Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Recap

Originally, I wasn't going to do a 2011 outfit recap. But then I started thinking about all my favorite outfits since I started this blog in April, and how much I really do like some of them. So I figure, why not. It was really hard picking just two outfits for some of the months. Others, it was hard to find more than one that I liked. But here you have it: My top 18 outfits of 2011!

April 22 // April 19

May 17 // May 10

June 2 // June 14

July 19 // July 21

August 3 // August 10

September 12 // September 28

October 17 // October 18

November 9 // November 14

December 13 // December 5

Well, there you are. It's kind of goofy, but I actually feel a little bit of pride at this list. It's almost like proof that hey, I can dress well sometimes. Go figure! (Also, it's kind of weird to see how tan I was in April/May, and how short my hair was! Haha)

Did you do a roundup of favorite outfits from this year? Link up in the comments below!

(One final sidenote: I have a stupidly huge amount of work to do on my freelance project over the next week. So if I'm scarce, that's why. But don't worry, I'll be around! But probably not until after the weekend. Happy new year, loves!)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December sponsor highlight

Hello, everyone! I'm so pleased to introduce you all to my very first paid sponsor! Joanne of Fabulously Average was who I teamed up with for that blogger swap a while back, and she's an absolute sweetheart. And did I mention that she has a killer sense of style? Well of course she does. I kinda want everything in her closet. For today's sponsor highlight, I thought I'd do a little Q&A sesh. Read it then go check out her blog!

Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, I’m Joanne the voice and creator of the personal style blog Fabulously Average! I’m an East Coast girl now residing in desert state of Arizona. I’m married to a steak eating, videogame playing, green eyed man that I usually refer to as ‘K’ on the blog. We recently just purchased our first home and have a four legged ginger puppy named Chandler (as in Bing).
Oh, and I’m obsessed with French fries.

How did you choose your blog name?
When I first started blogging [in May of 2011] my husband wondered what the name meant. He asked, “Are you calling yourself average? Or are you calling yourself fabulous?” I looked at him and said both. My blog name is a shout out to all the chicas out there that have average lives but live them fabulously. We all have that fabulously average friend, you know who she is. It’s the girl in the Starbucks line that exudes confidence and style, although her entire outfit was purchased at the Goodwill, or the woman in your office that sports a lace skirt with a flannel shirt and pulls it off effortlessly. She might not have the funds to buy the good stuff but she finds a way to work with what she’s got. That’s fabulously average!

Favorite thing about the blogosphere?
My favorite thing about the blogosphere might have to be the sense of community. You become great ‘virtual’ friends with people although there’s a possibility that you may never meet. I have met some amazing women because of blogging and have befriended some local Arizona bloggers; friends I might have not met otherwise.

Least favorite?
My least favorite thing would definitely have to be blog envy. Yes ladies and gentlemen ladies, this is a real thing. There are days when I’m jealous that another blogger has the perfect bag, more followers, or is an excellent writer. I sit there doubting myself and my blog. I wonder if I’m connecting with anyone and if I’m good enough. But then I have to snap myself out of it.

What are your favorite stores to shop at?
I’m a huge thrift shopper! Someone’s trash is another person’s treasure, right? Unless I’m looking for something specific, thrifting is my favorite. Great finds and you can’t beat the price. But if I have to list actual stores/shops they would have to be TJ Maxx, Asos, LILYF, Target and Forever21.

Any advice to new bloggers out there?
It’s a bloggie blog world out there and there will always be someone better. Just be the best you and you’re bound to connect to someone. As long as you feel passionate about what you write about and post, nothing else should matter.

