Saturday, September 29, 2012

Opal of my Eye

Gemstones are really so pretty. Since my birthday is in October (so soon!), my birthstone is opal. I used to lust after sapphires and amethysts, but I've grown to really love opal because it's so unique compared to the rest of the birthstones. It has an array of colors within it and sort of reminds me of a more subtle mother of pearl. I love how the colors swirl! I like when the stone has softer colors as opposed to the greenish hue I sometimes see in them. These first three are my favorites that I came across.

[Photo from BlueNile]
[Photo from Zales]
[Photo from Kohls
I'm not really much of a jewelry gal. I don't ever really wear "nice" jewelry. I feel bad when people give it to me because chances are it's going to sit in a drawer somewhere, untouched. But for some reason, I've been wanting an opal ring. I have one from when I was a kid, but it's too small now and it's not really the kind of style I want, so I'm not going to get it resized.

[Photo from Kohls]
[Photo from Zales]
I'm very picky about jewelry, and rings in particular. I don't really like gold. I always go with silver (or white gold works too). I also don't like a stone that's too big or any shape other than round/oval. I'm not really a fan of square, and I detest diamond-shaped stones. For someone who doesn't wear jewelry a lot, it's kinda weird that I have such a strong opinion on the characteristics of rings. I guess that if I was going to wear a piece of expensive jewelry, I would want it to fit my style just like any other piece of clothing or accessory that I'd wear. I'd want it to feel like "me". 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Black and Olive Green

I love railroad tracks. These are actually trolley tracks, but they're pretty much the same thing. I also love the late afternoon light as the sun is just beginning to set and the amazing autumn weather we've been having. It's been in the 60s to low 70's and sunny, and I can't get enough. I love when it's cool enough to wear tights and a sweater, but still warm enough that you don't need a coat or anything. I wish I could spend the entire season outside in the sun surrounded by pumpkins, apples, and leaves. Can't there be such thing as an autumn leave from work? I'll be spending every one of my days off enjoying this amazing time of year. I'm excited for it's arrival. I've made my autumn to-do list, and I've already done some things off of it!

[Shirt: Old Navy, thrifted
Shorts: Forever 21
Tights: Forever 21
Shoes: Payless, thrifted]
When I got my Mac a couple of years ago, I started using iPhoto to edit pictures. After picking up some Photoshop skills at work, I started using that and mainly use it now. But recently, I tried out Lightroom and that's where I edited these pictures (after I edited them in Photoshop first). Have any of you used Lightroom? Going from Photoshop to Lightroom is weird. Lightroom is like a combination of iPhoto and Photoshop and honestly, it's a little overwhelming. Maybe I'm just not used to it yet. I'm not sure if I'll keep using it for everything. I know that I'll definitely always use Photoshop first. I have Lightroom presets from Totally Rad, and they're alright. I like their Photoshop actions way more, but they're a little expensive. I tried them in a trial version and loved them. I'll have them someday and then I'll probably strictly use Photoshop.

I remember seeing these shoes new in Payless a long time ago and wanting them, but thinking that they weren't a smart investment considering how tall they are. I figured I wouldn't wear them enough to justify spending $30 or so on them since I rarely wear super high heels. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found them in Goodwill for just 9 bucks! Now that, I can justify. And they were just my size! It was meant to be, so of course I had to get them. :) The color is such a nice shade of green and I love how the heel is brown.

[A perfect shot of the lovely runs I have in these tights]

I love these tights, and I'm sad that they have runs in them. The good news is that they're easy to find and very inexpensive. I'm not the only one who gets excited by buying a new pair of tights, am I? 

Soon enough, the leaves will be changing and these tracks will look even more gorgeous with all the pretty fall colors. Autumn is seriously the best time of year to go hiking and stuff. I also love the lead up to Halloween, and of course the holiday itself! 

I've decided on my costume for this year, and I'm going to be a leopard! I like being some sort of cat. You get to do fun make-up and wear cute ears! I've been getting a little more into make-up, lately. I think it sort of comes with the Halloween season. I like to really get into it because I'm normally not the "make-up routine" sort of girl. I never really had the patience for it. The only thing I ever wear is eyeliner and chapstick. But I'm getting more into the liquid liner now because I just love the whole cat-eye look. I need a lot of practice in applying it myself, so I'll probably start trying to wear it more often. I'm also on the hunt for the perfect red/burgundy/wine lip stain, but it's hard to find. 

I have always had an appreciation for cosmetics. It's definitely an interesting and beautiful art. My friend has always been passionate about it (and really good at it!) and now she's going to school for it! I always liked watching her put on her make-up and having her do mine for Halloween. It's interesting and neat to watch what someone can do with it. I like to do it now and then, but it's just not my thing for the day-to-day.

