Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday: Weaknesses & Wants

This past weekend I went to a warehouse sale in downtown Boston. It was quite a scene with females flocking to the racks of clothing & shoes as if drawn by nature to the fabrics & sale prices in the same way that birds naturally flock south each winter. Loud music pulsed over the speakers, samples of drinks & healthy snacks were distributed, and I didn't have the annoyance of constantly shifting a sliding purse up on my shoulder since all purses & coats had to be checked at the door. This plus the pressure of knowing that I only had two hours to shop before they kicked me out...and yet I walked out empty handed.

When I go shopping I usually know right away if I like everything in the store or nothing at all. It's never in between and this was just one of those times where I couldn't visualize myself in any of the clothing and didn't have the time to dig through the chaotic racks. As a result, all I've wanted to do this week is shop and indulge in this weakness of mine.

The only thing that's been holding me back from clicking the 'Checkout' button on each shopping cart page is the fact that I'm looking for a few very specific items and I'm just unwilling to pay an arm and a leg for them. In case you've been looking for the same things, I've made a list of some expensive wants & their cheaper alternatives.

1. A short sleeve, white blouse

 Blouse #1 here  / Blouse #2 here  / Blouse #3 here

2. A turquoise pendant necklace

Pendant # 1 here / Pendant #2 here (chain needed)

3. Denim

Denim # here / Denim #2 here / Denim #3 here

4. Riding Boots

Boots #1 here / Boots #2 here

Have any great stores or websites that you always find what you're looking for at? Let me know! Spring has officially sprung and I'm feeling like I need a whole new wardrobe to celebrate the fading of this brutal winter.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Five: What I'm Listening To This Week(end)

So I'm going to go ahead and blame my writer's block lately on the fact that as the days are starting to get longer, my blogging attention span is starting to get shorter. That and maintaining a state of happiness for 100 days straight is just taking all of the energy out of me. O yeah, and March Madness is now in full swing and it's taking everything in me to not compulsively refresh my brackets to make sure I stay ahead (yes, that's right I said ahead) of my coworkers...and more importantly, my brother.

Since the above is really all I have time to focus on right now, I'll get to the point and share my top five songs of the week to take you into the weekend. It might make more sense to give you these songs at the beginning of the week to help keep you going but 'Monday Five' just doesn't have the same ring that 'Friday Five' does to it...

1. I Choose You by Sara Bareilles. Confession: This is the only song I will listen to in the car recently - belting out the lyrics on repeat. Good thing it's still not quite warm enough to roll the windows down...

 2. Say What You Need To Say by John Mayer. I tend to keep things to myself - or at least anything personal/frustrating/of substance and sometimes that gets me to the point where I just want to scream or punch, thing.. other than a punching bag. This week I'm trying to remind myself that it's better (for myself and for others) to just say what I need to say.

3. Just Got Paid by Nsync. What a throwback - okay, "flashback" since it's Friday - but it's exactly how I feel today. Friday night, just got paid, feelin' alright... Why can't music go back to the good ol' boy band days?

4. When She Says Baby by Jason Aldean. I just like it, okay? It's starting to get warmer out which is making me get back into country music again...because for me, it's only appropriate to listen to country when the temperature is over 50 degrees.

5. Shot At The Night by The Killers. While it's not stuck in my head quite yet, I'm sure it will be soon since it's the theme song for March Madness this year. Bring it on.

Hope you enjoy the songs and have a great weekend! What will you be listening to?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Challenge: Are You Too Busy To Be Happy?

Today is Day 8 of my 100 Days of Happiness Challenge. I am officially over a week in and already enjoying going back to remind myself of happy moments over this past week. It also has me looking ahead to fun activities and opportunities that will keep me smiling.

Admittedly - and I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it - my initial reaction to seeing friends post pictures with the #100happydays trend was "are you trying to prove something?" or "is this some kind of who has a better life competition?" Once I'd seen more than a handful of "happy" photos flood my Instagram I actually decided to do some research about the challenge. All I had to read on the website to be completely hooked was the following stat:

It's hard to believe that anyone could be "too busy" to be happy and yet I can just hear myself saying I "didn't have time" to take a solitary photo for Day 9 or 10, etc. It takes less than 30 seconds to snap a photo and upload it to some form of social media. And yes, I realize you can be happy and not take a picture but this just seems like a nice thing to try and follow through on.

The challenge has made me recognize and appreciate the little things in life more - things like a pretty landscape, a free coffee and bagel and time spent with people I love. Oftentimes, it's the things that drive me crazy or make me unhappy that are more obvious to me but this exercise in happiness has made me realize that sometimes I take the little moments of happiness for granted.

Above are some of the happier moments - planned and unplanned - from this past week that have kept me going. It's also a relief to not over think each moment and just snap a photo when the time is right without worrying too much about the lighting in the photo or how the colors appear.

You'll just have to follow along and see what the above photos meant to me and what else I have to share with you along the way to Day 100! I'm hoping to keep the daily photos going long after the challenge is completed. Is anyone else trying the 100 Days of Happiness Challenge? I'd love to hear what makes you happy each day & if you're not thinking about it, I challenge you to try this!

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Friday Five - Music For The Weekend

Seriously, where the heck did this week go? I always find that each weekday seems to drag by but then by the time Friday rolls around I can't believe it's already time to Thank.Gawd.It's.Friday again. With that, here are my Friday Five songs to take you into the weekend. 

1. Cabaret by Justin Timberlake - Woah. If just thinking about Justin Timberlake wasn't enough to make my cheeks turn the color of my red hair the lyrics of this song are. It also helps that I'm still on a high from seeing him live last week.

