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Happy Friday, Happy New Year...


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I'm so excited for this weekend... relaxing, celebrating a new year with my guy and our crazy friends, celebrating my baby sister's 21st birthday {she's the youngest of all of us, life moves way too fast!} and just spending another weekend really taking in the gorgeous city that is Milwaukee.

I wish you all a year full of happiness, passion and inspiration!

{ and a weekend full of memorable midnight kisses, too much bubbly and a tolerable new years day morning ; ) }


See you in 2012...

A Few Photos From My Weekend...


I spent my holiday weekend exploring... and eating muffins... and realizing that my night photography skills are sub-par...









Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk...


This blog has not only given me the ability to express all my life passions in one place, but it’s also given me so many amazing opportunities that I would have never previously dreamed of. As my seriously appreciated workload increases {Idle hands are the devil’s handiwork, oh the trouble you’ll get into – Words of wisdom from LeAnn Rimes}, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to organize all the new clutter I’ve recently accumulated, since I currently reside in a two bedroom apartment the size of most people’s living rooms. 

Over the next few months, I will be starting my new apartment search. Requirements: A bigger kitchen with wayyyyy more counter space, a balcony that doesn’t have a solid brick wall view and an office. The kitchen and the office are really key, since I got a little selfish with the balcony demand {I have a second balcony off of my living room that has a great view… well, behind the power lines that are literally within arms reach. Code violation? Probably.}. Since my newly accumulated massive kitchen inventory will surely fill my new kitchen space {that I really hope is fairly large!}, I still need a home for my laptop, mountains of paperwork and well, everything else that I can’t find a home for. 

And so begins the search for the perfect writing desk…

_________

Why is a raven like a writing desk? 
'Because Poe wrote on both'
-Sam Lloyd, 1914









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2011 Thoughts...


Since all the cool kids are doing it, I suppose it's time to throw my hat in the mix and post my obligatory ‘2011 thoughts’ post.


My year has had a lot more downs than ups, but this years ups have been so much more appreciated than ever before and heavily outweigh the downs. The one thing I am insanely grateful for is my new found ability to forgive and forget… Things happen, let them go and move on. The weight on your shoulders will be more of a burden than anything, so forget about revenge, forget about karma and forget about betrayal. We’re all flawed, we all make mistakes and we've all hurt people we care about. The way we deal with it all is what allows us to move on to a happier and healthier life.

________________ 


This past weekend, when I ventured out to my parents house for our annual half-ass family dinner {I can't even remember the last time my brothers, sisters and I were all in the same room}, I was presented with brand new, hand-made ceramic mixing bowls, an awesome new oven mitt from Anthropologie, a set of spices from Penzey's Spices {heaven on earth}, a Williams Sonoma gift card and a tiny cast iron skillet.


Last year at this same time, I would have received running shoes, personal training sessions and reflective winter running gear... so when did my interests change so drastically? For my reputations sake, I'm still moderately active... last year at this time however, I ran about eight miles a day and lived in spandex and a sports bra. You could say I was a bit obsessive with my fitness.

2011 has been a year of changes for me. I dropped what was toxic, focused on what made life simple and easy and set attainable goals that I have since spent a considerable amount of time and energy accomplishing. I realized what was important about my world and my life and learned how to ignore what the media continuously told me I was supposed to care about.

________________



I have had my blog for almost five months now and I could not be happier with it! I have made some amazingly talented blogger friends and I absolutely love hearing all about their lives and thoughts each and every day. Through all of you, I am exposed to a whole new world with tons of new inspirations and ideas that I incorporate into my every day life. All of your creativity helps me to really appreciate what is simple about every single day!

________________


I've had a few people that have been extremely instrumental in my happiness over the course of this year.


ohhhh I'm gonna get yelled at for posting this picture...
To my mother: Thank you for everything you do for me. Every time I encounter a roadblock in my life, I know that I am able to get through it all because I am the spitting image of you. Thank you for being such a strong and independent woman... I wouldn't have gotten as far as I have without you.

Breast Cancer awareness walk, 2011
To my aunt: Your love for life and carefree approach to everything is what inspired me to live the way I live today. When life gets a little too rough, you remind me to always keep a smile on my face and laughter in my heart. Life is fun, love is endless and laughter is necessary. I pray for you each and every day and I always have you in my heart. I love you.