Monday, September 24, 2012

M&M Cookies

I have a weakness for M&M cookies. I don't know why since they're pretty close to being chocolate chip cookies, and I don't have as much of a weakness to those. Maybe it's how pretty and colorful they are, and the little bit of crunch you get from the shell of the M&M's. They're like a step up from regular chocolate chip cookies. And who doesn't love candy in their cookies?

[Look at that pretty dough!]
I used mini M&Ms to try to fit more M&Ms into each cookie, but you could use regular ones if you'd like. I'd like to try these with the peanut butter M&Ms or Reese's Pieces!

There is a secret to these cookies to get them nice and thick. Before placing them on the cookie sheet, roll them into balls, but then break the ball in half. Stick the smooth halves together with the rugged, torn halves sticking out. Place them on the cookie sheet in stacks, like so.

That's how you get them to look like this:

I highly recommend this recipe. These cookies came out so yummy and soft. I definitely had to restrain myself from eating the whole batch. 

Well, it's officially fall and that means that soon I can start baking with pumpkin and try out all the new autumn recipes I've found from all my scouring efforts on baking blogs and Pinterest. My friend and I went to the orchard on Saturday to celebrate the autumn equinox. We did lots of fall activities that I will be sharing soon! The best time of the year is finally here! :D

M&M Cookies
Source: How Sweet It Is, with italicized notes by me.


2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of salted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mini M&M’s


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the butter and sugars until they are combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Gradually add flour and mix until a dough forms. Fold in the M&M’s.

Divide the dough how you choose (1/4 cup portions for 18 large cookies or 2 tablespoon portions for 36 smaller cookies). Shape each portion into a ball with your hands then pull each ball into two equal pieces. Turn each half so that the rough side of the half (what used to be the inside of the ball) faces upwards and then squish both halves together. Place the dough rough-side up on a baking sheets. If you’re doing large cookies, leave about 2 inches in between each.

Bake for 12-15 minutes (large cookies) or 8-12 minutes (small cookies), or until the edges are slightly brown. The centers should be soft and puffy. Do not over bake. Let cool completely (or if you're like me, you'll risk burning your mouth because the smell is so overwhelming and you just can't contain yourself)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Picnicking on the Green

A few days ago, Chris and I had a nice little picnic on the town green. I was dying to use my picnic basket that I had found at an antique store a couple of months ago. I can't believe I haven't used it until now because I was so excited about it when I got it. It has the double flaps that open like I've always wanted!

I packed up some peanut butter sandwiches (Chris had pumpkin butter on his!), banana bread, and a couple of apples. I could seriously eat peanut butter every day for the rest of my life. It's somewhat of an addiction. I eat it straight out of the jar sometimes. Yes, it's true. I am a peanut butter jar eater-outer. Anyway...It was a nice little lunch on a perfect day. The humidity has finally let up. I was actually able to wear my denim jacket that I love so much. I thrifted it from Goodwill a couple of years ago.

[Dress: Delia's
Jacket: Gap (thrifted)
Shoes: Forever 21]

We sort of just lazed around on the blanket for a bit after we nommed up our sandwiches. Well, Chris lazed more than I did. I was busy taking some pictures! I have been loving my new apple sunglasses from Modcloth! They're so fun and cute!

And have you met my mocassins yet? I don't think you have. I never thought I'd look good in mocassins. Whenever I tried on those ones with the fuzzy insides and whatnot, I always thought they made my feet look like a duck's. But I was determined to find a pair that I liked and when I came across these in Forever 21, they were perfect! I think it's because the tops aren't so long that they cover most of my feet that they passed the test. They do give me blisters sometimes, though. :\ 

The weather has been so autumny lately, and I'm loving it! Yay! I keep getting overwhelmed by all the things I want to do this season. I think I'll need an Autumn To-Do list. I know I didn't finish my summer one, but I can just incorporate some of it into my autumn one. Plus, autumn is just better anyway... :) I'll probably post a list of my autumn goals soon. It's the best time of year and I wish it never ended. It hate that it has to end and lead into my least favorite season: winter. >:|

I have so many baking posts that I need to write! There is a back up of treats that I have not shared with you guys, yet. I'm so sorry to deprive you of the deliciousness, but I promise that I'll have one very soon. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quick Pics

I was in Maine this past weekend for my brother's wedding. I was a bridesmaid, which is something I've never been before, but always wanted to be. I finally got my chance! I've been in weddings before, but only when I was little and a flower girl. I'll post more about the wedding soon. I didn't really get a lot of pictures since I was in the wedding party, though. :\

Lately, I've been feeling a bit more creative. I suppose I partly have Chris to thank for that. He has been getting back into playing and writing music, which has gotten me back into it too. I used to write so much when I was younger, and I really miss it. I constantly wrote poems, lyrics, songs, short stories...even a novel once, although it was pretty much one of those angsty teen love stories. I wrote it when I was 14, what can I say? For a long time, I've felt like my creativity sort of died out or went missing, but I'm starting to try to find it again.