Thanks for sharing, Joanne! Want to get in on VM sponsorships and monthly features? Check out my Sponsors tab at the top of the page or, if you're lazy like me, just click here. Spots for January are already being taken up!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Catching up

Well, I'm definitely starting to pay the toll for taking an entire weekend (and Monday, and part of Tuesday) to do fun things. I'm so behind on my freelance stuff, it would be laughable if I didn't really need the money. Good thing I get Monday off next week. Something tells me I'll have to be ultra-productive. Especially because my friend Emily is coming to town tonight! Very excited to see her, but it also means I won't be getting much work done. Ah, well. Tis the season ;)

I was going to post all four of my holiday outfits (worn to six different gatherings), but I haven't had the time to even edit photos yet! Not to mention I still have to reshoot a few of the outfits first. Somehow, getting home from a one- or two-hour drive at 10 or 11 pm, after running around all dang day, isn't really conducive to good outfit shots. Go figure.

sweater: thrifted
scarf as belt: The Limited
jeggings: Burlington Coat Factory
boots: Target
glasses: Eye Buy Direct

I have a love-hate relationship with this sweater. It's pretty soft, and comfy, and easy to style. But it attracts Spazzy's white hair like the dang cat is going bald. I practically have to carry a lint roller with me when I'm wearing the sweater. And as you may or may not know, I'm generally kinda lazy sometimes, so that doesn't always happen.

Oh, and do you like my new glasses? I bought them a while back when Eye Buy Direct was having their annual buy one, get one half off sale. They were SUPER affordable (I paid $40 for two pairs), but shipping took forever. When I called and asked how much longer it would take to ship them, they refunded my shipping cost and got them in the mail practically the next day. Not bad, when you think about it. Highly recommend :)

(I wasn't paid or perked for content in this post. I just wanted to share my honest opinion about EBD!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Well. The holidays are just about over for Matt and I. We have one more family gathering this evening, but it's here in Columbus so we won't be adding to the 450 miles we've already driven this weekend. It was absolutely exhausting, but I love both of our families and we were happy to be able to see everyone. And can I just say that Matt has to be one of my favorite car-travel-partners ever? He doesn't mind if I sleep or read, or sometimes we just sit in comfortable silence. But sometimes we have these amazing, long conversations about anything and everything. I love that.

Okay, okay. Done gushing. I'm sure you're all just dying to see an outfit, since I didn't post any at all last week. I'm terrible, I know. Send me to style blogger jail, where we dress in sweatpants and t-shirts and sneakers and aren't allowed accessories privileges.

cardi, tights, boots: Target
dress: H&M
socks: probably Target too, but I'm not sure

I'm still trying to figure out how to maximize my camera for indoor shots. I've started playing with white balances and ISO settings, but as far as I know, I can't control the f-stop on my point-and-shoot. Which is a bummer, because I'm pretty sure that's a key way to make indoor shots better. Looks like I'll need to cozy up to my manual, which is PDF-only (no physical book) and therefore pretty annoying. Though I did get a Kindle for Christmas (thanks, Mom and Dad!) so I can put the PDF on that to read a little more conveniently. Awesome.

Speaking of presents, this was actually a pretty rad year. My mom was spot-on with the Kindle and a great pair of gray boots (don't worry, you'll see them soon!), and my dad made me a beautiful cutting board. It is absolutely gorgeous. In our sibling exchange, my sister got me Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giving Tree. She's so thoughtful. All my family and friends were very thoughtful this year, in fact. I don't really want to be one of those people who lists every single item, though. Suffice to say that I'm very blessed to have such wonderful people in my life :)

(But I have to ask. Did you guys get anything really rad this year? Do tell!)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fiscal Fridays: Christmas edition

First off, i would like to officially admit that I am off the Financial Diet wagon this month. It seemed rather inevitable...after all, December has a comparatively high number of holiday obligations. And with all that Christmas shopping, one can hardly help but eat out more, or picking up an item or two for oneself. (Though I'm pleased to say that I kept the personal shopping to an absolute minimum. I just dined out a lot more, and went to a number of BYOB-style parties, so that's where all my money went.)

Anyway, I'm giving myself a pass for the month. I have months of successful Financial Dieting under my belt. I see this month as a kind of "reward." And since the money I've been spending is money I actually have (i.e., I haven't been using my credit card! at all!), I feel much less guilty about bending the rules. But this isn't a post about overspending in December. It's a post about getting your budget ready for next Christmas.