Sometimes you just need to punch something... your good friends are the ones punching things in parking lots, right along with you. 
To my closest friend, Kat: You have been my support for the last 7 years. No matter what, when times get rough, I know that you are there through thick and thin to support me and my choices. Because of you, I've learned how to forgive, how stay passionate for life and how to trust. Love you Katie Kat!

You bet your ass those are velcro high tops.
To my baby sister: Well, you just know how to have fun. My grown up, adult life is full of too much responsibility and not enough time. It's refreshing to be able to live vicariously through you - live it up, laugh as loud as you can and always be your crazy, ridiculous { and 99% of the time, embarrassing ; ) } self; you're keeping me young! Love you B!




Just some thoughts on 2011 = )

Tomato Basil Baked Eggs...


Now that the holidays are over, I am determined to start cooking and baking healthier. My new year’s resolution started at 7:00 am Christmas morning, when I made breakfast for my family. No more pancakes, waffles or muffins in the morning {who am I kidding, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten any of those items in the morning… I can’t even remember the last time I actually had/made a pancake}, now it’s all about baked eggs and whole grain toast. Well, and a cranberry mimosa.

These eggs were delicious and not at all greasy. The thing about making eggs is that even though they’re generally quick, I feel like they’re gone in a split second, leaving you absolutely no time to enjoy your meal. These eggs take a bit longer to make, but absolutely force you to savor every single bite. Plus, you can't beat a good sprig of basil in the morning... So, when I stumbled across this recipe for caprese baked egg cups from Jessica over at How Sweet It Is, I was inspired to see what I could do with a baked egg!



Tomato Basil Baked Eggs
makes 4 servings

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • Freshly diced tomatoes
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp softened butter

Preparation
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Place 1/2 tbsp softened butter in the bottom of 4 large ramekins.
  • Add 2 tbsp of feta cheese and parmesan {I didn't measure the parmesan, I just added as much as I wanted in the ramekin}. Add about 2 tbsp of diced tomatoes to each ramekin and top with basil.
  • In a separate bowl, crack two eggs. I left my yolks whole, but you could whisk your eggs with a bit of milk for a scrambled baked egg. Place the eggs in the ramekins. If you left your yolks whole, add a tbsp of milk {or a little less depending on how much space you have left in your ramekin}. Repeat for each ramekin.
  • Top with salt, pepper and Parmesan to taste.
  • Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the egg starts to rise over the edges of the ramekin.
  • While the eggs are baking, caramelize your onions using the remaining 2 tbsp of butter. 
  • Remove eggs from the oven and top with your caramelized onions {and additional parmesan cheese if desired}.

enjoy...

Cherry Vanilla Cookies Stuffed With Nutella...


The other day, I had a chocolate covered cherry that immediately inspired me to bake a cookie encompassing all the flavors I tasted at that very moment. It took me a few tries, but I finally got the perfect flavors. 

These cookies are very light but full of cherry flavor with a hint of chocolate hazelnut. I struggled to get the perfect cherry flavor with my first few attempts, so I went out on a limb and added an ingredient that I was kind of skeptical of, but also kind of excited about: Jello. Initially, I went to the grocery store to find a cherry pudding mix I could use for more flavor, but I don’t think that kind of thing exists in my neck of the woods… so I settled for cherry jello; It was perfect! The jello gives it a little tartness and color, with a ton of cherry flavor. Next time I try out this recipe, I think I’m going to try and add more nutella to the center by portioning it out beforehand, then freezing it so that it’s solid and easier to work with. Yes, that’s absolutely what I’m going to do next time…


To add your filling, flatten out a small piece of dough, add Nutella to the center, flatten out a second piece of dough, then lay on top. Pinch the edges of the two pieces of dough together to form a tiny pocket. If your dough becomes difficult to work with, put it in the freezer for a few minutes!