2. Wildfire by John Mayer - I could listen to that voice all day every day...and I do listen to that voice all day every day. For some reason John Mayer picks me upon the lowest of days and makes me even happier on the happiest of days.

3. Love Somebody from Maroon 5 - There was a time when I couldn't go a day without listening to this song...okay maybe it was more like an hour and I'm bringing it back in full force this weekend.

4. Out in the Street by Bruce Springsteen - This is just an oldie but a goodie to me. I just can visualize a couple meeting out in the street to kick off the weekend and anything live by Springsteen is great.

5. You and Tequila by Kenny Chesney - This is my summer anthem and since rumor has it the temperature is supposed to go above 40 degrees this weekend I thought I'd ease myself back into the thought of eventually baring my pasty skin again in the hopefully not so distant future.

And with that, you have some tunes to get your weekend started and back that azz up all Friday night...okay, so those aren't really back that azz up kind of tunes but I hope you can dance/sway/shimmy/snap your fingers and boogie to at least one of them.

*I gotta ask...who knew that 'trip the light fantastic' was another way to say dance?? I'm not kidding.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce, Sausage & Spinach

It was Mardi Gras yesterday. A day to essentially eat guilt-free before giving something up for the next 40 days. As a result, I decided to make one of my favorite new dinner recipes - Cavatappi pasta with pureed butternut squash sauce, sauteed spinach and seared chicken sausage.


1 Shallot
1 tbsp Butter
Cavatappi Pasta
1 Butternut Squash
Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Handfuls of Spinach
1 Package of Chicken Sausage 
Boiling squash in action!
To start, peel the skin off the squash, cube it and throw it in a pot of boiling water to cook and soften. Once it is cooked through, use a food processor to puree the squash until it is a smooth and creamy consistency. If you don't have a food processor (like I didn't up until this past Christmas) simply mash the squash thoroughly - you will thin it out later on in the recipe.

At the same time, cook the chicken sausage in a pan with garlic for 7-9 minutes. Break the sausage apart and cut it up into large chunks as it cooks. As the sausage starts to brown, add a tsp of butter and the finely chopped shallots.

There are a lot of moving parts to this recipe and you want to be boiling the pasta in the same water that you used to boil the squash as the sausage, shallots and garlic cook. Save a cup of the water before draining the pasta as you will need it to thin the squash into a sauce.

Add the squash, spinach and sage to the sausage mixture in the pan. Stir thoroughly and sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese into the sauce. Also add the cup of pasta water that you saved as that will thin the squash into a creamy sauce. Once the sauce is heated through, pour it over the drained pasta and mix everything together.

This is a delicious meal for a cold night and is guaranteed to give you lots of leftovers for lunch and dinner during the week - or at least it did for me. Bon appetit!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Oscars Through the Eyes of a Non Movie Watcher

Here goes nothing. An Oscars commentary by someone who realized last night that they apparently never go to or rent movies. I thought I wouldn't get many of the jokes or references since I'd seen virtually none of the nominated films and the only "celebrities" I follow are the Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants but I was sucked into the show from the start. Since I watched the whole 3+ hours and can't actually comment on the movies that I never saw I decided to  make my own categories and list my own winners.

Best Host - Ellen. I know that there's only one host but can someone explain to me why she doesn't host every single awards show? I hope I don't ever have to watch LL Cool J host another award show and try to make people laugh. It should be Ellen DeGeneres every.single.time.

Best Entrance - Jennifer Lawrence. Another year, another fall, a few (millions) more fans.

Best Acceptance Speech - Tie between Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong'o. Leto giving a shout out to his mom & brother in a more meaningful way than the traditional 'I'd like to thank my family' way; showing he's aware of life outside the spotlight recognizing Ukraine & Venezuela. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to hear more even as I was simultaneously waiting for the music hook to start playing & prompt his exit. Then Lupita recognizing her success at the hands of others' sadness and sharing a dream come true with viewers around the world. I had tears in my eyes and that's not something I openly admit often...because it doesn't happen often.

*I have to say I'd already decided it wouldn't get better than the above & then the two Frozen song writer people go and rhyme their whole speech and Matthew McConaughey told us about his future self being his own hero.

Best Dresses - There were so many enviable dresses and while I think it'd be easier to pick the dresses I did NOT like, I decided to show my top 4 below. Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o and Sandra Bullock all rocked timeless dresses. 

Best Call Out - Amy Adams did NOT go to college. Just in case anyone was wondering. 

Luckiest Guy at the Oscars - The pizza delivery guy. I don't care that there's no way any of those celebrities actually eat shitty delivery pizza or that the joke may have gone on a tad too long. I give him props for not peeing himself at the prospect of handing out pizza to the biggest names in show biz. 

Best Eyes I'd Like To Stare Into All Night Long - Chris Hemsworth. I won't even make him wear that burgundy colored blazer.
Most Intense - John Ridley leaving the stage after giving his acceptance speech. I just couldn't figure out what was going through his head as he clutched his Oscar and gave the camera the evil eye.

As a side and final note, it made me really happy to see so many people there with their non-celebrity loved ones. Lupita Nyong'o with her brother as her date. Jared Leto with his mother and brother. Steve McQueen's mom cheering from the last row in the section and Matthew McConaughey's mother glowing - literally - for her son. Made me happy to see.

Now I'm determined to watch all of the movies that were up for awards and by the time I finish watching all of these acclaimed movies I will probably be just in time to have missed seeing all of next year's nominated films. What did you think of the show?