(Illustration by yours truly)

If you're anything like me, you start saving for your Christmas fund in roughly October or November. And I'm willing to bet that it puts a heck of a strain on your budget. So this year, I'll be doing the Dave Ramsay approach: an "envelope" fund. I'll be saving X amount (haven't decided yet...probably around $25) a month, starting in January. And I'm keeping it in a regular envelope, with a tracker on the front (like a checkbook register) to help me visualize what's in there. The best part? If I see something in June that would make a perfect gift for, say, my mom, I can go ahead and buy it then. Without stretching my budget that month, or charging it, or hoping that it's still available in November. Bam!

Here's the tracker I made. You can use the memo line to keep track of the envelope's balance, or to make notes when you use some of the money inside (say, "$30 spent on ___ for ___"). Here's an example of the version I'll be using. You can copy it, tape/glue it to the front of an envelope, and get saving! Just make sure you hide the envelope where a burglar can't steal it, or where you won't "accidentally" dip into the money for non-Christmassy things! (Oh, and if you want the full-size or editable version of this image, email me and I'll send it to you. Blogger doesn't host files for download, and I couldn't find a site I liked well enough to link to, so I couldn't make this a downloadable file for you guys. Sorry!)

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone! I'm off this weekend for a whirlwind of relatives. Thank God some of them live here in Columbus...I quite enjoy sleeping in my own bed :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More Christmas music!

Okay, so maybe I'm milking the holiday for all it's worth. Or maybe I just don't have any outfit photos ready. Or maybe it's both. EIther way, I thought I'd continue yesterday's holiday music theme with an actual playlist of the songs mentioned! (Thanks, Jeff, for giving me the embed code.)

And I'm not saying the list is incomplete, but my good bloggy friend Loren had a suggestion to add:

And while we're add it, I'm throwing this one into the mix:

What are your favorite modern Christmas tunes? Link to the YouTube video in the comments!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest post: Top ten modern holiday songs

Oh man, the holidays are kicking my butt around here! There simply aren't enough hours in the day. Fortunately, my good friend Jeff has some holiday cheer to share with you all. Enjoy :)

I start my annual holiday music sweep of local radio stations at about 5PM on Thanksgiving Day. I’ve become a connoisseur of carols, and a savant of the sacred and secular chants. I’ve heard “Christmas Shoes” 146 times and if that doesn’t qualify me for an Honorary Doctorate of Christmas Music, I’m not sure what will. It gives me great holiday joy (and apparently, equivalent college credit) to bring you my Top Ten Modern Holiday songs of 2011!

10. Weezer – Christmas Song: Weezer has had a long career and my love for them started with the release of Weezer(Green). The best part about that album, you ask? Well, it’s the hidden Christmas track found as a B-Side on the Japanese release, of course! Ok, that’s not the best part of the album, but it gives it a little extra re-playability. Basically, this song is what “O Holy Night” and “Rainbow Connection” would sound like with a little bit post-grunge flavor added. Enjoy!

9. The Decemberists – January Hymn: Moving away from the 90s and into this year, I present you with a track off The Decemberists’ newest album, The King Is Dead. Now, this one isn’t exactly what I would call a Christmas tune, but it captures the winter season in such a bittersweet sense. It’s a beautiful acoustic track that will make you want to get warm by the fire with a nice fair trade cup of coffee.

8. Feist – Please Be Patient: Stephen Colbert is a lucky man to have Feist so enamored with him. It came as no surprise that she opted to be on A Colbert Christmas and was fantastic on it. This is a funny one (no shocker there) that will have you both enjoying the “Angels We Have Heard On High” backing track and Feist’s modified, customer service-based lyrics. Best to listen to it while you’re in line at JCPenney’s buying that extra batch of Snuggies… you know, just in case…

7. Local Natives – We Come Back: Before you start to leave an annoyed comment about how hard it was to find this song, don’t worry, I know. Regional B-Side doesn’t begin to describe how hard it was to find this song after I first heard it. The song itself is catchy (find a Local Natives song that isn’t) and honestly, the only thing that really distinguishes it as a Christmas song is the bells. Fine, you caught me. I was just trying to get Local Natives on the list. Don’t look at me like that; you know you liked it anyway.

6. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal: This song will forever bring me back to winter regardless of the time of year. That’s the kind of power I demand of seasonal songs. Again, we’re full-on secular with this one, but no one can deny how expertly crafted those harmonies are. You can find this on the Fleet Foxes self-titled from 2008. Maybe after the holiday season, take a listen to the rest of the album. It might just get you through those mid-winter blues.

Intermission: It’s that time to get up, stretch, maybe do a Sudoku, or possibly start with the pre-verdict comment. Go ahead. I’m not watching…..
….you missed that 8 in the bottom left. Also, you already have a 4 in that row. …what?

5. She & Him – Christmas Day: We have to have a She & Him song this year! Matt and Zooey are a great combination of Indie royalty. They just put out a new Christmas album this year and it just goes to show that indie doesn’t have to be sad to be good. (It certainly helps, though, right?) Christmas Day is one of the lesser knowns on the album, but it’s not the typical cliché cover which is what I’m trying to avoid at all costs…

4. Sufjan Stevens – Come Thou Fount: How did this typical cliché get in here? Because it’s amazing, that’s how. I know I said I would try to avoid these, but this is such a wonderful rendition that I couldn’t help it. If you’re familiar with Sufjan, all you need to know is Sufjan + Banjo = the key to living a happy life. This is leaning heavy into the sacred category of holiday songs, but again, the sheer amazingness of this song earns it a religious overtones pass. This time…

3. The Raveonettes – Christmas Song: What’s up with everyone trying to redefine “Christmas Song?”
Step 1: Use your signature sound.
Step 2: Add jingle bells
Step 3: Call it “Christmas Song”
Step 4: ????
Step 5: Prophet. (See what I did there?)
The problem for me has always been I love The Raveonettes ‘ signature sound and adding jingle bells just makes me want to start cutting down pine trees to bring to underprivileged, abused, orphaned puppies…with antlers. Do you appreciate that kind of scenery? Good, you’ve proven that you’re part of this demographic. Stay with me for this next one.

2. Matteo Scumaci – Branch In The Spokes: Fair warning, this is a sad holiday song, but what would the classics be without “I’ll Be Home For Christmas?” Besides that, this is a fantastic song on its own. Matteo has a great voice and the arrangement sounds eerily like Ozzy’s “Mama I’m Coming Home” which I’m alright with. Best to listen to as you’re drifting off to sleep after your fourth spiced eggnog. I call them Nogquils.

1. Pomplamoose – Always In The Season: This is a song that came out in 2009 from the YouTube band made up of Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn. It’s been a staple on every holiday playlist I’ve made since then. The old time, Miracle-on-34th-Street-esque feel and sound really propels this to the top. How do you make great holiday music? You ask these guys.

Bam! What a list. Now go download legally purchase yourself some hot holiday tracks!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas week begins

First things first. I'm pretty excited-slash-flattered, because the blog Be In Style recently featured me on their best of the web! Click here to go check it out. There are some other really great blogs featured there as well, so make sure you give them a peek too!

Now. On to the real topic for today. Christmas is this weekend!! I am pretty adamantly against people who try to start the Christmas season the second they're done eating turkey and pie on Thanksgiving, but when it comes down to it, I do still really enjoy this holiday. Matt and I (okay, I) decorated the house last weekend. It's not much...we wanted to keep it simple to see how the cat would react. (Her name's not Spazcat McGillicutty for no reason), but it's turned out pretty well and I think I've convinced Matt we should get a real tree next year!

(These photos also gave me the chance to try out some new Photoshop actions I downloaded. I think I like this vintage-y one!)

We also opened our Christmas presents this weekend, since Matt will be travelling all week, and we'll be doing various family celebrations all weekend. He absolutely loved his grill, and I'm smitten with the awesome food processor he got me. It has slicing and grating discs, plus a dough-making one. We're going to be eating some delicious meals in the new year, that's for sure!

