Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day!

If you subscribe to the 30 Rock notion of Leap Day, it's the one day every four years that you do something you wouldn't normally do. Also, nothing that happens on Leap Day actually "counts." I don't know about the second thought, but I kind of like the first. So I'm commemorating that in both the outfit I'm wearing today (hint: it's 50s-inspired, and I rarely try to pull off a vintage look), and in the outfit I'm posting on the blog.

Excuse the sunglasses, it was the end of the day and my makeup looked scary-bad. So I decided to cover it up instead of, you know, redoing it just so I could laze around my house all evening.

poncho: thrifted
long-sleeve T: Old Navy
jeans: Guess via Macy's
shoes: Payless
sunnies: Target

It's a poncho! They're one of those style things that I was super-hesitant to try, and now I really can't figure out why it made me so nervous. I picked up this baby at Goodwill for a couple bucks, and it was a great purchase. It's so soft! The only real downside is that I have no choice but to layer it with a tee or cami every time. Cause I don't need the world seeing my sideboob/navel, thanks.

Also, a few quick housekeeping things. I realized I've never posted about the whole Google Friend Connect thing. Specifically, how it is disappearing for some people tomorrow. Since my blog is hosted on Blogger, I'm pretty sure this won't affect anyone who follows Verbal Mélange via GFC. But just in case, you can also follow me via Bloglovin, Facebook, or you can use the RSS subscribe button in the right-hand sidebar (just above the Labels links) to follow via Google Reader, Netvibes, Newsgator or Yahoo!.

Also, don't forget to enter my giveaway for the chance to win a chunky, asymmetrical necklace that's just to die for. Fewer than 20 entries so far, so your chances are pretty good! And may the odds be ever in your favor! (Aahhh! Couldn't help it. So dang excited for that movie!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nightmares and hand-me-downs

Every once in a while, I'll have a few days where I just have the craziest nightmares. Zombies, loved ones in danger, apocalypses, dying, serial killers, etc. You name it, I've probably had a nightmare about it. And Sunday night/last night/this morning have been doozies. Usually I just wake up, see that Matt's still there next to me, and feel better. But he left for South Carolina for work this week and won't be back till Thursday. Here's hoping Spazzy will help keep the bad dreams at bay. (She likes to sleep in the bed with me when Matt's not around. It's cute.)

Anyway, no one wants to hear about my awful nightmares. So changing the subject. To clothes yay!

shirt: secondhand from Joanna
vest: thrifted
slacks: New York & Company
shoes: Target
necklace: gifted from Matt
bracelet: Forever 21

This is the second of three shirts that Joanna of Fabulously Average sent me when she cleaned out her closet. (See the first one here.) The third, sadly, is too tight across my shoulders. I'm actually super disappointed about this, because it's an adorable zebra print short-sleeve blazer thing, and I am so in love with it. I've considered wearing it and just taking the risk of straight-up Hulking it and ripping open the back seam...but I decided not to risk ruining such a great piece. So instead, I'm sending it along to another blogger just as soon as I finish cleaning out my closet. (Loren and Ally, I have piles for both of you! Don't worry, I haven't forgotten!)

Anyway, I'm legit in love with this shirt as well. The tall sleeves kind of worried me at first, but I decided to just go for it and I'm glad I did. And between those, the vest and the semi-top-knot, I feel kind of like the quintessential style blogger in this outfit. It's kind of funny, but when I really love what I'm wearing, and I know it looks good on me, I stand a little taller. Walk with a little more strut in my step. It's a good feeling.

Oh, and don't forget to enter my giveaway courtesy the lovely Raych of Marriage by Design! This necklace is absolutely gorg, so go here to enter.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Giveaway Monday!

It's been a while since I've done a giveaway here, so I was super excited when one of my sponsors, Raych of Marriage by Design, asked to host one this month.

The prize? This gorgeous multi-strand, vintage-inspired necklace from her friend's Etsy shop. Not gonna lie, Raych and I are both a little jealous of whoever wins this's beautiful!

To enter:
1. This giveaway is open to Verbal Mélange followers only. So make sure you follow via Bloglovin, RSS feed or Google Friend Connect.
2. Leave a comment on this post, telling me how you follow (see above), and your email. I cannot contact the winner if you don't leave me your email. So yeah. That's pretty important.

For extra entries (Please leave a separate comment for each; if you already follow via one of these things, it counts! Just comment to let me know):
1. Follow me on Twitter.
2. Follow Raych on Twitter.
3. Follow VM on Facebook.
4. Follow MBD on Facebook.
5. Follow MBD on Bloglovin.
6. Follow me on Pinterest.