[M&M cookies]
[Brownie covered Oreos]
One of my summer goals was to have a giant barbecue with a ton of friends, so we had one at the end of August. Unfortunately, people ended up being kind of lame and not showing up, even after they said they were going to. It ended up only being about 8 people, myself included. I had made a ton of baked goods for the occasion, too. Those two pictures are only some of what I made.

[Me? Like Jurassic Park? How can you say such things?!]
I've also been reading a lot more, which is another thing that was on my summer to-do list. I started with Lucille Ball's autobiography, then moved on to The Lost World. I didn't want that book to end. It was so good! Right now I'm reading Fever 1793. It's about the yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia in 1793. It's pretty good so far!

[Labor Day! I wore my new dress and sunglasses from Modcloth!]
[I was so excited to have found these.]
I should really get started on my list of autumn treats that I want to make. I probably have enough for each day of the season! Sometimes I wish I could just take time off from work and just bake all day every day. There's mostly apple and pumpkin stuff on my list. The only pumpkin thing I've really ever made is my pumpkin bread, so I'm excited to try some new autumn baked goods.

[Tea with friends]
[Thought I'd try a little scarf-action]
The nights have been really cool lately, which I absolutely love. I love crisp nights where you need to wear a sweater. The other day I was actually able to wear tights for the first time this season! I decided to start it off right with a nice fall color palette. :)

Chris also caught the fall fever and surprised me with pumpkin butter and pumpkin spice tea! The pumpkin butter is so good. I had it on cinnamon toast, but it's good alone too. It has more of an applesauce consistency than actual butter. I can't wait to bake with it! I made some oatmeal applesauce cookies a week or two ago, and I think the pumpkin butter would be a perfect substitute for the applesauce.

[Ogunquit Beach, Maine]
There's a sneak peek of where I was for the wedding! It was really pretty, but also really chilly and windy. I'm a little upset that it was so windy because we were trying to take the wedding party pictures after the wedding and everyone's hair was getting all wind-blown. Plus, the photographer had us taking pictures with the sun right in our eyes, so we probably look like squinty, wind-blown messes. :\ I wish I could've taken more pictures! I love weddings. They're so fun and it's always interesting to see how creative people get with the decorations, color schemes, and other aspects of the event.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Floridian At Heart

I haven't been to many states, but Florida is by far my favorite one that I've been to. My parents have had a timeshare down there since before I was born, so I've been there many, many times. Even though we stay in the same area each year, it never gets old. I still always look forward to it. We stay in the Orlando/Kissimmee area near all the parks and touristy attractions. I'm a tourist at heart, and I love all the tacky novelty stuff that Florida has to offer. I will go in every single gift shop if I can.

Of course I also love the parks themselves. I've loved Disney my whole life, so it's always kind of magical and exciting to go to the Disney parks. I have to admit that there's not much to do at the Disney parks now that I am older, but I still enjoy the atmosphere and joy it brings. My favorite park is Universal Studios, though. I'm more of a fan of the Islands of Adventure part than the Studios part. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, so of course I completely geek out when I get to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I just want to live there. No, seriously.

[Dress: ASOS
Shoes: Payless]
[I love wire trash cans and how this park has them.]
Alright, so maybe not right in the Wizarding World (oh, who am I kidding?), but I would like to live in Florida. Chris and I drove down there last summer and stayed for a week. It was the first trip that either of us had ever planned and paid for on our own. It's one of my proudest accomplishments when I think about it. During the trip, I realized that I feel like I was born in the wrong region. I felt like I belonged more down in the South. I love warm weather, fresh air, open fields, sweet tea, palm trees, porch swings, farms...just general country life. Sounds like the South, doesn't it? I just remember thinking as we drove through the Carolinas that that is where I belong. I would love to live down there, and I plan to make it happen someday.

Naturally, when I saw this dress, I had to have it. I had my eye on it for a while, and then one day it was on sale, so I snagged it. It's perfect for many reasons: it says Florida on it, there are flamingos on it, there are bright colors, it's a good balance of tacky and chic, and the shape is great. Baby blue is not one of my favorite colors, but this dress is so good that I don't even care.

I am lucky enough to be able to go back to Florida again in November. My friend and I have decided to go. We haven't booked anything yet since the prices are still all wacky, but it's all going to come together soon. I'm hoping I'll have it all booked by October. I can't wait! We were originally going to go in October, but that's my favorite month and right in the middle of my favorite season, and I didn't want to miss the fall. I realized I'd be super bummed if I missed out on my favorite time of the year. Plus I think it'd be better to go in November when it gets even colder up here so that we can escape to the warmth. :)