In other news? We refinished our bedroom floor this weekend. Well, Matt did. I helped scrape up a little of the old polyurethane that was peeling really badly, then I left to get groceries and make some delicious chili for dinner. I like having a handyman boyfriend :) And I think he's pretty fond of having a cook girlfriend, haha. Anyway, we had to move our bed into the living room. On the floor. And most of my closet is currently in the kitchen, so my clothes won't smell like varnish. But sleeping in the living room kind of felt like we were having a sleepover. We watched a movie and made popcorn. Kinda cute :) ...But I'll still be glad when we can move back into our bedroom.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Food Fridays: 25-minute dinner

So now that I've joined a gym, my goal has been to hit it up after work Monday through Thursday, and once during the weekend. Working out after work means I don't usually get home until 6:30 or 7. And by the time I shower and make dinner, it's often 8 pm before I get the chance to eat! Now, I'm used to eating about two hours earlier, so I'm usually ravenous by the time 8 pm rolls around. So I've had to come up with some meals that are fast and easy to prepare, but still healthy (since I wouldn't want to negate my hard work with a greasy cheeseburger or pizza). The other night, I made this.

Easy, delicious and (as long as your pork is thawed properly, fast.

You will need (for two people):
- four small boneless pork chops
- packet of dry ranch dressing
- small fistfull of fresh asparagus
- good olive oil (I used Giant Eagle's bulk Arbequina oil)
- half a box of egg noodles
- butter or margarine
- salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350. Set a pot of water on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. Also heat a little butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.

While those are warming up, sprinkle your chops liberally with the dry ranch dressing. You don't need to coat them, and you probably won't use the whole packet, but get a good dusting on there for flavor. When the oil in the skillet is warm, add the chops and sear for 2-3 minutes per side (depending on how thick the cut is).

While that's searing, drizzle a cookie sheet with the good olive oil. Add the asparagus and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

When the chops have seared on both sides, add them to another cookie sheet or baking pan. Pour the leftover butter over the chops, then stick the chops and the asparagus in the oven. Set the timer for 15 minutes.

By now, your water should be boiling. Add a good amount of salt to the water. When the oven timer has about seven or eight minutes left, add the noodles and cook till al dente. Drain, then stir in some butter or margarine and serve with the chops and asparagus.

Bam! Fast (about 20-25 minutes) easy, delicious, semi-healthy (hey, I like my butter and oil okay?) dinner. So good!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weekend outfit...on a Wednesday

Running a bit behind this morning...two straight days of going to the gym, after not working out at all for months, is a bit exhausting. But it's been a good two days, and I really love the feeling I get after a good sesh. Taking care of yourself is actually kinda nice :)

But, since I still have to make/eat breakfast and pack a lunch, I'm gonna be brief in this post. I rarely post my "going out" outfits here, since they're usually a totally different style from the business casual and casual outfits I typically post. But I do wear these outfits, and they're a part (albeit a small part) of my style, so here ya go.

top and booties: Burlington Coat Factory
skinnies: Forever 21, last year or the year before
necklace: gift from Matt
lipstick: Mary Kay in Red

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with these booties. I love them because they're so cute, but I hate how much my feet hurt when I stand or walk too much in them. If I wear these to a bar, the first thing I do when I get there is scout out for a possible seat. Oh, well. Fashion is sometimes painful, right?

I actually wore this out to the bars on the night before Thanksgiving with my sister. That's why there's blue carpet under me...we were at our parents' house. Saw a few old high school friends that night, as well as some less-than-friends. Thank goodness we're all mature enough to ignore each other now, haha!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Feeling good

Man oh man, this week is shaping up to be pretty good. I don't know if you guys could tell, but last week was really rough for no apparent reason (if you follow me on Twitter you'll probably have a better idea). I don't know what my problem was, but I was grumpy, mopey and just generally sad.