Update: I'll say it one more time. You MUST leave a separate comment for each of the above extra entries. I use to select winners, so 1 comment = 1 entry. If you leave a comment saying "I follow on Twitter and Facebook and Bloglovin and Pinterest," that's still only one entry. Cause it's one comment :) Kthanx!

Good luck, everyone! Giveaway closes Friday, March 3 at 7 pm. Winner will be announced shortly after!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The first-ever Bloggers Take the Town! (now with working linkup tool)

It's finally here, guys! Link up your party, bar, going-out or otherwise fancified outfits below or over at Take Me For A Twirl. (If you link to one, it shows up on both.)

Not sure what BTTT is? Check out our explanation here. And don't forget to grab a button (below)!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Food Fridays: Salmon with asparagus & rice pilaf

Ever since I got Matt a grill for Christmas, the boy's been a regular grilling machine. Snow on the ground? Doesn't phase him. He's still out there, grillin' butter burgers, or steaks, or kabobs, or salmon. I'm just glad he likes his present so much :)

A week or two ago, we were going to do some cedar-plank salmon. But a lack of foresight on our part meant that when 7 pm rolled around, we realized we hadn't soaked the cedar planks. To prevent them from, you know, bursting into flame. So that idea had to be modified.

Instead, Matt seasoned the salmon with a Singapore signature blend from Penzey's Spices (part of a set his mom gave me for Christmas, actually) and some lemon, then wrapped them in foil and threw them on the grill. We could've done the same thing in the oven, really, but he just loves any excuse to use that grill. So I stayed inside, where it was warm and there was a bottle of wine with my name on it, and made the sides.

The asparagus really doesn't require a recipe at all; I just drizzle it in some really amazing olive oil (Giant Eagle Market District's "Arbequina" style) and some kosher salt, then roast it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.

The rice pilaf, however, is a recipe I got from Food Network Magazine. It's pretty simple, but it takes a while to cook because that's just how rice is.

1/2 cup spaghetti, broken into small pieces
2 tbsp butter
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp salt

Toast the spaghetti pieces in a pot over medium-high heat with the butter for about a minute or two. Stir in the rice, then add the chicken broth, water, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes. Give everything a good stir, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for about five minutes (note: I always skip this step and it tastes just fine, haha), then fluff with a fork. Remove the garlic because ew, giant chunks of garlic, and stir in some more butter because everything tastes better with more butter. You can stir in some cilantro too, if you want, but I'm not a fan so I usually skip that.

OH AND P.S.!! Don't forget to link up to Bloggers Take the Town THIS SUNDAY. Get your super-cute-but-never-blogged-going-out-evening-clothes photos ready and show us what you got :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Curse you, WeatherBug!!!

WeatherBug is the weather forecast app on my phone. And I know Loren was just yesterday talking about how lame it is when bloggers talk about the weather. But I'm so heartbroken, I just have to vent.

All day yesterday, WeatherBug was telling me that today's high would hit 61 degrees. 61!!! That's no-jacket weather! Heck, that's skirt-without-tights weather!!! Needless to say, I was pretty excited. And in fact, yesterday afternoon was gorgeous in its own right...55 and sunny. For February, it's nothing short of a miracle.

Alas, when I checked the weather again this morning, the forecast for the high had dropped down to 54. And then, a few minutes later, to 47. Honestly? I shed a little tear for the outfit I had planned that I had to shove back in my closet.

And that's when I realized. I truly am a crazy style blogger.

sweater: old, don't remember
skinnies: Forever 21
boots: Target
belt: came with a skirt from Spotted Moth

I think perhaps it's time I retire this sweater. I love it, but it's getting a little worn, and a bit short in the wrist. Plus, every single time I wear it, I forget to put on an undershirt or cami. So when the light hits me just right, the world gets a lovely view of my cheap bra. Ugh. That's embarrassing.

(And yet I still post the photos. Hey, it's a cute outfit, otherwise.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

May your past be the sound of your feet on the ground.

