each wreath. Allow to cool several hours.

It is best to keep the wreaths on the parchment paper to serve. Once the wreaths have cooled, cut out the paper into individual circles around each wreath. Each recipe makes about 10-12 cookies so double or triple if need be.

These are a perfect project to make with kids. Send with them to school as a thank you to teachers or as a treat for classmates.

Friday, December 2, 2011

3rd Annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party

The shopping list is underway for tomorrow's 3rd Annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party. I'm going with a red and green color scheme for the food, except for the chocolate chip cookies. Those are pretty much a standard party favorite.

For coverage of last year's party and more detail on the background of our Christmas traditions, click HERE.