But not this week! This week I feel downright phenomenal, starting from the moment I woke up yesterday. And after work, I went to my new gym for the first time. And you know something? I love it. Great facilities, friendly people, and even on their busiest night I didn't have to wait more than a few minutes for a machine. Best part? They have a basket of Tootsie Rolls by the door so you can reward yourself on the way out. I love a good reward :)

I was going to post Christmas decoration photos today, but I didn't have time to photograph them last night. We didn't eat dinner till 8, and then I had some freelance work to do. Oh well. Perhaps tomorrow. Until then, here's an outfit:

shirt: really, really idea where it's from
cami: Old Navy
blazer and heels: thrifted
jeans: Guess via Macy's
ring: Modcloth (giveaway win)

Yeah, I wear tops that are three or four years old. The way I see it, if I can still think of new ways to style them, and they're not damaged or terribly trendy/outdated, why get rid of them? That's why a good chunk of my closet consists of older pieces. And I'm okay with it.

This outfit is actually a classic example of how blogging has changed my personal style...for the better. A year ago, I would never have even purchased a green blazer, let alone pair it with a purple shirt. The audacity! And statement rings...forget it. But now, I actively push myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to fashion, and it's usually for the better. Hooray, blogging!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Monday!

I'm usually not so chipper on Monday mornings (understatement of the year), but this morning I feel good. I have almost all of my Christmas shopping done. I was crazy productive this weekend, but I also took some time to hang out with friends, grab some really yummy sushi and even go to the salon and use a gift certificate I had. Hellooooo relaxation massage! I needed you. (No, really. The masseuse asked, "What do you do for a living, lift houses?!" Apparently I have a lot of tension.)

So anyway, I feel good this morning. Starting this week, I'm taking control of my health! Since I can rarely seem to make myself eat breakfast, I'm going to start making these awesome smoothies I pinned a long time ago:

And I joined a gym over the weekend as well, for a great price of course, and I get unlimited access to tanning beds there. (Don't worry, I wear sunscreen in the beds. I just like to get an extra dose of vitamin D during the winter a couple times a week.) In short? I feel good about things :)

Unfortunately, it looks like Imgur isn't working for uploading my outfit photos today. I'm *this* close to switching over to Flickr, since Imgur is kind of a pain in my butt. Anyone out there use one/both and have anything to say on the matter? Let me know!

So I guess I'll just share some of my weekend pins for you guys. Because in between cleaning, shopping for/wrapping Christmas presents, laundry, groceries, the salon, bars and even decorating the house for the holidays, I managed to find time to browse Pinterest ;)

Pre-prepped slow cooker recipes! Yes, please.

Hot cocoa cookies w/ a melted marshmallow on top. I'm drooling.

Pretty shelving ideas.

Gonna have to make or have my dad make something exactly like this!

This is officially on my DIY to-do list.

Pretty, but I'd probably want to use LED tea lights instead of the real deal so I don't melt the wax.

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

I really need a wrap bracelet watch.

Three words: Strawberry Riesling slushies!!!

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

Aaaaand the obligatory cute pin of the week!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Food Fridays: Beef Quesadilla

First of all, don't worry; Fiscal Fridays isn't going anywhere. The series is more popular than I ever anticipated, so I'm keeping it around. But I don't always have a financial topic to talk about, and I love alliteration, so I decided to introduce Food Fridays as another Friday series. Hooray for variety!

Second, a big huge thanks to everyone who gave some feedback on whether to post financial advice or a recipe today. I love knowing what you guys want to see! So yeah, feedback is sweet :)

So. Quesadillas. They're easy and delicious and one of my go-tos on nights that I don't really feel like cooking. Sometimes I make them with just cheese (and dip them in Italian dressing, haha, I'm a strange one), but for this recipe, I added some leftover beef we had in the freezer. Because I was feeding Matt, too, and he's a hungry dude who simply cannot survive on cheese alone ;) Unfortunately, this is one of the recipes where I just kind of winged it. It turned out wonderfully, but I didn't write anything down because I thought I'd remember it. Now here it is, three weeks later, and I'm kind of guessing what I did. But I'm a pretty good guesser, so I'm going to say with some confidence that the recipe below is pretty close to what I actually made :)