I bought Fun.'s new album, "Some Nights" last night (that's what the title of this post comes from), and I am so completely in love with it! It's so positive and upbeat, it was great background music as I was getting ready this morning. If you haven't heard of Fun., it's the side project of The Format's lead singer, and it's amazing. There's a commercial floating around out there (for a credit card maybe?) that features a single from the new album. It's the one that goes "Tonight we are young / So we set this world on fire / We go higher than the sun"

Anyway. Enough gushing about semi-obscure indieish music. But seriously...go have a listen if you get a chance.

sweater: old, maybe from Express?
black shirt and orange tights: Target
skinnies: Burlington Coat Factory
boots: Old Navy, gifted from my momma
black shorts: The Limited

If these outfits look familiar, it's because Kelly featured them on her blog, Enter Kelly a while back. It was a post about wearing an outfit from day to night. I wore the top outfit to work on a Friday, then switched it up a bit and restyled my hair for a drinks and a show with some friends that evening.

I talked about this last time, but these tights really are more rust-colored than orange in real life. But because I took the nighttime photos, well, at night...they turned out super orange. Oh, well. Still looks pretty good, if you ask me :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

That nagging feeling

Don't you hate it when you wake up with that nagging feeling that you've forgotten to do something, but you can't remember what it might be? I sure do. It's been bugging me all morning.

Whatever it is, it will probably have to wait. We were at my parents' house most of the weekend, celebrating my little sister's birthday and going to a fundraiser for my old high school's marching band. It was a lot of fun, but Matt and I were exhausted when we got home yesterday. And when we finally got around to unpacking and cleaning up the house, we discovered that the dishwasher is broken. As in, smoke coming from the burned-out motor broken. And did I mention it was full of dirty dishes? And both the sinks were full of dirty dishes too? Ugh. Guess I know what I'll be doing all week while we wait for the landlord to install the new dishwasher...

shirt, blazer: thrifted
slacks: New York & Company
flats: Target
necklace: gift from Matt

I have the hardest time getting dressed for work in the winter. Because my office is usually always so cold, I really have to layer up if I want to retain feeling in my arms and fingers. And with my limited, highly remixed wardrobe, there's only so much you can do with sweaters and blazers. I find myself repeating outfits more and more in the colder weeks we've had lately.

Luckily, it's supposed to be in the mid-40s and even lower 50s this week, so maybe I'll be able to bust out some short sleeves...including the two shirts that Joanna sent me that I haven't been able to wear yet!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine's date night

My computer is running impossibly slow this morning, which means I'm running late (even though I shouldn't be), which means I don't have much time for chit-chat today. So here goes.

Wore this to dinner, drinks and a comedy show last weekend, which served as Matt's and my first-ever Valentine's date night (the past three years, we stayed in and made dinner at home). We double-dated with our friends/neighbors who live upstairs, and it was so much fun! I love double dates.

red shirt, bangles and necklace: super old, don't remember where it's from
collared undershirt: New York & Company
jeggings: Burlington Coat Factory
boots: Target
belt: thrifted

Originally, I had planned to wear a really nice dress. But then I realized the wind chill was below zero for the night, and since our date night was at Easton (an outdoor mall/mini-city), it meant a lot of walking around outside. Winter is such a bummer, isn't it? Guess I'll just wear the dress next time...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The re-wear police

If there were such a thing as the re-wear police, I'd have been arrested dozens of times. I have a bad habit of finding an outfit I really love and wearing it over...and over...and over...

Of course, I only blog it once, because no one would want to read a style blog that has the same outfits shown again and again. And to be fair, I've gotten a lot better about rewearing outfits. This time last year, I had the same eight or so combinations that I wore to work every. Single. Day. Now, I only repeat outfits when I'm running late, or like this week when I wasn't feeling well. (By the way, feeling much better today. Thanks for the kind words, you guys!)

Anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah, rewearing clothes. I've worn this outfit below at least half a dozen times in the last few weeks. But it's always around different groups of people, so it doesn't really count, right? Right.

jacket/blazer thing: thrifted
shirt: H&M
jeans: Guess via Macy's
shoes: Target
necklaces/earrings: gifts
lipstick: Cover Girl in Rich

At one point, I swapped the leopard flats for heels to go out to the bars in Athens with my sister and some old college friends. Why I chose to do that, I will never know. For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of Ohio University, it is extremely hilly. And the roads? All brick. So yeah, heels were kind of the worst choice, especially for someone like me who only started wearing heels in the last couple of years. And definitely never in Athens, on the brick. Oh, well. I made it through the evening without wiping out, so I call that a success.

This outfit is basically just a compilation of my favorite things, which is probably why I've been wearing it so much. I've been looking for a perfect striped shirt like this one for ages. I bought it with a gift card Matt's sister gave me for Christmas (thanks, Beth!) and I am absolutely in love with it! The jacket thing is another one of my surprising thrift finds. It was more luck than an actual thrifting success story, but who's keeping score? Not me.