Cherry Vanilla Cookies Stuffed With Nutella...
yields about 40 cookies
  • 1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup Chobani Low Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp maraschino cherry juice
  • 4 tsp cherry jello mix
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Spray three baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, yogurt and sugars and mix until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, vanilla, oil and cherry juice and mix on low speed until combined.
  • Add jello mix, baking soda and salt, then slowly mix in flour until thoroughly combined.
  • Once combined, place and flatten tbsp sized portions onto the baking sheet. Add a bit of nutella to each piece of flattened dough. With your hands, flatten a second piece of dough and place over the nutella. Pinch the sides together so that there are no cracks the nutella can seep through in the baking process. These cookies hardly spread, so leaving 3/4 of an inch between each cookie is more than enough.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a bit of cherry jello mix and salt {it pulls out the flavor}.
  • Bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.


enjoy...

A Little Holiday Dinner...


Holidays are difficult for my family to celebrate. I have brothers and sisters all over the country, so it's always been difficult to get everyone together for Christmas', birthdays and Thanksgivings. This year, a few of us got together at my parents' house for a small dinner.

This is how I spend my holidays...

Green beans with lemon zest, onions, cranberries and pecans. They're topped with freshly grated parmesan... that looked much, much prettier fresh out of the oven! Oops.
My parents own a pottery studio
My sisters and parents... just missing my brothers! Well, and me....
My mom and I

I hope you had an wonderful and relaxing holiday weekend!


Happy Friday, Happy Holiday...



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As you head into a weekend full of wrapping and unwrapping gifts, sitting around a Christmas tree heedlessly drinking mugs of cocoa and egg nog and enjoying elaborate family dinners with more food than you will ever be able to eat, remember how fortunate you are.

You may not have everything in the world, but someone out there only dreams of living the life that you live with the things that you have and the goals you've been able to achieve. Love everyone in your life and love everything about your life. Cherish those you hold close, help those who have so little to call their own and pray for those who are fighting for their lives... 

Have a lovely holiday weekend and remember what's really important about this time of year...



To my family: I love you.



Decorating in Typography Part II...


I just love decorating in typography... see more gorgeous photos from a previous post, here.










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I'm Fairly Awkward...


So, I'm kind of odd. I can be serious when I need to, but most of the time, I forget to sensor what goes on in my head before it comes out of my mouth, I act about twenty years younger than I actually am and I have illegitimate fears that make people seriously question my intelligence level.... Weird quirks like that set people apart from the next person though; normalcy is boring!

I'm really curious to know what other quirks are out there... here are some of mine...


{and my successful attempt at wake surfing}





Until a few days ago, I thought Bruce Willis and Bruce Wayne were the same person.


I don't know how to ride a bike.


I have never in my life been able to touch my toes {That's what you get for being 5'10" with a 37 inch inseam}


Whenever I hear someone whistle, I think there is a serial killer near by.


I cannot for the life of me work a DVD player. I'm technologically illiterate.


I will never eat anything purple. Blue is pushin' it...


I could install a hardwood or tile floor for you. I can also wire a circuit breaker and write code for programmable logic controllers as well... yet I can't work a DVD player. People are usually surprised by my day job...


Claymation terrifies me. Animation that looks alarmingly like real life terrifies me as well.


Whenever I hear someone cough near me, I hold my breath until they walk away.


95 percent of the time, I put so much food in my mouth that I have trouble chewing and breathing. My bites are exceedingly large... I think I need to start eating with baby utensils.


I will never be able to spell the words guaruntee or resturaunt. I've accepted it.


I've watched the Santa Clause with Tim Allen every single day for the past week.


I eat Chevre cheese like it's my job.


I have a magnetic chip clip that haunts me. One day I accidentally baked it. Another day I found it on my car keys. The day after that, I found it at my desk at work. Yesterday, I found it in the pocket of a coat I haven't worn in weeks. It's seriously haunting me...


I'm a natural red head. As was the case when I was a child. But for some reason, red headed children terrify me. Red headed twins are the worst.


I want a dog that is big enough for me to potentially ride, if need be.


When I was in college, I had a fish named Kyle. Miss you, Kyle.


What makes you fairly awkward?




Basking in Black & White...


I'm a simple girl. My bedroom is covered in black and white, white a few hints of teal. All of my shirts, skirts and dresses are either black, white or gray. I own five pairs of black suede boots and five pairs of black heels and wedges. As far as my color palette goes, I like what I like and I stick to it. Before you think, 'wow, this girl is boring', check out these gorgeous examples of how black and white can make just as much of a statement as all you colorful people out there...










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