You will need:
- about 1/3 pound stew beef, chopped into small pieces
- tomato juice
- Jameson or another decent whiskey
- spices (I'm pretty sure I used ancho chili powder, cumin and regular chili powder)
- hot sauce (optional)
- salt and pepper
- tortilla shells
- cheese (I used a mix of cheddar, mozzarella and Colby Jack)
- cilantro (optional)

Start by pouring about a cup (give or take, this isn't an exact science here) of tomato juice into a medium-sized skillet. Heat until simmering, then add a healthy splash (no more than 1/8 cup) of the whiskey and a good dash of your spices, as well as the hot sauce if using.

Increase the heat to a strong simmer and cook until the alcohol evaporates, about five minutes. If you sniff the pan and still get a strong whiff of alcohol fumes, let it keep simmering. Once the alcohol's mostly burned off, taste the mixture, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Add in the chopped-up beef, then cover and let simmer. Stir occasionally until all the meat is cooked through. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes, depending on how small you chopped it. Reduce heat to low to keep it warm.

While the beef is cooking, heat up another skillet large enough to hold a tortilla. (Griddles work really well for this too, if you have one.) Lay the tortilla flat on the skillet and let it toast a bit.

Flip the tortilla over and add cheese to half of it. (This helps the cheese melt faster and more fully!) Sprinkle with cilantro, if using.

Add the beef on top and fold the tortilla in half. Flip when the underside gets a little brown and crispy. Cook on the other side to the same level of doneness.

And there you have it! A toasty, crunchy tortilla shell wrapped around cheesy and tomato-y beef goodness. Yum. Serve with salsa and sour cream, or just be a lame-o like me and eat it as is ;)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

'Tis the season

Oh boy. We're about to have some crazy weekends ahead, I can say that much. Sometimes, I'm a bit Grinchy. The hype and chaos of the holidays always leaves me feeling exhausted. And who wouldn't, when every December weekend has a party or two, and Christmas travel involves going from Columbus to Cleveland to Akron to Columbus to Findlay? (For you non-Ohioans: That's a lot of driving.)

But at the same time, a little bit of my Grinchy heart melts when we finally get around to putting up the Christmas tree. Something about decorating the tree, listening to Frank Sinatra's Christmas album, always gets me. That's on the agenda for this weekend and to be honest, I'm quite looking forward to it.

shirt and khakis: Old Navy
collared shirt: New York & Company
shoes: Payless
necklace: The Limited

I've been on a real kick with layering collared shirts lately. I don't know why, but I feel like this is just the perfect look—clean and put together, but not stuffy. It's like an instant touch of class, whether you're wearing slacks, a skirt or even jeans. Kind of the same way a blazer can make jeans and a graphic t-shirt look stylish. Wha-bam! Instant style.

And now, I need your opinion. Would you all rather see a Fiscal Fridays post tomorrow, or a recipe/food post? Can't decide...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I'm running a little behind this morning as I try to adjust to my new, living-with-purpose routine. It involved waking up half an hour earlier (okay, so I only made it 15 minutes today) so I can do some work on the blog or my freelance stuff (this morning it was freelance) and eat breakfast. I haven't eaten breakfast consistently since I was in high school. Early high school. So anyway, that means just one photo today. Which works out, because this was the only good photo of this particular outfit.

sweater: New York & Company
polo, flats: Target
jeans: Guess via Macy's
necklace: The Limited
watch: Walmart
bracelet: Forever 21

This is actually the outfit I wore for Thanksgiving. It's a pretty casual event with my family and Matt's, so jeans and nice tops are usually good bets. This is also what happens when I don't take the time to straighten my hair properly after I wash it. I have that awful not-quite-curly-but-definitely-not-straight hair. I keep thinking that if I grow it out, it will get heavier and therefore lie flatter. Hasn't been the case so far. I'll probably get frustrated and get it all chopped off to a pixie cut someday, which will be simultaneously horrifying and amazing, I'm sure.