And these shoes from Target? Pretty much the best $6 I've ever spent. I seriously wear these puppies four days out of seven. Even in the winter. Because they are just that awesome.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The sniffles

When I get a cold, I don't get just a little case of the sniffles. I get a full-blown foggy head, sneezing constantly, chills, aches, fatigue, runny nose, people-are-afraid-to-be-around-me-cause-I-look-like-death cold. And wouldn't you know it...that's what's going on this week.

But since I took so much time off the ol' blog at the beginning of the month, I didn't want to leave you guys hanging without an outfit post. So I dug up this one from a week or two ago, when the weather was a little more pleasant and I was feeling a little more human.

button down: New York & Company
coverup: Figleaf boutique in Athens
skirt: H&M, thrifted
tights, boots: Target
necklace, bracelet: so old, I don't even remember

I think this definitely ranks as one of my favorite outfits of 2012 thus far. And even though these tights look pretty orange in the pics, I assure you all they are more of a rust color. Guess I'm still hanging on to that autumn palate, even though we're far closer to spring than fall (and thank god for it, too!).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy worst-holiday-ever-invented!

I'm not gonna lie, I've never been a big fan of Valentine's Day. I always managed to get fewer cards in my box in elementary school, and I'm not even gonna start on the horrors of dating-age Valentine's Days. (Though I will say that in college alone, I drunkenly ran into my ex at a bar and made a fool of myself one year, then almost had to go to the hospital the next while making dinner for Matt. Suffice to say the holiday has not treated me well.)

This year, Matt is currently en route to Louisiana for work. We did celebrate last weekend, and I came home last night to a beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for me, so I suppose things could be worse :)

Still. I definitely have a love-hate relationship with the holiday, and I think I somehow channeled that into my outfit today. There's a good balance of cynical black and romantic pink and red, haha.

button-up and sweater: New York & Company
skirt: The Limited
tights: Target
pumps: thrifted
necklace: Tiffany & Co (gift from my aunt)

I have to say, I've never been a big fan of the pink and red combo that's so trendy right now. Not sure why, but it's always kind of bugged me. But when I woke up this morning, I decided to face the EBEW challenge head on, stretching myself ever so slightly out of my comfort zone. And you know what? I don't hate it.

Linked to:

Pink + Red | Everybody, Everywear

Bloggers Do It Better

Monday, February 13, 2012

Three-day weekends

I think we, as a society, should work toward a three-day weekend and a four-day work week. Somehow, two days just doesn't quite cut it all the time. Sure, I got everything done that I needed to this weekend—groceries, cleaning the whole house, some bridesmaid stuff for my friend's wedding, etc.—and I even had a little downtime to do absolutely nothing. AND Matt and I went on a Valentine's double-date with our awesome upstairs neighbors.

Okay, so I guess this weekend was plenty long enough. Hey, a girl can still dream of three-day weekends, right?

shirt and blazer: thrifted
skinnies: The Limited
boots: Target
loop necklace: New York & Company (the other was a gift from Matt)

Not entirely sure what's up with my face in that first picture. Sometimes I forget that I'm taking outfit photos for the sole purpose of showing them to other people. I should really show you guys my outtakes reel sometime, those shots are ridiculous.

Also, a confession: I'm not really a huge fan of thrifting. Sure, I'm obsessed with getting great deals. There's nothing better than walking out of a store knowing you only paid a few bucks for each item. But generally speaking, I just don't have the patience for it. So when I find a gem like this blazer, I'm disproportionately proud of it. I picked up a few other items from the thrift store this weekend, too. Can't wait to show you guys!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Food Fridays: Slow-cooker pot roast

Remember that pot roast I mentioned a while back? Well, I never took pics of it the first time around, so I made it again last weekend for the sole purpose of shooting it.

"Pot roast again?" Matt whined. "We had this last weekend. Can't you be a little creative in the kitchen?" And I hung my head in shame.

Just kidding. He didn't say anything, as we were both too busy inhaling this food like we hadn't eaten in months. But when it was gone, he sat back and sighed and somehow, I just knew that I could serve up this meal every single Sunday and he wouldn't complain. Hm. Maybe I'll do that...I'm not kidding, this dish really is that good.

I found the original recipe on Martha Stewart's website (I know, I know) and adapted it a little because I can't just make a recipe as directed.

Excuse me while I clean the puddle of drool off my keyboard.

Ingredients (enough for 2 people):
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- a handful of baby carrots—I would say about 15-20
- half of a large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
- 8-10 small red potatoes, quartered
- 1 beef chuck roast, about 1 and a half to 2 pounds
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper

In your slow-cooker/crock pot/whatever you wanna call it, mix the cornstarch with 2 tbsp cold water until smooth. I found it helps to tilt the slow-cooker a bit, so everything pools in the corner and mixes easier. Add the carrots and pieces of onion, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. On top of that layer, add the potato chunks and season with salt and pepper.

Season the chuck roast with salt (use more than you think you'll need, the potatoes tend to soak up excess salt like a sponge) and pepper on both sides. Martha recommends trimming off the excess fat first, but I like to take the Paula Deen approach and leave the fat on because everyone knows that fat is where all the best flavor comes from. Place on top of the potatoes. Then drizzle the whole beautiful thing with the Worcestershire sauce.

Turn the slow-cooker on high and cook for 5-6 hours (my cooker usually gets it done in about 5) or on low for about 10 hours. You'll know it's done when your nose is screaming at you to just go sniff around in the kitchen a bit, and the meat itself falls apart easily with a fork. Martha suggests cutting the roast into thin slices against the grain, but what does she know, Matt and I just split the hunk of meat in half and go at it like cavemen. So...delicious...

(Side note: You can also strain the juices from the bottom of the slow-cooker through a fine-mesh sieve and use it as a dipping sauce or whatever, but I always forget to do this because I'm so distracted by the meat and potatoes part of the dish. So do what you will with that.)

My other favorite thing about this dish? (Besides its mouth-watering incredibleness, of course.) How easy it is to make. It's literally about 10 minutes of prep time, throw it all in the slow-cooker, and pull it all out a few hours later. The hardest part is just waiting for the damn thing to be done!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I love my cat. But sometimes, I really hate my cat.

Last night, Spazzy (aka Spazzcat McGillicutty) decided to go all hyped out and become an explorer/adventurer. Which means she was on a mission to get into the plastic drawer set that houses my socks, tights and unmentionables. When a cat is scratching on/clawing at plastic, it's not quiet. Especially if you're trying to sleep. Especially if it's 1 in the morning and you have yet to actually fall asleep.

And if she wasn't doing that, she was using our box spring as her own personal scratching post. (We had to take the bed off the frame and put the box spring directly on the floor, because she kept getting stuck up inside it from below.) We finally had to shut her up in the office, where we could hear her crying and mewing in the most pathetic manner until we finally fell asleep. It just about broke my heart. Or it would have, if I hadn't been so mad at her.

So instead of posting the outfit I had scheduled for today, I spent the morning on Pinterest looking for a screen/room divider thing (that I can actually afford) to put in front of my doorless reach-in closet to help solve at least some of the problem. Something like any of these would do:

Source: via Kitt on Pinterest

Source: via Look on Pinterest

Source: via Susan on Pinterest

As for the box spring scratch post problem, I guess I'll just have to convince Matt to make me this (haha):

Okay but for real...where the heck can I find a room divider screen that doesn't break the bank? Guess it's time to make a trip to the architectural salvage store and the secondhand stores around town...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Honey, I'm hoooome!

I've been a terrible blogger this past week (or two). I could tell you that I've been incredibly busy with my freelance stuff, but the reality is, that's only half of the reason I've been absent. The other half of the reason I've been absent is because I have some big, exciting news to share...but I can't share it just yet. And I'm terrible at keeping secrets, so it's just been easier to limit my blog and Twitter usage. I promise, I'll tell you all about it soon. Just not yet.

(But just to avoid, Matt and I aren't engaged. For some reason, everyone hears "big news" and assumes engagement. Guess that'll happen when you've been together almost four years, haha.)

shirt: secondhand
skinnies: The Limited
boots: Old Navy

I've been wanting a shirt with some fun floral embellishments for a while now, when lo and behold, two days ago a package arrives on my doorstep. It was from the lovely Joanna of Fabulously Average, who recently cleaned out her closet and sent me some goodies. Thanks Joanna, I love these shirts!!

Joanna and Sydney (of Take Me For a Twirl) are both doing closet cleanouts, which reminds me that my closet is in desperate need of an overhaul as well. In fact, the trunk of my car currently has a giant bag of clothes that I keep forgetting to take to Goodwill...I should go through it first and see if anything would suit my bloggy friends! I don't think any of it is nice enough to warrant a giveaway, like Syd's (She's giving away a Cartier scarf this week. Oh my God.), but there's definitely some wearable stuff in there.

Want a little surprise package of goodies? Send me your address (verbal.melange{at}gmail{dot}com) and I'll see what I have for ya :)